Easy Chicken Soup

chicken ccOne thing that I don’t have on my little homestead is a chicken coop full of hens and chicks.  We are in an agrarian area, but covenants that came with our property specify no large livestock.  We can have horses, but no cows, pigs, etc.  However, a neighbor once cleared land with goats and nobody batted an eye (so I am assuming that goats aren’t considered large livestock) and a couple of others down the road raise chickens, so I am pretty sure that would be okay here.

But, I have a chicken hating father, who can’t abide the idea of having hens running around.  Even when I have offered to keep them in a fenced enclosure or build a “chicken tractor” to get my eggs, he hasn’t softened one bit. Sigh.

I truly enjoy pastured eggs.  I really do.  And, as much as I would enjoy having my own source of healthy eggs, I don’t want to cause too much consternation for my family members.  So, at least for now, poultry is out of the question.

The next best thing to having my own flock of hens, is a good ol’ bowl of homemade chicken soup!  I bet you wondered what my desire for gateway livestock would have to do with soup.  For one thing, soup is one of the best things to do with a hen that is past her prime laying years.  No, I am not heartless, but I just can’t see having chickens as pets.  I know, I know.  Not everybody is willing to go there and that is okay, too.

But, even without homegrown hens, I can make a mean pot of homemade chicken soup that celebrates the humble chicken.  It’s that good.  And, you can do it, too!

Another Hatchett Job, turkey bone broth, frugal lifeThe secret to a superior chicken soup is really all in the broth.  If you can avoid it, try not to use chicken stock.  Stock is made from the meat and isn’t cooked very long.  Stock will be straw colored and not nearly as rich and tasty as a good bone broth.  Broth is made by cooking bones and some meat with or without veggies and salt.  I always put onion and garlic in mine (you can even put the skins in as it will all be filtered out later), but there is no rule that says you have to.  If I have carrots, a celery heart (or the end pieces that have leaves on them), a piece of cauliflower that has seen better days, broccoli stems, onion peels, etc. then I will throw ’em in.  Basically, it’s a good way to take iffy looking produce and use it rather than throw it out.  I would throw in just about anything except collard (with or without stems) because the only catch is to keep delicate leafy things like herbs out until the last 30 minutes or so, so they don’t get cooked to death!  Oh, and I usually throw about 5 whole peppercorns in at the beginning, too.  To learn more about preparing broths, click here.

I am nuts enough about homemade broths that I will make up large batches and can pints and quarts of the stuff to use later.   It’s totally worth it!

crockpot line art ccBut, back to the soup.  In my large crockpot (I think it is a 6 quart model), I will chop up a fresh onion, add 4-5 cloves of minced garlic (we love garlic, if you don’t then cut it in half), a stem or two of finely chopped celery, and 2-3 peeled carrots cut into small rounds.  I toss in a couple of cups or so of chopped or shredded chicken (can be cooked or uncooked), a Tablespoon of salt, a few grinds of fresh, black pepper, and 2-3 quarts of homemade turkey or chicken bone broth.  If I add 2 quarts of broth, I will add 1 quart of water and two bullion cubes or the equivalent in granules.  You can always add more water or broth if you want a fuller crock of soup, just remember to add 2 bullion cubes for every quart of water you add.

Turn crockpot on high and let it cook for an hour or so and then switch it to low and let it simmer for at least 4 hours.  Add 1 cup of rice for the last hour of cooking time.  Taste and adjust seasonings if you like.  Then serve with a salad and freshly baked rolls.  It’s a delicious meal and perfect for a chilly, winter’s day!

I hope you enjoy this easy recipe for Chicken Soup.  Once you have broth canned and ready to go at a moment’s notice, it’s quite simple to get a delicious dinner started!

What’s your favorite soup recipe?  Share it in the comments below.

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett





Crockpot to the Rescue!

crockpot line art ccSome days are just the pits.  Half of your family members have chest colds; nobody wants to cook.  And, you have two broken feet to boot.

So what’s a gal to do?  Limp in to the crockpot and find a way to produce dinner for her hungry crowd before they get hangry!

Everything feels tougher and more time consuming when you are walking on sore tootsies.  Even with orthopedic boots, carbon shank inserts, and insoles to add needed support.  So, quick and uncomplicated top the priority list for this time in my life.

We had some chicken that had been cooked for a previous meal and frozen.  It was a chicken ccwonderful start.  I added one frozen breast from a bag in the freezer and thawed it just enough to be able to run a knife through them.  I diced them fine and added to the crockpot along with 1 medium yellow onion, 5 cloves of garlic (minced), two carrots cut into thin rounds, 3 quarts of chicken bone broth, 2 bullion cubes and 1 1/2 Tablespoons of salt.  I let it cook on high for about 4 hours before stirring and adding about 3/4 cups of uncooked orzo to the mix.  Normally, I would have added celery and used brown rice (wild rice, too, if I have some), but it was more important to use what we had on hand.  Any noodles would have worked fine also.

While the soup finished and the pasta rehydrated, I set about making fresh rolls using the Kitchenaid Sixty Minute Rolls recipe that I found a couple of years ago on The Thrifty Couple Blog.  I doubled the salt in the recipe this time, but still find that it could have used a bit more for my taste.

This recipe really is quick and easy.  It would have been quicker had I been able to move about a tad easier.  To compensate, I didn’t divide the dough into rolls and just baked it in a single piece, slicing into squares when done.  I sat and read blog posts while everything had a final rise and again when baking in the oven.

All in all, the rolls took a bit more like 75 minutes, but considering I usually can pull it off in an hour, it was still really good.  I come back to this recipe again and again as I can make rolls in less time than thawing out store bought frozen dough.  Mine tastes better and I have control of what goes into them.  Besides, it made a humble soup from what we had on hand taste even better and seem like a luxury, not a desperate attempt to stay off my feet.

And that makes it all worthwhile!

What is YOUR go-to meal when your family is ill?

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Almost Pinterest Pasta, Take Two

Another Hatchett Job, creative commons, pasta, bow ties, recipesOkay, here’s where the story got interesting.  At the store, I forgot all about the Rotel Tomatoes and thought I remembered a creamy sauce.  Plus, I thought I would sneak in a vegetable to this one pot wonder of a meal.  I told hubby what I was making for dinner that night and came home and got to fixing….

Imagine hubby’s surprise when the meal he was anticipating wasn’t the actual meal on the table at all.  Imagine my surprise when the meal that I prepared wasn’t at all the meal that I thought I was preparing.   We had a good laugh.  I resolved to start writing things down. But, we tried it and the whole family really liked it.  Hence, it is ALMOST the Pinterest Pasta that I had intended.

I recently took this to a family game night and it went over terribly well.  Several asked for the recipe, so I figured in an effort of full disclosure, I would post both recipes because we enjoy them both so very much.  This is my version….

Almost Pinterest Pasta

1 quart chicken broth

1 pound chicken meat, shredded or chunked

1 pound pasta (any will do, we use penne most of the time, but I love the bowties for the cute factor.  Lately, I have been eating whole wheat, but the hubby and kids aren’t convinced yet)

One package of frozen leaf spinach (preferably not chopped)

1 cup of heavy cream

1-2 cups mozzarella cheese

Gluten Free option:  use only Gluten Free pasta of any type and grate your own cheese to avoid any flour used to dust pre-shredded cheese).Another Hatchett Job, creative commons, pasta, spaghetti, recipes

Other options:  this is a very forgiving recipe.  Any meat can be used.  If the meat needs to be browned, use 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil in pot to brown and add ingredients to it per the instructions.  Any veggie that is good in a casserole could be good in this.  Use what you have on hand.  Think leftovers.  We will be using this on Thanksgiving weekend to give left over turkey a new lease on life. You can substitute some evaporated milk, half and half, fat free half and half or whatever you like to make the cheese sauce.  It just needs to be thicker than milk.  I might even try mixing some dry milk powder with milk to thicken it a bit.  The sky is the limit with this one!

Add chicken broth to large pan with lid (we use a 5 quart dutch oven).  Add chicken meat and bring to a boil.

Add pasta and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add frozen spinach and return to boil for about 5 more minutes or until pasta is just done.

Remove from heat and add cream and cheese.  Mix to combine and melt cheese.

Serve and enjoy.

Please share in the comments if you have tried this recipe or a variation and let us know how it turned out!

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Almost Pinterest Pasta

Another Hatchett Job, creative commons, pasta, noodles, recipesAnother recipe that I recently took to a gathering that friends wanted the recipe for.  In order to explain that recipe, I have to tell you about the dish that I was trying to make in the first place.

This recipe came from one of the Assistant Scout Leaders in our son’s Boy Scout Troop.  They made it on a campout and it was a hit with all of the kids and adults in attendance.  I really, really wanted to try this recipe.

Hubby being a great cook, liked the dish and told me the recipe, but I just couldn’t wait for him to make it for me.  So, off I went (without a list) to the store to get the ingredients that I remembered.  Did I mention that I didn’t write any of this down….

Here is the recipe that hubby recounted to me from the Scout trip.  It originated off of Pinterest, but I don’t have the original pin or post.  So, I can’t give credit.  If anyone knows where this originally came from, I will gladly update this information.

Pinterest Pasta

1 quart chicken broth

1 pound Penne pasta

1 pound package of sausage (any would be fine, but we like Turkey Polska Kielbasa) chopped into small pieces

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 12 ounce can of Rotel Tomatoes

1-2 cups of mozzarella cheese (to taste)


Gluten Free option:  to make this dish gluten free, use any Gluten Free pasta in the same amount and grate your own mozzarella cheese to avoid any flour used to dust pre-grated cheese).


In a large pan with a lid (we use a ceramic over cast iron dutch oven in 5 quart size), heat olive oil.

Brown sausage.  Keep it moving in the pan.

When sausage is browned a bit, add chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Add pasta and stir.  Cover for 10 minutes or so.  When the pasta is cooked to al dente, add Rotel Tomatoes.

When Rotel Tomatoes have warmed thoroughly, add cheese and remove from heat.  Stir to combine and melt cheese.

Serve and enjoy!  This will feed a family of hearty eaters easily.  Plus, it is easily doubled or tripled to serve large groups with only one pan to clean up.  We have used a large stock pot before to feed a crowd of 15-20.

Needless to say, my version wasn’t quite the same since I was trying to use my memory instead of being sensible and having a list.  My version will follow later this week.

If you try this dish, won’t you comment below and tell us how it turned out?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Easy Greek Dip

Another Hatchett Job, recipe from Pinterest, 7 Layer Greek Dip by SweetDailyBlogSeveral friends have asked me to share the recipe for a Greek Dip that I recently took to a get together. I figured that it might be good to keep it on the blog for posterity, since we know it is a hit!

I can take absolutely NO credit for this delicious concoction.  I found the recipe on Pinterest.  It originally comes from the Sweet Daily Blog.  And, I will be the first to say “thanks” and give all the credit over to the good folks there!  I am using the photo for the pin that I have.  I didn’t think to take any photos of the dip as I was making it!

Here is the link to the original recipe.  Now, I will tell you what I did that may vary a little bit due to what I had on hand.

7 Layer Greek Dip


2 blocks of “Greek” cream cheese.  This is half cream cheese and half Greek yogurt.  Good stuff.

about 4 tablespoons of dried dill

2-8 ounce containers of hummus.  Any will be fine.  I am partial to Garlic Hummus.

3-4 cups of chopped tomatoes and cucumbers, mixed together.  Ratio is up to you.  Use what you have.

4 tablespoons of bottled (or homemade) Greek salad dressing.

1 cup or so of chopped green onions

4 ounce block of feta cheese crumbled

a handful of sliced, black olives.


The Procedure

1.  Chop tomatoes into half inch cubes.  Peel and cut cucumber in half.  Use a spoon to remove seeds and then cube.  Put in a lidded container with Greek salad dressing and mix together.  Let marinate for at least half an hour in the fridge.  It won’t seem like much dressing, but the veggies will give up some water, so it will all come together.

2.  Gently warm Greek Cream Cheese in microwave in 20-30 second increments until soft enough to mix dried dill throughout.  When thoroughly mixed, spread on the bottom of your serving dish with a spatula (I used an 8×8 dish, but any bowl will do).

3.  Using the spatula, gently spread hummus evenly over the layers.

4.  Using a slotted spoon (so you don’t get too much wet stuff) place an even layer of the marinated veggies over the hummus.

5.  Sprinkle with green onions.

6.  Cover top with feta cheese.

7.  Place olives over the top.

8.  Serve with a sturdy cracker or pita chip.  I am a fan of the black pepper and olive oil Triscuits with these.

Remember that this makes a very heavy dip.  You may need to support the bottom of the dish or place it on a small baking sheet to keep aluminum pans from sagging.

 I hope that you will try this and let us all know how it goes over with your folks!  And please stop by Sweet Daily Blog and see the other tasty treats that they have on their blog!

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Pale Pickled Beets

Another Hatchett Job, photo by Eddie Hatchett, beets, peppermint beets, pickled beets, frugal life, frugal recipe, canning
Colorful “peppermint” beets in the pan awaiting pickling.

Mom, Dad, and I love pickled beets. Hubby will eat some. I don’t even mention them to the boys. Sigh.

I grew up eating these sweet and tangy beets straight from the canning jar! They always seemed like a treat with any home cooked meal.

The kind we enjoy are somewhat similar to a “Harvard Beet” with a thinner sauce. They can be canned and kept on hand for years, ready to eat. That makes them a great candidate for finding at a great deal and putting up enough for several meals at a time.

A local warehouse store in the closest town to us occasionally has foods that were cleaned and packaged for restaurant use, but not sold quickly. With this, I was able to score three big bags of cleaned and chopped, fresh beets, ready for pickling for, get this, 49 cents per bag. Each bag held over one gallon of beets with no cleaning, peeling or chopping needed. It was a pickler’s paradise!

Even better, these were “peppermint” beets and simply looked like little chunks of peppermints in the bag. Okay, it’s silly, but I think they are totally cute that way! They taste like regular beets, but inside the beet root is made of rings of red and white flesh. If you cut them horizontally, they look like a bullseye. When you chunk them up, they look

Another Hatchett Job, pressure canner, pressure canning, frugal cooking, frugal life
Trusty pressure canner.

like candies.

The process is totally simple. I simmered two bags of beets on the stove, just covered with water until just barely tender. Then, I drained the water off and returned them to the pan with enough brine to cover. The brine is a ration of 2:1:1 of apple cider vinegar, sugar, and plain water. So, I added 4 cups of apple cider vinegar, 2 cups of sugar, and 2 cups of water twice to make sure I had enough to cover generously.

Once brought to a simmer for 5 minutes, carefully ladle into hot, prepared canning jars (prepare them by adding 1 cinnamon stick broken in half, a pinch of cloves, and 2-3 whole allspice berries), make sure you have 1 inch head space remaining in your jars. Clean the lids with a clean towel dipped in hot water and rung out. Add lids and place in pressure canner for 30 minutes for pints at 10 pounds of pressure. Remember to check your altitude to know if you need to adjust times and pressures for altitudes over 1,000 feet. It’s important.

Another Hatchett Job, pickled beets, canning, frugal canning, frugal life
Pickled and tasty, but without the characteristic red color.

Sadly, our beets lost most of their lovely pink stripes in processing. They look like pickled golden beets, but will taste just as delicious as their redder cousins. They will sit for at least 4 weeks to let flavors come together before we open up a jar.

If I can continue to get them at this price, I will keep on canning them up. Home canned foods make lovely gifts and if I preserve enough, I won’t have to purchase full price beets for a couple of years. It’s a total (and tasty) win-win for me!

Do you enjoy preserving foods?  Share your favorite recipes with us!

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Guest Post at Molly Green Magazine Blog

Another Hatchett Job, Molly Green Magazine blog, salsa, canning, frugal ife, recipe, cookingHello all!  Today, I am over at the Molly Green blog with my new article all about canning fresh tomato salsa (even when you are out of fresh tomatoes).  My family thinks my salsa is the best and I hope your family will enjoy it also.

To read more about this tasty salsa, click here.

If you like this article, you may want to check out a FREE issue of Molly Green Magazine here.  It’s a limited time offer.  This is the magazine all about the home:  HOME Industry, HOMEkeeping, HOMEsteading, HOMEschooling.  Always great articles to be found.  With a paid subscription, you get access to a FREE store to sell your HOMEmade goods.  It’s a great deal!

Have you read Molly Green Magazine before?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett