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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chicken Scratch Noodle Soup

Because "Chicken Scratch" is fun to say, and noodles-from-scratch are fun to MAKE and EAT.


Last night was my very first time making noodles from scratch, even though I grew up eating amazing homemade noodles that my mom made.  I remember the counter-tops of our kitchen being covered with mismatched and floury tea towels, covering the homemade noodles while they dried.  It is still one of my mom's signature meals, along with clam chowder and homemade rolls.  You know . . . comforting Mom-food at its best.

I never could have guessed how easy noodles are to make!  They took me about ten minutes, from start to finish . . . the only hard part is waiting for them to dry.

The actual "soup" recipe is pretty straightforward: saute vegetables in butter, add your broth, seasoning, and meat.  But at the end you turn it into something to write home about, when you drop in noodles that you made and cut exactly the way you like (in my case, I like 'em cut into flat and wide strips).

This is also one of the first times I have sifted my flour first, because I didn't want to leave anything to chance (not knowing how forgiving and hard-to-mess-up this recipe is).  It's not a big deal to sift one cup of flour--I just did it in a fine-mesh strainer.


The entire noodle recipe makes only a single cup of dough, but it goes a long way.  
The finished product, before you cut it in half and roll each half out.
See that little ball of dough at the top of the picture?  That is half
of the recipe--the other half rolled out into all those noodles you see.

Remove noodles to cookie sheet, cover with a towel, and let
air dry for 2 hours.  (I did it for an hour and half and they were fine)
The finished deliciousness . . . ready to take to a friend in need of comfort
I used four cups of frozen turkey stock that I made a month ago,
then added 8 more cups of chicken broth to that.  My friend Cori
taught me about dried chicken soup base--it is so much cheaper
and just as flavorful as canned broth.  I get mine at Winco.
I didn't have celery, and I used dried herbs instead of fresh, and
it was still completely delectable.  My kids asked for seconds, and
my soup-hating five-year-old said:
"Chicken noodle soup is the only kind I like"

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Molten Chocolate Cakes

This is not so much a recipe as it is a way of life instructions for assembly.


You don't have to go to Chili's to have one of the best dessert inventions to come from the fat nineties.  You can totally make it at home.



For best results, use Julie's homemade chocolate sauce for the center of the cake, and my mom's amazing homemade caramel sauce to drizzle over the top.  Though I am an advocate for All Things Made From Scratch . . . I totally used store-bought fudge sauce and store-bought caramel to compliment my store-bought ice cream and store-bought Magic Shell (can one even make Magic Shell at home???  It's surely too magical for the hoi polloi).

But making the cake from a mix?  That's going too far.  I used my husband's famous Texas Sheet Cake recipe.


Make the cake batter, then grease and flour some ramekins, or your large muffin tin.  I have got to get a set of 12 ramekins.  Any suggestions?  These ones look cool.  Plus, you can always get good discounts at Kohl's.  But I digress . . .



I made six big "cakes" with this recipe, and twelve small cupcakes for my kids.  Sorry, kids, only grownups got the molten goodness this time . . . be happy with your inferior (albeit, delicious) cupcakes.




On second thought, I wish I would have thought to use a "cake release" recipe (like in Melanie's peerless Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake)", which is just equal parts melted butter and cocoa.  Brush that stuff all over your pan and those babies will come right out without leaving half of themselves behind.


Once the cakes have cooled, turn them over so they look like little volcanoes.  Then scoop out a 1/4 cup-sized hole in the top of the cake, so it looks even more like a little volcano.  Then fill that hole with your (cool or room temp) chocolate sauce, so it looks . . . nothing like an actual volcano, but a lot like something you want to stuff into your face with reckless abandon.

Unfortunately, we ate all the perfectly-shaped cakes.  This was
one that broke apart when I tried to get them out of the pan, so
the back half is missing.  When there's dessert involved, my picture-
taking desire is over-ruled by my chocolate-inhaling desire . . .
Now, you can refrigerate or freeze (up to 2 weeks) your volcanoes until you are ready to serve them.  Or skip straight to the part where you microwave the cake for 30-45 seconds, until the chocolate sauce is melted (but not scorched).

Next, top your little volcano o' molten joy with a big ol' round scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Then be liberal with some chocolate Magic Shell topping (sauce that hardens over ice cream).  Finally, drizzle some warm caramel sauce over THAT . . . and you are ready to enjoy.


Chocolate Cake + Chocolate Fudge + Ice Cream + Magic Chocolate + Caramel = America the Beautiful.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Super Soft Sugar Cookies

I just made these for the umpteenth time for Valentine's Day.  I took some plates around to my friends that I visit-teach, and made a huge batch for my kids' Valentine parties at school.  A double batch makes SEVEN DOZEN.  They go so quickly because I always forget how addictive they are: one bite and suddenly there's a pile of crumbs on my shirt and in my hair and a half dozen are missing . . .


Double batch: time to bring out the Bosch
Roll into balls just smaller than a golf ball--20 on each cookie sheet!

I think the pictures speak for themselves.  This is my go-to recipe when I need to take cookies to one of my kids' classes at school . . . or on holidays . . . or when I am craving something delectably sweet . . .

I got these pie/cupcake carriers at Wal-Mart and I LOVE them.
I use three blocks to hold up the second "tier" inside--perfect for
a second grader to carry into school.  Here is a similar product:
Collapsible Cupcake & Cake Carrier



Sweet Mollie loves to help "clean up"
Sweet Calvin loves to help "clean up" . . . 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Sour Cream Doughnuts


***This recipe is for use in a doughnut maker (the kind that works like a waffle-iron).  They are not deep fried and cannot be cooked successfully that way.***


I got my husband, Allen, a Babycakes mini-doughnut maker for Father's Day in 2011.  It's the gift that keeps on giving!  My kids love these doughnuts because I always let them decorate their own, and I love them because they're not nearly as unhealthy as real doughnuts, and about ten times easier to make (they're basically cupcakes in the shape of douhgnuts).

The doughnut-maker came with a recipe book and the little fork-gadget that helps you remove them neatly from the pan.  I love getting it out especially when my kids have friends over, or when nephews and nieces come to visit.  It's party food, but not the kind that keeps you on your feet in the kitchen all day.

Slide the fork in to lift the doughnut out
You can barely see the little holes
after you remove the fork
You can buy doughnut mixes for this kind of appliance, but I have found some great recipes that work well and are even tastier.  My first recipe is my favorite: Sour Cream Doughnuts.  The thing I like about them the most is that you can easily add fruit (or mini chocolate chips) to the batter.  I added huckleberries for my daughter's fourth birthday party--it was the grown-up dessert and we all ate them without any frosting.  Delicious.

It's easy to get the batter in if you pipe it with a plastic bag . . . 
 . . . or you can just use your smallest measuring cup
and pour it into each hole
I usually give each kid their own plate and knife, then let them go to town with frosting and sprinkles.  My favorite combo is a sour cream doughnut with chocolate frosting and peppermint sprinkles.

This was our first time using the Babycakes
with cousins in 2011!
My son Brig, sprinkle-shaking
Just think of how much was on the doughnuts . . .
Baby Cal loves plain sour cream baby doughnuts!
You can always dust with powdered sugar
if you don't feel like making frosting