What does Chicken Noodle Soup have to do with a wedding, you might be thinking?  Last week my grandson got married.  He and his new bride did something at their reception that I had never seen before.  They ask some of their family members to make soups for the reception.  My grandson ask me to do his favorite home made Chicken Noodle Soup.

It’s a simple recipe that doesn’t take long to put together in a slow cooker. It’s a soup I have made for him and others several times over the years. I’m going to share the recipe with you, you never know when you might need a memory to share.

Zac’s Chicken Noodle Soup

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You will need:

8 Cups of Chicken Stock

2 Cups of Cooked Chicken, cubed

3 Stalks of Celery, sliced into 1/4 inch pieces

2 Carrots, sliced into 1/4 pieces

1 Medium Onion, diced

1 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Pepper

1/4 Teaspoon Poultry Season

2 Cups of Pasta, I used bow ties but any pasta will do.

Place everything except the pasta into the slow cooker.  Stir to incorporate the ingredients.  Cook on high for one hour then lower the heat to the low setting.  While the mixture is cooking on low, cook your pasta on your stove, as directed on the package, until they are almost done, el dente`.  I have found trying to cook pasta in a slow cooker, will reward you will a gummy mess, most of the time.  So I prefer to cook it on my stove, then drain and add to the slow cooker, stir to well incorporated.  You will want to cook for another 30 minutes on low, allowing the pasta to absorb the Chicken Noodle Soup flavor, then serve while hot.*

*If you have a newer slow cooker, it might have a keep warm setting, if so, place the soup on that setting.  Refrigerate your leftover soup within 2 hours after removing the heat source.

As you can see from the picture, because I was making two gallons, I had to make it in my large soup pot.  If you have a large gathering, you can double the recipe and do like wise.

Have you tried the NEW OLD health food? What, haven’t heard of it? It’s called Bone Broth, a rich broth made from any animal bones that have already been roasted in your meal preparation or bought from your butcher and roasted in your oven.

Roasted Chicken Leftovers

Start by removing the cooked meat, then rinse and crack the bones so they will release their goodness,  if they are still intact, place the bones back into a clean pot, add enough water to cover plus 3-4 inches above the bones and simmer over a medium heat source for 3-8 hours.

  • The gelatin found in bone broth is a hydrophobic colloid that attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, thereby supporting proper digestion.

  • Bone broth reduces joint pain and inflammation courtesy of Chondroitin Sulfates, Glucosamine, and other compounds extracted from the boiled down bone cartilage.

  • Bone broth can be made from any type of bones you like – chicken, beef, pork, or even fish – but seek bones from organically raised, pastured, or grass-fed animals.

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To enhance the flavor, I add 1 teaspoon of sea salt, one medium onion cut in half, and  1 large carrot, 2 celery ribs, cut into one inch pieces but the flavorings can be any vegetable of your choice.

I’m guessing, by now, you have noticed the NEW OLD health food is an old favorite that our grandmothers have been making for centuries. Yep, the Bone Broth that is the rage of the culinary world, is an enriched broth or stock that cooks from every generation have been making for centuries.

The grandmother that gave you chicken broth for a cold was doing the right thing for you, without knowing it or having a doctor’s education.

As with a lot of things, the old is new again.  If you think you do not have time to engage in the making of this wonderful healthy broth, use your slow cooker for the simmering stage.  You can even leave it over night and have a cup in the morning to start your day.

Cooking Meals and Saving Money on Winter Comfort Foods

The cold weather months are excellent for hearty comfort foods that warm you up and keep you full. Delicious soups, stews, and hot casseroles abound, most so good, that you almost don’t miss the warmer weather. Even better, many wintertime comfort foods can be made without spending a lot and they go a long way.  Often, you can feed a big family or make enough for a week’s worth of meals, and spend very little money on each serving.

enchiladas_nim

Save Time

Most people tend to slow down during the winter. Maybe it’s the cold, or maybe it’s the layer of ice or snow which is keeping everyone in the sloth mode, but people tend to move slower and take their time.  All that extra time spent bundling up and thawing out means you don’t have a lot of extra time to cook a gourmet meal. Luckily, winter is the best time for some simple meal ideas.

Slow Cooked

Slow cookers, or “crock pots” as they are also called, are the perfect solution for family meals on the go. Simply put your ingredients in the cooker in the morning, turn it on, and then come home to a delicious hot meal waiting for you. Most recipes are so simple you just throw everything in and go, while others may require very little prep.

cold weather comfort foods

Fix It and Forget It

Winter cooking is a great time to make use of some super easy “fix it and forget it” type meals. For example, a pot roast with some chopped veggies can be thrown into the oven and a timer set, cooking to perfection while you relax or get some other tasks done.

Savory Staples

To save money and keep your tummies full and satisfied, look to stocking winter staples. Root vegetables like carrots and potatoes go well in just about any savory winter dish, keep for quite a while, and are almost always some of the cheapest produce your grocery store has to offer.

Pantry Perfection

For simple, delicious, and hot meals of your favorite comfort foods, to warm you up when the weather gets cold, look no farther than a stocked pantry. Canned goods, rice, and pasta make for fast, easy, and cheap casserole ideas that cost even less than the time it takes to throw them together.

Extra Tips

Keep it simple – The simplest meals are often the most delicious, especially during the winter when anything hot and savory really hits the spot. Very few ingredients can go a long way.

Prep ahead – A little extra prep in the morning, or even spending time to prep once a week, can make meal times easy in the wintertime. For example, chopping up veggies and putting them in bags in the freezer cuts down on time and makes it super simple for you to just grab them whenever you need to.

Coupons – Most coupons tend to be for canned and boxed goods, so winter is the best time to make use of these pantry staples and save a lot of money.

Cooking is easy when you utilize some of these simple solutions. Not only can you make hot, satisfying comfort foods, but you can also save money in the process.

To me, there is nothing better, than opening my front door and smelling the aroma of my dinner cooking in my slow cooker or crock pot.
When I had five children at home, it was the most used cooking utensil in the kitchen, and still is. Although I am a single person now, I still use my tried and true friend, the crock pot.

Over the years, I have found, these few tips improve my crock pot cooking joy.

cold weather and hot food
[1] Using the right size crock pot, for the job.  I have three different size crock pot cookers, because I never want to over fill the cooking insert.  It would only cause spillage or under cooked food.
[2] Planning ahead by doing the chopping of your vegetables the night before and storing them in the refrigerator is the secret to quickly getting the meal together before leaving for work.  DO NOT, store the vegetables in the crock pot insert.  Starting with a cold insert will only add to the cooking time. So store the chopped veggies in an air tight container overnight, then place them in the cooker in the morning.
[3] You should prepare your meat before hand, too.  Remember you are cooking with low heat, so you do not want to have you meat to be too thick, as it may not reach a safe cooking temperature.  A piece of meat no more than 2 inches thick, should work great.  Keeping your whole chicken or chicken parts to about 2-3 pounds works well, also.  Do a spice rub on your meat of choice, cover or wrap, then place it in the refrigerator with your vegetables.
[4] DO NOT lift the lid on your crock pot, until you are within the last 30-45 minutes of the cooking time.  It will only release the heat and interupt the cooking process.
You can check for doneness or add spices in the last 30 minutes of so but at any other time, you are doing more harm than good.
[5] If time permits, add more flavor to your meal by searing your beef.  Heat a heavy skillet to hot, add a tablespoon of oil, then place the meat in the hot skillet, listen for the sizzle.  Cook on both sides about 1-3 minutes each, depending on the thickness of your meat.  Then place the piece of meat into your crock pot cooker and add any juices from the skillet before placing the lid on the slow cooker and starting your cooking time.  You will get a richer broth and fuller flavor from the beef by doing this extra step.