Sunday, April 29, 2012

Recipe and Tip of the Week; Mom's Chicken Soup and How to Seperate an Egg

Last week I wrote about Freezer Fall Back meals and how helpful they can be when either you are to sick to cook or you just plain get to busy to work your meal plan.  My Mom's Chicken Soup recipe was a lifesaver for me last when I did not feel good. I was able to pull it from the freezer and have delicious meal in just a few minutes.  I served it with plain old PB&J Sandwiches and everyone was happy (ever since I was I child I loved this combo when I was sick) . 

Each week I will try to post a recipe that will help you work ahead for planning real meals.  Freezer meals, snacks and pantry items are easy to make ahead and will make your meal time much easier; especially when you get thrown off course and need to change your plans.  I am also going to include one chef tip each week.  Feel free to email me if with feed back or to ask questions.

Take it One Prep at a Time!
Chef Jackie

Recipe of The Week
Mom’s Chicken Soup
chicken, pasture raised or organic chicken, cut into pieces
homemade chicken stock or organic store bought chicken stock
apple cider vinegar
medium onion, chopped
garlic, minced
carrots, peeled and cut into ¼ inch rounds
parsnips, peeled and cut into ¼ inch rounds
celery stalks with leaves cut into ¼ pieces across the rib
fresh parsley, chopped
teaspoons Celtic sea salt
fresh ground pepper
Rinse chicken pieces under cold water and pat dry with paper towel.
In a heavy bottom soup pot bring chicken stock to boil and reduce heat to low.
Add chicken pieces and cider vinegar. Cover and poach chicken for about 15 minutes until cooked throughout. Cool 5-10 minutes.
Remove chicken from pot. Discard the skin. Shredded or chop the meat and set aside. Save the bones and freeze for future home-made stock.
Add vegetables to the pot and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes until vegetable are tender/crisp.
Add chicken, parsley and adjust the seasoning with sea salt and pepper to taste.
Servings: 6
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Prep ahead:
Clean chicken and pat dry.
Mince garlic.
Chop onions, carrots, parsnips, celery and parsley.

Author: Chef Jackie White

Allergen Info:
Soup can be made with leftover cooked chicken by omitting the fresh chicken.
Recipe freezes well. So make a double!
Reduce salt if using purchased chicken stock.

Tip of The Week; Separating Eggs
I got this tip last week when I was at a party.
Separating an Egg with a Funnel
  • Place funnel in a cup.
  • Crack egg into funnel.
  • White will fall through funnel hole while yolk remains the top.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Freezer Fall Backs

The past couple weeks I have been under the weather and it has been more difficult to get dinner on the table.  All I wanted to do was sleep the minute I got home from work but unfortunately I still needed to basic things to keep our household running.  My husband took care of many things for us but cooking is not something he does (he’s quite happy with pizza and tacos every night).  So needless to say I made a lot of very simple dinners like eggs, sandwiches and soup but that got boring pretty quick (for me anyway). 

Thank goodness I could go to my Freezer Fall Back list in the front of my recipe binder and put a meal on the table with very little effort.  I freeze different things for each season so when we are transition from one season to next I try to use up any freezer meals from the last season before I make new ones. Most foods can be frozen 3-6 months depending on your freezer. Unpredictable Michigan weather and this nasty cold are making it very easy to use up some of my winter soups and meals.  When I make meals for the freezer usually it is just recipes that I have doubled or tripled or left over meal from large roast. 
Here is a sample of what's left in my freezer winter (looks like it is time to defrost the freezer).
Here are my empty containers that I can fill once the freezer is empty.

 This is what my Pyrex looks like when they are not nesting inside of each other.  I use Pyrex because you can freeze and bake in the same container.  As you can see they are very easy to store inside of one another and take up very little space in my freezer.
Freezer Fall Back List
Meats (usually leftovers from large roast)
  • Sliced Ham for sandwiches and wraps
  • Diced, ham for pizzas, soups and egg dishes and soup
  • Sliced turkey or chicken for sandwiches and wraps
  • Diced turkey or chicken for pizzas, quesadillas, soups and egg dishes and soup
  • Cooked ground beef for pizzas, soups and stews
  • Cooked bacon for pizzas, salads, egg dishes and sandwiches
  • Cooked Sausage for egg dishes and pizza topping
  • Cooked whole breakfast sausage (reheat in a steam basket for breakfast) 
Soups and Stews 
  • Mama’s Chicken Soup 
  • Autumn Turkey Stew 
  • Vegetable Cabbage Soup 
  • Vegetable Beef Barley 
  • Chicken Pot pie soup (I also thaw this and use it as the filling in pot pie) 
  • Chili
  • White Chicken Chili
  • Fiesta chicken Chili 
  • Beef Stew
Other Frozen Foods
  • Oatmeal, individually packaged; just thaw and reheat in a steam basket 
  • Breakfast burritos, thaw and bake or reheat in a steam basket 
  • Waffles, reheat in the oven or toaster 
  • French toast, reheat in the oven or toaster 
  • Quiche thaw and bake
  • Cooked rice for side dishes or to add to soups, reheat in a steam basket 
  • Cooked quinoa for side dishes, in chicken salad or to add to soups, reheat in a steam basket
  • Cooked mashed potatoes, thaw and bake in the oven
  • Twice baked potatoes bake from thawed or frozen in a 350 degree oven 
  • Enchiladas or taco pie 
  • Taco meat for tacos, quesadillas, nachos 
  • Sloppy Joe's 
  • Meat Sauce for spaghetti 
Meal Kits-These all parts of a meal packaged together
  • Taco Meal Kit-taco meat in a bag, shredded cheese in a bag and soft shells, all three Items are placed in one larger bag 
  • Chicken Fajita Meal kit-shredded chicken and cheese, soft shells 
  • Chicken pot pie meal kit-chicken pot pie filling and pie dough packaged together 
  • Meat Pie-cooked ground beef, shredded cheese and mixed vegetables
  • Muffins 
  • Cookies and cookie dough 
  • Frozen yogurt Popsicles 
  • Banana Bon Bons

Saturday, April 7, 2012

"Planned Over Easter"

Even on holidays I make extras or "planned over" food that can be made into something else.  This makes the rest of my weekly cooking much easier.

Have you ever went down the frozen food aisle and wondered if you could freeze something similar you make at home? Now is your chance.  Try it with a small amount of  your "planned overs".  If it works great; next time make a double recipe and freeze one. If it doesn't work only a small amount of food was tested and not a whole recipe.

My favorite website to get ideas of what to do with "planned overs" is All Recipes . I just click on ingredient search and I  get tons of recipes to give me inspiration!

Here are some ideas of what to do with Easter "planned overs".   Be creative! You have nothing to lose. 
Have a Happy Easter and take it one prep at a time!

Chef Jackie

  • Add to egg sandwiches, omelets, frittatas, quiches (can be frozen) and stratas
  • Add to salads including potato salad, chef salad and pasta salads
  • Toss with steamed green beans
  • Make hot ham and cheese sandwiches, these can be made ahead.  On a bun place ham slices and cheese.  Wrap in foil.  When ready to eat; thaw and bake in foil.
  • Chop extra ham and freeze in 1 cups servings to use as pizza toppings, omelet fillings or in soups 
  • Make Monti Cristo sandwiches; ham, Swiss cheese and Dijon mustard between two slices of bread dipped in french toast batter and pan or deep fried then dusted with powder sugar and served with raspberry jam on the side
  • Add to soups; split pea, baked potato, bean and ham and shrimp chowder
  • Serve as a topping on baked potatoes with cheese and eggs
  • Add to twice baked potatoes; these can be frozen for another meal
  • Add to Au gratin potatoes
  • Ham salad- grind cooked ham and combine with chopped hard boiled eggs, onions, celery and mayo
  • Make Ham Fried Rice
  • Chicken Cordon Blue-chicken stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese; can be frozen 
  • Add to Pasta Carbonara
Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Add to salads-spinach, Cobb, chef, macaroni, tuna and potato
  • Add slices to sandwiches
  • Deviled eggs
  • BLTE's-serve in a lettuce wrap with bacon, tomatoes and mayo or on toasted bread
  • Add to smoothies-I know it sounds disgusting but you won't even taste the egg and it adds protein to this sweet drink
  • Make egg salad; serve on toast for breakfast

Scrambled Eggs
  • Make egg and cheese quesadillas
  • Roll cooled eggs and toppings into wraps or tortillas; wrap in parchment and foil and freeze.  Reheat in the oven or a steam basket for a quick breakfast anytime
  • Serve on top of baked potatoes with cheese
  • Make Breakfast Nachos-Place tortilla chips, scrambled eggs, cheese and your choice of toppings on a cookie sheet; bake until warm and cheese is melted
  • Add to stir fries
  • Add to smoothies (see above)
  • Breakfast Super Bowl-layer eggs, potatoes, meat and cheese in bowl; heat and eat
  • Breakfast Pizza-top a pre-baked crust with scrambled eggs, toppings of your choice and cheese; bake in 350 degree oven until cheese is melted 

Roasted Potatoes
  • Make Potato Salad; toss with mayo or ranch dressing, crumbled bacon or ham, chopped hard boiled eggs, celery and onions
  • Make Pesto Potato Salad-toss with Italian Vinaigrette, pesto, cooked sausage, onions and peppers
  • Make Egg strata and replace the bread with "planned over" potatoes
  • Make your favorite Hash
  • Potato Nachos-top with cheese and bacon crumbles bake at 350 until cheese is melted; remove from heat and sprinkle with chopped green onions.  Serve with sour cream.
  • Add to omelets, quiches and fritatas

  • Make pasta salad; toss with cooked pasta and vinaigrette
  • Pasta Primavera-Re-warm in a saute pan and toss with angel hair pasta, Italian vinaigrette and Parmesan cheese
  • Pesto Pasta-  Toss warm angel hair pasta with pesto and warmed "planned over" veggies
  • Add to omelets, fritatas, quiche and stratas
  • Add to Panini Sandwiches or quesadillas
  • Freeze "planned overs" and add to soups and stew
  • Make vegetable stock
  • Add to meat or chicken pot pie
Sausage or Kielbasa
  • Jambalaya
  • Gumbo
  • Sausage and Lentil Stew
  • Sausage and Peppers cooked in spaghetti sauce; served over rice or pasta
  • Sausage, apples and cabbage sauteed in butter
  • Cabbage and Sausage Soup or Stew
  • Remove casings and crumble, freeze in 1 cup portions for pizza toppings
  • Sausage gravy over biscuits
  • Add to egg dishes
  • Add to chili
  • Add to chowders
  • Make sausage hash
  • Serve with beans and rice
  • Make pork and beans
  • Sausage Fried Rice

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Coloring Eggs Naturally

 The Process

  • Place eggs in a single layer in a pot; add water to cover and 1-2 teaspoons of vinegar.
  • Add natural dye (see below).
  • Bring water to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.
  • If you like the color remove eggs from liquid and air dry completely. Refrigerate.
  • For more intense color remove eggs from liquid and strain boiling liquid through a sieve. Return eggs to stained liquid and refrigerate overnight in the liquid. Remove eggs from liquid and air dry.
  • Natural eggs will have a matte finish.
  • Lavender-replace 1/2 the water with purple grape juice 
  • Violet Blue-add the skins of 2 red onions to the water before boiling
  • Robin Egg Blue-add 2-3 red cabbage leaves to the water before boiling
  • Green-add spinach to the water before boiling
  • Yellow-add 1-2 teaspoons cumin or turmeric to the water before boiling
  • Red-add one can of cherries and juice to the water before boiling
  • Brown-boil eggs in leftover coffee or add instant coffee to the water before boiling; better yet just boil brown eggs
  • Orange-add sliced carrots or 1-2 teaspoons of chili powder or paprika to the water before boiling
  • Pink-add juice from canned beets to the water or boil in cranberry juice
Good luck!! Your eggs will never come out the same twice. Try other things you find in your cupboard to make new colors. This is a great way to cook and color your eggs at the same time!
Remember that colors will transfer from one egg to another until they are dried completely.
Use white shelled egg.

The eggs in the picture below are the easiest and prettiest colored eggs I have ever had!  My friend Sandy gave them to me from her chickens. Different breeds of chickens hatch different colored egg shells, she must have several breeds. They are so beautiful and fresh.  All I need to do now is boil them.

To learn how to make the perfect hard boiled egg visit my guest post at Plumberry Pie

Looks like we will be making tie dye t-shirts instead of coloring eggs this year.  Thanks again Sandy, you helped me take one step out of my Easter prep and gave my family egg-stra time to make cool shirts!

Have an eggstra-special day!
Chef Jackie

Monday, April 2, 2012

Guest Post: Casual, Fresh & Fun Easter Tablescape

I am so excited to have my first guest poster, my little "Sis" Kim from Plumberry Pie!  At her blog she shares great DIY ideas for your home (she truly can turn trash into treasure!).
She also shares amazing party planning ideas, those posts are my favorite!

I love to cook for every gathering but she's rounds out the meal with her quick and easy tips to make every event a memorable one!! Please be sure to visit Plumberry Pie and check out everything she has to offer!

Have a great day and take it one prep at a time,

Chef Jackie

Guest Post:  Casual, Fresh & Fun Easter Tablescape
Hi Prep Like a Chef readers!  I’m so glad to be here today! Thanks, Jack!  Today I’m here to show you a casual Easter tablescape.
Last year I wanted a springy, happy and fresh look for my Easter table, rather than pretty, prim and proper. I was inspired by these buckets and egg shaped plates from Target last year. (They have them again this year, but I like last year’s designs much better.)
So I was thinking crisp, fresh and fun. What’s more crisp than a white tablecloth as the perfect backdrop. So I grabbed some standard white tablecloths too, which I knew would come in handy again. I’m all for practical, multi-functional things. Here’s what the kids’ table looked like (oh, and a few adults that are sort of like kids got to sit here too).

Originally I wanted grass for inside the buckets so I could sprinkle them with our hard boiled eggs, but I never found what I wanted and didn’t have time to grow it. Instead I grabbed potted tulips and hyacinths and just dropped them in the bucket. So easy and so cute. Again, went for crisp white to offset the fun colors on the buckets. And I gave the potted flowers to my mom and mother-in-law when they left, which was an added bonus.

For the little bucket, I just stuffed some Easter tissue paper I happened to have stashed in my gift wrap supplies.

For the “adult” table, I used my everyday white plates. Best tip my sister gave me before I registered way back when – get white plates. It’s the perfect backdrop for food and so easy to mix and match with other pieces. For as much as I like some of the colored or designed plates out there, I stand by and will forever be a white plate girl.
For the little buckets on this table, I simply dumped in some plastic eggs and crumpled up some grocery bags on the bottom as a filler.

I’m sure I’ll use my buckets again this year, but I saw a display at Pottery Barn Kids that got me thinking of adding a bit of burlap and something twiggy – maybe even some glitter. I don’t know what it is, but ever since I had my daughter, I’ve kind of been obsessed with glitter. Anyhow, I’d love to hear what you have in store for your Easter table. Feel free to send links in the comments area. I should really figure out how to have a linky party. This would make a good one.  Hope you’ll stop by Plumberry Pie sometime to check out some of my other projects!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Easter Brunch Menu Ideas

I usually have self serve menus when we have get togethers.  Being the host is awesome but I also love to attend the party! 

When everyone makes their own meal combination everyone is happy!  Picky eaters will just have ham and eggs but those of us who like adventure can jump right in and make all kinds combinations with no risk!  There is always plenty of food to go around! 

This menu is also very easy to involve guests who like to bring a dish.  I email out the menu an let everyone know I am happy to make it all but if they would like to bring something put their name next to that item and reply all; so I won't get any doubles. 

Of course I welcome any dish even if it is not part of my menu plan (never turn down help!).  I just eliminate something that I was planning and substitute it with what my guest wants to bring.

Menu Ideas (I never make all of this I just pick and choose what I want to make year to year)
The Main Courses
  • Ham (cooked ahead and served on a platter at room temperature) 
  • Roasted Pork Loin Wrapped in Bacon (my version of fresh ham, no nitrates)

 Self Serve Scramble Egg Bar (only make what you like to eat and serve)
  • Scrambled eggs (keep warm in a crock pot)
  • Steamed or roasted veggies
  • Shredded Cheeses
  • Chopped scallions and dill
  • Cooked shrimp, salmon, sausage and/or bacon, diced
  • Cheese and Potato Pirogi or Roasted Golden Potatoes (can be served on the scrambled egg bar)
  • Shrimp, Polish Sausage or Bacon (depending on what other meats I serve)
  • Hard boiled eggs (leftover from coloring eggs)
Sweet Endings (I almost always make this.  It is easy to make ahead and everyone loves it!)
Crepe Toppings: These pictures were taken at my brunch class on Saturday, thanks Jamie! When I serve them on Easter they will be in fanicier bowls and a prettier display!

Crepe Bar
  • Crepes (can be made one day in advance)
  • Fresh fruit (usually berries, kiwi and pineapple, cleaned and chopped one day ahead, combine on day of service), see my post on how to keep berries fresh
  • Yogurt
  • Granola (make ahead or buy)
  • Whipped Cream (make same day)
  • Toasted sliced almonds (toasted in advance)
Chocolate Decadence Cupcakes (can be made in advance)
Cheese Cake Cupcakes (can be made in advance)

Check out my guest post tomorrow from my sister Kim@ Plumberry Pie to get great ideas for a Causual Easter Tablescape.

Take it one prep at a time,
Chef Jackie

Here's a few recipes to get you started!

French Crepes
Make batter night before and strain off lumps before use.
1      cup    all-purpose flour
2      Tbs    maple syrup
2                eggs
1 ½   cups  milk
1   Tbs   vegetable oil
            Zest of 1 orange or lemon
            oil or butter for pan

1   Sift together flour and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, beat eggs, maple syrup and milk together with an electric mixer or hand whisk. Beat in flour, zest and oil until smooth.  Strain off lumps and use immediately or store overnight under refrigeration.
2   Spray and non-stick pan with cooking spray and heat  to medium. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 2 tablespoons for each crepe. Tip and rotate pan to spread batter as thinly as possible. Lightly brown on both sides.
3   Crepes can be made ahead and stacked between waxed or parchment paper.
Servings: 12 Yield: 15-18 crepes

Crepe and Dessert Bar: Chia Seed Yogurt Parfait

1      cup               whole milk plain Greek yogurt

1-2   tablespoons  honey or palm sugar

                            Zest of 1 lemon, chopped fine

1      teaspoon       vanilla or 1 tablespoon vanilla whey protein powder

1-2    tablespoons  chia seeds (optional)


1 ½   cups              fresh berries or berry compote

                             Granola or nuts (optional)


1   Combine yogurt, honey, lemon zest, vanilla and chia seeds.

2   If making ahead add chia seeds 15 minutes before serving.

3   Serve as a filling for crepes or to make fruit and yogurt parfaits.

Servings: 4

Crepe Bar: Mushroom Spinach and Swiss Filling
2    Tbs    butter
½            small onion diced
2    Tbs    cream sherry or white wine (optional)
2    cups  sliced assorted mushrooms (Portobello, shitake and button)
2    cups  baby spinach
½   cup     heavy cream
3    Tbs     cream cheese
¼   cup     grated Swiss cheese
     pinch   nutmeg
                Celtic sea salt and pepper to taste
1   In heavy bottom sauté pan, melt butter and sauté onion until caramelized; deglaze with sherry and sauté for a minute or two.
2   Add spinach and continue to cook until spinach starts to wilt and most of the liquid cooks away; 1-2 minutes.
3   Add heavy cream, cream cheese and Swiss cheese and gently stir until cheese melts.  Season with salt and pepper.
4   Serve as a filling for crepes or a topping to eggs.

Crepe and Dessert Bar: Butter Rum Bananas
1    cup  dark brown sugar
1    cup  water
½   cup  butter
¼     cup  rum
2-3           banana, sliced
1   Combine water and sugar and bring to boil.  Boil for 5-7 minutes.  Add butter and rum.  Cool and reheat on day of service.  Bring butter rum sauce back to a boil.  Add sliced bananas and use as a topping on crepes, Cheese Cake Cupcakes or Chocolate Decadence Cupcakes. Yield: 2 cups