Sunday, April 3, 2011

Get Well Soon Basket

     It seems as though in Springtime while the weather goes from cool to warm and back again, over and over again, people get sick.  Such is the case this year, a good friend of mine has caught the flu and sounds downright miserable.

     I know that nobody enjoys being sick, so I try to always do something nice for my friends when I know they are sick or having a tough time, maybe that is also why they always tell me when they aren't feeling well.  These are three of my favorite treats to put in a get well basket, it brightens everyone's spirits  I usually also tuck in a good magazine or book as well to ease the boredom, and I always add a flower, because everyone smiles when they see a flower.

Love from Scratch Chicken Noodle Soup


4 cups diced chicken (great way to use leftovers)
10 cups low-sodium chicken broth
6 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 stalks celery, ends trimmed
3 medium onions, peeled and diced
5 black peppercorns
2 cloves garlic minced
10 sprigs parsley
3 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 leeks, tops and root ends removed
3 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons fresh-ground pepper
6 ounces pasta noodles of choice ( I like ABC's)


In a dutch oven add the chicken, vegetables and cook until the onions are translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the broth, salt, and pepper and spices (except parsley). Simmer the soup until the vegetables are tender -- about 1 hour. Stir in the pasta and parsley and cook until the noodles are tender, about 10 more minutes.  Discard the bay leaf.  Serve hot.

Chocolate Shortbread Cookies


1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 Tablespoon of orange zest
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 325°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder,cinnamon and salt in a bowl. This step is particularly important as the cocoa has a tendency to clump. Sift and set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed in a mixer for 5 minutes, being sure to scrape down the sides and bottom as needed. Add the vanilla and orange zest and mix for 30 seconds. Add about half the flour mixture and mix on low speed. Scrape down the bottom and sides and add the rest of the flour mixture. Once incorporated mix at medium speed for 2 minutes. Put dough into the freezer for 10 minutes.

Lay out a sheet of parchment paper and place the dough on it. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness with a rolling pin. continue rolling or cutting. Cut into desired shapes and place on the baking sheets about 1-inch apart.

Bake for 13-15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Remove the pans and allow the cookies to cool for a minute or two before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

Spiced Apple Pomegranate Cider


3 cups pomegranate juice
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
4 sticks cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
1 orange, sliced into rounds
16 kumquats, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds


Combine all ingredients except half of the kumquats in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Garnish with remaining kumquats and serve hot.

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