Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Yesterday I retired from teaching!  I've had many special hugs, parties, emails, even a flash mob(!).  One card contained a poem bookmark that summed up how I hope to live the next part of my life. 

Advice from a Waterfall

Go with the flow
Roar with excitement
Let your cares fall away

Create your own music
Immerse yourself in nature
Stay active
Make a splash!                             

I intend to follow this advice, to the letter!

Here are a few more photos taken the same day I took the ones near our creek.  We call these flowers "Missouri Bluebells" but I'm not sure if that's their real name.  If you know what they're really called, let me know! 



Monday, May 20, 2013

Italian Wedding Soup

I've joined a Facebook Cookbook Club and this month's theme is Italian.  Wonderful Hubby and I will be celebrating our 25th next month (WOW!!) and have been making plans for our 'celebration.'  I have wanted to try Ina Garten's Italian Wedding Soup recipe and this month seemed like a good time!

This soup boasts chicken meatballs and this was the first time I've ever used ground chicken or chicken sausage.  (Actually, my local grocer didn't have chicken sausage so I substituted with turkey sausage.)

For the meatballs:
     3/4 lb. ground chicken  (I used the whole pound)
     1/2 lb. chicken sausage  (I used turkey sausage)
     2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs (I used whole bread I had on hand)
     2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
     3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
     1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
     1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus extra for serving
     3 tablespoons milk (which is not pictured here)  
     1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
     Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Percorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and gently combine with a fork. 

With a teaspoon or small ice cream scoop and drop onto a sheet pan lines with parchment paper.  This should give you about 40 meatballs.  They don't have to be perfectly round.

Bake the meatballs at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes or until cooked through and lightly browned.  Set aside.  (I actually made these the day before, let them cool and stored them in a plastic container in the frig. until I made the soup the next day.)
For the Soup:
     2 tablespoons of good olive oil
     1 cup minced yellow onion
     1 cup 1/4-inch diced carrots (about 3 carrots)
     3/4 cup 1/4-inch diced celery (about 2 stalks)
     10 cups chicken stock  (Ina always suggests homemade, but if you don't have it .... store bought is fine!)
     1/2 cup dry white wine
     1 cup small pasta such as tubetini or stars  ( I used acini di pepe)
     1/4 cup mined fresh dill
     12 oz. baby spinach, washed and trimmed
For the soup, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 - 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 - 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender.  Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for one minute.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for one minute more, until the spinach is just wilted.

Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan cheese.
We enjoyed this last weekend when the weather had turned a bit chilly for May.  It really was delicious and quite filling.  I thought about serving a salad with it but decided not when I put the whole bag of spinach in! 
Ina Garten scores again!!