Hi, my Friends! I have thought about you often over the last two and three months. I posted a couple of times on Dished With Love's Facebook page to keep in touch a little bit while trying to get back to you and the blog. Life has been busy!
I am slowly updating the look of the blog, so please forgive me if the fonts are different colors and/or sizes.
This is a soup I made for friends by request, another copycat of an Olive Garden Soup. You can use the handy, dandy search feature at the top right corner of the page and find the recipe for the hearty, meaty Zuppa Tuscana soup, mine and my friend 'Nette's favorite! Here's the recipe for the Chicken Gnocchi Soup:
Copycat Olive Garden Chicken Gnocchi Soup
My sister is a fan of the Chicken Gnocchi Soup at The Olive Garden and she says their soup is not as creamy as mine; it has more broth in it. It's hard to make a copycat dish when you've never had the dish before. I don't advise that! I did have more chicken and gnocchi in mine, too. My friend, Kenneth, who requested it, asked for me to leave the gnocchi out and said it was delicious! He suggested a little heat would be good. Next time I'll add a pinch or two of ground cayenne pepper. I like a little heat, too!
I will confess, I did not make the gnocchi, I bought it. I attempted to make gnocchi for my friend Ghee, Sawyer's dad, a couple of years ago I guess. It was a big, hot mess! I wish I had the photos still to show you my kitchen when I was attempting to make it I have matured a little, no, a lot, in how I prep and cook, and could probably make the gnocchi now, but as a matter of convenience, the potato gnocchi was store-bought this time.
Home cooking is all about making foods the way you like them. I did make one recipe without gnocchi for Kenneth, and this photo includes the gnocchi for Sis and me. It's a beautiful dish, too! Look how the colored bowl brings out the pretty colors of the veggies!
Since attending culinary school (the real school in Marietta, not the one in Rome that bought stock from Kroger), one idea I love so much is to make your own hearty broth for soups and other dishes. I don't make the stock from scratch a lot unless I am going to use it right away, but only because I don't have a freezer with room to store it. However, stock is something you can make every day if you have a pressure cooker, and that is on my wish list! So, save those celery leaves, carrot tops, onion and pepper pieces, chicken bones, shrimp shells, whatever you have and depending on what your dish is, and make your own broth. Remember, it takes a little while to get all the flavor if you're making it on the stove so that's something that needs to be done a couple of hours before you need it. Here's an easy to read article on simple stocks to make at home: fabulousfoods.com/articles/19919/stock-making-101-how-to-make-soup-stocks
The most wonderful thing about this dish is that once the prep work is done, it all just goes into the pot! I made a stock by cooking the chicken breasts with water and chicken broth and the veggie "scrappings" I had. I took the chicken out of the broth once it had time to cook and let the broth simmer until I was ready for it.
I cooked three large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (some chicken I saved for salad and tacos at a later time) in water, chicken broth, "scraps" from the celery, carrots and onions (these were cleaned), on medium high heat for 15-20 minutes. The chicken is done when it reaches 160-165 degrees on a food thermometer. Since this chicken is going to be diced, just slice the chicken at it's fattest point and make sure there is no pink in it! Before you slice the chicken, let it "rest" on the counter for about five minutes. This lets the juices that have built up during cooking redistribute throughout the chicken. There will also be some "carry-over" cooking during that five minutes that will continue to raise the temperature, so it's okay to take the chicken off the heat at around 160-165 degrees.
You never know when you're going to have cold weather in Georgia, even after the warmer weather in the 70's we had this week, but this is a pretty good meal anytime, especially if it's loaded down with chicken. I hope you'll try it and enjoy it!
I'm a little late in showing you the cookies I made for Valentine's Day, but I actually thought I had lost the pictures by accidentally deleting them from my phone. They were on the Dished With Love Facebook page. Sawyer loved the "cherry cookie" and so did the girls at Sis's office. These are simple, pretty, and delicious.
Here's the recipe!
Cherry Valentine Cookies
1 c salted butter (two sticks)
1 c sugar
1 (3 oz) package cherry Jello
1 tsp. almond extract
3 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
Mix and chill the cookie dough overnight. Roll out like a sugar cookie on a floured surface.
Bake cookies on an un-greased sheetpan or on parchment paper at 375 degrees for 8 minutes (larger cookies) – 7 minutes (smaller cookies). Cool completely and frost by dipping the tops of the cookies into the frosting and let them dry. Top them with a few M&M's if you have them, they are always appreciated in this house!
For the Frosting:
1 c powdered sugar
2 tsp cherry juice (from maraschino cherries)
2 tsp light corn syrup
1 tsp almond flavoring
Mix and add more corn syrup and cherry juice to get the right consistency.
Here is a wonderful chocolate chip cookie recipe that are "yuge" like the ones you can buy in the store. I made the chocolate chip cookies before and called them Hurricane Cookies because we actually had a hurricane warning in Northwest Georgia last September! You just never know about the weather here! Here's a picture of the large cookies I made. Click on the picture for a link to the recipe!
And this is what you do with leftover chocolate chunks and maraschino cherries! I used the same recipe from the link above and added a jar of maraschino cherries, without the juice (I don't know what size, not the smallest jar but not the biggest). Instead of measuring the cookie dough out in a 1/4 cup measuring cup, I used a cookie scoop and the recipe made about three dozen cookies. If you use chocolate chips instead of chunks the cookie dough will go even further. The smaller cookies only take 7-8 minutes to cook per batch. Take them out of the oven when they're a little bit brown on the edges!
Well, Friends, I'm happy for the chance to catch up with you a little bit. I would love to hear from you to see if you like the recipes, and if you try them! Some of you who have been with me from the beginning of the blog know that it is dedicated to the most beautiful girl in the world, Sawyer! Dished With Love, the blog, is dedicated to her and was started on her birthday, and she will be three in May! Here are a few current photos of her and her lucky parents, and the Easter basket she got from Niecey and JJ! She's growing up so fast, and she's as sweet as she is beautiful!
Until next time, love from Dished With Love! Denise xoxoxo
A place to share my favorite things...friends and food, dogs, college football, and my inspiration, Sawyer, the most beautiful little girl in the world!