Perfect Rice…Every-time!!

Perfect-Rice

 

Hello Lovelies,

Rice…Such an amazing food. It is inexpensive to purchase, full of flavor and easy to prepare.

However, is it really easy to prepare? For a lot of people rice preparation is their achilles heel. Sometimes the rice is too hard, sometimes it’s too soggy and sometimes it just doesn’t taste very good.

All that is about to change because I am about to show you how to make perfect rice every time.

Follow along as I walk you through my no fail recipe that will even make “Uncle Ben” jealous…

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Here’s who’s playing the game today: Basmati Rice, Butter, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Water, Onion, Cubanelle Pepper, Johnny’s Garlic Seasoning, Kosher Salt and Pepper. (Fresh Cilantro is optional)

Beep, Beep, Beep…Personal Preference Alert: There are many varieties of rice to choose from. In this recipe I use Basmati Rice. I suggest you do the same so your ingredients and technique are the same as this recipe. You can branch out later with other rice varieties once you have mastered the basics.

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To start, prep your veggies. Dice 1/2 an onion and 1 medium cubanelle pepper. Put aside.

A long time ago I discovered the cubanelle pepper and my life was forever changed. I have never been a big fan of red and green peppers, I think they’re flavor hogs. But not my darling cubanelle; he’s subtle with a slight sweetness, the perfect pepper. Just like my Papi’s the perfect husband…Aww – how sweet am I?

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Next, pour 2 cups of rice into a measuring cup.

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Now, drown the rice in water…

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Allow the measuring cup to overflow.

Reach into the measuring cup with your clean hand or a spoon, as you continue to run the water.

Move the rice around so the starch is released from the rice and the water begins to run clear.

What’s up with my sink in this picture? It looks so dirty. I promise it’s just the way the water streaks reacted with the flash on my camera. I know you’ve heard that excuse a million times. But it’s true…really!

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Once the water runs clear, it is time to empty the rice into a mesh colander to drain. Set aside.

Check out those bananas in the background, maybe I should make banana bread next?

Why am I distracted so easily? I have the attention span of a monkey…wait are those bananas? What am I saying?

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Now that your prep work is finished, it’s time to have some super rice making fun!!

Set a saucepan on medium high, on my stove I turn the knob to #8. Your stove may be different – it’s just a reference.

Add 1 tbsp of butter and 1tbsp of extra virgin olive oil to the saucepan.

I always use salted butter in all my recipes just in case you couldn’t sleep wondering about that.

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Immediately add the onions.

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Then the cubanelle pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.

Side note: You can add your veggies immediately to your saucepan, in fact the sooner the better. You don’t have to wait for your butter to brown or bubble or sing or dance. Just turn on your stove and start tossing the veggies in the pan while yelling, “OPA”. It works – scientifically proven, somewhere I think…?? Why are you listening to me?

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This is what you want your onions and peppers to look like. I can’t explain how good this smells!!

Well, actually you know I could but I’ve rambled enough, so I’ll keep this train a movin’ instead.

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Add the kosher salt.

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Add the pepper.

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Add the Johnny’s Garlic.

Johnny’s Garlic is a mixture of herbs and garlic. I buy mine at Costco. If you don’t have any, you can use garlic powder. It won’t be exactly the same, but good enough for government work.

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There they are; all the spices getting to know each other. I love when my spices make friends.

Now mix them up and let them cook for another 2 minutes.

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It is time to add the rice.

Here is where the ancient family secrets come into play.

These next couple of steps are critical in separating rice from RICE!!

Prior to adding the water, you are going to fry your rice just a smidge. Please, listen carefully as these instructions are important!

Once the rice is in the pan, start stirring it around.

Turn the heat down a notch to medium and most importantly keep the rice moving so it does not burn.

Continue this for 2-3 minutes.

If prior to the 2 to 3 minute period the rice starts to stick to the pan or starts turning brown, then it is time to move onto the next step.

With this in mind, it is your judgement call. Watch your rice carefully because all stoves heat differently and all pans transfer heat differently. What works on my stove may be too much or too little on yours.

BE ATTENTIVE WHEN YOU COOK!!

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Time to add the three cups of water to the rice.

Typically, the water to rice ratio is 2:1. I don’t use this formula, I use 1 1/2 : 1 as my ratio.

Aren’t I quite the rice rebel? This is as good as my rebellion gets…

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Turn the heat to high and let the rice boil (uncovered) for 2-3 minutes stirring occasionally.

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Give your rice one last stir and immediately place the lid on the rice – TURN THE HEAT TO LOW!!!

Do not forget to turn the heat to low or you’ll have a bubbling mess all over your kitchen!! I speak from experience here, lots and lots of experience…Ugh – I’m having flashbacks!

Set a timer for 20 minutes and do not peak!!

Did you hear me? Resist the urge to peak!! Do not peak, Nada on the peakage, Nope to the looking, Nix on the gawking, No can do on the observing. I could go on…but why, there’s just no need for that! Capiche?

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Hence, the reason you don’t peak, observe above.

Once your timer goes off … do NOT remove the lid just yet. Patience young grasshopper…

Pull the rice off the stove and set aside for 5-10 minutes.

Then, finally you can pull the lid off the pan and there you have it – perfect rice.

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With a fork fluff the rice. The veggies will have congregated around the edges so you’ll want to incorporate them back into the rice.

Serve immediately.

If you would like, you could mix some cilantro into your rice for added flavor. Please note though, cilantro is an herb that people either love or hate. If they love it they REALLY love it, but if they don’t, it grosses them out. Check first – you’ve officially been warned; which is much more official than unofficial, so officially you been schooled and officially warned – unofficially – Thank you for your cooperation and understanding…

Until next time…I’m officially off the air.

Be blessed, stay blessed and remember if you don’t laugh at yourself someone will do it for you!

Love, L.

Rice

Ingredients

2 cups basmati rice
3 cups of water
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion – sweet
1 medium cubanella pepper
1 bunch cilantro – fresh (optional)
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp johnny’s garlic
Method

Dice onion and cubanelle pepper. Set aside.
Rinse rice thoroughly, drain. Set aside.
Heat a saucepan on medium high heat.
Add the oil and butter.
Immediately add the onions and peppers and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add the kosher salt, pepper and johnny’s garlic (which can be substituted with garlic powder); cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Turn the heat down to medium and add the rice – stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes.
Add the water – boil for 2 minutes.
Cover and reduce the heat to LOW!
Set timer for 20 minutes and DO NOT PEAK!
Remove the rice from the stove.
Keep the lid on and let rest for 5-10 minutes.
Remove lid and fluff rice with fork.
Add cilantro to rice if desired.

Happiness Is Only a Mindset Away…

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Frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language,

and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. 

The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things,

and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things. 

~Elise Boulding

Stop and Smell The Roses Photo

Hello Lovelies,

I hope this Sunday finds you and yours happy and healthy.

Here’s my thought for the day – Enjoy simplicity.

I find simplicity especially necessary in a world that has inundated us with “things”.

Overstimulation from media, family, friends, work, social life and home life can become maddening.

Some time ago, we as a family decided to take a step back and try to “quiet” some of the noise.

Low and behold it has worked.  Immediately our close little family became even closer and the noise seemed to quiet itself.

My prayer for you and your family this beautiful Sunday is that you find just the right balance of simplicity to fit your life.

Until next time…Whatever’s good for your soul…do that!

Be blessed, stay blessed and remember if you don’t laugh at yourself someone will do it for you!

Love, L.

To Fight or Not To Fight – That is the Question….

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Hello Lovelies,

Welcome to yet another beautiful day!!

Here’s a quick little (I like to think inspirational) story…

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I walked outside yesterday to let my dogs out and next thing I know my feetsies are soaked.

I looked down and was like, “What on earth?”

And then that ugly feeling overtook me…

You know the feeling..when you remember what it was you were suppose to remember hours ago, but clearly did not.

Like…Let’s say – in this particular case…TURN OFF THE HOSE that was filling your pool!!!

13 hours – 13 long hours our hose ran when it was supposed to only run for 30 minutes.

So, I texted my husband with these two photos and asked him if we forgot something.

This is yet another reason why I love my husband so very much.

His reply was, “Looks good, maybe just 5 more minutes then turn it off.”

He cracks me up!!

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Choices – Life is full of choices.

I’m not going to ask you how you would have responded because it is none of my beeswax.

But it is good food for thought – Think about it….

Blame fixes nothing, fights make people sad and mistakes are only human.

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There is a book I love to read and reference often, it is written by Albert E. Cliffe and it is titled “Let Go and Let God”.

You don’t have to have a specific religious affiliation to read it or even have a belief in general, it’s just good common sense advice.

This is a quote from the book I’d like to share, “In our daily contacts, therefore, we should try to keep away from arguments of any kind.  Arguments create bad feelings and often result in a sense of humiliation.”

I like that.  I enjoy harmony and balance and laughter and smiling.

I do not enjoy fighting or crying or blaming or feeling bad so I avoid these.  It’s working out pretty good so far.

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Here is the added bonus…take a closer look at the above photo.

Did you even notice the clouds?

At first I didn’t either.  They took my breath away when I saw them.  I hope they do the same for you.

Until next time…You don’t always have to look up to see the sky.

Be blessed, stay blessed and remember to laugh at yourself or someone will do it for you!

Love, L.

Sweet Salami

Hello lovelies,

Get ready for a lip lickin’, gum smackin’, knick-knack, paddywack, give the dog a bone –  melt in your mouth delight!!

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Howdy, Howdy, Hiddy, Ho – Happy “I can’t wait to share on of my favorite recipes with you” day!!

This recipe is for sure one of my very favorites!!

Perfect for a light dinner paired with a crunchy baguette and a glass of wine.  Ohlala!

It’s also my “go to” appetizer for entertaining.  Everybody goes bananas for it!!!

The best part is that it is quick, simple and always delicious!!

So without further ado I present my recipe for Sweet Salami…

Sweet Salami Ingredients

To Make The Magic Happen, This is What You’ll Need:  Hebrew National Salami, Mango Jam, Brown Sugar and Honey Mustard.

Four ingredients – You’re welcome.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cutting Salami

Slice your salami into thin strips, stopping just before you cut all the way through.  Por favor.

Salami Cut

Your salami should look like this when you are finished slicing.

Again, do not cut all the way through.

Set salami aside and let him know you’ll be right back.

Adding Brown Sugar

In a mixing bowl add the brown sugar…

Adding Mustard

Add the honey mustard.

I always use Boar’s Head Honey Mustard.  Just a suggestion (that you should take).

Mixed Ingredients

Add the mango jam…

Whisk it all together so everyone gets to know each other really, really well.

Cut salami in pan

Place your salami into a small baking dish.

Adding glaze to salami

Go and wash your hands – not that anyone would know, but if you don’t that’s gross so please wash your hands!!

Pour entire mango mixture onto the salami with complete abandon.

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This is where the clean hands are important.

Dig right into the ooey, gooey mixture and pack it into all the nooks and crannies.

This mixture is so good you could lick your fingers, just wait until you are finished – thank you.

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This is what it looks like – it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it.

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There you have it.  All ready to pop into the oven.  One hour at 375 degrees will bring this recipe to perfection every time.

You will notice that the ends of the salami will darken quite a bit.  Don’t panic.  It is supposed to do that.  That’s the best part.  🙂

Toothpicks

If you are serving this as an appetizer cut the salami slices into quarters, put on a serving plate, drizzle the sauce lightly over the salami and serve with toothpicks.  I like the toothpicks with the colorful fuzzy’s on the end.  It just makes it fun to eat and who doesn’t love fun to eat food???

One a side note…You can make this ahead of time and store it in the fridge until you are ready to bake it off.  The bake time stays the same.

Until next time…A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz.  ~Humphrey Bogart

Be blessed, stay blessed and remember if you don’t laugh at yourself someone will do it for you!

Love, L.

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Sweet Salami

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. Hebrew National Salami
  • ¾ cup Mango Jam (Preference Alert: Peach Jam also works)
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. honey mustard

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Score into Salami, cut into Salami in narrow slices (3/16″) but not completely through to the bottom.
  3. Place into baking dish.
  4. Mix Mango Jam, Honey Mustard and Brown Sugar together.
  5. Spread on Salami – make sure to get into all the crevices.
  6. Place in oven and bake for 1 hour.
  7. Remove from oven.  Let cool.
  8. Serve loaf whole or cut into bite size piece and serve with toothpicks.

How To Organize Your Utensil Drawer – Video

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Hello Lovelies,

Please enjoy my first “how to” video.  I am excited to share with you a few simple tips and techniques that make my life easier to manage.

I hope you have a lovely day filled with love, joy and peace.

Until next time…Be the type of person you want to meet.

Be blessed, stay blessed and remember if you don’t laugh at yourself someone will do it for you!

Love, L.

Naked Man at Silver River State Park, Ocala, Florida

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Sooo…We were biking through the park one day,

In the merry, merry month of May,

And what to our surprise,

A strange man would catch our eye.

For no clothes did he bare,

Thankfully, the law was quickly there.

He made a quick escape,

With some pants he made a drape.

To cover his (ahems..)

So we did not see his gems.

Quite an experience I must say,

For I will never forget that day!

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What am I talking about and why are you showing me a blurry photo? Fair question.

Picture this…Hot weather, my son (10) and I alone biking the Silver River State Park forest trails. Suddenly, we have to stop and walk our bikes through very thick sugar sand when I look up to see –

A buck naked, no clothes wearing man. To give him some credit, he was wearing a hat.

He proceeds to walk past us as he covered his royal gems with his pants.

True Story.

My son was concentrating so much on getting his bike through the sand he never realized the man was naked.

I turned around just to be sure and yep, his bum was as bright as the moon. Oh, my.

I took a photo of his rear view, but as you can see my camera fogged up – of all the times to fog up, really, why now?

I called papi (that’s what I call my hubby) who immediately called the park rangers. Who immediately swarmed the area looking for the naked bandit.

Unfortunately, he was gone in a flash. (Get it) – I crack myself up.

But yes, he was gone and no they never caught him.

I must say it caused quite an uproar amongst the rangers.

They said NEVER had anything like this happened.

I chuckled because stuff like this follows me around. Stick with me and you’ll understand.

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Anywho, the park is fantastic, you probably won’t see my naked man, but if you do please take a picture so I can replace my foggy photo.

I am just kidding – that would be weird. Besides, I have a very permanent, unwanted photo burned into my mind.

So, to keep moving with this review…

The camp sites are wonderful and the restrooms are spotless.

Since we go camping specifically to mountain bike we fell in love with the Ocala “Santos” MTB Trail System. (Shown Above)

One of the neatest perks was that you could park your car and enter the trailhead at Santos Bike Shop.

They even let you use their restrooms, which is good because I always have to use the restroom before biking.

The staff is super knowledgable and friendly. Can’t say enough about them. Actually, I could and I am.

To sum it all up – The state park is fantastic, the santos trail system is the best we have been to, the Santos Bike Shop is top-notch and the views – well… you’ll just have to see for yourself.

Until next time…don’t hike naked – it scares the wildlife.

Be blessed, stay blessed and remember if you don’t laugh at yourself someone will do it for you!

Love, L.

Are You A Crazy Pet Owner???

Hello Lovelies,

I woke up this morning in the mood for some light-hearted pet facts.

That’s not true, actually I woke up in the mood for an excuse to stay in bed, or a milky way candy bar or a pizza…Don’t ask….

But since that didn’t work out so well I decided to look up completely irrelevant, somewhat interesting, mildly disturbing, light-hearted pet facts.

So if you’re not eating pizza, enjoying a milky way or sleeping it’s time to see if you qualify as the world’s best pet owner…

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How many can you check off this list??

  • Nine in ten pet owners surveyed say they consider their pet a member of the family.
  • 63% of dog owners and 58% of cat owners surveyed said they give their pets presents at Christmas.
  • Americans spend about $5 billion on holiday presents for their furry friends.
  • 40% of dog owners and 37% of cat owners hang Christmas stockings for their pets.
  • 36% of dog owners give their pets presents on their birthday, as do 20% of cat owners.
  • About one-quarter of both dog owners (27%) and cat owners (23%) sign their pet’s name on greeting cards or notes.
  • 64% of surveyed pet owners said they include news about their pet, and 36% include a photograph. in their holiday cards.
  • About 27% of pet owners claim to have taken their pet to a professional photographer to have a picture taken with family, Santa, or the Easter Bunny.
  • About a third (37%) of dog owners and a similar proportion of cat owners (31%) have their pet’s picture prominently displayed in their homes, and 14% and 10%, respectively, display it at their place of work.
  • About 10% of both dog and cat owners carry their pet’s picture in their wallet or purse.
  • In about 20% of both dog and cat households, the TV, radio, or stereo is left on when the animals are left alone, presumably so they don’t get lonely.
  • 16% of dog owners and 14% of cat owners claim to have bought a car or home with a pet in mind.

I am guilty, guilty, guilty of it all!!!

How did you score??

Until next time…I’d rather stay at home and nurse an unhealthy attachment to my dog than socialize with people.  🙂

Be blessed, stay blessed and remember if you don’t laugh at yourself, someone will do it for you!

Love, L.

These statistics are copied from Petfinder.com – Gracias Petfinder!!!

Matzo Ball Soup – Part II….The Soup

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Well friends – we find ourselves at the end of our matzo ball soup journey.

It’s time to make the soup and reap the rewards of our labor.

So without further ado…Let’s make us some soup!!

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This is what you’ll need:  4 cups of water, 2 quarts of homemade or store bought low sodium chicken broth, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 large onion, 4 stalks of celery, 1/2 cup of carrots, 1 tbsp fresh dill.  Extra wide egg noodle are optional, as well as not pictured here – oops.

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Chop the onions, carrots and celery.  I’ll leave the size up to your personal preference.  You’re welcome.BML_0643

Feed your dog a carrot – check out the carrot flying through the air.  Do you see it?

Do you also see the already chewed carrots on Oso’s teeth?  Clearly this was not our first take…BML_0650

Heat a stock pot to medium and add the extra virgin olive oil.

If  you use the same pot that you made the matzo balls in empty the water first – haha, I make myself laugh!!BML_0654

Once the pot is warm add the onions.

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Then the carrots…

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Then the celery.

Sauté them together for 5-10 minutes.  The longer you sauté them the softer they become.

Beep, Beep, Beep…Personal Preference Alert:  I like my veggies to have some substance to them so I tend to slightly undercook them – I lean more toward the 5 minute mark.

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Once you are satisfied with your veggies it is time to add the water.BML_0705

And the broth.  This is where your homemade broth really kicks it.  This is also where you think kind thoughts of me and chant my name!!

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Next add the salt.

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The pepper.

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Garlic powder.

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And the onion powder.

Of course, this could be the garlic powder and the above photo the onion powder, I guess we’ll never know…BML_0321

Last but not least the fresh dill. Ah.. the dill.

Some things just go together like dill and chicken soup.  How could you even think about not using dill?

That would be like eating corn without butter, watching Fred without Barney or eating cookies without milk – is that even legal?  Oh, I can’t bear the thought, someone please make it stop!!  Move along, move along…

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There you have it.

Turn the heat to high and wait for the soup to boil.

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Since I forgot them in the starting ingredients I am giving the egg noodle their own close up.

So handsome…
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Once the water is at a rolling boil you are at a crossroad.

Beep, Beep, Beep…Another Personal Preference Alert:  

You can do one of two things here.  Add the egg noodle or skip them completely, thankfully this is not rocket science.

If you choose to add them read below, if not move along, “these are not the noodles you seek”. (Star Wars Reference for those of you who live under a rock).

  1. Add the egg noodles to your soup.  Now, I am not discriminating against other noodles, you can choose any type of noodle you like, except for maybe lasagna noodles that would be strange.
  2. The photo above is the 16 oz bag.  Do not use the entire bag or you will have no broth left!!
  3. I like to add no more than a 1/4 of the bag or 4 oz.  Again, personal preference as to how “noodly” you like your soup, the more noodles the less broth, they are like soup sucking sponges.
  4. Cook the egg noodles for 7 minutes.  Yes, technically they’ll be undercooked.   Be patient young grasshopper there’s still more to come.

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When your timer for the egg noodles goes off, drop the heat to a simmer, wait a minute until the boiling subsides slightly then add the matzo balls.

If you skipped cooking the egg noodles start reading here!!

Drop the heat to a simmer, wait a minute until the boiling subsides slightly then add the matzo balls.

Keep your stove on a simmer and cook for 20 minutes.

This will give all the flavors enough time to become really good friends.BML_0308 2Look at that!!

Grab a nice big bowl and dig in!!

And most importantly – Don’t forget to call me so I can join you, I’ll even bring dessert!!

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Oops…I almost forgot.  Remember the chicken from the other day?  This would be a great time to add it to your soup.  Or just thinking out loud here, you could grab one of those pre-cooked birds from the store and shred some meat off to add to your soup.

Make sure that you don’t pick one of the seasoned birds or it might taste peculiar, or it might taste good.  Let me know if you try it, thanks!!

So there you have it – Matzo Ball Soup!!!

Until next time…I’m off to feed my dog more carrots.

Be Blessed, Stay Blessed and remember to laugh at yourself or someone will do it for you!!

Love, L

Matzo Ball Soup

Ingredients:

The Soup

  •   4 cups water
  •   2 quarts homemade chicken stock or low sodium store bought stock
  •   1 tsp kosher salt
  •   1/2 tsp pepper
  •   1/2 tsp garlic powder
  •   1/2 tsp onion powder
  •   1/2 large onion
  •   4 stalks celery
  •   1/2 cup carrots
  •   1 tbsp fresh dill
  •   Extra Wide Egg Noodle (optional)

Directions:

The Soup

  1. Heat a stock pot over medium heat, drizzle in 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Add the veggies and sauté for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add the liquids: water and the chicken stock.
  4. Add the seasoning; salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder.
  5. Add the fresh dill.
  6. Turn the stove to high.  Bring the water to a boil.
  7. Optional Step – The extra wide egg noodles.  (If you don’t add them go to step 9)  Once the water is boiling, add no more than 4 oz of egg noodles to the pot.
  8. Boil for 7 minutes (Yes, technically they will be undercooked but just trust me).
  9. Lower the heat to simmer then add the matzo balls.
  10. Cook for 20 minutes.
  11. Grab a bowl and enjoy or put them in containers to store in the refrigerator.