German Knephla Soup with made-from-scratch broth

Let me tell you, I’ve always been amazed at people that can make meals from scratch. Somehow, the thought of just throwing stuff together and hoping that it turns out has always terrified me…but that’s not so much the case any longer.

You see, I have four boys – and aside from one on a very special diet – they will eat anything. And lots of anything. Lots and LOTS of anything.

Scooter and his older/younger brothers. He's the one in the football gear.

Scooter and his older/younger brothers. He’s the one in the football gear.

Yesterday I started what was to be supper last night, but Boss Man surprised me by having put something in the oven for supper already. So I saved it for today (which actually made it healthier).

This post is actually two recipes in one, so be sure you read all the way to the end, you don’t want to miss it!

Soup base

  • 1 soup bone (in this case, I used a whole half-smoked turkey, you can use a beef bone, ham bone, chicken, etc – leave the trim meat on it…whatever type of base you want to make)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • celery salt, approx. 1 tsp. (you can also just use 3-4 stalks of celery)
  • couple shakes of pepper (I apparently have inherited my Grandmother’s gift of measurement)
  • 3 bay leaves

Put all together into a stock pot or kettle with water. I filled my kettle about 2/3 full of water. It depends on how strong you want your broth, how much you’re going to need for the final recipe, etc. Turn the temp up to medium and bring it to a boil. Keep it boiling for 30-45 minutes. The longer it cooks, the more flavor you’ll draw out. As the meat starts to fall off, you’ll know when it’s about done.

Getting ready to make my broth.

Getting ready to make my broth.

When the broth is to your flavor desire, take out the bone and discard. I always leave the meat in for my soup. (It usually doesn’t have much flavor left, but adds to the texture.)

Notice how most of the meat has fallen off? I picked a little more off as I was pulling out the bones.

Notice how most of the meat has fallen off? I picked a little more off as I was pulling out the bones.

Warning – chicken will cook faster than a beef or ham bone. You’ll want to be sure to get all the bones out! (Lesson learned the hard way.)

If you’re making soup that day, just add your other ingredients and enjoy! If your soup-making day is a little ways off, place the broth in the fridge and let it cool. If you let it cool first, all the fat will harden at the top, making it easy to skim off.

If you’re soup seems to be lacking a little something, you can easily play with it, by adding a little extra chicken bouillon, beef bouillon, etc.

Now, on to the good part:

Knephla Soup

Knephla soup is simply a dough-based soup. Super easy to make, especially with the broth above.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp. salt (to your taste)
  • package frozen veggies (again, to your taste)
  • 3 chicken breasts, browned and chopped

To make knephla dough, simply add the flour, egg and water and mix until a dough ball forms. You know the dough is done, when it doesn’t stick to the side of your mixer. If the dough is dry (flaky in the bowl), add a touch of water…if it’s wet (sticky mess), add a touch of flour. When adding to the dough, do so in small amounts. It doesn’t take much to get it to just the right consistency.

To the broth above, add in the vegetables (you could also use fresh carrots, celery, potatoes, whatever you’d like…I just happen to have a bag of frozen handy) and the chicken. (I cheated this time and used some chopped ham that we had leftover. The smoked turkey tastes a lot like ham, so it was an easy add in. With the salty ham, I skipped salt in the broth, so that it wasn’t too salty in the end.)

Bring the broth with all your goodies in it to a boil.

To make the actual knephla, tear off a chunk of dough and roll it into a strip. Think about half the width of a paper towel roll. Take your kitchen scissors (or your kids’ scissors…washed) and cut small pieces off the strip, directly into the broth. They may sink right away (unless you have a ton of stuff in your kettle, like veggies, meat, etc.), but they’ll float when the dough has cooked through (about 2-3 minutes). Keep cutting and rolling and cutting and rolling, until all the dough is in your pot.

Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Enjoy!

German Knephla Soup - No matter how you spell it, it all ends up the same...GONE!

German Knephla Soup – No matter how you spell it, it all ends up the same…GONE!

 

Hunk of Meat Monday – Cheesy Chicken Hashbrowns

I had part of a bag of hashbrowns leftover this weekend, so I decided to throw some stuff together and it turned out to be such a big hit, that I thought I would share it with you!

Cheesy Chicken Hashbrowns

Ingredients:

  • package of frozen hashbrowns
  • shredded chicken (I used the Schwan’s Philly Style Chicken, but you could even use the fajita meat, leftover chicken, etc.)
  • shredded cheese
  • butter

Simply start the hashbrowns the way you normally would.

Start off with a little bit of butter in the bottom of a skillet. After it’s melted, throw your hasbrowns in and cook as you normally would.

Split the pan in two, and cook (heat-through) your chicken on one side.

When the hashbrowns are just about done, flip them over, so they take up only half the pan. Throw your chicken in on the empty half and let it cook (or reheat, whatever it may be).

When chicken is cooked-through, combine the two.

When the chicken is heated through, combine the two halves together and cook until done. (Crispy, not-so-crispy…whatever your preference for hashbrowns.)

Top with cheese. Why? Because there is nothing that isn’t better with cheese…well, except maybe ice cream…maybe.

Top with cheese. Serve, enjoy! Super simple, but oh, so good! You could also add in onions, peppers, mushrooms, etc.

Super simple meal, easy way to use leftovers!

 

Hunk of Meat Monday – Spare Ribs

I was thinking all weekend about something that I could make for a Monday lunch for Boss Man. I don’t normally make him lunch (he has 2 fridges, 2 freezers, a pizza oven and a microwave in the shop…there are times where I don’t see him for days), but since it rained most of the weekend, I thought I would surprise him with a little surprise…spare ribs, slightly barbecued.

Let me tell you that I have never successfully made ribs. I mean, they usually taste good, but never look quite right, never taste quite like I hope and I either douse them in too much sauce or they get all greasy. Not today. Today I conquered my fear of ribs! (I can hear the theme to “Rocky,” can’t you?)

And I’m sharing my secrets with you…lucky you.

Spare Ribs

Ingredients:

  • Package of ribs
  • Rib seasoning (I used Pampered Chef’s Smoky Barbecue Rub, but you can use any type of seasoning that pleases you, bought or home-mixed…I just have no luck with finding my own combination…yet.)
  • Oil (I used Wildtree’s Natural Butter Flavored Grapeseed Oil. If you aren’t familiar with Wildtree and their grapeseed oil, you need to find a distributor…now. It’s amazing stuff. Really. Truly.)
  • Barbecue sauce (I just used an original flavored store-brand sauce…and not a whole lot of it. We all have our faves, just pick whatever is yours.)

That’s it. Again, for me, the big thing is getting ribs to look like ribs. And I found the secret…but let me walk you through it.

First, start with a nice package of ribs:

Now, that's a hunk of meat that I could love!

Rub them down with a bit of oil. I have a spray pump at home that I can fill with whatever liquid of my choosing and turn it into an aerosol-of-sorts (minus the aerosol)…I use this with my oil and LOVE making my own oil spray! :)

Coat with seasoning. I don’t use a ton of it, but that’s to our taste. Coat to your hearts content.

Those ribs are ready for an oven!

Place ribs on a shallow pan and broil in the oven for about 10 minutes on each side, or until browned nicely.

When done, remove ribs from the pan and place directly on the rack. Yes, it’s crazy. Yes, it’s a bit uncouth. But it really made a difference. (And place the pan under the ribs to catch drippings…we don’t want to start any fires!)

Place directly on rack...don't flinch, I promise it won't hurt!

Bake at 250* for about 2 1/2-3 hours. In the last half-hour, brush on a light coating on one side for 15 minutes, then flip and do the other. (You can do this earlier and keep repeating, as your taste demands. I’m truly a northern gal, complete with pretty tame tastebuds.)

I teamed it up with butter-fried potatoes and fresh steamed-asparagus from the garden. Yes, it’s April and we have asparagus ready to go in North Dakota. Crazy spring.

Here, check it out:

Go ahead, it's OK to drool...I promise.

Scrum-diddly-umptious!

Oh, and don’t forget about my giveaway! You’ll definitely want to enter today! Winner tomorrow! :)

Poor Man’s Lobster – Boiled Northern

My dad had a slight stroke last week…we use the word “slight” because he’s still here to tell about it. But, in reality, it could have been so much worse. He was lucky…and with determination, he came home without the walker they were predicting and he’s almost back to normal…whatever that is.

He asked Saturday evening if Big Bro could go with him fishing on Sunday, and although we usually go to church and Sunday school before any other events, I gave him a pass to spend the day with his grandpa. And he thought it was worth every minute!

The fishing was great, they were biting heavy, but better than that, the memories will be amazing for them both. And when they came home with four decent-sized northern, Big Bro was proud as a peacock.

I’ll share with you my new favorite recipe for northern…and it’s super simple:

Cut up your northern into bite-sized pieces.

All you need is fish and beef broth. This fish is fresh, so there are bones in it. (My Dad doesn't have his de-boning technique down quite yet.) Be careful with those!

Bring about 3 cups of beef broth to a boil.

Bring broth to boil, drop in fish.

Drop in fish and let it boil for about 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!

Fish are cooked through, moist and so yummy!

It’s a very simple, great-tasting dish, sure to please everyone! You can add other seasonings if you wish, but my family prefers it straight from the broth!

Hunk of Meat Monday – Chicken, Pork, Deer

It’s been awhile since I’ve had a recipe for Hunk of Meat Monday, but this weekend I tried something that was so out-of-this-world, that I HAD to share it.

It combined chicken, pork and deer (although, the recipe called for dried beef, I only had dried venison on hand). And it was de-lish!

Chicken Breast with Dried Beef

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken breasts, boned, skinned and cut in half (or just get boneless, skinless ones! :) )
  • 1 pkg. dried beef, pulled apart (I used dried venison)
  • 8 slices of bacon (or more, can’t go wrong with bacon…ever)
  • 1 pint sour cream
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (I confess, I used cream of chicken)

Venison, chicken breasts and bacon...how can you go wrong?

Line the bottom of a 9X13 pan with dried beef. Roll 1/2 slice bacon around each half of chicken breast and place it on top of the beef. Mix together the sour cream and cream of mushroom soup and spoon over the chicken. Bake at 275* for 3 1/2 hours, uncovered. Can be assembled a day ahead of time and refrigerated. Serves 8.

Oh, and I served it with baked potatoes, so we weren’t in a complete meat coma.

And it was so very, very yummy!

So very, very yummy!

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Hunt My Meat Monday – Success!

That’s right, after a few failed attempts this week, I managed to finally bring down my deer. In fact, as I type this, my dear is at a local butcher shop, being turned into pepper sticks and dried venison (and I’ll have a recipe for that at a later date). I can’t WAIT!

But, the story on how I got my deer is an entertaining one…and since I happen to like to entertain you, my reader, I will share my story with you:

It all started Sunday morning, as I woke up to the promise of another beautiful day on the prairie (seriously, 50 degrees on the prairie…in North Dakota…in November?!? Pinch me, I’m dreaming!)

A friend of my husband called and said that there were some deer west of our house a bit. I drove a mile west, saw the deer he was referring to, walked a half-mile in, shot three times, missed, and walked the rest of the way home. Great way to get a mile walk in, but not a successful hunt. It was now almost 9 a.m., I had to get myself and four boys ready to greet at church at 9:35, plus have the refreshments ready for the Fellowship Time following church. But I wasn’t in a hurry. ;)

We made it through church (did I mention that we were also Sunday morning greeters/ushers for church?), made it through the snack preparation for after church, made it through Sunday School (did I mention that I was asked to sub for a Sunday School teacher that was sick?) and then headed home. I had a long, busy day already, and it was barely noon.

As we pull up to the grocery store to pick up some milk (we go through milk like CRAZY!), my little sister called, telling me that there was a buck just west of the farm. I’ve been down this road already…in fact, I had walked that mile already that day! But she was insistent that I hurry out and see if I could shoot him. And so we hurried home, I grabbed my orange sweatshirt (state law to wear blaze orange while deer hunting during gun season), grabbed my gun and headed back west again.

As I got out of the suburban to cross the fence and head out into the field, it dawned on me that my attire was not the best suited for hunting excursions. This is what I was wearing:

My version of hunting...with style.

 

 

Yes, I am wearing a green cowl-neck sweater dress, complete with brown leggings and knee-high dress boots. I was a fashionable hunter as I crossed the field, even kneeling to use my scope to spot my target. The buck got up, I shot once and missed. I reloaded and shot a second time. I didn’t miss that time. The buck did a summersault and was down. I had filled my tag.

Now, to be clear, I hunt for food and to protect our crops and livestock. I am not a trophy hunter (although I don’t mind having a mount on my wall), and have no desire to spend days on end tracking my deer. I prefer I shoot them, they die, we take care of them and they’re in our freezer. Simple as that.

When we checked on my quarry, it became apparent that the meat on this deer was safe, as I had shot the buck in the head, eliminating on side of its rack. A pretty crazy shot from where we were, but the animal was dead, which was the point I was going for! (Sometimes, when an animal is shot in the body, it can ruin large portions of the meat. Had this been a trophy deer, my shot would have been a sad deal, but since this buck was nice, but definitely nothing special, my shot was in a great place…causing no damage to any edible part of the deer.)

The guy walking with me started to field dress my deer (take all the insides out), and I quickly told him that I could finish the job. I knew I wasn’t wearing appropriate clothing, but I’m perfectly capable of dressing out my deer. Any errors in judgment that I had in my dress code were my mistakes, not something he had to make up for! But he graciously insisted that he could finish the job, and actually enjoyed this part of the hunt! (And he did a great job!)

Here I am, with my buck (complete with my fan-tab-ulous outfit!

Not exactly what I "planned" to wear when hunting, but it works!

 

 

When my Dad and I took my deer to the local butcher shop to be processed, he commented on my unique attire. I guaranteed him that although I was dressed in truly my Sunday’s best, I had no qualms about helping unload the deer. I’m guessing it was a fresh change from some of the guys he sees! :)

I don’t have a recipe to share with you today…I’m too tired and and little run down from the craziness of today! But if you go over to my friend Katie’s blog, she has an awesome pheasant recipe (that I happened to supply her with!) and I’m linking up some past venison recipes she has shared…go ahead, check them out!

Hunt My Meat Monday

I know, I’m funny, right? Normally I participate in Hunk of Meat Monday with Beyer Beware…but today, I don’t have any meat to make, because my hunt was unsuccessful this weekend. Oh well, I have two more weekends to work some magic.

But I want to share my hunting story, because I think you will enjoy it!

Things I need for my hunt: blaze orange, gratis tag, shells, clip, pelvis saw.

Deer season opened at noon on Friday. The boys and I drove around a bit, but didn’t really do much for hunting. Saturday morning, bright and early, I walked the trees behind our house with some friends. Then we walked more trees and then we walked some more. (By the way, did you know that hunting is GREAT exercise?)

We saw a few deer, but I never did shoot. Not sure why. Hmmm…better get over that!

Anyway, Saturday afternoon, my little sister and I decided to walk another set of trees. It wasn’t a great day for hunting, it was cool and the wind was blowing 40+ mph. After we walked the trees, we thought maybe walking the slough next to the trees would be a good idea. The chances of having the deer laying in the weeds were pretty good with the wind the way it was. And so Amy decided to take the south side of the slough…and I took the north.

What I did not realize is that the slough extended for most of the quarter of land. And in order for me to cross the slough, to get back to the road where the vehicle was parked, I needed to either A) walk for about a half-mile north before heading east again, or B) get my shoes a little wet. I decided to go with B…looking back on it, I should have hoofed it farther.

Anyway, I was walking along, crossing the slough where it looked the driest and the most narrow. But you know about looks, right? They can be deceiving.

About 10 yards from solid ground, the ground went from squishy to ankle deep water to over knee deep. I was up to my butt in slough water and no where to go but forward. I closed my eyes, prayed I kept my shoes on and forged on…not thinking about what things I may be stepping on, in, etc. My sister was laughing so hard that she could hardly stand!

I finally made it through and out the other side. Shoes still on, clothes soaked, gun dry, mentally smacking myself for not walking the extra bit. Did I mention it was cool? And windy?

The slough behind me didn't LOOK that wet...famous last words.

So, we got into the suburban and I suggested since I was already soaked and dirty, we might as well walk something else while we were out. Apparently my stinky slough-water-filled clothes got to my sister though, she insisted we stop by the house for me to change.

My socks after my little swim in a slough. The slough grass is a nice touch, I think.

Maybe next Monday I’ll have a better story…and hopefully a recipe!