Monday, October 20, 2014

How To Make Chicken Stock!

This is a simple and easy stock recipe using your leftover chicken bones.  I tend to roast whole chickens often and I always try to get more bang for my buck by using the remnants from one nights dinner to stock up on this basic kitchen essential.  What's great about making homemade stock is that it's one of those "set it" and "forget it" kind of recipes.  All you need to do is basically throw all the ingredients in a pot

Leftover chicken bones and skin
3 or 4 carrots (quartered)
1 large (unpeeled) onion (quartered)
3-4 pieces of celery (quartered)
A handful of fresh parsley with stems
2 bay leaves
8-10 peppercorns
2-4 garlic cloves (crushed)
cold water 
Thyme (fresh if possible)
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Pepper

Optional ingredients:
Other herbs
1 Parsnip (quartered)
1 leek, white part only(cut in half)

What you need:
Stock pot or Large Pot
Mesh strainer or cheese cloth

Place the chicken, vegetables, and herbs in your pot and fill with cold water. 
I usually follow this basic recipe, sometimes depending on what I have I may add the parsnip or leek to the mix. If I have fresh herbs I will add a few stalks of thyme and even a little oregano or basil.  If not I always add a large pinch of dried thyme and maybe a pinch of the other spices as well.  I have a spice blend "Mural of Flavor" and "Herbs De Provence" that I usually add as well. Really you can tweak the basic recipe however you like.


Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a slow simmer.
Allow it to simmer uncovered for at least 4 hours, 6-8 hours will yield the best results and flavor. Add hot water throughout as needed to ensure the water level stays above the bones and vegetables. You can also skim any fat off the top occasionally with a spoon or fine mesh strainer if desired.

Strain the stock.
 I like to strain the stock through a colander into another large pot first.  I find it makes removing all the bones and veggies easier.  Once the solids are discarded I rinse out my original pot, then pour the liquid back into it through a fine mesh strainer. If you want you can strain it even more by passing it through the mesh strainer again or even pouring it trough the mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth.

Store the stock.
You can store your stock in a glass or plastic container with a lid in the refrigerator for a few days.  If you don't plan on using it right away the stock can be stored in your freezer for a few months in a plastic container or bag. I sometimes make "stock cubes" for an easy way to add flavor into recipes. 

If you want to remove more of the fat from your stock, simply place it in the refrigerator before portioning it into containers for storing.  Once the stock fully cools the fat will rise and solidify on top making it easy to skim off with a spoon.

Chicken stock is a great base for soups and sauces.  I also love using it as the liquid when making quinoa and couscous.  It also comes in handy when I make gravy, mashed potatoes or I want to steam vegetables.  For even more ways to utilize your stock you can check out this list of 25 tasty ways to use chicken stock from

What is your favorite way to use chicken stock?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How To Make Almond Milk!

Many people seem to be switching over to nut milks lately. One of my favorites is Almond Milk! It is a great substitute for dairy milk but is also great all on its own.  I very rarely drink dairy milk these days and always seem to have Almond milk in my refrigerator.  I tend to use almond milk most often for protein shakes and smoothies.  It has a wonderful flavor and a creamy consistency with less fat and calories than dairy milk.

Bonus: Almond milk contains a wide variety of essential vitamins and minerals!

 I have been drinking nut milks for some time now and I find myself less and less likely to buy them from a store.  The basic ingredients consist of the chosen nut, water and sweetener, yet its hard to find a brand with that few ingredients.  Obviously they would need to include a preservative to help keep them shelf stable but I don't like buying things, even "healthy alternatives" riddled with chemicals and ingredients I can not pronounce. You may think it would be a hard and time consuming ordeal to make your own fresh almond milk, however it is not. How do you make almond milk? Here is my quick and easy guide to making fresh homemade, creamy, delicious almond Milk! 

Bonus: Aside from avoiding unwanted chemicals you will save money too!


What do you need to make almond milk?

You can make as much or as little as you want.  When making almond milk you can choose to use blanched almonds (skins removed) or regular almonds (skin still on). The only difference between using almonds with or without skins when making almond milk is that you may need to strain your milk a bit more if you use regular almonds.  I don't find that it changes much.  For this post I made a small batch. I used one small bag of regular Almonds (about 1 cup)


Raw Almonds (uncooked & unsalted)
Filtered Water
 *Sweeteners if desired (dates, honey, agave, maple syrup or cinnamon) 1tsp or to taste

Mesh Strainer
Blender or food processor
Cheese cloth or Nut bag

To make almond milk there are only a few easy steps.

Soak the almonds.  You want to soak your almonds overnight for at least 8 hours. To do this place your almonds in a container or bowl, then fill with filtered water.  You will want to add about an inch or two of water above the almonds since they will absorb the water and grow in size.

Drain the almonds. After the almonds have soaked you want to drain and rinse them under cool water. 

Blend the almonds. Pour your almonds in a blender and cover with water. I like to use about a 3-1 ratio during this step.  If I started with 1 cup of dry Almonds I would add about 3 cups of filtered water to the blender.  For 2 cups of dry almonds I would use close to 6 cups of water.

Blend the almonds and water on the highest speed for at least 2 minutes. Your almonds should completely break down and the liquid should be white and opaque.  

Strain the almonds. Place a fine mesh strainer lined with cheese cloth over a bowl and pour the almond/water mixture through it.  Once all the liquid has drained through, gather the excess cheese cloth and twist the remaining almond meal into a ball to remove more liquid.  You can continue to twist and squeeze more liquid from the pulp with your hands.

Sweeten the milk. Once you have finished straining all the liquid you will want to taste it.  If you prefer a sweeter flavor you can add a flavoring and or sweetener Pour the liquid back into your blender, add the flavoring or sweetener and blend for about 15 seconds.  For this post I added a tsp of vanilla to my milk.  If you like you can quickly strain the milk again to achieve an even cleaner finished product.

Store your almond milk. You want to store your almond milk in sealed container in the refrigerator.  Your almond milk should last for about 3-5 days since there are no chemicals or preservatives.  This also means that your milk will settle.  You will want to shake the milk up before each use.  If you notice it tastes at all sour you will want to discard it and make a fresh batch. 

TIP: Don't just throw away the remaining almond meal that is left behind.  It can be added to a multitude of things such as cookies, muffins, oatmeal, pancakes and smoothies. You can dry it as well in the oven then freeze for future baking needs.  Stay tuned for posts about ways to use left over almond meal.

Do you drink nut milks? Would you consider making your own?