What’s for Dinner?

In what seems like a previous existence, I would know that answer before even walking out of the door in the morning to go to work. Heck, I would have an entire week menu (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) with recipes, shopping lists, pantry items, and what days I had to prepare meals and which were leftover nights. Now of days I drag into the house, contemplating all of the tasks I need to take care of before bed and at some point stop and ask myself. “What’s for dinner?” It’s at that point, I realize I haven’t defrosted anything, I have no leftovers, and of the three places that do delivery in my neighborhood, none of them sound appetizing. Consequently, I find myself grazing through the kitchen, eating a little of this and some of that, most of the items not being of high nutritional value. “This has got to stop,” I tell myself. With a freezer and a half of raw food, three bookcases of cookbooks and more kitchen gadgets than space to store them, there is no excuse. With the old adage, “there’s no time like the present” I’m working my way back into better planning and through that, better eating. I thought I would take you along with me for the journey. Day one is Sunday night of a holiday weekend. The task — Chicken Noodle Soup.

Remember those three bookcases of cookbooks, well it’s time to also separate the wheat from the chafe and the first book I’m looking at is America’s Test Kitchen, Pressure Cooker Perfection. I’m starting with Farmhouse Chicken Noodle Soup. It’s going to be a challenge for ATK as I’m not a big fan of chicken noodle soup and have long been searching for a good basic recipe. First substitution, suggested by ATK, is bone-in chicken thighs for the four pound whole chicken, apparently my grocery store does stock small birds. I’m also making a substitution with the egg noodles; cheese tortellini. I wish I could take credit for this great idea but I saw it somewhere. With those couple of ingredient changes, is prep time.

With all of the prep work done. It’s time to turn on the electric pressure cooker to the sauté setting and heat up the olive oil and then cook the onions. That’s a Mad Hungry Spurtle I’m using to stir.

Add the rest of the ingredients and then high pressure for 20 minutes.

Of course, when you are pressuring cooking the 20 minutes doesn’t start until the internal pressure in the cooker is reached. But once the countdown beginning you know right away as the house starts to smell wonderful. When the time is up you remove the chicken and shred, returning it to the pot to come to a boil then add the noodles to cook. Not counting the time for photography, start to finish the recipe took just over an hour, as advertised, adding it to the telework day recipe pile. The finished soup was full of flavor highlighting the wonders of a pressure cooker and my search for a good chicken noodle soup recipe might be over.

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