Dinner, Quick & Delicious

Weather.com says it’s 15 degrees F in Central Pennsylvania, but feels like 4 degrees F.  So it’s the perfect day to work on snowflake cookies for a winter-themed baby shower.  The theme is “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and it sure is!

It’s the kind of day that “stick to your ribs” ooey, gooey comfort food sounds great.  But, ooey gooey comfort food doesn’t just stick to your ribs, it also sticks to your rear end and thighs!  So what’s a girl to do when she’s home alone for dinner, wants something that tastes delicious, but doesn’t want to break the fat-gram/calorie bank?

The answer is simple – soup.  I’m not talking canned, condensed soup – no offense to Campbell’s.  I’m talking soup that warms your hands, your insides and your soul!  For that, I turned to the freezer.

If you’ve taken any of my classes and/or read previous blog posts you know I’m a fan of making extra when I cook and freezing it for later AND a fan of making home-made chicken broth with all the leftover ends of veggies and parts of chickens.  In fact, there are those who know me that would say I border on weird when it comes to the “stock bags” in my freezer.

These “stock bags” are zip-top freezer bags in which I store bits and pieces of veggies I’ve cut for other meals, chicken bones and scraps, and rinds of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  I add to the bags when I cook and then, when I have enough parts saved (or as Jeff would tell you, sometimes LONG after I have enough saved) I let a HUGE pot of stock simmer for a whole day.  Then, I strain it and package it for the freezer to use in future meals.  It’s great for making soups, risottos, homemade mac and cheese, or in this case a wonderfully warm bowl of soup for a solo dinner.

And, not only did I have some recently made chicken stock in the freezer, I also had some homemade cheese tortellini.  I have a hands-on pasta class coming up on January 21st and have been working on the recipe for cheese tortellini, which means my freezer is well stocked in the tortellini department!

So my dinner this evening was a quick one to make.  I took a pint of chicken stock out of the freezer and popped it in the microwave to defrost while I continued decorating snowflake cookies.  When the stock was nearly defrosted, I put it into a saucepan and brought it to a boil.  Then I added some tortellini straight from the freezer and let them cook for about 3 minutes. (Cooking them in the stock – rather than cooking them in water – gives them great flavor).

While the tortellini were cooking, I grated some Parmigiano-Reggiano on the coarse side of a box grater.  When the tortellini were tender, I ladled the soup into a pretty bowl, topped it with some grated cheese and a grind of black pepper and sank into my favorite chair to enjoy my dinner.

Tortellini en Brodo

The homemade chicken stock and hand-rolled tortellini were a wonderful partnership.  And the sprinkling of freshly grated, salty parm was a perfect finish.  The stock was rich and flavorful, the tortellini were like little pillows of cheesy goodness and the parm melted a bit in the hot stock to give a satisfying stringiness that only cheese can give.

So yes, it’s cold outside.  But my quick and delicious dinner warmed me up and fortified me to finish the cookies for the “Baby It’s Cold Outside” baby shower.  I’m so glad I had on-hand everything I needed to make a quick and tasty dinner.  I strongly recommend cooking ahead when you can. You won’t be sorry you did on nights when you’re on your own for dinner and don’t want to fuss, BUT you want something really yummy!


Just for fun, the following are a few snaps of the snowflake cookies!

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