Butternut Squash Soup

So, I decided to go back into my Facebook notes and pull some of my favorite recipes out from there and share them on here.  Then I will be heading into my cookbooks and find some of my other favorite recipes to share.  This recipe is one from when I was at Johnson and Wales and is a really nice winter recipe.  It is a very basic Butternut Squash Soup :-).

Butternut Squash Soup

3 tbsp butter

1/2 c. chopped shallots

1 clove garlic-shopped

2 oz pancetta-chopped (if you cant find pancetta just use bacon)

2.5 lbs Butternut squash-peeled and cubed

2.5 qts chicken stock

1 sprig each parsley, sage, and thyme

(there are a few option ingredients but I don’t normally use them-if you’d like to know about them message me)

Method of Prep:

~Gather everything up

~Heat the butter in a stock put, add shallots, garlic, and pancetta-cook until shallots are soft

~Add squash and cook for 10-15 mi

~Add the chicken stock-bring it to a boil and then reduce to a simmer

~Use butchers twine to tie the herbs together and add them to the pot (tie the free end of the string to the handle of the pot for easy retrieval) Simmer until the squash is very soft-this should take about 20 min.

~ Remove the herbs, and drain the squash but reserve the liquid.

~Puree the squash in a blender or food processor adding liquid as needed to make a smooth thick soup.

~Return the soup to the stove and simmer briefly-season to taste.

I like to finish this soup with a little extra butter and a tiny sprinkle of borwn sugar.  One of the really nice things about this recipe is there is no cream, so it is still very hearty but not quite as heavy.

Enjoy

Mac and Cheese

Mac and Cheese.  One of the simpliest dishes ever.  It is something that pretty much everyone I have ever met loves, and also has an opinion on it.  I will be honest:

With all of my culinary expereince, and all the foods I have tried since I was a child Kraft blue box Mac and Cheese dinner has been my number one go-to comfort food.  

Until recently.

One day not to long after I had my daughter, I was feeling down and needed some comfort food, I debated for awhile-do I need the calories, is it worth it etc. and then decided YES.  I was entitled to the occassional treat and made up my mind. Out came the pan, the butter, the milk-pasta boiled slightly less then the time on the box (I like my pasta firm-perhaps even a bit firmer then al dente..) Mixed in the yellow cheese powder-a little extra milk to make it just a tad looser and saucier..into the bowl it went-a quick sprinkle with black pepper and then. Nothing.  I took one bite and my heart dropped. What had I done wrong-I had made it the exact same way I’ve been doing it for more years then I can remeber. And yet…something fell short.  It just wasn’t what I remember or wanted.  I remember thinking at that moment: “Oh My God. I think I’ve out grown Kraft. I must be OLD.”  

It is funny how something as simple as a box of Kraft Dinner can impact you.  I was CRUSHED.  What was I going to DO without my Kraft?!?!?!?  I lived in denial for sometime, then come another day I was in need of my go-to comfort food.  We still had a box or two left in the cabinet (my parents house while I still lived there, and my apartment once I moved always had some Kraft on hand!) So I pulled one out-I followed my process again paying extra attention to make sure it was perfect…and yet again NOTHING.  It fell short.  There was no longer any denying it.  I had out grown Kraft.

Since then I have lived in avoidance of the fact that my go to comfort food was gone.  As dramatic as it sounds-it left a void in my life!  There were periods where I ate a box of Kraft every few days-mostly on summer vacations when I was alone and that was all I really was allowed to cook when I was alone.  Then one day I was flipping through a recipe page on Facebook and came across a recipe for homemade mac and cheese-something I had perviously turned my nose up at (yes I honestly PREFERRED Kraft to homemade!) and decided to give it a try.  I made some adjustments (of course) and gave it a try-and it came out AWESOME.  Andrew loved it.  Alice loved it.  And so did I.

So here it is.  

The Better Than Kraft Mac and Cheese

(Bolded sections are my changes/notes!)

1 stick of butter

1/3 cup of flour

4 cups of milk

1 lb of macaroni noodles, cooked and drained

1 (9 oz) bag of fresh spinach, chopped

2-3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups chopped cooked chicken (Once a week or so I take a pacakge of thin sliced chicken breasts marinate them over night in dressing then grill them off-we use them for sandwiches, meals etc. through the week-I had a few of them left in the fridge and I just used those-they gave awesome flavor profile.)

One Package Italian Dressing mix (optional)

2 medium yellow onions-caramelized

1 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled

salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Instructions
Cook your bacon.  I reccomend doing 2/3 of it extra crunchy, and the last 3rd a bit less crunchy since it gets crisped up in the oven.

Caramelize the onions.

In large saucepan, over medium heat, melt stick of butter.
Once butter is melted, turn heat up to medium high and slowly stir in flour to make a roux.
Slowly add the milk 1 cup at a time and stir continuously.
Once the consistency is thickened up a bit and more sauce-like, slowly stir in the cheddar cheese (I ended up using all 3 cups).
Turn off heat and stir in the chicken, 2/3 of the bacon crumbles (reserving a bit for topping), dressing mix, onions and fresh chopped spinach.
Once well mixed, season with salt and pepper to taste.
After sauce is seasoned, mix in the macaroni noodles and stir until well combined.

(**The pan I used for the sauce was to small for everything, so I took a bowl and put the chicken, bacon, spinach in that-then mixed in some sauce.  After that I put sauce on the bottom of the baking dish, added some pasta then the chicken-bacon-spinach mix-stirred and finsihed by added the last of the pasta and then the sauce and a fina good stir-this was a PAIN and made more dishes-I reccommend using a one big pot for the sauce so you can mix everything in there!!**)
Once mixture is combined well, add into a greased 9×13 baking dish.
Sprinkle remaining bacon crumbles on top (I added a little extra cheddar on top as well!).

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

 

It comes out of the oven beautiful cheesey and deliclious!

Hope you find this recipe as satifying and comforting as I do.

Enjoy

Crock Pot Chicken and Dumplings

This recipe is one I came across on Facebook and decide to use for a Crock Pot Night meal.  The first copy of the recipe is how I originally recieved it.  The second copy has my notes attached.  Anything written in BOLD type is a modification I made.

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

2 Tbl. Butter

2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup

1 onion, finely diced

2 (10 ounce) pkgs, refrigerated biscuit dough, torn into pieces

 1. Place the chicken, butter, soup, and onion in a slow cooker, and fill with enough water to cover.

2. Cover, and cook for 5 to 6 hours on High. About 30 minutes before serving, place the torn biscuit dough in the slow cooker. Cook until the dough is cooked through.

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Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings 

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, Cut into cubes

2 Tbl. Butter

2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup

2 onion, finely diced

2 (10 ounce) pkgs, refrigerated biscuit dough (we used one can Grands Biscuts)

Corn Starch-Water Slurry

One Bag Frozen Mixed Veggies (we used the BirdsEye corn-carrot-peas-green bean mix)

Salt Pepper Garlic Powder

 

1. Place the chicken, butter, soup, slurry and onion in a slow cooker, season, and fill with enough water to cover.

2. Cover, and cook for 5 to 6 hours on High, keep your eye open, if it looks thin add a little extra corn starch.

3.  30 minutes before serving, add the veggies.  Bake biscuits according to package directions.

To Serve:  Split biscuit in half, scoop chicken “stew” over the biscuit and enjoy!

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This recipe came out AWESOME.  We tried both variations-we didn’t enjoy the version with the dumplings in the pot as much as we enjoyed the version that was more of a chicken stew over a biscuit.  This was a nice hearty and enjoyable meal! We will be making it again and again I am sure!

Enjoy!

Who am I?

So, for those of you who don’t know me, here is a post to help catch you up.

I am Emily.  I am 23 years old.  I have an assocaites degree in Culinary Arts, and an assocaites degree in Liberal Arts that was focused in Psychology.  I work as a hostess in a local restaurant, and have been working in restaurants off and on since I was about 16.  I love the feel of working in a restaurant-they energy and the insanity.  I also have a family.  A wonderful boyfriend, and a beautiful baby girl.  Andrew and Alice are the focus of my life.  I only work weekends and spend most of my time at home with Alice.  Andrew works, and goes to school.  He also loves to eat.  We are a match made in heaven.  I focus a lot of time into menu planning and seeing what to make for dinner.  We try to keep a schedule. Sunday is beef night, Monday we have Chicken, Tuesday is Pork, Wednesday we eat Fish, Thursday is Left Overs (if any have survived the lunch roulette) Friday is Crock pot night (since I work, I use the crock pot to make dinner so he has good food to eat even when I am not home) and Saturday is the one day he fends for himself.

Though I often stick to standard meals-steak on the grill, a roasted chicken, baked pork chops etc.  It is fast and easy, but I also like to try to be creative and branch out-take something standard and make it new and different.  I will share those recipes here.

I will also share some of the fun creative ideas I use around my house to have fun and be creative.

Hope everyone enjoys.