So, things have been crazy busy in my house. My daughters 1st birthday was at the end of October, then Thanksgiving crept up very very fast! And now we find ourselves at Christmas! I have a backlog of recipes and recent projects I need to get posted!. I am hoping that with my boyfriend being on his winter break for the next month or so, I will be able to wrangle some free time for myself for blogging, and working on my most recent project (more about that later!) Stick around over the next few weeks and I will be sharing some of my favorite holiday and winter recipes!
So. I will admit. As weird as this sounds I don’t like soup. When it comes to meals, I don’t think of soup as an option. That being said-I LOVE making soup, I love the IDEA of soup…and I am pretty good at making it. Being that I don’t really like soup I am always on a quest to find new soup recipes. One of the GREAT things about soup is that even a small recipe will make enough for dinner and leftovers. It is generally an inexpensive thing to make, and when done correctly is hearty and something that makes both my other half and my mini me happy :-). When it comes to soup I personally like thicker soups-purees or creamy type soups..one of my favorites is a corn chowder I make-but that is a recipe for another day!
Today I am tackling chicken soup. Everyone knows the story-you’re a kid you stay home sick from school and your mom gives you chicken noodle soup. Be it homeade or Campbells-its often the same a broth based soup with chicken, noodles, carrots-there are always variations-my mom likes to put peas in hers. This was never one of my favorites-I am not a fan of broth soups…so I decided to find a recipe for creamy chicken soup. And this is what I found. As always my personal notes are in bold type 🙂
**NOTE: this soup is not “friendly” it has meat, dairy gluten etc..and it is wonderful! LOL**
Creamy Chicken Penne Soup
3/4 cup Carrots
3/4 cup Celery
2 tbsp Fresh Parsley
4 springs fresh thyme
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup onion
6oz. Boneless Chicken tenders
2 Tbsp Unsalter butter (I used salted bc I didnt have unsalted on hand)
2 cups Heavy Cream
1 1/2 cups Penne (I recommend measuring this out right away..I’ll expain why later!)
2 cups Chicken Stock (I always make sure to keep extra on hand just in case)
2/3 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon Dried Sage
2 Tbsp Flour
2Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 cup Dry White Wine (I used a Savingion Blanc-it is the best bet if a recipe called for a dry white)
Salt and Pepper
- Cut an onion into 1/4 inch dice to measure the indicated amount.
- Peel carrots and cut into 1/4 inch pieces to measure the indicated amount. (I will admit I used some shredded carrots I had on hand) Add to the onions.
- Cut celery into 1/4 inch dice to measure the indicated amount. Add to carrots and onions.
- Smash the garlic under the side of your chef’s knife to remove the peel. Mince the garlic, then add to celery, carrots and onions.
- Trim parsley leaves from the stems and finely chop to measure the indicated amount
(I put all of this except the parsley into a big bowl so it was already mixed together)
- Cut chicken into 1/2 inch diced pieces, then season with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and warm.
- Once oil is warm, add the chicken. Oil should sizzle when you add the chicken. Sear until golden brown and nicely caramelized, stirring as it cooks to brown evenly, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a clean plate. Save the pot.
- Place the chicken pot back over medium heat. There should be enough oil to cover bottom of pot. If not, add more olive oil and warm.
- Once oil is warm, add garlic, onions, carrots, celery and dried sage. Crush the sage between your fingertips as you add it to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Saute until vegetables are tender and onions are translucent. Stir often.
- Once onions are translucent, add butter and let melt. Then, add flour and cook while stirring for 1-2 minutes to remove the raw flour taste.
- Pour in white wine and use a spoon to scrape any bits off the bottom of the pot. Add thyme sprigs, dried bay leaves, heavy cream and chicken stock. Bring to a boil.
- Place chicken back into the pot along with pasta (Make sure to measure your pasta-I am a dope and dumped a whole box in-this meant I needed extra liquid so my soup was thin..then I had to make extra roux on the side, and add extra chicken stock and thicken the soup back up, then it was a bit to thick so I needed more stock to make it soup again…Just measure your pasta!!!!). Bring back to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook until pasta noodles are tender and chicken is cooked through, about 15-20 minutes. Continue to stir often.
- Once pasta noodles are tender and chicken is cooked through, remove thyme sprigs and dried bay leaves. Check final seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste, if necessary. Stir in parsley and peas. Place back over medium heat and simmer for another 3-5 minutes until peas are cooked through.
- Ladle creamy chicken pasta soup into bowls and serve warm!
I have been known to add just a pinch of sugar to a big pot of soup to help bring out the sweetness and counter act the salt and help give it an all around smoother and more developed flavor..
So, I am sad to say this apple season got away from me a bit. I did get to go apple picking with my darling and my peanut-but I didn’t get to make as much apple food as I had hoped, and obviously haven’t been doing as much as I had hoped with blogging. But oh well. Moving on, here is a new recipe I tried with our bounty of apples. I do reccomend making sure you have a full cup of BBQ sauce, I was low so I mixed in a little water and the whole thing came out VERY thin…we had it over rice and followed it up with apple crisp..and it was yummy!
Slow Cooker Bacon-Wrapped Apple BBQ Chicken
• 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
• 1 cup BBQ sauce
• 1/4 cup brown sugar
• 1/8 cup lemon juice fresh or from a bottle
• 5 small apples peeled and chopped
• 8 slices bacon (I had chicken breasts that were rather large so I used 3 pieces per breast)
1. In a small bowl, combine BBQ sauce, brown sugar, lemon juice and peeled/chopped apples.
2. Wrap each chicken breast with two slices of bacon and place in a greased slow cooker.
Pour BBQ-apple mixture over chicken and cook on low for 6-8 hours or until chicken is done.
As September starts, I am looking forward too one of my favorite seasons: Apple Season.
Living in the area that I live in apples are plentiful. All of my life I remember things like going apple picking, making apple crisp, homemade apple sauce, and fresh apple cider. Since I am not a pumpkin person (and this is also pumpkin season) my savior of this season is my love of apples. One thing that I look forward too more than anyone can imagine is the idea of taking my daughter apple picking for the first time. So I’ve decided it is time to start sharing some of my favorite apple recipes. This first one is for German Apple Cake. It is a recipe I got from a book that I read, and decided to try and I love it. It is a great recipe, and I found it to be an awesome way to use seconds-the apples that fall from the trees and are sold a bit cheaper. So here it is
German Apple Cake
Preheat Oven to 350 degrees with the rack in the middle position.
4 cups peeled and sliced apples (4-5 medium sized apples-I used some seconds that mom had got at the farm last week-good for being peeled and cut!)
1 cup veggie oil
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups (packed) all purpose flour
1) Grease the inside of a 9 x 13 baking pan (I used Pam baking spray)
2) Peel, core and slide the apples as you would for a pie, and then place them at the bottom of the pan.
(this can be done by hand or with an electric mixer-I did it by hand and it was fine)
3) In a medium size bowl, whisk the eggs and oul until they are thick, and then add in the sugar and beat it to combine.
4) mix in the vanilla, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt-mix thoroughly.
5) Add the flour in a little at a time mixing well after each addition.
6) Scrape down the bowl and give a final stir with a spoon, drop the batter over the apples by the spoonful (dont worry if it doesnt totally cover the apples the batter spreads while baking)
Bake at 350 for 60 min, then cool.
Now for the frosting (I will admit, I cheated and used a can of frosting bc I was short a few ingredients but this the the frosting recipe it came with!)
8 ounces softened cream cheese (the brick not whipped)
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 Tblespoon lemon juice
4 table spoons melted butter (thats 1/2 a stick)
2 cups confectioners sugar
Stir the vanilla into your softened cream cheese, then add the lemon juice and melted butter and mix until smooth. Beat in the confectioners sugar a little at a time until it reaches th consistency of frosting-once it does stop adding the sugar (LOL)
Use the frosting to frost the apple cake and enjoy!!
A few weeks ago, I had a bag full of cherries quickly going bad in my fridge and was trying to figure out what to do them. The idea finally came to me: make a cobbler. After some time on google, I found a quick easy cobbler recipe that I decided to use. This week I had some peaches, so after some digging around I found that same recipe and decided to use it for peach cobbler..(I may throw in some raspberries that I have in the freezer)
Here it is.
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 cups sliced fresh peaches (or any fruit really)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Melt butter in a 9 x 9 inch baking dish.
- Blend together flour, baking powder, sugar, and milk.
- Pour batter in baking dish over the butter. Sprinkle fruit on top of the batter, do not stir. Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown.
Simple. Easy. And very very yummy.
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.
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.
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
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.