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Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

October 23, 2017

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We just had the most gorgeous start to fall – perfect for outdoor walks, playing in the leaves, and dinners on the deck. The weather forecast made its first prediction for snow though, and immediately we turned to comfort foods. Ryan and I used to do lunch dates at Panera, and this was our go-to soup. Comforting ingredients, perfectly flavored and slightly creamy. This might be the easiest and best recipe we’ve made on our own, definitely try it out next time you need some comfort food. I also tossed it all in the slow cooker, even easier but still perfect.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
6 cups chicken broth
2 chicken breast halves (cooked, boneless and cubed)
1 (6 ounce) package long grain and wild rice blend, quick cooking version (You will use the seasoning packet. I used Uncle Bens roasted chicken flavor)
12 teaspoon ground black pepper
12 cup all-purpose flour
34 cup butter (12 tbsp. or a stick and a half)
1 cup carrot, diced
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup onion, diced
3 cups light cream (can lighten by substituting part or all of the cream with fat-free evaporated milk, or half-and-half)

Open rice, pull out seasoning packet and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine pepper and flour. Set aside.

In a large pot over medium heat, combine broth and chicken. Bring to a boil, then stir in rice. Cover and remove from heat.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add carrots, celery and onion and saute for 5 minutes. Stir in contents of seasoning packet, and continue cooking vegetables until softened, about 5 minutes more. Add seasoned flour gradually while constantly stirring, to form a roux. Saute roux for 3-4 minutes to cook out raw flour taste.

Whisk in cream, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Cook until thickened, 5 minutes.

Stir cream mixture into broth and rice. Cook over medium heat until heated through and rice is done, 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

 

 

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Biscuits and Gravy

October 16, 2017

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I never thought that Ryan would ask for biscuits and gravy. He’s not really a biscuits and gravy guy, where I am alllll about the comfort food. I had to jump on the chance when he came home with breakfast sausage and asked if we could make it into a gravy one weekend, so I found this recipe. I think we may have a new favorite weekend breakfast. The biscuits can be thrown together quickly, and the gravy was done by the time the oven beeped. It was perfectly flavored, and a little too delicious, we had to stop ourselves from eating the entire batch.

Buttermilk Biscuits

6 Tbsp butter
2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut butter into small cubes. Place the butter on a plate and place in the freezer while you mix the dry ingredients. The butter should be very cold.

In a food processor (or large bowl), sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the butter to the food processor and pulse to combine, until it looks like coarse crumbs (you could also use a pastry cutter or 2 forks in a large bowl).

Add the butter and flour mixture to a large bowl and make a well in the middle, add the cold buttermilk. Stir until dough is mixed and combined, it will be slightly sticky/tacky.  If it’s still really sticky, add a bit more flour!

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface (I use my counter) and pat into a rectangle. Fold the dough over and onto itself six times, so you end up with a tall square, then pat down to about 1 inch thick.

With a 2.5 inch round biscuit cutter, push down to cut the dough and pull up (remember not to twist!). Leftover scraps can be combined and cut again – but no more than 1 or 2 more times.

Place the biscuits on a parchment paper lined baking sheet, almost touching each other, and bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes until browned. After the biscuits are baked, brush tops with melted butter.

Creamy Sausage Gravy

1 lb pork sausage
1/3 cup flour
3 cups whole milk (may want more)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground thyme
3/4-1 tsp black pepper

Brown sausage in a large skillet over medium high heat, crumbling as it browns. Reduce the heat to medium low and add in the flour, stirring to combine. Cook for about 1 minute.

Pour in the milk, stirring frequently, until it thickens to your desired consistency. Add seasoned salt, ground thyme and black pepper and stir to combine. Serve over biscuits and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Zucchini Tomato Bake

September 27, 2017

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This is my absolute favorite time of year for food. The garden is completely full of vegetables, we have fresh herbs, we just need to find ways to use them. We had a few last zucchini and yellow squash to use up, as well as tons of tomatoes, so pinterest to the rescue, we have a new favorite side dish. The original recipe calls for dried herbs, but we added garlic (because… garlic) and fresh herbs because we had them on hand. You can also just chop and throw together in a dish if you want to make it easier, but this honestly is still very fast. No matter how you make it look, the flavors are so fresh and wonderful. Enjoy!

Zucchini Tomato Bake

2 medium zucchini, sliced
2 medium yellow squash, sliced
5 medium tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup quality parmesan cheese, shredded
4 cloves garlic, minced
Handful of chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a baking dish, arrange zucchini, yellow squash and tomatoes in an alternating pattern (as seen in the photo). Top with parmesan cheese, garlic and herbs. Place into oven and bake for 25-30 minutes or until squash is soft. Enjoy!

 

 

Strawberry Cake

July 14, 2017

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We did our third annual strawberry picking with kids, where the kids stuff their faces and the moms pick the berries (frantically this time as we raced a storm). This is one of my favorite times of year, as we rushed home to make strawberry ice cream, strawberry banana bread, and THIS CAKE. My daughter loved it, to the point where we ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner one day before it was completely gone. I didn’t have a chance to make whipped cream for it, but we want to make it again and add that on top. It doesn’t even need it though – it’s perfectly sweet, full of berries, and just an amazing light cake taste throughout. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Strawberry Cake

– 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate
– 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1/2 teaspoon table salt
– 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
– 1 large egg
– 1/2 cup milk
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I tried almond extract instead, fantastic!)
– 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 10-inch pie pan or 9 or 10 inch cake pan. (A 9 inch pie pan will overflow).

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer (though I had to overlap a few to get them all in). Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given.) Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with lightly whipped cream.

Recipe Source: Smitten Kitchen

Ina Garten’s Apple Pie Bars

November 29, 2016

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I absolutely love Ina Garten and every recipe she makes, so when I found another favorite blogger making a slight adaptation, I was all over it. I found a recipe for her apple pie bars and decided to try them for Thanksgiving instead of a standard pie, and I may never go back. The crust is a perfect shortbread flavor, and the topping is the same with a little crunch of walnuts. The apples are cooked perfectly, and if you can find cinnamon ice cream (I make my grandma’s classic recipe), you will be in food heaven. We’ll be making this again for Christmas, add this to your holiday dessert list, you won’t regret it.

Ina Garten’s Apple Pie Bars

For the Crust

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the Filling

  • 1- 1/2 pounds Golden Delicious apples, peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices (I used about 1-1/2 larger apples)
  • 1 -1/2 pounds Braeburn apples, peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices (I used about 1-1/2 larger apples)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

 

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line an 8×8-inch square pan with parchment paper so that the paper hangs over two edges of the pan about two inches. This will make the pie bars easier to remove after it’s baked. Lightly spray the pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

For the crust, place the butter, sugars, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.

Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour and salt and mix on low speed until just combined.

Scatter two-thirds of the dough into clumps in the prepared pan, flour your fingers and press the dough across the bottom of the pan and up the sides of the pan about 1/2-inch.

Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and set aside to cool while you prepare the topping and filling.

In a small bowl combine the remaining crust, walnuts and cinnamon. Stir until combined and set aside.

To make the filling, combine both kinds of apples and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg and toss to coat.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the seasoned apples and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring often, for 12 minutes until the apples are tender and some of the liquid has evaporated. Add the cornstarch and toss for 1 minute more.

Spread the apples evenly over the crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border.

Pinch medium pieces of remaining dough with your fingers and drop them evenly over the top of the apple mixture (they won’t cover the top completely). Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the topping is brown.

Allow to cool completely.

 

 

Soft One Hour Rolls

October 21, 2016

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We have a slight baking problem come fall, since there’s nothing more cozy than freshly baked bread or cookies when it gets dark so early. We LOVE bread a bit too much, but needed a quick recipe to go with some soup the other night. Searched around on Pinterest and these ones were AMAZING. So so soft and fluffy, with butter and sea salt on top because sea salt makes everything better. My daughter ate far too many for dinner, and we decided these will definitely make an appearance for Thanksgiving.

Soft One Hour Rolls

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tablespoon yeast (I used active dry yeast and it worked great)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups flour, more or less as needed
3 tablespoons melted butter, for brushing on top
sea salt, for sprinkling on top

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water and let stand for five minutes, or until foamy. Add the butter, salt, and 3 cups of flour, and mix until combined. Add additional flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is only slightly sticky to the touch (be careful not to add too much flour!). Knead 3-5 minutes, until smooth. Cover and let rise 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 and line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray. Gently punch the dough down and divide into 20 equal sized pieces (I eyeballed it, breaking the dough into 5 pieces, then each of those into 4). Roll each piece into a ball and space evenly in the prepared pan. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with sea salt, and let rise for an additional 15-20 minutes. Bake 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove and brush with butter. Let cool slightly before serving and enjoy!

Recipe Source: The Little Red Hen

String Beans with Shallots

July 29, 2016

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If I need to make an everyday dish a little more delicious but still easy, I look to Ina Garten. Her green bean recipe has become our go-to for a healthy side dish that’s honestly amazing. My husband does not ask for vegetables, but he keeps coming home with fresh green beans and shallots and requesting them, so you know the recipe is good. I’ll chop everything ahead of time and throw these together at the last minute… easy and delicious, can’t beat that.

String Beans with Shallots

1 pound string beans, ends removed
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon good olive oil
3 large shallots, large-diced
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Blanch the string beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for about 3 minutes, until crisp-tender. Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of ice water.

Heat the butter and oil in a very large sauté pan (12-inch diameter) or large pot and sauté the shallots on medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned. Drain the string beans and add to the shallots with 1/2 teaspoon salt and the pepper, tossing well. Heat only until the beans are hot.
Recipe Source: barefootcontessa.com

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