Sweet and Sour Chicken

What makes good co-workers great? Ones that make you feel welcome, that are patient and kind, help keep you accountable and…share great recipes!

I have always been fortunate to work with people that know how to hold tasty potlucks and share their recipes. This can come with challenges, like over eating or unhealthy options. But food is what holds people together! Really! It does!

Enjoy this “Very Yummy” recipe!

Green Bean recipe is found here

Thai Carrot Soup

Last weekend I started to use up the many pounds of carrots we were blessed to have out of our garden. Many things did not grow well, or a critter got to them, however, the carrots were plentiful. I could not decide which soup to try first, so of course what did I do? Have a small bowl of both. By far the Creamy Thai Carrot Soup with Basil was the winner for me. This came from the Minimalist Baker. The bottom soup was a Roasted Carrot Soup. It tasted awfully close to the Slow Roasted Tomato Soup I make from Gwyneth Paltrow which has remained one of my absolute favorite recipes from her. Please enjoy the unique taste from the Minimalist Baker.

Knoephla Soup

Knoephla (pronounced neh-fla) soup is a recipe I grew up on. My mom can whip it up without a recipe. In fact, When I asked her for a recipe years ago, she could not even give me one. She just throws random amounts of ingredients into a pot. Once I tried to write it down as she made it. Then I found I could not make the dumplings from scratch like she does. It is truly an art, and store bought dumplings are just not the same. It is quite disappointing when I can not carry on a tradition like this. This being said, I can mimic the scent of the butter cooking the onions, carrots and celery. Win for me!

I was excited to see Molly Yeh put her Knoephla Soup recipe in her cookbook, Molly on the Range. The ingredients are slightly different than the one my mom makes. I was excited to put her recipe to the test. I would say it passed. It is almost as good as my mom’s. Molly just can’t duplicate the love my mom puts into hers. *smile*

Staying Warm in the Fall

A group of us got together last weekend at the Holiday Inn in Baxter, MN. 3 mommas and 5 littles (who are not really little any longer). We crammed ourselves into a suite and spent 24 hours at the fun indoor water park. Even the adults had a grand time screaming down the slides and hanging out in the “river”. The girls and I can not wait to go back with T. We were all exhausted by the end of the evening. I think we all crashed by 10:00 that evening.

We brought an abundance of veggies to snack on with dip and hummus. We actually did a number on those veggies prior to eating pizza and dessert *smile* however we still had plenty of leftover carrots and celery. With the temperatures dipping low the last couple of weeks I have been craving soup. I love my Vitamix in the summer for breakfast and protein smoothies, but when fall creeps in, I am all about the frothy soups it can whip up in seconds. The Vitamix recipes call for blending the ingredients for at least 7 minutes as it will heat the soup to a temp that you would want to eat soup at. However, I purée the ingredients and then transfer them over to a kettle and simmer on the stove.

Here is a spin on the Vitamix Cream of Celery Soup

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

1/2 of a small onion

4 cups chopped celery

1/3 cup chopped carrot

1 cooked sweet potato

1 garlic clove

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup Half and half

Direction:

Place all ingredients in Vitamix, blend until puréed. Simmer over low heat until desired temperature is reached.

Gingered Carrot Orange Soup is amazing too! And check out the color, how beautiful is that?

7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess: Food

The first month had to be food, didn’t it? Food is my weakness. If you read Jen Hatmaker’s book, 7, you will be introduced to her experiment against excess. She took 7 foods and only ate those 7 foods for the whole month. This intrigued me. I thought, what 7 foods would I eat? Pizza. Pizza. Pizza. Wait! I just turned into my 4 year old daughter. She excels at this experiment better than I can! I started to contemplate only eating 7 certain meals throughout the month for breakfast and lunch and then eat dinners based around items we had in the home that needed to get eaten before they expired- which were a lot of items! This sounded like a plan I could handle until the first week was done *sigh* Food is my weakness. The goals that were set for me for the month of January were at the front of my brain each morning as I got ready for the day. Read 2 books, draw 4 pages in my sketchbook, exercise 5 days a week. Anxiety started to build. Ok, tone this one down a notch. Focus on making meals that got rid of items in the home, focus on not buying a bunch of extra things that would end up sitting in the closet for months. Ok, that plan I could handle. *charge on*

Coffee went away for the month. Coffee is part of my “thing”, or more so coffee shops, is part of my “thing”. After all, the blog has coffee as part of its name. Coffee was not something I could choke down for the longest time. Tea was my love. Over the course of the last few years, I went from Pumpkin Spice Latte queen, to Cafe Miel, to flavored coffee with a “dash” of coconut vanilla creamer. The warmth is what draws a moan out of my mouth as I take my first sip each morning. Tea can do that too. A cabinet full of tea needed to be reintroduced to me. Coffee went away. It made me sad each morning for the first week. After that, I looked forward to my cup of tea with honey. Welcome back first love! Today is February 2nd. It was my first opportunity to have a coffee at the Target Starbucks. Guess what? I went with the Mint Citrus tea. Sorry, coffee, you have some competition!

The kids didn’t notice anything different during the month of January. Except that we made them try a few different recipes as we tried to get rid of canned pumpkin, tomato soup and cream of mushroom soup. We had a couple of successes and a couple of flops!

Did I have any monumental take aways from this challenge of getting rid of excess food? I didn’t buy things just because they were on sale. I am certain our checking account saw a slight drop in food costs. I think I will start each weekend with reviewing what we have in our closet and cabinets prior to deciding on a weekly menu.

A few of my favorite quotes Jen had in her first chapter on Food:

“You always have to be doing something, don’t you” p. 28. This resinated with me. I am always trying something out and challenging myself.

“Tell me about the world before. What was it like?” “We didn’t even know what was precious.” “We threw away things that people would kill for today.” – The Book of Eli p.22

“I am hungry” p. 43

Here are the following recipes that were a hit in our home!

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins (not healthy but oh so yummy- we made these 2 times!)

Ingredients

2.5 cups flour

0.5 cup oats

4 t pumpkin spice

2 t baking soda

1 t baking powder

1 t salt

1.5 cups pumpkin purée

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup sugar

2/3 cup vegetable oil

0.5 cup apple sauce

3 eggs

1 t vanilla

Directions

Set oven to 350 degrees

Makes 18 muffins

Bake 25-30 minutes

Combine flour, oats, spice, baking soda and powder, salt. Set aside.

In another bowl whisk purée, sugars, oil, apple sauce, eggs and vanilla.

Stir together dry and wet ingredients.

Pour into muffin tins (sprayed or paper)

Streusel Topping:

0.5 cup brown sugar, 2 T melted butter, 2 T oats, 2 T flour. Mix and place small amounts on each muffin before putting in

Creamy Ranch Pork Chops and Rice from Campbell’s (to use Cream of Mushroom soup)

Beef and Broccoli (to get rid of tomato soup)

The Best Chili You Will Ever Taste (to get rid of diced tomatoes, tomato paste 4 cans of kidney beans *yes, we had that many*)

Couscous salad got rid of some couscous, slivered almonds and craisins

Monday Meals: Lunch Prep

Lunches are hard for me. I need something fast but filling. Some weeks are better than others when I prep for weekday lunches. Last week a friend from work shared with me a recipe for Apple Harvest Chili. A patient had shared it with her. She was kind enough to bring a bowl to share with me. I later made the recipe and quickly wished I had doubled the batch! I also whipped up a batch of Spicy Sweet Potato Soup with Chipotle and Coriander from Gwyneth Paltrow’s book, It’s All Good. These two recipes should get me through lunches this week. I hope you enjoy the Fall recipes…or winter, wherever you may be reading this post from *smile*

Apple Harvest Chili

Ingredients

16 oz chunky salsa- medium heat

1 can corn, drained and rinsed

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

14 oz chicken broth

1 Granny Smith apple, diced

2/3 cup dried cranberries

1 T cocoa powder

2/3 cup chopped cashews

Directions

Mix all ingredients except the cashews in a pot

Bring to a boil

Reduce heat and simmer 1 hour

Stir in cashews before serving

Top with shredded cheese and sour cream

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup with Chipotle and Coriander

Ingredients:

2 T Olive Oil

1 Large red onion, diced

2 Garlic cloves, minced

5 Sprigs of cilantro, chopped

1 t cumin

Pinch of salt

1 1/2 t Chipotle in adobo sauce

6 Cups sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

6 Cups vegetable stock

Directions:

Heat oil in large pot

Cook onion, garlic, cilantro, cumin and salt on medium heat for 10 minutes

Add chipotle and potatoes along with stock

Bring to boil and then simmer 30 minutes

Purée soup in Vitamix, or other powerful blender

Friday Favorites: Baked Donuts

I love starting the day off baking breakfast with my kiddos. There was no school today so baked donuts it is! I purchased this donut pan from Pampered Chef a month or so ago. The first recipe I tried from the Food Network was a hit with my kids and my co-workers. We have tried two toppings. One with cinnamon/sugar and one a glazed. Last time I made them I asked my kids how they were… “better than Tim Hortons”! That is a win in my book!

Enjoy!

Baked Donuts from Food Network

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 t cinnamon

1/2 t nutmeg

1/2 t salt

1 egg, beaten

1 1/4 cups milk

2 T butter, melted

2 t vanilla

Sift together flour, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt

In a separate bowl mix the egg, milk, butter and vanilla

Mix all ingredients together

Bake in a donut pan at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes

Topping:

8 T melted butter

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 t cinnamon

Dip the donut in the butter and then in the sugar/cinnamon mixture