As I’m writing this blog post it’s currently 4:30 pm and there is still some light outside! It feels so good to have the days starting to get longer. Does anyone else experience the winter blues?
Trent has started applying for jobs recently. The thought that this adventure of ours is coming to a close is starting to feel real and I’m beginning to feel antsy. It’s a double edged sword though. If we don’t find work here and go back to the states we will really miss our friends and this wonderful city. London has been challenging, frustrating, and really fun. It will be nice to move on to the next phase, one that involves a pay check will be nice.
I hope you’re not sick of all the soup posts that I’ve been publishing lately. I never make soup in the summer. Fall and winter are my time for soups. This one, lemon chicken rice soup, is one of my favourites and always has been. As I child, I remember loving when my mom made this one. One of the best things about this soup is that you most likely have all the ingredients you’ll need right now in your kitchen. It’s a great go-to meal and it’s incredibly delicious.
6 cups chicken broth
1 chicken bouillon cube
1/3 cup rice, uncooked
2-3 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 cup chicken, cooked and cubed
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour
3 1/2 Tbs lemon juice
salt and pepper
In a large saucepan, combine chicken broth, bouillon cube, rice, carrots, celery and onion. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until rice and vegetables are tender.
Stir in chicken. Remove from heat and remove lid. In a small saucepan, melt butter and stir in flour until smooth. Gradually add 2 cups or broth mixture and cook until slightly thickened, stirring constantly.
In a small bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Beat in the lemon juice and temper the eggs by gradually beating in the 2 cups thickened broth mixture.
Very slowly add the egg mixture to the soup, stirring constantly. Do not do this if soup is boiling or very hot or eggs will split.
Heat on medium low and heat soup until it thickens enough to coat a spoon, but to not allow to boil.Add salt and pepper to taste.
Sorry that I’ve been absent the last few weeks. I’ve been working tirelessly on a few projects, one of which I can’t wait to share with you, but as for now it’s still under wraps. Hopefully I’ll be able to complete it and get it up and running within the next couple of weeks.
I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. My parents have always said that the years that they were in school with hardly any money were some of the best. They have very fond memories from that time. Now, with a little family of my own, I can see what they mean. They last two Christmases have been the most memorable for me. It was so great to make some of the magic for G this year.
I had a glimpse of the teenage years this week. One day returning from the park little G had a melt down. When we got home the only thing he wanted to do was lay in his bed. He didn’t want to sleep, just wanted to lie there. Then yesterday, all day, he kept calling me “Sheena,” not “mamma” like he has always called me.
I am becoming more and more of a soup person. Especially after reading food52’s article about how to make cream of anything soup without a recipe. I have reinvented this multiple times and each time it’s a hit. This roasted vegetable soup is full of flavour, it’s smooth, creamy (even without any cream) and chuck full of vegetables which is a great way to start the new year out right.On Christmas we had some friends from Provo over for lunch. I made this soup as part of the meal. It turned out to be one of their favorite kinds of soups.
Your favorite root vegetables (I used 3 carrots, 3 parsnips, 2 medium potatoes, 1 onion and a large swede)
4 table spoons olive oil or butter
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper
1 tsp dried sage (optional)
1 cup cream or half and half (optional)
Preheat oven and baking tray to 375.
Cube all of the vegetables and put in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and sage.
Once oven is heated, quickly remove backing tray, transfer vegetables to try and return to oven. Roast for about 45 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and beginning to brown.
Working in batches, place vegetable in a blender with some of the broth. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a large soup pot. Heat through. If desired add the cream (or you can add a little cream when serving as a garnish). Season to taste. Serve alongside crusty bread or a grilled cheese sandwich.
Trent recently finished two major projects that he has been working on for some time. (For one of them he made a chocolate bust of himself and ate it… oh art school… ) We hadn’t spent much time with him in the last few weeks. Little G got more than enough daddy time Tuesday when I was down-for-the-count too sick to function. He even indicated that he missed his mommy. That doesn’t happen… ever. When daddy is around, he is the star. And that’s okay by me. I get to be there for all of his firsts. I get all the cuddles when he wakes from his nap. It can be hard staying at home, taking care of a child, but there are plenty of moments that make up for it.
Monday I made ultimate chocolate cookies that I’ve blogged about before, but I wanted to put a holiday twist on it. Last year I tried to do that and it failed. After rolling these cookies, you coat them in sugar. I thought instead of sugar, what if I crunch up candy canes really finely and coat them in that. It didn’t work so well. They melted and were completely flat when I did this. So, instead, I chopped the candy canes up, but not quite so small, and incorporated it into the dough along with the chocolate chips. It was perfect. A little holiday flare to some fantastic chocolate cookies.
We took them to some friends of ours later that night. They have five children, so needless to say, the cookies were gone in no time. And we left their parents with five children on a sugar high, close to bed time. I’m certain we were their favourite friends that night.
2 cups brown sugar
2 cups white sugar (granulated)
1 lb. real margarine or butter
5 extra large eggs
2 tsp. almond flavoring (1 tsp. if using real almond extract)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Cream together above ingredients.
2 1/2 (12 oz.) packages milk chocolate chips
10 -ish candy canes, crushed (add to your liking)
Mix chocolate chips and candy canes into above mixture.
1 cup cocoa powder
6 ½ cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
Combine dry ingredients. Add to creamed mixture, mixing well. Scoop dough using an ice cream scoop. (I use one with a two inch diameter.) Pack well. Flatten dough slightly with hands. Put some granulated sugar in a bowl. Press formed cookie dough into granulated sugar to coat. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 7 minutes. (Oven temperatures vary; do not over bake. If cookies crack, you’re baking them too long. If you use a small scoop, bake for about 5 ½ to 6 minutes, but watch for cracking!) Remove cookie sheet to cooling rack.
This recipe makes 4 ½ to 5 dozen big cookies. Sometimes I form the cookies, freeze some of them on a cookie sheet without baking, then dump them into a Ziplock bag and freeze them for later. You can also bake them all and then freeze some. Or, just eat them all. Enjoy.
I love baking–especially in the winter time. When it is cold outside and your oven warms the house and the smell of cookies or bread fills the air–that is when baking is at its best. One baking tradition I’ve always loved is giving holiday cookies to neighbours and friends. The first Christmas that my dad was bishop in our church we saw too many baked goods hit our doorstep. When the treats first started coming our way I was excited. Once our kitchen counter became piled high with goodies, I remember groaning each time the doorbell rang, dreading the thought of having one more sweet to eat. So unless you’re overloaded with cookies, cakes, and other sweet treats, receiving a little homemade neighbour love is good thing.
I’m going to be sending a collection of holiday cookies (or bark, or homemade candy) your way over the next few weeks, and by sending it your way, I mean, I’m going to give you recipes and pretty pictures. At Christmas time, we should all try to be a little more neighbourly, don’t you think? I’ll be handing these goodies out to those near us and sending warm thoughts to those far away.
Tell me about your attempts at being neighbourly on instagram by tagging #HolidayCookiesWithTGT. I’d love to see what you’re making and how you package your goodies.
On to recipe number one (found it from this site). This is a delicious butter cookie, a thumbprint cookie with raspberry jam in the middle. The raspberry jam is first of all scrumptious, and second helps these cookies look totally festive. They are made with very few ingredients, which you probably have on hand all the time. To make it even better, these beauties can be made in a snap. They are the perfect neighbour gift when you’re running short on time, which this time of year, who isn’t?
- 1 cup Butter
- ⅔ cups Granulated Sugar
- 2 cups Flour
- ½ teaspoons Almond Extract Or Vanilla Extract
- 1 jar Raspberry Jam (12 Ounce Jar, Use As Much As You Need)
- 1 cup Powdered Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Water
Cream together the butter with the granulated sugar. Mix in flour and extract. Scoop out a spoonful of the mixture and shape into 1-inch balls. (The mixture will just barely come together.) Put each ball onto a cookie sheet and press your thumb into each one to make an indention. Put as much jam as you can put into each thumbprint.
Bake 14-18 minutes at 350 degrees.
Once cookies are cooled, mix together the powdered sugar with the water and drizzle onto the cookies.
Makes about 24 cookies.
Last year our Thanksgiving was slightly depressing. We didn’t really celebrate it at all. In fact we ate traditional British food instead. You can read about it here. This year we’re celebrating it twice, I guess, in part to make up for last year. On Thursday we’re having the missionaries from our church over. We’ll throw another Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday with a couple of Trent’s school mates, neither of whom have ever celebrated Thanksgiving. It should be fun to introduce them to one of my favourite bits of Americana. On almost every table across America on Thursday there will be the same dish. Green bean casserole will be there among many other star favourites. Green bean casserole was never something that we had to have on our Thanksgiving table. We always had green beans in some form, but they weren’t often in the traditional casserole form. Trent, however, has insisted that we have it on ours.
Not long ago I received Thomas Keller’s cook book, Ad Hoc at Home. My favourite of the recipes we’ve tried has been his beef stroganoff. What is so great about this recipe is that the sauce is so versatile. I make it at least twice a month, but we rarely have it for beef stroganoff. I’ve discovered that with subtle changes, it makes a great replacement for any recipe that calls for cream of mushroom soup. In my version of green bean casserole, I’ve made a few changes to Thomas Keller’s sauce and use it to coat the green beans. You can top it with the traditional French’s French Fried Onions, or since you’re already going all out, why not do those homemade as well.
This recipe is adapted from Thomas Keller’s, beef stroganoff and Alton Brown’s, green bean casserole.
For the mushroom sauce:
1 lb mushrooms, finely chopped (this can be done in batches in a food processor)
1 Tbs butter
1 onion, sliced
3 cups half and half (I used 1 1/2 cups almond milk and 1 1/2 cups cream – I like the nuttiness the almond milk gives.)
1 bay leaf
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
3 Tbs soy sauce
salt and pepper
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped mushrooms, increase heat to medium high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until all of the liquid has evaporated, 10-15 minutes.
Add the half and half, bay leaf, nutmeg and soy sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, until sauce has reduced by one-third.
Transfer sauce to blender and blend until smooth.
2 medium onions, sliced thin
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbs bread crumbs
1 tsp kosher salt
Combine the onions, flour, panko and salt in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine. Coat a sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray and evenly spread the onions on the pan. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until golden brown, approximately 30 minutes. Toss the onions 2 to 3 times during cooking. Once done, remove from the oven and set aside until ready to use. Turn the oven down to 400 degrees F
For the casserole:
1 lb fresh green beans, stems removed
2-3 cups of the mushrooms sauce, depending on how saucy you like it.
1 lb mushrooms (I like chestnut), sliced, and browned.
While the onions are cooking, prepare the beans. Bring a gallon of water and 2 tablespoons of salt to a boil in an 8-quart saucepan. Add the beans and blanch for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge the beans into a large bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Drain.
Combine mushroom sauce, green beans and browned mushrooms, and 1/4 of the onion topping. Top with the remaining onions. Place into the oven and bake until bubbly, approximately 15 minutes. Remove and serve immediately.