Chicken Soup for the Soul

Have I told you that the teenage munchkin is “fasting”?  Actually, maybe I’m not supposed to be talking about it but she didn’t tell me NOT to and she should know that nothing is sacred unless specifically stated!  lol  She’s fasting because she wants to show God that she’s open to sacrificing for him the way Jesus did for our sins (her words).  She tells me that she wants to be open to receiving HIS wishes for her life.  She does NOT get this from me.  I’ve never really been a disciplined person and I’m ashamed that I’m the one who believes that God can’t see me sneak that cookie or piece of candy.  Julia isn’t fasting for just a day.  She’s been only eating non processed foods for 2 weeks now.  Mostly she eats boiled eggs and raw vegetables and fruits.  Every day, I try to cook her fish but she can have VERY little salt so everything tastes bland.  I’m proud of her though because, for the most part, she’s not trying to argue about what kind of food she can have.  Yesterday, she kind of pushed the ticket.  She’d forgotten that she told me she couldn’t eat pasta because it was a starch.  So NO starches, right?  She thought I wouldn’t notice when she started frying potatoes and green peppers last night!  lol  Her reasoning?  Potatoes are a vegetable grown from the ground and so were green peppers.  What about the starch thing, Julia?  Oh THIS starch is okay, I’m SURE of it.  What about the fact that potatoes really don’t have nutritional value and you’re eating them in order to feel full?  Oh that’s okay too.  God will understand.  Well OKAY then.  I guess the rules change when you’re really hungry?

Today I’m making her some of Paula Deen’s chicken rice soup.  There’s NOTHING in this soup that she CAN’T have and since it’s cold and snowy AND she’s working hard painting and cleaning, it just FEELS like a soup kind of day.  Everything comes from God’s earth and the chicken is even healthy, right?  This will be the only time in the past 2 weeks that she’s eaten chicken though.  She tells me that this is like a 5 star meal for her!  And then I reminded her about those fried potatoes last night.  Was that like a 4 star meal?  lol

By now you know that I get my recipes from SOMEWHERE.  Lately it’s bee from the great Paula Deen.    However, I rarely stick to a recipe.  This one is revised by me but comes mostly from her.  Everyone’s got their own way of doing chicken soup.  Soup is just one of those foods that you can’t mess up PLUS it’s good for what ails you!  If you feel bad physically or emotionally, I PROMISE you’ll feel better after a great big bowl of this!

Cure – All Chicken Rice Soup

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, cut up, rinsed and patted dry (mine was 5.5 lbs)

6 celery stalks, washed (use with the green leaves)

6 large carrots chopped into coins

2 lrg Vidalia onions (halved through the root end)

6 cloves garlic (minced)

2 tsp dried thyme

4 bay leaves

5 tsp salt

2 chicken bouillon cubes

2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp tarragon (dried)

2 cups long grain white rice

2/3 cups chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

In a large stockpot, combine chicken, 12 cups water, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, bay leaves, salt, black pepper, tarragon and thyme.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through (around an hour).

Remove the chicken and carrots from stockpot and set aside.  Strain the remaining liquid and discard the solids.  Return the strained broth to the pot, stir in rice and bring to a gentle simmer, cook until the rice is tender about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, once the chicken is cool enough to handle, pick meat off the bones, discarding skin and bones.  Return the chicken and carrots to the pot.  Simmer for another 5 minutes.  Adjust seasoning and stir in parsley right before serving.

*The bones make the soup!  You can always use boneless chicken breast.  I do if that’s all I have on hand but if you want REALLY good soup, full of flavor, you’ll want to use chicken on the bone.

*This recipe is a double batch.  It will serve 12-18 people generously.  I always double recipes because I can freeze a batch for later.  It saves time and money 🙂  Enjoy!

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Decorating on another snowy day :-)

Snowy day in St. Louis.  St. Louis Missouri Botanical Gardens.

(Photo credit Erin Wilson)

I can’t believe this!  Yesterday, I was riding around, COATLESS, singing in the Spring sunshine. Today, I’m bundled up INSIDE, watching the wet, cold snow fall.  Before it’s all said and done, we’ll be getting somewhere around 10 inches of the white fluffy stuff!  That’s St. Louis for you!  It’s a good thing I didn’t plant my little garden like I was SO tempted to do!

We’ve not really had a very relaxing weekend.  It’s a GOOD thing though 🙂  Julia, Ben and I decided to move her bedroom upstairs to her sister’s old bedroom.  The room I’d wanted to turn into my library.  Oh well, maybe I’ll do that when she’s in college…. 4 more years.  I’m not rushing things.  Anyway, we have 2 spare bedrooms upstairs.  Neither one of them had been deep cleaned for AT LEAST 5 years, probably more.  I wish I could describe the dust that was hiding underneath all the furniture.  Wow!  I’m ashamed.  lol  I mean, I clean, I just hadn’t moved furniture.  We took out half a dumpster load of trash and things I’d been hanging onto for God knows WHAT reason.  The trash man is NOT going to be happy with me tomorrow 😦  We’ve been painting for 2 days now and the end is in sight!

Julia’s new bedroom is going from pink and girly to dark turquoise with white accents.  The only input I had was the chandelier I insisted she have.  It’s turning out a WHOLE lot better than I’d envisioned, mostly because of my chandelier 🙂  lol  It’s going to look something like this when we get done.

Mini Chandeliers

(Does anyone want to paint that white tree for me?  We certainly can’t do that but we really REALLY want it!)

I love that Julia’s being so involved with the decorating.  Really I do.  I argue with her a lot, trying to show her MY way is best.  There is no arguing with this child.  When she dies, she’ll argue with God.  I’m sure of it. lol  It’s all good because she knows what she likes and won’t back down.  Really, why would I want her to.  This is HER room and I want her last few years here to be good and peaceful ones.  You’ve GOT to pick your battles.  Besides, it’s a bargaining tool.  If I give in to the way she wants things, I can ALSO say that she has to do every bit as much work as we have to do 😉  There is a method to my madness.

Hubby is also building me my bookshelves in the other tiny bedroom.  We’ve moved all my furniture in that one and it will be my little office / bedroom / closet / reading nook.  We’re NOT painting this room yet.  It’s the same ugly khaki color that it’s been for 5 years.  Now that it’s clean and organized though, it’s kind of cute again!

So yeah, Spring cleaning on a winter day.  Maybe it will stay clean for another 10 years!  lol

Snow on the clover!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!  Hopefully the rest of the world is having GOOD weather and you can celebrate safely on NON ice slicked roads!  In Mid America, where I live, I woke up to snow and ice on our clover patches.  We’ll be staying indoors, where it’s safe and warm 🙂

To celebrate, in our own very simple way, I’ll be making my Irish Beef and Guinness Stew.  If you haven’t tried this recipe yet, today’s a VERY good day to give it a whirl!  Remember, it looks like this when you’re all done (and taste even better!).

Can’t stop there though!  I’ll be making a different potato dish other than the usual mashed!  lol  I get my Irish recipes from a cookbook called, Ireland’s Comfort Food (Pidgeon Press Publishing) and I haven’t come across a bad recipe yet!  The recipe’s I’ve tried have been PACKED with flavor.  That’s what I look for in a good recipe 🙂

*Note:  This recipe calls for Durrus Cheese and from what I’ve been learning, the closest that I can come to Durrus Cheese is Gouda or maybe even Swiss.  Today, I’ll probably use a mixture of Gouda and cheddar.

Roasted Red Potatoes with Bacon & Cheese recipe

Durrus & Potato Melt

2 pounds waxy potatoes, cubed (I use small red, quatered)

2 onions, finely chopped (I use sweet or Vidalia)

2 TBSP butter

1/2 LB bacon slices, cut into small pieces

1 LB Durrus Farmhouse Cheese, cut into cubes (I will use some Gouda and shredded cheddar)

8 oz tub of creme’ fraiche (I will use sour cream because that’s what I have)

butter, enough to butter an ovenproof dish

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Parboil the potatoes and set aside.  Meanwhile, saute the onions in butter until translucent or clear.  Remove from pan and set aside.  Meanwhile, fry the bacon until crisp and crumbly but not burnt.  Mix the creme fraiche, potatoes and Durrus cheese together.  Add onion and bacon, mix well and pour into a buttered, oven proof dish.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  Place in preheated oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring gently, halfway through cooking.

What are YOU doing for St. Patrick’s day?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Forward

If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.
Henry Ford

Moving forward. My little 5 year old niece Selah trying to catch Julia. They’re playing tag. Thanksgiving in Texas.

Best CREAM of Potato with Bacon and Ham Soup EVER!!!!!

It’s still snowy and kind of yucky out.  ALTHOUGH that winter storm they tried to call a weather state of emergency?  Yeah… NOT SO MUCH!  I swear, the weather people had us prepared for the storm of the century and although it WAS more snow than St. Louis is used to having (in these past few years), the temperature rose to 37 F today and pretty much melted all that ice and snow they wanted to call the national guard about!  lol

what Julia’s lips look like after Hannah brutalized her

That’s okay.  We still had fun.  Julia (teenage munchkin) and her friend went to shovel driveways for the elderly people in the “hood”.  That was a blast in itself because Hannah (friend) knocked Julia (who’s a beast so please don’t feel sorry for her) in the mouth with a shovel.  NOW my little munchkin closely resembles Angelina Jolie!  One fat and bloody lip later, they came walking through the door, cold and hungry.  BTW…  These girls are like boys.  This is the way they play.  Earlier, Julia busted Hannah in the nose and they SWORE it was broken.  WHY did she do this?  Good question.  She says it was because Hannah scared her so she tackled Hannah to make her stop.  IDK.  I don’t get it.  lol  ANYHOO…  Hannah’s mama called to ask me about it. The sad thing is that I hadn’t heard a word about a broken nose (exaggeration)!  It happened in my house, granted it was in the basement but still!  The only way I found out about it is because Hannah “texted” her mother to tell her about it!  lol  Wow, I’m still not going to get that mother of the year award, huh?  Thank GOODNESS Hannah’s mom was okay and we’ve known each other ever since the girls were 7.

what Hannah looked like after Julia brutalized HER nose

Broken nose and busted lip deserves something special on this cold day, I think.  SOooooo…. I whipped up my favorite batch of potato soup.  Actually, this is EVERYONE’S favorite potato soup.  I have people telling me that it’s all they want for Christmas, as in for a Christmas present!  I’ve made half gallon sized mason jars full for family and friends to take home.  It’s THAT good.

Michelle’s Cream of Potato Soup

Ingredients:

1 lb bacon, cut up

4 cups potatoes, peeled and diced

1 large, sweet onion, diced

4 chicken bouillon cubes

2 tsp ground thyme (dried)

bacon grease

1 cup chopped ham

4 cups heavy whipping cream

2 cups milk

2 TBSP parsley flakes

2 TBSP cornstarch mixed in 1/4 cup water

Directions

Fry bacon in a Dutch oven or large soup pot until crisp.  Don’t drain bacon grease.  In the same pan, add potatoes, ham, onion, bouillon cubes and thyme.  Add just enough water to cover potatoes.  Bring mixture to a boil and then turn down heat, cover pot and simmer until potatoes are tender.  Drain potatoes in colander to remove water and return to pot.  Add cream, milk and parsley flakes to potatoes, bacon and ham.  Stir in cornstarch and water mixture for thickening.  Heat through and serve.

This is awesome with a little cheddar cheese added to your bowl!  If you don’t THINK you like potato soup, PLEASE try this one because chances are you’ll love it 🙂

What the girls are doing on this snow day? Making “cotton candy cookies”.

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Teenage Munchkin and her BFF are snowed in with us today.  It’s been fun listening to them laugh.  You know teenagers don’t like to be bored and these two definitely aren’t bored.  They  came to me earlier, asking if they can make “cotton candy” cookies!  I’d never heard of this type of cookie but they found a recipe on the net and who was I to say no? EXCEPT that the recipe called for 4.5 cups of flour and all we had was 2 😦  We had  “self rising” flour, so the girls looked up how to substitute self rising for the regular all purpose.

This recipe calls for 4.5 all purpose and if all you have is self rising, you need 2.5 cups.  Hope that made sense.  I’m just going to give you the recipe they found on the net, the way it’s written (without our substitutions).  They were FANTASTIC!  They really just tasted like more of a really good sugar cookie 🙂

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Teenage munchkin and her cotton candy cookies.

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The mess of flour teenage muchkin left on my floor… but hey!  it’s a snow day, right?  lol

Cotton Candy Cookies

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup powdered sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp baking soda

4 1/2 all purpose flour

few drops of food color

enough baking sugar to roll unbaked cookies in (they look like crystals) OR you can use regular granulated sugar.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 F

Cream together sugars, butter and cooking oil.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients (the next 4 ingredients), mix to incorporate.  At this point add the food coloring until the desired color.  Roll dough into small balls about the size of a quarter.  Roll ball into baking sugar.  Using a heavy bottom crystal vase or a cookie press dipped into bakers sugar (or regular sugar), smash ball out flat, leaving an imprint from cookie press (stamp) or bottom of vase.  Bake for 10 minutes or until edges are slightly browned.  Cool slightly before transferring to baking rack.

*I realize this recipe isn’t written the way I’d like it to be, where it’s easy to follow.  However, my girls followed it just fine and the cookies turned out perfect!

**we used enough blue food coloring for these cookies to look like a light blue cotton candy.  Especially after rolled in bakers sugar.

Snow day FINALLY!

We FINALLY have an official winter storm!  Yay Missouri!  I KNEW we had it in us to produce at least SOME snow!  The funny thing is that when I was growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, there was ALWAYS snow.  Tons of it.  We made igloos like this one:

(this one wasn’t ours but this LOOKS just like it)

We climber mountains  hills in our back yard and got lost.  By the time we made it home, we had frost bite.  Oh and we didn’t die! lol  We were better for the experience.  We ice skated in the caves behind our house and we (even the adults) made bon fires at night so we could warm up when sledding down the hill by our house, in the dark.  I can’t figure out why we don’t ave snow like we used to?  In 1982, we had over 3 feet of snow.  Most snow falls were over 6 inches.  NOW?  We’re lucky to get 3 inches and we’re ALSO lucky to get more than 2 snow falls during the winter.

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I feel SO happy that we get to be snowed in today!  Here’s a pic of when it was just getting started early this morning.

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White out at 2:00 pm

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white out now.

More snow and ice predicted and a weather emergency has been declared.  We’re watching the traffic jam on the news now.  I’m amazed that some employers forced their people to come in, especially when we were told YESTERDAY that MODOT wanted everyone OFF the roads by 10 am!  They’re telling us that some employers didn’t care and wanted a regular work day.  NOW people are trying to get home and are stranded on the highways.  Some people have run out of gas, some people have just run off the road.  I’m feeling pretty thankful that I don’t have to work.

It’s nice to stay snuggled under the blanket, where it’s warm and so close to the refrigerator!  lol

““I love snow for the same reason I love Christmas: It brings people together while time stands still. Cozy couples lazily meandered the streets and children trudged sleds and chased snowballs. No one seemed to be in a rush to experience anything other than the glory of the day, with each other, whenever and however it happened”
― Rachel CohnDash & Lily’s Book of Dares