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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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?

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 🙂

Good day for the boat show!

(photo credit fineartamerica.com)

It’s so rainy and ugly here in Middle America!  I wish it would snow if it’s going to be this ugly out!

(photo credit fineartamerica.com)

I think we’ll drive into the city with our teenage munchkin and some friends to see the St. Louis Boat show!

I’m trying to talk teenage munchkin into bringing her swim suit so she can learn to scuba for free (in a pool).  She’s trying to tell me that she PROMISES that before she dies she’ll learn to REAL scuba in the ocean!  lol  I say that in the MEANTIME, she’ll try this, to amuse me!  hehehe  It sucks to be MY kid!

The problem with me and boat shows?  I’m reminded that I have no money to get what I feel I deserve 😦  Like, I REALLY want a boat like this one.  And when we leave, I’ll do my best to convince hubby that we only live once so WHY shouldn’t we have this beautiful specimen?  And he’ll say no, and I’ll threaten with divorce…  blah blah blah….  you know the routine….

And I’ll pout and plan his untimely demise….

Happy Sunday to all of you and remember to ALWAYS give the wifey what she wants 😉 or this can happen to YOU too!

What’s for dessert? Orange Creamsicle Cake!

Sick of me yet?  You won’t be after you try this!  I had to bring you dessert, right? So for dinner, there’s Guinness Beef Stew and Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits.  We needed something sweet to top everything off!  Julia and I went to work baking a cake… Not just ANY cake though, more of a dessert, really.  I don’t mind saying that we are truly amazing!  This cake tastes JUST like an orange creamsicle!  It’s kind of a summery thing to do, really, but we need a little summer during this cold winter, don’t we? This is tested and delicious and I SO want to share a piece with you 😉

Orange Creamsicle Cake

Ingredients

1 box Duncan Hines  yellow butter recipe cake mix

3 large eggs

1/2 cup melted butter (not margarine)

1 cup water (for cake)

2 small pkgs Jello brand orange gelatin

1 pkg Jello brand instant vanilla pudding mix

1 cup milk

2 tsp vanilla

1 tub COOL WHIP non dairy whipped topping

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine Duncan Hines cake mix with 3 beaten eggs, 1 cup of water and cooled melted butter.  With electric mixer, mix on low speed for 1 minute and then high speed for 1 minute.  Pour batter into greased 9×13 baking pan.  Bake at 350 for around 21 minutes (or until inserted knife comes out clean).  Let cake cool completely and then poke holes all over cooled cake (I use the round side of a wooden spoon handle).  Mix 1 pkg orange jello with 1 cup boiling water and 1 cup cold water.  Pour over cooled cake.  Refrigerate for around four hours.  Mix pudding mix with cold milk, another package of orange jello, 2 tsp vanilla.  Whisk by hand until thickened.  Fold in Cool Whip.  Frost the cooled cake with pudding mixture.  Garnish with a sprig of mint and orange slices, if you want 🙂

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

I guess this is going to be a FOOD kind of day.  It seems to be the only thing I want to blog about.  In my defense…  it’s snowy and cold.  The only thing we really want to do is curl up under the blankets and EAT!  lol  along with this (Irish Guinness Beef Stew) I felt like I needed a bread to go with.  I’ve been meaning to try a recipe I found on Pinterest for a while now and today gave me the PERFECT excuse.  Let me tell you, it wasn’t a mistake!  OMG! These are TO DIE FOR and taste EXACTLY the way we know they SHOULD taste!  Now I bring you:

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Ingredients:

2 cups Bisquick biscuit mix
2/3 cup milk (I used evaporated because that’s all I had)
1/2 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
1/2 cup melted butter
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley

Method:

Preheat oven to 450 degree. Mix biscuit mix, milk, and cheddar cheese until soft dough forms; beat vigorously for 30 seconds. Drop dough by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Mix melted butter, garlic powder, and dried parsley; brush generously over warm biscuits before removing from cookie sheet. Serve warm. Make 10-12 biscuits.

Have a comfy, cozy night!

Beef and Guinness Stew (Casserole)

The ONLY thing good about winter, in my humble opinion, is the excuse to load up on all the comfort food my little heart desires 🙂  Today is SO cold and gloomy in my little corner of the world.  I COULD get out of my bed comfort zone and drive around looking for something lovely to photograph but that would just require me to have to learn how to actually USE my expensive new camera.  I wouldn’t want to hurt my brain so I think I’ll just stay home and cook:-)  Besides, I’m pretty hungry.

This is a recipe I use often because it’s absolutely DELISH!  I didn’t even have to alter the recipe.  It comes from a cookbook I bought in a little Irish town in Kentucky (Too bad I can’t remember the name of the town!  lol).  Ireland’s Comfort Food, Pidgeon’s Press

Beef and Guinness Casserole (*but it’s more like a stew!)

Ingredients:

2 TBSP oil

2 lbs beef, trimmed and cubed (*I use stew meat from chuck roast)

2 TBSP tomato puree (*I use tomato paste)

1- 14 oz can tomatoes, chopped

2 tsp mustard (*I use Dijon)

1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup Guinness beer (*I use any dark beer we happen to have)

3 3/4 cups chicken stock

pepper to taste

3 carrots, peeled and diced (*ok, I never dice my carrots)

2 large onions, peeled and sliced

4 mushrooms, sliced (*I don’t usually have mushrooms so it’s ok without)

1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1 tbsp water

2 TBSP parsley

boiled potatoes or rice for serving

Heat oil in a large pot, add the meat (be sure and don’t over crowd or the meat won’t brown) and cook until brown on all sides.  Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Guinness, chicken stock and pepper; cover with lid and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add the vegetables, cover and cook an additional 40-50 minutes or until the meat is tender; add the cornstarch mixture to thicken if needed.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve over potatoes or rice.

Enjoy!