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Soup Weather

Hearty Beef Vegetable Stew

Fall brings a lot of great things, including cozy fashions, warm colors and fun outdoor activities such as hiking, bonfires and corn mazes. And of course most people would include pumpkins on this list, but honestly I don’t really understand what all the hype is about. You guys know that grocery stores sell pumpkin all year round? But I digress.

Besides all that, one of my most favorite things about autumn is the FOOD. Comforting, yummy and warm, fall food is great, and I love that it all culminates in that wonderful holiday we Americans celebrate called Thanksgiving! But i’m not here to discuss Thanksgiving, I’m here to talk about soup! Soup makes up a good portion of the awesomeness that is fall cuisine, and I’ve already made a couple kinds this season. Yesterday I decided to take advantage of my day off to make a big pot of this goodness; Hearty Beef Vegetable Soup. I got the recipe from my mother-in-law because it’s one of Husband’s favorite things that she makes, and I’d have to agree that it is de-lish. It’s more than just putting all the ingredients together and heating them up with this soup, the yum factor comes from the long slow cooking. You start by browning the meat and then you throw in all the vegetables with a whole bottle of V-8 juice. Add stock to generously cover and bring it all to a boil. Then leave that puppy on the stove for 6.5 hours. Yep, you read that right, and it’s because of the length of time it takes to make this that I chose to do it on my day off! But all that long slow simmering makes the meat just so tender and all the flavors of the vegetables mingle to make a pot of pure amazing.

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A few hours before the soup was ready I mixed up some dough as well to bake a fresh loaf of French Bread to go with it. Fresh bread, fresh soup. You just can’t get any more warm and comforting than that! You should use your next day off to make this soup! It makes enough to have plenty of leftovers; pop some in your fridge and some in your freezer (it freezes well, but take note that if you put it in a plastic container the tomato juice WILL stain it!) because there’s going to be so much that you probably won’t be able to eat it all before it goes bad. But then a few weeks down the road when you just need something easy and delicious, BAM take that soup outta the freezer and enjoy the warm fuzzy happiness of fall comfort food all over again.

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So here’s the recipe! Please note that the vegetables and amounts are only suggestions, use whatever you’ve got on hand!

Hearty Beef Vegetable Soup

1 lb. beef tips
4 lg. carrots (peeled and sliced)
1 lg. rutabega (peeled and cubed to 1/4″ pieces)
2 c. cut green beans
2 c. corn
1 lg. sweet onion (diced)
3 stalks celery (sliced to 1/4″ pieces)
1/4 med. cabbage head (cut in pieces)
64 oz. V-8 Juice Original
9-10 c. beef broth (or 9-10 c. water + 9-10 tsp. beef bouillon)

In 8 qt, stockpot brown beef tips in 2 T. oil. Remove the meat and drain off fat. Wipe out stock pot with paper towel and return meat. Add all the vegetables and the V-8 Juice, then add enough broth or water and bouillon to generously cover vegetables. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low for 1 1/2 hours. Simmer for another 5 hours, stirring occasionally.

Enjoy the recipe, the next comfort food I’m going to try out is this Bangers and Mash recipe, I’ll have to let you know how it turns out!

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Weeknight Dinner Idea: Honey Baked Chicken

Hey folks! Ever since I moved out of my parents house in the winter of 2012, I’ve learned to appreciate the art of economical cooking, both time-wise and money-wise. Some weeks you just don’t want to spend money on a carload at the grocery store so you pick meals with a few simple ingredients, and other weeks you just don’t have the time to cook, so you choose meals that are quick to throw together. Well, here’s one that is easy on both your budget and your clock! I present: Honey Baked Chicken!

Honey Baked Chicken

OK, so it’s not really a new concept, you can find tons of recipes if you just put that phrase into any search engine. But now that you’re here and reading this, I’ll give you the recipe to save you the time of searching for it elsewhere! 🙂

It’s super easy, I promise. You lay out your chicken, mix together the other ingredients and pour it over top, bake, and voila! Roughly 30 minutes later you’ve got your meal ready to go. I served this chicken with rice and peas, so as soon as the chicken went into the oven I started the rice cooking in my rice cooker and made the peas just before the chicken was done, so everything was ready at the same time. I also highly recommend drizzling the resulting honey mustard sauce from the chicken over both the chicken and the rice. So yummy! Enjoy the easy meal everyone and let me know in the comments below what you think!

 

Honey Baked Chicken

Serves: 5-6

Ingredients:
6 chicken breast halves1/3 c. melted unsalted butter
1/3 c. honey
2 Tbsp. mustard
1 tsp. salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay out chicken in a greased 9×13 pan. Whisk together remaining ingredients until smooth and pour over chicken. Bake until chicken is no longer pink inside, 30-45 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breasts.

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A Domestic Day

Alright. I realize that pretty much everything I post about is domestic-related, but today I’m really feeling like a housewife. One of the reasons could be because we took my car to the shop this morning to get inspected, leaving me home alone with no wheels. One of the other reasons could be my brilliant plan to can some dill pickles and some sweet relish today, on top of the normal activities of tidying and laundry. So here I am with dreams of pickle jars lining my counters to use as image for my blog, but as with most dreams, it didn’t exactly come true.

After I finished washing all of my jars out I realized I was missing some pretty key ingredients for both my pickle relish and the dill pickles. I needed garlic, white vinegar, mustard seed, celery seed, 2 red bell peppers, and 2 yellow bell peppers. I was going to use today to go to the grocery store, but I forgot I wouldn’t have a car to use! Not my most brilliant moment. But everything turned out OK when I realized that our lovely farmers market was open today so I took a stroll downtown and bought most of what I needed. I’m still missing the white vinegar for the dill pickles, so I’ll have to make them another day, but I found everything else and now have a giant bowl of ground cucumbers, onions, and peppers sitting, soon ready to be made into yummy relish without that dreaded high-fructose corn syrup that’s in every variety at the grocery store. Yay!

But I feel ashamed to write a post with no pictures though, and since the relish isn’t even close to pretty right now, I decided I’d also share a recipe I created today! Another reason for the domestic feelings. I’m calling this one Confetti Pasta Salad and it was born from having a whole lot of fresh salsa in our fridge. Having too much fresh salsa is never a problem. Especially when it results in this!

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Last night I made fresh salsa for our small group because, again, I failed to plan things out well and totally forgot I needed to serve a snack! I spent most of the day cleaning out my old bedroom at my parents house but on my way back home I stopped at a farm and got some fresh tomatoes and a green pepper. I also had to stop at the grocery store to find a red onion, cilantro, and tortilla chips.

I got home to find my husband frantically cleaning the house, getting it ready for the guests. I’m so glad he was so willing to help because I never would have gotten it all done on my own! So after the house was clean I got to work on my salsa. All my ingredients went into my food processor and soon after I had so much fresh salsa I needed two bowls to hold it all! I heard a few people say later that it was the best salsa they had ever tasted! That definitely made me a happy girl!

But I’m getting pretty longwinded here. We had tons of salsa leftover, so for lunch today I decided this salsa is the type of thing that tastes good on foods other than just tortilla chips, so I boiled up some Ditalini pasta and mixed some of the salsa into it and then let it chill in the fridge for an hour or so. I chose the Ditalini because I thought it was a good size ratio to the salsa, but macaroni would probably work just as well! My oh my, it was so good and fresh and summery tasting! The tomatoes were sweet and juicy, the onions added a nice punch, fresh cilantro and basil added their own unique flavors, and the best part is the longer this sits in the refrigerator, the more time the flavors have to really mingle and come together. This is also one of those recipes that you can grow almost all of the ingredients yourself, and if you do it makes creating it just that much more satisfying.

OK. Enough rambling on and on. You want the recipe, I know. Well here ya go, and if you decide to make this please tell me what you think!

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Confetti Pasta Salad

Ingredients:
1/2 cup fresh summer salsa
2 cups cooked Ditalini pasta

Salsa Ingredients:
3 medium tomatoes (cut into chunks)
1/2 medium red onion (cut into chunks)
1/2 large green pepper (cut into chunks)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic (minced)
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh basil
1 Tbsp vinegar
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt

Instructions: Make the fresh summer salsa by combining the salsa ingredients in a food processor (or just chopping everything up finely if you don’t have one!) and let stand for at least 30 minutes. Add about 1/2 cup of the salsa to your cooked pasta and mix well. (Note: This recipe will give you extra salsa to enjoy with chips or anything else as well. Be creative!) Allow the pasta salad to chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving. Garnish with a spring of basil and enjoy!

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Creamy curry macaroni

Today was a good day. Not only did I start out a new nannying/babysitting job and have a great time, I also made myself some very scrumptious food for dinner sans any recipe of any kind. It’s a big step, since my dream is to be able to cook anything fabulously without a recipe.

So what did I make? I call it: Creamy Curry Macaroni!

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Sorry for the awful photo, it’s from my phone and I was too hungry to go upstairs to pull out my nice camera :/

The only downside to not using a recipe is this: I don’t know exactly went into it. Here’s my best guess at what I did so you can try to repeat it!

Ingredients:
3/4-1 cup of macaroni
1/2 tbsp butter
2 tbsps cream cheese
Milk
Salt and curry to taste

Instructions: Cook macaroni according to directions and drain. Over lowest heat, add butter and cream cheese and mix until melted. Here’s where it gets tricky though, I added enough milk to give it a more sauce like consistency, just do a little bit at a time and mix until it is creamy and smooth. I added a pinch of salt and curry for flavor, but you can add however much you like. If you’re big on curry put in a lot, if you can’t stand it leave the curry out and it is still great!

And there it is, quick, easy, and best of all, inexpensive! I hope you enjoy it!

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Gluten-Free Nutella Cupcakes: A Wonderful Way to Say Goodbye

Hello Wide World!

No art or journals today, but it’s been over a week since I’ve posted, and so I’m a bit overdue. Sorry about that…I guess posting regularly isn’t my strong point. But I am working on it. Maybe I can make it a New Years Resolution or something.

Anyway, I recently got a job offer as a Photo Editor, and since I studied art and photography in college and got that schmancy Bachelor’s Degree and everything, I’m pretty excited about this. Unfortunately, it means I have to give up my two wonderful jobs at the library and at the bookstore, my last day will be Thursday. So, to thank my bosses and co-workers for being such wonderful people to work with, I decided to make some cupcakes to bring into work with me tomorrow and Thursday.

I used a recipe that I found here, Gluten-Free Nutella Cupcakes. I decided to go gluten-free because one of my bosses is on a gluten-less diet right now. I decided to go with Nutella because, well, it’s Nutella. OK, actually I used the Jif Chocolate Hazelnut spread instead of Nutella because it was cheaper and came in a glass jar, but it tastes the same…it tastes like Heaven in a jar.

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The Ingredients

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Baked and cooling, awaiting their glorious crown of cream cheese Nutella frosting.

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Finished and ready to go, topped with some sprinkles I found in the cupboard.

The only things I did differently from the recipe is that I used brown rice flour instead of sweet rice flour. But for a gluten-free recipe, this is pretty good. They weren’t too heavy and didn’t taste too healthy. I mean, that heavenly frosting helped out. Who could resist such a delightful combination of cream cheese, sugar, and Nutella? A crazy person, that’s who. But I digress.

The real test comes when I give them to my co-workers. I hope they like them!

Love,

Charlene