RECIPE: Peasant Chicken Soup

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A chill is in the air. Fall is here, at least here in the Midwest. And what goes best with chilly weekend weather but a nice bowl of warm soup. The smells coming off the stove as it simmers for a few hours as you crack open a window for a crisp breeze on a bright Sunday is unmistakable bliss. This soup is pretty easy, and you can pretty much clean out your crisper drawer of that bag of lonely carrots and left over celery. I always feel great when I can use up food in the fridge and make something special from it.

I call this "peasant" because it is very rustic. It's very similar to my traditional Italian Mother's recipe using some potatoes and whole piece chicken. To round out the dinner, I created a rustic cheese and olive platter with whole grain artisan bread. The bread was great for sopping up the soup as well as munching on the cheese. It really hit the spot for a Sunday meal. So slot this into your apple picking/fall garden clean up/Halloween planning/classic movie watching/fall leaf hiking activities. The pot simmers for a bit, so the stove does most of your work while you can enjoy your day!

Peasant Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 lb. whole cut up chicken, preferably just thighs and legs and skin removed, patted dry
1 lb. carrots, sliced
1/2 head of celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 cup fresh parsley tied in bundle with kitchen string
3 quarts of water
3 tsp. "Better Than Bouillon" chicken flavor (or 3 chicken bouillon cubes)
1 tsp. "Better Than Bouillon" beef flavor (or 1 beef bouillon cube OR a small beef bone)
2 peeled and seeded plum tomatoes
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1/4 lb. thin pasta noodles, cooked according to package directions, drained and set aside

Directions:

Over medium flame, heat the olive oil in a large stock pot or dutch oven. Add the chicken pieces and brown on all sides. Take them out as they finish browning, setting them aside on a plate. Once done, add the onion and garlic to the brown bits in the pan and saute, scraping the bottom as you go. As they soften, add the carrots and celery. Saute for 8 minutes until beginning to soften. As you do this, keep scraping up all the brown bit goodness on the bottom. Add back the chicken. Lower your flame a little.

Meanwhile, heat up some of your water and dissolve your bouillon into it. Mix well, and add it to the pot with the rest of the water. Crush your tomato in your hand over the pot, and add it in. Add the potatoes, and the parsley. Bring the pot up to a rolling boil. Once there, lower your temp to a gentle simmer. Partially cover the pot, and simmer for 2-2 1/2 hours. As it gets close, take a teaspoon and taste, adding salt and pepper as you see fit. Skim off any fat if you have a lot settling on the top.

When the soup is finished, discard the parsley. Serve in bowls with a handful of cooked noodles and a chicken piece each. (Don't forget some cheeses and artisan bread as a side! Bread is great for sopping up the yummy!)





RECIPE: Chocolate Chip and Sea Salt Cookies

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The moaning. The groaning. The rolling of the eyes. All a lovely prequel to Math homework at my house.

Well, last week I tried a different tact. And it worked.

Nothing improves the karma in a home better, or incent a 10 year old more than fresh baked cookies.

So as the sound of the mixer whirred and the smells of sugar and chocolate wafted through the air, a calmness settled on the dining room. Daughter was focused. Hubby was excited. And together, they went through the intricacies of number estimation with a new energy...and even laughter.


Yes. Laughter. And Math. Together.

Just goes to show you the true power of a home made baked goodie.



Oh, and to do something a little different, the addition of lovely Grey Sea Salt brings a nice finish to the taste buds while bringing the layers of molasses flavor in the brown sugars up a notch.

It's a good time. Trust me.

Chocolate Chip and Sea Salt Cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. Grey Sea Salt (or other large flake Sea Salt)
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 1/4 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs, set out for 10 minutes to take some of the chill out
1 1/4 cups 60% cocoa semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375˚. Line 2 baking sheets with tin foil.

Mix the flour, baking soda and salt with a fork. Set aside.

With a mixer, cream the butter, then add the sugars. Whip until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and 2 eggs, whipping until creamy.  Put the mixer on low and add the dry ingredients to the batter. Whip until just combined. Take the bowl off the mixing stand and add the chocolate chips by hand, folding them in with a spatula or wooden spoon.

Drop by well-rounded tablespoonfuls about 2-3 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake for 4-5 minutes. Then switch the sheets around on opposite levels, and bake for about 4 more minutes. Cookies should be golden brown.

Let set on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Continue until all batter is used. Makes about 45-50 cookies.





RECIPE: Sort-of Healthy Onion Yogurt Dip

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Who doesn't like onion dip? Especially with a huge bag of salty, crunchy potato chips? I remember my sister-n-law and I were hanging out watching cooking shows during our vacation quite a few years ago (this is back when we didn't have to worry about calories and carbs so much). She and I gleefully cleaned out a giant bag of Ruffles with a vat of onion dip. Of course, I hated myself that night, but boy was it fun!

I have been on the hunt for a healthier onion dip to serve to guests, and I ran across one that was workable on the Food Network's website. The one thing I wanted to do was kick up the onion flavor by caramelizing the onions first before adding it to the creamy mixture. This includes a thick, greek yogurt as a base. I think you can substitute a low-fat sour cream and still call it "sort-of healthy". But yogurt has other great health benefits that make it a worthy ingredient in this snack. Because I made this for gluten-free guests, I served it with gluten-free sweet potato chips seasoned with black pepper. It was a huge hit!

Sort-of Healthy Onion Yogurt Dip

Ingredients:

One small onion
2 scallions, finely chopped, green and white separatred
2 tsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 cups plain, greek yogurt
1/3 cup low fat mayonnaise
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Directions:

Dice the onion. Over medium heat, melt the butter with the olive oil in a saute pan. Add the onion and white part of the scallions. Cook until golden brown and caramelized. This takes about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally and monitor your heat. When done, take off the heat and cool down to room temp.

In a medium bowl, whisk the yogurt with the mayo, green scallions, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add the cooled onions with oil and all. Mix well. Cover and allow flavors to marry for a few hours before serving in the refrigerator. Let sit at room temp for 10 minutes before serving with your favorite chips or cut vegetables.


CRAFTS: A Victorian Country Potting Bench

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I had been longing for a potting bench for some time. I remember 3 years ago seeing a baker's rack at the thrift store that I wanted to go back and get, thinking it would make a great potting bench. When I returned with a bigger car to get it, somebody snatched it up! I have reminisced longingly about that baker's rack. I have pinned countless adorable potting benches on my Pinterest gardening board. And knowing how busy my husband is, I did not have the nerve to ask him to build me one. I figured the only way I was ever going to get one that I could afford was by finding something in a thrift store to refurbish.

Well, my husband never ceases to amaze me. I was pinning away one night near Mother's Day. My husband asked me what I wanted as a present, and I quickly showed him my Pinterest gardening board with all the potting benches I saved (expecting him to snort with a "yeah, right!"). Instead, he was quickly inspired. Low and behold, he made me one the week of Mother's Day. After he built it, I wanted to "girl it up" a little. But in doing so, I did not want to damage the wood crafting he put into the piece. So I used tension rods to hold "girlie" curtains on the bottom. They covered the clutter on the bottom shelves and added a Victorian flair and softness to the piece. The great thing about tension rods is that they are not only inexpensive, but they didn't need any screws drilled into the wood, keeping the integrity of the craftsmanship. The bench has been a wonderful addition to the yard, and makes potting anything super convenient and easy on your back.

The plan we used was this one at http://www.familyhandyman.com/DIY-Projects/Outdoor-Projects/Garden/Garden-Projects/how-to-build-a-cedar-potting-bench/View-All.

Here is a pic of the plans:


A couple of notes from my hubby if you wish to build it:

We used cedar to keep it weather resistant.

We used oil based stain to give it the color we wanted.

We used a recycling trash bin for the "dirt bin" on the left.

Pay particular attention to where the legs go when assembling.

Pay attention to the shelf brackets and how long they are. It will affect how far they go under the shelf. If you don't want them to stick out, keep them short-around 4 inches.

We hand crafted our own top board using a jig saw creating a flower motif.

We added pretty handles on the grate and the dirt bin top for ease and decor.

We added pretty hooks on the sides up top for hanging garbage bags, etc.

We added an extra small shelf on the bottom above the main one.

Bin catches dirt that falls through the grate. Empty it back into the dirt bin to conserve dirt.
Recycling trash can is the perfect size for the dirt bin under the removable cover.



The curtains:

Use an outdoor fabric. Measure what you need for the curtains.




 Measure the width and height of the bottom opening on all sides. I figured 2 panels for the front and one for each side. Cut the squares of fabric, adding a hem along bottom and sides. Fold tops down to the right width so the tension rods can go through them easily. Stitch on the bottom edge of the fold on the back so it stays in place. I ironed the folded over piece so it would stay put before stitching.


Measure and set the tension rods to the right setting so they fit snugly in the openings. Slip the tension rods through the fabric top fold and set them in place.


Ta da! A lovely potting bench

RECIPE: Citrus Almond Cake with Brown Butter Orange Frosting

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I hate throwing things away. Ziploc bags, tinfoil, and egg yolks. Don't worry, you won't see me on the T.V. show Hoarders...yet! But recently I made my daughter's birthday cake. The cake was a home made "funfetti" cake, using mostly egg whites. I had a handful of egg yolks left over. Rather then throwing them down the garbage disposal, I whipped up a simple cake. It needed a little something special on top, so I tried a brown butter frosting to compliment the almond and orange notes in the cake. It was a big hit at work.

One note, the cake was hard to get out of the pan, even with non stick spray. I recommend using some parchment cut to size to make sure the cake doesn't get ripped up trying to release it from the pan. Enjoy this cake with some orange spice tea.

Citrus Almond Cake with Brown Butter Orange Frosting

Ingredients:

6 Tbsp. butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 1/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/3 cup milk
1/4 tsp. orange marmalade
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. Amaretto
1 tsp. citrus liquor (Triple Sec or St. Germaine)

Frosting:
5 Tbsp. butter
2 3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup or so of orange juice

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 350˚, Spray a 9" pan with non-stick cooking spray. Cut a piece of parchment to size and lay on the bottom of the pan. Spray lightly one more time. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the cake flour, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and whip until a light lemon color and fluffy. Whip in the milk, orange marmalade, extracts and liquors. Turn the mixer on low, and add the dry ingredients slowly until combined. Don't over mix.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the center of the oven until golden, puffy and toothpick in the center comes out clean, about 45-50 min. Set on a cooling rack to cook completely.

Meanwhile, melt the butter over medium heat. Simmer the butter until it foams up, and the butter becomes a light amber color. Set aside to cool slightly. Whisk in the sugar, vanilla and orange juice. Add the juice slowly, and only enough until the frosting becomes creamy, fluffy and spreadable. It may be 1/4 cup, may be more, or less. Frost the cooled cake generously. Add some sugared orange rinds as a garnish or orange colored sugar.

LIFESTYLE: Anatabloc logs, weeks Aug. 17th - Sept 7

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Hello all! I know it has been a bit since my last Antabloc check in. Before I get into nitty gritty, I just want to thank everyone who have visited the logs, shared their experiences with my readers and sent their advice and well wishes. I have been blown away by all your knowledge, love, strength and caring. SO many of you or your loved ones have been struggling with illness, as I have. It has been an amazing experience for me to hear your stories. You all give my readers and I hope. Your experience and advice has helped on this journey. Thank you!

So a few things have come up this past few weeks. Off the bat, I noticed a flare up coinciding with the monthly hormonal spike most women get during that time of the month. After having a very bad morning a few weeks ago, I was kind of freaking out. I went online and sure enough, I discovered that female Crohn's patients usually get a mild flare up during that time. HELLO? No one, not one doctor has EVER told me that! And I think because my symptoms have been managed so well since on Anatabloc, that I noticed the flare up more distinctly than the past years where (I realize now) I was barely managing. SO I never noticed things get noticeably worse during that time, until now!

So based on some reading and research, I took Evening Primrose supplements that week with the Anatabloc. Within a couple days things went back to happy. I stayed on it throughout that week. Evidently, Evening Primrose is not only a mild anti-inflammatory but it blocks the one hormone that gets elevated during that time that causes inflammation. So that will be part of my "once a month" routine. I hope to pretake it so that when things hit, I'll manage my Crohn's symptoms better. Thank you, Evening Primrose!

Things have been ticking along. I have been continuing with 2 Anatabloc 3 times a day. If I overdo it eating out or with a decadent dessert (sugar is usually my trigger) I take an extra lozenge before bed. It seems to keep my symptoms under control. I am taking probiotics as well, and today I began aloe vera juice mixed with no sugar added juice. That seems to make my lower intestines even happier.

I am currently on no medication. My rational brain thinks I am crazy,  yet my system is regulated. Bathroom visits have been normal and consistent. I am in no pain and have no fevers.

Will my doctor believe me? I need to set up an appnt. very soon to check in and let her know what has been going on. They will probably want to run tests to see what's really going on. In case my GI tells me to take a flying leap...wondering if anyone knows a GI that is open to monitoring the use of Anatabloc in the Midwest? My worry is that it's so new, many don't even know about it.

OK. That's it! Keep the sharing and comments coming! There are many people interested in Anatabloc, and they are visiting and reading! Many are sick, and many don't have meds that are working for them. If you have an experience or advice to share with others, please post here or in the Anatabloc logs section of my blog. Your experience may help someone else. It takes a village!

Until next time, take care of yourselves!

UDD


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