Saturday, October 26, 2013

SOUPer saturdays - autumn chicken stew

As of late, we are meeting ourselves coming and going.  So the few opportunities that do come along to "simmer on medium-low," I totally soak up.  

When it comes to cooking, it's the process I love.  It's the taking all the ingredients, lining them up on the counter, and trying to imagine the outcome that keeps me coming back.  It's the being outside while the experiment sits on the stove, slightly bubbling, just to come back and breathe in deeply the results.  Man...  I just love it when it works.  

And the Autumn Chicken Stew?  It works.

Calling for vegetables and fruit, this recipe was interesting to me, although not necessarily an automatic, "Wow!  I bet that's fabulous!"  It was more of a, "I-gotta-try-this-for-myself-because-I'm- just-not-sure-about-it," recipe test. 

It most definitely passed the test.

Please, please don't let anything about this recipe scare you.  The apples give just enough sweetness, and at the same time it's a bit tart, full of texture, and extremely satisfying.  Chock full of vitamins and minerals from the parsnips, carrots, and kale, you won't feel even a tiny bit guilty for grabbing seconds.  

Soup's on, folks.  Dip up! 

Autumn Chicken Stew
makes six servings
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup chopped kale, packed
  • 2-3 cups cooked chicken (for great flavor, try rotisserie chicken)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tsp. cider vinegar
~ Heat olive oil in Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onion, parsnips, carrots, rosemary,
   salt and pepper.

~ Cook, stirring often, until veggies begin to soften, 3-5 minutes.

~ Add broth and apples; bring to a simmer over high heat.  Add kale.  Reduce heat to 
   maintain a simmer and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, 8-10 minutes.

~ Return the chicken to the pot and stir in vinegar.

Monday, October 21, 2013

"in a pinch" peach pie filling (using canned peaches)

I tried... I really did.  I made several attempts to buy nice, ripe, sweet peaches this year and not a single time did I find good ones.  Several times this summer, I'd set myself up for pure bliss, take one bite, and toss the whole thing.  Foo. One of my favorite June, July, and August delights fell unusually short.  

Was it just me and poor peach-pickin' skills, or is there anyone else out there who found the crops less than desirable?

So a little over a week ago, I pulled a large can of peaches (yes... I said can), off the pantry shelf and was bound and determined to come up with a wonderfully flavored something.

Boy, was I pleased.  Not only did the pie filling turn out as I'd hoped, but what I used it for next was... well... you'll have to wait and see in an upcoming post.  Wow.

I love that I've discovered this recipe.  Now, no matter the time of year (or quality of the fruit), I can enjoy homemade filling at half the price.  

In season or not, canned is grand!

Peach Pie Filling (using canned peaches)

  • 29-oz can peaches in syrup
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
~ Drain peaches reserving 1/3 cup syrup.  Set aside.

~ In saucepan, mix together sugar, butter, flour, nutmeg, and salt.  Add syrup.

~ Cook over medium heat until mixture is bubbling and thick, stirring constantly. 

~ Remove from heat and add lemon juice, vanilla, and peaches.  Stir until combined.  Allow
    to cool and use for preferred recipe. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

homemade apple butter

Sunday afternoon I was driving back from Indiana, having just celebrated John's niece's wedding.  It was the first time coming back into town since we've moved.  Passing our old exit... having the rain paint the windshield... feeling the cool of Fall roll in... I suddenly missed our home.  I missed the familiar.  I missed what was comfortable.    

Believe me.  No second thoughts here about selling.  There were many layers to our decision to do so, and we absolutely did what we needed to do.  But I guess - all at once - it hit me.  We aren't home.  Not yet, anyway.

For the first time in years, I don't have a front porch to don with corn stalks and pumpkins. I have no reason to by a hay bale or two.  My Fall decorations are somewhere stacked in a box, piled up high with lots of other boxes full of whatever.  In my head I'm reminded that if this is all I have to concern myself with, I am so very blessed.  Yet in my heart, I'm feeling a bit lost.

So now that Daniel's football practice three or four nights a week is officially over, and we have more time back in our schedule, I am filling my void with even more Fall cooking, reading Fall recipes, experimenting with Fall flavor combos, and sharing my favorite finds with you.  

Circling back to our niece's wedding, Ashley worked herself silly in the weeks leading up to the big day making wonderful, homemade apple butter to give away as favors for wedding guests. It's distinct cloves overtone is marvelous and sets this recipe apart from others I've had.  To yours truly, a slightly forlorned, Fall-lovin', yet currently wondering soul, Ashley's sweet gesture gave me just enough comfort and taste of home.  It made my heart smile and blessed me immensely.  I could easily see this tucked in a small basket with a few homemade scones or a set of unique biscuit cutters like these with your favorite biscuit recipe.

If you start making this soon, you'll have plenty to give away come Thanksgiving or Christmas. Easy, delicious comfort.  Go and bless someone!

Homemade Apple Butter
makes approx. 17 pint-sized jars
  • 4 quarts apple sauce
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 5 1/3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 5 1/3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoon all spice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
~ Mix all ingredients together and pour into crock-pot.

~ Cook on HIGH for 3 hours with lid on. Remove lid and cook another 5-8 hours.

~ Seal in canning jars and store in cool place or cover in airtight container and refrigerate.


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

kickin' hot corn dip

I love it when I come upon a good accident.  In the kitchen, that is.

Our friend's pool house we're staying in, temporarily, has a wonderfully large front porch.  It's a fantastic gathering place and has been a meeting spot for our two families several times in the short time we've been here.  We've already grilled out and taken in more football games on the flatscreen than I can count.  

Last week, we gathered spontaneously again to watch the Manning Story on ESPN.  By the way, if you can catch a rerun, that special is worth your time.   I was completely smitten with the entire Manning family.

We didn't get fancy with the food or anything - just pizza and drinks - but I wanted to come to the table with something and needed a good reason to use up my leftover ears of corn anyway.  In the pantry, I found a can of my new favorite ingredient...

... meet Chipotle Peppers in Adoba Sauce

And Kickin' Hot Corn Dip was born.

Warning:  This IS spicy.  But, oh my, it's good.  The smokiness of the Adobo sauce is crazy delicious with the sweet notes of the fresh corn and creamy cheese.  Throw it in a cast iron skillet to cook, and it's a perfect side at any get-together.  

What's your favorite party food?  Would love to hear from you!

Kickin' Hot Corn Dip
makes about three cups
  • corn cut from approx. 6 ears 
  • two tbsp. Chipotle Peppers in Adoba Sauce (although tedious, you can remove seeds to reduce heat)
  • 3/4 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 block cream cheese at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • pinch of kosher salt
~ Heat oven to 350 degrees.

~ Mix together all ingredients and spoon into skillet and heat until bubbly.

~ Serve with chips.