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Well, I figured that since the world is going to end on Friday, I might as well squeeze in some posts so that everyone has some quality options for what to make for their last meal.  I kid, I kid… the world isn’t ACTUALLY going to end… I hope not anyway, I have a lot of stuff that I still want to do!

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Now that we have established my stance on the Maya calendar apocalypse the world is ending on Friday stuff… Let’s talk CHILI!  Yay!!!  I have shared with you an excellent vegan chili recipe, but while this one still doesn’t have meat, it isn’t quite vegan.  Only because there is beef broth in it (you could sub vegetable broth or water to make it vegan though!).  Yea, I got really creative on this one.

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Anywho… this is a spicy chili.  That will happen when you add 2 jalapenos, a green pepper and a poblano pepper to it.  Oh and two packets of chili seasoning.  However, it has incredible flavor.  Roasting the vegetables brought out this wonderful smoky charred flavor and it really brought out the spiciness of the peppers, but also some of the sweetness.  Mmm it was just really good.

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I also added a fair share of beans to this chili.  Which shouldn’t be that surprising considering I absolutely LOVE beans.  You can use as many or as little as you want (but keep in mind, the beans are the main part of this chili, so use at the bare minimum 2 cans).  You can use black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, red beans, cannelini beans… the list goes on!  I had black, red and pintos in the pantry, so that’s what I used.  If you wanted to, you could add a pound of ground beef to this to sub out some of the beans… I actually just thought of that.  As always, this is definitely a recipe you can easily adapt to your liking!

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Well, you could make this as your last meal for sure!  It’d be a good one to end on.  Better than what we will have.  I forgot the world was ending on Friday when I made my meal plans and grocery list for the week, so we’ll be eating black bean and rice burritos.  Obviously, not a bad choice… steak and lobster might have been a better way to out though!  Haha!

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Ok… I’m done talking about the world ending.  I promise.

Spicy Roasted Vegetable and Bean Chili
Adapted straight from my head. 
Makes 6-8 servings depending on how big your servings are

1 tablespoon olive oil
5 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 jalapenos
1 large green pepper
1 large poblano pepper
1-1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1- 8oz can of tomato sauce
1- 14oz can of petite diced tomatoes
2-3 cups of beef broth (depending on how thick or soupy you like your chili)
3 cans of beans, drained and rinsed (again, I used black, pinto and red beans)
2 packets of chili seasoning (I use the reduced sodium ones)

Ok… Move one of your racks in your oven to the top and turn your broiler on high.  Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.  Place your peppers (I cut my green pepper in half so it would be easier to broil) on the cookie sheet and place under the broiler until the peppers get really charred, turning them a couple times to get all sides nice and black.  Once the are charred and they are soft, pull them out of the oven and place in a plastic ziploc bag and set aside.  Put your corn on the cookie sheet and place under the broiler for a few minutes, tossing the corn so it chars evenly.  Once that is done, pull it out and just set the pan aside.

While the peppers are in the ziploc bag (hopefully not melting the bag like mine almost did since I bought the store brand of bags rather than the actual quality ziploc brand), put a large pot on the stove on medium heat.  Pour the olive oil in there and once that is hot, add the onion and celery.  Cook, stirring frequently until they are tender. Add the corn.

At this point, remove the peppers from the bag and rub off the skins.  Chop the peppers (removing the stems and seeds) and add to the pot.  Toss in the chili seasoning, the tomato sauce, the diced tomatoes and some of the beef broth.  Don’t add all of it in case you want your chili on the thicker side.  Stir that all together and then add your beans.

Simmer, covered, for a good thirty minutes.  Add a pinch of salt, if needed, as well as more beef broth, also if needed.  Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Top with mounds of cheese, a lot of saltines and maybe even a dollop of sour cream.  And ENJOY it!!!

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Can I ask you guys something?  … Where did 2012 go??  It’s December 2nd and I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that another year has gone by.  Time seems to be going a little to fast for my liking and it’s starting to freak me out.

On the bright side, I am excited that it is the holiday season, which, let’s face it, is the best season of all.  Nothing makes me happier than the first snow, lots of sweaters, a ton of time with family, and packing on a couple pounds so that I can stay warmer in the cold weather (wait, did I just say that makes me happy?).  Either way, the cold weather definitely bring in new cravings for comfort food, especially hot, hearty soups that simmer on the stove for an hour and leave your kitchen smelling heavenly.  Oh yes… how I love those meals.

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This soup is by far one of the best soups I have made and I am pretty damn proud of it.  The original recipe I based this off of was a more brothy soup.  It’s not thick and it doesn’t have any barley in it.  But with a few of my (fantastic) tweaks, this soup will leave anyone feeling full and satisfied after just a bowl!  Which is perfect because it lasts longer and feeds more!

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The recipe this is based on is from a store/restaurant/cafe in Geneva, Illinois.  It’s called The Little Traveler.  It’s the ultimate girl place, filled with everything from kitchen stuff to candy and tea, from kiddie toys to fancy crystal bowls, from a year round Christmas room(s) to some pretty interesting clothes… it has everything.  But best of all it has a little restaurant inside that has, by far my favorite vegetable soup.  When I thought the other day about making it though, I was worried that it just wouldn’t be enough for us.  Sometimes I get really hungry and let’s face it, a bowl of soup just doesn’t do it for me.  I remembered I had a package of barley still in the pantry from when I made beef stew about a month ago and decided I’d make some alterations to the original recipe to make it more filling.

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It’s a rather simple soup to make, it does take a little time though to cut up all the veggies and simmer.  But in my opinion, it’s well worth the wait.  It is loaded with vegetables and has a lot of flavor that comes from beef broth.  You could try to make this soup vegan by using vegetable broth, but I worry it would be quick as flavorful.  You could pair this soup with fresh out of the oven cornbread or crusty bread or biscuits… or it my case, just a lot of saltine crackers.  Whichever you choose, they will pair well with the soup.

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This is the most perfect meal for a cold night, especially a Sunday night where you can curl up on the couch and watch football, if that’s your thing.  If it’s not your thing, then just make it on any night you want, no big deal.  I really think you will enjoy this soup, I hope so anyway!  I’d love to hear about if you do!

 

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Hearty Vegetable Barley Soup
Adapted from a recipe that’s not online or anywhere to be found other that in my mom’s recipe box… oh wait, yes it is, I wrote about it on my old blog!
Makes a lot… I’d say at least 8 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
8 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
4 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
14-28oz petite diced tomatoes (I don’t like a lot of tomatoes so I only used half of a 28oz can)
6-8 cups of low sodium beef broth (I used about 7 cups, almost 2 full cartons)
1 really big thinly sliced potato
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons dried parsley
3/4 cup pearl barley
1/4 of a small head of cabbage, chopped
2 tablespoons flour

Ok… heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the carrots, celery and onion and saute until they start to get tender.  Add the tomatoes, beef broth, potatoes and the basil and parsley and bring to a boil.  The stir in the barley.  Add salt.  Simmer this for a good 30 minutes.  Next, add the cabbage and stir.  Using a ladle or measuring cup, remove about 1/3 cup of the broth from the pot and stir in the flour.  Poor this back into the soup and stir to combine.  Simmer for another 10-15 minutes.  Check seasonings and add any if necessary.  Serve and enjoy!


You know what sucks?  Other than it being Sunday already, or that we started training for Tough Mudder this week, or the fact that we had to rake leaves this morning and our yard is already covered in more…

It sucks that it gets dark SO early now.  It’s really not that bad for me exactly because I get out of work around noon everyday so I get to enjoy daylight while others are stuck at work sitting in front of computers in an office… it’s one of the benefits of working 4am-noon everyday.  However, it sucks that it gets dark so early because it ruins all my photos I take of our dinners!  I start dinner while it’s still plenty light out, but it gets dark so quickly that by the time I’m finished, I have to take photos with our kitchen lights.

Oh the misery.  How will I ever survive??

Anywho… last week I was feeling under the weather.  I had to go home from work at 5am on Thursday but luckily felt decently well enough to go in on Friday.  However, my stomach was still in recovery mode for many days (and I think it still isn’t quite at normal yet).  I thought I was ok but everything I ate upset my stomach.  Brad claims it was “Beth-didn’t-get-a-flu-shot-itis” (if you saw the way I am about needles, you wouldn’t suggest I get one).  I think I just ate something weird or something along those lines.  Whatever it was, it sucked.  So I decided I was going to make chicken and noodles.  But it turns out this recipe is more like a thick chicken noodle soup than anything.

No matter what you want to call it, it’s amazing.  And it will make you instantly feel less sick than you did before you ate it.  You’ll feel cured (for a few hours anyway).  This soup literally makes you feel so much better with the first bite.  It’s a perfect comfort food for a day that you are feeling under the weather, but also for any day that the actual weather isn’t so lovely.  It makes for a great Sunday night meal that will give you plenty of leftovers come Monday for lunch and even Monday night for dinner (for two people).

It’s moderate on the labor scale.  It’s not as easy as warming up a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup, but it’s worth the work.  You can easily gather up enough energy and you’ll be so happy you did.  I loosely adapted this recipe from Pioneer Woman (link is below), but I had to do some major tweaking as I was in no mood for deboning and boiling my own chicken.  Instead I used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and quality store bought chicken stock.  I also finally bought some of those chicken bouillon cubes to get even more chicken flavor.  Sometimes I just don’t think chicken broth or stock and actual chicken gives it enough umph.  I was also able to finally find Reames Homestyle Egg Noodles which is something I have searched for at least 3 times at our grocery store but have never found.  Which, come to find out, is because they are on the very top shelf in the freezer section and pushed pretty far back on the shelf which makes it nearly impossible for a 5’2″ person like me to find.  What are those grocery people thinking!?

In the end I was REALLY happy with the results.  I felt that my tweaks worked out really well.  The soup had a perfect amount of flavor to it, it was thick but not too thick and in my opinion it had just enough veggies in it.  I’m telling you, this is going to be my go-to chicken noodle soup recipe.  It’s better than any version of that soup I have ever tried to make.  It will forever be at the top of my list of things to eat when I’m feeling crappy.  And I am 100% sure it will be up there on your list too!

Chicken and Noodles OR Chicken Noodle Soup
Loosely adapted from Pioneer Woman
Makes about 6-8 servings (for us it was closer to 8)

1/4 yellow onion, chopped
2 whole carrots, peeled and chopped
2 whole celery stalks of celery, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Meat of 1 whole rotisserie chicken, shredded or cubed
2- 32oz containers of chicken stock
2-3 chicken bouillon cubes
Salt and Pepper
1- 16oz package of Reame’s Frozen Homestyle Egg Noodles
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

First, shred or cube your chicken and set aside.  Heat the olive oil in large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the carrots, onion and celery.  Saute for a few minutes until the veggies start to get tender.  Pour in the chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and add 2 of the chicken bouillon cubes (reserve the 3rd for later in case you want it, I like to start with less, you can always add more but you can’t take away!).  Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the chicken and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add the noodles and simmer for another 15-20 minutes until the noodle are tender.  Pull out about 1/2 cup of the chicken stock in a measuring cup and add the flour to it.  Stir until the mixture is smooth (add more stock if needed).  Slowly add that to the soup, while stirring.  Let that simmer for a couple minutes until the soup starts to thicken.  Add more flour if desired.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

You can add dried parsley, thyme, turmeric or whatever else you want.  I just didn’t want anything crazy with my stomach being weird.  I didn’t think the soup really needed any of that, but you might!


Have you ever eaten something and didn’t know what to do with yourself because it was so good.  So good that you realized half an hour later that you ate a good 4 extra helpings just because it tasted that good.  So good that you were sickeningly full but didn’t regret a single bite because… well… it was that good.

This dish is a prime example of that situation.  I was so full, but I still ate 2 servings (ok, I lied earlier about eating 4) just because I wanted to keep enjoying it.

I’ve never had chicken n’ biscuits before.  Never.  I don’t think so anyway.  But this is pretty similar to chicken pot pie, only with biscuits on it.  And I have definitely had chicken pot pie.  But this is chicken pot pie times 100.  It’s incredible.  It’s chicken and veggies in a deliciously creamy sauce with hints of sage and parsley.  And the biscuits.  Oh god the biscuits.  The biscuits, my friends, have cheese in them.  CHEESE.  And they are flaky and layer-y and fluffy and gooey on the bottom because they bake in the chicken wonderfulness.  This dish is heaven in a bowl.  Seriously.

Warning though.  This isn’t just magically tasty without any work.  You have to devote a good afternoon to working on this dish.  I opted to separate everything out, doing one thing at a time, but you could do a good amount of multitasking and get it done in slightly less time.  However, I had a whole Saturday afternoon to myself so I was in no rush.  But I do think you need to know that it’s just not a “this cooks in 30 mins or less” meal.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make it.  By all means, make this dish.  I mean in.  It’s an incredibly delicious meal that will leave you feeling amazing.  It’s a perfect meal for a cool, fall day.  Oh!  It’d also be perfect for Halloween night!  Oh, I have to remember that!  This is 100% on my must make a million times list!

Chicken n’ Biscuits
Adapted from Eat, Live, Run (instructions are pretty much word for word from her)
Makes 6 servings (from our experience.)

1 quart chicken stock (I used broth and it was just fine)
4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 large celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3-4 medium sized red potatoes (I used like 5 small ones because I wanted it potato-y)
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (you could technically cheat and use a rotisserie chicken I think, but I would suggest following the recipe)
6 tablespoons butter (yea, it’s a lot, but you do need all of it)
6 tablespoons flour
3 cloves of garlic, peeled smashed with a knife
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
Salt and pepper
*Original recipe calls for 2 cups of chopped mushrooms, but I hate mushrooms so I just added an extra carrot and an extra stalk of celery.  If you choose to add the mushrooms, only use 3 carrots and 2 stalks of celery.

For the biscuits:
1 1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 tablespoons COLD butter
2 tablespoons COLD shortening
1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup buttermilk (this is what the recipe called for.  I only had half & half on hand, but it worked just fine!)

In a large pot filled with water and the garlic cloves, poach the chicken breasts until cooked through. Drain and set aside to cool.  Once cool, chop into cubes.

In another large pot (I used the one I cooked the chicken breasts in, just emptied the pan and did a quick rinse.  Less dishes this way), bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the carrots, celery and potatoes and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until veggies are done. Remove veggies with a slotted spoon and reserve broth. Combine chicken and veggies and set aside.

In a dutch oven, melt the butter. Add the onions and saute for about seven minutes, or until they are soft. Add the flour and stir to make a roux. Keep cooking for about five minutes, making sure to scrape the flour from the bottom of the pot so it doesn’t burn. Now, slowly pour in the remaining stock, whisking as you pour. Crank up the heat to high and whisk your heart out for about five minutes as the sauce thickens and boils. Add the thyme, parsley,  salt and pepper. Pour the chicken and veggies into the dutch over (or a casserole dish) and set aside while you make the biscuits. You could also make the sauce earlier in the day and stick it in the fridge until later….just be sure to make the biscuits right before you serve it!

Preheat the oven to 450. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in butter and shortening and use your fingers to mix until the mixture resembles cornmeal. Stir in the cheese. Break the egg into a measuring cup and add the buttermilk to the egg. Whisk and then pour the mixture into the flour mixture and mix so that you have a relatively smooth ball of dough. On a floured surface, knead the dough four times (FOUR TIMES) and then roll out to 1/2 inch thick. Cut biscuits to desired size (I made 6 biscuits because I didn’t want a massive biscuit per serving).  Place biscuits on top of the filling and brush the tops with egg wash (just one yolk mixed with a little warm water—this gives the biscuits shine) and prick with a fork.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden and the chicken mixture is bubbling. Serve hot.  And eat till you can’t stand anymore.


Here’s the deal- Brad and I decided to try going vegan for a week…ish.  It’s undecided as to how long we will be doing this, however, when it comes to food, I do best with short term goals.  It’s Thursday night currently, and as far as I am aware, I have not broken this goal that we started on Monday.

Allow me to explain why we would decide to do something so crazy:

We watched a film called “Forks Over Knives“.  And I’m pretty sure everyone NEEDS to watch it.  You can rent it and you can also watch it on Hulu Plus.  It’s a film about plant based diets and how they basically will make you disease free, cancer free, diabetes free, and essentially live an awesome, very long, healthy life.  We watched it last Wednesday and it was far more of an awakening for us than we could have ever imagined.  And so we decided to try to go vegan, but by taking small steps.

I’ll admit, it hasn’t been super easy because, while we eat a lot of meatless meals, we eat a lot of dairy.  I do not drink milk though for 2 reasons.  1) it is so gross and 2) I’m a little bit lactose intolerant (but only for certain things, it weird.  Milk bugs me, ice cream bugs me and certain amounts of cheese bug me… I’m just screwy I suppose).  But we do eat a lot of meals that involve cheese.  Especially the Mexican ones.  Mexican is just so easy to turn into a meatless meal because all you have to do is substitute black beans for the meat and you’re done.  But they are definitely not vegan meals.  There, my friends, lies the problem.

I started to panic a little when I realized I was going to have to come up with some vegan meals for this week.  But to my utter amazement, Whole Foods‘ website has more vegan recipes than I think I knew existed.  735 to be exact.  I was so excited that I spent a good hour just surfing through some the recipes.  I found some really great ones, this being one of them!

When I think of eating vegan food I think of healthy, green, earthy foods that are not entirely filling nor entirely delicious.  Wrong.  REALLY WRONG.  This soup is awesome.  So awesome that we’ve been eating it leftover… and if you know me, if I eat something leftover it has to be good.  I was shocked.  How could something with all plants or plant based stuff be… so good?

My first skepticism was the vegetable broth.  Which is obviously not quite as flavorful as chicken broth or beef broth.  I am happy to say that it does have flavor, and good flavor at that!  And the kale?  Well, this was the most shocking part!  The kale was great!!  Last time we had kale was when we tried making kale chips and learned quickly that they were NOT for us.  At all.  So I was scared to put it in the soup.  But when it’s not baked in an oven, kale is actually pretty tasty!  I think it added another level to the soup.  But you could easily substitute spinach if kale isn’t you’re think.  You definitely need one of the two though, because like I said, it adds a real something to this soup!

This was a very easy meal to make as well.  It didn’t take very long to make at all.  It reminds me almost of a minestrone with the beans and veggies and pasta.  Maybe next time I’ll add some green beans to it too.  I like green beans in my soups!  Even if you aren’t going on a vegan diet like we are, this soup is still a great addition to your box of recipes.  It’s not entirely the best meal for a 100 degree day, but I’m so sick of summer food that I couldn’t pass this soup up.  I know that we will for sure be making this soup again come fall…. or in a few weeks (which will hopefully be cooler then!).

Pasta and Bean Soup with Kale
Adapted from Whole Foods website with some minor changes
Makes about 6-8 servings

2 cans no salt added kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
2 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
1 quart of low sodium vegetable broth
1 (14.5) oz can of diced tomatoes
Salt to taste
3/4 cup small pasta, I used whole grain elbow macaroni
2/3 bunch of kale, large stems removed and leaves sliced

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, carrots and celery and cook, stirring every once and awhile, until everything is tender.  Stir in the beans, broth and diced tomatoes.  Add salt and bring to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook until tender (about 10 minutes).  Stir in the kale and cook for another 5 minutes.  Serve in bowls!



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