How to Make Chicken Soup When You are Sick

(more of don’t follow my instructions on this one)

The Plan
1. Put remaining rotisserie chicken you bought last week in a big pot of water. Take nap while it cooks.

2. Turn off heat. Let chicken cool. Take nap.

3. Remove bones and other inedibles from pot and put into compost bin. Add vegetables and spices. Turn on heat. Cook for 20 minutes. Take timed nap.

4. Eat soup. Feel better. Take restorative nap.

The Reality
1. Sit on couch with no energy, browsing social media. Find Instapot recipe for chicken chili. Decide that counts as chicken soup. Take nap.

2. Find mostly canned ingredients for chili. Remove from pantry to chair. Cuddle with cat. Take nap.

3. Feed cat, who is yowling that it’s dinner time.

4. Get out stepstool to find random ingredient on high shelf. Succeed. Throw out boxes of pudding that expired in 2015 that had also found way to high shelf.

5. Find dragon steam valve topper parents gave you for Christmas. Spend all energy installing it on steam valve.

6. Manage to drag self to kitchen and remove meat from carcass of chicken. Put in pot. Add beans and veg and spices. Put on electric kettle for cup of tea.

7. Put lid on instapot. Press chili button. Wonder if you did it right.

8. No steam is building. Turn off Instapot. Remove dragon. Remove steam valve with dragon. Re-install valve. Press chili button again.

9. Put spices away in cabinet. Glass jar of cardamom falls from box and attacks water glass, knocking it to the floor at shattering it at your feet, which are bare.

10. Stand in puddle of water and broken glass, remembering time this happened before and you embedded glass in your foot and had to go to the doctor and have it cut out. Be thankful that you didn’t put stepstool away. Use stepstool to extricate self from mess, not putting foot down fully, in case, there is glass that wants to enter foot.

11. Go check out foot in living room. There is a cut, but no feelable glass. Treat cut. Put shoes on. Go turn on kettle again because, of course, it went off when you were in catastrophe mode.

12. Sweep up mess and use paper towel to make sure all glass bits are up.

13. Await beeping of instapot.

Stay Tuned for the Great Eldraine Bake Off!

image from Wizards of the Coast of promotional materials for the Great Eldraine Bake Off

When I’m not cooking and baking, I play Magic the Gathering. For their next set release, there’s a bake-off! So, of course, I’m entering! I will post results and give you step by step instructions for my dish, whether it’s a winner or not.

Blueberry Banana Bread with Cinnamon Streusel

finished slice of bread

I have an unfortunate habit of buying bananas with the intent to make smoothies or at least take one with me when I go somewhere. But, alas, I’m much better at buying bananas and forgetting them on the counter. So, I’ve become adept at finding baking recipes that use overripe bananas.

This one also has blueberries, which I adore. And streusel!

It does take a little time to bake, as most quick breads take about an hour. They are quick breads only in comparison to yeast breads.

This recipe begins much like making cookies–preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While it preheats, combine the butter and the sugar.

butter and sugars

Then, add the wet ingredients: eggs, Greek yogurt, milk, and banana. Mash it all together.

adding in the moist ingredients

Then put in the dry ingredients–flour, baking soda, and salt. And fold in the blueberries. Folding is a gentle method of stirring. We don’t want the blueberries to get mashed or mangled.

folding in the blueberries

Next, pour the mixture into a prepared loaf pan of a standard size. I prepared mine by spraying it with cooking spray. I really like this stoneware pan.

into the prepared loaf pan

Then, combine the flour, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. The website I found the recipe on left out a measurement for cinnamon. I recommend about 1 teaspoon. Once the mixture reaches a crumb-like texture, sprinkle it over the batter so that the batter is completely covered by the streusel.

add the streusel

Bake for about an hour in the 350 degree oven. A toothpick inserted in the bread should come out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. The website suggests a lemon glaze, which I omitted in my version, though I suspect that would be a delicious touch.

Original recipe can be found here: https://thesuburbansoapbox.com/blueberry-banana-bread-with-cinnamon-streusel-and-lemon-glaze/

Slow Cooker Thai Coconut Curry Chicken

I added veggies. The original recipe didn’t call for them, but I wanted to use them up and loved the way they turned out!

I love my slow cooker! It’s the perfect way to have a delicious meal waiting for me when I get home from a rehearsal. Ringing bells and singing works up an appetite, and I often don’t feel like cooking when I get home. And, I don’t have to! If I set it up before I go, then it’s pretty much ready when I return. I did have to make rice, but with the rice cooker, it was a quick process.

Using a slow cooker is also really easy. There is always a little prep time, and I added more with the veggies, but it’s worth it.

Step one is to chop the veggies and cook them in the skillet until they begin to soften. I used about a tablespoon of olive oil. The original recipe called for 1 red pepper and 1 onion. I had some broccoli and potato that I needed to use up, so I included them as well. You will also want to add the ginger and garlic at this time. I am a big fan of pre-minced garlic. I get those huge jars of it from Costco, because my motto is if says 1 clove, that means at least 2 heaping spoonfuls of minced garlic (officially I think the ratio is supposed to be a teaspoon of minced equals a clove). I also keep a jar of minced ginger in my fridge. I get that from the local co-op, as it’s the only place I can find it. But it does make it easier than buying ginger that I won’t use all of in one go. Once the veggies are softened, add them to the slow cooker.

Saute veggies until softened. Add garlic and ginger during this process.

Step two is to brown the chicken in a skillet. The original recipe did not include a step of chopping the chicken into bite size pieces, but I did this first. I find it’s much easier to eat bite size pieces. Once I cut them, I added olive oil to the pan and browned the chicken. I seasoned it with salt and pepper.

brown the chicken in a little olive oil.

Step 3 is to remove the chicken from the heat. Now stir in coconut milk, honey, curry paste, and chili paste (I used a red curry paste for both the curry paste and chili paste). Mix until smooth. Then pour this mixture into the slow cooker over the veggies.

Step 4 is to pour all of it into the slow cooker, give it a good stir, and cover. Cook on low for 4 hours (or high for 2).

Mix it all up, cover, and cook on low 4 hours.

Serve over rice. Optionally, you can add cilantro and peanuts.

The original recipe from Crockpot The Original Slow Cooker Recipe Collection. 2015

Coconut-Curry Chicken Thighs

  • 8 boneless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T. grated ginger
  • 1 can 13.5 ounces coconut milk
  • 3 T. honey
  • 1 T. Thai red curry paste
  • 2 T. Thai roasted chili paste
  1. Coat inside of crockpot with non-stick cooking spray. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in medium-large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken, cook 6-8 minutes until browned. Remove to slow cooker.
  2. Pour off all but one tablespoon oil. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, and ginger. Cook and stir 1-2 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Stir in coconut milk, honey, curry paste, and chili paste until smooth. Pour coconut mixture over chicken in slow cooker.
  3. Cover. Cook on low 4 hours.

I added 2 medium potatoes and a head of broccoli.

Snickerdoodle Blondies

finished snickerdoodle blondies

Are you in the mood for some sweet, gooey cinnamon bars? Do you have a half hour? (Well, you will need a little bit of time to let them cool). But this is such an easy recipe, and it turned out so well that only 3 pieces remained after I took these to a rehearsal.

Step 1 is preheat the oven to 350 degrees and get out a 13×9 pan. The original recipe called for an 8×8, but I knew that would never be enough, so I doubled it (keep in mind that the link to the original recipe site will include non-doubled amounts).

Step 2 involves melting a cup of butter. I usually do this via stovetop, so that once I remove the melted butter from the heat, I can use the same pot as a mixing bowl. You could also melt the butter in the microwave if you prefer.

melting the butter (don’t you love my harvest yellow 70s pan that was my grandmother’s?)

Step 3 is to remove the pot with the melted butter from the heat. Add in 2 cups of brown sugar (remember to always measure brown sugar by packing it into the cup and measuring the packed amount).

Step 4 is to beat in 2 eggs (make sure the butter and sugar mixture has cooled a little).

Step 5 is to add in 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract (always use real vanilla–none of that imitation stuff. Yes, it is pricier, but it’s worth it!) Also mix a pinch of salt (you won’t even notice if you leave this out) and 2 cups of flour.

Photo is partway through the mixing process–you don’t want flour lumps!

Step 6 is to pour the batter into a prepared pan (prepare it by spraying it with cooking spray).

Step 7 is to mix about 2/3 cup of granulated sugar with 2 teaspoons of cinnamon in a small bowl.

I used a cereal bowl to mix the sugar and cinnamon

Step 8 is to sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top of the batter. Try to cover all of the top. Then bake for about 22 minutes. Test for doneness by sticking a toothpick into the blondies. If it comes out clean, they’re ready. Of course, it’s perfectly ok to have your blondies be a little chewier!

The original recipe goes by a slightly different name (Cinnamon Sugar Blondies), has a smaller yield size, and can be found here: https://www.bunsinmyoven.com/blonde-brownies/

White Chocolate Blackberry Scones with a Lavender Glaze

I decided it would be fun to participate in Swapbot’s Kitchen Challenge: Quickbread. What is this challenge? Well, it’s a chance to try a recipe and write a blog post about it to share with swap partners.

I haven’t been doing as much writing as I’d wanted to lately, or cooking and baking, actually. This seemed like the perfect way to get back into it. Not to mention that I found blackberries on sale. And was told to “bring snacks” to a long handbell rehearsal.

finished scones with glaze
finished scones with glaze

I’d made scones before, but I always found the instructions about using cold butter to be very difficult. The cold butter would never mix into the dough easily, preferring to stay as solid cubes and not even wanting to squish if I got my hands into it. This recipe offered a solution to the problem: Grate the butter on a box grater!! Genius!! Then the butter bits actually mix into the flour.

I decided on the project on Thursday, and I decided to make it on Friday, after I got home from Good Friday service. It was a very moving service, and so, I had to take a little time to gather myself. Good thing I like baking at midnight!!

First up, was to make buttermilk. This is not an ingredient I ever felt the need to keep around. It’s easy enough to sour some milk as a substitute. Today, I didn’t have to. I could tell Wednesday that the half and half was starting to go off. So, to make ¾ cup of buttermilk, I put ½ cup of spoiled half and half and added water for the rest.

homemade buttermilk

Next, I mixed the dry ingredients—flour, salt, sugar, baking powder.

dry ingredients

Then, it was time to give that grated butter a try. While it did generate an easy-to-mix pile of grated butter bits, even cold butter gets melty if you’re holding it with a hot hand. Or even a colder-than-average human hand (my normal body temp is 96.8-97.3)! It gets a bit messy. Keep the bottle of dish liquid open and ready for a washing of hands after this step. I always put a plate under the box grater to catch all the bits.

grating butter

Then I forked in the butter. Yes, you “Should” use a pastry blender or whatever those are called, but I don’t actually own one. Growing up, we always used the Army Fork. It was a bigger than a dining fork should be fork stamped with US Army. So, I’ve grown used to using a fork. Then add in the buttermilk.

mixing the dry into the wet

Next up, put in the washed berries and the white chocolate chips. This part was a lot more difficult than I expected, mainly because, well, the berries wanted to squish instead of blending into a stiff dough. And ventually I sort of made them go once I got my hands into it. Then I dumped it onto a floured surface. 

The instructions specified patting it into a square and cutting rectangle shapes, but mine looked sort of circle, so I went with it. That’s the usual shape for scones, yes? So I cut them into triangles, and the looked too big, so I cut them again and put them on the prepared sheets.

cutting it into shapes

While this baked, I worked on my glaze: I measured the milk in a liquid measuring cup and added butter and confectioner sugar until I got the consistency right. The instructions suggested adding culinary lavender bits, which I often get from the local lavender farm booth at the Farmer’s Market, but I decided to use my Young Living Vitality Lavender Essential Oil. I also make an amazing lavender hot cocoa with this, and I’ve learned that a little goes a long way!! One drop is all that’s needed. If that’s too strong, and it could be—we’re talking essential oils here!, then you can dip a toothpick in and swirl it into the glaze. I tried a drop, and it turned out fine.

Young Living Lavender Vitality Essential Oil

I thought I should glaze them immediately after they came out of the oven, but it turns out I should have waited a bit. The glaze got a bit melty and messy. But it was so good!!

When I took the finished scones to rehearsal, the bell ladies were like, “we were hoping these were for us. We saw them on  your Facebook!” They were a big hit.

If you want to try these yourself, I got the recipe from Pinterest. It comes from Halfbaked Harvest. Here is a link to it: https://www.halfbakedharvest.com/blackberry-lavender-white-chocolate-scones/

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