Sunday, February 22, 2015

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

by Emily Chhouy

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 40 min

Ingredients (4-5 servings)

  • 1 cup unprepared wild rice
  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (either boiled or raw)
  • 2-3 carrots, sliced
  • 2-3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3-14.5oz cans of chicken broth
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • splash of lemon juice

Instructions

Prepare rice according to package directions.

Either start boiling the chicken breasts, or choose to let cook in the soup broth...either way shred after cooking.

While the rice is steaming; in a large stock pot, melt the 1 tablespoon of butter.

Saute the carrots, celery and onion in the butter until the onion becomes clear.

Add the minced garlic and continue sauteing until fragrant.

Pour in the chicken broth.

Add seasonings, salt and pepper to taste.

Either bring to a boil and cook the chicken if you haven't already, or bring to a boil and add the cooked, shredded chicken.

(If you cook the chicken in the broth, remove when cooked, let cool a few minutes, shred and return to the boiling broth).

When the rice is done steaming, add it to the soup.

Return to a simmer.

In the pan used for the rice, rinse and then melt the 6 tablespoons of butter.

Whisk in the flour and continue to cook for a minute.

Pour in the milk slowly, whisking constantly.

Cook until it thickens.

When thicker, add to the soup broth.

Add the heavy cream to to the soup, stir well.

Pour a splash of lemon juice into the soup and continue to stir and cook for a minute, then let simmer until soup is heated through.

Serve after cooking, or if freezing, pour into a gallon-sized bag.

Let thaw completely, reheat in a slow cooker, or in a stock pot.

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Kitchn Cookbook {cookbook review}


I wasn't sure what I was expecting when I received The Kitchn Cookbook. But, the cover photographs drew me in (my favorite food, PHO, is featured) and I knew I must have this cookbook. When I received it and browsed through the pages, the bold sections and beautiful photographs took me by surprise. This is more than just a cookbook, that's for sure!
I finally sat down and ended up reading this cookbook as though it were a novel. And I am so glad that I read it that way!
Sara Kate Gillingham and Faith Durand have created a masterpiece of a guide that takes the reader on a journey through their kitchen that will not leave any nook and cranie untouched. The Kitchn is a cookbook that I could foresee taking over the classic Better Homes and Gardens cookbook as the staple in the kitchen. Let me just say, that this may be the new gift that I add to wedding presents or housewarming gifts. 
This book leaves no area of the kitchen out. Tips for stocking your pantry with staple items and then how to create menus from what you have are very helpful. This along with the tools section are perfect for anyone venturing out on their own for the first time and need to get tips on how to run a kitchen in their own home. Even people like me, who have been on their own for a number of years and are comfortable cooking, can learn a thing or two from this book. 
Caring for Your Kitchen was probably one of my favorites because my kitchen is very lived in and this cookbook helps me see how I can minimize the stress of cleaning and maintenance work required to keep it a well-oiled machine. There are so many wonderful things in this cookbook, such as the 50 Essential Skills that any home cook should know, but don't necessarily. Sauteing and knowing the difference between boiling and simmering water, for example are great refreshers!
Needless to say the tips are great, but the recipes are wonderful!
The pictures are beautiful, the directions are clear and concise, and by following this cookbook you will have wonderful results each and every time. I'm sure of it.
If you are looking for the first-time cook, or just need some new tips to spruce up your kitchen, The Kitchn Cookbook needs to be on your cookbook shelf!

**I received this book from bloggingforbooks in exchange for an honest review**

Sophia is 6! {interview}

A few years ago I decided to ask my daughter a list of questions, just to remember her "favorites" at that age. I then repeated it last year when she turned five and since she just turned six, I had to do it again.
My little girl is growing up so quickly, and having these interviews just show how much she changes (and how much she stays the same) over a year's time.


  • How old are you?
    • You mean today? I'm six!
  • What is your favorite color?
    • Pink
  • Why pink?
    • Because it is really, really pretty.
  • What is your favorite food?
    • Sticky rice
  • What is your favorite drink?
    • Water!
  • Where is your favorite place to go?
    • Yay's house in Seattle.
  • Why?
    • Because it fun!
  • What is your favorite animal?
    • Giraffes
  • Who is the better driver? Mommy or papa?
    • You! (Points to me, her mama!)
  • What do you want to be when you grow up?
    • A scientist.
  • Why?
    • It looks fun and I want to try to make Flubber.
  • What do you do that is naughty?
    • Nothing.
  • Really? 
    • (blank stare...no answer)
  • Who is your best friend?
    • Payton
  • What is your favorite thing to play?
    • My new Barbie house
  • What is your favorite show?
    • Jessie
  • What is your favorite movie?
    • Frozen
  • Where do you sleep at night?
    • Mama's room.
  • Why?
    • Because it's scary in my room without a person.
  • Where does Papa work?
    • Rock.
  • Where does Mommy work?
    • At the school.
  • What is your favorite song?
    • Let it Go
  • What is your favorite toy?
    • Elsa and Anna dolls.
  • Why do I kiss your cheeks all the time?
    • That's really a question on this interview? Mom!! It's because you love me!
  • What is your favorite book?
    • Pete the Cat Saves Christmas
  • What is your favorite food to cook?
    • Pizza.
  • What is your favorite word?
    • "see".
  • Why?
    • Because it's fun to say, actually. And plus it is a sight word.
  • Where do babies come from?
    • Tummies. Wait - nuts, actually. What did you write, mom?
I cant believe she is another year older! 
She is loving kindergarten (finally, after a rough start), and her hip hop class!
Making new friends is high on her priority list, as well as reading. Time is going to fast and I need it to slow down!


Check out her past question and answers here:

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Peanut Butter Cookies & PB-Chocolate Swirl

2015 has started and I haven't even blogged yet! What is my deal?!
So far this year has been exciting for me!
I GRADUATED college!
Yep, it is true! I finished my bachelor's degree with Southern New Hampshire University in Creative Writing.
So...I am officially in debt and waiting for my piece of paper diploma that proves the $40k was worth it :)
I also kicked off this year with a job change!
A big change for me. I have been home the past few years with my daughter and running a daycare in my home, so working outside of the house is a big change!
Even though it is only a few blocks away from my house, 4 days a week, and only during school hours, it is a big change!
But, the best part of it is that I really enjoy it! (I'm working a pre-school as a para)
The hours are great for a mommy and I still get to work on all my other stuff easily with the hours.
The thing is...I just haven't had time to do much else (like blogging, baking, writing) because I'm trying to get everything in order for my daughter's big birthday party next weekend.
She will be six. Seriously. {hear my heart break?}
And oh yeah - a little thing called GILMORE GIRLS is on NETFLIX is occupying all my spare time.
Yes. That is the honest truth. I'm lame, but I finally have the time to binge-watch shows and I am doing it!!
No schoolwork eating up all my Sunday and evenings is just AMAZING!

Enough about me.
What's new?
Well this recipe is for me!
I received a delicious jar of the new spread from Reese's. You may have heard about it?
It is a peanut butter chocolate spread, rivaling Nutella's spread...
Well I received a jar from influenster.com in exchange for an honest review.
So here it is.


Reese's Spreads Peanut Butter Chocolate is scrumptious!
My daughter eats it by the spoonful.
Really, she does.
And I may have dipped in a time or two also.
But, of course that was after we made these cookies!
We made traditional peanut butter cookies (if you follow my blog at all, you'd know they are my daughter's aboslute favorite cookie) but we kicked it up a notch and mixed in the spread to make a chocolatey swirl in the cookie.
The chocolate is just enough to make it taste like a little something wonderful.

The spread itself is a wonderful combination. Not too much chocolate, not too much peanut butter.
Reese's really created a wonderful combination with this. They blend together really well!
If you haven't tried it yet, pick some up when you go to the store next. You will not be disappointed!

We also eat it on toast, with some banana slices, on vanilla wafers, graham crackers, and we even melted it down a bit and swirled it in with our vanilla ice cream. YUM!

Peanut Butter Cookies & PB-Chocolate Swirl

by Emily Chhouy
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 8 min
Ingredients (48 cookies)
  • 3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup butter, room tempterature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup Reese's Spreads (peanut butter chocolate)
  • 1/4 cup sugar (for rolling)
Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream together the peanut butter and butter.
Add the sugars, egg and vanilla.
Beat well.
Mix in the flour until combined.
Warm the peanut butter chocolate spread in the microwave for 30 seconds, drizzle half of the spread over the cookie dough.
Gently fold into the dough.
Repeat with the other half of the spread.
Roll into 1-inch sized balls, roll in sugar (if desired) and place on ungreased baking sheet.
Press with fork design and bake for 8 minutes, until puffed in the center and slightly browned on the edges.
Let sit on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing and letting cool on a rack.
Store in an airtight container.
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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sweet Potato Praline Casserole

Sweet potato casserole covered in mini marshmallows are a thing of past.
Well, at least for me.
I enjoy sweet potatoes when they have a bit of a crunch from pecans.
And the warm sweetness from brown sugar.
Seriously. So very good.
That's why this is my absolute favorite side dish at Thanksgiving (or any big meal that requires a huge casserole-sized-dish of potatoes covered in brown sugary goodness).
My sister is vegetarian, therefore says she doesn't want the praline topping on her's.
I feel like deep-down , she is longing for it though!
So I always leave one strip of the casserole topping-free. (Don't tell her how much sugar is in the sweet potatoes - she'd beat me up) ;)


I snapped this photo before popping it in the fridge the night before Thanksgiving and sent it to her!


As with most casseroles, this is easy to whip up the night before a dinner and just cook it when you cook everything else for dinner.
I mixed everything for the potatoes, sprinkled on the topping, and then let it hang out in the fridge until the next day. Works wonderfully!
I could eat this almost as a dessert. It reminds me of sweet potato pie with a crunchy praline topping on it.
Just, take my word for it - you need to make this ASAP!

Sweet Potato Praline Casserole

by Emily Chhouy
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Ingredients (10 servings)
    For Potatoes
    • 8 sweet potatoes, large - all about the same size
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
    • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
    For Praline
    • 1 cup brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup flour
    • 1/2 cup butter, melted
    • 1 1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
    Instructions
    For Potatoes
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    Line a baking sheet with foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray.
    Cut a few slits in each potato and place on the baking sheet.
    Bake until the potatoes are fork tender (30-45 minutes or so, depending on size of potatoes).
    Set baking sheet aside to allow the potatoes to cool completely.
    Remove the skins and place the potatoes in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl.
    Add the sugar, salt, vanilla, eggs, and butter to the potatoes and mix until they are well combined.
    Spread into a casserole dish, either 9x9 for a thicker potato, or an 8x11.
    For Praline
    In a small mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour, melted butter and chopped pecans.
    Mix together until it just holds together.
    Sprinkle over the top of the sweet potatoes.
    Bake in 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes, until praline starts to darken.
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    Monday, December 8, 2014

    Beignets

    One of my daughter's favorite movies is The Princess and The Frog.
    I happen to find it quite enjoyable as well. The music is just so catchy!
    Well, during one of the many times of us watching it, she finally asked me what the heck are "beignets" ?
    I haven't ever been to New Orleans...yet. It is on my bucket list of "must-go-to" locations.
    So, trying to explain a pastry with a puff of air in the middle and then coated with powdered sugar is kind of hard to do for a five-year-old.
    Especially when I have only heard about how amazing they are.
    I hadn't ever actually ate one until we made them. How do we solve this problem when we are in Iowa? Far, far away from the French Quarter?
    Well, we set to work making our own, of course!
    Tiana from the movie must have amazing beignets, because everyone wants them so badly.
    I settled on a recipe from someone I know is an amazing baker.
    Paula Deen.
    After scouring the internet for a suitable recipe to try, her's popped up over-and-over again. I think it is safe to assume that her's are probably the Queen Bee of beignet recipes.
    You can easily pop over to her recipe here.


    As I mentioned above, I had never made these before, so I wasn't sure what to expect.
    I followed her directions exactly, and I came out with a TON of beignets!
    The box above we delivered to my husband's work while they were still hot so they could enjoy them. We made them during our first big snowfall this year, so it was like delivery a snow pillow...it was a beautiful sight. Fresh white snow and these fresh, hot, powdery beignets.
    Since it was snowing, my daughter bailed on me while I was frying them to play in the snow. I literally stopped frying half-way through the dough so we could deliver this box of wonderful deliciousness before frying the rest for us to enjoy at home. 
    I cut them into about 2 inch squares. I could have made them bigger, but as I said before - I've never made them and since *technically* they were for my daughter, I wanted them small enough for her to be able to eat them without wasting half of it. 
    I probably ended up with 60-75 beignets altogether. I should have kept track. 
    But in the business of frying and then shaking in the powdered sugar, I lost track of everything else for a bit.


    My tips for making these:
    • Don't leave the fryer - they cook up quickly
    • Have a cooling rack with paper towels underneath to drain them on
    • Use a metal strainer for flipping in the oil
    • Have plenty of brown paper sacks handy with powdered sugar in them - my bags ripped after tossing around a few batches
    • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar per sack covered quite a few beignets at one time
    • Allow yourself plenty of time for the dough to rise and then again for the frying
    • Don't crowd the fryer! I fried them in a large iron skillet, frying only 4-6 at a time
    • Don't let the oil get too hot! Adjust as necessary to prevent burning
    • Let the dough to puff up and then flip immediately 

    Beignets

    by Emily Chhouy
    Prep Time: 20 min
    Cook Time: 20 min (total)
    Ingredients (3-6 dozen)
    • 1 1/2 cups warm water
    • 1/2 cup white sugar
    • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
    • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
    • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1 cup evaporated milk
    • 7 cups flour (or bread flour)
    • 1/4 cup shortening
    • Oil (for frying)
    • 3-4 cups powdered sugar
    Instructions
    Mix water, sugar and yeast in a large mixing bowl.
    Let rest for 10 minutes until bubbly.
    In another mixing bowl, beat the eggs, salt and evaporated milk together.
    Add this mixture to the yeast mixture and mix together.
    Add 3 cups of the flour to the yeast mixture and combine slowly.
    Add the shortening and continue stirring.
    Slowly add the remaining flour, stirring constantly.
    Remove the dough and knead until smooth on a lightly floured counter.
    Spray a large bowl with nonstick spray and add the dough.
    Cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel.
    Let rest in a warm place for 2 hours (or longer)
    After it is done rising, heat the oil in a large skillet or fryer.
    Add powdered sugar to the paper bag(s) and set aside.
    Turn dough out onto a floured counter and roll into a large rectangle, 1/4 inch thick.
    Cut into 1-2 inch (or larger, if you prefer) squares.
    Add a few at a time to the hot oil, flipping constantly (why using a little strainer works well.
    I let them puff up, then flip immediately so one side doesn't brown too much.
    Remove once both sides are lightly browned, place on wire rack to drain.
    While still warm, place in the paper bag and shake to cover with the powdered sugar.
    Serve while still warm.
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    Saturday, December 6, 2014

    Crisp & Chewy Breadsticks

    First off, you are probably wondering how in the world a breadstick could be crisp and chewy.
    Am I right?
    Well...these are the number one breadstick in our house!
    The bottoms get crisp, yet they are still chewy on top.
    They have replaced our favorite Cheddar Bay Biscuits as a side! (GASP)!
    Seriously. I kind of made these by accident.
    The dough really isn't supposed to sit long, well I made it up and left it out while my daughter had dance class.
    This resulted in the crisper, a bit denser breadstick, instead of the fluffy kind you might be more familiar with making, (such as the Olive Garden kind).


    These are a cinch to whip up.
    So easy, that we actually made them twice in one week.
    Yes, it is true. And the hubs is already asking me when I am going to make them again?
    Soon. Probably very, very soon!
    I made them for a side when we had chili the other night instead of cornbread. 
    It was amazing. I didn't miss the cornbread at all.
    And I always have cornbread with my chili. Always.
    I sprinkle the tops with garlic salt before baking, but you don't have to. We just love garlic. A lot.
    They are just as delicious with just butter. Yum. Anything with butter is tasty, right?
    This recipe makes about 14-16 breadsticks, depending on how wide you make them.
    There is seriously no way you could eat just one of these bad boys.
    I make the dough up and let it rest while I prep the other food for our meal and then toss them in the oven 20 minutes before everything is supposed to be done.
    They come out perfect every time!



    Crisp & Chewy Breadsticks

    by Emily Chhouy
    Prep Time: 15 min
    Cook Time: 20 min
    Ingredients (14-16 breadsticks)
    • 1 1/2 cups warm water
    • 1 tablespoon yeast
    • 2 tablespoons sugar
    • 3 1/2 cups flour
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup butter
    • garlic salt
    Instructions
    Add the yeast and sugar to the warm water in a large mixing bowl.
    Let set a few minutes until the yeast is starting to get bubbly.
    Combine the flour and salt and mix into the yeast mixture.
    Mix well for about a minute.
    Then cover with plastic wrap or a clean towel and let sit for 20 minutes or until it starts to puff up and looks airy.
    Preheat the oven 475.
    Place the butter on a baking sheet with edges and let melt in the preheating oven.
    Roll out the dough into a large rectangle on a floured counter.
    Cut the dough into even strips.
    Fold each strip in half and twist.
    Remove the baking sheet and the butter (before it starts to burn) and rolls the twisted breadstick in the butter to coat it.
    Lay side by side.
    Sprinkle the tops with garlic salt, if desired.
    Bake for 20 minutes, until bottoms are golden brown.
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    Friday, December 5, 2014

    Cranberry Scones

    Last night was my daughter's winter concert at school.
    Nothing beats watching a group of kindergartners come together and try to sing a variety of holiday songs. They were all so cute dressed up in their best clothes. Some boys sported some ties. Girls donned their best skirts and headbands. 
    It just made my heart happy!
    Unfortunately, the people sitting in front of us made getting a good snapshot of her virtually impossible. But it was a sweet 25 minutes of song.
    But then today it created a crabby, tired, "I don't like school" girl who decided to bawl before leaving the house...during the entire drive to school...and continue as I had to walk her to her classroom.
    So I needed a pick-me-up.
    Badly.
    I had a bag of fresh cranberries just hanging out in the fridge since I forgot all about them in my Thanksgiving preparations.
    I stared at them for a brief moment.
    What to do with them?
    Scones.
    Yep, breakfast for me would be scones.


    Once you have made scones a few times, you learn that the recipe is pretty basic. You can add or subtract as you'd like to make it your own.
    I used self-rising flour, but you can sub regular flower and baking powder if you don't have any on hand.
    I also ate mine while they were still warm from the oven, well slightly warm.
    The cranberries get tart and will make you pucker the longer they cool.
    So be prepared and perhaps make the icing as a dip? Yes. I recommend that to cut the tartness out.
    Anyway you do it, these were delicious
    And in typical "Emily-scone-eating-fashion" I inhaled a few (2) rather quickly...


    Cranberry Scones

    by Emily Chhouy
    Prep Time: 15 min
    Cook Time: 15 min
    Ingredients (8-10 scones)
      For the Scones
      • 2 cups self-rising flour
      • 3 tablespoons sugar
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
      • 1 cup heavy cream
      • 1 1/2-2 cups fresh cranberries
      • 1 teaspoon orange juice
      For the Glaze
      • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
      • 1-2 tablespoons orange juice
      Instructions
      For the Scones
      Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
      In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt.
      Add the cubed butter and blend with a pastry blender until pea-sized balls form.
      Slowly add the heavy cream and orange juice until a dough forms, mixing until it just combines.
      Create a thick square shape with the dough and roll it out onto a lightly floured counter creating a long rectangle.
      Sprinkle the fresh cranberries over the dough, pressing them down firmly into the dough with the palm of your hand.
      Fold each of the long sides so they meet together in the middle of the rectangle, covering the cranberries.
      Fold the smaller ends in to "close" the rectangle.
      Press the seams together to seal.
      Using a sharp knife, slice the rectangle into 4 or 5 small squares.
      Then slice each square in half diagonally.
      Place each wedge onto a lightly greased baking sheet.
      Bake for 15 minutes, or until edges are slightly browned.
      Remove from oven and let cool while you prepare the glaze.
      For the Glaze
      In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and orange juice until you've reached the consistency you'd like.
      Drizzle over the tops of each slightly cooled scone, if done while still hot, it will melt off the tops.
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