Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Italian Chicken Noodle Soup

The cold and flu has hit my house hard. I am still healthy, but my hubby not so much, and my daughter is sick too, which means she comes to stay with me so I can nurture her back to health and make her my famous Chicken Noodle Soup. 

I have been told many times that I make the best chicken noodle soup. I sometimes even tell myself when I am sick and forced to eat soup from a restaurant. I always wish someone would make me my soup instead, but I have not taught anyone how I do it. Even though it is not hard to do, when I am sick, I am usually too sick to try to show someone. So I am finally writing down my simple recipe that is sure to comfort the sick. Enjoy!

Italian Chicken Noodle Soup
1 lb. Italian chicken sausage
2 Tbsp Olive oil
8 cups chicken broth
1 onion
3 carrots
2 celery stalks
1/2 Tbsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
Cooked Ditalini pasta, or pasta of your choice.
salt and pepper to taste

I first start out by making a mirepoix. It is a combination of onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. The base to any really good soup. Chop them up into similar size pieces, except the garlic should be minced. Add olive oil to a skillet and add the mirepoix. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Cook stirring often until onions are translucent. 
Meanwhile cook your pasta according to package directions. 
I like using ditalini, but you can use whatever noodles you like. 

In a large stockpot, add your chicken broth, cooked vegetables, Italian seasoning, and a bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer. 
Meanwhile brown your chicken sausage.
Remove the bay leaf from the stock. 
Add your sausage and noodles to the stock, and serve. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hot Pastrami on Rye

My husband and I are nearing our 1 year anniversary of living in our loft downtown being "empty nester's". This past year has been pure bliss. We have settled into our life so nicely and every single day I find myself thanking the Lord for this wonderful life we have together. How time flies when you are having fun! 

Dwelling on my happiness and all the blessings that are in my life, often leads me to think of others I know that are miserable.  What keeps people in a miserable place? I think it is fear of the unknown. Something I have learned more and more as I grow older, is the more you try to hold on to something, the more it holds on to you. People get comfortable in their lives, even if they are miserable. They don't take a single step to change their circumstances, and they grow stagnant. Often times becoming more and more secluded because they are miserable people, so no one wants to be around them. 

I like to think I have a different mindset. I believe life is a gift. We are given time to make a difference. Find your purpose today. Really stop and take inventory of your life, your friends, our living conditions. What do you wish was different, and what steps can you take to make those changes?  Instead of looking at the mountain, look at the steps. Take one step at a time and change your life for the better. The happier you are, the better your relationships are. 

Now on to today's food. My husband loves a good hot pastrami sandwich. So naturally I wanted to surprise him with it. I always want to make him the things he loves. He said I nailed this one. Enjoy!

Hot Pastrami on Rye
Serves 2

1/2 lbs cooked and thinly sliced beef pastrami
4 slices havarti cheese
sauteed onions
coarse grind mustard
4 slices artisan rye bread 
1 cup beef broth

Saute your onions in olive oil, salt and pepper, for a few minutes.
Bring your broth to a simmer. Add pastrami and onions to the broth. Simmer until pastrami is hot. Reserve the broth for pouring over the sandwich.
Toast your bread and add coarse mustard to two of the 4 slices.
Divide cheese, meat and onions among rye bread. Pour your broth over the sandwich and close.
Serve hot. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Chocolate Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies

Is everyone getting ready for Christmas? How are those sweet treats treating you? 
Tis' the season for all things naughty. Shortbread has been running rampant in this loft of mine. Needless to say everyone from my doorman, my husbands office, the local homeless, to my yoga instructor has been given goodies. I can't eat them all or I would look like a blimp. These are my second favorite cookie. My first being the Salted Caramel Shortbread Cups I gave you earlier this week. 

When my husbands co-workers tasted these, one said: "Your wife is evil and she must be stopped". That is right. They are sinful. I dare you to take a bite! 
This recipe will yield about 1 dozen cookies. Perfect for you, your love, and a few friends.

Chocolate Shortbread Thumbprint Cookies
adapted from Cherished Bliss
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon of butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
for frosting:
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 heaping cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
Cream the butter and the sugar until smooth. 

Add the cocoa powder, vanilla extract, and mix until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder. 
Add to the butter mixture and mix until just combined. 
Roll into balls 
and make an indent with your thumb in the center of the ball. Bake for 7-9 minutes or until dry looking and lightly cracked on the surface but still very soft.
When they come out of the oven, press the centers down again to make a more defined well for the frosting. Allow to cool.
Whisk the cocoa powder, powdered sugar, hot water, and vanilla. Spoon the frosting into the centers of the cookies and add sprinkles. Allow frosting to set before storing in tins.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Salted Caramel Shortbread Cups

My man LOVES caramel. I like it, but he loves it. I know that if I want to let him know he is special to me, all I have to do is cook him up something new with caramel. Add a little sea salt, and he gets all sorts of excited! 

These little cups of salted caramel are heaven. 
You can always use a cutter and make them look perfect, but I like the rustic look. I love giving cookies and treats that look like they came from home, because they did! Enjoy!

Salted Caramel Shortbread Cups
by Christi Silbaugh

for the shortbread:
10 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg yolk
1 2/3 cups flour

for the caramel:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tsp sea salt
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Sea salt flakes

Line a baking stone or baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, and salt with a pastry cutter or fork. Add the egg yolk and continue mixing until it has a damp sand consistency.
Add the flour and use your hands to combine the dough until you can start to form shapes with it. 
Form cups with your hands. 
Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Use a fork to make little holes in the bottom of the chilled shortbread cups. This will help keep it from breaking and flaking apart. 
Bake for 25 minutes. Set aside to cool.
For the caramel, combine the butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, salt, sugar, and heavy cream. Bring to a boil and stir for about 5-10 minutes until caramel reaches the “soft ball stage” at around 230 degrees.
Remove from heat, stir in the vanilla and pour caramel in the shortbread cups. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes and serve!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013



Bruschetta is an antipasto from Italy that I absolutely love. I could eat it every day. I keep a big fresh plant of basil in my window planter year round specifically for this dish. Give me a glass of wine, a little cheese and this dish and I am one happy lady. Thankfully my husband shares my love for Bruschetta too. 

It is really simple to make! Give it a try!

Bruschetta for two
by Christi Silbaugh

3 tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 loaf sourdough baguette
1 Tbsp. olive oil

Core your tomatoes and then dice them into tiny pieces. Add to a bowl. Add your chopped basil and minced garlic. Add 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar. Stir and salt and pepper to taste. 

Slice a piece of the baguette up into four slices.
Add Olive oil to a skillet and heat over medium heat. 
Add your baguette slices.
Toast over the olive oil until golden brown and crispy.
Top your toast with the tomato basil mixture and serve.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Crispy Snapper with Spicy Basil Sauce

There is no such thing of a couple that does not fight. Even the best, most stable relationships, go through tough times and rough conversations. Pride can get in the way of our relationships thriving. We don't want to back down, until the other person knows we mean business. But is it worth the relationship? Take time to think about that the next time you are so mad steam is coming out your ears. If it is worth ending the relationship over, then by all means, hold our ground. But if it is the regular run of the mill fight. How about swallowing your pride, asking for forgiveness, and then move on to a wonderful evening together. 

Romantic Tip: Be the first to say "I'm sorry" and kiss and make up.

Now on to today's food...I have been cooking a lot o f Red Snapper lately. I love wild caught snapper, and my local organic market has been keeping me very happy with their stock of this gem. I love it because it adapts to any flavors.  

Because my husband absolutely loves all things spice, this dish was perfect. If you are not a big spice fan, you can always use just bell peppers instead of thai chile peppers. We thought it was perfect with the thai chile peppers. Enjoy!

Crispy Snapper with Spicy Basil Sauce

adapted from sel et sucre

2 Snapper fillets  (approx. 8 ounces each)
1/3 cup flour 
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs 
1 Tbsp + 3 Tbsp canola
6 shallots, minced 
4 cloves garlic, minced 
6 thai chile peppers, diced 
1 bell pepper, chopped 
1/4 cup chicken stock 
1/4 cup fish sauce 
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp agave nectar
juice of 1/2 lime 
1 cup Thai basil leaves 
1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp water

Pat dry snapper fillets with a paper towel. 
Set up a plate with  flour, a bowl with 1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbsp water, and a plate with 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs. Dredge each fillet in the flour, followed by the egg wash, followed by the panko breadcrumbs, and set aside. 

In a sautee pan or medium pot, heat 1 Tbsp canola oil over medium-high heat, then sautee  shallots, minced, cloves garlic, minced, chile peppers, sliced, and 1 bell pepper, chopped until the shallots start to darken and the bell pepper is softened, about 5 minutes. 

Add 1/4 cup stock, 1/4 cup fish sauce, 2 Tbsp soy sauce, 2 Tbsp agave nectar, and juice of 1/2 lime, and stir together thoroughly. Bring to a boil, and let simmer until slightly reduced, about 3 – 5 minutes. 
Stir in 1 tsp cornstarch, mixed with 1 tsp cold water, if using, and let simmer until thickened, about 1 – 2 minutes. 

Stir in 1 cup Thai basil leaves, and cook until fragrant, about 1 – 2 minutes, then lower heat to lowest setting to keep warm until ready to serve. 

In a large sautee pan, heat 3 Tbsp canola oil over high heat, then add the coated fish fillets, being careful not to crowd the pan (you will probably need to do a couple of batches). 
Cook the fish until the bottom is crispy and browned, about 3 – 5 minutes. 
Flip the fish, and continue cooking until the other side is crispy and browned, and the fish can be easily flaked with a fork, another 3 – 5 minutes. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. 
Serve the crispy fish fillets topped with the Thai basil sauce.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

A Healthier Maple and Brown Sugar Hot Cereal

I was really intrigued when I received a parcel that contained a bunch of KAMUT®products to try. The first product that cought my eye was a bag of Rolled KAMUT®.

KAMUT®wheat looks very similar to common wheat. However, its grains are twice the size of modern wheat kernel. I think it looks a lot like oats. 
It is considered a "high energy grain" because it contains more proteins, lipids, amino acids, vitamins and minerals than modern wheat. It is known for its rich nutty flavor. KAMUT®wheat is used similarly as modern wheat. Its grains can be either directly consumed or milled into flour. It can be found in breads, bread mixes, breakfast cereals, cookies, waffles, pancakes, bulgur, backed goods, pastas, drinks, beer and snacks.

The first thing that came to my mind to make is a healthier Maple and Brown Sugar hot cereal. That flavor is loved by us. Once upon a time, I fell for the over processed, high in sugar, virtually no wholesomeness whatsoever, quaker instant oatmeal. Well step aside captain quaker. This cereal is ready in 3 minutes and is very wholesome. 
So how can it be wholesome with brown sugar and maple syrup? Simple. Have you tried organic sucanat? 
Unlike refined and processed white cane sugar and brown cane sugar, Sucanat retains its molasses content. It is essentially pure dried sugar cane juice. Minimal processing produces a much healthier natural sweetener that is much sweeter using a smaller amount. 

Using pure maple syrup also adds to the sweetness of this cereal. Pure maple syrup is wholesome. Producing a lot of sweetness with less sugar than traditional refined sugars and syrups. 

A Healthier Maple and Brown Sugar Hot Cereal
serves 2

2 cups filtered water
1 cup rolled KAMUT®
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp sucanat
2 tsp maple syrup

Bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add the sea salt and KAMUT®and reduce heat to medium while it cooks for 3 minutes. 

After 3 minutes poor your KAMUT®into 2 serving bowls. Top each bowl with 1 tsp sucanat and 1 tsp maple syrup. 


Monday, December 2, 2013

French Onion Soup

Are you just maintaining your relationship? Or are you nourishing it, growing it, making it thrive? Just maintaining will get you nowhere. Unfortunately we are human and too much of the same thing gets boring. Romantic tip: Spice it up! Don't just maintain your relationship today. Do something that will make him or her feel special and loved. 

My husband loves french onion soup. It is one of his favorites. The soup is not hard to make, it is just time consuming. So I don't make it for him as much as I should. The crunchy toast on top, covered in cheese, just makes this soup amazing. It is a perfect comfort food.
This recipe is not just for two. Well it is, but it is enough that you will have plenty leftover in the fridge. It lasts 1 week in the fridge in an airtight container. It is even better the next day, just wait to add the toast and cheese until time of serving.  Enjoy! 

French Onion Soup
adapted from Bon Appétit | October 2013

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
6 large onions (about 5 pounds), thinly sliced
2 large shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
8 cups beef, chicken or vegetable broth
8 1/4 "-thick slices country bread, toasted
8 ounces sliced Gruyère

Slice up your onions. 

Heat butter in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, shallots, and garlic; 
season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and dark brown, 60–70 minutes. 
Add vermouth and vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.

Tie parsley, thyme, and bay leaf with kitchen twine; add to pot along with broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced to about 8 cups, 35–40 minutes; discard herb bundle.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Place ovenproof bowls on a large rimmed baking sheet. Divide soup among bowls and top with toasts (cut to fit if necessary) and cheese.
 Bake until cheese is bubbling and golden brown, 6–8 minutes.

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