Not Feeling Well? I’ll Make You Some Chicken Noodle Soup

I am sure most of us have grown up hearing the phrase “Not felling well?  I’ll make you some chicken noodle soup”.  As it turns out, there is more to this than it being just a mere wives’ tale after all.  Research is now showing that there really are some medicinal qualities to eating chicken noodle soup, or chicken soup with vegetables, when you are feeling under the weather.   There are many different versions of chicken soup around the world, and it seems like eating chicken soup is a universal remedy when feeling ill.  No matter what other ingredients go into the soup, it almost always contains onions, garlic and carrots, as well as the chicken and the stock.   According to Dr. Stephen Rennard, MD, from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, eating some kind of a hot soup even with the minimal ingredients of chicken, onions, garlic, carrots and stock acts as an anti-inflammatory agent for the nasal cells, which reduces nasal congestion.  Researchers cannot specifically identify the ingredient or ingredients in chicken soup that makes it so effective against fighting off colds and infections, but say it may just very well be the combination of the vegetables and the chicken working together that gives chicken soup its medicinal effectiveness.   The chicken and chicken stock are both full of proteins and amino acids; one in particular, called cysteine, that help thin the mucus in the lungs, as well as aiding in building up weak muscles, which also helps to fight off infections and illness.  With the addition of onions and garlic, both containing protein, calcium and sulphur, the swelling in the nasal cavities is reduced, which aids in combatting nasal congestion.  By adding carrots, you are also adding Vitamin A, and that strengthens and increases the white blood cells, which in turn fight off infections.  The more vegetable you add, the more healing properties of the soup.   So next time you are feeling under the weather, you really should eat that chicken noodle soup that is offered to you.  It really will help you feel better.  Of course, you can eat chicken soup at any time, not just when you are sick.

I have been craving chicken noodle soup for awhile, and decided with it being excellent soup weather, now was the perfect time to make some chicken noodle soup.  I love thick, chowdery soups, so I made a thick, creamy chicken noodle soup.  It warmed me up from the inside out.  No, it is not as healthy as a chicken noodle soup without the cream, but it sticks to the ribs more (unfortunately, in more ways than one) and is more of a meal with the addition of the cream.

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Thick and Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

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1 1/2-2 lbs chicken, cubed small

1 onions, diced fine

3 carrots, diced fine

3 celery stalks, diced fine

1-1 1/2 heaping TBSP garlic

6 cups chicken stock ( I made my own turkey stock and used that)

1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1″ pieces

1 cup frozen peas

1 lb uncooked noodles of your choice (I used extra wide egg noodles)

3/4-1 cup flour

salt & pepper to taste

1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

1 tsp each fresh thyme, oregano, sage – if fresh, chop fine

olive oil and butter for cooking

2 cups heavy whipping cream

 

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Once you have the vegetables and chicken cut, coat the chicken in flour.   Cook the chicken in a large pot in a combination of olive oil and butter.  Cook until the chicken is cooked completely and is slightly browned.

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Once the chicken is completely cooked, remove it from the pot and set it aside.  Add the vegetables, and more oil/butter if needed, and cook them until they are tender and the onions are translucent.

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Once the vegetables are cooked, add the chicken, stock and seasonings.  If you are using dried herbs, now is the time to add those too.  If you are using fresh herbs, wait to add those later.  Mix well and bring to a boil. Let it boil for about 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to a simmer and let simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occassionally.

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Add the pasta, cream and fresh herbs if using, and continue to cook for about 10 more minutes.  Adjust the seasonsings if necessary.  Combine everything well.  Ladle it up and enjoy.

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It was a simple meal of just soup with warmed ciabiatta bread and wine.  Every time I make a simple meal of soup, it always reminds me of my favorite picture that I grew up with.  Granted, my soup and meal is not as humble as the meal in the picture, but it is a good reminder that sometimes simple is best.

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Make It Real

This was a compliment I received from a very good friend of mine regarding my blog and all it’s recipes.  This is the best compliment anyone could give me.    I just had to share it with all of you.  “One thing I really love about your recipes (and your blog) is that you use/feature real ingredients that most of us have and use all the time or can easily buy (Hello, Kirkland brand.) Nothing is too fancy, there’s nothing I have to “google” to see what it is and, the best part, everything tastes so good!”  This is EXACTLY why I created my blog.  I want people to feel comfortable in the kitchen.  Things don’t have to be fancy or made with specialty ingredients to be good.  As long as they are made with love, inspiration, curiosity and a willingness to learn and try new things, then no matter what comes out of the kitchen, it will be a success.  

Thank you Traci.  Love you and Scott heaps and heaps.

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Link Up Party Ends Today!

Happy Holidays Everyone! Come check me out at “A Jeanne in the Kitchen”. Who knows what Holiday ideas we may all come up with. You can find me at ajeanneinthekitchen.com.

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A Medley of Nuts

I love nuts.  Yes, they contain fats, but they also contain a lot of protein as well as many other nutrients, which means they are very good for us and are all around much healthier for us than not.  But just like with anything else though, everything in moderation.  Nuts of all kinds are always a staple around the holidays too.  After all, nuts and nutcrackers are a big part of the Christmas and Holiday traditions around the world.  I really wanted to make a pecan pie for Thanksgiving, but I got out voted.  So for our Holiday party, there was no one to out vote me, and I made my favorite nut tart, with a medley of different nuts as one of my desserts.  I try to make this tart at least once every holiday season.  It was a big hit, as I knew it would be, and sad to say, it all disappeared very quickly.  I might just have to make another one before the end of the Holiday season.

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Nut Medley Tart

Pate sucre or pie crust

3 cups of mixed nuts – your choice

3 eggs

1 cup honey

1/2 tsp either orange extract or grated orange peel, or both

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup butter, melted

whipped cream, optional for topping

 

I used pecans, macademia nuts, cashews, and almonds, but use whatever kind of nuts you like.

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Preheat the oven to 350* F

Toast the nuts in the oven for about 10 minutes, making sure to stir them at least once.  Remove the nuts from the oven and set aside.

Make your pie crust or pate sucre Thanksgiving Dinner – Part III – Pumpkin Pie and roll it into the tart pan.  Once the dough covers the pan, use the rolling pin to roll over the edges of the dough and it will cut off the excess dough while it is shaping it into the pan.

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Mix all the ingredients together and mix until well blended, then gently fold in all the nuts.  Pour the mixture into the shell.

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Since I had some extra dough, I used some festive cookie cutters and made some decorations for the top of the tart.  This is optional, but if you do this, make an egg wash to brush over the top of the dough cut-outs to help them brown.  Bake for about 40-50 minutes or until the top is golden brown.  Let the tart completely cool before removing the bottom of the tart pan and cutting.

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Holiday Fun

Every year, my husband and I host a fun ornament exchange.  Everyone is invited, and all are welcome.  My motto is “the more the merrier”.  There have been times when the house has been jam packed and there is barely enough room to move around and other times when we have a smaller, more intimate crowd.  Either way, whether the crowd is large or small, we always have a good time.  I tell everyone who wants to participate to bring a wrapped ornament and a dish to share.  After we have all visited and wined and dined, it’s time to let the games begin.  Because our ornament exchange is meant to be a fun game, and it is much more fun when people “steal”, so I always encourage “stealing” ornaments once they have been opened.  Sometimes, it gets pretty vicious and people get very territorial with their newly acquired ornaments, but it is all in good fun.  In the end, everyone goes home with a new ornament for their tree, and happy memories of a fun evening, shared by friends both new and old.  Last night was the day of our party for the 2018 Holiday season.  We rang in the season with food, fun and festivities celebrated with friends.  This is always the best way to ring in the Holidays.

In case you hadn’t noticed by now, I love to cook.  I make our ornament exchanges a potluck, but I still love to cook up quite a bit for the party as well.   My husband is always trying his best to reign me in, telling me “this is a potluck, you do not have to make a bazillin different dishes”.  He tries his best to reign me in, but he is never to successful at it.  Try though I may, I just can’t seem to help myself.  I think of one thing, which leads me to another, then that leads to something else, and so on, and so on,  To me, potlucks are always a barrel of fun.  I love trying all the new creations that people bring to share.  So with me making a lot of different delectable dishes, and then everyone else bringing their own delectable dishes, we ALWAYS end up with a ton of food.  And this is the season for sharing, so share we do.  Once again, there was a lot of good food enjoyed by all, there was something for everyone, from a variety of sweets and treats and savory dishes too.

This is our main tree, in our family room.  We have a very eclectic collection of ornaments.  They all weave together to tell a story of who we are and what we like to do.  We always collect ornaments from wherever we travel, the funkier and more exotic and unique, the better.  We have ornaments that express our personal interests and hobbies.  We have special ornaments that were handmade just for us.  Some are fun and whimsical and some are porcelain and are collectibles.  And some have been handed down through the generations, but all contribute to the story of who we are and how we like to live.  They are all fun and they all have a special meaning and a special place in my heart.

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Our second tree, in the living room.

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Our third tree, up in our art niche, going up the stairs.

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And our fourth tree, that was made especially for me by my friends Kathy and Lynn.

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Larry and I at the appetizer table.

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Baked pita chips with hummus.

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Cheese, sausages and crackers.

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Turkey marinated in my paprika vinaigrette Steak with Paprika Vinaigrette.   I served all these appetizers on some of my new serving platters that I received from my friend David Richman, CEO of Chefware. Presents for the Chef.  All these platters got rave reviews.  Everyone commented on how gorgeous they are.

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All the dishes above, as well as this delicious mixed nut tart and my Kissed Cookies,  Kissed Christmas Cookies were my culinary contributions to our fun evening.

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And to all of you who helped us ring in the holidays  …..

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Thank you to all my friends and family who helped make this yet another fun-filled event filled with lots of love.  All of you are what made our party so much fun.  However you say it, and however you celebrate … Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, Joyeux Noel, Froelich Weinnachten, Mele Kalekimaka, Happy Channakah, Happy Eads, Buon Natalie, Happy Kwanza or Happy Holidays, have a good one and a Happy, Healthy New Year.

 

 

Kissed Christmas Cookies

Cookies are my absolute favorite dessert.  I love cookies.  Any kind of cookies.   I always have.  When I was a little girl one of my best friends’ mother used to bake cookies everyday.  The house always smelled so good, and it was always filled with love. Mrs. Nash would make all kinds of cookies, and everyday when we would come home from school, there would be a new variety of cookies waiting for us to gobble up and enjoy.  This is one of my favorite childhood memories.  Mrs. Nash was like my second mother.  My friend Kathy and I grew up together and are still  like family to this day, many, many years later, even though she still lives in California and I have been living in Colorado for almost 19 years.  Cookies always bring up images of love and family to me.  Maybe that’s why they are my favorite type of dessert.

The Holidays are here, and today we have our Christmas party and ornament exchange.  So I will keep this brief and short, since I still have a lot of things I need to prepare and do before all my guests arrive.  My cookie contribution for this year’s party is a fun, festive and colorful type of cookie.  I made chocolate cookies with colorful sprinkles and Hershey’s kisses.

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Chocolate Kissed Christmas Cookies

1/2 cup shortening

1/2 cup softened butter (1 stick)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp baking soda

2 TBSP milk

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 cup cocoa powder

2 cups flour

Christmas colored nonparells

chocolate kisses, unwrapped

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Combine all the dry ingredients together, mixing well, and set aside.

Mix the shortening, butter and sugars together until well blended, then add the egg, milk and vanilla.   Once all the wet ingredients are mixed together, add the dry ingredients 1/2 at a time, mixing well in between.  Once everything is mixed, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before making the cookies.

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Preheat the oven to 350* F

When the dough is ready, spoon out about 1 heaping tsp of dough and roll into a ball,  then roll the ball into the nonparells and coat the whole cookie.  Slightly press the dough out to flatten it and place on a non-greased cookie sheet.  Repeat until all the dough is used.

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Bake the cookies for about 10-12 minutes or until the edges are firm.  Immediately after removing the cookies from the oven, place an unwrapped candy kiss in the center of the cookies, and slightly press it into the soft cookie.  I placed them back in the oven for about 1 more minute after I added the kisses to soften the chocolate kisses a bit.  Let cool, then remove from the baking sheet and cool completely on a wire rack.  After that, it’s cookie time!

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Honey-Chipotle-Lime Shrimp

Shrimp is one of my favorite seafoods.  I just love it.  One of the things I love about shrimp is that it is so versatile.  Like with chicken, the possibilities for cooking shrimp are endless, as was so greatly expressed by Bubba in the movie Forrest Gump; I can’t remember the full speech that Bubba gave about shrimp, but he named so many delicious ways of eating and cooking shrimp that by the end of the scene my mouth was watering and suddenly I was really hungry for something with shrimp.  Well, here is one more delicious recipe we can add to that never-ending repertoire.  Honey-chipotle-lime grilled shrimp.  It was quick and easy and very tasty.  It had just the right amount of heat and sweet to get all the taste buds crying out for more.   This meal was a bit of flavor fusion, but all the flavors fused together deliciously.

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Honey-Chipotle Lime Shrimp

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1-1 1/2 lbs of large shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/3 cup olive oil

2-3 TBSP lime juice

2 TBSP honey

1 TBSP garlic

3-4 whole chipotle chilies with sauce, minced

2 TBSP fresh cilantro, chopped fine

 

Mix all the ingredients together well, then add the shrimp and let marinate for about 30 minutes.  Once the shrimp has marinated in the sauce, skewer them and grill for about 6 minutes, making sure to rotate the skewers so the shrimp cooks evenly and does not burn.  Reserve the marinate and cook it for about 5-7 minutes, then add on top of the cooked shrimp as a sauce.

 

Since I was grilling the shrimp, I decided to make vegetable kebabs to go with the grilled shrimp.  You can use any kind of vegetables you like.  As I mentioned in my post, Roasted Green Beans with Mushrooms and Pine Nuts vegetables contain very little if any fat, so they need to be marinated or coated in some kind of a fat when roasting or grilling so they do not burn.  The flavors of the vegetables also really pop out and come to life  when you use a bold and flavorful. acidic marinade.  I used a a variety of bell peppers, red onions, mushrooms, zucchini and yellow crookneck squash that I marinated in a zesty Italian dressing.  The vegetables will take longer to cook than the shrimp, so put those on the grill first.  When grilling vegetables, you want to cut the vegetables into large, thick chunks that will be able to withstand the direct heat from the grill and will not fall apart.

 

 

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I served the honey-chipotle-lime shrimp over some leftover rice with corn, vegetable kebabs and naan bread.   To me, the perfect wine choice would be a rich, buttery chardonnay to help cut down on the acidity of the dish from the marinades.

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