Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

 

Ohhhh I just adore you, chicken noodle soup! A few weeks ago I really wanted some homemade soup. I NEEDED homemade soup. Ya know that feeling? I really didn’t want to hear the awful “fffffflllooppp” sound as the goopy room temperature soup emptied out of its aluminum can and plopped into a sauce pan for re-heating.

No ma’am. Not this time. I wanted to hand cut the veggies, cook the chicken myself, personally choose the noodle type, and taste test the broth before bringing it all together. I figured that can’t be all that hard…right? A little time consuming, sure, but not awful.

Cooking anything “homemade” can be intimidating, but I channel my inner rock star of a mama and just do it. I know she’s in there somewhere! Sometimes she just needs coffee. I also just have strategize when’s the best time to prep and cook. Also, I buy the broth and noodles. I’m not gonna lie, one day I’d love to be that mother of twins who makes her own noodles and chicken broth AND soups. One day. But for now I think I’m doing just fine 😉

I also consulted one of my favorites to follow on All Recipes: Chef John. He has easy video tutorials, uncomplicated recipes, and a reassuring voice. I altered it just a bit, and below is how I bring to life this timeless classic.

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

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1 cupChopped Onion

1 cupChopped Carrots

1 cupChopped Celery

2 tablespoonsButter, salted

1 teaspoonSalt

1 teaspoonThyme

8½ cupsChicken Broth (Gold star if you make your own! Chef John’s got a recipe for that, too: Roasted Chicken Broth)

1 cupEgg or Dumpling Noodles 

1 pound (approx) – Boiled Chicken (I boil it at medium high heat in 2 cups chicken broth/stock, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, and 1/2 tsp salt)

Step 1

Coarsely chop your onions, carrots, and celery.

Step 2

In a large stock pot start by melting the butter at medium heat, then add your onions, carrots, and celery to sautee together. Also add the salt and thyme.

Step 3

Once the onions start to get translucent, add all 8 cups of your chicken stock and stir together.

Step 4

Add in your noodles and chicken, stir, and let simmer in the broth for about 5 minutes.

Step 5

Give it all a taste! More time? More….thyme? Haah! More salt? You be the judge. And the cook. And the rockstar who get’s a high five from me for cookin yourself some homemade soup.

You did it! So proud of you! Here’s mine:

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Oh I almost forgot! I love me some oyster crackers in my soup.

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Ahhhh yes. There it is. Homemade heaven in a bowl. It always makes me happy. Sean loves it too! One day, I imagine also serving this to Henry & Emily as they come barreling in from a fun day outside in the snow. One day 😉

Enjoy!

Big hugs,

Katherine

Easy Shepard’s Pie

I was having one of those evenings where the babies were see-sawing between mildly entertained and fussy, but I also really wanted to cook something yummy. I had ground beef and carrots in the fridge, onions and seasonings in the pantry. I didn’t feel like pasta, especially because my homemade Alfredo sauce the night before was an epic fail. But suddenly, I looked in one of my cabinets and spotted this handsome devil to the right.

Now, before you get all judgy, I’ll have you know that instant mashed potatoes are freakin delicious. They give you that whipped texture without all the added work. For a mom of twins who doesn’t have very much free time for cooking – that’s everything.

I took a glance at a few recipe combinations before making it my own. I knew that Shepard’s Pie with ground beef would be pretty straight forward, but the gravy-like mixture needed to be good. Rachel Ray has a great base for this (Rachel Ray’s Shepard’s Pie), but I made lots of changes and ultimately created…THIS:

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Ingredients

  • 1 pound (ish) – Ground Beef
  • 1 – medium/large Yellow Onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 – medium Carrots, diced
  • 1 cup – Frozen Peas
  • ½ teaspoon – Red Pepper Flakes
  • 3 cloves – Garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons – Butter
  • “a pinch” – Celery Salt
  • “to taste” – Regular Salt
  • 2 tablespoons – All Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup – Beef Broth
  • 2 ½ teaspoons – Worcestershire Sauce

…and for the Mashed Potatoes :

  • one 8 oz “Family Size” package – Instant Mashed Potatoes (quick & easy for the win! I ADORE the garlic kind)
    • OR two of the normal sized 4 oz packages will do just fine
  • 4 cups of water

Step 1

Brown the ground beef in a pan. Drain the excess fat, then return it to the pan.

Step 2

Add in your chopped onions, diced carrots, peas, red pepper flakes, pinch of celery salt, regular salt (to taste) and minced garlic to the cooked ground beef and stir together. Cover and let it all heat together at medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 3

Meanwhile…gotta get yo gravy goin’! In a separate pan, whisk together the beef broth, flour,Worcestershire sauce and butter over medium high heat. Bring just to a boil while stirring continuously, then remove it from the heat and add the gravy to your ground beef mixture. Let this sit without heat while you jump into step 4. Also – now’s a good time to turn on your oven’s broiler to low heat.

Step 4

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil, then remove it from the heat. Add the 8 oz package (or the two 4 oz packages) of powdered mashed potatoes and quickly stir it all together until it’s smooth. Within seconds you have gorgeous delicious garlicky mashed potatoes. Sooooooo easyyyy!

Step 5

In a casserole dish, layer the ground beef mixture first, then top it off with the mashed potatoes. Be sure to cover the ground beef completely with the mashed potatoes so that the ground beef mixture won’t bubble over and ruin the pristine potatoey topping. Pop that dish in the oven and broil it on low until it’s juuuust golden brown on the top. Let it cool a bit before serving, garnish with a little parsley on top, then serve it up!

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This dish is a total hit since the first night I made it. Some nights I made it without carrots, sometimes without peas. It’s super adjustable depending on what you have in stock. Hope y’all enjoy a slice, or 3, on an upcoming cold winter night! Be sure to comment/share if you give it a try. I’d love to see pics of your “pie”!

Big hugs,

Katherine

 

 

Slow Cooker Chili + Cheesy Grits

The weather here in Oklahoma is finally getting chilly! I’m so excited to be slow-cookin my way into cooler weather these days. As my patience for reading through recipes gets slimmer (’cause……twins!) I find myself throwing ingredients together in a mad dash between entertaining and feeding two babies. Sometimes my ‘lil on-the-spot meal creations fail. But every once in awhile……they WIN!

I’ve got a winner for ya.

I’ve noticed that most people don’t put a base of some sort underneath their chili when it’s served. Well, my sweet southern belle of a mama raised me differently. Mom would typically cook up some white rice and use that as a base for the chili and it was deeee-lish! But recently I got the inspiration to use cheesy grits as a heavenly little platform instead.

Y’all.

Oh my gosh.

It was pure heaven.

I made this on Sunday afternoon, stored it in the fridge (where it only continued to grow more and more delicious), then by Monday afternoon I was ready for a hearty lunch. I came home from taking the twins with me to Target and they were still asleep in their car seats. WIN! I whipped up some grits, added freshly grated cheese, topped the dish with chili, then more cheese for the garnish, and then…The Hallelujah Chorus broke into song. It was delicious, hearty, and good for my tired mama soul. Do you have a tired soul these days? I highly recommend trying this recipe. Your soul and stomach will thank you.

Here’s the lineup:

For the chili…

  • 1 pound (or so) – Ground Beef
  • 1 – Yellow Onion, coarsely chopped
  • 13 cup – beer (whatever you have, but a full bodied beer is best!)
  • 2 cups – Marinara Sauce
  • 1 can – Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 can – Kidney Beans, drained
  • 1 can – Pinto Beans, drained
  • 2 tablespoons – Chili Powder
  • 1 tablespoon – Cumin
  • 2 tablespoons – Garlic Powder
  • 2 tablespoons – Italian Seasoning Mix
  • 2 teaspoons – Salt
  • 1teaspoon – Cayenne Pepper

6o9c9738For the grits…

  • 1cup – Quick Grits
  • 1 cup – Water
  • 1 tablespoon – Butter
  • 1cup – Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (mostly for the grits, the rest for the garnish)
  • Salt – to taste

Step 1

Combine all of the dry seasonings (chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, italian seasoning mix, salt, and cayenne pepper) into a small dish, then set aside until Step 3.

Step 2

Cook the ground beef in a skillet so that it’s just browned. Drain the excess fat, then return the ground beef to the stove.

Step 3

Add dry seasonings to skillet, coating the browned ground beef. Be sure to turn the heat to low.

Step 4

Pour the seasoned ground beef into the slow cooker. Add the following: raw coarsely chopped yellow onions (I don’t recommend cooking the onions with the ground beef in step 2 because it gives a slight crunch to the chili – loved it!), drained pinto and kidney beans, diced tomatoes, beer, and marinara sauce. Stir well to combine all that gloriousness.

Step 5

Set it and forget it, y’all! Set it on high, and stir occasionally if you have time. 2 to 3 hours later your home will smell heavenly.

Step 6

Once the chili is ready you can get the instant grits going in a saucepan. First, boiling your 1 cup of water, then add the grits, salt (to your taste), and butter. Be sure to stir this well to avoid clumps. Then…the cheese! Stir the shredded cheese into your grits. Add enough cheese until it tastes just right for you.

Step 7

Layer the cheesy grits first, then the chili, then some more shredded cheese for garnish.

Enjoyyyy!

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Eating for 3

Food! It’s easily the hot topic on my mind every day. Hunger is no joke when you’re pregnant, especially with twins.

A few weeks ago my OB & high risk doctors had me take the glucose test (many pregnant women have to take it) in order to rule out Gestational Diabetes. It involves drinking a drink that tastes like a SUPER sugary orange soda within 5 minutes, then waiting 1 hour at the Dr’s office or local medical lab, then getting your blood drawn. Well…I failed the first test. Womp womp. I’ve heard that many other women do and sometimes it’s related to what you ate before hand even though we don’t have to fast for this test. To make sure that I didn’t truly have Gestational Diabetes, I was asked to take the 2nd test, a.k.a. the 3 hour glucose test, one week later. For this 3 hour test you have to fast for 8-10 hours starting the night before. At the appointment you get round #1 of 4 done for your blood draws, drink the sugary drink, then get rounds 2, 3, and 4 of more blood draws at 1 hour intervals. That was a long time for a VERY hungry pregnant woman to not eat anything since the night before.

Good news…I passed the 3 hour glucose test and do not have G.D.! Woohoo!

Bad news…I nearly passed out at Sprouts getting food right after the test. It was really bad, y’all. Apparently the Dr’s office even tried to call me after they received the results because my last blood result was the lowest they’d ever seen. I was a mess: blurred vision, shaking, dizzy, starving, out of breath, and even in a cold sweat. It took me a good 5-7 hours to finally feel normal again. Low blood sugar is something that I assumed I had just a little of, but I had no idea it was that bad. Long story short – I need to eat little meals ALL the time to help maintain the crazy hunger I’ve had these past 9 months.

Even though I don’t have Gestational Diabetes, the process of those tests was a strong reminder that I’m eating for 3, not just me. Obviously I was well aware of this to begin with, but when cravings strike and you’re hungrier than you’ve ever imagined it can be a struggle to have the patience of nutrients in mind at the pace that my scrunched organs can handle each digestion. I’m reminded that this is the time for some serious diligence. For the next decade or so these little ones will be completely dependent on me & Sean for what nutrients they get and what food choices they will ultimately make as they grow up to take on the world by themselves. Oh my gosh…I can see it now – they’re already growing up so fast!!!

6O9C3868Though I haven’t drastically changed my diet or anything, I have really learned to maintain more of a daily pattern that both I and the babies can depend on; to not get to the “insane hunger” level as often by balancing each day with consistency. I thought I’d give y’all a “taste” (hehe) of what I ate yesterday for a sample of what’s been helping me. The twins are pressing on my stomach and lungs as they continue to grow, and too much food at one time just doesn’t work (3rd trimester heartburn problems). With that in mind, you’ll notice that I eat every hour and a half to two hours.

Important note: This is not meant to be some fabulous revolutionary meal plan that just any pregnant woman should try. Every woman and pregnancy is different, with varying nutritional needs. For some of you though, maybe this line up below will help if you’re struggling to keep up with a consistent and healthy pattern each day. If it does, then YAY! This just works for me while also making my growing babies happy! When in doubt though – always consult your doctor ;). I don’t count calories and have no clue how many are in each day’s line up. Frankly – I don’t care about “counting” calories. If I’m hungry, I eat, and I do my very best to keep it nutritious 80 – 90% of the time. If I feel like I’ve been consistently healthy and am craving fries and milkshake once in a while…you better believe I’ll devour that reward with pure joy and zero guilt. If you’re curious about the recommended caloric intake when you’re pregnant with twins, here’s an awesome article I found which outlines how many extra calories pregnant women with multiples need to take in by trimester, as well as a breakdown of nutrients that your babies should be getting: The Bump – What to Eat

“Healthier” is working, by the way! Both babies are growing right on track with their weight and it makes me so happy! The meals and cravings are sure to increase over these last few weeks, but for now here’s what was cookin yesterday:

6:30-7:00 a.m.

My “Wake Up” Staple

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2 Whole Wheat Eggo Waffles

1 Apple, sliced up

1 cup of “Half Caff” Coffee or 1/2 a cup of Regular Coffee (allowed 200 mg of caffeine per day, and this is well under that limit ;))

500 mL of Water

8:30-9:00 a.m.

Eggs & Avocado Time!

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IMG_96062 Eggs either Boiled or Scrambled + a ‘lil salt & pepper

½ of an Avocado

2 Prenatal Vitamins

1 Folic Acid pill (400 mg – recommended to take this extra to help supplement for the twins)

500 mL of Water

10:30-11:00 a.m.

Fancy Pants Grilled Cheese + 2 sides

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IMG_96122 slices Whole Wheat Toast

4 slices of Cheddar Cheese

1 slice of Tomato

½ of an Avocado, sliced up

(fun fact – did you know that yesterday was “National Grilled Cheese Day”?! I didn’t even know it when I made this! Glad I still sorta participated)

½ of a bowl of Watermelon chunks

Small handful of Pita chips

500 mL of Water

12:30-1:00 p.m.

Satisfying Snackaroo

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Carrot Sticks from 3 whole carrots

⅓ cup of Hummus (don’t have any store-bought hummus at home? Check out my recipe for: Easy Homemade Hummus)

500 mL of Water

2:30-3:00 p.m.

Smoothie Time!

½ cup of frozen Mango chunks

⅔ cup of frozen Blueberries

3 frozen Strawberries

1 cup of Water

Note: at least twice a week this is replaced with a chocolate milkshake from Freddy’s or Braums. Just sayin…it’s good to add some extra calories in there from time to time :).

500 mL of Water

4:30 p.m.

Yep…still hungry.

 

Instant Brown Sugar and Maple Oatmeal w/ hot water

6:30 p.m.

Hubby’s Pasta!

 

¾ of a bowl – it’s like his version of lasagna but with bowtie pasta. Super delish!

500 mL of Water

7:30 p.m.

Mama needs her chocolate. 

2 dark chocolate Dove candies

9:00-10:00 p.m.

Last Call

 
A String Cheese or two right before bed (otherwise I wake up hungry at 2 or 3am)

500 mL of Water throughout the night

So there we have it! A day in the life of me constantly eating but trying to keep it mostly nutritious yet still hearty. I’m also a huge fan of greens (spinach, broccoli, kale, arugula) but ironically didn’t include it yesterday. It’s normally in there somewhere! 😉

It’s been nearly 30 weeks and the 30 pounds that I’ve gained with this twin pregnancy is exactly right on track with where I should be. I’m so proud of that! More than anything, I love that it makes me feel good when I interrupt menu’s like the one above with a juicy burger, savory pizza, velvety chocolate cake, or whatever else ;). It’s well deserved when 80-90% of the week is balanced with everything these babies need!

Happy eating 🙂

Katherine

 

 

 

 

Easy Homemade Hummus

I love how my preggo-cravings are like my body’s way of telling me which nutrients that my growing twins need. Our bodies are SO amazing at telling us what we need/don’t need if we listen well enough! My latest cravings have been for chickpeas/garbanzo beans. I love them, I need them, and I craaaave them.

I’ve learned that chickpeas pack a hearty dose of nutrients that any baby-mama needs. Things like: magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron, fiber. They even help to lower glucose levels! Since my twin pregnancy automatically puts me at a higher risk for gestational diabetes (I’ll find out later this week if I passed that test…eeek!), it’s no wonder why I’m craving them lately. I’d like to think that I’m usually a pretty healthy lady 80-90% of the time by avoiding unhealthy foods, but I’m “normal” and love it all; the good and the bad, the healthy and unhealthy. I’ve never been one to discriminate ;). Most recently though, I’ve been paying much more attention to how my cravings reflect my daily nutrient-needs.

Today, for example, I was craving chickpeas yet again and needed what felt like my 45th snack of the day. I didn’t have tahini which is a common ingredient in hummus, but I did have just about everything else needed to make this delicious low-calorie, filling snack. So, here’s what I threw together for a SUPER easy, preggo & bedrest-friendly recipe for hummus.

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp – light Olive Oil
  • 1/3 cup – cold Water
  • 2 cans (15 oz) – Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans (drained & rinsed)
  • 1½ Tbsp – minced Garlic
  • 1 tsp – Cumin
  • 1 tsp – Salt
  • 1 tsp – Paprika
  • 2 Tbsp – Lemon Juice

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Step 1 of 1

…seriously…there’s just one step

Mix it all together in a food processor!

Homemade Hummus

There you have it. Scoop out a few spoonfuls into a ramekin or small bowl, and you’re instantly ready to lay back in bed and enjoy this ‘lil heavenly homemade dish with some rice crackers, sliced carrots, or any other healthy side that your heart desires.

Homemade Hummus w/ sides

Happy snacking 😉

Katherine

Veggie Lentil Soup

It’s been a nice and easy weekend here in Oklahoma. I love weekends like this where there’s no agenda aside from cleaning a bit (but only “a bit”), guilt free laziness, and attempting to be healthy from time to time.

On that healthy note – I’ve heard lots of good things about lentils lately. So yesterday, when I was grocery shopping, I saw a bag of them sitting on the shelf just staring at me. Normally I’d just continue on my merry little way, but this time I checked the back and saw a good lookin’ recipe for lentil soup! It was a little dreary outside with rain due last night and all of today. “Hmmm……I can totally do this!” I thought. So I chucked it in my cart and off I went feeling all proud of myself 🙂

The back of the label was a recipe for Lentil Soup & Kielbasa. Since I was already planning a slow cooker heavy beef stew for tonight (Sunday), I just wanted to keep it veggies & lentils only; nice and light. I researched a few other recipes on the web and ultimately came up with this little number below. I hope you enjoy!!!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 4 Carrots (mine were on the smaller side), sliced
  • 4 stalks Celery, sliced
  • 5 small Red Potatoes, peeled + cubed (roughly the same length as your carrots)
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried Oregano
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried Basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon rubbed Sage
  • 1 can crushed Tomatoes OR 1.5 whole tomatoes chopped + crushed
  • 1 & 3/4 cups dry Lentils
  • 6 cups Water
  • 2 & 1/5 cups Chicken Broth
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

STEP 1

In a large pot, heat the oil then add in the onion, carrots, and potatoes.

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Let it all heat up & soften for a couple of minutes, then add in your seasonings: garlic, oregano, bay leaf, basil, sage, salt, and pepper.

Stir & let it all together and let the seasonings snuggle up and say “heeyheeey!” to the veggies for a minute or two.

STEP 2

I didn’t have a can of crushed tomatoes at home like I thought I did (womp womp) but I DID have two tomatoes ready to be messed with! Score! I chopped them up and used a potato masher to lightly crush them up a little (not too much though – I still wanted some chucks of tomato still in tact). I used one and a half tomatoes for this and it was perfect!

Add those crushed lil’ “toms” to your soup mixture and stir it on in.

STEP 3

Right after adding the tomatoes, go ahead and add in the water, chicken broth, and lentils. Stir it all up, cover, and lower the temp to allow the soup to simmer for 1 hour. Stir occasionally and add salt to taste if needed, but remember that the taste of salt really comes out at the end after letting it simmer for a while…so don’t go crazy ;).
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Enjoy!

Remove the bay leaf, pour, and enjoy!

Well goodness gracious. This was just about the most delicious, wholesome, healthy, and simple homemade soup I’ve ever made! Want some?!

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If you prefer your soup to be more brothy, you may want to add in more chicken broth or water towards the end. The broth gets absorbed by the lentils & veggies as you continue to cook it, especially when it also sits overnight in the fridge.

Can’t wait to have more for lunch todaaaaay! 🙂 Lemme know if you give it a try!

 

 

White Bean Chicken Chili

I’m so freaking excited that it’s officially Fall. Sadly though, it’s still like…754° here in Oklahoma. Mmkay maybe only 85°, but still. It definitely takes away a little from the good ‘ol East Coast chilly Autumn air that I’m used to this time of year. Luckily, that didn’t hold me back from embracing the season today and cooking something cozy. Something slooooowly cooked. Something…like…white bean chicken chili!

I read a few recipes then decided to create my own recipe for this marvelous masterpiece. Y’all ready for this?!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp – Olive Oil
  • 1 to 2 Lbs – Chicken, cubed
  • ½ tsp – Salt
  • ¼ tsp – Pepper
  • 1 medium – Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves – minced Garlic
  • 1 tsp – ground Cumin
  • ½ tsp – crushed Rosemary
  • 2 tsp – ground Chili Powder (or add more in like crazy if you like it spicy!)
  • ¼ tsp – rubbed Sage
  • 1½ tsp – dried Basil
  • 2 cups – Chicken Broth
  • 1 can – Pinto Beans, drained
  • 1 can – Garbanzo Beans, drained
  • 1/4 cup – all purpose Flour

STEP 1

Start by heating the olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Sprinkle the salt and pepper over the chicken before adding that to the skillet. Cook the chicken and onions in the oil. After about a minute, add in the minced garlic, basil, sage, rosemary, and chili powder.  Stir enough only to just brown the chicken, then remove from the heat and put the entire chicken mixture into the slow cooker.

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STEP 2

Mix 1 cup of the white bean mixture with ½ cup of the chicken broth. Mash up the beans in the broth until it creates a pulp-like consistency. This will help thicken the chili a bit…not to mention add in some serious flavor from the beans. Mmmmhmm!

STEP 3

Along with the now gross looking mushed up beans, also add in the remaining chicken stock + beans to the slow cooker.

STEP 4

Now, “Ya SET IT aaannnnnd FORGET IT!” Yesssss. Anyone remember those infomercials for those chicken slow roasters? Please tell me you do. No? They were hilarious and marvelous. Here, I’ll help you remember:

Ohhhh infomercials. They were totally on the right track, though. I’m loving the set it, go for a run, take a shower, do some laundry, then BAM it’s ready and the smell of heavenly chili is infusing your lovely home – kinda cooking. Big fan :).

STEP 5

Okay so you’re 3 hours in, 30 min or so to go. This is the perfect time to sprinkle in some of the all purpose flour to thicken up the chili. Let it simmer and thicken in the last 30 minutes.

STEP 6

ENJOY!!! I’m head over heels for this chili, y’all. I really am. As I type this, Sean is on his 3rd bowl. No judging….hehe…but he really loves it.

Highly recommended addition: shredded sharp cheddar cheese and chopped scallions! Sean also added a spoonful of sour cream. Have fun!!!

All About Autumn

My favorite season is finally here. Y’all…I’m obsessed. I’m completely head over heels for this season! Just like many of you out there I wanna throw on some boots over skinny jeans, wear cozy autumn-colored tops, and jump for joy in honor of all-things pumpkin. This post isn’t a review…a recipe…or a recommendation. Basically, I just love autumn so much that I can’t contain myself. I have a blog, and I’m not afraid to use it.

I know I’m not alone, my fellow pumpkin-spice-loving friends. I see your pins on Pinterest and I definitely see you instagraming those “PSL” wins too.  You’re just as excited as I am, aren’tcha 😉

I also know that the season isn’t even officially here yet. Silly, Katherine. It’s not “official” until September 23rd (yes, I looked it up weeks ago). But where’s the fun in waiting a few more days?! NO WHERE. We’re close enough, so I’m starting the celebration early. So, here is a list of my favorite things this season:

strolling around Fall Vintage Markets…with a PSL in hand…wearing boots…and a scarf
Breathtaking fall foliage
The perfect chill in the air; a sweet relief from Oklahoma’s Summer heat
The crunch of fallen leaves under my feet
Beer festivals downtown
The distant smell of a campfire
BOOTS!
Picking out your favorite pumpkin…then deciding you need 54 more of them
Jack-o-lantern carving
Amber Ales
Red Wine
toasting Pumpkin seeds with Old Bay
reflecting on what I’m thankful for (3740103842934 things…in case you were wondering)
the roar of Excitement from a football stadium
baking Apple-spice-anything
simply saying the word “Autumn” 
Reuniting with family & friends during Thanksgiving
Slow roasting pork…turkey…veggies…Everything!
The anticipation of your football team’s success
Let’s GOOOOOOOOO Redskins!
Pumpkin Spice Lattes
Baking…and Baking…and Baking
Being crafty
Sitting in The Coffee House on Cherry Street, blogging about how much I love Autumn 🙂

I could go on forever but I have a Washington Redskins game to cheer for, things to bake, and more pumpkins to purchase. Heheee! I just love this season and how it practically smacks ya in the face with excitement for new holiday memories to be made, old recipes to be devoured, and cozy clothes to be worn. It’s like the happiest line up of all things beautiful, just waiting for you to live it. 🙂

What’s on your list?! Are you as obsessed with this glorious season as I am? Add to my list by commenting below and keep the fabulous fall love flowin’!

Happy Autumn 🙂

Chocolate Chip Brownies

These are seriously delicious…made from scratch…chocolate chip-ie…cocoa-ie brownies. Out of this world, y’all!

Earlier today I decided to go for an afternoon run. Silly Katherine. There was a heat advisory today that quickly turned my run into a slow walk underneath the unrelenting Oklahoma sun. After the heat-wrenching work out, I proclaimed to the hubby that I deserved something chocolatey. Something homemade. I really wanted to bake and decided on brownies, but since most homemade recipes yields a lingering bitter taste of cocoa, I decided this recipe deserved a few semi-sweet chocolate chips to amp things up.

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Ingredients:

  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (or less) semi-sweet MINI chocolate chips (mini chips are the best!)

STEP 1:

Pre-heat your oven to 350°

STEP 2:

In a medium size bowl, combine your sugar, butter, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and salt.

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STEP 3:

Temper the butter/cocoa/sugar mixture over a pot of lightly simmering water. Continuously stir until the mixture turns into a smooth consistency.

STEP 4:

Let the bowl cool for about 5-10 minutes. Then, stir in your vanilla extract, followed by both eggs, then the flour – stirring constantly.

STEP 5:

So…funny story: I had a ton of chocolate chips on stand by, not really knowing how much I’d actually use. I started to pour “just a few” chips in there before, “AaaaAAAAH! Ohhh shoot!” I basically overwhelmed the batter w/ chocolate chips. Trial and error is how the beautiful recipe (above) made just for you (and me…and hubby) became more accurate. I learned as I went along. The batter in the pic below has WAY more chips than I’d recommend adding. Stick to a 1/4 cup…MAX…or less or none at all is totally fine too. Do what feels right! …wwoooooo!

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STEP 6:

DSC05061I had only a 9 x 9 ” pan available, but 8 x 8 ” is even better to make these thicker if you have it. Line it up with parchment paper. It’s my new favorite thing! Among…like…4308591 other things of course. It makes clean up easy without needing to soak/wash/scrub your pan after all is done.

STEP 7:

Into the oven it goes! Keep it in there for about 20 minutes, but watch it. Originally I first tried this at 325° for 25 minutes but it was still pretty gooey in the center. 350° at 25 -30 min or so will do the trick, but be sure to watch it and check the center w/ a toothpick starting around 20 minutes or so. Every oven is slightly different, which is why I sound like a paranoid babysitter of baked goods 😉

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STEP 8:

ENJOY!!! We sure did. Better grab a glass of milk to go with it, or wine. It’s unbelievably delish. The richness of the cocoa, the sweetness of the semi-sweet chips, the subtlety of the cinnamon and vanilla altogether make these brownies stand out. I can’t wait to make them again. If you try out this recipe, let me know your thoughts!

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Happy baking 🙂

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

Sean and I have been eating much healthier these days. Ever since we booked our flights and hotel for our week-long Key West vacation (t-minus 2 weeks ’til we’re there!) we buckled down and vowed to do this whole “beach ready” thing as a team. Sean’s determination has totally impressed me, y’all. Seriously. The man has lost over 20 pounds!!! I’m so proud of him. It has inspired me to choose healthier options and for that reason……I gotta be honest…..I miss baking. I really truly miss it. The butter, the sugar, the flour, there’s a lot of deliciousness in there that will neither help him, nor me on this healthy track. I’m so glad we’ve worked to keep most buttery, sugary foods out of our diet (for the most part). But, what’s a baking lover pursuing healthy foods to doooooo?

Thank goodness for healthy alternatives.

And Googling recipes.

And frozen bluuuuueberries…

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This morning I had the baking fever in me and had to do something about it. I researched a few healthy blueberry muffin recipes to consider some good alternatives to butter, egg yolks, and sugar. Check out my new favorite blueberry muffin recipe below! It’s pretty darn delish.

After breakfast and a little relaxing this morning, my awesome friend & fellow Tulsa-area blogger, Jessica Sprenkel, came over to run around my little country neighborhood here in Owasso, OK. Part of my favorite route was cut short because of the crazy over flooded creeks we’ve had from the non-stop rain here in Oklahoma lately, but we made it work!IMG_9922

https://instagram.com/p/3HgHw5NO2O/?taken-by=ok.kath She lives in Tulsa and is a fitness trainer who has really inspired me to stay focused with my running and overall healthy living. Venture on over to her blog, Sprenkled, to get yourself inspired as well on this glorious Memorial Day! We finished our workout with a smoothie: frozen bananas, spinach (never tried it in a smoothie before…and LOVED it!), frozen blueberries, milk, and ice. Highly recommended ‘lil post workout refreshment.

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I sent her home with some blueberry oatmeal muffins. Enjoy, Jess! Some of you on Instagram asked for the recipe. Here it is!

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

1 & 1/2 cups Quaker Quick Oatmeal
1 cup Milk (skim or almond milk if you have it)
1/2 cup Brown Sugar, packed
2 Tbsp Honey
1/2 cup Applesauce (or the puree from 1 Apple)
2 Egg Whites
1 Tbps Oil
1/2 tps Vanilla Extract
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
3/4 cup White Whole Wheat Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 cup Blueberries (I used frozen)
Baking Spray

Mis 'en place

Step 1

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Step 2

Place the oats in a food processor & pulse 5-7 times. Remove from food processor and mix with milk. Let the chopped oats soak in the milk for at least 20 min.DSC02834

Step 3

If making sauce from 1 apple, remove peel & core, and slice into cubes. Puree until it looks juuuust like apple sauce 😉 Easy peezy!

Step 4

Combine the applesauce with the brown sugar, vanilla extract, honey, oil, and egg whites in one bowlDSC02841

Step 5

Mix the salt, cinnamon, baking soda, and baking powder into the flour in a separate bowl.DSC02831

Step 6

Once the oats are soaked well (like, 20+ minutes well) add in everything but the dry ingredients. Soooo basically just your saucy little applesauce mixture 🙂

Step 7

Add half of the dry mixture to the sauce mixture, stir slowly, then add the other half of the dry mixture until it’s blended.DSC02866

Step 8

My favorite step! Add in those beautiful blueberries. I prefer frozen, but if you have some delicious durable fresh berries – go for it. Fun fact – did you know that Target sells some DELICOUS fresh blueberries? I ate all of them at work but luckily I had these frozen bad boys ready on stand-by. Fold them in to your mixture – mine turned blue like…immediately. I think that’s perfectly fine. If it doesn’t, even better.DSC02873

Step 9

Divvy up the mixture evenly into a muffin tin for exactly 12.

Step 10

Into the oven @ 400 degrees it goes! Keep a close eye on it. I set my timer for 24 minutes and that was PERFECT! Wanna see?DSC02894

Thirty One

It’s my 31st birthday today! I’m spending the day with my hubby. He’s my favorite person 🙂 We’re exploring Austin, TX all weekend and are having the time of our lives!

A weekend getaway to a new place often heightens my senses to the world around me. The air, sights, and sounds all stand out a bit stronger because it’s new and different. That got me thinking – I hope I take enough time to appreciate the little things that I adore in life. I used to be better at that.

Throughout high school and college I’d escape for a few minutes (or hours) and add to a list of what I loved. Totally random things…like…how people tilt their head when they eat a taco, or a much needed outburst of laughter after something has gone horribly wrong and that poor moment needs some comedic relief. Before I knew it, my list had exceeded 1,400 things. The sad truth is that I have no idea where that book is now. But the idea of doing that, of writing down the little things that I love about life, well I think today’s a brilliant day to bring it back.

So, in honor of my 31st, here are 31 little random things that I love:

  1. Snuggling with my yellow lab, Stella.
  2. Stovetop popcorn.
  3. The entire experience of walking around an Anthropologie store.
  4. Slowly sipping red wine on a cold night.
  5. The 1st cup of coffee in the morning.
  6. Finishing a long run.
  7. Writing.
  8. Star gazing.
  9. Small town America.
  10. Getting positive results from using little pockets of time wisely.
  11. Country music.
  12. Cowgirl boots.
  13. An unforgettable culinary experience.
  14. Dark chocolate.
  15. Laughter from my favorite people.
  16. The distant smell of a campfire.
  17. Swivel chairs.
  18. HGTV & The Food Network.
  19. Needed hugs.
  20. A new dress.
  21. Baking.
  22. Stained glass windows.
  23. Coffee shops.
  24. Windows open, kinda weather.
  25. Sushi.
  26. Getting asked to take strangers’ group photos.
  27. When a baby smiles or yawns.
  28. Zumba. 
  29. Hearing perfectly beautiful harmony sung a cappella.
  30. People who don’t complain, appreciate life, and embrace each day.
  31. Choosing happiness.

More than any of these, more than anything in the world in fact, I love and adore my family and friends over all. I’m a very lucky lady to have such joy surrounding me all the time. Not quite sure how I got so lucky, but I thank God everyday for y’all.

So…what’s on your list?!

Happy day, friends!

Oat Choc-Chip Banana Bread

That right there’s a long title, but a scrumptiously simple recipe. I’m sending a virtual high five to the lady who submitted this recipe. I found it from Taste of Home. Check it out! I made a few changes though, so below is my own adaptation of it.

Changes:

  • I didn’t have the mini-chocolate chips that she calls for, so I used 1/2 cup of regular chips instead.
  • I substituted shortening for good ‘ol butter.
  • She recommends using instant oats but I love the look, texture, and durability of Old Fashioned Oats – so I used those instead as well. They held up beautifully in the baking process!

My version of this recipe: 

  • 1/2 cup unsalted softened Butter
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 3 very ripe Bananas
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned Oats
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet Chocolate Chips

Here’s what happened:

STEP 1

In a bowl or mixer (low to medium speed) combine the sugar, softened butter, and eggs all until smooth.

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STEP 2

Peel and add the 3 over-ripe bananas to the sugar/butter mixture.6O9C2517

STEP 3

Add in the baking soda, baking powder, and salt. 6O9C2522

STEP 4

Gradually add in the flour, then the oats, then finally the chocolate chips. 6O9C2524

STEP 5

Pour the mixture into a greased bread pan, and place in a pre-heated oven. 6O9C2528

STEP 6

Your timer should  be set to 40 minutes, then check on it for 10-15 minutes. 50-55 minutes total should do the trick, but as ovens vary – just check on it starting around 40 minutes.

STEP 7

Check the center to make sure it’s fully cooked. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

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ENJOY! Hubby and I sure did. It should last the week if it’s just you and a spouse/roomie…but if you have a large household or lots of housemates, it’ll be gone by the end of the day.

Happy banana baking!

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

First of all a HUGE thank you to all of you who submitted your slow cooker recipes over the weekend! Even though I have like 3720483 to choose from, keep ’em coming! You can submit your favorites in a form in this post: Slow Cooker Recipes, Please!  

Here’s the full recipe, and below are some pretty pictures of what you’ll need. You may notice that some of the ingredients didn’t make it to the photos. This was a work in progress, with the help of my hubby, so we adjusted the recipe as it was cooking. Here’s the final recipe that I (I mean…”we”…hehe) recommend…

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lbs of Beef, chopped…you can usually buy pre-cut beef stew at the grocery store. Be sure to look for beef that is well marbled with fat as that’s what will make it melt in your mouth with flavor after slowly cooking for 8 glorious hours!
  • 4 Carrots
  • 3 stalks of Celery
  • 4 small Potatoes
  • 1 large Onion
  • 1/4 cup Flour
  • 2 tsps Paprika
  • 4 Garlic cloves 
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 tsps Salt
  • 2 tsps Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Seasoned Salt
  • 2 Tbsps Soy Sauce
  • 2 tsps Worcestershire Sauce…I’m now exhausted from trying to learn the correct spelling of that, by the way.
  • 1 1/2 cups Beef Broth
  • 1/2 cup red wine…I used a Cabernet Sauvignon – slightly dry with just the right hint of sweetness.

Stew Beef

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garlic+bay leaf+salt+pepper+paprikaFlour6O9C2413

STEP 1:

Peel and chopychop up the onion, garlic, and veggies! This takes a while so get the music playin, wine pourin, and hips movin! This may sound odd, but peeling and chopping veggies are actually two of my favorite things about cooking in my kitchen. It’s…it’s kind of why many of us loved coloring in elementary school (or…um…last week) – it’s therapeutic. It’s simple. It’s also (usually) an un-rushed step that allows us to just zone out and relax while preparing something glorious. No T.V. or iPhones…we’re using our hands and creating something to feed our souls. I just LOVE it!

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STEP 2:

Mix your dry ingredients together: flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and seasoned salt.

Dry ingredients - 1Dry ingredients - 2

STEP 3:

Lay the beef across the bottom of the slow cooker, then drizzle the dry ingredient mixture over the beef. Then…get your hands ready…’cause you’re goin’ in!!!

BeefDry ingredients over beef

Rrrraaawrrrr…get on in there with your hands!!! You’ll want to coat the beef completely in the flour mixture.

6O9C2445Coated beefTadaaaah! It should look a little like this when it’s all coated.

STEP 4:

Add the chopped onion, veggies, garlic, and bay leaf to the top:

Veggies Onion Garlic and Bay Leaf

STEP 5:

Time to add in the lovely flavorful moisture of beef broth, red wine, Worcestershire sauce, and soy sauce:

Beef brothred wineworcestershire and soy sauceSTEP 6:

Mix it up a bit one last time, set the slow cooker on LOW, and let it do it’s thang for around EIGHT HOURS. Ahhhhh how glorious. I could drive down to Dallas, TX and BACK in that time! If you’re able to though, I recommend stirring it a couple times to make sure the flavor and juices are distributing evenly.

STEP 7:

Okay one last thing – ya gotta add a crunch to this. Get some toast or ideally a slice of a baguette, toast it up, and drizzle a little butter overtop. It was heavenly, and the perfect solution to soaking up the stew broth as you savor each and every bite. The beef just melts away with each bite, the veggies are perfect, and the spices marry beautifully!

Enjoy, friends! Let me know how the recipe turned out for you!

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Happy slow cookin 🙂

Katherine

Slow Cooker Recipes, Please!

Earlier this week as I meandered around Target, trying to keep my paws off of everything and stick to my shopping plan, my eyes suddenly landed on…a slow cooker. The Hallelujah Chorus suddenly erupted over the loud speaker. I vaguely recall confetti falling gracefully from the ceiling. Target shoppers everywhere stopped to applaud me on my brilliant decision to wrap my arms around it and place it into my cart. I waved at everyone, wiping away tears of joy. I then stepped up to a microphone which had magically appeared in front of a gorgeous sparkling banner with “WAY TO GO, KATHERINE!” written in bold, and I began to thank my blog, Newlie, for the inspiration to make this purchase. That’s what I remember at least…

I have the best memory.

Slow Cooker

But seriously, y’all…Hallelujah for a SLOW COOKER in my life! How have I not had one of these before? Before this bad boy, we did actually have a very tiny little red slow cooker that Sean randomly won from a night at Dave & Buster’s…but…I think that speaks for itself as to why I’m way more excited about this new purchase – the real deal.

I already have a gorgeous looking Beef Stew cookin’ away in there at the moment. It’s got about 4 hours to go, so I’ll probably post those step-by-step instructions & my thoughts on the outcome tomorrow for anyone interested. Our home smells amazing, by the way.

But this post isn’t my usual how-to story; it’s more of a call to action. Will you (please oh please!) share a favorite slow cooker recipe (or twelve) in the feedback form below? I’ll select a few favorite submissions and try them out here on Newlie, with cheers and praise back in your direction of course.

Ahhhh I cannot wait to try out your favorites. Looking forward to your submissions!

Happy slooooow cookin, Saturday!

Katherine

Review: Juniper

For our 2nd wedding anniversary, Sean and I decided to dine in (I made THIS: Bourbon Glazed Salmon) but a few days before we also celebrated with a nice dinner out on the town at Juniper in downtown Tulsa. Fantastic experience. I’d like to rave about our evening there for a jiffy. Even if you don’t live in Oklahoma, it hopefully provides a nice window into how on-point Tulsa’s culinary scene is.

Juniper

On my OpenTable online reservation I added a comment to share that it was our anniversary. I wasn’t sure if anyone would notice – sometimes restaurants appear too busy for that sort of thing.

Sean and I arrived around 8pm and were greeted at the front desk with a delightful “Happy Anniversary!” wished by Juniper’s owner, Chef Justin Thompson. Way to make us feel welcome, Chef – thank you so much! That set the mood for our evening beautifully. We ordered the pan fried sweetbreads for our appetizer; a dish that was a bit of a daring culinary adventure as neither of us ever tried sweetbreads before.

While we waited for our 1st course, Sean adorably decided to embarrass me by putting his napkin on top of his head. Very normal dining scene for us. He was successful in embarrassing me, by the way – I blushed and quickly looked around the room, nervously giggling as I saw diners looking our way.

“Mmhmmhmhm….sean……SEAN. Seriously. You’re adorable, but please take the napkin off your head. People are looking, and… I love you.” 🙂

SweetbreadsWe were really impressed with our appetizer (pictured on right). The sweetbreads were pan friend in a sage brown butter (helloooo…) and placed on top of a brilliantly seasoned butternut squash puree, accompanied by crispy kale and hazelnuts. It was a fabulous wintery dish that gave one last nod to autumn cuisine.

Our entree stopped us in conversation. Everything was perfect. The foodie nerd in me has grown to expect a high standard when its restaurant boasts such a thing. So…for me to not only say, “perfect” but also to italicize and bold it in this post is to deliver a heartfelt high five to Chef de Cuisine, Tim Slavin. Nicely done, Chef.

I had the scallops, perfectly seared and seasoned. I am a sucker for seared scallops paired with white beans. It reminds me of the first dish I ever tried at The Bocuse Restaurant on The Culinary Institute of America’s Hyde Park, NY campus when I first visited the campus. It’s absolutely one of my favorite combinations. I loved everything that accompanied this pairing at Juniper – the touch of truffle oil in the white beans, the elegantly ribboned carrots cooked in brown butter, and an added bit of interest from the fried sage leaves.

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Sean had the short ribs which had been beautifully braised in Marshall IPA, then placed overtop a jalapeño pepperjack polenta and roasted vegetables. He took a bite, closed his eyes, and let out a sigh: “…hhhmmmmm.” That’s his version of a “bravo.” He offered a taste, and it just melted apart as slowly cooked short rips should, having been tended to over just the right time and temp.

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Desert was an obvious choice.

“Can I interest you both in our Desert Menu toni….”

“YES!” – Sean and I both interrupted our server with a smile. We chose to split “Justin’s Favorite Chocolate Pie” which was as if chocolate’s “greatest hits” formed an album and this took the number one spot.  It’s a reunion of decadently delicate chocolate mousse, oreo crumb crust, chocolate ganache, and a nicely balanced whipped cream.

We talked and giggled forever. I love that about being married to + in love with your best friend. You can just talk about everything from politics to your future as a family, until suddenly you look up and you’re the last ones in the restaurant. Even the tipsy table of eight had already left. Thank you for making us feel welcome and un-rushed, dear Juniper staff. We appreciated that very much.

We will be back – you can guarantee it. I whole heartedly recommend this to anyone else interested in a fine-dining quality taste of Tulsa.

Happy dining!