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

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

Homemade Hot Cocoa

It’s the holiday season!!! That means comforting dishes and drinks, doesn’t it? It sure does. Back when we lived in Maryland I used to make weekly visits to the local Trader Joe’s store for my groceries. I would spend far too long meandering around each aisle for culinary inspiration. Lordie I miss them…they’re no where near us here in Oklahoma. One day I remember checking out and was asked their classic line “Did you find everything you were looking for today?” Love that, by the way. High fives for such great customer service, TJ’s! “Well…actually, I couldn’t find my favorite hot chocolate mix that you sell. Someone said that you don’t have it in stock. Way to totally break my heart!” I said, only half-joking. “So,” I continued,”I just got this cocoa powder instead. I guess that’ll do, but I just loved that mix!” The TJ’s rep proceeded to recommend me a few ingredients to add to my homemade hot cocoa: “Try a tablespoon of powdered sugar…maybe a little cinnamon…”

Brilliant!

That inspiration later evolved into my very own recipe for homemade hot cocoa. It’s EASY to make. Like…only 5 steps. You ready?! I won’t waist any more of your time – you’ve got the holiday season to enjoy! Here’s what you’ll need:

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  • 2 cups – Milk (2% is the staple in our home, and it works beautifully!)
  • 4 Tbsp – Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Tbsp – White Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp – Powdered Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp – Vanilla Extract
  • 1 whole – Cinnamon Stick

STEP 1

Sift the cocoa powder, granulated sugar, and powdered sugar together into a bowl…

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STEP 2

Add the vanilla extract to the milk….6O9C2296

STEP 3

On medium heat, add the vanilla-milk mixture to a medium saucepan. Then slowly stir in the dry ingredients and never..stop…stirring.

 

STEP 4

6O9C2317Once the mixture is all combined, add in the cinnamon stick and let it infuse the hot cocoa with the holiday spirit! This is great time to turn on your Christmas lights, blast the Christmas channel on your Pandora Radio account, and to continue stirring. Seriously though…that cinnamon stick really does do the trick. Sean loves this recipe too, but he likes less cinnamon than I do. I recommend tasting the cocoa as you continue to stir and remove the cinnamon stick once it tastes perfect to you. When it’s up to me… I’ll leave that bad boy in there for good. I love cinnamon!

STEP 5

Once it tastes juuuuust right to you – simply pour, sip, and smile. I hope you enjoy! Let me know if you give this recipe a try and like it too!

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

It’s a recipe for fall, y’all! It’s been a while since I’ve posted…anything. I started two other special posts which have both been patiently waiting to be finished and published, but work kinda took over while I was traveling so I’ll get ’em up this week. Promise!

What’s up next? So glad you asked! Two new “TOP 5” posts: one is on my top five travel tips, while the other is on my top five tips for those of you considering blogging. Stay tuned!

Snow!I’m really excited to share both of those, but just for today I had to start with this bad boy of a post in honor of a perfecly snowy Sunday here in Oklahoma! We only got a little snow…but of the little we got – it was enough to inspire the crazy wannabe baker in me to get started. I felt compelled to bake something pumpkin-like with the cans of pumpkin puree lining the aisles at the local grocery store, the fire in our fireplace, and the simple fact that I’m home. Home home home.

I love being home.

I found a recipe that deliveres a perfect little dose of pumpkin as my favorite season of autumn comes to a close: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins. High fives for this post goes out to Marg from food.com – thanks for the recipe!

Now, I’ll have you know that before I left for my last two week stretch of work-travel back East, I put on my fancy pants and actually made pumpkin puree from scratch. Like, from an actual pumpkin…not a can. Totally did! I was so proud of myself. I followed the instructions from my favorite Oklahoma homecook, Ree Drummond. Check out how to make it from scratch here: Homemade Pumpkin Puree.

I made it, froze it, and when I came back from my trip it was gone. Gone. I was devistated. No wonder Justin Timberlake wrote a song about it. Gone. It’s heartbreaking to make something from scratch and then have to start over when you’re toooootally not in the mood. It wasn’t Sean’s fault, btw. Just for the record – there was an issue with our new fridge/freezer’s power while I was gone and the poor guy had to throw everything out and buy new stuff. Sooooo those cans of pumpkin puree were lookin’ pretty good today.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Ingredients

2 Eggs (the picture above looks like 3, but 1 was a double yolk…so I just went with it!)

1 cup – Sugar

1/2 can (8 oz) – Pumpkin Purree

1 & 1/4 cups – Canola or Veg Oil

1/2 tsp – Vanilla Extract

1 tsp – Ground Cinnamon

1 tsp – Baking Powder

1 tsp – Baking Soda

1/2 tsp – Salt

6-8 oz – Semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

*Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

STEP 1:

Mix the eggs, pumpkin puree, vanilla, and oil into a bowl until it’s nice and smoooooooth lookin’.

STEP 2:

Then add the cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

STEP 3:

Easy, right? Then the flour…in stages. Dumping it in all at once means that you will be wearing most of the flour. Ain’t no time for that. So add it in slowly, but steadily. It’ll look like this: Steps 1 and 2

STEP 4:

Then, remove the whisk/paddle/whatever if you’re using an electric mixer, and make sure you fold in the chocolate chips with a spoon/spatula.

STEP 5:

I’m a HUGE fan of these parchment paper wrappers. They’re so easy. Now, this recipe calls for about 15 muffins but I wasn’t about to use two different trays, so I just made all 12 a little larger and it worked out beautifully. So, either spray or greeze the pan or fill the paper cups about half way. IMG_7821

STEP 6:

Into the oven they go for about 20 minutes or less! 20 minutes was great for these rockstars since I filled ’em pretty well.

STEP 7:

Let them cool for about 5 minutes and enjoy!!! IMG_7846

Boom. Delicious muffins prepared, baked, and enjoyed in under an hour.

Happy baking!

 

Homemade Apple Pie

With my favorite season (AUTUMN!) here, apples, autumn-ness, and all-things-cozy are totally worth celebrating. I couldn’t be happier. And lately, when I have time, all I wanna do is bake. So recently I was at the grocery store, saw a ton of apples, and I was like “…out of my way people…this girl’s ready to make an apple pie from scratch.” Both my eyes and shopping cart were directly targeting a display of beautiful Granny Smith apples. I love those moments. When it comes to what I want to make/bake/order I’m usually SUPER indecisive. But when I have those rare moments of knowing exactly what I want to make, watch out! My excitement and shopping cart are on a mission.

I’ve made pies with pre-made crust before, but I’ve never made a pie crust from scratch. So I did a little research. I saw a great tutorial video from The Culinary Institute of America (Woooo CIA! If you don’t already know, I very proudly work for the world’s premiere culinary college!) and also a great episode of Heartland Table (my new favorite show on the Food Network!) where Amy shows you how to make a classic pie crust from scratch. Then I found this recipe: Butter Almond Pie Crust. Here’s what you’ll need for this crust:

  • 2 cups Flour (and plenty of extra for rolling…like plenty. I went through way more for rolling than I expected)
  • 1/2 cup of finely ground Almonds
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted Butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (make sure to freeze them immediately)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 heaping teaspoon brown sugar
  • 4 to 6 Tablespoons of ice water (the hyperlinked recipe calls for 6-8 Tbs, but I found that I only needed 4)
  • 1 whole egg (for the egg wash at the end)
  • 1/4 cup of white/brown sugar for dusting at the end

*Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees

STEP 1: 

Use a food processor, preferably larger than mine (I had to run two cycles of the flour/almonds/butter combo since it all wouldn’t fit!) to grind the almonds first, then add in the flour. Meanwhile…the butter cubes that you’ve previously chopped up should be VERY cold…like, they should’ve been in your freezer for at least 10-15 min or so. Then add in the butter cubes as well and pulse that all together in the processor.

STEP 2: 

I got this fancy little kitchen tool from Target! Wohooo! It’s specifically for homemade pie crusts. Use this to carefully mix the dough by making rolling motions with the mixer. Roll straight through the dough from one side to the other. Slowly add in the water as you go…and oh my goodness would you look at that…what the heck are the odds that I’d have a Culinary Institute of America cup for this little demo!? 😉 Anyway, add one tablespoon of ice water at a time. You want the dough to really hold together, but not be too sticky, so 4 tablespoons was enough for me.

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STEP 3:

After a while, it came together pretty well with the mixer, but then I just got in there with my hands to mold the dough a the end. Once the dough looks like this bad boy, it’s time to place it in the freezer while you prep your apple slices. Freezing the dough will help to keep it nice and flakey once it’s cooked.

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STEP 4:

Apple prep! Here’s what you’ll need for the filling

  • 1/2 cup – Flour
  • anywhere from a 1/2 cup to a full cup (your call!) – packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon – ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon – ground Nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon – Salt
  • 8 cups – thinly sliced, peeled, Granny Smith Apples
  • 2 tablespoons – Butter

I used about 5 Granny Smith apples for this pie. You’ll need to first peel them, then chop them up into thin slices. This part takes a while. If you need a little background ambiance, put on a little sassy/classy/fun cooking music! I usually do that, but instead I had Sean’s voice both yelling and cheering at the TV while he watched a Redskins game. Always entertaining!

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STEP 5:

Add all of the dry ingredients to a large bowl, then add the apple slices and mix it all up. Even pre-cooked it just smells SO yummy!!!!

STEP 6:

Set the apples aside and take the dough out of the freezer. You’ll want to cut the dough in half since you’ll use half for the base, and the other half to cover the pie. I forgot to do this until after I began to roll it out. Silly Kath. Whatever! Once it’s in half, roll out one side of the dough using plenty of sprinkled flour as occasionally as you need for it not to stick to the surface. Roll it out so that it covers the pie pan – you can even just place it on the dough to measure. Then, caaaarefulllyyyyyy place it into the pan/dish. I used kitchen scissors to trim the excess dough off the edge and then I just used my thumb to give the edge of the crust a nice little design. Do NOT throw away the excess dough. You can use it for something fun – a little tasty teaser before the pie is cooked. I’ll explain in a sec.

STEP 7:

Isn’t this fun!?!?! Heheheeee. I think so. Okay so now you’ll want to add the apples…a.k.a. pie filling. Sneak in some cubes of butter underneath the filling.

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STEP 8:

Roll out the second dough that you’ve reserved for the top of the pie. Once it’s large enough to add to the top…duh…add it to the top. Just be very careful to not break the dough while doing so. One trick is to carefully fold the dough in half so it’s easier to handle en-route to the pie, then unfolding on top of the pie. Same deal as in Step 6 – use kitchen scissors or a knife to remove the excess dough, and then pinch in the edges with your thumb to keep that nice design for the edge.

STEP 9:

The pie needs some air when cooking, so either cut a whole in the center or score it in the center. It’s also helpful to add a few extra slices 4-5 places around the pie for extra “breathing” when it’s cooking…like this:

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STEP 10:

Whisk up the egg and paint it over the pie to give the top a nice glazed look when it’s cooked. Then, sprinkle either white or brown sugar over the top to finish it off. Then…into the oven it goes!!! This will cook at 350 degrees for roughly 45 minutes on your middle-rack in the oven. Cooking time could be less time…could be more…totally depends on your oven and how crisp vs juicy you want the apples to be. You just have to watch it.

STEP 11:

Okay so while that cooks, it’s time to have some fun with that extra dough that I demanded you keep! I love this part. Roll it all out and drizzle brown sugar and cinnamon over the dough. Then, begin cutting out little thin pieces of dough as if you’re making cookies (I just used the rim of a water glass). Place your slices on an un-greased cookie sheet and pop those bad boys on the upper rack of the oven, just above the pie. These little guys will cook really quickly – so keep an watchful eye on them and take them out just before they brown too much.

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6O9C0096These are SO good, and really flakey! It’s a perfect little teaser before you actually get a chance to taste how well your pie crust turns out. If you have kids, or a 31 year old husband, or even a personal appetite for flakey cinnamon-sugar crust – it’s a total hit 🙂

STEP 12:

Keep watching the pie as it cooks. It’ll begin to brown very quickly on the edges, so this is a good time to cover the edge with foil to keep it from burning while the rest of the pie still cooks.

6O9C0097STEP 13:

Lucky step 13…it’s time to take this out of the oven when it looks like this:

6O9C0146Amazingly delicious. Once it cools, top it off with some vanilla ice cream and enjoy to your heart’s content. I was so proud of my first apple pie and first homemade pie crust! Again, this was not my recipe. Just a fun little documentary of how it went. I know that it’s time consuming, but if there’s any season to devote a rainy Saturday or Sunday to making a homemade apple pie – this is the time! I hope it’s inspired you to make something delish! Let me know how yours turned out if you make one! I’d love to hear your recipe suggestions too.

Big hugs!

Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

The most amazing dessert was just made, admired, and devoured. Made it from scratch. TOTALLY DID! Oh my golly. Hello happiness. Lemme set the stage real quick:

It’s a beautiful Saturday afternoon over here in Maryland. Poor Sean has worked 75+ hours this past week, and is so relieved to have a weekend at home. We’ve run errands all morning, and as usual I’m crazy eager to bake something. Baking and cooking is on my mind constantly; especially now that I work for the world’s premiere culinary college: the CIA (www.ciachef.edu!!!). I’m so eager to learn everything I can about our world’s inspiring and ever-changing culinary industry. Soooo I’m thinkin this beautiful afternoon at home with my hubby is a perfect excuse to whip up a mid-afternoon treat for us.

Hands down – this is the best dessert I’ve ever made: chocolate molten lava cake. I researched recipes out there, and this one looked like a great choice: http://www.glorioustreats.com/2013/02/chocolate-molten-lava-cakes.html. Serious high fives go to “Glorious Treats” for this inspiration! I adjusted the recipe just a bit. Here it is below:

Chocolate Molten Lava Cake

You’ll need:

  • 8 ounces of Chocolate ~ I recommend 4 ounces of Bittersweet and 4 ounces of Semisweet
  • 10 tablespoons of Butter
  • 1/2 cup of Flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of Powdered Sugar
  • 6 eggs total ~ then put 3 eggs in a bowl, followed by 3 eggyolks in a separate bowl
  • 1 teaspoon of Vanilla
  • 4 to 5 Ramekins ~ these are oven-safe custard dishes 

Once you’ve got the ingredients armed and ready for this delicious creation…get ready for the easiest next steps you’ve ever experienced:

Step 1:

Melt the butter & chocolate together. You can totally just throw them in a bowl and microwave, but what’s the fun in that? No thank you…I’m in the mood to feel fancy. In which case – I like to melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler. So – ya just boil some water and place a bowl of the chocolate and butter overtop of it. This carefully melts it all together, and more importantly, the melting process with this method is way more gentle than the microwave.

Step 2:

Once the chocolate and butter looks good enough to swim in (…but please, don’t do that…) then it’s ready for Step 2! Simply just add the chocolate + butter liquid to the powdered sugar and flour in a mixer. Mix that in well, then add the eggs and vanilla. Let it do it’s thing from there until it’s all well mixed in evenly.

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Step 3:

Pour the batter evenly into each ramekin. This recipe calls for 6-8 individual ramekins…but I think 5 works better. I got a little pour-happy and ended up with 4. As long as you don’t over pour (which I did for one of them) then it’ll turn out beautifully. Pour each of them about 3/4 full, and them carefully place them in the center of your oven at 475 degrees for about 13 to 14 minutes.

Step 4:

Once they’re out…get ready because timing is EVERYTHING with this dish. I simply took a plate, placed it upside down over the cake, flipped it over and then gently slid off the ramekin so the cake rested upside down in the center of the plate. Dust it with some left over powdered sugar, and HOLD ON because this will be the GREATEST THING YOU’VE EVER TASTED!!!

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Sean and I sat there in the happiest daze as we tasted each bite. I made four because I wasn’t sure how they’d turn out. It was his idea to drizzle the chocolate syrup on top over the powdered sugar…pretty smart man, huh? It was so delicious.

Now go make them!

Happy Saturday 🙂

Blueberry Pie

Hmmmm 🙂

I’m head over heals for weekends like this where cozy evening thunderstorms are frequent, the sunshine pops out for much of the day, I’ve put in a good solid 5+ mile run with Stella along our local path by the river, Sean’s hysterically laughing to T.V. downstairs, and I made a delicious pie. There’s about a million more happy things I could add to what makes this weekend so heartedly happy…but that would just be an improper run-on sentence.

Ooooohhh the storm’s picking up! We have nearly every window in the house open tonight (it’s the coziest way to save money on AC!), and I’m listening to the thunder roll and the lightening crack. One one-thousand…two one-thousand…three one-thousand…HAH! It’s about 3 miles away.

Anywho…can I tell you how scrumptious my new(lie) made Blueberry Pie recipe is?! It’s like…off the chain, as my sister loves to say about scrumptious food. She really does say that. My favorite story of when she recently said that was when she was in a health food store and asked for a specific kind of cheese. When the store manager asked her why it was so good, she goes “……because it’s off the CHAAAIIIN!” Love her. Can you tell that our humor is the same yet?!

Okay sorry, BACK to my point, seriously. This recipe is SO good. I’m especially excited that I’m finally getting to the point where I can create new recipes on my own. I haven’t quite gotten down the ratios just yet. I still research multiple recipes until I finally have a good idea of how much sugar vs flour vs whatever else is needed. I’m getting way better though, and I been inspired to make my own Katherine-style recipes thanks to the site “Tasty Kitchen.” Have you seen this site yet? It’s a great website for cooking enthusiasts to share their recipes. Check out my page: http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/members/misskatherine/! If you decide to create your own profile in there, be sure to “friend” me. I have like…3 friends so far. I’m guessing that’s not cool enough yet.

So, without further babble, here’s my very own recipe for blueberry pie:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees (this will cook for 35 minutes)
  • Frozen Blueberries – 5 1/2 cups (I really recommend frozen. They really keep their shape and natural flavor that way while cooking)
  • Lemon Juice – 2 tbsp (freshly squeezed is the best!)
  • Vanilla Extract – 1/4 tsp (this was secret weapon #1)
  • White Sugar – 1 cup
  • Flour – 1/2 cup
  • Salt – 1/4 if you’ll be using unsalted butter…but only 1/8 if you’re using salted butter (it makes a difference, trust me)
  • Cinnamon – 1 tsp
  • Nutmeg – 1/2 tsp (secret weapon #2)
  • Brown Sugar – 1 tbsp (secret weapon #3…oh yeah!!!)
  • Egg –  1 egg, beaten
  • Butter – 2 tbps
  • Pie Crusts – 2 pre-made crusts (I recommend the pre-made box of two that Trader Joe’s sells – I have two more boxes stored for a rainy day…and it IS raining! How fitting 😉

So that’s what you’ll need. You ready?! Here we go:

Step 1:

After you’ve pre-heated the oven for 400 degrees, start by pouring both the vanilla extract and the lemon juice over the frozen blueberries.

Step 2:

In a separate bowl, stir together the dry ingredients – sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar.

Step 3:

Combine the blueberry mixture with 1 of the 2 teaspoons of butter, as well as the entire dry mixture – altogether in a pot on the stove. Stir this very gently on medium heat until the juices and dry ingredients are well mixed, but so there are plenty of un-broken blueberries still goin’ strong.

Step 4:

Remove that mixture from the stove. While that cools, prepare the pie crust in the pan and spread the other teaspoon of butter along the base of the crust. Then, pour the blueberry mixture over the crust.

Step 5:

Carefully layer the 2nd pie crust over the entire pie…and trim away the excess dough. You’ll likely need that excess to carefully “plug up” some of the holes on the top of the pie. Then, score the middle of the crust to allow it to breathe. Add a fun little design to the edge as well! I just used a fork to create the design.

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Step 6:

Into the oven it goes! Again – 400 degrees for 35 minutes. About halfway through you’ll probably want to put aluminum foil around the edges so that they won’t burn.

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Tadaaaaaaaaa! Hope you enjoy. Sean and I did!

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Happy pie-making.

Homemade Sweetness

Has your home recently been taken over by the sweet smell of summer, with a hint of strawberries and sugar? No? WHAT?! Would you like it too? ‘Cause mine has, and I can’t stop smiling. Wanna know our secret? Our home recently experienced its first strawberry jam creation, and I am forever grateful to have learned how to make this traditionally store-bought item into a scrumptious homemade reality.

Wanna learn how to make this sweet jammy goodness? It’s easy as pie. But we’re not making pie, so it’s a little different (<–that’s a joke, for those of you who aren’t used to my old man humor yet). But seriously, folks, it’s very easy to make. Watch what happens:

Step numero uno involves boiling the Masons in hot water. WHAT?! No, not myself and my fiance, Sean Mason, but actual Mason jars. Apparently it’s recommended to boil the Mason jars (or whatever jars you choose to use) in hot water first, just to make sure that all germs are totally gone.

Step two is to get excited…because here come the STRAWBERRIES!!!! I got these gorgeous strawberries from Trader Joe’s. And if I haven’t said this a hundred times yet…then let me say it again…I LOVE Trader Joe’s. Freshest, most reasonably priced fruits and veggies in town. Take a look at how beautiful they are. They should win the next Miss America pageant:

Step three is to chop them up. This part took a while, but I think that chopping fruits and veggies is one of the best moments of cooking. It’s a rare moment where you get to appreciate what the meal/creation once was in its raw form, before setting it on fire or adding 4,738,890 ingredients to it to make a different outcome. It’s a chance to appreciate what you’re starting with. Here’s how finely I decided to chop the strawberries:

Step four relies on a masher of some sort. Now, when I look for recipes online for something this simple, I tend to follow three or more recipes at once, just to keep track of fun ways to spice it up a bit. As for mashing up the strawberries, some recipes recommended using a blender, while others just told me to mash it up and left it to me to figure out the process on my own. We have a blender, but I decided to get a little work out and used our metal masher:

Half way through mashing this stuff up I was pretty impressed to see how much juice it created! I get it, it’s fruit, but still…it’s sometimes not until you squeeze out the juice from a strawberry until you realize how juicy it is. Anywho…this is the consistency that I decided to stop at:

Step five may be a little terrifying. You MIGHT want to prepare yourself for this one. I had to take out tons of sugar from some of these recipes because, even I thought it was calling for too much. Basically, use your own judgement…but the sugar should be added gradually, and to taste. After chopping the strawberries, I had roughly 3 cups of chopped strawberries to use. Knowing that, I used about a cup and a half of sugar which, again, was HALF of what the recipes called for. Now…I love me some sugar…we all know that…but I really thought it was calling for too much. So to add a little more to the fun, I brought in my good friends: cinnamon and nutmeg! I just added a few dabs of each here and there until I was happy. Also, the recipes called for a 1/4 cup of lemon juice, but all we had was a lime. Good enough for me! Lime actually made it pretty tasty! I squeezed the whole lime for juice and added it right into the pot.

Step 6 – Fire it up! Start slow with a low heat, then once everything is mixed in properly, slowly bring it up to a “rolling boil” for a good 10 to 15 minutes. Stir it a lot. Thankfully this didn’t happen to me, but some of the comments from multiple recipes included people who burned the pan or found that it would all thicken too quickly. I luckily didn’t run into that problem, and just stirred it as consistently as I could:

Step 7 means that when it looks like the photo above – it’s time to stop boiling. Take your super clean Mason jars (they should still be warm at this point) and add the strawberry pre-jam mixture (more like thick syrupie mixture at this point) right on in. The amount I had fit perfectly into one jar:

Step 8 includes simply sealing this bad boy down, flipping it over onto a cloth since it’s “so hot right now” (<–hehe … another joke!), and immediately putting it in the fridge (yes, upside down).

Done and done in eight easy steps!!! And do you know what eight means?! “New beginnings.” This little creation was totally meant for Newlie! I’m so happy I made it, and I can’t wait to try it out with our new tuscany bread (also from Trader Joe’s!) tomorrow morning for breakfast. Apparently you have to let it sit in the fridge for 24 to 48 hours. I kept tasting it a little throughout the whole cooking process though, and it was so yummy.

Have any of you made this before? If so, do you have any new recommendations for me to perfect this recipe!? I plan on making this A LOT from now on, and would love to hear your thoughts. Let me know!

Happy cooking.

Engagement Chicken

Have you ever heard of the “Engagement Chicken” recipe? Legend has it (and apparently the legend goes back a only few years, but let’s just go with it) that if you’re dating a guy, and then you make this dinner for him, he’ll propose soon after. It’s a cute tale…and an AMAAAAZING recipe! So amazing, that my house was filled with the mouthwatering scent of fresh rosemary, lemon and roasted chicken on this fine summer’s evening. No, I don’t need my man to propose to me (because he already DID! Waaahooo!) but I thought:

What the heck. I have the day off. We’re engaged. It’s called ‘engagement chicken.’ The recipe sounds easy enough, and oh my goodness…there’s a full 2 1/2 lb chicken right there in Trader Joes just staring at me. That’s it….I’m making it!

And so I did : )

Well this is awkward.

I obviously don’t handle full chickens very often. If this seems a little much for you, and you thought about cooking it at first, don’t worry, you’ll get through it just fine! Just take out the baggie of “stuff” inside and rinse the chicken thoroughly.

This is where I started crying. No, it wasn’t for the chicken’s life. I said a little “thank you for this chicken” prayer, and remembered that the chicken we eat all the time has to be prepared somehow. So thankfully I was over that. The tears were brought on by these extremely fresh onions. Ahhhhh! I was a hot mess. I dried my eyes, then continued on.

Ooohhhhh yeaaaaa!!! I dressed up this bad boy with 3 whole lemons, 1/2 a cup of lemon juice, 3 small yellow onions, rosemary, salt, and pepper. I chopped the whole lemons into slimmer sections so that they could be stuffed in there, and then I also added the onions in there too. Whatever was left over was simply scattered around the chicken.

So while the chicken is cooking to perfection (350 degrees for an hour & a half), I toasted our favorite little zucchini bites up top! These are so delicious and simple to prepare. Check out the recipe, found it on Pinterest!

Ta daaaaaaa! Dinner was served, and Sean was in love all over again. I couldn’t get over how delightful my house smelled from this creation. It tasted pretty darn delicious too. SUPER tender. We threw on tiny red potatoes and those zucchini bites as sides. After dinner, Sean cleaned up the kitchen while I sipped my wine and thought about how much I love my life. Thank you, engagement chicken!

Happy cooking.

Made in America

This past Memorial Day was so refreshing for me and Sean. I hope it was for you too! There’s just something about having a day to “be” that properly rejuvenates your soul.  It could’ve been just you and your own thoughts, a good book, or a fabulous T.V. show marathon for a few rare, peaceful hours. Maybe you were able to spend the day with your family – appreciating this great country with those who know you better than anyone and love you more than words can say. Or, maybe you had the chance to catch up with great friends, new or old, laughing hysterically throughout the day.

Wherever you were yesterday, I hope it was blissful.

On that note, I’d like to share that two very proud little Americans, Miss Katherine and Mr. Sean, have both completed some homemade projects just in time for Memorial Day. Wanna see?…..YAY!!! Here we go…..

Ladies and Gentlemen…Sean Mason….my man….built….by hand…a brick patio!!!! See it for yourself: 

I’m in love with him!

Yes. He built this with his own two hands. I’m so proud of him! Give it up for SEAN KARL MASON, everyone!!! In an effort to be more than just his little cheerleader, I helped a little with two side projects: Adirondack Chairs and Blueberry Pie. Here’s my documentation: 

Success! Shout out to Home Depot for providing these chairs for $30 each. All we had to do was put the pieces together, stain them…and badaBING badaBOOM! They were ours, and they were quite classy if I do say so myself 🙂 Now onto my blueberry pie:

Nutmeg + Cinnamon + SUUUUGARRRR + Flour + Lemon Zest

Yaaaaay!!!!!

Pie was delicious. Sean LITERALLY licked the plate he loved it so much. You’re welcome, for not taking a photo of that part. But seriously…it was a delight to make. It made my soul so happy! Let’s fast forward a little to the afternoon where all of Sean’s work (which started only weeks ago) on our new beautiful brick patio was completed, our burgers were ready, and my favorite Bud Light Lime was chillin’ like a villan waiting for me:

So much happiness…Stella was exhausted 🙂

The Flippidy Flop

Well hello youuuu! It’s been a while, am I right? I know…I know…I started a blog, was faithful each week, and then completely neglected it for a month. What’s happened to me?!

Spring season in college admissions. That’s what happened.

Every career has its busy season. Ours is … well, every season. I’m serious. Primarily though, Spring in our office is the busiest on a whole new level. This is truly a necessary moment to raise the roof, give a special shout out, sing praises from the mountain tops, and high five anyone working in college admissions. Summer = “wish list” achievement + fall planning season, Fall = travel season, Winter = application reading season, and Spring…..ooohhhhhh Spring….Spring = crazy season. Not only is this the season to begin traveling again for recruitment, but it’s also the time of year when you’re hosting admitted student events on and off campus, answering questions to both happy families whose children have been accepted AND extremely unhappy families whose children have been wait listed or denied, and about a million other tasks. We’re all tired.

I’m someone who is incredibly protective of my “Katherine time.” My time with Sean, my time to eagerly “pin” new ideas and pretty things on Pinterest, my time to wedding plan while embracing a delicious cup of coffee with a peaceful grin, my time to call my family and giggle with my niece about how she has a strawberry on her hand, my time to catch up with my best friends on how THEIR lives are…not just mine, or my time to be innovative with delicious dishes. When work gets busy…I begin to feel like I have less Katherine time…and I don’t like that. So what do I do?

I completely flip my priorities, when the time is right.

I give it the good ol’ flippidy flop. I flip my perspective from inside out, to outside in. The work moments that used to be priority before I arrived home for the day, is flipped so that my life at home is now priority. I take the small amounts of my time that I usually overwhelm my thoughts with of what’s next, where am I supposed to be tomorrow, what did I forget to do, or who did I forget to return an email/call to…and instead I make that into what it’s already designated, by life, to be: only mine. I just have to do “the flippidy flop,” in order to realize that it was my own time all along. Well THAT’S refreshing! I mean really…we all go through this, but this “flippidy flop” is like a splash of fresh water to the face, from God. It’s exactly what I need. I’m me all over again in a snap. I even cooked tonight…wanna know what? Pizza! It required flipping the dough. How fitting 😉 Watch what happens…

When new seasons and new responsibilities happen…there will never be a bad moment to take in all the joys of life. Never. This is a good lesson, among others, for me to remember.

Lots of love to all of you tonight! Thanks for reading.

Welcome to “Newlie!”

There’s always a new opportunity to learn more each day, so why not look at each moment as wide-eyed as possible? Typically I’m not the best at sticking to that philosophy. I might think I am, but let’s be honest – I go through my work day, maybe exercise…maybe not, cook, watch t.v., go on Facebook and Pinterest, sleep, and repeat! So, my blog “Newlie” is an archive of me devoting more positive attention to the time I can call my own:

my new adventures in cooking:

my new travel escapes:

being newly engaged:

living in a new house and neighborhood … with a boy : )

…and more newness to come!

I want to share the refreshing little day trip escapes that I normally would’ve never thought to visit. The heart warming restaurant service that made my day. The cooking experience gone horribly wrong, and the unbelievably tasty meal that came from learning my first mistake. The special deal on a kayaking adventure. The genius Pinterest inspiration that turned into a dinner party sensation. Life is too short not share it with each other…am I right?

Happy reading : )