Easy Homemade* Tomato Herb Soup

Easy Homemade* Tomato Herb Soup

I just got lost in Facebook for a whole episode of Doc McStuffins while our Littlest snuggled into a pile of blankets on the floor (I managed to jinx ourselves into sickness. I JUST thought to myself two days ago, “Wow. It’s already Halloween, and we haven’t had a bug yet this year. . . . Touché, mother nature, touché.)

This is why I stink at Facebook: basically, I fear it will suck my life away, so I avoid it like the plague – or, erm, a stomach bug.

But I love to hate Facebook so much that I joined Instagram too.

Just now.

Like minutes ago.

This makes no sense, you say?

Well, I’m not the spouse who went to med school folks.

I’m the spouse who went to art school; logic doesn’t always play a significant role in my actions.

So I’m there. On Instagram now.

I have no idea how to use it, which totally makes me feel like a wicked-old fart.

I see hashtags, but I thiiiiink the hashtags have more to do with being linked to Twitter.

Which, btw Twitter, watch out, bc #yourenext.

So – Instagrammy.

If you wish to join me there, you can find me at sara_wherethecookiesare. (I believe so anyway, there’s no way I can confirm nor deny this currently. . . . If you try and fail, let me know. If you try and succeed, I’ll see you there.)

I’ve got one super awesome picture of a paper pumpkin up there. Mostly because I had no idea what else to post at the moment. It was sort of a tester.

“Testing, one, two, pumpkin. Testing, testing. . . . ”

So anyway.

Tomato soup.

It’s super easy – and I only * the ‘homemade’ part, because, well, we’re starting with tomatoes from a carton (and chicken broth from a can if you don’t have homemade stock on hand) instead of from the garden (or your own chicken), which means three things:

1. They’re tomatoes like these**, which means we’re dealing with nothing but tomatoes ⇒ *healthy!*Easy Homemade Tomato Herb Soup

2. Because they’re from a carton, there’s no need for all the steps that go into getting smooth tomato soup, it’s just smooth anyway. So, snip open a carton, and we’re good to go.

3. We can have this soup any time of year, summer or not, in a matter of minutes; so when it’s blustering snow outside and nothing sounds better than a steaming bowl of out-of-season-tomato soup and a grilled cheese? Looky here, folks. This recipe is your ticket.

***I harp on these tomatoes all the time. No, they’re not paying me (but they should), I just love them.

Easy Homemade* Tomato Herb Soup

Total Time: 30 minutes

This recipe originally came from my friend Meredith a few years ago. We've been eating it ever since, with just a few changes to lighten it up a little bit and adapt it to our family's preferences.

Ingredients

  • 2 (26 ounce) cartons Pomi Strained Tomatoes (Or something similar- just tomatoes, no sugar, salt, or preservatives)
  • 3 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock (or 2 14.5 ounce cans low sodium chicken broth)
  • 20 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • fresh chives, chopped, for garnish

Directions

Add tomatoes and broth to a large saucepan, stir, and bring to a boil. Recuce heat, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add chopped basil and sugar. Stir. Reduce heat to low and stir in cream and butter. Cook until butter is melted. Top each serving with fresh chives.

Source

Sara|Home is Where The Cookies Are, via Meredith K.

http://www.wherethecookiesare.com/2014/10/30/easy-homemade-tomato-herb-soup/

Easy Little Zombie Ghost Craft

spooky zombie ghosts

Don’t be freaked out, now.

It’s only a little zombie ghost.

These have names, actually. Alvin is on the far left, Simon is that bean pole in the middle, and that thick boned little guy on the right is Theodore.

As a girl who’s got luke-warm emotions about Halloween in general, I must admit I’m somewhat of a sucker for cutesy pumpkins and pillowcase ghosts. AndLetsNotForgetTheCandy.

Remember how I said I love my kids’ teachers?

Alvin was the creation of my little guy under the direction of his second grade teacher, and he’s one of my most favorite ever decorations for the end of October.

When we made Simon and Theodore, it took us roughly 10.2 seconds once the jars were clean. And the project drained my pocket-book of around $13.50 ($6 for the tealights, $3.50 for the bandage (at Wal-Mart), and $3.00 for the googley eyes) and we have enough supplies left over to make at least 4 more chipmunks zombie ghosts (I’m just guessing a number here, because we still have leftover tealights, wrap, and oodles of googley eyes).

All it takes is this:

spooky zombie ghost suppliesI can neither confirm nor deny the effectiveness of the sports tape. We haven’t used it yet. I can confirm however, the effectiveness of pudgy little pre-school fingers organizing the supplies. They’re excellent for the job. Also excellent? Self adhering sports wrap. Life. Saver. Don’t skimp.

And the Wiggle Eyes . . . fun, yes. But not absolutely necessary. I say a good ‘ol pair of black construction paper lookin’ balls would do just swell here. Use a single hole punch to let the pupils’ glow come through.

So here’s the deal:

1. Clean your jar. We’ve got one spaghetti sauce jar, one olive jar, and one salsa jar.

Soak them in water for a few hours to wet the labels, then scrape them off. Wash ‘em one last time to remove any residual goo. Let them dry completely.

2. This is going to be a tricky 4 seconds. Starting at the bottom edge of the side of the jar, start winding the self adhesive wrap around the jar and work your way to the top, layering the wrap slightly as you go. When you reach the top, snip it and stick it. Phew. Thank goodness that’s done.

3. Glue on your oculus of choice.

4. Insert tiny little battery operated tealight.

5. Watch your adorable little Zombie Chipmunks flicker in the night.

If they were real zombies? They might look creepier – like this:

spooky zombie ghosts

I just thought of something – these guys could star in “The Not Walking Dead”.

Get it? Because they don’t have legs. So they can’t walk. Plus, they’re not alive. Which, I guess technically, neither are zombies. But whatever. I’m confusing myself.

The kids nixed the creepy version though. They like these guys friendly and cute. Bonus if you spy them hanging out in broad daylight:

spooky zombie ghosts

Our Favorite Roast Chicken

Favorite Roast Chicken|Home Is Where The Cookies Are

Can we just agree that life always seems to come back around to being crazy?

Always.

Sometimes there is an ebb, sometimes a flow, but Crazy always makes his way back.

Sometimes we might be fooled into thinking if we can just get over the hump, all of a sudden we will be standing in the greener pasture, a fresh breeze will be blowing, our kids will be skipping gleefully through the wildflowers and maybe even holding hands – and our schools will initiate a no homework policy. Forever and ever, Amen.

Ahhh. If only. . . .

But then, the hump never comes, it just changes. And we go through the cycle again.

So, we’re in another cycle now, and I’m coming out of the kicking/screaming/crying about it phase, and going back into the embracing it/making it work phase, which means . . . planning ahead.

That’s where dinners make a huge difference.

That’s where roasting two chickens at once so you can have one today, leftovers tomorrow, and chicken soup, enchiladas, or chicken pesto pasta a few days down the road makes a mama happy.

And what do we all know? A happy mama makes a happy home.

I’m not going to get all wordsy at you right now.

Mostly because roast chicken doesn’t need to be a wordsy thing, (spell-check is also telling me that “wordsy” is not a word. Whatevs, “spell-check”) but also because there are ideas and inspirations percolating in my deep-heart, quiet places and I’m waiting for them to come full circle before I blab about them.

But the chicken. . . .

Favorite Roast Chicken|Home Is Where The Cookies Are

The basics for the recipe came from my sister – the method, the cooking time, the loose suggestions for brine and rub ingredients, and this is the combo we’ve been using since I first made it and my family practically cried out in unison, “Can you please only ever make this roast chicken?!”

This chick’s got everything a good chick should have – super moist savory meat, delightfully golden, flavor-packed, crispy skin, and an aroma that just plain says, “We’re home, and we’re cozy tonight”.

It’s a hands down favorite. It’s pretty. It’s delicious enough for company and easy enough (with planning ahead) to make on a school night, and certainly fancy enough for Sunday Supper. (And let us not forget – it makes great leftovers.) I have yet to truly mess it up – because even when I messed it up, it still got rave reviews. My mother-in-law even admitted to me that she’d entertained ideas of asking me to cook one ahead for her and she’d come pick it up.

She lives 60 miles away.

You might want to try it.

Our Favorite Roast Chicken

Prep Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 5 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: 4-6

Our Favorite Roast Chicken

As my sister said, "This sounds complicated, but it's actually pretty easy. It's probably only 20 minutes of prep, total". It's true - you just need to think ahead a little. Be sure to allow time for the brining, anywhere from 4-24 hours, then allow a total of 2 hours for prepping, cooking, and resting the chicken before you carve it. (In the cooking times listed above, I've included the minimum brining time, the prep time, and I've added the resting time in with the cooking time, so when you're planning ahead you can make time for each step). Also, in this recipe, I've not specified a specific weight of bird. I find that they're all pretty average sized (I usually buy the Coleman Organic Whole Chickens from Costco), and as long as you are using a meat theremometer as your guide, the size doesn't matter so much.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, average sized (I like to do two at a time. if you're doing two, get them slightly smaller, so they can fit in the brine bowl together. Then increase brine ingredients by 1/2, and double the rub ingredients so you have enough for both birds.)
  • For the brine:
  • 2 cups of water (plus more later, and some ice)
  • 1/3 cup table salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 peeled and roughly chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • For the "rub":
  • 3 tablespoons butter, mostly melted (I use salted butter, and I find the herbs mix in best if it's not completely melted, but slightly drippy, and more like thick cream.)
  • 2 garlic cloves, preferably pressed, but finely minced would be ok too, or garlic powder would be ok in a pinch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme (rubbed between palms)
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste ( I do about a half teaspoon)
  • 1/2 lemon

Directions

For the brine:

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of water and next 5 ingredients (through peppercorns). Bring to a boil.

While you're waiting for the brine to boil, get a large bowl (think mixing bowl or popcorn bowl) and fill it with about 6-8 cups of ice. (you can skip this step if you have time to allow your brine to cool to room temperature before submerging your chicken).

Once the brine boils, pour it over the ice and allow it to melt, then stir to mix well.

Prep the chicken by removing anything from the inside - gizzards, pouches, neck pieces, etc).

Put the chicken in the brine, breast down. If the chicken is not completely covered by the brine, add enough water to make it so. Cover, and refrigerate overnight if you have time. (If not, I've found 4-6 hours to be good too.)

When you're ready to cook the chicken, Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse it with water. Pat it completely dry with paper towels (this makes for crispy skin). Place it on a roasting rack in a roasting pan, breast side up, and wings tucked back (if you want - I don't always do this).

For the rub:

Combine mostly melted butter, garlic, and spices (I usually just give it a quick stir with a fork).

Slowly pour the melted butter mixture over the chicken, using a rubber spatula or your fingers to rub evenly over the skin. Save a little for the bottom too, and if you have a little left over, drip it inside the cavity as well. Squeeze the half lemon inside the chicken cavity, and leave the squeezed half inside while roasting. At this point, if you like, you can tie the legs together with kitchen twin - or not. Either way works.

Place the chicken in the oven and cook at 500 degrees F for about 18 minutes. Then, turn the heat down to 400 degrees, or 350 if you have more time available. After 40 - 50 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven and, in the thickest part of the breast meat, test with a meat thermometer. The temperature must read 160 degrees before you can remove it for resting (as it rests, temperature will rise to a safe 170 degrees). If it's not at 160, pop it back in the oven and cook it a little longer. Once your thermometer reads 160, remove the chicken from the oven and tent it with foil for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, carve it, and eat!

Source

Sara, via her sister, Jill|Home is Where The Cookies Are

http://www.wherethecookiesare.com/2014/10/16/our-favorite-roast-chicken/

Another Man’s Treasure. . . .

Another man's treasure Collage 1 1000

So you might remember I got a bee in my bonnet and claimed all chill-like that I wanted to decorate.

Bees in my bonnet, indeed.

I went a little bit crazy-town.

I chanted to myself for three hours each morning, “You can’t ruin it if you don’t like it to begin with”, thank you, Nester.

That one statement led me to chop off 2 inches of the yoga pants I never wear because they are too long and then don them happily to the grocery store.

I went to Marshall’s and bought an autumn scented candle and – get this – burned it.

I let that warm little flame dance and twinkle, then I went and bought 5 more, I loved it so much.

I got so amped up about the whole decorating binge that I tucked a measuring tape into my purse and scoured the isles of home decorating stores for fabric and furniture pieces.

I actually found the perfect “piece”.

And then, I froze.

Because I realized something.

In order to decorate, one needs to pare down a bit (and paint, but that’s a whole separate issue. . . . )

Like totally declutter.

Which brings me to many things, but some of the many, are books.

I love books.

But if I’m serious about doing this thang – the sprucing up, decorating thang – then I best be clearing away some of the excess.

So, I’ve piled a stash of extras.

Actually, I’ve made two piles. One for charity, and one for friends – and by friends I mean you.

Is this weird? Tacky?

Maybe. But nothing’s ever really stopped me from being weird and tacky before. . . .

So this is the deal.

I’ve got some loot. It’s all still totally good, it’s just that I’ve got extra.

And who doesn’t like, good, free stuff? (Don’t tell me if you don’t.)

So I’m going to give some to you. It’ll be like web-shopping a yard sale, picking the thing you like, and having the seller tell you it’s free and she’ll send it to you, her treat. All you have to do is put your feet up and wait for the nice USPS worker to drop it on your porch.

I’m going to post a few things here and there. Odd ball bits and pieces, and you’re going to leave a comment in the Rafflecopter telling me which thing you’d like. The Rafflecopter will pick the winner, and I’ll send you your fave thing!

It’s that easy.

And we could do this for a while.

I’ve got lots of extras.

I’m sort of thinking that now and then I’ll might go Sesame Street on you all.

You know, four things, and one not like the other – just to keep it interesting.

Aaand, maybe not. That’s sort of sounds like a pain.

We’ll see.

The first weird and tacky giveaway starts today!

Next time, I’ll be back with food.

Thing no. 1:

Halloween books

Books for October – this creepy time of year. Scoob Doobs glows in the dark, and No More Monsters For Me was always one of my faves – just not one of my kids’. . . . All are in excellent condition. There might be a name inside one of the covers, but I’ll just block that out with sharpie if need be, and maybe add a little, “I Love You, Dear Reader, xoxo!!”

hemingwayI said to my dad one time that I thought he ought to stop reading such depressing literature, and then sent him a collection of Hemingway stories. Uhhhhh. . . . What?

If you’re into fancy things like classic authors, then you’ll enjoy this book way more than my dad. It’s in great condition too. You’d never know no-one ever read it.

Polo dress

Oh yessss. Time for baby prep. It’s a Ralph Lauren size 3/3T. My gal only wore it about 2 times because she’s more of a hippie than a jockey –  so it’s pretty much brand new. I didn’t iron for the picture (because I’m pretty much allergic to ironing), but I’d do it for you.

That’s all for now. I need to go dig through more closets.

Tell me what you want, and the Rafflecopter will tell me who to mail to. We’ll close this shindig on Friday, friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Pumpkin Spice Muesli

Pumpkin Spice Muesli|Home is Where The Cookies Are

I am a middle child.

According to the experts, this makes me a peacemaker.

And so I am.

This is my gift to all those out there who are both angered and tempted by pumpkin spiced food offerings in the sweltering hot days of September. (If you live – blessedly – in a climate that’s affording you a cozy long-sleeved shirt at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, carry on with steaming hot lattes, my friends. Enjoy one for me.)

Living where we do, in sub-tropical suburbia, leaves my sentimental soul wanting during the “seasons”; which means I’m usually trying to comfort my heart’s desire for smoky bon fires, crunchy fallen leaves, and apple harvests with some serious head fakes.

I actually tried it, you know. Drinking a hot pumpkin spice latte. (So sue me.)

It just felt wrong –  to sit sipping a burning hot spiced latte while I sweated through my tank top, mopped my brow, and tried to pretend fall was in the midst.

The air doesn’t even smell like autumn yet – and it does sometimes, even here – because leaves do eventually fall (I’ve heard this is more because of the photosynthesis cycle and the shorter days than the actually temperature).

But as far as feeling like fall has arrived?

That’s the full-on head fake.

And that’s where pumpkin spiced muesli comes in.

Pumpkin Spice Muesli, Dry Ingredients|Home is Where The Cookies Are

I will admit unabashedly that I am a newbie to muesli.

It’s always sounded bizarre to me. And I have yet to try any version made with fruit juice instead of milk. I’m not ruling anything out for my future self though – weirder things have happened.

I met muesli face to face about a month ago, here.

It was crazy good. Then all of a sudden – it was supposed to be autumn, I felt the need to dive into the annual head fake, and voila.

Pumpkin Spice Muesli, Wet Ingredients|Home is Where The Cookies Are

Pumpkin Spice Muesli.

Fall flavor. Cold breakfast. Whole goodness.

I’ve eaten it, with gusto, at least 9 mornings out of the last 14.

And guess what?

It’s starting to feel a lot like fall.

Pumpkin Spice Muesli|Home is Where The Cookies Are

Pumpkin Spice Muesli

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4-6 servings

Pumpkin Spice Muesli

The perfect breakfast for hot fall days!

Ingredients

    For the dry ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (I used Bob's Redmill Extra Thick)
  • 1/4 cup chopped, raw pecans
  • 2 tablespoons almond slices
  • 2 tablespoons raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ
  • 2 medjool dates, small diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced candied ginger
  • For the wet ingredients:
  • 1 - 1 1/2 cup(s) reduced fat milk
  • 1 (5.3 oz.) container plain, fat-free, Greek yogurt
  • 4 tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

Directions

Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well with clean hands, working the pieces of dried fruit apart.

Combine wet ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.

To serve, add about a half cup or so of dry ingredients to a bowl and top with wet ingredients (enough to cover dry ingredients - or more. It's up to you). Stir to combine. If desired, allow to sit for a while. If you want, you can put it in the fridge and allow it to soak overnight. Or, you can eat it right away, no soaking required.

To store - keep dry ingredients in an airtight container for several days. For the wet ingredients, transfer to a jar with a lid, and store in the fridge for up to 4 days. Shake well before using.

Source

Sara | Home is Where The Cookies Are

http://www.wherethecookiesare.com/2014/09/19/pumpkin-spice-muesli/

Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl

Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl

The September edition of BH&G came in the mail the other day.

It’s the Stylemaker issue.

I’m pretty sure this is supposed to excite and giddify me. I’m probably supposed to be eagerly anticipating the next great inspiration for the mantle I don’t have.

I think “they” expect that I’ll be all amped up and ready to do something great and colorful to my “space” with paint, because it’s the easiest and cheapest way to do any and all things wonderful to said space.

But I was born with a decorating defect, because all it did was make me feel like hyperventilating and scavenging for chocolate covered espresso beans.

Oh. And screaming too. It made me do lots of internal screaming as my blood pressure blew past the stratosphere.

I kept flipping pages faster and faster, frantically hoping to find other things. Food things. “Dear God, where is the flipping food?! Where are the recipes?!”

Lawd help me.

I am not a de-coh-rah-toor.

This is so much more my speed (If you ♥ Anthropologie and a good snort-laugh, this is a must-read. Be forewarned though – there’s an eensie bit of swearing that takes place.) because I am a Boho gal at heart. It must be because I’m totes ok with throwing a bunch of nonsense together and calling it good.

We’ve lived in our house for 12+ years. . . .

I’ve re-arranged the furniture . . . once.

Basically, I’ve thrown it together and called it good for one big, fat, swollen decade.

I’ve been thinking about making changes. Things I’d like to do. It’s just that actually doing them. Well, now. That takes thought. And know-how. And work.

Oh. And money. It takes money.

And what’s that other thing it requires? Ooooooh. Yeah. Time.

It takes time. Which I obviously have, because I’m wisely stewarding my spare minutes reading magazines that make me hyperventilate (sarcasm intended).

And then, I started reading this. Because I quickly skim Nesting Place on a fairly regular basis.

Mostly I look at the pictures, and read if something captures my attention.

I’ve noticed she has a book out now though, and I’ve been curious about it, just not $18-ship-it-to-my-door curious. (Reminder: the prospect of interior-design, by me, for my own home, plagues me with nervous sprints to the bathroom.)

BUT, and mine’s a big one, Amazon was running a crazy-good special on the Kindle version, and all of a sudden, it sounded fun (like bungee jumping or sky-diving fun, which, c’mon – can’t really be fun, but it’s a challenge and when you’re done, if you’re not dead, you can be like, HEEEEY!!! I JUST SKY DIVED AND DIDN’T DIE! I’M AWESOME!! . . . AND ALSO, I’M NOT DEAD!!)

So I jumped.

Or dove.

Whatever.

And I now  ♥ her book and her style.

Let me show you why:

“Imperfection is a sign of maturity.” (Hallelujah! I’m a Golden Girl in that case!!)

“Housekeeping done incorrectly still blesses the family.” (quote via The Fly Lady, Marla Cilley in her book, Sink Reflections) Oh, yes! I am a blessing fiend!!

“At times, good enough and done is a smarter choice than perfect. . . ” (Amen, Sister.)

“. . . if a neighbor walked in and saw a trail of mud, I wouldn’t need to be embarrassed. It’s just proof of lives being lived, and houses are for living. My home is a reflection of our life, and life’s messes can be gloriously beautiful.” (Ahhhh. I’m breathing without a bag.)

 

The amazing thing, Friends, is that it’s awakened my dormant and gun-shy decorating bug – with a tickle of excitement instead of a looming cloud of doom.

I’m debating.

I’m debating about showing you my “space”.

Maybe a before and after.

And the budget.

But this is a food blog – (well, sometimes other stuff too, but mostly food) –  and is that cool, or annoying?

Hmmm. Tell me, do. (Then hand me a brown paper bag!!)

Baby steps, Folks. Baby steps.Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl 2 550 b

And food.

Back to food, because, like I said *ahem*, this blog is mostly about food.

So, we have a salad bowl today.

A salad to bring us back to our senses and balance out the decorating-panic-induced chocolate covered espresso bean binge.

We have farro, which might be my new whole grain bestie.

Why did it take me so long to try you, Farro? You’re so good, it’s like you could be Egyptian royalty or something. Wait a minute. . . .

We have crisp-edged, oven roasted, thyme and oregano mushrooms snuggied up with red onions (which turn so crispy and delicious they might give bacon a run for their money. #forreals.)

We have feta cheese.

And we have avocado. What I really wanted to call this dish was, “Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl Plus Avocado Because Always and Everywhere All Things Are Better with Avocado”.

But I thought that title was too wordy.

Opinions?

I made this with a creamy avocado dressing too, which – don’t get me wrong – kind of made my eyes roll as far back as they could reach with yum!!, but it’s totally not a deal breaker if you don’t have time. I’d say a splash of good olive oil and a squeeze of fresh lime juice, plus a crack of pepper and pinch of salt would be just as good to top this bowl off.

And bonus – these components, stored separately, keep really well for multiple lunches later in the week. Like 3 days in a row. Because you won’t get tired of this and you’ll be counting down the minutes till lunch time.

My friend said to me one time, “What do vegetarians even eat?!”

This. They eat stuff like this. And then they high-five each other for mushrooms well roasted.

Who needs meat when you have exciting little salad bowls parked and waiting in your fridge for you at 11:59 AM?

Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl

Total Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 4 salads

Farro and Herb Roasted Mushroom Salad Bowl

This salad is full of pleasing flavors and textures. I've written the recipe to serve 4 - so share it with your family and friends, or save it for lunches throughout the week. With a glass of wine, it'd make for a nice light dinner to come home to after a busy day as well. Keep leftovers as separate components in sealed containers, and refrigerate for up to three days.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup dry Farro
  • For the Mushrooms:
  • 1 8oz package sliced button or baby portabello mushrooms
  • 1/3 medium red onion, sliced thin (vertically)
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh chopped oregano
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • Splash of dry white wine (optional)
  • For the Dressing:
  • 1/4 of a fresh, soft Hass avocado
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano
  • pinch of fresh thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse Kosher salt (to taste)
  • Fresh cracked pepper (to taste)
  • 2-4 teaspoons water (as much as you want to thin dressing to desired consistency)
  • Additional ingredients for the Salad
  • about 8 cups Arugula or other salad greens
  • 3/4 avocado, sliced thinly, lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup Feta cheese crumbles

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment paper or a silpat mat (silpat will give you crispier edges on your mushrooms).

Prepare the Farro according to package directions.

Meanwhile, For the Mushrooms:

In a large bowl, toss the sliced mushrooms and onions with the olive oil. Use enough oil so the mushrooms are evenly coated. Add in fresh herbs, salt, and wine. Toss again. Spread mushrooms and onions out evenly over parchment-lined (or silpat-lined) baking sheet. (Make sure there is room between your veggies - space is what allows them to crisp as they roast, instead of steam to soft oblivion.) Bake mushrooms for 20-30 minutes. If necessary, remove onions first, so they don't burn. Set aside until ready to assemble salad.

For the Dressing:

To a small food processor, (I used a Magic Bullet), add all ingredients except the water. Blend for about 30 seconds. Check for consistency, add desired amount of water. Blend again. Check for taste and adjust accordingly. (If you don't have a small food processor or Magic Bullet, I'm guessing you could use a sumbersion blender here, or just mash the avocado as finely as possible, then whisk the ingredients together with lots of elbow grease!)

To Assemble the Salad:

Place 2 cups of arugula on each of 4 plates.

Divide farro, mushrooms, and avocado evenly among the 4 plates.

Add 2 tablespoons of crumbled Feta cheese to each plate.

Drizzle with avocado dressing and serve.

Source

Sara| Home is Where the Cookies Are

http://www.wherethecookiesare.com/2014/09/08/farro-and-herb-roasted-mushroom-salad-bowl/

Whole Wheat Honey Nut Bread

Whole Wheat Honey Nut Bread

Hiya Guys!

I feel like we’re long-lost friends finally meeting up for coffee after weeks of chaotic, um . . . chaos and total absorption in our own little worlds. And by that, I mean I’ve been totally absorbed in my own little world, and I have lots of friends with whom coffee dates and catch-ups are supremely necessary.

Forgive me for being the friend who’s gone missing.

And also, Dear Readers? Forgive me for my writing at this particular moment, because I think the part of my brain that gives good words is asleep. We’re doing our best this morning – me and my brain. I’m giving him lots of coffee (why my brain is a man today, I don’t know. Probably because I find him unreachable and perplexing right now. And sometimes stubborn. And he loads the dishwasher wrong.)

So what shall we talk about that doesn’t require lots of good words?

Bread.

Yes, bread is always good, regardless of words.

And this bread is simple.

This bread is good, simple, healthy, and DELICIOUS.

Note the use of all caps in “DELICIOUS”. That is to emphasize the actual deliciousness of the bread. Because I lack other words. So I’ll capitalize on the accuracy of the one I have.(Heh! Capitalize. . . .)

So, the bread.

If you’re into whole grains, nuts, the slight sweetness of honey, and yeast bread that comes from your hands, in your kitchen, with minimal work, this is your new baby.

Hands-on time required will amount to about 10-15 minutes the first time around (not including rise time and baking time), but I’ve made it three times, and each time I shave a little time off the prep. (Total time will end up just under 2 hours).

This, my friends, is the way all many-grain (9 grain, 10 grain, 12 grain. . . whatevs) breads should taste. Soft, nutty, wheaty, healthy. . . FRESH.whole wheat honey nut bread

Also? I must warn you – watch yourself when it comes out of the oven warm and fragrant. If you have a slab of butter near by, don’t consider your diet safe.

And, if your first loaf gets stuck in the pan and happens to come out in pieces, you might be tempted to curse the fact that you thought olive oil would create an apt enough anti-stick barrier, then you’ll forgive yourself and stand there with a gigantic hunk of tender, warm, nut-bread in one hand, a knife adorned with a generous blob of soft butter in the other hand, and all those pieces might end up smoothly dressed and on a one way trip to your mouth.

But if it does, and you do, and it does, don’t worry. You’ll enjoy it 100%.

Whole Wheat Honey Nut Bread

Prep Time: 50 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 50 minutes

Yield: 1 loaf, 16 slices

Whole Wheat Honey Nut Bread

This bread is delightfully delicious and super healthy. It's packed with whole grains, nuts, and some nifty Omega 3's from the flaxseed. Consider using it for breakfast toast, open faced with eggs, spread with mashed avocado, or even just graced with butter and honey. It's also fantastic for sandwiches and alongside soup. If you are a calorie counter, cut your slices thin - this is a hearty and filling bread that lends itself to more calories than a typical store-bought loaf.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups warm water (130 degrees F)
  • 1 packet active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick cooking)
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ
  • 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 3 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I used "light tasting" olive oil so the flavor wouldn't overpower the bread)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce

Directions

In a large, non-reactive bowl, add warm water and sprinkle yeast over the top. Let stand until the yeast is foamy - about 5 minutes. In another medium bowl, combine the flour, oats, wheat germ, flaxseed, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and sea salt. Stir to combine.

Stir the olive oil, honey, and applesauce into the water and yeast mixture until combined. Using a wooden spoon, stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix well. The dough will be dense and very sticky. Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm place or about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, line a 9"x5" loaf pan with parchment paper. (You could also grease liberally with butter, shortening, or coconut oil).

After 20 minutes, use the wooden spoon to fold the dough from the perimeter into the center of the bowl onto itself, rotating the bowl as you fold, for 2 minutes. This will knead the dough without getting your hands dirty, and it helps develop the gluten for nice, chewy bread.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Pour the dough into the prepared loaf pan. Slightly wet your fingers with water and gently spread the dough to evenly fill the pan.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a towel and return the pan to a warm spot for another 20 minutes.

Place the pan in the middle of the pre-heated oven and bake for about 50 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Turn the bread out onto a cooling rack. Remove the parchment paper. When you give it a good tap on the bottom with your knuckle, it should sound hollow.

Allow to cool completely before slicing (Try!! It preserves the texture of the bread).

Store at room temp for up to 3 days. If you don't think you'll get through your whole loaf in 3 days, then slice the whole loaf, wrap well in plastic wrap, then place in a freezer bag or Tupperware, and freeze half for later.

Source

Adapted by Sara|Home Is Where The Cookies Are (just slightly) from Relish : An Adventure in Food, Style, and Everyday Fun

http://www.wherethecookiesare.com/2014/08/25/whole-wheat-honey-nut-bread/

Crock Pot Chicken and Mushroom Ragu

Slow Cooker Chicken and Mushroom Ragu

Sometimes I wish I could travel back in time.

Like, I wish I could sit in the crowded bleachers at my dad’s high school football game and watch him run the one and only touchdown my mom ever witnessed.

I wish I could sit in my grandparents’ Latin class and watch my grandpa ask my grandma out on a date over and over and over again until finally, one day, she turned the tables and asked him to a Sadie Hawkins dance.

I wish I could  walk the 7th grade hallways with my husband, in his Z Cavariccis and spiked hair, and meet the teacher that would eventually inspire him into the field of oncology.

I wish I could flash back to a barn dance in the 1940′s and watch my mom’s parents tear up the floor with their jitterbug.

I wish I could be seven years old again, playing outside in the summer time with my sister and making mud-pies with a hidden center of saw dust.

I wish I could revisit the births of each of my children and hold their tiny, warm, squishy bodies and smell their little baby smells and stroke their tiny little baby fingers.

Sometimes, I wish I could be a teenager again. Sixteen and sleeping in. SLEEPING IN.

Do I need to say it again?

Sometimes, I think I’d like to go back to our newlywed apartment, to the fresh married years where I was an excellent housekeeper and we had a retro 1960′s glass dining table with olive-green velvet chairs, one whole living room wall was devoted to toddler artwork, and we had a spare bedroom. Spare. Room. . . .

Sometimes it’s simpler. Like I wish I could rewind just an hour or two and not say that awful embarrassing thing I said. I wish I could shake my head like and etch-a-sketch and just erase. ERASE!

Sometimes, I’d just like to travel back twelve or 24 months, and invite the myself to dinner at my house then – because I just browsed over the last two years of July foods, and I want to eat them again. Heirloom tomato flatbreads? Pesto Guacamole? Summer squash and corn chowder? Veggie stuffed pasta shells? Sweet potato chips and creamy avocado dip?? Yes, please. To all of them.

And this one? This chicken and mushroom ragu? Well, it wasn’t too long ago that it sat, steaming on the kitchen counter, but I’d go back to it in a flash. Tender chicken pulled into delicate shreds, Italian sausage spicing up each bite, Parmesan cheese and fresh basil sprinkled over the top – making the whole dish fresh and bright. . . .

And the flavors get better as the daysslow cooker chicken and mushroom ragu go by, so YES TO LEFTOVERS!! (T-shirt, anyone?)

Whether you like it piled over rice or pasta or served alone with some crusty bread, it’s all up to whatever your seasonal little heart desires – and the whole crock pot situation means it’s a goodie in the summer OR the winter. So yes – future me will be revisiting this one come November or February, or. . . next week.

Crock Pot Chicken and Mushroom Ragu

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 4 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 10-12 servings

Crock Pot Chicken and Mushroom Ragu

This is a great dish for summer (no kitchen heat in the hot evening!) or winter - (hot, comforting supper!), but most of all, it's easy enough for a weeknight and it makes a gigantic batch. With one batch, we feed a family of six with enough left over for another night or lots of lunches - and as it "ages" it becomes even more flavorful. You can freeze your leftovers, or refrigerate them and use them within a few days.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 1 large (or 2 small) Yellow onion, peeled, and cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 (12 oz. package) AidellsItalian Chicken Sausage, sliced into discs
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (26 ounce) carton Pomi finely chopped tomatoes
  • 12 ounces sliced button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup minced fire-roasted red pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled, and roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs (equaling roughly 2 lbs)
  • additional salt to taste
  • fresh, chopped basil for garnish
  • fresh grated parmesan for garnish
  • pasta or rice prepared according to package directions.

Directions

Heat a 10" skillet over medium heat.

Add bacon slices, and cook till crisp.

Remove bacon from skillet to paper towel. (When cool, crumble and add to the crock pot.)

Add onions. Allow wedges to brown well, turn, and brown on other side.

Remove onions to crock pot.

Add a single layer of sausage slices to the pan. Allow to deeply brown, then flip. You only need to do this with about half the sausage slices, so you can save some time here!

Add the browned sausage slices, as well as the others to the crock pot.

Turn the stove off and remove the pan from heat. Pour the wine into the pan and scrape up all the browned bits with the wine. Pour wine and scrapings into the crock pot.

Add tomatoes and next 6 ingredients to the crock pot and stir everything together.

Nestle the chicken thighs evenly throughout the crock pot, cover with lid, and cook on low for 4 hours.

Shred chicken in the pot, taste for salt. Serve hot over pasta or rice, and garnish with fresh basil and shredded parmesan cheese.

Source

Sara| Home Is Where The Cookies Are

http://www.wherethecookiesare.com/2014/08/01/crock-pot-chicken-and-mushroom-ragu/

Mid Vacation Muse

Morning Beach So we’ve been on vacation for a while.

One solid week of it spent at the beach.

Filled with high tides and low tides, mudslides, and triple cherry virgin daiquiries.

Appearances were made under moonlight by “Hey Hey Crabs” - as named by the shorties in our crew while they hunted the side-skipping rascals by headlamp and plastic cocktail cup. Hey Hey Crab Once in while, we’d find one little feller who’d missed the boat and hung out till sunrise.

It’s OK, Little Feller. The moon’ll be back tonight. . . . Just hang out for, like. . . 15 hours. Surf Lessons We made friends with surf bums and poolside waitresses, slathered ourselves in pints of coconut sunscreen, and some of us braved pre and post storm waves. morning beach Some of us – *ahem* – attempted to brave them.

Then, after choking on bucket-loads of salt water, returned to shore weak kneed and shakey-elbowed.Done for the day of rough-wave jumping with minimal confidence in the skilled-swimming department.

Blended iced lemonades are more my speed. Under an umbrella. With a book.

Mama’s a watcher, not a swimmer.

And books there were. A thinker. A dreamer. A heart breaking sad-story turned good. And magazines with summer food.

And a 1000 piece puzzle in which I would not partake. Puzzles, in this lady’s book, are crazy making. Stick me in the kitchen instead. I’d rather make tacos, and fry beer-battered fish, and chop tomatoes for bruschetta. A cocktail just to the top right of the cutting board is a nice touch too. Beach People Now we’re here, in our home.

Coming home is so sad and still so nice at the end of sunny, surfy, carefree days.

It’s time to swing ourselves back into routine. Sort of. Maybe.

OK, maybe not yet. morning beach Time to plan meals and tidy up.

Seize days and live by the moment. Love by the second.

Remembering that it’s all fleeting. Life, really, is not under our control. Waves I wish it was, but I’m reminded over and over again that I’m not the driver of this train.

Somehow though, it goes where I need it to go, whether I actually want to go there or not.

Summers, I’ve learned, always hold a mixed bag for me.

Some lovely, some ugly, but always something that needs doing.

And that’s the way life goes.

So far, the hubs and I have tackled roughly 24 combined vertical inches of stacked paper on the kitchen counter.

His has been lingering for about 6 months.

Mine has been lingering since Easter of 2013.

I’m not proud of this.

It’s just who I am.

A stack-of-paper hater/procrastinator.

But it’s gone now.

Don’t you dare come back, Paper Stacks. With your smug little faces. I’m a changed woman.

My counter space is MINE.

We’ve been cooking too. Tasty things that will eventually show up here.

But my camera has been tucked away, snug in the cupboard, while I hoard this family time to myself.

I’ll break it out and dust it off soon.

We made a version of this pesto rigatoni.

I recommend it. It was a hit all around – and that’s saying something given the kale content, which is: ANY.

Because my family doesn’t like kale – when they know about it.

Also? We made these. Again.

I fiddled with the flour content a little because they came out so thin, but just add a little more and: swoon.

Oh! And this for flashy dinner dessert with friends.

We fell back on these burritos and this sauce. Because staples are staples for good reason.

Aaaaand, I’m pretty sure my summer will not be complete until I try this cocktail.

I can’t. even. think.

Next? I don’t know. I’m ready for the beach again.

XOXO until next time, friends.

Caramel Apple Dark Cherry Crisp

Caramel Apple Dark Cherry Crisp

Look at this, Guys.

It’s a miracle: a seasonal dish, ON. TIME.

I know! Who kidnapped me and replaced me with an organized, punctual imposter?!

I’m still trying to figure it out too.

Meanwhile though, let’s talk Crisp.

As in crisp that’s perfect for backyard barbeques. As in July 4th barbecues. As in crisps that feature summer cherries and good ol’ Granny Smith apples for a hearty dose of Americana dessert on this, our American holiday.

Crisps are easy. They’re all the goodness of pie, without the hassle of crust.

So, when you’re considering what you want to be nibbling as the sunset turns to night sky and the crickets start to chirp and you’re all anticipating the first firework, give this recipe staunch consideration.

It’s star-spangled yum.

Ooo. And make sure to serve warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream – because even if you don’t like ice cream (*ahem*) there’s no better way to eat warm, subtly caramel crisp than with a scoop of melting sweet cream.Caramel Apple Dark Cherry Crisp

By the way – there should be a recipe category called, “Paleo, But You’d Never Know It”.

Because this is, but you wouldn’t.

And also? It’s gluten free.

If you’re not proponent of butter in your Paleo dishes – you can swap it out for coconut oil – although, I make no promises about how that will bode for the caramel element of the filling. Best of luck, and let me know. ;-)

Caramel Apple Dark Cherry Crisp

Yield: about 8

Ingredients

    For the Crisp topping:
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons (light colored) maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons really cold butter, cut into cubes
  • For the Fruit filling:
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 cups diced Granny Smith apple
  • 2 cups pitted and halved dark red cherries
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • dash of salt
  • 5 tablespoons light colored maple syrup

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For the crisp:

In a medium sized bowl, combine the pecans, almond flour, almonds, arrowroot powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. stir with a fork to combine. Add in maple syrup and stir again. Crumble will stick together in clumps. Work cold butter in with fingers. Pinch it into the crumbs as evenly as you can, but some butter-chunks will remain. That's OK. When finished, put crumble in the fridge until ready to use.

For the filling:

Heat an oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add butter and allow to melt as the skillet heats.

In a medium bowl, toss together diced apple, cherries, lemon zest, arrowroot powder, cinnamon, and salt. Toss to combine. Add in maple syrup and toss again. Add all ingredients to butter in the hot skillet. Cook until a thick, caramel sauce forms, stirring constantly (this will only take a couple minutes depending on the temp of your skillet. Continue to cook and until apples are crisp-tender ( about 3 - 5 more minutes). Remove from heat. Remove crisp topping from the fridge and use fingers to crumble it over the top of the fruit/caramel mixture as evenly as possible. Bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes, until the edges are bubbly and the crisp topping is golden brown.

Source

Sara| Home is Where the Cookies Are

http://www.wherethecookiesare.com/2014/06/29/caramel-apple-dark-cherry-crisp/