Herb Chicken Dumpling Soup with Veggies

OOhf it has been over 10 days since my last recipe post. Christmas is sneaking up on us over here in Orange County & we are not ready. On top of my crazy holiday schedule at the store, Chris has been studying for a professional exam to get a title at the end of his name, we are getting ready for a trip to Connecticut to see my family in January, & of course we had to spend our annual Christmas day at Disneyland. Oh & last week Chris had a last minute, emergency dental surgery. Oh what fun.

There has been very little time for writing & pretty much no time for cooking. The high was 58 the day we spent at DLand & it was pretty cold for us So Cal kids. After spending the entire 14 hours at the park we needed to heat up by scarfing down some herb chicken dumpling soup! Yumm!

And honestly, is there a better way to heat your house (or 800 square feet apartment) by cooking? No, nothing is better.

IMG_1733 So when I started blogging a few years ago, one of the first food bloggers I found & truly started following was Christina over at Dessert for Two. When I starting making my chicken soup this time I wanted something different. I didn’t want rice in it & honestly I was far too lazy to go to the grocery store & get a pasta.

So I started searching the internet & came across Christina’s recipe for Easy Chicken N Dumplings with Collard Greens and Confetti & I had to try to dumplings. They were amazing! A perfect carb for loaded herb chicken soup. So here is my soup recipe topped off with Dessert for Two’s fabulous dumplings & while you’re at it, check out her amazing cookbooks that came out this year here & here. I have them both & they are perfect!

Signature

IMG_1739

2 Tbsp olive oil
5 carrots
5 celery stalks
1 parsnip
2 cups baby spinach
48 oz chicken broth
2 cups water
1 lb chicken breast tenders
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 tsp rosemary
1 ½ tsp thyme

Dumplings from Dessert for Two:
½ cup flour
1/8 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp butter, softened
¼ cup milk

1. Remove butter from refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Set aside for later.
2. Season chicken on one side with one half the amount salt and pepper, and 1 tsp each of thyme and rosemary.
3. Chop all veggie and cook them until tender in olive oil.
4. After 8-10 minutes, add chicken broth and water.
5. Cut chicken in ½ cubes and add slowly into soup while stirring so chicken doesn’t stick together.
6. Allow to cook on medium to medium-high and pull out all ingredients for dumplings.
7. Mix flour, baking powder, and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl. Add room temperature butter and mix together with your hands. Make sure the butter is distributed evenly though the mixture. Add milk into mixture. I used a plastic spatula to make sure all of the flour mixture is moistened.
8. Flour a cutting board and your hands. Place dough only cutting board and shape into a thin rectangle about ¼ inch thick. Add flour to top and cut dough into small squares. Drop dough into cooking soup one at a time stirring regularly.
9. Allow to cook another 10-15 minutes, adding the remaining salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme and enjoy.

 

SoCal Driving Tips for Getting Around During the Holidays

Growing up in Connecticut my family spent a lot of time on the road. Family & friends lived in different cities & each weekend we were going somewhere to see them. But Connecticut is a pretty small state & there aren’t too many highways running through the second smallest state in the county. Even though my family took road trips to Florida pretty regularly, I still, naively only thought there was route 95 & 91. 95 spans the east coast, going from Maine to Key West. No need for other routes!

Then I moved away for college & realized, there’s a lot more freeways out there than my little self thought.

So naturally, my goal after graduating college was to move across the country to the land of pavement & interchanges… Los Angeles. Coming to the city with the worst freeways in the country was intimidating. I had had my car shipped out here & when I landed that first day, I remember being very adamant with my friend I was going to be living with that we go pick up my car. I wanted to have it right away so I could begin exploring my new home. Little did I know this adventure would take hours to drive 15 miles to & from the yard where my car had been dropped off at.

My first LA road fail.

November to December has the most traffic on the road compared to any other time of year. People are going to Holiday parties, shopping, dinners & spending time with family & friends. Driving around Los Angeles & Orange County can be a total nightmare any time of year, but during the holidays the nightmare is at a whole new level.

So I was inspired by the peer to peer car sharing brand, Turo, and their Los Angeles car rental team to come up with some of my favorite travel tips for the road in busy SoCal during the holidays. Soak them in, write them down, live by them… they will change your life.

Map it out

Before you leave, where are you going? Pull out your Google Maps & check out exactly where you are headed compared to where you are now. Sometimes it’s an easy straight shot where you hop on one freeway & get off a few miles away. Other times it may take 12 freeway changes to get from your house to your friend’s. (Yes, I am talking from experience.) Know where you are going, & if there are other options that you can change to when the road gets a little rocky.

Add 30 minutes

No matter what, leave early! Just last week I got in my car & my ride was supposed to take an hour & half. By the time I got to my location, it was nearly three hours later & I was a half hour late to work. Always expect it will take longer. No matter what.

Know which way traffic is flowing 

Some freeways are always busy, at all times. (Did someone just say the 10 freeway?) But others are very specific on which way the traffic flows at different times of the day. For instance, the freeway outside our house has constant traffic, going East only, from 3 pm to 7 pm… every single weekday. I don’t even go near the freeway in that directions during the afternoons. I know I will age just sitting there. It’s just like heading to Las Vegas on a holiday weekend, you know you will be sitting with the rest of SoCal on the 15.

Use a navigation app

There are a ton of app options for you to download straight to your phone that helps reroute you due to traffic changes. Use them. I am not going to lie, I didn’t trust these apps for a long time, but now that I use them, I don’t drive without them. Your arrival time updates as you drive, & they offer new routes when a traffic incident comes up. Which leads me to my final tip:

Don’t be afraid to venture off the freeway

Sometimes taking surface streets from one exit to another can save you from 45 minutes of just sitting in your car. Trust the app when they say a new route is faster. Get off the freeway, follow the annoying voice coming from your phone, lock your doors (I mean lets be real: safety first) & follow the train of cars that are using the app right along with you to save time.

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Hi friends, how is everyone’s December treating them? Can you believe that we are only 15 days away from the big day!!? 15 days & let me tell you, I have about 2 gifts actually purchased. Oh boy. How are you guys doing with holiday shopping? This year I am blaming my procrastination on this stupid cold that I have been trying to kick for the past week.

I have tried it all, tea, vitamins, OJ, sleep, the great outdoors, & finally I even succumbed to meds. Uhg I hate taking pills, especially pills that are the size of a nut. Really Mucinex, you can’t make it a little smaller?

Fun fact, I didn’t actually swallow a pill until I was 19 & had mono for three months. Swallowing pills still brings back terrible memories.

IMG_1691

Anyway, I pulled up my big girl panties, took some Mucinex for the past few days, slept a little longer than normal & I am hoping that will do the trick.

Since I’ve been feeling so down in the dumps, I haven’t really been in the mood to make big meals, or really even eat them. I’ve actually been so lazy that I even suggested we ordered Dominos last night. Eww. When I have been cooking, I have been sticking to small easy meals that are healthy to try to pick my immune system. Acorn squash, my new fixation, is one of those meals.

This isn’t my favorite version of this amazing little vegetable. I am keeping that one for myself for now, but this is right up there with some of the most amazing things in the world. You know, like pink ponies, meowing kittens, & never ending brownies. Truth is, you can really whip up any concoction you’d like for the filling, & as long as it is as green, & veggie filled as this is, with a little truffle oil on top, I can guarantee it will probably be just as good. Enjoy!

Signature

IMG_1690

1 green acrorn squash
6 green onions
1 large garlic clove
½ cup mushrooms, chopped
4 oz spinach
1 Tbsp panko bread crumbs
Salt and pepper
Truffle oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400⁰.
2. Chop green onions, garlic, and mushrooms and place into small pan with olive oil. Cook until mushrooms are tender and add spinach. Cook until spinach is just starting to wilt.
3. With a sharp knife, cut the stem of the squash off and discard. Then, laying the squash on the cut edge, slice the squash down the center to half it.
4. Scrape out the seeds from the middle and throw them away. Drizzle olive oil on the inside of the squash, and salt and pepper. Spread with a brush.
5. Fill the center of both pieces of squash with mushroom and spinach mixture.
6. Place ½ Tbsp of panko bread crumbs onto each squash to cover mushroom and spinach mixture. Drizzle truffle oil onto of panko and salt and pepper.
7. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until top begins to brown.

Simple Turkey Meatloaf

Helllooo everyone! How was everyone’s weekend?? Anytime I get two days off in a row I am beyond pumped! Especially during the month of December. That is like unheard of.

This weekend we headed up the coast to see a friend perform in a Christmas show & celebrate another friend’s birthday, which is pretty exciting for us. We don’t spend too many weekends at home, but we usually aren’t able to spend too much time with our friends so it is always so much fun when we get to hang out and catch up.

I would be lying to you, though, if I were to say that I wasn’t paranoid that our refrigerator full of veggies is going to go bad on our two nights away. Yes, I get paranoid over leaving for two nights. I am a freak! We went major grocery shopping on last Monday night and totally stocked up on veggies and meats that we were desperately lacking. I was good & froze all of the meats we haven’t cooked this week but I always feel like it is a race against time to eat all of the fresh vegetables we buy.

IMG_1532

How do you guys make sure your veggies don’t go bad? I try to stock up on carrots and celery & other root veggies that won’t go bad as quickly but what do you do with all of those tomatoes?!!!

One of my favorite ways to quickly use all of the veggies in the fridge, besides making some sort of soup or a quiche, is pulling out a pound of turkey meat & throwing together an amazing meatloaf. What is great is you can totally use whatever you have in there. BBQ sauce, ketchup, mustard, and any and all veggies.

This is a very simple version of my meatloaf, with just the essentials in it. Usually I add spinach, broccoli & even peppers inside.

Signature

IMG_1529

1 lb ground turkey meat
1 medium carrot, grated
2 celery stalks, chopped
½ cup brown onion, chopped
¼ cup ketchup
⅓ cup BBQ sauce
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
⅛ tsp dry mustard
½ cup panko

1. Spray loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2. Chop onions and celery, set aside. Grate carrot and set aside.
3. Empty turkey meat into large bowl. Pour carrots, celery and onion into bowl and mix with your hands. Ensure to mix fully so that vegetables are evenly dispersed.
4. Add ketchup, bbq sauce, salt, pepper, dry mustard and panko. Mix with hands again. Pour into loaf pan.
5. Bake at 375° for 50-60 minutes.