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August 31, 2017

Rainbow Vegetabe Soup | My Lunch & Freezer Secrets

If you have been around a 5-year-old girl lately, you'd know that rainbows are huge.  Unicorns and rainbows.  What a world they live in!  I started using "rainbow carrots" in our vegetable soup last year and dubbed it "Rainbow Vegetable Soup" at our house.  Emma looooved this.  She loves helping to make it, she loves eating it.  I'm not kidding - loves it.  

I will not pretend that we eat healthy all of the time (you've seen those Oreos on my Instagram!), but this vegetable soup is actually delicious.  The only tricky part about this is that it is never the same.  This is the soup that I make at the end of the week - usually on a Thursday or Friday afternoon.  I make it from all of the vegetables that we have in the fridge that won't get eaten.  You know, because it is going to be the weekend and we'll be eating pizza and Oreos.

It takes about 30 minutes to make.  I make it as big as I can and put it in individual freezer containers so I can get them out for lunch, or a quick dinner.  These work great when Mike is traveling.  Sometimes I get a couple of meatballs out of the freezer or add pasta or tortellini to it for a little more oomph.

This batch was particularly yummy.  We had tomatoes, zucchini and herbs from our garden, that I threw in with onions, pancetta and rainbow carrots.  I cook it in chicken broth and add plenty of sea salt.  Sea salt (and a little crushed red pepper) is the difference between great and not soup.

Rainbow Vegetable Soup

3 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 onion, small dice
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 pound of pancetta or bacon, small dice
1 pound of carrots, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 tablespoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of pepper (I use crushed red or black)
2 tablespoons of fresh basil, minced
2 tablespoons of parsley, minced
2-3 tomatoes, diced (or 1 pint of cherry)
1 quart of chicken stock
2 cups of kale (or spinach), chopped

Begin by cooking the onions and bacon together until soft and fat rendered.  Add carrots.  Cook until they begin to soften.  Repeat with zucchini.  Add salt and pepper.  Add tomatoes and fresh herbs.  Add chicken stock and bring to strong simmer.  Add kale.  Taste for seasoning.  Simmer until vegetables are soft. 

This recipe has saved me from eating unhealthy lunches while Emma's at school.  The night before, I pull one (or two if Mike needs lunch, too) from the freezer and put it in the fridge.  It reheats in a bowl in the microwave in about 3 minutes.  It is so comforting and yummy every day of the week and packs my mid-day full of healthy veggies.

See all of my recipes, here >
Shop my favorite Kitchen Essentials (like these containers, 18 for $8) in my store, here >

August 30, 2017

Apple Cider Scones | Our New Fall Favorite

It has been a while since I have come up with a new scone recipe.  We've been very happy sticking with the classic Orange Cranberry, and Pecan & Maple for breakfast, but the verge of a new season has me craving my all time favorites, Apple Cider Donuts.  I've made them at home (remember last year?), but the real deals are from Dunn's Cider Mill and they don't start making them until mid-September.  

**If you are new here as part of the Fall Recipe Series, welcome!  

It dawned on me that I could reduce apple cider into more of a syrup consistency (by boiling it for 5-10 minutes), then use it in scones to give them that unmistakable flavor (plus some nutmeg + cinnamon), and also use it in the glaze.  The result was so yummy.  I made them in mini size to go with coffee in the morning - and this size is a little easier for kids to eat/hold.

We made these on a Friday after noon after picking apples that morning.  

I promise this is leftover glaze that was not used on our gifts...

I packed them up in a cello back, tag & ribbon (here, in my store>) to take to our friend's for dinner that night as a hostess gift.  I love bringing breakfast for hostess gifts - a great thing to wake up to the morning after being exhausted from entertaining.

In my online store, along with packaging supplies, you'll find all of my essential baking supplies like the Natural Unbleached Parchment Sheets that fit perfectly in my Baking Sheets.  They make baking (and cleaning up!) so easy.  Shop my Baking Essentials >

Apple Cider Scones

1 cup of Apple Cider


2 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup cold heavy cream
1/4 cup of apple cider reduction

1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg

1/4 cup of apple cider reduction

2 tablespoons of butter

1 cup confectioners' sugar

Apple Cider Reduction : 

Reduce the Apple Cider in advance, so it can cool.  Pour the cider in a saucepan and simmer on medium until it reduces by half to an almost maple syrup constancy.  Do not let it get too thick or it will burn!  It should take about 10 minutes.  Pour it in a glass bowl and let it cool in the fridge/freezer for 20-30 minutes.

For scones :

In a mixer, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt using the paddle attachment.  Cut the cold butter into 1/2 inch pieces.  Add the butter to the dry ingredients and mix on low until the butter is mixed in and is the size of peas.  

In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, cider reduction, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and whipping cream with a fork.   I do it in a pourable measure to make it easy to add to the flour/butter.
 Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the cream and egg mixture - you may not use it all.  Turn off the mixer once added and dough comes together.

Put some flour on the counter.  Turn the dough out onto the floured surface.  Add some flour onto the top of the dough, then pat it out into a disk - about 8-9 inches in diameter.  

Cut the disk into 6-8 pieces like a pie for standard size scones.  For Minis, as shown here, cut each of the 6-8 pieces in half.

Separate the pieces and put them on parchment ($8 for 100) lined essential baking sheet ($8).  Bake at 400 degrees for Minis (as shown) 12-14 minutes, for Standard, 15-17 minutes.  

Reducing the apple cider + butter for the glaze.  Because I didn't make enough in my first step (I was doubling the recipe) I had to make another batch of reduced cider for the glaze, so I just did it in the saucepan.

For Glaze : 

In a microwave safe bowl, heat cider reduction and butter for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until butter is melted.  Add powdered sugar and stir until smooth.  Add more powdered sugar or more cider for desired consistency.  Should be drizzle-able, but not too runny.

Helper drizzling the glaze.

I think this is going to be my standard size - more glaze per bite ratio.

Photos from Apple Picking in Weston :

Thanks for stopping by today : )

Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls by Ella Claire | Rustic Apple Cranberry Pie by Anderson and Grant |
Apple-Cranberry Slab Pie by Inspired by Charm | Apple Donuts by A Burst of Beautiful 

Easy Apple Dumplings by Craftberry Bush | Apple Crisp by House 214 Design |
Apple Cider Scones by Everyday Occasions | Apple Fritter Skillet Bake by Nest of Posies |
Rustic Apple Tarte Tatin by Maison de Pax

Paleo Apple Crisp by Nesting with Grace | Crock Pot Applesauce by My Sweet Savannah |
Gluten Free Apple Crisp by City Farmhouse |
Baked Breakfast Apples with Oatmeal by French Country Cottage |

No Churn Apple Pie Ice Cream by Boxwood Avenue | Bird's Nest Apple Pie by Zevy Joy |
Apple Upside Down Spice Cake by Love Grows Wild

August 28, 2017

This Week's Menu | Lemon & Chive Fish, Stroganoff, Chicken Noodle, Short Ribs & PB&J Bars

Good Monday Morning.  I'm having trouble getting to task this morning.  The house needs tidying up after a weekend of lounging and laziness.   To get myself going, I tidied up some easy areas in the house and snapped some photos to show some of my favorite unsettled moments happening right now.

I picked these Navy Blue Berries from our Privet bushes last night.  I love an easy 'centerpiece' that can dress up our table for the entire week.  Seasonal and easy and pretty.

My office is a bit of a wreck with piles of samples, note cards, and papers after the launch last week.   If I took a photo of what is below this on the actual desk surface, it would not be pretty.

Stacks of things pile up in my office that are constant reminders of things I need to do - like these new note cards that all need signing to go out in our orders : )    I am obsessed with the new navy color.

Thankfully, this room always looks about like this... unless there has been a fort or house made from the pillows.  Otherwise, it looks like this and it is nice to have one room in the front of the house that feels tidy and put together most of the time.

I am loving the combination of the new pillows and the striped throw in this room.  Playing mix and match with stripes and patterns always gives a layered and casual look.

Anyone spot Mr. Darcy's tennis ball?  They are all. over. the house.

This Striped Throw (in Stone) really adds a graphic freshness to this room.

The Chestnut Diamond Throw is so gorgeous.  It will be a staple in this room now through Winter.   I love how mixing the blues with the neutrals adds warmth.

How to Decorate circa 1996.  Classic.

These baking canisters really need to be washed!  But, I'm getting ready to make PB&J bars for an after school snack... so I should wait until later.

The Beige Topiary pillow found a home on the leather chair - love the combo.

I'd like to replace Mike's desk chair this fall, so I'm starting to think of options... since he is currently using one from my parents' basement and making it comfy with extra pillows.   I wouldn't mind something a little clean looking... maybe even slightly contemporary?  Or I could do a comfy herringbone and be done with it.  What do you think?

This Week's Menu

With the school routine in full swing, I've also been working on indexing all of our favorite go-to dinner ideas.  You can find it here : Dinner Ideas Index.  There is also a photo/tab in the Recipes Index.

It is basically a photo index of my Dinner Planning Tablet.  The tablet is a list of all of our favorite dinner ideas that will help you organize your meals for the week.  When I use the tablet, I'm always reminded of something we haven't made in a while or an easy dinner that I forget about.

Dinner Planning Tablets >

I like to start the week off with something light and fresh - and really easy.  This Lemon & Chive Roasted Fish & Vegetables is all made on a sheet pan.  Everything is layered onto a sheet pan, and then it roasts in the oven for about 25-30 minutes.  A delicious sauce accumulates in the bottom of the pan to pour over when serving.  So yummy, fresh and easy.  

This is my favorite dinner (beside spaghetti).  Surprised?  It is Emma and Mike's favorite, too.  Why? It is like being kid.  It is easy and Old School, and everyone (except my sister) loves it.  

Once a week I am making soup.  I make a really large batch of it and put individual portions (in my Kitchen Containers) in the freezer to get out for lunch or easy dinner.  This is a classic and Emma's favorite.  If you have never tried making Homemade Chicken & Noodles, you are missing out - it is so easy.  If you make it from a rotisserie chicken and it is ready in 20 minutes.

A classic, creamy French Chicken stew served over rice.  The aroma from this will knock yo off of your feet.

I'm trying to make a homemade snack once a week that we can have after school.  These are sooooo good.  I might be known to eat them for breakfast, too.

Fall Sundays are for Short Ribs.  They go in the oven, cook for hours and make the house smell delicious... can you hear the football game in the background?  So many warm and cozies...

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