Since I left the cold winters of Northeast Ohio, I've become quite the cold weather wimp. It's almost hard to believe that I survived (and even enjoyed) 22 winters in the snow and ice. It really wasn't until Ben and I moved away to the south and then move BACK to Pennsylvania that we really appreciated the mild winters in the south.
On more than one occasion when we were in PA, Ben would shovel himself out of the driveway to go to work in the morning and before he left to come home in the evening, he would call me to tell me he was on his way home so that I could start shoveling a path so that he could get back in the driveway. Ahhh the joys of snow.
I really don't miss bundling up 2 kids and myself to head to the grocery store in the middle of February. What I do miss is seeing them come in the house with rosy cheeks and cold noses and asking for a warm mug of hot chocolate.
Nothing warms you from the inside out like hot chocolate or a bowl of nice hot soup. I found this recipe for chicken stew in my Cook's Illustrated magazine and it is the perfect winter dinner. It's warm and creamy and hearty and rich and most of all - delicious. It will definitely keep you warm this winter.
I made a few modifications to the original recipe. This is the recipe with my changes.
2 pounds chicken breasts
1/4 pound pancetta, diced
1 pound chicken wings
1 onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
5 cups chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
3 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
1 pound quartered red potatoes
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2" pieces
2 Tablespoon fresh parsley
Add onion, celery, garlic, anchovy paste and thyme to pot and cook 2-4 minutes.
Increase heat to high. Stir in 1 cup broth, wine and soy sauce. Bring to a boil. Cook until liquid evaporates and vegetables begin to sizzle.
Scrape down sides of bowl. Remove wings. Dice chicken breasts and add to stew.
Season with salt and pepper and garnish with fresh parsley.
Warmth in a bowl.
This weekend is the state wrestling tournament in Georgia. I had mixed emotions about the event because for the first time in his high school wrestling career, Ryan will NOT be a participant. For those of you that don't already know, Ryan broke a bone in his wrist about 5 weeks ago and had to end his season prematurely.
Obviously, no one wanted him to end his senior year wrestling season in a cast but despite the unfortunate circumstances, Ryan really kept his positive attitude. I know how disappointed he is to not be competing but instead of wallowing in misery, he became an encourager for his teammates. I am far more proud of the maturity and grace that he has shown in how he's handled his broken wrist than I ever was when he pinned an opponent or stood on a podium. It's still hard for me to believe that he's going to turn 18 in a couple of weeks but I couldn't be more proud of the man that he in becoming.
The doctor put a cast on Ryan's right hand. I can only imagine how frustrating it would be to not be able to use my dominate hand but I rarely heard Ryan complain. (Unless I asked him to do household chores of course.) He figured out a way to do most everything with one hand or to use his left hand. I'm happy to report that the cast is now off and if everything is healing like expected.
With spring comes baseball season AND soccer season. That means we juggle lots of practices and games every week so I have to be super efficient in my cooking. A roasted chicken is perfect for this busy baseball and soccer family. I roasted a chicken with potatoes the first night, I turned some of the leftovers into sandwiches to pack and take to a game the second night and I turned the rest into soup for another night. (See what I mean about efficient cooking?)
Skillet Roast Chicken and Potatoes
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon zest
salt and pepper
1 whole chicken
2 pounds yukon gold potatoes
Place potatoes in a skillet and cook until browned. (10 minutes or so.)
Remove skillet from oven and transfer chicken to a platter. Cover with foil.
Serve potatoes with chicken.
There are so many things that you can do with leftover chicken - toss it in a green salad, turn it into a soup or a sandwich or a wrap or chop it up and make chicken salad. Efficient cooking at its best.
When did ordering a pizza for a family of 4 become so difficult? Veggies - no veggies, pepperoni or sausage, margarita or meat lovers --- and don't even get me started on the thick crust vs. thin crust debate. I think everyone in this family has a different preference when it comes to pizza. (I blame the fact that there are just far to many choices these days.)
I love to make homemade pizza and besides it's superior flavor, making it at home allows me to customize the pizzas and accommodate everyone's individual tastes. I usually reserve pizza making for Friday or Saturday nights but I found a recipe on the sabra.com website that looked easy enough to make on a busy weeknight. The base for the pizza was naan bread instead of a traditional pizza dough. That alone saved tons of time because they sell naan everywhere now - even Wal Mart carries it.
Bought a package of naan breads and I made some of them into more traditional style pizzas and I turned 1 of them into a grilled veggie flatbread. (Guess who that was for?)
Grilled Vegetable Flatbread
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 sweet onion; thinly sliced
1/2 zucchini, sliced thin
1/2 yellow squash, sliced thin
8 large mushrooms; thinly sliced
1 cup baby spinach
4 Indian flatbreads (Naan) or pocketless pita
1 cup hummus
4 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 teaspoons dried oregano
Red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Bake in a 400 degree oven until cheese melts. (About 10 minutes.) Drizzle with balsamic vinegar while warm.
This was a delicious way to have pizza and to get lots of vegetables in my diet too. It was really yummy and I still managed to make everyone's pizza requests come true. (For today anyway.)
I know that I have no right to complain but it has been a REALLY cold winter in Atlanta! After the last couple of really mild Georgia winters, I was completely unprepared for the sub 30 degree temperatures. For this Georgia transplant who is used to our fairly temperate climate - anything below 30 is C - O - L - D.
The ice storm that hit Atlanta this week was not unexpected but it was remarkable. I still don't think that I could correctly describe to you the difference between sleet and freezing rain but I can say that I saw a LOT of it on Wednesday night. When it was all said and done, we had about 5 inches of snow and ice in certain places.
You can check out my early ice storm pictures on Thursday's blog post. It was pretty incredible to see the ice wrapped around every single tree branch and leaf. In true Atlanta fashion though, everything melted pretty quickly. I took these pictures at 11:00 on Thursday morning.
And at 3:00 I went out and snapped a few more pictures.
As you can see, everything melted pretty quickly around here. I did enjoy the couple of snow days with Ben and the kids this week though. We kept ourselves pretty busy and we ate lots of yummy snow day treats.
I've been making a new batch of soup every 3 or 4 days this winter just to keep a supply in the frig. My newest soup recipe came from mamamiss.com. She posted a recipe for Seven Vegetable Minestrone Soup but since I didn't add ALL seven veggies, I renamed it Vegetable Minestrone.
Vegetable Minestrone Soup
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 medium yellow squash, chopped
2 medium zucchini, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1 - 15.25 oz. can whole kernel sweet white corn, drained
3 - 14 oz. cans low sodium chicken broth, divided
1/2 cup uncooked ditalini pasta
1 - 15.5 oz. can Great Northern beans, rinsed & drained
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 oz. (1 cup) grated Asiago cheese
Remove from heat. Stir in salt, and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and top each bowl with 2 tablespoons of cheese.
For those of you struggling to stay warm this winter - give this hearty Vegetable Minestrone a try. It is tasty AND warm.
The ice storm continues to paralyze the city of Atlanta. I am extremely grateful that we still have power at our house and I am prying for the thousands of people in Atlanta that are without power today. The sleet and freezing rain seemed to fall continuously yesterday. I kept looking for a break in the weather so I could run out and snap a few pictures to document the storm but it just never seemed to stop sleeting. I finally went out and took some pictures from my front porch because I really didn't want to venture out into the ice with my camera. (Good excuse right?)
The ice wreaked havoc on the roads but it sure made for some interesting pictures.
This family will be enjoying another day at home today. Yesterday I tackled a big puzzle so I think today I'm going to spend some time reading my book. (I Love Snow Ice Days.) Of course there will be some yummy snow day snacks as well. On the menu tonight - chili.
1 bags dry small red beans
1 lb. ground hamburger
1 large onion, diced
6 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
2 (28 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 (16 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
Stir in pot.
How cute is that wooden spoon? It makes me smile every time I see it because it just smiles back at me.
Hopefully I can venture out beyond my front porch today to take a few more pictures of the snow. We'll see how that goes.
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