I'm sick!



Sickness has hit the Givens house, and if you're anything like other people/families I know, you've probably had to deal with it recently, too.  If you have, my condolences!

It's why there's been no posting since last week, and only one last week at that. 

More recipes will be coming your way soon, but in the meantime, I want to share with you my favorite "sick" recipes.  As Hippocrates said, let your medicine be your food (paraphrase). 

My all time favorite "sick" soup is this one- Lemon Chicken Noodle Soup.  The chicken broth/stock is very good for you, and the lemon helps soothe and clear your throat, too.  The combination together is not only tasty, but healthy. 

Next up is Sopa De Pollo- like the Lemon Chicken Noodle Soup, the combination of chicken stock or broth and lime juice will soothe and comfort.

The base for these soups is chicken stock, and making your own will give you the best health benefits.

I hope you feel better soon (and that I do too)!

Maple Pumpkin Butter- just in time for Thanksgiving!


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Gosh, it's one of the biggest food days of the year and no posts to date!  Today that stops. 

I am still the kid in my family, so I don't have any Thanksgiving dishes of my own to contribute to the big family meal, which is kind of nice because it allows me to make whatever the heck I want.  A few years back I discovered this little gem- not a lot of work and big rewards!  It's delicious on bread or biscuits, and I bet it'd be a nice filling for something too. 

Pumpkin butter is like apple butter, so you start with a puree of the basic fruit, add some things, and cook it down until it's silky smooth and just delicious.  You will start a new Thanksgiving trend.

This recipe comes from Dorie Greenspan and I found it in a newspaper insert so it's hard telling if it's been published elsewhere. 

Maple Pumpkin Butter
from Dorie Greenspan

1- 29 oz can pumpkin (not pie mix, just plan pumpkin)
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup apple cider
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Put all ingredients in a large, heavy, ovenproof casserole and stir to blend. Place the pan over medium-low heat and bring to a boil, stirring all the while. Lower the heat and, still stirring, cook 5 minutes more.

Slide the casserole into the oven and cook, stirring every 15 minutes, until the pumpkin butter has thickened and there is no liquid around the sides of the pan, 1 to 2 hours.

Cool the pumpkin butter, then cover and chill. Packed airtight, it will keep for a week in the refrigerator.

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer


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I saw this pinned several weeks ago and was skeptical.  I had tried to make my own creamers before using half and half and flavored syrups, and they weren't any more economical and not even as tasty as the store bought ones, but still the potential was there, and isn't the original picture so pretty?  I gave it a try.

This creamer is delicious!  I mean, on its own, it's a treat, and it really works well in coffee.  It only takes about 10 minutes to throw together, but it's not super cheap, so use your own discretion in making it.  It does, however, allow you to control the ingredients in your creamer, and it really does taste great.  Have you ever read the back of an International Delight Bottle?  No thank you. 

I halved the recipe, and it's lasted about a week and a half with just me drinking it.  Because it contains real pumpkin and spices, you do have some settling of the creamer, both in its container and at the bottom of your own coffee.

I'll post the recipe below as I made it.  Click on the link below the recipe title to see the original. 

Homemade Pumpkin Coffee Creamer
from Next to Heaven Blog
**half recipe of original blog
1 cup half and half
2 Tb. pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
2 Tb. real maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract or flavoring

Pour all ingredients except vanilla into a small pot and whisk together.  Heat on stovetop over medium heat.  Don't let it get to boiling- just allow all ingredients to warm, the spices to infuse, etc.  Add vanilla and stir to combine.  Turn off heat.  Pour mixutre through a fine mesh strainer and into a jar or small pitcher to store.  Store in refrigerator.  Makes approx. 10 oz. creamer.

  • There is a tip on the blog post that suggests the flavor intensifies after letting sit- I totally agree- it's best to wait a few hours before using, but it's still good right away.
  • I used vanilla flavoring (i.e. no alcohol and no actual vanilla) because it's what I had on hand.  If that's what you use, then you can add it in at the beginning with all the other ingredients.

DIY- Microwave Popcorn


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Are you ready to have your world rocked?  You can make popcorn in the microwave, and it doesn't have to come from Act II or Orville!  Make your own for just pennies a bag, and it's all natural!  Since my first attempt a couple weeks ago, I've made it several times with some pretty exciting success. 

What I've learned:
1.  Unless you like plain (i.e. no butter, salt, additional flavorings) popcorn, you will want to spray or drizzle some oil on your popcorn.  I had an old spray bottle of white truffle oil that I use but really anything will do.  I bet a misto would work great here.

2.  This is super easy and I don't plan to return to the old way of buying the bags in the store filled with something made in a food science lab.

Microwave Popcorn
Makes 1 generous or 2 smaller servings

1 lunch sized brown paper bag
1/4 cup popcorn kernels
Oil or butter
Salt or other flavorings

Pour kernels into bag.  Fold bag over at least twice, creasing well after each fold.  Pop in microwave, 2-3 minutes or until a few seconds elapse between pops.  Spray or drizzle oil or butter over popcorn and sprinkle salt/other flavoring over.  Stir or shake to combine well. 

  • I have seen online where people popped the popcorn in a microwave safe bowl with a cover, and added the oil or butter right in.  I haven't tried this because I've always made it at work, where I do not have access to a bowl. 
  • A Misto spray bottle or even a storebought bottle filled with oil would work well here- just don't put melted butter into a spray bottle. 
  • I use the spray oil I mentioned and popcorn salt (extra fine), but get creative- try herbs, parmesan cheese, pepper, lime, etc. 

Vegetarian Chili


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I was thinking about reviewing some of the soups I had posted about in the past for an "in case you'd missed it" sort of thing when I realized two things:

1.  I do a lot of chilis. 
2.  Today's recipe was not yet among the posts. 

Maybe I'll get to that review post, but in the meantime, enjoy this vegetarian chili recipe. 

Vegetarian chili is perfect for people who are intentionally meat free or who are on a budget, or pretty much anyone who enjoys a satisfying meal without killing the calorie count.  Did I mention it's also quick and easy?  I love recipes that fit that entire description!

Today's recipe comes from the October 2011 issue of Everyday Food and I've been making it for about a year now.  Go ahead and add this to your meal plan.  Unless your family hates beans, they will likely love this.  Both Drew and I are big fans.

Serve this chili with cornbread, tortilla chips, or over rice/baked potato.  Top with any of your favorite chili toppings- sour cream, onion, jalapenos, or avocado. 

Vegetarian Chili
from Everyday Food, October 2011

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 poblano chile, seeded and chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Coarse salt
1 can (4 ounces) diced green chiles
4 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cans (15.5 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans (15.5 ounces each) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
In a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion, poblano, and garlic; season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in green chiles, chili powder, and cumin and cook 3 minutes. Add beans, tomatoes and juice, and 2 cups water; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender and chili is thickened, 20 to 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt.