Saturday, January 16, 2016

Recipe Share: Chicken Noodle Soup

So, my family has all been under the weather lately. It's been no fun at all. The only thing that sounded good for dinner yesterday was this: Tyler Florence's Chicken Noodle Soup. It was heaven sent. I even got Jason to eat it!

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium carrots, cut diagonaly into 1/2 inch thick slices
3 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf (I used dried, since I didn't have fresh)
2 quarts (8 cups) chicken stock (I used Rachael Ray's store bought chicken stock -- it was YUMMO, as Rachael would say)
8 ounces dried wide egg noodles
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 handful fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

If you don't already have shredded cooked chicken on hand, I either cook some boneless skinless breasts on low in the crockpot with some salt and pepper and chicken broth 'til they're done. Or, what I did yesterday was I preheated my oven to 350 degrees, placed 4 bone in chicken breasts on a cookie sheet, drizzled olive oil on top of them and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Baked for an hour. (It may take as little as 40 minutes to bake chicken at this temp, but because mine were large breasts it took longer.) Shredded the chicken and discarded the skin and bones. It was really yummy. (And I have enough leftover chicken to use for a different recipe tonight.)

Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour the chicken stock in and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Fold in the chicken and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving. (Be sure to remove the thyme stems, too.)

I like to serve this with Rhodes dinner rolls or crusty bread. Enjoy! Seriously, go make this tonight! It will warm you up and bring joy to your soul. The veggies turn out perfectly cooked, and the noodles soak up all that yummy stock. It's wonderful. I ate it for lunch, dinner, and breakfast today!

If you want to print out the recipe from food network's site, go here. (I use more carrot and celery than Tyler's recipe calls for. I just love my veggies!)

Monday, January 11, 2016

Twin Weekend.

My twin sister, Jaime, and I had the best time meeting up in San Diego for the first of hopefully many to come Twin Weekends! We haven't lived in the same state since college, so it's always a real treat when we can get together. No one understand me like Jaime. No one makes me laugh quite as hard. And no one enjoys the things I do quite as much (eating, sight seeing, shopping, etc.).

Jaime used to live in San Diego, so she knows all the awesome restaurants and sights. We first went to Extraordinary Desserts for lunch. It was so delicious and the desserts truly are extraordinary!
 Just look at these gorgeous desserts! They were stunning and mouth watering. Masterpieces for sure.
 See the gold flakes on them? Talk about fancy!
We shared a kale, strawberry, date, and avocado salad and each got a half turkey cranberry panini. They were both fantastic.
  We finished off our meal with this beautiful chocolate truffle bundt cake. It had raspberries inside and on top. It was warm and luscious and not overly decadent, but perfectly chocolate-y. 
 Jaims took me to see La Jolla Cove. It was breathtaking!! And the animal life there was so fun to watch. The seals were right up against the edge so we got to see them (and smell them) up close and personal. 
Jaims and I decided that seals are kinda lazy. They sleep and sunbathe a lot. Haha.
I couldn't get over the amazing views everywhere. I was taking a picture every few steps we took, because the view from every angle was incredible. I could've stood there for hours just staring out into the ocean. The sound of the waves crashing was incredible.
 Look at that gorgeous wave crashing! This shot may be one I blow up and frame.
 I love this pic too, with the seals, the green mossy rocks, and the white water rolling in.
 I wonder if the seals snuggle up with their families or friends, or if they are just strangers who all like to cuddle. They are certainly lovey dovey! I guess when you're sleeping on a big rock, a pillow is appreciated.  

I loved seeing all the pretty flowers, too.
 I love pelicans. They are so huge and so unique. These huge ones were flying all about and then diving in the water to scoop up their lunch.
 This seagull was funny. He was pretty proud of his spot on this cool tree.
 My Jaims and I.

The next morning we went to the Little Italy Farmer's Market. It's one of our favorite things to do together in San Diego. The food, the flowers, the cute dogs, the produce.. it's a feast for the eyes and the belly, and we take pictures of everything without feeling ashamed one bit.
Afterwards, we drove to Coronado for lunch and more sight seeing. Burger Lounge is home to my favorite burger of all time. It's just perfectly moist and flavorful. And their fries, onion rings, and homemade Thousand Island dressing for dipping are equally as awesome.
We walked around Coronado after lunch. We got some candies at a cute candy shop for Jaime's daughter's upcoming Big Hero 6 themed birthday party, and I bought some Harry Potter jelly beans for my boys.  We came across the cutest puppy I've ever seen. It was an 8 week old husky with blue eyes. So fluffy and soft. The girl who owned her said she named her "Lea", after the Lea in Star Wars. Adorable. There's something so wonderful about walking leisurely with your twin, without a schedule to keep or a worry to fill your thoughts. I'm so thankful for the time we were able to simply walk, talk, breathe, and laugh together.

That night we went to our favorite San Diego restaurant, Cucina Urbana. Cucina is a rustic Italian restaurant with tons of personality. The food is just incredible, the décor is awesome, and the atmosphere is always hoppin'. We didn't have the greatest lighting to take pics of our food, but here are some pics of another time we went together to give you an idea..
I love this chalk drawing they have on one of their walls.
We always get the stuffed squash blossoms. They are life changing.
And the in house made mozzarella burrata with candied figs, and balsamic reduction is also fantastic.
This grilled pork chop (which had been brined in a sea salt concoction for 48 hours) with confit baby carrots and mascarpone whipped potatoes. Aaahhhh... it was tender and moist and just thinking about it makes me happy!
Jaime's entrée was also amazing. The Bucatini All'amatriciana -- (ya, I don't know what half the words on the menu mean.) A yummy pasta with guanciale (bacon), tomato, onion, calabrian chili, and pecorino cheese. This pasta had incredible flavor. The sauce was so robust and delicious.
We always have to order dessert, even if we are about to burst from fullness. It just has to be done. So, here's a pic of a dessert we've enjoyed there. It's a dark chocolate tart with amarena cherry, cocoa nib crumb, and pistachio gelato. It was heaven on earth.
We also love their chocolate budino and their orange/quince and strawberry/meyer lemon sorbets. Whenever we eat there, we just keep proclaiming, "Oh my... this is so good!" And it is.

We've even had our server high five us on our way out before.. like we were his champion eaters, and we just won the ultimate eating challenge. We may be short and petite, but we can pack it in.

Some of my favorite moments from our twin weekend included: 
- discussing our growing fondness for Justin Bieber (and listening to his song, "Sorry" over and over)
- laughing 'til we cried in the car because I was having a difficult time figuring out why Washington's birthday is also President's Day but always on Monday
- making up an impromptu bootay shaking dance to "Sorry", videoing it, and sending it to an old sweet friend of ours who we knew would love it (at least we hoped she would) haha
- fitting all of Jaims' party supplies we bought in her teeny tiny suitcase with all of her clothes, too! It was as Jaime said, "A true Mary Poppin purse moment of a miracle." (may not be her exact quote, but something like that.)
- picking white hairs out of each others' heads (this was more of an alarming, depressing experience than favorite.. but had to be mentioned) 
- sharing our testimonies of the Savior's Atonement with each other - just while in conversation, and tearing up because we are so thankful for Him
- Hobby Lobby shopping, and dreaming of the day when we can become professional party planners together (it needs to happen, it does!)
- gushing over puppies, more than babies, but then babies, too, and talking about how we know we are past baby bearing age now, and how that's sad but also exciting

The window view on my plane ride home. A blanket of clouds.
I told my kids about this and said how I wished I could get out of the plane and jump and play on the clouds... and Cohen said, "But they aren't really a mass, Mom." And Avery said, "You'd fall and hurt your head." Oh, my realist children... come, be dreamers like me for a moment, will you? 

Until our next Twin Weekend, I will be dreaming of fancy chocolate desserts, burgers with onion rings, farmer's markets, and late night twin giggles. Love you, Jaims!!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Baby girl set.

It's been awhile since I've pulled out my sewing machine... and when I did pull it out, I realized it'd been damaged on our move down to AZ. So, when I found out a friend was having a baby girl, I had to borrow my sis-in-law's sewing machine to make her this gift. 
I wanted to send her something extra special, as she was having her 3rd baby girl (and what could be sweeter?)! When I was looking through my fabric, I came across these prints, that I'd forgotten about. I love them and felt they'd be perfect for my friend. She said she was hoping to not use pink for her 3rd girl... was sick of pink. These have a tiny bit of pink, but I love all the other colors in them. And they still feel dainty and feminine.
 I saw this baby dress at Target and had to get it for her.. even though it is pink. I loved the mixed knit and fuzzy white fabric and the bow on the front is just so sweet!! I wish I had a baby girl to put this dress on!! 
I made a gray taggy blanket to match. Tied them all up with ribbons.
 And made a simple card with stickers I had on hand.. 
It may be my favorite baby girl gift I've given yet. I hope she loves it!