Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas Soup

This year, all of our family Christmas gatherings were already concluded before the 25th, leaving me and my gun-slingin' super hero, all alone with the cat and our own devices on Christmas Day.  But alas even gun-slinging super heroes can catch colds, and when mine awoke with a bad case of the sniffles, i was inspired to cook what i have named Christmas Soup.  I was so pleased with the results, that i am inspired to make my Christmas Soup an annual tradition.  After all, Christmas time may be the most wonderful time of the year, but with all the candy, cold air, and stress, it tends also to be the most sickly time of the year, and the most challenging to our immune systems.
So here's what i did.  

First, i had some homemade chicken stock from the last time we thinned out our rooster population.  I made it by simmering the bones in the crockpot for many hours, in order to suck the nutrition into my stock.  It's wonderful stuff, and very good for you.  I added about a quart of it to my empty stock pot, followed by an equal amount of water.  To that i added a pound of previously cooked and frozen (freezer cooking is such a good idea) roasted chicken pieces - boneless of course.

Then i set about crushing garlic.  An entire bulb or head of garlic.  It isn't necessary to get too detailed about mincing garlic when it's going in a soup that's going to simmer a long time.  Just make sure to get all those skins off and remove any hard root bits.  Most of my cloves, i just smashed with the side of large knife and cut in half.  The bigger ones, i cut into smaller pieces. While the pieces are physically distinguishable after the soup is finished, the expected overpowering flavor is disseminated beautifully into the soup.

As the cold began to come upon us this fall, the last of the bell peppers and hot peppers in the garden were harvested and placed in the freezer to be used for seasoning at a later date.  Now, some of you are going to squinch up your noses when i tell you this next part, but i challenge you to keep an open mind.  I took 10-15 small to medium sized bell peppers, red and green, out of the freezer, removed the tops and seeds, and diced them into about 2 cups bell pepper bits and added those to the soup to simmer.  Now, i'm not a big fan of cooked bell pepper, or i wasn't until i discovered it as a seasoning, instead of a main dish.  Diced bell pepper in a soup or in a meatloaf (that was a freebee), blends in, adds richness to the broth, and scads of vitamin C to whatever the dish.

This is the longest-winded recipe for soup you've ever read, isn't it? 

Next i found one frozen jalapeno and 3 frozen cayenne peppers in the freezer, chopped them up, seeds and everything, and added those to the soup.  

To top it off, i added generous dashings of fresh ground pepper, salt, and freeze dried poultry seasoning, along with a couple big scoops of chicken bouillon powder, to "beef up" the chicken-ness of the broth.

Then i let it simmer for a long time - maybe 2-3 hours.  Until we were ready to eat it.

It is wonderful served over rice.  I've also had leftovers over cornbread, which dulls the spiciness a little better than the rice.  I prefer the spiciness less diluted.

In any event, if you want to have a delicious, immune boosting, knock-the-illness-out-of-you, winter soup, i strongly recommend this recipe.   And even if you don't have a garden and a flock of chickens, i think you can pull of something similar.


One pound pre-cooked chicken
One quart chicken stock
One quart water
2 Cups diced bell pepper, green and red
1 whole jalapeno pepper, diced, seeds and all
3 whole cayenne peppers, diced, seeds and all
1 whole bulb of elephant garlic, chunked
Salt, Pepper, and Poultry Seasoning (preferably freeze dried or fresh), and chicken bouillon to taste.
Simmer until vegetables are soft.  Serve over rice or cornbread.
The broth will have a greenish color to it once the flavors are all infused.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Old Fashioned Swedish Thumbprint Cookies

One of my favorite treats that my mother made while i was growing up is thumbprint cookies.  There are lots of over complicated recipes for this delightful item, and i was a little frustrated because the recipes i was finding seemed way more complicated than the simple yumminess my mom made when i was a kid.  And then it donned on me!  My search for "Swedish Thumbprint Cookies" delivered the desired simplicity.  I found my recipe here, on, but it's so simple, you might not need to even write it down.


1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)
1 cup, sifted, all purpose flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup any flavor jam or preserves

yield:  3 dozen (mine made 16)

(this part is copied ver batum from the allrecipes entry, with the exception of my comments in italics...and of course, the pictures.)

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

2.  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add sifted flour, and mix well.

Mine looked like this after a few seconds with the mixer. 
 And it was too crumbly to form into little cookie balls, so ... i used my hand to form it all together 
into this cute yummy dough ball.
 Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on cookie sheets.   Imprint your thumb in the center to make a 1/2-inch indentation.

Fill with your favorite preserves. ( i used a ziploc back with the corner cut out.)
Oh, and i also used homemade fig and blueberry preserves, made from best friend figs and freecycle bluberries.

 3.  Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown at the edges. (mine took 15 minutes.)

Perfection.  YUM!

Plate of goodness!




Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Surprisingly Good Spiced Coffee

I wasn't feeling very inspired today.  But it was time to add a new recipe idea to the Humble Kichen blog, so i was pouring through cook books and cooking sites, looking for inspirations.

One of my favorite books to look through is my 1970s-ish, orange, binder-style Betty Crocker cook book.  This cook book has so much stuff in it! And lots of things i've never tried.  And quite a few things i probably never will try.

I came across this recipe for Spiced Coffee, on the list of fancy coffees, which is a page you don't really see in modern cook books.  (They call them "demitasse;" i think that's some other language for dainty cup of strong coffee, but i'm not sure.) But it calls for instant coffee ... and cinnamon sticks ... and orange peel ... and boiling ... and i don't have that stuff.  As for the boiling, it's a sultry 76 (this is January, people) in East Texas tonight, and i don't want to boil anything.  Ironically, i am unwilling to suppress the need to drink coffee late at night, no matter the temperature, so here we go.

Here's my version:  I put a heaping tablespoon of brown sugar in the bottom of my coffee cup, sprinkled in a generous rain of cinnamon, added a few drops of orange extract (a surprisingly wonderful ingredient to keep in your kitchen), and a couple drops of vanilla extract.  I was concerned it was too dry so i also added a couple teaspoons of dark local honey.  I'm really sorry i didn't take a picture at this point.

Anyway, i mixed my ingredients with a spoon and put the coffee cup in my low-powered microwave (which is approximately as old as my cook book), and i heated it until the mixture got bubbly.  The bubbles disappeared by the time i had my camera in hand, but here's a picture anyway.  It's liquid.

Then i added some of this morning's coffee and popped it back in the microwave to heat the coffee.  

Then i added a little creamer, 'cause i'm cool like that.

First sip was a little scary.  The rest were compulsory.  YUM.  

It tastes not really anything like you expect coffee to taste.

But it's really good.

REALLY good.

No, seriously.

I'm still sipping it.  It's so good.  What a great treat.  MM.  

Yumm.  Again.

Another sip.

Oh yeah, that's still really really good.

Surprisingly good.

On Saturday morning, you should totally have this with a slice of toast - with Cinnamon Toast Spread.  

Oh yeah. 

That's what i'm doing on Saturday morning.

Wanna come over?  I'll make you some.

O.k. i have to go.  I have a few more sips.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Cinnamon Toast Spread

I stumbled upon this recipe when i was making a Sopapilla Cheesecake for Christmas Dinner, and i mis-remembered the recipe and accidentally added twice the amount of butter called for.  Since i had doubled the butter, in order to correct my mistake, i decided to double the rest of the recipe.  This part of the recipe was just a topping, so i kept the extra and discovered that it was a perfect make-ahead spread for cinnamon toast.

Here are the ingredients:

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup soft butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp Mexican vanilla

In a smallish bowl, use just one beater in your hand mixer (not shown here), to beat it all together in the bowl.  When it's all mixed, scrape the sides down, so it looks prettier when you take pictures.

Cover and keep on the counter until you get a craving for cinnamon toast.

When the appointed time comes..
1) make toast
2) spread the spread on your hot toast

3) enjoy

4) Re-cover and use again and again for quick and easy cinnamon toast.


This would've been super good with a cup of coffee, but when i thought of the coffee, i was chewing my last bite of super yummy, easily prepared, cinnamon toast.