Check out my latest creation on Food.com!

Please take a moment to read and review my latest creation I recently entered in the Hidden Valley Ranch contest on food.com! More to come soon!

http://www.food.com/recipe/cheesy-chicken-bacon-ranch-casserole-rsc-494766

Lime-Thyme Chicken Soup for the Soul

When it’s cold and rainy outside, nothing quite brings back life and warmth like chicken noodle soup. Now, there are only so many ways you can make a good chicken noodle soup and they usually all turn out the same but I have found that by adding small amounts of two very wonderful ingredients you can add that extra “something” that makes your soup the soup.

Ingredients:

2 cups shredded chicken
5 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 cup baby carrots
1/2 cup chopped onion
1-2 limes, sliced
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
Black pepper to taste

3 cups egg noodles

This recipe is sooooo simple. Get your broth and water boiling, throw in the chicken and veggies. No lime just yet. Let this simmer for a good 30 minutes or so. Now we add in our lime slices, thyme, and noodles. Let this cook until the noodles are tender, then serve! Of course, I served mine to a house full of starving boys with grilled cheese on the side, but you can enjoy this on its own anytime, and it freezes well!

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Just a note, adding the lime in later lets the flavor of it stand out a little better, whereas adding it in too early cooks down and all you taste is the peel, yuck!

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Enjoy!

Baked Chicken with an Asian Twist

There are only so many ways you can get creative when baking chicken. Fortunately for you all, this is one of them! I’ve never really tried to change my traditional baked chicken recipe before, but I was craving something similar to your the usual super unhealthy Chinese food and ended up with this. It took a dangerously unhealthy turn, however, when I went back for seconds, so watch yourself!

Ingredients:

6 Chicken Leg Quarters (or whatever parts of the chicken you like to use)
2 Quartered Yellow Onions
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp ground ginger
2 tbsp onion powder
1/3 cup soy sauce
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Optional:

Dried Onion Flakes
Parsley for garnish

Preheat your oven to 325. Drizzle a large roasting pan with olive oil and place chicken in pan. Drizzle with more olive oil and salt and pepper if you wish. Sprinkle chicken with ginger and onion powder and rub in to skin. Rub in minced garlic, and evenly pour soy sauce over chicken. Add onions to the pan, cover, and back for 2 hours! That’s it! Towards the last 20 minutes or so, remove the lid so the skin gets that nice browned look to it and start the rice.

For the rice, I make as directed, but add 3 tsp chicken granules to the water, plus a pat of butter and about 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Serve chicken over the rice and garnish with a sprig of parsley.

Quick Tip: If you don’t have parsley, but still want to look fancy, try celery leaves. They look just as good and taste better.

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“Homemade” Southern Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut butter is an everyday occurrence in my life. It doesn’t matter when or where, I will find a way to utilize this amazing substance.

Normally, it is a healthy staple to an otherwise not so healthy lifestyle, being a mother of three young boys, but today I have decided to share with you the most UNhealthy way to use your average PB.

As always, start by assembling the ingredients. Just don’t eat them first!

1 package softened cream cheese
1 1/2 cups crunchy (or smooth) peanut butter
1 8 oz container cool whip
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp chocolate syrup

1 pre-made graham cracker crust

Beat all ingredients together until light and fluffy and place in crust. Refrigerate 1-2 hours, top with extra whipped cream and add a little drizzle of chocolate sauce and enjoy!

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I know, I know, not much of a post, but I felt like something “light” and “fluffy” was needed after such a heavily food filled week.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I will see you in the new year!

Be blessed,

A. Jackson

The Quickest Coq au Vin Around

When you think of French cooking, the terms “quick” and “simple” don’t exactly ring a bell. But they can! The secret to this fantastic dish, aside from the wine, is the need for only one pan, two tops if you count the side.

Let’s begin by assembling our ingredients:

4 slices bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
6-8 chicken thighs, skinned
1 cup chopped carrots
4 garlic cloves minced
8 ounces button mushrooms, quartered
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
Salt & Pepper
1 bag frozen pearl onions
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley for garnish

In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. When the bacon is done, remove from pan but keep the drippings. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and place in pan with drippings to cook. Brown chicken on both sides (about 5 minutes each side) and remove from pan.

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Gorgeous!

Add olive oil if needed and all your veggies to the same pan and cook about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 ½ cups red wine and pour yourself a glass as well if you haven’t already.

I cook with wine. Sometimes I even add it to the food.
~ W.C. Fields

Bring this to a boil and cook about 10 minutes until reduced by half. Return browned chicken to pan, add broth, and bring to a simmer. Cover pan and continue to cook for 35 minutes or until chicken is cooked through, turning chicken after about 20 minutes.

Coq au Vin pairs well with roasted potatoes or served over egg noodles or rice. Anything looks pretty over rice.

Garnish with the bacon crumbles and fresh parsley, and enjoy!

Until next time, wishing you all the best!

A. Jackson

Looking Ahead

The days have become shorter and the cool nights longer. Suddenly we find ourselves gravitating towards comforting and filling foods that remind us of home. Chicken and dumplings, homemade bread, and vegetable stew all come to mind. In the days ahead I would like to take time and focus on meals that embody the warmth and security of being home with family and friends.

Food, in my opinion, can represent and evoke many feelings for the human spirit. When my family and I sit down together for dinner, we share with each other and take comfort in being together as a unit, rather than separate individuals. We pray together and eat together, and we become that much closer to one another. Food has that power over us. It can unite us, and in some cases (particularly ones involving broccoli and small children) divide us.

That being said, I would like to dedicate the rest of this month to meals that make life a little easier. One pot meals, slow cooker meals, and other more family friendly dinner and baking ideas and tips that require less time cooking and more time with the ones that matter most.

In my next post expect a wonderful one pot recipe for Coq au Vin. Yes, the traditional French “chicken and wine” dish, only easier and lighter and with enough wine to spare a glass (or two).

I will also be sharing a few cookie and cake recipes to get us through the holidays, whether you need ideas for cookie swaps or something to leave out on Christmas Eve for Santa.

Please feel free to leave me your tips, tricks, and tried and true recipes in the comments below, or if there is anything you would like to see, let me know!

Have a very blessed week,

A. Jackson

Just In Time! Ginger Pumpkin Yule Log

If you know me, you know I am a pumpkin fanatic. Pumpkin is my kryptonite. Fall doesn’t get near the credit it deserves, in my opinion, and neither does its Thanksgiving staple, pumpkin pie.

So why not have that warming, comforting flavor all season long? With that being said, may I introduce to you the Ginger Pumpkin Yule Log!

This is where you secretly tell yourself pumpkin is healthy so its okay. Pumpkin!

Start by assembling a few ingredients. One of the best characteristics of this recipe is most of these can easily be found in your pantry already. What could be better?

Ingredients:

3 eggs, at room temp
Nonstick cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup maple syrup

Powdered sugar for decoration
Fresh rosemary sprigs and cranberries optional

For Filling:

3/4 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 1/4 cups frozen whipped topping

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Start by mixing all of your dry ingredients together. As the oven preheats to 375 degrees F, beat the eggs with an electric mixer (or fork) for about 5 minutes. Next, stir the pumpkin and maple syrup into the eggs, then gradually fold in the dry mixture. Spread evenly into a 15x10x1-inch baking pan sprayed with cooking spray and lined with parchment paper or foil.

Bake about 15 minutes or until the cake springs back when lightly touched with a fork. When ready, quickly loosen the edges of the cake from the pan and turn out onto a towel sprinkled liberally with powdered sugar. You have to do this quickly or your cake may stick and tear. Roll the towel with the cake on it into a spiral and cool for about an hour. While you wait, go ahead and mix all of your filling ingredients together and let chill in the fridge.

Go ahead and taste test the filling too, you know, to make sure its safe or something like that.

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When you are ready, gently unroll the cake and remove the towel. Spread your filling over the top of the cake, leaving about an inch of room along the edges. Roll back in to a spiral and trim the ends. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 2 to 48 hours before serving.

If you like, sprinkle more powdered sugar on top and garnish with fresh rosemary sprigs and cranberries or maybe a beautiful cinnamon stick, shown above.

This traditional holiday cake serves 10 (or less), and one serving is only about 168 calories, so if you have two slices…

That’s all for now. Happy Holidays! I very truly hope you enjoyed my first of many pieces expressing my love for baking, cooking, and providing for my family the best way I can.

Love and light,

A. Jackson

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