Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Sick Days: Soup, Vicks, Emergen-C and TLC

We have had a week of sickness around the Hunt house. Strangely, it has spanned the gamut from a migraine headache mom; to a stomach-nastiness-turned dry-coughing-at-night and runny-nose-in-the day girl; to a coughing-hacking-sniffling boy... and in my mind is swirling, "the nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever..." NyQuil's classic ad.

So, the comfort measures in our home have been:
drinking lots of liquids – water, water, water (the healing flush)
and hot tea with honey,
and icy orange juice.
Eating popsicles, and taking Emergen-C (I swear by it, to help preempt the sickness when you first start to detect it, and to lessen the symptoms and quicken the course for after the sickness has already set in). It's like Airborne.  It's a packet of tangerine fizzy yumminess that is packed with vitamins and protective factors.

And Soup. I made Tortellini soup, which I had made just the other day for Valentine's dinner when Lane came to hang out.  Though that day, it was actually Tortellini Ravioli Soup.  Dave had done the grocery shopping and there was a slight mix up in that he got cheese ravioli from the freezer section instead of cheese tortellini.  Thankfully it was mini ravioli and so it could legitimately be eaten as soup because it fit in the spoon.  So, we had ravioli in our "tortellini" soup.  I told Dave it was apropos for our Valentine meal, as "love bears all things" came to mind from I Corinthians 13.
Tortellini Ravioli Soup

I made it this week again, and this time with the tortellini and it was super yummy and I would have to say, less awkward to eat.

You really can't go wrong with this recipe.  You can add to and take away from and make it the way you like it.  You can use meat-filled tortellini, you can add beans to the soup, or use cheese-filled and then add hunks of Italian sausage or turkey/chicken sausage if you'd like.  You can add other veggies chopped and sauteed; or add more diced tomatoes or less spinach.  Tweak it and make it your own.

Asher described it as tasting like "pasta soup".
He's right.
Tortellini Soup and Salad

Tortellini Soup
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 to 1 cup onion, chopped (depending on your preference)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with juices
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 bag of tortellini, any variety (fresh or frozen)
3 cups fresh baby spinach, loosely packed and cut into slices
Salt and Pepper to taste
Crushed Red Pepper flakes (optional)
Grated parmesan, for serving

In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions to the pan and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add in the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, just until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Mix in the oregano, basil and diced tomatoes.  Add the broth to the pot.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Add the tortellini to the pot and cook according to the package directions.  One minute before the tortellini is fully cooked, stir in the spinach.  Remove from the heat.  Season with salt and pepper to taste (and a few crushed red pepper flakes if you want a kick).  Serve warm with grated parmesan as desired.

I also made a new twist on Snickerdoodles, as per this BLOG that I love, In Praise of Leftovers.  They are Brown Butter Snickerdoodles and are rich and lovely.  Dave, my resident Snickerdoodle-freak, however, still stands by my recipe as his favorite.

And then my mom, knowing that I had children coughing up lungs around here, texted me the amazing trick she just heard of.  You put a liberal coat of Vicks Vapor Rub on the bottoms of the child's feet and cover with socks, before bedtime and it keeps their coughing at bay during the night.  She emailed me this LINK to the article.  Fascinating, huh? Therefore, we have been slathering Mentholatum and/or Vicks on my kids feet this week and it has been really effective.  And, of course,  the humidifier is being rotated room to room each night depending on who's in the greatest need.

So, that's what's happening in our house.

I hope you and your household are doing well.  We are hanging in there, making the most of the time for snuggles, and comfort food, and lots of Tender Loving Care. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

French Toast For Breakfast... or Dinner

I really love breakfast foods.  However, sometimes it's too early in the morning for me to want heavy or savory things, and of course most mornings I don't have time to prepare breakfast meals.  It's most likely that I eat yogurt and granola, a bowl of fruit or oatmeal, or an english muffin with a fried egg.  So I love breakfast for dinner! I have more time to prepare and I am more in the state of mind for a heartier meal.

The only problem is that my husband is reluctant about the concept of breakfast for dinner, or at least he once was.  When we would discuss what we should have for dinner I would throw out ideas, and we would go back and forth talking through our options. Then when I would suggest breakfast for dinner he would say, "oh...really? breakfast for dinner?"  I saw this becoming a trend and so I asked him what his hang up was with breakfast for dinner.  Direct communication is always the best. (Just a little free therapeutic advice I thought I'd throw in).  He said, "I guess it's just hard to think of breakfast...for DINNER".  This didn't dissuade me.  Finally we uncovered that it was the meat category.  His favorite part of breakfast for dinner was meat: bacon, sausage, country ham, etc. and yet sometimes we would have a meatless breakfast for dinner.  So I made him a promise that I would try to always serve meat when we have breakfast for dinner. And he committed to being open to breakfast for dinner.  It was win-win.

For our Breakfast for Dinner Menu we usually have:
something bready: biscuits, muffins, toast, waffles, scones, pancakes or french toast;
and something eggy: poached eggs, scrambled or fried eggs, a strata or such;
some fruit...cause we love fruit;
coffee and juice (sometimes icy orange juice if the kids get their wish);
and MEAT: bacon usually, but sometimes sausage, country ham, or sometimes we'll put some deli turkey that we have for sandwiches on the griddle and warm it up.

One of my favorite breakfast foods is french toast.  The best french toast from a restaurant, in my book, is at the Pancake Pantry.  We went there for my birthday last week.  It is incredible...though it should be since they charge $9 for a plate of it. (I could serve my entire family french toast for less than that)!

I was trying to decide what makes it so super great and I really think there are a few keys, starting with thick Italian bread slices. The cinnamon and powdered sugar on top and the whipped salted butter are definitely part of what makes it special.  (Oh and that amazing cinnamon cream syrup with the pancake syrup poured together on top are an amazing aspect as well).

My favorite recipe that I have found is in The Best Recipe. (I talked about this cookbook HERE). They give a scientific explanation for the egg-to-milk ratio needed to create the perfect french toast depending on the type of bread being used.  It is a great recipe and has been my go-to for years.

French Toast (adapted from The Best Recipe)
1 large egg
1 cup milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
8-12 slices firm, day-old European-style bread, such as French or Italian, 3/4 inch thick
Butter to grease skillet

Heat 10 to 12-inch skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile beat egg lightly in shallow pan or pie plate; whisk in milk and vanilla, and then sugar, flour, and salt, continuing to whisk until smooth.


Soak bread without over-saturating, about 30 seconds per side. Pick up bread and allow excess batter to drip off; repeat with remaining slices.

Swirl 1 Tbsp of butter in hot skillet. Transfer prepared bread to skillet.

Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes on first side and about 1 minute on the other side.

(Continue adding 1 tablespoon of butter to skillet for each new batch.)

Sprinkle with cinnamon and powdered sugar.

Serve immediately with butter and syrup. 

So whether for breakfast or dinner, or lunch for that matter, I recommend you try this french toast recipe, pronto!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

My Someday List & Oatmeal Raspberry Bars

I am an avid list maker. I come by it honestly – we're a list-making family. It’s what we do – (though they vary in methodology and rigor).  I always have multiple lists going. Sometimes, when my mom and I need to feel productive, we put things on our lists that we are already doing just so we can have the satisfaction of marking things off the list.  I have lists of:
things to do at work, 
things to do at home, 
long range "to do" lists, 
house project "to do" lists, 
foods to make, 
foods that I’ve made and photographed to blog at some point, 
bucket lists, etc. 
A new list I’ve started is a “some day" list. 
This list contains things that someday I want to do.  They are inspired by people doing them for me and they mean so much that I want to do them for someone someday, or they are things I see others doing that I want to also do when the time is right. Many of these things are related to my children when they are grown, things to write about, places to go, hobbies to try.

Here are a few things on my “Some day List” :

My friend, Blair’s mom, Ruth, has sent amazing baked goods to me via Blair as a THANK YOU for loving her daughter in Nashville, being a home away from home for her, as she lives a few hours from home. She sent these INCREDIBLE oatmeal raspberry bars which I love, and a lovely plump loaf of her homemade whole wheat bread. She included a lovely note of gratitude.   
Little does she know that WE are the blessed ones!  Blair's wonderful presence and friendship to our family is a gift.  

(I thought to myself, “do this someday”! When my kids are out of my nest. I want to show gratitude via notes and food to those who love and take them into their families and homes). 

another thing on my "do that someday" list is:

When Dave and I bought our first house, I was so excited to have a home and super excited to have a porch on which to rock.  Evidently, I had expressed this dream of porch-rocking to my coworkers at Oasis Center, because the week we moved into our house, we arrived home to our new house, to find a rocker on the front porch with a large bow on top with a card attached.  They put their money together and bought and delivered a rocker to the porch of my new house.  A dream come true- a house with a porch and a rocker to rock in.  It was an overwhelming and unforgettable moment many years ago, where I felt so supported and celebrated by my co-workers about something happening in my personal life (buying our first home).  It meant the world to me!  

    My friend, Hannah, told me many moons ago about something her mother-in-law did when Hannah went to visit. Her mother-in-law would have fresh flowers and a magazine on the bedside table in the guest room where they would stay awaiting her when she arrived.  She said these lovely touches made it feel like such a vacation to visit their home and she felt so honored and welcomed.  I want to do that someday!
I hope someday if Asher marries, I can bless his wife with lovely touches like that.  I expect the way I will love Lainey and Lucy’s someday-husbands will be cooking their favorite foods, like my mom has so wonderfully done for my husband. 

These are a few of the items on my "to do some day"list.  

In the meantime, I am making these oatmeal raspberry bars when I need an easy to make, tasty treat! 

There are many versions of this recipe with little differences.  I think one (Ruth's) is a winner. It has so few ingredients! The ingredients are lots and lots of butter, brown sugar, oats, self-rising flour and raspberry jam.  
This recipe is simple and yummy!

2 sticks butter (softened)
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup brown sugar
2 ½ cups oatmeal (old-fashioned oats)
10 oz. raspberry jam (seedless is best)

Mix first 4 ingredients with hands until crumbly.
Spray a 9 X 13 pan with cooking spray.  Line pan and up sides with foil or parchment. Spray the liner.
Pat half of the mixture into the pan.  
Spread jam over the first layer and top with the remaining oatmeal mixture. 
Bake at 375˚for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.  Cool and cut.

You can add toasted coconut, or change the kind of jam.  You can make them in a smaller pan if you want them thicker. You really can't go wrong, I don't think.
Thank you, Ruth, for inspiring me and sharing your daughter with us! I hope my kids will bless families they meet when they leave the nest, like Blair does.   And I hope I will be as thoughtful to those people as you have been to me.