Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

The temperatures may be warming up at your house, but it’s still pretty cool in my neck of the woods. Hence, I’m still in soup making mode (although I am in soup making mode ALL year to be honest 🙂 ). I found this recipe earlier in the winter, and have made it several times since. It’s a nice twist on one of my old favorites, and is really satisfying on a cool night!

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Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Adapted from: Real Mom Kitchen

Creamy Chicken Noodle

Ingredients:

Base:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 teaspoon celery salt

1 onion, chopped

2 qt. water

½ teaspoon poultry seasoning

2 large carrots, sliced

1 teaspoon onion salt

2 celery stalks, sliced

2 teaspoons salt

Cream Sauce:

Âľ cup butter

1 cup flour

4 cups milk

Instructions:

To make base:

In a stock pot, boil base ingredients for 1 hour.

When chicken is tender, remove from broth and cut into 1 inch pieces and set aside. If the liquid has reduced too much you can add some more water at this point.

Add 2 cups of uncooked noodles and continue to boil for 20 minutes. Make the cream sauce while this cooks.

To make cream sauce:

Melt butter in large sauce pan. Whisk in flour, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly until thickened.

Next, add salt and pepper. Then, add the cream sauce to base mixture. If the soup is too thin after adding the cream mixture, continue cooking until desired thickness.

Notes:

This soup also reheats very well!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 2.0

Hello everyone! I hope the beginning to your spring has been warmer and less snowy than mine! Today I am participating in a weekly meme hosted by Book Journey.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Last week I had to return to the library but did not finish:

Clash of Kings

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over and age of enforced peace are dead…victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky—a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard’s son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King’s Landing. Robert’s two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

A Clash of Kings transports us into a magnificent, forgotten land of revelry and revenge, wizardry and wartime. It is a tale in which maidens cavort with madmen, brother plots against brother, and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside.

Uggg!!!! I HATE not being able to finish a book before the library reclaims it. In this instance, it wasn’t due to lack of effort or interest but merely time. Also, A Clash of Kings (COK) is a LONG book. I have been reading this series on my iPad which means I only get the book for two weeks before the library forcibly takes it back from me (no keeping it for a few extra days and paying a fine). I was able to read A Game of Thrones (GOT) in the allotted two weeks but I really had to commit to it. This time around, I didn’t have as much time (also I think the book might be longer) so I wasn’t able to finish it. I was about 2/3 of the way through before they took it back, but have already placed myself back on the waiting list.

ANYWAY. So far, I am enjoying COK at least as much as I did GOT if not more. As I mentioned in last week’s post, I saw season 1 and 2 of the HBO series before reading the books. For some reason I had a good memory for the events of season1 (GOT), but completely forgot most of what happened in season 2 (COK). Therefore, it has sort of been like I’ve been reading things for the first time which has made it more exciting for me.

I like how the plot becomes much more intricate and complicated in the second book, although there are times where I find myself asking questions like: “who is this guy again? What family is he from/which side is he on?” Similarly, every time the “Davos” chapter comes up there are a few moments where I’m frantically searching my mind trying to remember who he is.  I’m hopeful that I will get to finish the book soon (so I don’t forget everything), but we’ll see.

This week I am reading:

chaos-making-new-science-james-gleick-paperback-cover-art

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

A work of popular science in the tradition of Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan, this 20th-anniversary edition of James Gleick’s groundbreaking bestseller Chaos introduces a whole new readership to chaos theory, one of the most significant waves of scientific knowledge in our time. From Edward Lorenz’s discovery of the Butterfly Effect, to Mitchell Feigenbaum’s calculation of a universal constant, to Benoit Mandelbrot’s concept of fractals, which created a new geometry of nature, Gleick’s engaging narrative focuses on the key figures whose genius converged to chart an innovative direction for science. In Chaos, Gleick makes the story of chaos theory not only fascinating but also accessible to beginners, and opens our eyes to a surprising new view of the universe.

Well as the old saying goes, “when life hands you lemons make lemonade.” The only good thing about COK getting recalled is that I get to start this book a little bit sooner. I will be reading this book for the popular science book club I participate in (with mostly other graduate students) at my university. Every quarter we pick a new book, and meet to discuss it. I like reading these books because they expose me to other scientific disciplines that I am less familiar with, but do so at a level that still allows me to still consider it “pleasure reading.” Previously, we’ve read books on cosmology, neuroscience, and paleontology, and now we get to explore chaos theory. This looks like a good read (it was a finalist for both the Pulitzer and the National Book Award), and I’m looking forward to starting it!

This week I am listening to:

The SistersSynopsis adapted from Goodreads:

Growing up in hardscrabble Kentucky in the 1920s, with their mother dead and their stepfather an ever-present threat, Bertie Fisher and her older sister Mabel have no one but each other—with perhaps a sweetheart for Bertie waiting in the wings.  But on the day that Bertie receives her eighth-grade diploma, good intentions go terribly wrong, setting off a chain of misunderstandings that will send the sisters on separate paths and reverberate through their daughters’ and granddaughters’ lives.

What happens when nothing turns out as you planned?  From the Depression through World War II and Vietnam, and smaller events both tragic and joyful. Bertie and Mabel forge unexpected identities and raise daughters—and sisters—of their own, learning that love and betrayal are even more complicated than they seem.  Gorgeously written, with extraordinary insight and emotional truth, Nancy Jensen’s debut novel illuminates the far-reaching power of family and family secrets.

I am almost done with this book, and will probably finish it this week. I have enjoyed reading it much more than expected. Of course it’s sad at times, but I’m very invested now in finding out what happens to the characters. I’m hoping for some kind of happy ending/resolution, but I’m not sure I will get that.

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What are you reading this week?

It's Monday

Linking up with Book Journey!

Red Lobster’s Cheddar Biscuits

I have to admit, I’m not the biggest fan of the restaurant Red Lobster. I like sea food and all, but I just haven’t found a dish there that I can’t live without. However, I DO really love their biscuits. My mom has a copy-cat recipe that she has made for years with baked potato soup, and I’ve experimented with several recipes from the Internet over the years. A few weeks ago when I made a batch of slow cooker potato soup I decided to make these biscuits to go with it.  So I did the usual internet search, and came across this recipe. It was different from many of the others (for instance it doesn’t call for Italian seasoning), and called for cold butter to increase the fluffiness of the biscuit. I was intrigued, so I went with this recipe. I’m really glad I did–these were AWESOME. They were light and fluffy, and had just the right amount cheese and garlic. This will probably be my recipe of choice from now on!

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Red Lobster’s Cheddar Biscuits

From: Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 via ABCNews.com

Red Lobster Bisquits

Ingredients:

Biscuit:

2 ½ cups Bisquick baking mix

Âľ cup cold whole milk

4 tablespoons cold butter (1/2 stick)

ÂĽ teaspoon garlic powder

1 heaping cup grated cheddar cheese

To brush on top:

2 tablespoons butter, melted

ÂĽ teaspoon dried parsley flakes

½ teaspoon garlic powder

pinch salt

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Combine Bisquick with cold butter in a medium bowl using a pastry cutter or a large fork. You don’t want to mix too thoroughly. There should be small chunks of butter in there that are about the size of peas. Add 1/4 teaspoon garlic, cheddar cheese, and milk. Mix by hand until combined, but don’t over mix.

Drop approximately ÂĽ-cup portions of the dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet using an ice cream scoop.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until the tops of the biscuits begin to turn light brown.

When you take the biscuits out of the oven, melt 2 tablespoons butter is a small bowl in your microwave. Stir in ½ teaspoon garlic powder and the dried parsley flakes. Use a brush to spread this garlic butter over the tops of all the biscuits. Use up all of the butter. Makes one dozen biscuits.

Notes:

I don’t have a fancy pastry brush, so I had just spooned the top layer on the biscuits (as is evident in my picture). If you don’t have a brush, you might want to increase the amount to be “brushed” on top. Regardless of whether or not you have the proper kitchen utensils, these biscuits are delicious!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 1.0

Hello everyone and Happy Monday! Admittedly, I’ve been in a bit of a slump lately when it comes to posting bookish things (and some weeks anything at all). It’s not that I haven’t been reading (oh believe me I have), I just haven’t been blogging much about it. I recently ran across this weekly meme, and decided it’d be a good way to track my yearly reading progress. I’m also hoping it will help me get past this bookish writers block…

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Last week I finished:


The Twelve

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

In his internationally bestselling and critically acclaimed novel The Passage, Justin Cronin constructed an unforgettable world transformed by a government experiment gone horribly wrong. Now the scope widens and the intensity deepens as the epic story surges forward with . . . The Twelve

In the present day, as the man-made apocalypse unfolds, three strangers navigate the chaos. Lila, a doctor and an expectant mother, is so shattered by the spread of violence and infection that she continues to plan for her child’s arrival even as society dissolves around her. Kittridge, known to the world as “Last Stand in Denver,” has been forced to flee his stronghold and is now on the road, dodging the infected, armed but alone and well aware that a tank of gas will get him only so far. April is a teenager fighting to guide her little brother safely through a landscape of death and ruin. These three will learn that they have not been fully abandoned—and that in connection lies hope, even on the darkest of nights.

One hundred years in the future, Amy and the others fight on for humankind’s salvation . . . unaware that the rules have changed. The enemy has evolved, and a dark new order has arisen with a vision of the future infinitely more horrifying than man’s extinction. If the Twelve are to fall, one of those united to vanquish them will have to pay the ultimate price.

Remember when I said I wasn’t going to get too bogged down in series books this year? Yea, well that plan has gone out the window. Last year I read and loved Justin Cronin’s The Passage. It was long and it was sort of about vampires (which I swore I’d never read another book about), but I loved it all the same. So when the second book in the trilogy, The Twelve, was released I knew I’d want to get my hands on it.

I think I loved The Twelve just as much as I did The Passage, and I liked following many of the same characters through this (epically) long novel. The second installment in this series took some twists and turns that were unexpected to me, and I really enjoyed that. I felt like the end was a bit melodramatic, but I guess that was important to set up the final installment in the series. Like The Passage, I listened to The Twelve, which again features Scott Brick’s narration. Previously, I found his voice to be sort of annoying and melodramatic, but I guess after listening to it for so long now (over 50 parts between these two books and about 20 parts previously) it has grown on me. Overall, I’d rate it about 4/5 stars, and anxiously await the final book!

This week I am reading:

Clash of Kings

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

Time is out of joint. The summer of peace and plenty, ten years long, is drawing to a close, and the harsh, chill winter approaches like an angry beast. Two great leaders—Lord Eddard Stark and Robert Baratheon—who held sway over and age of enforced peace are dead…victims of royal treachery. Now, from the ancient citadel of Dragonstone to the forbidding shores of Winterfell, chaos reigns, as pretenders to the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms prepare to stake their claims through tempest, turmoil, and war.

As a prophecy of doom cuts across the sky—a comet the color of blood and flame—six factions struggle for control of a divided land. Eddard’s son Robb has declared himself King in the North. In the south, Joffrey, the heir apparent, rules in name only, victim of the scheming courtiers who teem over King’s Landing. Robert’s two brothers each seek their own dominion, while a disfavored house turns once more to conquest. And a continent away, an exiled queen, the Mother of Dragons, risks everything to lead her precious brood across a hard hot desert to win back the crown that is rightfully hers.

A Clash of Kings transports us into a magnificent, forgotten land of revelry and revenge, wizardry and wartime. It is a tale in which maidens cavort with madmen, brother plots against brother, and the dead rise to walk in the night. Here a princess masquerades as an orphan boy; a knight of the mind prepares a poison for a treacherous sorceress; and wild men descend from the Mountains of the Moon to ravage the countryside.

Although I’ve already seen season 2 of the HBO series, Game of Thrones, I am excited to be working my way through the second installment in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. The third season of Game of Thrones premieres soon, but I think I want to try and read the third book before watching it.

This week I am listening to:

The SistersSynopsis adapted from Goodreads:

Growing up in hardscrabble Kentucky in the 1920s, with their mother dead and their stepfather an ever-present threat, Bertie Fisher and her older sister Mabel have no one but each other—with perhaps a sweetheart for Bertie waiting in the wings.  But on the day that Bertie receives her eighth-grade diploma, good intentions go terribly wrong, setting off a chain of misunderstandings that will send the sisters on separate paths and reverberate through their daughters’ and granddaughters’ lives.

What happens when nothing turns out as you planned?  From the Depression through World War II and Vietnam, and smaller events both tragic and joyful. Bertie and Mabel forge unexpected identities and raise daughters—and sisters—of their own, learning that love and betrayal are even more complicated than they seem.  Gorgeously written, with extraordinary insight and emotional truth, Nancy Jensen’s debut novel illuminates the far-reaching power of family and family secrets.

I was afraid this book might be a little bit depressing, but it’s very well written and I’m enjoying it so far!

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It's Monday

Linking up with Book Journey!

Guacamole Chicken Enchiladas

As I’ve mentioned previously, I really love Mexican food. I especially love guacamole…I would probably eat it everyday if I could. So, when I found this recipe I knew I would love it. And I did. Oh I did. The best part? It was really, really easy. I will definitely be making these again!

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Guacamole Chicken Enchiladas

Adapted from: Real Mom Kitchen

guacamolechickenenchilada

Ingredients:

2 chicken breasts, diced

1 (10 oz) can mild tomatoes with green chilies (like Ro*Tel), drained

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 cup prepared guacamole

6 flour tortillas

2 (10 oz) cans mild red enchilada sauce

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch dish with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Add vegetable oil to frying pan, and saute onions over medium heat. Add in the chicken to the pan and and saute until cooked.

In a large bowl, combine the chicken, canned tomatoes with chilies, onion, and guacamole.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave to make them pliable. Then, fill the tortillas with the chicken mixture and place seam side down in the prepared 9 x 13 inch dish. Pour enchilada sauce over the filled tortillas. Finally, sprinkle evenly with shredded cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until cheese is fully melted. Makes 6 servings.

Notes:

The original recipe called for store-bought guacamole (which I used for the sake of time), but I also think these would delicious (probably even more delicious) with the homemade stuff.

Thursday Thoughts 16.0

It’s hard to believe it’s Thursday already, or that its been a week since I last posted! My only excuse is that I developed a cold late last week, and it has taken me the better part of this week to really get rid of it. Regardless, here is a quick update:

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[1]

So remember that fellowship renewal package that I mentioned last week? Well I read the fine print after I wrote that blog post and it required double the work from last year. Whoops. So of course it took me WAY longer than expected to finish. Not to mention the fact that I developed that cold AND a little bit of anxiety about how sequestration would affect my fellowship. Nevertheless I did get it done, and my fears about sequestration were somewhat alleviated by an email from my agency stating that the fellowship program would likely not be affected by the budget cuts.

[2]

As per usual lately I don’t have a pretty nail art picture for you. However, I did (finally) successfully master the “tape peel” technique used to create stripes. Turns out the trick to getting the hang of that is painter’s tape. I’d read that several places over the past few months, but only recently actually decided to track down the tape. I gave myself this manicure last week, but never took any good pictures of it (and now it’s all flaking off):

3-7-2013

If I had did this one again, I’d definitely make the stripes wider…

[3]

Ugg computers!  My laptop has had multiple issues for quite some time, and I had been putting off getting them fixed. Over the weekend while I was working on my renewal package, my computer over-heated multiple times and did not want to reboot. So I sucked it up and called Dell Tech support. This over heating problem has been an issue for a while, and it has only been getting worse as time goes on. However, it is not one of those computer problems that you can easily point to (i.e. I can’t easily force it to overheat while Dell is on the phone with me), so it took about two hours of various diagnostic tests and pleading to get them to agree to come out, which only worked because my touch pad buttons also happened to be malfunctioning.

Fast forward to yesterday–my Dell technician shows up about 8 a.m. (after a miscommunication and an internet scheduling error had messed things up the day before). He has several largeish boxes in hand, and announces that they have “basically sent me a new laptop without the case” after opening them. This seemed awesome–maybe those two hours I spent on the phone with Dell on Sunday were worth it! Then, the technician proceeds to spend the next 3 hours disassembling and reassembling my entire laptop (several times). After he leaves, I start to plug all of my gadgets backs in and then I make a terrible discovery: none of the USB ports or the headphone jack on the right hand side of the laptop work anymore!!!

Crap. So I call the technician back and he says that it is likely one of the new parts they sent him was “dead on arrival” and that I should call Dell back and have them send another part. Keep in mind that the part that is broken now (which the technician replaced from the new batch Dell sent him) had never given me issues in the first place. Great. So I call Dell back and spend ANOTHER hour on the phone with them convincing them to send me this new part (to fix the replacement part which didn’t need replacing in the first place!). So, the saga continues..

[4]

I’m going to do something right now that I have never done in the history of this blog: admit my dad was right about something. Yes, you all read that correctly. Dad was right….about this one thing. There, I said it.

So way back in 2011, I broke my foot (in a really stupid way). I wore a boot cast for like 6 months, and then went to physical therapy for about 3 months. At the time, I was under 26 and had health insurance both through my school and my dad’s company. Every appointment I went to I paid a $20 co-pay. Honestly, this did not bother me a whole lot because I REALLY needed the physical therapy. I could barely walk across a room without the boot cast when I started it…Anyway Dad was insistent that I was overpaying. He bugged me about it constantly, and I eventually asked the physical therapy company for an itemized bill. They sent it to me…all 40 pages of it. So, being the proactive and thorough individual that I am I just gave up. Well last night the matter was settled once and for all when I checked my mail and saw a very large check from the physical therapy company. Turns out I did overpay…a lot.

So Dad, you were right and I was wrong. Just don’t expect this to happen again anytime soon :p

[5]

Tuesday night was a sad night…because there was NO TRIVIA! We had a big snowstorm on Tuesday and they cancelled trivia…of course we didn’t find that out until after we’d already ordered dinner. Oh well. It was going to be a tough battle anyway because there were only 2 of us present. Next week everyone should be there and we will be ready to take back the victory (I hope).

[6]

Snow, cars, and big city living. Oh my!!!

As mentioned in #5, we had a big snow storm blow through town this week. Anytime we get a largeish snow (6-10ish inches in a day), the city will call a “Snow Emergency” which means that for certain days, no parking is allowed on one side of the street. There are few driveways where I live, so everyone parks on the street. Therefore, anytime a Snow Emergency is called it’s a pretty major inconvenience. This is not only because there are fewer spots in which to park (and it can seem impossible to find one even on a good day) but also because if there is enough snow to warrant calling an “emergency” that means it’s going to be difficult to dig a car out. And it was. Oh it was. It took me about hour for me to get mine out, and that was with a push from a kind passerby. Humph.

Anyway, today was day #2 of the Snow Emergency. I moved my car before 8 am (as required), and went back in my apartment to get ready for the day. By the time I began my walk to school, they had already blocked off the street and were towing a whole block’s worth of cars. I counted no less than 8 tow trucks! Man that would be a REALLY bad way to start your morning!

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Well that’s it for now. Have a great weekend everyone!