Summer is the season of hot weather, going to the beach, cool drinks, grilling, and long lazy days. Conversely, autumn is the season of cooler temps, leaves changing, sweaters, hot apple cider, comfort food, Halloween, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving. For so many of us, it’s time to put the oven on and head back into the kitchen.
Comfort meals are just the thing to help us hit the reset button in the midst of the stresses of work, school, and other obligations that can make us feel a bit off balance. During the week, we often don’t have the time or energy to deal with a long complicated meal. Even a slow cooker can be hard when you don’t have time to put the ingredients together, or some of us have even forgotten to put it on. However, we came across a recipe in Southern Living that is easy, healthy and comes together in less than thirty minutes.
Chicken soup is one of the ultimate comfort foods and cure for all that ails you. The best thing about this soup is you can buy many of the ingredients pre-cooked and pre-chopped. We’ve adapted the recipe for vegans and vegetarians ( no chicken, vegan noodles, and non-dairy milk) as a way to be sure that everyone can find comfort in a hot, creamy soup perfect for the cooler evenings ahead.
Enjoy and Happy Fall!
Creamy Chicken Soup recipe by Southern Living Magazine adapted by Still A Chick Lit
Total Time 25 minutes
¼ cup unsalted butter (unsalted vegan butter)
1 medium-sized yellow onion, finely chopped
3 medium carrots, sliced into 1/2 -inch rounds (about ¾ cup)
2 medium celery stalks, chopped
4 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups fresh spinach or 1 cup frozen peas
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1 bay leaf
¼ cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, sorghum, white rice, or brown rice flour)
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
6 cups unsalted chicken stock (unsalted vegetable stock) (I like Kitchen Basics)
8 ounces Old-fashioned wide egg noodles (you can use pasta, such as orzo or even angel hair spaghetti to keep it vegan/vegetarian)
1 cooked or rotisserie chicken, torn into bite-size pieces (omit for vegan/vegetarian soup)
½ cup heavy cream (dairy: light cream or half and half) (non-dairy: rice, soy, or almond milk)
1 tablespoon Sherry Vinegar
2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Melt butter in a large pot. Add onions, carrots, celery, bay leaf, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened. Add flour, garlic, and smoked paprika. Cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is fragrant and the flour begins to turn brown.
Add stock to the mixture and increase the heat to bring to a boil. Stirring occasionally. Add the noodles, spinach, or peas and cook, stirring occasionally until the noodles are tender. Reduce the heat to low, add the chicken. Cook until the chicken is heated through, about one minute. Stir in the cream, sherry vinegar, and remaining salt. Before serving top with thyme leaves. Serves Four.
For a vegan or vegetarian version of this soup, double the vegetables for an extra-yummy creamy vegetable soup.
There isn’t a lot of knife work for this recipe, however, if you’re not comfortable, most grocery stores and supermarkets have pre-chopped vegetables in their produce section. It’s also a time saver.
Like Beef Stroganoff, Swedish Meatballs reached the height of popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. The recipe is a mixture of ground beef, ground pork, minced onion, breadcrumbs, seasonings, eggs, and heavy cream. It fell out of popularity for a while but saw a resurgence when Ikea brought it to America.
The original recipe requires time and that’s not something a lot of modern families have while living busy lives. Fortunately, we found a recipe by Inspired Taste that includes instructions to make them in a slow cooker and an Instapot or pressure cooker.
Remember, seasoning can be adjusted to your liking. We adapted the recipe to include vegetarians and vegans, so they can enjoy it too.
We hope you will give this a whirl to perk up your Monday night meal.
Crave-Worthy Swedish Meatballs by Inspired Taste. Adapted by Still A Chick Lit
This Swedish meatballs recipe makes juicy and flavorful meatballs with a creamy, rich, and crave-worthy sauce. If you prefer, you can serve the meatballs without the gravy. Serve these with mashed potatoes (or mashed cauliflower), buttered noodles, or roasted vegetables.
For the gravy, Inspired Taste added a few unconventional ingredients. Soy sauce seasons, mustard adds a little zing, and lemon zest brightens up the flavors of the dish.
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk (dairy: whole, 2%, or non-fat) (non-dairy: almond, rice, or soy milk)
2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter, plus more as needed (unsalted vegan butter)
1/2 cup (70 grams) finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch fresh ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard or a pinch of dry mustard powder
1 large egg (2 tablespoons Aquafaba, ¼ cup silken tofu pureed with 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, 1 flaxseed or chia seed egg, or vegan egg replacer)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
FOR THE GRAVY
Butter, as needed (vegan butter or margarine)
3 tablespoons (24 grams) all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, sweet rice, or brown rice flour)
3 cups (710 ml) unsalted beef, chicken, or unsalted vegetable stock (you can also use broth)
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream (Dairy: light cream or whole milk) (non-dairy: full-fat coconut milk or unsweetened almond milk)
1 teaspoon light soy sauce (vegan soy sauce)
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or a pinch of dry mustard powder
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
PREPARE MEATBALL MIXTURE
In a small bowl, tear or chop the bread into small pieces then cover with the milk. Set aside.
Melt one tablespoon of butter in a wide skillet. Add the onions and cook until soft, but not brown; 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the black pepper, allspice, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, and mustard. Cook, stirring everything around the pan for 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl to cool, and then wipe the skillet mostly clean with a paper towel so that it is ready for cooking the meatballs.
Combine the beef, pork, bread, and milk mixture, and the egg in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large food processor). When the onions are warm, not hot, add them to the bowl as well.
Evenly sprinkle the salt over the top of the mixture then beat for about 30 seconds, scrape the sides of the bowl, then beat another 30 seconds to a minute until the mixture looks very well blended. (If you are using a food processor, you may need to stop the processor one more time to move the mixture around a bit.)
Form the mixture into meatballs; we like using a medium cookie scoop that holds about 1 1/2 tablespoons — you should get around 30 meatballs. Move onto cooking or cover and refrigerate up to a day or freeze them (see notes section for our tips).
Heat the oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. (It’s likely you will cook the meatballs in batches. A warm oven helps to keep cooked meatballs hot while you finish cooking all of the meatballs.)
Melt half a tablespoon of butter in the pan used to cook the onions over medium-low heat. Add meatballs and cook, turning every few minutes, until brown on all sides and cooked through; 8 to 10 minutes. It’s unlikely all of the meatballs will fit so you will need to do this in batches (or use two pans). Add more butter to the pan as needed.
Transfer cooked meatballs to the baking sheet and place them into the warm oven.
MAKE THE GRAVY
After cooking the meatballs, make the gravy in the same pan. Depending on how much fat is left in the pan after cooking the meatballs, you may need to remove some or add a little bit of butter. You will need about three tablespoons of fat in the pan.
Decrease the heat to low then scatter the flour over the fat in the pan and whisk until medium blonde in color, about 2 minutes. While whisking, slowly add the broth. Continue to whisk until the gravy begins to thicken. Add the cream and continue to cook until the sauce thickens enough to coat the meatballs, another minute or so.
Whisk in the soy sauce, mustard, and lemon zest. Taste then adjust with salt and pepper, as needed. Remove the meatballs from the oven and add to the gravy. Serve with parsley scattered on top.
The recipe authors Adam and Joanne prefer the combination of beef and pork, If that doesn’t suit you, use 1 ½ pound of ground beef.
If you don’t want to use beef or pork, the combination of 1 pound of ground chicken breast and ground chicken makes for just the right bite.
You can use 1/3 cup of plain bread crumbs instead of fresh bread.
If you don’t have a stand mixer or food processor, you can mix the meatball mixture by hand. An immersion blender works too. If you use your hands, it will affect the texture of the meatballs.
Make-ahead tips: The meatball mixture can be made and refrigerated one to two days in advance.
Freezing the Meatballs:
To freeze cooked meatballs, let them cool enough so you can handle them then add to freezer-safe bags or containers. To reheat them, bake in the oven until heated through. To freeze uncooked meatballs, place the formed balls onto a baking sheet and then into the freezer. Freeze until hard then transfer to freezer-safe containers or bags. To cook them, thaw in the refrigerator overnight then follow the directions for cooking in the recipe above. We do not recommend freezing the gravy, but you can make that in about 5 minutes.
Making Them in a Slow Cooker
You can make this recipe in a slow cooker or crockpot. To do it, follow these steps:
Make the meatball mixture as directed and roll it into balls.
Brown the meatballs to add some sturdiness and color, and then add to the slow cooker.
Make the gravy as directed in the recipe below, but leave out the heavy cream. Instead of adding cream at this stage, add it once the meatballs are cooked, which prevents curdling the cream.
Cook the meatballs on LOW for 4 to 5 hours or on HIGH for 2 hours.
When cooked, turn the heat setting to WARM. Stir in the cream, taste the gravy, and adjust with additional salt and pepper.
Making Them in a Pressure Cooker (example: Instant Pot)
You can make this recipe in a pressure cooker. To do it, follow these steps:
Make the meatball mixture as directed and roll it into balls.
Brown the meatballs to add some sturdiness and color, and then add to the pressure cooker. Depending on your pressure cooker, this step can be done by using the SAUTE function.
Make the gravy as directed in the recipe below, but leave out the heavy cream. Instead of adding cream at this stage, add it once the meatballs are cooked, which prevents the chance of curdling the cream.
Cook the meatballs on HIGH PRESSURE for 8 minutes, and then let the pressure naturally release.
When cooked, stir in the cream, taste the gravy, and adjust with additional salt and pepper.
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It’s hard to believe that August is here. The summertime seems to be flying by much to the dismay of schoolchildren as it will be back to school time soon. There are a number of channels that are devoted to cooking. I recently discovered Recipe TV, and Irish chef, Catherine Fulvio.
Filmed in County Wicklow Ireland, Catherine’s Ballyknocken Cookery School and Bed and Breakfast looks like a slice of heaven straight out of a Hallmark Movie. The surrounding land is lush, green, and full of life and color. A Taste of Ireland and Catherine’s Farmhouse Kitchen serves up recipes with warmth, charm, and care. Catherine is a joy to watch, and it’s extra special when she includes her lovely daughter, Charlotte, as well as the many wonderful residents in town.
There’s a recipe that would make for a lovely morning treat for moms and dads alike, whether you’re a coffee or tea lover. The resulting tea cake is perfect to add a little zen to your day. I have yet to perfect making her family recipe for Barm Brack, but I plan to have a tasty time trying, I hope you do too.
I have included the following recipe adaptations in parenthesis for the following dietary requirements:
Vegan and Vegetarian
If you don’t get Recipe TV in your area, we’ve including the links to Catherine’s Blog and website.
Barm Brack recipe by Catherine Fulvio
1 square cake
350ml / 12fl oz cold Irish breakfast tea (1 ½ cups)
540g / 19 ounces/ about 2 cups raisins (golden raisins)
275g / 9 1/2 ounces 1 ¼ cups sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, monk fruit sweetener, coconut, turbinado, or raw can sugar, pulsed fine)
275g / 9½ oz unsalted butter (2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons) (vegan butter)
400g / 14 oz about 1 1/2 cups* self-rising flour (gluten-free recipe self-rising flour follows)
1 tsp mixed spice (I used cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom)
3 to 4 beaten eggs (1/2 cup Aquafaba, ¾ cup silken tofu pureed with ½ teaspoon baking soda, vegan egg replacer, or egg replacer)
Chopped nuts and glacé cherries (optional)
Preheat the oven to 320°F /160°C/gas 4. Line a 9-inch square cake tin with greased parchment paper. Wrap trinkets such as coins and rings in parchment paper (as tightly and neatly as possible).
Place the tea, fruit, sugar, and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Sieve the flour and mixed spice into a large bowl.
When the boiled mixture has cooled, pour into the flour, and mix well. Add the beaten eggs and mix well again. Pour into the prepared cake tin. Push the wrapped trinkets into the cake mixture (i.e. below the surface, so there is no trace of them when the cake is cooked).
Bake for approximately 1½ hours.
Insert a skewer into the cake to check that it is cooked – if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.
Leave in the cake tin to cool for 20 minutes before removing it onto a cooling rack.
The measurements for the recipe are metric, if possible, weigh your ingredients. It’s the best way to ensure a good bake.
Also, adjust the baking time according to your oven.
Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day. So, instead of grabbing a fast-food breakfast sandwich, why not have a lightly sweet scone to enjoy with your tea or coffee instead.
These recipes come together fairly quickly and you can make the dough ahead of time and refrigerate it for up to two days. These recipes have been adapted for vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and low sugar diets. The substitutions are in the parenthesis next to each ingredient.
A Taste of Ireland recipe for Irish scones adapted by Chamein Canton
Makes 7 large scones and 10 small scones
(225gr / 2 cups) plain all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, white rice, or brown rice flour)
2 heaped teaspoons (2 ¾ US tsp) baking powder
Large pinch salt
1 US level tablespoon) castor sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, monk fruit sweetener granulated, coconut, turbinado, or raw cane sugar, pulsed fine)
2oz (50gr / ½ a stick of butter) chilled unsalted butter (vegan butter)
(280ml / 2 fl. oz / ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons US cups) milk approximately” (dairy: whole, 2$) (non-dairy almond, rice, soy, or light coconut milk)
Beaten egg & sugar to glaze (2 tablespoons Aquafaba or 1 tablespoon soy lecithin)
Preheat the oven to Gas 8 / 450F / 230C
Sift all the dry ingredients together. Rub in the chilled butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the center and add most of the milk. Mix to a soft dough adding all of the milk if required.
Turn out onto a floured surface and knead lightly. Roll out to about 1 inch (2 ½ cm) thickness. Dip the cutter into flour and cut the dough into rounds of 1 ½ inch (4cm).
Place scones on a floured baking tray, glaze with the beaten egg, and put immediately into the hot oven. In 15 minutes approximately, the scones should have risen and had a golden top. Enjoy with Irish butter and homemade jam!
The amount of milk added is determined by where you live and your house. If you’re in a drier area, you may need to add more milk so the dough begins to come together. Be sure not to overwork the dough. If you live in a humid climate, it may take less milk. Use your judgment.
Mini Chocolate Chip scones by Sugar Spun Run adapted by Chamein
2 cups all-purpose flour (465g) gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, white rice, or brown rice flour)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (100g) (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, monk fruit granulated sweetener, golden sugar, coconut, turbinado, or raw cane sugar pulsed finely)
2 teaspoon baking powder (18g)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup very cold unsalted butter frozen is better (226g) (vegan unsalted butter)
1/2 cup heavy cream (237ml) (full-fat coconut milk or 3 tablespoons almond milk with 2 tablespoons melted unsalted vegan butter, cooled. With a stand or hand mixer, mix the butter into the almond milk, then add )
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 F (190C) and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
Thoroughly cut in butter (I prefer to freeze the butter, grate it using a box grater, and then cut it in that way. This method yields the flakiest scones, but is not mandatory — you can use cold butter cut in with a pastry cutter).
Measure out the heavy cream in a measuring cup and add vanilla extract. Stir gently.
Carefully stir heavy cream/vanilla mixture into flour mixture. You do not want to over-mix, but due to the number of dry ingredients, it may be tricky to well incorporate the liquid and the dry mixes. You may briefly use a KitchenAid or electric mixer on a low setting to help coax the dough to cling together.
Once the dough is beginning to cling together, add chocolate chips, stir briefly, and then transfer to a very lightly floured surface
lightly knead the dough and chocolate chips together until you are able to form a ball.
Break the dough into 4 even pieces and round each one out into a disk about 5″ wide.
Cut each into 8 wedges and transfer to cookie sheet.
Bake at 375F (190C) for 14-16 minutes.
While the scones cool, prepare your glaze by whisking together milk, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar. Start with 1 cup powdered sugar, and if it still seems too runny you may increase the sugar amount.
Once scones are cooled, dip, drizzle, or spoon the glaze lightly over the top of each scone. Allow it to sit and harden before serving.
To learn more about Irish Cooking check out A Taste of Ireland on Recipe TV