[Kitchen Kitten] Chicken Noodle Soup to Warm Your Soul

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Winter – it’s not just coming, it’s here.  From some spotted, drizzling downpour in Los Angeles to the outrageous snow storms on the East Coast, a ridiculous flu season and the Game of Thrones Season 5 Trailer, Winter is making it’s mark this year and it’s making it loud and proud.

Fortunately for me, my housemates and my stomach – I’ve been perfecting an impeccable anti-Winter anecdote. Somewhere, wrangled between my nurturing side, a somewhat new fangled love of food, a nurturing Step Mother who’s been eager to teach me to cook and an incredibly Jewish grandmother who did nothing but dote on her family – I’ve stumbled upon the Chicken Noodle Soup recipe to end all Chicken Noodle Soup recipe’s.  It’s got enough root vegetables to reinvigorate your root chakra and a deliriously delicious, savory flavor.  Perfect for large groups on weekend trips, a cozy night in with good friends and stocking up the freezer, this soup is the cat’s pajamas. So get some of your favorite old movies together, cuddle up with your loved ones – furry, and otherwise, and chow down on some of the best homemade soup you’ll ever have, guaranteed.

Ingredients:

I made the following recipe for four people, but let’s be honest it probably could’ve fed 8 if we weren’t starving.

  • 2 CarrotsMade with Repix (http://repix.it)
  • 2 Ribs of Celery
  • 1 Clove Garlic // or 2 tbs minced Garlic + Juice
  • 1 medium Onion
  • 1 Shallot
  • 1 Ginger Root
  • 3 Radishes
  • 1 Potato
  • 4 tbs Butter
  • EV Olive Oil
  • 2 Qt Boxes of Beef Stock
  • 1/2 cup Pasta Shells
  • Handful of Fresh Cut Herbs: Dill, Basil, Mint, Cilantro
  • Fresh Cracked Pepper
  • Sea Salt
  • 2-3 Chicken Breasts
  • 2 Lemons

Tools: Cutting Board, Sharp Knife, Large Soup Pot, Medium Sauce Pan; Extra Points: Vegetable Peeler 

Directions

  1. Get our your chicken breasts, cut them up into manageable – edible – pieces, and marinate it in a basic concoction of Olive Oil, Lemon, Pepper and SaltMade with Repix (http://repix.it)
  2. While the chicken is marinating, peel, slice, dice and mince down your veggies and herbs.
  3. Heat up your Soup Pot to medium heat, and we’re going to cook down the chicken. Because there are going to be so many aromatics added layer by layer, just toss in the chicken and the marinade; and then add 2 tbs of butter. Trust. Turn 3 times, every 2 Made with Repix (http://repix.it)minutes. Take the chicken out and let it rest on some paper towels; don’t worry if it’s not completely cooked – it’ll get there!
  4. Toss in the shallot, onion, ginger and  garlic. Cook for 3-5 minutes, then add the rest of the veggies, 2tbs of Butter and season heavily with salt; cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Add your beef stock.  And I know what you’re thinking: but AMANDA, we’re making Chicken Noodle Soup! Yep, I know – let me show you the way. Add salt, pepper and fresh herbs to taste and bring it to a boil.
  6. One thing I’ve found over time is that when my noodles sit in the soup for too long, they kind of – take over – the soup; so, to avoid creating an awkward consistency, and for saving’s sake, I’ve been cooking my noodles in a separate sauce pan and really enjoying the flavor of the soup.  While the soup is coming to a boil, add water and a pinch of salt to the medium sauce pan and bring to a boil as well.
  7. Once the soup is boiling, add the chicken and cook for 10 more minutes.
  8. Let the pasta cook until tender, drain – and voila! Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

What are your tips and tricks for your favorite recipes? I’m always looking to try new things; let me know in the comments below!

[Make Your Own] Translucent Tinted Glass Masterpieces

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Over the past few years, I’ve turned dabbling in DIY into a full fledged hobby and lifestyle.  It feels like only yesterday that I was still living in West Hollywood, enjoying a full fledged “Ah-Ha!”-moment while figuring out what to do with my extraneous glassware, jars and jugs.  I’d been scouring the internet, hoping onto Pinterest and not so secretly scrounging boards of friends and strangers alike.  I’d seen some awesome tutorials and the like floating around a few of my favorite websites and decided to give them a try; voila – my obsession with candle crafting and creations was boldly curated.

Between picking the perfect colors and aromatically inspiring scents, rummaging through old glassware to find the perfect fit, educating myself on chromeotherapy and using the new moon to fuel my creativity, I not just think, but know, that I’ve found my happy place.  Now, when I look back and I take a gander at the vast oeuvre of DIY that I’ve partaken in, I’m slightly blown away.  What began with an obsession with setting up sparkling mason jar candles, manifested into manufacturing the real thing  and a revving up a full blown ETSY Candle Shop to spread the love of my crafts, repurposed jewelry and, of course, candles!  In a sense, you could say I’m hooked.

Conquering candle creation was one thing, but decorating and adorning the glass is quite the horse of a different color! Though I’ve never considered myself “artistic” in the “Paint me like you paint your French girls” manner, I definitely can get as artsy as the rest of ’em.

After months of toiling and trying with oft combinations of glitter and glue to decorate the mason jars, the glitz and glamour more often than not washing away between uses, I’ve been searching for a way to switch it all up.  For the record, I’ve finagled mosaic mirror tile on the outside with glitter and gems on the inside; plaid patterns, whimsical color swatches, you name it – I tried to DIY it.  Needless to say, when I saw an simple home tutorial for color casting glassware – I was intrigued and quickly queried the inter-webs for all the necessary supplies. Mason jars evolve into exquisite candles, makeup brush holders and pencil keepers, former wine bottles transform into elegant vases and like night to day – what was once in your trash can become treasure, in mere minutes!

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Not only did it look awesome, but it seemed simple enough and wasn’t about to break the bank.  Michaels‘ has some sporadic things, but – mostly, I’ve found it to be overpriced.  You can search high and low for warehouse and discount websites, but suffice it to say – Amazon‘s got you covered.

Supplies + Tools

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  • Assorted Upcycled and Recycled Glass Jars, Mason Jars, Old Spaghetti Jars, Jelly Jars, Wine Bottles….glass, basically.
  •  Mod Podge: Gloss Lustre
  •  Food Coloring in Multiple Colors. remember the color wheel from Kindergarten? Awesome. We’re about to use it.
  •  Small Cups for Mixing Colored Gloss
  •  Paintbrush(es)

Around the house items – it shouldn’t be much trouble scrounging these up, but so they’re at your ready:

  • Oven. We’re turning it into a faux-kiln!
  • Baking Sheet
  • Wax Paper or Aluminum Foil
  • Paper Towels.  Apparently paint is messy, or so my kitchen floor informed me the next morning…

Instructions – Time: 1 hour, with considerable downtime 

  • 2015/01/img_6689.jpgIf you’re reusing an old candle – handwash the glass candle holder to remove the outside label and leftover wax, then dry before next step
    • If you’re having trouble, a little GooGone should do the trick (or any form of Olive Oil or Baby Oil)
  • Get a few mixing cups out and let’s make some colors! Pour about a (1/4) to (1/3) cup of Mod Podge (don’t bother measuring, just pour it) into your receptacles and let’s mix it up.  First, a few fun tips 4 to 3 Blue :: Red Ratio makes a pretty Purple
    • 4 to 1 Yellow :: Red Ratio gets a lovely Orange
    • 2 to 1 Green :: Yellow Ratio creates a mellow Green
    • 3 to 1 Red :: Blue Ratio transforms into a nice pink
  • Take your colors one by one and pour them into each of your jars.
  • Let the tinted Mod Podge coagulate on the bottom and slowly swirl until all sides are color coated

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  • Set up your baking sheet with aluminum foil or wax paper, whichever floats your boat; then line it with some paper towels.
  • Turn the glasses upside down on the paper towels and and let all excess Podge drip down; let them sit for 30 minutes

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  • While the colors set in, let’s set the oven to preheat at 225° and make sure there’s enough height for all the glasses.
  • After half an hour has passes, remove from paper towels and turn them right side up on piece of newspaper .
  • Toss your paper towels away, if necessary – swap out your aluminum or wax paper; and now you’re ready for a science project!
  • Turn those chromatically appealing pieces of glass right-side up and onto your baking sheet, put your baking sheet in the oven, sit back – and enjoy that entire bottle of wine you just whimsically poured out because you realized the wine bottle makes the cutest little vase.  Yes, you; I see you.
  • Leave glass in oven for 30 minutes.
  • When your timer goes off, grab your office mitts (yes, they’re hot!) – set your baking sheet in an appropriate location and then take a gander at what you’ve created.  It’s pretty effing neat.

From vases to candles, vacation jars, coin collectors and memory keepsakes – whatever you choose to turn your tinted glassware into, make it with love and make it yourself!

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[Kitchen Kitten] D.I.Y. Pickled Veggies

madewithOver (25)I’m officially a week and a half into my ’30 Before 30′ challenge and happy as a clam. After a few days of plodding through bullet points, I separated my list into two partitions; the first, “one time” or “jumping off” points if you will (like camping at Joshua Tree or making my own candles), and the later ended up as a culmination of ideas that I want to spend the year progressively getting better at (reading sheet music, relearning French and my weekly yoga practice).  What seemed like a series of mountains instead of molehills magically transformed into a full fledged plan of attack. First up, something I’ve been itching to try since I started infusing olive oils – making my own pickled vegetables!

One of the most satisfying feelings in the world is combining my love of amazing foods – in this case, all things pickled (cucumbers, olives, mushrooms, quail eggs – you name it, I love chowing down on it) – with my addiction to easy and affordable DIY projects. I sifted through cookbooks and did a fair share of online searching, and there are a gaggle of pickling recipes out!  Take your time and bounce though a few different websites to get your bearings on the matter.  The way I see it, cooking is a lot like art – you can color between the lines and follow the instructions perfectly, or you can think outside the box and create something new. Don’t be afraid to combine bits and pieces of recipes from multiple sources, because that’s exactly what I did and it turned out phenomenally.

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There’s a few different things to take into account as you begin: What type of vegetables are you planning on pickling?  Some veggies – like cucumber and onions – can be tossed into your jars from the get-go; but for veggies that land on the sturdier side (potatoes, mushrooms, carrots), you’ll want to blanch them first so they don’t lose any coloring or flavor. Don’t worry, I’ll explain below! Would you prefer them to be savory and full of dill? Want to kick up the spice and add some chilis? Or, would you rather they land on the sweeter side?  If you plan on using multiple containers, you don’t have to make that decision – which is perfect for someone like me who simply wants it all. Now, you have the luxury of switching things up at the leisure of your taste buds, so get down with your bad self and spice each one as desired.

Vegetables: if you like bar snacks or a heavily garnished Bloody Mary, you might want to get a little wild with this.

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What I Used

  • 1 Cucumber
  • 2 Carrots
  • 1 cup Pearl Onions
  • Israeli Pickles
  • 1 Cup Small, Whole Mushrooms
  • Tunes – this week’s soundtrack comes from Jody Wisternoff of the  Progressive House duo Way Out West.  I’ve been a fan of the group for a few years now but it wasn’t until recently that I was turned onto the solo ventures of Jody or the other half of WoW, Nick Warren.  Whether together or on their own, they provide a beautifully calm soundtrack to your endeavors.

Brine:  You can make as little or as much brine as you’d like, just remember this – it’s a 2:1 ratio of water to vinegar. 

  • madewithOver (23)4 Cups Water (If you local tap water is a little cloudy, use bottled)
  • 2 Cups White Vinegar or Cider Vinegar
  • 1/8 cup Salt (non-iodized; if you want to get fancy – pickling salt exists)
  • Fresh Dill
  • Mint Springs
  • Peppercorns
  • 1/2 Cup of Garlic Cloves

Tools:

  • 1 large Sauce Pan
  • cutting board
  • sharp knife
  • cucumber peeler 
  • Canning or Mason Jars (old Spaghetti Sauce Jars work, too!) + Lids
  • salad tongs (optional)

After a few trial rounds, I’m proud to say that I’ve mastered the pickle rhetoric and I can fly solo without instructions in front of me. I can’t wait to share, so let’s get this pickle party started!

Instructions

  • Put your basic brine (vinegar, water and salt) into a large sauce pan; bring it to a boil for two to thee minutes as the salt dissolves.  Take brine off of heat and let it cool to room temperature.  As you’re waiting…
  • Wash, slice and dice your veggies to fit your jars
  • Take the sturdier veggies and blanch them for two minutes: heat up some water with a teaspoon of salt, throw ’em in then toss them into an ice bath when you’re done.
  • Add your spices to the containers, then layer your vegetables on top; you can make each jar unique, or you can make them splash with color and mix them all together. Make sure to leave about 1/2 an inch so the brine can cover them completely!
  • Once the brine has cooled, pour it into your jars and shove them to the back of your fridge.  Depending on how impatient you are (or how much of a flavor fiend you fancy yourself), you can let them sit for anywhere between 10 hours and 2 weeks, depending on how long they fermented you can keep them for a month (quick brine) or four.

[Self-Discovery] My ’30 Before 30′ Bucket List

Ever since I turned 29 in December, my head’s been swimming with ways to make the last year of my 20’s a fabulous one.  I woke up with the urge to challenge my personal growth last week, and I realized that a ’30 before 30′ bucket list was the perfect way to approach the big 2-9. Sure, maybe it’s a little late and overly ambitious to accomplish 30 things in about 48 weeks, but I’ve always been a better performer under pressure and after the ‘7 Life Resolutions‘ I started living by last year, I know I’m up for the challenge.  While compiling this list, I’ve had a handful of ah-ha moments and tiny epiphanies – the first being this: personal goals shouldn’t be tied to anyone else’s existence.   Instead, these goals should further your sense of self and individual happiness.  After all – how can you successfully contribute to your community, or to a relationship, if you haven’t proven that you can contribute to your own growth?  And on the flip-side, don’t believe that growth is a unidirectional endeavor; growth is perpetually infinite and occurs in 360°. In the years after college, there was such a rush to pursue a corporate career that the idea of evolving creatively, or in the kitchen, or spiritually, had fallen by the wayside.  Like my parents always said when I was a kid – there’s simply no way to do everything,  but like I’ve always believed, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.  I can’t wait to incorporating these milestones into my year and become the best version of myself; I know my spirit, my mind and my body will grow in ways I never thought possible.

  1. Read sheet music
  2. Make potstickers
  3. Travel outside of the US
  4. Get published in the Huffington Post
  5. Learn how to ride a bicyclemadewithOver (2)
  6. Get a new tattoo
  7. Pickle my own vegetables
  8. See the Grand Canyon (Saw Zion + Bryce, though!
  9. Have a ‘make-your-own-sushi’ date night
  10. Walk the Golden Gate Bridge
  11. Maintain + use an herb garden
  12. Develop a dedicated Yoga + Meditation Practice
  13. Read at least a book a month
  14. Go camping under the stars
  15. Learn French
  16. Buy a stranger’s meal
  17. Cancel Cable for a Month
  18. Shoot a Gun
  19. Organize my iTunes Library
  20. Do the splits
  21. Watch a Meteor Shower
  22. Host a dinner party
  23. Make Candles
  24. Crochet a blanket
  25. Road Trip to Oregon
  26. Find the perfect shade of lipstick
  27. Visit every museum in LA
  28. Be an extra in a Movie / TV Show
  29. Learn to use a DSLR Camera
  30. Find new hikes