Luncheon for the Girls

Having spent much of my growing up years in the metro area as well as living in the metro a couple of times in our marriage, moving to Atlanta back in March was almost like coming “home” for me.

Home is such a comforting place and a welcoming word.  Just like we want our families to feel comfortable and welcome in our home, I also try to make each person who comes through the door feel the same. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s teenagers or adults, old friends or new, or even the Marine recruiter, I want everyone who crosses our thresh hold to know we love having them in our lives and treasure them.

Earlier this week I was so excited to open our new home to an old friend and fellow blogger, Tami Reed (Talking with Tami) for a luncheon and afternoon of girl chat. Tami is an Atlanta area lifestyle blogger who shares fashion, beauty, film, and travel.  She always has something exciting going on!

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Tami checking out a sweet little bird’s nest that we found on the deck with little ones in inside!

It doesn’t matter what stage in life you are, us ladies need good friends!  Tami and I both have sons who will be seniors this year, husbands who travel for work and a desire to enjoy each and everyday so we have a lot in common which always makes for enjoyable moments.

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With a little extra time on my hands, I found it fun to set a pretty, yet simple table using my vintage Noritake china and roses from Kroger.

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{You know I love fresh flowers & they don’t have to be expensive!}

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The roasted green beans were really good with a touch of the orange-riesling sauce.

On the menu was a flavorful resiling orange chicken (adapted from a Williams-Sonoma recipe from years ago), roasted green beans, spring greens with herbs, crisp veggies & French vinaigrette, and fresh berries and cream for dessert.

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Simple with few ingredients, delicious and ready in 35 minutes…. the perfect recipe for company dinner!

Click here for the full Chicken in Orange-Riesling Sauce

We really enjoyed the afternoon catching up with each other lives and it just really felt good!

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What are some of the things that make you feel “home”?  I would love to hear your ideas!  

Have a fabulous weekend!

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Saffron Braised Chicken

Madeline and I just returned from a cruise celebrating her upcoming graduation from high school and while I loved the relaxation, scenery and especially the time with my daughter, I did not enjoy what a cruise does to my waistline!

As soon as we returned home, I immediately took inventory of the pantry and headed to the grocery for healthy eats!  The first thing I do when needing a food detox is to cut my carbs, especially the processed ones.  Needing a little inspiration, I took to my Mediterranean cooking for paleo and found this wonderful recipe for Saffron braised chicken.  Obviously my craving for international flavors is still strong!

A few little tweaks to the recipe, dinner was served. I even planned ahead for leftovers to enjoy as well!

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I loved this dish because of its simplicity and combination of flavors. There is no point in a difficult dish if there isn’t any flavor, so simple is often better in my book.

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Chicken quarters, stock, onion, garlic, spices… ingredients that you can pronounce and that do your body a world of good are the basis of this dish!  With just over an hour to prepare and cook, this makes a better weekend dinner than a busy weeknight.  It’s a one pan dish (I used a Lodge enamel-coated pan) which makes clean-up a breeze.

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And don’t you just love easy clean-up?!

And of course this savory dish with a little International flair is oh-so delicious!

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You can click here for the full Saffron Braised Chicken recipe (with a few of my brand preferences) that you can print off.

There are several options for sides:  if you are cutting grains, use cauliflower rice (I found it pre-made at Publix); rice is Audley’s preference for a side, and I also enjoy mashed potatoes.  This sauce goes well with all three!

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If you make it, let me know what you think!

Have a great weekend!

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A Traditional French Gumbo

What a fabulous whirlwind Thanksgiving weekend was!

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Between Wednesday and Saturday we made time to enjoy Thanksgiving with my family (especially enjoying the time we had with all four of our kiddos & the son-in-love) and the in-laws  in Tennessee, then finally attending my mother’s family 40th annual family reunion just south of Birmingham.  It was so much fun, but I have to be honest with you I am totally over rich, heavy foods, casseroles and desserts, and I am most definitely over turkey!

Looking for something different yet tasty, I looked back over my notes from a cooking class I took part in at the New Orleans School of Cooking a couple of weeks ago and decided a pot of chicken and sausage gumbo was just what we needed to break the monotony of the holiday.

This version of gumbo I learned to make in class is the traditional French, before the Italians and Haitians added their touches to southern Louisiana cuisine, so it does not have tomatoes or okra.  I won’t give you the full cooking lesson, but you use an old-fashioned dark roux for the base which is the traditional French way!

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INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup lard or 1/2 cup bacon grease (strained)

1/2 cup flour

1 pound chicken, cut up and deboned

1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced

2 cups onion, chopped

1 cup celery, chopped

1 cup green bell pepper, chopped

1 TBSP Garlic, minced

6 cups chicken stock

1 cup green onion, slivered

Tony Chachere’s to taste (I prefer the unsalted version)

ASSEMBLING THE GUMBO:

Season (salt & pepper) and brown the chicken in 1/4 cup of the lard or bacon grease over medium high heat in a large pot.  Add sausage to pot and sauté with the chicken.

In a skillet make a roux using equal parts of lard or bacon grease (must be strained &  without particles) and flour to desired color. Heat the grease to medium-high prior to adding the flour to aid in an easier breakdown.  Whisk continually and strive for a dark roux.

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You want your roux to look like dark chocolate … this was buttery color still

You must pay attention to this step because a scorched roux smells horrendous and you’ll have to begin again.  Reduce heat and add your onions, celery, and bell pepper (also known as the Trinity of French cooking) to the roux.  Add the garlic to the mixture and stir continuously.  After vegetables reach desired tenderness, add to pot with the chicken and sausage, continuing to stir frequently with a strong wooden spoon.  Gradually stir in chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer to cook for an hour or more.  Season the gumbo with the Tony Chachere’s to your taste.

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About 10 minutes prior to serving, add green onions.  Serve gumbo over rice or French bread if you choose.

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We LOVED this gumbo and it’s even better heated up a second day after the flavors have had more time to mesh.

What is something you like to serve to break up the rich foods served over the holidays?

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Southwest Chicken & Lime Soup

Winter colds have made their way into our home.  Even though my teenagers and hubby are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves for the most part, I still feel so sorry for them and want to baby everyone as much as possible.  One of my favorite “treatments” for a nasty cold is homemade chicken soup.  Although I don’t think it’s been proven, I truly believe there are medicinal properties to be found in a hot bowl of soup.

If nothing else, a bowl of piping hot soup is so comforting.

Since our taste buds seem to lose their power when colds take over I opted out of traditional chicken noodle soup (which is one of our favorites), and decided to get a little creative with a spicy southwestern flavored chicken soup for our supper last night.

It was warm, comforting, and spicy; everything I had hoped for.

And a real hit with the fam.

Southwest Chicken & Lime Soup

 Ingredients:

6 chicken breast, stewed and diced

1 medium red onion, diced

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

4 celery stalks, chopped

1 large tomato, diced

2 avocado

limes

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons cumin

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon sea salt

cilantro

jalapeños (optional)

2 cartons unsalted chicken stock

Don't you just love lots of color mixed in your meals?

Don’t you just love lots of color mixed in your meals?

Directions:

**Heat the chicken stock in a large stockpot on medium-high heat on the stove top.  Add onion, celery, carrots, tomatoes, & dried spices followed by the diced chicken.  Simmer about 20 minutes.

**Dice the avocado and add to the simmering soup, followed the by the juice of one lime (cut into quarters and squeeze) then toss in the juiced pieces.

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**Simmer another 10 minutes, then ladle into bowls.  Garnish with a lime slice, cilantro and jalapeño (if you want it even more spicy).

Comfort Food

And ENJOY!

Cozy comfort food to soothe a winter cold

Cozy comfort food to soothe a winter cold

I love this recipe for so many reasons; easy, fast (especially if you menu plan & cook your chicken ahead of time), healthy and clean.  Nothing processed in this bowl!

Do you have a favorite soup when colds hit your homes?

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