Nanny’s Chicken Noodle Soup

noodles 2

Hi there! I hope you’re all enjoying your summer, despite this week’s super hot temperatures. Between job applications, work, and planning my own wedding, I’ve been keeping busy. I know most people don’t really crave soup during the summer, but I’ve been craving this traditional Williamson family dish ever since finding a recipe similar to it on Pinterest.

My mom’s mom, Nanny (Mabel), was, hands down, the best cook I’ve ever known. No one ever passed through the doors of her home without being offered something to eat, and everything she made was amazing. I remember staying over at the house during the summer, helping my Nan in the kitchen while my sister would be watching TV with our Pop (Ralph) in the living room. In the afternoons, we’d have toasted PB&J’s on Pennsylvania Dutch potato bread, and with whatever we would have for dinner, there was applesauce on the table. Always applesauce. Even though my grandmother was legally blind, she could still whip up delicious meals. This lead to more of a “to taste” and “to feel/texture” method of cooking, which is why I don’t think we’ll ever be able to make her chocolate peanut butter fudge topping correctly: she never wrote it down, so we don’t know the proportions.

After pinning a recipe for chicken noodle soup, one of my older cousins commented that it sounded like the one Nan would make. This is one of those “puts the meat on your bones” recipes, and I strayed from the Pinterest recipe a little bit to make it more authentic to the taste I remember. Enjoy!

noodles 1

Yes, I *did* realize after I put the soups in the pot that I had forgotten to get a group shot of the ingredients.

Nanny’s Chicken Noodle Soup
Ingredients

1 26 oz. can of condensed cream of chicken soup (or whatever adds up to about 26oz.)
1 10.75 oz. can of condensed cream of mushroom soup (I accidentally threw that can out before I took this…)
3 14.5 oz. cans of chicken broth (or one BIG can)
2 cups diced, cooked chicken meat
2 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. seasoning salt (I left this out to cut down on sodium)
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2 9 oz. bags of Reames egg noodles*

(My mom reminded me that it has to be Reames egg noodles, since that’s the kind that Nanny always used.)

In a large pot, mix the cream of chicken soup, cream of mushroom soup, chicken broth, and chicken meat. Season with onion powder, seasoning salt, and garlic powder. Since Nan never really measured the seasonings, I didn’t either. I used the “about right” measurement. Bring to a boil, and stir in the noodles. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.

 What are your family’s favorite recipes?

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Cookie Table Project #2 – M&M Cookies

If you had asked me a month ago how often I’d be able to blog during the month of May, I probably would have said often. Well, it’s May 23rd and this is my first blog post for the month of May. Worse yet, I started my Cookie Table series of posts a long time ago and have only given you one recipe. Don’t worry — I promise I will be better about this. Look for several cookie-related posts in the next 2 weeks. My cousin’s wedding is just around the corner, so cookies need to be made soon. Especially be on the lookout for the Thumbprint Cookie recipe that I plan on blogging about sometime next week — it’s not to be missed!

As I discussed in my last post, things have been crazy. I finished my thesis and it was approved by my committee and by the Dean of the graduate school. Oh yeah, and I graduated on Saturday. So did Abbie! Yay for the Master’s Degree Dames!

Here’s a picture:

 

So, now that graduation is over, I have a lot of free time and I plan on blogging more.

And with that, I give you my new favorite M & M cookie recipe:

 

Red’s Ultimate M&M’s Cookies

Unlike the Lemon Burst Cake Mix Cookies I blogged about in March, I didn’t get this recipe from Pinterest. Instead, I used good old Google to find a good M&M cookie recipe. And who better to turn to than M&M’s themselves for a perfect recipe?

Even though I made them completely from scratch, these cookies were relatively simple to make and only took me about 1 hour from dough to cooling rack.

I modified the recipe slightly by using margarine instead of butter, and I have written the recipe on this blog post to reflect that change, but the link above will take you to the M&M’s website which has the original recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup margarine, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed firmly
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1- 12 ounce package mini M&M’s candies

 

Directions:

1. In a large bowl or in any stand mixer (I use my awesome KitchenAid Mixer), combine the margarine, granulated sugar, and brown sugar. Beat mixture until is it blended well.

2. To this mixture, add the egg and the vanilla. Beat for approximately 1 minute until the mixture is well blended and creamy.

3. Add the flour and baking soda. Add the flour one cup at a time and blend after each cup, that way the flour won’t go flying when you turn the beaters back on.

 

4. Mix the flour and baking soda into the sugar mixture well, until it looks like this:

Don’t mind my Christmas mini M&M’s — they were leftover from the holidays. Can’t let them go to waste!

5. Finally, add the 12 ounce bag of mini M&Ms to the dough and fold them in using a spoon or spatula. Do NOT use the mixer to mix in the M&Ms — you’ll end up with broken M&Ms and a mess (especially if using a traditional mixer or hand mixer with the 2 metal beaters).

6. Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees and grease cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray. I use two cookie sheets at a time to make things go faster.

7. Drop approximately 2 teaspoons worth of dough for each cookie, placing each cookie 1 and 1/2 to 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. I can get 12 cookies on each cookie sheet.

8. Bake cookies for 10-13 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned around the edges. They will still be soft in the middle. As the M&M website says, be careful not to overbake them.

This recipe makes about 50 cookies and they taste really good.

Definitely by careful about how long you bake them — if you leave them in too long, they tend to flatten out and become hard and crispy.

I’m not sure if I’ll make these for my cousin’s wedding, but they were fun and delicious to make anyway. 🙂

Happy Baking!

Cookie Table Project: Lemon Burst Cake Mix Cookies

Note: This is part one of a double post (the posts, though, are unrelated and do not have to be read in order).

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In my last post, I gave you a little history lesson on the cookie table and previewed the first cookie I was going to try in my little “cookie experiment” in the months leading up to my cousin’s wedding.

The first cookie I  tried was: Lemon Burst Cake Mix Cookies. I found the recipe through Pinterest, but the original recipe can be found on the TidyMom.net blog.

Lemon Burst Cake Mix Cookies

Makes about 5 dozen small cookies.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Lemon Cake Mix (approximately 18 oz)
  • 8oz. Cool Whip (thawed)
  • 1 egg*
  • Powdered Sugar

Baking Tools:

  • Parchment Paper
  • Stand or Hand Mixer
  • Cookie Sheet(s)

Parchment paper is essential for making this recipe. Plus, it makes cleaning up a breeze!

 

Directions:

  1. If your Cool Whip is frozen, make sure to thaw it completely before starting.
  2. In a bowl, combine the cake mix,  Cool Whip, and egg.
  3. Beat the mixture well, for 1-2 minutes, until all ingredients are fully incorporated into one another. The dough will be slightly sticky and look a little like taffy.
  4. Place approximately 1/2 cup of powdered sugar in a small bowl (to roll the cookies in before placing them on the baking sheet.)
  5. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper. IMPORTANT: Do NOT use wax paper. Wax paper should not be used to bake with and is not an alternative for parchment paper.
  6. Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into the powdered sugar, completely coating the dough ball before placing it on the cookie sheet. 
  7. Bake cookies at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

    These are what the cookies look like when about 2/3 of the way done. They will still be soft when you take them out, but leaving them sit for a minute or so will make them firm.

  8. Cookies will be soft when first removed from oven.
  9. Cool cookies on a rack.
  10. Eat!

 

Tips:

  • *A commenter on the TidyMom.net blog suggested using 2 eggs for a fluffier cookie. I might try this next time. My cookies were a little flat, but not so flat that they were a failure.
  • Thaw your Cool Whip but keep it cold. The colder the Cool Whip is, the easier the dough is to handle. I definitely noticed that as the dough got warmer, the cookies didn’t come out as nice.
  • Watch out for the powdered sugar! Coating the dough leaves a lot of powdered sugar on the baked cookies and if you inhale the wrong way, you’re left with a powdered sugar-induced coughing fit. Haha!

 

The Verdict:

These cookies were amazing. Plain and simple. They were light and slightly chewy. Just lemony enough without being overpowering and not overly sweet. I will definitely make them again and hope to make them for my cousin’s wedding. The only downside to them is that I don’t think they are the kind of cookie that will freeze well, so I’d have to make them close to the event.

🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Hiatus

This post is going to somewhat piggyback off of Abbie’s most recent post. My life has been fairly hectic recently as I’m sure many of yours have been as well. Between finishing my first semester of graduate school, to coming home from school for our break, to shopping for Christmas, decorating the house, and constantly going to a social gathering-it’s been crazy, hectic, and stressful, but I wouldn’t change it for anything else in the world. (Needless to say, all this craziness has caused me to neglect my dame duties!)

As Abbie mentioned, this time period is extremely intense and can cause a number of meltdowns (don’t worry-we’ve all been there). Despite the fact that there are so many happy and exciting events going on, it’s easy to get caught up in all the craziness and forget to appreciate and experience the meaning of these gatherings. We can get so stressed out about having everything a certain way that we overlook actually being in the moment and we forget to live and experience things as they happen.

Although I don’t always like predictability, I can always count on and look forward to a number of events during the holiday season. If one of these events didn’t happen, I’d feel like the season were incomplete. For example, for about the past 8 years or so, many of my friends have gone caroling around a neighborhood to continue spreading holiday cheer. Despite the below freezing temperatures, mounds of snow, sheets of ice, and disgusting slush, this tradition has continued despite transitions from high school to college, college to grad school or a big-person job, and various other significant life experiences. Although this experience might seem silly to some, it’s one that I look forward to each and every year.

I can also always count on our New Years Eve celebration. For the past 9 years, my family has had a New Years Eve celebration at our home. It started out small with four of my brother’s friends and their families watching fireworks somewhere around town, followed by a party at our house. Despite many changes within the makeup of the party, this celebration has continued throughout the years. Although preparing for the event is a lot of work (cleaning/baking/cooking/eating!),  it’s one of my favorite nights of the entire year and certainly one of my favorite experiences during the holiday season!

Without fail, my friends always manage to have some extremely wonderful gatherings despite the fact that everyone is so busy. Although there is sometimes drama involved (what else would you expect?), I can’t imagine not doing something ridiculously fun with them over the holidays. Whether it be reliving our high school days, line dancing in the living room, or making up new words for The Twelve Days of Christmas, I always know I’m going to have a good time =)

So, what do you most look forward to during the holidays?

Holiday Season Stretch

Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Year’s. Also known as the 50 or so most stressful, hectic, but ultimately love- and laughter-filled days of the year for me. Maybe more so for me this year, since the last couple of weeks or so have been combined with Week Before Finals Week (which, in grad school, is worse than Finals Week), my sister and her fiance’s graduation, and moving out of the apartment (my second move in 4 months). In this time, it would take a whole hand to count the number of times I’ve probably broke down due to holiday stress, plus one happy mistiness when my sister walked across the stage. I’ve always said I hated the holidays, mostly because I’ve always considered it all to be such a hassle; however, my Grinchy-ness has eased when it comes to decorating for Christmas in the last year or so. Although I still loathe putting up the tree at my house, I was excited to put up simple decorations at my boyfriend’s apartment.

Somehow, though, there are always nice parts of the holiday season that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I’ve never been one for tradition simply because it’s “tradition.” Though we had a larger, family “Thanksgiving” the weekend before the actual date, due to my mom’s birthday and out-of-state relatives being in, on the real Thanksgiving, my mom, sister, and I had Papa John’s and ice cream, because that’s what we wanted. We danced around the kitchen island to music from an old 70s game show, and it was perfect. 

Christmas has been interesting. My family does have one tradition that is kind of important to us. For as long as I can remember, we’ve attended the candlelit service on Christmas Eve. The cantata isn’t the special part of it, and quite honestly, I use that time to doodle in the program. The special part, the most beautiful part of any service throughout the entire year, is the time just before midnight when we pass the light from the Christ Candle in the middle of the advent wreath throughout the church while singing “Silent Night.” I still remember standing next to my Nan as we did this every year. Her eyesight was pretty bad, so she couldn’t read the hymnal, but she didn’t need it; she knew every Christmas hymn by heart. I don’t use it, either. At midnight, we turn the lights back on, blow the candles out, and sing “Joy to the World” before heading home. I was so happy to be able to share this tradition with Brian this year. Splitting up the holidays has proved a bit difficult for us so far. I think my family’s general easy-going attitude about when holidays are actually celebrated has made it easier. We finally got to exchange our gifts last night, but not until after one of my stress-induced near-breakdowns. (And ladies, he did good.) The gifts, the day, the food — none of that is as important as spending quality time with the ones I love.

New Year’s Eve is different. I think that’s because  I look at it not only as the start to a new year, but the end to all the stress related to the holiday season. It’s finally a chance for me to really unwind and just chill for a few hours. I can’t wait for Sprowl’s Rockin’ Eve 2011 and the Tour of Dips. There is so much to look forward to in the coming year: Baby O’Neil, my 2nd college graduation, Carmen’s wedding… and I’m excited for all of it.