BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: TURN UP YOUR SPEAKERS FOR SOMETHING PRETTY!
So, I picked up this beeeyouteeefull whole grain "Boulle" at the grocery store the other day, and knew INSTANTLY what I wanted to do with it: make croutons! It is my personal opinion that homemade croutons are so much better than the store-bought kind, and super easy to make. In fact, sometimes I'll take 2 loaves of good bread and make a big double batch; that way, we always have some in the freezer for "soup night". But before I show you how to make your very own croutons, I want to show you how I adorned my favorite picture in the whole world, over my kitchen sink:
What I'm really proud of is the picture topper I made out of some old Pottery Barn berries I had lolling about--if you know me, you know I can't STAND to leave anything un-adorned! And there's a little surprise nestled in the berries--a darling little bird's nest with an actual dried, blown-out egg! Look real hard:
Sweet, no? Since our kitchen remodel, I've been asked by more than a few friends (especially Jimmy Ortiz, who just needs to GET OVER IT!) why we didn't put a window over our new sink area. And I'm here to tell you that I really, really didn't want to look out at any more SNOW than I have to, especially when doing dishes! Can you tell I'm in major winter denial? Sigh.
Onto the croutons. You'll need a nice big loaf of French bread, and you'll cut it into aproximately 1 inch cubes. Then you'll melt some butter (recipe below), and add to that some Parmesan cheese and garlic powder. Mix it all together (sometimes I use my hands) and spread it out onto 2 baking sheets. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes, tossing once or twice during cooking. They're done when they are crunchy and golden brown. Here's how it all comes together:
Sometimes I add a little extra garlic powder after mixing, because I adore garlic!
(I added some dried parsley, for color)
I store my croutons in large zip-loc bags in the freezer. They only take about an hour to thaw. Hey, with all of those croutons I suspect you're going to be needing some soup! This Lemony Chicken Soup is Big Daddy E's favorite soup recipe, EVER! He loves anything with lemon. Here are a few of the ingredients you'll need:
Of course, you can't have lemony chicken soup without the chicken OR the lemon--I usually add about 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups shredded cooked chicken, and about a generous tablespoon of fresh lemon juice. I've been DYING to use my new lemon juicer--it does the trick, beautifully!:
In a saucepan, melt some butter, then stir in flour until smooth (don't worry if it "gobs" up on you--it will un-gob later). Add some chicken broth, milk and cream; bring to a boil and stir until thickened:
Then just stir in the chicken, lemon juice, spices and remaining chicken stock. Cook until heated through. I like to garnish mine with, of course, croutons and some pretty lemon slices, just so you know what you're eating!:
I am telling you, you will not be disappointed with this soup--it truly is one of our family favorites! One note: don't skip the nutmeg! Here are the recipes:
1 lb . loaf of French bread (I use whole grain)
1 stick butter
2 tblsp. Parmesan cheese, grated or shredded
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
Cut bread into 1 inch chunks. Melt the butter and add remaining ingredients. Toss over bread in a large mixing bowl. Spread croutons over two ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring occassionally during baking. Store tightly in a covered container.
LEMONY CHICKEN SOUP
1/3 cup butter
3/4 cup all purpose flour
6 cups chicken broth, DIVIDED
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half
1 1/2 cup cooked and shredded chicken
1 tblsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
8 lemon slices (optional)
In a large saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour until smooth; gradually add 2 cups broth, milk and cream. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in chicken, lemon juice, salt, pepper, nutmeg and remaining broth. Cook over medium heat until heated through, stirring occasionally. Garnish each serving with 2 lemon slices, if desired.
TOP 3 THINGS I'M GRATEFUL FOR TODAY:
1. I'm grateful that our daughter's boy toy, Sanford, is feeling better after being wretched sick with the stomach bug going around their campus.
2. I'm glad that my father came through his hernia surgery just fine. He really enjoyed his Propofol "sedation vacation"!
3. I'm grateful for the totally decadent breakfast I prepared for Big Daddy E and I this morning, after a week of being SO SO careful with my diet. Let's just say it involved Paula Deen's BROWN SUGAR bacon. OMG was that ever good--let me know if you'd like the recipe!