Bookspiration · Food & Cooking

Bookspiration: Dame Eyola’s Lemon Tart

This weekend was full of Easter treats! I made some super easy, dangerously yummy Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Easter Eggs, some pretty pastel-colored deviled eggs, and a lovely lemon tart.

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Pretty Deviled Eggs ❤

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Sweet treats: top left and right: Chocolate Peanut Butter Easter Eggs (made for work, but definitely sampled at home!), bottom left: my mom’s amazing carrot cake, and bottom right: too many desserts! Carrot Cake, Lemon Tart & Cheesecake.

I decided to make the lemon tart in honor of Dame Eyola from The Neverending Story. The recipe is sort of a glorified lemon bar recipe, but I figured Dame Eyola grew fabulous fruit, so why not glamor up a lemon bar recipe with her in mind?

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Dame Eyola’s Lemon Tart

Ingredients

1 1/4 c. chilled butter                                     2 c. sugar

2 c. all-purpose flour                                     1/4 c. lemon juice

1 c. powdered sugar (plus a little extra for dusting)

4 eggs                                                                candied lemon zest

                                                                          blueberries (for garnish)

IMG_04311. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Then cut butter into flour and powdered sugar until crumbly; press into an ungreased tart pan. Make sure you spread the crust high enough over the edges that you’ll have a high “wall” for holding in the lemon filling later. Bake for 30 minutes.

IMG_04352. Meanwhile, you can make your candied lemon zest. I didn’t take any pictures of the process, but it’s super easy and wonderful directions and pictures can be found by clicking here. Basically, you zest a lemon (the directions say to peel and slice the zest, but I just used my zester), boil the zest in a sugar-water simple syrup, drain it, dry it, and coat in more sugar. Can’t go wrong! Set your zest aside and make your filling. Squeeze out the lemon juice from your zested lemon (it should equal about a 1/4 cup, at least), or use lemon juice from a jar. Then blend eggs, sugar and lemon juice together.

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Here is my crust after pulling it out of the oven.

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3. Slowly pour lemon mixture over crust. (Be careful!–I got a little over excited and some of my filling spilled over the sides of my crust, leaking through the bottom of my tart pan and onto the counter! *cries*) Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes; cool.

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Here is the tart after cooling.

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4. Once the tart has cooled, sift some powdered sugar on top for decoration.

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5. Next, add your pretty candied lemon zest.

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6. Lastly, add some blueberries for a nice, colorful contrast. The tart will taste best chilled, so I recommend keeping it refrigerated for at least an hour before serving.

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Oo la la!

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Enjoy!

I had a lot of fun making and eating Easter delights over the weekend, and was happy to make Dame Eyola’s Lemon Tart: a spring treat that was book-inspired! Did you enjoy any special treats over the weekend?

Bookspiration · Food & Cooking

Bookspiration: Chocolate Maple Roll Cake

I was thinking more about A Tale for the Time Being, and how it takes place with Ruth in Canada, and Nao in her diary in Japan. I decided to make some sort of recipe that combined something common in Japan with something common in Canada, and after a few sad experiments with my takoyaki maker I had to give up for a night. However, that was yesterday, and this is today. I thought some more about my fusion experiment, and decided I should make a roll cake!

The first time I ever had a roll cake was in Japan, and I loved how light and subtly sweet it was. So today I asked myself, “What if I made a roll cake that had the airy, softly sweet elements that the ones I tried in Japan had, and somehow incorporated maple into it?” I did a little research, and came up with a recipe that created a lovely cake. I hope you like it!

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Chocolate Maple Roll Cake

Ingredients:

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Chocolate Sponge:

butter, for greasing

3 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa

sugar, for sprinkling

rose from your hot husband (optional)

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Maple Cocoa Whip

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 Tbs cocoa

4 Tbs maple syrup

Directions:

IMG_03701. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and grease and line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Use an electric whisk to whisk together the eggs and sugar until thick.

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2. Sift together the flour and cocoa in a separate bowl before folding a little at a time into the whisked egg and sugar mixture.

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3. Once everything had been evenly incorporated, pour into your prepared pan and bake for 8-10 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly touched. (Be extra careful here–I got a bit distracted and cooked mine slightly too long!)

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4. Once the cake is finished baking, wring a clean dish towel in hot water and spread it on your workspace. Line the towel with wax paper or parchment paper (though wax is probably better! I used parchment and the cake stuck to it a bit). Sprinkle a little sugar along the paper, and then flip your sponge on top. Carefully peel back the parchment that was on the bottom.

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5. Cut off the edges of the cake.

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7. Carefully roll up the cake, “hamburger” style, and set aside with the seam facing down.

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8. Next it’s time to make some fabulous whipped cream! I was so pleased with how mine turned out. Pour the heavy whipping cream into a bowl and add the cocoa. Whip until fluffy peaks start to form and the cream gains a whipped consistency.

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9. Next, fold in the maple syrup. Try your best to resist sticking your face in the bowl once everything has been mixed together because the whip. will be. YUMMY.

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10. Carefully unroll the cake and spread ample amounts of the maple cocoa whip inside, leaving a little space at the edges so it doesn’t ooze out too much.

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11. Re-roll the cake, and add more of the maple cocoa whip on the outside.

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12. Drizzle a little bit of maple syrup on top.

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13. Sift a little cocoa powder on for a final touch (I got a little carried away on one end, but who’s going to complain about extra cocoa!?).

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14. And enjoy! My cake was cooked just the teeniest bit too long, so it wasn’t quite as spongy and light as I would have liked, but my maple cocoa whip cream was so heavenly that I didn’t mind at all. Let me know if you try the recipe and how it turns out! 🙂

xx

Food & Cooking · Monday Matters · Tried

Hina Matsuri Dinner

Today it’s Hina Matsuri in Japan, also known as Doll’s Day or Girl’s Day, so I decided to make a Japanese meal to celebrate from Michigan.

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I was really excited to find a simple, pretty-looking recipe for chirashizushi using fresh, sushi-grade tuna. Chad went all over town in search of tuna I could use for the recipe, and finally found some at our local D&W supermarket. Chirashizushi is basically a bowl of sushi rice topped with fresh fish, and–in this case–a colorful salad mixture.

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Yes, I know this picture is blurry, but at least there are cute dolls decorating it.

In addition to the chirashizushi, I also made yudofu (recipe at my old blog, here!) and ichigo daifuku. Yudofu is basically tofu boiled with kombu (dried kalp), and ichigo daifuku is a lovely spring treat consisting of fresh strawberries wrapped in sweet red bean paste and mochi.

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Here you can see my colorful bowl of chirashizushi, as well as the plate of yudofu in the background. I used traditional white sticky rice rather than the brown rice for which the recipe called.

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So bright and cheery!

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Here are some up-close pictures of the ichigo daifuku. I had to do some conversions when using the recipe because everything was in grams and ounces, so I think I’ll be experimenting to make them look prettier in the future. When it comes down to it though, I didn’t care too much about how they looked because they tasted really yummy, and totally brought me back to Japan (they were one of my favorite Japanese sweets! Natsukashii!). You can find the recipe I adapted by clicking here.

We really enjoyed having a Hina Matsuri dinner, and I was so glad everything turned out! Hope you have a lovely Girl’s Day!

P.S. I know I had promised I’d be back last Friday, but something…unexpected came up. On the bright side, I’ve reserved the post I’d been planning to write, and should have it ready for you this Friday instead! 🙂

Food & Cooking

Banana Nut Muffins

Last Saturday was National Banana Bread day, so I decided to whip up some banana bread–muffin style! I brought most of the Banana Nut muffins to work, but I saved a couple to eat up at home, too.

20140226-130420.jpgThe recipe is pretty simple, and only takes about a half an hour. What I especially like is that there are so many options for add-ins. You could choose several different kinds of nuts, or even put in chocolate chips!

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My favorite way to eat banana bread is when it’s been warmed with butter. Mmmmm 🙂

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Find the recipe below (adapted slightly from my mom’s recipe), and enjoy!

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Banana Nut Muffins

Ingredients

1 1/4 c. flour

2/3 c. sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1-1 1/2 c. mashed banana (depending on your taste!)

1/3 c. butter

2 Tbs. milk

2 eggs

Optional: 1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 chopped walnuts (or hazelnuts, chocolate chips, etc.)

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl (leave out the nuts for now!).

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients before slowly adding them to the dry ingredients. Fold in your choice of nuts.

4. Fill a muffin pan with cupcake liners and spray them with cooking spray before adding a good amount of batter to each one. Or, if you’d prefer to make a loaf of bread, grease a loaf pan and add the batter to that instead.

5. Cook muffins for about 20-25 minutes, or a loaf for 35-45 minutes. Use a toothpick to make sure the batter is cooked all the way through. *Tip: if the muffins or your loaf of bread looks like it’s getting too dark, but the inside hasn’t finished cooking, cover with aluminum foil for the remaining cooking time. Keep checking about every five minutes.

6. Let cool, and serve (or, eat one after a couple minutes with butter, because who can really resist warm muffins out of the oven?).

 

Food & Cooking

Fruit Cuties & Blueberry Pie (recipe!)

I was really missing summer today because the weather in Michigan was hideous. As I longed for the warmer season, I decided to look for some pretty pictures I took back in August when I went blueberry picking with my mom and nephew, and to share them with you here!

….Then I remembered I lost nearly all of my pictures from the summer *cries*

Here is the bright side to horrid weather and losing pictures: I had an amazing conversation with a friend who I am very lucky to know today, as well as a day filled with shopping fun. Also, although I don’t have my pretty blueberry picking pictures, I discovered Fruity Cuties!

167-cartoon-blueberries-jokesI started off looking for images of blueberries and summertime on google, and then I wandered off into a land of cuteness. I found Fruity Cuties, a website with cute games, wallpapers, a shop and even a blog!

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radish-santa-xmas-wallpaper-previewAren’t these two wallpaper examples above adorable?

Cute things always make me feel a little better, but sweet things do, too. With all of this talk about blueberries, I thought I’d share our family’s blueberry pie recipe (with permission from my mom, of course!). I’ve always been told that this pie recipe is “the best” because it isn’t runny like many blueberry pie recipes. We luckily had frozen blueberries left from picking back in August, so I felt like I was bringing a little summer out in the midst of the snowy winter when I used the recipe on Thanksgiving 🙂

Too-Too’s Blueberry Pie Filling

1-1/2 cups blueberries
1-1/4 cups water

Boil 1 minute.  Add:

1-1/2 cups sugar
3/8 cup cornstarch stirred into 1/4 cup water until smooth
3/8 tsp salt

Boil until thick.  Add:

1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
1-1/2 cups blueberries

Pour into crust.  Bake at 375° for 35 minutes.  (For two pies, it’s an exact double of all ingredients.)

blueberry pie

Although I didn’t take any pictures of the filling, I did manage to take a picture of a completed pie I made using this recipe on Thanksgiving. What sorts of things cheer you up on gloomy, bad-weather days? Hope this delicious pie filling brings a little cheer, at the very least! 🙂

Food & Cooking · Tried

Easy-to-make apple butter

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After being somewhat settled into our new house (meaning we live here now, but that many boxes are still left unpacked and the walls are pretty much bare!), we were finally able to go apple picking! We went to Crane’s Orchard, and you better believe I was dreaming of those delicious Monte Cristos from Crane’s in the City I wrote about before. (Will be attempting to make my own version ASAP!)

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In preparation for the future Monte Cristos in my life, I got straight to making Apple Butter. I found a really simple Slow Cooker recipe and adapted it slightly for a very delicious, healthy yield.

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First you prepare around 12 peeled, cored and sliced apples. I used an apple peeler/corer combo, and also had the help of my hunk of a husband. (Hunky husbands are optional when making this recipe, though I’ve heard food made with love always turns out better!)

20131013-200158.jpgThen you mix up your spices, which are pretty typical spices for apple-based dishes: cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ground cloves, and salt.

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Time to mix everything together in your crock pot before adding 1/4 cup of unrefined sweetener, such as honey or palm sugar. I chose to use Agave, and though the bottle said Agave tends to be sweeter than most sweetening options, I still used a 1/4 of a cup and ended up with just a hint of sweetness. I also added about a teaspoon of vanilla, and then set the slow cooker on low for about 9 hours.

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When I woke up in the morning and saw the above, I was worried that somehow the apples didn’t cook down enough, but after whisking the apple mixture with my blender, it immediately transformed into a lovely texture. The recipe made a little over four 1/2 pint jars, and tasted delicious!

20131013-200227.jpgThings I love about this recipe: It is incredibly easy, the lack of adding water creates a really nice consistency, and the unrefined sugar holds it together well while adding a healthy, subtle sweetness. (Oh yeah, and did I mention I love eating it? It’s actually really good on peanut butter toast!)

Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

(Adapted from Skinny Ms.)

Ingredients

  • 12 medium apples (4 each of Granny Smith, Gala, Honeycrisp) peeled, cored, cut into 1″ cubes. *The recipe suggests mixing the apples with tart Granny Smith & sweet apples like Gala & Honeycrisp, or other sweet apples like Golden Delicious, Pink Lady, Red Delicious, Fuji, Ambrosia and Spartan. I used Jonagold, Jonathan and Northern Spy because I read that those apples are good for both Apple Butter and for pies).
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • Pinch kosher or sea salt
  • 1/4 cup unrefined sweetener, more or less to taste (sucanat or coconut palm sugar or honey) *I used Agave.
  • Optional: 1 tsp vanilla

Directions

Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add apples to the slow-cooker, pour dry ingredients over and toss to coat. Also, pour in sweetener and vanilla and stir, if using. Cover, cook on low 8 – 10 hours until tender and brown. If you prefer chunky apple butter, leave as is. For a creamier, less chunky, butter, whisk until smooth.

Allow to cool to room temperature, and add to 1/2 pint or pint jelly jars, leaving about 1″ head space at the top to allow for expanding. Cover with lid and freeze or refrigerate.

I enjoyed crossing off Apple Picking and making Apple Butter from my Autumn Bucket List. Have you done any fun fall things yet this year?

Food & Cooking

Mini Egg Tarts

Years ago when I studied abroad in Japan, we took a field trip to Kobe for my Japan & Globalization class. One of the primary focuses of the trip was to observe the China Town in Kobe, and while we were there we sampled different kinds of food. One new food I tried was Egg Tarts. They were served mini-sized, two on a skewer. I loved them so much that when I moved to Kobe years later, I looked for them everywhere! Alas, my search was in vain. Luckily, (even more years later!) I came across a recipe for Egg Tarts so that I could try making them myself–just in time to fulfill another check off my summer bucket list.

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To make the egg tarts, you only need a small collection of some everyday ingredients: powdered sugar, white sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, flour, evaporated milk and water.

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You start off mixing the powdered sugar and flour together, and then you add the butter. The recipe suggests using a fork to do this, but let’s be real; your hands or a Kitchen Aid mixer will probably be much easier. I cut my butter up into chunks to help the mixing go faster.

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Next you add a beaten egg and a bit of vanilla, mixing until you get a dough that’s not too moist or too dry. You can see how mine turned out in the picture above.

20130919-171830.jpgThe recipe says to use tart molds for the dough, but a muffin tin works just as well. I used a mini muffin tin so I could make smaller tarts like the ones I had tried back in Kobe. To form the crust, I balled small amounts of dough, placed them in the tin, pressed in the middles with my thumb, and then pushed the dough up the edges with a fork to add a decorative edge.

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Next, you preheat the oven and start on the filling. First you’re going to boil the sugar and water together until the sugar dissolves, and then wait for the mixture to return to room temperature. I was in a hurry, so I put the mixture in the refrigerator to get it to cool down faster. While you’re waiting for the temperature to drop, you can beat your eggs and put them through a strainer. Then, add them to the room-temp water/sugar mix before adding the condensed milk and vanilla. As you can see above, that mix gets strained one more time after it’s been whisked.

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From there, you just fill up your dough with the filling (my little tartlets got about a tablespoon each, but some overflowed when I brought the pan to the oven). Since my egg tarts were smaller than normal-sized tarts, I decreased the baking time to 12 minutes, and they turned out perfectly. I sprinkled a little powdered sugar on the finished ones as a garnish, and once they were cool, indulged on like 5 of them a few.

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It’s best to let these little guys cool before eating them because they taste sweeter and less eggy that way. Enjoy!

Egg Tarts

(Recipe originally posted on sassyhongkong’s blog)

Ingredients

Dough
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup butter
1 egg, beaten
1 dash vanilla extract

Filling

2/3 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups water
9 eggs, beaten
1 dash vanilla extract
1 cup evaporated milk (whole milk can be substituted for evaporated milk)

12 tart molds

Directions
1.In a medium bowl, mix together the confectioners’ sugar and flour. Mix in butter with a fork until it is in small crumbs. Stir in the egg and vanilla until the mixture forms a dough. The texture should be slightly moist. Add more butter if it is too dry, or more flour, if the dough seems greasy. Shape dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, and press the balls into tart molds so that it covers the bottom, and goes up higher than the sides. Use 2 fingers to shape the edge into an A shape.

2.Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Combine the white sugar and water in a medium saucepan, and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Strain the eggs through a sieve (strainer), and whisk into the sugar mixture. Stir in the evaporated milk and vanilla. Strain the filling through a sieve (strainer), and fill the tart shells.

3.Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven, until golden brown, and the filling is puffed up a little bit.

Food & Cooking

Taco Raisu

 

 

The other night I made Taco Raisu for dinner and it reminded me of our 3-year anniversary trip to Fukuoka. On that 3-day trip we enjoyed going to a shrine and a pretty Japanese garden, biking around a little island, hanging out on the island beach & the cute cafe there, and going on the Asahi Beer Tour, seeing a cool festival and eating mochi taiyaki.  That trip probably wasn’t the first time we tried Taco Raisu, but it definitely was the first time it really stood out in our memory.

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We tried cheesy Tako Raisu at an Okinawan restaurant in Fukuoka, and it was so good that we wolfed it down in minutes! I know exactly what you’re thinking: it looks like it’s basically tacos but with rice replacing tortillas or taco shells. And, with a few tablespoons of soy sauce, you’d be right!

 

 

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This simple recipe calls for Japanese sticky rice, but I got by with 10-minute rice instead (though nothing beats sticky rice, in my opinion!). I also went to several stores to find soy sauce before realizing that in West Michigan you have to go to a major supermarket or an Asian market to find it! (After finding it at the 100 yen stores and convenient stores and basically EVERYWHERE in Japan I was shocked!) I hope you can make memories while enjoying taco raisu, too!

Food & Cooking · Tried

You could eat this soup forever…

(Unless you are lactose intolerant.)

I haven’t had much time to make lovely things lately in the artsy realm, but a girl’s gotta eat, right? So, in lieu of an artsy post, I give you a post about soup.

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Every week I make a meal plan, and that helps us stay organized with our dinners and lunches. (So glad I started doing that years ago!) On today’s menu: Cream Cheese Chicken and Vegetable Soup, aka Glorious Goodness.

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As you can see, I had to stop mid-bite to snap a photo. You might also notice a little piece of buttered bread to the left–a perfect vehicle for scooping every last lick of soup from the bowl. Onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes, chicken… *sighs* I first discovered the recipe a couple years ago, and loved it so much that when we came home to visit the Christmas before last, I insisted on making a pot to bring over to my grandparents’ house for a late lunch. Now when I eat it I remember snowy days in Michigan, with the warmth of family and good soup filling me up, no matter the cold outside. I imagine my grandparents’ house “up north,” and so many memories come back. I guess that’s what happens when you can’t go somewhere often, but when you do there is a memorable meal.

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My older brother and Chad eating up at Grandma & Grandpa’s house

If you’d like to give the recipe a go–which you should, you can find it here.

Have you made any stand-out meals this week?