Archive for November 25, 2014

Homemade Vanilla Powder

I’m finally posting again! Things are getting a little easier since my mother-in-law’s passing….thank goodness. It’s still hard, and probably will be for a while.

But, now I’m finally in the mood to cook/bake again…and share with you!

I decided to post on how to make your own vanilla powder because I love it!!! It’s extremely easy to make and it has even more flavor than vanilla extract, so you can use a lil less in your baked goods.

Chopping my dried vanilla beans into pieces.

Chopping my dried vanilla beans into pieces.

This is after I had ground the vanilla bean pieces a lil bit.

This is after I had ground the vanilla bean pieces a lil bit.

After grinding the beans some more, it looks kinda like ground coffee. And, it smells SOOOO GOOD!!!

After grinding the beans some more, it looks kinda like ground coffee. And, it smells SOOOO GOOD!!!

Some folks put a lil cornstarch in their vanilla powder to make it more of a powdery consistency, instead of looking like coffee but I don't.

Some folks put a lil cornstarch in their vanilla powder to make it more of a “powdery” consistency, instead of looking like coffee but I don’t.

Homemade Vanilla Powder

Take your vanilla beans (a little or a lot, depending on how much powder you wanna make) and leave them out to dry for a couple weeks, til they’re really dried out. 

When they’re nice and dry, cut them into about 1/2-inch pieces. Put the vanilla bean pieces into a spice or coffee grinder and grind them til they’re all chopped up. If the beans weren’t dried all the way through and it isn’t very “powdery”, you can allow it to sit and dry a lil longer, then grind them a lil more.

Use it in all the baked goods and recipes where you use vanilla extract. It’s yummy!!!

*You may need to add the amount of water equal to the vanilla extract called for in your recipe. For example, if your recipe calls for 2 tsp vanilla extract, you can use 1 tsp of your vanilla powder plus 1 tsp water.

**RECIPE AND PHOTOS BY RENEE’S GOURMETS** 

My Thoughts On Love and Loss…

Today I don’t have a recipe to share…just some thoughts on love and loss…Sunday night my mother-in-law lost the battle that she’s been fighting so long. We laid her to rest yesterday. (That’s why I haven’t posted recently.)

Mrs Jean Norris was such an amazing, strong woman! She was such a fighter and I’ve seen her go through MANY health problems and illnesses that most people would not have recovered from…but she’d always bounce back. I think that’s a part of why it comes as such a shock that she’s gone now.

In her last months, I helped take care of her so much that it’s really strange not having that responsibility any more. I continuously find myself thinking that I need to go in her room and check on her, or even thinking that I hear her.

I loved her and miss her. And, I’m forever grateful to her for bringing my husband into this world…and being such a big part of what shaped him into the wonderful man he became.

In all of this, I’m reminded once again how quickly someone we love can leave us…and how valuable they are. I’m reminded that I need to make sure that those I love know it without a shadow of a doubt. (And my 15 year old daughter thought I was “clingy” already!)

Another wonderful thing that came of this great loss is we got to spend some more time with Mike’s daughter Alison and her family. They don’t live close and we miss them so much! They made it here in time to see Grandma, but not for long. We could tell that she knew they were there though. She loved her grandchildren so much and we wish that Crystal and her other grandchildren could’ve come too.

I’m really glad that Mike’s brother Donnie, his sister Myra (aka Teeny), along with her husband Jim, and his uncle Jack (aka Uncle Sonny) could make it too. It’s always nice to see them. I just hate that it was for this sad occasion. We have to get together more often!

I have so many friends and family to thank…for food, prayers, condolences, yard work to get ready for the service, singing at the service, good thoughts and well wishes and all-around emotional support. There are too many to name but you know who you are and I thank you from the bottom of my heart!

I’m also really thankful for my two daughters Jennifer (Jenny) and Hannah. They’ve been a great support for their Daddy & me. Their love means the world to us and it was a comfort to have them here with us. And, after the service, they both jumped right in helping with lunch for everybody. (They don’t know just how much that helped me!) Thanks Baby Girls!!!

I guess that’s all I wanted to say at the moment. I hope I didn’t babble on too much. And, you can rest assured that the recipes will keep coming! I’ll post more soon.

In the meantime, go hug and kiss the ones that you love, hold them tight…you never know when you won’t have that chance any more.

Much love to you all,

~Renee

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

I LOVE soup any time but it’s beginning to get cold here and that makes me want soup more than ever! I thought I’d come up with a good chicken noodle soup. (My husband doesn’t like to have JUST chicken and noodles so I threw in some veggies.) I love the way it turned out and my hubby gave it a big thumbs up! 🙂

I chopped up the veggies and set them aside.

I chopped up the veggies and set them aside.

Cutting up the chicken breast. Sorry the pic is blurry...But, that's what I get for trying to do it myself...with my left hand...

Cutting up the chicken breast. Sorry the pic is blurry…But, that’s what I get for trying to do it myself…with my left hand…

Sauteing the veggies til they're tender.

Sauteing the veggies til they’re almost tender.

In the meantime, I'm cooking the noodles.

In the meantime, I’m cooking the noodles.

Now, I've added the cut up chicken to the pot with the veggies.

Now, I’ve added the cut up chicken to the pot with the veggies.

When the chicken is no longer pink, I take the flour together with some of the chicken broth and shake it in a glass that has a top. You can also just whisk it together in a cup. Then, pour it into the pot...

When the chicken is no longer pink, I take the flour and 1/2 cup of the chicken broth and shake it in a glass that has a top. You can also just whisk it together in a cup. Then, pour it into the pot…

...and add the cooked noodles.

…and add the cooked noodles.

The finished product is really yummy!!! (Great with a tossed salad too!)

The finished product is really yummy!!! (Great with a tossed salad too!)

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

3 Tbls Butter

3 Tbls Oil

1 Cup Carrots, sliced

1 Cup Celery, sliced

1 Cup Onion, chopped

1 1/2 lbs Boneless Chicken Breast, cut into small pieces

1/2 Pkg. No Yolks* Extra Wide Noodles

1 tsp Minced Garlic

1/2 tsp Salt (or to taste)

1/4 tsp Dried Basil

1/4 tsp Poultry Seasoning

32oz Container Chicken Broth

1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour

2 Cups Water

1. Put the first 5 ingredients into a dutch oven. Saute 8-10 minutes on medium high, or til veggies are beginning to get tender. In the meantime, cook the noodles according to the package directions.

2. Add chicken pieces and saute til no longer pink, about 8 minutes. 

3. Put the flour and 1/2 cup of the chicken broth into a cup that has a lid and shake to combine. (Or, if you’d prefer, you can whisk it together in a bowl.) Pour into the chicken-veggie mixture and add the remaining chicken broth. Add the salt and spices. Continue cooking til thickened.

4. Add cooked noodles and the 2 cups water. Continue cooking til heated through. If the soup is thicker than you like, just add water til you get the consistency you want.

*No Yolks is the brand name for egg noodles made only with the egg whites.

**RECIPE AND PHOTOS BY RENEE’S GOURMETS**