November 21, 2016

Farmer Sausage Corn Chowder Recipe

Hi friends! Last week I posted the above photo to both my Instagram and Facebook and got quite alot of requests for the recipe! Therefore, due to popular demand I have decided to post the recipe for "Farmer Sausage Corn Chowder" here on the blog! It's a pretty cool feeling when I post a photo of something I've cooked/baked and then receive such positive feedback about it! Granted, y'all haven't actually tasted this recipe yet, but still, a compliment on my food styling/photography skills is just as flattering! 💕 Sooo...I should probably hold my breath until you actually try the soup, right?

The original recipe for this chowder came from the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog; the below recipe is not exact to its original as I've made a few tweaks here and there. For example, often when a recipe calls for water I like to replace it with chicken broth to add more depth in flavour. I also added a can of cream-style corn in here to help achieve a certain thickness. Oh and the original recipe has instructions on how to do the cheese sauce in the microwave, but Jarryd and I do not have a microwave, which is why I provided the stovetop instructions!

Helpful Tip: if you use this recipe exactly, make sure you're using a large pot. I almost doubled the recipe because I love having leftovers around, but thankfully I didn't because it would have been OVERFLOWING. (It makes sense, right? Mennonites need large recipes in order to feed all the children!) 😉

Farmer Sausage Corn Chowder Recipe
(Original recipe derived from Mennonite Girls Can Cook)

3 Cups of Farmer Sausage or Kielbasa or Smoked Ham, chopped
1 Large Onion, diced
3 Stalks Celery, diced
5-6 Cups of Chicken Broth (or just water)
2 Bell Peppers, diced
3 Carrots, sliced
5 Medium Potatoes, peeled and large diced
1 (14 oz) Can Cream Style Corn
1-2 Cups Frozen or Fresh Corn Kernels
1 tsp Salt (or to taste)
1/2 tsp Black Pepper (or to taste)

1. Saute sausage with a little bit of oil over medium-high heat in a LARGE soup pot.
2. Once sausage is cooked, add the onions and celery to the pot and heat until softened.
3. Pour in the chicken broth (or water) to the pot.
4. Add the bell peppers, carrots, potatoes, and all the corn to the pot.
5. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low and simmer for a minimum of 20 minutes (or until all veggies are tender)
6. While it's simmering, work on the cheese sauce (below).

Cheese Sauce
1/4 cup Butter
1/4 Cup Flour (if a Gluten-Free recipe is desired, omit the flour and pour 1-2 cups of GF instant mashed potatoes into the soup. )
2 Cups Milk
2 Cups Grated Cheese, (Cheddar or Mexican Blend)

1. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
2. Whisk in flour to create a roux and keep whisking for a few minutes. (This is important as you want the flour to cook and lose its' raw flavour.)
3. Pour in milk and whisk until smooth and combined.
4. Add cheese and whisk to melt.
5. Pour cheese sauce into the soup, stir, and serve!

This is totally optional, but chopped-up bacon and shredded cheese is a fantastic garnish for this creamy soup. Just sayin'. Also, I never seem to have fresh parsley on hand, so if you're wondering about the green garnish, it's chopped up celery leaves.
To my Gluten-Free friends: you can totally make this recipe GF by omitting the flour (no need to make a roux then!) and pour 1-2 cups of GF instant mashed potatoes into the soup to thicken it!

Posting recipes is kind of a new thing for me, so please be gracious in my amateur approach here. And if you happen to make this soup, you gotta let me know! I'd love to hear how it turned out or didn't turn out. 😜💕 Thanks for stopping by, friends!!

November 13, 2016

Hello Dolly Bars

Yesterday we decided to spontaneously invite Jarryd's parents over for supper! (The apartment was clean, so why not?) :P We have been dying to watch The Crown series on Netflix, and we knew that it would be a type of show that my in-laws would like, so we thought we'd make a whole evening of it! (I think that anyone who fancies Downton Abbey would certainly like The Crown). I mean, I was HOOKED already on the first episode--and it may or may not have been Hans Zimmer's astounding score that did me over. (Fun fact about me: I have a serious love for film score composers such as Hans Zimmer, John Williams, and James Horner to name just a few).

ANYWAY...with our dinner menu already all planned out, we hopped on over to the grocery store to pick up some steaks, sweet potatoes, and asparagus (did you know that the plural form of asparagus is actually just asparagus? Surprisingly, I didn't). Unfortunately we had the meal all figured out but had nothing for dessert! Not having dessert isn't the end of the world or anything, but I hate having guests over and not having any dessert or post-dinner sweets to offer them. I feel like it's so not me to not have sweets around.

It's always a little intimidating cooking/baking for my father-in-law because he's such a foodie and an incredible cook. But it's so nice to have people in my life who are not afraid to give me an honest opinion on my creations. And because they've tried so much of my baking already, I wanted to offer them a recipe that was tried-and-true, one that they'd never had from me before, and ESPECIALLY one that I could realistically and effortlessly whip together in a short amount of time. Standing there in the fresh meat aisle of the grocery store it suddenly came to me--Hello Dolly Bars!

I have made these bars a handful of times and they're always incredibly satisfying! My in-laws had never even heard of them before, so I wouldn't be surprised if you hadn't either. They're sweet, rich, and decadent bars made of the most amazing layers, starting with:
a buttery graham crust
semi-sweet chocolate chips
crunchy chopped pecans
sweet and chewy coconut flakes
and then poured over these layers is a can of sweetened condensed milk. *insert heart eyes here*

SO FAST. (10 minutes prepping, 30 minutes baking)

SO EASY. (The most "laborious" thing I had to do was grind the graham crackers in the food processor because I didn't buy the already-made graham crumbs, and melt butter on the stove!) Oh, and even better, they only require six ingredients!

AND SO DELICIOUS. (Anything made with sweetened condensed milk is going to taste AH-MAZING right?!)

Therefore, it was the perfect dessert to make for a spur-of-the-moment dinner party! And thankfully, these bars were a hit! Even the two non-coconut lovers loved them!

So, if you're looking for a dessert recipe that's simple, quick, freezes well, and has an amazing array of textures and incredible mouthfeel, this is the one for you!
HELLO DOLLY BARS RECIPE (Yields 12 bars)

1 cup of butter/2 sticks (I used salted butter)
3 cups graham cracker crumbs (14 oz box)
2 cups dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups chopped pecans
3 cups sweetened shredded or flaked coconut
1 (14 oz) can of sweetened condensed milk

1. Adjust oven rack to middle middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Melt the butter and then combine melted butter with graham crumbs in a bowl until thoroughly combined.
3. Press mixture into an even layer on bottom of 9 x 13 baking dish.
4. Top crust with chocolate chips, then pecans, then coconut, and then drizzle with sweetened condensed milk.
5. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes (or until coconut is a beautiful golden toasted brown). Remove from oven and let cool completely. To cut easily, let sit in refrigerator for 1 hour, and then cut and serve. (Best served chilled!)
Thanks for reading, guys! And seriously, let me know if you make this or if you've tried them before. I'd love to know what you think! Oh, and the steak, roasted sweet potato, and parmesan asparagus dinner tasted pretty good too. ;) OH and we managed to watch three episodes of The Crown before deciding to be smart, responsible adults and call it a night. I can't wait to get together and watch more!!

November 12, 2016

Change.

Isn't it interesting how we're always changing? I am not the girl that I was 6 years ago, the girl who had visions of one day living in tiny apartments in big cities, walking to class everyday pursuing a career in journalism.
People who know me now, probably read that sentence with MUCH confusion. Even as I just typed that it felt almost out-of-body-esque. Me? A journalist? The 5% of me that is an insane-grammar-freak is like "YES! I LOVE that career choice!" but the other 95% of me is like "no thank you, that sounds like an anxiety-inducing nightmare".
And small-town-country-loving-Jenny living in a city?! I think if I had plans to have absolutely zero children, then maybe, just maybe I could chance a life of city living (I'm no Amber Fillerup, believe it or not). :P

I did 4 years of Bible college/university/school for many reasons but a large reason was to find a husband find some direction in my life career-wise. Half way through this schooling I had visions of pursuing some type of counselling career. And hey, as an INFJ personality type, I have counselling written all.over.me. Even the other day my co-worker told me that I have the gift of listening and I was like, "thank you!" and he was like "don't thank me, thank God for giving that to you!" (I appreciate the fact that I know how to listen, but truthfully...somedays I wish I had the gift of talking. I feel like it could take me places, you know?) :P But something about picturing myself with a 9-5 office job listening to clients heavy life stories for five days a week, didn't sit well with me. Believe me, I wish it did. One of my really good friends is a therapist and her job sounds incredibly rewarding and fulfilling and she's doing amazing things in people's lives but I am just so confident that it's not my calling.

And then...Pinterest came into existence and opened my eyes of a whole new world of cooking, baking, food styling, and food photography. THAT looks beautiful, fun, practical, and intriguing! Finally a career choice that my creative gene could latch onto and actually attain. Now, four years of practice in the kitchen and one culinary certificate later, I've found myself with a "9-5" job in the food industry as a cook/chef.

And now, after almost two years of working in commercial kitchens I'm finding myself wanting to get out of it. Yep. Spending 8 and a 1/2 hours a day, 5 days a week at a physically-demanding job is really starting to wear on me. What I really want is to pursue baking and it's hard when your full-time job is robbing you of all your energy. Truthfully, an office job looks pretty good right now. I wonder what it would be like to come home from work (an office job) and still have the physical energy to spend all evening in my kitchen on my feet working on my baking skills? I do wonder if this is even a plausible idea or would my mental energy then take a tumble?

So back to my first statement: isn't it interesting how we're always changing? I went from wanting to be a journalist to being a counsellor, to being a chef, to now dreaming of baking cakes, cupcakes, and all things pretty! It all sounds drastic when you lay it out like that, but the more I think about it, the more I feel like I haven't really changed that much. Yes, I let the dream of journalism go, but I've still held on to my love and passion for writing--with this blog of mine. I let the dream of counselling go, but I still have a huge place in my heart for people, friendships, encouraging, loving, and listening--with this blog, but more-so in my everyday life with those I interact with. I'm considering letting the dream of being chef in a commercial kitchen go--quite gradually--but I'm for sure going to hold on to everything that I have learned about the food industry; because much of what that skill and knowledge can be carried on into the business of cake decorating.

I'm curious to see how much I will have changed five years from now! Will I have dropped cake decorating for something even more attainable, like...bioengineering? (Kidding.) I'm also excited to see how much Jarryd will change in five years--maybe he'll finally pursue his long-time dream of country music singin'. (Kidding, I think?)

Change is good. I'm telling myself this as I just realized in 5 years I will be 30 years old. Gulp. Change is good, Jennifer.