Thai-Style Chicken Pumpkin Soup

True story:  This morning I told Andrew I thought our refrigerator was broken because when I opened the door, I didn’t feel the usual rush of cool air.  I quickly realized that the fridge is working fine, but the temperature in our house had dipped into the 50’s, so the difference in temperatures wasn’t that great.  In related news, we turned on our heat this morning.  I’m hoping to be able to remove either the blanket or fleece jacket I am wearing by the time I finish breakfast and this post.  😉

What goes hand-in-hand with the coolness of fall?  Pumpkin everything, apparently.  I like pumpkin-flavored things just fine, but I don’t get crazy about the stuff like many of you do.  Pumpkin seems to be working its way into a lot of food items this season (Exhibit A), but  I’d pick banana bread over pumpkin bread any day, and I’ve never had a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

However, as one who loves most things containing the word “soup”, I was intrigued when Andrew found a recipe for a Crock-Pot Thai-Style Chicken Pumpkin Soup.

Pumpkinsoup

The recipe came from the Slow Cooker Bible, and because I’m feeling a tad lazy, I’m including a picture of the recipe page rather than typing it out myself. 😉

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In place of the heavy cream we used Silk coffee creamer (original, not flavored), and we left out the onion completely (Andrew put the green onions on his at the end).  We also added sliced mushrooms because we had some on hand that needed to be used.

The soup was incredibly flavorful, and as is the case with most things pumpkin, I liked it, but I was not crazy about it.  I think anyone who really enjoys pumpkin would love it though!    It made for a warm, hearty meal over the last two cool nights (and there are still leftovers).  If you are a pumpkin-lover, give it a try, and let me know what you think!

Well, you may be pleased to know that the thermostat in our house now reads 61 degrees; I have removed the blanket and am beginning to thaw. 😉

Stay warm, everyone!

Pumpkin-flavored items: Love them or hate them?
What’s the weirdest pumpkin-flavored food you’ve seen in stores or tried?

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Fall Decorating + Weekend Recap

Happy Monday, folks!

As fall officially arrived this weekend, I spent a little bit of time Saturday decorating for my favorite season.  I gleaned a few ideas from Pinterest (which I find overwhelming, but I’ve decided this is the norm), made a trip to Hobby Lobby, and went to work with the hot glue gun.  Here’s our newly decorated-for-fall mantle:

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These vases were 50% off at Hobby Lobby, and I think they are the perfect link between our typical blue and green color scheme and the fall yellows.

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As for the crafty part of the decorating process, I made these guys:

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My original plan was to wrap all the glass vases with twine, but as it turns out, the process is very tedious, and even OCD has a limit on how much hot glue can be taken to the fingers. 😉

Other highlights from the weekend include:

-Bowling with friends Friday night and earning what’s probably my highest bowling score of all time:

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128!  And that was with two gutter balls in the last frame 🙂 I was on fire up until that point.

-Bowling again Saturday with some youth and a few of our friends from the Virginia Home–a residential facility for adults with disabilities.

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They always make me smile.  The man about to bowl in the photo is hilarious and ever-willing to give fist bumps and secret handshakes.  I shook his hand when he arrived, and he looked down at my ring and said, “Married??”  I laughed and said, “Yeah, I’m married.”  And he threw his hands up in the air and said, “God D***IT!”  😀

-Football–we watched the Virginia Tech game Saturday, and Andrew drove to DC to see the Redskins game Sunday with his dad and friend.  Despite the Redskins losing, they had a lot of fun!

-Youth Group–love these guys and girls 🙂

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Overall, the weekend was low-key, but good.

What was the highlight of your weekend?
Do you decorate for fall?

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole (Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free)

The cooler weather this week gives me a feeling of pure delight.  I love fall and all that’s associated with it, and the meals are no exception.  At the end of the workday yesterday, as I sat in my office, cozy in my cardigan sweater (which may have been overkill;  I think the temperature reached 80 yesterday, but that’s no matter ;-)), I brainstormed dinner and decided what sounded best was a soul-warming chicken casserole.

I’ve heard rave reviews about casseroles using just chicken, rice, vegetables, and a can of cream of mushroom soup.  Unfortunately, we can’t do dairy, so I had to get creative.  I came up with a pretty excellent dairy-free, gluten-free (and probably healthier) alternative to the classic casserole.  If you don’t want to make it DF and GF, but don’t want to use condensed soup, you could easily make this using milk and regular flour!

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

1 1/4 lb chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
12 oz mushrooms, sliced
4 c broccoli (fresh or frozen)
1 1/2 c brown rice
2 c soy milk
1/4 c DF butter substitute
1/4 c GF flour
salt
pepper
garlic powder
paprika
2 c water

1.  Preheat oven to 375.  2.  Heat 1 tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat; add mushrooms, and cook until browned.  3.  Add remaining butter to skillet, then milk, spices, and flour, and whisk to combine.  4. Stir regularly until the mixture thickens. 5.  In a large glass baking dish, combine chicken, rice, broccoli, skillet mixture, and water.  6. Stir well, cover with aluminum foil, and place in oven for 45 min-1 hour.

casserole

I took it out of the oven and stirred a few times during the cooking process because I love to stir things and couldn’t help myself to prevent it from burning on the walls of the dish.  For some reason the rice took a lot longer to cook than I anticipated, despite using the quick-cook variety.  Also, as usual, I eyeballed the spices.  You can always add more at the end if it needs more flavor!

The end result was de-licious, and I doubt anyone would know it’s dairy-free!  We made it even better by eating it with baked apples straight out of the oven. 😀

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The apples were a late addition to the meal–they came to mind while the rice was taking forever to cook, so I knew I had time to get them in the oven.  All I did was: slice two apples, put them in a small glass baking dish with a little butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon;  cover with foil, put in oven for 5 minutes, remove foil, stir, and put back in oven for another 10 minutes or so (stirring periodically, again, because I can’t help myself. :-D)

It was an awesome, feel-good, fall meal.

And I even let Andrew eat some after he said, “What, are you my grandma?” when I told him I was making casserole.  Punk.  😉

What are you favorite cooler weather meals?

Any tips for taking good food photos, especially as it’s getting darker earlier?  I know my pictures are not good, but I have no skills!