Friday, March 5, 2010

Soothing Soul Food

Everyone has a friend who needs a little healing, a little help, a little dose of soothing love. I have several. Many of my friends are going through transitions, are in uncertain times, looking for direction, or healing from surgery. Uncertainty, illness, and transitions are things that are inevitable in life. Unfortunately, these road blocks in life can sometimes cause discomfort, depression, and even major pain. I have been through my own share of painful experiences; both physically and emotionally. I have put myself through all sorts of hardships so I also know what helps me get over them. Cooking helps, friends who listen and lend a hand help, and so does eating really comforting food curled up on the couch.

There really isn't anything better when I'm not feeling good than curling up on the couch, tucked under a warm blanket, with a warm bowl of something delicious in my hands. That is how I eat when I am not feeling well, all curled up in a nice warm ball. There is something soothing about the effect of curling up for me. My friend down the street just recently had unexpected surgery to remove his appendix. Since he can't eat a lot of solid food right now, my mom and I whipped up a Healing Chicken Soup, along with Soothing Sesame Bread, and some Bountiful Blueberry Scones to help cheer him up and speed his recovery. I like the idea of the scones simply because they make me think of simpler times when I don't have to rush. Recovering from surgery also can't be rushed, so I wanted to encourage quiet, peacefulness, and a slow pace with the scones that I love served with hot tea.

I put together a little care package and dropped it off for him. He is a typical dude and doesn't show a lot of emotion, but was humbled when I brought the food over. He thanked me and my mom and I responded, "Of course, that is the least I can do to help a friend." I asked him if he needed anything else, he thought about it and came up with a few things he needed that he couldn't do. I was happy to help. After all, I believe life is a circle. You get back what you give. So if I give support, I know I will get it back. And by the way I definitely do..

I wish I could send this soup to all of you who deserve a little comfort, but I will have to settle for sharing the recipes, my thoughts, and pictures that will hopefully tantilize you into cooking it for yourself! Go ahead and try this soup, curl up on the couch and give yourself a much deserved time out! If anyone asks why you aren't busy running around like you usually do, tell them Abby made you take a time out! :)

Healing Chicken Soup
1 tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 cup White Onion; chopped
1/2 cup Celery; chopped
1/2 cup Carrots; chopped
1/2 cup Green Pepper; chopped
4 cloves Garlic; minced
1/4 cup Fresh Ginger; minced
32 oz. Fat Free Reduced Sodium Chicken Broth
2 cups Frozen Peas
2 cups Frozen Broccoli Florets
1 tbsp. Chicken Rub Seasoning
1 tbsp. Italian Herbs
6 cups Fresh Tomatoes; diced
1 tbsp. Lemon Grass
2 tbsp. Teriyaki Sauce
2 tbsp. Dried Parsley
1 cup Fresh Tofu; chopped
2 (12 ounce) cans White Meat Chicken; drained

1. Heat a skillet with the olive oil. Saute the onion, celery, carrots, green pepper, garlic, and ginger in a large pan. Or we have a crock pot that sautes and slow cooks so we use it for everything. It is the Technique brand! Check it out we love it! Saute for 5-7 minutes or until onions become translucent. 

2. Transfer mixture to a crock pot. Or if you are using the Technique crock switch it to the slow cooker function. Add chicken broth, peas, broccoli, chicken rub, Italian Herbs, tomatoes, Lemon grass, Teriyaki sauce, dried parsley, tofu, and chicken, tomatoes, and drained chicken. 

3. Stir everything together. Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Turn crock pot on low and cook for 6-8 hours. Then serve in a large, deep bowl. It is sure to sooth anything that ails you!
Soothing Sesame Bread

1 lb. whole wheat
1 oz. brewer's yeast
1 cup water; warmed
1 tsp. honey
1 tbsp. salt

1. Mix the yeast and one cup of warm water. Add the honey and let sit for 20 minutes. The yeast should begin to bubble.

2. In the mean time mix the flour with the salt. After the 20 minutes has passed combine the yeast mixture with the flour mixture and knead gently with your hands. Add water until the desired consistency has been reached. We added 1 cup of additional water. Once all the flour is combined, separate the dough into three equal parts and shape into 3 round, flat, loaves. Sprinkle the tops with sesame seeds and cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

3. After an hour, bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes and enjoy! This is delicious alone or dipped into the chicken soup!

Blueberry Scones

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup bread flour
1/3 cup splenda (you can use sugar if you like)
1 tbsp. baking powder
11 tbsp. butter; cut into small pieces
1 cup fat free half and half
2 cups blueberries (we used frozen)

1. Whisk flour, splenda, and baking powder in a large bowl combining the ingredients.

2. Next add the butter. We used our fingers to blend the butter and the dry ingredients. It should be a coarse meal once it is finished.

3. Then add the cream and stir until well blended. Next add the blueberries and continue blending gently. Then turn out onto a floured surface and gently knead until smooth. Using your hands, pat into a one inch square and cut into triangle shapes using a sharp knife. We cut the dough into four squares first then we cut each square into fourths diagonally.

4. Place each scone on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are slightly browned.

5. Theses are so delicious you will think you have died and gone to heaven. This is a perfect after dinner treat or a perfect soothing snack served with your favorite cup of tea. There is nothing more soothing than bringing tea and scones back into fashion!

Mental Health Benefit: Taking a breath, relaxing, and enjoying simple moments is something you should do not matter if you think you need it or not. I'll tell you a little secret about mom and I: We used to take "mental health" days from work when we were just too frazzled to go in to work. I think it was worth it for me, my coworkers, boss, and employees. They got to see the best me and when I couldn't handle it or was on the edge, I allowed myself a tiny breather or time out! Those who don't are usually the ones who end up in the hospital because they ignore there basic needs and sanity.

Here is a mental health break brought to you from our one kitty circus! Cheers!

~ "Too Lovely" Hot Messes in the kitchen

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