chicken soup with love

It’s fun to have a collection. Snow globes, thimbles, fridge magnets, charms, fun socks, aprons, whatever! In addition to quickly becoming a yarn-hoarder, I have a nice collection of recipes. Admittedly, not all of them have been tried, but I own them for a reason. Some are from friends, scribbled on a piece of scrap paper. Some are cute little cards in a box. Some are tried-and-true family favorites, (see “Mr. Tony Mac-n-Cheese“). Others are pages I ripped out of magazines with good intentions. Many pages of my cookbooks have stains where I slopped an ingredient or two. Speaking of cookbooks, I own three copies of “Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook”. Yes. three copies. It’s the coolest thing: one is originally mine; one was my mom’s and one was her mom’s. See? Told you it was cool! 📚🍽

I know pinterest has quickly turned into an incredible place to seek and store recipes, and I enjoy it. A lot. But, my pile of recipes is still one of my cherished possessions and I totally appreciate it when someone is willing to share one of their own with me.

This brings me to Nancy. Nancy and her husband Joe are friends of ours from church. They recently celebrated a big milestone anniversary and they are great role models for what couples could look like. There is a sense of peace, confidence and respect about them, especially when they talk about each other. Specifically, when Joe talks about Nancy. Joe is the first to tell you what an amazing cook his lovely bride is. It’s true. Nancy is a great cook. There’s something different about her food. Joe says cooking and baking are most definitely giftings of Nancy’s. Joe knows without a doubt that Nancy is a top-notch cook.

And Nancy knows that Joe knows. (Are ya’ still with me?) It’s a great back-and-forth relationship filled with equal appreciation for each other. Nancy posts photos on social media of dishes she cooks for her husband and you can just tell that it’s gonna be good! So when she posted a photo of a big bowl of fresh, homemade (of course!), chicken noodle soup, I had to know. I love making soup and just had to know if Nancy had a secret ingredient. More importantly, was she willing to share it with me?

She gave me the recipe and guess what? There is a secret ingredient. When I think about it, it’s truly no secret. It’s what makes everything better. And to be honest, I wasn’t surprised to see that it’s actually a legit part of her recipe. And sure enough, the soup tasted wonderful. But, of course, everything made with love usually does.

Giving credit where it is due: Recipe shared by Nancy Sniesak. When you want to put together a bowl of warm, amazing home-made deliciousness, click here for the recipe.

what to do with all those apples? (apple bread)

Remember that scene in the movie ‘Forrest Gump’ when Bubba lists all the ways shrimp can be prepared? “Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it…pan-fried, deep-fried, stir-fried…pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp…”.

Mmm, now I’m hungry for shrimp. But wait, I digress. It’s apple season. 🍎🍏

🍂 Fall can be quite beautiful and tasty. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area with cider mills, then you also have access to a traditional fall treat, the cider mill donut! Warm and amazingly delicious. Whether you prefer plain or cinnamon-sugar coated, they smell incredible and taste even better. And how could you have the donut without some cider? Another amazing fall flavor. Nothing is quite like apple cider, either cold or warmed up. Mmmm… Delicious? Yes! Healthy? No! This is where apple picking comes in. After eating all that deliciousness, you can pick apples and work it off. Boom! You’re welcome.

So this year I planned to make applesauce in the crockpot. It’s easy-peasy and makes my house smell homey, cozy and amazing. I planned the same thing last year, but we ate all the apples. Not necessarily a bad thing. This year, I wanted to have enough for recipes, so we picked more. Many, many more. My daughter immediately requested apple crisp, which I happily made. Same result as applesauce, filling the house with incredible aroma. Then my son came home from college and requested it. I made it again. This time adding vanilla ice cream before eating. Serious yum.

Then I remembered a recipe I collected a couple years ago. One of my cousins posted online that she was making her mom’s “famous apple bread”. Wait a minute? Our family has a famous apple bread recipe? Why did I not have this? She shared it with me and now it’s in my box of goodies. It’s a cool recipe because it makes two standard-size loaves or six mini-loaves. They freeze well, if you can make them last that long. 😉

So, even though I dread what comes after fall, I will enjoy the next few weeks of fall colors and flavors. “There is a time for everything, and a season for everything under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 There are still quite a few apples left in my fridge. I might get around to making applesauce after all.

Giving credit where it is due: If you’d like to try my Aunt Beanie’s apple bread recipe, click here.

five and under (buffalo cauliflower)

Are you tired of searching for easy, tasty recipes? Sometimes I’m all about lots of creativity and ingredients, but other times, all I want to do is dump a few things together in a pot and call it a day.

For some reason, my husband has been dousing his food in either bbq sauce or an assortment of spice blends. While I could take that as a hint that my cooking is boring and bland, I choose not to interpret it that way. (Probably safer for all involved, anyway!) We have been eating a lot more veggies now that both kids are away and in college, (#emptynesterseatingmoreveggies), but I was getting sick of vegetable soup, steamed veggies and stir fry. There must be something more interesting.

Enter cauliflower. Have you noticed cauliflower recipes are everywhere lately? Reminds me of the kale-kick from last year. Kale in smoothies. Kale in salads. Kale chips that cost an arm and a leg. Lots of kale. I enjoy kale. It’s cheap, good for you and the way I make it, turns out crunchy like chips. Yummy! (Click here if you want to try it.)

Cauliflower has made its way into my fridge as a regular staple. I remember buying it with my mom at farm stands when I was a kid. Oddly enough, I liked it. I didn’t like a lot of vegetables, but cauliflower, I liked. It’s pretty and crunchy and doesn’t need a lot of embellishment to make it taste good.

I stumbled upon this recipe when looking for something spicy to cook up that would require only stuff I already had on hand. Five ingredients. (Well, actually six if you count salt and pepper as two separate things.) I thought it’d be fun to collect recipes that are ‘five and under’…five ingredients or less. If you like spicy, give this one a try. You may even already have everything you need: cauliflower, hot sauce, butter, garlic powder, salt and pepper.

What’s your go-to ‘five and under’ recipe? Feel free to comment here or on the Prayer Stew facebook page. Thanks a bunch and I’m looking forward to seeing what y’all come up with! Bon’ appetit!

Giving credit where it’s due: Thank you to for allowing me to share your recipe. I’ve made it a lot and it turns out great every time!

Bonus: Another cauliflower fav at my house is ‘Cauliflower Rice’. Nothing against regular rice, but sometimes I just feel a bit more ‘veggie-ish’. This is easy peasy to make and only takes three ingredients! (Well, actually four if we’re still counting salt and pepper separately.) For this recipe, click here.

Mr. Tony Mac-n-Cheese

Going away to college = mac-n-cheese. The end. It’s cheap, and as gross as it may sound, it can be made without the butter or milk recommended on the box. (Speaking from experience, of course.)

My college roommates and I would make mac-n-cheese whenever someone had an extra dollar to buy a box or when someone received it inside a lovingly-mailed care package. Wa-hoo! Mac-n-cheese! Which was odd for me, because I had never really been a big cheese fan. I know, weird. I didn’t like it on pizza, sandwiches, fries, omelets or burgers. And don’t even get me started on fake cheese. Ew! But, college does funny things to one’s taste buds. I remember coming home from school once and ate broccoli. My brother thought I was crazy. “Since when do you like broccoli?”

You know how you can over-eat something and then never have a taste for it ever again? Back to that mac-n-cheese. After graduation, I had no desire to eat it again. Ever. Until I had children. Mac-n-cheese enters the picture once again. I tried eating it. I really did. But just had no taste for it. I didn’t understand why people made such a big deal about it. It’s simple and economical, I understood that much. But the excitement over a big blop of it on my plate, when I wasn’t in school anymore? No thank you, I’ll pass.

This is where Tony comes in. We met him and his amazing family in a small group through church. A bunch of us studied together, shared life together, prayed together and ate together. A lot. Every time we met, we had potluck. Who can resist a great potluck? Fill up a plate with a little of this and a smidge of that – delish!

One group meeting, Tony brought three cheese mac-n-cheese and said, as he often does about his dishes, “It’s awe-some!” He is enthusiastic about his food creations and proudly regales how his dishes are made, what special ingredients are inside and downright makes you want to try everything. Again enters mac-n-cheese. Not wanting to hurt Tony’s feelings by passing it by, I gave it a taste. OMG. Can we talk about what makes this recipe great?

Starting from the top: breadcrumbs. And not just any breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs. Those light, flaky, golden bits of deliciousness that, when mixed with butter, are irresistible! Now each bite can have a teensy bit of crunch to it. Mmm-mmm!

Next comes cheese: If you’re an upscale home-cook like Tony, you choose fancy cheese like gouda, smoked cheddar, whatever you like! Honestly, I usually make it with common cheese like sharp cheddar, colby jack and parmesan/romano. Easy peasy.

Let’s not forget butter. I know, I know. Butter is not healthy. There’s not a ton of it in this recipe, so don’t worry. If you must substitute it for a healthier option, feel free. I have no doubt it will still be amazing.

Another great thing is the cost. Look at what you’re purchasing to make this recipe. It’s all quite affordable. If you shop my favorite store, Aldi, then you can easily make enough for two batches. One for your family to polish off, and one to share.

Last but most certainly not least: love. My friend’s enthusiasm about sharing a special dish with our small group was evident. Whenever I make this for my family, it makes me happy because I know I’m making, with love, something they will enjoy. Every time. Even better, it’s now a requested dish in our home. Mr. Tony’s Mac-n-Cheese has been to many places including high school marching band tailgate parties when the kids needed to bring a ‘dish to pass’; and my son’s baseball gatherings at the end of the season. “Mom, can you make mac-n-cheese?” Absolutely. Every time. A bit of love goes into each batch. Good thing, too. Because even though the dish doesn’t last long, the love behind it sure does.

Giving credit where it is due: Recipe shared by Tony Curtis, used often by me. When you want to make a pan of your own delicious yummy-ness, click here.

state fair cookie

Raise your hand if you like a yummy chocolate chip cookie. (You can’t see my hand up, but trust me, it is indeed raised.) Once in awhile I enjoy a good contest. I’ll be honest here. The possibility of being really good, or even the best, at something is pretty cool and feels great when it actually happens. There’s even a little sense of identity with a contest. You know what I mean – a bit of bragging rights. You can walk around knowing that you scored the highest amount possible in a singing competition. Or perhaps you’re the sixth best tuba player in the state. Or maybe you won a chili cook-off and now you reign chili royalty. I’m not encouraging boastfulness, just saying contests can be fun.

Fairs are also fun. The animals, the tradition, the smells, and can we talk food? I don’t know about you, but my standard fair menu consists of fresh squeezed lemonade with the sugar crystals that get stuck in your straw, french fries with a bit of potato skin still on and spritzed with salt and vinegar, and if there’s a possibility of any real estate left in the ol’ stomach, a scoop of ice cream. Only if there’s top quality ice cream available. Otherwise, deal’s off. I pass on elephant ears unless, of course, someone is willing to share.

I also appreciate the entries. Things people worked hard to make or put together solely for the enjoyment of their craft and the thrill of a bit of ol’ fashioned competition. Traditions like pie contests or quilting exhibits are rich and I cherish homemade. One year I decided to venture in and enter a few things in our state fair. It was really exciting! On the scheduled day, I brought in a few photos I took and framed as well as some homemade, fresh-picked strawberry rhubarb jam. The few days in between drop-off and opening day of the fair seemed like forever. Finally, the fair opened and I rushed in to see if my goodies were ribbon-worthy. I was elated to have won a few! Then and there I was hooked. What could I try next? Long story short, my unique chocolate chip cookie recipe was born. During the trial phase, I don’t particularly recall anyone complaining about taste-testing, so it must not have been too hard on my family. In the end, I came up with what I think is a pretty good recipe. Plus, it earned me a blue ribbon and a few placings in local newspaper contests. Heads up if you’re going to try it, there are two ingredients that can be a bit pricey. This is why I usually reserve making these only for Christmas or special occasions. Speaking of Christmas. My dad has asked, year after year, that a batch of these be his only Christmas present. With that in mind, if you need a different type of gift for someone, don’t overlook baked goods as viable options!

P.S. I always taste the cookie batter. One bite. Well, maybe two! After all, how will you know if it’s any good? (Plus sometimes cookie dough is just pure delish!) With that being said, eat raw dough at your own risk. (That’s my version of a disclaimer regarding consumption of raw eggs.)

Give ’em a try! Click on link here:
Cherry Choc Cookie Recipe

Giving credit where it’s due:
Recently stumbling into the world of indie nail polishes, I found this beautiful magenta-ish color with a touch of gold in it called ‘Prickly Pear Margarita’. (In photo above.) I’ve never actually eaten a prickly pear, but it doesn’t matter because this shade is fabulous! (I admittedly also picked up a few others which are just as lovely!)
Thank you for your work.