12 Days of Christmas, Day 7: [Recipe] Tomato Barley Soup

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Who doesn’t love a nice hot bowl of soup on a cold winter’s day? I know I certainly do. There’s just nothing like staying tucked in on a snow day with a pot of soup simmering on the stove. Such a comforting thought.

This tomato and barley soup recipe was passed along to me by my good friend Geneviève. It is a wonderful recipe, and so flexible. You can change up the seasonings and broth, and you can add meat to the soup too if you’d like. Sometimes I fry up a bit of ground beef to add to this soup.

Thank you Geneviève, for a great recipe. Thank you too, for being a good friend. I hope our friendship continues to grow in the years ahead of us.

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[Recipe] Tomato Barley Soup

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
2 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp oil (any oil works)
1 can diced tomatoes (Italian seasoned work well)
1 carton broth (approximately 4 cups – I use low sodium)
1/4 cup uncooked barley
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper

Note: If using a can of plain diced tomatoes, add some herbs and spices to the soup, a couple of teaspoons of your favourites.

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In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the onions, celery, carrots, garlic and oil. Saute for 5 to 10 minutes, or until all vegetables are almost tender.

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Add canned tomatoes, broth, barley, and ground black pepper.

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Stir thoroughly and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, or until barley is tender.

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12 Days of Christmas, Day 6: [Recipe] Butterscotch Oat Squares

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A couple of summers ago, we had our friends, The Freeburns, come to visit us. During their visit, we spent a day at the King’s Landing settlement, just outside Fredericton. While we were there, we walked through one of the very old buildings where two women were cooking a fudgy oat square over hot coals. We tried some and loved it.

Being the crazy food person that I am, I immediately asked for the recipe. They told me they didn’t really follow a recipe, but told me the ingredients. So few ingredients – it sounded so simple.

Months later, I’m looking through a recipe box that I got at an auction. This recipe box is packed full of recipes, all very worn and weathered, with titles on them like ‘Aunt Alda’s Lemon Pudding’, and ‘Mrs. Black’s Raspberry Whip’. Flipping through the recipes, I found this gem. Butterscotch Oat Squares. My mind instantly went back to our visit to King’s Landing and the fudgy oat squares we enjoyed there. I made the squares and much to my sheer delight, they were just what I was looking for!

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12 Days of Christmas, Day 5: [Recipe] Buffalo Chicken Dip

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For quite some time now, I’ve been thinking about buffalo chicken dip. I see it all over Pinterest, and I’ve always been intrigued. I am completely addicted to hot foods, so a buffalo chicken dip is right up my alley.

The problem with all of the pins and recipes I’ve seen though is that they use canned chicken and ranch dressing mix. I’m not a fan of ranch anything, really, and I suppose you can use canned chicken, but wouldn’t it be tastier with real chicken? I also like my buffalo with blue. It’s for all of those reasons that I knew I had to come up with my own recipe.

This is my buffalo chicken dip recipe – a creamy, cheesy base, with all of the stuff I think of when I think of buffalo chicken – chicken, a bit of a buffalo kick, and the tang of blue cheese.

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12 Days of Christmas, Day 4: [Recipe] Good Housekeeping’s Shortbread Bites

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Cruising Pinterest this holiday season, I kept seeing these adorable little shortbread bites, over and over again. They were so stinkin’ cute that I had to bake them up myself, just so I could look at them in person.

The original recipe for these shortbread bites is actually from Good Housekeeping: Shortbread Bites. I didn’t change a single thing when I made them, and they turned out to be adorably fabulous.

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12 Days of Christmas, Day 3: [Recipe] Lumps of Coal

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Who doesn’t love a classic crispy rice square? There’s something about them that just takes me back to being a kid, standing on a chair in Mom’s kitchen, watching her make the classic treat. I couldn’t wait until they were cooled and we could cut into them.

These lumps of coal are a spin off of the classic treat, with the addition of chocolate cookie crumbs, making them look like lumps of coal, appropriate for Christmas.

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Kids love these little guys, and I hope you do too. They’re much tastier than the lumps of coal I’m sure so many of you got in your stockings as kids.

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[Recipe] Lumps of Coal

1/4 cup butter
1 14 oz package marshmallows
5 cups crispy rice cereal
1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat.

Add the marshmallows to the butter and stir until the marshmallows and butter have melted together. Remove the mixture from the heat.

Stir in chocolate cookie crumbs.

Stir in the crisp rice cereal, making sure it is well coated with the mixture.

Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment paper. Allow to cool before eating.

Note: It helps to wet your spoon or scoop when dropping these onto paper. It helps the treats not stick quite as badly to the spoon.