To serve, I fish out one of the cinnamon sticks and place it in the mug and strain the liquid into the cup.

Hot Mulled Apple Cider

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What a beautiful weekend this was here in the northeast!  It was cold, but clear and sunny!  Perfect for fall fun… One of our favorite fall activities is apple picking!  But, I just can’t go apple picking without coming home with some fresh squeezed Apple Cider!

Everyone in my house has a runny nose right now including my husband and my kids are a bit too young for tea with honey… So, my natural solution to this is to make some Hot Mulled Apple Cider with a touch of honey! And it was a hit.  I love hot apple cider just plain, but mulling it with some spices just takes it right out of this world! If you have never tried it, I urge you to try this simple recipe!

Start with some farm fresh apple cider. As you can see, this has no added sugar or preservatives, just delicious apples!

Pour about 1 quart into a medium sauce pan.

Add two full cinnamon sticks.

This is a nutmeg pit… As you can see, it is one that has been well used in recipe after recipe, now it is suitable for the cider! (as always, if you don’t have real nutmeg, please don’t use the powdered stuff, just omit it)

You can slice some orange slices in, but I just like the essence of the orange, so I am just putting in one length of peel.

Some fresh ginger really brings in some good spice to this mulling… I just picked one small nub, broke it off and sliced it up.

I add just one teaspoon of raw local honey… The mulling process actually sweetens the cider a bit by concentrating it, so you don’t need much honey and you could leave this out if you don’t like things too sweet, but the flavor is really yummy, not to mention great for colds and sore throats.

Put in 7 or 8 whole cloves.

Don’t bring this to a boil… As you can see, this is all steamed up, but the second I saw a boil bubble, it came off the stove… watch it, don’t let it boil. You don’t want to waste any! At this point you are ready to strain and serve… AND at this point if you choose to, you could make this an adult beverage by adding in a touch of bourbon or dark spiced rum!

To serve, I fish out one of the cinnamon sticks and place it in the mug and strain the liquid into the cup.

To serve, I fish out one of the cinnamon sticks, shred some orange peel, place it in the mug and strain the liquid in.

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Hot Mulled Apple Cider

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 quart apple cider

2 cinnamon sticks

1 tsp. honey

1 orange peel

1 tsp. sliced fresh ginger

1 tsp. whole cloves

1 used nutmeg pit

1 oz. bourbon or dark spiced rum (optional)

Directions:

Place all ingredients into a pot.  Heat on high until just before boiling.  Remove from heat when steaming.  Strain into mugs. Serve with cinnamon stick and some shredded orange peel. Enjoy!

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Portuguese Lemon Chicken Soup (Canja)

done2There is something about chicken soup that seems to make it a comfort food no matter what your nationality. The Thai add coconut to their chicken soup, the Italians add beans and Orzo, the Moroccans add couscous and butternut squash. I personally love a good American Chicken Noodle soup and that recipe will come, but there is nothing quite like what your grandmother made you as a little girl (or boy), to bring comfort to your meal.

So, if you are looking for a Portuguese comfort food, you have come to the right place!  Canja is the quintessential comfort food.  Portuguese Canja is made with simple ingredients, used in a way that you may never have thought to combine them before.  Canja has chicken, lemon and is thickened with egg yolks all combined to form a lovely delicate creamy soup that I am sure you have never quite experienced in any other dish.  My Vavó would make this soup any time she had some extra chicken or one of us was sick or just because.

This recipe is adapted from a recipe my good friend Lisa gave me to help remind me of just how my Vavó would make her soup.  Throughout the recipe I will note the differences and you can really make it your own.

garlic

Dice up onions.

Chop up a couple of carrots.  Some people also like to add in celery at this stage, I nor Lisa, nor was my Vavó a fan of celery in this particular soup, so I will be leaving it out, if you are partial to celery, by all means, add it in.

Chop up some garlic or put through a press.

Chop up some garlic or put through a press. (Lisa runs hers through a press)

saute

Saute onions and carrots until tender. Then add in garlic and a pinch of salt and saute another minute or so.

Add in about 10 cups of chicken stock. If you don't have homemade chicken stock, you can use boxed or canned... Or add in water and 2-3 bullion cubes.

Add in about 10 cups of chicken stock. If you don’t have homemade chicken stock, you can use boxed or canned… Or like Lisa, add in water and 2-3 bullion cubes.

While the soup is coming to a boil, separate 3 eggs and reserve the yolks.

While the soup is coming to a boil, separate 3 eggs and reserve the yolks.

Beat a few times with a fork until smooth.

Beat a few times with a fork until smooth.

Now, cut a lemon in half and place in a press. If you don't have a press, just use a reem or a fork to juice the lemon.

Now, cut a lemon in half and place in a press. If you don’t have a press, just use a ream or a fork to juice the lemon.

Add lemon juice to egg yolks and beat until combined.

Add lemon juice to egg yolks and beat until combined.

Before adding the egg yolk to the soup, you will want to temper with some hot liquid from the soup. This process allows for the egg yolks to come a bit closer to the temperature of the soup so they won't scramble upon adding them in. The point of the yolks is to thicken the soup, not to have breakfast with your dinner :)

Before adding the egg yolk to the soup, you will want to temper with some hot liquid from the soup. This process allows for the egg yolks to come a bit closer to the temperature of the soup so they won’t scramble upon adding them in. The point of the yolks is to thicken the soup, not to have breakfast with your dinner :)

Add in yolk mixture slowly and stir rapidly.

Add in yolk mixture slowly and stir rapidly.

This is what you should have when all stirred in. It will become an opaque creamy looking soup.

This is what you should have when all stirred in. It will become an opaque creamy looking soup.  At this point taste for salt, add in a pinch if needed.

Cooked chicken breast… If you don’t have cooked, you can do the same with raw. I happen to have cooked from making my chicken stock.  I use all white meat in my soup as it is my preference, but if you like dark meat in your soup, have at it ;)

Chop the chicken and add to the soup.

Chop the chicken (and even shred it a bit) and add to the soup.

Next add in your pasta or rice. My Vavó always used stars, I am using Pastini which are a teeny tiny version of that. A lot of people use par boiled rice (like an Uncle Ben's). It's a matter of preference.

Next add in your pasta or rice. My Vavó always used stars, I am using Pastini which are a teeny tiny version of that. Lisa uses par boiled rice (like an Uncle Ben’s). It’s a matter of preference.

Lastly, chop up some flat leaf parsley and add in to soup.

Lastly, chop up some flat leaf parsley and add in to soup.

Finally, allow to come to a boil long enough to cook your pasta or rice, 20 mins tops and turn off your burner. Taste for salt. And this is what you have left.

Finally, allow to come to a boil long enough to cook your pasta or rice, 20 mins tops and turn off your burner. Taste for salt. And this is what you have left.

Serve.

Serve… Enjoy!

Portuguese Lemon Chicken Soup (Canja)

(serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

8-10 cups chicken stock

1 chicken breast, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 medium onion, diced small

2 cloves of garlic, diced (or run through a press)

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 lemon, juiced

2 Tbs. flat leaf parsley, chopped

1/3 cup Pastini pasta, stars or par boiled rice

kosher salt to taste

Directions:

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until tender.  Add in a pinch of salt.  Add in garlic, saute another minute.  Add in chicken stock.  Bring to a boil.

In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks and the juice of one lemon together.  Add in about a quarter cup of hot stock from the soup pot to temper the yolks… Add hot liquid in slowly, but beat quickly to incorporate.

Add egg yolk mixture into the hot soup slowly while stirring rapidly.  Once incorporated, taste for salt.  Add in a pinch of salt if needed.  Add in chicken and pasta (or rice).  Cook for 10-20 minutes until pasta or rice is cooked fully.  Add in parsley.

Enjoy!