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I love working with my hands and using my creativity. I post my photography, interior decorating, recipes, furniture restorations, and ideas I have for future projects. Don't be a stranger!

Chicken Rice Soup

I’m excited to share the recipe for chicken rice soup that my mom made for the family regularly.  It’s only seven ingredients but it’s very tasty and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it, too!

Chicken Rice Soup

 

Ingredients and directions for the rice

  • 1 cup uncooked white, long grain rice
  • Dash of olive oil (1-2 teaspoons)
  • 2 cups of water

Stir rice, olive oil, and water in medium size pot.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and cover.  Simmer on low heat for 18-20 minutes or until the water has been absorbed.  Set aside.

Ingredients and directions for chicken and broth

  • 1 to 1.5 pounds of chicken.  You can really used whatever kind you want.  I used to use chicken wings but I now just use boneless, skinless chicken breast because it’s less work.
  • 5-8 chicken bouillon cubes (I use 6)
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • Lemon juice (1 squirt from bottled juice or juice that’s squeezed from 1/2 of a lemon)
  • 2 quarts (8 cups) of water
  • salt to taste

Add chicken and 2 quarts of water to a large pot.  Add bouillon cubes – how much is a personal preference.  I’ve seen recipes that only use 2 but I’ve also seen recipes that use up to 10.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium and cook until chicken is done, about 15 minutes (if you’re using full chicken breast, complete with skin and bone, you might cook it for 20 minutes).  Remove chicken from pot, allow it to cool, and then shred it with two forks or cut it in to cubes.

Add chicken, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, oregano, lemon juice, and rice back to broth and simmer for a few minutes.  Add salt to taste.  Remove from heat and serve with warm muffins or crusty bread.  Enjoy!

 

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Popcorn Snack Recipe

If you’re looking for a healthy, filling treat, give the below recipe a try.  It’s made with oatmeal cereal, popcorn, cranberries, apples, and a bit of chocolate.  It’s easy to make a huge batch at once and divide it in to small bags to take to work or school.  I call it “high fiber snack” but you can call it whatever you want!

popcorn_snack

Ingredients

  • 9 cups popped popcorn (I make mine using an air popper, but you could also buy bagged popcorn and use that instead.  I especially like Skinny Pop popcorn)
  • 1.5 cups oatmeal cereal squares
  • 3/4 cups dried cranberries
  • 2.5 oz package of dried apple slices.  You can also make these yourself if you’d prefer
  • 1.5 cups chocolate chips
  • Optional – raisins, almonds, walnuts, etc.

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  Store in a gallon plastic bag or tupperware container.

 

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies

It may be a tad early for pumpkin-flavored things but the colder-than-average temperatures have put me in the mood to bake fall favorites.

I found a recipe for pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies online and, after reading some of the comments, decided to make some changes to the recipe.  My cookies turned out less chewy than regular snickerdoodle cookies and more soft and pillowy.  I took some to work and I received a lot of compliments and requests for the recipe.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle cookies

Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (not packed)
  • 2 tsp cornstarch (this helps make the cookies soft. I use them in chocolate chip cookies, too)
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter , softened
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For rolling

  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


Instructions

Combine flour, cornstarch, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.  Set aside.

Cream together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until just combined.  Mix in egg yolk, then pumpkin and vanilla extract.  Slowly add in dry ingredients and mix until combined.

Place dough in bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill in refrigerator for 45-60 minutes. Without this step, the dough is too sticky to roll.

Preheat oven to 350 fahrenheit during last 10 minutes of chilling  In small box, mix 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and 1.5 teaspoons of cinnamon.  Scoop dough out in 1 or 1.5 rounded tablespoons and roll dough in cinnamon sugar mixture until evenly coated then transfer to baking sheet, spacing cookies 2 inches apart.  Bake in preheated oven 12-14 minutes.  Cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin_Snickerdoodles

Enjoying the Outdoors

Yesterday I decided to take my camera out and go exploring a bit.  I found a footbridge that goes across a lake we have nearby.  I knew the lake was there, of course but I didn’t know about the bridge and I was surprised by how many people were there exercising, walking dogs, or spending time with their kids.  It was fun walking around and taking pictures.

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I hope you had a nice weekend, too!

Food Photography

I’ve taken some food pictures for this blog but I never put much thought in to applying  the best techniques for food photography.  That is, until yesterday.

I am trying to put together a list of recipes that I use often and one of the stipulations I have for myself is that I need to include a picture that I’ve taken of the food to include next to the recipe.

Yesterday I made a breakfast sandwich and I could not get a picture I was happy with.  I used my 18-55mm lens and it was just not working out.

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photo taken with 18-55mm lens and artificial light

I got frustrated with the 18-55mm lens because it would not focus if I got too close.  But if I got further away from the food, the picture lost some of the detail that I wanted to capture.  I thought maybe I can spruce up the picture in Photoshop. Nope.

So I read a few posts about food photography and two of the recommendations that stood out to me were 1.) use a macro lens and 2.) use natural light if possible.

So, that’s what I did this morning.

Egg_sandwich

photo taken with 60mm macro lens and natural light

Huge difference!  Before I took the picture, I wasn’t sure if it would work because there was barely any light coming in through the kitchen window.  But my lens knew how to make it work.  I like this picture because it shows the detail of the food and the lighting indicates that I was about to enjoy the sandwich in the morning – which I did.

Don’t get me wrong – I have taken decent pictures of food with my 18-55mm lens, like the one shown below but I think I’ll stick with the 60mm macro for a while.

veggie_wrap

photo taken with 18-55mm lens and artificial light

What tricks or tips do you have when taking pictures of food?

Black Bean & Corn Quesadillas

A posted a recipe for fajita quesadillas a few months ago.  I really enjoy making (and eating) those but I wanted to try something different today.  Instead of onions and peppers, I decided to make the quesadillas with black beans and corn.  They turned out really good!
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Here’s how you make them!

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of chicken
  • flour tortillas (I use 10 inch tortillas)
  • shredded cheese (I used colby cheddar)
  • 1 can of corn
  • 1 can of black beans
  • 1-2 tablespoons of taco seasoning
  • butter for frying pan

Directions

  • Poach chicken for ~10 minutes or until fully cooked.  Remove chicken from pot and shred using two forks.  Set aside.
  • Drain and rinse black beans.  Then drain corn.  Add corn, chicken, taco seasoning, and black beans to a frying pan.  Cook on medium high until all ingredients are hot and a bit more cooked through like shown below.  This also helps burn off some of the water left over from rinsing. img_3041
  • In a separate frying pan, melt a bit of butter.  Add 1 tortilla over the butter then add cheese and as much of the bean/corn/chicken mixture as you’d like.  Then add second tortilla over top.
  • Once the bottom of the first tortilla starts to brown, flip the quesadilla over to cook the bottom (I put a plate over the pan and then quickly flip the quesadilla on to the plate.  Then I push the quesadilla back on the pan.  This helps avoid spillage which happens to me if I try to flip using a spatula).
  • Once the bottom of the second tortilla starts to brown, remove from heat, transfer to plate, and cut it in to 4 even piece.
  • Add toppings (salsa, green onions, guacamole, sour cream, etc.) to your liking.

Enjoy!

52 Week Photography Challenge

Anyone else participating in the 52 week photo challenge hosted by Dogwood Photography?  It started at the beginning of 2017 but don’t worry if you missed a few weeks.  If you’re interested, go ahead and jump right in!

52 Week.png

Each week focuses on a different theme designed to improve your photography skills.  You can find the full article and a list of weekly themes here on the 52 Week Photo Challenge website.

Themes so far this year have been:

  1. Rule of thirds
  2. Straight out of the lens (no photo editing)
  3. Artistic landscape
  4. Tell a story using a mirror
  5. Take 10 pictures of the same object from different angles, distance, etc.

If you decide to participate, I’d love to see some of your pictures!  My week 1-4 pictures are posted above.

Happy picture taking.