Homemade Maple Syrup

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup water
1 tsp maple extract

1. combine sugars and water in a sauce pan. stir until clear while bringing to a boil. turn down heat and simmer 15 minutes.
2. remove from heat, stir in maple extract and serve. refrigerate in a glass container.


Chili Blanco

holy smokes. this soup is so good it's addicting (i'm not exaggerating). from New Mexico Linds.

2-3 chicken breasts
olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large inion, chopped
2 or 3 small cans hot, fire roasted green chilies, diced if possible*
4 cups chicken broth
4 cans beans (all white or 2 white and 2 black)**
1 pint sour cream

1. place chicken breasts in a medium pot and cover with as much water as the pot can hold without boiling over. add 1 tsp salt and bring to a boil. lower heat and simmer for 2 hours. add more water if necessary. shred or cut cooked chicken into small pieces. (i know there are other. less time consuming ways to boil chicken but this is the only method i know of that leaves the chicken tender instead of rubbery).
2. heat oil in a large pot and sauté the garlic and onion until tender and slightly transparent. add the chilies and cook a few more minutes.
3. add the broth, beans and chicken and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. stir in sour cream until completely incorporated (don't let soup boil once sour cream has been added) and serve with warm bread.

* if you can't find the pre-diced chilies just dice them up yourself
** i like using both white and black beans for the contrast (since the soup is so white) but if you do, make sure to drain and rinse the black beans.

Mushroom Barley Soup

a robust flavorful soup for any time (but of course fall is such a great time for soup).

1/2 cup barley
olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3-4 carrots, chopped
3 celery ribs, chopped
8 oz mushrooms (white or baby bella), sliced
1/2 cup frozen peas
4 cups beef, chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 tsp thyme leaves, crushed
1 by leaf
salt and fresh ground black pepper

1. bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a small sauce pan. add the barley, lower heat, and cook until tender, about 30 minutes.
2. meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot and sauté the garlic and onion for about 7 minutes minutes. add carrots, celery and mushrooms cooking for a few minutes between each addition.
3. add the broth, drained barley, peas, thyme, salt and pepper and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. take bay leaf out before serving. enjoy with your favorite bread!


Ham and Brie Sandwiches

inspired by a sandwich we had in Sante Fe, New Mexico, this is delicious

For 2 sandwiches
1 baguette
8 slices of ham (you can either go deli or quality thin meat)
6 slices of Brie (be very liberal with the brie)
spinach leaves
honey mustard
caramelized apples

Recipe for caramelized apples:
4 apples, sliced
2 T butter
1/4 cup apple cider
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly cracked pepper
salt to taste
Melt the butter. Saute the apples over high heat until a light brown. Add apple cider, simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in sugar and allow to simmer until apples are translucent and liquid has thickened to syrup. Stir in cinnamon and pepper. Season to taste with salt.

Place ham, cheese, mustard, and apples on a baguette. Toast in the toaster oven until cheese melts. Add fresh spinach leaves to sandwich.