Simple Buttercream Frosting

So I noticed I don’t have ANY sweet recipes on my blog. There’s a simple reason for that: I really am not the best baker.

It’s a damn good day when I decide to make the cookie recipe on the back of the Nestle bag and it doesn’t go awry. I over mix things, under bake cakes, and still can’t figure out what’s going wrong with my caramel sauce.

So this definitely isn’t to say I don’t try. There’s just a science to baking and I am no scientist.

Like I said earlier, burned caramel sauce after burned caramel sauce does not bode well for one’s self esteem, so I created a buttercream frosting. I knew I couldn’t burn that!

It’s pretty simple, buttercream frosting. It’s just a few ingredients and takes virtually no time at all.

Start by beating the butter with a hand mixer. In order to make the frosting fluffy, which is what we want, it’s important to fluff the butter up a bit before adding the sugar. Confectioners sugar is best here, given its powdery texture.

I added the sugar a cup at a time for two reasons: 1) You don’t want a lumpy frosting, so adding it in slowly gives the mixer time to catch up 2) I don’t like powdered sugar all over my kitchen walls and island.

About half way thorough adding the sugar is when I added the cream. You can use milk here, but I figured it’s already so full of fat and sugar, a few spoonfuls of cream won’t make a difference. If you want a thinner frosting, just add more cream or milk. Add a few drops of vanilla and you’re done.

This is a very basic recipe, so the flavors you choose to add are endless.

Simple Buttercream Frosting

  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream, or as needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, beat softened butter for 1-2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  2. Add sugar a cup at a time, incorporating well after each addition.
  3. Add in heavy cream or milk to desired consistency. Add vanilla and mix well.

Bacon Wrapped Honey Mustard Chicken

In my previous blog post, I talk about how I rarely eat bacon because it’s so expensive at the store. Well, every now and then, Publix will have some brand of bacon on sale. So I bought a pack. After using most of it for my multiple dishes of 5 Ingredient Pasta, I had about 5 slices left. And I had chicken, and something inside me said to make my own honey mustard sauce, so here we are. Bacon Wrapped Honey Mustard Chicken. Add to a pile of rice or a side salad and dinner is ready.

Over the past like, 10 Christmas’s or so, I’ve been steadily asking for kitchen appliances, gadgets, utensils, etc. You know, a Kitchen Aid Mixer to Food Network Spatulas. Anything that would help me make advanced dishes to simple ones is what I’d ask for. I’ve also collected several hand me downs from aunts and grandmas (HELLO copper bottom saucepans).

The reason I’m telling you this is because when I’m cooking in someone else’s kitchen, most of the time, they don’t have the arsenal of things I have in order to make cooking a breeze. The first time I made this, I was not in my kitchen. I was in a kitchen with not a sharp knife to be seen.

This recipe followed through, though, and gave us the most tangy, savory chicken pieces you could ever ask for.

For the honey mustard sauce, it really takes five minutes to make. You can use a store bought sauce if you want, but the components are probably already in your kitchen, so why not try it? I feel a sense of pride whenever I make something myself that could be bought in the store. Homemade is almost always better and you feel a bit fancy whisking all those ingredients into one happily fused sauce.

I also like to add spicy brown mustard, mostly because I just really like it. One of my favorite snacks is slices of turkey and cheese rolled up with some spicy brown squeezed in the middle.

As for the chicken, it’s incredibly crucial to ensure each piece is similar in size. Otherwise, you’ll have one piece that’s perfectly cooked and one that’s so dry it’s almost inedible (I’m not talking from experience or anything…). To avoid this, you can pound out each piece with a meat tenderizer (I’m not ashamed to say I used the bottom of a meatloaf pan) until they’re about the same size.

Bacon Wrapped Honey Mustard Chicken

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken breasts, each breast cut into 2 strips
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder

For the honey mustard sauce:

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon spicy brown mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a bowl, combine all ingredients for honey mustard sauce. Whisk and set aside.
  3. Cut each chicken breast in half, then pound to ensure each piece is about the same size.
  4. Season with garlic salt and onion powder. Then drizzle about a tablespoon or so of honey mustard on chicken.
  5. Take one slice of bacon and wrap around each piece, then drizzle more honey mustard sauce onto chicken.
  6. Transfer chicken onto sheet pan and bake for about 20 minutes until juices run clear. You can also drizzle more sauce on the chicken about halfway through the cooking process, if desired.
  7. Serve immediately with leftover honey mustard for dipping.

5 Ingredient Pasta

This recipe came to me after an incredibly late night at work when I was pretty hungry, but wasn’t in the mood for the only fast food joint open: Ol’ Taco Bell. What I really wanted was pasta. I wanted a heavy, comfy, full on carb overload.

I also love this recipe because it’s literally five ingredients. Five cheap ingredients. We’re not counting salt and pepper because I hope everyone has these in their kitchen…

I knew that combining melted butter and crushed garlic would result in a mellow but pungent sauce. Garlic salt won’t do this combo justice. If you want to make this recipe right, fresh garlic is key.

What I didn’t know is that the addition of bacon would add yet another level of flavor and texture I hadn’t even thought about. It’s not that I don’t like bacon, it’s just not a staple in my apartment. And on the night I created this recipe, I just so happened to have bacon. You definitely don’t have to have it, but it adds a crunchy texture and salty tang that you wouldn’t have otherwise.

Since the butter is the only “sauce” for the pasta, you’ll need quite a bit of it, if you don’t use any of the bacon grease left over from the pan. I always pour the grease into a coffee cup because I use it when I cook green beans. I’m in the South and we use bacon grease in everything. For this recipe, keep just a little bit of grease in the pan. A thin layer will do. AND ALL THOSE BROWN BITS FROM THE BACON, GIRL. You need em.

You can use any kind of pasta you like. I normally use spaghetti or thin spaghetti. I also tend to like my pasta a bit on the undone side, so I take the pasta out a minute or two before the box says.

The takeaway from this is that you don’t have to have a ton of ingredients to create a delicious and relatively quick recipe. Make this dish and you’ll know what I mean.

5 Ingredient Pasta

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3-4 slices bacon
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoons red pepper flakes
  • 8-10 ounces pasta
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. In a medium or large saucepan, cook slices of bacon until desired crispiness. Drain bacon on paper towels. Pour most of the grease out of the pan, saving a thin layer for sauce.
  2. In a large pot, bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions on box.
  3. In the bacon pan, add butter and melt over medium to medium high heat. Crush garlic and add to melted butter and bacon grease. Add crushed pepper flakes.
  4. While the pasta and sauce are cooking, chop bacon into medium size chunks.
  5. When garlic has browned, take it out of the pan. Add crushed pepper flakes and flash fry for just a few seconds. Add cooked pasta and chopped bacon to pan.
  6. Serve immediately.

Not Your Basic Bruschetta

Bruschetta. No matter which way you say it, right or wrong, it’s still going to be some form of delicious toasty bread topped with colorful tomatoes.

So my idea for this was the fact that it’s still crazy humid outside, and I don’t exactly feel like coming home and hovering over a hot stove to make dinner. For this recipe, you do need to fry the bread on the stove, but it’s 100% necessary in order to get that golden brown crunchy toast we all love.

You know how I told you I get a lot of my inspiration from movies? Well this is another one. I first started making bruschetta years ago after seeing Julie and Julia in the theater with my grandma, aunt and little sister in Nashville. The movie combines the lives of blogger Julie Powell and Julia Child, TV cooking show host and author of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Basically, Julie decides to give herself a year to cook her way through MtAoFC, and write a blog about each recipe. The cool thing about the movie is that while Julie is cooking these recipes, it takes us back to when Julia is getting this exact book published, and all the obstacles that came along with it. The movie is such an inspiration for me because they were both unsure about their purpose in life, but found comfort and passion in food.

I related to this movie at such a young age mostly because I love food and everything about it. I still find myself even more so relating to Julie in that I’m 25 (she was about 30 when she started the blog journey) and still not sure what I want to do with my life. I mean I love writing, but what kind of writing do I love? Is it PR? Is it writing articles like, “10 Ways to Blow Your Guy’s Mind in Bed” or whatever, or about the metal gig I attended last week?? Julie wanted to be a writer, so if she can be successful in doing so, why can’t I?

Well anyways back to the recipe. Early in the movie, Julie, played by Amy Adams, is frying bread in their tiny New York apartment. It then shows hers husband Eric (Chris Messina) quite literally DEVOUR the bread topped with tomatoes. It looked simple enough and damn delicious, so I figured I’d give it a go.

And for the record, I’ll totally eat anything with a tomato in it. STORYTIME. When I was a kid, I mean like a toddler, I’d sneak out of my grandparents house and find my way to their garden, where those little red juicy circles would be there just waiting for me to pick them off the vine. Then I’d cry and cry when someone came out to bring me back inside. Obviously I don’t remember any of this, but I do remember always loving the tangy taste of a tomato.

I know I’ve told you before how much I love Italian, and a staple in Italian cooking is basil. But uh…I don’t really like the stuff. You will never find basil in my kitchen. For some reason, I decided to add cilantro all those years ago. Don’t ask why, I just knew I liked it. And I’m so glad I did.

While we’re on the topic of nontraditional bruschetta ingredients, I’ll occasionally add cucumbers, feta, or mozzarella. It depends on what is in my kitchen and who i’m making it for. My foodie of a boyfriend loves to add tons of stuff to pretty much anything, if that makes sense. When he’s in the kitchen with me, for example, I put him in charge of the marinade if we need it. He’ll easily add every single bottle of stuff I have in my refrigerator door into the bowl. The last time we did this, it didn’t turn out so well. So FYI, do NOT use pickle juice for a steak marinade.

I really like to keep things simple and minimal, if possible. I love cheese, but the bruschetta doesn’t need it. Tomatoes, an herb, oil, salt and pepper is all you need, really.

As far as the kind of bread I use, I’ve tried it with several different kinds. And the one that never fails is the dollar French loaf from Walmart. It’s a big loaf so it holds the weight of the tomatoes and seems to fry in the pan just perfectly. And while we’re on the subject of bread, you NEED the clove of garlic rubbed on it as soon as it comes out of the pan. I’ve made it without the garlic and it’s just not the same.

It’s also difficult to tell you the amount of each ingredient you need because it can be eaten as an appetizer or a full meal.

Let’s get to it.

Not Your Basic Bruschetta

  • Servings: 2, if each person has 3 pieces
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • One loaf of French bread, cut into six 1 inch slices
  • 4-5 medium size tomatoes, cut into pieces
  • One clove garlic, crushed
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • Butter
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Chop tomatoes into small pieces into a bowl. Add chopped cilantro, salt, pepper and olive oil to taste. Set aside.
  2. In a medium nonstick skillet over medium to medium high heat, add a few tablespoons of oil.
  3. Slice bread then coat each side with softened butter.
  4. Working in batches, add bread to hot oil and fry each side till golden brown and crunchy. Maybe 3-5 minutes on each side.
  5. While bread is still hot, rub the clove of garlic on each side.
  6. Spoon tomato mixture over each piece and serve immediately.

 

Lemon Parmesan Crusted Chicken

Okay so I cannot tell you guys how many times I made this recipe before I was happy with how it tasted. Years ago when I was still living at home, I decided to cook dinner for my fam. Which would have been my two beautiful sisters and my parents. Anyways, while I was trying to think of something that appealed to everyone’s taste buds, I remembered watching Giada make these Parmesan crusted pork chops on the Food Network.

If you’re reading this blog, chances are you know who i’m talking about when I say Giada. Her name is Giada De Laurentiis and she is a Food Network OG (Original Gangster). Probably the main reason I fell in love with her is her Italian roots. And even though I don’t think I have ANY Italian in me, its food and culture is something that continues to intrigue me over and over. I was so fortunate to visit Venice when I was in high school, but one day was just not enough to see all it had to offer.

Okay back to food. So I saw the recipe for Parmesan Pork Chops and I figured I’d give them a go. The rest of my family probably couldn’t have cared less about them. My mom was just happy that someone else had made dinner. But my dad. My dad still talks about them to this day. Maybe he just really likes pork chops I don’t know. But I do know he liked these. The recipe for those *delicious* pork chops is right here, y’all. 🙂

Join me in the future now, where I decided to make my own Parmesan chicken. As I said earlier, I was getting so freaking tired of eating these, but I had to get this recipe right. I wanted to add something extra though, so the first few times I experimented with some thyme and lemon zest. You’ll notice the final recipe has neither of those ingredients. Needless to day, they just didn’t work. I added the zest in with the bread crumb mixture, but I think it ended up a bit burnt when I fried it…But I was onto something with that lemon flavor. Sooooo, I squeezed some juice into the eggs and that was the winner.

I will tell you, though, that the egg turned a different color when I added the lemon juice in. Just a bit paler of a yellow. But I’m still alive and well. I also have read that people add lemon juice into their scrambled eggs and eat them just like that. What I’m getting to here is that I was nervous when the juice turned the eggs turn another color, but it’s totally fine.

So I’ve made this with bread crumbs mostly, but I’ve also used some crackers too, and that was a stroke of genius I must say. It makes the crust crunchier and a bit richer because of the butter. Any kind of buttery, flaky cracker will probably work. Just be sure to process them till they’re pretty fine.

As far as the quality of cheese you use, use what you have, man. If you have a fancy, expensive wedge of Parmesan from Queen Nefertiti herself, use it. (I like ancient Egyptian history, sorry not sorry.) If you have Parmesan from a green plastic container, use that. I’ve used them both.

Also be sure to use oil for this and not butter. I really like cooking with butter over olive oil, but the butter has a higher burning temperature than oil. And we don’t want the chicken to burn on the outside before they get cooked through.

I used chicken breasts cut in half, or like butterflied all the way through, and tenderized them with the bottom of a meatloaf pan cause that’s the first thing I laid eyes on when I was looking for something to do the trick. (I don’t have a meat tenderizer. So what?) When you’re cutting them in half, use a super sharp knife to ensure an even cut throughout. It’s kinda difficult at first but you’ll get better at it I promise.

As for how much oil to use, I’m really bad at measuring it. A general rule is to make sure there’s enough to easily cover the pan. And you’ll be working in batches, so you can always add more in between. Just give the oil a few seconds to heat up again if you do add more. That allows for that super crunchy crust we all know and love.

So you think this blog is missing something, right? Let me explain. Basically, I lost my access to this super program called Photoshop, (I’m sure you’ve heard of it) and I’m still working on getting my camera settings right. So for now, my blog posts will be missing photos. Sad day. ALAS. I still plan to continue writing and cooking, because that’s what I started this thing for in the first place.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, butterflied all the way through
  • Oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, Italian style
  • 2/3 cup Parmesan, grated
  • 1 teaspoon Oregano
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. In a large non-stick skillet, heat enough oil to generously coat the pan. You can add more between batches if needed. My eye was set at about medium high heat.
  2. In a plate or pie dish, crack egg and combine with the lemon juice.
  3. In another dish, combine bread crumbs, Parmesan, oregano, salt and pepper. Set these aside.
  4. With your hand on top of one piece of chicken, take a sharp knife and cut through the breast, like a butterfly cut, but all the way through. Do this to both breasts.
  5. Cover with plastic wrap and tenderize till each piece is about the same size. Remove plastic wrap and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Dredge each piece of chicken with the egg mixture, then coat well with the cheese and bread crumb mixture.
  7. Working in batches, add chicken and cook 3-4 minutes on each side, or until juices run clear.

 

Crab and Vegetable Lo Mein

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I eat so much pasta, guys. Take a peak in my pantry and you’ll see canned tomatoes, Fruit Loops and stacks upon stacks of pasta. I eat so much that I (GASP) am getting tired of the same pasta with some version of tomato sauce and parmesan shaved on top. So I took the noodles and went a completely different direction with them. And boom, Crab and Vegetable Lo Mein was born.

Another reason I decided to make a Chinese takeout version is because I really, really love Chinese food. However, I have recently been getting killer migraines out of nowhere after eating hibachi or Chinese takeout. A huge bummer.

My boyfriend and I went out to a hibachi a while ago and of course one of the best parts of hibachi is having the leftovers for lunch the next day. Lol WRONG.

The next day at work, my vision started to blur, so I thought I had just been staring at my monitor for too long. So I took a walk outside and those little dots were still there when I came back in.

“There’s no way I’m about to get a migraine,” I thought. I never get migraines.

Well lo and behold, I got a migraine. I definitely freaked a bit at work because I didn’t really know what to do. So I took an Excedrin (I keep them on me for my boyfriend because he gets them all the time) and dipped out from work and went home. My upstairs neighbor must have been having a bowling party or something that day because she/he was making SO MUCH NOISE. After finally being able to sleep most of it off, guess what I did?? I was having a craving for salty foods, so my ass goes and orders CHINESE delivery.

Surprisingly, I didn’t get a migraine the next day, but I got one the following morning because I had hibachi leftovers for lunch the day before. Needless to say, I unfortunately haven’t set foot in another Chinese restaurant since the *incident* we’ll call it. After a bit of research, (I love research) I found out that some people tend to get headaches and migraines after they consume MSG. GREAT.

When I told my little sister, she said, “So you mean no more Chinese for you forever?!?!” The word “forever” hit me pretty hard and didn’t settle too well, so I created my own dish that allows me to be in full control of how much MSG I add. Yes I’m aware this recipe does call for a few ingredients that contain MSG, but like I said, full control, right?

You can pretty much use any kind of vegetable you have in your fridge for this. You know-mushrooms, squash, zucchini. Just be sure that you cook whatever you use for a few minutes before you add your eggs in. The first time I made this, I didn’t add broccoli. Still great. I have made it without red pepper. Still great. You can really add anything you want to this lo mein and it would probably…still be great! You could even add tofu in place of the crab for a vegetarian dish.

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When and if you add broccoli, though, be sure to add just a spoonful or so of water along with it. This allows the broccoli to steam a bit, instead of just browning and possibly burning in the pan. And burnt broccoli is NOT a pleasant taste or smell.

And for the sauce, it’s just like the lo mein mixture, in that you can change whatever you don’t like about it. Don’t like spice?? 86 the sriacha, girlfriend. Really LOVE that sweet and salty combo?? Add more soy sauce and honey. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fresh garlic fanatic, but I really am not a fan of chowing down on some raw chunks of the stuff. If you do like a strong garlic flavor, add it into the lo mein sauce instead of cooking it with the veggies.

That’s cool thing about cooking, guys. It is so versatile and personal. With that being said, I’ll try not to get offended if you don’t like this recipe 🙂

Crab and Vegetable Lo Mein

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 8 oz. linguine, cooked
  • Two tablespoons oil or butter
  • One small head broccoli, chopped into bite size pieces
  • Two carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • Two small onions, thinly sliced
  • One red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Two eggs
  • One 8 oz. package imitation crab
  • Handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • One teaspoon honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sriacha
  • Pinch red pepper flakes

Directions

  1. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add salt and cook linguine according to directions on the box. Drain and set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the butter or oil and cook for about five minutes.
  3. Add bell peppers and onions and cook for another five minutes or so. Just until the onions turn a bit translucent and soft.
  4. Add broccoli, garlic and water. Cook for another 6-7 minutes.
  5. Move everything over to one side of the pan and add eggs. Season with salt and pepper and scramble till just cooked. Combine eggs with vegetables, then add crab and heat through.
  6. Add linguine then sauce to skillet. Cook for about 2 minutes so that the vegetables and pasta soak up sauce.
  7. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

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I feel like everyone needs a good, homemade chicken noodle soup recipe in their arsenal.

Normally I’d wait till Fall to post a recipe like this, but it’s too good not to share. And it’s pretty easy too, because you’re really just dropping ingredients in the pan at different times.

I don’t know how it is everywhere else in the world, but in the South, the weather is totally unpredictable. One week you’ll be a in a tank top. The next you’ll be in boots and a sweater. 

A few weekends ago, it was one of those boots and a sweater weather. Not only was it freezing, but it rained, and rained, then rained some more. And when it wasn’t coming a biblical downpour, it was doing that annoying mist thing. Which is way worse, in my opinion. 

That Sunday, I spent most of my time outside in that misty, cold weather. I was NOT prepared for this at all when I packed to visit home for the weekend. Luckily I packed a pair of patchy jeans and my low top Vans on a whim (everything else I had were shorts or sandals). After hours of being bundled up in a blanket and a tall man’s borrowed jacket, I called it quits and went inside to warm up. 

The following few days were still cold and rainy, so I decided to make a big pot of soup. 

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This is basically a classic chicken noodle soup recipe with a few extras: heavy cream, lemon juice and parmesan. I’m telling you, guys. Use these three ingredients in your next batch of chicken soup and you will NEVER turn back. The cream makes the soup…yes, creamier. But it also adds just a little luxuriousness to an average pot of soup. The lemon juice squeezed in at the last second brings that hint of brightness and tang to the chicken noodle soup party and perfectly complements the cream. And when watch the shavings of parmesan fall from the cheese plane, or in my case a vegetable peeler, it’s bliss, guys. Honestly.

You can probably let this soup simmer for hours if you want/need to, but if  you do, don’t add the noodles until you’re almost ready to serve. This will prevent them from turning the soup into a pot of mush. Other than this, I feel like it’s a pretty straight forward recipe. I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Like, really happy.

So here it is. A recipe for Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup. A simple twist on a classic.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 1 large white onion or 2 small, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 rotisserie chicken (about 3 cups shredded for me)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 3 cups noodles, uncooked
  • Juice of half a lemon

Directions

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat butter.
  2. Add carrots, celery and onions and cook for 7-8 minutes. Add garlic, salt and pepper and cook another 6-7 minutes.
  3. Add stock, water, chicken, bay leaf, thyme and heavy cream.
  4. Simmer for about 25-30 minutes, or until you’re almost ready to serve.
  5. Then add noodles and cook according to the package.
  6. Add lemon juice and serve immediately.