There’s no confusion about soup.

Is it me or does this time of year cause a lot of anxiety and confusion?  I went to the mall yesterday to just look for a skirt for Autumn’s band concert.  The mall had Christmas decorations up. Christmas music was playing. SANTA WAS ALREADY THERE! When the hell did Santa get to the mall?  It used to be a big production! Is it Christmas season already? I missed the turkey. I’m so confused.  And then I get all anxious because all the decorations and music and Santa make me feel like I’m super behind!  I haven’t started shopping.  I may have thought about it, but nothing is purchased. I don’t have room for the tree. I don’t have my 25 Days of Giving plan together yet. I still have “It’s ____ Days Until Halloween” sign up for Pete’s sake! Don’t get me wrong I LOVE THE SEASON. When it’s appropriate; like after Thanksgiving. Oh! And fuck you Hallmark Channel for sucking away all of my free time. I effing love all of those stupid Christmas movies.

Rant over.  What’s going on in our neck of the woods you ask? I mean, it’s been a while since I’ve been on here. You can thank Hallmark. Just kidding! Luckily for you, you haven’t missed much. I’ve been behind the camera a lot over the past few months. It’s a lot of work but I love it! I’m working on a blog page showcasing my work. That certainly is a work in progress. I took a WordPress class. I haven’t taken a class in years! All it did was just prove I have a lot of work to do to make my blog awesome. I’ve increased my gym schedule. Trying to get a rockin’ bod for 2016. Probably should stop eating the Halloween candy eh?

Ms. Autumn is fantastical.  She’s kicking 5th grade butt. French Horn is going well. She was invited back to Solo Fest in January.  I’m super proud of her!

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Although here where I live it’s been unseasonably warm, which is fine with me by the way, it will soon get chilly. I found (via my inbox from a coworker at work, thank you Taste of Home) this soup over the summer and tried it the first cold day in the autumn.  It’s delicious. All 3 kids, and the ol’ man love it.  It’s perfect for a cold day.  I’ve altered it a little since I like my veges.  You know, rockin’ bod for 2016.

Italian Tuscan Soup

  • 5 Italian turkey sausage links without the casings
  • 2 Onions, small and chopped
  • 6 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 32 oz Chicken broth, reduced sodium
  • 1¾ C Water
  • 2 Cans (14½ oz) Diced Tomatoes, undrained
  • 2-9oz packages Cheese Tortellini, refrigerated
  • 1-6oz package Fresh baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 Medium Zucchini, cubed
  • ¾ tsp dried basil
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • Shredded Parmesan Cheese
  1. Crumble sausage into a Dutch oven; add onion.  Cook and stir over medium heat until no longer pink.  Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the broth, water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
  2. While it’s coming to a boil, in a separate fry pan, lightly saute the zucchini, for about 5 minutes, or until softened.
  3. Back to the soup. Add tortellini; return to a boil.  Add the zucchini. Cook for 7-9 minutes or until the pasta is tender. Stir occasionally. Reduce heat; add the spinach, basil, and pepper.
  4. Cook 2-3 minutes longer or until spinach is wilted.
  5. Serve with sprinkled cheese.

 

italiantuscansoup

 

italiansoupcollage

It’s not too late for soup!

Wow! It’s been a long time since I’ve posted! Super sorry about that! So much and yet absolutely nothing has been going on. If that made any sense, you let me know. I know what I was thinking in my head..not sure if it really came out the way it’s intended.

First, let’s get this out of the way.  After weeks and weeks of consistently going to the gym, planning meal after meal, very carefully watching my calories, and carb intake; I have officially lost 7 pounds. All since Friday. All due to a nasty GI virus, that I still have.  Saturday I walked, brace yourself, an entire 935 steps.  All of them from the living room to the bathroom. And now that you know things about me that you really don’t need to know..

Easter here in our crazy house was fantastical! Actually nothing happened. Wait! Yes it did! We made Easter eggs with Kool-Aid. I saw the post floating around Facebook, and thought we’d try that. Had I found it on Pinterest, it would have been a Pinterest fail.  Ok, so not a fail, but certainly not a PAAS coloring experience! The red turned out red, the purple turned gray and everything else dried various shades of orange.

IMG_4608

 

The ol’ man hid plastic eggs for the lil’ monsters.  Yes, even the older 2 liked looking for about 800 plastic eggs in our palatial abode. Of course, I’m kidding. About the palatial abode. Undoubtedly, we will find one in August with a moldy Twix in it.  We don’t go super crazy here at Easter.  Some people go nutty, almost like Christmas!  The kids under our roof get a chocolate bunny, and 1 gift. And a roof. This year they got impostor Fitbits so they can start monitoring their steps and sleep. We are trying so hard to get them on the healthy track!  New mamas: Listen up!!  If you want your kids to have a healthy lifestyle, start ASAP!  Once they develop bad habits, it’s soooooooo difficult to break those habits!  What’s that song?  5-2-1-0 be a healthy hero!  You totally sang the song in your head..admit it!

Since I woke up to snow yesterday morning, and it’s going to be cold for the next week, soup for dinner is still fair game! Seriously, if I had no sense of portion control, I would have eaten the whole pot. It’s a Pillsbury recipe, but I changed things around a little.  It’s delicious. I served this bisque with the Red Lobster cheddar biscuits. It was a perfect combination.  Everyone liked it!  Even the one who likes NOTHING liked it. Only because I made hers without the crab. Apparently, I have a “made to order” kitchen.

Tomato Crab Bisque

  • 1- 32 oz carton Bisque style tomato soup (any tomato soup is fine)
  • 1- 7oz can Chopped green chiles
  • 1 C Whipping cream
  • 1 tsp Seafood Seasoning (from 6 oz container)
  • 1 C  Chopped cooked crabmeat (I used imitation crabmeat)
  1. In large saucepan, heat soup and chiles to boiling over medium heat.  Reduce heat to low.
  2. With a wire whisk, beat in whipping cream and seafood seasoning until blended.
  3. Cook until just hot (do not boil).
  4. Stir in crabmeat.
  5. Ladle soup into bowls or mugs. Garnish with thyme.

tomatobisq

 

 

 

 

 

 

National Spinach Day?

I quit cold turkey. It’s been 4 days.  Four. Cuatro. Quatre.  It’s been four days without a single chocolate chip.  It may not seem like a lot to you, but to me?  Oh, stop with your eye roll, you judgmental bastard!  I realize there are bigger real world problems out there. But, seriously, I’m ready to punch someone in the throat.  Like the ol’ man perhaps? He had the nerve to buy Chips Ahoy! cookies, without the decency to hide them from me. Asshole.  Testing my will power is not love.  It’s torture. I have plenty of internal struggles with “eat or not to eat”. Don’t make it worse by teasing me with the goods! When it comes to chocolate chips or chocolate chip cookies, I have ZERO control. Cake? Pie? Ice cream? Chips?  I can say no to it all.  Having chocolate chips or any of their accomplices is like stocking up the liquor cabinet with alcoholic in the house.  I. Will. Not. Break. Down.

Enough of my whining.  Rumor has it that tomorrow is National Spinach Day.  I’m not entirely sure why we need a National Day for Spinach, but we do.  Luckily for spinach, it’s delicious.  And Popeye seems to like it, so I guess it’s worthy.  Since I’m Striving for 5 and all that fun stuff, (Go Team Go!) Campbell’s has a fantastical spinach and mushroom frittata that I made a while ago.  Easy, and the kids like it. Well, 2 of them did. I will give you a penny and a half if you can guess which one didn’t.  Heaven forbid they saw the microscopic mushrooms in it. This would make a great Easter brunch recipe! Just don’t tell the kids there are mushrooms. Or Spinach. Nevermind.  Serve it at the adult table.  Or call it just a Frittata.  It’s all in how you spin it!

Spinach and Mushroom Frittata 

  • 10 Eggs
  • 1 Can cream of mushroom soup (used the 10¾ oz size of 98% fat free)
  • 1-10 oz pkg Frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
  • 1.5 C Shredded Swiss (honestly I probably used closer to 2 C, since ya know, I used almost fat free soup, lol my logic kills me)
  • 1/2 tsp Ground black pepper
  1. Heat oven to 375°F.  Spray a 12x8x2 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl with a whisk, beat the eggs.  Stir in the soup, spinach and 1 cup (or so) of the cheese and black pepper.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish.
  4. Bake for 35 minutes or until the eggs are set in the center.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese.  Let stand for about 5 minutes until the cheese melts.
  5. If you make this the day before, refrigerate until you are ready to use.  Let it sit out for 30 minutes to get to room temperature.  Then reheat in a 350°F oven for about 20 minutes.

spinach frittata

Slow Cooker Sunday!-Beef Barley Soup

Holiday season is over. Valentine’s is over. Football is over……Wake me up in April. Seriously, I’ve added enough insulation to get me through until then.  Wait!!!  Fat Tuesday is coming.  Let me add another layer of gumbo and hurricanes.  Then hibernation begins!!  If I could I totally would. I’m kidding of course. Sort of.

How was everyone’s Valentine’s day?  I spent the day with the kids. I made pink pancakes for breakfast.  The ol’ man went to a movie with a friend who lost his wife a few years ago. We’ll hit the movies next weekend, when they aren’t so crowded; and you know how I feel about restaurants on Valentine’s.  I made mini chicken and waffles for all of us.  Doesn’t that scream romance!  I made something without vegetables in it.  The kids think that’s love. Win for Mom!

Mini Chicken and waffles!  No real recipe here.  I mean, you totally could make homemade waffles, and bread the chicken yourself.  I make this when we are running from work to soccer to the grocery store, ‘Oh shit it’s 7:30pm already’ what am I going to make for dinner?  Eggo mini waffles, and chicken strips.  Bake the chicken strips according to the directions on the package, pop the mini waffles in the toaster. I cut the strips in half, make a little sandwich, spear with a tooth pick to hold them together, drizzle with maple syrup.

minichickwaf

 

So parenting challenge #14,864?  The 16yo wants to read 50 Shades of Grey. Some of you are thinking, where’s the parenting challenge? The answer is no. She’s 16, are you out of your mind? The ol’ man did say no.  But I’m not entirely against it.  I know I’m not going to make a lot of friends with my opinion of 50 Shades, so I’m going to just touch on it a little. She has friends who have read it.  She reads books from the “romance” section already. I mean she is 16,  I’ve played Cards Against Humanity with her, so I know not a whole lot in the series is going to be shocking to her. Ok, so there may be a little shock. I’m impressed that she even asked at all.  Easily, she could have purchased it to her tablet, and we would never know.  She didn’t ask permission to smoke her first cigarette, or do shots of cake batter vodka. Proof that she’s unsure why it’s wrong. I’m not entirely sure I disagree with her. I lived that lifestyle for a few years before I met the ol’ man, who is very vanilla. So I feel like if she reads it, we know she’s reading it, when she has questions she can ask, and we {I} can answer them. Real answers. If she reads it behind our back, she will ask her friends questions and goodness knows what the hell they will answer with. Part of me feels like 50 Shades is romanticizing S&M; just like Pretty Woman did for prostitution.  The reality of the lifestyles just isn’t as black and white has Hollywood and fiction makes it out to be. Probably one of the best things about fiction. Bottom line, I told her if I got written permission from her mom that it’s alright for her to read them, then she can borrow the books. She can duke it out with her father.

On to things that will get me in less trouble! Slow Cooker Sunday!  Today, in our -25°F, snowy weather, nothing sounds better than Beef and Barley Soup!  Straight from Betty Crocker 🙂 The kids liked it, although 2 of the 3 thought there was too many vegetables, and not enough beef.  Damn carnivores!

Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

  • 2 Tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 Medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 C)
  • 2 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 2 lbs Beef boneless chuck, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Pepper
  • 2 Medium carrots, cut lengthwise in half, then cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 1 C Pearl barley, uncooked
  • 8 C Beef broth
  • 1.5 C frozen sweet peas
  • 1 C frozen corn
  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook onion, garlic, beef, salt and pepper in oil until beef is brown, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Spoon beef mixture into 6-quart slow cooker.  Stir in carrots, barley and broth.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat for 8-9 hours.
  4. Increase heat to high. Stir in frozen peas and corn. Cover and cook 8-10 minutes or until peas and corn are hot.

beefbarleysoup

 

 

 

Soup and Snow!

In Buffalo.  Let it keep snowing in Buffalo. Like a lot of the rest of country, west of me is getting slammed with snow.  They can keep it!  I woke up to 17*F, but that’s A-OK with me; I don’t have 4ft of snow in my doorway this morning.

Although it is the first of many, enough of the weather update.  I’ve have other very important things to report.  After a lot of feet dragging, and story after story, the soccer coach finally put Ms. Autumn on the soccer team. Offically.  I think. It’s very confusing. She tried to play it off like it was nothing, but out of the corner of my eye when she thought I wasn’t looking, I saw her give a big smile. Secretly she’s pretty excited.

In honor of my Buffalo friends, and everyone else home bound due to snow, I leave you with an “OMG this is so delicious” recipe for Eggplant Parmesan Soup to keep you warm!  I saw the recipe on The Kitchen. I was like how easy is that??  It turned out to be not as easy as it sounded, but worth it. Every. Single. Minute.  I did alter this a little, like I didn’t add fresh basil.  I’m sure your kids aren’t nearly averse to things green. Admittedly, I did actually fry the eggplant.  Next time, I’m going to try baking it. Surprisingly, really liked by the little people and the Ol’ Man.  Although, I don’t think Allison ate any of the eggplant. Show me your shock face!!

Eggplant Parm Soup

  • 8C                          Prepared Tomato soup (bisque style)
  • 1 1/3 C                   Flour
  • 2 Large                  Eggs (beaten)
  • 2 C                         Italian-style bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Medium              Eggplant, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 8 Slices                  Mozzarella cheese (I used part-skim)
  • 1/4 C                      Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Vegetable Oil for frying
  1. Set up a breading station with the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in shallow bowels. Add a little salt and pepper to each.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, dredge the little eggplant squares through each station, shaking off the excess.  Set aside on a wire rack.
  3. To the Soup! Pour the soup in a medium pot, add the Parmesan cheese, and bring to a slight simmer.
  4. Back to the eggplant croutons!! Heat 1/2 inch of oil in 2 large straight sided saute pans over medium heat.  Working in small batches, fry the eggplant pieces, turning once, until golden brown. I let them drain on paper towel.
  5. Preheat oven to broil.  Ladle the soup into individual ovenproof crocks or ramekins on parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover each crock with 2 slices of mozzarella cheese.  Broil until golden brown and bubbly.  Top each ramekin with several fried eggplant cubes.

 

Eggplantparmsoup

 

Off to Photo 101!!

 

Seafood Potpies. And shirtless men?

After much consideration, just to boost my traffic, I’m going to post pictures of half-naked men.  Anyone object?  See, on my Facebook page, I could post the most delicious recipe and get 3 likes.  When I post a picture of a well built gentleman, with a screwdriver and no shirt, my page goes crazy.  And I was thinking, man I wish my blog page got this much traffic!! Forget the Seafood Pot Pie and Snowman Ornaments, shirtless men seems to be the way to go!

I’m kidding, of course.  You’re stuck with Seafood Pot Pie.  Snowman Ornaments will be coming up on a later post.  They are currently a work in progress and glitter is everywhere, totally driving the ol’ man crazy! It’s great!

Besides driving the ol’ man crazy, things have been busy.  I did photos of my nieces and my daughter and the cutest lil’ newborn this weekend.  When your youngest is 9, you forget how little they are at 16 days old.  She was precious.  Naturally, Ms. Autumn and my nieces are precious too.  I mean, they are related to me.

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Summer, Alyssa and Autumn

So precious. Right?  Every morning, I ask Autumn how she slept.  Why? Have no clue. Probably to see how bitchy, crabby, I meant crabby, she will be for the day.  One day last week, this is how the conversation went:

Me: How’d you sleep?

Autumn: My back hurts. My bed is too hard.  I need a sleep number bed. Yeah.  That would be perfect.  I would probably set it at 25.

Me: Staring at her with the blank look of “where the eff do you get these things from?”  I don’t even know what to say to that.  I almost told her to ask Santa for it. Total DUH moment.  She knows I’m Santa.

Didn’t I mention you were stuck with Seafood Potpies?  “Stuck” is a little harsh.  They really are delicious.  And the vegetables are cooked right in. The kids can’t possibly pick out every single pea. See my rant about peas here.

 

Seafood Potpies

  • 1/2 (1 sheet)        Pepperidge Farm frozen puff pastry sheet (thawed for about 40 minutes)
  • 1 can (10.75 oz) Condensed cream of onion soup
  • 1 can (10.75 oz) Condensed cream of shrimp soup
  • 1/2 C                      Milk
  • 1-10 oz pkg          Mixed frozen vegetables, thawed
  • 1-12 oz bag          Frozen cooked baby shrimp, thawed
  • 6 oz                       Imitation crabmeat
  • Parmesan Cheese (grated)
  1. Heat the oven to 375*F. Spray individual serving ramekins with cooking spray. (We use 10 oz ramekins and get 5 servings)
  2. Roll out the thawed pastry sheet on a little flour.  Use the large (4″ or 5″ maybe?) biscuit cutter to cut out round circles of puff pastry goodness.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together the soups, milk, vegetables (including the peas), shrimp and crabmeat.
  4. Spoon into the ramekins. Put a puff pastry circle of goodness on each one. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbly.  Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

seafoodpotpie

 

Off to Photo 101!!

Hibernation begins…..NOW!!

Rain. Cold. Dark.  Although it is only October 21, I’m ready for hibernation.  Now!  That’s right, me and the bears.  I will see you in 5-8 months! I’m kidding, of course.  Or am I?

I love the fall months, but the transition to winter, and naturally winter itself, um…sucks.  I don’t like driving in the dark, on the good chance I will hit Dasher’s cousin with my front end. My electric bill goes up because I’ve been forced by Mother Nature, that bitch, to turn on my heat. The 16yo tonight was complaining that “It’s too cold in here!”.  Put an effing sweatshirt on, the heat is set to 60*F.  She wants it to be 80*F in the house!  Her words, not mine.  When she starts paying her own electric, she can turn it up to however warm she likes it. Rant over.

On the bright side, it’s almost Halloween!  I want Autumn to be something cute and cuddly!  That notion was lost  last year she was a Zombie Prom Queen.  This year she wants to be a devil. Whatev.  If the horns fit…Ok..now I’m totally kidding!  Maybe.

The one good thing about this time of year is…using the oven!  I don’t care to use the oven often in the summer because it heats up the house,  and we don’t have central air, yadda, yadda, blah blah.  So, this time of year is perfect for casseroles, and baked chicken, and pork roasts, and the list goes on.  Since everyone has their grandmother’s Tuna Noodle Casserole recipe, I throwing mine out here early in the “cooking in the oven is okay” season. Everyone makes this a little different.  The 2 older kids don’t like peas, so this recipe sucked for them, because I forgot that small detail.  Regardless of your feelings for peas, this is how I’ve always made it.  This is how my mom made it. Peas are good for you by the way! Packed with Vitamins A & C, protein, and fiber.  I fully understand they are starchy, but given this recipe already has pasta in it…you know where I’m going with this.  It’s comfort food.  Just eat the damn peas.

Jude’s Tuna Noodle Casserole

  • 1 lb box                     Pasta of your choice, I always use (in a French accent) ze bow tie pasta
  • 1-12 oz can              Tuna, light and packed in water, drained
  • 3-10 oz cans           Cream of mushroom soup, I like the Healthy Request
  • 1/2 – 16 oz bag        Peas, frozen
  • Shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Bread crumbs, not plain.  Use garlic, or Italian seasoned
  1. Preheat oven to 375*F
  2. Mix  drained tuna, soups and peas in a large bowl.
  3. Cook and drain pasta according to how stiff you like your pasta.
  4. Mix the pasta in with the soupy stuff.  Coat well.
  5. Pour into a casserole dish.
  6. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese, and then cover with bread crumbs.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes or until a little bubbly.

 

tunacass

 

Seeeee you in September!

Happy September!  Back to school…football…apples and pumpkins!  I love summer, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE Autumn.  The season and my little girl.  Due to cooler temps (not that it was overly warm this summer) even using the oven is now allowed.  Casseroles, bakes, and cookies oh my!  Did I say cookies?  I didn’t really mean cookies.  They are extremely unhealthy and loaded with sugar and fat.  Ok..we all have our weaknesses and mine are cookies.  Especially chocolate chip!  Ok….so fine, yes, cookies will be in my oven.  With plenty of healthy stuff of course 🙂

Like everyone else, the kids finally are back to school.  Bittersweet really.  I like getting back to the routine of things. But I don’t like that the time is going sooo fast.  I can’t believe my baby is in 4th grade already! Her and her sassy butt are definitely almost 10 years old.  We will see how the year goes.  Allison has some pretty big decisions to make since she’s in 11th grade, that she’s not ready to make.  Hopefully she does well enough this year!  Autumn likes her teacher and had the “best three days”.  This will continue until the teacher has to have a talk with her about being too chatty in class.  It happens every year.  It’s going to be worse this year because the neighbor boy AND her best friend are in her class.  She doesn’t even get a few weeks to get comfortable with new friends before she will be too chatty.  Poor Mrs. Light.  She doesn’t know what she’s in for.

Marathon training?  10 miles today. In. The. Rain. I hate the rain. I will consider it prep for the 5k tomorrow I’m doing with Autumn for Ovarian Cancer Awareness.

So before I go all apple/pumpkin/casserole/crockpot/game day recipes on my posts, I’m posting “end of summer when peaches are best” recipe.  I made this yesterday, when it was actually 90 degrees.  It’s a cold soup.  I’ve never made a cold soup before. Warning: If serving to children, do not call it soup. Kids have this preconceived notion that soup is only hot. For the kids sake, I should have relabeled it a smoothie, or creamy peach “anything but soup”.  It was so good.  Autumn liked it until Bobby didn’t. Then she didn’t like it as much.  All of them said it was ok, not great.  The ol’ man liked it, as did I.  It was good, dang it! It was a Gooseberry Patch recipe for Pete’s sake!!

Cream of Peach Soup

  • 2lbs.              Peaches
  • 1/4 C             Sugar
  • 1 C                 Water
  • 1 C                 Whipping Cream
  • 1/2 C             Apple juice or white wine (I used Apple juice)
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Garnish: Sliced peaches, fresh mint sprigs, or chopped mint leaves
  1. Dip peaches, one at a time, into boiling water.  Cover one and boil minute.  Plunge peaches immediately into ice water to stop the cooking process.  Drain and slip skins off.
  2. Cut peaches into quarters.
  3. Bring sugar and water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat and add peach quarters; cover and simmer 5 minutes.  Cool. Process peach mixture in batches in a food processor or blender until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides.
  4. Stir together peach mixture, whipping cream, apple juice, and lemon zest.  Chill for 2 hours.  Garnish if desired.

Cream of Peach Soup

 

And for good measure…Ms. Sassy Pants, on her first day of 4th grade!

1st day