Sunday, January 13, 2013

I heart soup

I am a soup person. Jordan is not. I think I'm getting close to converting him. Anytime I tell him I'm making soup for dinner, I have to remind him not to turn his nose up. (PS He loves all the recipes below ... he just has a strange aversion to the word soup, I guess.)

Zuppa Tuscana
I am obsessed with this soup. I got the recipe from my friend Lexy (who has since totally revamped the way she eats - her awesome blog is here), so I like to joke that she probably never makes this soup anymore. But put bacon in anything and I'm totally there. And I've made a few tweaks to lighten it up a bit. Which in no way shape or form means removing the bacon.
1 lb sausage (I use lean sausage)
6 slices bacon
1 medium onion, chopped (I probably use half)
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 quart chicken broth
2 medium potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices (with or without skins)
2 C shredded kale (this recipe began my love affair with kale)
1/8-1/4 t crushed red pepper
1/3 C heavy whipping cream (I use soy milk instead)
Brown sausage, drain fat, remove from pan. Fry bacon until crisp (really crisp), remove and drain all but 1 T bacon fat. Crumble the bacon. Add onions and cook until soft; add garlic and cook for one minute. Add chicken broth and potatoes. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer covered for 15 minutes or till potatoes are tender. Return the cooked sausage and bacon to the pot. Add the kale and crushed red pepper and simmer for 4 minutes. Stir in the cream (or soy milk!) till heated through.
If you have extra kale, PLEASE do yourself a favor and bake it. Shred and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, till crispy. I love this as a side to pretty much anything, but it's especially great with soups of any kind, burgers or hot dogs (instead of chips) or tuna cakes.

Baked Potato Soup
I LOVE this soup. Thanks to my friend Sara Crawford for introducing it to me several years ago. It took me several times of making it to perfect my seasonings and the cut of my potatoes, but now it's seriously perfect. For those who know Charleston's baked potato soup, this is very similar.
3-4 potatoes, cubed (think bite size) with/without skins (I remove skins because Jordan has an aversion to those, too)
28 oz chicken broth
2 T minced onion (I used probably double)
1/4 t oregano
1/4 t parsley
1/2 t garlic (I mince 2-3 cloves of fresh instead)
1 t salt
1 t pepper
6 T butter or margarine
1/2 C flour
3 C milk (I use soy and it's still fabulous)
In large pot, bring chicken broth, minced onions (and garlic if using), oregano, parsley, salt, pepper and buetter to a boil. Add potatoes and boil for 10 minutes. In mixing bowl, slowing add milk to flour and whisk until smooth. Stir flour and milk mixture into pot. Cover and let simmer for 30 min over low heat, stirring occasionally. Check that potatoes are fork tender - if not, continue cooking and check in 3-5 minute increments.
*I at least double all the spices above and as noted use fresh garlic instead.
Garnish with cheddar cheese, bacon and chives.
I love this soup with broccoli (plain steamed or like this) and garlic cheddar biscuits.

My Dad's Chili
I love that my dad makes chili. And I love this chili.
1 lb ground beef, browned (ground turkey is great, too)
1 can pinto beans (I've been using the Grillin' Beans pinto beans with jalepenos here - highly recommend)
1 can rotel tomatoes
Diced onion (I used about a quarter to a half of a small onion)
Chili powder to taste
1 can tomato paste
Brown the meat and when almost done, throw in the onions and cook till tender. Add the pinto beans, rotel, tomato paste and chili powder. Simmer on low heat for 30-45 minutes.
I sometimes add sliced jalepeno sausage, too. You know, if you need a little more kick. I buy them at Sam's (they're already cooked), slice and add when I've got about 10-15 minutes left on the chili - just so they warm all the way through.
Jordan loves this chili with Fritos and diced red onion on top, I love with cornbread.

Taco Soup
I know, everyone makes this. And I love it. Had it for dinner tonight in fact. It's so easy and filling.
1 lb ground beef, browned (I actually prefer ground turkey in mine)
1 can pinto beans, undrained
1 can kidney beans, undrained
1 can corn (or equivalent frozen)
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 package taco seasoning mix
Other than browning the beef, this is literally just opening cans and dumping everything into a pot. Makes me so happy. I usually simmer on low for about 30 minutes and serve with crushed tortilla chips, cilantro and avocado slices.

Two of my other go-to soups are from my friend Sara Crawford's blog - both are crockpot recipes with makes me very happy. Here is her blog with both the Chicken and Dumplings and Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice recipes.

What's for dinner?

OK, I have been terribly negligent about posting recipes lately ... you know, for all five of you who read this and the two of you who might care what I eat for dinner. So these are some of my favorite winter-time dinner recipes (separate soup blog coming up later ...)

Chicken Pot Pie
This is my ultimate comfort food - probably because it's my mom's recipe. Growing up, I often requested this for my birthday dinner. It's my go-to recipe when it's chilly out or I'm not feeling great. It's also one of my faves to take to friends with new babies or who have experienced a loss because it warms up easily in individual pieces and also freezes well. Eat your heart out.
2-3 chicken breasts, boiled 20-25 minutes and shredded or cut into bite-size pieces
2 deep dish frozen pie crusts, thawed for about 10 minutes
1 onion, chopped (I usually use about half of this)
4-6 mushrooms, chopped
1 can peas and carrots, drained
1/2 C milk (I use soy and it tastes just the same)
1/2 C chicken broth
2 T flour
Brown chopped onion and mushrooms in about 1 T butter or margarine (or soy substitute). When tender, add flour and mix well. Mixture will be gummy. Add the milk and broth, stirring constantly till mixture thickens - a few minutes. Add chicken, peas and carrots and salt and pepper to taste. Pour mixture into one pie shell and cover with the other shell - the steam will help pull it from the aluminum shell and then I use a fork to loosen further. Crimp the edges of the shells together with a fork and use the fork to place several holes in the top pie shell (If you're super cute like my mom, you make a heart or the initial of the person you're baking for :))/
Bake at 400 till brown - about 30 minutes.
Love to serve this with a spinach/strawberry salad or a fruit salad.

Fig and Prosciutto Pizza
This is adapted from one of our favorite pizza restaurants. And trust me, I never thought I'd like figs on pizza either. You will like it, even if your name is Jordan Page. This was a staple for me when I was breastfeeding and couldn't do dairy - non-dairy cheese is actually really, really good (Jordan even said better than the real stuff). So I felt like I could eat pizza even though the cheese was fake. :)
If you're feeling like you have an extra lot of time on your hands, here's my family's pizza dough recipe (I love this dough, but I'm more in love with saving time and buying pizza dough these days)
1 package dry yeast
2/3 C warm water
1 1/2 T olive oil
1/2 t sugar
1/8 t salt
1 1/3 C flour (I've used wheat flour and it's excellent)
Dissolve yeast in warm water and mix in other ingredients. It's sticky - coat your hands with flour for mixing and/or spreading onto cookie sheet or pizza stone. Brush the edges with olive oil (and I like to crimp the edges, too).
For the pizza, I spread the raw dough with olive oil and smashed or minced garlic. Poke several holes in the dough with a fork. Bake according to dough package directions for about 10 minutes, until a little brown around the edges (If you're using the homemade dough above, 400 degree oven).
Sprinkle on grated mozzerella cheese (about 2 cups), dried figs (remove stems and slice in half) and prosciutto to taste. Bake for another 5 minutes. Now here's the best part - serve slices topped with fresh arugula or spinach and drizzled with balsamic vinegar. I want to go make this pizza right now.

Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Y'all ... this is the BEST thing I've made in a long time. It was a Pinterest WIN. Jordan says it's restaurant quality. I never knew how much love I could have for Brussels sprouts. I roasted my sprouts with basil and parmesan olive oil and used my mom's homemade pesto on the pasta (which I promise to get the recipe for and post soon). I've never had chicken sausage either, and it was fabulous. I've used both rotini and bowtie pasta. Here's the link:

Baked Ziti
Another Pinterest win. Very easy and great comfort food. I'm cutting and pasting the recipe because the link is kinda wonky:

Must try! 3/4 bag ziti noodles,1 lb of ground beef, 1 pkg taco seasoning, 1cup water, 1/2 pkg cream cheese, 1 1/2 cup shredded cheese -- boil pasta until just cooked, brown ground beef & drain, mix taco seasoning & 1 cup water w/ ground beef for 5 min, add cream cheese to beef mixture, stir until melted & remove from heat, put pasta in casserole dish, mix in 1 cup cheese, top pasta/cheese with beef mixture & gently mix, top w/ remaining cheese, bake at 350* uncovered for 30 min
I used penne pasta (because it was in my pantry already - and it was a 1 lb bag so I used it all), and I would decrease the taco seasoning to 1/2-3/4 of a package - a little salty for my taste.
Roasted Garlic Broccoli
We had the Ziti with roasted garlic broccoli (God bless my coworker Lori for rekindling my relationship with broccoli with this recipe), and here's a Pinterest recipe for it: Even if you don't think you love broccoli, please make this. Jordan is not a broccoli person (to put it lightly) and he LOVES this. Very similar to the Brussels sprouts above in the pesto/chicken sausage recipe.
I'm also very into roasting asparagus lately - very little drizzle of olive oil (too much will make it slimy) and sprinkle of kosher salt. I roast at 350 for about 20 minutes. Yum.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Addison Mae - 17 months

Christmas with my girl was absolutely magical. Despite illness continuing into December, Addie did get to go back to school for a few days before Christmas break, where she made some very cute Christmas crafts. Probably my favorite pre-Christmas activity was a pizza and Christmas lights date with my two favorite people. Addie was enchanted by the Chesapeake lights, and pretty much anywhere we went that had any sort of Christmas lights. Her reaction was always a very enthusiastic, "LIGHTS!! LIGHTS!!! LIGHTS!!!!" She also loved that while parked watching a cool lights/music display in Mesta Park, her dad put her on his shoulders and let her watch out the sun roof. It's a miracle we got her to go to bed that night. We all went a little haywire for Christmas ... this sweet girl got more gifts than we know what to do with (don't tell her I've already given some away to a youth shelter in need of gifts for their kiddos!). She seriously loved everything she opened (though the wrapping and bows and boxes may still be the best part). She also loved the approximately one million cookies I made over the Christmas holiday. Guess she's got my sweet tooth after all. She enjoyed shrieking and playing with her sweet friend Daisy during Christmas Eve service (and had her first communion, and then asked for more ... that's gotta be a good thing, right???). Addie really loved playing with cousins Jackson and Audrey, Julia and Lila, and Averey and Landon over the holidays and talks about all of them pretty much every day. She was really excited to go back to school this week and had been asking about a few of her friends and especially her teachers for quite awhile. She is such a big girl, with lots of strong opinions about lots of things. She loves to say no (even when she means yes), loves music, loves watching either Elmo or football on TV, loves to laugh and play jokes, loves her dog and cat, loves the Ipad, loves making up games with her dad and me ... she just loves life.

Weight: 20 lbs 6 oz
Length: 29 1/2 inches

New things this month:
  • Oh the talking! She's saying lots more multiple word phrases ... I love you, good girl (usually about the dog, sometimes herself :)), more milk please mama/dada, bless you (when anyone else sneezes, and especially when she sneezes), up please, thank you, no Addie (which means no, that's not yours, that's Addie's)
  • And lots more precious words ... some of my favorites are happy (which she usually says happy, happy, happy, happy :)), gentle, tickle, pizza, apple, yellow, pancake, boobies (blueberries :)), truck, reindeer, play, snow, pillow, touchdown!!! (complete with arm motions), ride (insistently when she wants to go in the wagon or her Cozy Coupe), lots more animal names, rather than just their noises, which all suddenly end in -y ... mousey, ducky, horsey, kitty; the whole Sesame Street gang (her new favorites are Took, Cookie Monster, Ee-aww, Ernie, and Mousey, Abby). She can also name everyone in her immediate family ... all grandparents (my mom is officially mama), aunts/uncles, cousins.
  • Singing. Her favorites songs to sing (in her words) are row, row, row; itty bitty (Itsy Bitsy Spider), ashes ashes (Ring Around the Rosey), wee wee wee (This Little Piggy), B-D-B-D (ABCs) 
  • Slightly less of an obsession about the paci ... perhaps someday we'll be able to get rid of it.
  • Gagging herself when she's super mad. What?! This often results in throwing up ... and she's totally doing it to get our attention when she's mad about being in time out, mad about going to bed, mad about not getting her way. She also gagged herself at the doctor and threw up all over him (that was kinda funny). Yes, she's a drama queen.
  • Sleeping a little better at night. Which is totally because she's finally feeling better. And finally responding (sort of) to crying it out and putting herself to sleep again. Thank the Lord. It's been a rough two (or three?) months of not much sleep.
  • Christmas lights. If that wasn't obvious above.
  • Receiving Christmas cards. Bless all of you who sent them. She's obsessed with getting the mail every day and the idea that there were fun cards with pictures of people was just over the top. Her favorites were those that she really recognized - like she was so surprised to see them in the mail. Tops were her Aunt Rebecca, Uncle Jeff and cousins Julia and Lila (the card is distorted from all the carrying around and kissing she's done to it), her sweet friend Stella (Hi Stella!) and our friends the Crawfords with 7 month old twins (babies!! babies!!).
  • Sesame Street and Mickey Mouse (aka Mick)
  • Her new kitchen. She is so into stirring and makes the most precious pouring, shaking and stirring noises while she's playing. She likes a big audience while she "cooks" - mommy, daddy, Izzy, Mia, Elmo and Ernie are required to be present for "tasting" and making appropriate tasting noises
  • Her finally finished playroom. She says to us "Play! Play" and drags us by the hand to her playroom. Usually because she wants to play kitchen
  • She's having a delightful time going from one new toy to the next. Loves her talking/signing Elmo; her Little People zoo, bus and car track; basketball goal; Cozy Coupe (and she prefers having a "phone," drink, blocks and/or stuffed animal in to ride with her), doctor kit (we get lots of check ups), Legos (which mostly she likes to dump everywhere) and on and on and on
  • Her nesting and stacking blocks are one of her absolute favorite things right now. We do lots of nesting and stacking. In general, she likes to organize things in containers.
  • Stickers and coloring. There is some slight hilarity that she calls stickers "dick dicks" 
  • Making up games. She has several she calls "night night." One involves Jordan or me pretending to be asleep, one involves putting babies/stuffed animals to sleep (which actually has nothing to do with the babies, whom she flings about, but rather organizing their blankets) and one involves getting on our bed and getting tickled (her favorite)
  • Potatoes. Who doesn't like potatoes?
  • Not getting her way. Time outs. Going to bed. Not being the center of attention (see the note about gagging above)