30 January 2011

My Mom's To-Die-For Potato Soup

My mom makes two things especially well - brownies and soups.

Her brownies aren't those fancy-schmancy brownies with cheesecake or peanut butter, just unbelievably good, down-home brownies.  The kind you just can't stop eating.  I think it's their simplicity that makes them so outstanding. 

And then there are her soups. Wow.  Where do I even begin? 

There is nothing on this earth like her homemade chicken and rice soup.  I've tried time and time again to replicate it and I just can't.  I think it might have something to do with that special "Mom love" she puts in it.  When I'm sick with a head cold or sore throat it's the only thing that I want to eat.  And yes, it does have special healing powers. 

I can, however, (semi-successfully) reproduce her To-Die-For Potato Soup.  This is one of those special soups she makes for people when they've just had a baby or when someone is sick or sad and just needs some love and comfort food.  She has been making this soup as long as I can remember and it never disappoints. 

29 January 2011

A Week of Soups...

As the Hubs and I were sipping our coffee on the back porch this morning watching the fluffy little monsters darlings ran around the back yard, we lamented the fact that January and February can be incredibly dreary.  They just seem so overwhelmingly gray to me.  Not that every day is cold and/or rainy, but it sure can feel that way. 

Ajax (the Hubs' little buddy)

Smudge (my little diva)

 And this region is famous for its weather sucker-punches.  Just when you think it's safe to start wearing those capri or crop pants again and work on making your skin a little less pasty-white because the skies are a clear blue and the temperature is a lovely 70 degrees, temperatures once again plummet to near freezing and those dreary clouds return.  Such a cruel joke.  Not to mention the fact that the kitties don't speak very good English, so it's a little tough to explain to them why we can't go outside when it's 35 degrees!

Since realistically it's not going to reach the 60s & 70s on a regular basis for another 8 weeks or so, I've decided to embrace this weather and use it as an opportunity to explore a wide variety of soups.  I guess it's one of those "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" things.  Because really, is there anything better than a bowl of piping hot soup on a wintery day?   

On the menu for this week:
My Mom's To-Die-For Potato Soup (yes, it's that good and surprisingly low fat), Split Pea Soup and a Vegetable Beef Barley Soup

Two small details I still need to work out... Getting my mom to agree to let me share her fabulous recipe and figuring out how to get the Hubs excited about eating so much soup in one week.

23 January 2011

Lazy Girl Ravioli

Every time I read about making homemade ravioli the 'Lazy Girl' in me comes out and all I can think about is how much rolling it would take to get the pasta dough thin enough.  Now don't get me wrong, I love my rolling pin and cringe anytime I have to use anyone else's, but I'm not sure I want to spend an entire afternoon with it.  'Lazy Girl' pasta substitution - wonton wrappers. 

22 January 2011

Happy (Belated) Birthday

Yesterday my little sis turned 29!  Where does the time go?!?!

She's the tall one
Happy Birthday to the best sister and friend a girl could ask for.  Can't wait to celebrate! 

19 January 2011

A picture is worth a thousand words...

...or even more if there are words on the picture.  By my calculations this one is worth 1,004 words.

The Hubs has gotten a ton of new "toys" recently and as the cats have a hard time sitting still and following directions, I am the default test subject.  Usually these test sessions occur some time after 10 pm... and it shows.  Just sitting there smiling (or trying to keep a straight face) gets tough after awhile, so sometimes I just start making weird faces.  Poor guy.

08 January 2011

Fail-Proof Meatballs and Tomato Sauce

There's something really comforting about a plate (or bowl) of spaghetti and meatballs.

photo by: the Hubs

Growing up we never ate spaghetti and meatballs.  My mom can't stand doesn't care for meatballs so she always just browned some ground beef and stirred it into the sauce to serve over spaghetti.  I didn't know any different so it was fine with me...until I tasted my first really good beef meatball.  There was no going back. 

04 January 2011

Meat and Potatoes

One of my favorite hearty cold-weather dishes is Shepherd's Pie.  I think last winter was the first time I even tried it and all summer I longed for the cooler weather just so we could have it for dinner again.  I love the rich gravy and the luscious layer of potatoes on top, especially when they get a quick blast from the broiler. 

Perfect for a rainy evening.

Maybe another reason I absolutely love it is because the flavors and the richness remind me of the pasties a friend and I enjoyed in a cozy little joint called The West Cornwall Pasty Company.  We (the girls) took the day to shop at Harrod's and the boutiques around Covent Garden while our husbands toured Stonehenge.  A wise decision considering it ended up sleeting and snowing that day. 

It was so cold and windy on the Thames!
The Hubs doing his job as trip photographer.
That was such a fun trip!  And so was our trip to Mexico the following March, in fact, none of us wanted to come home. 

We were going for the 'sun-kissed' look that week.
One of the most relaxing trips ever!
After taking a year off in 2010 we are on the move again with a trip planned to Costa Rica this spring break.  Booked the tickets last night and the countdown has begun!

02 January 2011

Where does the time go?

I love New Year's Eve.  It represents the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another.  It's the promise of a fresh start, a new beginning.  2010 was a year of high highs and low lows, both personally and professionally.  While I so enjoyed the bright spots in the year and will treasure those moments, I am ready to move on.  My last post made me really think about taking time to enjoy the little things in life that bring me pleasure, so I decided to make that my New Year's Resolution for 2011.
A gift from our guests, a champagne-like beer.  Delicious!

Two of the things that bring me pleasure are good food and time spent with dear friends, so that's how we began 2011.  I also really like pretty things, so using our china and crystal was a must!  (I think I have only used it two other times since we got married back in 2005.)  This dinner was going to serve as a "Last Supper" of sorts before we began our attempt to shed some of our winter weight, so it needed to be decadent.  The Hubs was kind enough to chronicle the evening through the eye of his lens for me. 

Beautiful dishes, glasses and cutlery always make food taste better