Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Creamy Tomato Soup

We woke up this morning to a dusting of snow on the ground and I just wanted to snuggle back into bed and go back to sleep.  Unfortunately for me it is Wednesday and Birdie is in the midst of spirit week at school.  So I hualed myself out of bed and helped her create a superhero costume out of her closet.  I am not sure what kind of superhero she was but she was thrilled.  Once we dropped her off at school I turned to Dude and said, I know what we are going to do today!!!

Make Tomato Soup!!!

Growing up I loved Cambells Tomato Soup.  With grilled cheese or saltine crackers, it was divine!
However, as I have gotten older it doesn't really cut it for me anymore.  I had resigned myself to only enjoying tomato soup at restaurants and living with the disappointment.

Everything changed when I read a post on Eat, Live, Run where she makes a super easy and yummy creamy tomato soup.  So I swooped right in and stole her recipe!!!

I love easy, and I love quick and I adore minimal cleanup!  This is a keeper in our house.

Cast of Characters

Dice up 1/2 an onion and about 6 roma tomatoes.  You can use a 16 oz can of good diced tomatoes here too, but I actually had fresh so that is what I went with!

Toss the onion in your soup pot with 3 tablespoons of butter and cook them until they are good and caramelized, just a little brown.  Throw in 3 tablespoons of flour and mix together to create a roux.

While the roux is cooking for a few minutes toss the diced tomatoes, baking soda, salt and sugar together in a bowl.

Then add the cream to the roux, stir well and toss in the tomato mixture.  Let this cook for 4-5 minutes while you get out your handy dandy immersion blender.

Put that puppy in and go to town!!!  If you don't have an immersion blender you can transfer this to a blender and use that to puree.

Now EAT!  You can serve this with a heavenly gooey grilled cheese, toasted bread, saltines or a healthy side salad.  Whatever your little heart desires.  Just make sure to eat quickly so you can get seconds before your kids gobble it all up!!

Creamy Tomato Soup

3 tablespoons Butter
1/2 yellow Onion diced
3 tablespoons Flour
1/4 teaspoon Baking Soda
3/4 teasppon Salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2-3 cups Tomatoes diced
1 pint Cream
1/2 cup Milk

Heat butter in your soup pot and add onions.  Saute until just brown.  Add flour and mix well.
Allow roux to cook while you mix tomatoes with baking soda, salt and sugar. 
Add cream and milk to the roux and stir well.  Add tomato mixture and allow to simmer for 4-5 minutes.
Puree with immersion blender or standard blender.

Serve warm with crusty bread, grilled cheese or a side salad.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Eggs in a Nest (Toad in a Hole)

The kids and I spend the holiday weekend in La Veta with Mimi and PopPop.
We had a wonderful time, climbing trees, exploring a ski resort, movies, parachute games, bald eagles and just enjoying each other's company.

One of Birdie's favorite things to do in La Veta is cook Eggs in a Nest.  Last Summer she spent several weeks with Mimi and PopPop and this is one of the many skills she came home with.  So Monday morning shewas ready to set up her assembly line and feed everyone.

The requirements are very simple.

Eggs, bread, butter, salt and pepper.  Done!

She likes to make these with two eggs, I think it is just because she likes to crack more eggs.
Then she cuts outthe center of the bread with a cookie cutter and waits for Mimi's skillet to be ready. 

In goes the bread and the eggs get dumped more or less in the hole.  She needs a little assistance to flip them and remove to a plate, but she is ready with her salt and pepper at the end.  Always asking if you would like a lot or a little.

What a yummy, filling and quick breakfast for any day.  Plus the kids love to help!  Maybe next time she will let Dude help.

Even Piper enjoys this one...

Monday, January 10, 2011

Quesadillas de Camarones from The Pioneer Woman

Ouch - it has been too long since I last posted.  I have been struggling with a dern cold for the last 10 days.  It really knocked me on my ear last week.  I was barely able to function, much less think of posting topics.  Things are looking better now, I think I almost have it kicked and I am back on the wagon!!!

The last 24 hours have brought us about 10-12 inches of the powdery white stuff and school is closed for a SNOW DAY!!!  When I was a kid we never had snow days, delays yes, but never the whole day off.  What gives?  I think the administration has gone soft.  Although, these days are so much fun I can't really complain.
Dude spent the morning shoveling the snow off of the deck, he is obsessed with shoveling.  I think he relishes the completeness that he can see so well when he has finished an area.  While he was out in the cold, silly beast, Birdie and I hung out inside where it was warm and puttered.  I just love to putter, doing nothing specific, just whatever whim flutters by.  It is quite relaxing.

While perusing my favorite blogs I stumbled upon The Pioneer Woman's Quesadillas de Camarones that she featured a couple days ago.  Thanks to the ingrained fear of being snowed in with two crazed beasts I hit the grocery store hard yesterday, along with every other mother in Castle Rock.  With the spoils from the trip and some frozen shrimp I dug out of the deep freeze we will be trying these out today.  I am not sure how the kids will feel about them, but I am super-duper excited.

So here goes, PW's Quesadillas de Camarones!

Cast of characters

All I had were frozen shrimp so I set these out to thaw for a couple hours.  Then I removed the shells and smothered them in the red sauce and set aside to marinate.

Go ahead and shred that cheese!!  Make sure to take a couple samples to make sure it is good and cheesy.

Slice up those bell peppers and onion.  I tried to keep the pieces an inch or smaller, that way they would be easier to consume without having one pull out of the steaming quesadilla and flop on your chin.  Owweee!!

Heat up a skillet, add a dollop of olive oil or butter and add the veggies.  Cook them on med-high heat until they reach the perfect consistency for you.  Mine were pretty limp and brown, but you can leave them crunchier if that is what your audience prefers.

Remove the veggies from the skillet and add the shrimp, sauce and all.  Cook on medium-high until the shrimp are opaque.  PW says to add a little water if they start to dry out, but I had plenty of sauce.

Once the shrimp are cooked, remove them and cut into bite sized pieces.

If you want you can grab a fresh skillet, or you can jut wipe out the one you were using and forge ahead.  I can't help it, I am always trying to reduce the number of dirty dishes in this house!!

M - I - C
K - E - Y

M O U S E !!!!

(Sorry, I get distracted)

Melt a little butter and toss in a tortilla.  Add some cheese, veggies and shrimp, a little more cheese and top with another tortilla.  Add butter as the skillet dries out and repeat until you have enough to feed your herd.

You can serve these with salsa, sour cream, guacamole or just by themselves.  Yummy!!!

I thought these were fabulous!  The kids developed a sudden vegetable fear and needed lots of persuasion to try them, but pronounced them good.  If you do the prep ahead of time these would be a great meal for Moms at a play-date or a girls night. So simple to throw together!

If you are avoiding carbs, just take the hot shrimp, add some veggies and a little cheese and yummo!!

I hope your snow day has been lovely!!!

PW's Quesadillas de Camarones

Flour Tortillas
24ish Shrimp
Red Sauce
16 oz Monterrey Jack cheese
Red Bell Pepper
Green Bell Pepper
Olive Oil

Thaw and peel the shrimp.  Cover them in the red sauce and set aside to marinate.
Grate your cheese and set aside.  Cut up the veggies (1" or smaller) and add a little olive oil to a skillet.  When oil is hot add the veggies and saute on medium-high until desired consistency.
REmove from skillet and add shrimp and sauce.  Cook on medium-high until opaque.  If the sauce gets really dry, add a little water.  Remove cooked shrimp from heat and cut into bite sized pieces.  Wipe out skillet and add a littel butter.  Heat butteer and add a tortilla, cheese, shrimp and veggies.  Top with another tortilla.  Repeat until complete.  Add more butter when the skillet gets dry.

Serve with salsa, sour cream or guacamole and enjoy!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Things I Love - Yogurtland

Let me tell you about my frozen treat addiction.  It is going to be the death of me.  I cannot have ice cream in the house because it calls to me.  Reaches out it's chilly, creamy, sweet fingers and makes me eat it!!
So I try to keep it out of the house and only indulge once a week, or so.  Some people have a Starbucks habit, well I have a Yogurtland habit.  Thankfully the closest store is about 30 minutes from my house and I have to come up with a secondary excuse to go there to rationalize my need.
Remember TCBY?  Yogurtland is very similar, except for the fact that you get to choose from 16 fabulous self serve flavors.  Then you get to top it from the toppings bar with anything from fruit to candy bars.  The kicker?  It is only 30 cents/ounce.  Of course, that sounds cheap, but when you get the large bowl and utilize the tapping method to settle your yogurt, the cost is similar to one of the fancy we-mix-your-ice-cream-with-the-toppings-of-your-choice chains.  Thankfully my kids aren't quite as heavy handed as I am and we can still get out of there for about $12 between the three of us. Dude always gets the chocolate, no need to explain, we all understand 5 year old boy humor.  Birdie is in LOVE with the blood orange and is in despair that our store seems to have dropped that flavor in the last month in favor of mango.  So she settles for the plain yogurt flavor.  It is nice and tart, just like plain yogurt.
I have such a hard time making my decision!!  I adore the coffee with a chocolate chips, peanuts and chocolate sauce.  But sometimes I have to deviate from coffee and hit up the mango, strawberry or blood orange.  They are all simply fabulous!!!  The kids will tell you about the time I got two small cups because I couldn't decide.  When they said it wasn't fair I calmly explained that I am the Mommy so I need more yogurt.  Then karma took a bite out of me when we got to the car and the battery was dead.  I don't think I will get away with two cups ever again.
So if you are near a Yogurtland, I am telling you to get off your duff and scurry on over.  Even if there is a long line, it is worth it!!
I am devastated that the is not a Yogurtland in San Antonio.  Anyone have $500k they want to use to help me start a franchise?  I promise I won't eat there every day.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Peanut Soup

When I was a child we always had peanut soup before Christmas or Thanksgiving dinner.  Just about the time the smell of the turkey sent us all into the kitchen to ask when dinner would be ready Mimi would hand us a steaming mug of peanut soup.  Not enough to kill our holiday appetite, but just enough to satisfy the ravenous beast until the meal was ready.  In hindsight, I don't remember much else about the food at our holiday meals, that peanut soup was hard to beat.
So I told BBDub that he is going to have a new adventure this year and I am going to re-establish the tradition of peanut soup.

Cast of Characters

Dice up the onion and celery.  Saute them with the butter until soft.  Don't let your kids distract you and burn the onions.  However, if you just burn them a little bit the soup will turn out just fine.

Slowly incorporate the flour with your handy dandy flat whisk.  If you don't have a flat whisk, get one!  Run out to the after Christmas sales and treat yourself.  Mine was $8 and one of the best kitchen purchases EVER!

Once the flour is incorporated to the butter, mix in the chicken broth, stirring constantly, bring to a boil.
And remove from heat.

Now here you have two options.Let the soup cool and put it in your blender to create a lovely smooth base.  Or if you have a immersion blender you can just blend it up on the stove top.  My immersion blender is another handy kitchen tool.  They can be quite expensive, but if you stalk one on Amazon you can score quite a deal.  I got mine, with a whisk attachment and chopping bowl for $25.  I have used it many times and think it was worth that price.

Once the broth mixture is blended and smooth add your peanut butter and cream, mix thoroughly.  Return to heat (low) until hot, but do not boil.
Garnish with chopped nuts and serve. 

The ravenous herds will thank you.

You can also serve cold, or cook ahead of time and reheat when you are ready to serve.

Peanut Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped 
1/4 cup butter
3 tbl flour
4 cans chicken stock
2 cups smooth peanut butter
2 cups cream
chopped peanuts

Saute onion and celery in butter until soft, not brown.  Add flour and stir in well.
Slowly add chicken stock, stirring constantly and bring to a boil.
Remove from heat and either cool and blend in blender, or use immersion blender to create smooth base.
Return to heat (low) and add cream and peanut butter.  Stir well and heat through.
Serve warm or cold, garnished with chopped nuts.


Sunday, January 2, 2011


The last couple of years we have taken the kids tubing in Fraser, Colorado.  It is an easy day trip for us and we pack a picnic lunch to enjoy after the fun ends.
We try to head out of he house at about 8am in order to be some of the first to the tubing hill at 10.  Try is the operative word here, this year we were closing the garage at 8:45.  I blamed it on the fact that we went December 26th and we were all still recovering from a fun filled Christmas day!

The nice thing is that all you need to bring is snow gear.  The tubing hill provides the helmets, tubes and magic carpet.
After two hours on the road, this includes one potty stop along the way, we were there.  The Colorado Adventure Park boasts 4 tubing hills from green to double black, a fire pit and the blessing called a magic carpet. 

Once we get our two hour tubing passes and select our tubes we jump on the magic carpet to start the fun.
Remember when you were a kid and the joy was sucked out of sledding because you had to haul yourself and the sled back up the hill?  While our parents chortled to themselves about how tired we would be in an hour.  Well my friends, do not fear about having to haul your kids, their tubes, your tube and yourself back up the fabulously steep hill.  Some wonderful human being has come up with the answer. Magic Carpet Lifts do all of the work for you, while you take a break.

The next two hours were spent in mind numbing bliss of tearing down the hills solo or in groups, in search of the elusive "air" and trying to avoid leaving our kids behind as we raced back up to the top.

After our time is up we gather at the fire pit for a picnic lunch before heading home with a car load of exhausted kids and parents.  Although never too exhausted for a stop at Yogurtland!

If you are able to hit a tubing hill this winter - do it!  You won't regret it and your kids will talk about how much fun they had for months!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Black Eyed Pea Dip

Happy New Year!

In our home we have a tradition of eating black eyed peas every January 1st for good luck.  Unfortunately Birdie and Dude are not fans, so this tradition becomes a battle of wills.  When I saw this recipe on The Pioneer Woman's blog I knew I had to try it.

Cast of Characters
In my goal to dirty as few dishes as possible I did this all in the dish I used to bake it.  Voila, very little clean up!
Now, mash up those black eyed peas!  Not all of them, about 2/3 of the can, you want a few whole for a little texture.

Then chop up the jalapenos and onions.  Mix in the sour cream, salsa and grated cheese.  I try to grate my own cheese most of the time, it saves bundles of cash and then I can sample some.

I omitted the hot sauce since the kids are a little tender about spicy things, but I think it would be even better with it!

Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes and let it rest for about 10 minutes before serving.  Mine was 1-2 inches thick, if you go much thicker, I would increase the baking time by 10 minutes, just to be sure the center gets cooked well.

Serve with tortilla chips!

Black Eyed Pea Dip

1 can black eyed peas
1/2 onion diced - diced
1 small can jalapenos - diced
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup grated cheddar
3 tbl salsa
hot sauce to taste

Drain peas and mash with a potato masher.
Stir in remaining ingredients and spread in baking dish.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.