Category Archives: Soups and Chili

January, We Hardly Knew Ye

How did January go by so fast? Where does the time go? Where is the Fitbit charging cord (seriously, if anyone knows…).

Not a ton of events hosted during this bleak month. We did have one momentous occasion. Guitar Boy entered the realm of teenager.

Neither Hallmark nor Target carries violent video game cake toppers, you have to make your own. Weird.

January definitely is for comfort food. So it was a big soup month around here. I made Smitten Kitchen’s Ultimate Chicken Soup.

I made Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup from Two Peas and Their Pod.

With Italian Grilled Cheese from Stanley Tucci’s cookbook.

Basically it is fresh mozzarella sliced thin on Italian bread, dipped in a slightly beaten egg and grilled.  I rubbed the bread with a cut garlic clove and added a pinch of salt to the egg mixture. It was gooey and good, but it needed a little somethin’ somethin’. If I did it again, at MBork’s suggestion I would add grated parmesan to the egg dip to give it a frico type of texture.  Or I might make it two cheese with Fontina or another strong but melty cheese. But hey, grilled cheese, no complaining!

Made the easiest Stovetop Mac and Cheese from The Food Lab at Serious Eats.

This was really good. And it heats up well the next day. The only tip I’d offer is don’t add the salt until you taste it. Cheese varies in saltiness. PS, that’s in a clear glass bowl. I don’t just put piles of mac-n-cheese directly on the table. Well, not often.

Drummer Boy advanced to the Battle of the Books semi-finals. They read 7 books in two months. They didn’t win the whole thing but not for lack of preparation. So proud.

Taking a step away from clothespin-on-the-aorta type of recipes, I also made this Detox Salad from Gimme Some Oven.

I didn’t have miso though so I substituted with this Ginger Sesame Dressing from Epicurious. Delicious. Though if you are going to store it in the refrigerator for a day, don’t add the almonds. They get super soggy.

So what food is going to the Superbowly party today? Oh, wait no, it’s Superbowl LI.  My bad.

You know how you are walking through Trader Joe’s and they are handing out samples of food and drink. Fatefully one day I was walking through and they had taken their Pub Cheese and warmed it. Just warmed it. And then put it on pretzel bread. And then handed it to me. And then I ate it. And then my whole family ate it. And now Imma gonna eat it again.

Seriously, all you do is warm it up for 30 seconds or so in the microwave and put it over a warmer and slice the bread. As Ina would say, “how easy is that?”.  Also bringing the always popular and totally low calorie Muffins That Taste Like Donuts from Tasty Kitchen.

And my 90’s classic – Crab Dip.

Old School Crab Dip

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 TBSP mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced (or use 2 cubes of Trader Joe’s crushed, frozen garlic. I heart you Trader Joe’s!)
Hearty pinches of kosher salt and a grind of black pepper
3 green onions minced or 2 TBSP of finely minced white onion
6 oz crab meat (canned or refrigerated, but fully cooked)

Combine the everything except the onion and crab meat in a bowl. Blend with a hand mixer until smooth. Stir in the crab meat and onion with a rubber spatula until fully combined. Put it into serving bowl, cover and chill at least an hour.

And so we’re off to enjoy the commercials big game. Have a great week everyone!


Trying to be Organized

Inspired by, but nowhere near as cool as Shutterbean’s Meal Prep, the last two Sundays I have tried to pre-prep a number of items so that I would be all “Weeknight dinner ready in 10 minutes boys!” during the week. Erp. Didn’t exactly go down that way. But, I did shave some time off my game.

As much as I like to cook, I have a confession. I can’t stand leftovers. There, it’s out there. Once it is cooked and eaten, I really don’t want that dish again for a long while. Thankfully Kevin likes leftovers, so there is no waste. But it also means I don’t tend to repeat the same meal within a month.  So I have also tried to use Sundays to make a big meal where I can freeze half for another time at least a month later. That should save some time during the winter blahs in terms of getting a decent dinner on the table.

Enough yakkity-yakking.

The first Sunday, I made Short Rib Pasta Sauce from How Sweet It Is.  Divine!


Added bonus: Pizza Mike made The Pioneer Woman’s Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes. He did the batter and home and brought it here to cook and it worked just fine. An awesome treat with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (which I would have a picture of, but every time we topped one – swipe! it was gone).


Froze half of the short rib pasta sauce for another day. While that cooked, I made garlic confit (garlic cloves roasted in 2/3 cup grape seed covered in a dish in a 250 oven for 1.5 hours – cool completely and store in airtight jar in fridge for a week), chopped parsley and cut up vegetables for salads.


Next day, used oil and half the parsley in Garlic Walnut Pasta.


Garlic Walnut Pasta

4 TBSP garlic olive oil or just regular olive oil
1 cups walnut pieces
2 cloves minced garlic (one if you used garlic olive oil)
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan
kosher salt to taste
3/4 lb linguine

Prepare pasta to al dente, reseve 1/4 cup of the cooking water and drain. Heat oil in a frying or sauté pan.  Add walnuts and toast, stirring, for about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and basil and stir until softened, about 2-3 minutes.  Add pasta to the pan and toss with tongs to coat.  Add cheese and stir and finish with the parsley.

Then two days later, I used the parsley and some chopped basil to make a salmon dish


Parmesan Herb Crusted Salmon
adapted from Add a Pinch

1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 tsp garlic oil (or olive oil plus a dash of garlic powder)
salt and pepper to taste
2 6 oz salmon filets

Heat oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with foil.  Place salmon skin side down on the foil and salt and pepper to taste.  Cover loosely with either foil or parchment (preferred) and bake for 10 minutes. Combine first four ingredients in a bowl until they hold together. If too loose, add a dash more oil.

Remove salmon from oven and take cover off. Press the cheese mixture onto the top until it adheres. Put back in oven for about 10 minutes more or until fish is cooked through and top is all melted. If you would like the top to brown a little more, feel free to put it under the broiler for a few minutes. Me, I’m afraid of the broiler. I feel like if I take my eyes off of it for three seconds BAM!, burnt. But you do what you need to do.

Then the next Sunday I became all things tomato. I made Pioneer Woman’s Stuffed Shells and froze half. I cooked chicken breasts.


Then I took the chicken off the bone and shredded it. Helpful hint from How Sweet It Is. If you ever need to shred a bunch of chicken, put it in a bowl and use your hand mixer. Yep, pinky-swear it works.

final1453638603261Used the shredded chicken to make tacos (mix with cumin and chili powder or just package of taco seasoning and a dash of chicken stock if your chicken is too dry).  Add some cotija cheese or queso fresco, lettuce or slaw of your choice and a squeeze of lime and wrap in a toasted corn or flour tortilla). final1453638824493Using many of the same ingredients, made a slow cooker batch of The Pioneer Woman’s Chicken Tortilla Soup and froze half (without the tortillas or cheese in it).


And since the slow cooker was out anyway, and by now I had bronchitis and a sinus infection – I’m so pretty!!! – I only wanted more soup so I made Two Peas and Their Pod’s Creamy Tomato Soup with Orzo  with grilled gruyere cheese sandwiches. Freezer’s getting full!

final1453642002480Used the various precut vegetables in salads or as sides. Used orzo as a side to the salmon, froze the extra and then used in the soup. Froze a lot of rice too. So in February I’ll have some freezer meals ready to go.

Speaking of February, if your potted Christmas tree from the grocery store is still going strong, rewrap that baby, add some cookie cutters and make that poor shrub feel seasonal again!

final1453638727816Yep, those are cat paws to the right. Skunk the Cat – always helping.


Have a great week everyone.

Warm Food for Cold Days

Earlier in the week, when it was still big-coat cold, I made this soup, inspired by How Sweet It Is’ Potato and Roasted Garlic Soup,

But I changed quite a few things.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, diced
 (or, if your onion is ginormous, use ½)
3 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
5 cups low-sodium chicken stock
2 bulbs roasted garlic
¼ cup whole milk
2 TBSP plain Greek yogurt
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper

Then I followed her directions, but used an immersion blender to blend in pot. Served with Turkey sandwiches on Artichoke Bread from The Merry Thought.  The bread was done as a test for an appetizer at the Super Bowl but wow, it is amazing as a sandwich. Continue reading

New Feature – This Week in Alliteration – What Worked Well

New feature – this will be where I post which recipes of the prior week worked out the best.  One of my New Year’s resolutions was to get dinner on the table 4 out of the 7 days of week.  Really more like 4 out of 6 because Pizza Night lives on. And really 4 out of 5 because the boys have band practice on Thursdays until after 9:00. So really, I’m killin’ it.

Hopefully this leads to healthier choices (less take out) and can also remind me as to what recipes we liked rather than searching all my various Field Notes planners.

Last week in the sub-zero wind chill, this Cream of Tomato Soup from SmittenKitchen hit the spot.  Accompanying it were grilled cheese and prosciutto sandwiches. Trader Joe’s makes a gruyere/white cheddar combo cheese that makes a really good grilled cheese.  Also, grate your cheese instead of slicing when making grilled cheese because then it melts faster and the bread won’t get overly toasted.  Hmmm, grate your cheese sounds like a saying about being mad at someone (“That Helen in Accounting, she really grates my cheese”).

I don’t have a picture, but I also made this Roasted Almond Crusted Salmon from HowSweetEats. Now to act like a recipe commenter by telling you about a recipe I like and then making changes**, I didn’t have regular breadcrumbs so I used all Panko and added ¼ teaspoon dried oregano and a dash of onion salt. Nor did I make the glaze but instead served with lemon risotto. I cooked it on a rack on a baking sheet as directed and it was deliciously crispy.

**  Still the funniest recipe-commenters-out-of-control moment is chronicled in the article, “Rainbow Cake Inspires Comment Apocalypse” at Deadspin.  If you haven’t read it, please do.  I’m laughing just typing the article’s name.

If that’s too much reading, you can always head over to and read the reviews for the Ice Cube recipe.

Welcome to October

Well, it’s official. I have more Halloween storage bins than Christmas storage bins (and I have a loooooot of Christmas storage bins). So it only took 2 days to get all the Halloween stuff up with help from my 10 and 8 year-old Halloween gravestone-placement consultants. I wanted to share some of my favorite décor items.

These are my new platters. I love, love, love them. I would marry them, but I don’t think they could get all the Halloween bins down from the attic with the efficiency that Kevin can. They are from Cost Plus World Market online:


Hello gorgeous! From TJ Maxx/HomeGoods:


Candles from Martha Stewart for Grandinroad a few years ago.  Ghostie and pumpkin from TJ Maxx/HomeGoods:


Nosferatu painting in the bathroom – from Ebay, can’t read the artist’s name very well anymore, looks like it says Renee Backer:


Pillows for the kitchen table bench from TJ Maxx/HomeGoods (are you sensing a theme here?): image

My favorite Halloween picture of Guitar Boy and Fake Sister (they were 4 & 5).  Frame from TJ Maxx/HomeGoods:


My favorite Halloween picture of Drummer Boy.  Frame from Kohls:


 Here’s what the outside of the house looks like during the day:


And at night:


Soooo, it’s pretty clear that I have a TJ Maxx/HomeGoods “problem” that needs to be confronted.

Moving on.

What food is being made to celebrate this magical season you may ask?   Well, it depends.  Are we talking about the 9th Avenue Halloween Block Party?  Allison’s Costume-Mandatory 6th Birthday Party?  The High School/College/Old Friends We Never See Halloween Pizza Night Open House?  Or are we talking about actual Halloween (on a Friday – woot!)?  It is a crowded Field Notes party planner, that’s for sure.

Food on deck:

Crack Dip with Tomatoes from

(see picture from prior post)

White Pizza Dip from Howsweeteats (my newest blog obsession)

Apple Cider Sangria from Howsweeteats (see above)

Brown Sugar Oatmeal Cookies from The Pioneer Woman  (who is now designing her own line of cookware – jealous!)

Candied Pumpkin Seeds from Healthygreenkitchen

Cheddar Chive Cheese Pumpkin from Jamhands

Creamy Tomato Soup from Howsweeteats (really, I need to stop bothering this woman).

And in case you were wondering, Guitar Boy will be going to various parties as a crypt keeper/angel of death (need to get multiple uses out of our scythe!) and trick or treating as Star Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy. Drummer Boy will be a faceless specter at the parties and the 10th Doctor Who for Halloween.   Because out here, one costume is simply not enough.

Where could these kids get their sense of Halloween excess from?  I wonder.

Happy Halloween everyone!