Week 2 – Gin Martini

Hey look, it’s still the weekend!¬† On track so far ūüôā

This week, Greg requested a classic gin martini.

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As it turns out, the “classic” recipe varies quite a bit, depending on where you look.¬† Don’t quote me on any of this, but supposedly the original recipe was a 2:1 ratio of gin and sweet vermouth.¬† Gradually the vermouth changed to dry and the amount used was less and less, sometimes disappearing altogether!

I ventured onto the internet to find some recipes and the amount of vermouth varied quite a bit.¬† I did find the 2:1 ratio recipe, but I also found a recipe that said to put vermouth in the martini glass, swirl it around to coat, then dump it.¬† Yet another recipe, credited to Alton Brown, called for adding vermouth to a shaker of ice, swirling it around to coat the ice, then dumping the rest, so the only vermouth is whatever stuck to the ice.¬† I don’t drink gin martinis often (um…ever) so I had no idea which recipe would suit my tastes.

I decided to follow the guidance of Alton Brown on this one.¬† I’m still undecided as to whether that was a good idea or not.¬† Here is a video clip from his show, Good Eats, making a gin martini, cheesy James Bond bit and all.¬† I do love Alton Brown!

Every interesting fact I know about gin martinis I learned¬†from this video.¬† For instance, martinis are often made with vodka these days.¬† As it turns out, vodka and gin are pretty much the same thing, except gin has herbs and juniper added so it is aromatic.¬† Both liquors are made the same way otherwise.¬† And I’ll admit, now that I know that, I noticed a similarity in their taste.¬† Also, you don’t want to shake martinis, despite Mr. Bond’s preference, but should swirl or stir them instead.¬† The reason is because shaking makes the drink much colder and gin loses its aromatic flavors.¬† So actually, I suppose if you’re having a martini made of vodka, what’s the harm in shaking it since there are no aromatics to be lost?¬† Hmmm…

I made both a regular martini and a dirty martini, which is just a small amount of olive brine added. ¬†Turns out, I just don’t like gin martinis.¬† I suppose over the year, there are going to be some misses, and this was definitely one for me.¬† Greg didn’t seem particularly fond of it either, though he tolerated it better than me.¬† It was just soooo much gin!

However, if you are a fan of straight liquor (not me, at least not without a chaser!) and particularly like gin, you will probably love this recipe.

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Gin Martini

Ingredients (per drink)

Crushed ice
1/2 oz dry vermouth
2 1/2 oz gin
A few drops of olive brind (for dirty martini)
Garnish – green olive, cocktail onion, lemon twist – whatever you prefer

Chill your martini glass.  You could put it in the freezer, or fill it with crushed ice and set aside until ready.  Dump the ice before pouring your drink.

Fill a shaker with crushed ice.  Pour vermouth into the shaker and swirl around, coating the ice.  Use a strainer to pour out the vermouth.

Add gin to the vermouth-coated ice in the shaker, as well as olive brine if making dirty.  Place your garnish in the bottom of the martini glass, then strain your martini into the glass.  Serve immediately.

Cheers!

Week 1 – Amaretto Sour

Hello 2016! ¬†I’m very excited to get going with this year’s weekly recipes. ¬†That¬†might have something to do with the fact that this year, I’m making COCKTAILS!

When I was trying to come up with last year’s theme, I posted in my favorite Facebook Mommy group asking for suggestions. ¬†The top votes were soup, crockpot meals, and cocktails. ¬†I was really torn between soup and cocktails (and I think next year may be crockpot meals), so I’ve been looking forward to trying some of these recipes for over a year!

Since drink recipes are fairly universal, I’m not planning to link to the original blog or website where I pulled my recipe. ¬†Unless of course the poster obviously put their own unique spin on the recipe, in which case I will certain give credit where credit is due!

A couple of notes on decisions I’ve made for the year. ¬†Cocktails will be made on the weekends, probably Friday or Saturday evening. ¬†I’ll make every effort to compose and publish my post the same weekend, though ideally the same weekend. ¬†Also, though I am typically the diet soda, artificial sweetener, don’t-use-real-sugar-and-save-yourself-the-calories type, I’ve decided I’m going with real sugar every time with these cocktails when it’s used. ¬†And I’m going to enjoy it!

Week 1 – Amaretto Sour

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I have a giant bottle of Disaronno Amaretto that I purchased while on a cruise for my honeymoon, which was 5 years ago. ¬†Between being pregnant twice in the years since, and not being much of a drinker, it is barely half gone (and still tastes fine…seriously, most liquor keeps forever, it’s amazing! ¬†It’s true that flavors can degrade over time, but alcohol pretty much never becomes undrinkable). ¬†I plan to use up the bottle this year through the various cocktails I’ll be making, so I figured I might as well get started on week 1!

An “anything” sour is a classic drink, consisting of the liquor, something sweet, and something sour. ¬†Common sours are whiskey sour, gin sour, and the less-obviously named margarita and daiquari. ¬†A sour is often made with sweet and sour mix, which can be purchased pre-made in most liquor and grocery stores. ¬†But when I sent my husband out for groceries this afternoon, and to the liquor store to stock the bar for our coming year, he came home empty handed. ¬†As a result, I took to the internet and found out that it’s pretty easy to make your own. ¬†So this first post of 2016 is going to contain two recipes: one for sweet and sour mix, and one for the amaretto sour.

Sweet and Sour Mix

Ingredients

1 part sugar
1 part water
1 part lime juice (fresh if possible)
1 part lemon juice (fresh if possible)

Combine the sugar and water in a small pot over medium heat.  Stir until the sugar dissolves and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and allow to cool, then stir in lemon and lime juice.  Cover and chill (I used a mason jar), and it should keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

The quantities of your ingredients will depend on the amount of sweet and sour mix you would like to make.  The important part is the ratios.  And even the ratios can be adjusted based on your personal preference, so feel free to add more or less of the citrus juices depending on if you prefer the sweet or the sour more.

Since I only wanted to make enough for this week’s drink, I went with 2 ounce of each. ¬†I still have some leftover, but I thought it seemed a little ridiculous to try boiling 1 ounce of water in a pot.

Though I’m sure the recipe is better with fresh juices, I didn’t have any on hand, so I used the little green and yellow squeezy balls of juice from concentrate, and it worked out just fine.

Amaretto Sour

Ingredients (per drink)

3 oz Amaretto
2 oz sweet-and-sour mix (pre-made, or recipe above)
Lemon-lime soda, such as 7up, Sprite, or Sierra Mist
Garnish – maraschino cherries, orange wedges

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, adding the amaretto and sweet-and-sour mix. ¬†Shake, shake, shake, shake, shake! ¬†As my favorite political TV host often says (not gonna say who, let’s keep politics out of the fun of food and cocktails, shall we?), shake it for longer than you think you need to, then shake it some more. ¬†Pour into a glass of crushed ice. ¬†Top with lemon-lime soda and add cherries (as many as you’d like). ¬†Garnish with an orange wedge and cherry.

Full disclosure, I didn’t garnish it with the orange wedge and cherry. ¬†I didn’t have any oranges, or any long toothpicks that would stick out of the glass if I put a cherry on it. ¬†So I plopped my cherries in the bottom of my glass and called it good.

While we’re at it, I didn’t use a glass either. ¬†Because I have two kids under the age of 4, glass doesn’t survive in my house. ¬†So I served my drink in an unbreakable plastic tumbler.

Oh, and my ice wasn’t crushed because my refrigerator is the non-ice maker type. ¬†But the ice cubes were freshly made and only half frozen, so I took out the frozen parts and plopped them in the “glass” where they broke up pretty well. ¬†Close enough, right? ¬†Side note, I just ordered myself a portable ice maker, which I’ve wanted for years but could never justify buying until now (because I’m going to NEED good ice for a year of cocktails!) and it’s supposed to get here early next week and I’m so excited!

I really enjoyed this cocktail and it was nice and easy, even with making my own sweet-and-sour mix.  What a great way to start the year!

Wrapping up 2015

I gave up.  I fell behind on posting soups, then I fell behind on making soups, and then I just gave up.

So this is my wrap up post of 2015! ¬†I have a few more soups that I made but never posted, plus a few updates on life in general. ¬†Then a fresh new start for 2016, which is going to be a year of cocktails! ¬†I have a feeling I’ll have an easier time staying caught up on that one…at least the drinking part. ¬†We’ll see about the posting portion (but I have high hopes!)

Looking back, it appears that I got really busy right around the time I stopped making soups.  I spent a lot of the summer camping, which was a real blast!  It is a bit difficult to pull off soup while camping.

I also started using the meal delivery services like Blue Apron, Home Chef, Plated, etc. ¬†I’ve tried pretty much every service I’ve heard of and they each have their merits. ¬†Some recipes are better than others (I find that I enjoy Home Chef the most) but it really depends on what is offered by each service each week. ¬†Anyway, that’s not what this post is about, but I could probably write another whole blog about the many different meals I’ve had over the past 6 months with those services!

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The soup that I made for week 17 was Philly Cheesesteak Stew from a great culinary blog, The Cozy Apron.

This was a really tasty soup; hearty and delicious! ¬†The only thing I changed was that I skipped the bread bowl and served bread on the side instead. ¬†I LOVE melted cheese on a soup, and the provolone on this soup was perfect. ¬†It worked out WAY better than the melted cheese I’ve attempted on previous soups!

Week 18’s soup was Chilled Raspberry Soup from the Taste of Home website. ¬†Unfortunately, I took the picture with my husband’s phone and he decided to delete all soup-related pictures recently, assuming I wouldn’t need them anymore since I took the pictures SO LONG AGO! ¬†Gotta say, I can’t blame him!

I believe I followed the recipe as-is. ¬†I enjoyed the soup, especially because I really love raspberries yet hate the seeds, and this soup gets strained to remove the seeds. ¬†My husband wasn’t quite as enthusiastic since he doesn’t like sour cream. ¬†The little dollop on top especially put him off, but I thought it was a good garnish.

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For week 19, I made Creamy Potato and Kale soup from the blog Pinch of Yum. ¬†And judging from the bowl and stovetop in the picture, I must have made this one at my grandma’s house!

I had an issue with this soup, but I’m fairly certain it was user error. ¬†My ratios were off and I needed more potato, because the soup turned out really thin. ¬†The flavor was good though, so I think it would have been even better with the right texture. ¬†I remember leaving the leftovers with my grandma (who we call Golgay, by the way) and I suggested she use potato flakes to thicken it up. ¬†I honestly don’t know if she did or if she even ate the leftovers, but I’m fairly confident that it would have worked!

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My last official soup of 2015 was week 20, when I made Vichyssoise, the classic chilled potato and leek soup.  I got the recipe from BS in the Kitchen, which is a really fun blog and has some amazing food photography.

I’ve got to be honest. ¬†I made all of these soups so long ago, and I didn’t make great notes on the last couple of soups, or pin my reviews to Pinterest. ¬†So I don’t really remember much about this soup, which is probably an indication that it wasn’t anything special since it wasn’t memorable, but could also just be an indication that I officially have Mom Brain. ¬†I find cold soups a little odd to eat though, especially with potato. ¬†Cold potato leaves a bit of a weird coating inside my mouth. ¬†So not my favorite, but I think that is a reflection of my feelings on this type of soup and not the recipe specifically.

And that’s it! ¬†I made it more than 1/3 of the way through the year, so not terrible. ¬†But 2015 is over and there’s no time to look back. ¬†Here we go 2016!

Behind again! Weeks 14 through 16

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Anyone noticing a pattern here?  Mainly me being a terrible slacker!

This has been a terrible year for productivity for me! ¬†Not only have I fallen behind on BOTH making and posting about my weekly soups, I haven’t managed to pick up much knitting either. ¬†I’m going to chalk it up to exhaustion from a much more difficult second kid and good ol’ fashioned laziness. ¬†Fair season is coming up and I have nothing to enter yet! ¬†Sad times. ¬†I’ve got a reputation to uphold!

Fortunately other parts of my life are going a little better. ¬†My three year old is almost potty trained (yay!) and I’ve binge-watched a lot of good shows. ¬†That’s an accomplishment, right?

I’ve decided I’m going to post three soups this time. ¬†Two at a time is just taking too long considering how behind I keep getting! ¬†I’m also just going to link to the original recipes on the sites where I have them this time (and probably the next few posts as well), but I’ll still mention any changes I made or would make based on my experience.

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The next soup in line for week 14 was unstuffed cabbage soup, which I pinned from The Daily Meal. ¬†Bonus for anyone who cares – it’s Paleo!

I really love stuffed cabbage. ¬†I tried it for the first time while I was dating my husband. ¬†We lived over an hour apart and I worked (and still work) from home, so I would drive up for a few days at a time and work out of his apartment. ¬†I grabbed lunch from the hot food bar¬†at a local grocery store pretty often and I found these little bundles of deliciousness. ¬†I’ve had them a few other places, as well as attempted making them myself, and they’ve never quite lived up to those delicious grocery store buffet cabbage rolls. ¬†Mmmm.

This soup came REALLY close to the flavor of those cabbage rolls and I have no complaints about the flavor of the soup.  There are still a few things I would change but all the issues I had were textural.

I should have chopped the cabbage smaller because the large-ish pieces were hard to eat. ¬†I also didn’t like that the meat was in meatball form. ¬†The meatballs themselves were delicious and I really like that they are made with cauliflower and zucchini. ¬†I don’t personally have a problem eating those vegetables on their own, but this is a great way to sneak veggies in for a reluctant veggie eater!

My issue with the meatballs was that they were too big. ¬†I actually ended up taking my mix-n-chop to my entire bowl and making everything smaller so that it was easier to eat. ¬†Meatballs are also a lot of work between forming them individually and browning them evenly in a pan. ¬†I’d rather throw it all in a pan and mash it up anyway!

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Week 15 was loaded cauliflower soup, which I pinned from the blog wannabite.

I have bad luck when it comes to cooking cauliflower usually and this soup was no exception.  The consistency was very separated, especially once I added the cheese.  So I went with my go-to fix-all solution.  I attacked it with my stick blender.  The consistency got a lot smoother, but it was still a bit odd.

Despite my texture issues (2 for 2 so far on this post’s soups) the flavor was pretty good. ¬†It’s like a lighter version of a loaded potato soup. ¬†And who doesn’t love a soup topped with bacon?!

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I got to go to¬†a store that I shouldn’t be allowed to go to on my own while shopping for ingredients for the week 16 soup: Lobster bisque.

I bought some frozen lobster tails and thought bisque would be a great use for them.  Most of the recipes I found called for cooking a whole lobster and reserving the juice though, so I went looking for a different solution.  This led me to Bar Harbor and their bottled lobster juice, as well as their recipe using said juice.

The only local store that showed up in the “where to buy” list was Wegman’s. ¬†Oh Wegman’s, how I love you. ¬†From the huge tea section, locked up truffles, Wagyu beef that I could never afford, and the huuuuge cheese section, what’s not to love? ¬†And I could go on! ¬†The macarons, the sushi and hot food bars, the amazing deli…I’m sorry, what was I talking about?

The soup turned out pretty well, though the lobster meat wasn’t as tender as I was hoping. ¬†I thawed the tails and cut them into chunks, then added them to the soup at the end just to cook them through. ¬†I’m not sure what I could have done differently to make them more tender. ¬†In case you didn’t notice though, the picture is of an empty pot because we ate it all before I remembered to take a picture. ¬†So that’s a testament of how tasty it was!

I’ve already made weeks 17 through 19 so I will be adding another 3-soup post in the (hopefully VERY near) future. ¬†Of course, then I have to make and post the other 9 soups before I’m caught up. ¬†I can do it!

Catching up again…Weeks 12 and 13: French Onion Soup and Sausage, Lentil, and Kale Soup

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Note: I wrote this post several weeks ago, but only just now got around to adding the pictures.  Hopefully I can get the next post written sooner than later!

I can¬†now officially add Wegman’s to the list of places I should not be allowed to go on my own. ¬†Target and Sam’s Club are already on the list.

This week I’m making a lobster bisque from some frozen lobster tails I picked up a couple weeks ago. ¬†They’ve been sitting in my freezer waiting for me to get around to locating and purchasing lobster stock. ¬†Since I have a kid-free day off of work (hardly ever happens, let me tell ya!) I decided to make the 45 minute drive out to the place that I was almost sure would carry it. ¬†Turns out they carry lobster juice from Bar Harbor, but since I was able to find a bisque recipe using that, I went with it.

In addition to my lobster juice, I found Enoki mushrooms in their produce section. ¬†I have a long and sordid relationship with these mushrooms. ¬†Ok, so that’s a little over-dramatic. ¬†But I have spent years looking for a place that sells these mushrooms. ¬†A friend of mine used them in a Japanese dish he made me once and I’ve loved them ever since, which is saying something since I grew up as a mushroom hater. ¬†I have literally had dreams about being able to find these mushrooms. ¬†The only place I have ever seen them before is at World Market, but since the closest one I know if is in south DC, I’m not going to be making the trek to find them whenever the craving hits. ¬†Truth be told, the Wegman’s I went to¬†isn’t exactly around the corner, but at least it’s within my state!

I could go on about the amazing food I bought today, but I’m getting off topic. ¬†The lobster bisque is a soup for another post, since I’m very far behind on posting my soups to date. ¬†Last time there was a big lag between posts, I fell behind on posting but not on making the soup. ¬†This time, that’s not the case. ¬†I’m a full 5 weeks behind on soups as of today. ¬†But tonight I’m making 3 different soups for dinner, and I’ve got the other 2 planned for the near future.

But today’s post is about weeks 12 and 13, which were French Onion Soup and another stab at Sausage, Lentil, and Kale soup (following the recipe this time).

First up is French Onion Soup, pinned from the blog Good Dinner Mom. ¬†I had quite a few problems with this soup, but I’m mostly chalking it up to user error.

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The caramelizing method is hours in cast iron pot in a hot oven.  I think my oven was too hot, or I vented my pot too much in the later phase, because my onions definitely burned.  Not terribly, but enough that it was noticeable.

My second issue was with the cheese. ¬†I’m a big fan of the layer of melty, glued to the bowl cheese that you get in restaurants when you order french onion soup. ¬†And my cheese just did NOT do that. ¬†First I tried doing slices, but they were too thick and just turned into hot, crusty chunks of cheese. ¬†Then I tried shredding instead, and that didn’t turn out any better. ¬†I just don’t think Gruyere is the way to go with this soup, at least not for me.

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I have every intention of making this soup again, since I know I can make it better. ¬†I’ll watch my onions more closely next time, perhaps vent the pot a little less, and I’m definitely going with round slices of provolone cheese. ¬†Mmmmm the melty goodness.

I’ve already made a Sausage, Lentil, and Kale soup this year (I wanna say week 3 maybe?) but I had smoked sausage in my brain when I planned to make it, and I decided to go with smoked sausage despite what the recipe called for. ¬†This time, I decided to follow the recipe and use ground sausage. ¬†I pinned the recipe from Martha Stewart.

This soup is pretty simple. ¬†Broth, some veggies, a bit of meat, and some lentils is basically the whole recipe. ¬†And there’s nothing wrong with simple. ¬†In fact, this soup is delicious because of its simple, fresh flavors. ¬†I’ve disliked dishes that use kale that’s not cooked to death in the past, but it really worked with this recipe.

Only two more soups to post about, then the three soups from dinner tonight, then two more catch up soups. ¬†Then I’m back on track! ¬†But I reserve the right to be a slacker and fall behind again, simply because I know myself and that’s the kind of person I am (though I prefer to use the term easy-going).


French Onion Soup (with my cheese change)

Note: the original poster goes into great detail about why the crust aka fond is important for the flavor of this soup.  You should check out the original recipe as well, linked above.

Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 4 hours
Serves: 6

Ingredients

3 T unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
6 large yellow onions (abt. 4 lbs), julienned
2 cups water, plus extra for deglazing
1/2 cup dry sherry
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups beef broth
4-6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied in a bundle
1 bay leaf
1/2 t salt
Pepper to taste
1 small baguette, cut into 1/2 inch slices
Sliced provolone cheese

Directions

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Spray the inside of a dutch oven with nonstick cooking spray, adding butter, onions, and 1 t salt.
  3. Cook uncovered for 1 hour.  Onions will be moist and slightly reduced in volume.
  4. Remove pot from oven and stir onions, scraping bottom and sides of pot.
  5. Return pot to oven with lid slightly ajar and continue to cook until onions are very soft and golden brown, 1.5 to 2 hours longer, stirring onions and scraping bottom and sides after 1 hour.
  6. Remove pot from oven and place over medium-high heat (reduce to medium if onions cook too quickly).
  7. Cook onions, stirring and scraping frequently, until liquid evaporates and onions brown, about 15 to 20 minutes, then continue to cook until pot bottom is coated with dark crust.
  8. Stir in 1/4 cup of water, scraping the bottom to loosen the crust, and cook until water evaporates, forming another dark crust.
  9. Repeat deglazing process 2 or 3 more times until onions are very dark.
  10. Stir in sherry and cook, stirring frequently, until sherry evaporates.
  11. Stir in the chicken and beef broths, 2 cups of water, thyme bundle, bay leaf, and 1/2 t salt, scraping any final bits of crust.
  12. Increase heat to high and just barely bring to a boil.
  13. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  14. Remove and discard herbs, then season with salt and pepper.
  15. While the soup simmers, arrange the baguette slices in a single layer on baking sheet and bake in 400 degree oven until bread is dry, crisp, and golden at edges, about 10 minutes.
  16. To serve, fill broiler-safe crocks with soup.  Top each with 1-2 baguette slices, then a layer of provolone cheese.  Broil until cheese is melted and slightly browned.  Let cool for a few minutes before serving, as the crock will be very hot.

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Sausage, Kale, and Lentil Soup

Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 50 mins
Serves: 6

Ingredients

2 t extra virgin olive oil
8 oz sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup dried lentils, rinsed
6 cups chicken broth
1 bunch (about 1/2 lb) Kale, stems removed, torn into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper to taste
2 t red wine vinegar

Directions

  1. In large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon (though I personally use my Pampered Chef Mix-n-chop) until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add celery and onion, cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add lentils, broth, and 1/2 cup of water, and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce to a rapid simmer, partially cover, and cook until lentils and vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes.
  6. Add kale and season with salt.
  7. Return soup to a rapid simmer, cover, and cook until kale wilts, about 5 minutes.
  8. Remove soup from heat, stir in vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.

Week…oh who knows!

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I’m back! ¬†Remember how I said in the past that I’m terrible at committing to things? ¬†Apparently I didn’t agree with the deal I made with myself to post every 2 weeks.

Despite the long gap in posts, I’m actually not very far behind on my weekly soups. ¬†In fact, I’m not behind at all as of today (since the soup I made tonight for dinner counts for last week’s soup). ¬†I’ve already got this week’s soup planned as well.

Since I was reading over my last post (from a month and two weeks ago…oops!) I’m reminded about the lovely wine and keyboard incident. ¬†Sadly, my keyboard has not fully recovered and the keys are still a bit sticky. ¬†I guess I’ll just have to get used to it since I already sacrificed one key in my last cleaning effort, and I don’t want to lose anything more important than my down key.

Not a whole lot has happened since my last post, besides making several soups, but this past weekend has been quite busy. ¬†My little guy turned 3 last week! ¬†To celebrate, my little family checked into the Red Caboose Motel for a night, where you sleep in a real, refurbished train caboose right next to the Strasburg Railroad (the birth place of all Day out with Thomas trains, by the way, and home base to the Thomas that is a real steam train and not just a shell that is pushed by a diesel train…boy, I know way too much about this topic). ¬†We’ve been to the railroad quite a few times, since it is only half an hour from home and ten minutes from my in-laws, but this was our first time staying overnight near-by.

First of all, as a local in Lancaster County, aka Amish country, I find it fascinating that our area is such a popular tourist location. ¬†And not just stateside. ¬†I’ve seen quite a few different nationalities represented in the tourists I’ve seen around town. ¬†My husband asked me as we passed a buggy-ride tour if I had any interest in going on one this trip, and my answer was “why would I want to ride slowly down the roads that we drive all the time?” ¬†I guess I can understand the novelty, but the appeal is certainly lost on me!

We had a really great time on our train-filled weekend though, which included a ride on the train, a trip to both the railroad (big train) museum and the national toy train (little train) museum, and a night in our caboose. ¬†If Erick is still into trains next year, maybe we’ll do it again! ¬†And we got him an annual pass this time, so I’m sure we’ll be back for another train ride much sooner.

I’m trying to figure out how to document my soups since I’m so far behind on posting them. ¬†Obviously, the soup I made tonight is the freshest in my mind and on my palette, but I’m also just a little bit too OCD to go out of order! ¬†So today’s post will be the next two soups in line after my last post. ¬†And hopefully I’ll find some time later this week to post the next two, so I’ll be caught up before no time! ¬†Or I’ll wait another month and a half to post again, in which case this blog is a hopeless cause. ¬†Let’s all cross our fingers for the former.

For week 10, I made bean and bacon soup, which I pinned from the blog Taste and Tell. ¬†First off, let me apologize for my picture. ¬†I’ll be the first to admit…it looks like vomit. ¬†I REALLY should have saved some bacon for garnish instead of snacking on it so much that there was barely enough to stir into the soup. ¬†The picture on the original blog is much prettier, so check that one out too if you decide to give this one a try, and it will look much more appetizing.

Despite its looks, this was a very tasty soup. ¬†I’m not really a fan of beans, and I never have been. ¬†I don’t mind the flavor, but I cannot stand the texture of bean skins. ¬†Since this soup uses Great Northern Beans, that wasn’t an issue, or at least I didn’t notice any bean skins. ¬†I think it’s usually darker beans that have a bean skin problem.

Anyway, this was a really tasty soup. ¬†I love anything with bacon, so that’s always a plus. ¬†I also love any excuse to use my immersion blender. ¬†I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but I originally got it when I was planning to make my own baby food when Erick was little. ¬†I think I used it once for that purpose, then I gave in to the convenience of store-bought baby food and (oh man I love them) pouches! ¬†I’m already just waiting for the day that Tilda can eat baby food out of a pouch, and she hasn’t even started on solids yet. ¬†What was I talking about? ¬†Oh right, I love my stick blender! ¬†I blended this soup to a consistency that was a bit chunky, but it was almost creamy from some of the blended beans.

Week 11 brings us to Cream of Broccoli Soup. ¬†This may sound very similar to the Broccoli and Cheese soup I did back in week 8, but it’s definitely different (although I added enough cheese on top that it could have warranted the same name). ¬†This recipe came from one little project at a time, as always through Pinterest.

I really liked this soup precisely because it is different from broccoli and cheese soup. ¬†It had a really good broccoli flavor, but wasn’t as heavy. ¬†The ingredients are very simple, and there aren’t any fancy or complex flavors to the soup, but that is one of its charms. ¬†I blended it (stick blender again!) just a bit so that there were still recognizable pieces of broccoli. ¬†And I did top it with a healthy handful of cheese, because you can never go wrong with cheese. ¬†Side note: actually that’s not true, since my next soup went VERY wrong with cheese, but that’s a story for another time.

Just to give you some context, this week marks week 15 of the year, so I’ve got another 3 catch-up soups to post, then back to the current stuff.


Bean & Bacon Soup

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 1 hr 15 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients

8 oz smoked bacon, diced
1 cup diced yellow onions
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
3 cans (15 oz each) Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce

Directions

  1. Cook the bacon in a soup pot or Dutch oven until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate.  Discard all but 2 T bacon grease.
  2. To the hot bacon grease, add the onions, carrots, and celery.  Cook over medium heat until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook an additional minute.  Stir in the chicken broth and beans.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low.  Let simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Use an immersion blender to a chunky consistency, or put half the soup in a blender, blend until smooth, and stir into remaining soup. ¬†Stir in the tomato sauce and 3/4 of the reserved bacon. ¬†Season to taste with salt and pepper. ¬†Return the soup to a simmer until hot, about 5 minutes. ¬†Serve topped with the remaining bacon (assuming you didn’t snack it all away!).

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Cream of Broccoli Soup

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 30 mins
Serves: 8

Ingredients

4 T butter
3 broccoli crowns
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 rib of celery, chopped
3 T flour
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
salt and pepper to taste
shredded cheese, for garnish

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion, carrot, celery, and broccoli.
  3. Saute until onion is translucent, about 6 minutes.
  4. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute, until the flour reaches a light brownish color.
  5. Add chicken broth, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil.
  6. Simmer uncovered until broccoli is tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.
  7. Add milk.
  8. With a hand blender, puree the soup.
  9. Serve hot with shredded cheese on top.

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Week 8 and 9 – Cream of Crab and Broccoli & Cheese Soup

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I made a deal with myself that, although I would still make a soup every week, I would only write it up every 2 weeks. ¬†I know myself, and keeping on top of both every week just isn’t going to happen.

So here we are, 2 days outside of 2 weeks since my last post and I haven’t written anything yet for the past 2 soups. ¬†I’m terrible at keeping up my end of my own bargain.

I learned a few things these past couple of weeks.  First of all, it is a terrible idea to try and remove the cork from a corkscrew while standing next to the newly opened bottle of wine, especially next to an open laptop.  Secondly, keyboard keys are quite easy to pop off to remove sticky residue underneath, but they are also quite easy to break in the process of popping off.  Lastly, it is possible to survive without a down key, as long as the little nubbin that triggers it is still working.

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Despite my computer mis-adventures, I did manage to make both soups these past two weeks. ¬†In fact, I made the cream of crab soup twice because I missed a few key ingredients the first time, and I failed to take a picture. ¬†But who really needs an excuse to make a soup again that has heavy cream among the ingredients? Yummy! ¬†(Any wonder I’m having trouble getting rid of those postpartum pounds?)

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I used the cream of crab soup recipe that I found (through Pinterest) on the blog Tide & Thyme.  It was quite delicious, though I need to learn from my first two attempts before making it again.  First thing I should have done is cut the recipe in half, since only my husband and I are eating these soups.  Four cups of dairy and a pound of crab meat is a bit much for 2 people.

The first attempt at cream of crab soup actually went better than the second. ¬†I’m going to blame the fact that I had half-and-half on hand so I subbed that for the heavy cream on round two. ¬†Also, I used Phillips crab the first time, and the second time I went with Chicken of the Sea. ¬†It was shell city! ¬†I did add a dash of Old Bay though, and I think that was a good call, as well as remembering to purchase oyster crackers (though I think saltines would have been better). ¬†I added sherry the second time as well and that was a good addition.

Side note, I would recommend getting lump crab. ¬†I know it’s a lot more expensive, but nothing ruins your soup more than having to pick shells out of every spoonful. ¬†Lump usually has less shells, and it’s also easier to pick any shells before you put it in the soup.

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The broccoli and cheese soup was excellent. ¬†I used the Pioneer Woman’s recipe and I was happy to find a recipe that didn’t call for Velveeta! ¬†I did cut this recipe in half, which turned out to be a mistake since it was really delicious and I would have been happy to have more leftovers.

I also added a little bit more cheese, because why leave a small handful of cheese left in the bag when you can just dump in the whole thing?  The fresh broccoli was a great ingredient, and I love any excuse to use my immersion blender.  I had to cook it a little longer to get the stalks tender enough to blend well.

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 Cream of Crab Soup

Ingredients

2 T butter
2 T flour
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 shallot, minced
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
1 lb lump crab meat, picked clean for shells
Salt and pepper to taste
Sherry, for drizzling
Old Bay

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the celery and shallot, and cook for a couple minutes until translucent.
  3. Add the flour and cook for another couple of minutes.
  4. Add the cream and milk.  Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until soup thickens.
  5. Once thickened, add the crab meat and reduce heat to low.
  6. Cover and let cook for 5 minutes until heated through.
  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve with a drizzle of sherry and dash of Old Bay if desired.

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 Broccoli Cheese Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Serves 10

Ingredients
1 whole onion, diced
1 stick butter
1/3 cup flour
4 cups whole milk
2 cups half-and-half
4 heads fresh broccoli, cut into florets
1 pinch nutmeg
3-4 cup grated cheese (mild or sharp cheddar, jack, etc)
Salt and pepper to taste
Chicken broth if needed for thinning

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a pot over medium heat, then add the onions.
  2. Cook the onions for 3 to 4 minutes, then sprinkle the flour over the top.
  3. Stir to combine and cook for 1 minute or so, then pour in milk and half-and-half.
  4. Add nutmeg, then add broccoli, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the broccoli is tender.
  6. Stir in cheese and allow to melt.
  7. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  8. Serve as is, mash with a potato masher to break up the broccoli a bit, or use an immersion blender (or standing blender in batches) for a smoother consistency.
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Shhhh the grilled cheese is burned on the side you can’t see!