Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Man Soup or Cheesey Sausage Potato Soup

I know I've posted lots of recipes lately and I was planning to share something else, but when you make the best soup EVER how can you not share!?!

As is pretty typical with my cooking, I gathered a few ingredients I thought would be good together, threw them in a pot, and called it dinner. Or in this case perfection. Whichever.

What I always fail to do is write the recipe down. Thus causing my family and myself to never taste of its awesomeness again.

Thankfully, Nathan, who isn't much of a soup guy, told me I should write it down and Abiah suggested I do it while we ate. So I did. They are so good to all of us, aren't they?

I call this Man Soup because it actually filled Nathan up AND he wanted me to write the recipe down, which, in "Nathan Speak", roughly means, "Woman! This is the best food EVER! Never stop making this as long as I'm alive! You amaze me! I knew I married you for more than your good looks, crazy awesome personality, and childbearing hips! Let me adorn you with diamonds and rare jewels and praise you at the city gates!"

Or something like that...

So, the recipe.

Please remember that when I cook I rarely use measuring devices unless I'm following a recipe. Especially with the spices. I under-guessed the measurements so that you can add what you feel it needs.


7ish medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced

Place these in a pot of water and boil until the potatoes are soft all the way through.

In the meantime brown the next two ingredients until they start to get just a little black on them.
Flavor people! We call it flavor.

1 large onion, chopped
1 lb Italian Turkey sausage

Add 1 tsp sage and mix together

When the potatoes are done add about a cup of the water to the pan of sausage and onions and add 1 tsp of chicken bullion stirring to combine ( the water from the cooking potatoes has lots of starch in it and will help to keep the soup thick).

When combined, add 1 more cup of the water and mix in.

Then add 1&1/2 cups of half-n-half.

You wanna do it. You know you do!

Simmer to thicken.

Now, you want to drain most of the remaining water leaving maybe 1 cup in the potatoes. I just drained it until I thought I could create a thick-ish soup.

This is the part where it would be helpful to have measurements and pictures. Neither of which I am good at or have. Sorry. Just trust your senses.

Now, mash the potatoes. You don't want it to be completely smooth though, so leave some lumps!

Add the simmering sausage mixture to the potatoes, stirring to combine. At this point you can add a cup or two of corn if you want (I added frozen corn to my kids bowls to cool their soup down).

Add 2 cups of shredded cheese AND a 1/4 block of cream cheese. It's so good you don't want to leave it out. I swear!

Mix until combined.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with big pieces of crusty bread and ENJOY!

The weather around here has definitely turned to soup season and I think we will be enjoying this one many times this winter.

Let me know how you like it!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thanksgiving Recipes: Desi's Homemade Rolls & A Story from 7th Grade

During my 4th-7th grade school years we attended our church's private school. My mom, being the amazing cook that she is, became the lunch lady. Every week she would put out batches and batches of fresh bread dough that she and her friend, Desi, would use to create the most amazing dinner rolls, cinnamon rolls, and homemade hot dog wraps EVER!

The food that was served in that cafeteria could never be considered cafeteria food. We were such spoiled private school kids.

During my 7th grade year I got recruited to sift flour EVERY morning. I started the moment we arrived until the bell rang for assembly. It was kitchen boot camp. And I needed it.

Unknown to my mom, I had just found out that one of the boys in my class "loved" me. I caught a glimpse of his spiral notebook that said "I LOVE SH...." And that's all I saw before he ripped it away so I couldn't read the rest. I assumed he meant one of my two friends who's names also started with SH, but, after swearing I wouldn't tell anyone what it said, he sheepishly revealed the contents of that page to me and I was shocked to find my own name written in his scrawling 7th grade boy handwriting. That "love" lasted about two weeks when he traded me in for one of my other class mates. 7th grade love can be so fickle.

Since both my new crush and I arrived at school early I had "plans" for what that hour before school would hold. I'm sure it was God saving me from getting in trouble with a capital T, because it wasn't long after my discovery of "love" that my mom had me spending ALL my free time in the morning standing in the kitchen sifting mountain after mountain of fluffy white flour. At the time I was sure she knew my secret. Now I'm really not sure if she did or not.

And even though that crush didn't last long, there were others. Many others. And there were only 7 boys in my 7th grade class. Like I said, 7th grade love is fickle.

All of that to say, this is the bread that I spent hours sifting flour for. And it's an amazing recipe.

Desi's Bread

2 Tbl. yeast
1/2 c. sugar
1tsp salt
2 c. warm water

Mix and let yeast soften.

Mix in:

1 egg, beaten (Or you can use this egg replacer if you are allergic to eggs like me!)
1/4 c. oil

Slowly add:

6&1/2 c. sifted flour (If you use the egg replacer I used you might need a little more flour to keep it from being too sticky.)

Knead bread until dough is soft and satiny. Should be a little sticky. Let it double. Punch it down. Make into two braids or loaves, or 24 dinner rolls. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Let double. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

When they come out of the oven immediately covered one in butter and eat it! It's just the right thing to do.

Or, if you have more self-control than I do, you can also let them cool and freeze them. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Mommy Torture Device

I know it just looks like a Disney princess cup.

Don't be deceived.

Because when one child gets one for her "free ye old birfday" and the other doesn't it causes this:

And that's enough to turn a mommy's heart upside down and inside out.

Learning to share is so hard. Learning to be happy for someone else when you just want to pout and cry... the hardest lesson ever. Especially when you have two more months before your own birfday party.

Or you can just wait until your sister is distracted and take hers for yourself...

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Work Space

While I promised you awhile back that I had made changes to our homeschooling plan for the year and was going to share them with you, this isn't what I had in mind.

Abiah is such a smart kid, but I am finding it hard to keep his attention on his work and not on everything else going on in the house. I know he's only seven. I know that sitting for long periods of time is especially hard for boys. I know that boys develop slower than most girls. But I feel my biggest battle with him is about being lazy.

I give him breaks. I have him run around the house a few times. We have activities we do that aren't so "school" like. When it's time for him to do his independent work (math and writing his spelling words) he will take HOURS.

He knows the work. He could be done with his school by noon everyday. But he sits. And talks to his imaginary friends. He watches everything the girls and I are doing. If the t.v. is on in the other room he listens to hear as much as he can. Even if I have the volume turned WAY down.

I have tried to help him understand that getting his work done quickly is his choice and that choice determines how he will spend the rest of the day, but something isn't clicking.

So my question is, homeschooling failure or homeschooling genius?

What lengths have you gone to just to help your child focus on the task before him/her?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thanksgiving Centerpiece

I don't have step-by-step directions. I wouldn't do that to you.

I don't expect to receive any kind of award for creativity.

I just think it's cute. Because it's made from my kids chubby fingers.

Well, not literally.

Amelia's Turkey

Hazel's Turkey

Abiah's Turkey

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Best Pumpkin Bread Ever!

Every fall this is the recipe I am eager to make. Not that it can't be made any other time of the year. It's just one of those fall things. This recipe is full of flavor and is positively sinful!

Pumpkin Bread

5 c. flour, lightly fluffed
4 c. sugar (Trust me here.)
4 tsp. soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cloves
3 tsp cinnamon
4 c. pumpkin puree, canned or fresh
1 c. oil
1&1/2 c. chopped nuts (pecans are my favorite)
1 c. raisins (I like to do half raisins and half dried cranberries)

Mix together dry ingredients. Add pumpkin and oil. Mix well. Add nuts and raisins. Mix well. Pour into 3 well sprayed loaf pans or you can use muffin tins. Bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes. Remember to test the center to make sure they are baked through. Freezes well.

My favorite way to enjoy them is chilled. With a generous slab of cream cheese. It's how I roll. Or how I get rolls...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

One of Those Videos, Take 2

Ok. Hopefully this time everything will work right!

I realize that this video is one of those that only I, as Amelia's mom, can appreciate, but I'm going to share it anyways. Every time I tell Amelia it's time for bed she tells me, "No yet." It makes me giggle.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Egg Replacer for Baking

In my search for egg and soy free foods I have come across a few tips for baking. My current go to is for replacing eggs in baking. As the title suggests. Not to be obvious or anything.

So, here's whatcha do. For every egg, mix together one (1) tablespoon of flax meal with three (3) tablespoons of water.

I've found that letting the mixture sit for a few minutes helps the flax and water combine and results in a fluffier baked good. I've used this in:

homemade pancakes
cookies (no eggs = no salmonella = eating cookie dough = happy me!)
homemade cornbread

All have turned out perfectly delicious.

Do you have any substitution tips? Share!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Story of We, Part 6 or 4 and Counting?

Look here for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part4 and Part 5.

After my Schmooshy Amelia was born I wasn't sure I would be having anymore kids. I love giving birth (I'm weird. I know.), but I don't want to be a mom who goes crazy because she has too many kids. A wise woman once told me that "just because we can do something, doesn't mean we should."

I know that every life that God gives us to parent is and will be a blessing. I just feel like there is a point where the things that I want for my kids and that I want to be for my kids will be taken over by fatigue and the business of staying alive and keeping everyone else alive. Nathan and I desire to have personal and intentional relationships with our kids. And some can do that and have 12 or more kids. I don't know that I'm one of those. I don't know what that number is for us. We have just decided to take it one kid at a time. Unless we end up having twins or something. -Insert nervous laughter here-

When Amelia turned 6 months and I wasn't pregnant, I was happy. When she was 15 months and I wasn't preparing for the upcoming arrival of another one I was elated. Up to this point watching movies, tv shows or hearing about others being pregnant had little effect on me. I was happy. For them. But I still wasn't ready.

Then Rachel from Grasping for Objectivity announced she was pregnant and I felt a twinge of jealousy. Within a few months I knew of at least 6 other women who are expecting. And everywhere I went there were pregnant women! When I would see a pregnant woman in a store I had to hold back tears. When I would see a baby it was worse. I waited about a month to tell Nathan to make sure I wasn't just being hormonal.

He would have loved it if we would have gotten pregnant within a year after having Amelia. He's crazy. But he's also patient and he was sensitive to wait until I was ready to take that step.

When I found out mid-August that I was pregnant I called our family and close friends the same day. When I called my best friend in Utah and she asked me when I found out, I shocked her with the reply, "About 30 minutes!" I had to tell everyone. Right away!

I was happy. No. I was excited! And knowing that I was excited made me even more happy and more excited. It was such a welcoming change from the previous time of being scared and unsure. Of course, I still have moments of those feelings, too. But not very often.

Many people have asked us how many more we plan to have. Most assume we are "shooting for a boy this time to even things out." But we don't have a number. And my "even" is very different from most people's.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

In Celebration of the End of the First Trimester

For three nights last week I knew before six o'clock in the evening what I was going to make for dinner. And had it ready to eat. Each meal included meat. Which I cooked. Without having severe nausea. (The rest of the week and the beginning of this week have been super busy. Otherwise the trend would have continued.)

This may seem like a ho-hum, everyday experience for the rest of you. For me, the last few weeks have been spent trying to keep from making any sudden movements that would cause me to feel sick, avoiding anything with a strong odor (ie. poopey diapers, Parmesan cheese, cooking meat, etc.), and having little to no appetite.

For me, there's something almost magical about week 14 of my pregnancies. The clouds part, the angels sing, and I'm not as likely to spend all day whining about feeling gross.

Not that I stop complaining entirely. It's my right. As a pregnant woman.

I had an appointment a few days ago and thought I would share the latest with you guys.

Baby is doing good. Strong heartbeat. I'm feeling movement already. I wouldn't be so confident in saying that, but every time they've listened for the baby's heart rate the baby was on the exact side where I feel most movement. At 12 weeks I had some spotting, but all is well. It turns out that I have a normal "pregnancy issue" that is a little TMI for blogging about. But I'm fine and so is Baby. And yes, there is only one baby in there.

We have an ultrasound appointment for the 9th of December and hopefully this baby will let us in on the secret it's keeping so we can start shopping and preparing. Of course, since we have two girls already, there isn't much that needs to be done if we are having another one.

I've had many people predict what they think this baby is going to be, but I wanted to list some of my pregnancy symptoms here and let you get your vote in.

  • I'm not as nauseous as I was with my girls. But I was less nauseous with Amelia than I was with Hazel. Boy or Girl?
  • I have NO brain. Not only have I accidentally shoplifted, but I did my monthly grocery shopping yesterday and even though I had a five page master shopping list to help me out, I couldn't remember what I was looking for most of the day. I've heard that pregnancy brain is worse with boys. I was also told that our bodies produce a chemical that actually eats your brain when you are pregnant with a boy. (I have no idea if this is true or not and I'm too lazy right now to research this for myself. Have you ever heard this rumor?) Boy or Girl?
  • When pregnant with the girls I never wanted coffee. And I don't this time either. It's sad. But true. I actually crave tea. What? I feel like I don't know who I am anymore. (Because of the coffee. It has nothing to do with the fact that I'm about to be a SAHHM of four kids ages 7, 3, 1.5, and newborn.) Boy or Girl?
  • I had first trimester acne. Arg! Boy or Girl?
  • The heart rate was 160-165. Boy or Girl?
  • Aside from the fact that I no longer have an unquenchable hunger for Taco Bell, I have a lot of the same cravings that I had with the girls. Spicy foods for the first 9-11 weeks. Cheese and bread. Anything take-out. With the girls I did want a lot of fruit. This time I really want hamburgers. And sweet potato fries. Boy or Girl?
Leave a comment with your guess. Hopefully we'll be able to answer this question on the 9th of December. In the meantime, here's the first portrait of Baby. This was taken at 10 weeks. I'm 15 weeks now. I'm also a little behind on many things.