Tuesday, December 27, 2011

:weekend scenes:

what a wonderful holiday weekend filled with squishy baby cheeks, handmade toys and goodies, good food, wine, family and a little brother eager to keep up with his big brothers. It was lovely (even with no snow).

Hope your weekend was just as magical!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

christmas countdown::satisfying soups::

Clearly I am not in blogger mode, because I did not snap one picture of any sort of soupy goodness.

Also, this post has been sitting half finished in queue for close to a week. "I can only do what I can do" is being muttered by me several times a day. Sometimes as a gentle reminder, sometimes as a peaceful acknowledgement and sometimes in exasperation or despair. There are only so many hours in the day and so much money in the bank (both seeming even less this year, with adjusting to me being home and a new baby).

So, I can only do what I can do. Which means that several things are scratched off the list of things we wanted to give, only two cookies out of the couple dozen on my list have been made, multiple surfaces in my house are filled with various crafting items so I can move back and forth between what I have time for, dishes sit in the sink longer than I'd like, and easy dinners are a must.

A close friend of ours just had a baby last week, so we brought by some soup for dinner.

This was one of the first crockpot recipes I ever made, and it was an instant keeper. The cookbook I got it from was passed on long ago, but the recipe remains in heavy rotation during the fall and winter months.

Double Thick Potato Cheese Soup
  • 2 lbs  baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes ( I didn't bother with peeling this last time and it was fine)
  • 2 (10 3/4 ounce) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup (I use a make your own cream soup mix base and add it to sauteed mushrooms or celery, though the recipe does work best if you use at least one condensed can)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped green onions, divided
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (I add more though)
  • 1 dash ground red pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (an 8 oz block works fine)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup milk 
  • black pepper to taste 

In crock pot combine potatoes, cream of mushroom, 1 cup of green onions and spices. Mix up well.
Cook on low 8 hours.
Add in cheese, sour cream and milk, stir until cheese melts.
Add the remaining green onions before serving.
 We like this served with a nice thick crispy bread, usually a Wegmans bought garlic tuscan loaf.

Of course, no dairy for me. I needed a substitution. I wasn't expecting much with no cream and no cheese - but was very pleasantly surprised at how this turned out!

Dairy Free Potato Chowder

minced garlic
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
chicken broth (2-3 cups or so)
2-3 baking potatoes
coconut milk
bacon grease or oil

Saute diced celery, onions, garlic and carrots in bacon grease. Add diced potatoes, pepper flakes and seasoning and cook about 5 minutes on high. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil Turn down heat, cover and let simmer about 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Add coconut milk (about 1/4-1/2 cup)

Blend with an immersion blender until desired consistency (I pureed most everything, but you can leave some veggies whole)

Delicious and best of all easy!

Friday, December 9, 2011

{this moment}

inspired by soulemama

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

christmas countdown::the goodies::

We have yet to get started on any real Christmas baking, though I have outlined my list of, um 23 different things to make. Yeah. I should probably get moving on that.

So, it makes perfect sense that last night I decided to make something that was not on my list and that I had no real need to make - other than I decided I needed to make it.

Homemade dairy free "nutella". Oh, yeah.

It's adapted from the recipe in Cooking for Isaiah and can be found in it's entirety here: Silvanas Kitchen

I hear you can get already ready hazelnuts. I had nuts still in their shells, so cracking them all with a handheld nutcracker got sort of old and painful quickly. I ended up with about 1/2 cup nuts.

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts (spread on baking sheet and toast at 350 for 8-10 minutes. Rub on towel to get skins off, most mine stayed on - I left them without a problem)
1/8 cup cocoa powder
just over 1/8 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbs olive oil

In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts, scraping down the sides, until smooth, this took me about 45 seconds to a minute Add rest of the ingredients and process until combined, about 2 minutes. Taste and add more sugar or oil if desired. Refrigerate.

Now, I just need something to put this on, other than a spoon!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

christmas countdown::deck the halls::

We pulled up four boxes of Christmas decorations the other day. Four boxes. That's simply too many. With my bags project still going on (very slowly), I hope that the boxes that return will be cut by half (ok, maybe one small box allowed for lights).

I've already managed to get rid of one small shopping bag of decorations. The box that is still sitting unpacked in the living room is all ornaments and lights and odds and ends, so I hope to thin that out as well.

Many decorations have sat in those boxes year after year anyway. My tastes have changed a bit in the ten years since I started my own holiday collections. Out with the old and unused and in with the new (and handmade!)

You might recognize some of  these pictures from two years ago. Our camera/external drive is still misbehaving, so this these were pulled from this blogs '09 post.

I prefer a simple, natural style. Some santa thrown in for good measure, but I'd like most of our decorations to invoke excitement and joy for the upcoming season, an appreciation of nature and the change around us, and things that will stay lovely and usable for most of the winter.

How simple and lovely to tuck some greenery into baskets or boxes.

This years decorations are still in progress. I have a couple of crafts planned for this week that I'll share with you soon, and the tree comes this weekend! It never quite feels like Christmas to me until the tree is up.

If I could knit with any sort of ease, these stockings would be mine.

I can't though, so I've been brainstorming some fabric ideas, with the baby - I think it's time for a family set of stockings

What is your holiday decorating style? Do you have one? Is it ever changing or traditional?

Friday, December 2, 2011

(this moment}

inspired by soulemama

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.