Wednesday, August 31

Animal Crackers in My Soup!

Fall is around the corner and 'tis time for me to make that delicious brew that goes with just about anything toasty on a cool day...baked potatoes, sweet potato french fries, garlic bread, grilled cheese? How about a panini?  Oh boy, am I getting hungry.  Sometimes plain little oyster crackers or goldfish crackers are the best.  They are simple and happy just floating in a rainbow of veggies, beans, and noodles. 

This soup is a staple in my freezer most of the time.  It is an easy balanced meal for my Lily.
To make this simple, yummy soup, fill a large 6-8 qt. kettle 1/2 to 2/3 full of chicken broth (organic or low sodium is best.)  I use about 3 containers of broth...the flip top box kind. 
As the broth warms up, add a few shakes of whatever herbs and spices you fancy, eyeball it or add enough to float on the broth to look half way covered.  I add basil, parsley, celery seed, and a mix like Lawry's salt.  Don't worry if you over do it, as I also add 2-4 cups of water now as well.  Sometimes, I add an onion, simply halved, just for flavor.  Just cut it and let it sink to the bottom like a rock.  I save the entire cooked onion as a treat for Grammy.  She just loves onions!  Then as the broth gets even warmer, I start adding the ingredients I like--a plain 12-16oz can of small diced tomatoes, a 12-16oz can of kidney beans (rinsed), a 12-16oz can of black beans(rinsed), and then a few packets of Stevia sweetener (or few tablespoons of sugar if you prefer) to cut down the tanginess of the tomatoes.  You can use whatever beans you like, or omit them and use diced chicken.  Then as the water starts to boil, I add a large bag of frozen mixed vegetables, not the small bag of 16 ounces, but a bag maybe twice that size.  Again, use whatever veggies you like.  Stir the pot a little and after the soup is boiling, I add 1/2 box of any noodle in the pantry.  I like to use the mixed veggie kinds, for that extra oomph of nutrition.  Turn down the heat to simmer.  Stir occasionally.  If you use the whole box of noodles, your soup may turn into stew.  So just stick with 1/2 a box.  Sometimes, you can add a cup of orzo and the noodles as well.
Turn off the heat when the noodles are soft to eat.  Taste and add extra seasonings as needed.
After the soup cools a bit, ladle into small storage containers to freeze.

These hinged flip type lids are a new thing I am trying.  I think I prefer the regular snap on type instead of these.  Again, use whatever you like.

After they are frozen completely, on any day, these single serving size are perfect for a quick meal.  They are so easy to defrost in just minutes.  Simply run warm or hot water over the bottom of the frozen soup bowl until it loosens.  Then put the soup/ice block into a ceramic/glass microwave safe bowl.  Cover with a sheet of wax paper and defrost or cook until thawed and hot.  Or just until warm if you are serving for a child.  If it is too hot, I simply add an ice cube or two and let them stir it.  That simple procedure is so fun for kids.  Add some crackers and a side dish of fruit and cheese, and voila!  My kid is happy with this nutritious, allergy friendly, less than 30 minutes meal.  Beat that Rachael Ray!  :)


   

Friday, August 26

Sew Much Fun & A Little Pony

This summer I went on treasure hunts to find furniture to makeover.  I quickly learned that I need/want to sew.  Not just with a needle and thread by hand, but by machine!  I never liked the idea of using a sewing machine.  I never even had the patience to learn to use one.  I found an old sewing book from the 1960s at my local goodwill and just loved the artwork in it.  Also, I found an old pair of pinking shears still in the box!


If this old stuff doesn't inspire me to learn how to use a sewing maching, then perhaps the fact that my sweet cousin has a love of a certain toile fabric?  Well it did.  I just sat right down in the driver's seat and went for a ride! With my mom's guidance, I took several notes---ok, I resorted to capturing her on video due to my ignorance of sewing terms---a zipper foot vs. a regular foot?  Who said anything about special feet?  Are we going shopping for shoes? Count me in!  I can't even remember the other terms on the machine.  Anyway, my mom is the BEST!  She helped me sew my first project!  Here is a sneak peek of the fabric...my cousin, Boston Bee, already knows what I am up to ;) 
As for those really neat pinking shears...yeah, what are those for?  Cutting fancy paper? No, not really.  I will be using those bad boys to cut ribbons for project pony.  Remember me mentioning mini-me test riding this icky thing at the Gdub?

PROJECT PONY
First, she happily played salon and gave it a haircut.  Then, after heavy sanding, priming, painting, and more sanding...pony actually turned out pretty!

For a new mane and tail, Creative Cousin Alyssa suggested some colorful ribbons to make her very whimsical.  Fantastic idea Aly!  Lily had a blast picking out rolls and rolls of different ribbons.   
Sadly, pretty pony has been bald over the summer.  My dilemma was how to attach ribbons without them falling apart or unravel.  I bought a shining new staple/finishing nail gun and heavy duty glue sticks.  Hmmmm....what to do.  I think for now, pillows take priority over pony.  Oops!  Did I just spoil my surprise?  Drat.

Well, Gram and I came up with a nifty plan that just work out just fine.  She is happy in her new home and doesn't mind having her mane braided.

 

Saturday, August 13

Refreshing Fruits

Sorry I haven't posted in a while.  I have been visiting with family and I have been hunting for new treasures to makeover for my new hobby.  I am not ready to give a sneak peek just yet, but summer is almost over and I am still trying to enjoy all the wonderful fruits that are blossoming.  The other day, I was munching on a beautiful white nectarine that was so juicy and yummy that I grabbed some colored pencils and sketched the bowl of them---they were scrumptious!  Sadly, they are all gone, but here is what is left...
(Sorry the pic is not right side up...my computer is not cooperating...the gray shadows should be on the bottom.)

Another lovely fruit...the mango.  It never goes unappreciated!
This fresh cucumber-mango salad is inspired by my friend, Natasha.


In a large bowl, add 1 large cucumber diced up, 1 ripe mango cut in little pieces to your liking, about 1/4 cup-1/2 cup fresh parsley (just eyeball it, so you don't use too much), drizzle with a tiny bit of extra virgin olive oil, and squeeze the juice of an orange on top.  Gently mix and serve.  Dee-lish!