23 December 2008

And ma in her kerchief and I in my cap. . .

. . .had just settled down for a long winter's nap. (In my case a couple of weeks-long blogging nap)

We will be having Christmas Eve and Day with our little family of 4 this year. This is a first for us, and we are very excited. Meals have been planned, food has been bought, presents are wrapped and ready to be opened. We can't wait for Santa to come down our chimney, fill the stockings that are hung there and eat the cookies that will surely be waiting for him.

Merry Christmas to you.

**I have more soup recipes to share in the new year. Stay tuned.

19 December 2008

Soup of the day: part 3

Today's soup of the day recipe doesn't come from me. It comes from Pamela, who is the sister of Ellen, (the owner of Classichound, my great boss and the creator of the doggie bags). I featured Pamela's necklaces on a Monday Fun Find awhile back, and you can see more of her beautiful jewelry in her Etsy shop.

She posted this recipe on her blog the other day and my mouth was watering. This was the soup I was hoping for that fateful day at Fred Meyer. I haven't made it yet only because I keep forgetting to buy leeks. But it is on the menu.

18 December 2008

Soup of the Day: part 2

Thanks for all the positive response from the last recipe. Here is the second installment.

The credit for this recipe goes to none other than Rachel Ray. Like the cheesy chicken chowder, it's a quick-cooking soup, (30 minutes in fact :-)) so you don't have to start making it hours before you can serve it. (Also, the picture above doesn't really do it justice. It has been so overcast here I couldn't use natural light, so had to use the flash.)

Meatball and Macaroni Soup

3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
kosher salt and pepper
½ pound ground beef
½ pound ground pork
1 egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup bread crumbs
½ tsp. freshly grated or ground nutmeg
8 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 ½ cups macaroni (or use any kind you have left over, I used broken fettucine)
½ bag triple-washed fresh spinach, coarsely chopped

1) In a deep pot over medium heat, add carrots, celery, onions and bay leaves with a bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook veggies until soft, about 5 minutes.
2) While the veggies cook, combine the ground meats, egg, garlic, parmesan, bread crumbs, nutmeg, with 1 tsp. salt and ½ tsp. pepper in a separate bowl.
3) Add broth and water to the pot of veggies, increasing heat to high and bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and start to roll meatball mixture into small balls, dropping them straight into the pot.
4) When you are done rolling the meatballs, add pasta to the soup and stir. Cover and simmer soup for 10 minutes.
5) When pasta is tender, stir in chopped spinach. When spinach is wilted, the soup is done and ready to serve.

My apologies to all you readers who don't eat beef or pork. You could probably substitute ground turkey in these meatballs. The nutmeg and parmesan in the meatballs flavor the broth while they're cooking and the spinach adds just a bit of texture. Even Jeff said while eating this soup, "this might be the first time I ever enjoyed cooked spinach". But if you absolutely hate spinach, you can skip it because it is difficult to fish it out later--it floats around the top of the soup, and therefore wants to be included in every bite.

Also, the recipe does make a lot of meatballs. When I was rolling, I kept thinking it would be way too many. But I found that when eating, you do kind of want some meat in every bite, so it turned out okay.

Yumm-o. (Dangit Rachel Ray and your weird phrases, but somehow I couldn't resist)

17 December 2008

Soup of the Day

As promised, here is the first recipe. I am always on the lookout for new soup recipes and here is one recently discovered from the Taste of Home cookbook I've had since forever.

I modified the recipe just a bit, but couldn't think of a better name, so don't judge the soup by its "cheesy" name.
Cheesy Chicken Chowder

1/2 cup diced onion
3/4 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
2 cups peeled, diced potatoes
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1-2 cups shredded chicken
1 cup frozen supersweet corn

1) Saute onions, carrots and celery in olive oil in a med-large pot for 10 mins until onions are translucent. Add potatoes, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower heat, cover pot and simmer for 15 mins or until potatoes are tender.
2) When potatoes are almost tender, melt butter in medium saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in milk and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in shredded cheese.
3) Add milk/cheese sauce, chicken and corn to the pot of veggies and mix well, Heat over medium heat until heated through.

I bought one of the yummy rotisserie chickens from Costco, cut all the meat off and then boiled the bones and skin that was left with 1/2 onion, some salt & pepper, a chx bouillon cube and a bay leaf for about 30 minutes. I strained out all the bones and onions and it made the perfect amount of delicious broth for the soup.

**To my family who are reading this--when I ate this soup it reminded me of the cheese soup mom used to make on Christmas eve(hers didn't have chicken, though and it could easily be left out). In fact, I thought to make it taste more like that soup, cooked cauliflower should be added the next time I make it.

16 December 2008

There is no substitute for homemade soup

Last week I officially hit the 17-week milestone in this pregnancy. For most pregnant ladies, that isn’t a big deal, but for me (in both of my previous pregnancies also) it is the lucky number when my sickness--for the most part—subsides, and my body allows me a couple of months of generally good eating and good sleeping until the third trimester when the heartburn and insomnia kick in.

So I’m trying to take advantage of it.

During those long weeks of constant nausea, occasionally I had an overwhelming desire to eat soup. It seemed like the only thing that would go down easily and be kind to my sad stomach. However, canned soup only did the job once or twice. I discovered that canned soup is kind of disgusting.

Oh how I wanted to just cook up a pot of some homemade chicken noodle, split pea, or bean soup, but most recipes have you start by sautéing an onion (otherwise it would be kind of flavorless) and the thought of handling, let alone SMELLING an onion sent me straight to the toilet.

So I went on a mission to find some non-canned soup that would taste like homemade. I was willing to pay big bucks, people. I searched delis, restaurants, and grocery store refrigerated sections. But many of the soups I encountered were a little too heavy on my still super-sensitive stomach, like tomato, southwest black bean, tortilla, and curried butternut squash.

Once I went to the soup bar at Fred Meyer’s deli. There was a chicken and wild rice soup that seemed bland and homemade and creamy and smelled pretty good bubbling away. I scooped myself a disposable cupful and paid the $3.00 they wanted. I took it to the car, had one bite and almost gagged. It was worse than canned.

What I finally discovered, after throwing away many more cups of random soup, is that there just aren’t any soups out there that even come close to homemade soup. Does that seem obvious? But see, I do think that some food items are better in restaurants than what you can make at home. Soup is not one of them.

Now that my body will allow me to again chop and sauté an onion, I’m busy making all the soups I’ve been missing so much. So if you, like me, are a soup lover, you’ll enjoy these next posts, where I’m going to share all the recipes of all the soups I love.

**A small disclaimer: my semi-sensitive stomach still won't allow me anything spicy, smoky, ethnic or tomato-based, so although I normally love soups like the ones mentioned above, the only recipes I'm making and sharing right now are creamy, chicken broth-based, and non-ethnic.

Eat up! And if you're in the soup mood, share your favorite recipes on your blog as well. The more the merrier.

15 December 2008

Sewing and Snowing

There is much holiday sewing to be done and here is the view from my serger today:

Whoever told us that it RARELY snows in Eugene has now officially been wrong 4 times in the 3 1/2 years we've lived here. The storm that has been the talk of the town all week finally dumped about 4 inches last night as we slept.

Luckily, Oregon school districts consider snow a reason to cancel school, so Jeff is home, and we get to enjoy a cozy, relaxing day in our warm house all together. There really are some great benefits of having a husband who is a teacher.

11 December 2008

Just Google it

Awhile back, I was introduced to Google Analytics and have been a bit obsessed ever since. And no, this screen shot of analytics above is not showing the stats of my blog (can you imagine having 16,635 visitors in one month?) I might say I wish for that, but I don't know if I really do. That's a lot of people reading my stuff.

My favorite section of the stats page is the keywords section, where you can see exactly what random blog visitors typed into Google search in order to arrive at a particular website. It is just a riot to see what sort of things bring up a link to limabeanhome.

A few funny examples:
On Oct 10th, someone typed "is it easy to sew a sleeping bean", linked to my blog, and then spent 12 minutes surfing around. I'm wondering what that person found, since I have no idea about sewing sleeping beans.

3 days later, on October 13th the search was "section passed out duck game" (what?) that person spent zero minutes surfing around, so obviously did NOT find what they were looking for.

There are all kinds of lima bean inquiries that bring people to limabeanhome. "the life of a lima bean", "what do lima beans feel like?", "what job does a stem have in a lima bean plant?", "songs and books about planting lima beans" (that one had to be a kindergarten teacher), but as you can see, these people are actually looking for information on real lima beans, of which I offer none.

Recently there was an inquiry for "sewing for young boys". That person spent a record 28 minutes on the blog--(I think they probably just left on the computer and went to the bathroom or something). Bizarre.

It is pretty entertaining to see the number of hits, the top referring sites, and other random information that Analytics provides. And, in Google fashion, of course it's all free. But anytime I want to have a good laugh, I just visit the keywords section to see the strange and hilarious searches performed daily when people "Google it".

10 December 2008

Baby on the brain

Do any of you read Soulemama regularly? I don't remember how I happened upon her blog, but she is a fabulous photographer and often makes me want to learn how to knit and crochet more than just straight lines around baby blankets.

Anyway, maybe it's because I have baby on the brain, (which is a condition that also makes me want to tivo A Baby Story on TLC and cry every time the moms give that last push), but the picture you will find on Soulemama's blog yesterday of her sweet new baby Harper might just be the cutest picture of a brand new baby I have ever seen. And he's even wearing some hand-knitted pants. What a lucky baby. Check him out.

07 December 2008

Monday Fun Find #15

Monday Fun Find is back! Did you miss me? This tiny little picture doesn't do this little item justice. It is called a fork easel and can be found in the fabulous Etsy shop of DinnerTimeChimes. Make sure you click on the picture to see how it works holding recipe cards, note cards or little photographs.

Even better, you can win one of these by entering this contest. Just make sure you enter before Dec. 11th. But if by chance you don't win, I daresay the darling little fork easel would make a great gift for any teacher, colleague, or someone like me who still uses recipe cards when I cook.

03 December 2008

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care. . .

No, these aren't the stockings hanging from my fireplace, (photo by Katie Jean --aren't they cute?) but thanks to my fabulous husband, our homemade felt stockings ARE hanging as I type.

This is the year I was seriously considering leaving the Christmas decorations in their boxes. Luckily Jeff recognized my Bah Humbugness (for me, you could also call it being pregnant) and took it upon himself to decorate the house all by himself. I've said it before, I'll say it again--I really don't deserve him.