Monday, September 22, 2014

Tomato Basil Soup

Today is my big brother's birthday (happy 40th) and with that comes the official start of fall.  I can feel it in the air; the shorter days, crisp breeze, football games and volleyball.  The leaves in our neighborhood are just beginning to change from their vibrant greens to lovely shades of red, orange, yellow and brown.  Fall is one of my favorite seasons! But, so are spring and summer.  Today I have begun the official decor change.  I am switching out shells for pinecones and drift wood for leaves and twigs.  The blues, greens and corals I have throughout my home will be toned down with rusts, deep greens and browns.

However, the change of seasons at my house are not only in the decor, but in the food I prepare as well.  I find myself in the kitchen creating soups, casseroles and warmer, heartier meals.  And this weekend, soup found its way to our table.  Even better, 4 of the 5 of us enjoyed it.  I call that success.

I made Tomato Basil Soup (recipe below).

I first saut├ęd some onion, celery, carrot and garlic in a little bit of butter until soft.


Added in some different layers of tomato and chicken stock.

 Some basil and a bay leaf along with a little pepper to give the soup a punch of homestyle flavor.

I simmered it on the stove for about 5 hours,  I'm sure you could throw it all into a crockpot and let the flavors meld together in there as well.

Right before you are going to serve it, stir in a 1/2 a cup of cream cheese and a pint of half and half.  Once it is melted and combined, serve it up.  I love pairing this soup with cheesy, garlic bread.  I am a dipper and this is a perfect compliment to the soup.

And like I said before, all but one of us (that would be Smiley) liked the soup.  Action even decided to express his feelings in the soup itself:


Tomato Basil Soup

2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 of an onion, chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons butter

28 oz diced tomatoes
3 cups (24 oz) vegetable juice (like V-8)
6 oz tomato paste
28 oz crushed tomatoes
14.5 oz can chicken broth
Pepper, to taste
1 bay leaf
2-3 tablespoons of snipped basil (more or less to taste)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 pint 1/2 and 1/2
4 oz cream cheese

1.  Saute the veggies in 2 tablespoons of butter until softened.
2.  Add all ingredients except the 1/2 and 1/2 and cream cheese.
3.  Simmer for 3-6 hours.
4.  About 10 minutes before serving, stir in the 1/2 and 1/2 and cream cheese.
5.  Serve

Notes:
* I think crushed red peppers would be good in this soup if you like a little kick.  My kids are not always so keen on spice, so I did not add any.

* If you like your soup a bit thinner, add more chicken broth or vegetable juice

*  Have fresh tomatoes on hand?  Chop them up and toss them in!

Enjoy!

a Bowl full of Lemons

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

8th, 5th and Kindergarten

It was one week ago this evening that I was tucking my kiddos into bed,  listening to them tell me a few more of the things that had happened that day.  That day was the first day back to school for Sassy and Action and the very first day of elementary school for Smiley.

The morning started early.  My alarm went off at 4:45 ~ up early enough to make rolls (a yearly tradition)  before Sassy had to head off to school. Sassy's alarm sounded at 5:45.  Her bus came to pick her up at 6:50.  Action and Smiley rolled out of bed around 7:15.  Rolls were eaten, the perfect clothes put on and hair was fixed (for the 5 year old anyway!)  Their bus pulled up to get them at 8:20.  I admit, a tear or two did sneak out of my eyes.  After all, my baby is going to kindergarten.  But my feelings regarding this will be an entire post of its own......

And, of course, the morning did not go by without a handful of pictures taken.  And don't let their smiles fool you, Smiley was really the only one of the three who was excited to go to school!

My lovely 8th grader:




My not excited, yet smiley 5th grader:




And my super excited and a little bit nervous, cute, little kindergartner:





Summer Vacation

I think I would be rich if I could invent some sort of contraption that would slow time down in the summer.  How can three months go by so quickly?  Three whole months of sports, friends, sun, fun and relaxation.  I'm not sure, but they did.   And in those three months, I only managed to put together two blog posts.  Only two?  My kids started back to school last tuesday, Sept 2nd  (which is, and will be, a blog post of it's own) and I have finally sat myself down in front of the computer to catch up.

Although I didn't blog much, we indeed did have a fun summer, let me show you:

Warning: Here comes the photo overload




Action had a fun baseball season.  



A short break during a 13 mile bike ride with the family


Sassy's softball team played in a Nationals Tournament.  They placed 4th out of 72 teams.  
They played 10 games and Sassy pitched in every one of them.
Hanging out between games 
Sassy even got Smiley to pitch a little

video


A very relaxing day on the lake



When we were on a weekend camping trip with friends, this stray cat decided it wanted to be part of our group.


I celebrated my birthday with my family ~ and mmmm..... an ice-cream cake!


A fun morning doing a little painting at our local Color Me Mine


Some state fair fun which included seeing a not quite 1 day old baby pig, rides and treats to name a few things:










 And even when the summer softball season ends, the pitching never does.  Lets just say she is very happy her fall softball season has started up.  She didn't like having to take two whole weeks off :)


And it has been our tradition the last few years to make gak the week before school starts, 
this year was no different.


This is simply a snapshot!  There was so much more we did, more softball, more baseball, more lake time, more crafts, more playing, and great times with friends, bonfires, crafts, water fun and just time relaxing.  It was a great summer!  





Monday, July 14, 2014

Summer is flying by.....


July, the time of the year when the sun rises early and sets late.  The days are long and we are all trying to enjoy these carefree summer days.  Vacation bible school has come and gone, volleyball camps are over and high school open gyms are in full swing before next month's tryouts.  Baseball is winding down for Action with only a couple of games left, same with Sassy and softball.  She has her final tournament this coming weekend ~ Nationals.  However she is not looking forward to a break from softball and is already looking forward to some late summer clinics and fall softball.   Smiley has been participating in a variety sports class and has played a little t-ball and soccer so far.  She asks to play catch and "hit" about every day though.  Action is currently involved in a golf camp ~ another passion of his.




Summer is flying by, our days are full (my blogging time is very little), but we are still finding time to relax and enjoy each other.  We have found time to hang together, see a few movies, hit the pool, the lake and spend time with friends.  I am looking forward to filling the next 6 weeks with more ~ more fun, more sports, more family and friend time and more relaxation.



Friday, June 27, 2014

On my phone

I don't use the camera on my phone very often, but the other day I shot a short video of Sassy pitching in one her games.  When I went through my camera roll the following day, I found some fun videos and pictures that will give you a small snapshot of what our summer has looked like so far:

A couple of Princesses feeding the ducks in our backyard:


Someone got their ears pierced!  


A morning at the cages


A eery quiet took over the house and I looked down from the landing to spy these three ~ each playing on a separate device,
but linked up to the same game


They snuck off with my phone and took some selfies



And we've been attending lots of softball and baseball games for the kiddos.  It is so fun to watch both Sassy and Action play.  Here is a snippet of Sassy pitching:



Oh and lets not forget this beauty ~ Smiley taking a singing selfie during one of Sassy's softball tournaments.  I had no idea she had created this masterpiece until I found it on my phone!  Enjoy her little Frozen medley.....