Easy Homemade* Tomato Herb Soup

Easy Homemade* Tomato Herb Soup

I just got lost in Facebook for a whole episode of Doc McStuffins while our Littlest snuggled into a pile of blankets on the floor (I managed to jinx ourselves into sickness. I JUST thought to myself two days ago, “Wow. It’s already Halloween, and we haven’t had a bug yet this year. . . . Touché, mother nature, touché.)

This is why I stink at Facebook: basically, I fear it will suck my life away, so I avoid it like the plague – or, erm, a stomach bug.

But I love to hate Facebook so much that I joined Instagram too.

Just now.

Like minutes ago.

This makes no sense, you say?

Well, I’m not the spouse who went to med school folks.

I’m the spouse who went to art school; logic doesn’t always play a significant role in my actions.

So I’m there. On Instagram now.

I have no idea how to use it, which totally makes me feel like a wicked-old fart.

I see hashtags, but I thiiiiink the hashtags have more to do with being linked to Twitter.

Which, btw Twitter, watch out, bc #yourenext.

So – Instagrammy.

If you wish to join me there, you can find me here. (I believe so anyway, there’s no way I can confirm nor deny this currently. . . . If you try and fail, let me know. If you try and succeed, I’ll see you there.)

I’ve got one super awesome picture of a paper pumpkin up there. Mostly because I had no idea what else to post at the moment. It was sort of a tester.

“Testing, one, two, pumpkin. Testing, testing. . . . ”

So anyway.

Tomato soup.

It’s super easy – and I only * the ‘homemade’ part, because, well, we’re starting with tomatoes from a carton (and chicken broth from a can if you don’t have homemade stock on hand) instead of from the garden (or your own chicken), which means three things:

1. They’re tomatoes like these**, which means we’re dealing with nothing but tomatoes ⇒ *healthy!*Easy Homemade Tomato Herb Soup

2. Because they’re from a carton, there’s no need for all the steps that go into getting smooth tomato soup, it’s just smooth anyway. So, snip open a carton, and we’re good to go.

3. We can have this soup any time of year, summer or not, in a matter of minutes; so when it’s blustering snow outside and nothing sounds better than a steaming bowl of out-of-season-tomato soup and a grilled cheese? Looky here, folks. This recipe is your ticket.

***I harp on these tomatoes all the time. No, they’re not paying me (but they should), I just love them.

Easy Homemade* Tomato Herb Soup

Total Time: 30 minutes

This recipe originally came from my friend Meredith a few years ago. We've been eating it ever since, with just a few changes to lighten it up a little bit and adapt it to our family's preferences.

Ingredients

  • 2 (26 ounce) cartons Pomi Strained Tomatoes (Or something similar- just tomatoes, no sugar, salt, or preservatives)
  • 3 1/2 cups homemade chicken stock (or 2 14.5 ounce cans low sodium chicken broth)
  • 20 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • fresh chives, chopped, for garnish

Directions

Add tomatoes and broth to a large saucepan, stir, and bring to a boil. Recuce heat, cover and let simmer for 10 minutes. Add chopped basil and sugar. Stir. Reduce heat to low and stir in cream and butter. Cook until butter is melted. Top each serving with fresh chives.

Source

Sara|Home is Where The Cookies Are, via Meredith K.

http://www.wherethecookiesare.com/2014/10/30/easy-homemade-tomato-herb-soup/

Easy Little Zombie Ghost Craft

spooky zombie ghosts

Don’t be freaked out, now.

It’s only a little zombie ghost.

These have names, actually. Alvin is on the far left, Simon is that bean pole in the middle, and that thick boned little guy on the right is Theodore.

As a girl who’s got luke-warm emotions about Halloween in general, I must admit I’m somewhat of a sucker for cutesy pumpkins and pillowcase ghosts. AndLetsNotForgetTheCandy.

Remember how I said I love my kids’ teachers?

Alvin was the creation of my little guy under the direction of his second grade teacher, and he’s one of my most favorite ever decorations for the end of October.

When we made Simon and Theodore, it took us roughly 10.2 seconds once the jars were clean. And the project drained my pocket-book of around $13.50 ($6 for the tealights, $3.50 for the bandage (at Wal-Mart), and $3.00 for the googley eyes) and we have enough supplies left over to make at least 4 more chipmunks zombie ghosts (I’m just guessing a number here, because we still have leftover tealights, wrap, and oodles of googley eyes).

All it takes is this:

spooky zombie ghost suppliesI can neither confirm nor deny the effectiveness of the sports tape. We haven’t used it yet. I can confirm however, the effectiveness of pudgy little pre-school fingers organizing the supplies. They’re excellent for the job. Also excellent? Self adhering sports wrap. Life. Saver. Don’t skimp.

And the Wiggle Eyes . . . fun, yes. But not absolutely necessary. I say a good ‘ol pair of black construction paper lookin’ balls would do just swell here. Use a single hole punch to let the pupils’ glow come through.

So here’s the deal:

1. Clean your jar. We’ve got one spaghetti sauce jar, one olive jar, and one salsa jar.

Soak them in water for a few hours to wet the labels, then scrape them off. Wash ’em one last time to remove any residual goo. Let them dry completely.

2. This is going to be a tricky 4 seconds. Starting at the bottom edge of the side of the jar, start winding the self adhesive wrap around the jar and work your way to the top, layering the wrap slightly as you go. When you reach the top, snip it and stick it. Phew. Thank goodness that’s done.

3. Glue on your oculus of choice.

4. Insert tiny little battery operated tealight.

5. Watch your adorable little Zombie Chipmunks flicker in the night.

If they were real zombies? They might look creepier – like this:

spooky zombie ghosts

I just thought of something – these guys could star in “The Not Walking Dead”.

Get it? Because they don’t have legs. So they can’t walk. Plus, they’re not alive. Which, I guess technically, neither are zombies. But whatever. I’m confusing myself.

The kids nixed the creepy version though. They like these guys friendly and cute. Bonus if you spy them hanging out in broad daylight:

spooky zombie ghosts

Our Favorite Roast Chicken

Favorite Roast Chicken|Home Is Where The Cookies Are

Can we just agree that life always seems to come back around to being crazy?

Always.

Sometimes there is an ebb, sometimes a flow, but Crazy always makes his way back.

Sometimes we might be fooled into thinking if we can just get over the hump, all of a sudden we will be standing in the greener pasture, a fresh breeze will be blowing, our kids will be skipping gleefully through the wildflowers and maybe even holding hands – and our schools will initiate a no homework policy. Forever and ever, Amen.

Ahhh. If only. . . .

But then, the hump never comes, it just changes. And we go through the cycle again.

So, we’re in another cycle now, and I’m coming out of the kicking/screaming/crying about it phase, and going back into the embracing it/making it work phase, which means . . . planning ahead.

That’s where dinners make a huge difference.

That’s where roasting two chickens at once so you can have one today, leftovers tomorrow, and chicken soup, enchiladas, or chicken pesto pasta a few days down the road makes a mama happy.

And what do we all know? A happy mama makes a happy home.

I’m not going to get all wordsy at you right now.

Mostly because roast chicken doesn’t need to be a wordsy thing, (spell-check is also telling me that “wordsy” is not a word. Whatevs, “spell-check”) but also because there are ideas and inspirations percolating in my deep-heart, quiet places and I’m waiting for them to come full circle before I blab about them.

But the chicken. . . .

Favorite Roast Chicken|Home Is Where The Cookies Are

The basics for the recipe came from my sister – the method, the cooking time, the loose suggestions for brine and rub ingredients, and this is the combo we’ve been using since I first made it and my family practically cried out in unison, “Can you please only ever make this roast chicken?!”

This chick’s got everything a good chick should have – super moist savory meat, delightfully golden, flavor-packed, crispy skin, and an aroma that just plain says, “We’re home, and we’re cozy tonight”.

It’s a hands down favorite. It’s pretty. It’s delicious enough for company and easy enough (with planning ahead) to make on a school night, and certainly fancy enough for Sunday Supper. (And let us not forget – it makes great leftovers.) I have yet to truly mess it up – because even when I messed it up, it still got rave reviews. My mother-in-law even admitted to me that she’d entertained ideas of asking me to cook one ahead for her and she’d come pick it up.

She lives 60 miles away.

You might want to try it.

Our Favorite Roast Chicken

Prep Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Total Time: 5 hours, 45 minutes

Yield: 4-6

Our Favorite Roast Chicken

As my sister said, "This sounds complicated, but it's actually pretty easy. It's probably only 20 minutes of prep, total". It's true - you just need to think ahead a little. Be sure to allow time for the brining, anywhere from 4-24 hours, then allow a total of 2 hours for prepping, cooking, and resting the chicken before you carve it. (In the cooking times listed above, I've included the minimum brining time, the prep time, and I've added the resting time in with the cooking time, so when you're planning ahead you can make time for each step). Also, in this recipe, I've not specified a specific weight of bird. I find that they're all pretty average sized (I usually buy the Coleman Organic Whole Chickens from Costco), and as long as you are using a meat theremometer as your guide, the size doesn't matter so much.

Ingredients

  • 1 whole chicken, average sized (I like to do two at a time. if you're doing two, get them slightly smaller, so they can fit in the brine bowl together. Then increase brine ingredients by 1/2, and double the rub ingredients so you have enough for both birds.)
  • For the brine:
  • 2 cups of water (plus more later, and some ice)
  • 1/3 cup table salt
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 peeled and roughly chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • For the "rub":
  • 3 tablespoons butter, mostly melted (I use salted butter, and I find the herbs mix in best if it's not completely melted, but slightly drippy, and more like thick cream.)
  • 2 garlic cloves, preferably pressed, but finely minced would be ok too, or garlic powder would be ok in a pinch
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme (rubbed between palms)
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste ( I do about a half teaspoon)
  • 1/2 lemon

Directions

For the brine:

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of water and next 5 ingredients (through peppercorns). Bring to a boil.

While you're waiting for the brine to boil, get a large bowl (think mixing bowl or popcorn bowl) and fill it with about 6-8 cups of ice. (you can skip this step if you have time to allow your brine to cool to room temperature before submerging your chicken).

Once the brine boils, pour it over the ice and allow it to melt, then stir to mix well.

Prep the chicken by removing anything from the inside - gizzards, pouches, neck pieces, etc).

Put the chicken in the brine, breast down. If the chicken is not completely covered by the brine, add enough water to make it so. Cover, and refrigerate overnight if you have time. (If not, I've found 4-6 hours to be good too.)

When you're ready to cook the chicken, Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the chicken from the brine and rinse it with water. Pat it completely dry with paper towels (this makes for crispy skin). Place it on a roasting rack in a roasting pan, breast side up, and wings tucked back (if you want - I don't always do this).

For the rub:

Combine mostly melted butter, garlic, and spices (I usually just give it a quick stir with a fork).

Slowly pour the melted butter mixture over the chicken, using a rubber spatula or your fingers to rub evenly over the skin. Save a little for the bottom too, and if you have a little left over, drip it inside the cavity as well. Squeeze the half lemon inside the chicken cavity, and leave the squeezed half inside while roasting. At this point, if you like, you can tie the legs together with kitchen twin - or not. Either way works.

Place the chicken in the oven and cook at 500 degrees F for about 18 minutes. Then, turn the heat down to 400 degrees, or 350 if you have more time available. After 40 - 50 minutes, remove the chicken from the oven and, in the thickest part of the breast meat, test with a meat thermometer. The temperature must read 160 degrees before you can remove it for resting (as it rests, temperature will rise to a safe 170 degrees). If it's not at 160, pop it back in the oven and cook it a little longer. Once your thermometer reads 160, remove the chicken from the oven and tent it with foil for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, carve it, and eat!

Source

Sara, via her sister, Jill|Home is Where The Cookies Are

http://www.wherethecookiesare.com/2014/10/16/our-favorite-roast-chicken/

Another Man’s Treasure. . . .

Another man's treasure Collage 1 1000

So you might remember I got a bee in my bonnet and claimed all chill-like that I wanted to decorate.

Bees in my bonnet, indeed.

I went a little bit crazy-town.

I chanted to myself for three hours each morning, “You can’t ruin it if you don’t like it to begin with”, thank you, Nester.

That one statement led me to chop off 2 inches of the yoga pants I never wear because they are too long and then don them happily to the grocery store.

I went to Marshall’s and bought an autumn scented candle and – get this – burned it.

I let that warm little flame dance and twinkle, then I went and bought 5 more, I loved it so much.

I got so amped up about the whole decorating binge that I tucked a measuring tape into my purse and scoured the isles of home decorating stores for fabric and furniture pieces.

I actually found the perfect “piece”.

And then, I froze.

Because I realized something.

In order to decorate, one needs to pare down a bit (and paint, but that’s a whole separate issue. . . . )

Like totally declutter.

Which brings me to many things, but some of the many, are books.

I love books.

But if I’m serious about doing this thang – the sprucing up, decorating thang – then I best be clearing away some of the excess.

So, I’ve piled a stash of extras.

Actually, I’ve made two piles. One for charity, and one for friends – and by friends I mean you.

Is this weird? Tacky?

Maybe. But nothing’s ever really stopped me from being weird and tacky before. . . .

So this is the deal.

I’ve got some loot. It’s all still totally good, it’s just that I’ve got extra.

And who doesn’t like, good, free stuff? (Don’t tell me if you don’t.)

So I’m going to give some to you. It’ll be like web-shopping a yard sale, picking the thing you like, and having the seller tell you it’s free and she’ll send it to you, her treat. All you have to do is put your feet up and wait for the nice USPS worker to drop it on your porch.

I’m going to post a few things here and there. Odd ball bits and pieces, and you’re going to leave a comment in the Rafflecopter telling me which thing you’d like. The Rafflecopter will pick the winner, and I’ll send you your fave thing!

It’s that easy.

And we could do this for a while.

I’ve got lots of extras.

I’m sort of thinking that now and then I’ll might go Sesame Street on you all.

You know, four things, and one not like the other – just to keep it interesting.

Aaand, maybe not. That’s sort of sounds like a pain.

We’ll see.

The first weird and tacky giveaway starts today!

Next time, I’ll be back with food.

Thing no. 1:

Halloween books

Books for October – this creepy time of year. Scoob Doobs glows in the dark, and No More Monsters For Me was always one of my faves – just not one of my kids’. . . . All are in excellent condition. There might be a name inside one of the covers, but I’ll just block that out with sharpie if need be, and maybe add a little, “I Love You, Dear Reader, xoxo!!”

hemingwayI said to my dad one time that I thought he ought to stop reading such depressing literature, and then sent him a collection of Hemingway stories. Uhhhhh. . . . What?

If you’re into fancy things like classic authors, then you’ll enjoy this book way more than my dad. It’s in great condition too. You’d never know no-one ever read it.

Polo dress

Oh yessss. Time for baby prep. It’s a Ralph Lauren size 3/3T. My gal only wore it about 2 times because she’s more of a hippie than a jockey –  so it’s pretty much brand new. I didn’t iron for the picture (because I’m pretty much allergic to ironing), but I’d do it for you.

That’s all for now. I need to go dig through more closets.

Tell me what you want, and the Rafflecopter will tell me who to mail to. We’ll close this shindig on Friday, friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway