Monday, September 16, 2013

This Is Not About Soup

I have been nice.  I have been patient.  And I'm done.

My husband and I moved to Lancaster, PA almost four years ago.  Since then I have spent much of my time pursuing people.  I have started small talk, extended coffee invitations, extended dinner invitations, offered help on numerous projects, tried to plan shopping trips, attended a few small groups; you name it, and I have probably tried it in the effort to make friends up here.  And after almost four years of people telling me to be patient or to try this-or-that, I am just tired and fed up.

I have put myself out there so many times I have lost count.  The number of times I have been rejected or brushed aside since we have been up here would be hard to count, as well.  Most of the time people just make excuse after excuse about why they can't come over for dinner, or can't meet me at Starbucks, but some have just completely ignored my invitations.  There have been a couple of people who would, to our surprise, accept our invitations!  We would get so excited.  And without fail, those people would cancel on us at the last minute.  Every.  Single.  Time.

A couple of years ago we even started a movie group as a way to get to know some couples that we had met here or there.  We had said movie group maybe 7 times and we ended up canceling 5 or 6 of those because no one showed up.  We are involved in a church, we have been involved in several different organizations, we have volunteered, we have talked to strangers, we have gone to meet ups.  So when I say that we have tried to make friends, you can take it to the bank.  Feeling isolated and lonely where we are has nothing to do with us not trying.

This past year I had to get honest with myself.  Maybe it's me.  Maybe I am just too much for people, or I drive them away.  Whatever it is, at some point you have to stop and ask yourself, "Can it really be everyone else?  I'm the common denominator here."  I also couldn't help thinking that maybe it is the difference between Northern and Southern culture (I'm still not convinced that this doesn't have something to do with it). So, imagine my surprise, and relief, when I started having conversations with other moms (mostly Southern ones) who have been having the same experience!

I just got off the phone with a stay-at-home-mom friend who lives a couple hundred miles away.  We were talking about something that I have talked to so many stay-at-home-moms about; WE ARE SO DAMN LONELY! (This is definitely not a problem that SAHMs alone deal with; I know many moms who work outside of the home and they are lonely, too.  In fact, my best friend is one of these, and we often talk about how lonely we are)  I cannot say that I am speaking for EVERY SAHM, but I think I can safely say that I am speaking for a large number of them when I say this: We love being able to stay home with our kiddos and serve our family, but goodness gracious!  We never knew how lonely it would be.

In this conversation and many others, my friend echoed everything I shared.  Since becoming moms our personal lives and identities have changed, of course, but so have our social lives.  It is definitely not as easy to hang out with us anymore.  We have constant little companions attached to our boobs or hips, and it is not easy or cheap to get a babysitter.  We have earlier bedtimes because our little ones are ready to play at 5:30 in the morning.  And we talk about our babies.. a lot.  They are our life.  We spend every waking moment with them, or cleaning up after them, or preparing for them when they wake up.  There isn't much else to talk about.  Of course, we wouldn't have it any other way, but our single friends, or our friends who haven't had kids yet, don't quite get this: Let me get this straight, not only are you going to bring your kid with you when we go shopping, but you want to talk about her, too!?!

I will admit, maybe we SAHMs need to learn to talk about something else.  We promise to work on that, and we really do want to know what is going on with you!  But maybe you could do us a favor, too.  Maybe you could make an effort to come see us, even if we have our kids with us.  And when you do, don't do it because you feel bad for us.  Do it because you love us and you want to see us and know what is going on in our lives.  We don't want to be your ministry; We want to be your friend.

Today, my friend said, "Don't get me wrong, I know that they have lives, but it would be so great if they made time for me now and then." But, we don't want you to just make time for us somewhere in your busy life;  we want to be PART OF YOUR LIFE.

And why the heck are you so busy anyways? A professor that I greatly respect once said to me, "You make time for what is important to you." I whole-heartedly agree.  If we are important to you, make time for us.  It doesn't feel good when your friend tries to squeeze you into their busy schedule.  It feels like we are a burden.

One more thing to think about:  We know that you meeting up with us was just a little part of your day, and you probably weren't that excited about it, but for us it was probably the biggest part of our day. And we have been looking forward to it.  ALL DAY LONG.

So, when you don't have time for us, or when you call to cancel, we may try to be gracious about it, but don't expect us to be ok with it or think that it is no big deal.  It is a very big deal to us, even if you think it is silly.  We forgive you, but it's not ok.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Cheddary Goodness

(and garlic cheddar biscuits)

My husband brought this book home a few years ago from Lowes and I haven't made much from it. No particular reason; it just slipped my mind. Anyways, a few days ago I pulled this little treasure out and found today's recipes. 


1/2 medium onion, chopped
5 tablespoons butter, divided, melted
1/4 c flour
2 c half and half
2 c chicken broth
8 oz broccoli, coarsely chopped
1 c shredded carrots
Salt and pepper to taste
2 c shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Sauté the onion in 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Set aside. 
2. Using a wire whisk, combine the remaining 4 tablespoons melted butter and the flour in a large pot over medium heat. Cook. Stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes. 
3. Slowly add the half-and-half; continue stirring. Add the chicken broth, whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes. 
4. Add the broccoli, carrots, and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender, about 20 minutes. 
5. Add salt and pepper to taste. 
6. By now the soup should be thickened. Pour, in batches, into a blender and purée (don't purée too much, though. You want some chunky pieces left over).
7. Return to pot and place over low heat. Add the grated cheese and stir well until blended. Stir in the nutmeg. 

The Verdict
  Other than cutting back on the carrots just a tad bit, because of an overpowering carrot taste, we had no complaints about this recipe. It was really yummy and was actually really close to Panera's.  

This recipe is also from the cookbook above, 
but I'm putting alternative directions, from a friend)
in parenthesis which are the ones that I followed. 

2 c biscuit mix
1/2 c shredded mild cheddar cheese (I used 1 c of cheese instead)
2/3 c milk
4 Tablespoons butter
1/4-1/2 garlic powder
Parsley flakes, for sprinkling 
(1/4 garlic salt (optional))

1. Preheat the oven to 450 F (alternative directions: I baked at 425 for a longer time because the biscuits were pretty thick) 
2. Stir together the biscuit mix, cheese, and milk (alternative directions: mix in garlic powder here, too) until a soft dough forms. Beat with a wooden spoon for about 30 seconds. 
3. Spoon into a greased cookie sheet (I just used a nonstick cookie sheet).  Smooth down  the tops to prevent hard points from forming. 
4. Bake for 8-10 minutes (12-15 min if following alternative directions) until the tops are brown. 
5.  While the biscuits are baking, melt the butter in a pan and stir in the garlic powder (if following alternative directions, you have already mixed the garlic powder into the dough, so you will stir in the garlic salt here instead). 
6. Once the biscuits are done, brush the butter on the tops, sprinkle with the parsley flakes, and serve hot (If following alternative directions, after putting butter mixture & parsley on biscuits, put back in the oven for 5 minutes).

Makes 10-12 biscuits, depending on size. 

The Verdict
  These were so very yummy. We will definitely be having them again. If you are going to eat this combination, though, we recommend taking a fiber supplement for dessert. :) 

I blog with BE Write

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Let's Be Honest & Cold Avocado Soup

 Let's Be Honest

  I'm not very consistent when it comes to writing.  I've started about 437 blogs only to stop blogging two weeks later. Sometimes I get discouraged that no one is reading, sometimes I feel like I have nothing to say, but mostly I'm just lazy and would much rather play Small World on my iPad than put time and energy into writing a blog entry. 

  So, here we are, 15 days into my soupy journey and I've only posted three recipes that we have tried. I am happy to say that I have definitely made more than three recipes, though, so yay me. Anyways, the next couple of days I will try to post the soup recipes that I have made over the last couple of weeks. In the meantime, Joseph and I will probably take a break from soup, because if I have ever souped myself out, it has been this month.  Yesterday we had Spaghetti Soup Surprise. The surprise was that it wasn't soup! It was quite a pleasant surprise, too! 

  So, stay tuned over the next couple of days for a wonderful Pumpkin soup and a tasty Crock Pot Chicken Noodle soup!!

  And because no blog post is complete without a picture, here is our precious little red-head eating avocado tonight. We'll call it cold avocado soup. Yeah, let's go with that. 

 No one pulls off an avocado mustache like her. :)

I blog with BE Write

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Creamy Chicken Tortilla

Total time 40 minutes
Yield 8 servings

3 T butter
1 tsp minced garlic
1 md onion, chopped to your liking 
2 T flour
42 oz chicken broth (I used chicken stock)
4 c half and half
(1) 10.75 oz can cream of chicken soup
1cup salsa (your choice on spicy-ness. I use Newman's Own Black Bean & Corn)
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, boiled, drained and shredded
(1) 15 oz can kidney beans, drained
(1) 15 oz can black beans, drained
(1) 15 oz can whole kernel corn, drained
2 tsp ground cumin
(1) 1.25 oz packet fajita seasoning
Bag of tortilla chips
(Shredded cheese and sour cream optional)

1. Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and onion, and sauté until softened. 
2.  Add flour and mix well, cooking for about another minute. 
3. Add broth, half and half, cream of chicken soup, salsa, chicken, beans, corn, cumin, and fajita seasoning. Stir together well and simmer on low to medium low heat for 15 minutes. 
4. Crumble the tortilla chips into individual bowls and top with soup. 
5. Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream 

  You know how the first thing you learn about reading a recipe is to read the recipe all the way through before you start to actually make the recipe? Yeah, well, I'm really bad at doing that, and it's gotten me into some trouble with more than a few recipes. I didn't read this whole recipe before I started making it, either, but thankfully it didn't mess me up too bad. But, I would recommend cooking your chicken BEFORE you start the rest of the recipe, or you'll have to take your onions off the heat and wait for your chicken to finish.  It's no biggie, but it is a pain in the rear. 
  I hope you'll forgive me, but I'm gonna plug Pampered Chef a couple of times in this post; not because I sell their stuff (I don't), but because I'm in love with some of their stuff.  Plug number one: the deep covered baker. 

  This baby sells for $85.00 and it's worth every penny (that's also really easy for me to say because we received it as a wedding gift).  You can cook a whole chicken in this (in the microwave!) in 30 minutes and cook several chicken breasts in 10 minutes. I love this especially in the summer when I don't want to heat up the entire house by turning in the stove. You might be skeptical hearing that you cook the chicken in microwave, thinking it would be dry and rubbery, but chicken cooked in the deep covered baker comes out extremely moist. When a recipe calls for boiled chicken I always use my baker.  It's so much easier and faster, and it doesn't make the whole house smell like boiled chicken.  

The juices in the baker are all from the chicken itself; I didn't add any water before cooking. 

Look how moist

   The second Pampered Chef plug for today is for their chopper. This thing is so easy to use and breaks apart for easy cleaning. I chopped all of the chicken below (3 breasts) in about a minute. 

  One change I made was using chicken stock instead of chicken broth. This is a substitution that is almost always safe to make and it's almost always a good one. Since I've been making a lot of soups lately, I have noticed a huge flavor difference when I use stock instead of broth. If you're looking for great flavor, do yourself a favor and use stock. 
  Just a couple more pieces of advice about this recipe. First, The directions say to cover the tortilla chips with the soup, but I recommend crumbling the tortilla chips up on top of the soup so they maintain some of their crunch. I think it's better that way.  And second, this recipe has a lot of sodium-laden ingredients so I recommend going with as many low sodium options as you can, especially if you are going to permanently add it to your recipe book. 

  We absolutely loved this soup! It was nice to have a soup with meat in it after several nights of veggie only soups. This was a very filling soup that was just loaded with yummy favors. We will definitely be adding this to our regular recipes!


I blog with BE Write

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Creamy Tomato Soup

Prep/Total Time 30 min
Serves 6-8

1 md onion, chopped
2 T butter
2 cans (14.5 oz ea) of diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (10.75 oz ea) condensed tomato soup, undiluted
1.5 c milk
1 tsp sugar 
1/2 to 1 tsp dried basil
1/2 to 1 tsp paprika
1/8 to 1/4 garlic powder
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, cubed
*I also added about 2 cups of shredded cheese. 

1) In a large saucepan saute onion in butter until tender.  Stir in tomatoes, soup, milk, sugar, basil, paprika, and garlic powder

2)Bring to boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  Stir in cream cheese until melted (This is when you'd also stir in the shredded cheese). Serve immediately.  
*I actually tasted it at this point and decided to let it simmer a while longer, which was a good idea.  It tasted better after the flavors had more time to blend.  

We thought croutons went great with this soup!
Neither one of us are big tomato soup fans to begin with.  The only tomato soup that I actually really like is Isaac's Pepperjack tomato soup and this recipe seemed like a pretty good shot at something similar.  I also really liked the simplicity of this recipe.  It's quick, inexpensive, and most of the ingredients are things that I generally have on hand.  

As far as tomato soups go, this one was pretty good.  It's definitely better than a plain old tomato soup that you would get out of a can, and if you really like tomato soup, I think you're gonna love this one.  Since we don't really like tomato soup to begin with, this wasn't our favorite soup ever, but that's not the recipe's fault.  It isn't a very hearty soup; I was full after one bowl but hungry again a couple of hours later.  I probably won't add this to our usual recipes, but I might make it next time we're craving grilled cheese sandwiches.  Also, next time I make it I will probably use pepperjack cheese instead of regular cheddar shredded cheese for some added spice. 

Let us know what you think if you try this soup!

You can find the original recipe here:

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Black Bean Pumpkin Soup

Ready in 45 minutes
Makes 9 cups

3 (15 oz) cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (16 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/4 c butter
1 1/4 c chopped onion (Since I don't reuse onions and I don't want to waste it, I just used an entire large onion)
4 cloves, garlic, chopped (I used 2 tsp minced garlic, because it's what we had)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 c beef broth (I might try beef stock next time for an even savorier soup)
1 (15 oz) pumpkin puree (make sure it's not pumpkin pie filling, but pure pumpkin)
1/2 lb cubed cooked ham 
3 T sherry vinegar (I used 2T balsamic vinegar because, again, it's what we had)
*I also added a can of corn

1. Puree 2 cans of the black beans and the can of tomatoes until smooth.  Set aside. 
Kinda gross looking, I know, but it doesn't taste gross!

2. Melt butter in soup pot over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic, salt and pepper.  Cook and stir until onion is soft.
This is what melted butter looks like. :)

3.  Stir in the bean puree, remaining can of beans, beef broth, pumpkin puree, and sherry vinegar.  Mix until well blended, then simmer for about 25 minutes or until thick enough to coat the back of a metal spoon (mine never reached this consistency even though I simmered for about 10 minutes longer).

4. Stir in the ham, and heat thoroughly.  

5. I served it with sour cream.

It's not a pretty soup, that's for sure, but it sure is tasty! 

We both really liked this soup.  It was easy to make and was very tasty.  Neither of us really tasted the pumpkin, but we liked it nonetheless. It was very savory and the sour cream really complimented this dish well.  It's a hearty soup, but not too heavy.  Joseph said he really liked the onions in it.  I think that a number of other vegetables would have gone great in the soup as well.  We hope you enjoy it!  We sure did!

You can find the original recipe here:

And, as a bonus, a picture of my other loves: my husband and baby. 

Let us know if you try this soup!  What did you like? What didn't you like?  What did you change? 

A Soup A Day.. Mostly

Growing up I hated soup.  I don't know if it is because my mother only made the out-of-the-can crap, or my taste buds just weren't ready for them, but I hated them.  In fact, I hated them until just a few years ago, and even then I was extremely picky with what I ate.  Then, my husband brought me to a local restaurant called John J. Jeffries (Check out their page here ).  If you live in Lancaster, Pa and you have never been here, believe me, you are missing out!  John J. Jeffries buys all of their ingredients locally and base their menu selections around what is in season.  Everything that I have tried there has been to die for.  And while it's true that they are a bit on the expensive side, it's also true that you don't have to spend an arm and a leg to have a delicious meal.

For instance, and this is how John J. Jeffries relates to this post and this blog, I often will split an appetizer with the hubby and savor a nice bowl of soup for my meal.  In fact, John J. Jeffries might be to blame for my new found love of soup.  They just happened to be serving a delicious pumpkin bisque the day that Joseph (my husband) and I dined there for my birthday, and anyone who knows me knows how much LOVE all things pumpkin.  So, I had to try it.  And I fell in love.  I don't know how, but I made that bowl of soup last the better part of an hour, savoring every sip.  The next time I went in they had a mushroom bisque and then a carrot soup.  I loved every soup I tried there, and it made me want to try more.  So I started ordering soup, bisque, or stew every where I went.  Butternut Squash soup at Rachel's Creperie (another must if you are ever in Lancaster), mushroom soup at the brewery, Pepperjack Tomato soup at Isaac's, well, you get the idea.  John J. Jeffries created a monster. 

In July, I gave birth to our beautiful baby girl, Story.  Here she is: 

I told you she was beautiful. 

Anyways, my sister-in-law brought us some Chicken Noodle soup to help out during that first week we were home.  Confession: I was not looking forward to it and I just pretended to be excited, but the truth is that I hated Chicken Noodle soup, or so I thought. We sat down for dinner that night.  I took a bite, and it was pretty tasty  it was so delicious!! It dawned on me that night that all of those delicious soups that I had been having out must have recipes and that I could make them myself!!! 

Which leads me to this blog.  January has always seemed like a boring month to me and Joseph.  It's after several months of exciting holidays, it's dreary and nothing really exciting happens.  And January is cold.  What better month to eat soup than January!? So, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to experiment with some soup recipes and make a project of it.  And that's why "January is for Soup."

I have some rules in my head as to what counts and what doesn't count as a soup, but I'm not gonna be too strict on myself since part of the purpose is to have fun with this.   And realistically, I won't be making a soup every day since we'll be eating leftovers sometimes, but when I do make a soup, I hope to post it on here with the recipe, some pictures, and our thoughts.  Enjoy!

Oh, if you want to submit a soup for consideration (yes, I did feel very pretentious typing that out) you can send it to .