Saturday, March 29, 2008

My Year In Soup-Week 13

I had never heard of fideo until I moved to San Antonio-I loved it! Being a soup person, I tried "Fideo Soup" at a local Mexican restaurant and enjoyed that too! I was thrilled when a version of the recipe was posted in the newspaper a while back and had saved it to make.

Macaroni Soup (Fideo Soup)

Source: San Antonio Express-News
Makes 6 servings.
Approximate nutritional values per serving: 130 calories, 3 g protein, 13 g carbohydrate, 7 g fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 320 mg sodium.

• 4 slices bacon
• 3/4 cup fideo noodles OR dry macaroni
• 1 clove garlic, finely minced
• 1/4 cup minced onion
• 2 1/2 cups chicken broth (OR, substitute or vegetable broth or water)
• 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
• 1/4 teaspoon crumbled, dried Mexican oregano

• Cotija cheese OR parmesan
• Chopped cilantro

1. Fry bacon in heavy-bottomed saucepan until it is crisp. Drain on paper towels and pour off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat.
2. Pour macaroni (or fideo/vermicelli) into pot and turn heat down to medium. Fry macaroni, stirring it, until most of the pieces have turned to a light color (all of them don't need to change color).

3. Add garlic and onion and cook about a minute longer, stirring. Add water or broth, tomato sauce and oregano. Stir and let soup come to a simmer, cover and turn the heat down so it won't boil over. Simmer until macaroni is tender.

4. When macaroni is tender, chop bacon and add to pot.

5. For Optional Garnishes: Add cheese and/or cilantro to each serving, as desired.

My notes:
  • Mmmmmmmm. This was such a good and filling soup for lunch!
  • I did note that the soup was pretty generic until I added the bacon-wow! It REALLY added flavor.
  • The cotija cheese was new to me and I really liked it! It is on the salty side though, so between that, the canned chicken broth and the bacon, I completely omitted the salt from this recipe.
  • I'm a cilantro person and to me, it really pulled all the flavors together and made the soup taste great!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New Products

Not much to write about on the knitting front so I thought I'd do a post about some new products I've recently come across.

I'm such a sucker to try new and different things. First, we have some cucumber lemonade. It's a dry mix (like Country Time) you just add 2 quarts of water. To me it tasted like a tangy lemonade-very refreshing! I'd remember hearing about adding cucumbers to water for a refreshing drink so I figured it couldn't be all that bad-and it wasn't! I was surprised to see how many recipes I found when I googled, "cucumber lemonade." I didn't realize it was so popular.

Next is a package of Wildly Cherry M & M's I saw while buying some Easter candy. They weren't too bad either. Like a small, crunchy Cherry Tootsie Pop. I also spied some Snickers Charged candy bars on the same trip. Snickers Charged has 60 milligrams of caffeine, taurine and other B vitamins. Eat that with a Red Bull and imagine all the energy you'd have! It tasted "ok" but there was a bit of an aftertaste. I do have to say I did feel a bit more energetic after having a bar (even more so that the usual sugar high-but not overly jittery or anything).

I probably wouldn't go out of my way to buy these again, but they were definitely worth the original purchase, just for something different!

Another, "new to me" product is this P e d E g g. I've read some good things about it and figured I'd give it a go. I haven't tried it yet, but would love to hear about anyone else's experience with it.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

My Year In Soup-Week 12

I was trying to decide which soup to make for this week, and then realized I'd have some ham leftovers, and decided to use that as the focus for the soup. I just did a Google search for an easy recipe and this is the result-it also helped I had everything on hand, including some potatoes that needed to be used up. Here is the original recipe. My version is for half the amount with a few additional alterations. This is an easy recipe to add more or less of any of the ingredients to your taste. I doubled the ham and cheese myself.

Chunky Potato and Ham Soup

Serves: 2-3


1 1/2 medium red potatoes, peeled, cut in small cubes
2+ cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
ground black pepper
2 cups milk ( I used 1 cup 1% milk and 1 cup fat free half & half-just because that's what I had on hand)
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese ( I used a white cheddar)
1 cup cubed cooked ham
pepper to taste

1. Bring water and 1/4 teaspoon salt to a boil; add potatoes and cook until tender-these cooked pretty fast. Drain; reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid.
2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat (I used the same pan I cooked the potatoes in). Sauté chopped onion in the hot butter until tender.

3. Add flour to butter and onion mixture; stir until smooth. Season with a little pepper; continue to cook and stir for 1 minute.

4. Gradually add potatoes, reserved 1/2 cup of cooking liquid, and milk. Stir well; add cheese and ham.

5. Simmer potato ham soup over low heat, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes (I couldn't wait that long, it was sooo good!)

6. Garnish with something green (I used some parsley) and a hunk of good bread to dunk in it. Yum!!!!
This was really good! It went great with the cool/windy weather we're having and can hardly wait to eat some for lunch tomorrow!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Eye Candy Friday

Yesterday I picked up some Gerbera Daisies from a nearby nursery. LOVE the colors! The vivid hues would make for a bright and beautiful sock yarn.

What would Eye Candy Friday be without some actual candy?
Here we have my all-time favorite candy for this time of year-Cadbury mini-eggs!

Speaking of candy...

You Are a Bunny Pop

It takes a whole lot more than three licks to get to your center. You cheeky bunny!

Check back Sunday evening for a soup using up some ham leftovers.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

17 Fish Left!!!

I started knitting fish again last week, not really knowing how many I had left. Today I hauled out all the fish and decided to do a count. I was shocked to see I only have 17 ( of the 160) left to knit (10 blue, 7 purple). The end is in sight!!!!!

Here's what the blanket looked like when I had 33 left ( I wasn't about to take the time to lay it out again).

There are two flowers I miss the most from Minnesota, hydrangas and lilacs.

I went to Sam's today and melted when I saw these hydrangas. I couldn't help myself and bought three plants and am not sure how to take care of them-they didn't come with any instructions. I'm planning on heading to a nearby nursery tomorrow and also do some internet research, but was wondering if anyone has had any luck with them in Texas? Wish me luck!!

Another awesome thing that happened fairly recently was that I won Amanda's yarn naming contest for her Etsy store. I bring you, Aurora Borealis. I can hardly wait to knit it into socks-just need to decide on the pattern.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

My Year In Soup-Week 11

This week's soup is a lighter/healthier soup. I checked out a bunch of recipe books featuring soups from the library and stumbled across this week's soup, Celery and Tomato Soup Aurore. Being a huge fan of celery, I thought it would be worth a try. Aurore, I learned, is a term associated with sauces that have tomato puree or concasse (chopped veggies) added to it.

Before I begin, I have to give a "shout out" to being able to buy in bulk. Check out how much I paid for the celery seed in this recipe:
4 cents!!! And I bought way more than I needed. It is so nice to just buy the amounts needed for herbs and spices not often used.

Celery and Tomato Soup Aurore

Source: The Dairy Hollow House Soup & Bread: A Country Inn Cookbook
Serves: 2 -3
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes

Pam Cooking Spray
1 tablespoon of butter
1/2 large onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 bunch celery, washed well and coarsely chopped
leaves from 1/2 bunch celery, chopped
1 ripe tomato, coarsely chopped
1 tart apple, unpeeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
2-3 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons brandy
2 teaspoons honey
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 1/2 tablespoon water

Sour cream, yogurt; or Creme Fraiche (optional)
sprigs of celery leaf for garnish

1. Spray a heavy 10 inch skillet with Pam, and in it melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add the celery seeds and celery leaves and stir fry just until coated with butter (about 1 minute). Add the tomatoes and apples and raise the heat slightly, cooking and stirring until the tomatoes have begun to give up their juice, about 5 minutes.

2. Spray a large heavy enameled pot with Pam and transfer the saute to it. Add the chicken stock, brandy, and honey. Deglaze the skillet with a little stock, and scrape the pan contents into the pot. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat to medium-low, and let simmer, covered until the vegetables are quie soft, about 30 minutes. Let the soup cool slightly, then drain, reserving both the solids and the liquids.

3. Put the solids in a food processor and puree, then strain the puree. Return this very smooth puree to the strained liquid, and reheat to a neat boil. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

4. Combine the cornstarch with the water, smashing the mixture with your fingers until it's absolutely smooth. Ladle a bit of the hot soup into the cornstarch paste, whisk, the whisk the mixture into the hout soup. Cook, stirring constantly, until the soup is slightly thickened and all the raw cornstarch flavor is gone. If the soup is very hot, thickeneing may take place almost instantly; otherwise, it will take 2 to 3 minutes.

5. Serve immediately garnished with sour cream and a sprig of celery leaf.

My Notes:
  • I wrote the recipe as it was stated in the book, (although halved the ingredients) but I strayed a bit while making it. I did everything in one pot and didn't use the separate skillet for sauteing. I also didn't think my tomatoes were tomato-ey enough and added some tomato paste which I think caused it to be more red in color than it was suppose to.
  • When it came to the straining part, I just used my immersion blender and blended the soup in the pot and then strained the solids out using a fine-mesh strainer.
  • My opinion? hmmmm....It seemed like a lot of work for a soup like this. It was good and I ate all of it. I also enjoyed the healthy aspect to it. It's a a great way to feel full with few calories/fat. Pair a cup of this soup with a sandwich and you'll get a lot of bang for your buck calorie/fat wise.
  • If I were to make it again, I'd try this less fussy version I found online.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cleansing the Palate

After 3 months of projects using size 2 dpns, I felt it was time for a change. Out came my fish with their size 8 straights. What a difference!! Yes, I'm back on the fish. At this point, I'm just dabbling and really need to re-assess where I'm at with my goal of 160.

Check out the wine I stumbled across at a local T a r g e t best served while knitting: Barking Sheep Wine.

It really is pretty good and I love the label!

Some other new discoveries:

To me it tastes like the liquid version of a cherry tootsie pop. I guess if I wanted that taste, I'd go ahead and have the tootsie pop. A friend from work thought it tasted like cherry cough syrup, but another absolutely loves it! So if it sounds like that flavor is up your alley, go for it-I'll pass though.

Another new discovery I made the other day was this:
My usual S.B. order is a n/f caramel macchiato but at the suggestion of the barista tried an "upside down" version and LOVED IT!!!! I didn't know such a thing even existed and will try the iced version one of these days too.

Speaking of S.B., am I the only one who has an "in town" S.B. name and "Out of Town" S.B. name? My in town name is my own name, but when I'm out of town (or not in my general area), my alter ego is "Ally" or whatever other name pops out of my mouth at the time. I'll do this when leaving a name while waiting for a table at a restaurant too. It's goofy but oh so fun-try it!!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

My Year in Soup-Week 10

This week's soup was made by DH so you know what that means.
Guy + soup = Chili!

DH made this batch of chili a few days ago and even though he was kind enough to take some photos, it just didn't look all that appetizing while cooking. Everytime I asked him how he made it, I was told a different version (but I think I pretty much got it down) and I questioned the cooking process (good thing I wasn't around at the time); but all I know is that the end result is amazing and he always gets rave reviews.
Soooo here it goes:


1 pkg of Carroll Shelby's Chili Kit
8 ounce can of tomato sauce
1 pound "chili " meat-coarse ground beef
1 pound finely chopped "stew" meat
1/2 chopped onion (or more to taste)
2 large cloves garlic, minced (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons ground cumin (or more to taste)
Toppings of choice: sour cream, cheddar cheese, fritos, etc.


1. Saute onion and garlic in a little bit of olive oil until onions are transluscent.

2. Add both meats and brown.

3. Once meats are browned, add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Place lid on pot, turn heat down to low and simmer about an hour.

4. Add 2 tsp. cumin, stir and simmer another hour.

5. Add chili mix, 8 ounce can of tomato sauce and 1 cup of water. Stir and simmer about another 30 minutes until it gets to desired consistency.

6. Place in a bowl and add your favorite toppings (s. cream, cheese, etc).

That's it-No beans! Nothing fancy!!

The best thing about his chili is that it can be morphed into so many other things like:

Chili dogs!

Chili Enchiladas!

A friend of mine from work suggested chili and eggs. I thought she was crazy until I was told its a favorite dish at a local restaurant so I tried that too.

It tasted "ok." Not my favorite way to eat chili though.

The best new tip I read about was to add a little bit of pickle juice (or vinegar) to your bowl right before serving and it really jazzed it up! From now on, I'll always top my bowl with a little of the sour stuff.

What's your favorite way to eat chili?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Spring's A Comin'

Spring is definitely on its way-although we've had a few chilly days recently. Check out the tree buds from a week and a half ago:
Now look at them:

Flowers are a bloomin too:
There's nothing like coming home to the scent of Carolina Jasmine wafting in the air.

I guess it's a good thing I finally finished these:
I was hoping to finish them before it hit 90 degrees. No such luck as it got up to 92 last week but our cold spell in the last few days gave me the motivation I needed to finish.

Pattern: "Mittens" by Claire Wilson as published in The Green Mountain Spinnery Book

Yarn: Green Mountain Spinnery Mountain Mohair-AlpenGlo-
30% Mohair/70% Wool
Worsted Weight

Needles: US size 2 dpns
Notes: Your basic "run of the mill" mitten. I spit-spliced for the first time!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Easiest Soup Ever

For my 9th soup entry, I bring you the easiest and fastest soup I've made to date-Cream of Potato soup. Just in case I have some new readers who are wondering what the deal is with the soup, I decided to make a different kind of soup every week for a year (an odd resolution, I know).

This recipe came from a friend of mine and is wonderful in that as long as you have the can(s) of soup, most everything else should already be in the fridge. It can be made into as much or as little as you need (one can makes enough for 2-3 servings) and can also be done in the crockpot.

Cream of Potato Soup
  • 1 can of Cream of Potato Soup
  • 1 can milk
  • butter
  • veggies of choice-amounts to your taste
I used:
    • celery (chopped)
    • onion (chopped)
    • carrots (shredded or chopped)
    • garlic (minced)
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • toppings (bacon, chives, etc)
1. Saute vegetables in butter until soft.

2. Add Cream of Potato Soup and milk-add an almost full soup can of milk for each can of soup.

3. Heat.

4. Add shredded cheese. Stir until melted and to desired temperature.

5. Ladle into bowls and add baked potato type topping-I added some bacon bits(the precooked ones) and chives.

That's it! It tastes wonderful and is perfect when you want comfort food fast!