Soup Weather

Soup Weather

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetSo, apparently it has cooled off outside. I think the saying “bun in the oven” must have come about because you always feel like you’re living on the inside of a toasty oven even when the weather app on your phone says differently. Matt looked at the weather forecast a couple days ago and saw where the low is 34 degrees Saturday night. He then remarked that we were going to have to turn on the heat for the first time this fall. To which I shot him the look and he realized this was treacherous water he was heading into. Yes, I realize this means three people will be playing freeze out for the one hot, puffy, swollen person, but they can add layers. I can’t take anymore off. One, because it ain’t pretty and nobody wants to see that. Two, because it’s a struggle to get clothes on and off these days. So, they will wear parkas to bed, and I will sleep with my feet out from under the sheet.

But I will cook them yummy soup. That’s something, right? In the cooler months, we eat soup almost every day. My Le Creuset is my favorite thing in the kitchen this time of year, and I love knowing something yummy is bubbling under that bright red top.

A few of my favorite soups…

Ina Garten’s Roasted Potato & Leek Soup– If you’ve never cooked with leeks, you have to try them. They are in the onion family and add so much flavor. Also, the arugula is a must. It adds a peppery bite. And you will blend everything together so it’s smooth and creamy, so the kids won’t even know it’s in there. I always substitute buttermilk for the heavy cream and sour cream for the creme fraiche. This is Lydia’s all-time favorite soup, and I always think of Heather when I cook this one. Slice up some rosemary olive oil bread, put a slice of Brie on each piece of bread, and toast in the oven until the Brie gets all melty. Serve it with the soup. Delicious!

Ina Garten’s Roasted Tomato & Basil Soup– I learned the secret to roasting vegetables from hours spent watching The Barefoot Contessa on Food Network in college. (I’m quite the party girl, huh?!) This roasted tomato soup will make it next to impossible to ever eat the Campbell’s processed stuff again. We like it with ooey, gooey grilled cheese sandwiches.

Crock Pot Cream Cheese Chicken Chili– Someone was going for alliteration when she made that title, but this one is great and so easy. We especially love it for game day, and I always serve it over rice, usually with cilantro and lime. You can make your own Ranch seasoning and taco seasoning if you like to avoid preservatives. (Or buy them from Penzey’s which I just discovered and now love, love, love.)

Roasted Ham and Cheddar Soup– This is a new one for us, but I made it a few weeks ago, and it was a big hit. I add a ton more potatoes (like three pounds worth) and a couple extra carrots and celery, and I didn’t mess with the pretzel bowls. These are fun to serve with those little ham and cheese poppy seed sandwiches or just a loaf of bread for dunking. Who doesn’t like dunking bread?? (Update: I forgot to mention two things. First, since I add so many more potatoes I roast the veggies for the better part of an hour. Also, I use my immersion blender to make everything smooth before I add the cheese.)

I’m also going to confess that Matt and I have been making oven s’mores every single night while we watch Cutthroat Kitchen with Alton Brown on Netflix. Apparently, I’m adding on an extra layer for hibernation this winter. But I tell myself it’s because we like chubby babies.

Happy cooler weather! May your little goblins be full of treats and not tricks this weekend!

Anyone Else Ready For Fall?

Anyone Else Ready For Fall?

IMG_1825It’s the little things, y’all. It might be 100 degrees and I might be sweating my eyeballs out, but hints of fall are starting to peek out. Pumpkin-themed recipes are popping up on Pinterest, and today I found Honeycrisp Apple scented dish soap at Target. I am already planning a Saturday cooking spree so I can make big batches of roasted tomato and basil soup, verde chicken chili, and roasted potato and leek soup to stash in the freezer for after baby comes. I’ll never forget going over to my friend Heather’s house Labor Day weekend years ago. It was blistering hot outside, but she had her fall wreath hung and her pumpkin candle lit almost as if she were willing fall into existence. I’m taking her strategy this year. Next weekend, the pumpkin candles are coming out and pumpkin bread is going in the oven.

In the next three months, we will celebrate my 30th birthday, party it up s’mores style for Charlotte’s 2nd birthday, toast to nine years of marriage with my one and only, and welcome our third miracle into the world. So, yeah, you could say I’m more than a little excited about fall this year. Speaking of baby, we have done absolutely nothing for this sweet child (God bless third children) except choose a boy name and a girl name, and today I figured out a coming home outfit. The coming home outfit is a little trickier when you aren’t finding out the gender beforehand. With Lydia, we had two outfits and my sweet mother-in-law returned the boy one once we heard, “It’s a girl!” With Charlotte, I had a little white footie and the most adorable knit pumpkin hat. This morning, I found a little cream cable-knit playsuit on Zulily to go with the red and cream striped hat Lydia wore for Christmas pictures her first Christmas and a pair of cream booties a friend knitted that I found in our baby stuff. So, we might not have a car that holds three car seats yet, but at least baby has something to wear home! Priorities, right?!

The girls are as crazy and fun as ever. We are finishing up our second week of homeschool, and it’s been great so far. Lydia and I both love the Classical Conversations community we are a part of, and I can’t imagine doing this without others on the same journey. Charlotte is up to her usual antics, making us all laugh and wonder how we ever lived without her. She has a new fascination with elephants–Roll Tide–and loves sharing a room with her sister. Most nights when we go in to check on them, they are both asleep in Lydia’s bed–Lydia right up next to the edge about to fall off and Charlotte splayed out comfortably in the middle.

Matt and I are looking forward to a trip to Chattanooga in October to celebrate my 30th and our 9th anniversary. I’m hoping for gorgeous leaves and crisp temperatures! If you have any food or excursion recommendations, please share. Heather has already told me The Bread Basket is a must! And, of course, Alabama football starts in nine days, which means my blood pressure for the next four months will be a bit higher than normal and Papaw’s houndstooth hat will resume its Saturday location on the mantel.

So, it might be scorching hot outside, but this girl is dreaming of pumpkin spice lattes and honeycrisp apples, fuzzy socks and tiny knit booties, and all the excitement this fall holds.



Fall & Struggle

Fall & Struggle

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetWinter is the wait, the quiet, the dormant.

Spring is the invitation, the flirting, the promise.

Summer is the party, the lively, the verdant.

And fall… fall is the grand finale, the last hurrah, the goodbye kiss.

Fall is the brunch before you say goodbye, everyone lingering over empty coffee mugs with heart overflowing, no one wanting to walk out the door and drive away. Fall is the gathering, the drawing close, the remembering. Fall is the whisper that winter is on the horizon, the subtle reminder of the wait ahead.

I’m not very good at waiting. I don’t mind waiting at a stoplight, and I’m usually the one being passed because I’m going under the speed limit, but in the big things I don’t like to wait. I get so frustrated with myself when I struggle with the same issue time and time again. This past weekend, I took a huge step forward in my struggle with perfectionism, a victory, a turning point. But last night something tiny, completely insignificant threatened to push me back. I have to remind myself that victory isn’t a destination. It’s a journey and there’s waiting on that journey. We cycle through seasons and we cycle through our faith journey. Spring, summer, fall, winter. Growth, abundance, harvest and wait.

I have wondered before why fall is deemed harvest time. The selection of veggies and produce seems much larger in the summer. But in summer we think the bounty will never end, and by fall we have come to grip with the reality that winter is coming. The wait is upon us. Fall is the time to prepare for the wait,  to remember the abundance and give thanks for the growth.

Last week, we had soup every night for dinner, roasted tomato basil and roasted potato leek. I lit my favorite Tyler candle, turned on Mumford and Sons (my hubby has made me a big fan) and chopped tomatoes and onions one night, potatoes and leeks another. I laid the vegetables out on the stone pan, liberally drizzled olive oil and scattered sea salt and fresh cracked pepper on top.

My answer to almost every veggie is to roast it. Tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts. If in doubt, turn your oven up high and roast it. The sizzling heat and long cook time bring out the intrinsic flavors of the vegetable, highlighting nuances that are lost when sauteing or boiling.

After the vegetables were roasted, skins bursting, I slid them into my Le Creuset, adding some chicken stock and pureeing all that goodness until it was creamy and smooth. I sliced fresh rosemary bread, piled creamy Brie on top and popped the pan in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese bubbled down the sides of the crusty bread.

As the leaves begin to change color and the air gets that perfect chill, I feel a little like those tomatoes and potatoes, cut open and exposed, vulnerable and ready to change. The transformation is slow and, at times, I feel the heat blasting away my insecurities and fears.  But somehow the heat doesn’t burn. Instead, God uses that heat, my struggles, to create in me the person He made me to be. There is certainly more waiting, more winter in the future. But, first is fall. A brilliant reminder to prepare my heart for the wait, remember the abundance and give thanks for my growth.