Monday, September 14, 2015

sausage + sweet potato soup

Who else is excited that the beloved soup weather is back!? I love it. Friday night we had some friends over for our first chili of the season! If you're looking for a good chili recipe, PW (Pioneer Woman) has a great one. I follow it almost exactly. Y'all know from pretty much any recipe I share, I can't follow a recipe exactly without adjusting for our tastes. Saturday we split the chili leftovers for lunch and then I made a pot of soup for supper because the weather was perfect for it!

Anytime I make a new recipe, I always ask Dustin, "Is it a keeper?" and he agreed that this is one to make again! When I was serving the soup, I tried to describe it to him as a close relative --maybe a soup sibling-- of Olive Garden's Zuppa Tuscana (as if soups have relatives!?) Several of the ingredients are the same but there's just enough changes that it has a different flavor, sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes & a tomatoey broth instead of a creamy broth. I was inspired by Martha Stewart's recipe but I did my own adjustments according to the reviews I read (always read recipe reviews!) and what we had on hand. No offense, Martha! Here's the recipe with my alterations.

Sausage + Sweet Potato Soup

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper
1 lb bulk mild Italian Sausage
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small can tomato paste
Italian seasoning (I eyeballed it, maybe almost a tablespoon?)
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (you could omit if you don't like extra heat)
A dash of ground nutmeg
4 cups unsalted beef broth
2 cups water
4 cups roughly chopped kale

In a large pot, saute onions in EVOO until tender. Add in sausage and cook until browned. Add in seasonings and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Stir tomato paste into the sausage and onion mixture. Let this cook together for a minute or two. Throw in potatoes and cover with the broth and water. Bring to a boil for about 10 minutes. After about 10 minutes test a potato for tenderness. At this point mine needed just few minutes longer (probably about 4) so I went ahead and added the kale for it to wilt. Taste for seasonings and enjoy!

I love the flavors of this soup! It's a little spicy from the sausage and red pepper flakes, a little sweet from the sweet potatoes and tomato paste. It's also very hearty & filling! The colors are very fall-ish, too! Deep red from the broth, green from the kale, bright orange from the sweet potato. Oh and let's not forget about the nutrition! Good protein from the sausage, a nice serving of carbohydrate and Vitamin A from the sweet potatoes, Vitamin A, K, and C from the kale. I contemplated adding a can of cannellini beans but didn't. I might next time!

Let me know if you give this recipe a try and what you think of it!

Monday, September 07, 2015

7 on the 7th: september smorgasbord

It's September! The month I let go of summer and welcome fall and all things pumpkin with open arms! I can't help but feel a tiny bit bad for summer as I usually neglect the last few days of it. (Totally over the heat, though!) So to make up for it, I am picking back up with my tradition of sharing seven of my favorite things on the 7th of the month. Sometimes I try to have a theme for my 7 on the 7th. Today, it's a compilation of random things, or a smorgasbord of sorts. A little food, a few fun finds, all favorites.

1. Curried Chicken Salad with Cherries
Chicken salad can be complicated or simple. I think it only needs 4 main components: chicken, a nut, a fruit, and a dressing. I'm pro-fruit when it comes to chicken salad. I enjoy grapes, apples, and cranberries (individually) as add-ins. My new favorite is adding fresh cherries. Super simple "recipe": Chop up a couple of cooked chicken breasts. Add about a cup or so of halved, pitted cherries. Add an equal amount of chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, your choice!). Then combine with an easy dressing of mayonnaise with curry powder. Depending on how wet or dry you like your salad, you can add more or less mayo. The same goes for the curry. I am obsessed with curry so I add a good amount. No joke, at least once a week we have a dish with curry powder in it.

2. Tomato and Cucumber Salad
My MIL made this one day while she was keeping Charlotte. I fell in love! Another super simple summery snack. Dice up a tomato, a cucumber, an onion, and an avocado. Drizzle with EVOO & the juice of a lemon. Adjust the amounts of each ingredient to fit your taste. This is summer in a bowl to me! So easy. So tasty. So satisfying. I made some today for our Labor Day get together.

3. Crispy Roasted Okra
I've only had okra a couple of ways-- fried and pickled. I love both ways but thought that it would be a good experiment to roast it. I happen to live by the motto: when in doubt, roast it out. I've yet to have a veggie I didn't enjoy roasted. Try it for yourself! Chop up some okra into similarly sized pieces. Or you could probably leave it whole too. Drizzle with EVOO or melted coconut oil. Season liberally with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Then roast in a preheated 425* oven for about 20-30 minutes. If it isn't crispy enough, turn on the broiler for a minute or so but watch it so it doesn't burn. You're going for crunchy not charred to death. You also don't want mushy, which I make the mistake of doing sometimes. Even Dustin, who doesn't love vegetables as much as I do, enjoyed these!

4. This top from Target.
A nursing/pumping mama's dream. I bought it in two colors because I love it so much.

5. Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood.
I told myself when I was pregnant I wouldn't let our child watch television as a baby. Well I'm eating my words and telling the world wide web about it. Yes, I let Charlotte watch tv occasionally. No mom shaming allowed here, people. Charlotte coos and smiles so big when she sees the colorful characters on Daniel Tiger. The only downside, those catchy little songs they sing stick in your head forever. When you're sick, rest is best, rest is best! It's ok to feel sad sometimes, little by little, you'll feel better again!

6. Diffusing the Allergy Trio.
Lemon, Lavender, & Peppermint essential oils. Just a few drops of each & you'll have the room smelling lovely & the sniffles subsided. We have all had allergy issues in our home. Even poor Charlotte. I diffuse these nightly & throughout the day. With flu season around the corner, Thieves will soon be our go-to.

7. Pioneer Woman's new line at Walmart. 
Seriously. As if I didn't love her enough, she goes and creates this beautiful, affordable line for our kitchens. I love it all! I'm happy I walked away with one of her pretty plates to complete my gallery wall! I'll share pictures of it once I have them all placed.

What are some of your favorites lately? Happy Labor Day!

Sunday, September 06, 2015

teach them to your children.

Sometimes I get so excited thinking about all the things I can't wait for Charlotte to learn and for us to teach her.

I can't wait to teach her how to crack an egg or measure out sugar for a recipe.

I can't wait to show her how to use her crayons to create works of art on her coloring pages. (& hopefully not the walls!)

I can't wait for Dustin to teach her how to kick a soccer ball. (Y'all know I could show her the wrong way to do anything sports related. I'll stick to cheerleading!)

I look forward to her daddy teaching her gun safety, how to bait a hook, and all about the great outdoors.

I can't wait to see her peddling down the driveway as she learns how to ride a bike. I get teary eyed thinking about the day she drives away in a car!

I can't wait to teach her about the seasons, the weather, the stars and the moon.

I look forward to teaching her how to swim, tie her shoes, read a book, and write her name.

Oh the fun we will have learning how to garden, send notes in the mail, paint our nails, and take care of animals.

Of course we will need help along the way. No one can dance in our family like Aunt Micah. G-Dad (Dustin's dad) can fix pretty much anything. Aunt Jess has the best sense of style. I could go on and on. Little CC is surrounded with talented family and friends.

More than anything I've listed above, I pray we teach Charlotte the love of Christ and raise her according to His Word.

In the times we mess up, and we do that often, I pray we show her grace. In our words. In our actions. In our apologies. To her and to others.

Today is the baby dedication service at our church. In front of our families and friends we will vow to raise Charlotte according to scripture. What a privilege and responsibility it is to be her parents. Charlotte Lee, we love you more than words can say and our Heavenly Father loves you infinitely more than that.

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. 
{Deuteronomy 11:18-20}