Sunday, August 28, 2016

Sunday Soup--Sausage Tortellini Soup

This is what I made for my Sunday Soup.


The Handyman LOVED this soup.  I thought it pretty good too. I love spicy sausage in soup and since it didn't state spicy or mild, I, of course , went for the spice.
Spice is nice, as they say.

I'm never sure what to say about soup---soup by definition means great! 
Soup has all the best ingredients.  Soup is --- just good.
Who  doesn't like soup?  Homemade soup, that is.  It nourishes the soul....especially in the fall and winter.
Okay, sure, there is that random person out there who is totally weird, but they're rare, right?
I think people who say they don't like soup, just haven't  had the right soup. So, it is my goal to bring you the perfect soup.  How will I find the PERFECT soup?
By making every soup in my little soup notebook.
(I've been collecting for years)

Soup is just the perfect food in my humble opinion.  And I love to make them.
One pot wonders.

The broth for this soup is really dark , the beef broth plus the red wine  and tomato sauce made for a  really deep colored base.  I didn't use as much wine as the recipe called for, but it was still a deep, more burgundy colored stock than a tomato/reddish color). For some reason that threw me for a loop, but it was very tasty!!
Rounding out the pot with spicy sausage, cheese tortellini and Italian seasoning, made for a comforting meal in a pot. 

Grab your bowls and spoons!

Sausage Tortellini Soup

1 lb. Italian Sausage, casing removed
1 large onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, pressed
1  14oz cans beef broth
2 14oz cans diced tomatoes
1 15oz  can cannelloni beans
1 8oz can tomato sauce
1 cup dry red wine
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 T sugar
2 t Italian seasoning
2 small zucchini sliced*
1 9oz pkg refrigerated cheese tortellini

Brown the sausage with the onion and garlic in a skillet, stirring until crumbly; drain.  Stir in the beef broth, undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, wine, carrots, beans, sugar and Italian seasoning, bring to a boil. 
Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.   Skim off fat, stir in zucchini and tortellini. Simmer for 10 minutes longer.
Serve with a green salad and garlic cheese biscuits.

*I omitted the zucchini and threw in a handful of fresh spinach.

I'm going to link up with Weekend Cooking.
Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts!

And Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen!
Souper Sundays is a weekly blog event that started because of her love of soup and a desire to work through the many soup and soup-like recipes in cookbooks and magazines, Deb set a goal to make a soup or "soupish" dish each week and post it each Sunday and invited others to do the same.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Big Magic

A few months ago my friend Care was reading Big Magic and mentioned how much she loved it and maybe I would enjoy it.  I thought "eh...not a big fan of Elizabeth Gilbert, so I don't know. Not sure"  Then others chimed in that they loved it too---and well, I can't be left out of knowing what's going on--and they all seemed to be 'in the know' about Big Magic, so I decided to give it a listen.

Here is what I thought:
I LOVED it!!

I have no idea why I thought I wasn't a big Elizabeth Gilbert fan...the only other book I've read of hers was "Eat, Pray, Love" and while not a hater, I didn't love it.  I was probably  jealous, because, to be truthful, most of us cannot run off to Europe to find ourselves, we just have to struggle thru-- BUT that was her story, not mine, so why  ?? 
I'm still unsure of what I didn't like, but  ??
(I really loved the Eat part!)

Anyway... BIG MAGIC.
Usually, I tend to shy away from self-help books as I think they are condescending a lot of the time, but this was not. 
I'm not a good enough writer to explain all the feels  (this is a new trendy word, and I'll just have to say it--I feel silly writing it. HA!) --Feelings, all the feelings this book gave me.  I listened to this on Audio, and while I absolutely loved the sound and rhythm of Elizabeth Gilbert's voice (she narrated it herself),  I was sorry not to have a hard copy to make notes and underline important passages.
(my friends tried to tell me so--but I wouldn't listen)

I so appreciated Gilbert's viewpoint of creativity. 
I have never thought of myself as creative, but guess what?
I AM!!
Her essays, her thoughts, her reasoning are inspiring.  And comforting.  And uplifting.
And yes---DAMN--I wish I had a hardcover book to keep notes in.

There is just so much good stuff in this book!
I love thinking that ideas are their own entity looking for a home--and if it's not going to be with you, it will be with someone else.
Okay, that's horribly paraphrased (I don't have the book in front of me, remember?) But you can kind of get it, right?

I am a creative being.  And so are you.


From Goodreads:
Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

Friday, August 26, 2016

I Heart Cooking Clubs--Curtis Stone-What's for dinner? (and cookbook countdown #91)

Yes, I realize I'm like that weird uncle who shows up every 3 or 4 years with gifts--the kids love him, the adults tolerate him, because he's family, but pretty much a wacko on the run.

Okay, this might be a tad bit extreme, but what I'm trying to say is that while I show up to "I Heart Cooking Clubs" once or 2x a year with well meaning intentions of joining in from now on-- there is a dedicated group of ladies who are there every week!  Every time!  Every Chef!
I'm just here for a visit.
I cannot commit to every week, but I'm hoping for every other week, because
I really do
LOVE this group, this idea, this club!

This 6 month time periods's featured chef is Curtis Stone and I just happened to have a cookbook of his on my shelf, so why not join in?

Wait, wait wait! 
To understand the concept behind 
It's great, it's easy and it's fun!

This is my cookbook...

This is the assignment....

Yep--we will do just about anything to not be sweating in the kitchen any longer than we have to be this month, so this week's theme has us in-and-out quickly!

Here is what I made.....
Shrimp Rolls with Herb Aioli

The result?
They are perfect!
Perfect for a summer evening --a light dinner or lunch--not sweating in the kitchen--and oh-so-yummy!

Shrimp Rolls with Herb Aioli

1 1/4 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used salad shrimp)

1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 T finely chopped chives
3 T finely chopped scallions
2 t finely chopped fresh tarragon
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/8 t cayenne pepper

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 good-quality hot dog buns, preferably top split.
2 T unsalted butter or as needed
1 1/2 cups finely shredded iceberg lettuce
1 red chili pepper such as Fresno or jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped, for garnish.

Prepare the shrimp.  (cook in salted water until opaque, drain)
In a medium bowl whisk the mayonnaise, chives, scallions, tarragon, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic and cayenne pepper together.
Toss the chilled shrimp with the aioli to coat.  Season with salt and pepper.
Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Heat a large griddle. Open the buns and spread lightly inside and out with butter.  Grill buns on all the buttered sides, turning occasionally for about 2 minutes or until toasted and golden brown.
Fill the buns with lettuce and top with the shrimp salad. Sprinkle with the chopped chili and serve.

We really liked these simple shrimp rolls.

Since this is the first time I've used this cookbook  (I have many of these on my cookbook shelf)  I am counting this as  #91 in my personal cookbook countdown.
To see the rest of them---the other 90 I've cooked from-- click here.
Go ahead--check it out--you want to see my cookbook collection, right?
If I keep on buying new ones--this will keep me busy  for the rest of my life.
And Beyond!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Cookbook Countdown #90--The Pioneer Woman Cooks

My friend Louise hosted Cookbook Wednesday for years, but  she is not feeling so well, so it is suspended for now.
I am not taking up the weekly commitment,  I just have one of my cookbooks to 'count down' and I am going to do it on Wednesday and think of how great Louise's blog is and hope she is up to par soon!

The last time I shared a cookbook was in May!  I'll never get thru  all of my cookbooks at this speed!
This is number 90!
You can see them all so far if you click here.


I love the Pioneer Woman! 
Her recipes are the simplest, yummy and made with ingredients you are apt to have in  your pantry.
I have 4 of her cookbooks and I really like them all.  Today  I'm sharing from her first cookbook:

Paula Deen meets Erma Bombeck in The Pioneer Woman Cooks, Ree Drummond’s spirited, homespun cookbook. Drummond colorfully traces her transition from city life to ranch wife through recipes, photos, and pithy commentary based on her popular, award-winning blog, Confessions of a Pioneer Woman, and whips up delicious, satisfying meals for cowboys and cowgirls alike made from simple, widely available ingredients. The Pioneer Woman Cooks—and with these “Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl,” she pleases the palate and tickles the funny bone at the same time.

I made this yummy blackberry cobbler.  I'm never sure if cobbler is a dessert or a breakfast dish, but I served this one up with some vanilla ice-cream

I guess tho, however you eat it, whenever you eat it, is all okay.
It's served a bit warm so that the ice-cream will slowly melt down into the fruit and crust/cake.  Mmmmm---it's so good!

Blackberry Cobbler

The Pioneer Woman-Ree Drummond


  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 14 cups sugar
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 2 cups blackberries (frozen or fresh or your favorite fruit)


Melt butter in a microwaveable dish.   Pour 1 cup of sugar and flour into a mixing bowl, whisking in milk. Mix well. Then, pour in melted butter and whisk it all well together. Butter a baking dish OR spray with  a non stick spray like Pam.

Now rinse and pat dry the blackberries, .). (Or your favorite fruit) Pour the batter into the buttered baking dish. Sprinkle blackberries over the top of the batter; distributing evenly. Sprinkle 1/4 cup  sugar over the top.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until golden brown and bubbly. If you desire, sprinkle an additional teaspoon of sugar over the cobbler 10 minutes before it's done.

Let cool slightly and serve warm. Or dig in with a fork if you can't wait, but make sure you have some vanilla ice cream and whip cream to put this cobbler over the edge! 

Mine didn't come out with as much crust as Ree's did.  I SWEAR it's because we live over 4000 ft over sea level.  There really is truth to making that baking adjustment people!

Would I recommend this cookbook?
More than this yummy cobbler, it's filled with real food that's really good!  And simple to make.
Her BBQ Jalapeno Poppers?   To die for!
Her cinnamon rolls?  OMG!
And her Migas?  I have no words!

So, yes, I have tried more than one recipe from this book and I would say it's worth your money.
I only have one little problem---
She has a recipe she calls "Egg-in-the-Hole"
(where you crack an egg in the middle of a piece of toast and fry them up)
Well, everyone knows that those are called
Or is that just my Nevada-ness coming out?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Dimestore-A Writer's Life by Lee Smith

From Goodreads:
For the inimitable Lee Smith, place is paramount. For forty-five years, her fiction has lived and breathed with the rhythms and people of the Appalachian South. But never before has she written her own story.

Set deep in the mountains of Virginia, the Grundy of Lee Smith’s youth was a place of coal miners, tent revivals, mountain music, drive-in theaters, and her daddy’s dimestore. It was in that dimestore--listening to customers and inventing adventures for the store’s dolls--that she became a storyteller. Even when she was sent off to college to earn some “culture,” she understood that perhaps the richest culture she might ever know was the one she was driving away from--and it’s a place that she never left behind .
Dimestore’s fifteen essays are crushingly honest, wise and perceptive, and superbly entertaining. Smith has created both a moving personal portrait and a testament to embracing one’s heritage. It’s also an inspiring story of the birth of a writer and a poignant look at a way of life that has all but vanished.

From Me:
So many great quotes!
Memoirs always resonate with me.  I always feel that I have lived that life too. Is that a sign of a good writer or that I'm just nostalgic?  I mean every memoir I've ever written can't be great, can it?  But they pull me in.
I write letters.  Old fashioned letters that you put a stamp on and stick in a box at the post office and then a few days later they arrive in another box in front of someone's house clear across the United States,  which is a form of memoir kind of.  Maybe that's why I love them so much---I like people's stories.

I got totally off track---so many great quotes in this book!  I thought I'd share a few and went to get my book, which I thought I had bookmarked, but wait!  There is NOTHING marked. 
No little pieces of paper sticking out, no paper clip in a certain spot, no gum wrapper marking something important.

Hmmmm.   I'm going to blame it on my grandchildren.

I've never read a novel by Lee Smith, but I love her life story.
It's moving and deep---it says so on the cover!  And I know this to be true, because I read the book.

To conclude:
Great memoir about a southern childhood and a town and place she loved, which is no longer.
If you like memoirs, I think you'll liken this.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Sunday Soup

I can feel fall in the air.
For a moment in the morning when we walk, and sometimes for a moment in the evening when the sun is setting just a tad bit earlier than it was.

Okay, who am I kidding, it was 97 yesterday, BUT I can feel a yearning for fall, so.......soup, right?
It's almost soup weather!
I love to make soup.

I spent yesterday afternoon making soup (and pie, but that's a story for another time)

I'm not exactly on a quest to find the perfect Tortilla Soup recipe like Heather, but it's been a lot of fun over the past few years making different ones and seeing what I like best.
My sister-in-law, Meghan gave me this recipe years ago, and I am embarrassed to say that I had never made it before. Silly me.  It's so good. 
It also filled my house with THE BEST aroma ever!

I always thought I liked a creamy tortilla soup the best, but this clear brothy one (yes, brothy is a word) is so, so good!  Because you add sliced jalapenos, there is a hint of  chili flavor throughout, but it's not terribly hot. Believe me, I couldn't take it if it were just HOT--there was just a hint of that jalapeno in the broth, and it was Delicious!
It's a simple soup too--only a few ingredients, but put together they are perfect!

This is my 7th different Tortilla Soup (you can see all of them here) and I would have a hard time picking my favorite, but this one is right there on the top!

Hatch chilies are available in the stores right now and the Handyman LOVES to roast his own, so we also roasted up some Hatch chilies and had a chicken taco on the side to go with the soup.
Kind of hard to tell, but there really was some chicken in that tortilla.

The Handyman even grilled his tortillas.
Which is how I like them---with little grill marks.

I am going to link up with Weekend Cooking.
Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts!

And Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen!
Souper Sundays is a weekly blog event that started because of her love of soup and a desire to work through the many soup and soup-like recipes in cookbooks and magazines, Deb set a goal to make a soup or "soupish" dish each week and post it each Sunday and invited others to do the same.

In case you can't read the recipe from that photo:

Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup
Meghan  Stone

Corn tortillas
2 (32oz) boxes or cans of low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups shredded, cooked chicken
1 large red onion,chopped
2 large tomatoes, diced
2 medium jalapenos, sliced
1 lime juiced
2 cups corn
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1 ripe avocado, peeled and cubed
8oz, crumbled feta, queso fresco or sour cream

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cut tortillas into 1/2 inch thick strips and arrange them on a cookie sheet in a single layer.
Bake them 5-10 minutes or until crispy.
In a large pot, bring the chicken broth to a boil, add chicken.  Reduce heat to low and cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  In a sauté pan, add onions and corn.  Sauté till tender, about 5 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes, jalapenos, and lime juice. Heat about 5 minutes to blend flavors.  Add to broth.
Divide the baked tortilla strips among 4 bowls.  Ladle soup and serve with bowls of cilantro leaves, avocado and cheese/sour cream to use as toppings at the table.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Saturday Snapshot

Did I tell you about the time last month when  the Handyman decided to show his grandkids how to do a slip and slide the correct way?
No?  Well......

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by
To participate in Saturday Snapshot: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post to West Metro Mommy Reads!   Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

He started out on his knees---even tho his knees aren't that great.

Then he decided for some unknown reason to flop down on his stomach-- like he did when he was a kid:  50 or so years ago.
A body changes a lot from the time you are 13 to now.
It doesn't bounce back as easy.

And you really can't get up very quickly!
And you might even crack a rib or two.
Silly Grandpa.
(that was the official stance-- silly grandpa.  But when I was alone with him, it was more like,  WHAT the hell were you thinking??!!)

None of them tried his example.

At least when you are in your 30's,  you try to stay on your feet at least!

Slip and Slides!
Guaranteed for an afternoon of fun--- and a trip to the emergency room.

He didn't actually go to the emergency room---oh no, that would have been admitting he was too old to play on a slip and slide.
He was just in terrible pain for a few weeks.
Silly Grandpa.

What the HELL was he thinking?!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Jam!! and coffee and books

I made jam last night!
We're not even huge jam/jelly eaters, but I had apricots, so why not?
I didn't make very much, because, like I said, we are not big jam/jelly eaters.
My friend Karen sent me a link to this recipe--it has wine in it, and since I probably drink more wine than eat  jam in my life, I thought it might be a jam I would love. 
It smelled SO GOOD, while cooking--it included a vanilla bean.
Anyway, I can't wait to try some on an English muffin when I get back from my walk. 
A hot, crispy English muffin with butter and apricot jam dripping down into all those tiny crevices.

I'll let you know how it is. 

While I am enjoying that English muffin, I just might start the 2nd in this series by Nalini Singh.
I read this first book  "Slave to Sensation" and I really liked it.
It is SOOOO out of my box---one of the main characters was a changeling and could--well, change.  Into a Panther.
Yes I know.  No snickers from the cheap seat okay?!
A Panther, yes.
And the other main character was a Psy---someone with no emotion. 
Or so we think.
AHa! or so we think.....

Anyway, it really was a fun read.
And  I really did buy the 2nd in the series...Visions of Heat.

I'm so out of my box here.
But I like it.

from Goodreads:

Nalini Singh dives into a world torn apart by a powerful race with phenomenal powers of the mind-and none of the heart.
In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of "rehabilitation" - the complete psychic erasure of everything she ever was...
Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy coexistence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murders of several changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate, and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion - and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities - or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation.