"I do not claim that I can tell a story as it ought to be told. I only claim to know how a story ought to be told." -Mark Twain


Cheeseburger Soup for the Souper Bowl!

 Last night I shared the Creamy Tomato Florentine Soup I made over the weekend. Well I also made Cheeseburger Soup for the first time. While the family all agreed that the Tomato Florentine Soup was great, my boys and the Hubs loved the Cheeseburger Soup. I'm sure it has nothing to do with all the cheese and hamburger versus tomatoes, spinach and cream. No, huh uh. 
 Both of the soups made big hearty pots. Both would be delicious served to a big hungry crowd. It took me probably an hour (or less) to make both pots of soup from scratch. Plus, I made the croutons and brownies during that time as well. My point being, while both soups look like a lot of ingredients, they both could not be easier! 
 I have no idea why I plated it up and stage it on a LOVE towel. I should have put it on a big 'ole football towel! 
 I realize this is a little blurry, but these are the vegies as they sauted.  In the words of my youngest son, who came in to check on me periodically, "Mom, what do carrots have to do with cheeseburgers anyway?  I think you could have left those out!"  This recipe, I followed exactly like it said to do.....And you KNOW I never do that! So yes, there are carrots in my Cheeseburger Soup! 
 Although the recipe did say to peel and cube potatoes, I opted to just use frozen hash browns in the cube size. They seemed to work just fine too. 
1 pound ground beef, cooked and drained
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup shredded carrots (or in the words of Luke, "WHY?")
3/4 cup diced celery (Luke did not see that go in)
1 Tsp. dried basil
3 TBS. chopped parsley
4 TBS. butter, divided
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups cubed potatoes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour ( I use Wondra)
2 cups Velveeta, cubed
1 1/2 cups milk
1 Tsp. salt
1 Tsp. pepper
1/4 cup sour cream

In large pot add 1 TBS butter. Add onion, celery, carrots, parsley, and basil. Saute till tender. 
Add the broth, potatoes and beef and bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked and tender. (Hint: I left my bag of hash-brown cubes in the fridge (vs. the freezer) the night and day before so they would not be frozen and not take so long to cook).  
In small skillet melt remaining butter and add the flour. Cook and stir for 3 minutes or so until bubbly. Add to the soup and bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat. Stir in the cheese, milk, salt, pepper and sour cream. Cook and stir until the cheese melts. Let heat thoroughly.  I served this with homemade croutons and shredded cheese. 

 The boys gave this soup a perfect score. 

 The recipe said the soup can be frozen. I had to laugh at that. We don't freeze many leftovers at our house. There are always (grown) children here to cart any (rare!!) leftovers away. If all the boys are home, there is no such thing as leftovers! 
 Which has always made this mama's heart very happy! 

 And just in case you missed the homemade croutons on yesterday's soup, here they are again. Since it was Cheeseburger Soup, I felt it only fitting that we should use a bun for the croutons. I had stale hot dog buns and chopped them up. I put them in a baking pan, added pats of butter and put them in a 350 degree oven to cook. 
 Buttered croutons.  You could add garlic and/or onion salt to them before they cooked too. 
I don't know about where you live, but here in usually mild-in-the-winter-Oklahoma, they are saying we are in for a big bad week of cold weather. I assure you that both of the soup recipes will be pulled back out. They are quick and easy and make enough for a family. OR they would be SOUPER at a SUPER Bowl party! Enjoy. 
Linking with:


SOUPer Bowl Creamy Tomato Florentine

 Last week, one of my fellow teachers was eating lunch in my room with me. She had with her a Tomato Florentine soup that she had bought at a local eatery. 
She had shared a bite with me, and we sat there trying to figure out what all was in the soup.  Finally we Googled it up and decided  we each must make a batch on our own.  She has yet to make hers, but she reassured me that hers would be fabulous. And I have no doubt. But in the meantime, I gathered all the ingredients for my version and proceeded to make several soups over the weekend. Since I loved this one so, it is the first to be posted! 
 My friend's soup was the basic Tomato Florentine.  I looked at the different recipes I had Googled and combined several of them. THEN I proceeded to make my version creamy by adding in whipping cream. I just wanted you to be aware that there are MANY recipes out there for regular Tomato Florentine.  In fact you could probably take my recipe and just not add the whipping cream. It is delicious both ways. I have included the directions for both varieties.  

 Creamy Tomato Florentine Soup

3 TBS Butter
3 TBS flour 

3 TBS Butter
1 clove garlic
1 batch green onions, chopped. (I use all the green part too)
1 TBS dried basil
1 can chicken broth
1  28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 TBS ketchup
2/3 cup vegetable juice (I used V8)
1  14.5 oz can Italian style tomatoes
Several dashes of hot pepper sauce
2 TBS sugar
Handful of chopped parsley (optional)
Black pepper to taste
1 cup macaroni noodle
2 cups Whipping cream or Half and Half
1/2 cup frozen spinach

**************In a small skillet, melt 3 TBS butter and add the flour. (I happen to use Wondra, because it is wonderful to use for gravies and bases. Flour works fine too.) Stir this together until it boils and makes your base. It will be kind of pasty. If it gets too lumpy, don't be afraid to add a little chicken broth or milk. 

When I cook, there is no exactness. Ever. 
After you have done that, let it sit to the side for a few minutes. 
In a big stock pan/dutch oven or whatever you want to call it, add the other 3 TBS butter. Let this melt and add the chopped onions.  Add the garlic and basil as well. Saute until the onion is tender.  This will smell heavenly.  
Add to this the chicken broth (I actually ended up using about 1 1/2 cans, because I had some left over from the other soup I made, so I just added it. It was not a problem. )  Add the crushed tomatoes, the canned tomatoes, vegetable juice and the ketchup.  Stir well. Let simmer. (I tasted it at his point and realized why you needed to add the sugar. The sugar helps tame some of that acidic tomato taste.) 

Add the sugar. (Add more if you think it needs it.) 
Add the parsley, black pepper and hot sauce all to taste. 
Stir. Simmer. Taste.

****************At this point, if you are going to make the regular Tomato Florentine, you would just add your macaroni and spinach and let cook for about 25 minutes.  You would not need to make the base.  Eat it up and enjoy.  

IF you are going to make it like the picture, keep cooking! 

It is at this point that you take your base in that small skillet and put it into the soup.  Whisk it up, so there are no lumps.  Stir and let simmer a few minutes.  Add the whipping cream now.  Stir well. Let it thicken up. By now your soup should look delicious and just like the picture. Let it simmer and absorb all the flavors. I served mine with homemade croutons and grated parmesan.  

 I used half of a box (see picture) of the frozen spinach.  I just cut the package in half and put the frozen spinach right into the hot soup.  I stirred it as it was breaking up, so that it would be completely cooked. Florentine means cooked with spinach, so I figured that was a key ingredient! 
 Also, it calls for macaroni noodles, which is just fine. But I always have to play around with recipes. I used the little corkscrew looking noodles (Radiatore) instead. Plus, because I cannot leave well enough alone, I added half a package of the 4-cheese Tortellini noodles. 
 I ate this the night I made it, as well as the next two days for lunch. It is one of those soups that keeps getting better each time. I just warmed it up in the microwave the following two days, but it could be warmed on the stove as well. It could always be thinned down with more broth or cream.  
 It would also be a great soup to make for Super Bowl Sunday.  It would be Souper!!  
 Those homemade croutons....They couldn't be easier. I had some stale hot dog buns. I literally just cut them up, put them in a baking pan and added several blobs of butter. I put them in the oven at 350 degrees and kept them in there until they were toasty.  You can also sprinkle the bread with garlic and/or onion salt. 
 Sprinkle the croutons on top with some grated cheese and you have a great winter meal. 

Come back tomorrow and I will share the Cheeseburger Soup that I made.  It was a man-pleaser for sure! 

Linking with:


A Shelf Life

 We still have a few things left to do in the 'new' old kitchen for Phase 1 of the remodel. There is an outside door that needs walled up and cabinets put up over the new wall. I also still have a little painting to do. 
 I still need to putty and paint the railing in the picture above. I need to just buckle down and spend a day during the weekend getting it all done. In the meantime, I am loving one of my favorite presents the Hubs got me for my birthday a few weeks ago. 
 He got this cute little galvanized shelf in the plant part of Target. It works perfectly in our new kitchen. The wall light right above the shelf is also galvanized. I will need to put my cow pictures somewhere else.....Or else move the shelf. 
There are several places in the kitchen where the shelf would work, so I will probably play around and see which works best. I need to style the shelf as well. In the meantime, I'm just enjoying it's cuteness. These can also be ordered online from Target.
What about you? Plans for the weekend? 


Mexican Cheesecake-Super Bowl Food

My friend Kim made this Mexican Cheesecake for my nephew's shower. Not only was it visually wonderful, it was absolutely great in the taste department as well. She got the recipe off of Pinterest.  The cheesecake is not a sweet cheesecake, but more in the dip/appetizer variety. It makes a huge cheesecake and would be perfect for a Super Bowl party. Enjoy.

Mexican Cheesecake
1 cup crushed tortilla chips
2 Tbsp. melted butter
3 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup ricotta cheese
4 eggs
10 oz. grated Cheddar cheese
1 (4.5-oz.) can chopped green chiles
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Salt and pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup salsa or picante sauce

1. Combine tortilla chips and butter, and press into bottom of a lightly greased  9 inch springform pan. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes.
2. Beat cream cheese and ricotta with a mixer. Gradually add in eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add in Cheddar cheese, green chiles, and, if desired, cilantro. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour cream cheese mixture into prepared crust.
3. Bake at 350° for 45 to 1 hour or until set. Remove from oven, and let cool 30 minutes before removing ring. Cool completely. Combine sour cream and salsa; spread over top of cooled cheesecake. Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Kim also topped hers with olives, peppers, tomatoes,  and cheeses. It is versatile enough that you can add anything you want to the top. 

Linking to:


Chalking It Up...to a good time!

 You can "chalk this up" to another post of "latergrams". (Did you see where I explained that here?) But it was too cute not to post. 
 My nephew got married right before Thanksgiving. The ladies of our home town church threw a shower for him before the big day. There was all kinds of good food and lots of cute decorations. Since I did not ask the ladies if I could post their pictures, I have tried to not show their faces. I've tried to make the focus on the cute decorations and ideas the ladies carried out for the shower. The invitations looked like a chalkboard and then this folding chalkboard greeted us at the door to the church. 
 Then at every food station there were small chalkboards to tell the guests what was being served. Each chalkboard had a bejeweled burlap bow. 
 Several kinds of tea were served, with each being marked appropriately. 
 If you were a coffee drinker, there was a great coffee bar as well. 
 There was a huge abundance of food. It was easy to find something great to eat. 
 Instead of the customary shower cake, the ladies had a cheesecake bar. They served a plain cheesecake and there were many, many toppings to choose from. It was delicious! As the cheesecake emptied  on the cake platter, the ladies would replace it with a fresh cake. They had everything planned out. 

 Speaking of cheesecakes, what about this cheesecake?  It was a Mexican Cheesecake that was wonderful. Just the right amount of spicy. Come back tomorrow and I will share the recipe. This cheesecake was huge and fed a large crowd. It would be perfect for Super Bowl Sunday. 
 All the round tables (where the guests ate) were covered with a white table cloth and then topped with burlap. Each table held another chalkboard with verses from the Bible about love. Beside each chalkboard was also a jar (vase) with a single flower and a burlap and jewel wrap. 

The shower was full of great ideas that could be used in many types of entertaining. The best part is that the chalkboards and flowers can either be given out as favors, or saved and used again for another party. That's my kind of decorating! 
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Painting Party

 Are you on Instagram? If so, you when you put up a pic that was not taken within the last day or so, you hashtag it as #latergram. Well this post is a #latergram. It is about a party my daughter Annie (pictured on the right above) and I hosted in December, but you are just now getting the pics! 
 Have you seen, or better yet, been to, one of those painting parties that are all the rage right now? Many of them serve wine while you are painting. Annie and I had gone to one before Thanksgiving and wanted to go back for a Christmas painting. We recruited many of the females in our family to join. But in the meantime, Oklahoma, (and more importantly) our town, had a snow/ice storm and the Christmas painting party (downtown) was canceled. On the date they rescheduled it, many of us could not attend. So we decided to hold our own one Sunday afternoon in December. 
 My Mom, my nieces, my daughters and my middle son's girlfriend and I all got together and had a great time. Annie and I had it all set up when they arrived. I even provided lunch for everyone. We just cleared off the dining room table, put some black plastic down and all gathered around. We had several sizes of canvases and lots of paints and brushes.
 I had run off several Christmas pictures that I found on the internet and  from Graphics Fairy. I then put them on overhead paper and we copied them that way. At the real parties (with the wine), they provide you with a pattern and there is no overhead involved! 
 The overhead, that I purchased more than ten years ago at an auction, continues to come in handy. I think they make nice little home overheads now, but I'l continue to use this as long as it works. 
 We did have one male that crashed the party. That would be my grandson Behr. (I guess he thought he could come, since it was a painting party and his name is Behr!!!) 
 We gabbed and painted, offered advice and actual help on each other's paintings, for several hours on that Sunday afternoon. It was nice to get together and just relax and have fun, when December can be so crazy busy. 
 All the "young girls" managed to paint at least two paintings. We had everything from manager scenes, to snowmen and several different styles of Santa. 
 My daughter Taylor, Behr's mom, painted a picture using Behr's handprint and footprint. That was a little tricky, but it will be cute the older (and bigger) he gets. 
 As you can see, each person put their own unique spin on their painting. You can see my giant Pottery Barn Knockoff Santa in the background on the wall. I made that several years ago and you can read about it here. You'll notice my niece Libby made a green PB knockoff above, and Coulter's girlfriend Tiffani made a similar pink version. 
 My Mother, also known as the Christmas Queen, painted a Santa (of course!) with a little help from Libby. She was quite proud of it and enjoyed her afternoon. 
 We are going to have another "Painting Party" again in the spring. This time we'll probably have a bigger crowd, now that they see all the fun we had. Really, my plan is to invite all my female cousins one day to a giant craft day at my house. I have the most talented family and I think it would be a great day. I am honing my ideas and hope to make it happen this summer. 

 And I just had to show you this. Or at least kind of show you. My son Coulter is a big man with a bigger heart. He was over at our house that day, since his girlfriend participated too. We talked about how at the real painting party (the one with wine) we had individual easels to use. Annie and I had looked at them at Hob Lob, but to get as many as we needed, it was just not in our budget. So we just held our paintings and made-do. But on Christmas morning, Coulter arrived with his present for Annie. He had made her a half dozen easels himself. He made Tiffani (his girlfriend) her own as well. He told Annie he would make more too. 
 I went through all my Christmas pics and I can't believe it, but I did not even take a picture of that great gift. So, I found the easels in some other pics and cropped it down and pointed an arrow towards them. You can (kind of) see about how big they are. Was that not the sweetest, most thoughtful gift? And, that is when the huge cold-front had parked upon Oklahoma. Coulter was out in our extremely cold garage just cutting and nailing away. So, next time we will have easels for each of us to use! 
 While the pictures were fun, it was especially fun to just get together during the busy holiday season and laugh, eat, paint and just enjoy each other's company. 
The older I get the more I understand, "It truly is the little things." You should copy our idea and host a painting party of your own! 
P.S. I went back later and added the words O' Holy Night in script to my painting. Very simple and sweet. 

Link to:
Wow Us Wednesday
The Scoop
Metamorphosis Monday


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