Monthly Archives: February 2012

Feb 27

Tortilla Soup

Things I am currently thankful for:

Long sunny afternoons at the park with my boys, my friends and their beautiful children. My kids had last week off for presidents week (?!?!) and three of those afternoons off were spent outdoors watching my boys swing, slide, play soccer and enjoy the company of other kids. Back in the day when I had just two little ones we were at the park quite a bit. It was free, it got us out of the house and we all came home hungry, tired and happy. Now that everybody is in school I spend most of my afternoons alone running errands and trying to get as much done around the house before it’s time to pick everyone up. I forgot how therapeutic it is to sit out in the sun while sharing snacks, toys and life with my friends. I also love watching the way my boys interact with other children. My oldest son absolutely adores little ones and in my circle of friends there is always a baby around for him to hold! So what if the laundry or grocery shopping didn’t get done that day. I was thankful for the reminder of just how magical a simple day at the park with friends can be.

The new season of Housewives of the OC! I know it’s a silly show but I just can’t help myself! Tamra, Alexis and the new girl Heather, how could you not love this show?! Is it me or is there more ridiculous drama, fake fights and hair extension than there has ever been? I’ve been told numerous times that these types of shows are totally scripted. These families live in houses leased to them by Bravo, their actives together are planned and even the friendships they have are not even real. But you know what, if loving the Housewives of the OC, Beverly Hills or Atlanta is wrong I never, ever want to be right!

My parents. Sure you could roll your eyes and think being thankful for your parents is a cliche but last week I felt first hand what incredibly loving people they are. I grew up feeling loved and supported but I recently realized how important it is to still get that kind of reassurance from your parents as an adult. Apparently a mother never loses the ability to know everything about her child just by listening the their voice and a father never stops wanting to protect his daughter even if she has her own houseful of children. I understand now that parenting dosen’t stop when your babies grow up, if anything it gets harder! I am so thankful for their strength, their wisdom and for talking honestly with me about the difficult seasons in their own lives they have walked through. I can only hope Ryan and I will be just as valuable to my boys and their wives as all of our parents have been to us.

My crock-pot. You probably think I have a super fancy stainless steel, touch screen one that can braise meat and then wash itself when dinner is done but I don’t. My mother-in-law gave me one 12 years ago and it’s green, the lid is cracked, the inside is chipped but it works great so I don’t feel the need to replace it. I love that I can throw a bunch of stuff in it in the morning and dinner is started before we’ve even left the house for school! I love coming home in the late afternoon and breathing in the welcoming aroma of a stew, a taco filling or this fantastic tortilla soup. The soup itself is pretty basic; chicken breast, tomatoes, spices and a can of black beans. It’s the topping you pile on after that help make this soup such a fun yummy weeknight dinner. If you haven’t used your crock-pot in a few years now would be a good time to dust if off. If your breaking in a brand spankin new one this soup would be the perfect dish to help welcome your new appliance to the family.

So what do you do when life hands you a bunch of lemons? Do you cheerfully make lemon-aid or better yet do you whip up a lemon meringue pie? Do you know exactly what to do with those lemons and know how to gracefully turn each one of them into something better than it was before? What if that bag of lemons you were given is too much for you to handle all by yourself? What do you do when there is not enough sugar in your own pantry to help transform those lemons into something more pleasant, and regardless of your best efforts you just can’t seem to find the perfect recipe to sweeten up all of that bitter fruit. I’m currently trying to find the answer to that question myself, but I can certainly tell you what you should not do. You should not hide from the people that love you and should not push your friends away when they want to help. They are stronger than you think and I bet you they have a good amount of experience with turning their own lemons into something more beautiful. You should not go about trying to fix things all by yourself and you should definitely not stop doing the thing you truly love. Try to remember that change can be a good thing and more than likely what you’ve been accepting as just alright has the exciting promise to be something unimaginably wonderful.

I’m kind of tired of taking about lemons so let’s switch to blueberries instead! Or even better can I please tell you about these blueberry oatmeal muffins I made a few weeks ago? While searching for a recipe I found one with a good amount of potential and was able to tweak it to make these muffins even better. They are deliciously chockfull of blueberries, oatmeal and have come out perfect every time I’ve made them. I’m glad I didn’t settle on just an ok recipe and instead went with my gut and added few things to help make this a terrific recipe. I’m going to try to do the same thing with my bag full of lemons and I’m not going to settle on a solution that is just alright. I’m sure with enough time and with a lot of help from my family/friends I’ll figure out the right ingredients to help turn those lemons into something amazing.

What is your take on Valentines day? Do you dress in red and send the person you love the most chocolates and roses? Or do you roll your eyes every time you see a box of conversation hearts and laugh at the busy restaurants filled with couples gazing longingly into each others eyes on Valentines night? I personally fall somewhere in the middle but lean a little more to the side that thinks this day is kinda silly. Of course I love to be surprised with flowers and have my husband treat me to a beautiful night out. I am a huge fan of love and all of the wonderful things that come with being in love. There is nothing wrong with a day devoted to celebrating this beautiful emotion but I’ll only toast to love if it’s the real thing. In my experience true love is not even an emotion, but it is instead a state of being and every decision you make while walking in that state is a testimony to that love. If you look at love like that then everyday becomes Valentines day and every loving action is like surprising your partner with the most beautiful bouquet of flowers every afternoon. February 14th then becomes just a fun festive day and you’ll be so full of real love you won’t even have room to stomach a hastily made heart shaped chocolate dessert at an over crowed restaurant.

Back when I was a new wife and felt like Valentines day was the bee’s knees my friend and I thought it would be super romantic to cook our husband’s a candle lit dinner. She and I put together a simple menu that included a fancy red cocktail, beef roulades, a salad of some sort and one of her husband’s favorite things, garlic bread. Seeing that we were both still novices in the kitchen the beef was under cooked, the salad was overdressed and the garlic bread was completely inedible! Because we didn’t understand the power raw garlic possesses we though it would be a great idea to mince and entire head of garlic and put all of it on the bread. The more the better right? Wrong! While the bread (and the entire neighborhood) did smell amazing, one bite packed quite a punch. It made our eyes water and our tongues burn but did our husbands complain? Not even for a moment! Even though dinner was kind of horrible they cleaned their plates because that’s what love does. It see’s beyond the awful and with a little hard work it can get past the yucky. Our husbands were able to get over the plate of horrors that was put in front of them and instead see what that dinner really was. A beautiful loving meal made especially for them.

In honor of that dinner I’m remaking that terrible garlic bread. This time it’s crispy, melty, and perfectly garlicky. After years of cooking with garlic I have learned what a powerful ingredient it can be. After years of loving and being loved by my husband I am constantly learning what a powerful state that is to be in.