Friday, September 30, 2011

Got Soup? You Are Going To Want To Try This One!

     I love it when I try a new recipe and it tastes as good as it looks, or better! This creamy potato soup is one of those recipes. I saw a recipe in the current issue of Southern Living Magazine and decided to adapt it a bit to fit what I had in the house. It was very good!

Queso Potato Chowder
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1/4 cup butter
1 can chopped green chiles, drained
1 32 oz. bag frozen hash browns
1/4 tsp. cumin
28 oz. chicken broth
1/3 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk (I used 2%)
1 cup half and half
1 cup (or a little more) shredded monterey jack cheese
1 cup (or a little more) shredded cheddar cheese

Garnish-extra shredded cheddar, crushed tortilla chips

     In a large pan, saute the peppers in the butter until tender. Add the frozen potatoes and cumin and stir until the potato chunks are broken up and the potatoes start to brown a little bit. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes.


     Whisk the flour with the milk and cream, pour into potato/broth mixture and stir until thickened over medium heat (about 3 minutes). Reduce heat to very low. Add the cheese and stir until melted. Stir in the green chiles. Serve sprinkled with addtional shredded cheese and tortilla chips. So, it isn't lo-cal, but it is certainly delicious! Enjoy!

Make sure you sign up for my Giveaway!

I am joining Michael @ Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday.
Please take time to visit her today!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

October Is National Cookie Month! Giveaway!

     How many of you are like me? I drink tea and coffee all day long, but most of the time, I'm carrying my cup from room to room as I am doing something else. I have a coaster on my dresser where my tea sits in the morning while I make the bed and shower. I do something, take a sip and do something else. Sometimes my cup moves to the living room while I'm straightening, or on the kitchen counter while I cook or do laundry.

     So, I really enjoyed sitting down with a pot of tea, a plate of cookies and a pretty napkin all by myself on Tuesday. I decided my Dept. 56 tray and plate were perfect for my sweet treat! I was recently contacted by Tate's Bake Shop who I was lucky enough to work with last year. They asked if I would try their newest cookie, the Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip. It won GOLD in the Cookie category in the 2011 sofi™ Awards, presented at the Fancy Food Show (known as the Oscars® of the specialty food industry) in Washington, DC. Well, I quickly said "send me the cookies"! After last year, I know how wonderful Tate's Bake Shop cookies are.

     So, I made myself a little "party for one" and forced myself to sample the cookies. I forced myself through all four of those cookies, because I wanted to be really sure that they were absolutely as good as I first thought and then yesterday I forced myself to try a few more. It is really tough being asked to review chocolate chip cookies!

     Needless to say, the cookies are delicious. They are very thin and crisp. I know that some people like a soft cookie, but these have such a wonderful buttery flavor and the texture makes them unique to other brands. The chocolate chips are scattered in just the right amount and the quality of the chocolate is obviously excellent. I'm picky about my chocolate and these chips are good! The whole wheat isn't a strong flavor, but adds to the richness of the cookies.

     Now I know you saw that word "Giveaway" in the title of this post. Tate's has generously offered to send one of my followers a copy of Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook, autographed by the author (and Tate's founder) Kathleen King. I have this book and it has wonderful recipes. You will want to try them all!

The winner will also receive 3 packages of
the new Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies!

     Actually everyone is a winner! Tate's Bake Shop has generously offered my readers a 15% discount for the entire month of October when ordering from their website. Simply type in the word COOKIE when you place your order.

The Details:

This Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
The contest will run until midnight EST on October 21st
The 15% discount is good for the entire month of Oct.

1) Be a follower of this blog, and leave a comment on this post telling me you are a follower and what your favorite cookie flavor is. (1 entry)

2) For additional entries, follow Tate's Bake Shop on Twitter and/or Facebook and leave separate comments telling me you have done so.
 (possible 2 additional entries)

Good Luck!

I am joining Susan @ Between Naps on the Porch for
Tablescape Thursday.
Please take time to visit our wonderful hostess.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wandering on Wednesday

     I decided to step out in my yard on this gray and wet morning to see if I could find signs of fall. The mums are starting to bloom. The picture below is really a very dark burgandy mum, but the lighting (or lack of) this morning changed the color some.

Flowers are showing up where they usually don't.

The roses are still blooming like crazy and so are the hibiscus.
Is this summer or fall?

Is this what they mean by "amber waves of grain"?
Actually, it is the soybean field starting to turn color.

The dahlias are confused and full of buds and blooming again.

     So far, this tree down the street is one of the only ones around here with leaves turning. We are still very green, but soon the trees will be vibrant with color.

Guess what I'm working on today?
The ghosts and goblins are about to show up around my house.

I'm joining Kim @ Savvy Southern Style for Wow Us Wednesdays and
Susan @ A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday.

Please stop to visit with our wonderful hostesses.

Monday, September 26, 2011

This and That

     We survived our garage sale. It certainly wasn't one of my most successful, but we did get rid of some things and that was most important. We have an area wide sale coming in a couple of weeks and since things are already priced, I think we may just pull them out on the driveway that morning before packing things up and heading to Goodwill. I'm just glad it is over and I had garage sale "let down" when we were done. I had a hard time forcing myself off the couch the rest of the weekend. However, our yearly block party was Saturday night and it is hard to pass up a live band just a few houses away! It was cold enough here that I had to dig out the a sweater, a jacket and boots. By the time we came home, I was ready for gloves! It is supposed to be in the 80's later this week, don't you love this time of year? 

     I was contacted last week by two different sources wanting me to do sponsored giveaways. I don't always say yes, but both of these are fun and things I would like to win. They aren't huge prizes, but one of them you can eat! I'm all about winning yummy things to eat! So stay tuned!       

     I'll leave you with a bit of the nature around me this weekend.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Caprese Pasta Salad

     Well, summer has ended but many of us still have some of our wonderful summer produce to enjoy. I have been making Caprese salad all summer long, but I decided to add a little more texture to it as we move into a new season. I started with 3 garden tomatoes, but you can use as many as you like.

I still have beautiful basil growing, and after a
quick rinse and chop...the kitchen smelled wonderful.

     Chop the tomatoes into bite size pieces. I only peel tomatoes from the grocery store, garden tomatoes we eat peel and all.

      You will need some fresh mozzarella cheese. I most often buy the large ball, but the smaller pearl mozzarella would also be fine for this recipe. Cut it into bite sized pieces.

Select your favorite pasta and prepare it according to directions. Drain.

     In a large bowl, place tomatoes, basil, and cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1/3 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and toss the mixture well.  Fold in the pasta and stir to coat evenly with dressing. I like to use the pasta when it is still hot so it will make the cheese a little bit "melty". This salad is great as a side dish and hearty enough to use as a main dish. Enjoy.

I am joining Michael @ Designs by Gollum for Foodie Friday.
Please take time to visit her and say hello.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Front Porch Redo

     If it is going to look like fall inside the house, it certainly needs to look the same outside the house. My front porch is smaller than I wish, but there is still a little room to "play" with seasonal things.

     I bought this swag a while back at Hobby Lobby and added a few things to it. The plan was for it to go on the front door. However, we had replaced the storm door since last season and it is so energy efficient that we can't put one of those hangers on it and still shut the door. So, the swag ended up on the chair instead.

     Corn stalks, a vintage bushel basket and a few fall colors fill the opposite corner. If you look closely you can see the Halloween lights in the basket, but I won't turn them on until I add the rest of the Halloween items next week. 

Nothing says fall quite like live mums. This is one
of 3 plants I have in the front of the house
and I can't wait for them to be in full bloom.

I like white pumpkins, my husband likes traditional pumpkins.
I guess these must be Mama Pumpkin and Papa Pumpkin!
He brought these home over the weekend from Menards.

     This is the fall view from my yard. The local farmer planted soybeans this year instead of corn. I love the soybean years...that corn makes our yard feel so closed in.

I took the above picture not far from our home.
I love how it represents fall in Illinois.

I am joining Susan @ A Southern Daydreamer for Outdoor Wednesday and
Kim @ Savvy Southern Style for Wow Us Wednesdays.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fall Table Tops

     Fall continues to show up at my house. The mini pumpkins are real. I love the colors in the Indian corn we got locally. Next week I will add the Halloween items which I love!

     We are going to replace the patio door later this fall and I can't wait to get rid of the blind. We really wanted to put in French doors, but discovered that we can't open them with the table sitting there. So, we will be putting in a different type of sliding door with the blinds inside the door.

I am joining Marty @ A Stroll Thru Life for Table Top Tuesday
Please take some time to visit her and say hello!