Friday, October 12, 2012

Foodie Friday- Baked Potato Soup

I love a good, hearty soup on a crisp fall day and this potato soup stands up to my every desire in a fall soup!  It appears frequently in our home from now until March.  We originally got this recipe from a friend of the family, but I've made some adaptations over the last year or so to make it so much better!
Baked Potato Soup

5-6 lg baking potatoes
2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
6 cups milk
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 green onions chopped
12 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 chicken bouillon cubes
8 oz sour cream

Wash potatoes and bake in 400 oven until done (can cook them in the microwave if that's easier). Cool and cut into 1/2" cubes. Melt butter over low heat; add flour, stirring until smooth. Gradually add mild and cook over medium heat. Stir until mixture is thick and bubbly. Add potato cubes, salt, pepper, onion, bacon, cheese and chicken base. Cook until well heated. Stir in sour cream.

My adaptations:
We usually add about 3/4 of a bottle of beer (or as Jarrod says, 1 bottle of beer minus 3 worries, I leave him the 3 sips after I use what I need) before adding the sour cream.  This gives it a good depth of flavor and it's not as thick. I have found that I really don't measure out the cheese, but I usually use at least 2-3 cups.  I find sharp (or extra sharp) cheddars (white or yellow) fit the flavor profiles the best.  The bite of the extra sharp cheddar pairs nicely with the beer, usually a Yuengling or a Pale Ale.  I usually serve this with a few fresh cut chives, some crumbled bacon, and a dollop of sour cream on top.
One of my favorite qualities of this soup is that it tastes even better when it's reheated.  The only downfall is that the green onions are a little wilty.  Solution?  Don't mix them into the soup, just sprinkle some on top before you serve:)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Eating Humble Pie....

...or the one where Mommy got a speeding ticket...
I debated even writing this post, but I decided it was good for me and that some day Bug and Doodle will laugh about it and I might even chuckle a little myself. 

Today started off as a normal day- story time at one of the local orchards, stop at Wal-Mart for some baby shower decorations, heading to one of the local parks...and then time seemed to stand still.  I was driving one of the roads that I used to drive almost daily when teaching, a road I grew up driving that isn't far from my parents' home.  I'm sure I knew the speed limit was 35, but I wasn't paying a bit of attention to the speed limit.  I was kind of in my own little world, listening to music on the radio, talking to Bug and Doodle about going to the park and the nature center, and couldn't begin to tell you what speed I was driving.  I wasn't driving recklessly, mind you, but apparently I wasn't driving 35 mph either. 

Then it happened.  That moment where you see flashing red and blue lights behind you, you pull over hoping that Mr. State Trooper has a bigger emergency to get to and will fly by you, and then the lights pull over onto the non-existent shoulder right behind you, the Lead-Footed Mama who wasn't going 35 mph in a 35 mph zone.  You stop the car, pull out your license and registration, and unbuckle your seat belt because you've parked your car.  Then you realize you've unbuckled your seatbelt, you don't want to get an additional fine for driving without it on, and quickly rebuckle before Mr. State Trooper appears at your window.  Yep, that pretty much sums up 10:45-10:52 this morning.  Bug certainly didn't get what was going on and I'm sure had many questions running through her head that fortunately she didn't verbalize.  I already wanted to sink into the floor boards because not only was I about to get a ticket (and a whopping fine), but it had happened with my kids in the car (yes, there were tears).  Then the part that caused me to eat a BIG slice of pie (humble pie that is)..."Mommy, I sorry," chimed Bug from the backseat.  All of a sudden it clicked in my mind that Bug thought it was her fault that we had to sit still on the side of the road and wait for Mr. State Trooper to return to Mama's car.  "Bug, this isn't your fault.  This is Mommy's fault.  Mommy was disobedient and broke a rule."  Wow, that's hard to swallow, but hopefully we both learned a lesson. 

 Next time it's time for pie, I'd prefer pumpkin instead of humble...or could you at least add a nice big scoop of ice cream on top of my  humble pie?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A Tribute to the Pink Ribbon

Pink can find them just about anywhere you look for them during the month of October from jewelry to bagels at Panera, from clothing to purses.  And while I think the pink ribbon is sometimes over-commercialized, Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Pink Ribbon are very close to my heart.

You see, when I was 6 years old, I lost my grandmother to breast cancer.  She was my dad's mom and one of my best friends.  I remember dancing in her living room to the Lawrence Welk show, having animal crackers and apple juice while sitting on a special wicker chair, and saying "Goodnight, John Boy" as I watched The Waltons with her.  She was a very special, godly woman who I was blessed to have known for 6 short years. Every day I wish that she could meet my husband and cuddle Bug and Doodle because I know she would love them just as much as I do!

Because there is a history of breast cancer in my family, I'm always very aware of new lumps and bumps (even if I don't perform self checks as often as I should).  So when I found a new lump about a month before my wedding, saying I freaked out a little is probably an understatement.  It was my second year of teaching and I remember sitting in my portable classroom and calling my doctor's office immediately to let them know I'd found a lump and wanted an immediate appointment.  I remember being so frustrated that the receptionist wasn't nearly as alarmed by this as I was and calmly said, "So when would you like to come in for an appointment?"  An appointment was made for later in the week and though my doctor was fairly certain everything was fine, she sent me to an excellent specialist at GBMC, one of Baltimore's finest medical facilities.  Due to my age, they decided to perform an ultrasound instead of a mammogram.  I guess at 24, my breasts were considered "too dense" to clearly show them what they needed to see.  Jarrod took off work to go with me and I remember being so worried that he wouldn't want to marry  me if it turned out to be breast cancer (remember, our wedding was only 4 weeks away).  All of the "what ifs" ran through my mind.  The tech performed the ultrasound and then sent me over to the specialist.  I was so glad I had come to him because he decided the tech hadn't done a good enough job and he redid the ultrasound. 

Thankfully, in my case it turned out just to be a bump, nothing significant, no cancer, not even a benign cyst that they thought should be removed.  I know not everyone's cases turns out like this.  I know millions of women who put up a brave fight every day and I am among millions who hope a cure will be found by the time my daughters are reaching maturity.  I know I am one of the blessed and fortunate ones, but I am also that much more aware of the need for regular self-exams, etc. So in the month of October, I am more likely to buy  cherry/white chocolate "pink ribbon" bagels at Panera or support the Susan G. Komen foundation in loving memory of my grandmother and in honor of all of those women bravely fighting for their lives.  And when you see a pink ribbon this month, remember all of the wives, mothers, daughters that have lost their fight...and pray that your wife, mother, or daughter won't have to fight that same fight.