Tag Archives: kids

Beer Mac N Cheese Soup

smashing a snow chair!When life gives you snow, make a snow chair. Then smash it to smithereens. That’s what my girls did this weekend! It has been so cold here!¬†I grew up in Northern Indiana, but I didn’t seem to mind the cold as much back then as I do now that I’m at the ripe old age of twenty-something. ūüėČ Having two kids to load and unload from the car does not make getting out in these frigid temps any easier. I wish they could wear a coat in their car seats, but-safety first! So we zip and unzip every time we get in and out! My one year old has a little fleece jacket¬†she can also wear sort of like a cape. It is great for running in and out of stores, so people don’t give you dirty looks for your unjacketed/unhatted child.

This soup I made last week sure hit the it’s-cold-outside spot! It’s not too healthy, but it sure was tasty!¬†I adapted this recipe from¬†The Food Charlatan, also getting ideas from recipes for beer cheese soup. In addition to a bottle of beer, I added¬†worcestershire sauce and garlic powder. I started by saut√©ing an onion for extra flavor and to make it better for you-haha! My adapted recipe follows:

(photo credit goes to The Food Charlatan)


beer cheese soup

Beer Mac N Cheese Soup

Ingredients

  • 3 cups dry macaroni noodles
  • 1 onion
  • 1/4 cup (half stick) butter
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard (more to taste)
  • 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 28 ounces (3 and 1/2 cups) chicken broth
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 pound (about 5 cups) cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups diced ham (use leftovers, or buy a ham steak)
  • One 12 oz. Bottle Beer (I used a Sam Adams Summer ale of some sort)
  • 1-2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a medium pot, cook the macaroni according to package directions. Drain as soon as they are al dente. Add a little oil and stir so they don’t stick if you are not ready to add them to the soup right away.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large soup pot, sauté one chopped onion in butter.
  3. When onion is softened, add the flour and mustard. Use a whisk stir it up. (You may want to add a dash of extra broth or milk at this point before you can add all the flour. Just make sure to ‘brown’¬†the flour a bit- give it a few minutes before moving on to Step 4.)
  4. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth, half and half, and milk. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add as much or as little garlic powder as you like (I admit I did not measure this ingredient. It was a dump and run). Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a low boil, about 5 minutes.
  5. I used my immersion blender at this point to make a smoother soup.
  6. Immediately reduce the heat to low and stir in cheese. ( I used 1/4 pound fresh gruyere, 1/2 pound fresh colby, and 1 cup pre-shredded 4 cheese…Use whatever you like!)
  7. Add beer and worcestershire sauce.
  8. Stir in the macaroni and ham. Keep the burner on low until it is as warm as you like.
  9. Salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

A Weekend of Momentous Moments

We just finished up a big weekend at our¬†house! Not only was it Halloween, my oldest daughter got her ears pierced,¬†and I wrapped up my church fundraiser featuring my small business! I was excited to announce the winners for the Mystery Hostess rewards, and excited that we raised $250 for our building fund. Plus,¬†people got safer products without harmful chemicals for their household! It’s a win all the way around!

momentous momentMy 3.5 year old recently overheard my friend and I discussing the momentous occasion of when and how we came to get our ears pierced, and also when my friend got her little girls ears pierced.¬†Next thing you know, that was all she could talk about. She wanted her ears pierced like her little friend. We’ve talked about it for months, but I was always able to push her off. Not this time. I sucked up my hesitance and fear, and the whole family headed off to the mall. I went first, and got a third piercing in my ear. I got cold feet when I saw the piercing gun and said, “I can’t do this” (I hate needles!). The lady told me, “Just smile”. So, with my daughter watching, I pasted a big fake smile on my face. Ow! It was over, and then it was my brave daughter’s turn. She knew it would pinch, but nothing could prepare her for the pain. When the piercing went thru, her little body jumped and her mouth made an ‘O’. It was heartbreaking! But she was so brave and refused to cry. I, on the other hand, had a hard time holding back the tears. My poor baby.

IMG_0409For Halloween, my daughters were characters from, “The Wizard of Oz”. My oldest loves the movie, so when I found a Dorothy costume at a yard sale, I knew she had to have it! It was actually a slightly¬†risqu√© adult costume, but for only $2.50, my mom and I decided to take it home and try to alter it. We were both slightly nervous at the prospect, but it turned out marvelous and was pretty easy to do! I¬†also had¬†to buy some red sparkly shoes from Target, but they were inexpensive and can be reused for Christmas! Wanting to keep with the theme, I borrowed a lion costume from a lady in the local¬†MOMS Club¬†chapter¬†I belong to. After a trial run in the costume at a neighborhood event where everyone seemed to think my little lion was a boy, I pinned a pink ribbon to one ear. One old man still called her a ‘little guy’ and gave ‘him’ some candy. Oh well. She’ll never know.

So, tell me-

How did you react when you got your daughter’s ears pierced? Was it as nerve wracking for you as it was me?

And what clever costumes did you come up with for Halloween?

Cathartic Culinary Love and Skyline Chili

Skyline Chili recipe

Skyline recipe

Last week, after returning from our¬†refreshing getaway, I was in the mood to cook! (For a few days, at least) Cooking used to be so much more enjoyable and relaxing before I had kids. I still find myself pinning recipes for lemon curd tarts with a fresh raspberry glaze, and 4 layer triple chocolate espresso cakes with shaved chocolate and homemade bon-bons on top. But who am I kidding? Most days I’m cooking while kids cry, talk, whine, hang all over me…But there are days, like bright rays of sunlight in my life, where I still find catharses in¬†cooking instead of stress. Last¬†week, I had TWO of those days, once where my kids were playing quietly together in their playhouse, instead of in the kitchen, trailing after me! Another time, my youngest was sleeping and I had a tv show on for my oldest. (Almost) blissful silence!

Screen Shot 2015-10-28 at 2.38.58 PMSo the first day my cooking mood struck, I made a fancy looking “Everything Bagel Chicken” recipe using a preservative free¬†Everything Spice Blend from Wildtree (which has since been discontinued! Sob!). ¬†I took thinly sliced chicken breasts and rolled them up with my homemade veggie cream cheese inside, securing them with a toothpick. Then I dredged the chicken, first in egg, then in flour, then panko mixed with the Everything Spice. I baked them on parchment at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes and they were perfect (even without pre-heating the oven properly…ain’t nobody got time for that!). I even made (ready made frozen) sweet potato fries and green beans with bacon and onion, hubby’s favorite! Everything turned out delicious, a nice change from vacation/restaurant food, even if I did have to do the dishes myself.

Skyline ChiliFor the next day’s dinner, I made my own personal version of “Skyline Chili” in the crockpot. Before I moved to Cincinnati, I had never heard of this strange dish…chili over spaghetti topped with mounds of cheese? I think it was the plethora of warm, gooey cheese that initially won me over. Now it is one of the few recipes I have on rotation (I¬†don’t really like making¬†the same thing twice- the wonderful world of Pinterest is just too big!) I originally got my Skyline recipe from a local friend (I figured that makes it pretty authentic, right?), but I made some tweaks. Once I started out by accidentally doubling the first two spices- but I loved it that way, so now I always¬†double the cinnamon and cumin! I don’t like my chili too hot, so I reduced the chili powder. And I didn’t want the vegetarian version, but I also didn’t want one with all meat and no beans, so I tweaked that, too. I often switch up the type and amount of beans, as well…I started out with one can, then two…And last week, I just cooked a whole pound of black beans and added it all! The recipe is obviously pretty versatile, so experiment and make it however you like! Following is my ‘tweaked’ version:

 

Skyline Chili

1 quart cold water

1 lb. ground beef (lean is best)

1-3 cans beans (or more!! We love beans!)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. cumin

1-2 large chopped onions (optional, but not really. A must, in my opinion!)

1 tsp. Worchestershire sauce

1 garlic clove (or, you know, half a bulb. We like garlic, too!)

1 Tbsp. chili powder

1 tsp. black pepper

4 whole bay leaves

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. red pepper

6 oz. can tomato paste

1/2 Tbsp. plain or red vinegar

1 & 1/2  tsp. ground allspice

Pour one quart of water into crockpot and (gloves recommended) crumble the raw meat up with your hands. Add everything else. Cook 4-6 hours.

When it’s almost time to eat, put some spaghetti on to boil per package instructions. Put the cooked noodles in a bowl, ladle on some chili, and top with a generous amount of cheese.

 

*Tip*¬†I like to break up a block of fresh colby or cheddar cheese and pulse it in my processor to make¬†fresh grated cheese without exerting myself. I learned this trick via Ina Garten when we still had cable and I could watch the Food Network to my heart’s content. ūüôā Fresh cheese not only has fewer additives and preservatives than bagged, it tastes a million times more amazing on top of your Skyline chili!

Check out this interesting blog post I found called Ditch the Bag, comparing bagged vs. pre-shredded cheese. Bagged cheese has potato starch, calcium sulfate, and cellulose powder added- the latter of which commonly comes from wood pulp.

 

So now which you do prefer, bagged or pre-shredded cheese?

 

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