Tuesday, November 23, 2010


I am always happy when the temperatures start to dip because it feels like soup, chili, and stew weather. Eating a steaming bowl of food doesn't always sound appetizing when it is 90 degrees out with 100% humidity. I was in search to make something that I haven't tried before and a soup that wasn't cream based. I saw this recipe on Foodgawker.com and thought it looked really good. And now that we just celebrated Thanksgiving, you can use the left over turkey instead of chicken. This recipe didn't have much of a kick to it, but it has a really nice flavor. Next time I'll probably add a Serrano pepper to the stock while it is cooking to give a little heat to it. I have also toyed with the idea of adding hominy to it, but I haven't really used hominy before so I wanted to do a little research before I make that leap.

Tortilla Soup
courtesy of Beso for Food Network Magazine

3 dried mulato or ancho chile peppers

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 onion, sliced

3 cloves garlic, smashed

1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes

1 tablespoon coriander seeds (or roughly 2 tsp ground coriander)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 bay leaves

4 sprigs fresh thyme
Kosher salt

1 to 2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced
(I bought one of the fully cooked rotisserie chicken to cut down on prep time)
3/4 to 1 cup crumbled queso fresco
(we used Monetery Jack cheese)
1 avocado, diced

Fresh cilantro

4 corn tortillas, cut into strips and fried
 (or crushed tortilla chips)
1 to 2 tablespoons sour cream

Place dried chiles in a bowl, cover with hot water and soak until soft, about 20 minutes. Drain the chiles, pull out the stems and most of the seeds and transfer to a blender (or food processor) and process to make a smooth-ish puree.

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the tomatoes with their juice, 1/4 cup chile puree, the coriander seeds and cumin and cook about 5 minutes. Add the broth, bay leaves and thyme and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook about 

30 minutes.Strain the broth through a medium-mesh strainer into another pot, discarding the solids. Season with salt.

 Place a small amount of chicken, queso fresco, avocado, cilantro, fried tortilla strips and sour cream in each bowl, then pour about 1 cup hot broth around the garnishes.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Birthday Fun

Somewhere along my adult life I realized that I'm not a fan of celebrating my birthdays. Sure I love getting together with friends, I love to eat, I'm a fan of trying new places, but I just don't like being the center of attention. Which is a little weird because I am a total ham,but I'm not a big fan of being the only person that is in that center of attention :)

We met up at Asti with 2 of our closest Austin couple friends for dinner at Asti. I wish we could have everybody meet up with us but I am not a fan of huge dinners. Not only can you not talk to everybody, the bill at the end is usually a nightmare to figure out.

All of our food was delish! I had a bite of just about every body's food and I was impressed with everything. I ordered the short rib with polenta, and it was so tender and flavorful. If I could have changed anything I would have preferred the polenta have some type of cheese or flavor to it. The sauce with the meat added plenty of flavor, but a new flavor on the plate would have been welcomed.
The rest of the table ordered the chicken (great citrus flavor), Salmon, pasta with mushrooms, and 2 pizza's. We also ordered the calamari and bread sticks.

Lindsay, me and Ashley

Our first stop of the night after dinner was at Shangra La. My plan was to hit a few bars on the East side. Shangra la was pretty cool,, a big outdoor area in the back, and the inside had a few booths and chairs along with a pool table and some video games. We stayed inside because all of the tables outside were taken. As a typical bar on the East side, there is one women's toilet with a port-a-potty outside to use.

Matt and Vannessa
Eric, Chris, Joe, Matt, John, Jason, Mike and Jim

Me, Lauren, Vannessa, Erin, Tammy and Lindsay

Jim and I

I had really wanted to get a picture of each place we stopped at, but I forgot to get the front of Shangra La. Our 2nd stop was at Cheer Up Charlies. They have a grate patio out front and in the back, and a small interior. If I remember correctly they were a beer and wine joint only,,, no liquor.

Lauren and Lindsay

Matt and John

I have no idea what is in this drink... Vannessa got it for us :). This was our 3rd stop of the night, at the Liberty. We have been to the Liberty before and really enjoyed it. Shangra La, Cheer up Charlies, and The Liberty are all similar... a smaller indoor area, low ceilings, patio space and one inside toilet. :)

Erin, Tammy, Lauren, me, Vannessa and Lindsay
Goofy Girl photo

The boys probably talking football
We closed the bar down... which was surprising because none of us were expecting it.
Time flew that night!
John and Lindsay hamming it up for the camera
Jason, Lindsay, Jim and I
Big thanks and love to everybody that came out to celebrate my birthday!! It was a late notice (decided on Thursday night to go out on Saturday night) so I fully appreciate everybody making time to come out!

Abbey and Chewie

Since Mother Nature continues to give us Spring like weather, I have been spending a decent amount of time outside with the dogs. I'm not a fan of 80 degree weather at the end of November, but I guess it is better than 100 degree weather :).

Abbey will tear through any manufactured toy I put in front of her. Some times the toy will last 5 minutes and sometimes I get lucky and it takes her a day to destroy. She also loves the sticks in the backyard. We have left some of the bigger branches that have fallen because she'll chew on them all day if we let her. It is the cheapest and longest lasting toy that we have found. I just wish it was cleaner and I would totally let her bring it in the house. Well, I would let her bring it in the house once it was smaller. She runs around with the sticks that are over 3 feet long and she doesn't have a clue when she hits something, so I can't see bringing it into the house and letting her roam free with it.

Chewie was more relaxed the day I was taking pictures... I didn't have to chase him around or watch out for flying sticks.

This was the first time I have seen her use the tree to balance herself while barking at a squirrel :) Watch out squirrel's, you have another doggie after you

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Football Munchies

I found a great recipe on Macheesmo.com for an Artichoke, Olive and Cheese dip. The Macheesmo.com blog has great recipes which are usually really easy to make and taste delicious. I have been craving olives lately so this dip was perfect to serve to the guys while they are watching football. Oh who am I kidding? I made the dip for me, and the guys just got lucky they were at the house to enjoy it :)

Artichoke and Olive Dip (Adapted from a Bon App├ętit recipe)
Makes a 2 quart oval dish or 9×9 dish of dip.

- 1 (15 ounce) can artichoke hearts, chopped-
1 (8-10 ounce) jar olive tapenade, no specific brand needed-
1 Cup grated Asiago or Parmesan cheese-
1 1/2 Cups grated Monterey Jack cheese-
1/2 Cup fresh basil, chopped (plus some for garnish)- I didn't have any, so I used a little dried basil
1 Serrano pepper, diced (optional)- - I used pickled jalapeno slices... probably about 10 and I didn't taste the heat. Next time I'll add more.
Salt and pepper-

To make this dish you chop the veggies, shred the cheese, stir, place in a bowl, cook (30 minutes in a 400 degree oven) and serve.

I goofed a little and didn't have the olive tapenade on hand, so I chopped up black and green olives and added about a tablespoon of olive oil to the mix. I also added pepperoncini's to the dip, which added a bright flavor to the dip. This dip was really cheesy and delicious. We used Stacey's Pita chips and they were hearty enough to stand up to this dip. I'm sure you could use crackers or different chips, but you might need a spoon to scoop the dip onto your chip.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Our last full day in Jersey/Philly was spent getting ready for the Eagles game. Bagels for breakfast, went to the nursery turned Christmas shop, watched some odd children's shows and hung out with the family. About an hour before leaving for the game I started to get nervous for the weather. I knew it would be chilly but they were saying at kick off it would be 45 degrees, with a wind chill that would drop it even more. Hmmm... I was excited because this was my first night game (well... not really a night game, but it was late enough that it was dark) and a chilly game. I should have brought a hat and gloves, but I ended up buying gloves at the game because I couldn't handle the cold :)

Of course I had to get a family photo... Fred, me, Jim, Gilat, Kai and Keith
Walking to the game... Jim and Keith in the background

In our seats at the game. Fred, Keith and the crew were 2 sections over from us.

E - A - G - L - E - S!!!

Lucky us... we even had front row seats to a fight. It was more of a pushing match and was really pretty stupid. Eventually the guys shook hands and let it go

The sunset was gorgeous! I wish the stadium wasn't in the way, but I at the time I wasn't willing to walk to the other side of the stadium for a picture because the game was pretty good. This was around the 3rd Quarter. I gave up and just tied my scarf around my head... Jim said I looked like a grandma, but I didn't care. I was warm!
There was some game drama that kept us on our feet during the last half of the 4th quarter. Some stupid plays, bad calls by the umps, and 2 teams that really wanted to win had us slightly worried about the outcome of the game.
In the end the Eagles won by 2 points.... Eagles 26 Colts 24

Jim was doing his happy dance after the Eagles won the game. I'm glad that some of the fans didn't beat him up after doing this dance in the stands :) We left the next morning around 6:30am. The Philly airport was easy to navigate and didn't have any wait times.

As always.... we had a wonderful time on vacation. Now to plan the next one :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Family Time in Jersey

Friday night we flew to Philly to spend time with my side of the family for the weekend. We didn't do anything on Friday night except get sandwiches from Wawa for dinner. Wawa, for those of you that don't know, is a convenience store on steroids. They have at least 8 different choices of coffee, along with flavored creamers, they have a sandwich stand where they will make you sandwiches, and all sorts of goodies. I love this place. If I had the money I would totally open on up in Austin.

Saturday morning Keith, Gilat and Kai drove down to Freds house to spend the weekend there. Fred was working so we all took a walk down to the Delaware river to get some fresh air and to let Kai run around.

Jim, Gilat, Keith and Kai. Enjoying the park and watching the ducks and geese swim around. We did have to watch out for green duck/geese pooh.... it was really green and kind of freaky.

1...2...3... UP!

Gilat and Keith... love this picture of these two. We tried to get Kai in the photo, but he wasn't having it.

Jim and I

The trees still has plenty of color foliage on them, very pretty!

Oh mama! This is why I would weigh 400 pounds if I lived on the East coast. This was a very tasty cheesesteak, but it had a twist. There was a garlic sauce on it that gave it a hint of a piece of garlic bread was hiding out in my cheese steak.

We visited Peddlers Village on Saturday afternoon because they were having an Apple Festival. They had little booths that sold Apple Dumplings, Cider, Apple Fritters, Bushels of Apples, face painting for the kids and music. It was a festive little environment!

2 guys crushing apples for the cider using an old fashioned machine.

I'm not usually one to enjoy cider, but this was pretty good! It was warmed and had a slight spice to it.

Fred and Kai watching the pond and the fish

MMMMmmmmm! Apple Dumplings with a vanilla sauce. The apple was perfectly cooked, the pastry was delicate and the sauce added a little sweet to the dumpling. YUM

There was a little kiddy play area that Kai enjoyed.

Jim, Fred, Keith and Gilat

Kai dancing to the music

As we were walking along the shops, I noticed this Santa hanging out and I thought "Helloooo! Photo Op!" :) But Kai took one look at this guy and took off running.

I got a little closer and noticed that his eyes were almost glowing.... so he was deemed the Santa Troll and we all quickly walked away.

After Peddlers Village we headed to dinner at a local diner for dinner. It was nice to sit down and get some food into our bellies!
Kai got to try jello for the first time at dinner.... I'm pretty sure by the pictures you can see that he clearly enjoyed jello! :)