Saturday, February 26, 2011

Vegetable Soup

I have been trying to incorporate more meatless meals into our menu. I grew up in a family where if there wasn't meat in the meal then it wasn't a real dinner. Times have changed and with our family trying to eat as much organic as we can afford, we have decided to have a couple of meatless nights to stretch our grocery budget (and try new things too)!

I found this recipe from the Food Network. I made several changes that I will note below. Jeff and I loved the soup and Owen gobbled it up as fast as he possibly could. I am a horrible recipe cook though. I am constantly adding different things into soups or taking things out. I think that my additions, especially the seasonings really added a great flavor to the soup.


  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped leeks, white part only (from approximately 3 medium leeks) -- we didn't have leeks on hand so I used onion
  • 2 tablespoons finely minced garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped into rounds (approximately 2 medium)
  • 2 cups peeled and diced potatoes
  • 2 cups fresh green beans, broken or cut into 3/4-inch pieces (instead of fresh veggies I used a bag of frozen mixed veggies, carrot, corn, peas and green beans)
  • 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes (I used only one can of diced tomatoes)
  • 2 ears corn, kernels removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup packed, chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • I also added a bit of dried basil, dried oregano and dried thyme


Heat the olive oil in large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the leeks, garlic, and a pinch of salt and sweat until they begin to soften, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots, potatoes, and green beans and continue to cook for 4 to 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add the tomatoes, corn kernels, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the vegetables are fork tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and add the parsley and lemon juice. Season, to taste, with kosher salt. Serve immediately.

Too Much Chocolate Cake

Can there really be such a thing? Probably not. This recipe is fantastic and has been requested several times. On top of being delicious, it is also easy as can be to make.


  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package devil's food cake mix (you can really use any type of chocolate cake mix)
  • 1 (5.9 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs and water. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour batter into a well greased 12 cup bundt pan.
  3. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake thoroughly in pan at least an hour and a half before inverting onto a plate If desired, dust the cake with powdered sugar.

Now for the chocolate glaze that I top the cake with...mmmm!! Note - you can leave the cake as is or top with powdered sugar too. I like the extra kick of chocolate though.

  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients and melt. I use the microwave because it is easiest!


Friday, February 18, 2011


We started the day off with Owen's hair cut (previous post) then after we picked Ryan up from school the boys had lunch and took a nap. Jeff surprised us by coming home from work VERY early for a change. YAY! About the same time the kiddos decided to wake up so we headed out the door as fast as we possibly could to enjoy this beautiful afternoon.

First stop - Ryan's turn to get a haircut. Ryan really didn't care for sitting still too long this time. He kept telling the man we are all done over and over again. Then we had a little snack outside while Jeff got his hair cut too.

Then it was time to head to a favorite playground.

Ryan climbed to the top by himself -- very proud little boy!

Funny thing at the playground. There was another man there who was wearing a green striped polo very similar to Jeff's. The man also had dark brown hair, facial hair and jeans and was about the same height as Jeff. Well the man's little girl ran over to Jeff and grabbed his leg thinking it was her Daddy. Once she looked at him she realized oops, not my daddy. Then moments later Owen walked up to the other man saying "Dada" and waiting to be picked up. I had to usher him away. A few minutes later Ryan was running around the playground and stopped in his tracks to look at that man. He kept walking back over to go and make sure that the man wasn't really his Daddy. We thought it was very funny. :)

After we played for an hour or so, we ran over to the nearby mall. Ryan loves to go and see the fish in Nordstrom. Ryan requested Chick-fil-A for dinner and we happily obliged. Then we went for a ride on the mall's carousel.

After our ride we came home and had a little tv time. Ryan's new favorite is Jake and the Neverland Pirates on Disney Junior.

2nd Haircut!

After I dropped Ryan off at school this morning I took Owen in for a haircut. He was WAY overdue for a trim (his last haircut was in October). Owen was such a good boy the entire time. He really didn't seem to mind one bit to have someone messing with him and wasn't bothered by the noise of the clippers either. After his haircut we went to Panera for a special treat. Then headed out to the outlet mall to do a little shopping. Owen spent most of the time walking and he did such a good job staying with me. Anyway - here is my baby looking so grown up!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Look

So I changed up the look of the site. I think I like it, but it still needs a little work. :)

Today I went to the gym for the first time in over 4 years. Yeah, it's been a LONG time. The kids went to the children's area and it was not until I was getting ready to drop them off that I realized that I have never left Owen in an unfamiliar environment without me staying there. I figured it would be ok though since Ryan was there and he could just be near Ryan. Well I suppose there was plenty of fun to be had because Ryan bolted and left Owen standing in the dust. Ryan had a fantastic time in the kids area. :) After my work out I went to go grab the boys and noticed one of the workers giving Owen extra cuddles. She said that he was walking around and just started getting big crocodile tears in his eyes. POOR BABY!! As soon as he saw me he started crying and saying Mama Mama. :( I hope he gets used to the play area and that he likes it. I have a feeling that next time he won't do quite as well at drop off since he will know that Mama is leaving.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I have a confession

It will likely come as no surprise to most of you, but I hate February. While it does have a few redeeming qualities, my brother was born in February, Valentine's day and several of my friends will be welcoming babies of their own this blustery month, as a whole February just kind of sucks. The days of gray skies, cold weather, ice, snow, winter weather advisories, heavy coats, gloves, hats, warming up the car, shoveling and scraping ice off of the windshield really wear me out. I am looking forward to the promise of spring in March, to seeing little signs that warm weather is on the horizon and to seeing little buds on trees. Although February is only 28 days long, it seems like it is 28 weeks (or maybe that is just me). I wish I could just temporarily relocate to somewhere warm and sunny. Winter is wearing me out. :(