Sunday, November 28, 2010

Soup to Share

White Cheddar Corn Chowder

I love soup, especially when the winter turns cold.  Last year, I came across this delicious recipe and I've already made it twice this year!  Both times, I've doubled the recipe and shared some with friends and other families.  It's somewhat labor-intensive (as are most recipes from Martha Stewart), but it's well worth the effort.

White Cheddar Corn Chowder
from Martha Stewart Living, Sept. 2007
Serves 6
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups homemade or low-sodium store-bought chicken stock
  • 1 cup nonfat milk
  • 3 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 6 ears of corn)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 ounces sharp white cheddar cheese, grated (about 3/4 cup)
  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add celery, and cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add coriander, cumin, and cayenne. Raise heat to medium-high, and add wine. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Add potatoes, stock, and milk, and bring to a boil (skim any foam from surface). Reduce heat, and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add corn, and cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. *I added 4 oz of grated white cheddar cheese and let it melt before pureeing.*  Remove from heat. Transfer 2 cups soup to a blender. Let cool slightly, then puree. Return puree to pan, and stir. Reheat if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into bowls, and top with cheese. *I served with crumbled bacon.*  Chowder can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Baskets of Blessing

This year, my husband and I started a Thanksgiving ministry at our church called Baskets of Blessings, taken from Deuteronomy 26.  The ministry was designed to be both outreach into our community and "in-reach" for our congregation.  For the outreach, we asked our church families to collect non-perishable food items to donate to a local food bank.  Together, we were able to donate 8 complete meals for needy families, each including a $25 gift card for the turkey!

For the "in-reach," we asked families to compile a basket of items that represented God's specific blessings over the past year.  At our praise service, the night before Thanksgiving, families took turns sharing what was in their baskets.  What a sweet time of fellowship!

Here's what we included in our basket:

Our wedding picture
We've been blessed with five years together

Our high school diplomas and senior yearbooks
We've both been blessed with a godly family heritage and Christian education

An ice scraper
We considered the blizzard of 2010 to be a beautiful blessing.  Also, we used that ice scraper to hold open the hatch back of my 1989 Ford station wagon, which we were able to sell this year for $800.

My coupon book
We're blessed to have a little extra cash this year thanks to all that I've learned in the world of couponing.

My external hard drive
I posted about losing my external hard drive a few months ago, but this was a blessing in disguise - showing me my need for complete dependence on God.

Noah's new coat
Noah had been needing an "in-between" coat and I found a great one at a consignment shop for less than $5.  An added blessing was that on Black Friday, I saw the exact same coat in the department store for $70!

Mind Your Manners

We've been teaching Noah to say "please" and "thank you" for some time now.  While he knows that's what's expected and kind, he rarely says either without prompting.

Here's a rather humorous encounter from the other day, in my husband's words.  Obviously, we still have some work to do.  :)

Daddy kindly gives Noah an animal cracker.
Noah takes the cracker with a gleeful "Oooh!" and stuffs it in his mouth.
Daddy then asks Noah the all-familiar: "And what do you say to Daddy?"
*There is no answer at first as Noah is happily crunching his cracker.
Daddy waits, and then asks his son again, "What do you say?"
Noah gives a puzzled look in reply and then swallows.
Daddy cups his ear so his son knows he's waiting to hear from him and repeats the question a final time:
"What ... do you say ... to Daddy?"
Noah puts his hand over his ear (like a phone) and says, "Hello, Daddy!"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Must Have Coffee!

I stayed up entirely too late last night and came downstairs this morning to make a much-needed pot of coffee.  I returned a few minutes later, only to discover I had neglected to put the grounds in the filter!  The worst part was, I honestly thought I smelled coffee. . .

Prayer Calendar

I've been needing a little extra "encouragement" lately in my prayer life, so I sat down this afternoon and created a prayer calendar.  I'm sure there are more "professional" versions available, but I think this will help me pray for specific people.

I came up with several different categories of people/ministries in my life (i.e. my family, my playgroup, my Bible study) and I assigned a category to each day of the month.  I left room below each category to add a person's name, so I'm praying specifically for one person every day.

I'd be interested in hearing your prayer "helps" too!

From Bare to Beautiful

We moved into our house a little over a year ago, so I'm ashamed to say that this "home improvement" project is just now getting done. . . But we have a large bare wall in our living room that's been begging for some color and creativity.

I have a beige, sage green and plum paisley print for my curtains and pillows, so I decided to echo the design on the wall.  I found great decals from Modern Wall Graphics (though some of the colors weren't quite accurate) and went to town spreading them all over the wall.

It turned out to be a much bigger project than I had anticipated.  I had about 100 decals total and quickly found that they each took about 3-4 minutes to apply.  So, after 5-6 hours of work (spread out over several days), the wall was anything but bare!

But I wasn't done yet!  The decals themselves were a little too "bold" for me, especially considering the colors didn't match exactly.  So, I hung some great frames I found at Hobby Lobby and filled them with prints of some of our most recent family portraits.

I must say, I'm quite happy with the end result.  I spent less than $200 on the whole project. I got a 15% discount and free shipping on the decals and the frames were each 50% off.  The decals are supposed to be "reusable," so it wasn't even a one-time investment.  

It's nice to be able to make your house feel more like home.