Friday, January 28, 2011

broccoli cheese soup in a bread bowl

i've always loved to cook, but since moving to tennessee i've really been getting creative and trying new things....just trying to be consistent in my life choices :) so twice now i've made bread bowls, and maybe 5 or 6 times i've made broccoli cheese soup since it's ashlee's favorite. i'm not a recipe user for anything except desserts and bread. i'm always experimenting, even with basics like pancakes. my last experiment with pancakes was adding apples, applesauce, honey, and cinnamon. it was a hit! anyway i posted on facebook about my soup/bread bowl first attempt and decided to make it again and attept to make a recipe out of it so others could follow because it was SO good! i've perfected a spaghetti sauce...i may have to write that one down too, because it was such a hit! it's chunky and full of italian sausage, bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes. my lasagna was pretty awesome, too. it had everything mentioned above plus spinach, zucchini, and squash. yummmmmy! ok so here's my broccoli cheese soup/bread bowl recipe, complete with pictures! :)

broccoli cheese soup

3 cans chicken broth
2 cans cheddar cheese soup
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup milk
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 bayleaf
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon parsley
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 cups broccoli florets (frozen or fresh)
1 cup milk

make a roux of the 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup milk. sautee the chopped onions, garlic, and 3 tablespoons butter in skillet for 3-4 minutes. dump everything in a crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 4. (my crockpot cooks hot, so adjust accordingly)

bread bowls

2 packages active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
7 cups all purpose flour
((i also added 2 teaspoons garlic powder and 2 teaspoons crushed basil for flavor))

1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water

in a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.

add salt, oil and 4 cups flour to the yeast mixture: beat well. stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well with an electric mixer at medium speed after each addition.

((since i'm impatient and my mixer is about to die, i just stirred it all in together. all 7 cups. worked really well actually. just kneaded the rest in))

when the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 minutes. lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. cover with a clean cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 40 minutes.

((boil some water and stick it on the bottom rack of your oven and let it rise in there with the door shut))

punch dough down, and divide into 8 equal portions. shape each portion into a 4 inch round loaf. place loaves on lightly greased and baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, until doubled in bulk, about 35 minutes.

((reboil water, and do the oven thing again))

preheat oven to 400 degrees. in a small bowl, beat together egg white and 1 tablespoon water; lightly brush the loaves with half of this egg wash.

bake in preheated oven for 15 minutes. brush with remaining egg mixture, and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until golden. cool on wire racks.

to make bowls, cut a 1/2 inch thick slice from top of each loaf; scoop out centers, leaving shells. fill bread bowls with hot soup and serve immediately. duh.

 all my ingredients nicely arranged :)
 yuuuum...sauteing the onions, garlic, and butter. i could just eat a bowl of that plain. plus it makes your house smell wonderful :)
 my roux of flour and milk...just whipped it with a spoon until it had no more lumps.

yummy soup ready to cook all day!
finished product!!! :))

Saturday, January 15, 2011

boys will be boys

the kids got out of school on the 21st of december. they went back the 6th of january. they were back in school for 2 days and this entire week they've been out for "snow" days. that means they've been stuck in this house for 24 days. and guess what?! monday is a holiday. woohoo. mark works every 3rd day...he's on a 24 on/48 off schedule. so, every 3rd day, the adult to kid ratio is 1:5. want to guess how many handles of vodka i've been through?

we've had some laughs and good times, though. movie nights, trips to the adventure science center, snowball fights, wii tournaments, and lots of snuggles. ashlee and kaitlin are phenomenal sisters. they get along better than i've ever seen any sisters get along. they spend hours together and never fight. it's amazing, really. refreshing. compared to aidan, jake and oliver. the three of them have such an interesting dynamic, which isn't shocking considering they're all within 22 months of each other and still trying to figure out their places.

jake will be 5 next month, aidan turned 5 last august, and oliver turned 3 in may. jake is by far the biggest. i can fit my feet in the child's shoes. i'm not kidding. i'll take a picture next time. he's not chunky at all, but i can't pick him up. he's just a giant. pretty sure his organs are made of iron. he's the most soft spoken of the 3, though. aidan, on the other hand, can be heard through 3 shut doors and a brick wall. and never stops talking. and thinks he's in charge of every.single.thing. i'm working on that. oliver can't seem to cut the cord to me. he has to know where i am at all times and tells me and mark he loves us about every 7.5 minutes. jake and aidan compete over everything. and i mean everything. 'i got more noodles than you. oh yeah? i got more hair than you. oh yeah? i'm bigger. oh yeah? i'm older.' oh it never ends. i'm waiting for one of them to throw a punch. oliver generally just hangs out by himself or lurks around me. they play so well together, though, considering. i know jake is happy to have boys in his life! they have an awesome playroom to play in and an endless supply of firetrucks and army men. what more could a boy want?!

 aidan and jake. destined for some true brother love.
 oliver, predictably alone playing with legos in the playroom...but happy as a clam
sorry for the poor quality of pictures. one, they were taken with my phone. two, these were taken approximately 3 minutes ago. i just turned around in my chair at the computer desk and shot them real quick :)

funny story about the joys of parenting strong willed children: the other day i walked into the kitchen and saw oliver's buzzed head standing suspiciously on the other side of the island. (first indication of guilt) when he saw me he jumped (second indication), then he casually dropped the majority of an oatmeal cookie on the ground (...third), then he stuck his bottom lip out in a pathetic attempt at getting sympathy and just started bawling (fourth and final). he was sent to his room and banned from cookies for the extent of this batch.

the very next night after dinner, mark and i were folding laundry and mark went to put clothes away in the kids' room. he turned the corner to the kitchen and oliver flew out from behind the island in the kitchen. he didn't even last 2 seconds and the lip came out and he started wailing. i immediately look at the plate of cookies that was precociously sitting on the edge of the counter. upon further examination, there was the evidence. an oatmeal cookie with an oliver sized bite out of it sitting neatly on the edge of the plate under the mangled plastic wrap. conversation continues as such:
because i was fighting back giggles but trying to keep my composure, mark started.
mark: oliver. did you eat a cookie?
oliver: [through wails] noo!
mark: oliver, i saw you. did you eat a cookie?
oliver: no!
me: oliver, why does your breath smell like cinnamon?
oliver: i don't know!
me: oliver, i see cookie in your mouth. did you eat a cookie?
oliver: [will: intact, quivering lip: not] nooo!!!
me: oliver. last chance. lie to me and you get a spanking. do.not.lie. did you eat a cookie?
oliver: [with resolve] no!
...and i proceeded to follow through with what i said and put him immediately in bed. while tucking him in, i explained how bad lying was and that if he had just told me the truth the first time he wouldn't have gotten a spanking. i gave him one last chance to redeem himself and asked again, "oliver. did you eat a cookie?" "yeah..."

momma always wins.

Friday, January 7, 2011


 me and mark...i'm dressed as a ref because that's what i had to wear to work...yuck. don't miss it a bit. only thing i miss is being able to pay bills.
 kaitlin, aidan, and ashlee showing their nannie berry spirit wearing their matching sweatshirts to school
 oliver, jake, and aidan visiting mark at the firehall and playing on firetrucks...nothing better!

 the (bald) love of my life. poor baby had his head shaved after his lice incident while with his dad in texas.
 titans game with mark! one of three! :)
 mark's parents took all of us to a pumpkin patch mid-october and everyone got a pony ride!
 my lovey with hair on his pony
christmas morning snow...perfect. missed my boys but had a wonderful first christmas in tennessee! :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

newness in a new year

so, since i'm in a newness kick, here's my list of new things i want to do in this new year.

  • invest in my creativity. that includes but is not limited to: photography, start a new scrapbook for a new life, free journaling, paint, sell more stuff, cardmaking, attempt papermaking, drawing
  • cook healthier meals
  • get a tattoo
  • be bold
  • go on a spontaneous road trip
  • go back to school
  • breathe more fresh air
  • play piano
  • embrace my quirks
  • grow an herb garden
  • find a true friend
  • walk across a field
  • see mountains
  • paint more walls
  • release the inner me
  • be inspired by my kids' smiles
  • repair relationships
  • listen to new music
  • make myself healthy
  • appreciate more culture
  • tear down walls
  • love endlessly
tall order. but i have renewed energy and an incredible support. it feels good to be happy, alive and in love. happy 2011. :))