Friday, April 27, 2012

Creamy Italian Soup and Friday Things...

Right now feels kinda like the calm before the storm of the weekend.  A weekend full of school carnivals, birthday parties and first soccer games.  It's gonna be a lot of good old exhausting fun and I welcome it.  This is what it's all about...the activities, the parties the running from one event to the next.  It is the things I will look back at in my old age as the "good times"  (I plan on being on a beach, cocktail in hand when I have these reminiscing thoughts)  I try to embrace it, even when I am just beat from it all because I know it goes so fast.  My baby girl is going to be 5 this weekend for crying out loud and I have no idea where all that time has gone!!  We've been watching her baby videos now, since we had pulled out Ava's a couple weeks ago and it is so fun watching the girls enjoy these.  They just laugh at how little they are and the things they said and did, while Matt and I just stare wondering when the heck did these babies turn into girls???  Aw, it's been fun.  

So, this week has been full...lots of preparation for Layla's birthday.  Lots of beginning pieces to what I hope to be a beautiful princess cake.  

Layla was all about helping me yesterday make the cakes and frosting, but got over it after the first batch, so then I was on my own.

Today, when I try to actually assemble the thing I'll either be really, really happy that it all turned out, or running to the bakery for a back up cake in tears (or really push to win one during the cake walk at Ava's carnival tonight!)  With myself and baking, you just never know which way it'll go.  She is crazy excited for her birthday, counting down each day until her party.  It should be full of princess fun with little girls, tiara decorating, and everything pink and purple.  (Too bad for the two boys coming to the party, luckily they are good sports!!)  

Earlier this week was a special day for Matt and I.  On April 24, 1997…15 years ago, we first started dating.  It seems like it was just yesterday, yet it's been SO long.  We were such babies when we first started dating.  How many people get together their freshmen year of college and end up together?  Crazy and so lucky.  I am so happy that we got to find each other while we were so young and experience all of the adventures of our twenties together.  Everything was just so much better with my best friend by my side-college, graduating, moving to two different sides of the U.S, vacations and of course, starting our family.  I asked Matt if he had imagined this is what it would his life would look like that night he decided to make a move.  His very romantic response was "Uh, no…I just thought you were hot and maybe we could have some beers together"  I suppose that's about right on for an 18 year old guy.  I was, of course, a smitten kitten and hoped this is what it would all turn into.  Here's to many more babe.


After a week of beautiful spring weather we woke up to snow today...

The yard where just last weekend had little girls running through sprinklers is now covered in a blanket of snow.  I know it will not last, but I am missing seeing the green grass today. This week we were so spoiled with sunshine, the occasional rain shower and warm weather.  I love how happy everyone is when spring comes here.  That's a great thing about living someplace with such a long winter…no one takes the nice spring days for granted.  Everyone is out and exclaiming "what a lovely day"  Gotta love Montana for that.  

This past week there has been some good eating going on at our house, but I was so preoccupied with birthday stuff that I didn't take any photos or do recipes!  Monday we had pasta with vodka sauce (Matt has this new obsession with martini's so we had some good vodka to use and it turned out fantastic!), Wednesday I was having a major sweet and sour craving.  Before I quit eating chicken that was my favorite greasy Chinese takeout item.  I have missed it, so that night I decided to re-create it with shrimp and even made my own sweet and sour sauce.  Mmmmm, it was so good and totally what I was craving.  Like most things, I never realized just how simple it is to make your own sweet and sour sauce and I will never buy a bottle of that again.  (Seriously-just mixed 1/2 cup vinegar, 4-5 tbls ketchup, 1 tsp garlic powder, 2-3 tbls soy sauce and 3/4 cup sugar...then heat it in a sauce pan until it thickens).  We put that sauce on top of fried shrimp, sauteed veggies & a bed of rice.  Craving kicked.  Last night we had my version of creamy Italian bean soup.  It is a very simple flavor, but very good.  The girls chowed it down and it is so full of good veggies.  No photo, but here is the recipe if you want to give it a try...

CREAMY ITALIAN BEAN SOUP
-1/2 onion, chopped
-3-4 celery stalks, chopped
-2 cloves of garlic, minced
-1 can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
-Some salt, pepper and dried thyme
-2 cups veggie broth
-2 cups water
-1 bunch of spinach (just the leaves)
-brussell sprouts (cut off the bottom and peel to just use the leaves)
-juice of a lemon
-around 1/2-cup Parmesan cheese
1.  Heat some olive oil in a sauce pan, add onions and celery and cook for around 8 minutes.  Add garlic, cook another minute.  Add chickpeas, broth, water, s&p and thyme (all spices, to taste).   Bring to boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. 
2.  Let cool slightly.  With a slotted spoon remove around two cups of the soup and set aside.  Blend all the remaining in a food processor until smooth.  Add the reserved veggies back to the soup.  Bring to boil again and add spinach, brussell sprouts and lemon juice.  Reduce heat slightly and cook for a few more minutes until spinach wilts.  Remove from heat, stir in cheese until melted and serve.  Enjoy!

Tonight we are headed to Ava's school carnival and after that it is at home date night.  I'm super excited about this one because I'm not cooking for it tonight, Matt is.  I told him I would probably be over the kitchen after Layla's cake so he's doing the cooking for this one.  This man knows me well and is doing one of my all time favorites...blue cheese burger and fries (he makes the best homemade fries)  We're going to add artichoke hearts to them...when we went out with friends a few weeks ago they had a burger called the "hippie" burger and it had artichokes and avocado on it.  It looked fantastic, so Matt's going to try to re-create it.  And don't get me started on the name...as a hippie at heart, I love anything with that in the title!  Next post, I'll let you know how it turns out, as well as all the birthday festivity fun.



Happy Friday!!

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