Monday, January 21, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper and Carrot Soup

Do you ever cook in trends...slow cooker recipes, pre-made freezer bags, casseroles, stir fry dishes, or even heat out of the box meals? Last weekend I was anxious to prepare a quality soup and landed on Roasted Tomato Basil Soup.

The soup turned out fantastic and when the weather looks like this outside....
...nothing is more satisfying than a warm soup in your belly.
The bitter cold, peaceful snow, and grey winter skies inspired me again to prepare another soup yesterday. This is when I noticed my cooking trend and this idea was born:

As long as the temperature holds out below freezing, each Sunday I will feature a new soup creation. I'm calling it Souper Bowl Sunday! (yep, it's that cheesy)

This past Sunday I experimented and created Roasted Red Pepper and Carrot Soup. My inspiration came from the roasted tomatoes from last week's soup recipe. I had both peppers and carrots in my refrigerator on the verge of going bad. I wanted to try roasting again and a soup was in order.

*Here is what you need:
5- Red Peppers 
4- Carrots
1- Medium sized yellow onion, diced
5- Garlic Cloves, minced
4 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp. Italian Herbs
1.5 tsp. Cumin
1.5 tsp. Red Pepper
1.5 Liters Chicken Broth
Here is what you do:
Preheat the oven to 200 Celsius.
Place red peppers (I also used green) and carrots into a baking dish.
Drizzle the top of the peppers and carrots with 2 tbsp. of olive oil.
Bake for 50 minutes turning halfway through. 

Meanwhile... chop the yellow onion.
Heat the remaining 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a large stock pot.

Add the onion and cook about 5 minutes until golden.
Mince the garlic cloves and stir into the onions. 
Continue to heat for another 5 minutes.

Add 1.5 liters of chicken broth.
Stir in the Italian, cumin, and red pepper seasoning. 
Bring to a boil.

Remove the red peppers and carrots from the oven.
It is okay if they blackened a bit, it's roasting after all!
After the vegetables have cooled, remove their seeds, and cut into chunks.

When the chicken broth comes to a boil, add the peppers and carrots.
Lower the temperature, simmer, and cook covered for 20 minutes. 

In a blender, puree the vegetables and broth.
Return the puree to the stock pot.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
You can serve immediately or let it simmer for awhile.
(I left mine to simmer for a couple of hours)

This soup is great paired with a ham, tomato, and cheese melt sandwich.
The recipe is large enough to serve Husband and I two meals!

Guten Appetit,

Monday, January 7, 2013

Christmas Budget Home Tour

Anyone else sitting around eating way too much left over Christmas chocolates?  I got back to school today and found several more boxes of it waiting in my box.  Normally I would throw it out, but this is German chocolate  Thank God bikini season is much further away in Germany than it is in Texas.

Moving internationally a month after throwing a wedding and going down to one salary at the same time put us on a really tight budget the second half of 2012.  I had to get creative when decorating for the holidays and mostly used what I already had in my craft supplies.

Here is our Christmas Budget Home Tour:
On top of our FREE Ikea Expedit shelf was our main Christmas display.
The snowman is actually made from a miniature leftover Thanksgiving pumpkin.  I used white acrylic paint although spray paint would have been a better choice.  I did this as a kid to a large pumpkin sitting on our front porch.  The paint acts as a sealer and slows down the pumpkin rotting.

 Yarn Wreath on our front door. 
Miniature yarn wreath and canvas.  
All materials for these two projects were purchased at the dollar store. Each month I paint a new canvas and change out the wreath for the seasons. 

 Danish Heart Basket Garland
I used scraps of different green and red materials and yarn.

 I plan to use the heart baskets again at Valentines Day! 
Maybe I'll put up a tutorial.

Since we were going to be back in the States for Christmas we decided not to put up a Christmas tree in 2012.  This is something that Husband and I truly regret.  We really missed the memories we've made picking out a tree and decorating it together.  In the future, no matter how impractical it seems at the time due to travel or whatever else life throws at us, we will make sure to get our Christmas tree trimmed and shining merrily. 

Hope your holidays were warm and bright,

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Germany Isn't a Third World Country

Last week my husband pushed a shopping cart down the medicine aisle of Target and irritably said "You know Germany isn't a third world country" as I threw in a second box of DayQuil. 

So we didn't move to Ethiopia...and yes I know I can get most of my needs taken care of at Rossman or if not there then at an actual doctor's office.  However, when I'm feeling horrible and shouldn't be let out of the house, the last thing I want to do is stand in an aisle of foriegn products, trying to use google translate, to figure out if something is for my cough and/or just my runny nose.

Here is what my suitcase looked like flying home for Christmas:
My friend Anat asked me if I was serious.  Oh I was.  Just two pairs of jeans, three sweaters, and a pair of pjs was all that I packed for my trip home. I needed space. Lots of space.

Space for ALL of this!
Can you believe my husband and I were able to bring all of this home?! 

Most of these items were packed into our checked luggage and all clothing items were put into our carry ons.  I'm pretty certain our carry ons weighed more than our checked luggage.  We each had two large duffle bags full of new sweaters, snow boots, and heavy cookbooks.

I probably looked a lot like this walking through the airports:
Hunched over and feeling like a pack mull.

Yummiest Item:
Husband- Chili Powder   
Maren- Pure Almond Extract
Shelby- Beggin' Strips

Most Useful Item:
Husband- Metric Set of Allen Wrenches   
Maren- 4 month supply of Tampax Pearl
Shelby- New dog leash

Favorite Item:
Husband- DVDs
Maren- Mrs. Meyer's Lavender Hand Soap
Shelby- Black fur lined hooded coat

Oddest Item:
Husband- Bacon Jelly
Maren- Computer Power Supply
Shelby- Everything else

Couldn't fit into the suitcase so left behind item:
Husband- Jalepeno cooker
Maren- Handmade quilt
Shelby- her best dog friend Lila

We can get an equivalent to most of these items in Germany.  However, it is nice to have the comforts of home when you are in a new place.  Until there is a Pier1 or Homegoods in Germany I think I will keep leaving room in my suitcase!

Home Sweet Home,

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012 in Review

Happy New Year!  We had such a good time last night bringing in 2013 with our family and friends.  Husband and I spent our evening at a dinner party hosted by one of our best friends.  Throughout the meal each guest took a turn standing and saying a toast.  Between all the cheers and glasses clinging I thought back to what a year 2012 was to us. It was a wild, in your face, not gonna slow down, can you handle it kind of year.
Let's take a look back at 2012:
January- Yeah I can't remember that far back...
Februrary- Celebrated 28 years with my best friends at my favorite French restaurant.
March-cake and catering tasting, invitations, dress fittings, floral decisions, dj interviews, wedding, Wedding, WEDDING planning...........AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
April- STARR testing and super fun wedding showers!
May- Emotional knowing this was most likely my last year teaching after five wonderful years at a great school.
June- Officially signed the German work contract, GOT MARRIED, honeymooned two weeks in Ireland and Scotland. The calm before the storm....
July- Packed my life into about 100 boxes and sorted them by "Store in Parent's Garage" or "Take to Germany". Then Husband and I moved to Munich, Germany.
August- Ate Italian gelato, walked all over Munich, picked fresh raspberries, created many yarn wreaths and watched Love Actually 5 times.
September- Moved into an empty apartment and slept on an air mattress for a month and a half with just our suitcases.
October- Our crate arrived, new kitchen installed and our Labrador Shelby flew solo to Munich plus...Oktoberfest!!!
November- Participated in my first Christmas Bazaar as a vendor. Broke even and made enough to drink a margarita.
December- Started a new job teaching kindergarten! Came home for Christmas with the family and to ring in the New Year!
May 2013 be a little boring,