Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sunday Night Reflections

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Sunday's Soup/Cheddar Apple Butternut Squash Soup

Well, she's at it again!!! ;)

My sister-in-law sent me a link to a soup recipe. She wrote nothing in her message, just a picture of the soup, and a link to the recipe. When I read the ingredients, my first thought was, "hmmm, I'm not sure about this one." But I thought about it for a while, and decided to give it a try. Initially, I was going to play around with the ingredients, but the more I thought about the recipe, the more intrigued I was, so I decided to just go for it. Well, I am VERY happy that I did. 

The recipe is from the blog, Half Baked Harvest. You may remember that I made a recipe of hers a year ago, Wild Rice and Havarti Stuffed Acorn Squash. It was delicious!, and this soup is as well. It's a vegetarian soup, but not vegan. The mix of spice, and nuts, and apples is just amazing! You can find the recipe for Cheddar Apple Butternut Squash Soup with Cinnamon Pecan Crumble HERE.    

To make the soup, you will begin by sauteing the onions along with a honey crisp apple. Be sure to saute the 2 together as the apple and the onion infuse each other with flavor. As you can see, I left the skin on my apple.

The cinnamon pecan crumble is a must. Although it has 2 tablespoons of maple syrup in it, it is not sweet, and provides the perfect crunch to the soup.

Another apple is sauteed in butter for 5 to 8 minutes. As you can see, I sauteed mine until it had begun to brown. 

After the apple slices have browned, 1 tablespoon of honey is added along with a little thyme. Again, don't skip this step as it really adds such a lovely flavor to the soup.

To serve, dish up the soup, top with a few slices of the apple, and as much crumble as you would like, and enjoy!

I used unsweetened almond milk in my soup rather than the whole milk. The recipe also says to use 1 to 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese. I went all out and used the entire 2 cups. Again, wonderful.  

This is the time of year that I love to make squash soups. I now have a new one to add to my collection :)

Again, you can find the recipe HERE. If you like squash soup, I think you'll love this one.  


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Monday, October 22, 2018

Serendipity...It Just Happens

A very happy start to the week!

I had an incredible weekend!!! On Friday night, my husband and I attended an event called the Midnight Circus. It was 2 full hours of WOW! The troupe is an eclectic group of artists who have a shared vision that live performance has the power to engage and inspire their audience, the community, and even the world. A small circus tent is erected in the park, and inside the cozy setting you find acrobats, tightrope walkers, and even a dog!!! If you live anywhere near Chicago, by all means, try and make a performance next summer. The circus is performed in 28 parks across Chicago, from the poorest neighborhoods, to the wealthiest.  But, get your tickets early as they sell out!

Yesterday, a group of Haute Couture members and I made our way out to see the Fine Line fashion show, Uncommon Threads. It was a feast for the eyes. There were fabulous hand dyed and hand woven garments. We had such an incredible afternoon. Again, if you are anywhere near the Chicagoland area, put the fashion show on your calendar for next October. 

Maybe it's the cooler weather, maybe it's just the passing of time, but I am feeling more myself these days. I'm enjoying the creative process just for the sake of the process. 

I have been cleaning out...SO MUCH!!! I sent 3 very full bags of clothing to the resale shop last week. My closet has been paired down, and now I am ready for some new items. While cleaning/clearing out, I came across a box of items that for the life of me, I can't remember why I put them in a box. I found this dress that I started, whew!, I don't even remember when.

It's a gorgeous navy and red iridescent knit. Why I didn't finish it, I have no idea. But, I tried it on, it looks fabulous, so I am set with a wonderful party dress for the holiday season.

For some reason, the shawl below from Purl Soho spoke to me. 

Two different yarns are used to create the piece, Flax Down, and Linen Quill. It was 353 stitches of knit one row, and purl the next. I would typically find a project like this to be especially boring, but, I found it to be so therapeutic. Mine is below...in my favorite color :) If by chance you think you might enjoy a very simple project, you can find the pattern HERE.

A few years ago, I knitted this vest. I haven't worn it all that often, and thought of giving it away, but so glad that I didn't!

It's a perfect match to my new shawl! I just couldn't believe my luck!!!

The shawl below is a lovely vintage mohair piece from Scotland. Again, I have had it for years, but just couldn't part with it. I have only worn it a few times as it is just not quite as long as I would like for a shawl. 

Again, a perfect match to my new shawl. There is plenty to make into a skirt, so now I will have 3 fun, mix and match pieces.

I truly believe serendipity was on my side.

The skirt should be finished soon as I can't wait to wear it.

Have you had anything just materialize right before your eyes without any planning? It sure is wonderful when it happens :)

I hope a little serendipity finds it's way into your life this week and brings about some wonderful gifts!

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Sunday, October 21, 2018

Sunday Night Reflections

Today I begin a new journey. I would love for you to join me. Rhonda's Creative Life will continue, this is just another chapter of my life. My new blog can be found HERE.   

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Monday, October 15, 2018

Catching Up and Something New

Happy Monday!

Anniversaries are on my mind. As I shared yesterday, Mr. Berkley has now been with us for 12 weeks...and counting :) This past week, it occurred to me that I have a blog anniversary coming up. On October 20, 2009, I wrote my first ever blog post. Nine years ago, amazing! Lots of highs, and sadly, some pretty deep lows. But, that's life. This past year was an especially difficult year. Nothing to do with sewing, or designing. I am still working on the story. What I have found interesting is how emotionally draining the project has been. All the more reason that it needs to be written. More on the past 9 years in a few days.

This past summer, my husband and I were in Colorado. I love Colorado in the winter, and now I love it just as much, if not more in the summer. The picture below was taken at Rocky Mountain National Park. No, I was not hiking in that skirt!!!

One morning, Berkley went crazy, barking and running through the house. I looked out, and to my amazement, there was a GREAT BIG bear walking across the road. Without thinking, I grabbed my phone and ran out on the deck. As the bear came closer, I looked at where the bear was, how close he was to the stairs, and how far I was from the door. I decided it was time to run back inside :/ 

I had quite a bit of company over the summer. I decided that a lovely take home gift for all would be to make pillowcases. The middle pair were given to a friend who is starting a new life in Helena, MT. I am so very excited for her. I'll share her story at some point. She is one of the most inspiring people I know.

The pair below went to Austin, Texas. She loves them, and commented that she doesn't know what it is, but she actually sleeps better on these pillowcases. Maybe it's just the pillow, but then, it might be because they were made with love :) 

I gave a friend of mine one of my tea towels. I told her to use it in a bread basket. She posted this picture on Instagram and said that she thought it was too beautiful for bread and decided to put it on her back instead. What an honor :) She is another super inspiring friend of mine. Another story I should share. I absolutely think the world of her!

I had the honor of meeting this sweet lady. A number of years ago now, my husband and I were stuck in Lincoln, Nebraska due to an ice storm. I mentioned it on the blog. That prompted Joan to send a note. Since then, we have stayed in touch. She actually had a dream about meeting me! When she told me the story, I knew I had to make it happen. We shared such a lovely morning. She picked me up and took me to her church for morning mass and breakfast. Such a perfect start to the day. Gracie is always starved for a little love...Berkley...much more interested in whatever is going on ;)   

Joan gave me the sweetest gift. She actually chose the fabric just for me. Such an honor. The bags have metal measuring tapes in the top, so they snap shut. I am not sure if Joan used a pattern for the bags, but I will find out, and if she did, I'll share the info. Aren't they an absolute treasure?!!!

And finally, my something new...
This Sunday I will announce a new blog that I will be writing. It will not be for everyone, that's why I decided to make it completely separate from this blog. But, it has been on my heart for quite some time, so I am especially excited to have finally gotten it up and running. You'll find the link in next Sunday's Sunday Night Reflections post. I will only be posting once a week on that blog, but I think it will be quite special.

More to share, but that's enough for now :)
Wishing you a wonderful and happy week!

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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Sunday Night Reflections

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Sunday's Soup/Cauliflower, Leek and Sage Soup

It is a gorgeous fall day here in Chicago! Yesterday marked our 12th week anniversary since Berkley came to live with us, so today, we took he and Gracie to my favorite nature preserve for a lovely hike in the woods. What a joy this little dog has been. He has added love, laughter(us laughing, not him), and enough mischief to make it all the more fun. Some of you will think I'm crazy, but hear me out...
From the beginning, Berkley has stood up on his hind legs with his front feet up in the air whenever he is excited. Without thinking, each and every time, I have said, "Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!" My husband said, "I think he is saying, Hallelujah! Praise the Lord...I live with Rhonda now!!!" Believe it or not, I have actually taught the dog to stand on his hind feet and put his front feet in the air on command. I raise my hands up, and then say, "Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!," and little Mr. Berkley follows suit. I'll have to get a video made to prove it. For those of you who may feel it a bit sacrilegious, I apologize, but it really is quite sweet :)

Since I began sharing soup recipes, we have had MANY versions of Cauliflower Soup of some sort. You can find them all HERE. In the link, you will also see links to my cauliflower wraps, as well as my mac and cheese with roasted cauliflower. That's a Christmas Eve favorite! Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable.

We all love dishes with fabulous flavor, and we also like to be able to present our families with wholesome food. The soup I am sharing today is really quite basic, but so versatile. In fact, this evening, I am mixing a little soup in with some leftover Lentil Nut Loaf that I have crumbled, and will pour over egg noodles. A great way to stretch out an item that isn't quite enough for more than 1. 

This cauliflower soup is full of leeks. I love leeks! Begin with 6 cups of chopped leeks, the white part only. Saute the chopped leeks in oil until tender, and then add 3 chopped cloves of garlic, along with 1 tablespoon of celery seed. I could have used celery in the recipe, but I love the full, rich flavor of celery seed. 

Once the leeks are tender, add 2 heads of chopped cauliflower to the pot. Add 8 cups of vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Cook until the cauliflower is tender and begins to fall apart.

Another favorite of mine is sage. Sage just tastes like fall to me, and there's nothing like fresh sage. For this recipe, I used 3 tablespoons of fresh, chopped sage.

At this point, you are ready to puree the soup. I like to use a handheld mixing wand, but a blender will work well too. Once the soup has been pureed, add more vegetable broth to bring the soup to desired consistency. Add salt and plenty of black pepper to taste. Simmer the soup until it is warmed through.

I didn't do this before I took the picture, but a lovely touch for your soup is to fry a few sage leaves as a topping. Simply add a bit of oil to a small pan. Place the sage leaves in the hot oil for about 5 seconds per side. I could eat an entire bowl full of fried sage! Garnish the soup with the fried sage leaves.

Cauliflower, Leek and Sage Soup

2 large head of cauliflower broken into florets
6 cups chopped leeks
3 cloves garlic chopped
1 bunch fresh sage
1 tablespoon celery seed
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and black pepper to taste
12 cups vegetable broth

Heat oil in large soup pot. Add chopped leeks and saute on medium heat until tender. Add chopped garlic. Saute another minute to release flavor, but not burn the garlic. Add celery seed, along with the cauliflower and 8 cups of vegetable broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until cauliflower is tender and beginning to fall apart.

Puree soup until creamy. Add 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh sage. Adjust the consistency of the soup. Bring the soup to a boil once again, reduce heat and simmer until heated through.

To serve, fry fresh sage leaves in a small amount of olive oil, 5 seconds on each side. Place soup in bowls, top with fried sage and enjoy!

This recipe makes a very large quantity of soup. Freeze smaller batches to use in any dish where a cream soup is called for, or just to enjoy at another time. 

This past week, I warmed up a bowl of the soup and made a grilled cheese sandwich for my lunch. That and a cup of tea...HEAVEN!

Hope you enjoy the soup!

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