What is on your fall bucket list?

 

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Are you a list maker? I am.  I have countless “to do” lists both of the handwritten and the digital variety.  Those “to-do” lists are of the mundane type.  The chores that must be done, the work projects, the grocery lists.  I decided that I wanted a fun version, thus my fall bucket list.  So here it is:

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  • replace the ferns and geraniums with mums, pansies, and pumpkins.  Add a few jack-o-lanterns for Halloween.
  • visit a pumpkin patch
  • spend time with friends finding my way through a corn maze
  • try a new fall soup recipe
  • learn to make my great grandmother’s caramel cake
  • take a drive through the mountains to see the leaves
  • Watch a scary movie
  • visit the farmers market
  • jump in a leaf pile

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That’s my bucket list.  What’s on your list?

Seasons Change from Summer to Fall: Fire Roasted Tomato Soup

I love that there are four distinct seasons of the year.  Each one is unique and leaves me with a bucket list of things to enjoy and do.  The official start of fall this week left me with a major “to do” list.  Top of the list was mums and pumpkins for the front porch to replace the geraniums and ferns I’d enjoyed all summer long.  Next up, the first pot of soup for the fall.

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I love soup and with a busy schedule it is quick and figure friendly.  I tend to make up a large pot each weekend.  It makes enough to have a weekend meal and have lunch and dinner over the next week.  For my inaugural pot of fall soup, I decided to go with an oldie but goodie – fire roasted tomato soup.  It is quick and easy.

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  • two chicken breasts cut into bite size chunks
  • two links of either chorizo or hot Italian chicken sausage
  • one large red or yellow bell pepper, diced
  • two medium onions, diced
  • olive oil
  • cilantro
  • two 28 ounce cans of fire roasted tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • large container of chicken stock or bone broth

In a large stock pot, sauté the chicken, sausage, onion, garlic, pepper, cilantro, and salt and pepper.  When the meat is done, add in tomatoes and cook on medium heat for 15 minutes.  Add in the chicken stock and cook on low for two hours.

 

Heirloom cooking, vegetable soup and leftovers

IMG_9257My Mom’s vegetable soup is  a favorite.  I have fond memories of a bowl of soup, a grilled cheese sandwich and a rerun of an episode of Perry Mason with my Mom.

I’ve never quite mastered Mom’s recipe for her soup.  I think part of the reason is she used leftovers.  Ever the home economist, nothing was left to waste.  At the same time, my Dad was not fond of leftovers.  He called them reused food inferring that it was less than appealing, even when it was.  Mom’s trick was to repurpose her leftovers in a disguised manner that would pass muster for even the most discriminating, thus pot roast became vegetable soup.

I’ve come to appreciate Mom’s thrifty character.  Her table was always wonderful and healthy.  She was rail thin and I credit that to not only her genes but the way she cooked. Her ability to create wonderful meals that were inexpensive was brilliant and led to many “extras” as I grew up.  She was born just before WWII and her parents instilled in her that Depression era thriftiness and waste not philosophy.  I think she was on to something, spend wisely and save for a rainy day.

Mom’s vegetable soup / pot roast

1 two-pound roast, salt and pepper to taste and flour lightly

potatoes diced

carrots diced

onion diced

Place in Dutch oven with beef stock and cook slowly for several hours until done.  Serve for dinner.   Refrigerate left overs in pot over night.  Shred remainder of roast with a fork. Add two large cans diced tomatoes and juice, beef stock, one bag frozen mixed vegetables, one bag frozen white corn, one medium diced onion, one large potato diced, one rib celery diced and additional carrots, salt and pepper to taste.  Cook on low for several hours.

Taco Soup

I’m a soup girl.  There is nothing I enjoy more for dinner after a hard day at work than a bowl of homemade soup.  I enjoy cooking and I find it is better for me generally than fast food. I’ve also received a push in that direction from my doctor who encourages me to avoid the center of the grocery store and opt for fresh foods on the exterior of the market.  Of course if I want homemade soup, this means I have to make the soup to have it for dinner.  I have a number of “go to” recipes for soup and in the fall and winter, I tend to make a large pot of something on Sunday, sometimes Saturday, to have for the week ahead or to stock the freezer.

IMG_8926One of my “go to” soups is taco soup.  It is on the low-calorie side of things, tastes, and so simple to make.  I put it in the dump and run category of recipes.

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Three chicken breasts

Two large cans diced tomatoes

Two small cans of black beans

Package of frozen corn, preferably white or silver queen or two small cans corn drained

Half a cup taco seasoning

Half a cup ranch dressing mix, dry

Two cartons chicken stock

Salt and pepper to taste.

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I use a La Creuset stock pot to cook my soup. Poach the chicken breasts in half a carton of chicken stock.  Remove the breasts and let cool.  Shred the chicken and set to the side.  In the stock pot, add the tomatoes and remaining chicken stock, the taco seasoning and dry ranch dressing mix, stir and let simmer for two hours.  Drain one can of black beans and add to the pot.  Add the remaining can of beans with juice and the corn.  If you elected to use canned corn, drain and rinse the corn before adding to the pot.  Add in the chicken and bring to a boil.  After reaching a boil, reduce to low and let cook at least another hour, preferably two.  Then enjoy!  I enjoy it “plain” but you can also top with shredded cheese, sour cream or tortilla strips.

Post Script:  This soup freezes well.  I divide it into small quantities and freeze it for lunch when I want to take something for those busy days at work or for dinner after one of those days.

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Chicken Chorizo Tomato Soup

 

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One of my tips for managing my time is to make a large pot of soup on Saturday or Sunday.  I have several favorites that I tend to make in rotation.  I freeze some of the pot and eat off the remainder during the week.  It makes for an easy home cooked supper during the week when I’m running late or have something after work.

This weekend I opted to make a new favorite – chicken chorizo tomato soup.

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 large chicken breasts cut into bite size chunks

3 links chicken chorizo sausage removed from the skin

1 large onion chopped

1 red bell pepper chopped

2 quarts chicken stock

1 large can diced tomatoes

1 large can diced fire-roasted tomatoes

3 cloves minced garlic cloves

cilantro, salt and pepper to taste

In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté for five minutes or until the sausage cooked done and the chicken is cooked to a light brown, the olive oil, chicken, chorizo, onion, pepper, and garlic.  Add the salt, pepper, and cilantro and sauté for an additional two minutes.  Add the tomatoes and stir into the pot.  Let cook about two minutes.  Finally, add the chicken stock and cook on low heat for four hours.

Yum!

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