Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Lady's Chicken Noodle Soup

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Thank you Paula for another wonderful recipe!  My one and only complaint about this soup is that I didn't make enough.  Paula's chicken noodle soup recipe is....





Food for the soul. 

Make-you-feel-better-when-you-are-feeling-sick soup.

And everyone in my house is sick this week.  I think everyone everywhere is sick right now.  It's definitely that time of year for colds.  

It's also that time of year when it starts to get dark early.  Super early.  4:30 in the afternoon early!  Which is not good if you're a foodie photographer.  Most days in the fall and winter are gray  in Germany.  So that in conjunction with dark evenings make for really terrible lighting.  This was my soup picture last night:

I can fix it up a little bit in photoshop:

But it's still not as nice as natural lighting.

And here's leftovers, pictured during the day.  So much prettier in my opinion.  Speaking of leftovers.  This soup is wonderful leftover.  All the flavors mingle overnight and make it even more fabulous.

  I think this recipe will be the soup my kids think of some day when they grow up and are off on their own living down the street and not feeling good.  Mom's homemade chicken noodle soup.

This one is a keeper!

Note* I followed this recipe exactly except I didn't add mushrooms, sherry or parsely (didn't have any fresh on hand).  I used half and half instead of heavy cream because it's what I had. Also didn't add parmesan, but only because I forgot to get some at the store.  Though this recipe tastes great without, I think parmesan would have made this soup even more amazing.  It seems to be a versatile recipe that can be made your own.

The Lady's Soup via Paula Deen



  • 1 (2 1/2 to 3-pound) fryer chicken, cut up

  • 3 1/2 quarts water

  • 1 onion, peeled and diced

  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning

  • 1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 4 bay leaves

  • 3 chicken bouillon cubes

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 2 cups sliced carrots

  • 2 cups sliced celery, with leafy green tops

  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked egg noodles

  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

  • 1/3 cup cooking sherry

  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves

  • 1 cup grated Parmesan, optional

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream, optional

  • Seasoning salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Crusty French bread, for serving


For the stock: add all ingredients to a soup pot. Cook until chicken is tender, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool. Remove and discard bay leaves and onion. You should have approximately 3 quarts of stock. When chicken is cool enough to touch, pick bones clean, discarding bones, skin, and cartilage. Set chicken aside.

For the soup: bring stock back to a boil, add carrots, and cook for 3 minutes. Add celery and continue to cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Add egg noodles and cook according to directions on package. When noodles are done, add chicken, mushrooms, parsley, sherry and rosemary. Add Parmesan and cream, if using. Cook for another 2 minutes. Adjust seasoning, if needed, by adding seasoning salt and pepper. Enjoy along with a nice hot crusty loaf of French bread.



Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Parfaits

Pin It Now! Pumpkin Parfaits

I haven't made a dessert in a really long time.  Most desserts I want to make involve flour.  And anything that involves flour is an automatic disaster in my kitchen.  I can't bake.  One of these days I think I will try and learn.  But until then I'm cool with stuff that doesn't involve much flour.  Like these grogeous, beautiful and very pretty pumpkin parfaits.

They really are so simple to make.  As long as where you live they sell canned pumpkin.  And where I live canned pumpkin is scarce.  Thankfully my good friend Mama with Flavor was nice enough to give me one of her cans of pumpkin!  I owe her my life now :)

Wouldn't these be beautiful on a Thanksgiving dessert table? Ooooh or for a fall brunch!  Or dessert for a dinner party!

Please make these :)




  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin (2 1/4 tsp)

  • 1/4 cup cold water

  • 1 (15-oz) can pure pumpkin

  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

  • 2 1/4 cups chilled heavy cream, divided

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, divided

  • 20 gingersnap cookies, coarsely crushed

  • Equipment:

    8 (6- to 8-oz) glasses

  • Sprinkle gelatin over water in a small saucepan and let soften 1 minute. Bring to a bare simmer, stirring until gelatin has dissolved. Whisk together gelatin mixture, pumpkin, brown sugar, spices, and salt in a large bowl.

  • Beat 1 cup cream with 1/2 tsp vanilla until it holds soft peaks, then fold into pumpkin mixture gently but thoroughly.

  • Beat remaining 1 1/4 cups cream with remaining 1 tsp vanilla until it holds soft peaks.

  • Spoon about 1/4 cup pumpkin mixture into bottom of each glass, then sprinkle with some of cookies and top with about 2 Tbsp whipped cream. Repeat layers once, ending with cream.

  • Chill until set, at least 2 hours.

Cooks’ notes: Parfaits can be made 1 day ahead and chilled.

Recipe by Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez via

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Lentil Sausage Soup

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I lived in Hawaii for a year and theoretically living in paradise seems like a grand idea.  Unless you're someone like me who loves seasons.  Especially the changing of the seasons.  Summers are lovely in Germany and fall is simply picture perfect.  I love the change in scenary as the trees and plants transcend from summer to winter with gorgeous shades of oranges and browns and reds and yellows taking over.  The crisp, clean earthy smell that consumes the air makes you crave hearty, warm dinners.  It all constitutes cozyness.

[caption id="attachment_889" align="aligncenter" width="575" caption="Fall in my town"][/caption]

I love that even though colder weather means bone chilling mornings it also means warm comforting foods.   Soups are wonderful for the tummy and the soul this time of year.  While cruising the web for a new recipe I found this from Ina Garten.  (Who, by the way, is my new favorite chef).

Not only was it delicious, but there was a TON left over.  Perfect for freezing and using on a day I don't feel like cooking. And  Lord knows there are many of those days ahead with the holiday season here already!

This is a must try soup.  Serve it with a nice crusty carb :)

Lentil And Sausage Soup via Ina Garten

  • 1 pound French green lentils (recommended: du Puy)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for serving

  • 4 cups diced yellow onions (3 large)

  • 4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (2 leeks)

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 large cloves)

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 3 cups medium diced celery (8 stalks)

  • 3 cups medium diced carrots (4 to 6 carrots)

  • 3 quarts Homemade Chicken Stock, recipe follows, or canned broth

  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

  • 1 pound kielbasa, cut in 1/2 lengthwise and sliced 1/3-inch thick

  • 2 tablespoons dry red wine or red wine vinegar

  • Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.

In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onions, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent and tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for another 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and drained lentils, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, or until the lentils are cooked through and tender. Check the seasonings. Add the kielbasa and red wine and simmer until the kielbasa is hot. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.

*My changes: I just used the lentils available at my grocery store.  The soup did taste wonderful without the sausage, but as soon as I added the sausage it gave it a yummy smoky flavor.   I pureed the soup and then added the sausage.  I definitely recommend you puree the soup in a blender, food processor or with a hand blender.  Also the addition of red wine seems optional, but I did notice the flavor was much better after I added the wine.




Saturday, October 16, 2010

Birthday Brunch Party

Pin It Now! I'm really lucky and grateful to have made some amazing friends while living in Germany.  Lifelong friends.  This past week was the birthday of one of those friends.  She is definitely a special friend because when I went into labor with Baby Wright, she watched Little Wright for me.  And she brought Little Wright to the hospital to meet her little brother for the first time.  And she took this picture which will forever be one of my most favorite and treasured pictures:

Love, love love this photo.  Makes me heart melt.

So for her birthday I thought it would be fun to get our friends together to celebrate.  Especially since our group hadn't hung since the school year started. 

Since it was during the week and since we all have crazy schedules and crazy  sweet little kiddos I thought a brunch would be perfect. 

I went with a bright, happy, sunny brunch theme.  Pretty colors galore.  Yellowish orange, light pink, fuschia and orange.  I like the idea of using fallish colors, but with a girly twist. 

Here's my inspiration board for the party:

The party image featured in the inspiration board is from Angela at Simply Sweet Pastries.  She did a fabulous job and was an inspiration to my party.

And here is how it turned out.

I kept the menu simple and hip carb friendly: ambrosia fruit salad (in martini glasses for extra ooomph), blueberry muffins, apple cinammon muffins, doughnut holes and bagels and cream cheese.  And then orange juice (in wine glasses), lemonade and coffee to drink.  Everyone LOVED the onion bagels with spinach artichoke cream cheese.  Lenders Onion bagels and Philly cream cheese.  Genious!  And delicious! 

Oh and of course cupcakes.

I don't having a baking gene in my body. When it comes to baking, things need to be precise. Measurements need to be exact and there are so many factors (like oven temperature or high altitude) that influence the final product. As soon as it goes in the oven, there's no going back. I'm more of an "improvise on the spot" kinda gal. Soooo.... instead of mastering fondant to make my cupcakes pretty, I made cupcake wrappers and toppers. This is a big trend in the party planning world right now.

Here are the details of the party:

1) I made the design for the cupcake toppers, birthday sign and wrappers in Adobe Illustrator, printed out on cardstock, cut with a 2" scallop punch, taped the cutout to a toothpick and stuck it in a cupcake. Voila! Simple, right? If you'd like a printable pdf copy send me an email. If enough people show interest I'll include a free printable for this party (including happy birthday banner, cupcake toppers, cupcake wrappers, goodie bag labels and food labels).

1) DIY tissue paper pom poms.

3) Bright pink, light pink and orange ribbons laid on the table.

4) Fruit salad served in martini glasses for extra oomph.

5) Orange juice served in wine glasses. (Mimosas would have been great! But we had like 10 kiddos runnin' around.)

6) Bagels were placed on a platter with cream cheese in ramekins.

7) Cupcakes, doughnut holes and muffins were placed on top of tissue paper lined cake stands. (made my own cake stands)

8) All food items had labels.

9) Used a white bed sheet as a table cloth.

10) Included a vase of seasonal flowers.

I think that's everything.  It was a lot of working planning.  Especially since I did it in a week and a half.  I think next time I'll give myself at least 4 weeks :)  It was a wonderful time though and can't wait for another party!

DIY Cake Stand

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A do it yourself cake stand has to be the coolest craft project I've ever seen! I love cake stands. It's one of those things I've always wanted, but never really had a use for and never got around to buying one. But now that I am starting to love entertaining and planning parties I have a definite need. Not sure where in Germany I could go and definitely find a cake stand. And sure I could probably eventually find one somewhere, but it might cost more than I want to spend and who knows if it would look cute.

There are tutorials galore on how to do it.  It's easy and super fun. I'm addcited to spray paint now btw. I plan on making one in every color that spray paint is available!

I used this tutorial from eat.drink.pretty.

I turned a little tiny vase and a plate

Into my very own cake stand.  So cool!

This is how Michaelangelo must've felt after carving the Staue of David.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Table Ideas

Pin It Now! Thanksgiving is next month!  Is anyone else as excited as I am?  This year will be my first year ever hosting Thanksgiving.  It'll be a small group, but people I absolutely adore and I want to make it special.  I think Thanksgiving is a holiday that deserves special attention to detail.  I think that if you are hosting dinner at your house you should set the table and have a center piece and set a mood.  The whole shabang.  Holidays are about memories and a huge party of those memories is the ambience.  Ambience helps create emotions and feelings.  People will always remember how your dinner and setting made them feel that year.  I don't want Thanksgiving at our home to ever be boring or simple.  Simple is any dinner any night.  I want to have candles and beautiful fall colors and a table setting that is inviting and meant for conversation.

This year I want to incorporate a semi-elegant setting with golds, browns, oranges, yellows and a little bit of red.  Here's my inspiration board:

1) I love the beautiful centerpiece and candles in this table setting.  This person did a lovely job at creating a festive atmosphere.  I think my only concern with this setting is that the centerpiece is so tall that people across from eachother couldn't hold a conversation.

2) Love the colors and the lanterns. (picture credit)

3) Good Housekeeping shared this creative idea for a candle centerpiece.  Nuts in jars!  Love it.

4) I think the leaf place settings are adorable.  And I love that the napkins are tied with brown ribbon.  I love details! (picture credit)



Thursday, October 14, 2010

Do It Anyway

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Saw this on Marta Writes and love love love it!


by Mother Theresa

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered;

Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;

Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; 

Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere, people may cheat you;

Be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, someone could destroy overnight;

Create anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous;

Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten;

Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it will never be enough;

Give the world the best you've got anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God;

It was never between you and them anyway.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Perspective...the size of our world

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It's like trying to comprehend how much a billion dollars is.  It looks incredible, but it's hard to wrap my brain around. Watch how small Earth gets. Makes ya think....

Monday, October 4, 2010

Fall outfit

Pin It Now! I was on piperlime today and they had this outfit idea.  Looooooove love love! 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Halloween! Party Ideas and free printable!

Pin It Now! I'm excited for Halloween this year! I've never cared much for the holiday, but since becoming more interested in crafting and party planning, I see more of a fun side to the holiday. It's just another reason to have a party and get together with friends.

 There are so many wonderful blogs with incredible ideas. Here are a few I stalk for creativity:

I adore Amy's site offers free printables, craft ideas and creative party inspirations you will love love love.

Another blog I <3 is Paperglitter.  Linette is another very creative designer who also has Halloween freebies. Looove freebies :)  Her art is purdy.

Kim over at Tomkat Studio is very inspiring and just plain awesome. Her creativity and attention to detail are what make her designs truely unique and fun to look at. Her blog is what really got me interested in parties and decorations. I love cooking and having friends and family around and to me ambience is such an important part of making memories and events even more special.

So between all these amazing ladies and my own very basic and amateur experience in graphic design I came up with this:

Not too terrible for a first attempt, eh?

This is a staged party, which is why there isn't much food. :) I wanted to get some pics up for friends wanting ideas for a Halloween party. I plan on having the real deal within the next few weeks.

I made these circles for cupcake toppers and other labels for jars and such. I found the cute witch and bat designs for free from Gerberpernert.

halloweenprintable (Click for a free pdf download of the witch and bat cupcake toppers.)

I then created the trick-or-treat banner using adobe illustrator. If you'd like to print out your own banner, I highly recommend checking out tomkat, livinglocurto or paperglitter.

The tissue paper pom poms were soooo easy to make!! Seriously! If I can do it a monkey can do it. Online instructions say to use wire. (click here for an online tutorial) But I didn't have wire, so I used pipe cleaner and it worked perfect.

I'm a radical.

But not really.

I used stuff around my house to set up the table. I had some empty glass jars and glasses that I filled with halloween candy and also used martini glasses.

The Bewitchin' Brew wine label came from Centsational Girl. I love her too.  And the orange soda bottles are just A&W tangerine cream soda.  I also saw orange Crush at the store.  Both are equally festive for this time of year.  I stuck a trick-or-treat label on the bottles to give em' more charm.

ohhh. And I almost forgot. The chocolate dipped pretzels! Aren't these just so stinkin' cute? They tasted yummy too. If you like sweet and salty anyway. Which I do. Perfect. Simple. Easy. Cheap. Heck yes! Click here for instructions.

And for a final touch... printed pictures of spooky characters like Frankenstein or Dracula. I just did a google image search and printed them off. Voila!

Super easy Halloween party that is also budget friendly.










Chocolate dipped pretzels

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I made these for my Halloween Party. These are easy.  They are cheap.  They are quick.  And they are yummy.  Perfection.  Such a great idea for gifts, parties, fundraisers, giveaways...

Here's what you'll need:

1 (11 1/2 oz.) pkg. milk chocolate chips
Pretzel Rods (as many as you would like to make)
Mini pretzels (optional)
1) Use a double broiler to melt chocolate chips until smooth.  Remove from heat but keep chocolate over hot water. Dip half the pretzel rod into chocolate and coat evenly.

2) If using sprinkles, spread sprinkles out on parchment paper.  Roll the chocolate dipped rods in the sprinkles and coat.

3) Place pretzels on waxed paper-lined cookie sheets. Chill in refrigerator until coating sets (15 minutes). Gently loosen from wax paper. Serve immediately or store in refrigerator.

4) optional: If you have a lot of chocolate left over (because you didn't make many rods, like me) then dump a bag of mini pretzels into the remaining chocolate.  Stir very gently.  Then lay the chocolate pretzels on parchment paper and repeat step 3.

tip from Bon Appetite cookbook: If you don't have a double boiler, place a metal mixing bowl atop a saucepan of simmering water—but do not allow the bottom of the bowl to touch the water. You want indirect heat, not direct.