Monday, February 8, 2016

Cream of Tomato Soup

This creamy tomato soup is so delicious, it reminds me of something I had at a restaurant.  Even though it takes a little time to cook, it is very easy to put together.  So worth it!  You can even make this and freeze ahead.

Ingredients ::

4 Tbsp  butter
2 (28 ox) cans diced tomatoes, drained with 3 cups of the juice reserved
1 onion, chopped fine (I substituted with onion powder)
2 Tbsp  light brown sugar
1 Tbsp  tomato paste
2 Tbsp  all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth (for Lent, you can substitute with vegetable broth)
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cayenne Pepper to taste

Directions ::

1.  Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the drained tomatoes, onion, brown sugar, and tomato paste.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and the tomatoes begin to caramelize, about 15 minutes.

2.  Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly stir in the broth and the reserved tomato juice, scraping up any browned bits.  Bring to a simmer, cover, and cool for 10 minutes.  Puree the soup in batches in a blender until smooth.

3.  Return the pureed soup to the pot and slowly stir in the cream.  Bring to a brief simmer, then remove from the heat.  Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.


~This soup can be prepared through step 2, cooled, covered, and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.  Reheat over low heat before proceeding with step 3.~

Serves 8
Prep Time:: 10 minutes
Total Time :: 50 minutes

A reader of mine, Barb from Nebraska, emailed this recipe to me.  It comes from her America's Test Kitchen Cookbook. 

Thank you, Barb!!

~  Patty  ~

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Glazed Kielbasa Bites

These were awesome!!

As we drove to the Super Bowl Party with the tray of hot bites in the van, we were drooling from the delicious smell.

For people who are on special diets, this is for you.  No cheese or breads, just meat and fruit with a tangy sauce baked on.

Ingredients :

* 2 lbs. kielbasa, sliced into 1/2" pieces
* 14 oz can sliced pineapple, in juice, quartered
* 3 TBS teriyaki sauce
* 1 TBS sweet chili sauce
* 1 TBS honey
* 1 TBS pineapple juice (from can)

Directions :

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking pan with foil and spray with cooking spray.

2.  Place a piece of pineapple on top of a slice of kielbasa and stick a toothpick into them.

3.  In a small bowl, combine remaining ingredients.

4.  Place kielbasa bites onto the baking pan and brush glaze over tops and sides of bites.  (I found it easier and less messy to just dunk each piece into the bowl of glaze.)

5.  Place in the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes (keeping an eye on them.)

6.  Remove and enjoy hot!

Prep Time - 5 minutes
Cook Time - 20 minutes
Total Time - 25 minutes
Serves 10*

*I doubled the batch and actually got close to 50 bites out of it all.

I found this recipe at


~  Patty ~

Friday, February 5, 2016

STORAGE:: Photo Album Cases (BIG Project)

I have been wanting to do something with all of my old photo albums forEVER.  Shortly after moving  to Texas and realizing how limited our storage space was, I stopped creating any new photo albums altogether, (except for vacation albums.)

My albums date back to 1991 when I graduated from Creighton University and ended with 2008.  With the advances in technology, from 2009 onward, I used digital picture frames (for a few years) and saved photos on USB drives.

But there was still the problem with what to do with all of those albums.  They were eating up so much space.

A few weeks ago, I find inspiration on Pinterest.  I came across these photo storage cases::

These Container Store brand storage cases hold 12 separate cases inside, each is suppose to hold up to (100) 4x6 pictures.  They run about $25.  Yikes!

I posted the idea on FB and my friend  Mary  told me about the IRIS brand at Michael's that are usually always on sale.

The IRIS brand from Michael's have 16 cases (4 more!)  inside and each holds up to (100) 4x6 photos.  I bought these on sale for $20.00 each!!

Bigger and cheaper.  I like that.

I used up 2 1/2 of them eliminating 20 photo albums!!

I forgot to take a "before" picture after starting the project ::

I eliminated 20 every day photo albums, keeping the vacation photo albums as is because those are the ones that really get looked at.

My after photo ::

I organized in chronological order, and the more kids that we had, the more cases an album filled up.

I'm so excited to have some more shelf space to work with!!


A few years ago, I decided to organize the photos for my kids.  I started scanning every. single. photo. from the albums (starting with 1999, when Miss Sally was born) onto USB drives.  I made a USB drive for each of my children.  All the USB drives are up to date.

THAT was a huge HUGE project, but totally worth it.  The kids were a huge help, helping me scan the photos.

I told my mom that when she passes away, I'd love to have all of her old photo albums and recreate the same project so that each of my siblings (there's 9 of us) would have photos from our childhood.


In the end, the best thing about this project was reliving my life from 1991 onward.  Oh! The trip down memory lane.  I would text images to my siblings and we'd die laughing remembering the good ole' days.  The saddest year was 2006, the year my father passed away.  That conjured up a whole host of emotions.  All in all, I am profoundly aware of how BLESSED my life with David has been and what amazing parents I had been raised by.  So many memories.

~  Patty  ~

What's for Sunday Dinner?

I have a confession to make, I didn't even know WHO was in the Super Bowl until last week!  I just don't follow football and I live in the football capital of the world ;)

We were, however, invited to a get-together on Super Bowl Sunday with some friends, so I will be making a new appetizer recipe for that and will share next week.

This Saturday night, we are entertaining  friends (Miss Clementine's godfather and family).  I love that family, and all of them are coming, including their adorable grandson :)

I wanted to be able to enjoy the visit so I decided to make the Baked Ham and Cheese (with Dijon sauce) recipe.

I plan to serve it as before, with chips and fruit.

For dessert, we will be having chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.

Easy peasy!

Have a fantastic weekend and a blessed Sunday!

~  Patty  ~

Monday, February 1, 2016

A Very Early St. Valentine's Present!

Today, our Miss Ester received some super duper news that made all of our hearts happy.

Today was her very last cardiac appointment!!

We went in for a blood pressure issue, but found out it is something she'll outgrow and that her heart could not be any more normal :)

She wasn't due to be released from cardiac care until 2017, but he was very confident and made it official today.

She was born with 2 holes in her heart, (2) Ventricle Septum Disorders (VSD).

If you look at that image immediately above, notice the wall between the ventricles marked "Septum", it is there that she had her holes.

They found her defect at 24 hours ol, and was in heart failure by 14 days old.

Typically, VSD's will close on their own, just needing to be monitored ever couple of months with an echo cardiogram and EKG's as well as X-rays.

With great care and proper medication, we were able to hold off on surgery till she put more meat on her tiny bones.  (A very difficult feat for cardiac patients.)

At 5 months old, she had open-heart surgery.  14.5 years later, she is healthy and thriving!

It's been a very happy day.  Couldn't usher in February on a happier note :)

~  Patty  ~

Sunday, January 31, 2016

February! - Daybook Post

Outside my window ~

The sun is shining, and the fresh air is blowing in with a southern breeze.

Oh my goodness, how I love that smell!!

This isn't exactly the tropics, but  ^this^  is one of the reasons why we moved to a more moderate climate ;)

I am thankful for ~

* David and Stan having time for another camping trip

* the "girl" time my daughters and I have when the boys are away

* the priests at our parish

What we are reading ~

* I just ordered this for myself for Lent ::

* To celebrate the feast of St. Blaise on February 3 ::

From the school room ~

* This week is mid term week.  Already.

* Poor Miss Mabel.  She read the wrong book for Seton's  2nd quarter book report requirement.  It is considered an "I" for incomplete until she reads the correct one and writes a new report.  The correct report will be finished this week, and then she has to turn around and begin reading the 3rd quarter book.  (Trust me.  She definitely learned her lesson about double checking Seton's required book list.)

^^character building moments^^

I am praying for ~

* my children

* my husband

* for all those who have asked me to pray for them

* an end to abortion

* priests

Around the house ~

I had some plants in front that were in serious need of a hair cut!  I did not cut them back last January so they were pretty thick this past season.

Grasshoppers love to nibble on these.

Before and after

In a couple of months, they'll be tall and full once more.

From the kitchen ~

Lent preparations!

I am looking for a good Creamy Tomato Basil soup recipe for Lent.  If you have one you really like, please share!  

In the meantime, this Egg Salad recipe has been a favorite of ours for some years.

This Tuna Salad recipe is also very good.  I grew up with it (it's my mama's.)

I am listening to ~

Kids playing outside.  Basketballs.  Skateboards.  Bikes.  Scooters.

Coming down the pike this week ~

* Monday - cardiac appointment for Ester

* Wednesday - Blessing of the throats (St. Blaise feast day), Ballet, CCD

* Friday - First Friday Mass

One last photo to share ~

I found Miss Clementine's "pet" pig tied up.  She said he was at the playground, but the children were afraid of him so she had to tie him up ;)

Have a great week!

~ Patty ~


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