Thursday, January 30, 2014

And tv

*written Wednesday night*
Tonight I had an unexpected night off. A night off. What magic.

I'm watching "How I Met Your Mother" and man I like this show. I've watched it since Season 1. Every year I would buy the season on DVD and rewatch it with joy. Then I kept watching it and I got people around me to watch it. Later when Paul and I started dating we watched through all the seasons...sometimes it was too dirty or risque for us, but mostly it was funny.

So in it's final season I am committed to watching it. And man, I'd be friends with "The Mother." Which I"m so glad about because honestly my Paul is nothing like Ted but in other ways is everything like Ted. They share a like "dorkiness"....which is to say they are both cool...honestly, I think they are. But they like things on the "dork scale," if such a thing exists. Also they both like Rocks and that's a sign. And they both would take you on a tour if you asked and give you TONS of details in a teacherly way.

Adorable. Honestly, I love it.

When "The Office" first came on, I loved it. Watching was a treat, I looked forward to it each week. I kept watching, Season 1, Season 2....and so on. I own most of them (and as sales allow will own them all). Similar to "Friends" (the other show I own). Anyways....then I introduced people to "The Office" as I could....addicting others. I hosted thursday night "Office" nights and showed the episodes. I loved them. When the series ended I loved the final season - they answered every question, they finished the storylines....they ended with humour and love and I, for one, loved it. They left us with the Pam and Jim I'd always hoped they would - and even gave me my Dwight and Angela ending. They got it all right. 

So when I heard that "How I Met Your Mother" was ending I thought, Oh man....I hope they end as well as "The Office" did. Because that show did it right.

Half a final season in I can say that HIMYM is doing it right. I am loving it. You've gotten me hooked on "The Mother" and made me root for Barney and Robin....and I just love it.

On a side note: I love "Parenthood". I also hate "Parenthood". I at once love and hate it. I love the characters and the story lines....and also go crazy with their communication and their fighting and their pettiness. But it's probably real life if you watched all of a famillies fighting and their extended family's fighting. But still...sometimes it's infuriating. Just tell the truth! Just say what you mean! Stop lying! Stay stuff!! Stop assuming! It makes an ass out of you (not me, since I'm not in the show). 

On another side note: I LOVE "Grey's Anatomy". Honestly. Love. I also don't love all the trauma....can't they be happy? But aside from that I love it. And I'm sooooo curious. Who is April going to pick? Run away? Jackson? Matthew? Oh my. But aside from that Oh I love the "Mer-Der" and am so torn on the Arizona / Callie situation. But....Grey's continues to hold my attention.

Interestingly I hated Grey's Anatomy when it first started....My friends Gwyn and Riqui loved it...and oh man, I thought it was dumb. Haha. Then I kept thinking it was done. 4 years in I had breast reduction surgery and had two weeks to recover and not much to do. During that time I started my facebook account (great decision) and a myspace (terrible decision, my space sucks). Then Lyndsay brought over Grey's Anatomy to keep me occupied while she kept me company. Thankfully I didn't start watching the show until AFTER my surgery (I would have been terrified)....but I was hooked. I watched every season that had happened right in a row.

I don't have a lot of free time. I let shows build up on the PVR. I don't have time to watch all the shows that I like - I follow like 14 of them and usually I get about an hour of tv time a week, at the most. So I usually have to pick one show to watch. So my shows line up.....but every week I watch Grey's. I make sure of it. I don't even realize I'm doing it...but somehow I always make the time for it, but the rest of the shows line up.

Though lately I've been finding time for two shows - Grey's and HIMYM. And then when I finally have a moment to sit and watch more tv (when folding laundry or on a spur of the moment night off) I catch up first on Parenthood. I'm still only partway through this half season though - it builds up!! Catching up on my other shows is going to be a bear! Oh man.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Menu Plan Monday, Jan 27th 2014

Menu Plan Monday with Laura at Org Junkie

Upcoming week: 
Monday: Mexican Pie
Lately we've been eating a ton of Mexican Food and the trend continues. I made this Mexican Pie a while back and added it to the freezer for an easy meal, I'm so glad to have it for tonight! Also I'm having my friend Kayla over for dinner, so I wanted something that screams "I love you so I made good food!"

Tuesday: Queso Lasagne
It's lifegroup again so I wanted to try a take on Lasagna - Queso Lasagna....who doesn't love Lasagna with a bit of a mexican flair? I'll be prepping this Monday night. I'll also be attempting to make Peanut Butter Krispies Layered Brownies for Hanne and Christina's birthdays. Though, I know I don't have time to make the Brownies from scratch so I'll be making those from a mix, regular chocolate rather than the dark. I'll also be serving, I think, milk...since these sound fairly decadent. 

Wednesday: Mexican Bubble Up
We're having my parents over for dinner on Wednesday night, so we're having something hearty and tasty and kind of fun. Our house loves a good bubble up!

Thursday is my sister night so I need to be able to get out the door by 7pm. And we have some shrimp just waiting in the freezer to be used. On top of that one of our students doesn't like shrimp and she's out on Thursdays, so it's a perfect time to have shrimp!  

We have my nephews coming over to spend the weekend, so I wanted something pretty easy. I'll prep all the food during the day so I just need to cook it up when the boys are here. 

Since my nephews will be with us all day I wanted a meal I could easily throw into the crockpot in the morning and forget about all day, and then serve easily. The boys also love baking so we're going to make some cornbread (from a package) to go with the Chili. 

Sunday: YOYO
This Sunday we have a fairly busy day again - We have church at 3:30 (Paul is preaching), then it's the final Foundations, so we will either be eating dinner with our close friends in the course, or joining the big group for dinner in celebration. 

In Review:
Monday: "Mexican Leftovers" Casserole
The casserole was good, according to Paul, so that's basically a win! I tried out a new-to-me Mexican Restaurant in New West with my friend Ana, Taquieria Playa Tropical (FB link here). Ana is Spanish (from El Salvador and Mexico) and she said it was a legit place to eat! We were both so stoked to discover how great it was, and they have my personal favorite mexican dish, Flautas. We were very happy. On top of that we 1. had a wonderful time talking and laughing and enjoying our friendship and 2. Planned a kick-butt baby shower for our amazing friend Lindsay.

As suspected this meal went over super well - the only problem was it went over too well and we almost ran out of food. There wasn't enough to save for any of our students (yikes) but at least everyone who was home got to eat. This was such a popular meal!   

Wednesday: Chicken Taco Soup
I was out for dinner but everyone loved the soup! I also got to eat a wonderful dinner, I went to Toby's pub with my friend Emily. I love Toby's for two reasons, 1. If you sit upstairs it's quiet and comfortable and 2. their food is awesome, fries especially. Emily and I had a great time chatting and talking and I still managed to be home by 7.  Win! We both ordered the Pesto Chicken Sandwich with fries and were thrilled with how it all tasted. 

When I got home I knew I needed to relax a bit, but still had work to do. So I put a movie on my iPad and folded clothes from the comfort of my bed. The clothes were quickly put away and I moved out to the living room to catch up on Parenthood while sorting underwear and socks....ahh the high flying adventures of a city girl. 

Thursday is my sister night so I need to be able to get out the door by 7pm. I also have some ham at home that needs using up - so this is perfect! I'll serve it with rice or noodles (depending on my mood) and Asparagus, Zucchini & Broccoli. 

I spent the morning swimming with my mom, her caregiver Leanne, and my sister and's a nice way to start the day!

Then I had a great friend, Elle, over for lunch. I made us some Healthy Chicken Parmesan Wraps (oh so so so tasty) and served that with a side salad. It was a lunch full of win. On top of that we had some wonderful, deep conversation. I love chatting with Elle, she is so wise and so open to new ideas and conversations, it's always a pleasure to talk with her. 

I spent the afternoon getting ready for a night of projects with Paul - I painted a few things, and organized some other things and got ready for a time of hard work!

I have to be in a specific mood for finicky and I sure wasn't in that mood Friday. Instead I used that night to make Chicken Cordon Bleu (that I'd been supposed to make Thursday). I served it with Zucchini Pizza Bites, leftover mashed potatoes & leftover salad (from lunch). 

After dinner we spent the entire night tidying, organizing, gutting and purging. We redid the laundry room and it is finally tidy and organized. Pictures to come!

Saturday: YOYO
I spent the afternoon with Irene and Mila helping plan Mila's end of June wedding. We came up with some AWESOME decor ideas and the wedding is going to be beautiful! Mila has been my friend since she moved here, October of 2008. She moved into my Aunt's home where I was living at the time and I instantly thought she was awesome. I love being in church with her, and am so glad she's found the guy of her dreams. Benni is pretty awesome, despite the fact that he and Mila will be going to his church after they are married (sad for EN, but lucky for Benni's church!). Getting to help with her wedding is super awesome....I think of Mila like a little sister as her big brother Daniel was one of Paul's best friends (when Daniel still lived in Canada) and was in our wedding....he seems like a brother, therefore Mila is little sister. 

Trying to find a photo of Mila and I was so tricky! In every shot we're either in costumes or looking really silly....the shots below are just a few samples of the silliness. 
And every photo were we look great is in a group shot at a wedding or church there you go. Mila and I are off to the left in the group shot. And we need to remember to start getting photos together when we look good!

In the evening Paul and I headed out to Surrey for his Nanna's birthday, we could only stay for appies as we'd had long prearranged plans, but we were so glad to join for a bit. Then we headed out with some friends for Dine Out Vancouver, at Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co., it was a great place to eat. I had the Dill Fettucini and it was excellent. 

Then we headed out to The Princeton for 10pm...our friend Sam (and Jonathan's) band, East of Main, was playing and we try to hit up as many of their shows as we can. Tons of our friends were there, the venue wasn't as scary as the location made it seem, and of course the music was excellent. I finally bought their CD and have been listening to it non-stop since Saturday. 

Sunday: YOYO
This Sunday we had a fairly busy day - We had friends over at 1 to talk about church and lifegroup, then church at 3:30, followed by Foundations...and lastly at 7pm we went out to Chipotle with our friends to celebrate Hanne's birthday! Chipotle was better than I expected (having only had one lackluster experience two years ago in Nashville) and the conversation around the table was uproarious. 

My personal favorite line of the night came after Paul shocked the guys at the table by saying he did like donuts, and admitted that if pressed he only liked Old Fashioned Plain. To which I replied in excitement, "Old Fashioned Plain, I feel like that's the best description of Paul I've ever heard."

Afterwards we headed back to our house for DQ Ice Cream Cake and lots of laughter and talking, including most embarrassing moments and more. At 9:30 I kindly kicked everyone out so I could make lunches and hit the hay. 

All in all, another great week. Looking back though I realized that between breaking the fast, Dine Out, two dates with friends and some other random moments one or both of us had eaten out 6 times in 10 days!!! Normally we eat out MAYBE once a month, MAYBE. Weeks like this are always a bit of a hit to the budget!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Menu Plan Monday, January 20th

Menu Plan Monday with Laura at Org Junkie

Upcoming week: 
Monday: "Mexican Leftovers" Casserole
Lately we've been eating a ton of Mexican Food. I have no idea why but I've been addicted....from Mexi-Rice, to Mexican Pie, and Hearty Chili Mac (with tons of Taco spices added) and Crockpot Taco Chicken Chili. I found myself with a bit of leftovers from all of these recipes. I'd already made lunches for our students and didn't want to force more on them all week, so I grabbed a big bowl and through all the leftovers that we had together. It looked and smelt great, actually. For the Mexican Pie I chopped it up into bite size pieces before throwing it in. Then I added a can of Corn and a can of diced tomatoes with chilies and mixed it all together. I put all of that in a baking container and put it in the freezer for an easy dinner option. As I'm out for dinner tonight this was the perfect time for the house to eat it, it's thawing in the fridge as I type. Paul will take it out of the fridge around 2 to help thaw it further, and then after it's been baking for about 45 minutes I'll have him top it with shredded cheddar cheese and bake for another 15 minutes. Easy peasy!

Tonight I am making a house favorite - the reasons are three fold. Firstly, I have extra Pita's in the house, so this is a good way to use them. Second, after grocery shopping this weekend (and purchasing more chicken) I realized the ridiculous amounts of chicken I have stockpiled. And lastly, this is always a crowd pleaser and most people in our lifegroup were fasting last week, so this will make them happy.  

Wednesday: Chicken Taco Soup
I'm out for dinner this night, so something crockpot based was needed - all Paul will have to do is shred the chicken in the mixer and then add that and some sour cream and cheddar cheese to the soup. This was a huge hit with the youth last week and everyone in the house is dying to try it. 

Thursday is my sister night so I need to be able to get out the door by 7pm. I also have some ham at home that needs using up - so this is perfect! I'll serve it with rice or noodles (depending on my mood) and Asparagus, Zucchini & Broccoli. 

Since I have Friday off it seemed like a good time to try this meal that is a bit more finicky. My friend Rachelle made it for me when I visited her in Portland in October and I loved it. 

For lunch I am having Mila and Irene over so that we can have a planning session for Mila's upcoming wedding. I'm making a healthy and tasty lunch (I will be adding greek salad to the meal) that isn't too heavy so that we can still focus to plan. 

Paul and I are out for dinner with some friends for Dine Out Vancouver, at Rocky Mountain Flatbread Co. so our house is on their own for dinner. 

Sunday: YOYO
This Sunday we have a fairly busy day - We have church at 3:30, then it's Foundations (a bible study for new people, new christians or non-believers) at 5:15, followed by a Deacons meeting at 7pm.  meeting. Basically we leave for church at 3:10 and will return around 9pm. Busy busy. Last week we had a similar timeframe and had forgotten to grab food at home to bring with us and had to eat out, I'm hoping we can remember to make sandwiches ahead of time. 

In Review:
Monday: Leftover Mexican Pie
Monday night was day one of fasting for Paul and I, the leftovers were a hit with the rest of the house. I spent the evening making soup with our chinese student Jessie. (which I talked about here). Jessie is a lot of fun - we laughed and I got to explain english idioms like "stirring the pot" since we actually needed to do so to keep the soup cooking. We also got to practice english vocabulatry words - "cooperative" is a tricky word!

Tuesday: Hearty Chili Mac
This was another successful recipe - and I should tell you why. The recipe itself is medium ok....nothing great, but not bad. What I do to kick it up a notch is add taco seasoning and a can of cheese sauce. Works like a charm. I made the noodles for this dinner and Wednesday's dinner Monday night so I got to just toss the noodles in there at the last second. 

For lifegroup I made chai latte's and served juice, tea, water and coffee. People were so thankful for the beverages during fasting! We had a wonderful prayer time - we broke into guys and girls and the girls prayer time was POWERFUL. Man. It was good. 

Wednesday: Beef Stroganoff
Wednesday morning I got up late and didn't have time to throw the Stroganoff into the crock pot....but since the noodles and beef were already cooked I put all the ingredients together into a stockpot and let it cook there for 45 minutes and it was ready for the house to eat by 6:15pm. I would definitely make this again. 

We hosted Women at Prayer at the house - again I made chai latte's and served juice, tea, water and coffee. The Chai Latte's were a huge success a second night in a row. Prayer and worship were great, and it was such a treat to be with so many women from the church. I was so pumped! I kept wanting to jump up and down, and even shout. I have no idea where it came from but it was awesome. 

Thursday: Chicken Taco Soup Leftovers
There were so many leftovers in the fridge and only have the house was eating - I declared this a leftovers night and no one minded a bit. To quote our housemate Duncan, "You have mastered the art of family cooking. I NEVER dread leftovers like I did when I was a kid." High praise indeed! Duncan is never afraid to be kind and gracious with his words and I so appreciate it!

Friday: Crockpot Taco Chicken Chili Leftovers again!
The fridge was still filled with food and I knew I was cooking a big dinner Saturday and wanted that stuff eaten up. So leftovers again!

Friday I was up early to drop Paul off at work and then head down to Bellingham, WA for groceries. I ran into my friend Emily at Trader Joe's (which was a treat) and was back by 2pm - I picked up Paul who was just finishing work and dropped him off at his afternoon job and then joined Jenna and the boys at the park to watch the boys run around like crazy and talk with Jenna. Then I picked Paul up from his afternoon job and we headed home to unload the groceries from the car and prep for the following day. 

Friday night is always my favorite day of the week of prayer and fasting - we meet for a breaking the fast celebration, we talk and tell stories of what God did. This year we gathering in our pastors house and it was awesome. People were expected and faith filled and it felt like so much fun. Afterwards we headed out with a bunch of our philipino and chinese friends to grab Vietnamese food - Lemongrass Pork with spring rolls, and my fast was a thing of the past. 

We were up early and off for a day with friends on a boat. As we headed out I packed us up a picnic lunch and put the burrito mix into the slow cooker. We had a relaxing day with our friends (new and old) and enjoyed the boat ride to Bowen thoroughly. 

Paul getting bait ready for fishing

Boats docked at Bowen

Irene, Chenny and myself

Sights around Bowen

Including the worlds smallest candy store - TC's idea of heaven. 
He bought old favorites from back home.

We got home right at 5:30 when people were starting to arrive for the Board Game Extravaganza. Thankfully our friends are almost like family, so they pitched in immediately to help. Hanne and Ana became my sous-chef's and we pumped out a wonderful dinner in no time. Josh was amazing and did the dishes (so thankful) and then everyone else helped pitch in as needed. The recipe was a big success - the crowd loved it and it's been requested to be added to the lifegroup meal rotation, which works for me since it fed 14 people without much fuss.

Then it was on to the games! To start we had Table 1 - Ticket to Ride, Table 2 - Settlers: Cities & Knights, and Table 3 - Agricola. The games were so good. As the night wore down and three couples left, the remaining 4 couples started a last set of games: Aquire for the guys and Settlers: Cities & Knights for the girls. It was an epic success of a night. Our friends are all kinds of awesome. Plus I won at Settlers, so that's extra good. 

Sunday: YOYO
The only draw back to such a great Saturday was how late we stayed up - we were playing games until almost 1am, so I needed all the sleep I could get! I slept in until 12:30 and it was awesome. Muchly needed as the rest of the day was going to be a bit crazy. 

Church was a showcase of the ministry areas in our church so each ministry area needed to set up a booth - I am in charge of Women's Ministry so I got our booth all prettied up - our girls all wore matching colors and we won for best Table! I'm not sure if ours was better than the amazing campus or international ones BUT I will say that my shirt perfectly matched the tablecloth, so there's that. 

*Photos by Dorothy Wong, church photographer extraordinaire!*

The church service was super fun, we were having the ENVy's - our church's yearly award ceremony. Our church initials are ENV (Every Nation Vancouver) so the name seems appropriate. I won the "Iron Chef" award for feeding so much of the church at lifegroup and other events, which was fun. There was lots of laughter and good times in that service. 
*Photos by Dorothy Wong*

Then it was on to Foundations: my uncle, Pastor Greg, teaches the course and it is so helpful to be reminded of basic foundational truths. A bunch of our friends are in the course, so it's extra awesome. 
*Photos by Dorothy Wong*

We quickly grabbed dinner then headed off to the lifegroup leaders meeting. We were home by 9:15 - in time to make lunches and then hit the hay. Sleep was so needed after that evening!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Classy DIY Bar

There are moments in life when inspiration hits and you know your life will be changed for the better. This post details one of those moments. I was reading one of the blogs I followed and the blogger described a sewing desk makeover - taking a sewing desk (and the hole made for the sewing machine) and turning it into a bar. I was hooked. 

There were two problems: I did not have a sewing desk and had no idea where to find one. Thankfully I am quite the craigslist troll - the last time I wanted a specific piece of old crappy furniture to revamp I scoured craigslist until I found exactly what I wanted. So I decided to do that again. I started searching Craigslist and FINALLY I came up with something. The biggest problem was that a free sewing machine desk on craigslist is going to go like crazy. I discovered the ad around 11am on a work day. I immediately called the owner (the post hadn't even been up for half an hour) and told him that Paul could be there at 4pm that day to pick it up. I confirmed that FOR SURE we would be there and asked him not to give it away until then. I called him at 3:30pm to let him know Paul was on the way and he said he had another 20 phone calls over the day! I'm so thankful I jumped in immediately and that he held it for us! Paul arrived to picked it up and it was perfect! 

Then I headed off to Home Depot to talk to my favorite paint lady - Anna. Anna has helped me with all my paint projects and I love her for it. I even made sure to bring one of the drawers so that we would be able to match color and make a plan with all the details in mind. We decided to paint the base turquoise but stain the top a dark brown. She helped me pick a liquid shellac remover that let me strip the top of the piece, and then some sandpaper to smooth out the base. She gave me detailed instructions (Anna is seriously the best) and I was on my way. 

I used the liquid remover to strip the top of the cabinet, then Paul very kindly used my Uncle's electronic sandpaper tool and sanded that down for me and it was ready for painting! I did two coats of the turquoise on the base and then 2 coats of the stain on the top. 

Ready to strip the surface!


Paul sanding the secretary and then next the base of the desk

Garage all closed up with cabinets stripped and sanded, ready for paint!

Two coats of turquoise down (with one more patch coming to fill in that blurry spot), and ready to stain!

The before of the wood and the stain we used

My friend Elle helped me with this part...look how smooth the wood looks. I love it!

Then it was brainstorming time - while the cabinet had a perfect hole (and insert to fill the hole when not in use) there was no mechanism in place to hold a bucket or ice tray. I wasn't sure how I could put a basin in there to hold ice for drinks. Paul and I had lots of ideas and finally decided to get L brackets from Home Depot and put them on each wall facing out, so that a bucket could rest on them. Also, finding a perfect size of bucket was proving very difficult - I finally found the one at Dollarama - it was a litter box and it was $1.25. Awesome. 

Paul installed the brackets and tub for me and I worked on spray painting the door handle and two pieces of hardware the same color (a old fashioned bottle opener and a hook for hanging a bar towel). Once they were dry, Paul attached them for me and with those additions the cabinet was complete. 

The new bar not only adds a nice splash of color to the dining room but it's so useful. Even all closed up it nicely holds cocktail helpers (like my new stir sticks from my great friend Irene) and once opened up it's perfect for parties. We brought the bar up in October just in time for Thanksgiving - it's been so wonderful ever since. Tons of parties and different events now and I can attest that it holds up through all of them. 

The tub also makes a great pouring station!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday Soup Day

For many years I thought soup only came out of cans. I knew you could get it at restaurants, but if you'd pressed me on the issues I probably thought they got their soup out of cans also. I don't know what magic soup maker I thought existed on the other side of the can, but that seems to be the general theory. 

Growing up we had soup at least once a week, usually on Sundays with tuna melts or grilled cheese, or even just a regular sandwich. The soup was always Campbells - Tomato or Mushroom. Usually a little bowl of both. Enter the belief that soup is can based. 

I also knew that at Thanksgiving and Christmas Dad would make Turkey soup with barley - now I did compute the fact that I watched him make that soup and he wasn't a magic can soup maker - but I didn't like that soup, so somehow I managed to put that aside. It seemed that even if you did try to make soup at home it would suck (sorry Dad, I realize now how awesome homemade turkey soup is - everyone else loved your soup) so there was no point in trying...and I assumed that most people have coped on to this fact, and therefore the soup can industry continued to thrive. When I joined Weight Watchers (age 22) they taught us to make zero point soup - it wasn't super tasty and I didn't love it. This only reinforced my soup as "crappy when homemade" theory. 

I became a Christian January 2006, I was 23. I was over visiting my christian aunt (who I'd avoided visiting before because of that christian thing - sad to look back and realize my soup world could have been rocked years earlier if I'd just visited her sooner!) who was cleaning up after a party. There was a leftover veggie tray and rather than throw the veggies out she chopped them up and threw them in some broth to make soup. I remember thinking, oh brother here we go again. Why do people keep trying? 

But then she did something magical - after the soup was cooked (and she'd added great flavors) she took her immersion blender and blended it so it was like a cream soup. She added a small amount of milk, but mostly by blending the veggies it felt nice and creamy. When she poured me a bowl of that soup, I was smitten. Never had homemade soup tasted like soup was supposed to! It's consistency, just like restaurant soup (high praise in my books). I was hooked. I immediately went out and bought myself an immersion blender (recalling that they are also great for using to make milkshakes - thanks for that Dad!) and thus started a love affair with homemade soups. 

I began with the WW Zero point soup - once blended that soup took on flavors and textures it had only previously dreamed about. I loved it. I began to make vegetable soup a staple in my home - I would make a big batch once a week and freeze it for lunches - it kept me healthy and eating happily. 

I started to branch out - sometimes adding potatoes for bulk, sometimes adding cream, sometimes just broth. I ventured into the high stakes world of pumpkin soup (side note, it's more onion soup with pumpkin overtures) with more success than expected and took a leap into spinach soup (just as much a garlic soup as a spinach). I became known, in all the corners of our house, as soup queen (not accurate - I just made that up). 

But some real challenges remained - the soup can industry had such a cap on Tomato Soup and Chicken Noodle Soup I had never dared try to recreate those. Tomato was illusive - try as I might my soup was so far from their perfect offering. Over the years I tried disappointing recipe after disappointing recipe. To this day Tomato Soup alludes me - and I mourn for it. And to even attempt Chicken Noodle - can't even blend it. I knew that was one benchmark I would have to learn not to strive for. 

Well - I am proud to say that while Tomato still alludes me (though I've created one passable offering) Chicken Noodle Soup is now MINE. Specifically Turkey Noodle, but I'm confident in my ability to sub in chicken for turkey. Last night my confidence seemed to hit an all time high, the fates aligned; I'd found a great sounding recipe and had batches of homemade turkey stock in the freezer, so I went for it. With my homestay student Jessie's help we conquered Turkey Noodle Soup. 

You should have seen me - as I looked at the pot of perfect looking soup - restaurant quality! - I was jumping for joy. Fist pumps galore. Then the first taste - perfection. I couldn't stop looking at it - I had beaten cans! and lived to tell about it. 

On this high we turned to Taco Soup - I followed the recipe but added chunks of tortilla's that I had left in the fridge and some mexi-rice. This morning my kitchen was aromatic with the smell of rich Taco Soup. 

As I packaged these up to send with a friend to give out to youth on the downtown east side I felt like Soup Queen - maker of soups that don't suck. It's all I ever dreamed it would be. 

As a final note: may I recommend serving these soups with these Easy Garlic Cheddar Biscuits? They are easy and taste like you bought them (again, high praise in my world). They go perfectly with soup. 

It feels important to offer a disclaimer on the concept of Chicken Noodle Soup. While I'm stoked to know how to make the above soup (and make it again I will), when I am sick and I ask for chicken noodle soup that is not what I'm talking about. When sick, the only soup capable of healing an innocent cold victim is Lipton's Chicken Noodle. All noodle, no meat and veggies, light on the broth. Heaven. 


Monday, January 13, 2014

Menu Plan Monday: January 13th

Menu Plan Monday with Laura at Org Junkie
Every year our church does a week of prayer and fasting - this is a time where we focus on our spiritual need for God using a physical need as a reminder. People are free to fast as they find appropriate - all are encouraged to drink water at the very minimum and fasts range from food (either no food just drinks, or water only, or drinks + fruit and veg, or any number of specifics from there) to social media / tv / phones, etc. The point isn't legalism but a reminder of our need for God - a reminder that I know for me, is very important to have. It's a perspective shift every year. 

This year I am choosing to drink beverages (water, tea, coffee, juice) & eat only fruit. I'm not a fan of fruit and I find it generally makes me hungrier than not eating anything but it seems wise to have some calorie intake since I cycle to and from work, and eating fruit is something I'm trying to get better at. It's Monday and I have had an apple, a banana, a grapefruit and an orange. I'm quite hungry but not angry the way I am when I don't eat at all. And I find that by inviting my God into the day and my food decisions I am feeling a peace about the day in a way I don't always. 

Because we have students though we do need to provide food at home. So I came up with a plan for lunches and dinners that wouldn't drive me batty, cooking without getting to eat. Most days I will throw a crockpot meal in that the students can serve when they're hungry. Though of course I'll smell it, I won't actually have to slave over it, phew! 

Upcoming week: 
Monday: Mexican Pie leftovers
We have TONS of leftovers from the weekend so Monday's lunches and dinner was easy - Mexican Pie! A big hit and easy. 

I'm glad this is an easy meal as I need to cook two big batches of soup tonight to give to a friend for her program in the downtown eastside - Turkey Noodle Soup & Chicken Taco Soup. I picked easy but tasty soups, and plan to be in bed by 9pm - I find I need more sleep when fasting. 

Tuesday: Hearty Chili Mac
I'm throwing the Hearty Chili Mac into the crockpot for the household and that means I get to not think about it again all day. Win! For our night we're hosting lifegroup, without food. I'll provide hot and cold drinks though, to keep people warm and hydrated during their fasts. We're adding extra worship part during the normal dinner part of the night (we're so blessed to have a bunch of the worship team in our group) and then having a time of prayer and discussion. 

Wednesday: Beef Stroganoff
Another easy crockpot dinner, especially as for both nights I already have ground beef cooked up in my freezer. For the night I'm hosting Women at Prayer. So the women of our church are invited over for worship and prayer - again I'll have lots of hot drinks ready...fasting makes people cold!

Thursday: Chicken Taco Soup
Thursday night is my sister hang out night, so with no dinner to rush through (the students will help themselves to this Taco Soup) I can head over when her kids are done eating (and not a moment sooner, by Thursday seeing food is torture).

Friday night is always my favorite of the week - we meet for a breaking the fast celebration, we talk and tell stories of what God did - we worship and pray and come together as a community in amazing ways. Then people go off in groups and eat - heavenly, heavenly food. All in all it always ends up being one of my favorite nights. 

Board Game Extravaganza. We have a few friends who love board games as much as we do - most people get kind of bored or don't take it very seriously, but these friends...they get it. So we're having them over to play board games. All night. Three tables at once so we can all be playing awesome competitive board games. Feel free to judge the geekery of it - I'm fine with that as I will be having an awesome time. Games, friends, drinks and Mexican food. It's going to be awesome.  

Sunday: YOYO
This Sunday we have a crazy day - it's ministry sunday at church, so I'm running a womens ministry booth. Then it's Foundations, a bible study we're going through with some friends at church. Then it's a lifegroup leaders meeting. Basically we leave for church at 3 and will return around 9pm. Busy busy. So we'll be grabbing food to go between Foundations and the LG Leaders meeting. 

In Review:
Monday: Chicken Pot Pie
We had our two awesome friends, Laura and Charlotte, over for dinner and they loved my Chicken Pot Pie. This recipe makes the cook look like such an overachieving homemaker and yet it is so simple. We had a great time with Laura and Charlotte - and played a rousing game of "President" with them and Duncan. Then they chatted with me while I made lunches - I love the company!

This meal so easy to make - I mean I got home at 5:30 and had it in the oven baking by 6:30 - that's dinner for 20 ppl in one hour. BUT on top of that it got rave reviews! This time I added some sundried tomatoes to the sauce and that seemed to be well received. Being done by 6:30 meant I got to spend 20 minutes reading in my room and resting. Thank you Jesus!

Then lifegroup happened and it was awesome - great conversation, great prayer - we were having a going away for our friend Alicia and that was fun too. I'm so proud of our group - seeing how they let God use them and make hard decisions and ask tough questions. It's an honor to be in lifegroup with them all. There were 22 of us for dinner (though at the last minute 2 didn't show up due to sickness). We keep growing and growing!

Wednesday: Dry Garlic Ribs from Costco, Roasted Vegetables & Baked Potatoes w. fixings.
At the last minute I decided to throw out the plan for Taco Soup and remedied the craving I was having for the above meal. It was awesome - and our house was pleased. After dinner I went to my room to read in bed. Then I had a hot bath. Then I went to sleep. It was heavenly. 

Dinner was quick and easy and met with huge approval. I was out the door on route to Jenna's on time and got to spend a lovely night with my nephews and with my sister. 

Friday: Leftovers
I used leftover creamy chicken mixture and mixed it up with cream cheese and monteray jack cheese and rolled it in tortilla's for some cold wrap bites - so tasty! I used leftover mexi-rice and mixed that with Rotel and velveeta and made a wicked queso dip. I served that all with guacamole, sausages and crackers and boursin and crackers. Great snacks for the house and some of our housemates friends that joined (Yay for Sammy and Kait!)

Friday was a great day - I spent the morning visiting with my dear friend Lindsay. Then I popped over to Costco and Superstore to grab fruit for the week of Prayer and Fasting, and then spontaneously stopped in to visit Helen, a friend from church. I got home around 2:30 feeling rested and productive. Then I took a few hours to make enough Mexican Pie for Sunday morning (feeding 8 ladies and 3 guys seperately), Saturday evening (feeding 12 family members) and two sets of leftovers (each feeding our household of six). The leftover ones went into the freezer, the two sets of mexican pie went into the fridge downstairs and then I worked on the appies I mentioned above. 

At 7 we headed out to our friends, Prakash and Kathleen's, house. We ate more food with them, and were joined by Nick and Laura. We played Pandemic (the worlds longest single game, I'm sure) and Bonanza (a first for me, and I loved it) and headed home around midnight, with an early morning and a very raining night it seemed prudent to leave at a reasonable hour.

Saturday: Chicken & Crab Bubble Up with Roasted Veggies
Saturday morning we were up bright and early for an 11am wedding for Rainbow and Hao. The wedding was beautiful and genuine - it was so sweet to see them so in love. Not only was the wedding beautiful and touching but the guest list was filled with awesome people. I had a blast talking with different friends in attendance and enjoying an inside day with them, while the rain pummeled away outside. 

After the wedding we headed home to get ready for the rest of the day. We had a brief nap to recharge and then got to it. I was supposed to be making Cordon Blue Bubble up but realized I'd forgotten to buy Swiss cheese and ham - so instead I decided to make a version of Chicken Alfredo Bubble Up. I didn't have alfredo sauce, but I did know that I could make a tasty cream sauce and I had leftover Boursin cheese to add to it. It ended up so tasty, and I threw in some shredded chicken and some crab meat that I had. Tasty Tasty. 

Dinner was with our good friends the Saffolds, and we played board games afterwards as well. It was a lovely, relaxing night. 

Sunday: Mexican Pie x2
Sunday I had the ladies of the Women's Ministry Planning Team over for lunch. I served the mexican pie with mexi-rice and chips with guacamole and salsa/sour cream. They loved it and our meeting went really well. We are planning our upcoming womens retreat and as we prayed and sought God on themes for the time He showed up in big ways. Plus we had fun planning. 

Then it was off to a meeting before church, and then church (I hosted) and then a quick dash home to grab the rest of the Mexican Pie, mexi rice, etc dishes and head out to Surrey to celebrate my step-mother-in-law's birthday. Carol always feeds all us kids so we wanted to make sure she didn't have to do anything on her birthday. I made the main dish, and the rest of the siblings organized a place to host, drinks and dessert. It was a lovely night. 

All in all a busy weekend, but one filled with great friends and more rest than expected!


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