New Recipe: Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

I’ve recently become aware that my childhood, while very nice and seemingly normal in many ways, is not dotted with classic children staple foods.  I almost don’t want to write this because people seriously look at me like I’m a freak of nature but I’ve NEVER had a PB&J sandwich.

You can close your mouth now. Yes, yes…its true. Let’s all get over the shock.

Recently my friends discovered this and are on a PB&J crusade for me. I’m assuming there are a lot more food staples I didn’t regularly eat when I was a kid and I blame 1- my hispanic upbringing: rice and beans were our PB&J and 2- my picky-ness. I, like a lot of children, was a super picky eater. I didn’t even like pizza.

There’s your open mouth again! Don’t worry, I like pizza now (duh) and a million other things that I didn’t eat as a kid. I feel like that’s normal for a lot of kids. Not all of course but most kids won’t eat certain things and then grow up and love it. I know that happened to me with lots of things.

Anyways, another food staple I’m starting to realize I might have missed out on is the classic Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese. I know..this is getting ridiculous!

So I had pinned a few recipes of this classic combo and decided it would be a perfect weekend lunch. But since we’re usually out and about on the weekends, I decided to cave and make it for dinner last week.

It’s actually a very easy recipe and the outcome was really delicious.

Here’s the recipe I used from a blog I recently discovered (and now LOVE): Everyday Occasions by Jenny Steffens Hobick.

Source

Doesn’t that picture look enticing? Here is her recipe:

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Tomato Basil Soup
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 – 14 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
1 – 14 oz. can of whole tomatoes
2 cups of stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 tsp of sea salt
1 tsp of sugar
1/2 tsp of fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup of heavy cream
3 tablespoons of fresh basil, julienned
parmesan cheese
In a saucepan, saute garlic in olive oil on medium heat for 1 minute – being careful not to burn the garlic.  Add the crushed tomatoes.  Add the whole tomatoes one at a time, squeezing them into the pan to break them up.  Add the juice from the whole tomatoes, as well.  Add chicken stock, salt, pepper and sugar.  Cook the soup on medium at a simmer for 10 minutes.
To finish, reduce the heat to low and stir in heavy cream and basil.  Serve topped with parmesan cheese or a grilled cheese sandwich.
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Easy right? Here are the steps, Susy Style!

I started with the whole and and crushed tomatoes. I’m thinking about going organic next time.

Over olive oil at medium heat, I put in the crushed tomatoes and the whole tomatoes, squeezing them as Jenny said to break them up.

Added the remaining ingredients and topped with basil.

I was surprised at how easy and most importantly, how quickly this can be done. And that’s as a first timer. After a couple of tries, I should get it down to a science.

Next the Grilled Cheese.  Here is Jenny’s recipe that I used:

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The Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich
4 sandwiches
8 slices of Italian Bread
1 cup of extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2/3 cup of provolone cheese, shredded
2/3 cup of swiss cheese, shredded
2 tablespoon of butter
salt & pepper

Divide the bread into 4 stacks of 2 pieces.  butter the tops and bottoms of the sandwiches.  In between the slices, divide up the shredded cheeses.  In a hot skillet – or cast iron pan/griddle works best – grill the sandwiches on medium heat for about 3 minutes on each side until they are brown and the cheese has melted.

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Disclaimer: When doing my grocery shopping, I thought I had read Parmesan cheese on the list of ingredients instead of Provolone cheese so I didn’t buy any because I already had Parmesan. I didn’t realize my gaff until it was cooking time so I went ahead and just used the parmesan cheese (instead of provolone) because, really, you can’t go wrong with parmesan cheese anyways.

Sliced Italian bread from the grocery store

Buttered both sides. (I use Brummel and Brown yogurt butter)

Oh yea…I’m grilling.

And here are the two as they finally come together!

YUM!

I had two slices of the sandwich and my husband had 6 (why is life so unfair?!) but I was stuffed anyways. It’s a light meal but its filling, if that makes sense. You can get the recipe links on my Pinterest Board.

I personally thought the tomato soup was going to be less chunky as it still had semi-big pieces of the whole tomatoes, even after having squeezed them to break them up. But like I said, I’ll keep making this from time to time and hopefully introduce it to my future children to live vicariously through their childhood. What do you think? Good plan? Yea, I thought so too.

Leave me a comment and let me know what childhood staple or comfort food you like best or you think I should try next. I’d really LOVE to hear your thoughts! Thanks!

Ps. I promise to start trying to take better pictures! Eventually it’ll look like hers! The pictures…and the food!

One last thing…Remember this year’s Valentine’s Day French Toast? I think next year I’ll try  these Heart Shaped Grilled Cheeses instead.

How adorable!

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Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Hi friends.

So, like, Mother’s Day is coming up this weekend and I have no idea what to buy the mommas in my life.  I’ve gotten them the usual gifts in the past but guess what, flowers die and chocolate gets you fat. Ok, flowers are also beautiful and chocolate tastes oh so  delicious so I guess those aren’t terrible gifts…but let’s try some new ideas this year, shall we?! Together, we can make Mom proud!

I’m trying to put some thought into this year without, of course, going overboard and over budget.

Here are some ideas I’m thinking of. What do you think? Any good?

#1. Birchbox Gift subscription

BirchBox is a service that each month mails you a box filled with sample beauty products from well known and soon-to-be well known brands. The products come in trial sizes and that way you get to try all sorts of products you might not normally spring for. I know I for one hate taking a chance on expensive products in the hopes they will do what they promise. For $10 a month (including shipping!!) you get a box filled with new goodies to try every month!

They have 3, 6, and 12 month subscriptions. This is a GREAT gift for any lady in your life and even if you go for the 12 months, the $120 you spend will be in $10 increments each month and that doesn’t really hurt so bad.

Seriously, I think I’m might go this route for my Moms.

#2. Massages

This is one I’ve used in the past and it works out so well because really, who doesn’t love massages?! At Massage Envy you can get a 1 hour massage gift certificate including the tip for $50. We all know moms are stressed so a 1 hour massage can really go a long way.

Also be on the look out for Groupon/Living Social, Coup Tessa, etc.., deals in your city. They are always full of massage deals. Spa Finder will also help you find a spa in your area and lists any specials they may have. Score!

#3. Group Coupons

Speaking of Groupon and their friends…these can make AWESOME gifts. You know how sometimes you see something that you’d like to do but you don’t really want to spend YOUR money on it? I’m sure Mom feels the same way! But she’d love to be gifted that parasailing coupon, that city tour, that wine tasting event, that facial and blow dry combo, that brunch/lunch/dinner at a new restaurant, those concert tickets, that festival entrance, that Pilates class and so on and so forth.

#4 A family Photo Session

This has always been an idea of mine that I think my mom would love.  I’ve had a few friends take these pics with their whole family and they always come out SO nice and its such a nice memory to have. You know moms love pictures and especially of their kids & grandkids. I think your moms would LOVE and really appreciate this gift.

#5 The Usual Suspects: Clothes, Jewelry, Shoes and Handbags

As much as I love to give gifts that require thinking outside the box, I love it when people gift me the “usuals” and I’m sure Mom wouldn’t mind either. Here are my top picks:

These fun, spring capris are perfect for mom. They are, after all, Not Your Daughter’s Jeans. $84 @ Nordstrom

We all know Michael Kors makes a mean watch (and shoes…and purses) and while they are the most expensive item on this list, they are relatively affordable compared to other brands with similar styles. This would look nice on mom’s wrist, don’t you think?

Bonus features: You can borrow it! Double score!

From Nordstrom- $275

Is mom a casual gal or a night diva? Either way, one of these shoes should work!

Moms love comfort and Toms= comfort. Plus, they’re cute! $43.95

How beautiful are these BCBG Pumps? And for $89?! AND if you and mom happen to be the same shoe size, well, you know where I’m going with this…

Last but not least, doesn’t every mom (or woman in general) need a big bag to store all her crap necessiteis in?

I love this watermelon colored Melie Bianco satchel for mom. It’s roomy and looks so perfect for spring/summer. $98

Some other ideas for Mom: magazine subscriptions, wine club subscriptions, a book (50 Shades of Grey for mom, anyone?), a weekend getaway for you both, cookies (Mrs. Fields is my fave), makeup, a cookbook, perfume, gift certificate to store or restaurant, an orchid, etc…….

So what do you think? Will mom like any of these? Do you have any good ideas for Mom this year?!

Don’t keep all the good ideas to yourself…share please!

50 Shades of Fun

Just the first 2 words in the post title probably got your attention because unless you’ve been living under a rock (you can come out from under there now) you’ve heard of the book, of the phenomenon, that is 50 Shades of Grey. It’s been called mommy porn, erotic chick lit, porn fluffed up as novel, a marriage saver etc… Whatever you want to call it, the ladies have been flocking to it and author E L James is smiling all the way to the bank.

For you Rock people, here’s what it’s about: It’s your regular story of boy meets girl, girl and boy date, they start to fall in love and face ups and downs in their relationship. Few differences from the usual: The boy is filthy rich -makes $100k an HOUR- and looks like a modern-day Adonis. The girl is just a shy, inexperienced, girl-next-door-looking, clumsy, recent college grad who’s barely ever kissed a boy and happens to catch the eye of said Millionaire Adonis.  Oh and the boy wants to be her dominant lover and do all sorts of kinky things to her in his red room of pain. What? That doesn’t sound romantic? Ah well, to each their own.

There’s, of course, a lot more going on in the story including romance, suspense, mystery and drama but the story, and what you’re reading it for, is pretty much about the less-than-normal relationship between these two characters.

It’s hard to review this book for those that haven’t read it because its hard to appreciate it for more than what it is: a cheap thrill. Is the book going to win any Pulitzer prizes? No. Is it any sort of masterpiece? No. Is it entertaining and fun? Sure.

I happen to believe that the more “vanilla” you are (or have been, it may change after you read it), the more fun the book is because of the incredible fantasy element. Some parts are cheesy and so farfetched that they are downright eye roll worthy (which, if you’ve read the book, you know is ironic) and other parts are literally laugh out loud moments. I think everyone, conservative and open-minded alike, can get a kick out of it.

Most people love it, even if they love it for different reasons. Other people hate it, which I get. I will tell you this…if you’re looking for a book to discuss on girl’s night…this it it!

Between the texts going back and forth for the last few weeks and the Girls Night/Book Club meeting we had this week..here are some of my favorite friend quotes. These are ALL actual texts sent or phrases spoken amongst a group of 7 girlfriends in reference to the book:

Friend: Date Night! (text inserted with a picture of Pleasure Emporium, a Miami sex shop)

Friend 1: I’m ready to start reading the book.  Friend 2: The question is, is your husband ready?

Friend 1: Wait till you read book 2. Still a ton of sex but action to go with it.  Friend 2: Great! Then I can say I am reading a novel instead of straight up porn!

Friend: I’m supposed to be taking care of my child but I can’t put this book down.

Friend:  I need to buy my husband a grey tie…

Friend: Does ANYONE know where I can buy those silver balls?! I can’t find them anywhere!

Friend: I’m with my children right now. Can’t talk sex with you.

Friend: Mommies gone wild just got a whole new meaning!

Friend: This book makes me very tingly in my lady parts.

Friend: Um, my mom is reading the book now. Things just got weird.

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Have I mentioned how much I love my friends? Well I do. A lot. They’re hysterical.

Here are some 50 Shades fun courtesy (mostly) of Someecards:

Someecards makes my life better. True story.

 

Remember how I told you we had a girls night? Well it was complete with actual book talk (a first), sushi, wine, lots of gossip and dessert. What could have been a more appropriate dessert than….. silver balls!

 

Source

And in case you were wondering, yes they were delicious! AND, no baking involved! You can get the recipe from my Pinterest Board.

If  you haven’t picked up 50 Shades by now, you really should. And make sure your girlfriends are reading it too, makes it so much more fun! It’s also fun to play Casting Director and pick the actors you’d want to play Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele in the movie. A big YES to Ian Somerhalder or Chris Hemsworth and a big NO to Dakota Fanning. Hear that Hollywood!?!

If you have read the book and haven’t seen the video of Ellen Degeneres attempting to read it.…you need to stop what you are doing and watch it. Good thing this post is over.

Laters Baby!

Ps. How PERFECT would the title 50 Shades of Gray have been for this post?! If only I had picked up the book earlier.

Quinoa gone Wrong; Shrimp Salsa gone Right

So the title SusyHomeMaker might imply that I am, in fact, a homemaker, which I am not, or that I’m crafty, which I am not, or that I whip up delicious family meals easily and graciously. I do not.

But alas, I do TRY. Actually one of my New Year’s Resolutions was to make at least 1 new recipe a week. While I haven’t really stuck to that -or lets be real, any– resolution all that much, every once in a while I will try something new.

I had bought a box of Quinoa a while back and had been wanting to make it since I heard such great things about Quinoa like it has the most protein of any grain and is obviously much better for you than pasta or rice. Also, it’s a great source for minerals and vitamins and its gluten free.

I got a recipe for Quinoa with Asparagus and Preserved Lemon Dressing from my Pinterest Food Board. It’s originally from my girl  Martha Stewart.

Doesn’t she look yummy?

Well mine didn’t exactly turn out the same way. For starters, I didn’t even attempt the Preserved Lemon Dressing because it required lemons that had been perserved for 2 days and then some. For the record, I think the dressing would be delicious.

Here’s how I did it:

Steamed 1 lb of Asparagus and then placed it on a bed of ice

1 cup of Quinoa

Chopped up 1 red onion (insert tears)

Combined the Quinoa and the onions in a large skillet with oil

Added 2 cups of water and brought it to a boil.

I was then supposed to reduce the heat and cover the skillet and let it simmer for 5 minutes.

Usually when a reciepe comes out wrong or different from what I had anticpated, I don’t know where 1 went wrong. In this case, I’m pretty sure I went wrong right here because this particular pan I used doesn’t have a top and so I “covered it” with aluminum foil. Dumb move. It’s really not the same thing but I was trying to imporovise.

In the end I tossed together the asparagus and some pine nuts

And this is how it looked..

Not exactlly this this uh?

I will say this: Even without the preserved lemon dressing (though I did squeeze lemon into it) and even without covering it properly and therefore hindering its potentional..it still didnt taste bad at all. I think once I perfect it, Quinoa and I will get along really well.

You konw what I get along with really well right now, Skinny Shrimp Salsa from Skinny Taste. It’s bacially just tomatoes, onions,  and cilantro then topped with shirmp. We (“we” being our family) usually call this mix “tomatico” while other’s call it Pico de Galo Whatever you call it, it tastes fresh and delicoius and so easy to make.

How glorious does this look?

Mine looks just as good I think! (I left out the peppers)

You can top it over pretty much anything or eat it alone with crackers or chips. Like Gina from Skinny Taste says, the possibilities are endless. Click on the recipe and try it if you haven’t already!

Side note: Although I am not a vegetarian, I just realized that both of these recipes are vegetarian freindly. So there you go, V’s!

Have you guys made any good recipes lately? Any suggestions for one I can try for my next battle in the kitchen?

Let me know!

Bon Appetite!