Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Soup Weather?

I LOVE SOUP!  Surely we will have soup weather here in Tennessee soon.  But alas . . . store bought soup is generally loaded with sodium.  Home made soup takes time . . . and I have to be in "cooking mood" to take that time.  This soup is so worth the time . . . only about an hour, start to finish.  Couldn't begin to tell you how many times I've made it since watching Ellie Krieger on Food Network in 2007.  It's way up there on my list of "favorite foods".

Nutty Sweet Potato Soup

Prep Time:  10 - 15 minutes
Cook Time:  30 minutes
Yield:  6 servings, serving size 1 1/2 cups

1 tablespoon canola oil (I usually use either olive oil or coconut oil)
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup) (I use jarred roasted red pepper)
1 large onion, diced (about 2 cups)
2 medium carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (depending on the kick you want)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (2 cups)
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth (I prefer low-sodium chicken stock)
1 (14.5-ounce) can no salt added diced tomatoes, with their juices
2/3 cup creamy natural peanut butter
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup chopped scallion greens (about 3 scallions)  (I don't usually use these.  I prefer chopped peanuts as   a garnish.  My daughter prefers grated cheese.)

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over a medium-high heat.  Add the onions, bell pepper and carrots and cook, stirring until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the cayeene, black pepper, garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute more.  Stir in the sweet potato, broth, and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the potates are tender, about 20 minutes.
*Puree the soup in the pot using an immersion blender or in a regular blender in several batches and return the soup to the pot.  Add the peanut butter and honey and stir, over low heat, until the peanut butter melts. (I add this before I puree) Serve warm, garnished with the scallions (or peanuts, or cheese).

*When blending hot liquids:  Remove liquid from the heat and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes.  Transfer liquid to a blender or food processor and fill it no more than halfway.  If using a blender, release one corner of the lid.  This prevents the vacuum effect that creates heat explosions.  Place a towel over the top of the machine, pulse a few times then process on high speed until smooth (I prefer a course puree)

Per Serving:
Calories 290; Total Fat 18g (Sat Fat 3.5g, Mono Fat 9g, Poly Fat 5g); Protein 14g; Carb 23g; Fiber 5g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 260mg
Time to lick the bowl!

Wait . . . there's plenty left . . . have another bowl . . . and then go get some stitching done!!!


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving!

I apologize for not posting this earlier . . . really thought I had posted it last year . . . guess not.

My gift to you:

Remember to set your scales back 10 pounds tomorrow night!


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Retreating We Will Go

I think my new goal is to attend a retreat at least once a month.  Sounds good to me!

The EGA Bristol TN/VA Chapter held it's yearly retreat last week at Lake Junaluska, NC.  It's just the perfect spot for a relaxing, rejuvenating 4 day retreat.  The Terrace Hotel has been completely renovated with the sleeping rooms going from adequate to exceptional. We reserve the same meeting room each year across the street from the hotel that overlooks the lake. Gathering a week later than usual, the leaves were well past "peak" but, the lake is always beautiful.

We have such a creatively diverse group . . . the perfect place to learn, admire and get inspired!  Here are a few things people were working on (most people brought several projects).

Our quilters:








Our other needleworkers:










(taking a break)





I brought several projects myself . . .
quilting during the day and cross-stitching in the evening.
Working on my first queen-sized quilt . . . a nine patch with sashing and cornerstones.  100 nine patches completed.  I also completed a cross-stitch pincushion that is a companion piece to my next design that is at the framer.  I also played "stitching fairy" and stitched (while she was sleeping) the over one bees from my "A Bee C" sampler that Sue was struggling with . . . a welcome surprise to Sue in the morning.

Even though the hotel provides a meal plan (breakfast, lunch and dinner) . . .
good food . . . 
we bring snacks . . . 
to keep our strength up!

Every year we complain that it's just not long enough.  
No amount of time would be "long enough".
Until next year . . .


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Stitching In The Valley

Nothing like a fun weekend with kindred spirits to feed your soul!  Jennifer Cave of Valley Needleworks in Middletown, VA knows how to foster the fun.  Her enthusiasm is contagious and her attention to detail made this a retreat we didn't want to end!
(You just can't get her to stand still.)

The Wayside Inn, since 1797, has been serving the public for over 200 years.  It's meandering public rooms are full of charm and warmth providing spaces for intimate conversations or groups of stitching folks.  History just oozes out of every nook and cranny . . . with a few ghosts sprinkled in.  Innkeeper Becky Reeves was the "hostess with the mostess" . . . warm, inviting and helpful in every way.

They say the place is haunted . . . I can believe that.  I took a picture of the pictures that guests have taken of the ghosts in the past.  Lori Brechlin also took pictures of the same ones.  Hmm . . . do you see something else in both the photos in my picture?  Ask anyone . . . I'm not very computer savvy and don't know how to photoshop so I have no explanation for the difference in BOTH photos.  Maybe that's a reflection in the first photo . . . but, what's that in the second photo that looks like knees?

The Merchant Mall and retreat classes were held next door in Worlds Away . . . another building with lots of historic charm.  There are two main rooms downstairs where the Merchant Mall was set up and two rooms upstairs that can be used for sleeping rooms with ample space for classrooms.

We were set up in the "brick room". . . belly-up to The Nebby Needle bar! 

Me, Kathie, Joan, Marie & Beth

Other vendors in our room were Beth Seal of Summer House Stitche Workes with all of her beautiful designs . . .

and Joan (and her daughter Hannah) from Frog Hollow Farm with fiber from their angora goats and angora rabbit . . . jewelry, soaps and feathers from their peacocks and other birds . . . look for feathers in future designs from The Nebby Needle.

 The other side of the building more vendors were set up in the "stone room" . . .

  Lori Brechlin - Not Forgotten Farm (with her trusty sidekick Joan)

Marie Driskill from Blackberry Lane Designs

 Kathy Barrick of Kathy Barrick Designs with her beautiful jewelry as well!

The class offerings were great:
 Notforgotten Farm - Lori Brechlin wool applique and embroidery
Summer House Stitche Workes - Beth Seal cross-stitch with drum finishing
Kathy Barrick cross-stitch stocking
A Pomegranate crewel pincushion from Debbie Culp

And, of course, you had to walk a few blocks down the street and check out Jennifer's shop "Valley Needleworks"

Denise and Amanda happily enabling Kathie and I with our addiction!

It went by way too quickly and we're hoping it becomes a yearly retreat!

Thank you Jennifer and all your wonderful "peeps" who made this a very special experience!!!