Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Memories and Roasted Garlic and Basil Tomato Soup

Right after moving to Nashville, my best friend's husband, Jason (yes, we both married a Jason!!) came to live with us while he was on his med-school rotation at Vandy. Emily came to visit for a few days to spend time with me, I mean, her husband too, and we got to play while our Jasons did their thing. I couldn't wait to take her to Downtown Franklin where there are the cutest restaurants and shops...so her and so me. I remember us having lunch at the Franklin Mercantile and Emily ordering their Tomato Basil Soup. The thing is, I don't do tomatoes. But I took a bite and was sold. Forever. I then took my sister back to the Franklin Mercantile just a few months later on her visit to Nashville and made her order the soup too. She was sketchy about it but then she too, was sold. I am not sure why I was such an advocate for this soup, but I brought Jason back to the restaurant and made him order the soup. And he was in love. 

Since then, Jason and I have always ordered Tomato Basil soup wherever we can. We love making it at home too but the thing is that it is loaded with cream. And as delicious as cream is, we just can't cook with it on a normal basis. But as luck would have it, we found an amazing recipe in an old Southern Living magazine that is healthy, delicious and so incredibly easy. The best part was the fresh garlic. We have always used garlic from the jar but OMG...the fresh garlic makes all the difference. How sad we have never used it before! But never going back...

Roasted Garlic and Basil Tomato Soup

3 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 (3oz) pkg shallots, peeled and halved
1 tablespoon EVOO
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can Italian style, stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
1/2 tsp hot sauce
1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt and pepper to taste
pinch of red pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh basil

Place garlic and shallots in an 8-inch square pan lined with aluminum foil; drizzle with oil.
Bake at 450 for 15 minutes, stirring twice; cool.
Process garlic, shallots, tomatoes, 3/4 cup chicken broth and next 5 ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down sides. 
Cook tomato mixture and remaining 3/4 cup broth in a medium saucepan over medium heat 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Stir in basil; serve immediately. 

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Wreath Making and Yummy Brown Sugar Spice Bread

You know those beautiful deco-mesh wreaths that everyone and their momma seem to be whipping up or paying big bucks for? They have one for every single holiday, including one for their favorite sports team. Well, I wanted one and I wanted to learn to make one of those bad boys, creating my own beautiful piece of art (hopefully) instead of someone having one make one for me. So when my dear friends, Heather and Maria teamed up to host a wreath making party right before Christmas, I was all on board. Heather and her hospitality and Maria with her craftiness made a mean team. What could be so hard?
Well, my friend, the shopping trip for the materials alone is a beast!  The choices of what you want your wreath to look like are overwhelming. I walked into Hobby Lobby with my husband and baby in tow with only 10 minutes alloted thinking I would just grab a few things. Maria was the best teacher and even sent us a checklist of things to buy. Oh sweetness....I stopped dead in my tracks in the "wreath pick" aisle. Seriously, the things that poke out of your wreath have their own aisle. I walked up and down the aisles with my eyes glazed over and kept sending Jason to push CC in the buggy and leave me alone. After consulting every stranger in a 10 foot radius and Pintrest ideas on my phone, I decided on a few (okay, may more than that) possibilities and checked out before I could change my mind.

So, of course I wanted to make something yummy to munch on while us girls created our wreath creations. Oh the laughs and possible tears of frustrations! Wreath decor was EVERYWHERE and Heather's house smelled like hot glue guns plugged into every possible outlet and my Brown Sugar Spice Loaf. As far as the wreath making process, it is tedious, fun and can possible send you straight to the looney bin. No wonder those things cost big bucks!

 But we had so much fun as we always do when the girls in our Sunday School class get together. We were pretty proud of our creations.

We helped each other out, gave our suggestions to each other and then laughed at how I by far had the largest wreath at our little class. It was huge. I started to wonder if it would even fit on my front door. I swear it didn't look that big in the store though! One thing is for sure, if you come over to my house around the holidays and I say look for the house with the GRAND wreath on the door, you will find it without a problem. 
And the Brown Sugar Spice Loaf? Easy,delicious and makes your house smell like fall. This recipe could also be poured into smaller loaf pans and given as gifts during the holidays.
Brown Sugar Spice Bread
1 softened stick butter
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves

Beat together first five ingredients in a large bowl. Beat together the last ingredients in another bowl. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture, stirring well. Pour into a greased 9x5 inch loaf pan and bake at 325 for 50 minutes.

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