Wednesday, August 18, 2010

This is NOT a test!

Last week when Grandad was cleaning up the boat in the driveway after a fishing trip, Grace had so much fun “play fishing” that Grandad decided that she might be ready for the real thing.  This morning, Grandad and Colton picked up Grace after breakfast for her first fishing trip.  Near Gram and Granddad's house is a nice little pond that the boys have pulled some nice catfish out of.  It was close enough to not ruin the day if Grace lost interest, but well stocked enough to allow Grandad and Colton to have a little fun. 

Grace didn’t bring home any trophy catches, but she had fun, and she looked good doing it.  Here are a few pictures from the trip.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Picture This

Brenda and I had decided long ago that we would have professional portraits taken of our kiddos every 3 months for their first year, and then annually thereafter.  We also decided to take those photo opportunities to get family portraits taken.  Today we went to Portrait Innovations for Grace’s 4 year old pictures.  If you have read this blog for long, you have heard us rave about Portrait Innovations, and they do take some good pictures.  I just think that we have gotten just about all that we can out of their studios.  We end up with very similar pics each time.  Today’s portraits didn’t knock our socks off, but I do think we got some good portraits.

I have included a sampling below.  Being able to get the CD of all of the pics that were taken is one of the things we love the most about using Portrait Innovations.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gone Fishin’

Grace has a new fascination, fishing.  There is no doubt that all the grandkids love their Granddad, and so far, the boys have enjoyed a monopoly on Granddad’s fishing time.  But times are a changing here in Round Rock, and it doesn’t look like it will be long before Grace and Hailey are ready to stake their claim to some dedicated lake time with Granddad. 

To celebrate Granddad’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Granddad!), he took Clancy and his buddy Colin fishing.  Grace and Hailey got to enjoy a little driveway “fishing”, while Granddad cleaned up the gear and got things put away.  The fish may not have been biting in Gram’s driveway, but the fishing bug may have gotten a hold of Grace!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Love my chip off the ol’ block

“Does Grace like blueberry muffins?”  This was a question that Brenda asked me while she was on the phone with Gram.  I am sure she does, I can’t think of any reason she wouldn’t!  She always eats some of my muffin when we eat at Mimi’s Cafe, and I can remember making strawberry muffins with her before.  And we KNOW she loves fresh blueberries! 

For breakfast the other day, Gram let Grace help her make the muffins.  And to put the question to rest in a decisive manner.  Yes, she likes blueberry muffins.  The only question left is, why didn’t Daddy get a muffin??? 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Re-purposing leftovers

If you know me well at all, you probably already know that I HATE eating leftovers. With the exception of soups and stews, leftovers never taste better the second time around. Either you don't have all the necessary components, or the breading gets soggy, or the sauce separates, or the meat gets dry, or any other number of potential pitfalls and maladies. So rather than putting things away to eat as leftovers, in our house we prefer to re-purpose. For example, a dinner of Pot Roast with roasted veggies will get re-purposed into 2 completely different dinners. First the leftover roast gets shredded and seasoned with Mexican spices so they can be made into beef enchiladas. The leftover mushroom gravy and roasted veggies will take a spin with the immersion blender and some beef broth to become a killer vegetable soup.

Over the last 2 weekends, we have enjoyed some great meals courtesy of the grill or smoker. Last weekend, while camping with friends, we grilled up some quite large and tasty burgers. With more patties than necessary, we made it home with leftovers. We re-purposed some of the grilled patties on Friday when Brenda crumbled up a couple of patties and used them on a pizza. The grilled flavor of the hamburger really added a nice touch to otherwise pretty plain hamburger. Tonight, the last 2 patties were crumbled up, mixed with some of my Daddy's Rub spice blend to turn into some awesome taco meat.

Later this week we will have tortilla soup, which is one of my all-time favorite re-purposed meals. For the chicken, I am going to re-purpose the barbecue jerk chicken we ate last night. Since the skin will be removed when I pull the chicken from the bone, the sauce on the grilled chicken is of no consequence to me. I have posted the tortilla soup recipe before, and I am posting it again below. Some of you are cooking novices, and you may write down every ingredient, go to the store to pick up the perfect quantity and brand names. And that is perfectly okay. This recipe is a classic restaurant style recipe because it came about while I was rummaging through my pantry and fridge. I literally used ingredients that remained in my pantry after we stocked up before a hurricane scare. I have used canned chicken, rotisserie chicken, barbecue chicken, jerk chicken, "fajita" chicken (you do know that there is no such thing as fajita chicken, right?), smoked turkey, and leftover roasted Thanksgiving turkey. I have often wondered how it would taste with leftover deep fried turkey, but honestly, I have never had leftover deep fried turkey to try it with!

Often, when a chef is interviewing for a head kitchen position, the restaurateur will take the chef candidate into the kitchen and challenge them to create a tasty, savory soup with the "leftovers" in the fridge. So my hope is that some of you will take the recipe and use it as a launch pad for you to see your fridge and pantry in a different light. Got some leftover corn on the cob? Perfect in soup. Leftover roasted veggies? A natural in soup of any shade. No cream of chicken? Just about any "cream of..." soup will work. Or better yet, forget the canned soup and make a roux. The most important ingredients in any re-purposed soup are creativity and love. So whatever you do, don't just reheat your leftovers and bear through a weak encore of last night's dinner, make it something special.

Here's the recipe:

TORTILLA SOUP



1 lb diced or shredded chicken
1 medium onion (diced)
1-2 tablespoons garlic (diced)
1 tablespoon of Cumin
2 teaspoons Chili Powder
2 teaspoons of Black Pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
1 jar of picante sauce or Salsa (you pick the heat level)
1 can of corn
1 cans of Cream of Chicken
1 carton of beef broth (32 oz)


In a large dutch oven or stew pot, sauté the onions until translucent.
Add the garlic to the onions and sauté until it just starts to color.
Add the seasonings and salsa (don’t get carried away with salt – the broth will add some as well)
Add the canned chicken (including the water that the chicken is packaged in), stir frequently until heated throughout and the water begins boil lightly.
Add the canned corn (once again, include the water), stir frequently until the water returns to a boil.
Add broth to thin the soup. (I recommend the beef broth over chicken broth because it deepens the flavor. Chicken is fine, beef is better).
Let the soup return to a light boil and add the cream of chicken soup to thicken to desired consistency.

The soup is ready to eat once the cream of chicken is fully incorporated into the soup. However, if you have an hour to let it simmer, it will taste better… if you have several hours it would be even better.

Serve with shredded cheese and crushed tortillas chips (stale tortilla chips really works better than fresh if you have some).

If you like more heat to it, add a can of green chilies or chipotle peppers.