Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Tomato Bean Chowder

I haven't made any new soups lately so here is one I have been making for over 30 years that we like really well.
I first had this soup when we visited missionary friends on an Indian Reservation called Pikangikum, 60 miles north of Red Lake, Ontario, Canada. A place so remote we had to fly in on a seaplane.
Now if I saw this recipe somewhere, the ingredients wouldn't jump out at me and say that sounds delicious. But it is in fact very good and one I make at least once every winter. It looks a little like chili soup or pepper soup but tastes completely different.
After a few days of warmer milder weather, we are getting yet another round of cold weather this week with predictions of another possible storm this weekend.
 Its' a good week to make a pot of soup and stay in.

Tomato Bean Chowder

1 1/2 lb. hamburger fried and drained
1 med onion chopped and sautéed in a little butter
1 cup celery chopped and sautéed in a little butter
1 large can pork and beans (1lb 12oz.)
2 cans tomato soup (10 oz.)
3 cups water
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce. Note: Do not omit this. It makes a big difference.
salt and pepper to taste

Onions and celery may be sautéed together.
Brown and drain hamburger then add the rest of the ingredients and simmer until celery is tender, approximately 45 minutes. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Serenity Cove Birds

What a brutal, cold, snowy, winter it is turning out to be. January was one of the coldest on record and February is pretty much the same.
I have a serious case of the winter blahs and I am counting down the days until spring. 34 Days! Only thing Ohio that doesn't mean much. Not to be a pessimist but it could be double that. I'm holding out for an early spring because I think we DESERVE it after putting up with this cold winter!

Red-bellied Woodpecker
Watching and feeding birds is one bright spot in the long winter months.
The birds were slow to come around earlier in the winter, but it's been a feeding frenzy since the extreme cold arrived.
Here are just a few of the birds that are daily visitors at the feeders.
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpeckers
Three Pileated Woodpeckers have been regular visitors this winter but I just can't get that third one in the picture.
The wing span of a Pileated!
Beat It......I was here first!
Blue Jays cannot resist peanuts. A lot of people don't like Blue Jays but I tolerate them because they warn other birds when a predator is in the area. They hog a lot of food though.
White Crowned Sparrow
Here is a Brown Creeper that usually shows up during the last half of winter.
The bluebirds are always my favorite. I never get tired of watching them as you can tell by the amount of pictures I take of them.
 Tree Hugger
House Finch
For a while I thought we weren't going to have any Cardinals this year but they finally showed up when the weather got extremely cold in January. Not as many as some years, but at least we got a few. They are such beautiful birds and their cheer, cheer, cheer, birdie, birdie, birdie, song are such a welcome sound in the spring.
 Carolina Wren
These little birds are so much fun to watch. They just seem to bounce around all over the place, checking out all the feeders and investigating every nesting cavity.
 They love to steal the dried mealworms I put out for the bluebirds, usually getting to them first. But that's okay, it seems the bluebirds would rather eat the suet. 
Tufted Titmouse
American Goldfinch
Patiently waiting on spring.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake Dessert

Since Valentine's Day is just around the corner, you might want to make your sweetie a decadent dessert.
Of course chocolate is always associated with Valentine's Day, so I will share this chocolate dessert.
A very rich and chocolatey dessert.
Start by baking a chocolate cake according to the directions on the box. I used a Chocolate Fudge Cake mix but any chocolate cake will work. The Chocolate Fudge is darker and richer than lets say a German Chocolate would be if that makes a difference to you.
Make sure you bake your cake in a greased and floured pan for easier removal.
Cool your cake to room temperature and turn out onto a towel.
Using a long knife, split your cake into two layers. Don't worry if it's not completely even. It's all going to be covered up with a yummy filling!
 Take one layer and place it back in a clean cake pan.
Here's the yummy part. I love cream filling! I love me a little cake with lots of cream filling!!
This one is easy to make.
Take one box of vanilla instant pudding. Mix in 1 1/2 cups milk. Let set until thickened then mix in one 8 ounce container cool whip.
Spread the filling on your first layer of cake.
Put your remaining layer of cake on top.
Now take a can of frosting, heat in the microwave just until it's pourable and......
pour all over your cake. Again I'll mention the chocolate fudge is pretty dark and rich in case you want to opt for a lighter chocolate.
For an alternative to chocolate how about trying a Strawberry Cake mix with Strawberry Frosting?
Happy Valentine's Day!