With a new baby, we had lots of family visitors coming to see her in the month of December. My oldest sister made us a copycat of Panera’s Cheddar Broccoli Soup – and James has already requested it a couple times since, so we have eaten it plenty lately. Turns out, the leftovers are great over a baked potato too!
I am more of a dump and pour cook, so I don’t exactly measure everything out exact each time. We also put the carrots and broccoli in the food processor to chop it up and make things quick and easy.
After a handful of requests for the recipe (after posting about it on Instagram) – Here you go!:
Broccoli Cheddar Soup
1 tablespoon melted butter
½ medium chopped onion
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups half-and-half cream
2 cups chicken stock
½ lb fresh broccoli / about 1 cup – (I process some fine and leave some larger pieces chunkier)
1 cup carrot, julienned (or throw it in the food processor and pulse chop it a couple times like I did)
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Saute the onion in 1 TB melted butter and set aside. In a large pot make a roux by whisking together the melted butter and flour over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes (this is what will thicken your soup as it cooks).
Whisk in slowly the half & half and chicken stock. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add the veggies! broccoli, carrots, and onions. Let them simmer on medium low for about 25 minutes until tender.
Add nutmeg, salt & pepper, and sharp cheddar cheese. Let the cheese melt and then serve with some warm crusty bread for dipping!
You can tweak it too – add cubed potatoes. Add more cheese or different varieties. Add more or less broccoli and carrot. Maybe top it with some crispy bacon crumbles when you serve it?? YUM. Though I guess these things make it less of a Panera Bread copycat recipe. Whatever.
Maybe with the new year I will FINALLY catch up on some blogging? Maybe. Maybe not. I have tons of pictures of this new sweet babe of ours that need to be posted!
This pregnancy has not been a very easy one. I have heard many a mother say that they were much more sick when pregnant with their girls than with their boys. I don’t know if there is actually anything to back that up, but it is holding true for me too. However, come 20 weeks – halfway there! – nausea is basically gone. Thank heavens! I will admit that it was nice to lose weight in the beginning because come the last weeks of pregnancy, I will probably bloat up like last time! haha. It was a miserable few months at the Gossling household though earlier this spring. James can attest. I spent four months in hibernation practically. For you women that just adore pregnancy and want to have baby after baby – props. I hate it. It sucks. I am very grateful to have a healthy little one on the way – do not get me wrong there. Counting my blessings.
BUT, I am to the point of loving food again. Hooray! Ever since I visited Italy with my mother, I have been obsessed with caprese salad. During my pregnancy with Jude, I craved them all the time. Fresh tomatoes! Basil! Balsamic. Mozzarella. Mmmmm. Good thing I keep my pregnancies during the summer. I have mentioned we are out our ears with garden tomatoes – no complaints here – so every day, lunch is amazing. It is a tomato, pesto & cream cheese sandwich…Or caprese salad. . .
Heaven on a plate. Absolutely. And I am not kidding when I say literally every day. While my supply lasts…indulge!
When in Itlay, my mom and I took a cooking class – best day ever (view that blog post here)! They took us through the Florence open market to buy our fresh ingredients and educate us on them. Of course, I bought seasonings and other goodies to bring home and cook with. My favorite was a raspberry balsamic glaze which I have been salvaging and trying to make last as long as possible. I kept telling James that as soon as my bottle was empty, we had to make a trip back to Florence. Ha! Wishful dreaming. I was in denial for a while because my bottle sat, basically empty, in the fridge for weeks before I could throw it away.
But then something marvelous happened. I came upon this fig balsamic glaze at The Fresh Market! Oh, happy day! It does not have quite the sweetness of the raspberry glaze from Florence, but it is delicious. Thrilled about having a comparable replacement, my summer and pregnancy can be complete. Yes, I am a little obsessed. The best part is that I can use it to my heart’s content knowing that I can go buy more when I need it. Divine!
Having a successful vegetable garden is always my summer goal. Growing up, my parent’s garden thrived each summer and I anticipated those ripe summer tomatoes. Nothing beats fresh homegrown tomatoes! They are like gold to me. Though, since being married, we have either been living in an apartment without a yard or been in the middle of a move where my “container garden” suffered and would get neglected. Last year, in our inexperience, we got started a little late and learned from mistakes with diseases, pests, over/under watering, and soil amending. Live and learn, right? So this was our year. Our summer of the tomato! (James thinks I overdid it with my 24 tomato plants of many varieties…but it was a must for me! Next year, I know which kinds I like best.)
Last year we did amend our soil and put in compost. We got a soaker hose with a timer on it. And we had some success, just nothing like I had hoped. We learned a lot about working with our yard full of Stone Mountain granite and Georgia red clay. About different plants and their pH needs and different watering needs. And that our “compost” was perhaps a tad too fresh which caused some issues. Georgia sun and heat can be brutal. The bugs…mainly stink bugs and caterpillars are intense! So I was sure to do my research and plan properly for this year. Of course, James was on board and ever so helpful. I also made it a goal to start from seed in the winter so that I could have heirloom varieties. Thank you, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds! Starting from seed is just that much more satisfying and I am finding out that, like my mother, gardening is a happy place for me.
Before spring hit, we – and I say WE lightly – doubled our bed from last year from 10×10 to 10×20 feet. Handy husbands are the best! We also bit the bullet and bought and had two square yards of compost delivered to amend in (not pictured) – We bought ours from Soil3 online. Being early in my pregnancy, amending soil was even more back-breaking work. Ugh! Worth it though.
Jude loves being helpful! ^^^
I like taking pictures to see the progress. We did lose some young plants from an unexpected freeze…mainly all but one tomatillo plant and a few tomatoes. Luckily, I had plenty tomato plants I started still in my milk jug greenhouses! I was able to replace most. Though then I learned about the need to adjust my young plants to the sun slowly after having lived in milk jugs. I made the mistake of planting them in full sun right away and a few suffered from sun-scorch. Nothing too drastic though! We bounced back. It is crazy to me how quickly everything grew in just a couple weeks! ^^^ . . . And now, pictured below, we are thriving and I can hardly stay on top of picking. I fill up a couple buckets a day with tomatoes, peppers, & squash. There is endless basil for my pestos. Jalapenos for pico de gallo & tomatillos for salsas. And sweet potatoes for later in fall. We had sugar snap peas growing up the trellis in the back, but come mid-june they were drying up.
I do not mind having more tomatoes than I know what to do with. I live off of tomato sandwiches, caprese salads, and have cooked up batches of delicious pasta sauce. Not to mention, I enjoy gifting tomatoes to others that appreciate them as much as I do.
We had one of those huge blue plastic barrels (I have no idea what from), so James cut it in half and drilled holes in the bottom so we could plant our sweet potatoes in containers. Being able to dump out our potatoes seems easier than digging them up like last year. Carrots are in the middle white tub.
James also planted cantaloupe in some compost bags ^^^ – He was meaning to get lawn fabric and plant them behind the stables. That may or may not still happen.
Last year, we planted seven blueberrie bushes and a couple raspberries, so we enjoyed more fruit from them this summer as well!
. . .And some random pictures I have of some of my flowers and nooks. Perhaps I am a nerd because I like to document my plants?
Some relevant iphone shots from the last couple of months:
Jude always in the middle of building and helping
These green zebra and solar flair heirlooms are my favorite!
The month of February sped by for us. Little Jude turns seven months old today, and he has quite the personality! He sits up like a champ and likes standing up in our laps. I swear this little dude is going to skip crawling and go straight to walking. Though I’m hoping we can hold off on that for a while. This stage of sitting content surrounded by toys on the floor without being mobile is very ideal. Though he drools constantly, we’ve yet to see any teeth coming in. And he is at that stage where everything he handles goes straight to his mouth. He loves to eat all that we give him (other than peas – he gags when fed pureed peas), and his rolling thighs and many chins prove it.
Jude continues to be such a “chill” baby. He jabbers and smiles all day long. Fussiness really only happens if he’s hungry or tired. And boy does this little guy fight sleep! He likes his exersaucer and doorway jumper and absolutely loves being outside. James often will take him out there when he’s checking on the animals. Jude gets very excited when around animals, especially when he sees Kitty – he starts squawking and waving his arms around. When he gets the giggles, Jude stuffs his fists into his mouth. We think it’s because he likes the feel of the sound on his hands. Recently, he discovered smacking his lips and does it all the time. It’s really cute!
Ohmygoodness! I am a little obsessed with this giggle fit he had last week…
We have finally (this last week) decided to let Jude cry it out at night. He’s always gone to bed well, but has been waking up about two times at night – expecting a bottle once usually. It’s time we stopped that though, and did so cold turkey. It’s been so nice sleeping through the night since! Honestly, I’m not even really sure if he’s waking up and crying at night because early morning seminary makes me so tired. Regardless, I am loving the non-interrupted sleep.
Our winter weather has been super wack this year. Kind of like last year. Though we had a gorgeous foggy morning recently followed by a warm sunny day. Even though it’s super early, I really enjoy getting home around 7am and being up to see the mornings unfold. It’s usually the best time to take pictures anyhow. And then, go figure, there was snow when we got out of seminary today. Whatever to this weather!
. . . . .
James and I celebrated our third Valentine’s Day together this year. We take turns “being in charge of” Valentine’s Day and our Anniversary. This year it was his turn for V-Day (I get our anniversary), which is super awesome because I didn’t have to do a thing! Literally – not a thing is expected on my part. It’s a wonderful tradition.
James planned a great date for us. We started out the evening with a 90 minute couples massage in Athens at Urban Sanctuary Spa. It was fancy and relaxing and a little taste of heaven. Afterwards, we had dinner reservations at 5&10 – a classy white tablecloth dining experience in Athens. James and I were in heaven sampling a handful of dishes from their menu. We decided it was Southern food with a fancy French twists. Their Grapefruit Pudding Cake was to die for. But then again, so was their crisp, melt-in-your-mouth Carolina Trout and Pickled Shrimp and their Sorghum Glazed Pork Belly (that literally melted in my mouth). Ooooh…I’m making myself so hungry thinking about it right now. We would definitely go back! Great choices, James. He always plans the best dates, so it wasn’t much of a surprise.
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Hopefully spring comes soon. I’m looking forward to leafy trees and getting our garden going. Fingers crossed that this year we will finally be successful – no move or pregnancy in the mix should make it much more doable.
Baby Boy Gossling is almost here – August 1st is right around the corner! I felt incredibly spoiled to have such an adorable baby shower thrown in my honor at my sister-in-law, Shellie’s, home. With the help of my other sisters-in-law and mother-in-law (and other family & friends), the Mexican Fiesta themed shower was a complete success. It was a fun get-together with family and friends and an amazing spread of my favorite foods!
I was a little early in taking my pictures before ALL of the food was set out, but you’ll get a taste of how amazing it was! Shellie’s good friend, Angie, offered to make authentic homemade tamales, flan, sopes, salsas, beans, horchata & more! It was SO DELICIOUS!!!! She really out-did herself. I want to give Angie hugs over and over because I have been enjoying the leftovers as well & even stocked my freezer with some tamales for when after the baby comes. Who wants to wait until Christmas for good tamales?! Not I!
Shellie throws a good party – that’s for sure! Wish I hadn’t been so distracted and got more pictures of ALL of the perfect details.
^^Little Elliot at 7 months^^ London’s little boy. How could this face and fuzzy head of hair NOT get me pumped about my own little boy on the way?!?
These cookies! Cutest ever! And even my nieces and nephews were there to enjoy the food and fun 🙂
^^ I can’t think of the last time us three got a picture together. Maybe since high school?? So glad two of my besties were able to make it! And that I get to join them in the “Mama Club” now! Love them!
SO many thank you’s to all who came and even those who couldn’t make it, but put work into making the day so special. We are blessed to not only being adding onto to our little family, but have so much support and love behind us.
Being the first day of spring, I thought it so appropriate that the sun finally came out & we have clear blue skies! This last week of frigid rain and wind has been the dumps. Our Georgia winter has been so unpredictable this year. I’m glad it’s over. *finger’s crossed*
Other than the weather, this last month brought a lot of unpredictable news. I received news that my dear uncle passed away in a car accident – an early AM drive home in the weavy-windy mountainous roads of Arizona took him from us. It was shocking and emotional news to hear, but what a blessing to know my uncle’s heart and have so many wonderful memories! Apart from the burnt remains of the vehicle, only a little slip of paper was found close to the wreckage – written in my uncle’s script, Philippians 2:12 and “Have Christ in my thoughts and actions…today.” Some of my aunt’s family had it embroidered on a handkerchief for the immediate family.
My Uncle Andre was my mom’s youngest brother – 58 years old. Born and raised in Mexico, he was a farm boy, hard worker & lover of life! The man had the ability to make friends with everyone he came across. It was heart-warming to see the hundreds of faces that showed up at the funeral proving that to be true. I still get emotional thinking about it today & how much he genuinely cared about everyone – especially as a niece of his. He would give the shirt off his back without a second thought.
(^^Grandma and her brother, Gary^^)
He brought smiles and joy into every room – – and I can’t help but smiling when I think about the two things he loved most… babies and food! Andre’s business partner and workers insisted on grilling carne asada and a meal to go with it for everyone at the funeral. EVERYONE! They staked out in the parking lot for a few hours cooking it up. It was delicious and perfect… exactly what Dre would have wanted.
I am very blessed to have been able to make it to AZ for the funeral. Funerals are always beautiful family reunions! Only a few cousins couldn’t make it. We enjoyed family time, sharing memories, getting caught up, and of course…. good Mexican food all weekend!
My heart is full of love, appreciation, and admiration for my Uncle Dre.
When in AZ, I can never get enough of my sister’s little Conrad! Him and his Papa Tutt ….
While I was in AZ, I also got to find out some exciting news! My dad’s brother is an OBGYN & was very excited about his new ultrasound equipment. He invited my sister and I to come in and take a peek at our babies! We found out that Tamaron’s little one is due only TWO days after my baby! – August 3rd for her. We also found out that she is having her second little boy : )
When it was my turn, I had to be sure to record all of the ultrasound videos on my phone so that James would be able to see. He does NOT like missing things like that! My uncle was the best to also take a peek at the gender, but not tell anyone. He wrote it down and put it in an envelope for James & I to open together. Having to wait to open that envelope until I got home was killing me! After picking me up from the airport, and laying together in bed that night around midnight – we opened it. Our unexpected news:
I say unexpected because I was SO SURE we would have a girl. That first night I had trouble falling asleep (the time change didn’t help) because, as I told James, I wasn’t prepared for it to be a boy. Haha! I was excited and AM excited, but I needed time to change my thought process from baby girl to baby boy. I spent the next day at baby stores looking at all things little boy. We cannot wait for our little bundle of joy to come this summer!
Today, the first day of SPRING, I had James take a picture for me… at 21 weeks… Apart from the photo above, I haven’t taken any “belly pics” and I suppose I should have a couple, right?
As of the last couple of weeks, I am officially a stay-at-home mom-to-be. It has been great to have time to keep the house in better order, actually stay on top of laundry, and get caught up on photo editing & projects. I had the opportunity to teach a photography class at a Women’s Conference for church this last Saturday. I’m glad I had the appropriate time to get that together. It was blast a to do and by the compliments I received, I’d say it went very well!
With spring approaching, I’ve been antsy to play with Mother Nature. Unfortunately with the cold weather lately, I’ve had to dabble in my own ways. I decided to start some herb, veggie, and flower seeds. I’ve been having to pull them in and out from the weather.
Some daffodils have found their way up, and I’m LOVING my cheery snapdragons. Having color and plants is my latest obsession, so I’m hoping the weather cooperates!
James is staying busy with work and school. I often find him here, doing his thing…
Kitty also love the warmer weather. I find her playing around the windows and patches of sunlight all day long…
Now that I have a little more time on my hands, I’ve been attempting meal planning and being more “domestic”. Ha! Last night I opted to use our overripe bananas in a new banana bread recipe. I chose to modify them into muffins and top them with a crunchy cinnamon streusel I saw the Pioneer Woman make on the Food Network this last week. I was proud of how well it all came together. They were the perfect breakfast today!
Cinnamon Banana Streusel Muffins
1 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature (though I used salted & ended up over-melting mine in the microwave and it still turned out!)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
2 overripe bananas, mashed (I used 3!)
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup all purpose flour
4 tablespoons butter, melted (my butter was salted because it’s all I had)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
In a large bowl of a mixer, beat together the sugar, egg and vanilla until combined. Add the butter and mix until smooth. Add in the milk and bananas.
In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet until all the flour is incorporated.
Spray a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray – or use paper liners. Recipe yields enough to make 12 full muffins.
For the topping: Combine the sugar, flour, & cinnamon into the melted butter. Using a spoon, crumble the mixture over the batter in the pan. Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
This week I attempted starting a baby registry at Buy Buy Baby. Can I just say that it is more overwhelming than fun? Yikes! The amount of baby products, paraphernalia and brands is unbelievable. I feel like so much of it is unnecessary too. I’d prefer to not have a baby gadget for every little thing filling all the space in my home! So to you mom’s out there… what couldn’t you live without? What brands do you recommend? Or any thoughts for a first-timer would be appreciated! Thanks 🙂
i had a three hour layover in Denver the other day. what did i do?
i spent it reading health food magazines. ha!
which is a good thing, because it rekindled my “i’m going to be a healthy eater” drive.
ok, i’m not really a terribly unhealthy eater. in fact, i blow more money on fresh produce and healthier options than i can afford. but, there ARE some things now that i’m going to avoid even more so…and need to cut out! say “NO!” to processed crap!
what are they?
the WORST foods you can eat (some very OBVI):
1. margarine– stick with butter…the REAL thing
2. soda – (even ASPARTAME – which is basically in all artificial sweeteners, is very bad for you – aka – DIET/ZERO sodas)
3. potato chips – said to be one of the main foods that people tend to overeat. and horrible for you. (well duh! but ugh! no more flaming hot cheetos or pringles?! james can attest to my latest pringle addiction)
4. doughnuts – yes, whitney, that includes maple bars.
5. low-fat foods – cookies, snacks, salad dressings, yogurt, and other processed foods with the “low-fat” label use substitutes that are worse than choosing to buy the real/natural/unprocessed food option.
6. processed meats /hotdogs – packed with sodium and unhealthy who-knows-what. (J-DAWGS!!! – nooooo!!!)
7. frozen meals – just stay away from them! even low-fat ones are heavily processed and loaded with sodium and preservatives.
8. processed cheeses/dips – like cheez whiz – gross. don’t eat it.
9. french fries!– go for the homemade/baked ones
10. microwave popcorn = NOT your healthy snack alternative. trans fat and sodium! unless it’s plain/you add your own flavors or you carefully read the label first.
other things to note…
– avoid processed bacon. and be wary of how much bacon you eat when you do. (oh, i LOVE my bacon!)
– blended coffee drinks – SO bad for you! i don’t have a problem with these. but someone who reads this might and should reconsider : )
– high fructose corn syrup….
– AGAVE NECTAR! who knew?! it’s supposedly the “healthy” all-natural sweetener. but it has the highest amount of fructose!
– artificial coloring, sodium nitrate/nitrite, MSG, and refined oils.….check your food labels for them = BAD FOR YOU!
i could eat like this and be WAY happy….
anyway… this is my resolve to eat better.
of course, we all deserve a treat now and again. but really…if you stick to healthy REAL foods…those are what become the “treats” and you don’t crave the other stuff. true story.
i talk like i’m profesh at this, and i’m not. but i know it happens. and i’ve learned to prefer the real stuff more. i just need to get better at it.