Soupy Day in the Kitchen

Posted Fri, 09/26/14


I haven't prepared homemade soup in quite awhile, but yesterday settled in to make a big batch of pasta and vegetable goodness.


Ingredients for Chicken & Vegetable Pasta Soup. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

(Above): Ingredients for Chicken & Vegetable Pasta Soup.

Click on image to view larger size in a new window.


The soup is mostly comprised of fresh vegetables and ditalini pasta, although at the last minute I also tossed in lightly-breaded chicken tenders (chopped).


Chicken & Vegetable Pasta Soup

Olive oil

3/4 C baby carrots, chopped

1/2 purple onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, peeled & minced

3 stalks celery, chopped

1 small zucchini, sliced

1 small yellow squash, peeled & sliced

1 small acorn squash, peeled & cubed

2 fresh ears corn, shucked & kernels scraped off

1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets

1/2 head green cabbage, roughly chopped

1 green bell pepper, seeded & sliced into strips

1 broccoli crown (without stem), broken into small florets

1 pkg. (8 oz.) sliced button mushrooms

Fresh parsley, chopped

1 container (32 oz.) vegetable broth

1 container (32 oz.) chicken broth

Water (if needed)

1-1/2 LBS cooked & lightly-breaded chicken tenders, chopped

1 C ditalini pasta, cooked & drained

Salt & black pepper to taste

4 TBS soy sauce


Heat olive oil in a large cooking pot over medium heat. Add chopped carrots; cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining ingredients (except for water, chicken and pasta). Stir and simmer on medium-low, partially covered, for about one hour to ninety minutes. In a separate cooking pot, boil ditalini pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside. Chop chicken tenders; set aside. After soup has cooked, gently stir in prepared pasta and chicken. Add water if soup appears dry. Heat through (three to five minutes). Serve. Freeze unused portions.

Chicken & Vegetable Pasta Soup. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

(Above): Chicken & Vegetable Pasta Soup. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.


Frozen peas were the only non-fresh vegetable in my soup, although I prefer the frozen variety anyway as opposed to mushy canned peas.


The recipe made a massive amount. I filled two large tupperware containers along with five quart-sized freezer bags. The soup will see me many months into the future.


Blog Tags: Soups & Stews


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New Blog Digs

Posted Tue, 09/16/14


I've wanted to change the overall design of Appetizing Muse for many years, but could never find or create a template that struck my fancy. I've found it now (you're looking at it): red and green scheme, with a fairly simple layout. I created page header buttons using the "Nadall" font, which reminds me of the print style found on old movie posters.


I've included blog archives from 2003 onwards, so in essence the history of Appetizing Muse has spanned fourteen years. The design has changed only three times. The first template (2003-2010) was narrow with blue-purple colors and linked calendar, while the second (2010-April 2014) was green and yellow. (Click on images below to view larger samples in a new window).


Appetizing Muse's first design (2003-2010); click on image to view larger sample in a new window.      Appetizing Muse's second design (2010-2014); click on image to view larger sample in a new window.


The design will not likely change for another several years. While tromping down memory lane during assembly of the archives was enjoyable, reconstituting more than a decade's worth of blog posts was a long, tedious process and not one I'll willingly undertake again. When all was said and done, 1,182 pages constituted the new blog (exhausting just to hear the number). Still, re-visiting my culinary and personal past was rather bittersweet. I was all of forty-one years old when Appetizing Muse began, so do the math. My late husband Wilbert Alviso was also frequently mentioned in blog posts during 2003-2007, which brought him back to life for me in an odd way as I edited the many archives.


The re-design process was also long because of several personal issues. My mother was diagnosed with stage five-into-six Alzheimer's disease in May 2014. The months (and to some extent, years) leading up to the diagnosis were nearly unbearable. The associated mind slippage has been growing worse over time, culminating with threats of self-harm and wanderings. The situation accelerated beyond anyone's control, therefore Mum was placed in a care facility which caters to patients with Alzheimer's disease. My own health issues - along with those of my father - have also grown worse recently, seeming to come on just as Mum was going through her transition into managed care. There were many days when I just wanted to give up and hide my head under a pillow, but I pressed on. Pecking away on the Appetizing Muse archives helped keep my mind occupied.


Some things haven't changed, though. I have yet to find a reliable or cost-realistic commenting system that works with my web host, so the ability to leave real-time comments after blog posts is still not available. However, anyone wishing to send a message or question about a particular blog post (whether new or ancient) can do so by filling out the general Comments form.


*Related Blog Posts:

A Bit of Explaining (03/22/03), Happy New Year! (01/05/05) and New Design & Such (10/12/10).


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Tamales & Tomato Soup II

Posted Mon, 09/15/14


Many years ago I concocted a simple recipe using tamales and tomato soup. It was such a tasty treat, and one I've enjoyed many times since.


Today for lunch I put together an even simpler variation of the dish, which includes only two ingredients:


Tamales & Tomato Soup II

2 Ruiz frozen tamales (beef or chicken), cooked

1 container (15.4 oz.) Campbell's tomato soup ("Soup to Go")


Cook tamales in microwave according to package directions; allow to cool before removing corn husks. Chop tamales into bite-sized pieces. Heat soup according to container directions. Pour hot soup into a large serving bowl; gently stir in cooked tamales pieces. Heat an additional minute in the microwave if necessary. Serve. Recipe makes enough for one or two servings.

Tamales & Tomato Soup. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.      Tamales & Tomato Soup. Click on image to view larger size in a new window.

(Above): Tamales & Tomato Soup. Click on images to view larger sizes in a new window.


Ruiz tamales are the best, so I'd recommend their beef or chicken flavors for use in the above recipe.


*Related Blog Post: Tamales & Tomato Soup (10/10/03).


Blog Tags: Mexico


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Fast Food Gyros

Posted Sat, 09/13/14


Gyros without spit-roasted lamb and tons of garlic? Oh, come on!


Both Arby's and Arctic Circle are now offering their own version of Gyros, yet neither one includes lamb. Are they serious?


Arby's "Gyros"    Arctic Circle "Gyro"


I've tried both. While Arby's piles on an adequate portion of meat (roast beef or turkey to preference), Arctic Circle's version of the same has a better taste. However, both lack the authenticity of a real Greek Gyro.


What's worse, the first time I tried to obtain the Arby's gyro, they ran out of pita bread and were offering the item on regular "buns." No thanks. What's the point without pita?


A few days later, I was able to get two gyros from Arby's for $6 (but hardly worth the price!). The "curly fries" were excessively greasy (as if saturated with cooking oil but not drained), which turned my stomach even before I began.


If one has to choose a shoddy "fast food" gyro, I recommend Apollo Burgers (which has a hint of lamb) or an authentic Greek eatery.


The best gyro I ever enjoyed came from a hole-in-the-wall cafe located in a strip mall in Missoula, Montana (1997). They offered real spit-roasted lamb gyros with plenty of garlic, onions, sliced tomatoes and Tzatziki.


Better yet, make your own.


*Related Blog Posts: Tzatziki (11/02/03); Lamb Gyros in Montana (01/29/05).


Blog Tags: Greece


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Future Eateries

Posted Sat, 09/06/14


Eateries I'd like to try in the very near future:


Bountiful Greek Cafe: Traditional Greek and Mexican fare, including lamb gyro plates, chicken lemon soup with salad, charbroiled chicken breast served with lemon rice and salad, Pupusas (pita with cheese and dipping sauce), lamb kabobs, tamales, chili verde burritos and much more.


Bountiful Greek Cafe


MIA Empanadas Factory (Peruvian wholesale, bakery & cafe): Enjoy a freshly baked empanada today an artisan wholesome meal. Sink your teeth into the soft pastry shell to discover a flavorful filling of beef, chicken, or vegan stuffing. Over 12 different flavors. A treat to be enjoyed breakfast, lunch or dinner. Also ask for our sweet empanadas filled with apple, dulce de leche and others. Try our unique flavors of empanadas (lomo saltado, aji de gallina).


Prairie Schooner Steakhouse: Dine in a covered wagon next to an open prairie fire while enjoying our delicious hand cut steaks, fresh seafood, and signature desserts. Our indoor re-creation of the American Pioneer West provides a great atmosphere for intimate dinners, special events, and large banquets!

All three places sound utterly delightful. I can't wait to try them!


Blog Tags: Restaurants


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Appetizing Muse Archives (2014)