Winter Comfort-Soup is On

I love to cook.  Being a part of Debbie Arnold’s food blog is always a special treat and privilege.  If you know anything about Debbie Arnold, you know she is an amazing cook and is full of great tips (which she shares on Arkansas KTHV 11 During Dining with Debbie).  It is always a little humbling to prepare a dish to share on her blog, but the other aspect of Debbie Arnold is her genuineness and love of gathering in the kitchen.   She is a down to earth home cook who inspires you to jump right in and share the kitchen.

Transitioning back to work full-time outside of the home has made cooking at home a little more difficult.  However, I still believe that relationships are most often built around the table.  We were created to need sustenance.  We were created to need relationship.  The table draws us together, allowing for two of our basic needs to be met. That belief, my desire to nurture my family physically and emotionally keeps me working to find ways to meal plan better, to slow down and let the cooking time also be bonding time, and letting go of some of my “perfectionist” expectations of myself.  Meals have become a little simpler.  The crock pot finds it way to my counter at least once a week.  My girls play a bigger role, getting something started as I am on my way home or taking on one of the dishes as we put a complete meal together.  I have also found I turn to some of our favorites more often, cooking less variety during the week.   It just helps keep things simple, and keeps us at home.

Today, I am sharing one of the few soup recipes my family can agree upon and devour in less than an hour.  Cajun Shrimp Chowder.  The recipe, originally passed along to me by a friend from Louisiana, has been given a few Chaplin tweaks. It was the perfect bowl of warmth and comfort after church today.

I hope you enjoy the recipe.  Spend a little extra time around the dinner table this week with family and/or friends.  In a world filled with sadness, turmoil, and busyness we all need the comfort of good food, good company, good fellowship.

cajun-shrimp-chowder

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You Gotta Keep Cooking

Life is full right now.  I really want to say life is crazy right now, but isn’t it always?  After all, life is just a series of events, and it never stops.  As they say, time marches on.  So, even in the midst of all that is to be done, yet to come, not done… I must face the fact that everyone still wants to eat, and so I must keep cooking.  At the same time, lest I sound like I am complaining, I confess I find great comfort in cooking and sharing a meal with my family.  Maybe it’s because it brings us together in some uninterrupted time.  Maybe it’s because it brings a sense of normalcy.  Maybe it’s because there really is both physical and spiritual nourishment in breaking bread together.

One of my favorite “go to” comfort meals is Italian Sausage Tortellini Carbonnara.  I think I first found the recipe in a Southern Living magazine, but have long since lost it and rely upon memory and my own little “additions”.

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This dish can be doubled and freezes well.  It is to my family the ultimate comfort food and I must say is in high demand from friends and families when there is a new baby or illness.  Top it off, it’s easy!

Begin with 1 pound Italian Sausage.  I buy the sweet kind, but if you like heat, go for the spicy.  Brown the sausage and drain.  To the sausage add 1 TBSP minced garlic, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried oregano and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes.  Pour over the sausage mixture 1 cup of heavy whipping cream (I did not say this was a healthy recipe, I said it was a really yummy recipe).  I have on occasion used fat free half and half (only 3/4 a cup)  Add 4 oz shredded or freshly grated Parmesan.  Heat this mixture over a low heat until it comes to a gentle bubble and the cheese begins to melt.

While preparing the Italian Sausage mixture, cook one package of cheese filled tortellini per package directions.  Drain the tortellini.  In a large skillet or bowl combine the Italian Sausage mixture and tortellini, gently coating the tortellini.   Pour into a lightly greased 9×13 pan.  Sprinkle with Italian Style breadcrumbs (optional) and 4 oz shredded/freshly grated Parmesan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes-until top is slightly browned.  Serve with salad and garlic bread.

Gather your family around the table and create some normalcy.  Enjoy breaking bread together.  Breathe deeply and fellowship around the table.  Let meal-time be the time to pull away from the “crazy’ pace and events of the world and refresh, nourish, fellowship.