Monday, October 26, 2009

The Pumpkin Party!

Cody and I love to host parties for our awesome Willow Creek friends! The last few years, we've been hosting a pumpkin carving party. The creativity of these couples never ceases to amaze me!

(No they're not a couple...maybe Andy was giving a few pointers.)

The great rivalry!

My favorite pumpkin: the new Willow Creek logo!
Also, we just launched an amazing new website:

Check it out!!!
(Kudos, Josh!)

After carving pumpkins, everyone came inside for a bowl of hot soup! The next part of this post is really just for me...I make these soups all the time and can never find the recipes. They are posted here and there on blogs and it always takes me forever to find them. SO, here are my favorite four soup recipes.
Vegetable Beef Barley Soup
1 1/2 lb. beef stew meat
2 T. olive oil
7 cup water
1 16 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 large onion, diced
4 cubes beef bullion
1 heaping tsp. basil
1 heaping tsp. oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 c. sliced carrots
1 c. sliced celery
1 c. barley (I used regular barley and cooked it before adding it to the soup)
2 large potatoes, cubed
1 package frozen mixed vegetables

In a large pot, heat olive oil and brown stew meat. Drain any fat. Stir in water, undrained tomatoes, onion, beef bullion, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Stir in carrots, celery, barley, and potatoes. Cover and simmer fo r 45 minutes. Add frozen vegetables and heat through.
*Feel free to add any other vegetables that you would like. We've added squash and peppers.
*This can easily be done in the crock pot. Cook the meat and combine all ingredients except for the frozen vegetables. Cook on low for 3-4 hours. Add vegetables about 20 minutes before serving.

Cream Cheese Potato
(This one really isn't my favorite, but everyone else seems to love it!)
1 large bag frozen hashbrown potatoes
1 block cream cheese (cubed and softened)
1/2 gallon whole milk
Flour and water to thicken
Minced onion (if desired)
dill weed
salt and pepper

Put hashbrown potatoes in a pan and cover with water. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are almost done. Drain off some of the water so it only barely covers the potatoes. Stir in cream cheese until it's all melted. Add milk and minced onion and heat thoroughly. To thicken, stir a couple of tablespoons of flour with a little water until smooth. Pour into soup and stir constantly. Soup should begin to thicken. Add dill weed, salt and pepper to taste. Serve with shredded cheddar cheese.

White Chicken Chili
3 T. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans white kidney or navy beans, drained and rinsed (I used one can white beans and two cups black beans.)
3-4 c. diced, cooked chicken breasts
1 c. frozen corn kernels
1 (7 oz.) can diced green chilies
2 c. chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
4 T. heavy cream or half and half (optional to thicken)

Warm the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and saute, stirring often, for 7 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and garlic and saute for another minute. Stir in the beans, chicken, corn, green chilies, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a gentle simmer and allow it to continue simmering, partially covered, for 10 minutes. Add the cream if desired.

Serve the chili hot, topped with monterrey jack or colby jack cheese. Also good served with tortilla chips.

Black Bean Chili
(This is actually Abby's amazing recipe!)

8 ounces bacon (about 8 strips) cute into ½ inch pieces
2 medium onions, chopped fine (about 2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, cut into ½ inch cubes
2 T fresh garlic
¼ cup chili powder
1 T cumin
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp cayenne pepper
2 lbs 85% lean ground beef (I use gr. beef and italian sausage)
2 cans (16 oz each) black beans, drained and rinsed (I serve these on the side because I love my husband!)
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 can (28 oz) tomato puree
table salt
tomato juice

1. Fry bacon in large Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring frequently, unt il browned, about 8 minutes. Pour off all but 2 T fat, leaving bacon in pot. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne; cook. Stirring occasionally, until veggies are softened and begin to brown (about 10 minutes). Increase heat to medium-high and add half the beef; cook, breaking up pieces with spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes. Add remaining beef and cook, another 3 to 4 minutes.

2 Add beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and ½ tsp salt. The chili at this point is very thick. If you like it that way, then just bring it to a boil and then reduce to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Otherwise, add tomato juice to get to the right consistency for you; (I add a good 4 cups or so) bring to a boil and then simmer. Beef should be tender and chili dark, rich and thick. Adjust seasoning with salt.

By the way, I'm sure you don't need this disclaimer, but I do realize that my photographs...stink. Sometimes I feel like I'm on the same photography skill level as this little guy:


peter marie said...

Thanks again for the fun party!

Can't wait to make that chicken chili. It was so good!

Amanda said...

lol your pictures are great... and those are some great pumpkins!!

God bless-