Friday, November 15, 2013

Recipe: Creamy Tomato Basil Spinach Tortellini Soup

We are continuing our Autumn Soupfest. This is a favorite soup of mine: Crockpot Tomato Basil Soup. I changed it up tonight for a number of reasons: 1) I needed to speed up the process and make it on the stove; 2) I had some fresh tortellini and spinach in the fridge; and 3) I wanted to lighten up the calorie count.

I accomplished number 3 in two ways. First, instead of cream I used evaporated milk. Second, I skipped the roux.  I put some of the cooked veggies in my blender to thicken the soup without adding flour and fat.

The ending soup was delicious. Absolutely delicious! I can't wait to have the leftovers tomorrow. Just as pleasing was the fact that the soup wasn't damaging to my diet. There are a lot of ingredients, but it was fairly easy to put together. Here's the recipe for you:

Creamy Tomato, Basil, and Spinach Tortellini Soup
Olive oil
Large onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
4 celery ribs, sliced
1 red pepper, diced
4 Tbsp. fresh basil, finely chopped (or 1 Tbsp. dried)
1 Tbsp. fresh garlic, chopped (or 1 tsp. dried)
6 cups fresh spinach, chopped (or one 10-oz. pkg. frozen, thawed)
2 cans diced tomatoes (I prefer the petite diced), with the juice
4 cups vegetable broth
Freshly ground pepper to taste (I like a lot!)
1 can evaporated milk
1 9-oz. package refrigerated tortellini (optional)
Parmesan cheese, optional

Cover the bottom of your soup pot with olive oil and heat on the stove top.
Add onions and carrots.
As the onions become translucent, add the celery, red pepper, basil, and garlic.
Saute just 4 or 5 minutes.
Add spinach, tomato, vegetable broth, and pepper.
Bring to a boil.
Then turn down to low and let it simmer, until the carrots are tender.
Put half of the soup into your blender. Let it cool a little bit so you don't get scalded. Blend and add back to the pot.
Add the evaporated (NOT condensed!) milk.
Once the soup is warm again, add the fresh tortellini (I used spinach and cheese tortellini). Heat through for about 5 minutes.
Enjoy all the rave reviews!

The kids added fresh Parmesan to their bowls. I skipped the cheese myself -- it was delicious enough without any extra help (or calories!).

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Recipe: Roasted Tomato and Kale Soup

Sorry, I was too hungry to take time for a prettier picture!

The leaves have fallen, the air is cold and crisp, and soup is on the stove. My husband loves soup and looks forward to this time of year as I'm making it several times every week. The following recipe is one I created last night when I couldn't decide between Tuscan Bean Soup and Roasted Tomato & Rosemary with Kale and Potato Soup. What I ended up with was delicious in addition to being thrifty and calorie friendly. I hope you like it too ...

Roasted Tomato and Kale Soup
Olive oil
Large Onion, diced
Garlic, minced
2 large carrots, diced
3 celery ribs, thinly sliced
Small bunch of fresh basil, finely chopped (could substitute dry)
Oregano (to taste)
Pepper (to taste)
Handful of spinach, chopped
Handful of kale, chopped
Can of roasted tomatoes
Can garbanzo beans (cannellini or other white bean would work nicely too), drained and rinsed 
4 cups vegetable broth

Heat olive oil in your stock pot and add the onions and stir.
As the onions start to become translucent, add the garlic, carrots, celery, basil, oregano, and pepper.
When they've cooked just 3 or 4 minutes, add the spinach, kale, and can of tomatoes (do not drain).
While that heats up, put the drained beans in the blender with some of the vegetable broth. This will give your soup a nice thick texture and a delicious flavor as well as being healthy.
Pour the bean puree and the rest of the broth into your stock pot.
Let simmer, covered, on low for an hour.

Delicious served with crusty bread or fresh Parmesan.

Really good the next day as leftovers!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Groupon for Homeschoolers

Have you checked out Groupon yet?

Personally, I've avoided it because I erroneously associated their deals with fancy restaurants which my family of 9 cannot afford even with a 50% off coupon.

Then, today, I stumbled upon a Groupon for a favorite you-pick berry farm just around the corner from my home. I paid $10 for a Groupon worth $20 of peaches or berries. Not a bad deal at all!!

Here's how it works. Go to the website, plug in your zip code, and local deals come up. If you see a deal you like then click on it. You then purchase the "groupon" to be used later. For example, you may pay $15 for $30 credit for a local gift store. You would print the groupon on your home printer and take it to the gift shop. You just got 50% off on your gift!

Now, to make strawberry preserves with my half-price, you-pick berries!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Free Coupons Online

I'll also add these to the sidebar. Note that these websites offer free coupons. Never, ever pay for a coupon clipping service.
And only print what you need for this week's shopping trip. You don't want to waste money on paper and ink.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lenten Recipe: Roasted Navajo Soup

Ash Wednesday is around the corner. If you're looking for Lenten recipes, you'll find quite a few if you look to your right in the sidebar under Labels: Lenten / Meatless Recipes.

Here is a nice hardy soup I came up with sometime ago that is perfect as winter seems to hang on here in the north:

Roasted Navajo Soup

2 medium sweet potatoes
2 red, yellow, or green peppers
1 large onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 (15 oz.) can of tomatoes
1 Tbsp. canned chipotles in adobo sauce
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained
6 cups vegetable broth
1 (4 oz) box of wild rice prepared an hour ahead of time (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a large baking sheet with oil.

Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into 1-inch cubes.

Stem and seed the peppers and cut into 1-inch pieces.

Cut the stem and root ends of the onion, peel, and slice into wedges.

In a toss the veggies with the garlic, oil, cumin, salt, and pepper.

Spread on the prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes. Stir well and continue to roast another 10 to 15 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are fork tender.

In a blender puree the tomatoes, chipotles, cilantro, roasted vegetables, and black beans. You may have to do this in batches.

In a soup pot, combine the puree with the broth and prepared wild rice (optional). Simmer for 15 minutes until warm throughout.

Optional: Serve with sour cream, plain yogurt, and or tortilla chips.

Variations: You could replace the wild rice with a white or brown rice. Or even skip the rice put the beans in whole instead of making them part of the puree.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Free e-Books for Homeschoolers

I've been wanting a Kindle forever but just couldn't bring myself to spend the money. I asked for it for my last birthday but then pulled the request as I just thought that maybe it was too frivolous. You know -- Want vs. Need.

However, now I'm completely rethinking the whole thing.

As a homeschooler, I use a lot of classic books. A LOT. And most of them can be found for free download on the internet. I have take advantage of some of these free books but not much as I'd like as it isn't easy to read on my computer. Reading on a Kindle (and I imagine other book readers are similar) really is much like reading a regular book. You can even make annotations in the columns and highlight passages. I do love real books. My home is decorated in Early Library but maybe it is time to enter the modern age. At least a wee bit.

Yes, I know there is the public library and I do take great advantage of it. In fact, I have a daughter who works at the library and I often enlist her to do my library grunt work. But there are times when even the classics are hard to get via inter-library loan. (Our small town library didn't even offer inter-library loan until a few months ago!) Or I need a book for an entire semester or I need it quick.

Anyway, with all those free books out there I think the Kindle would pay for itself easily in less than a year. Now, all my geek friends tell me to forget the Kindle and go for an i-Pad but I really, really can't bring myself to spend that kind of money. Cha-ching, cha-ching!!!

So, the whole point of this blog post was to share links to all those free books with you. Let's get to it ...

Baldwin Online Children's Literature Project

Bringing Yesterday's Classics to Today's Children
. We're using this currently for our Ancient Greece and Rome books including Famous Men of Greece and Famous Men of Rome.

Christian Classics Ethereal Library

From Calvin College, loaded with lots of Church Fathers and Catholic saints. It even has large selections from Summa Contra Gentiles
. I've downloaded Chesterton and others here.

Google Books

In addition to classics, authors have uploaded current books. Also magazines.

Gutenberg Project

THE original producer of free e-books.
Over 100,000 books.

Heritage History

Similar Baldwin Project, only dedicated exclusively to children's history books

Internet Archive


Free audio books!

Literature Page

The Literature Page is your place to read classic books, plays, stories, poems, essays, and speeches online, brought to you by the creators of The Quotations Page. Our collection currently includes 243 works from 89 authors. We add new titles regularly.

Many Books

All free books in a wide variety of genre. They contain books from Project Gutenberg, and has links to Librivox when available. You can download them already converted to a variety of formats if you don't want to go through Calibre.


This site absolutely has things you will not find anywhere else.

TextKit: Resources for Greek and Latin

Our Latin textbooks for this year are from this website.

As with any book, make sure anything you download is acceptable. Even classics contain trash.

I'll put these links up in the sidebar here at the blog so you find them there in the future.

Happy reading!!!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Free Farming Unit Study

OHC Co-op Farming Unit Study

This is a free 227-page unit study from CurrClick. I'm not sure how long it'll be offered for free.

We live in a rural area and have been slowly adding to our own family farm. So far we have chickens and ducks. We're currently testing the soil to see if our land will sustain a fruit orchard. So, this unit is of particular interest to us.

It's geared for pre- to grade school but the list of links will be helpful to older children. If anyone knows of a good, free unit for middle to high school please leave a comment below.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

$10 Sale: Teaching Company

As I've said here before, I love Teaching Company. One of the things I love about them, in addition to a great product is that they have really good sales. I could never afford their products if I had to pay full price.

Currently, there is an amazing $10 sale going on. Shipping is another $10 for the whole order. However, I found a coupon code: 42248 which should give you shipping for only $.99!


Addendum: I just ordered. The good news is that the coupon code works. The bad news is that you can only order one $10 set per customer.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Free Stuff in the Blogosphere

To celebrate 5 years in the blogosphere, Alicia Van Hecke is giving away loads of free gifts including (more to come as the week progresses):
1. Subscriptions to mater et magistra magazine (Catholic homeschooling magazine): (3 copies)

2. I Remember Mama - Irene Dunne, 1948 (3 copies)

3. Christmas in Connecticut - Barbara Stanwyck, 1945 (3 copies)

4. Books by Melissa Wiley (3 books)

5. The Kitchen Madonna by Rumer Godden (1 copy)

6. The Rosary: Keeping Company with Jesus and Mary by Karen Edmisten (1 copy)

7. The Catholic Homeschool Companion, edited by Maureen Wittmann and Rachel Mackson (1 copy)

8. Homeschool Connections Subscription Service (1 month free subscription)
Check out Studeo to learn all the details.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Half Price for Half Day at Sophia Institute Press

Sophia Institute Press is offering a whole slew of books for half price between now and midnight. Go HERE to see what's on sale.

Then once you have your books in your shopping cart, enter the discount code halfday and click APPLY. Please note: Discount only applies to the books pictured in the ad at the above link.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Free Webinar on Online Education

UPDATE: The webinar went great! You can watch the recorded event here: Advantages of Online Education.

Maureen Wittmann will be the presenter for Homeschool Connection's upcoming free webinar: Online Education vs. Distance Learning.

The internet, used correctly, can be a big plus for your homeschool. This webinar will focus on online education but will also explore other internet resources including research options for students, finding homeschool support, and money saving deals.

Distance learning has been around for over a century. Studies show that distance learning is as effective as classroom instruction. Today we have a new model of education coming to the forefront: Online Education which is interactive and goes beyond distance learning. New studies indicate that online education is leaving classroom instruction in the dust.

Join us for this free and informative webinar to find out why and how. See firsthand the future of education. Attendees will get to personally tryout some of the online educational options. If you own a headset with a microphone, plug it in before entering the webinar and we'll let you use to experience one of the interactive parts of online education.

Bring all of your questions as there will be a Q&A segment.

Date: Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Starting time: 8:00 pm, Eastern Daylight Time (7:00 pm, Central)
Duration: 1 hour
Presenter's biography: Maureen Wittmann is co-founder of Homeschool Connections along with Walter Crawford. They are bringing online education to homeschoolers around the globe in an effort to help parents provide a faith-filled, world-class education to their children. Maureen is also the author of For the Love of Literature and co-author of The Catholic Homeschool Companion. She and her husband Rob homeschool their seven children in Michigan.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Free DVD's from the History Channel

Free DVD Set from the History Channel

The History Channel is giving away a free DVD set to every school in the United States, including homeschools! This soon-to-be-released set is entitled American-The Story of Us. Here is a quote from the website stating what this 9 1/2 hour DVD set will include:

A riveting adventure of how America was invented, AMERICA The Story of Us focuses on the people, ideas and events that built our nation, covering 400 years of American history in the most extensive and in-depth television series ever produced by HISTORY. From the rigors of linking the continent by wagon trails to the transcontinental railway, the engineering of steel-structured buildings, through to landing on the moon, this epic 12-part series is a grand cinematic vision of how this country was built.

Sharing their thoughts on the building of America, and what it means to be an American, are a world-class group of individuals including Meryl Streep, Michael Douglas, Buzz Aldrin, Colin Powell, Donald Trump, Tom Brokaw, John Legend, Melissa Etheridge, Brian Williams and more.

From executive producer Jane Root of Planet Earth, comes the breathtaking journey through history–unlike any other in the past 40 years–with live-action recreations of key historical events through the use of cutting edge CGI animation, giving viewers an immersive view of history in the making.

These DVDs will be shipping in August. The deadline to request a copy is July 1st.

If you are interested, click here to see more information on this DVD set.

Then click here to request your free set!

**Note: This DVD history set will NOT be done from a Christian perspective, so you may want to preview these before having your children watch them.**

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Freebies for Tax Day

After writing my check to Uncle Sam I'm so ready for a freebie. Here is a list of Tax Day Freebies from Cinnabon to Starbucks and more.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dumpster Diving for Food

I've had friends in years past who swore by dumpster diving but never for food. This is interesting ...
Ride along on a freegan dumpster dive

That's one way to cut the grocery budget!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Seton is Having a Sale!

Seton  Educational Media

SAVE 25% ON ALL Bethlehem Books TITLES
Offer valid through Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Fairchild Series
Fairchild Series
Grades 3 to 5
Alvin Fernald Trilogy
Alvin Fernald Series
Grades 4 to 7

Bethlehem Collection
Entire Collection  of Bethlehem Books
Browse all titles...

You might also be interested in these . . .
Along the Paths
Along the Paths of  the Gospel
Grades 3 to 4
Vision Series
The Vision Series  of Saints' Biographies by Ignatius Press
Grades 4 to 8
Windeatt Series
Mary Fabyan  Windeatt's biographies of the Saints by Tan Books
Grades 4 to 8
Seton Recommends
Twain, Verne,  Dickens, Homer, de Wohl, Hawthorne, and many more . . .
Classics for High School

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