Heart-y Chicken Soup

Last week, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I decided that warm chicken soup was just what I needed to fend off the grumpiness-inducinge snowstorm that was de-railing my evening plans. AND, I decided to put a heart-shaped spin on it, something I’ve done once before!snowhearts

Ingredients:

  • 1 rotisserie chicken
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • celery, washed and cut into small pieces
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • Chicken Broth (at least 3 of those square cardboard containers)
  • Lasagna noodles, pre-cooked (al dente!)
  • fresh rosemary
  • green beans, cut in two

Kitchen Implements:

  • small heart-shaped cookie cutters/fondant cutters

Step 1 – Gather Ingredients!

soup

Step 2 – The Chicken Part

Prep the chicken by taking all of the meat off of the bones and setting it aside.

chicken and rosemary

Once you’ve picked it clean, put the carcass, the fresh rosemary, and at least one container of chicken stock in a pot and boil it. This makes an amazing, aromatic, and delicious broth-base that will amp up the awesome-factor of your soup!

Step 3 – Heartify!

hearts!

Pre-cook the noodles (not fully, or they will be mushy when they go into the soup!) and peel and slice the carrots.20150214_143924

Use the heart-shaped cookie/fondant cutters to cut hearts out of both!20150214_141014

Step 4- Assemble!

Sautée onions in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil, add celery and simmer. Add peppers and cover with remaining non-rosemary broth. Add remaining ingredients (carrots, chicken, beans).Assembling the Soup

Step 5: Final Steps!

20150214_154021Strain your rosemary broth and add the richer broth to the soup and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally. About 10 minutes before serving, add in the heart pasta!

Step 6: ENJOY!

Voila!

 

 

 

 

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Unpopular Opinion: Valentine’s Day is Awesome.

I love Valentine’s Day. I don’t love conflict. There are some opinions that I keep to myself in order to avoid conflict. This is not one of them. If you don’t love Valentine’s Day, I am writing this to you, and you are wrong.

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“But it’s so commercial.”

One common theme in the Hate-On-Love-Day Parade is the claim that Valentine’s Day is overly commercialized; exploited by corporations, both large and small, to make moola. I have several things to say in response to this…

  1. Every holiday is commercialized; we live in a highly consumerist/sales society. Shoot, Christmas is probably the most commercialized of all, but I don’t see people refusing to celebrate that!
  2. Feeding into the over-commercialization of holidays is a choice. Helen Fisher, a sociologist from Rutgers University, said it pretty well: “This isn’t a command performance. If people didn’t want to buy Hallmark cards, they would not be bought, and Hallmark would go out of business.” Helen is on point here, folks. If it bothers you that everybody is out to make money off of Valentine’s Day, then don’t buy anything. Refuse to feed the commercialist beast! Stick it to the man – just don’t stick it to Valentine’s Day! It’s a holiday to celebrate love and the people in your life who you care about – call up a friend and tell them you appreciate them! Is that commercial? No, it’s just nice.

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 “I’d rather do something when it’s NOT expected.”

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Oh really? How often does that actually happen? Sorry for my skepticism, maybe you are the king/queen of doing nice random things for people and I have misjudged you. If that is the case, then huzzah! But I still urge you to look at it from another perspective!

Impromptu and spontaneous acts of love are fantastic – but so is a holiday whose sole purpose is to perpetuate and promulgate planful and thoughtful acts of love! So, if you’re all about unexpected surprises, then this Valentine’s Day show your love and appreciation for someone who is NOT expecting it. Don’t want to be predictable with your sweetie? That’s fine. What about your cousins who you see once a year? What about your nice neighbor who helped you snow-blow your walkway that one time? Or the barista who knows your name? Or your old friend that you call up when you’ve had a crappy day? Those are the people who probably don’t expect anything from you this Valentine’s Day, but who would be delighted by an act of caring!

“I’m single so I’m boycotting Valentine’s Day.”

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ARGH! THAT MAKES NO SENSE!!! I’m sorry, I didn’t realize that you had to be in a relationship to be capable of loving someone. DO YOU HAVE A MOTHER?! WHAT ABOUT A MOTHER FIGURE?! DO YOU LOVE THEM??? SO MAKE A POINT OF TELLING THEM THIS VALENTINE’S DAY.

*Deep Breath*

Clearly, this line of thinking turns me into a gigantic, Valentine-defending rage-monster. I shall calm down and try to respond with less of a knee-jerk-emphasis-on-the-jerk reaction.

Ahem. Oh, you’re single? Me too. In fact, I’ve never been in a relationship on Valentine’s Day. Unlike you, however, I don’t think your relationship status should dictate your ability to celebrate a holiday or not. Shockingly enough, there are still a lot of people in my life that I love and appreciate, despite not being in love with someone.

I remember the year that my brother, Nathaniel, and his college friends decided to boycott Valentine’s Day. They wore black all day, didn’t talk to any girls, and hung out and watched The Godfather that night. Funnily enough, they had it kind of wrong. By spending time with friends, they were sort of celebrating the purpose of Valentine’s Day anyways. Still, I can sort of understand, I’ve had those moments of single-blues on Love-day, but then I remembered that having a chip on your shoulder and taking it out on everyone else is an ugly character trait.

If you boycott Valentine’s Day because you’re single, then you are ultimately just being selfish. It’s not all about you, my friend. You’re glum because you’re single? Boo-hoo. Go show love to somebody else rather than wishing that somebody would show it to you or whining because nobody does. Valentine’s Day isn’t just about romantic relationships! It’s about love of all kinds. I challenge single-folk to make Valentine’s Day theirs just as much as it belongs to couples. You have to be the change you wish to see in the holiday.

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“It’s too expensive.”

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  1. Please go back and re-read the whole commercialism line of thinking.
  2. The Internet can give you all sorts of ideas for Valentine-y goodness, ranging from inexpensive to free.
  3. Money might talk, but Actions speak louder than words. Rather than buying something or taking someone out for a WAY overpriced meal, do an act of service for someone!
  4. Lots of wonderful caring activities don’t involve $$$. Make dinner, snuggle, read aloud to somebody, play a board game, have an indoor picnic, watch a movie, write a letter, shovel a walkway, take out the trash, fold the laundry, give a neck-rub, do one of the ickier household jobs that everybody avoids . . . you get the idea.

“Isn’t that a Christian Holiday? I’m not Christian.”

First of all, most of the holidays that are celebrated today have some sort of religious origin (again, Christmas comes to mind). I’m willing to bet that many, or even most people who celebrate those holidays aren’t practitioners. I doubt everybody who drinks a beer on St. Pattie’s is a devout Catholic. Similarly, people who eat Cadbury eggs are probably not all attending Good Friday services and celebrating the resurrection of Christ. People who celebrate holidays through the lens of their belief system may return to the roots of the holiday, but it is hardly the norm. You clearly do not need to be a Christian to celebrate a holiday of Christian origins.

Second, while there are some different accounts of St. Valentine and his execution being on February 14th,  the roots of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to Lupercalia, a Pagan fertility festival held in the ides of February in ancient Rome. As a non-believer, I think you can safely celebrate the day. I just wouldn’t encourage you to do it the way they did in ancient Rome, because sacrificing a goat and a dog, well. That’s just sad. And touching their hides (once removed) in hopes of fertility in the oncoming year? I think Science has brought us farther than that.

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Side-note, Valentine’s Day’s association with the idea of Love also has been linked with early belief in France and England that February 14th was the beginning of a bird’s mating season. If all else fails, I guess you can celebrate it for the birds.

twitterpated

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“I actually hate everyone, including myself.”

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That’s just awful! If all else fails and there’s nobody that you love, you should at least love yourself and give yourself a day of pampering. Try. Be good to yourselves, you are the only you this world has got. That makes you a very limited natural resource and a rare commodity. Appreciate that about yourself.

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“My entire family died in a freak pinecone incident on Valentine’s Day.”

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Okay. You’ve got me there. I probably wouldn’t feel very festive either. But, I mean, you could always make it a day to commemorate your love for your family, right? That’s what I would want people to do after I’m gone – not just sit around being sad on the day I went out, you know?

Have some other reason why you don’t like Valentine’s Day?

So, if you aren’t convinced yet, please feel free to go back and look at my older Valentine posts to hear some more of my strong opinions or get ideas for how to celebrate.

If you want to argue with me about it some more, please post comments. You are wrong, and I will fight you. For the sake of Love.

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I’m a [VALEN-]tiny bit excited.

love is a balloon

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When I say I love Valentine’s Day more than any other holiday, I get a multitude of reactions. Most frequently some version of this:

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Occasionally, I’ll get something more like this:

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But usually it’s more like this:

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I have ranted in the past about why I think people need to get over themselves with regards to Valentine’s Day, so I don’t want to get too much into it again. But I basically love Valentine’s Day like Buddy the Elf loves Christmas.

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Things You Should Consider Doing This Valentine’s Day:

1.) Give Unexpected Compliments to Unexpected People

compliment

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2.) Watch this Video, because THIS is a great example of LOVE!

3.) If you can’t think of somebody in your life to share the love with, then find somebody who needs a little extra love in their lives and DO SOMETHING about it!

Colin's Facebook Page

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There is a little boy in Minnesota whose birthday is coming up, but who doesn’t have friends at school . . . his mom made this facebook page, and you could always take a moment to write him a birthday card tomorrow!

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4.) Watch Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!

win a date

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This movie recently came up in conversation, and I remembered just how fantastically fun a chick-flick it really is. Plus, it’s not TOO goopy for a valentine’s day, even if you are single and feeling depress-y about the fact.

5.) Give somebody a valentine, for crying out loud! It doesn’t need to be a sappy one!

eyes for you

Whatever you do, please remember to share the love, even in the Valentiniest  of ways! There are so many shoddy reasons that people celebrate any holiday, but what a wonderful thing it is to have an entire holiday devoted to showing the people that we care about how much we love them. If that isn’t worth celebrating, I don’t know what is.

[if you want to read more about my love of Valentine’s day, click here]

JOYEUSE St.Valentin!

Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Check out  some of the notes that I shared with Friends  (and students!) on this lovely day:

narwhalstars sold

pine coneshoney badgers

And. . . because laughter is just wonderful:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=LDWJn3IwiaM

My handsome valentine:

love in it

The cupcakes I made for my students: 

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The adorable sweet notes that I received at work today!

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A very Happy Valentine’s Day to you if you are reading this!

LOVE-ly Ideas!

V is for Valentine

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Top Ten Inspirational Ideas for VALENTINE’S DAY!

#1: Make & Share the best medicine

love is the best medicine

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#2: Walk in Love

heart walk

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#3: BUBBLES BUBBLES BUBBLES!

BUBBLES!!!

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#4: Give Caffeine To Those You Truly Love

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(go to “Eat Drink Chic” for the free printable)

plus, if you are feeling especially loving, and can bake, you can include these!

#5: Sweeten that Coffee (or tea) with LOVE

sugah

 

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#6: Wear your heart on your . . . legs.

Heartlegs!

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#7: Say it with FROSTING!

Hidden Messages

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#8: Hand-deliver any secret messages with some lacey flaire!

doilies doilies everywhere!

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#9: Watch and revel in as many romantic or happy relationship (including Friendship) movies as possible!

Oh Rhett Butler, you suave charmer, you!

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#10: Send small messages without inducing cavities!

Healthy Love!

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And, whatever you do, don’t stop with just Valentine’s Day!

Valentine's Afterparty!

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Felt the [g]LOVE!

I recently stumbled upon a few pairs of soft red gloves inhabiting the last lonely sale rack of a post-Christmas seasonal apparel massacre. I couldn’t just leave them there. As a born and raised north-easterner who has ample experience with nor’easters, I quite justifiably love gloves. Then again, the practical among you might protest (and you would be right in pointing out), I have many gloves. These gloves are not anywhere near as decorative and adorable as the usual gloves I love. . . so, in circumstances such as these, when faced with a glovely bargain, you must ask yourself :

What do you do dear?

for starters

WELL, I’m glad you asked. What did I do? I bought them in a fit of bargain-price-induced impulse. This story, marked as it is by thrift-price induced spendthrifty-ness,  might have ended there, with the little red gloves uselessly gathering dust-bunnies in an environment rife with buyers-remorse . . . but it doesn’t. Instead the previously-orphaned little glovelies just needed a little love added into their sparse lives. Thankfully, I happen to still be in possession of an unholy amount of felt. With a snip-snip hear and a snip-snip there, a small bland square of pale pink felt was soon transformed…

felt thatAll that remained was to gather the tools needed to equip my (seriously) meager excuse for sewing ability . . .

thread. . . and shortly thereafter, the humdrum red gloves – those gloves that might once have disappeared into your average target cart like Waldo in a sea of candy-canes – were utterly transformed by the easiest DIY valentine-ification imaginable.

Behold: A New Kind of Gloves!

gLOVE

Why wear your heart on your sleeve when you can have it on your pinky?