Monday, September 15, 2014

Slow Cooker Chorizo and Poblano Soup

It's fall here in Eugene. I can see that the leaves are just beginning to turn and I'm so thrilled! Fall means so many incredible things here in the Buchholz house. Possibly one of the best things is SOUP! It's soup season. If I'm being honest every season is soup season to me, but it feels right in the fall. It's cozy and warm and delicious. It's a food hug.
 I've cooked my entire life and I almost always change recipes. It's actually a bad habit of mine. Some of the recipes I've changed so drastically, that more things are different than the same. So I've made the leap now. I'm getting my creative juices flowing, and I'm making my own recipes. It's more fun than I thought it would be. I'm not sure why I assumed it wouldn't be. I love food, food loves me. It seems like a natural thing to do right? The biggest struggle is writing it down quite frankly. The munchkins are usually dangling off my legs while I chop and write. It's chaos in the best of ways...until a toddler grabs a knife! AHHHH put the knife down! No don't give it to your brother! You get the overall picture I think.

I'm a big advocate for having the kids eat what we eat, but for my first soup creation I wanted instant gratification. For me that means chorizo. Extra spicy chorizo is too hot for our littles, but I can't stop cooking with it. Ever since I made my first pot of Caldo Verde, I'm sold on the stuff. In case you are wondering, yes, I know what's in it. It's made from all the leftover parts just like hot dogs. I don't care. It's delicious, delicious, delicious! I'll eat cheek fat and lymph nodes every day if it tastes this good. Okay now that I've thoroughly grossed everyone out, I'll try to redeem myself. We buy ours at a local butcher. The quality is far better and I trust the farming conditions because I know where it's coming from.
I added a bit of cayenne pepper to my chorizo because I got the mild chorizo.

My husband is my best food critic and he also loves chorizo. When I met Jamie, he was living off of pizza and taco bell. I like to think he's upgraded a bit. He's the kind of guy that goes into a restaurant for the one dish he likes. He will not branch out. I, on the other hand, love trying new dishes. Because of this I've been pushing different foods on him for over ten years now. I'm very happy with his progress.

So for this soup, I wanted something spicy and creamy. The chorizo provides a lot of spice on it's own, but for me it's not quite enough. My jalapeno plant is going nuts still so that seemed like an obvious choice. I also enjoy poblano peppers a lot. They don't have any spice to them, but they do have a nice unique flavor to them. If you are having trouble finding them at your local supermarket they may be labled pasillas instead. They are usually in the ethnic produce section. Don't skip them though. They really do add a nice flavor to the soup.

My crockpot gets a lot of use at our house. That was another must for this recipe. I just love the anticipation of smelling the food you are having for dinner throughout the day.

You start with all the peeling and chopping. It's a little work but totally worth it in the end.
Here it all is minus the cream and cheese. Doesn't it just look deliciously spicy?

And after all that yummy slow cooking it's cheesy, creamy time.
Now Eat!
Slow Cooker Chorizo and Poblano Soup
  • 1 lb. chorizo
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 poblano peppers
  • 1 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 c. frozen sweet corn
  • 2 c. peeled/cubed potatoes
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 T. chopped garlic
  • 1 chopped leek
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. of cayenne pepper
  • 6 c. chicken stock
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  1. Chop poblano peppers and set aside. Heat oil in large pan. Add chorizo and poblano. Cook chorizo until no longer pink.
  2. Chop all other vegetables and place in slow cooker. Add all other ingredients except the cream and cheddar cheese.
  3. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Check to be sure potatoes are done.
  4. Remove lid and mash most of the potatoes with a potato masher.
  5. Add cream and cheddar cheese. Give a good stir and serve.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Just Getting Started

I've been meaning to start a blog for a while. I'm sure I don't have anything new or profound to say, but I do find that there is something profound in the sense of community that a blog sometimes conveys. There are events that have happened in my life that have caused me to change. They have caused me to stop and look at the truth that I might have something to offer someone else because of my experience. It's not that I've handled things with incredible grace and poise and feel the need to share just how I do it. It's more about taking these events and allowing God to use them to shape me. It's about being transparent and real. It's about encouraging one another and living passionately. I realize this is all rather vague, so I'm going to give a brief overview of my life. Try not to fall asleep. :)

I am fortunate indeed. I grew up in a loving home with a Mother and Father who have always supported me. Stability is never something I struggled with in my childhood. I am the oldest of four children; two sisters and one brother. My middle sister, Katie, was taken to soon, and sadly died shortly after birth. I was young when it happened. I hardly remember her death. This was the most tragic event in all of my childhood and I have little memory of it. I say that not to diminish the incredible loss, but instead to point out that I have had an easy life. Even as a young child I remember thinking, "I've had it far to easy. Life is bound to get much more difficult." I'm an optimist, and yet somehow my little child mind knew this truth. 

My parents were middle school sweethearts. I sometimes cannot wrap my mind around how this happened. I can say with much confidence that they will stay together until they die. They love each other. I have never doubted that. It's quite the model to live up to. I know better now, but I remember thinking in middle school, "Well this is where I'm going to meet my husband." Ha! Imagine my surprise when that didn't happen. I have my own love story. It might not sound as dreamy, but it's mine. He's mine! I could never trade him now nor would I dream of it. When people ask how Jamie and I met it usually goes something like this, "Well we went to high school together, but he HATED me...," Doesn't it just sound like true love? But it was, and continues to be. 

Jamie and I dated for four years before wedding. I told him to make me wait at least a year before trying to start a family. Things went pretty much that way. Oh except Jamie got fired from his job and then we got pregnant...on purpose. Shortly after Jamie lost his job, he began dropping comments about starting a family. The timing was ridiculous. He must have been joking, but before long I realized he wasn't. After much prayer, we dove in. We got pregnant quickly. Jamie got a job shortly after. This is where the hardness started.
I had signs of miscarriage through my entire first trimester. It was a constant emotional roller coaster. Do I let myself be excited that there is this beautiful life inside me? Do I stay unattached so I don't end up devastated if I lose the baby? It's not something I wish on anyone. We held our breathe and by a miracle of God we made it through the first trimester. I gave birth to our beautiful son in July. Elijah brought me so much joy and so much exhaustion...and so much joy!

I always imagined having my children close together and so shortly after Elijah's first birthday we became pregnant with a girl. We agreed to name her Katie Grace. Pregnancy and birth were smooth sailing. It wasn't until she was a couple weeks old that things started getting difficult. I always say babies don't show their true colors until they are three weeks old. I absolutely stand by this. It's scientific fact in my mind. Katie had colic. On the off chance that someone reading this doesn't know what that is, its just crying! CRYING CRYING CRYING. Hearing your newborn child cry hurts your heart. Hearing your newborn child cry for six hours straight, every night hurts your inner most being! It drives you to absolute madness. You think of things no sane person would ever think of. Exhaustion doesn't even begin to cover it. So there was that, plus toddler.

Katie did grow out of the colic. By this time I started noticing little things with Elijah. Things that were cute, funny, incredible, but different. It was hard to put words on why I was concerned. It was hard to even admit I was concerned. I just kept thinking that I was being the overly concerned mom. Time passed and eventually I made the decision that I needed answers. In May of this year he received and educational diagnosis of high functioning Autism. There were so many struggles leading up to this and there are many ahead. I could write a book on our experience, our heartache, our acceptance, etc. I'll try to save it for another time.

Dealing with all of this often felt overwhelming. It still feels overwhelming. But at one point I (like so many other mothers often do) wondered where I went. I felt lost. My life wasn't going the way I had envisioned. I had transitioned to being a stay at home mom. All of these things were blessings. "My life is full. It's beautiful. Why am I feeling unfulfilled? Why am I feeling lost?" God certainly had some answers for me. In all of this I had insulated myself. I held this mentality that life was so busy , hard, and crazy with my babies. There were new challenges all the time. I had to stay focused on all of that. It was just illogical and exhausting to think about doing anything else. My family needed ALL of my energy and attention. But God disagreed. Romans 12:13 When God's people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Romans 12:15 Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. These verses speak to my soul. I was created to serve and I am commanded to do so. This serving isn't just to my family, although that is incredibly important. The reason I was feeling empty is that I wasn't fulfilling God's purpose in my life. This is what has ultimately prompted me to start this blog. My prayer is that through this blog I will be able to serve others. It won't always be serious. One of the ways I LOVE to serve is through food. There will be food blogging, DIY projects, and encouragement, as well as the hard stuff. But all of this, and I do mean all of it, is a gracious gift from a loving God.