Monday, October 26, 2009

Soup's On

We have been in a cooking frenzy here in the Gale household.  I pulled out a recipe that I've been wanting to make for a long time:  No Cream Creamy Broccoli Soup.  Again this is from my favorite place for super easy recipes:  Kraft.

If any of you have been to Panera with me, you know that I absolutely love their Broccoli Cheese Soup in a bread bowl.  No, I'm not saying this is as good as that...but it's not a bad substitute. 

No Cream Creamy Broccoli Soup

1 cup chopped carrots (about 2 medium)
1 cup chopped celery (about 2 stalks)
3/4 cup chopped onions (about 1 medium)
3 Tbsp. oil
2 cans (14-1/2 oz. each) fat-free reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp. pepper
4-1/2 cups broccoli florets (about 2 small bunches)
1/2 cup instant white rice, uncooked
2 cups milk
1/4 cup KRAFT Grated Parmesan Cheese

(1)  Cook and stir carrots, celery and onions in hot oil in large saucepan on medium-high heat 5 min. Add broth and pepper; stir. Bring to boil.
(2)  Stir in broccoli and rice. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 10 to 15 min. or until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently.
(3) Add soup, in batches, to blender or food processor; cover. Blend until pureed. Return soup puree to saucepan. Add milk and cheese; cook until heated through, stirring occasionally.

It was definitely a least amongst the adults.  Carter opted for fish sticks instead (he's really not much of a soup eater).  Ben ate 3 bowls, easily exceeding his Vitamin A & C requirements for the day.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What's Cooking?

Many of you have asked what my little (half) naked chef was making in a previous post.  Carter was helping me with CornBread Muffins.  Ben had made a batch of chili (which he'll hopefully post about soon) and so we thought cornbread would be the perfect counterpart.  This is a recipe that I found at

Golden Sweet Cornbread

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2/3 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil

(1)  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray or lightly grease a 9 inch round cake pan.
(2)  In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
(3) Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Instead of baking in a cake pan, I used a mini-muffin tin for (nearly) bite sizes muffins.  By doing this, the baking time is greatly reduced so monitor them carefully.

And, no, I don't have any pictures.  We ate them too quickly!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Move Over Jamie Oliver...

There's a new Naked Chef in town!

OK, he's not naked. BUT, he's definitely cooking without any pants.

Monday, October 19, 2009

E-Mail Me!

I have added an "E-Mail Me" button over on the top left corner of this blog.  Just click on the button to open up an email message to me.  I continue to hear that people are having difficulties posting comments.  If you could, please send me the error message you are getting.  This will help me better understand the issue.  I've been doing some research to see if this is a recurring issue with Blogger or if it's just me.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Supper #10

We are officially a couple of weeks into autumn and, here in Cologne, that means rain.  Lots of cold, damp rain.  This is the perfect weather for soup, chili, and the crock pot.  This Sunday I will be sharing with you a delicious recipe from Better Homes and Gardens for Buffalo Chicken Soup.  Hopefully in the coming weeks I can share some of my favorite slow cooker meals and maybe I can get Ben to post his chili recipe.

Buffalo Chicken Soup

1 2-1/4 to 2-1/2 lb. deli-roasted chicken, skinned, boned, and coarsely shredded
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup coarsely chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 14-oz. cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
1-1/2 cups milk
1 tsp. bottled hot pepper sauce
1-1/2 cups mozzarella cheese (6 oz.)
1-1/4 cups crumbled blue cheese (5 oz.)
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (2 oz.)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
Bottled hot pepper sauce (optional)

1. In 4-quart Dutch oven melt butter over medium heat. Add celery and onion; cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in broth, milk, and the 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce.

2. In bowl toss together mozzarella, 1 cup of the blue cheese, Parmesan, and flour. Add gradually to soup, stirring after each addition just until melted. Stir in three-fourths of the shredded chicken; heat through. Top with remaining chicken, blue cheese, and hot sauce.

Makes 6 servings.

Of course, I am always tweaking the recipe.  Here are the changes I make:
  • I cook a couple of chicken breasts in the oven instead of buying a deli-roasted chicken from the grocery (about 25-30 minutes at 350 F)
  • I double up the celery and onion...both 1 cup (roughly) each.
  • Increase the amount of hot pepper sauce (we use Frank's).  The small amount the recipe calls for is completely undetectable. 
  • Since we are not fans of blue cheese, I use cheddar instead.  Of course this takes away some of the flavor or "tang," but we make up for it.
  • I serve with a bottle of Buffalo Wild Wings Hot sauce.  Everyone can add as much/little as they want according to their ability to handle spice (here's where we make up for not having the blue cheese flavor...we compensate with hot sauce).
  • Note:  shredding the chicken is the worst part of this recipe.  Once, I threw the chicken into the food processor to cut it up into tiny little pieces but the texture just wasn't the same.  It's worth the time it takes to shred.  I have also found it's easier to shred by hand.  You can at least do this in front of the TV on a Sunday afternoon watching the game.

Monday, October 12, 2009

A Little Something I Made

MDF picture frame, acrylic paint, a napkin with an interesting pattern, Mod Podge, grosgrain ribbon.  Super easy!    (The picture is of my brother and his two adorable kids.)

Here's a close up (not exactly in focus) of the edges with the grosgrain ribbon.

I think I may do one with a polka dot print next and will maybe turn it into a tutorial.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


We have had a ton of rain lately. In Michigan, the joke is that there are two seasons: winter & construction. I feel the same about Cologne -- except the two seasons are summer & rain. This disgusting crop of mushrooms in our backyard popped up OVERNIGHT!

On the other hand, our driveway looks incredible with all the bright green moss in between the brick pavers. I actually think that this is frowned upon by the Germans. There is not another driveway in our small neighborhood with moss growing in it. If I were a proper German, I would be outside bright and early (but not on a Sunday) scraping the moss out from between the pavers.

Of course there are a slew of other signs that we are not German:  our lawn that is desperately overdue for a mow, the dead leaves in the street in front of our house, the weeds in the garden, and plants in need of "dead-heading."

What about you?  What are you neglecting in your yard?

As a reminder, leave your comments.  Every comment in the month of October earns $0.50 for Breast Cancer Research.

Pedal Bike!

I'm not even sure I need to say anything here...other than I am so proud of him.

Special thanks to Gus Johnson who grew out of his bike and loaned it to Carter to try out.

Sunday Supper #9

Hi everybody, it's Ben. Here to let you all know that I can cook too. Now, to be fair, most of my meals involve cooking meat over fire so there is usually not much to write about. Mother nature doesn't always cooperate with the grilling weather so here is one of my indoor favorites. Nothing beats Cottage pie on a cold rainy autumn day. That is exactly what we were dealing with this last Sunday.

Follow the jump to view the recipe.

Friday, October 09, 2009

House Shopping

It should be no surprise to anyone that I've already starting looking at homes for sale back home in Michigan via the web.  Nearly every day I see what's listed at or  To be honest, I'm getting sick of the same old houses that have been on the market for months and months.  There are so many in foreclosure that are empty and neglected and sold "as is."  There are many more that are short sales which are famous for taking months and months for the paperwork to be processed and so we are trying to steer clear of those.   There's really not much out there that I'm even interested in seeing in person.  It's quite depressing.

Then the other day, I found a website that highlights all the ridiculous homes on the market (worldwide).  Check out for a couple of good laughs.  Actually, I find it hilarious!  It's everything strange you might see in a real estate listing from poor decorating taste to realtors taking terrible pictures to just plain junky homes.  Or as the website defines itself:  "Odd finds in Real Estate Listings."

This is one of my favorites:  I love that there's a dedicated bathroom sink...because you couldn't just use the kitchen sink 6 feet away.  You'll understand what I'm saying when you look at the pic.

This makes me wish I had a camera with me back in 2004 when Ben and I were last looking for a home.  We toured one house which was clearly lived in by a man recently divorced.  It was so obvious that half the stuff in the house was missing...from the way the closet looked like she just took her clothes and ran to the bookshelf with random empty spots where she took anything that interested her.  The icing on the cake, though, was the master bedroom.  There were candy wrappers on the floor around the unmade bed and porn videos sitting on the dresser.

Sigh...I'm not looking forward to house hunting in ernest.  If only I could just click my heels together and already be moved into our new home...wherever that may be.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

The Future of this Blog

I've been thinking a lot recently about what I should do with this blog when we move home. Should I keep it going and simply rename it? Would I have as much to write about? I think that without the lure of pictures from fun destinations, perhaps no one will want to read it. And since we'll be home, my mother won't need to get Carter updates as she will be able to get them in person.

Is anyone even interested in my craft projects (few and far between as the may be) or recipe sharing? So I'm looking to you, my readers (all 12 of you) to give me some feedback. What do you want to see in the new year? Yes, yes, I realize that's 3 months away but -- you know me -- I love to plan stuff. Besides, it will take me that long to come up with a new name. I mean, it will be so hard to top the creativity of "The Gale Family in Deutschland."

Don't forget to leave your comments...every comment earns 50 cents for breast cancer research.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Gross, Lice!

Someone at Carter's school has lice.  How gross is that?

Last week someone was diagnosed with chicken pox (fortunately Carter has had the vaccination) and now this week someone has headlice.  I guess it's a common problem in daycares and preschools (and camp) but I still can't get past the idea that it's due to general  uncleanliness.  I have not stopped itching since I found out. 

Carter does not appear to have any sign of it but I still want to burn everything of his that was at school in the past week.

Have you or your kids had lice?

PS - don't forget that I'm donating 50 cents to breast cancer research for every comment my blog gets this month.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Lucerne, Switzerland

We just had a fabulous long weekend in Lucerne, Switzerland.  We originally planned this trip two years ago.  Exactly 2 years ago we went to Legoland.  We had a blast but Carter came down with a fever.  We had plans to continue on to Switzerland (including Lucerne) but ended up cancelling the rest of the trip.  Two years later, we finally were able to make it a reality.

We stayed right in the heart of the Old Town.  It's mainly a pedestrian only area with lots of restaurants and shops.   The famous Chapel Bridge was just a two minute walk.  The first night in town, we ate at a touristy fondue restaurant.  We thought Carter would love it.  Turns out he wasn't a huge fan of the cheese fondue (wasn't cheddar cheese or cream cheese...the only two that matter). But no surprise, he devoured the chocolate fondue and bananas.  Of course, Carter was bouncing off the walls the rest of the evening.

On Saturday morning there was a beautiful Farmer's Market along the river.  I could have spent all morning there wandering the stalls and seeing all the fresh food and flowers. 

Carter was not the least bit interested in the Farmer's Market but was rather OBSESSED with the swans.  There were easily 30 swans on the river right at the bridge and Carter could not get enough of them.  Especially exciting were the "kid" swans.  There were two light gray colored swans that were clearly still young-uns.

On Sunday, we visited Mount Pilatus.  We did the Golden Round Trip which involves taking a boat from Lucerne across Lake Lucerne to Alpnachstad, going up on the cogwheel railway, coming down on the aerial cableways and panorama gondolas, and taking a bus back to Lucerne (this is all depicted on the graphic below but it's really hard to read).  This was an all day excursion.

The views were absolutely amazing. Mt. Pilatus has it's highest peak at about 7000 feet. There were clouds below the peak. What amazed me is how quickly the clouds came in and then disappeared just as quickly. Since I am somewhat afraid of heights, there were several uncomfortable moments for me. The gondola ride was especially bad for me because it was also extremely crowded. There were probably 40 people crammed in (standing room only style) onto a gondola the size of a small bus. Not only do I have a fear of heights, I'm somewhat claustrophobic...especially when it comes to proximity of people. Fortunately, it was a super fast leg of the trip, lasting only about 5 minutes. Good thing, too, because I'm not sure I breathed during that whole leg of the trip.

Half way down the mountain, we stopped at the sommer-rodelbahn (summer toboggan run).  Think of luge with a sled on wheels and a metal, half-pipe run.  This particular one is 1.4 km long and was soooo much fun.  Carter had a blast and absolutely loved it. We could have spent all day doing it if it was his choice.  Of course we finished with some ice cream.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

October = Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and 2009 happens to be the 25th anniversary.  As you are probably aware (thanks to the "Feel your boobies" button on the right), I am rather passionate about Breast Cancer Awareness.  You may wonder why I'm so passionate about one close to me has ever died from breast cancer.  BUT, the statistics are scary....

From Wikipedia: 
Women in the United States have the highest incidence rates of breast cancer in the world.  Among women in the US, breast cancer is the second-most common cancer (after skin cancer) and the second-most common cause of cancer death (after lung cancer). Women in the US have a 1 in 8 (12.5%) lifetime chance of developing invasive breast cancer and a 1 in 35 (3%) chance of breast cancer causing their death.

Good links to check out:

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

National Breast Cancer Coalition

Feel Your Boobies

Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Army of Women

Save the Ta-Tas

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month, I am going to copy Ree from The Hotfessional.  She's donating 10 cents for every comment she receives during the month of October, up to $150.

I’ll contribute $0.50 for every comment I receive during the month of October, up to $200.  
No, I'm not trying to out-do the Hotfessional.  I will be really suprised if can get to $200.  I don't have the number of readers she does, nor will I post everyday like she does.  I will only count 1 comment per person per posting.

Lame Excuses

Ugh, it has been 11 whole days since my last terrible.  All I can say is that the Gale Family has been busy.  We've had the auto show in Frankfurt, my birthday, a long weekend in Hamburg, and several colds in the past 11 days.  Bear with me...I have much to blog about...just need to find the time.  Of course we are headed to Lucerne, Switzerland this weekend which means I'll have more blogging material and no time to do it.