Monthly Archives: November 2010

Gingered Pumpkin-Pear Soup Recipe

Though the pears pictured do not have a textur...

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I was lamenting that I had lost this recipe forever.  I cut it out of a magazine in the 1998 and couldn’t find it for a couple of years.  Guess what. I found it in a bag of stuff in the basement, which is a good thing because this is the best soup ever.  The cooks (N. Coult and K. Moerke) won a $400 prize for it.  So it is award-winning soup 🙂

Lots of time I think it’s just fine to mess around and substitute ingredients.  Not this time. If you make this exactly like this, it will be fantastic.  But don’t wimp out and leave out a little detail, like the lime peel, because the lime peel absolutely MAKES this soup sing.

So here it is. So easy.  Vegetarian! Only 129 calories a serving. Makes 6 small servings.  Life is good.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 3 pears, peeled, cored, and sliced (actually, you can use canned pears, not in syrup)
  • 1 15 oz can of pumpkin (the small one)
  • 1-1/2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1/4 cup of light dairy sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp. finely shredded lime peel
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • more shredded lime peel for garnish

Directions: In a large saucepan, cook onion and ginger in hot butter until onion is tender.  Stir in pears, cook 1 minute more.  Stir in canned pumpkin and vegetable broth; heat to boiling.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 5 minutes more or until pears are tender.  Cool slightly.  In a blender container or food processor, cover and blend 1/2 of pumpkin mixture at a time, until smooth, about 1 minute.  Return processed mixture to saucepan; stir in milk.  Heat through.  Season to taste with salt and white pepper (if desired).

Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together sour cream, 1/2 tsp of lime peel, and lime juice.  Top each serving of soup with a drizzle of lime sour cream mixture. Garnish with a little additional lime peel.

Bargain Fashion Finds for Holiday 2010

Only $24!! Dots Red Sequin Dress (S, M, L, XL) stores only

What to wear…what to wear?

Like you, I want to look festive (and feel comfortable) during the holidays, and probably like you 🙂 I’m on a budget. A TIGHT budget! Many times, it makes sense to invest in quality pieces.  But for the holidays,  you may only wear these items once or a few times.  So, I think it’s worthwhile saving some money.

I fell in love with lots of the festive “Glisten Up” items at Talbots and other chic items I saw at stores this year, but all were too expensive for me.  I did find some great alternatives, however…

  • For that chic holiday party after 5: Instead of Talbots black velveteen ankle pants ($79.50), buy Walmart’s flat front, fitted black velveteen leggings: $12. These fit like ankle pants, not skin tight.  You save: $67.50.  Pretty good, considering how often you will actually wear them!
  • I also saw a fabulous sequin scarf in the accessories section at Wal-Mart in silver, black, or rose, and it was about $10.  Sorry, Talbots, it looks and wears almost like your $69 sequin scarf Save $59 smackers right there… I almost bought it.  Wish I had!
  • Need to dress up your suit for the office Christmas party?  Instead of Talbots sequined tank top ($69.50), choose Target’s Xhiliaration sequin tank top in colors like blush, black, or gold, in stores, $12-$17.  You save:  up to $57.50. I think I’d top this with one of the many soft cardigans they had in matching colors for under $20.  With a longer fine-gauge cardigan, that top would also be a great look with jeans and heels.
  • There was a fantastic lace pencil skirt offered by Talbots for $159.  Loved it.  Black lace over copper silk.  So gorgeous.  But it’s a dream.  Now the lace Covington skirt at Sears? That’s a reality.  Black lace over white satin.  On sale for $20.  You save $139.
  • White coat (Wal-Mart $20), mittens ($3) and hat ($3)

    You need a warm coat for going to see the National Christmas Tree downtown. Wouldn’t winter white be so chic instead of predictable black?  Yes, it would!  Instead of Lands End lightweight down jacket in white ($59), choose Walmart’s white, quilted junior parka, $18 (in plus sizes for $20).  You save: $41. This is a great looking coat that is actually nice and warm for most DC days.  I added a cute seasonal hat for just $3!

  • For me, New Year’s Eve is all about shine, and it’s the one night you can pull off a sequined dress.  It’s hard to beat the glam of Talbot’s tank-style sequin dress, but let’s face it — that’s a one-time only dress.  You will look fabulous for one night for $299, and then you can’t really wear it again.  I loved it, I really did, but opted for sleeves, and an A-Line cut and got a red version that kind of looks like sequins online from Dress Barn.  Hey, it fits!  It’s down to $25, now, online, if you happen to wear a size 14W.   I’m wearing mine to the One Party with a black jet necklace.  Dress Barn’s also got a great sleeveless black sequin dress with a really fabulous cut (I tried it on) for $49, online and in stores.  And, if you’ve got the figure for it, all eyes will be on you in this red sleeveless sequin, v-necked tank dress from Dots for just $24! (sizes S, M, and L).  There’s a Dot’s store in Alexandria, VA.  Buy one of these glittery numbers and save between $225 and $274!  
  • Accessories can add up, unless you know where to look.  The dollar section at Target is a great place to buy little seasonal accessories.  I bought a black jet necklace there for $1 last year that I’m wearing to a party.  This year, I bought a pair of sequined headbands — you get 2 for a dollar — one in dark red and one in black.  Or go for green tinsels and red “lights” for a dollar.  Again, since these aren’t everyday pieces, quality is not really an issue, but price is!

The fashions at Talbots and other stores are incredibly lovely, but if you haven’t got the moolah, use those looks for inspiration and find bargains elsewhere (like Target, Sears, and Wal-Mart).  I don’t think hardly anyone will notice the difference…it seems like most holiday party settings are pretty dark, anyway.

What are you wearing for the holidays?  What trends have you seen?  Have you found any bargains?  Feel free to share them in the comments.

How to wrap a cat for Christmas