Thursday, December 20, 2007

A beautiful thank you!

I had the biggest surprise tonight while making my World Famous Chicken Tortilla soup. (As I told Vicki later, the only really true adjective there was "chicken", as I'm out of tortillas and the "world famous" part is, of course, an exaggeration of gargantuan proportions.)

Anyway, I was stirring away (recipe, or at least a rough explanation, will follow at end of entry) and Karen walked in the kitchen and said "Mom? Look what came for you!" It was a huge, long flower box and we opened it carefully and quickly. Right on top, was a card from the sender that "made my eyes leak!" (click to enlarge)

We carefully extracted the flowers, and vase, and made the water/flower food solution, trimmed the ends and put the flowers in the vase. Soooooooo pretty!

This account is really special. For now, I'll call them the Fantastic Orthopaedic Group! Because they are! It's a group of nine doctors and three physicians' assistants and they are wonderful, caring people and great dictators, all of them! Their staff is a joy to work with and I really take pride in making sure that my transcription service meets their needs.

I definitely couldn't do it without my terrific team! (And Michael's fantastic cookies- I'm sure they help!) I wish I could share these flowers with my transcriptionists, but blogging it will have to do!

Back to the chicken tortilla soup. I started making this after falling in love with the REAL chicken tortilla soup at Islands Restaurant.....and trying to duplicate it at home. That wasn't possible, but my family fell in love with my variations. It's funny sometimes how something so simple will hit the spot for your family and they are as enthusiastic about it, as they are about your homemade lasagna! Here are the ingredients in today's interpretation of this soup....

The only ingredient not pictured is the chicken. I simmered a whole bird and chilled the broth to remove the grease, and have taken the breast meat and chopped it up for this soup. I would show it (the carcass nearby), but apparently some of my readers are delicate flowers.....and I don't want to gross them out! Snicker!!

Any time I make this soup, I just use whatever veggies I have on hand. For example, some times it has a bit of chopped spinach in it, or some celery, instead of peas. I just try for color, and lots of it. This time I used both diced plain canned tomatoes and diced canned tomatoes with green chilies. Sometimes I use less tomatoes and more of other veggies. The constants in this soup are the chicken breast, chopped up....and the taco seasoning flavor packet! The seasoning packet takes the soup from "cooked veggies in chicken broth", to rich, deep flavor with a hint of warmth from the spices on the tongue...without any real thought from me. And I do love easy cooking.

Yum! If I have tortilla chips, I put them on the bottom of the bowl and spoon the soup over. I always top it with Mexican 3-cheese blend. Sometimes I toss in a can of cream of chicken soup, just to mix things up a bit, so its not the same old thing... changes the texture a bit, but still oh-so-good!

Michael did an 11 hour shift in the Land of Lost Packages yesterday, and another 10 hour shift today. He loves this soup, so hopefully this will warm him up!

Now I need to start thinking about Big Bird #4.....(we have five in the freezer right now!) I want to bring him in, thaw him and cook him in advance so that Christmas is a bit less rushed. I think I will make my side dishes a day early also, and then make Dill Bread on Christmas Eve. That's always a huge hit and makes the house smell great!

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