I love potato soup! Isn't it just perfect for a snowed in day? Especially when the soup has a bit extra heat like this one. The roasted jalapenos give this soup quite a kick!
This soup requires a lot of prep, but isn't it nice sometimes to just take your time? It can be so peaceful to chop tons of veggies and think about what a blessing it is to even have food to chop, you know?

First you'll need to roast 1 or 2 jalapenos under the broiler. I used 2 because we like spicy food, but it was really very spicy so 1 might be sufficient. Broil them for 10 minutes, flipping once. While the peppers are roasting, cook 6 slices of chopped bacon and then drain them on a paper towel. Pour 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease into the pot you will use for the soup.

Let the jalapenos and bacon cool as you peel and chop 2 lbs potatoes, 1 celery stalk, 1/2 yellow onion, 4 cloves garlic, and cilantro. Now the jalapenos are cool enough to slice. Be sure to discard the seeds, and be careful not to get spiciness in your eyes! I always wear gloves when I handle peppers, I've had way too many bad experiences!
Anyway, now you can warm up the pot with the bacon grease and add the onion and celery. Cook on low until soft. 
Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more, garlic burns quickly.
Add the potatoes, and some cumin and cayenne pepper, just a few shakes.
Pour in 4 cups of chicken stock (homemade if you're feeling little-house-on-the-prairie-ish!) and bring to a boil.
Then simmer uncovered for 30 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Remove from heat and let the soup cool for 10 minutes.
Then blend the soup, in batches, until smooth.
Pour in 1/2 cup buttermilk and 1/2 cup half and half. Mix in the creamy goodness.
Pour in the roasted jalapenos...
and the bacon. Warm up the soup a bit more and add salt if necessary. Then serve with cheddar cheese and cilantro!

Potato Soup with Roasted Jalapenos and Bacon
Adapted from Homesick Texan

1 or 2 jalapeno peppers
6 slices bacon, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups chicken stock
2 pounds Russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch cubes
pinch of cumin
pinch of cayenne
chopped cilantro
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup half and half
salt and black pepper to taste
shredded cheddar for serving

Cook the jalapenos under a broiler for 10 minutes, turning once. Once cooled, remove the stem and seeds and chop.

Cook the bacon on medium heat until crispy. Place the cooked bacon on a paper towel lined plate. Pour 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease into a large pot.

Preheat the pot over low heat. Then add the celery and onion and stir occasionally until they're soft. Then toss in the garlic and cook for only 30 seconds. Add the potatoes, cumin and cayenne and then pour in the chicken stock. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Next turn the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Remove from heat and let the soup cool for 10 minutes. Blend the soup until smooth by pouring the soup into a blender in batches. Return to the blended soup to the pot and pour in buttermilk and half and half. Warm over low heat until it's as warm as you want it. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with shredded cheese and cilantro. Enjoy!
I spent my weekend reading Buffy Season 9 comics and snacking on delicious cheese and crackers. Basically, another great weekend! What did you do to relax?
I made my first batch of chicken stock! I don't know if it's really cheaper than just buying it in a box, but it was fun to make and quite tasty! Plus, you get an added bonus: the satisfaction of using the entire chicken instead of throwing out the bones!
It's easy, too! Just throw in the chicken, the veggies, the seasonings and the water and cook for a really long time, basically. Here's some more detailed instructions!

Chicken Stock
Adapted from Bride and Groom First and Forever Cookbook
Yields 6+ cups

3 pounds chicken bones (I used the bones from a 4 pound chicken)
10 cups water
1 large yellow onion, unpeeled, chopped coarsely
2 celery stalks, including leaves, chopped coarsely
2 medium carrots, chopped coarsely
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled, smashed
4 teaspoons poultry seasoning (dried thyme, parsley et cetera)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon peppercorns (I used white, but you could use black peppercorns, too)
kosher salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients in an 8 quart stockpot. You can add more water if needed to cover the ingredients.

Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Skim the foam as it begins to form. Let it simmer for another 3 hours.

Strain the stock through a colander into a large bowl. Then pour the stock into another large bowl through a fine mesh sieve. Let cool for a few minutes then refrigerate. Skim off the fat that will form on the top of the stock as it cools. The stock will keep for a week in the fridge, or you can freeze it and it will last for 3 months!

Next time, I'll share a recipe in which you can use your homemade chicken stock!
Nothing is better than roast chicken for dinner on cold days, right? Of course right.
Especially when it's nestled in simple carrots, onions and potatoes. Plus, the chicken is seasoned with my favorite flavor combination right now, rosemary, garlic and lemon. Nothing else like it!

I've made this recipe many times, and it's always super delicious, moist, and filling. Give it a shot!

Roasted Chicken with Carrots and Potatoes
Adapted from: Bride and Groom First and Forever Cookbook
Serves 4

3 carrots cut into large pieces, like 6 pieces per carrot
8 red new potatoes cut into halves or quarters
1 medium yellow onion cut into 6 wedges
3 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 4 lb chicken
1 lemon, cut into quarters
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Place carrots, potatoes and onion in a 9X13 inch glass baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and stir so the vegetables get coated. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Spread the veggies to the edges of the baking dish to make room for the chicken. Place the garlic cloves in the space you just created by moving the veggies.

Take the gross stuff (neck and giblets) out of the cavity of the chicken. Not all chickens are sold with the neck and giblets in a little bag placed in the cavity, so don't worry if you can't find them!

Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Season the cavity with salt and pepper and put the rosemary and lemon inside. Place the chicken on top of the garlic cloves in the baking dish, this will keep the garlic from burning. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and then season liberally with salt and pepper, don't forget the legs and wings! If you want, you can truss the chicken, but you don't have to.

Roast for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, use tongs to tilt the chicken so the juices come out of the cavity. Stir the vegetables into the juices and brush the juices onto the chicken. If the skin is browning quite a bit, place aluminum foil loosely over the bird.

Continue roasting until the chicken has cooked to an internal temperature of 170-175, or until the juices run clear when you poke the thigh joint with your knife. This should be another 25 to 30 minutes, but it could be more.

When it's done, move the chicken to a platter and let it rest for 10 minutes. Stir the vegetables in the garlic and juice and squeeze some lemon juice over them. Yumm! 

I wish I could give you tips for carving the chicken, but I can't. I'm definitely not an expert. Cutting the legs off is especially difficult, I basically just mangle them until they fall off. They may not be pretty, but they sure will be delicious!

If you've never roasted a chicken before, you've really got to try it. It's easier than it sounds and it's so homey and delicious!

Remember to save the bones so you can make a stock. I'll show you how next time!
I made something new! It's definitely not perfect, but it works, and I think it's pretty. This pattern is also from the Home Ec course. It's a place for me to keep my double pointed and interchangeable needles neat and organized!
Since I got my new sewing machine in the mail I've been on a sewing frenzy! Let me show you all the stuff I made!
It's a reusable gift bag with a ribbon drawstring! Check out those clean lines!
A single napkin! I planned to make a set of 4, but it turns out napkins are harder than they look. But get a load of those perfect double hems!
And round bunting! Look, applique and curved stitching!

All these items are projects in the Home Ec course. I'm really enjoying it, and totally recommend it to any new seamstresses or seamsters!
This is my new favorite place, where I spent about 15 hours (I'm exaggerating...a little) working on my first project yesterday! It's perfect! The lighting is great, although you can't really tell from this picture, plus there's plenty of space for all the stuff sewers  need! Sewers as in, people who sew, not underground pipes for sewage....now I see why they prefer the term "seamstress." Let's take a tour, shall we?
This is my cutting mat and rotary blade. It's pretty amazing how precisely it can cut fabrics. And these fabrics and ribbon mark my first purchase from the fabric store! *squeal*
This is how I use the cutting mat, I hope I'm doing it right!
These are all my notions and thread.
And this is the machine, itself! I was trying to think of a name for it, but I think I'll just call it "brother." That way I can reference Full Metal Alchemist's Alphonse and make Arrested Development jokes while I talk to it...hermano.
And if you will look to your right, you will see beautiful sunsets. Pretty great sewing nook, right?

Do you have a favorite place in your house to do work or crafts?
Happy New Year! It's taken me a while but I finally thought of 27 goals I'd like to accomplish before I turn 28!

1. Write 2 blog posts a week on average.
2. Reach 30 sales on etsy.
3. Write another pattern.
4. Think of 27 goals (check!)
Image from http://homeeconline.blogspot.com/
5. Learn how to sew. (I got a sewing machine for Christmas, and I already signed up for this e-course. I'm so stoked!)
6. Learn how to quilt.
7. Learn how to knit colorwork.
8. Knit mittens.
9. Knit an adult sized top/sweater/cardigan/shrug.
10. Crochet amigurumi.
11. Successfully poach an egg.
12. Bake sourdough bread.
13. Learn how to tell the doneness of steak by touch.
14. Keep a budget. (I've started using mint.com. It's pretty cool, and free!)
15. Recycle more.
16. Stop nervously picking at my eyebrows.
17. Clean the apartment more frequently.
18. Do yoga once a month, at least. (Once a month sounds easy, but I'm being realistic here, people!)
19. Call a family member or friend every week.
20. Sponsor a knitting club.
21. Read an entire work in Latin.
22. Teach Greek.
23. Practice Hebrew, Greek, and German once a month each.
24. Start studying a new language, I'm thinking Portuguese or Italian.
25. Read 1 book from each author on the Great Books list.
26. Get published. (eeeek!)
27. Learn how to play piano.

Alright, that's it! I'll keep you posted on my progress! Do you make yearly goals? Are you better at keeping them than I usually am? : )