October 16, 2014

Recipes on the Brain

As a food blogger and cooking enthusiast, I often get asked how I 'come up with' my recipes. This is sort of like asking a writer where their ideas come from. There is just no good answer.

But an awesome friend of mine (you know who you are!) mentioned that her husband had asked her this same question about me… just how do I come up with these recipes?? So I actually sat down and thought about it. And today you're going to get a peak into my twisted, recipe-creating brain.

Remember, I warned you.

The picture above is what my Kürbiscremesuppe recipe looked like before I blogged it for you. There are even more scribbles on the back of the page, but you get the idea. This is the God's honest truth:

I am a messy recipe creator.

Sometimes I cross out so many items, and add new ones in, that I have to re-write the recipe just to read my own handwriting. I begin by picking out what new taste I really want to try. Sometimes I choose a dish because it's a favorite of the Hubs, like Zuppa Toscana. I'm also into learning how to make things from scratch so I don't need to buy convenience items anymore, like my taco seasoning. Pumpkin cream soup came about because I've eaten it here in Bavaria at so many restaurants, and I totally fell in love with it.

DIY taco seasoning

I understand the basic mechanics of cooking. I've followed enough recipes, and watched enough YouTube. I've even taken a few classes. If there is a technique I don't understand, then I look it up. Makes sense, yes? Google is my friend. So I start by picking out what main ingredients I think should go in the recipe. For pumpkin soup? Um, hello… it's gotta have pumpkin in it. Probably some onion too, maybe some carrot. Definitely need broth of some type to make it soup. Could use water too. Maybe a combination??

What kind of seasonings do I feel like? Do I want to mix the cream in, or whip it and serve on top? I like the melty goodness of the cream on top, and I've seen several restaurants serve it that way as well. Yep, definitely need cream on top. And pumpkin oil. Gotta have the pumpkin oil.

This is seriously the type of stuff that goes through my brain. And I write it all down. The 'recipe' starts out all neat and tidy, a list of basic ingredients and a quick directional guide.

Somehow, from that comes this:

As I start cooking, I'm scratching out amounts. Sometimes I scratch out whole ingredients that I decide not to use. I'm drawing arrows between various steps, re-arranging as I go. I search through my spice cabinet and pull out new things.

I'm a mad scientist. Love it!

By the time it's all said and done, I still don't have a recipe. What I have is a tangled mess of scribbles that I then have to translate into a working recipe. If the flavor is off, even just a little, I start over again. I re-write the 'recipe' so I can actually read it. And then I get to work again making changes, taking out things that didn't work, and adding in things I think will.

I'm really lucky when I get it right the first time. Heck, when I get it right the second time! Sometimes it takes 5 or 6 tries before I'm really happy with the final product. Even with my tried and true recipes I make changes over the years as I learn more. This is an addiction, and a never-ending process.


Did you survive your walk through my recipe-crazed brain?? I hope so! There are several new recipes on the horizon, including one to make your own caramel sauce at home. I've already tested it twice, and I think the third time will be the charm! It makes a great Christmas gift…

Until next time my friends, happy cooking!

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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October 14, 2014

Kürbiscremesuppe (a.k.a. Pumpkin Cream Soup)

Since living in Bavaria, the Hubs and I have enjoyed many, many new experiences. We've travelled around Europe, learned of new cultures, and have tried all kinds of new food. Here, foods are seasonal, not necessarily available any time of year at the drop of a hat. The restaurants add and remove items on their menus based on what is available.

I gotta say, I really love that.

The food is amazing. It's so fresh, you feel as if you just picked the vegetables yourself. With fall rolling in, I was beyond excited at the return of kürbiscremesuppe. I tried this pumpkin cream soup last year for the first time ever. The dish is very popular here this time of year, and is served at nearly all the restaurants. At least, I make sure it's being served when we're eating out on the town!

I'm completely hooked. And I bet you will be too!

Honestly, I've never even liked pumpkin flavored dishes all that much (please don't hate me, my pumpkin spice obsessed friends). But this soup turned me around. Now I want to experiment with as many pumpkin recipes as I can!

You want some for yourself, don't you? Let's get started then…

This soup is fairly basic, even for someone on a beginning cooking level. I know, I know, it looks fancy. But I promise it's not.

Start with one Hokkaido pumpkin. This is a cooking pumpkin, with a nice sweet flavor. It's my understanding that you don't even need to peel this pumpkin before chopping it, but I peeled it anyway (with a veggie peeler). Don't take off too much though, just the thin skin. You want to keep as much of the pumpkin flesh as possible.

After peeling, cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out all the innards, and then chop the flesh into smallish chunks. Peel and chop two small Yukon gold potatoes for good measure. Then set these two items aside.

In your soup pot melt 2 tablespoons of butter, then add ½ of a diced onion and 1 diced carrot to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the carrot is soft and the onion is just beginning to brown. Add two cloves of minced garlic to the pot, cooking for an additional minute. Your kitchen should smell amazing right now!

Grab your chopped pumpkin and potatoes, and throw those in the pot too. Give everything a good mix, then stir in 3 cups of vegetable broth, two cups of water, and one bay leaf.

The liquid should just cover the vegetables in the pot. You want to bring everything to a low boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer at least 30 minutes or until your pumpkin is nice and soft. At this point, you can remove the bay leaf and stir in the rest of your seasonings (¼ teaspoon nutmeg, 1 ½ tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and ¾ teaspoon salt).

Now comes the fun part!

Immersion blender
If you don't have one of these cool gadgets, you should totally get one. I love my immersion blender! But if you don't have one, that's ok. You can purée your soup with a regular blender too.

Once your soup is creamy, no chunks in sight, you're almost done. Try to resist the urge to gobble up all your soup now! Stir in ½ cup crème fraîche first, then let the soup warm over low heat while you make your whipped topping. If you've never made whipped cream before, it's exactly what it sounds like. Simply whip 1 cup of cream until stiff peaks form. This is an unsweetened whipped cream because it will be melting and mixing into your soup.

Looks good, doesn't it? All creamy, melty, and delicious.

Top each bowl of soup with a good-sized dollop of whipped cream, a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil, and some roasted pumpkin seeds. The oil is pretty essential here to the flavor, so I wouldn't leave it off. You don't need much. A little packs a good punch!

And that's all folks. If you're anything like me, you'll freeze a couple batches of this so you can have pumpkin soup year round. Since the recipe yields about 4 large bowls of soup, you may want to double the recipe too. I love leftovers! This is just one of many dishes I've discovered in Bavaria, and I hope to keep experimenting and sharing them all with you.

Are there any other German dishes you'd like to see me try out? Comment below, peeps. Until next time, happy cooking!

Thanks for reading, everyone!
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The Standard Form:

Kürbiscremesuppe (a.k.a. Pumpkin Cream Soup)


1 Hokkaido pumpkin, peeled, de-seeded, and chopped into 1” pieces
2 tablespoons butter
½ large onion, diced
1 medium-sized carrot, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small Yukon gold potatoes, chopped into 1” pieces
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¾ teaspoon salt, or more to taste
½ cup crème fraiche
1 cup heavy cream
Pumpkin seed oil, for drizzling
Roasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish


Melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat and add the onions and carrots. Sauté until the carrot is soft and the onion begins to brown. Add the garlic to the pot and cook for an additional minute. Stir in the pumpkin and potato chunks, then add the vegetable broth and water. The liquid should just cover the vegetables.  

Add 1 bay leaf to your pot as well. Bring the mixture to a low boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 30 minutes or until the pumpkin is soft. Remove the bay leaf. Add the nutmeg, parsley, salt and pepper. Puree the mixture with an immersion blender, or in a regular blender (Note: If using a regular blender, you will likely need to blend in batches). Once smooth, stir in the crème fraiche.

Return pot to stove over low heat to warm through. Whip the cream until peaks form. Serve the soup topped with a dollop of the unsweetened whipped cream, a drizzle of pumpkin seed oil, and roasted pumpkin seeds.

October 13, 2014

Back in the Saddle (Again)…


I've really missed you guys! The past few months have been quite stressful around here, with me running here and there and everywhere. Hubs and I had more company than we knew what to do with. We've travelled to so many new places, and seen a lot of things, but I've had no time to tell you about them. 

That makes me super sad, seriously. 

But no worries, I'm back! And I plan to be blogging again regularly. I've learned a lot about having company, and what changes the Hubs and I need to make in our life so we're not consumed with this seemingly constant "vacation". Naturally I'll be making a helpful list for you soon! 

I've also created some new recipes that I can't wait to share with you. And I have several others lined up to test out, yum. Plus DIY Christmas gifts and much, much more! I'm ready to kick off fall and get this holiday season started. How about you, are you ready?? 

Comment below with your favorite fall traditions, peeps! And keep your eyes open this week for my kürbiscremesuppe recipe (a.k.a. pumpkin cream soup). This is one of my favorite new German recipes. It's so delicious, the Hubs ate the whole pot by himself and I was forced to make it again. And again. And I'm making it again this week just so I can freeze some for later. 


Thanks for reading, everyone!
Follow me on Facebook @ OurArmyLifeAccordingToTheWife
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