Thursday, December 01, 2011

Food Blog 7: My famous tomato basil tortellini soup

My food blog kind of went on an unplanned hiatus during disaster season...but it's back now and better than ever! Let's kick it off on this cold day with the most requested soup I make! (Trick is to throw it in a crock pot if you have the time in the morning!)

I recommend serving with a good ol fashioned grilled cheese or an adult grilled cheese with sun-dried tomato turkey breast (like pictured above).  

My famous tomato basil tortellini soup

2 - 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 - 6 oz. can tomato paste
4 - 14 oz. cans chicken broth
2 cup whipping cream
2 TB dried basil (or more of fresh basil)
1- bag frozen cheese tortellini (cook as directed)
2 TB granulated sugar
A few cranks of fresh ground garlic salt and pepper

Directions for stove top

Heat dutch oven over medium heat and tomato paste, tomatoes, sugar and basil, heat 3 minutes. Add chicken broth, salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to LOW; uncover and simmer for 15-30 minutes, minutes stirring often. Stir in whipping cream, and simmer on LOW, stirring often until heated through. Be careful not to curdle the cream by keeping on low and not letting soup boil, only simmer. Add a bag of freshly cooked tortellini, then garnish soup with grated parmesan and more basil.

Directions for crock pot

Throw all but cream and tortellini in a crockpot on low for a few hours and add in the pre-cooked tortellini and cream 30 minutes before serving. (That's what I do for potlucks and it's a hit!)

Friday, October 07, 2011

i felt loved

Last night I had the pleasure of meeting the Leslie family. I just wish it was under different circumstances.

I find myself meeting a lot of amazing people in the worst of circumstances these days. See I am there for some of the worst moments in someone’s life. After disasters strike, fires demolish and hope is low- that is when the Red Cross pulls up on the scene and I jump out with a heavy heart.

For Angela Leslie and her three children Dalissa (9), Sasha (6) and Mitchai (4) it was a three alarm apartment fire last night. Angela was in class when the fire started. Her mother was watching her kids when a neighbor came to the door and told them there was a fire and to get out quick.

Angela rushed home with a million thoughts running through her head. She didn’t know what her family would do, where they would go or where to even begin. Ten volunteers from the Red Cross were quickly on the scene to help answer those questions and offer comfort.

It came in the little things; the tiny flip-flops for four-year-old Mitchai who ran out without shoes on. The Mickey Mouse stuffed animals and comfort kits with coloring books, crayons, bubbles and activities to keep them occupied while mom worked out the details with the Red Cross.

“It feels so good to have somewhere to go to stay so I have somewhere to figure out what to do next,” Angela said. “We had nowhere to go and now I can think. I really appreciate the Red Cross and their help. I plan to give blood to thank them and someday when I’m out of school and a doctor I will become a volunteer to help the Red Cross like they helped me.”

When I asked Dalissa and Sasha how it felt for the Red Cross to be there to help they said, “It feels really... really good. They felt helpful and I felt thankful. I felt loved.”

This is just one of the many stories from the sixty-four residents we assisted last night- but I truly hope they all felt loved too.

Thanks to last nights volunteers: Sue Severin, Cindy Ritzman, Jeff McLaughlin, Jane McLaughlin, Bonnie Venhaus, Phylis Andrews, Bill Dreyfus, Ingrid Johnson, Verlan Rumbaugh and LeRoy Fuglsang.

The Red Cross depends on the generous support of Omaha metro residents to respond to our neighbors who are affected by home fires. You can help the Red Cross continue to be ready to respond and help fire victims by making a financial contribution to Heartland Chapter today. To make a financial donation, visit, call 402.343.7700, or mail a check to 2912 S. 80th Ave, Omaha, NE 68124.

For more Red Cross fire safety and preparedness information visit

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

My first Earthquake......from an hurricane deployment.

This morning I deployed to D.C. to assist with Hurricane Irene. Little did I know I would experience my first earthquake today too.

Today has been an interesting day to say the least. It started with an early morning flight to D.C. to our National Disaster Operation Center (DOC) and really started rocking around lunchtime with a 5.9 earthquake.

As we were sitting eating lunch in the DOC the building started to shake. At first we didn't know it was a earthquake. The shaking stopped and then got stronger and then we knew it was an earthquake.

The cubicle shelves were rocking and then started flapping, the TV's with breaking news on them that are mounted from the ceiling were rocking back and forth, the ground was pulsating. It was one of the weirdest feelings I have ever experienced. The whole thing was so fast but seemed in slow motion all at the same time- if that makes any sense.

After the shaking stopped we evacuated the building and headed across the street to a park where everyone was gathering.

Here is a video I shot of the first announcement from a local official.

Needless to say this Midwestern girl isn't use to hurricanes or earthquakes so this has been one exciting day. I am glad that I was here with the best disaster experts in the world.
More to come from my hurriquake adventure...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

happy birthday grandpa hot rod...

this weekend we celebrate my adorable grandpa's 80th birthday.
never in my life have i met a sweeter man.
he truly lights up a room with his big ol' smile and sweet spirit.

i learned something cool about my grandpa this weekend.
the photo above is so priceless that it will be soon blown up and hung on my wall.
its my grandpa and his buddy 'shep' out for a cruise.
my grandpa is in the drivers seat with the rad ball cap flipped up.

i asked him about that hat and his response was, "it was the cat's meow. anyone who was cool back then- flipped their cap like that when they cruised."

it was then that i learned that people use to call him rod.
as in hot rod. (his name is robert so its not too far off)

his favorite car was the brand new 1950's chevy he saved up for by driving cattle, beans and corn wherever they would send him. he said he could get $16 to drive cattle from farnhamville to omaha...that's a lot of trips to get a $1,500 car in those days.

his face lit up when i asked him about that blue chevy.
i asked him how fast he went.
he chuckled and said, "fast... i suppose around 100."

i think i will call him grandpa hot rod from now on.
happy birthday grandpa you are a true classic to me. :)