Soup Swap 2018

We had a wonderful and heartwarming visit to Joanna’s lake house to swap soup and share some good times.  January 26-28, 2018

Friday night Joanna greeted us with a Southern dinner of ham and biscuits, green beans, mac and cheese and not banana pudding. (It would have been an amazing meal if we had just had some banana pudding.) (Our weekend joke – not that we would ever run anything into the ground.)

We talked around the table and caught up with each other. We have had a lot of fun around this table and of course, lots of fun at the game kitchen table but more on that to come.

Saturday Morning, we woke up to Terri’s  Southwestern Breakfast Casserole, cinnamon buns and fruit. Recipe posted soon…

After breakfast we went hiking, shopping, hanging out, and adventuring so we could work up an appetite for Saturday lunch which was  Lasagna Soup, Salad, and Bread made by Gina.

Cindy texted us from poolside.  She wasn’t at the swap but she was in our hearts.  We missed our other absent birdies, too!

We had an evening supper of Chicken Pot Pie from Nancy Perkins. You never go hungry on these weekends.

We played games late into the night and enjoyed snacks.  This Ranch Party Mix is really good with the Cheez-its in it.  I adapted this recipe but I am borrowing the photo from The Common Plate blog.


Ranch Party Mix

3/4 cup Butter, melted

1 package dry ranch dressing mix

1  9- oz package oyster crackers

1 11.5 oz box  Cheez-its

8 oz (half of a normal bag) waffle pretzels (can use no salt)

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp dill weed


Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  In large bowl combine oyster crackers, Cheez-its and pretzels. In a small bowl mix together the butter, ranch dressing mix,   onion powder, garlic powder and dill weed.   Spread snack mixture evenly among cookie sheets – sprinkle with more dill if desired.  Cook at 250 degrees for approximately 30 minutes (after 15 minutes give it a good stir and return to oven).  Store in an airtight container.  Will keep for about 2-3 weeks.


Kim made this very elaborate Cheese Dip Tray. Definitely a show-stopper at a party.

4 Dip Casserole 

  • 500g pizza dough
  • Olive oil
  • Philly cheeseteak:
  • 1 cup cooked beef,  minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • cooking spray
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced green pepper
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 4 oz light cream cheese, softened
  • 4 oz shredded mozzarella “provolone”
  • Spinach and Artichoke Dip:
  • 1 (8 ounces) package cream cheese softened
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped artichokes
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach thawed
  • 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Bacon and Cheese Dip:
  • 1 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 21/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, split
  • 1 cup cooked bacon bits
  • 1/4 cup chopped spring onions
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • Buffalo Chicken Dip:
  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup hot sauce
  • ½ cup Sour Cream
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp chives
Finally, we played some games around the kitchen table.  We played Chameleon and LCR.  Terri brought lots of dollars and Gina won lots of dollars.

We ended with a late night Meatloaf rendition, exchanged a few Magic Bag items and headed to bed.


Sunday morning greeted us with a beautiful mist over the water. Cozy and serene.

And then we enjoyed some chewy coffee.  Better strain that again.

As we left, we exchanged quarts of soups.  The recipes are below.

What a wonderful weekend!  Thanks Joanna for hosting us in your amazing lake house. Hope you’re enjoying your goodie basket.


Chicken and Gnocchi Soup – Gina



3 or 4 chicken breasts, cooked and diced (or 3-4 c chopped rotisserie chicken)

4 cups chicken stock

2 cups half and half

1 stalk celery, diced

1 garlic clove, chopped

½ carrot, diced

½ onion, diced

1 cup (or more) fresh spinach, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

16 ounces potato gnocchi (or 17.5 oz pkg from Costco)


  1. Sauté the celery, garlic, carrot, and onion in olive oil over medium heat until onion is translucent.
  2. Add chicken, chicken stock, salt, pepper, and thyme. Heat to boiling, then add gnocchi.  Gently boil for 4 minutes.
  3. Turn down to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Add spinach and half and half and cook 1-2 minutes until spinach is wilted.



Cheesy Bacon and Baked Potato – Nancy P.

1  32 oz. carton  Chicken broth

1   10.5 oz. can of cream of chicken soup

1 8 ounce block cream cheese

1 chicken bouillon cube

1 32 oz. bag of frozen diced hash browns

4 cups shredded cheddar chees

1 9- ounce bag of real bacon bits

salt and pepper to taste

Set crock pot to high and add chicken broth and cream of chicken soup.  Mix well.  Cut  the cream cheese and add; mix well.  Add chicken bouillon cube.  Next pour frozen hash browns in and stir.  Add 4 cups of shredded cheese.  Add bacon bits.  Add salt and pepper.  Cook on hight for 4 hours.  Put shredded cheese, bacon bits, and chopped green onions out for people to top their soup with if they want.



Broccoli Cheddar – Nancy S. 

1 large head broccoli (a little more than 1 pound), chopped into florets and stems

1/4 cup butter

1/2  medium onion, chopped

1 carrot, diced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 quart vegetable stock

2 cups whole milk

8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon fresh black pepper


Steam the broccoli until crisp-tender.  In a large stock pot soften the onions and carrot in the butter.  Add the flour and stir to make a paste.  Cook a minute or two and then slowly stir in the broth.  Add the milk and the broccoli.  Simmer for ten minutes until broccoli is tender.  Blend soup in a blender or with an immersion blender.  Add the cheese, salt and pepper.



Bush’s<sup>®</sup> Best 3-Bean Chili”></p>
<p>(Thank you Bush’s beans for your picture.  I didn’t take a photo of my own soup.  Ignore the green peppers or better yet, add some if you like green peppers.)</p>
<p><strong>Three Bean Chili – Julie </strong></p>
<p>3 pounds ground beef, browned, rinsed, and drained</p>
<p>3 cloves garlic</p>
<p>3 medium onions, diced</p>
<p>28 ounces diced tomatoes</p>
<p>29 ounces tomato sauce</p>
<p>3 tablespoons chili powder</p>
<p>1 tablespoon paprika</p>
<p>1 teaspoon salt</p>
<p>1/2 teaspoon pepper</p>
<p>red pepper to taste</p>
<p>2 15.5 ounce cans black beans</p>
<p>2 15.5 ounce cans cannellini beans</p>
<p>2 15.5 ounce cans kidney beans</p>
<p>1   15.5 ounce can water</p>
<p>Brown ground beef.  Place all ingredients in a large stock pot.  Simmer 1 hour or more till done.  Serve with sour cream, cheese, green onions and crackers.</p>
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 Photo credits to Taste of Home.

Zucchini Bisque – Kim

2 pounds zucchini, sliced (you can leave the skin on)

1 onion, chopped (large pieces are fine)

4 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon curry powder

2 cups chicken broth

1  1/2 cups milk (it tastes fine with skim milk)

Simmer onion and zucchini in butter until tender.  Add all other ingredients.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.  Cool slightly.  Puree in blender.  8 servings.


Vegetable Beef Soup – Joanna

In a large pot add the following:

1 package Lipton’s Beef Onion Soup

2 cups water (add more if needed)

1 can whole kernel corn

1 can green peas

1 can cut green beans

1 can black eyed peas

1 can dark red kidney beans

1 can diced tomatoes

2 – 3 potatoes peeled and diced

2 – 3 carrots peeled and diced

1 pound filet mignon cooked and diced

Simmer for about an hour or until potatoes and carrots are soft.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Makes about 4 quarts.  Note:  Do not drain the canned vegetables.



Creamy Seafood Chowder - Chunky seafood chowder with real cream, shrimp, scallops and crab. No potatoes or fillers, just good seafood, hearty perfect flavor.








Photo credits to Gather for Bread.

Seafood Chowder – Terri…. RECIPE COMING



Charm – Soup Pot

Magic Bag – Blankets – Gina’s talent with  Julie contributing raw materials,  Flying Bird – Julie,   Wine Glass Lanterns – Joanna,  Paperclips – Nancy P.

Christmas in Warm Springs 2017

For our annual Christmas gathering we went to Warm Springs, Georgia.  Our VRBO  even came with a beautiful snow.  It made travel difficult but also made for a fairy tale setting for the Cardinals.

Kim, however, up in Blue Ridge had an epic tale of adventure trying to get out of her driveway to come.  She prevailed and made it to the house after many hours of digging.

We ate at the Bulloch House Restaurant in Warm Springs, GA.  It is a southern buffet with fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, squash casserole, green beans, macaroni and cheese…you get the idea.  Our charm for the weekend was a fried chicken leg.

Nancy Squared.

After lunch and shopping, we went back to our rental.  We enjoyed an afternoon playing games, blowing fuses, and being scolded by the hot grandpa…”Y’all,  don’t touch nothing!”

Nancy P was our hostess and she planned a wonderful weekend.

Kim made a plastic wrapped ball for an exciting game with prizes. You get to keep unwrapping the ball until the person next to you rolls doubles. It was vicious and hilarious.

I (Julie) won the grand prize of an amazing cardinal bird feeder.

The next morning the snow was gone and the chickens bid us farewell until next time.

Kalie’s Wedding Shower. 2017

On August 26, 2017, we met in the Tri-Cities area for lunch to celebrate Kalie’s upcoming wedding.  First we gathered at Louisiana Bistreaux in College Park for a Cajun lunch and then went to Terri’s house in East Point to open gifts and enjoy desserts.

Lots of gorgeous gifts to open from the Eating Cardinals.

Bride Kalie, sister Corie, and mom Kim!

Terri, our hostess, did a beautiful job decorating and keeping the party going.

Sisters sharing a smile.

 Terri and Gina –  beautiful as always.

Maid of Honor doing her duties.

Cindy, Joanna, and Kim perched on the sofa like good birdies.

Nancy is looking radiant.

Nancy made the shower fruit bowl.  Love the hearts and wedding bells.  She also made a cream cheese and marshmallow fluff dip to go with it.

The cake was delicious and we all got a slice to take home.

Biltmore House 2017

Biltmore House Rental

We went on a trip this spring weekend to Asheville, North Carolina.  We toured the Biltmore House and also enjoyed hanging out in our rental house. Although our rental wasn’t quite as big as the Biltmore it was more than adequate for the 7 of us.     April 2017

We were perched on the side of a mountain with a barfy two mile winding road to get there.  We slowed to a snail’s pace and everyone arrived intact.   Four bedrooms, fire pit outside, stone fireplace inside, open floorplan, hot tub, gourmet kitchen….the list goes on and on.  And don’t forget the view!  Fabulous house!!!!

We spent one day in the city of Asheville.  It has changed a bit since my last visit.  It is a lot more bustling and touristy. Also since my last visit, it appears to be okay to turn your children into panhandlers or should I say street performers.  We saw quite a few. Although they were entertaining, I think Saturdays are best left for childhood fun and frolic not for funding your college or paying the cable bill for your parents.  You will have plenty of time to work as an adult, believe me.

However with that said, the rule in Asheville is plainly posted and we will adhere to the laws of the town.

One restaurant we went to was The Tupelo Honey Cafe. There is also one in Atlanta if we need another delicious fix.

Gina ordered a chicken biscuit with gravy and ham on top.

We went for dessert to the nearby chocolate shop – The Chocolate Fetish.  We arrived on  April Fool’s Day and the trick of the day for them was serving what looked like chocolate covered cherries (see in the case bottom left) but actually they were dipped cocktail onions.  It was a funny prank and the innocent victim received a regular chocolate medallion for being a good sport.

We hit a few other stores and then back to the house for games and an in-house dinner.

One game we played was Yahtzee.

Now, wouldn’t you think that if you rolled TWO Yahtzees in a game you would be assured to be the winner.  Terri did that and was sitting pretty for a while. But not today! Gina the Golden Girl rolled an unprecedented THREE Yahtzees in one game.  She also won twice at LCR .  If it hadn’t been such a long barfy ride down the mountain, we would have made her go buy some lottery tickets and rub some of her luck onto them.

The Biltmore dazzled as always, even in the rain.

We took a group photo before the docent ushered us off the steps.  Smile pretty.  You only have one chance to make it look good.

It was hot and crowded but we enjoyed the sights of a life vastly different from our own.

One of my favorite spots at the Biltmore is the view from the balcony.  We couldn’t go out there today but you could still enjoy it from the doorway.

We loved the indoor garden/sunroom, too.

After the tour we ate at Cedric’s Tavern near the Winery.  This restaurant is named after the Vanderbilt’s pet Saint Bernard, Cedric, so you can imagine how shocked I was to see a photo of Chupa on their wall.

Their delicious meals were served with their namesake sweet dill pickles.  This one is about to leap out of the jar and land on my plate. The man behind Terri looks like he wants to join the group with his red shirt.

Next it was wine tasting and souvenir shopping. Then we headed back to the cabin for our last night of fun.

So long from Asheville!  Until we meet again!

Recipes from the Trip:

Blueberry Pound Cake

2 tablespoons butter

sugar for coating bundt pan

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter, room temperature

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

additional 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Use the two tablespoons butter to grease a Bundt pan.  Sprinkle with sugar.  In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.   In a mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs, one at a time.  Add the vanilla.  Slowly blend in the flour mixture.  Use the remaining 1/4 cup flour to coat the blueberries.  Fold blueberries into the batter.  Spoon batter into greased Bundt pan.  Bake for 70-80 minutes or until cake tests done.  Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes and then turn out cake from pan.  Allow to cool before slicing.

Best Chicken Stew

Cheesecake Factory December 2016

We had our annual ornament exchange and dinner this year at The Cheesecake Factory at Cumberland Mall.  Nancy S. got to try out her new van.  Our reservation at the Cheesecake factory allowed us to get seated right away and begin our much needed and enjoyed conversation around the table catching up with everyone. (December 2016)

The best part of the Cheesecake Factory is…well…the cheesecake.  I ordered the Christmas Red Velvet Cheesecake.  It never disappoints.

That afternoon we went to the Escape Room and tried to break out of our locked room with the clues provided within.  We were not successful within the hour time limit.  It was a challenge!

Later that evening we went to J. Alexanders for another delicious meal.

Finally, we went back to our hotel suite and enjoyed opening gifts.

We departed the next morning eagerly anticipating our upcoming trip to Asheville in April.

Canoe 2016

We enjoyed a delicious meal at Canoe in Vinings on January 30, 2016.  We wanted to get together…well,because….we just wanted to.  The food there is always fantastic and the service is impeccable.  Gina gave us a silver pan charm to commemorate the occasion.z1

Disney World 2016

The Birds were Florida bound in February, 2016.  Destination — Disney!

On the road in the FloMobile bedecked with lighted birdies.


Terri takes her driving responsibilities seriously. Don’t mess with her tunes.


Anyone for some pre-Florida souvenirs? Gotta love truck stops.


We eventually found our way here.


With only one detour here.  Did you say this was a sanctioned stop?  Where’s the charm?

Vienna5 Vienna3

Meanwhile, Kim and Cindy already got the party started.


One down.  A few more to follow.


Our condo was spacious and had a great location.

Magic Bag7 Magic Bags3

Time for Magic Bags before hitting the park in the morning.

MagicBag5 Magic Bag4

Magic Bag2

We got two shirts, a charm, a Minnie cup, a bird ornament, and some other goodies.

Magic Bag1

We enjoyed gorgeous weather for the entire stay.


We have talked about this trip for quite a few years so it was exciting to finally be here.


There was an extra crane on the castle.  Disney is always doing a little work.


We had a great time in Buzz Lightyear.


Janet was the big winner in spite of our competitive efforts.

Selfies give me a giant head.  My arms are too short. Next time someone else can hold the camera.


Cindy is pretty much in every photo.


This one, too.


We enjoyed It’s a Small World.  Anyone still humming that song?


And we had a fast pass for Pirates of the Caribbean.


We took a leisurely train ride.


And the wimpy birds went to see a show while the wild birds rode Space Mountain.


We left Magic Kingdom and went to dinner at Friday’s.  Looking forward to another day in the parks tomorrow.


Epcot 2016

Spiffy new shirts for today as we head to Epcot.    Put your leg down Janet!

Magic Bag6

Get ready, Epcot!  The birds are flying in!  February 2016

Epcot 5

Here’s another one because we just don’t all fit in one frame.


Terri found a fast pass entrance lane and beat us all inside.



Cheers!  Time to sample the lagoon water and by that I don’t mean lagoon water!

Epcot 18 Epcot1 Epcot6 Epcot9


The annual garden show was beginning the following week but we got to see many beautiful displays.Epcot13

Epcot17This was not the only troll in Norway…


Some other bird-trolls decided to play a trick on poor innocent laryngitis-stricken Julie (that would be me) and asked “Ron” to come and tell me to stop waving my arms so much.  I had been gesturing because I couldn’t talk.  I, of course, fell for it completely and then I slowly caught on that it was a joke… to the amusement of pretty much everyone.  But the joke didn’t stop there.  The troll-birds would jump ahead of me and alert other workers to my plight and several others asked me to stop waving.  All in all, a great prank!


Laryngitis wannabees…


Sorry girls.  You don’t have my technique and flair!


Interestingly, many people asked us what Eating Cardinals meant.  Hard to explain but we did assure them that we didn’t eat cardinals (yes, someone asked that.)


Moving on to Canada.  We have some spare parts in this photo.



We enjoyed the Pixar 3D Short Film Festival. Some birds got reprimanded for lolling about on the floor.  Since I had already been scolded by Ron, I wasn’t taking any chances.  We made it off the floor and into the theater.


Our evening meal was in Akershus Castle in Norway. It was a princess dinner.


8 Princesses!


Akershus1 Akershus2 Akershus6 Akershus5

We dashed out to the sunset leaving our glass slippers behind just in case Prince Charming has caught on that there are many princesses inside these fairy tale walls.


And we ended the day with the traditional Disney fireworks display.


Another great trip with the Eating Cardinals.

Cheesecake Factory 2015

We enjoyed our Christmas Brunch at the Cheesecake Factory at Cumberland Mall.DSCF4676 DSCF4678 DSCF4680 DSCF4681 DSCF4684 DSCF4685 DSCF4686 DSCF4688 DSCF4689

Terri’s ornament was first out of the box.


But it was soon stolen by Cindy. So Janet opened again.




Bird Thief.


Both Julie and Terri opened new gifts.


Kim stole from Cindy.  No more steals for that ornament.



Cindy opened gift number 2.  But then Janet stole that after Nancy S. Stole her bird house ornament.



Gina closed us out by keeping a wonderful pair of birds from Nancy P.



Blue Ridge Spa Weekend 2015

Another fabulous trip with the Birds!  Kim organized a trip to Serenity in the Mountains Spa.  Recipes to come.  Photos for now.

Fiesta night with make your own dang quesadilla bar.

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Terri’s Charm School now accepting applications.



Magic Baskets from Kim and Gina.




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Our favorite game Left, Right, Center.  We had another round of cash and white elephants.


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Pecan Crusted Quiche by Gina and Southern Living.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
¾ cup chopped pecans
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon paprika
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup chicken broth
¼ cup mayonnaise
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken
½ cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
¼ cup minced onion
3 drops of hot sauce
¼ cup pecan halves

Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir well. Add oil; stir well. Firmly press mixture in bottom and up sides of a 9-nch deep-dish pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Cool completely.

Combine sour cream and next 3 ingredients; sir with a wire whisk until smooth. Stir in chicken, ½ cup cheese, onion, and hot sauce. Pour chicken mixture over prepared crust. Arrange pecan halves over chicken mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes or until set. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 8 servings


Hash Brown Casserole by Gina.


The moose it toting some fruit while munching on the quiche.


Whoa buddy, you’re dropping a berry!


Without Julie.


Without Gina.


Departure group photo.  Till next time, ladies!