EASY RECIPE for Tuscan Tomato Soup … and Winter Weather

When I was a little girl I remember coming in from the cold with cheeks stinging and hands frozen (inside inadequate mittens) and seeing bowls of steamy tomato soup that our mother had made.  I loved the flavor of the soup, but I always liked to add a little “flotsam and jetsam” to the broth! (:  I would get a slice of American cheese, fold it into smaller pieces and drop them into my soup.

I can remember how scratchy this little wool hat was and couldn’t stand to have it tied under my chin!  See the gum in my mouth?!? (:

playing in the snow.jpg

Just a little detour before I share my recipe.  Here are some interesting FUN FACTS I discovered when I was looking up Campbell’s Tomato Soup that I thought you’d be interested in, also.  Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup  is still the top 10 grocery items that American buy … it has been in the market since 1895 (123 years!) … 85 million cans of Campbell’s Tomato Soup are still sold each year …Campbell’s sent the Tomato Soup to the Paris Exposition of 1900 where it won the Gold Medallion of Excellence which is still displayed proudly on every can of Tomato Soup … out of 100+ varieties of Campbell’s Soup available today, Tomato Soup is still one their 3 top sellers along with Cream of Mushroom Soup and Chicken Noodle Soup! (:Campbell KidsMy mind still links Tomato Soup and cold winter days together and we had a “snow day” this week which made me want to make “Tuscan Tomato Soup.” (first pictured on my blog “Al Fresco Dining in Autumn”) This soup is just a combination of ingredients I keep on hand … a can of Tomato Soup and a bag of frozen Beef Ravioli (which provides the “flotsam and jetsam” I still love adding to my Tomato Soup!) It’s so easy to make … in 20 minutes or less, you’ll have a delicious soup Mama Mia herself would be happy to serve to her own family! (;Tuscan Tomato Soup header .jpg

Tuscan Tomato Soup


  • 4 cups frozen beef ravioli (or if you prefer, cheese tortellini) from a family sized bag, cooked and drained according to directions (mine cooked in only 6 minutes) 
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 cups chicken stock or 3 cups of water with 3 cubes or 3 teaspoons of chicken bouillon granules or reduced sodium chicken bouillon added
  • 1 Family size can (23.2 oz) Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh spinach or kale (I used and loved Trader Joe’s Triple Washed Organic Baby Spinach!  Even after a week in the refrigerator, all spinach leaves are still so fresh)
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • black pepper


  1. Cook frozen ravioli (or cheese tortellini) according to directions, and drain
  2. Meanwhile, melt butter in another large saucepan or Dutch oven
  3. Add onion to melted butter and saute until translucent
  4. Add chicken stock or water with chicken bouillon added and turn heat to medium/medium-high 
  5. Pour in condensed Tomato Soup and stir with whisk, continuing to warm 
  6. Add chopped spinach or kale 
  7. Add cooked ravioli and warm all ingredients in saucepan until thoroughly warmed, without bringing to a boil
  8. Dish into bowls and top with grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled with black pepper

Woodland free printable tags decorate sweet napkins rings made of miniature grapevine wreaths and are tied on with a satin ribbon …
Tuscan Tomato Soup.jpgWinter weather managed to push past the borders of Texas earlier this week, and obliged us with a deposit of sleet and snow!  We were excited when the weather forecasters predicted the possibility of us getting a wintry mix and began to look expectantly for our guests’ arrival.  At 10:00 pm Monday evening the sleet arrived, right on time and entertained us for 2 hours before tiny snowflakes began falling!  Snow is always a thrilling sight in our area of TEXAS and Richard and I watched the enchanting display from our opened door until shivering, we reluctantly left our vigil to warm up, before checking again.  We finally went to bed around 2:00 am; the flakes were still swirling and our driveway and deck were covered.  The weather forecasters deserve a gold star … not only did they get their predictions correct, our winter guests were punctual and came exactly when expected! (;

Front Deck …snow covered benchSide yard and cobbled pathway …sideyard font.jpgWaiting for Spring …robin with bannerBackyard and lake …snowy backyardView from our bathroom the next, sunny but cold day!south side.pngHope you have a wonderful weekend with moments enjoyed padding around in warm fuzzy socks, mugs of coffee in hand, snuggled under comforters, comfy within and without!snow scripture

From my cottage to yours ~  Trenda


Thank you for reading my blog!  To have all my posts delivered to your email address, just click FOLLOW in my post above … or click on my site: cottagegreenonthelake.com



This week I’m joining: Lynn from The Vintage Nest

Chloe Crabtree from Celebrate & Decorate

Sandra with Sweet Sensations

A Woodland Christmas with … White Chocolate and Cranberry Dessert Dip

The buffet is set and ready for Christmas with a woodland scene starring a Santa or two from my collection of Old World Santa’s. This dapper Santa looks like a well-dressed woodsman with his fur rimmed hat, flocked buttoned vest, coat with brocade sleeves and draping chains, and a pack filled with surprises flung over his shoulder.  Snow flocked and copper colored bottle brush trees and gilded holly with berries create a magical Christmas backdrop.

Woodland Santa.jpg

A birdhouse frosted with snow is tucked among “the holly and the ivy” and a little winter nest is filled with glittered acorns and glass copper pine cones.


A pedestal cake plate with birdies perched on either side holds woodland treasures cushioned on a bed of moss … a wee lantern with a flickering light looks like it came straight from the set of Amahl and the Night Visitors and a tiny glass jewel box with a bird perched on it’s lid.

R buffet

Nestled under the cake plate is a little mercury glassed birdie near clusters of purple grapes tumbling out of an antique sugar bowl.

underneath plate

Another Woodland Santa wears a wooly coat and carries a wooden staff encircled with twigs.  Pine cones and berries wreath his furry cap and white doves perch on a brim-filled pack and on his coat.

scandinavian Santa.jpg

A grove of bottle brush trees, a miniature bird bath filled with millet, mercury glass mushrooms and copper pine cones resting on their sides add storybook whimsy to the woodland setting.

birdbath with millet.jpg

Another Santa perches on the tea cart waiting for some Christmas refreshment!

tea cart Santa

An ornate silver bowl with brass interior holds a moss-lined nest and little brass bird and is decked “with boughs of holly.”silver bowl.jpg

Click on the following link from the “Cottage Chronicles” to see …

  A Woodland-Christmas Tablescape


And a Christmas snack fitting for a woodland setting on the buffet … a delicious White Chocolate and Cranberry Dessert Dip formed in the shape of a hedgehog surrounded by a layer of Triple Ginger Cookie Thins and Butter Waffle Cookies from Trader Joe’s.

dessert dip buffet

I made this dessert dip for our Church Life Group Christmas Party this weekend.  The amount I had remaining in the refrigerator was just enough for one baby hedgehog! (:


White Chocolate & Cranberry Dessert Dip


  • 1 (8oz) package softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 (3.4 oz) package Cheesecake Instant pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup Nestle’s white chocolate morsels
  • whole almonds or slivered almonds to cover dip


  1. Beat the softened cream cheese and butter together in a mixer on medium-high speed until well blended. 
  2. Add the pudding mix and powdered sugar.  Beat on low to medium speed until the dry ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons of milk and beat on high until filling is mixed.
  4. Stir in dried cranberries and white chocolate morsels; mix well.
  5. Scrape the dessert dip into plastic wrap and gently mold into the shape desired for the hedgehog.
  6. Unwrap, place hedgehog shaped dessert dip on a serving platter.  Begin inserting almonds (at an angle and in staggered rows) into the dip to resemble the “body” of a hedgehog.  
  7. Place a chocolate morsel on the “face” (the dip that is not covered with almonds) of the hedgehog  to resemble the nose and use two mini-morsels for the eyes, or chop regular sized morsels into smaller pieces for the eyes.
  8. Refrigerate to “set” almonds in place, until ready to serve.  (NOTE: for traditional shaped dessert dip, after mixing, wrap dessert into plastic wrap and form into ball.  Refrigerate until ready to serve, then unwrap, place on serving plate and cover surface with slivered almonds.)
  9. Serve with gingersnaps, butter waffle cookies, vanilla wafers, graham crackers, animal crackers …

Baby hedgehog

Here’s a sweet little woodland poem about small gifts gathered from the heart; I think it’s the perfect way to end today’s Woodland themed blog!

Small Gifts

He gathers gifts for his dear friends
Searching among the forest trees
And only from his heart he spends. 

For Squirrel, an acorn split he mends
And with a quiet joyful ease
He gathers gifts for his dear friends. 

To Bear, a blueberry he sends
With tender care that it won’t freeze
And only from his heart he spends. 

For Deer, green leaves he subtly rends
Although found sparse in wintry breeze
He gathers gifts for his dear friends. 

To Bird, he gives a branch that bends
A perch to rest her tired knees
And only from his heart he spends. 

For all the creatures at Earth’s ends
As Christmas joy in time he sees
He gathers gifts for his dear friends
And only from his heart he spends. 

~  by Benjamin Oldham

Wishing you joy during this blessed season and that … only from the heart you’ll spend!

manger .jpg

From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda

Thank you for reading my blog!  To have all my posts delivered to your email address, just click FOLLOW in my post above … or click on my site:  cottagegreenonthelake.com








Easy Thanksgiving Centerpiece and Autumn in November

cropped-img_0452-e1510254818805.pngby Trenda

Today was a cool day with gray skies that made the autumn colors so vivid, they almost glowed!  I went outside to “gather” some cuttings from our yard to make our Thanksgiving Centerpiece and afterwards, I walked around just taking pictures of beautiful Autumn in November at Cottage Green on the Lake! (:  And those yard “gatherings” I clipped and snipped from our yard made a lovely and grand arrangement on the dining room table that only took minutes to make; my only cost was the fresh Eucalyptus I bought from Trader Joe’s, for $2.99!

Thanksgiving Cpiece cover

If you want to keep this arrangement on your table throughout the Thanksgiving season you will need to use soaked floral foam (protect your table by placing the floral foam in a container!) or use floral vials to insert your live clippings into.  Both the floral foam and the arrangement vials are available at your florist or any craft store on the flowering arranging aisle.  However, this arrangement is so easy to assemble, you can do it the day of your Feast! 

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Much like setting out and marking your serving dishes with what you will be serving in them … set the preliminary stages of your arrangement.  I placed my table runner down the length of  the table, set my candlesticks where I wanted them, then interspersed my pheasant and pumpkins down the length of the runner so I could easily come back and tuck in my Loropetalum and Eucalyptus, later.  fresh eucalyptus.jpg

Any time you want to make an arrangement like this, just clip your branches the morning of “your event” and keep any live branches or flowers in a vase of water until you are ready to make your arrangement.  Then dry the ends of your branches before placing and tucking them along your table runner and light your candles!

Fresh Eucalyptus in a vase filled with water awaiting placement on table runner. closeup eucalyptus.png

Here is a great picture showing how I mixed the “faux” garland with autumn leaves with the live burgundy leaves and branches of the Loropetalum and the fresh Eucalyptus.  Even as I look at this picture I have a hard time distinguishing what leaves are real and fake!  I love making arrangements and since we serve our Thanksgiving meal buffet style, we only need enough room on our table for the plates and glasses, our Fitz and Floyd Pilgrim salt & pepper shakers, a basket full of yeast rolls, and a beautiful Golden Carnival Glass compote filled with ruby colored Apple-Cranberry Salad


A brass pheasant matches the brass candlesticks I used in my arrangement and looks at home among the autumn foliage.


Tiger striped miniature pumpkins are nestled among the burgundy foliage of the Loropetalum branches.


Carved wooden pilgrims bring gifts of vegetables to the gathering.

carved pilgrims.png

 Nestled among the real and “faux” flora and fauna, this miniature pumpkin looks so perfect, it almost looks unreal and reminds me again what a Master Artist and Creator the Lord is!

perfect pumpkin.png

Candles glow in the lengthening shadows and “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart.” ❤



AND those pictures I told you I took after gathering my clippings for my Thanksgiving centerpiece … I’ll share with you in my next blog, but here’s one I particularly love, this sweet moss-covered cherub pondering in our birdbath.  

final bb closeup.png



From my cottage to yours  ~  Trenda


Thank you for reading my blog!  To have all my posts delivered directly to your email address, just click FOLLOW in my post above … or click on my site: cottagegreenonthelake.com



This week I’m joining:

Carol from The Red Painted Cottage 

Courtney with Feathered Nest Friday