What’s Making Me Happy This Week I

One of my favorite podcasts is NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour. It’s one I make it a point to listen to as soon as it gets posted on Friday mornings. Every week they end the show with the segment “What’s Making Us Happy This Week.” Sometimes it’s big stuff; other times it’s small silly stuff. So I’m taking a page out of their book and taking a moment to reflect on what’s making me happy this week.

Ingress

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A friend of mine (the same friend who introduced me to Zombies, Run! actually) introduced me to this game last weekend, and I’m hooked. My ex was a super gamer and got me into it (I played a lot of World of Warcraft back in the day.), but Nik isn’t much of a video game player so I don’t play many video games anymore. (We do play a lot of table top games – see the next thing making me happy.) Ingress is filling a void in my gamer soul.

This is an app based game put out by Google. The story is that scientist at CERN have discovered a substance called Exotic Matter (called XM) leaking into the universe through various portals. XM is dais to have mind control properties. There are two factions the Enlightened, who want to use XM to improve humanity, and the Resistance, who feel XM should not be used to control people.

The goal of the game is to gain control of these portals and create networks by linking portals together. Along the way you level your character so you can use stronger weapons and equipment.  Essentially, it’s a giant game of virtual capture the flag. In order to capture and link portals you must be in range of the portal which means this game requires you to do some walking. (You can drive from place to place as well, but exercise!)

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There’s also a very social element to the game. Often times you need other people to help you take down an enemy portal. And you are limited on the amount of high level gear a single person can use to capture a portal so to make a really strong portal, you need multiple people. There’s a variety of Google+ communities created around this game to help people organize and meet up. Chicago has an extremely well organized and active Enlightened faction. Oh and if you do play in Chicago, I’m Runninginchucks.

Our growing tabletop game collection
One of the benefits of already having a lot of house stuff is we got to add a bunch of fun stuff to our wedding registry. We registered for a bunch of tabletop games and several of then were gifted to us! We now own Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Bezzerwizzer, the Cards Against Humanity expansions, Dixit, and Fluxx. Now we just need to host a game night!

And because these can’t all be game related…

PUMPKIN SEASON!

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I have always been a fan of pumpkin/pumpkin spice/ pumpkin pie. I loved for Thanksgiving because it was the one time of the year I got pumpkin pie. Now I do think the pumpkin spice trend has gotten a little ridiculous, but the vast array of pumpkiny treats still makes me smile.

Apple and Pumpkin Soup with Sausage

It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten creative in the kitchen…a really long time. But yesterday, I decided to honor the start of fall by whipping up a fall-tastic soup (or if we’re being totally honest, I hadn’t gone grocery shopping yet and was trying to make something out of the random ingredients in my kitchen.

Enter Apple and Pumpkin Soup with Sausage. This soup puts all my favorite fall flavors into one delicious bowl. It’s got a little bit of salty from the sausage, some savory spices, and a hint of sweetness from the apples. I think it would be good with a bit of gouda or extra sharp cheddar sprinkled on top for a bit of extra creaminess. Plus it’s quick and easy to make, for the nights just you need to get dinner on the table.

apple & pumpkin soup

Apple and Pumpkin Soup with Sausage

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 5

Serving Size: approximately 2 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 links Italian Sausage, casings removed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium apples, roughly chopped
  • 4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
  • 1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Instructions

  1. In dutch oven over medium heat, brown sausage breaking up into small chunks while it cooks. Once sausage is done, remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Heat oil and add onions, sauteing 5 minutes. Add garlic saute another 2 - 3 minutes.
  3. Add apples and saute 5 - 7 minutes.
  4. Pour in brother, stir in pumpkin, and add all spices. Bring to low boil cooking until apples are tender.
  5. Once apples are tender, use a blender or immersion blender to puree apples until smooth.
  6. Add sausage and cook an additional 3 - 5 minutes.

Notes

I recommend using a spicy Italian sausage to help give the soup a bit of extra oomph.

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