Friday, October 29, 2010

Max & Erma’s Chicken Tortilla Soup- Sue’s Version


Sister Saturday Button

It’s  Vanessa’s and  Heather’s first annual Soup Exchange and I’m sharing  my version of  Max & Erma’s Chicken Tortilla Soup. Max and Erma’s is a  popular chain restaurant in our area, with locations throughout the country. Most of you know that when someone attempts to clone a recipe, it is not always an exact duplicate. I don’t claim to have perfectly replicated Max & Erma’s chicken tortilla soup. In actuality, I think my recipe has much more flavor to it.  And a lot more chicken!


Every time I make this recipe, people love it and I never have left-overs.  It is a rich, creamy soup flavored with the southwestern touches of salsa, garlic, and both red and green chiles.  It can be seasoned to make it as spicy as you want it. I also use New Mexico red chile pepper powder instead of ordinary red chili powder.  Note the way I’m even spelling the word,  “chile.”  Currently, the consensus is that the correct spelling  is actually with an “e” at the end of the word instead of an “i,” which is the anglicized version. 

For those of you who may not have access to Hispanic foods, either in a specialty store or in the specialty foods department of your grocery store, you can substitute ordinary chili powder, which is a mixture of chile powder and other spices.  The soup  just won’t be quite as flavorful.   You  will also need  to add much more of it than the New Mexico red chile powder.  And if you are concerned about sodium when making this soup, you may use low sodium varieties of the canned soups and the chicken broth, with no consequences.


Max & Erma’s Chicken Tortilla Soup

- Sue’s Version       



2  (10 3/4 ounce) cans Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup

2  (10 3/4 ounce) cans Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup

2  (10 3/4 ounce) cans Campbell's condensed cream of celery soup

2  (10 3/4 ounce) cans Campbell's cheddar cheese soup

2  (15 ounce) cans chicken broth

1  (15 ounce) can  diced tomatoes -  I use petite

1 cup picante salsa -  I use Pace brand- medium hot        ( because I like a lot of flavor, I often use the entire jar of the picante sauce)

1 (4 1/2 ounce) can green chiles (Ortega brand)

1 medium onion, chopped fine

4 fresh garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon red New Mexico Chile Powder

NOTE -- This is not the same as ordinary red chili powder.  Red New Mexico chile powder can  be found  in specialty foods stores or often in the specialty area of your supermarket- sometimes in the produce department with the dried chiles) 

******   If you use ordinary chili powder,  you can start out using approximately  2 Tablespoons of it.   Then add more to your taste!

1 /4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

4 large cooked chicken breasts, cut into small chunks

salt and pepper, to your taste

10 flour tortillas

1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

1/2 lb.  Colby cheese



  1. In a large (10-12 quart) stockpot combine and whisk together all eight cans of soup until smooth.
  2. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, salsa, green chiles, onion, garlic, chile powder, salt and pepper.
  3. Bring all ingredients to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour.
  4. Add chicken breast chunks. Simmer another hour.
  5. Add cilantro  during the last 15 minutes of cooking time.
  6. While soup is simmering, make your soup toppings:
  7. Cut flour tortillas into small, thin strips. Heat oil  to 325 degrees and fry tortilla strips in batches until lightly browned.  Be careful- it’s easy to burn them if you aren’t careful.  
  8. Shred cheese.
  9. To serve: Ladle soup into bowls, top with shredded cheese and fried tortilla strips.  You can top it with additional sprigs of cilantro, as well.

I’ve changed the recipe directions just slightly from the published versions listed at the end of this post and have clarified the difference between “ red chile powder” and ordinary “chili powder.” 



I’m having a nice chilled mug of Dos Equis beer with my bowl of soup!



I originally submitted this recipe to Recipe Link in 2000.  It is also listed at Copykat Recipes, Recipe Goldmine,  and  Someone on the site  “borrowed” my recipe and submitted it as her own. If she had just said she was inspired by me, then changed the recipe, I could see saying it was hers; but the recipe is identical, right down to the order that I listed the ingredients.  Coincidence???   She did, however, change the  spelling of the word chile- probably because she thought I misspelled it. And she didn’t list the brand names I preferred. While I know that there was no copyright infringement involved with her claiming my recipe as her own, it just amazes me as to how rude some people can be!  Okay, no more griping… 

But let me tell ya-  I DO believe in Karma! 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Vintage Halloween and Fall Vignette


I bought a few fun vintage items when I was in Marysville for the French Hen Farm sale a few weeks ago. Among them were three cardboard containers that once held music cylinders for the Edison phonographs that were used in the early 1900’s.

















Here’s a photo of one of the players that used the music cylinders.

edison phonograph

Basically, the cylinder for this phonograph could be compared to what most of us know as a vinyl record used on a record player turntable. 




I used the three containers in one of my fall/Halloween vignettes on the baker’s rack in the great room. I filled the containers with marbles to stabilize them, then I simply stuck in an old spool of thread, and a crow and a cat on a stick. 




A spooky old crow and a toothy grinned cat are perfect for Halloween! These Halloween animals on a stick were dollar finds at yard sale.










The white thread spools were purchased at an estate sale for fifty cents each and the larger spool was a $5.oo purchase at Gathered Comforts, a booth that exhibited at the Country Living Fair and the Springfield Flea Market Extravaganza.








fall collage



Linking to Vanessa’s Inspiration Friday






  Artie’s Vignette Fridays


artie's party





Leigh’s Thrifty Thursday






Debra’s Vintage Inspiration Friday

common ground

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Rummage Sale Goat Cart

A few weeks ago I found myself at a church rummage sale, hoping I would find a few pretties. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would  find an authentic wooden goat cart!  I’ve been hearing about goat carts from my friend Susie Q @ Rabbit Run Cottage ever since I met her.  Years ago, she saw one in a shop, passed it up, and has wanted one ever since.  I’ve never seen one for sale anywhere, until this rummage sale.



I first saw the cart leaning up against the wall in a room filled with antiques, crocks, and old china.  It had a “sold” sign on it and I was really bummed that I had missed out on buying it by not getting to the sale right when it opened.  I asked one of the cashiers about it just to make sure and she told me that it was definitely sold.  I overheard another customer ask about it about 10 or 15 minutes later. She was told that it had been sold, along with the pottery crock sitting inside it, but that the purchaser still hadn’t come back to pick it up. That comment just didn’t make sense to me. Why would anyone care when the woman was coming back for it if it was already bought and paid for? The gears in my mind started spinning…..



Soon after, one of the women in charge of the sale told the cashier that the cart would have to be put back out for sale if the purchaser didn’t come back soon.  I discreetly approached the women and asked if the cart had been paid for. “No,” was the answer. Apparently, the inexperienced cashier thought she could hold items for customers by marking them sold!  I immediately offered double the amount of money that I had been told the items had sold for and asked that another crock be thrown in as part of the sale. I also said that I would pay for them right then and there. “ Sold,” the woman answered.  I was ecstatic, since I know that these carts sell for upwards of  $300. I checked E-bay and even saw one listed for $800. You never saw anybody pay for something as fast as I did!




I just love this little goat cart!  As you can see, I’ve filled it with seasonal finery- pumpkins, gourds, leaves, silk mums, pomegranates, and dried oranges. For now, it has found a home in the kitchen.









 I was so excited after buying this that I immediately called up Susie Q and told her I was coming over to show her what I bought. I was so excited, I wanted her to share in my delight!  What do you think, Sue- do you like it decorated for fall?


goat cart

I think that my little cart will look amazing all gussied up for each one of the seasons, especially the upcoming Christmas holiday- don’t you? I’m thinking greenery and berries, a twig tree, maybe even a few wrapped presents….  Okay, I’m getting way ahead of myself now- I still have to put out a few more Halloween decorations!

I’m linking to the following parties:


little red house 

Mary @ Mosaic Monday



Linda @ Coastal Charm


fav thngs cmbnd

Laurie @ Bargain Hunting and Chatting with Laurie


Vanessa @ Southern in my Heart

linky party

Debbie’s Garage Salen Party


Jan’s Boardwalk Bragfest


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wall of Color


wall of plates 

Last week, I saw lots of color at the International Home Furnishings Market in High Point, North Carolina. The market is open to the trade only, and is where retailers and decorators go to see  existing merchandise, as well as the new introductions, in the vendors’ lines.

I spotted this wall in Global Views, one of the many accessory showrooms at the market. The showroom used an extremely bright color palette throughout the line, so hot lime and bright orange were just a few of the many colors we encountered.

   In this wall vignette, a large rectangle of chartreuse wallpaper was framed out to match the taupe colored background wall color. Yes, all shades of gray are very popular colors right now!

The addition of an over-sized convex mirror and an collection of different sized bowls created a simple, but really fun wall vignette.

Tying the buffet in with the wall are apothecary jars filled with colored water. How easy would this be for someone to create, using only a few drops of food coloring and a couple gallons of plain H2O ?

And although this is wall is done in a contemporary design, the same application could be used in more traditional decor, as well.


Linking to Artie’s Vignette Fridays

artie's party

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Color in the Hills


I always enjoy the drive down to North Carolina when we go to the furniture market in the fall. It only takes about seven-hours to make the trip and the scenery through the mountains can often be spectacular.

These photos were taken through a bug-splattered window and we were zipping through the passes, so they are not the best quality, by any means; but I wanted to show you some of the colors we saw.


We left Ohio early in the morning while it was still dark. As the morning skies finally came to light,  they stayed overcast and a little rainy as we entered the mountains of West Virginia. The low level clouds of mist hung so close to the ground that we actually passed through them in many places on the road. Here, they hovered right above the trees alongside the highway.




The hills were still predominantly green, but they were interspersed with the beginnings of  gold and orange .  When I first saw the clouds from a distance, I thought they were smoke.



Blue skies had begun to emerge through the clouds as we neared the Virginia border. But after we passed through the tunnel which led us into the “Lover’s State,” the trees didn’t seem as vividly colored. That mountain must be a line of demarcation as far as the weather goes.




On the trip back home, the colors seemed more vivid than they did in the foggy skies on the way down.




Billowy clumps of trees looked like colored cotton on this hillside.





If you’re interested in seeing a few of the things we saw at the market, visit my last post, here


Linked to:


Susan’s Outdoor Wednesday

@ A Southern Daydreamer

Outdoor Wednesday logo_thumb[2]

click on button for link



Seasonal Sundays @ The Tablescaper


click on button for link

Monday, October 18, 2010

Whirlwind Market Weekend


Whew! It was a fast weekend at the High Point Furniture Market for us.  And although it was the least amount of time we’ve ever spent at market, we  did see quite a bit while we were there. I wish it had been a longer trip, because there is always something you miss seeing because of the lack of time.

The industrial look is so popular right now, and we saw its influence in both furniture and accessories.


This metal and reclaimed wood sofa table was part of a group of tables we bought for the store. 



This companion round table has a traditional base and inset planks  in the table top. Doesn’t the wood look as if it came from an old factory or a warehouse floor?



This reproduction cart was also part of the group.



Here’s another simple reproduction from a different vendor.



I found the authentic factory cart I wanted while shopping in the antiques area of Market Square. The vendors were selling their goods right off the showroom floor; and while we could’ve brought it home with us, we opted to buy another one for the store and have both of them shipped. My camera batteries had died by the time I visited that space, but this cart is identical to what I’m getting. I’m going to use it as a cocktail table in my great room.  FYI- the wheels will lock, so I won’t have to worry about it traveling across the floor!





What ingenuity to use old pulleys and metal tubs as light fixtures! While these were display items in the showroom, there were lighting companies that were selling their versions of the industrial look.



This metal banded wooden bucket hanging from old chains made a great shade for this light fixture.



How simple is it to have a bare Edison light bulb shining through a wire basket and used as overhead lighting?



Movie spotlights in many different sizes and colors were a popular item in the larger lighting showrooms.








I can remember seeing carts like this at the railroad station in the small southwestern town where I grew up. We used to roll them down the cobblestone walkways along the tracks when there were no railroad employees around!  I think this would make a great entertainment center for a flat screen T.V. The audio components would fit nicely on the bottom shelf.


I have more pictures of things we saw and bought and I’ll share them as soon as I get a little rest and catch up with everything that was neglected for the past week while I was in Florida and North Carolina. 

My feet are still hurting me, even though I wore flats. It’s amazing how much walking you do in all those buildings. I am hoping I worked off a few of the hundreds thousands of calories I took in while noshing in all the showrooms. We only ate out one night at a local restaurant- the showrooms we were  in provided breakfast, lunch, dinner, AND cocktails!  One of the perks of being a buyer! *grin*