Cold Weather=Taco Soup

With the forecast of more snow on the way it makes me want to make a warm cozy soup! This soup is full of flavor and textures.

Ingredients:
  • 4 uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 (15 oz) can crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 (4 oz) can chopped green chile peppers
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 package frozen corn (about 14 oz)
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of half and half or heavy whipping cream (optional)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • corn tortillas
  • cooking spray

Directions:

Boil the chicken breast for about 20 minutes and chop or shred the meat.

Add all other ingredients in a large pot including the chicken. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30-45 minutes so the flavor have time to marry.

I add a few topping to our soup but it is totally optional:

I took tortilla’s and brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled a little garlic salt on them and broiled them for 2 minutes in the oven. It gave the dish a fun look because they puff up! Spray your pan so they don’t stick. And watch them carefully. I burned the first pan of tortillas.

Enjoy this delicious, easy and fun meal! Happy cooking!!!

Baking and Snow Days

It is probably a really good thing that I live in the South! When the weather turns cold and it starts to snow, my baking switch turns on. I start making cookies and cakes! My husband loves it! He can eat anything, anytime and still wear the same size jeans since high school. Sick, I know! I take bites and taste things and that size 4 that I wore in high school is long gone. So, if I lived in the North…..there could be trouble. I would be baking all the time!

Today I am going to bake a yellow cake with chocolate icing. Mike says he doesn’t really like yellow cake but we will see. I will let you know if he eats it or not. It really looks and sounds beautiful. This is the recipe that I found on Pinterest:

Old Fashioned Butter Cake

 This beautiful cake recipe is a 100 year old treasure and a keeper!

Old Fashioned Butter Cake
(from Reeni’s Cinnamon Girl blog)

2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1  1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease and flour two 8 inch x 2 inch baking pans and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.

Add butter, milk, and vanilla.  With a hand mixer, beat for  2 minutes, occasionally scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Add eggs and beat for 2 minutes more.

Pour batter into prepared pans, dividing equally between the pans.  Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven.

Cool in the pans for 10 minutes and then turn cakes out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Frost with your favorite frosting.  I used my favorite chocolate frosting, the one on the back of the Hersey’s cocoa can.

“Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Frosting

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
2/3 cup Hershey’s cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar)
1/3 cup milk  (plus an additional few drops to make a nice consistency)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter.  Stir in cocoa.  Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating on medium speed to spreading consistency.  Add more milk if needed.  Stir in vanilla.  About 2 cups frosting.

Happy Baking!!!

Comfort Food

With the news of snow coming to the Piedmont I have been thinking about dinner tonight. I always like cozy, comfort food when the weather is cold and snowy.  I asked my husband, Mike, what he would like for dinner tonight and he responded, a salad with grilled chicken…YUCK!!! I told him that was not good “snow food”. Since I am the chef, I win this one and we are having Chicken and Dumplings!!! I love this Chicken and Dumpling recipe because it is so easy.

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My Chicken & Dumplings:

4 Chicken breast boiled in water

  • 2 cups Flour
  • ½ teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1 pinch Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 2 cans Chicken Broth ( 3 more cups if you rotisserie chicken)
  • 3 cans Cream of Chicken soup
  • 3 cups chicken broth from boiling chicken
  • A pinch of garlic salt
  • sprinkle of parsley for decoration

Boil chicken in water for about 20 minutes. Take chicken out of water when done and chop.

Save 3 cups of broth water for soup. Put 3 cups of broth from chicken, 2 cans of chicken broth, 3 cans of cream of chicken soup and a pinch of garlic salt in a large pan and bring to a boil. Wire whipping the whole time so there are no lumps. Add veggies at this time if you want veggies in your Chicken and Dumplings. Turn way down while you make your dumplings. Bring back up to a boil when you are dropping the dumplings in. After dropping all dumplings cover and reduce heat.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with a fork or pastry blender. Stir in the milk, mixing with a fork until the dough forms a ball.

Heavily flour a work surface. You’ll need a rolling pin and something to cut the dumplings with. I like to use a pizza cutter. I use a small spatula to lift the dumplings off the cutting surface.

Roll the dough out thin with a heavily floured rolling pin. Dip your cutter in flour and cut the dumplings in squares about 2″x2″. It’s okay for them not to be exact. Just eye ball it. Some will be bigger, some smaller, some shaped funny.

To cook them, bring the broth to a boil. Drop the dumplings in one at a time, stirring while you add them. The extra flour on them will help thicken the broth. Cook them for about 15-20 minutes or until they not doughy tasting. Add the cooked chicken to the pot and you’re done!

Stay warm and dry!

Baking!

A few weeks ago I  made the Southern Living Triple Chocolate Pound Cake. It was on the cover of the Southern Living magazine. It spoke a challenge to me the very first time I laid my eyes on it. Chocolate …..and triple chocolate at that! Well, I have to say it was wonderful!!!! The taste was out of this world!!! If you like chocolate of course. You can go to the Southern Living website and get the recipe. It would make for a great Valentine dessert.

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/triple-chocolate-buttermilk-pound-cake

Black Bean Quesadillas!!

With the new year we are trying to eat a few meatless meals a week. I found this recipe to have tons of flavor.

Black Bean Quesadillas:

Servings: 2 folded 8-inch quesadillas

 

Ingredients

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

6 teaspoons olive oil, plus more for brushing the tortillas

3/4 cup minced red onion

2 Tablespoons minced garlic

1  1/2 teaspoon chili powder

1 cup black beans (drained, canned)

2 tablespoons lime juice

Kosher salt

6 plain flour tortillas, 8-inch

4 cups Pepper Jack cheese shredded

Instructions

  1. Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the corn and cook, stirring occasionally, until kernels begin to brown and pop, 3 to 5 minutes; transfer corn to medium bowl.
  3. Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in now-empty skillet over medium heat until shimmering; add red onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 1 minutes; stir in beans and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.
  5. Return corn to skillet and toss to combine; gently press mixture with spatula to lightly crush black beans.
  6. Transfer mixture to now-empty bowl, stir in lime juice, and season to taste with salt.

I made a small salad and cut up and avocado with some Greek plain yogurt and salsa! A very good vegetarian dinner.

Happy Cooking!!

It’s That Time Of Year Again….All Things Pumpkin!

The air has begun to cool, the leaves are beginning to change, football has started, the days are shorter and the sweaters have come out! Yes, fall has arrived! It is that time of year for pumpkin patches, costumes and warm soups. Here is a pumpkin muffin recipe that is wonderful with a hot cup of coffee, while reading on the porch with the coolness in the air.

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Pumpkin Muffins w/ Streusel Topping

1  1/2 C Flour

1 tsp. Baking Powder

1/2 tsp. Baking Soda

1 tsp. Cinnamon

1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger

1 teaspoon Allspice

1/4 tsp. Nutmeg

1 cup Pure Pumpkin Puree

1 1/4 C. Sugar

1/3 C. Oil

2 Eggs

Whisk together dry ingredients, except the sugar, in a medium bowl. In another medium sized bowl whisk together the pumpkin, sugar, oil, and eggs. Gradually whisk the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Do not over mix, once it seems just combined, STOP. Let rest while you make the crumbly topping.

Streusel Topping

1/2 C. Flour

1/3 C. Sugar

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/4 Chopped Nuts (I didn’t have any this time around. But I’d use either pecans or walnuts)

3 Tbl. Butter, cut into small pieces

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl with your fingers. Try to work the flour and sugar into the butter. It will eventually all combine and you’ll have a crumble topping!

Spray a 12 cup muffin tin with non stick spray or line with cupcake liners.  Pour 1/4 C. muffin mix into each muffin tin. Now top each with a small handful of the streusel topping. Have any leftover? Nope, not ok. Find places to squeeze in every last bit of that topping! You won’t regret it!

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in muffin tins for 5 minutes before removing to finish cooling on wire rack.

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The Burlap Wreath…Let’s give it a try!

The look of the Burlap Wreath on a front door is very pretty, chic, modern but also traditional. I am more traditional and my daughters are more cottage but the wreath works for all of us.

I think making it was more difficult than I thought it was going to be but once you have the hang of it, it’s a breeze.

What you will need:

A 18 inch wire circle (Michael’s Craft Store)

A letter (optional)

30 feet of burlap ( more or less, depending on fullness)

1 pack of pipe cleaners

Wired ribbon for a bow

Wire cutters for cutting pipe cleaners

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The pipe cleaners that are the same color as your burlap work best because they do not show. I also cut the pipe cleaner into 4 pieces.

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To get started you need to weave the burlap through your metal frame and attach the burlap. Pull your loops as big or small as you would like them. Attaching the burlap to the frame along the way with the pipe cleaners.

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When you get a few loops on push them together to make your wreath look full.

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Continue the same thing until you have completed your wreath. Attaching the burlap to the frame by weaving the pipe cleaner through the burlap.

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Choose your bow style and make bow. You can glue it on but if you use pipe cleaners you can change your bow and use your wreath for different seasons.

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And then add your letter (optional). We added twine by using a glue gun to the back of the letter and attached it to the frame. You could glue your letter on. You can also put your bow and letters in different places. We just chose the top and middle.

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The finished product:

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Fall Decorating

Yesterday, at our house we had a spontaneous pumpkin painting party! Amy, Amanda, Kealee and Joy came over to paint pumpkins. We had all bought our pumpkins the previous week and I always have paint so it was a perfect day for the job.

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Amanda and Amy have great handwriting and they are both perfectionist. I used to be a perfectionist but now I have lighten up a little in that area. I did free hand.

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All you need to do this project is :

pumpkins

wire ribbon

paint

brushes

glue gun

You can write your words with a pencil and fill in the letters with paint or free hand you pumpkin. Next, take the wire ribbon and wrap it on your finger or around a pencil about 6 or so times. Remove it from your pencil and pull it apart. Glue the ribbon to the top of the pumpkin.

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Amy used ribbon without wire. It looks beautiful too! I like that she used orange and white pumpkins.

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Amy used tape and free handed a design on one of her pumpkins. Looks beautiful!

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This is Amy’s front porch:

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Amanda did a great job on her pumpkins too! This is Amanda’s style on her front porch:

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And here are mine:

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We all have our own style but it all works together! It was a fun morning having the girls here doing our projects together. We all have different styles but they all look great!

While they were here I did my inside decorating too. I used the same stuff that I had last year but it looks a little different. I try not to use too many “Halloween” type things on my tables and mantel so it lasts through Thanksgiving. Here are a few pictures.

Dining Room Table:

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Kitchen Table:

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When decorating tables and mantels, remember, it is all about layering. Keep adding layers until your happy. Always add height to your decorations. You can hid books, use wood pieces, cake plates etc. . Just add height.

Dill Potato Salad

I love potato salad but I hate all the fat and mayo in it. So, of course, I have made up my own recipe that is pretty yummy! Believe me when I say we are not the all organic health food nuts here but I would like to be more and more. We do eat pretty healthy and I try to change things to make them better for our diets. This is one recipe I changed and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

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Dill Potato Salad:

10 red potatoes

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

¼ cup buttermilk

1 TBS  Dijon mustard

3 TBS of a whole grain mustard

4 stalks of chopped celery

½ of small chopped red onion

½ cup chopped dill

Kosher salt

Wash and cut potatoes in cubes. Try to cut potatoes the same size so they cook the same. Cover the potatoes in water with a little bit of kosher salt. Cook until potatoes are soft when poked with a fork.

While potatoes are cooking chop celery, onion and dill. Set aside.

Mix mayo, buttermilk and mustards. Set aside.

After potatoes are cooked, drain and let cool.

Mix all ingredients together in large bowl then add potatoes. Be careful not to mash the potatoes while mixing. Garnish with celery greens.

I serve this with hamburgers and hot dog, BBQ, BBQ chicken, and sandwiches.

Enjoy!

 

Our Annual Family Beach Trip

It is that time of year when the beach is full of people soaking up the sun and swimming in the sea. Well, we were fourteen of those people. Our family beach trip started out this year a little on the shaky side. One grandchild with a fever and one with Hand, Foot and Mouth. I was a bit worried that it was not going to happen as planned. I have learned to except things for what they are and PRAY! So that I did. We did all end up at the beach house on the same day. Some a little later than others but we all made it. The Brinkley’s came last and I didn’t get a picture of them arriving. 

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For the first three days it rained….yes rained! We did a lot of our William Mangum puzzle, games, talking and eating. I taught Joy how to play rummy. And let’s not forget our electronic devices.

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On the third day of rain some of us decided to head down to the beach anyway.

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And then to the pool. The babies stayed inside due to the amount of work it takes to get the babies there and then if it rained it would not be good!

On Tuesday Mr. Sunshine came out! What a blessing it was to all of us. We went to the beach daily after that. We hauled our big tent, chairs, paddle board and all our children with their toys to the beach. We loaded the ole Suburban and drove it down to be unloaded. We had so much stuff but it was great fun! This was our home on the beach. It provided shade, a place for the babies to nap or a place to play.

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Adyson, our youngest granddaughter, put her toes in the sand for the first time. And Elijah loved the water!

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Of course the older four enjoyed the water. Caleb paddle boarded a lot! He was stung three times by jellyfish and would go right back into the water. Cohen was trying to surf and they all had a big water fight. Joy was not as fond of the water this year because she found out in school what lives in the water. Kealee is really a pool kind of kid but she is a good sport about it.

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Kealee loved playing with the babies and taking pictures. She was our family photographer.

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And, there was a Isle of Palm World Cup on the beach one day. I am not sure who won but Amy and Amanda were very hard on their husbands. I would have given yellow cards. At one point it looks like Mike, Jason and Amanda are dancing in one of the shots.

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Elijah loved to walk up and down the beach. He and Mike would walk and worship.

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The guys all used the paddle board. Some tried surfing with it. Jason said it was really scary when that giant paddle board came back on top of you but they did it anyway. And of course, Pops was out there.

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This year as every year I try to bring something new to the beach.  I bought beautiful white lanterns that we were all going to release on the beach but….there was a $1040 fine if you set them off. So needless to say we did not set them off.

There was a beach fairy at this house who left a present for each child every night. Adyson got her first purse, Elijah wasn’t really sure what to do and the older kids loved their bubbles. The kids woke up each morning with anticipation of what was left by the beach fairy. She left her gifts on the steps. From youngest to oldest.

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We had our Journal there for everyone to write stories in. I really love to read what the kids write. Their stories make me smile and always amaze me by their thinking process from the experiences. The stories are different with each child.

Our dinner out this year was a little difficult. It is very hard to seat 14 people in one place and the lines were very long. Being outside with a infant in 90 plus degrees is not easy. We had a progressive dinner out this year. Appetizers were at Pearls Oyster Bar where it was very hot. 

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Then off to Hyman’s Seafood for dinner. This was a very cool family owned seafood house in downtown Charleston, SC. Friendliest people I have ever met. They have southern hospitality down!

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We found a door with Cohen’s name on it which was pretty cool for him. He loved having his picture made by it. After dinner everyone was too full to eat dessert so we headed back to the beach house. 

As we were waiting to be seated at Hyman’s I noticed these feet. I cracked up! Her feet hurt after playing soccer on the beach. Guess who?

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A family vacation without a Super G drink tasting would not be a vacation! I bought several cans of drinks that I could not even read the ingredients label. Everyone gets their clear glass cups (so you can see what you are drinking) and I start pouring. There is a bowl in the middle of the table to dump your drink in if you hate it. We could win Funniest Video’s from the faces of this game. You really should try it with your family sometime. 

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Over all vacation was a blast and memories were made. One large family traveling and living together in the same house for a week is never perfect but is always fun! Our beach house was great and we could walk to everything! If you haven’t done this before I encourage you to try it. Especially you grandparents with grandchildren. It makes for the best memories ever.

Favorite quotes of the week:

Snake in the grass~ Michael …and there was. The dance Michael did was priceless.

Kealee has sand in her lunchbox~ Amy.  I am still laughing at that one as I type.

Thank you to my wonderful husband for working so hard to provide so we can do these types of things and thank you to my family for coming along for the journey. I love you all!

Random pictures:

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