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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Southwest Chicken and Potato Soup

I seriously considered naming this "Good A#@ Soup", but decided against it. But, it is really good soup! Sometimes, I impress myself. The recipe says shredded chicken, but the chicken I used was from a crock pot chicken I made that is also super impressive (but not my recipe). I'll post on that chicken soon. But you can use any shredded chicken.


4 cups chicken broth (divided into 3 cups and 1 cup)
2 cups water
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, diced
1 orange bell pepper, seeded, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
4 small celery stalks, peeled, diced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp corriander
2 Tbsp minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
1 bag small potatoes
1/2 can corn
2 cups baby carrots
1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes with green chiles)
1 lb. shredded chicken

First, let's dicuss the potatoes. I had no idea the variety of potatoes available at the regular grocery store. I was first so excited to see these little bags of baby potatoes:

Then I saw that there were different varieties of small bags of little potatoes:

There were also fingerling potatoes:

Which is what I almost bought until I saw these:

There are purple potatoes in there! I was so excited to try them. Maybe you all already know about the potato wonderland out there, but it was new to me.

How cute are they?

First, chop the bell peppers, onions, celery and saute them in a pan with cooking spray. Add garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, corriander and cook until vegetables are tender (about 10 min over med-low heat)

Add the cooked veggies to a stock pot with 3 cups chicken broth and 2 cups water. Chop the potatoes, and add potatoes, carrots and corn to the pot. I just cut the bigger potatoes in half and left the small ones whole since I was using little potatoes:

Bring the soup up to a boil. While the liquids are coming to a boil, make a roux. I used 3 Tbsp butter and 3 Tbsp flour:

Add remaining cup of chicken stock and whisk until creamy:

Add the roux mixture to the soup pot once boiling and mix well. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 3-4 hours until potatoes and carrots are soft. With last 30-40 min of cooking, add the can of Rotel and the shredded chicken. I used about 1 lb of shredded chicken that I had frozen from a previous recipe:

It did turn out a little spicy. I loved it, but it may have been a little bit much for the kids (wimps!) The only spicy element is the Rotel, so you could eliminate it or use the mild version (I used original) or use a different can of diced tomatoes. You could also make this in a crock pot if you weren't going to be home to have it on the stove all day. And there you go, some good a#% soup!


Linking up here:

Creations by Kara

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Owl Valentine Cupcakes

Happy Valentine's Day!

These are pink lemonade cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and pink owls for Valentine's day.

Linking here:



Saturday, February 11, 2012

Burlap & Buttons Valentines

I've seen several of these button projects lately and wanted to try my own. I decided to do some Valentine ones to have something to sit in my entry way next to my Valentine Tree.

I bought 2 inexpensive frames (these were black, so I sprayed them heirloom white). I cut out some burlap to fit the frame, then hot glued buttons I found at Joanns.

I made a heart one with a package of various pink buttons:

The other one is the word "Love" in red buttons:


Linking up here:

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Homemade Laundry Soap

This is just way too "Little House on the Prairie" for me. But, I have seen several posts online about making your own laundry soap, so I thought I'd give it a try. I plan to also eventually make my own household cleaners and soaps and shampoos as well. We'll see how that goes. But, so far, my first crunchy, granola, tree-hugging project was easy and it works!

You will need:

1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda (different than baking soda)
1 bar soap (I used Ivory - they make bar soaps specifically for laundry as well)

I used a hand grater, but have seen others use a food processor. I found it easy enough to grate by hand, so I'd rather not soap up my food processor.

Once grated, add the cup of Borax and the cup of washing soda, mix well (it took several minutes to make sure it was all mixed to an even consistency).

Use 1-2Tbsp per load of laundry. That's it!

I am currently storing it in a yogurt container with a Tbsp inside. I think the container is ugly. So, I was thinking if I go find a cutesy container or decorate one, does that counteract the "Little House on the Prairie" effect? Yes, Yes it does! :-)

The powder does not get sudsy like regular detergent and it doesnt have a perfumy smell like detergents do. But the clothes do smell clean and they look clean. I have read that you can use 1/4 cup if you are washing a particularly soiled load. The big test for me was washing our 2 year old's little Eeyore. It's her snuggly comfort item and she takes it everywhere. It was dirty, had food and other stains and wasn't smelling so great. I washed it with 1 1/2 Tbsp in a regular load of laundry and it came out clean. No stains. And smelled good. So, I was sold!

Today, I had a lovely vomit mess to clean up. Here is the yucky pillow pet before:

And here it is after:

I washed it with 3 Tbsp of powder instead of my usual 1 1/2 Tbsp. along with the other yucky bedding. There were some faint stains, but they are barely noticeable. Good as new!

Vinegar is also a natural fabric softener and can be added to the rinse cycle. I have not yet tried this as the little cup thingy in my washing machine that holds fabric softener is broken. I plan to buy a downy ball and put vinegar in that and see how it works.

There are also recipes online using the same ingredients, but melting the soap and adding water to make a liquid laundry detergent. This seemed kind of messy to me, so I opted for the powder eventhough, I typically use liquid store bought detergent. So far, no problem switching to powder.

I have not done any kind of cost comparison on this. But other people have, so I'm taking their word for it :-) I also know it doesn't have all the chemicals that store bought detergents do, so it's better for my family and the environment. That's good enough for me.

Have I convinced you to try it, yet?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

My Favorite Banana Bread

I have had this recipe for banana bread for close to 15 years now. I have absolutely no idea where I got it from at this point, but it's my favorite banana bread recipe. The original recipe calls for 1/3 cup shortening which I have always replaced with 1/3 cup applesauce (and I like it better that way), so that's how I have the recipe written here. I do not like nuts in my bread, but I know many people do, so you could easily add 1 cup of chopped walnuts to the batter if you're one of those people.

Banana Bread

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup applesauce
2 eggs
2 Tbsp milk
2 mashed, ripe bananas

Cream together sugar and applesauce (if using shortening, do at high speed for 5min, applesauce does not need much mixing).

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt, baking soda, set aside.

Add eggs one at a time to applesauce mixture, add milk, beat at medium speed for 1 min.

Add approx. 1/3 of flour mix to creamed mix, beat at low speed, add 1/2 banana, beat on low, add next 1/3 of flour and remaining 1/2 of banana, beat on low, add remaining flour. Mix until smooth and fluffy.

Turn batter into lightly greased (I use the baking spray with flour in it) 8x4x2 loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-65min* Cool in pan 10min, then turn onto wire cooling rack. Wrap remaining bread in foil overnight.

*I have used this recipe forever with no problems, however, this last time I made it, it seemed slightly over cooked. I checked it at 60min. I think 55min would have been better. I'm not sure what caused that this time, but just a caution to check it earlier. It was still very good, but a little overdone.