Friday, February 24, 2012

Cozy Up with Chicken Enchilada Crockpot Soup

Chicago got some snow overnight and this morning.  I'm happy it's Friday and plan to enjoy some rest and relaxation over the next two days... and hopefully some productivity too!  But before we head into the weekend, I wanted to share a little recipe. 

I made this Chicken Enchilada soup on Super Bowl Sunday.  (Hmm, my family and I were just emailing today about our love of southwestern-style food.)  Gotta love crockpot meals... not only are they are super easy to make, but you can also adapt them to your preferences or what's in your pantry.

I threw all the ingredients into the pot in the afternoon and served up the finished soup during Madonna's halftime show. Then Scott and I ate the leftovers throughout the week (yes, it's just as good left over).

So here's some cozy comfort food, just right for a wintery day...

Chicken Enchilada Crockpot Soup
from Jamie Cooks It Up, adapted from Real Mom Kitchen

1 (14.5 ounce) can Mexican Style Stewed Tomatoes
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans
2 (15 ounce) cans corn
1/2 C onion, chopped
1/2 C red or green pepper, chopped
2 chicken breasts (can use frozen)
1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
1 (10 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
2 1/2 C milk
4 chicken bullion cubes (or 4 t bullion granules)
1/2 t lime juice (can be bottled)
1/3 C sour cream
2 T butter

tortilla chips
cheddar cheese
Look at all those cans... can't get much easier than that!
1) Pour the whole can of stewed tomatoes into your crock pot, juice included. Diced tomatoes work best.

I skipped the separate lime juice and cilantro since the tomatoes had some already.
2) Drain and rinse the black beans and add them to the pot.
3) Drain the corn and add them as well.

4) Roughly chop up 1/2 C onion and 1/2 C of red or green pepper and toss them in.

5) Pour the enchilada sauce into a medium sized mixing bowl. Add the cream of chicken soup, 2 1/2 C milk and then crumble the bullion cubes over the top.

6) Whisk it all together until nice and smooth.

7) Place two chicken breasts over the vegetables in your crock pot. (I used a whole package, which included four chicken breasts.)

8) Pour the sauce over the top of the chicken.

9) Cover your crock and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 7-8, depending on how fast your crock pot cooks things.
10) Remove the chicken and place it on a plate. Shred it with a fork.
11) Add the 1/2 t lime juice, 1/3 C sour cream and 2 T butter to the soup. Whisk it in until the butter has melted and the sour cream is well combined.
12) Toss your chicken back into the pot, give it a stir and you are ready to eat.

Serve with tortilla chips and cheddar cheese (I added an extra dallop of sour cream too!). Cilantro and avocado are also fabulous.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Baby Shower: Celebrating the Upcoming Arrival of My Nephew!

Only a few more weeks until our nephew arrives (due date: April 5)!  We honored the mom-to-be, Scott's sister, on Sunday with a baby shower.

One part of our gift... I love how soft and cute baby clothes are. 
And how well-priced they are at Marshall's :)
And it even has cuffs to keep the baby from scratching himself!
It was so fun to see J's baby bump and check out all the new gear and gifts.  This baby is going to be totally set!  And of course, we had to serve tons of food....

As one of the shower hosts, I supplied some of the desserts for the "sweets" table.  Plus, I couldn't resist making a little banner for the celebration.

Along with the no-bake cake batter truffles, which I first tried out for Scott's birthday (this time dipped in white and blue candy coating), I made a multi-layer ombre-colored cake, blueberry cheesecake bars, and (at the mom-to-be's request) a chocolate chip cheeseball.

Easy recipes and tasty too!  I made them all in the course of an afternoon, but just be aware that a couple of them require chilling time.

Cake Batter Truffles
from Chef in Training, originally from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Ombre Layer Cake
Inspired by all those pictures of rainbow/ombre-colored layer cakes on Pinterest and blogs!

2 boxes of white cake mix (plus the required oil and eggs)
Food coloring
Buttercream icing (butter, powdered sugar, a couple splashes of milk)

I simply mixed up both boxes of white cake mix (each box makes two 8'' or 9'' layers of cake), divided the batter evenly and squeezed food coloring into each portion of batter. 

I used a bit more food coloring for each layer, so once they were stacked, the layers would range from darker blue to lighter blue.  (Because I used whole eggs rather than egg whites, the white cake was a little yellow to begin with... the lighter blue layers ended up kind of minty green, but at least mint is a pretty color!)

After the cake layers cooled, I evened them out a bit with a serrated knife, stacked them with some buttercream icing in between each layer, and topped it all off with a bunch of icing and a little banner.

To create the decorative banner for the cake, I used cord (in the jewelry-making section at Michael's), some blue cardstock and a couple of wooden skewers.  I folded the cardstock and cut triangles along the fold so that each piece was essentially a diamond folded in half.  I "hung" the first triangle over the cord, glued the points together, tied a tiny knot on each side of the triangle, and continued to add the other pieces.  To finish, I tied each end of the mini banner to a skewer and placed it on top of the cake.

Chocolate Chip Cheeseball
from Taste of Home (thanks, Mom!)

Prep time: 10 min + chilling
Chill time: 3 hours

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans
Graham crackers
1) In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until fluffy. Gradually add sugars; beat just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.

2) Place cream cheese mixture on a large piece of plastic wrap; shape into a ball. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

3) Just before serving, roll cheese ball in pecans. Serve with graham crackers. Yield: 1 cheese ball (about 2 cups).

Blueberry Cheesecake Bars
from Betty Crocker

1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) Betty Crocker® oatmeal cookie mix
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
3 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
3 eggs
1 jar (10 oz) blueberry spreadable fruit
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) whole blueberries

1) Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom and sides of 13x9-inch pan with cooking spray. In large bowl, beat cookie mix, butter and egg with electric mixer on low speed until soft dough forms. Press in bottom of pan.

2) Bake 15 minutes. Cool 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in another large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with mixer on medium speed until fluffy. Add whipping cream and eggs; beat on low speed until well blended.

3) Spread spreadable fruit over partially cooled crust. Sprinkle with blueberries. Pour cream cheese mixture evenly over blueberries, spreading gently to cover.

4) Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until center is set. Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. For bars, cut into 7 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Guest Post on The Urban Slant: Leap of Faith

Today, I'm over at The Urban Slant, sharing more about my recent leap of faith!

Julia started her "Leap of Faith" series recently to profile people who have taken a risk to follow their dreams and pursue their passions... and that certainly resonated with me.  The other stories in the series have been such a source of inspiration, so I am honored to be among them.

Head over to The Urban Slant to read more!

A little round-up of things that inspire me!
logo / happily ever after print / just keep going / this is your life

Monday, February 13, 2012

New Shoes to Brighten the Winter Blahs

Christmas was good to me as far as expanding my shoe collection.  I've been wanting to share my new additions ever since!

These babies have certainly put a spring in my step, even if there's a dusting of snow on the ground.  Between trudging to nannying at 6 am or to class at 6 pm, walking to meet friends for a night out or arm-in-arm to dinner with the hubby, I've found many occasions to wear my new shoes.

I'm that girl...who plans outfits around her shoe selection, who hates taking her shoes off at the front door of a house party (come on, they make the outfit!), who will brave a little cold or a little pain for fashion (though in my old age, I am becoming a lot less tolerant).

Yes, please don't judge... I did get five new pairs of shoes... from Santa and my parents and my in-laws.  I guess I was a good girl last year.  And hey, at least most of these were super-awesome deals.

Which style is your favorite?

Franco Sarto Patriot Riding Boot (mine were about half price at Off Broadway Shoes in Kansas)

Charlotte Russe leopard loafers for $22.50 (love it!)... unfortunately, no longer available online

TOMS Black Glitters

Hot Kiss faux-fur trimmed wedges from Famous Footwear

Michael Shannon wedge ankle-high boots from Off Broadway Shoes


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