Thursday, February 04, 2010

Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup

I stumbled upon this blog a few months back, and have really enjoyed several of the recipes. I actually got her cookbook for Christmas too...which I'll blog about later...but yum-there are some GREAT recipes on her blog. I made this a few weeks ago when we had some friends over. It was really good...and warm...oh so warm. It's cold and rainy here today. I would love to be eating this soup tonight.

Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup, from "A Year of Slow Cooking"

1 lb. chicken (I think I used about 2 lbs.)
1 c. dried black beans (or 2 cans, drained and rinsed)

4 c. chicken broth
1 c. frozen corn
1 jar prepared salsa (16 oz) (I used homemade, instead of store bought)
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 c. sour cream (you'll stir this in at the end)
shredded cheddar cheese, cilantro, tortilla chips (all optional)

*I use dried black beans, so I soak them over night*. Drain and rinse the beans the next morning.Add the beans to the crockpot. Put in the chicken, and add both the broth and salsa. Add the corn and the cumin. Stir, but be careful not to stir the beans below. They need to stay at the bottom of the pot, closest to the heat. Cover and cook on HIGH for 9 hours. It takes awhile to get the black beans soft.

The blog says: If you'd like to thicken the broth, you can use your immersible blender to blend a bit of the beans and chicken. If you don't have one, scoop out 2 cups of the soup and carefully blend in your traditional blender. Stir the mixture back into the crockpot. *However, I did not do this.

Stir in the 1/2 cup of sour cream before serving, and garnish with shredded cheese and broken up tortilla chips.


I got this really easy recipe from my friend Lisa after eating it at her house. Oh my, was it good!! Especially if you like the flavor of smoked meat.


1 Center Cut Brisket (about 3 lbs.)

1 Bottle Claude's Brisket Mix (Red Top)

Put Brisket in Crockpot. Pour Claude's on top. Fill bottle with water and shake to get all the spices loose. Pour on top. Cook on low all day (about 8-9 hours). Amazing!

I made it this week, and was reminded of how darn good it is. And my house smelled incredible too!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Fall Cakes

LOVE Gracen's intensity when she's doing something creative

I also love to watch her delicate hands.

Can you see the difference in personalities?

A little lick won't hurt

The tongue helps her get it JUST right.

He concentrates so hard when he's "working"

Watching his design unfold

I grew up decorating sugar cookies with royal icing for EVERY holiday...and totally loved it. My Mom was amazing at creating family traditions. I've tried to take a page from her book, and create those special moments for our family too. I've taken some of hers and added some of my own. I also like to do the roll out sugar cookies and royal icing with my kids...but man, is that a lot of work. Props to you Mom for being so consistent with it. I have not managed to do it for all the big this is my 2nd choice...decorating cakes. I don't think the kids have an opinion either way. They like doing both. So in November we made "Fall cakes". I love doing creative stuff with my's really peaceful in those moments and I enjoy seeing what my little budding artists come up with...It's also a special time around the table as we create sweet memories, and stronger bonds.

Real Life Babydoll

She's got some skills.

Evan's messy face is what happens when your 2 year old "big" sister feeds you.

Evan thinks Grier is a blast...just as the rest of us do.

It's Grier's real life baby if only Grier learned to change diapers.

Breakfast for the Tribe

Oatmeal Banana Muffins fresh out of the oven

Sneaky little thing

Mission accomplished.

Mornings around here can be intense. There are 4 hungry kids that want food NOW. I'm sure we're not alone there. I'm a morning person...but not a -sit down and relax- kind of morning person. It's my productive time, where we accomplish chores, get dressed, and start school. So needless to say, I don't make a big breakfast for everyone. We eat breakfast quickly and move on...which means we eat simple things like frozen waffles, cereal, nutrigrain bars, etc. Well, those things add up...especially for 4 kids, 7 days a week. So about a year ago, I started thinking differently about how I run things around here. I wanted to be healthier, and more frugal. I decided that making things from scratch would not only be better for us, but would also stretch our dollar. I started making big batches of muffins to freeze and pull out in the mornings for the kids, along with a piece of fruit. I'll just take a day and make dozens and dozens and DOZENS of muffins...then put them in bags to freeze. It's super easy for our family, and the kids LOVE them. They are also great for eating on the go. On Sundays, our kids eat breakfast in the car on the way to church. So if you ever see us in the parking lot before church starts, you'll see me wiping down everyone, and dusting crumbs off of church clothes. Here's one of my favorite recipes:

Banana Oatmeal Muffins

1 cup of brown sugar (I use Sucanat)
7 TBS of Unsweetened Applesauce or Coconut Oil
2 eggs
1 1/3 cup mashed ripe banana (about 2 large)
1 cup regular oats
1/2 cup fat-free milk
2 cups whole wheat pasty flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; beat well at medium speed. Combine banana, oats, and milk. Add that to the sugar mixture, beating well. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon-stir with a whisk. Add it to the sugar mixture-beat until moist. Spray your muffin pans w/ cooking spray and fill them about 2/3 of the way up. Bake them at 350 degrees for around 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
*I always add some Flaxseed Meal to my mixture for an extra boost. Makes 24 regular size muffins.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Hanging out at the Soccer Field

Grier, cousin Brooklyn, and Gracen

The girls not surprisingly get a little bored during Aiden's games. I always enjoy watching how they entertain themselves out at the field. I love to hear their little squeals, and see them running around. They totally run like girls. They are so fun.