Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Our Highlight Reel


Goodbye 2015. You have been good to us. Here are some of our highlights.


















See you next year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Holiday Food!


I get just as excited about preparing food for the holidays as I do anything else. Feasting on Christmas is just a much of a tradition as opening presents at our house. Thanks to Pinterest, I found some yummy new recipes.  Here's a list of our menu items for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.


Christmas Eve
Since Jeremy has to work on Christmas Eve morning each year, we have had the tradition since we moved to Missouri, to meet at IHOP when he gets off of work mid morning. We eat a big brunch and then make any last minute stops that we need to make before settling in for a cozy evening at home. For the rest of the day, we spend time as a family watching Christmas movies, playing video games (Oh yes, we all love to play Mario Cart!), and getting things ready for Santa. A big pot of soup and some appetizers are perfect for this lazy afternoon and evening.

1.) Crock Pot Cheeseburger Soup by www.life-in-the-lofthouse.com was slow cooking all day. Someone at school told me about this soup, and I thought it would be a fun new one to try for Christmas Eve. It definitely will be on our regular rotation of soups. Don't be fooled by the crock pot in the title. There is actually quite a bit that has to be done outside of the crock pot. The only thing that cooks in the crock pot are the vegetables. The beef and white sauce both have to be done separately. But still, it is yummy and was perfect for a day of grazing.


2.) Brown Sugar Bacon Smokies by kathyskitchentable.com was next on our list. I've made this is a few times before and you've probably had them at some tailgate or carry-in. People love things wrapped in bacon. I go light on the brown sugar because we aren't really that into sweets. These are just as good leftover which was good for us because we ate them for a couple of days.

Bacon Brown Sugar Smokies
Photo via Kathy's Kitchen Table


3.) Cranberry Feta Pinwheels by food.com would be ranked 1st if I were putting these in order of favorites. I am definitely going to make these again - possibly even this week. You wouldn't think that cranberries, feta, and green onion would blend together so well, but oh. my. goodness. AND they have red and green in them so they look really festive. They are so delicious. They will probably be made every Christmas Eve forever in our house.


Christmas Breakfast 

4.) Oatmeal and Fruit Casserole made its debut on our Christmas breakfast table last year after Lex spotted it over my shoulder on Pinterest.  As an oatmeal loving family, this is an absolutely delicious breakfast treat. I blogged the recipe here this past year. 






 


 5.) Easy Breakfast Casserole by The Whole Dish was our savory alternative for breakfast. This is actually the third time I've made this including once for company and it is so easy and so delicious. Honestly, it seems somewhat fool proof. I have made breakfast casseroles for years and this one is by far the easiest prep. I am so glad I found this one. 

Easy Breakfast Casserole
Photo Via The Wholesome Dish



Christmas Dinner   
In addition to a yummy spiral, bone-in ham, I found 2 new side dishes and a beautiful bread, all of which I will be making again. 

6.) Broccoli Casserole from Yellowblissroad.com was the perfect compliment to the ham. I have only ever had broccoli casserole with canned cream of mushroom soup which I tend to stay away from now when possible. This casserole, however, has a made from scratch cream of mushroom sauce that is to die for! And instead of cracker crumbs, it has toasted bread crumbs. Let me tell you, I was sad when the leftovers were gone on this one. It may have been my favorite thing of the entire day. And since both the boys love broccoli, they gobbled it up too.


 7. Corn and Bacon Casserole also came from Yellowblissroad.com. And this one had a little bit of a twist because it looks innocent, but it has red pepper in it which packs a little bit of a punch. It was pretty easy, but not out of this world. Still, I will probably make it again.


 8. And finally, for my "Piece de Resistance....." Seriously, I outdid my myself with this Pull Apart Christmas Tree from My Honeys Place. I had these on my "things to make for Christmas" list for months and couldn't wait to try them. Not only will I make them again, but I have tons of variations in mind as well. They don't take as long to make as you think, and they are yummy! Stuffed with cream cheese and mozzarella, then topped with garlic butter and herbs, they pull apart for a melt in your mouth kind of finale. I am so proud of this one.


And that wraps up our Christmas Feast. We don't really do desserts, because, well, there is plenty of eggnog, chocolate, and candy canes to go around that we really don't need anything sweet in a dish form. Hope you and your family feasted well this Christmas too!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Winter Solstice Celebration

Jeremy and I have talked for a long time about doing something celebratory for winter's solstice. After all, it is the day when days start getting longer and that's reason enough to celebrate for me. We grabbed the book The Shortest Day from the library and planned an outing with a handful of friends.

Lucky for us, this winter has been unseasonably warm, so it was an absolutely perfect night to be outdoors.

Here's what was in our picnic basket. Some orange peel bird feeders, strung cranberries, and popcorn. I laid out the popcorn so that it wouldn't all get tangled up, but as you'll see, the attempt was futile.



We also brought treats for the humans. Some sweet treats that had been delivered earlier, hot cocoa in thermoses, and peppermint sticks.


We also had a cooler for these ice cubes with cranberries frozen into them. Since it was so warm, they weren't going to last long, but we hung them anyway.


We also brought bags of birdseed for the kids to scatter on the ground.


Here's Jeremy helping Eli out. The kids are dressed for cold weather, but it really wasn't that bad. I think the car said 50 degrees when we left after nightfall.


We had so much fun hanging the food and stringing yarn for birds to use in their nests when spring comes.




 






Stopping for a hot chocolate break.


And our beautiful finished product.


We stayed until dark. There was no reason not to. The kids did a couple of plays for us, and we ate, drank, and were merry.


I'm pretty sure this started a new tradition for us. We had so much fun and our hearts were so full when we left. Yea for longer days.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

White Chicken Chili


I am a chili purist - you know the kind. Ground beef, kidney beans, tomato sauce and a seasoning blend. But my little brother sent me this recipe in a text a few weeks back with a picture that has made my mouth water ever since. And there's no better time than a Colt's versus Patriots NFL match-up to get a big pot of soup on the stove. So I made not one batch - but a double - of this amazing White Chicken Chili, and I am so glad I did. So easy, and so, so full of flavor. Go get your ingredients. Go ahead. Go. I'll wait.

Here's your list: For the record, if you don't want a ginormous batch or don't want leftovers, then cut everything in half. As for me, I have a 4 and 6 year old boys who eat like grown men, so a double batch it is.

Ingredients:

2 pounds (give or take a few ounces) of boneless chicken, cut into bite sized pieces (not pictured below)
2-3 T. olive oil (also not pictured below)
1 onion, diced
 12 (yes 12) cloves of garlic, minced
32 ounce container chicken broth
4 cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
14-16 ounces of chopped green chilies. Just depends on what size can your store offers. A little more or less is not going to throw it off.
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 16 ounce container sour cream
1 cup heavy whipping cream


It looks like a lot, but really, most of it is probably stuff you already have. Totally not that hard.

Let's get started, shall we?

Heat the oil over medium high heat. I used a large dutch oven which worked perfectly. Throw in the chicken once the oil is heated, then stir occasionally to keep it from sticking to the pan.
 





Add the garlic and onion to the pan. Yes, it seems like a lot of garlic. No, it is not too much. I promise that the garlic doesn't overwhelm the other flavors. It's perfect. Trust me.

Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the middle - about 15 minutes.


Once the chicken is cooked through, stir in the chicken broth.
 

Then add the beans.


And stir in the chilies. Yum!
 

Here's your spice blend: salt and black pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin, and oregano.  I bet white pepper would also be good, but this is plenty good just the way it is.


Throw your spices in with everything else and mix it together.



At this point, you could call it a day, because the spices turn the chicken broth into an incredible chili flavored broth. But we're not done. Bring the soup to a boil, turn down the heat, cover it, and let it simmer for 30 minutes.


And thirty minutes is the perfect amount of time to go outside and enjoy some nice fall weather. Tire swing, anyone?


Eli says, "Push me infinity high, Mommy!"


After 30 minutes, remove the soup from heat, and stir in the cream.


And then the sour cream. Stir until everything is incorporated.



That is one yummy bite.


And that's it! So easy.

Our grocery store bakery sells French Baguettes that you bake at home. They are the perfect texture for soaking up some good soup.

So if you have a football game to watch, or just need a good hearty meal on a chilly day, get out of your comfort zone and make some white chili. I promise you won't be disappointed.