Posts made in January, 2011

What’s New For Dinner? Potato Leek Soup

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Welcome to this week’s edition of “What’s New for Dinner?” Jaycie at CouponGeek and I have made a commitment to each other and to you, our readers, to try ONE new thing in our meal planning each week.  There are several reasons for this:

  1. Meal planning can get a bit tedious.  We find ourselves making the same dinners over and over again.  We are forcing ourselves to get creative and step outside of the lines.
  2. Hopefully this will inspire you, the reader, to try something new that you haven’t done before.                          And finally,
  3. To show  you that adding new recipes or tricks to your culinary routine does not have to be expensive or time consuming…you can have your dinner and eat it too!

I’ve read several recipes for potato leek soup over the years but I’ve always shied away from making it myself.  I have a great vegetable soup that uses leeks…but that is about it.  So this week: Chunky Leek and Potato Soup; courtesy of Parents.com (again).

The Ingredients:

  • Butter
  • Shallots
  • Potatoes
  • Leeks
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Water
  • Cilantro or Parsley for Garnish

Yup…that’s it.  VERY healthy…and I didn’t even plan it that way!!

The Directions:

Chop up your veggies.  I started with the leeks,

Then the shallots;

And finally the potatoes;

Put them all in a stock pot with some melted butter and cook for about 7 -8 minutes until they start to soften.

Add water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, simmer for about 20 minutes until all the veggies are tender.  Take about half out and put it through the blender, return it to the stock pot and voila!  Chunky Leek and Potato Soup.

*Tip*
When you are cutting up strong ingredients like onions, leeks, garlic, etc. and potatoes are on your roster; save the potatoes for last, they help to remove the smell of the others from your hands.

The Results:

Everyone ate the soup except for SuperBaby … but he is being food-tempermental this week anyway.  I’m not sure everyone was enthusiastic about it…but they all ate it without complaining so it is hard to tell.  I liked it a lot.  I was nervous about this one but really pleased with the results.  I had leftovers a few days later and with some extra salt and pepper it was MUCH better than the first day.

What I Would Change:

I didn’t add nearly enough salt and pepper.  I’m notorious for not adding enough…mainly because I’m afraid of adding too much.  Because the base of this soup is water I think it is really important to flavor it well with the salt and pepper.

That’s it!  Be sure to check out Jaycie’s adventure with Tilapia over at CouponGeek.  If you are interested in seeing more of my adventurous culinary side you can see other What’s New For Dinner posts HERE.

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Dear Dad,

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This morning I’m by myself in a hotel room.  I’ve got my bags packed and I’m getting ready to leave for the airport.  I was smart enough to leave the task of putting on make-up until I’ve finished this letter.  I’m spending most of this day alone; which is difficult.

I don’t know if I have the energy to write this year.  I’m full of tears.  This year has been difficult.  We struggle with SuperBoy… he is so angry, so frustrated so much of the time.   My greatest fear is that SuperGirl is getting lost in the shuffle…that middle child sort of pushed aside for the growing pains of the oldest and the needs of the youngest.  SuperBaby is a man on a mission and into everything.  I mean EVERYTHING.  He doesn’t stop, not for one second. I can’t seem to let him grow up.  He is almost a year and a half old … but in my heart I am keeping him my baby.

This year Uncle George left.  Belle left.  Sidney left.  Grandma is not herself, she keeps falling. She is working hard but she won’t be herself again; hasn’t been for a long time.  Grandpa is beside himself unsure how to handle any of it.

I’m a little angry at you because you took Mom with you when you left.  I’m not sure if you realize that; she doesn’t really realize that.  Nothing is the same and every year it gets a little more difficult to deal with.

I’ve been working as a spokesperson for Nintendo, that is where I am now.  I’m guessing you would think that is pretty cool.  I struggle to balance my responsibilities and desires as a mother with my need to write and stimulate my brain.  I’ve chosen this blog as my outlet but time constraints are ridiculous; I just haven’t figured out how to make it all work.

I miss you, daddy.  I don’t know what I expected my grown up life to be, but I know I expected to see you wrestling with my kids at Christmas.  I expected that you would take the kids through the locker room before a football game to see all of the big guys in their uniforms; out on the court to chase the basketball around and hold them up high to get it into the basket; teach them about baseball and how the Braves are the only team that matter.

Eight years is a long time.  Certainly feels like yesterday.

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BabyLegs Discounted: $75 to 75% Off!

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Right now you can get $75 worth of BabyLegs for $18.75 on the BabyLegs website!  If you shop the clearance section and spend at least $75, use code WINTER75 to get a 75% discount on your order!  We LOVE BabyLegs at our house and I’m resisting ordering more …. (only because we have so many already!) They have some cute socks in the clearance section, too!

If you’ve never seen BabyLegs before you are missing out!  I first got some when SuperGirl was born and she is STILL wearing them (She Turned 3 at Christmas!).  They were great under sleeper gowns to keep her legs warm and still keep diaper changing easy when she was a little baby, when she started moving around then were extra protection for her knees, and now that she is Miss “I will only wear skirts and dresses” I can have her put on her “Long Socks” and it keeps her legs warm…and no unfortunate potty incidents because she couldn’t get her tights off fast enough.

Hurry over, I’m sure they won’t last long!

Thanks, SheSaved and Penny Pinchin’ Mom!

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What’s New For Dinner? Slow Cooker Southwestern Chicken Chili

Posted in From My Kitchen | 0 comments

Welcome to this week’s edition of “What’s New for Dinner?” Jaycie at CouponGeek and I have made a commitment to each other and to you, our readers, to try ONE new thing in our meal planning each week.  There are several reasons for this:

  1. Meal planning can get a bit tedious.  We find ourselves making the same dinners over and over again.  We are forcing ourselves to get creative and step outside of the lines.
  2. Hopefully this will inspire you, the reader, to try something new that you haven’t done before.                          And finally,
  3. To show  you that adding new recipes or tricks to your culinary routine does not have to be expensive or time consuming…you can have your dinner and eat it too!

Week number 2 was a success!  In more ways than one: not only did we ALL like the chili I made…but I made it following a loose recipe and throwing in my own ingredients as I went along.  This is a huge step for my very Type A “Must Follow Directions” personality.

Here we go

The Ingredients:

  • 14oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14oz. can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • “Some” frozen corn … I just dumped in about half a bag
  • 14oz can Mexican Style Stewed Tomatoes
  • 140z can chili ready diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 jar of salsa
  • 7oz can chopped chilies
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • Half red bell pepper, chopped
  • “Some” chicken broth
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • “Some” Southwestern BBQ Sauce
  • 1/2c. -ish wild rice

The Directions:

I layered these in the crock pot starting at the top of the list and working my way down.

I laid the chicken breasts on top of everything else and basted some of the BBQ sauce on top of each one for extra flavoring.

I added a little bit of chicken broth to make sure that the chicken wouldn’t dry out while it was cooking.

The original recipe I looked at said to use frozen chicken breasts and to cook on high for 4 hours.  I thought I was so prepared when I took the chicken out to thaw the night before…. oh well.  I decided to cut the cooking time down a little and proceed.  Turns out that I needed the full 4 hours anyway…and probably could have used a little more.  I’m going to say “Cook on High for 5 hours”.

I added the wild rice with about 45 minutes to go.  In retrospect I will either omit or add it at the beginning.

When it is done, shred up the chicken and mix in with the other ingredients.

Serve it up with a little sour cream and some Mexican style cheese and your are good to go!

The Results:

Everyone at the homestead seemed to like it.  I was afraid it would be a little to spicy… maybe have no flavor but lots of spicy but everyone seemed to like it.  The rice was a little crunchy … it didn’t get to cook long enough.  This made enough for the entire family AND we have enough for another meal.  Interesting idea is to drain off the remaining liquid (although there isn’t much) and serve it in tortillas next time…maybe with some enchilada sauce.

What I Would Change:

I would add some green peppers for color…or zucchini…depending on what you have.  I didn’t have either so I skipped it this time.

Omit the rice unless you have a lot of excess liquid and you want the rice to bulk it up and absorb the liquid.

I would have cooked it a little bit longer…. the meat didn’t fall apart like I would have liked it to… I’m lazy It hurts my hands to shred up chicken.

Be sure to check out Jaycie’s culinary adventure this week in her What’s New for Dinner? post at Coupon Geek.

Interested in some of my other voyages into the unknown?  Other “What’s New for Dinner?” posts can be found HERE.

**Standard Disclaimer** I have horrible lighting in my kitchen that looks yellow when I take pictures.  I have only my iPhone or CoolPix camera to take pictures on.  I’m saving my  money and my SwagBucks to get a SuperCamer (Nikon D3100) and learn how to take real and pretty pictures of food and other stuff…. like my kids.  Stay tuned.

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The Good, The Bad and the Thoroughly Forgotten: Christmas 2010 ReCap

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The gifts are all unwrapped.  The tree is down, the lights are off.  The glamor of Christmas has worn thin.  We are left with the reality of our Holiday shopping.  I’m always surprised to see what we have left before us when the dust settles and January rears its ugly head.  The toys I thought would be a smash hit are often the first to break, the first to be forgotten.  On the other hand the gifts I thought twice about purchasing at all are a smashing success.

At my house this year, the big kids each got ONE gift from Mom and Dad, outside of their Christmas jammies.  They got the iPod Touch.  A big expense for a couple of little kids but one we thought through very carefully.  I purchased a Leap Frog “Scout” Puppy for SuperBaby on the recommendations of my readers….then proceeded to buy “Violet” for both of my nieces.  Nana and Granddaddy surprised SuperGirl with her very own Princess Castle and all of the accoutrements, SuperBoy got a robot…the very first thing on his list.  SuperBaby got a Busy Ball Popper (that I picked up on sale when he was 3 months old thank you very much).

There were hexbugs and Zhu Zhu pets, art supplies and dress up clothes.  A movie or two for good measure.

But do you know what has been the top toy of Christmas 2010?  Melissa and Doug Wooden Building Blocks. I Santa picked up two boxes and gave them to the three kids collaboratively.  They have played with those blocks every single day since Christmas.  Even SuperBaby (who is, I might add, becoming quit proficient at the build and smash school of thought in tower construction) is enticed by these bland no-batteries-required toys.

SuperGirl likes to build multi-faceted cities…different layers of buildings that spread out across the room.  SuperBoy like to make symmetrical towers as high as he can before crashing them down to the ground a la “Angry Birds”.  SuperBaby has perfected the task of stacking four blocks together; ending with a long cylindrical block on top…and can hardly wait to smash it down in a perfect rendition of his older brother…giggling hysterically all the while.  We’ve built mazes for the Zhu Zhu’s and gladiator arenas for the hexbugs.  The new HotWheel SuperBoy found in his stocking spent an entire afternoon driving down the giant ramp he built with SuperDad.

The iPod Touches rank up with the blocks, we’ve had to strictly enforce the time limits and losing five minutes of play on the iPod at a time has become a very effective behavior modification tool.  SuperBaby loves, loves, loves his Scout.  We keep it in his bed at night and naptime and he enjoys the “bedtime music”.  You can hear him cooing to it and turning on the music for himself…in a soothing way..not in an avoiding bedtime way.  When it says “I love you, SuperBaby” …he hugs and kisses it.  ADORABLE.  The Busy Ball Popper is not only a top gift for him, but for us too…he makes this funny noise when the balls from the popper start flying around …. kind of “EEEEE   EEEEE EEEE”…hysterical.

The hexbugs broke almost immediately…. the Zhu Zhus are fun but keep running for cover and hiding from my kids under the couch (no harm, no foul…if I could hide there, I would too).

Art supplies are a standby at our house and will never falter…when tempers flare and emotions run high…a little time drawing and coloring can soothe the savage preschoolers soul.

And the blocks stand tried and true.  They are the toy that has become a part of almost every other toy they got for Christmas.  Blocks are the standby when kids start to melt down.  I’ve not had anyone yet (knock on wood) whine “I don’t waaaant to play with the blocks” when I suggested it might be a good activity.

So, at our house, imagination won out this Christmas.  I can not tell you how happy this makes me.

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