Monday, January 31, 2011

It's Been a Chicken Kind of Winter

I've had two recipes on repeat this winter, and I love them so much that one week I realized I had eaten the same entree for at least seven meals in a row! Since I've enjoyed them so much I thought I would share them with you.

My recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup is a combination of several different recipes I found online; the Velveeta Cheese makes it creamy and rich. This recipe is easily altered by adding a can of black beans, corn, or by using spicy Rotel instead of the original, etc.

3 chicken breasts (which you can cook/shred beforehand or during the process)
2 regular size cans of Original Rotel
2 (10 ounce) can mild enchilada sauce (if you want it spicy, use medium)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 ounce) can chicken broth (you may want one more can--it just depends on how thick you want your soup to be)
1 and ½ teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1-2 bay leaf
Velveeta cheese (about an inch or two wide "slice" cut into cubes)

Put everything except for the Velveeta in a crock pot and stir, cover, and cook on low setting for 6 to 8 hours or on high setting for 3 to 4 hours. After a few hours I remove the chicken breasts and shred them with two forks. About 30-60 minutes before the soup is finished cooking, drop the Velveeta cubes into the pot...once they melt, stir again. Serve with tortilla chips & sour cream.

My other repeat recipes is Chicken Tortilla Casserole, which I believe my co-worker got from

3 cups shredded, cooked chicken (you could easily use more if you want)
1 packet (1.25 ounce)taco seasoning
2 cups salsa verde
9 fajita-size flour tortillas
1 can (15.5 ounces)refried beans, warmed in microwave
8 ounces sour cream
3 cups shredded cheddar cheese


1.Heat oven to 350°. Mix chicken, taco seasoning, 1/2 cup water and salsa verde in a skillet. Simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes.

2.Coat 13 x 9 x 2-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray. Cover bottom of pan with 3 flour tortillas, overlapping. Pour half of the chicken mixture on the tortillas. Cover with 3 more tortillas. Spread with warmed beans and the sour cream.

3.Sprinkle half the cheese over the beans and sour cream, and cover with the remaining 3 tortillas. Top with remaining chicken mixture, followed by remaining cheese. Bake at 350° for 25 to 28 minutes, until bubbly. I serve this with chips to and think it's even better reheated the next day.

Happy new week!

p.s. I'm grateful for my niece Mallie's first birthday party and the time with family.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Progress & Paint

It's been two weeks since we closed on the house, and wow, my husband has been hard at work. We've ripped out all of the carpet; torn out the hardwood floors on the first floor; and my brother in law, step-dad, and Blake installed the new hardwood floors. Blake has also torn out the ceiling tiles in two rooms, removed the popcorn finish on one ceiling, and is almost finished patching holes/cracks in the plaster on our walls so that we can paint. My contributions have been mainly limited to cleaning, providing meals (and doing all other household chores), slowly moving things to the house, and choosing paint. Choosing paint colors is hard. I'm glad Ace Hardware has free buttery popcorn; that makes it less painful.

We thought we'd narrowed it down to two colors yesterday (Benjamin Moore's berkshire beige or baja dunes), but once we applied them to our walls and looked at them in artificial light we realized they weren't for us. I think we're going to try chocolate mousse (the color) tonight. I like the idea of a darker chocolate color, but with our cherryish wood furniture and a brown leather sofa, we're thinking it'll be too dark. Looks like we'll be painting the foyer and small bedrooms white for now....

We've also had an electrician move our outlets since some were in the baseboard and some were on the wall. Oddly the smallest bedroom in the house has 12 outlets! It's crazy how many outlets this old house has...makes me wonder why.

Painting begins in the morning! Let's hope it goes quickly :) Happy (almost) weekend!



p.s. I'm grateful that it's Friday!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My New Obsession

Last week I shared Thatcher's new obsession, so I figured I'd share mine today: HGTV. I'm even setting my DVR from my phone to record shows like Sweat Equity, DIY Disaster, and Holmes on Homes. And I've decided to make a few videos to submit to HGTV in hopes of getting their help with some of our remodeling. After all we're basically redoing the entire house.

After our closing on Friday we celebrated with lunch at Urban Spoon, and then the real fun began. We pulled up the carpet in the living room and dining room and discovered this:

Of course, we'd hope to find the hardwood floors in decent shape, so that we could just have them sanded and refinished. Alas the three dogs that have lived with the previous owner had obviously not been fully house trained, and their urine had thoroughly stained parts of the floors and even rotted them in spots. So we've torn up the hardwoods as well and are having new flooring installed next week. I can't wait to see what the new 4 inch, slightly darker hardwood will look like. Thankfully the hardwoods upstairs are in much better condition and can be salvaged.

In the meantime, do you guys have any suggestions for this fireplace in our living room? I like the white wood mantel, but we're not crazy about the faux red brick and tile or the gold hood-like thing. Any thoughts? We're planning to paint the room a neutral--maybe a light brown/khaki-ish color.

p.s. I'm grateful for so many people's help this last week--whether they're giving us advice or lending a hand with our demolition or cleaning.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thatcher's Obsession (You'll Never Guess)

While my sister manages to keep her home remarkably clean and straigtened-up especially given her three children and husband, I recently learned that somehow a number of pacifiers on the floor escaped her attention. How did I learn this?

I took Thatcher to her house for a visit, and he found any and all pacifiers within his reach. He found several under her bed, a few more under the crib, and when we were outside he came running up and looking like this:

Clearly my youngest niece can't hold onto a pacifier. Of course, I took the paci away from Thatch since he eventually tries to eat the soft part. A few days later I had on a raincoat, and Thatch began scratching furiously at its pocket. I reached in the pocket to find his dear paci I had cruelly taken away. The dog is obsessed. We realized the full extent of his obsession when Thatch hung out with our friends' son Holden and stole his paci. Here's a photograph of Thatch sniffing things out:

p.s. I'm thankful that at least Thatch likes babies (at least the ones that don't make much noise)--even if he likes their pacis more.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2010 (Put a Ring On It)

I'm a bit behind in end-of-the-year and beginning-of-the-year posting (or really just posting in general), but I just read a post that detailed the past year in photographs and felt inspired enough to log into Blogger & recap 2010.

My friends & I rang in the new year with a mad plaid party. My niece Mallie was born. We enjoyed a snow that permitted really fun sledding on the hill outside our apartments. And Blake & I bought Thatcher (he's doing his favorite thing in this photograph--licking!)


I finished watching all episodes of Criminal Minds, discovered the deliciousness that is boursin cheese on filet mignon, got a new, great secretary--obviously a slow month! (I only remember these things b/c I blogged about them.) Almost forgot, I visited Chicago for the first time to see my friend Sarah and meet up with our other two friends. from our days in Macon. So fun to catch up, but Thatcher almost died while I was gone. Scary!


Blake proposed. I said yes. I couldn't have been more thrilled.


We quickly set a date (June 12th) for the wedding & began planning. The planning wasn't really fun at all, but I felt very blessed by how well Blake and I worked together in doing something we didn't enjoy very much. And we celebrated Easter with a feast with our delicious!


Our friends threw us a co-ed shower as well as a lingerie shower (no boys at that one though). My friend Nicole and my sisters hosted another shower in my hometown, and we were constantly humbled by our friends and family's generosity, thoughtfulness, and support.


Finally! The planning was over, and Blake & I got married. The day went very smoothly thanks to our awesome friends & family (who served us well in so many different ways), and we were in the car headed to Atlanta by 1:00 or so :) One of my favorite moments was when I first saw Blake that morning at 7:45. He was waiting for me at the place he had proposed, and this is what I saw when I arrived: While we were dating, we often referred to "One Day"--because we knew that if it was God's plan for us to be married that "One Day" we'd get to enjoy certain things together--but not until then. And finally One Day had arrived. So glad to have waited for God's perfect plan & for Blake.
June 12th was also a special day for our friends Kate & Carson as Kate gave birth to their much prayed over son Holden. Here she is at our wedding & in labor! Here's one more favorite wedding day photo with my sweet friends & flower girl. Of course, we also went on our lovely honeymoon to the Dominican Republic.

Answered prayer! Blake got a great job. The timing was ideal--just a few weeks after we returned from our honeymoon.


Our friends Beth & Michael were commissioned & shipped out to "East Asia" as missionaries. Exciting but sort of sad too. Blake & I participated in our first mud run.


We spent a weekend at my boss' cabin in Mentone and continued adjusting to marriage, which has been much more difficult than I thought it would be for us. Blake & I also joined a Stories Group and began hosting a Supper Club through our church.


We celebrated Halloween with a party on the roof, and thanks to Blake's dad & step-mom Thatcher even got in on the "fun." I started volunteering regularly with some high school students once a week, and Blake had to travel a good bit. Thankfully distance makes the heart grow fonder :) We also began looking in earnest for a house & enjoyed a overnight shopping trip to Atlanta.


We found a house! It needs lot of work but is priced appropriately, and it's less than a mile from where we live now. We'll also share our back fence with our friends Kate & Carson (& Holden too). We close this Friday!


Blake's employer flew the spouses down to Tampa for the company Christmas party, and it was a great get-away. The spa was awesome, and it was just fun to be away together and to finally meet some of his coworkers (since Blake works from home). We had a magical white Christmas and celebrating Christmas with four separate parental units went better than we expected. I enjoyed my last huge Christmas tree (since our new home won't have such high loft ceilings).

So in summary, my year was full of answered prayers. It was busy, especially the process of going from "I" to much more "we." The new year is already off to an exciting start; hope yours is too.

p.s. I'm grateful for new years, clean slates, resolutions, possibilities, and opportunities.