Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Years Countdown Clocks for Kids

Ring in the New Year with your little ones by creating some fun countdown bags! I originally read about this idea here and fell in love! I love that this idea helps to teach kids about telling time!!!! Yay for fun math/party integration!

Each bag contains a simple surprise- it can be a treat (yes I will raid the old Halloween candy for this!), a game/puzzle to do together, even a familiar toy who snuck inside the bag to celebrate New Years with my Boo. I will have the bags all mixed up- every hour during the countdown I will tell her the time and she will have to locate the correct bag in order to get the surprise. But of course she will get it anyway!

There are some adorable clock bag printables (click here) but I wanted to make some kid-friendly ones. Feel free to just click on the pic, download, and use to celebrate New Years!
  I created some half hour clocks too- I was going to try them with my daughter, but thought that they might be a little too much this year.
FYI I was told by my husband that the hour hand on the clock is supposed to be behind the minute hand. Oops :)
Happy Teaching!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Soup Week 2011 : Cheeseburger Soup and Taco Soup

What do you do when it's cold and snowy?  You have yummy comfort food!  For me, I love love soups when it's cold outside, especially thick and cheesy ones.  I think it's my body's way of keeping high calorie food to pack on the extra insulation.  Oh well....I guess I'll have to run an extra mile (or 2) on the treadmill tomorrow =)  This is definitely a family favorite in our house.  I've made it for potlucks and dinners and it's gotten rave reviews....I didn't have any leftovers because what people didn't eat, they found a dish and took some home with them.  So now that the weather is cold....warm yourself up with a nice bowl of soup.  If this doesn't warm you, that 2 mile run on your treadmill to work off the calories definitely will.

1 lb ground beef, browned, drain the fat
6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
3/4 c. chopped onion
3/4 c. diced celery (optional, I used a dash of celery seed to give the flavor)
3/4 c. shredded carrots
1 tsp. parsley
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
4 tbsp. butter
3 c. chicken broth
4 c. diced potatoes
1/2 c. flour
16 oz. Velveeta, cubed
1 1/2 c. milk
3/4 tsp salt and pepper
1/2 c. sour cream

You can either do it in a slow cooker, or stove top.

If you want to do stove top:
Dice potatoes and boil until soft, but not as soft as when you do mashed potatoes.

 In a skillet, brown the hamburger and cook with the onion.  Drain the fat.

 In a large pot, combine broth, potatoes, carrots, milk, parsley, garlic, salt ant pepper, bacon, and hamburger.  Add in cubes of Velveeta.

 Cook on medium heat until cheese is all melted, stir occasionally.  Add sour cream and flour.  Let simmer for 30 minutes.  If you need to thicken it up, use 1 tbsp cold milk, add in around 3tsp of cornstarch, mix, then add to soup.

Serve in Bread Bowls!!!!

This soup also freezes great!  Just place it in freezer bags, and heat up in a pan when you're ready to eat it

Crockpot Taco Soup


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (16 ounce) can chili beans, with liquid
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans with liquid
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn, with liquid
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 (14.5 ounce) cans peeled and diced tomatoes( I used one with green chilies and then omitted the can, but use both if you like a kick =) 
  • 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chile peppers
  • 1 (1.25 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
  • 1 pkg. ranch seasonings

  • In a medium skillet, cook the ground beef until browned over medium heat. Drain, and set aside. Place the ground beef, onion, chili beans, kidney beans, corn, tomato sauce, water, diced tomatoes, green chili peppers and taco seasoning mix in a slow cooker. Mix to blend, and cook on Low setting for 8 hours.

I cooked mine for 4 hours on high because I didn't have enough time.  It is super good with some tortilla chips crumbled on top and some shredded cheese.  If you want to cut the calories a little, you can use turkey burger instead.

The calories per serving of the original is about 385, and it says the recipe has 8 servings, but I think it has more like 16 bowl size servings.  So if you go with the 16 servings, it is around 200 calories, add a little for cheese and chips if you add them.  I paired it with some homemade french bread and it was wonderful!!!!  I think this is going to be a new favorite.  Plus, it makes plenty so I can freeze some for later since soups freeze great.

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Soup Week 2011: Spicy Potato Soup

Spicy Potato Soup

I found this recipe in the back of one of Betsy Brannon Green's Mystery books.  She is an LDS author and I LOVE her mysteries, and I LOVE the recipes that she puts in the back of her books!!!
Well it sounded delicious so I thought I would give it a go...I did have to tweak it a bit so my recipe is a smidgen different than Betsy's.  I first made this a few years ago.  My son was somewhat of a picky eater and only wanted PB&J's.  But once he tasted this soup he added it to his favorites.  And to this day it is one of his favorite meals...HOORAY!!!
I also made this a Relief Society dinner where soups were being judged.  Oh yeah, mine won!  It was quite exciting...although I can't forget that Miss Betsy helped me reach this success!

So, here is how it's done:

First you put the chicken broth and diced potatoes in a nice big pot (This makes a lot of soup!).  Put a lid on it and cook those bad boys until they are nice and tender.

Meanwhile shred your cheese.

Once the potatoes are done, add the cheese and stir until it is all melted.

Then you add the Cream of Celery soup, Cream of Chicken Soup, half-and-half, and sour cream. 

Heat through and keep stirring so it doesn't stick to the bottom.

Pour it into your favorite soup bowl and serve with some yummy crusty rolls.

Spicy Potato Soup
3 cans chicken broth
4 lbs potatoes peeled and cubed (smallish)
8 oz. pepper jack cheese (grated)
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 pint half-and-half
8 oz. sour cream

Cook potatoes in broth until tender.  Add grated cheese to potatoes and broth (DON"T DRAIN!)  Stir until cheese is melted.  Add soups, half-and-half, and sour cream.  Cook on low, stirring often.  Cook until hot & then serve immediately.

*I have also added 2 cups diced ham to this and it is yummy too.
*Since this makes a lot for my family of four, I usually divide it in half after cooking and freeze it.  Makes 2 delicious meals and only one night of cooking =)

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Soup Week 2011: Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Nothing is better than a nice bowl of hot soup on a cold winter night. Everytime I make this soup I get rave reviews! Try it out and see what you think!

Homemade Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

1 pkg homestyle noodles

5-10 potatoes, peeled and diced

1-2 carrots, peeled and diced

4 chicken bouillon cubes (4tsp)

4 10.75 oz cans cream of chicken soup

2 16 oz sour cream

1 large chicken breast cooked and cut into bite size pieces

Salt to taste

Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain well. Place potatoes and carrots in a large pot. Add enough water to just cover. Add chicken bouillon and cook until tender. Don't drain the water. Add the cream of chicken soup, cooked chicken, sour cream and noodles, heat through. Salt to taste. Makes 12-15 servings

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Soup Week 2011 : JeNae's Favorite Soup Roundup

When my boys asked me what we were having, I told them this soup was like Chicken Noodle....except that there was no chicken, and there were no noodles.  The subtle hint of ginger added an extra little somethin-somethin.

Do you remember me posting about this???  There's something about corn chowder that I love.  Creamy Corn soup-delicious!

I make this soup every year during the harvest time & I love it!

Last year, I met the Pioneer Woman during the book signing, and I just love her recipes!  This was my first-ever white chili & I was amazed at the use of Masa for thickening the chili {which I now use in other dishes}.

My husband loved this soup.  I loved this soup.  Curry is an awesome spice to work with.  And you can't go wrong with all the veggies ;)

I hope ya'll will check out & try some of my favorites.  Click on the title of each dish, and it'll link you to the recipe :)


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Monday, December 26, 2011

Soup Week 2011

Quick & Creamy Chicken Stew

This is a recipe i found on Kraft Foods. It is simple, quick, and normally i have all the ingredients on hand or at least enough similar that i can whip this up any time. I have even made a simplified version in the Dutch Oven while camping. So this recipe is amazing and flexible :) 

Let me explain i am posting the recipe with ALL the alterations too! meaning you will have options the first ingredients listed are the original and all the following are my changes.

Quick & Creamy Chicken Stew

3/4 lb. new potatoes (about 8), or regular russet potatoes, quartered,
2 Tbsp.  water
1 Tbsp. oil
1 lb.  boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces, or home canned chicken to speed up the process
1 can (10-3/4 oz.)cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup Light Zesty Italian Dressing (it is best to have this, but if not make sure you season with ms. dash           and some other favorites, cause if you don't trust me it will be a little bland)
2 cups frozen peas and carrots, or canned if that is what you have! and the frozen mixed veggies are my fav! (like in the picture)
1/2 cup  Sour Cream

put potatoes in microwaveable dish. Add water; cover with lid. Microwave on HIGH 7 min. or until potatoes are tender (new potatoes cook much quicker than russet). Meanwhile, heat oil in large saucepan on medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 7 min. or until evenly browned, stirring occasionally. (if using canned chicken you can shorten this heat time or just skip it all together)
add potatoes, soup, dressing and frozen vegetables to saucepan. Bring to boil; cover. Simmer on medium-low heat 3 min. or until chicken is done and vegetables are heated through.
stir in sour cream if it isn't creamy enough add a little milk; cook 1 min. or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

The following instructions were just the amounts i used for our family. I dont normally measure so this was a first time actually measuring and not just taking the list of ingredients and added it all to MY likes!

If you take these potatoes i used 4 1/2 C. and cook them in the microwave then it will make the process quicker. I used to doubt this theory so this last time i used my stove and even with my brand new convection stainless steel amazing stove i really do think the microwave is quicker and feels less maintenance. 

3 1/2 C. of frozen veggies notice i used the mixed (carrots, peas, corn, and green beans)

Add 2 cans of cream of chicken soup. If you use canned chicken (we love it to have canned chicken at our house cause you can make things in .5 minutes with little thought, it is great. It makes it so when i work full time and then run errands i can still cook something i like when we finally get home) use 1 pint and drain it off  before adding it to the yummy mix.

Let cook for 5-10 minutes and then serve. 

When i made this in the dutch oven i was camping with a bunch of guys and i hijacked their menu!! I knew i wouldn't have a lot of time to cook or even be at the meeting house cabin much so i had to figure out how to make this SUPER EASY! While we were camping it might have been 20 degrees or colder out and we were in a cabin. Yes you can think that isn't real camping, but let me explain this cabin..... uninsulated walls, 1 big room designed for a meeting room, 1 wood stove, NO charcoal broquets to cook with only the wood stove or a hot plate, 8 ft tables on the ground in the balcony to sleep on just to raise you up a little of the floor, bathroom...there was a porta-potty but it took so much work to get to it and you had to fully redress in your winter gear then making it near impossible to use the bathroom. meaning the squatting in the snow method was the easiest way. So can i call it camping now???
Oh ya i should say it was tons of fun and i can't wait to go again when we finally get a new snow machine or a 4 wheeler. our snow machine might or might not have caught fire on this trip!

The way i did the cooking was...
canned veggies (peas and carrots)
canned potatoes
cream of chicken soup
zesty italian dressing (brought the amount i neeeded)
our canned chicken

because everything was canned i just dumped and set on the wood stove until it boiled and then we ate!

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Peppermint Bark

Merry Christmas! We are just settling into our new home and starting some fun new traditions. One new tradition will be this extremely simple yet so DIVINE recipe for peppermint bark by Taste of Home. I am in Christmas heaven every time I take a bite! And my little Boo can help me with the recipe- YAY!

6 squares (1 ounce each) white baking chocolate
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup crushed peppermint candies

1. In a microwave safe bowl, melt white chocolate at 70% power; stir until smooth. Repeat with chocolate chips.

2. Stir 6 tablespoons of crushed candies into each bowl.
Boo unwrapping and crushing peppermint candies.

3. Drop white chocolate and semisweet chocolate in alternating spoonfuls onto a waxed paper-lined baking sheet.

4. With a metal spatula, cut through the chocolate to a swirl.

5. Sprinkle with remaining crushed candies.

6. Chill until firm. Break into pieces. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator (if there is any left! ha!)

They are as tasty as they look! And SO super simple! Enjoy!
Happy Teaching and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Foodie Friday: Pumpkin Cheesecake Pie

My original post for this Foodie Friday was a dinner recipe...But, probably like most of you, I AM SICK of food this week! Between all the Christmas parties, and work parties etc. our family is especially full. SO...I thought that I would post about our family's favorite Christmas dessert.

My husband requests this EVERY year. It is the perfect combination of two delightful foods, cheesecake, and pumpkin pie. MMMMMMM.
1 single pie crust
1 8oz. pkg. softened cream cheese
1/4 c. granualated sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 slightly beaten egg
1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin
1 cup evaporated milk
2 beaten eggs
1/4 cup granualated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 Tbsp. flour
2 Tbsp. granualated sugar
1 Tbsp. softened butter

1. Prepare the pie crust, and line it in a 9-inch pie plate, and set aside.
2. In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla, and the slightly beaten egg on low to medium, until smooth. Chill this mixture in the fridge for at least 45 minutes. Spoon into the pie plate.
3. In a medium bowl combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, 2 eggs, 1/4 c. sugar, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Carefully pour or spoon over the cream cheese mixture.
4. To prevent over browning, cover the edge of the pie with foil. bake in a 350 oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake again for 25 minutes more.
5. Meanwhile, combine the pecans, flour, 2 Tbsp. brown sugar and butter. Sprinkle this over the pie and bake for 10-15 minutes more, or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 1-2 hours. Refrigerate and serve topped with whipped cream.

Take this dessert to your holiday party! It is sure to be a hit!

Merry Christmas!!!

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

DIY Thursday: Decorative Glass Blocks

These are a lot of fun to make and aren't too hard to do! I love making these and I'm debating on whether or not to make a few more to either keep for myself or to give away to others.

What you will need:
*A glass block with a cutout in the bottom- You can get these at Ben Franklin, Hobby Lobby, Lowes, or Home Depot
*A strand of clear lights (optional)
*Fun stuff to go inside
*Glass frosting (optional)- Should be at your local craft store
*Clear finishing spray (only if using glass frosting)
*Ribbon 2.5 or 3 inches wide

So on this one I put in a strand of lights then filled it with an assortment of pom poms. I then found a Santa ornament, removed the hook, and placed him carefully in the block. Next I put some cute Wired Christmas ribbon along the outside and created a cute bow of top. The final step is to clean the face of the block with Windex and then place your vinyl on and then WALAH! You now have a super cute new decoraton.

If you want to create one like this where you won't see anything inside, you will need to use what is called glass frosting. First you will need to spray the entire block with the glass frosting. After that make sure to spray the entire block with clear finishing spray. Once dry apply your vinyl. Next put in your lights. Then put your ribbon along the outside and your done! creating a block like this and using the glass frosting creates a soft glow when you turn on the lights.

Have fun creating!

I decided to piggyback my glass blocks onto Tiffany's post. =)  I actually got my idea to do some from her.  Mine aren't as fancy as hers, but I like to keep things simple.  I made these as gifts for my sister-in-laws for Christmas.  I had them each pick a quote they liked.  I did the glass frosting.  I think I may have gotten the wrong kind because it didn't frost them as dark as Tiffany's so I placed some vellum behind the glass to give it the right look.  I put my vinyl on and sealed it with modge podge (you don't need this if you follow Tiffany's instructions with the clear coat, but I didn't have it and the frosting wasn't working for me anyway so I had already added the vellum).  I also sprayed a thin coat of glitter on it (you can't see it with the lights on on but it makes it nice and pretty during the day when the lights are off).  I didn't add the ribbon because I am going to let my SIL's choose the color they want.  I wanted to add pom poms and lights, but then I figured that might not be a good idea....cloth and lights that may get a bit hot.....I didn't want to start any fires =)