Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Crockpot Broccoli Cheese Soup

Remember my earlier post about crockpot soups and stews when I said that I wanted a broccoli cheese soup?


It begins with Crockpot 365. I tweaked her recipe a little after looking at the reviews and knowing what Ben and I like.

Without further ado...

The Stuff:
1 qt chicken broth
2 cups milk (I used 2% cow's)
2 10 oz bags of frozen broccoli florets
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp black powder
1 lb Velveeta, cubed
2 cups of shredded cheese (I used cheddar and colby jack.)
2 tbsp cornstarch

The Process:
Let's start with the chicken broth. I don't make my own. I don't usually buy cans or boxes.

I almost always use this stuff.

Curse me if you must, but it's easy and I like the taste.

So! 1 quart is 4 cups. 4 cups of chicken broth go in your crockpot. Then goes 2 cups of milk. Whisk it around and add your seasonings. Honestly, I took a stab at the amounts. I truly just add what seems "right". Whisk everything around again and dump in all of your broccoli. Then stir and set your crockpot on Low.

20 minutes before dinner, go back to your crockpot and savor the loveliness of broccoli simmering in chickeny milk. Drop your cheese into the crockpot and stir again. Let it melt away.

When you're ready to eat, take a taste of the soup. Is is too thin? Take that 2 tablespoons of cornstarch and stir in 2 tablespoons of COLD water. I really can't emphasize that COLD enough. Cornstarch does not dissolve in warm or hot water. It will just leave friendly little grits all through your soup. What you have now is called a "slurry".

Look how much you're learning!

Pour the cornstarch slurry into the soup, turn the crockpot on High and leave the top off. Let it cook for a while until it gets a little thicker.

Then...you may eat the wonderful, glorious, incredible concoction that we so enjoyed tonight. I had a huge bowl and was completely stuffed but still wanted more. Even Ben, my carnivore husband, gleefully devoured two bowls and proclaimed it amazing.

That means a lot coming from someone as bacon addicted as he.

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Blessings

In the morning when you rise
I bless the sun, I bless the skies
I bless your lips, I bless your eyes
My blessing goes with you

In the nighttime when you sleep
Oh I bless you while a watch I keep
As you lie in slumber deep
My blessing goes with you

Does every mother weep as she thinks of her children sleeping peacefully in their beds? They're safe and warm. They're cuddled with their favorite blankets and animals or babies. They're fed and clean. They're safe.

When your weary heart is tired
If the world would leave you uninspired
When nothing more of love's desired
My blessing goes with you

When the storms of life are strong
When you're wounded, when you don't belong
When you no longer hear my song
My blessing goes with you

Is it because we know that we'll have to let them go? That we can't always tuck them in and smooth the hair back from their foreheads? That we can't always know what they've eaten that night? Are they having good dreams or are they worried about something? I won't be able to pick them up when they cry out in the night.

This is my prayer for you
There for you, ever true
Each, every day for you
In everything you do

And when you come to me
And hold me close to you
I bless you
And you bless me, too.

The Blessing
Celtic Woman

They have blessed me by just existing. Therefore, I will bless them by praying daily for them. I will weep for them. I will cheer them on. I will forever be their Mama.

All Hail the Crockpot!


Seriously, this is my go-to appliance in the kitchen. I don't think I could live without one or maybe five of them. As Dallas grows nippier, my thoughts begin to turn to stews and soups. Possibly with lovely biscuits, crusty rolls or cornbread. Here are some of my basics.


The Stuff
1 pound dry lentils
1 pound smoked sausage, diced
1 can sliced white potatoes, drained
1 can sliced carrots, drained
1 10 ounce can tomato sauce
4 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder

The Process:
Add to crockpot. Turn on Low. Walk away. Remove bay leaf and enjoy in 6 - 8 hours. Too thick? Add water or chicken broth. Too thin? Cook on high with the lid off for a while.

Chicken Tortilla Stew

The Stuff
3 - 4 chicken breasts or thighs
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes with peppers (Rotel)
1 10 ounce can tomato sauce
1 26 oz box chicken stock
1 packet taco seasoning
1 can undrained corn kernels
1 can undrained black beans
1 can undrained chili beans

The Process:
Add to crockpot. Turn on Low. Walk away. Enjoy in 6 - 8 hours. Serve over crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheese. Chop up an avocado and savor the cold versus hot. Add sour cream on top or some chopped scallions and cilantro if you're feeling fancy.

I'm on the lookout for some crockpot recipes for broccoli cheese soup, baked potato soup and a decent Texas chili. (NO BEANS.) Any suggestions?


I have tried to get Sophie to nap today. It did not go well and ended with her leaping from my bed after 45 minutes of tantrums. Now she wanders the house.

Sophie: "Gibbon?" (This is how she says Gideon.)

Me: "Sorry, kiddo. He's napping."

Sophie: "Oh. Nih-nih, Gibbon. Mei-Mei?!"

Me: "Also napping."

Sophie: "Oh...ni-ni, Mei-Mei."

*crestfallen sigh as she goes to play by herself.*


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fajita YUM

When it comes to Tex-Mex, I almost always choose something with fajita beef. Nachos, quesadillas, tacos or just plain ole' fajitas. (Onions only, please.)

We have a wonderful place here in Sachse called Chiloso. There's another location in Richardson. It's your basic taco, BOB, Tex-Mex joint with 2 glorious pillars of delight.

The grilled avocados loaded with meat, cheese and cilantro.

See that little cup of white sauce? That's Bella Blanca. It's a delicious blend of jalapenos, lime and ranch.

Last week, I ordered the grilled avocados for the first time. I loaded them with fajita beef. They came with queso underneath and I drizzled Bella Blanca on top. I then swooned with every bite.

I tried to recreate something similar at home. I made fajita beef and added sliced mushrooms with this marinade that I tweaked from One Sassy Chef.

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp garlic powder (I was out of real garlic)
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp liquid smoke flavoring (any flavor works, but I like hickory the best)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cumin

Don't marinate the mushrooms too long. They're little sponges! Then I just sauteed everything together and added some black beans.


Because I like black beans and I knew my husband wasn't going to touch this concoction because of the fungus infestation.

After everything was sauteed together, I pulled it out of the pan and put the avocado halves in with the skin still on. I put the pan lid on to kinda steam them. After a few minutes, I pulled them out and cut the avocado away from the skin while saying OWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOWOW because I couldn't do it with an oven mitt on.

I laid the avocado on the plate and liberally covered it with the steak-mushroom-bean concoction. It didn't taste like Chiloso but it tasted like mine. It's a keeper and I'm really enjoying the leftovers today with another fresh avocado. (Not grilled.)

Go forth and experiment!

Lord, Give Me Strength

You know what happens when you have kids close together?

You have two kids go through picky stages at the same time.

Sophie and Gideon ate nothing but tortillas at dinner last night and are now both refusing breakfast. They're drinking milk. I'm going to have to get some sort of Carnation Instant Breakfast to start putting in their morning milk to get some calories into them.

Milly, however, is looking at me like "Is that toast? Can I have another piece? I think I popped another button on my onesie!"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Tomorrow morning if you wake up
And the sun does not appear,
I will be here.

If in the dark we lose sight of love,
Hold my hand and have no fear,
‘Cause I will be here.

I will be here when you feel like being quiet;
When you need to speak your mind, I will listen.
And I will be here when the laughter turns to crying;
Through the winning, losing, and trying, we’ll be together,
‘Cause I will be here.

Tomorrow morning if you wake up
And the future is unclear,
I will be here.

As sure as seasons are made for change,
Our lifetimes are made for years,
So I will be here.

I will be here, so you can cry on my shoulder;
When the mirror tells us we’re older, I will hold you.
And I will be here to watch you grow in beauty,
And tell you all the things you are to me;
I will be here.

I will be true to the promise I have made,
To you and to the One who gave you to me.

As sure as seasons are made for change,
Our lifetimes are made for years,
So I, I will be here.
We'll be together and i will be here.

I Will Be Here
Steven Curtis Chapman

This is how God reminds me that He will never put me down.

Halloween 2011

I was so prepared for Halloween to bite.

Let me back up. We have a HORRIBLE Halloween track record. Sophie was 10 months old on her first Halloween and was sick. No cute baby pictures of a confused pumpkin or pea pod. The second Halloween we had a 22 month old daughter and a 3 month old son. Both were sick. I started to wonder if Halloween really was cursed.

Finally last year, both children were germ-free! I was pregnant but could waddle along to the Fall Festival. That's what you do in the Buckle of the Bible Belt. You go to church-run Fall Festivals where the kids can play games to earn their candy.

Yoda and the Prima Donna Ballerina were not amused. Neither of them like candy, the games confused them and it was way past their bedtime. We lasted maybe 30 minutes.

This year we had three little monsters. Warily, I procured costumes. Did you know that NO ONE ON EARTH makes a Daisy Duck costume for kids?! Daisy is Sophie's favorite Disney character. So we went with Minnie instead and she carried her best friend.

Minnie is a little bit of a ham.

Gideon was a race car driver. In true 2-year old form, he took great offence at being dressed up and paraded about.

So Ben decided that he was Kurt Busch.

Milly was supposed to be an adorable little kitty cat in a tutu.

(image from Party City)

Cute, right?

Milly grew. So we put her in a tutued long sleeved dress and called her a ballerina-princess-cute-baby.

We got to the Fall Festival and my spirits (har!) were lifted when Sophie successfully played a beanbag game. I just have to teach her to pick the good kind of candy. She just grabs indiscriminately. We played beanbag toss games, basketball and a game where the kids grabbed a plastic duck out of a small pond. Gideon wanted the duck more and actually got one foot in the pool before I caught him.

Did I mention that none of my kids like candy?

There was a petting zoo and pony rides. We knew that Gideon would lose his diaper if we put him on a moving animal so I took him into the petting zoo instead. He just stood back and stared at the goats. He screamed in protest whenever I encouraged him to actually, you know, PET the animals. Then, after a short line, we were able to see just what would happen if you put Sophie on a horse.

She actually liked it! She kept saying GINNUP! and HOESEY! and whenever we passed her Daddy with the camera she would yell CHEEEEESE! The only downside was that Mama picked poorly and put her on the LARGEST pony there. Sophie kept leaning towards me and I was honestly afraid that she would tumble right off. It didn't help that I couldn't convince her to hold onto the durn saddle. She had fun but a horsewoman she is not.

When we left, not one child was crying. In fact, they were all smiling. This counts as a Win in the Dyer book. We finally won a Halloween!