Monday, August 10, 2015

Make it Monday: Southwest Chicken Soup

I may live in Florida where it's 90+ degrees every day from April until October, but I absolutely love my crock pot. The possibilities are just endless with dinners you can make in a crock pot, so I always have great success when making up a recipe on a whim.
Over the weekend I was at Publix picking up soup and subs for dinner for my husband and I. Once I grabbed the terrible-for-you baked potato soup from the pot, I decided I wanted to make a healthier soup for dinner on Saturday. 
I walked up and down the aisles, just grabbing things that I thought would make a good "southwest" and "spicy" soup. Love me some spice! After walking around the store for a while, I knew I had everything I needed. When I got home, my husband was super excited about my idea. 
When late-morning rolled around on Saturday, I decided to start my newest recipe in the kitchen. I gathered all of the ingredients I purchased on Friday night and got chopping. This recipe is so easy-peasy and can easily be done any day of the week! It's even possible to pull this off before heading to work (well maybe if you don't have an almost-toddler at home who started school today). Insert frowny face emojis. 
Anyways, the recipe is delicious and I think you should check it out! 
Oh, quick tip: for less spice, just use a mild salsa! 
 Man is it waaaaay more fun to take food pictures
 with a nice DSLR camera!
Southwest Chicken Soup
1 pound chicken breasts (or cutlets)
1 bag frozen corn (I used Publix Organic Greenwise)
1 16oz jar of salsa (I used ChiChi's Medium)
1 can low-sodium black beans (I used Publix Organic Greenwise)
1 can Rotel no-salt added diced tomatoes and green chilies
1 28oz carton unsalted chicken cooking stock
1 red pepper, diced
1/2 white onion, diced 
black pepper
1. Spray crock pot with cooking spray. Makes for a much easier time washing! 
2. Chop red pepper and onion.
3. Combine all ingredients into a separate bowl. Stir, stir, stir! 
4. Place chicken breast into bottom of crock pot.
5. Carefully pour liquid over chicken. Sprinkle generously with black pepper and add a splash of salt. 
6. Cook on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 6-8.
7. With slotted spoon, remove chicken and shred on separate plate. Toss back into crock pot and stir. 
You can easily serve this with tortilla chips, top with shredded cheese and sour cream and maybe even some chives. We just had the soup with a side salad and it was delicious!
Let me know how you like it! 

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Friday, August 7, 2015

Friday Favorites

Why hello weekend and good-bye ridiculously crazy week! 
Even if you're not in Tampa, I'm sure you heard about the insane amount of rain that fell Monday from about 5:30am and legit didn't stop until about 12:15pm. My neighborhood, which is north of the city of Tampa received about 8 inches of rain. 5 days later, or street is STILL flooded. My husband was actually at the airport waiting to get on a plane to Puerto Rico but it was delayed around six hours. I'm glad the rain eventually stopped but it was a SCARY, SCARY storm.
We also had our master shower retiled this week so JB and I were stuck at home for THREE days. Talk about going stir crazy!
But either way, it's Friday which means it's time for Friday Favorites!
1. My new camera
At the end of last summer, right before we had Elizabeth, I sold my Canon DSLR camera. With going on maternity leave, we needed the extra money and plus I never used it. While now that JB is almost walking, I can't ever get a good shot of her with my iPhone camera. I went to one of my most favorite electronic websites, I knew I'd find a good deal and boy-oh-boy did I! It came with everything I need to get started with taking better photographs! I've been trying to practice with the different settings but the lighting in our house is awful. So, hopefully this weekend I'll be able to take some good shots of Elizabeth with my new toy! 

2. Baby/Toddler Clothes
Although a little part of me gets sad when we have to pack up her clothes because our munchkin has grown, the level of cuteness in the clothes I come across is just out-of-control. This past weekend mama went on a back-to-school shopping spree for Elizabeth. I got SUCH good deals that I will be sharing on a special weekend post! But to keep you satisfied until then, just look at these adorable clothes!!! I scored MAJOR at Kohl's, Old Navy, and Children's Place. 

3. Our New Master Bathroom Shower
Oye. We had some issues this spring in our master bathroom and it led to a complete renovation. This week the tiles finally got replaced and I absolutely LOVE it. It's gorgeous! It took the contractor TWO full days to do it and wow did he do a phenomenal job! This weekend my husband and I will be picking out a vanity and painting! And by that I mean that I will point and say "yeah, I want THAT vanity" and "here's the paint color I chose". But my husband gets me and we're totally on the same page. 

4. Our Pretty Little Kitty
Face it. Cats are known for only wanting attention when THEY crave it. Mia is no exception to that. However, given that we have a very curious almost-toddler chasing her around the house, Mia has surrendered to Elizabeth. Mia just lays there for the most part and just lets Elizabeth touch her fur. Except today when Elizabeth grabbed her fur with a pretty good grip. Mia quickly ran out of the room but not before I was able to snap this adorable picture. 

I hope you all have a great weekend and have enjoyed reading about my Friday favorites! Now get out there and enjoy your weekend!!!

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Thursday, August 6, 2015

Unfair Fear

As I was scrolling through my IG and FB feeds this morning, an alert from a local news station popped up on my phone. The subject line mentioned something about a movie theater shooting in Tennessee. My heart dropped. 
Why does this keep happening?
What is wrong with the people in our world?
Where have we, as a society, gone wrong?
Over the weekend my husband and I went on a date. We decided on dinner and a movie. Before we even got to the theater, I felt scared. Scared that something would happen. That there would me someone in the audience that had a gun and wanted to cause harm. Once we were inside, I asked my husband if we could sit at the very top (we never sit that high up) because I didn't want anyone behind me. Of course he agreed and we sat in the back row, right in the middle. 
As people entered the theater, I couldn't help but be cautious. Most people were with a significant other and there weren't any children in the theater because it was a movie not appropriate for them (we saw Vacation).
Right as the previews were about to start, a young man sat down about 6 seats from Shaun, in our row. I began to become worried. My first thoughts were "Why is a young man here alone? What if he has a gun? What if something happens?" Luckily my fears were eased when, who I believe to be his parents, sat down next to him.
Then it happened again. An older man sat down a few seats from me. He was by himself. I could feel myself tensing up again. Rest assured though, his significant other soon joined him and I felt a little better. 
I don't think this fear is fair. All of these stories about movie theater shootings are scary. They are upsetting. They make me feel like going out into public, whether it's a movie theater, a shopping mall, or a Target, is dangerous. That awful acts of violence are going to occur at any given moment.
Why do people feel such an immense amount of anger that they want to open fire and injure or kill? 
Why are innocent people targeted because someone is angry at the world?
Why, as a society, do these events keep occuring?
Between this and the stories about the violence at military offices, how are we as a society supposed to feel safe? How are we supposed to teach our children about treating others with kindness? With love? With compassion?
All of these incidents are causing unfair fear. Fear in mothers like myself who can't imagine exposing my daughter to the evil in people. Fear in families who don't leave the house because they are terrified something awful is going to happen. 
Back in June, I wrote a similar post after the massacre at the South Carolina church and both of these posts just break my heart.  

As a society, we have to be more kind.
We have to be more caring.
Showing good instead of evil.
Taking care of each other, not tearing people down. 
Maybe it starts with holding the door for the person behind you. 
Or not judging someone by their way of living. 
Maybe it starts with smiling at someone and not ignoring them.
Maybe it starts with realizing that it's up to us to make this country safer for our children. 
 We have to teach them right from wrong and good from bad. 

We don't have to get along with everyone, but this unfair fear I feel right now is an awful feeling. 

As a society, what can we do to help these troubled individuals? How can we stop these horrific acts of violence?
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Monday, August 3, 2015

Make it Monday: French Toast for Two

I don't know why, but lately I've been craving French Toast! It started when my parents arrived in Tampa last week but we never got around to making it for breakfast. So during a trip to Whole Foods on Friday with my dad, I bought a loaf of Brioche bread since I've heard it makes the best french toast. I knew I wouldn't be making it until Sunday morning and so I let the bread just sit on the counter (never use fresh bread for french toast!) until I was ready to make it.
Sunday morning I stumbled out of bed and immediately turned on the  Keurig coffee maker. My tummy was grumbling so I told my husband I was getting right to making breakfast. Since it's just my husband and I, I decided to whip together a smaller batch. Elizabeth is eating "regular" foods now, but I know brioche bread isn't the healthiest thing, so she wasn't offered any. Mean mama, I know. She was perfectly content with her yogurt and cheerios!
This recipe is so quick and easy and there aren't any leftovers (I'm not sure how good french toast is as leftovers... anyone ever give it a try? I suppose you could reheat in the toaster oven). 
So, grab a pen and paper, write down these ingredients and go grocery shopping! You won't regret making this recipe!
French Toast for Two
2 eggs
1 cup skim milk (I'm sure you could do almond milk instead)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar mixture
6 slices brioche bread, sliced thick 
2-3 tablespoons butter (I used Brumel and Brown yogurt butter) 
powdered sugar for dusting, if desired

1. In shallow bowl, whisk two eggs together and then add 1 cup skim milk. Stir to combine.
2. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 teaspoon cinnamon sugar mixture (you can find this in the baking aisle at your local grocery store).
3. Whisk all ingredients together and make sure the cinnamon sugar is distributed evenly.
4. Preheat pan on medium heat and add about a tablespoon of butter, letting it melt and coat pan.
5. Place one piece of bread in egg mixture letting it soak in all the deliciousness. Carefully flip bread to coat the other side.
6. Place drenched piece of brioche bread onto hot pan. Repeat step 5 until pan is full of yummy bread.
7. Carefully watch bread and when it looks done to your liking, flip over to cook other side. Add a little bit more butter to your pan as your cooking. 
8. Drizzle with some syrup (and powdered sugar if desired) and enjoy! 

Next time I make this, I think I would serve with some fresh raspberries and blueberries and maybe even a blueberry syrup. 
What do you top your french toast with? Syrup? Fresh fruit? Whipped cream? Share your favorites! 
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