Sunday, February 24, 2013

Chicken Vegetable Noodle Soup #SundaySupper



Warm.  Flavorful.  Kick of spice.  Comforting.

For those of you that have had Brunswick Stew know exactly what I am talking about!

Brunswick Stew can only be found in my home town (from what I have found anyways) and seems to only be sold from church fundraisers!  Everyone I know stocks their entire deep freezer up with this stuff when it is being sold to hold on to through the rest of the year.

While living in Jacksonville, this is one of the things I missed the most.  I got sick twice while there and craved for this stew so bad!  I couldn't find it anywhere!  So the moment I moved back..low and behold...my grandma had some in her freezer she pulled out for me :)

All better!

For those that know me, unless it is soup from Olive Garden or Brunswick Stew, I am not a soup lover at all!

But....

I found out an easy and fast way to make Brunswick Stew!  Better yet...I found a way to make the "stew" into "soup"!

Woohoo!  No more waiting until December!  Which was fantastic because I got sick this past weekend and needed this!

WIN!

Usually it doesn't have noodles...but I LOVE pasta and want noodles in almost everything I make haha.



Here's the recipe :)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large chopped onion
1 - 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 medium cooked chicken breasts (cut into chunks)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 small bag lima beans
1 can drained corn
1 can green beans (optional)
8 oz. boiled elbow noodles (optional)
1/2 c ketchup
tomato juice

Start off by sauteing onion in olive oil in a huge pot over medium high heat until they are translucent.

Add tomatoes, chicken, cayenne pepper, and lima beans.  Cook for 2 minutes on medium heat then reduce to simmer for about 25 minutes.

Add yellow corn, ketchup, and cooked noodles (if desired).  Add tomato juice to desired thickness.

Heat another 5 minutes.

Serve and feel better :)


P.S.  There may be a lot of Chicken Vegetable Noodle Soup left..but don't fret!  It is freezable!  Just put them in Glad containers and stick in the freezer.  Pull out on a cold night when you are sick or don't want to cook, stick in the microwave, and voila!  Homemade soup in a jiffy!










The #SundaySupper family will be digging out their stock pots and slow cookers to serve up these amazing soups:

Do The Chicken Dance (chicken {or other poultry} soups)


Where’s The Beef (Beef Soups)


Pass The Pork. Please (Pork or Sausage Soups)


Under The Sea (Seafood Soups)


Eat Your Veggies (Chock Full o’ Vegetables Soups)


Some Don’t Like It Hot (Chilled Soups)


Of course once you have seen all of the recipes for the day, you’ll not want to miss our  #SundaySupper conversation on twitter each Sunday

We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. This week we will be sharing out special soup recipes!

Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET and you do not want to miss out on the fun.

Follow the#SundaySupper hash tag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat.

Don’t forget to check out our #SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Join us Around the Family Table this Sunday at 7pm Eastern Time and share your favorite soup, stew, chowder or bisque recipes with us!



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins





 Muffins.  They are easy, fast, and incredible on the go!  Even better...my 1 year old loves them!  Especially since they can be made "mini"!  Which I do :)

I started off with a Betty Crocker recipe for banana muffins...but with my own additions and changes, I created my own yummy muffin!  The banana chocolate chip oatmeal muffin!

I made 10 big muffins and filled an entire mini muffin pan with this recipe and I was scared to death they wouldn't last until the morning!



Remember when I was telling you my husband use to hate sweets? Well guess what...he's not a muffin lover either...UNTIL NOW!

I kept begging him to try one when they were hot and straight out of the oven and he just wouldn't give in.  Finally I begged so much he told me to go get him one off of the stove.  So I did!  I sat quietly, staring, waiting for his first bite and approval....

and he made the "MMMM!" sound! EEEK!  I was so thrilled.  Before I got too excited too soon I asked what he thought.

He asked me to go get him another one!  Then 5 minutes later...2 more!

YAY!  I have not only converted him to cookies, pies, and cupcakes....but now muffins!

My work here is complete :)

Here's the recipe:
2 medium bananas - I like the wait until they have browned a little.  They taste better and are easier to mash.
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 vegetable oil or melted butter
1 egg
2 c all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 salt
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c chocolate chips
1/2 oats

Go ahead and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Grease your muffin cups or pan.

In a large bowl, mash the banana's and mix well with milk.

Beat the milk mixture with the egg, oil, and vanilla with whisk.

Stir in flour, brown sugar, salt, and baking powder all at once.  Stir just until moistened.

Fold in the oats and chocolate chips.

Divide batter evenly to the muffin cups about 3/4 full.

Top with oats or granulated sugar if you wish.  Adding sugar on top will add extra crisp and sweetness to the muffin when it is done.

Bake in oven for about 20 minutes.  (If you are making mini muffins it will be about 12 - 15 minutes)

When the muffins are done, take them out of the pan and let them cool.




Enjoy :-)




















Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fried Potatoes and Onions






"It's a southern meal" my husbands tries to explain.

"We live in the south!" I express, trying to figure out the reasoning behind this madness.

My grandma and her family has raised my dad and I on fried potatoes and onions.  It is one of our favorite's!  In fact, sometimes to bribe us into coming over she always adds on "I'm makin fried tayta's n onions."  and it gets us every time ;)

I make them myself, but they are always best coming straight from her kitchen.  Grandma's always do everything better.

I guess I thought every one knew what they were.  I mean, I was raised on them.  My whole family loved them!  But, I was sadly wrong.

Mentioning them to a few members of my husbands family I realized not everyone knew what they were.

"What are fried potatoes and onions?"

"Are they just potatoes with onions?"

"I have heard of fried potato cakes but what do you do with the onions?"

Oh my!  This is just mind blowing to me! 

So, my grandma made them for us the other day and I had to get in the kitchen and take a few pictures :)  I just can't have this world not trying this amazing southern comfort food!

My pictures aren't very good so please don't judge based on looks! It isn't the prettiest dish, but it is so yummy!

What you will need:
 Olive Oil
About 4 + brown potatoes (depending on how many people and much you will need)
1 Onion (or more if you love onion)


Peel potatoes and cut up. 

Slice onion.

Soak the potatoes in water for a few minutes to clean them off.  Drain.

Cover bottom of skillet with olive oil and heat over medium heat until very hot. (Test the oil to see if hot enough by adding a drop of water to skillet.  If the water fizzes immediately, it is ready.)





Add potatoes to skillet.  Top with the onions.

Cover with lid.

Stir every few minutes.


 


 When the potatoes are nice, soft, and almost done turn the burner on high to a broil.  This will brown them and give them crispiness. :)




When they are browned enough to your liking..it is time to eat!

Serve with ketchup, salt, pepper, whatever you want to add and enjoy the greasy, unhealthy, delicious goodness :)

It's so worth it!
































Friday, February 15, 2013

Peanut Butter Cups




My husband and I are supposed to be on a diet.  A weight diet AND a money diet!  For Valentines Day though, I figured we could splurge just a little on calories and sugar, and I could save money by making a little treat from things we already had at home. 

Peanut butter cups are SO easy to make and I always have the ingredients! After trying it out this time it made me wonder why we ever buy Reese cups in the first place!  You can even buy Reese peanut butter in the store to make your own cups with...so why not?

I decided to make both white chocolate and chocolate peanut butter cups. For 8 white chocolate peanut butter cups follow the recipe below.  You can always double the recipes, use different kinds of chips, whatever you wish :)

This is how I did it:

mini muffin pan
mini cupcake liners
2 c white chocolate chips (divided)
1 c peanut butter
2 tbsp sugar


I lined my mini muffin pan with my mini cupcake liners. At first I wasn't sure if the paper cups would work...but after the white chocolate dried...they were perfect!

Melt the white chocolate chips according to the package.  Heat until smooth and creamy.

Take a spoon and drizzle the chocolate into the liners.  Make sure to push the chocolate onto the sides of the cups as well as the bottom.  The chocolate should form a "bowl" in the liners.




Let the chocolate dry and harden.

If you are doing white chocolate peanut butter cups, the white chocolate hardens within a few minutes.  If you are using regular chocolate it takes a while.  You can speed up the process by placing the muffin pan in the refrigerator for a few minutes.  Be careful not to leave them in there too long though because the chocolate will become very very hard.






Mix peanut butter with sugar (optional).  With two baby spoons I filled the chocolate with peanut butter.  Leave rims of chocolate exposed so when you add the other layer of chocolate, it will make a peanut butter cup.



Melt the remaining white chocolate chips and drizzle on top of the peanut butter, covering the whole cup.  You can decorate them now like I did if you would like.



Let harden. 

Eat.

Get a sugar rush! lol




Chicken and Mushroom Alfredo





Chicken Alfredo is one of my husband's favorite meals!  He orders it almost every time we go out for Italian food. 

I have only made Alfredo for him twice since we have been married.  Both for special occasions. Usually when we decide to eat Italian I make lasagna, stuffed shells, or spaghetti.  

I'm not sure why I haven't made it a lot more.  It is a very easy, fast, and versatile dish.  Which is perfect for me having two fussy babies come dinner time!  I guess it is just one of those dishes you like to keep special.  You know the ones.  You don't want to over do it because then it wouldn't be as special!  Like turkey for Thanksgiving :)

This time I made this dish for Valentines dinner and it was a big hit!  I'm not even that big on Alfredo but this was pretty delicious!

All you need is:



2 chicken breasts
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 c + 1 tbsp butter
3/4 c milk
4 cloves garlic
1 c parmesan cheese (grated)
16 oz fettucini noodles
6 oz sliced fresh mushrooms


- Boil the chicken until done.  Cut into small chunks and set aside.

- Saute the mushrooms in 1 tbsp butter and 2 cloves minced garlic. Set aside.

-  Boil the fettucini

-  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt and stir 1/2 c butter, cream cheese, milk, parmesan cheese and 2 cloves minced garlic until thick and creamy.  Add chicken and mushrooms.

-  Toss the noodles with the sauce, serve, and enjoy :)






Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Colorful Felt Headband








Hair bows are my obsession right now!  My husband hates that I am always on the lookout for hair bows and frilly little ribbons...but why else have little girls?  With girls comes the wonderful laces, ribbons, tutu's, and all things glitter!

I usually always put headbands on my girls when we go out in public.  My husband however hates them and before I can get out the door decides to take them off of their heads. GRRRR!  Over the past few months, I have gotten him to loosen up and somewhat be ok with me putting big flowers in their hair!

Buying hair bows are not cheap!  Most all of the ones I want are 3.99 and up.  Some I have found are even close to 10!  I have two girls so I am not spending $20 on 2 hairbows!  I quickly learned that I need to start making my own for all of the hair bows I want to own.

For my daughters first circus, I made her a clown tulle tutu and just had to have a headband that matched!  With the tutu being so bright and colorful the headband had to be bright and colorful as well.

This felt headband I made took all of maybe 10 minutes.  And was super cheap!  The felt was on 25 cents!  The elastic band was $1 and the pom poms I already had for the tutu.

You can make the headband by sewing elastic and then sewing felt over the elastic band, but I cheated this time and bought the already made band part.

All you need is:
elastic felt headband
one sheet felt
1 pom pom
scissors
pen
hot glue gun



Since the tutu I was making was white with bright colored pom pom's, this piece of felt was perfect for a matching headband!
Turn the piece of felt over to the side you do not want shown.  Practice drawing out the shape you want your hair bow to be.  When you have the perfect shape, cut it out.

For mine, I want a flower.  As you can see this flower was not so pretty so I just kept practicing until it looked ok.  I cut three different size flowers out because I wanted my hair bow layered.
I glued my 3 layers on top of each other from biggest to smallest and then added a pom pom in the center.

Then glue the entire shape onto your head band.

TADA!  We have a very cute bow for very cheap!




Use your imagination and go crazy!  Felt is very cheap and you can make all sorts of things!  You can make animal shapes, 3D shapes, anything you wish!







Layla's First Circus

Ringling Bros. came to town over the past weekend and I HAD to go!  I had only been to the circus once and that was many many years ago when I was probably in the 5th grade.  I had been wanting to go back ever since then!  Hearing the music, laughing at the clowns, seeing tigers and elephants, and watching the acrobats soar across the sky is not something you get to do everyday.  It is so much fun!  So of course being a mommy...I had an excuse to buy tickets this year!


My oldest daughter is only 15 months old, so I do not expect her to ever remember this experience, but I sure will!  Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to grow up to be a mommy.  I had lots of practice with my dolls and took them everywhere I went!  As I got older I always thought to myself "I can't wait to have babies and take them to the places like the circus!"

I was so excited I decided to dress Layla up for the event!  I went with the option of a cute little clown since some of the girl clown's get really girly.  I made a clown tulle tutu with bright colored pom poms and a matching felt headband.  I layered the tutu over purple leggings and a pink shirt.  All of the different colors looked like something a clown would wear.  Then I just painted the tip of her nose red and tada!  We had a baby clown!  

Sitting in the seat with her in my lap it was all I could do to choke down my tears.  I know I am such a sap lol.  The only reason I didn't choke up right there is because I didn't want Angie to think I was crazy lol.

I was afraid that with her being so little, she would loose interest very fast.  However, Layla was curled up in my lap watching the entire thing!  She was smiling so big, and pointing to all the different things. Shouting "KIKI!" when she saw the tigers and "PUPPY!" when the dancing poodles came out. She would stand up in my lap to get a better view and would just dance away and clap!  It just lit up my heart to know that she enjoyed it!

At the finale of the show, it was really all I could do not to shed millions of little sappy tears lol.  She stood in my lap, wrapped her arm around my neck as tight as she could, and layed her cheek on mine.  I would look up at her and smile and she would rub my hair and give me kisses on my cheek!  It was like she was trying to say "Thank you mommy!"

This will definitely be a yearly thing!  And next year, my other baby girl will be big enough to go too! YAY!

Here are some of the pictures my wonderful Angie caught for us!

Human Cannon Ball

This girl has some muscles for sure!






 Baby Elephant!!  I want one!!


 I'm too much of a scaredy cat to ever ever attempt this!


This looked like fun!


The gymnists guys were jumping through and over the ribbon.


Ring Master


This was my favorite part!  Poodles are hialrious!  This one is walking the baby poodle on a leash.


 This guy has serious guts!!

The moment my sweet girl was giving me lovins :)  So glad Angie took this picture!
This was sooo worth it :)



Clown Tulle TuTu






Having girls, I LOVE to make girly things.  I go a little over board on the tutu making.  I make one for each special event I do believe!  This tutu was used for my little girl to wear to the circus!  I wanted her to look somewhat like a girly clown!

Tutu's are so much fun to make.  You can use your creativity and do any color combination you wish!  You can add ribbons, bows, sequins, and in this case...pom poms!

I have tried making tutu's several ways, trying to come up with cheaper, faster, more creative ways to make them.  This method seems to be my favorite.  It took all of 20 minutes to make (exception of the pom pom additions).  Another thing I like about this method is that it has lasted a pretty good while.  Other methods I have tried have only held up for the event and then kept falling off of her tiny little waist.  This tutu, my daughter has been playing dress up in for days now and it is still holding up pretty well!



All you need is:
scissors
elastic
thread
tulle
pom poms (optional)
hot glue gun (if you're adding pom poms)



First you will need to measure the waist the tutu will be going on.  Cut your elastic an inch or so smaller than that so it will fit really well. After you tie your tulle on, the elastic will have stretched.

Sew the elastic ends together.  Even if you know nothing about sewing (like me) just thread the needle through a lot so the elastic doesn't come undone.  You can see in my picture just how horrible I am at sewing!  But if I made this skirt and it stayed together...then so can you!

After you have sewn the ends together, you can slide the elastic over you thigh in order to keep it stable and in place so you do not have to keep moving it.




Next you need to cut your tulle.  Decide how long you want your tutu to be and double that before cutting the strands.  For example..if you want a 8" long tutu..then cut each strand of tulle 16". 

I actually use a long piece of cardboard from cereal boxes or a box of diapers.  I decide about how long I want my strands, go find a piece of cardboard that size, and wrap my tulle around it over and over again.  Then, I only have to cut twice..and voila!  All of my strands are the exact same size and I didn't have to cut each strand over and over again!

I wish I would have taken pictures of this step, but I forgot!  I'm horrible I know!  Don't fret though, I will have many more tutu tutorials I am sure :)

After you have cut your tulle and have your elastic all sewn together you can get to knotting!  This is very easy, but I took step by step pictures for you just in case!




 ^   Fold the tulle in half so the ends match up.





^  Place the tulle in a "U" shape under the elastic.  Make sure the ends are still even.





^  Grip the two strands and pull them through the "U" on the bottom.  This should make a pretty knot.





^ See? Pretty knot!  Now just pull the tulle strands to tighten the knot up.





Keep tying the tulle strands onto the elastic until the entire band is covered.





TADA! We have a tutu!  Now you can leave it like this, or add details!  I am about to add my pom poms!




All I did, was hot glue the pom poms onto different strands and sections of the tulle.  Be careful not to burn yourself!  The glue goes right through the tulle so be careful!  After a few seconds, the glue will cool and set and then it is safe to touch.































Friday, February 8, 2013

Nice to Meet You!

Hello world!  I am super excited to be sharing with you my recipes, crafts, and "mommy" stories.

My cousin/best friend Angie is the founder of the blog Big Bear's Wife.  She has been showing me the ins and outs of blogging and I am finally taking the big step.

I guess I should tell you a little bit about myself!

My name is Crystal Barrett.  I am a stay at home wife and a mommy to 2 girls...only a year apart!  My husband is a retired marine..which means he loves to eat!  I began cooking when I was a little girl, but it was only easy stuff like spaghetti with jar sauce, Hamburger Helper, premade cookie dough, etc.  When moving out of town to live with my husband in Jacksonville, North Carolina after the birth of our first daughter I really had to step up my game!

We had lived long distance our entire relationship because of the military!  I never really had to cook for him before because his family always cooked when he came to visit me on the weekends. 

Here I was a new mom, wife, and learning to become a real housewife instead of a wife on the weekends.  Of course I wanted to be everything I could be so I jumped right into my housewife duties.  Aside from making sure the house was always spotless, I cooked non stop.  At first the meals were a little iffy.  I got introduced to Pinterest (big mistake haha) and invested in several recipe books to begin the transformation to my cooking skills!

After my friends and family have tried some of my things, I decided I probably needed to share instead of being a recipe hoarder.  After all, some of my friends, let's just say, REALLY need help on the cooking levels haha.

After being alone in Jacksonville so long and having to spend all day and sometime even days alone (with the exception of my newborn daughter) the craft stores became my best friend!  I have always loved crafts and painting...but now it is a completely different playing field!  I want to do nothing but craft and make pretty things for my little girls and my home.  Having two baby girls is SO much fun!  I make way too many tutu's though! :)

Being a mom you realize people give you WAY too much advice...some you don't always want.  I admit, I am guilty of giving it too.  Having my own blog, you can decide whether or not you would like to listen to my baby stories and advice :) I love talking about my family as all of you probably do too.

I hope you enjoy what all I have to say and share :)

Bacon Ham and Cheese Breakfast Ring




  

If you have ever have made a taco ring you would know that they are not only really easy to make but so much fun!  There are always so many options when it comes to rings.

Breakfast rings are also a family favorite in my home.  My 1 year old even loves them!  It is a ring at first but when pulled apart they become little breakfast sandwiches.

In this ring I used bacon, ham, cheese, green pepper, and gravy for dipping sauce.  Last time I sauteed onions along with the green peppers and used salsa for dipping sauce. The great thing with rings is that you can put anything you like inside!

 Use your creativity. That's the fun part!  You cant possibly mess it up because it is inside a delicious crescent and everything is good on crescents.

Bacon Ham and Cheese Breakfast Ring:

1/2 a precooked slice of Smithfield ham (diced into chunks)
3 pieces of bacon (divided in halves)
1/2 green pepper (chopped)
1 - 2 c shredded cheddar cheese
4 eggs (beaten)
1- 8oz can of cresent rolls





 -  After prepping the food cook bacon until done (not crispy because it will continue to cook in oven)
    You can warm or brown ham on another skillet if you wish.

-  I began sauteing the green peppers in a small skillet while the bacon in cooking.

-  Scramble your eggs and cook them until done.

-  Layer crescent rools on a round cookie sheet or pizza pan (I covered mine in aluminum foil but you do not
    have to).  The wide edges should be on the inside. 
    Layer the wide parts onto one another so they stick to each other while baking.

-  On each wide end of the crescents place a bacon slice, few pieces of ham, green pepper, egg, and top
    with cheese.

-  Fold the pointy edges over top of the eggs and tuck under the wide edge.

-  Bake in 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or until crescents are brown and flaky

The end result should look like this.  Sorry for the bad picture!  Now just pull apart and eat!! It's so yummy!  Serve with gravy, salsa, ketchup, whatever your family prefers!




















Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies




     Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies...or should I just call them "Omg Cookies" because Omg they are so good!! I came across this recipe when my husband was on his deployment to Afghanistan.  I tried to make him a care package at least once a month.

Going out buying things, decorating his boxes, and sending baked goodies made the deployment a lot easier on me because I was so excited to make them and hopefully send a smile to his face.  I would send his favorite candy bars, toys for him to play with, body care products, cute laminated pictures of us, and other things.  He wasn't big on sweets or even cookies, but I loved to bake for him anyways.

I have a food sealer so I would bake him cookies, seal them up, and send them over seas where they hopefully still tasted chewy and delicious when he got them a month or more later.  While he was gone I joined a military spouse support website where military girlfriends and wives would share stories, advice, recipes, ideas, etc.  I came upon this recipe and instantly knew I had to try them!

This cookie had everything good from other cookies all in one!  When I talked to Levi about the cookies he recieved he said my cookies had fallen apart because I vaccuum sealed them :( but the crumbs were devoured anyways by all of the guys! YAY!  I was happy I could put a smile on their face when they were so far away from home.

Peanut Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies:


1 1/2 c brown sugar
1 c butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 c oats
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 c chocolate chips
1/2 - 3/4 c peanut butter (depending on how much pb you like)

-  Heat oven to 350

-  Stir together brown sugar and butter until blended.  Stir in vanilla and egg until light and fluffy.

-  In another bowl mix oats, flour, baking soda, and salt.  Mix into the brown sugar mixture.

-  Stir in chocolate chips and peanut butter.

-  Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet and bake 9 - 11 minutes.

- Cookies will harden up after cooled so do not wait until they are hard in the oven to take out.

OPTION:  You can add nuts or even leave out the peanut butter if you are allergic.