Thursday, December 15, 2016

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup





As I've transitioned to the busy life of a business-owner Mama, I've really grown to appreciate delicious, hearty meals that take a minimal amount of effort to prepare. I'm hoping to add more of these to my repertoire and I've been really grateful to discover this yummy slow cooker chicken tortilla soup. I prefer my soups thick and creamy and this tortilla soup is just that, with the right kick of spices and a great dose of filling protein. And it's just so easy. 

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup
Yield: about 8 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4-6 hours
Total Time: about 5-6 hours

INGREDIENTS:

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup salsa
2 cups frozen corn
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chopped cilantro
1 cup shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese

{Optional Toppings:}

Sour Cream
Diced Tomatoes
Green Onions
Cilantro
Shredded Lettuce
Diced Avocado
Tortilla Strips

DIRECTIONS:

Spray a slow cooker with cooking spray. Add chicken to the bottom of the slow cooker. In a medium bowl, mix cream of chicken soup, salsa, corn, black beans, water, cumin, and cilantro. Pour over the top of the chicken. 

Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Remove the chicken and shred with two forks. Place back into the slow cooker and add shredded cheese. Continue cooking until cheese has melted, about 15 minutes. Serve with your favorite toppings. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Rainy, Muddy Hike in the Santa Monica Mountains

{Believe it or not, there's actually a stellar view of the Pacific Ocean behind us.}


A couple of months ago, we set out on a hike to Sandstone Peak, the highest point of the Santa Monica mountains, known for its amazing views of Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean. I was excited to view my favorite city from a hiker's perspective. Well, the day came for our hike and as we were driving up the famous twisty-twiny Mulholland Drive, it was nothing but rain pouring down. We pressed forward with the six-mile loop, hoping for a cloud break somewhere along the way. 

When we finally reached the top, it was super windy, misty and kinda sketchy--we had to climb up slick rock for the last several yards, which is scary in the rain! I couldn't help but laugh as we scrambled to the top. My hopes for a gorgeous picture were dashed, but as I look back on the photo above, I see two genuine smiles and I think of happy memories together. 



{Eerie, creepy views of the Santa Monica Mountains}


{Some serious caked-on mud happening to my shoes. Brad's got so ruined, he ended up throwing them away in the parking lot trash can!}

{Taken on our way down, just as the sky is starting to clear}

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Seven Magic Mountains








Twenty miles outside of Las Vegas lives an art project called Seven Magic Mountains. It's beautiful. This video gives a great behind-the-scenes look at how it was built. 

Many question the purpose of art, especially large-scale modern art installations, like Seven Magic Mountains. In response to that question, the following quote resonates with me: 

"What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit." -John Updike

Art allows people the confidence to dream that things are possible. Someone may wonder, "If this artist can put these brightly colored boulders in the middle of the desert, than why can't I fulfill my dream of going to college, starting my business idea, or building my invention?" The great thing about this world and this life is: you can. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Swedish Meatballs



I love taking from other cultures to inspire my food palate and Swedish meatballs are the perfect addition to a well-rounded family dinner plan. It's comfort food, for sure and one of those meals, that makes you really grateful for home. 

Swedish Meatballs
Yield: about 24 meatballs
Total Time: 

INGREDIENTS:

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt & pepper to taste

{for the gravy}

1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups beef broth
3/4 cup sour cream
Salt & pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons fresh chopped parsley leaves

DIRECTIONS:

Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent about 2-3 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, ground pork, Panko bread crumbs, egg yolks, allspice, nutmeg, and cooked onion. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Using clean hands, mix together until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1 1/4-to-1 1/12-inch meatballs, forming about 24 meatballs.

Add remaining one tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Add meatballs, in batches, and cook until all sides are browned, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and keep warm with tented foil. Use more olive oil as necessary to avoid burning. 

To make the gravy, melt butter in the skillet. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about one minute. Gradually whisk in beef broth and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in sour cream. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Stir in meatballs and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through and thickened, about 8-10 minutes. 

Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and mashed red potatoes on the side, if desired.

Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Mashed Red Potatoes with Garlic and Parmesan



I've been making these mashed potatoes for years and years now. It is my go-to recipe and a staple in our home. 

Mashed Red Potatoes with Garlic and Parmesan
Yield: about 6 servings
Total Time: about 45 minutes

INGREDIENTS:

2.5 pounds red potatoes, unpeeled & quartered
2-3 Tablespoons minced garlic
2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

Put potatoes and garlic in a large pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil Reduce heat and let simmer until potatoes are fork tender, about 25 minutes. Drain well. Return potatoes to the pan and mash with butter, milk and salt. Stir in the parmesan cheese.

Enjoy!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Seattle, Seattle!


As I walked off the plane, I was greeted by a crisp, cool hug from the air around me. After a storybook descent into a land of green isles and peninsulas enveloped by deep blue seas, I kept thinking, "Life! This place breeds life!" 

In summary, Seattle knows how to grow stuff. Grapes fall from shaded awnings, full pumpkins pop up unexpectedly in backyards, $5 flower bouquets are so bright and full, they put most $40 bouquets to shame. And the green. Oh, the green. So much green, everywhere. So much bounty. 


{Skyline view from the ferry to Bainbridge Island}

{Gawking at referenced $5 bouquets}  

 {Happily accepting kisses I usually have to steal}


{Curing toddler wiggles at Pike Place Market}


{Bainbridge Island giggle fits} 



{#bringthekids}

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Wholeness

I've had this tab open for several days because I don't want to forget this quote. If I had found it in a magazine, I would have cut it out and pasted it on my refrigerator. But since webpages are the new magazines, I suppose blogs are the new refrigerators? 
I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that—I don't mind people being happy—but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It's a really odd thing that we're seeing people saying "write down three things that made you happy today before you go to sleep" and "cheer up" and "happiness is our birthright" and so on. We're kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position. It's rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don't teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say, "Quick! Move on! Cheer up!" I'd like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word "happiness" and to replace it with the word "wholeness." Ask yourself, "Is this contributing to my wholeness?" and if you're having a bad day, it is.     
- Hugh MacKay, author of The Good Life