Holiday, Vacation

Thanksgiving 2014

Hi folks! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. I traveled to Ohio to see my dad’s extended family. We have some great family traditions with our Cincinnati family, like drinking UDF milkshakes, walking the Thanksgiving Day Race (… we actually bailed this year… oops), and black friday shopping with the girls. We also have the best food ever! My aunts make mean dishes for Thanksgiving, including cheesy jalapeno rice, strawberry pretzel salad and the yummiest sweet potatoes.

Here are a few pictures from our fun trip!

Stay tuned for a post on how I decorated my home this holiday season. I love all of the decorations I’ve accumulated through the years and am excited to share them with you!

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Life, Recipes

A fun & girly weekend

What an amazing weekend. My next-door neighbor, her twin and I drove up to West Chester, Penn., to visit my sister Emily! Em took us shopping at all sorts of places — a discount store at her work, Amish country, outlets, the mall. It was so much fun and we all got a ton of fun stuff. I’m talking boots, purses, coats, jackets, pottery, jewelry… SO FUN!

It was just what I needed after a few weeks of feeling crummy.

We got home early Sunday and I wasted no time getting to canning some new recipes using items from my garden. I had about 15 tomatoes. 4 cayenne peppers, 1 green bell pepper and an entire basil plant. It turned it into four jars of pasta sauce, two small jars of pesto and five jars (most are really small) of hot salsa! I’ve never made any of these things before, so it was a lot of fun experimenting with these new recipes.

Sauce and pesto

For the pasta sauce, I used this recipe from Wellness Momma. I added a lot more basil than she called for. And now that I’m thinking of it, I forgot to add the bay leaf. Whoops. Somehow my sauce turned out way more orange than hers is, but it looks, smells and tastes delicious! When we eat it, we’ll cook up some ground beef to toss into the sauce. I can’t wait to try it.

For the pesto, I modified this recipe from the Food Network. I didn’t add pine nuts to mine. And I didn’t measure anything. Shocker, I know.

Salsa

And for the salsa, I used this recipe from Stop lookin’, Get Cookin’. Again, I modified it to use the ingredients I had available. I used a lot less green peppers, and a lot more cayenne peppers. I am actually slightly scared to try it. It’s gonna be HOT!

Hope you all had a great weekend. I know I did 🙂

Recipes

Spicy Taco Soup

What I’m about to share with you is possibly one of the yummiest recipes of all time. That’s right, folks… it’s Spicy Taco Soup time.

I discovered this recipe years ago online and have since altered it to perfection. It is a staple in our house during the colder months and a staple at my mom’s house at Christmas time. It’s also way easy to make and not terribly bad for you. #Winning!

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs Ground beef/chicken/turkey: Use whichever meat you’d like and however much meat you like. I usually use 1.5 lbs because I like my soup to have a lot of meat in it.
  • 32 oz. Beef stock/chicken stock: Depending on whether you choose to make your soup with ground beef or ground bird, grab the corresponding broth to go with it. Also, I liked to get low sodium broth. It doesn’t affect the taste and it is way better for you.
  • 2 cans of petite diced tomatoes: Feel free to use petite diced tomatoes with green chillies or onions in it. Tomatoes must be petite!
  • 1 can of pinto/black beans: I use black beans in my soup and only one can. The original recipe I found online called for two cans of pinto and two cans of black beans. That was way too much for us. Grab low sodium beans if you can.
  • 1 can of sweet yellow corn
  • 1 cup chopped onion: Frozen or fresh works. You can add more if you’d like.
  • 1 cup chopped green/red/yellow peppers: Frozen or fresh works, and any color works! You can add more if you’d like.
  • 2 tbsp Red Pepper flakes
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • HOT SAUCE!!!: Add as much as you can handle 🙂

Directions:

In a frying pan, cook up the meat of your choice with the onions. Drain the grease.

In a large soup pot on medium to high heat, combine tomatoes (do not drain), corn (drain & rinse), beans (drain & rinse), peppers, red pepper flakes, and meat. Add in your broth (Note: I add a whole “box” of broth, but you can add however much you’d like. It will change the consistency of the soup. So, if you like chunky soup, don’t add too much. If you like a soupier soup, add all of it.)

Add hot sauce to taste.

Heat until hot! Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream on top — maybe even a few crushed up tortilla chips! Enjoy!

The best part about this soup is it is easily customizable without totally altering the taste. If you want more meat, add more. If you want less broth, add less. If you love green peppers but hate corn, the recipe will still turn out. I made it last night with three cans of petite tomatoes (total rebel, right?) and no green pepper (I forgot to buy them… oops!), and it was still delicious.

What are your favorite soup recipes? I also make a mean rustic tomato soup. Yummo. No soup beats my parents’ homemade chicken noodle, but Spicy Taco Soup is definitely my next favorite.