Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Yummy Potato Soup

Finding a really good Potato Soup is harder. Making one is even harder!

I am a new devoted Ree Drummond fan - so another shout out to Ree, you can find the recipe here: http://tastykitchen.com/recipes/soups/perfect-potato-soup/?print=1/#size3x5; and my alterations are to follow!

So this recipe was fabulous. I admit, I was kinda skeptical on the whole blender moment, my gag reflux was getting to me, BUT - I found it WAS the key to the delicious creaminess. Yummy!

Since we are a family of spice hating children, I did omit the cayenne...Boo. Not my choice. So, to give it some yummy flavor I put my personal classic baked chicken seasoning mix in the soup - Paprika, Sage and some Garlic Powder (or Garlic Salt with no regular salt if you prefer). I added a TSP of each based on this recipe size. I added it once the soup was all said and cooked and was just simmering away; about 6-7 minutes before serving so the flavors were still fresh.

The only REAL change I would make to this is I would double up the potatoes and veggies to make it chunkier just because we like a chunkier soup. This was a really, really good base for it or for a mostly cream soup though.

We also found ourselves wishing we made more bacon! We made half a pack but I should of made a whole pack. We. Love. Bacon.

We topped ours with shredded cheddar cheese since that's what we had and the kids like, and some sour cream for those who like it also.

The husband made some homemade French bread to go with this and it was a perfect complement. It was like Panera had opened up in our kitchen for a night.

This night we only had 5 of our 8 children so there was plenty of soup for seconds and only a small bowl leftover. WHEN, not IF, WHEN I make this again (and soon), I will up the portions sizes significantly so all 10 of can have seconds and still have leftovers.

(P.S. - I ate the bowl of leftover - simply warmed it in a saucepan - and I was contemplating making another whole pot cause I wanted another bowl so much!)

Step by step photography will accompany my next attempt!

Pork Chops with Pineapple Fried Rice, Pioneer Woman Style

Made a new recipe last night! Pork Chops with Pineapple Fried Rice, courtesy of the Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond. Please find the recipe here: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2012/03/pork-chops-with-pineapple-fried-rice/

I didn't take pictures this time in case I ended up with a blackened lumpy mess - but I definitely will provide a step by step next time! If you haven't guessed yet, I did not turn out with a blackened lumpy mess! We loved it!No leftovers!

I made this for my family, which obviously includes lots of kids so I made a few alterations to suit their taste (and also increased my portions sizes)!

First, grilling the pineapple wasn't an option for me due to weather so I sauteed it in butter and honey - perfect. I also added it in at the end of cooking the fried rice so it could absorb some of those flavors. Let it cook in 2-3 minutes.

Second, I double up'd on the liquids so I could transfer the liquid to a WOK since I needed a large workspace for all that rice to feed my family! Speaking of rice - I used quick 5 minute instant that I stuck in the freezer to quickly cool down and dry out some - and it worked like a charm!

Third, I added more eggs, cause we love some eggs in our fried rice!

Fourth, I added sesame oil! We love the nutty flavor it gives. I added it right in the last few minutes because sesame oil will burn quickly!

Fifth, speaking of nutty flavor...in last two minutes of cooking I threw in a handful of sunflower seeds to the rice - love it!

Sixth, we decreased the minced garlic because we used the already minced, refrigerated kind (which is stronger), and also because we aren't huge garlicky people.

Seventh, we omitted the hot sauce and pimentos to suit my kids taste.

Eighth, we added carrots to give it back a pop of color and we always like that in our fried rice!

And there you have it! Family devoured it - next time, I will photograph it and since I will be well prepared with the changes that I will make (I did them en route this time) - I am certain it will turn out even better!!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Decisions, Decisions

I have an important decision to make this weekend - which project to budget for. I have a gazillion things I would like to get done and I am continuously finding myself saying - "but it would be nice to have this done first...", thereby making it impossible to know where to start.

So, I have decided to use cost as means of elimination. Makes sense, right? I mean, if I had a gajillion dollars then I could do them all at once - but if I had a gajillion dollars I would also be having someone doing it for me while I sipped a Mai Tai on a cruise ship in the Carribean. Alas, that is not the case.

In an effort to save me an entire day of walking though my home and looking at all the projects and cost analyzing all of them I know I have to pare it down to the ones that are driving me the battiest.

Option One: The pantry/kitchen cabinet situation. We have a really nice kitchen and really good sized pantry but with a family of 10, 8 of them being food devouring little devils, my kitchen is a fiasco. That's alot of dishes, a lot of pans (because I always have to use two of everything to cook enough at once), and a whole lotta food (that is used weekly). I have had the food in the pantry and the pots, pans, bakeware etc in the cabinets - this drove me nuts because I could never FIT all those pots, pans and bakewares in properly and it was a race to shut the door before it all came a-tumbling. Then there was the issue of the garbage can - there is NO place in our kitchen (open concept) to put that stinkin thing and it gets used often and quickly (again, 10 people use it, I remind you). So food in pantry with garbage can would drive me bonkers, because, let's face it, I am not raising 8 Michaels Jordans - so they all inevitably MISS the garbage can. ICK!

So I swapped it up - I put all the food in the cabinets and all the other stuff into the pantry. Now I put things a certain way, and they fit that way well - but I am the ONLY one who puts things that way. The nanny doesn't, the husband doesn't, the kids don't - so, inevitably, none of it fits, again. I also have the cabinets organized so evertyhing is somewhat easy to find - cans in one cabinet, breakfast items and koolaid in another, rices, noodles, crackers in one, and then snack inspired stuff in one - makes sense right? Sounds simple? Well, apparently, not - because, according to the husband- he can never find anything. Seriously? Ok - so back to the original design...maybe.

I have been doing some research and finding some pretty interesting storage solutions for the pots, pans, bakeware being in the cabinets; and the food back into the pantry. I have to do a cost analysis on this material though. It adds up when you consider the quantity of items that I have. Then, I start to think well it would be neat if I could set some storage for my lesser used stuff up in the garage - but then I would have to re-organize the garage - and buy stuff for that - and there goes more "but it would be nice..." vicious circle again!

Option Two: The laundry room and all the piles of clothes. Do you have any idea how much clothing 10 people make in one day? In two days, a week? I am a working mother - so doing laundry daily is not a reality. I end up getting to the point where in order to get into the laundry room I have to shove the door open and climb over the mound of clothing blocking the door. I end up doing marathon laundry sessions for two days and have piles of folded clothing all over my bedroom floor under the picture window. It's enevitable and it has been happening for six exhausting  months now. I have three laundry baskets and one tri-laundry sorter, a bookshelve and the washer and dryer. Plus the shelf above the washer and dryer. And it is just NOT working. So I dreamed up a laundry room. It's in my head and it will work like a charm - I just need to buy the material and build it. The weather has been biting big donkey ding dongs so I really need to be able to build this stuff in the garage, except, oh wait - there is no room in the garage to do this. What I really need to do it is straighten up that garage so I have the center area to build things in! There it goes again - a daily problem that is backed up by a bigger problem.

Option Three: The Harry Potter closet and the amasses of shoes and bookpacks that wind up unceremoniously dumped in front of the kitchen bar - grrrr. The Harry Potter closet is affectionaly named so because of it's location under the stairwell. When we moved in it already had hooks and some shelving and it really is the perfect set up for 8 little hooks, skinny benches and 8 little bins for shoes! I was all gung-ho and took down then hooks and shelves, bought me some paint and was ready to paint it and set it all up - but somehow it began getting used as the storage closet for all the painting/cleaning supplies from moving in and painting the living room/kitchen/dining room. And guess what, six months later - it still is - only now we have added a basket full of winter hats and vaccumm cleaner. WTH. So I need to get in there and clean it out - paint it, put the hooks up and build the benches. Pretty simple. However, that means I have to put the stuff in the garage and my, oh, my it would be nice to have that garage cleaned up first - which brings me full circle again.

So, why don't I just clean up the garage first? It's such a huge project that I am afraid I might burn myself out and it will be months before I even get the gumption to get back at it again! And, in order to clean that out I really need to do something with those 9 bikes laying around in and outside of my garage!!

So, what I really need to do first is build the bike rack out PVC pipe that I dreamed up. It's quick, it's cheap, and it will provide a huge initial step.

So, what I really just did is talked my way - well actually talked you - through the brain fog in my head to get down to what my first project really actually needs to be.

The bike rack.

Don't you just love blogging?

Fuzzy headed,


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ladybug, Ladybug...

Yesterday my sweet little "Laney-bug" turned 3! Hard to believe time has progressed so quickly. I remember this day all so well:

My little pocket of a person was born weighing in at a mere 5'8". Her daddy didn't know what to do with her because he never had one so tiny! Today, she is a full three years old and still just a pocket of a person:

How does one describe Laney? She is the funniest, sweetest, kissiest, stubbornist child.

Laney loves all things girl, I mean, come on, the girls first word was "Shoe". No - really, I promise! She has an unnatural obsession - well unnatural at her age - with shoes. You know how some children lay out a temper tantrum in the Toys section - well, my daughter does it in the Shoe section. Don't believe me?


She gets up every morning and requires her daily dose of "Lipstick" - and if I refuse, she decides to do it herself (when no one is looking of course):

You'll note she at least got
the lipstick and mascara in
the proper area!

She loves to wear her bows and requires the ability to pick her own clothing every morning. Heaven help you if you attempt to dress her in something you picked out! Oh - and the independentness doesn't stop there - you must put her on the counter to pick out her own sippy. If you don't - she noodles. Noodles? Keep scrolling:

This is Laney noodle-ing. Her body
loses all strength and she just
melts into the floor, and if you
picke her up - she hangs there -
like a limp noodle.

Laney is such a joyous little girl - so full of character, so full of life! She makes every day a little bit sweeter!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

You get what you get...

...and you don't pitch a fit.

It's our family motto...it has to be - we have eight children.

I am 32 years old this year, about to be moving in on the big 3-3, and it makes me wonder - how many other 32 years olds have 8 elephants pounding up and down their stairs?

We are a blended family, who miraculously, ended up with a child, between the two of us, born for every year from 2001 until 2008. Then we started anew together and had our first daughter together in 2010. I know, wait a minute...that's nine births in total, right? Your right. A sweet little son of my husbands passed away as an infant. So, while we have 80 tiny toes in our house, we also have one set of wings.

It's 2013...and we have the first one born in 2001...so that makes the oldest...11?! Yes, that is correct! We often get the "bug eyes" when people realize we have 8 children all under the age of 11. That's 5 girls and 3 boys. For half the year we have "stairs steps" and the second half of the year we swap into multiple sets of "twin ages".

My husband and I both work full time; and my husband is in school full time pursuing his masters. He will wrap up his degree this spring and I will gear up to return full time myself in pursuit of finishing my bachelors. We have seven of our eight in school...Pre-K to 5th grade. Next year, our oldest will be the first to break the elementary school barrier and move on over to the world of pre-teens. Oh my! 
I decided to start this blog as motivation and as a creative outlet.

Motivation - We just moved into a new home this past summer. Seven bedrooms and four baths = a lot of projects that need to make our house a functional home. Between work, school, soccer, basketball, drama, homework, birthdays...well all of my planned projects have stayed in the puffy dreamy clouds in my head. Well, it's time to bring those clouds down to earth and apply them to my pantry and the harry potter closet. I love to read blogs and have recently fallen in love with iheartorganization. While reviewing all the nooks and crannies of Jen's wonderful blog she said something just knocked me out of my computer chair:

Her blog keeps her motivated to get projects done! That totally makes sense to me! At that moment, I finally felt the will power welling up to get off my hiney and pull one of those clouds down.

Creative Outlet - Simple fact - I am artsy by nature. I have art supplies stashed everywhere and I am simply drawn to Etsy and DIY blogs. I dream and drool over labeled baskets, chalkboard paint, adorable craft papers prints, and more! My husband believes I like vicariously through our children - I think it's the underlying innate desire to be a kindergarten teacher that haunts me!

So, there you have it - my first blog, my first inspirational message to myself, my first concrete - "you said it, know you have to do it" -moment.

                                                                                                         Breathlessly Worn Out,