Wednesday, September 30, 2009

~ Loaded Baked Potato Soup ~

From yesterday's post to today's - I'm just cookin' up a storm aren't I?!

I recently had a friend ask me for this recipe to give to her friend! How cool is that?
Is my potato soup so good that it is causing a ripple effect?! Soon, friends of friends of friends will want it?! No... I will not toot my own horn like that........ (toot!)... ok, it was just a small one! Haha.

So, I got this recipe from a cook book and then tweaked it to how I wanted it! So it is not totally my recipe!

But, here ya go. This is what's for dinner tonight....

Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Serves 6 - 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 15-20 minutes

2/3 cup butter
2/3 cup flour
7 cups milk
4 cups baked potatoes
(about 5 large potatoes baked, peeled, and cubed)
4-6 green onions (thinly sliced)
8-12 strips of bacon (cooked & crumbled)- I use the bacon that is already done.
2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
8 oz. of sour cream
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Melt butter in large stockpot. Add flour and stir until smooth over medium heat.
2. Add milk stirring often until thickened. Be careful not to scorch! - This thickening process can take awhile. Be patient and stir about every minute or two.
3. Add potatoes - (I cube mine and throw them in a pot of boiling water before hand until they are done) and onions and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes stirring often. This brings the whole mixture of the soup together.
4. Remove from heat. Add bacon, sour cream, and cheese. Stir until melted.
5. Add your seasonings and blend thoroughly.

1.Instead of 7 cups of milk, I sometimes will do 4 cups of milk and 3 cups of chicken broth. This helps make it a little more figure friendly.

2.And sometimes if I am in a hurry or running late... I won't even peel the potatoes. I just cube them throw them in a pot to get them done and then add them to the soup.

3. Ya' know, now that I think of it... I bet you could use bacon bits instead of heating or cooking up a whole pack of bacon?! Hmm... if anyone tries that, let me know.

This is how the soup starts, notice the spatula....

This is what it will look like when it thickens. See how it coats the spatula...

And here's what's for dessert tonight...

Apple Cinnamon Bread!

To make this you can just go back to yesterdays post and change it up a bit. Remember the different variations you can use? Well I just minused the zucchini, cloves, and nuts. Then I doubled the cinnamon and raisins and added a whole large apple, diced. Then right before I put it in the oven I made a little cinnamon & sugar mixture and sprinkled it over the top! Yum-O!

I hope you guys will tuck these recipes away in your recipe box! These are great fall and winter meals that will warm anyone up! Plus they make your house smell Oh-so-yummy!


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

~ Zucchini Bread ~

Lately I have been busying myself getting ready for fall! I can't help but enjoy the cooler weather, watching the leaves change, and of course one of my favorites... decorating for fall!
It's around this time every year that I start digging out my fall and winter recipes! You know the ones?!... Soups, hot dishes, chili, and all sorts of rich, spicy breads and pies!

So, recently, when I was given these huge zucchini's...

I thought what better way to kick off my fall baking then with a nice warm batch of Zucchini Bread.

So in case you want to try a batch yourself, here's the recipe...

3 cups shredded zucchini (2 to 3 medium)
1 2/3 cups sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
3 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (if desired)
1/2 cup raisins (if desired)

1. Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of 2 (8x4-inch) loaf pans or 1 (9x5-inch) loaf pan with shortening or cooking spray.
2. In large bowl, stir zucchini, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs until well mixed. Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts and raisins. Stir in nuts and raisins. Divide batter evenly between 8-inch pans or pour into 9-inch pan.
3. Bake 8-inch loaves 50 to 60 minutes, 9-inch loaf 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on cooling rack 10 minutes.
4. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on cooling rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing. Wrap tightly and store at room temperature up to 4 days, or refrigerate up to 10 days.

Cranberry Bread: Omit zucchini, cinnamon, cloves and raisins. Stir in 1/2 cup milk and 2 teaspoons grated orange peel with the oil. Stir 3 cups fresh or frozen (thawed and drained) cranberries into batter. Bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes.
Pumpkin Bread: Substitute 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix) for the zucchini.

To make muffins: Grease bottoms only of 24 regular-size muffin cups. Fill cups about 3/4 full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until tops spring back when touched lightly.

Mmmmm, Zucchini Bread! Doesn't it just look yummy?!

Now if you'll excuse me... I'm off to read the latest issue of Better Homes and Gardens!

- I'll let you know if I find any good ideas or recipes!


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

~ Loren's Birthday Party! ~

Over the weekend we celebrated Loren's 28th Birthday with some of our closest friends and family... and let me tell you, we had such a great time!
It was a night full of good food, good company, and good games!

My Dad was gracious enough to cater in some Chili's appetizers! - Wings and Ribs... some of Loren's all time favorites! Then me, my Mom, and a couple other people contributed to the yummy buffet! And like usual, we had way to much food.

We even got to play our favorite group game.... Mafia! (if you don't know what this is, you are missing out!) We had everyone into it... yelling, sneaking, lying... it was awesome! lol

So, I just wanted to extend a big thanks to everyone who came and contributed to Loren's party. Again, we had such a great time with all of you!

28 candles created quite a bit of smoke! lol

Greta wanted to help Daddy open his presents.

As always, our parties are Kid Friendly!

And look who made it?! Brand new, baby Addison! Less than 48 hours old, she busted out of the hospital to make a showing with her Mommy & Daddy at Loren's party!

She was a huge hit!

Everyone wanted to get their hands on her!

Even Greta wanted to give baby Addy some love.

And the two youngest babes! I believe Tuck and Addy would be 3rd cousins?! Just 4 months apart!

Thanks again to all our friends and family! Everyone together made for a really fun night! - and I know Loren seconds that! :)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

~ Meet Ms. Addison Smethurst! ~

Here she is!

Addison Jaclyn Smethurst
Born: September 18th at 12:37 am
Weighing: 7 lbs. 9 oz. and 21 inches long.

My cousin Alysha just had her second baby! A little baby girl! I am so excited for her to join me in the "parents with two kids" club!

Alysha and I go way way back... pretty much to the day she was born!
She was the cousin closet to me in age which made us super close as we were growing up.
When it came time for me to pick my bridesmaids for my wedding day I remember telling Loren... "Well, I have 3 sisters and I have to have all of them standing with me, but I have to have Alysha too! She is like my 4th sister."
And that still stands true to this day!

We have laughed together, cried together, acted out plays together, had sleep overs together, played Barbie's together, had fights where we probably never wanted to speak to one another, sang and danced to Dirty Dancing together, bit and hit one another, stood by each other on our wedding days, exchanged labor stories, and even lived together on a couple occasions of our lives! Oh, and who could forget our 5 mile bike ride to Target just to buy the movie Clueless! lol - You'll have to ask Alysha to tell you that story! ;)

Even though Alysha is my cousin she is probably my longest running "friend." We're family, so I guess we can't get away from each other!

So with all that said.... now you know why I am so excited for her and the new addition to her family!

Congratulations Alysha, Nick, Landon, and Lucy!

We are so excited to watch Addison grow into the little girl God has planned for her to be!
We absolutely LOVE her!

And now for your viewing pleasure, here is Addison's first blog debut...

Here is big brother Landon! He is so happy to have a new baby sister! Or... maybe he is just excited to have that sucker.

Here they are... the proud Mommy and Daddy!

Loren and I just couldn't get enough of her!

Here's Greta asking Addison if she'd like to borrow her Nuk?!

And little Tuck... he was too busy hanging out with Nick to care about a new baby.

Isn't she just the cutest?!?!

I hope you all enjoyed getting to meet this little one!
Remember to keep the Smethurst family in your prayers as they go home and try to adjust to their new life, schedule, and lack of sleep!

Good Luck Alysha and Nick! Those 3:00 am feedings are a little rough at first! :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

~ The Cutest Gift... Baby Bibs! ~

I am afraid I am gonna have to make this fast, short, and sweet! I only have a small margin of time left before one of the two babes wake up from their naps! Or worse yet... before they both wake up! lol

I just had to post this though!

I just finished this baby gift yesterday afternoon... and thank goodness I did! No more than a couple hours after the gift was totally done did my cousin Alysha go into labor! - I know! Just in the nick of time! - I'm a huge procrastinator.

(Here Alysha is about to "pop!" This picture was taken at her son's 2nd Birthday Party! Landon and his new baby sister will have birthdays just 20 days apart!)

Anyways, I am proud to announce that Ms. Addison Jaclyn Smethurst was born today in the wee wee hours of the morning! ... 12:37 am to be exact! Her and Mom are happy and healthy! I am so excited to go up to the hospital this evening and meet her!

And when I do get to meet Ms. Addison, I will be bringing this adorable gift in hand!!!

Remember this shirt I made for Greta? Well it was so darn cute I had to make one for Addison.

It is a smidge big for her right now. I wanted her to have something she could wear next Spring/Summer. I figured most people will give her stuff to wear now and it will be nice to have a cute little outfit waiting for her as she grows!

And of course no outfit is complete without a huge, cute, flower head band!

And here is my latest creation! Baby bibs...

I have seen a couple different ideas on how to make baby bibs. However, they all seemed so fancy when it came to sewing them right side together, putting in a layer of batting, hand stitching the opening, attaching a snap button, etc!
It was just too much for me and my non-sewing capability. So I totally "dumbed" it down and came up with a bib that was not only easy to make, but super cute as well!

Even though they are not done the "fancy schmansy" way... I am still super happy with them!

I did not do a step by step tutorial because I thought if you girls wanted to make them you could most likely figure this out! - If not, email me and I can help you out!

But it pretty much goes like this...

I took a bib I had from Greta and used it as my pattern. I layed my pattern bib onto some fabric, traced it, and cut it out. I repeated that step on a solid color thicker fabric which served as my backing.

FRONT of the bib...

BACK of the bib...

Then I just layed the two pieces on top of each other and sewed them together!

See... no fancy right side together or turning nothing inside, right side, or whatever side out! lol - I'm trying to learn how to sew! I really really am, trust me!

I was really happy how the two pieces looked just sewn right on top of one another. It made for a very vintage, handmade, look.

Once the bib was together, I just sewed Velcro right on to the top part of each side. Super easy... even for me!

And "Waa-Laa!" Man are they cute!

I made a nice little pack for Addison out of some really great coordinating fabrics.

And here's the best part. As you wash these bibs the edges fray a little and give them an even more handmade look!
I made some awhile back for Tucker and am still happy with how they are wearing and looking.

Again, so cute, so easy!

I can't wait to give them to Addison (and Alysha) tonight. I know she will get tons of good use out of them!

I will make sure to post details and pictures of my first time meeting Addison! Yey!
Can't wait for tonight!
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