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Monday, October 21, 2013

Quick, but Awesome, Last Minute Halloween Party Ideas

I love being in my kids' classrooms, but it always seems like there is never enough time to finish all the awesome things I want to do for their class parties. Since I LOVE Halloween and LOVE parties I have a few last minute ideas to create an easy, fun, awesome party for family, friends, youth groups, classrooms, or whomever you want to be ScaRy! with this year.

1. Food
Hellooo! If you've been here before check out the last few soup recipes from September and October 2013. Other awesome ideas include Mummy Dogs (wrap dough around hot dogs and bake at 375 deg. for 20-23 minutes); Witch Fingers (use Rhodes dough, roll into bread stick shape. Use almond for fingernail and score the dough across the stick to create knuckles); Spider Eggs (cut an olive in half lengthwise to use as body- with other half slice to make legs; use this as a topper for appetizers such as crackers topped with cheese spread or deviled eggs); Sugar Cookies are always easy in Halloween shapes. I like this recipe from The Splendid Table; Spider Web Cupcakes- using colored frosting, make 3 circles on top of frosted cupcake; drag a toothpick through the circles "cutting" the frosting into equal sections to create spider web effect. Note: you need the top of the cupcake to be a different color from the web frosting.)

2. Craft or Game
Mummy Treasure Can
Use empty and clean soup cans to create spooky mummies or ghosts. Remove the label and paint the can white, or black, or whatever. Wrap gauze around can. Attach wiggle eyes. You could also use tissue paper to wrap the can, and make paper eyes. Fill with candy, treats, etc.

Pretzel Wands
Dip long pretzels into melted chocolate and roll in sprinkles. Magical wand you can spark a bit of fun with and eat.

Board Games: Clue, Twister, Headbands (you can make your own Halloween themed game by attaching cards to homemade elastic headbands or buy them at the Dollar Store), Bingo.

3. Entertainment
Karaoke to Halloween songs (check out Pandora for awesome song choices)

Fashion show using dress ups you have around the house. Video tape this-- I guarantee it will be a memory you will want forever. Think Project Runway on a Soda Pop budget.

Movies--check out Redbox, library, Netflix or Xfinity for family movies, scary movies, teen movies, old movies and more. I love Alfred Hitchcock personally.

Don't forget the cameras!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Soups & Stews #5

If you've been following this at all the last few weeks, you can see that having a few basics in your pantry can make a variety of meals. This is the last installment of this series and hopefully you have a few new ideas. This soup is a family favorite the hub's aunt is famous for. Thanks Jean! We love that you shared this with us!

Potato Cheese Soup

2 c.                  Chicken Stock
3                      Bay leaves
2 c.                  Milk
1/4 tsp.            white pepper (black works too)
4 tbsp.             Butter
4-6                   potatoes, diced
1/4 c.                Flour
½ tsp.              Salt

Heat chicken stock & milk in sauce pan over medium heat -almost boiling

In a large stock pot, melt butter and flour to make a roux (like a paste) Stir vigorously to blend;
add bay leaves, white pepper, potato and salt; pour milk and chicken stock into large stock pot with other ingredients

Simmer 15-20 minutes on low heat- it’s ready when potatoes are soft.

Mash potatoes into soup

Serve in bread bowls, topped with sour cream, cheese, onion, bacon bits (opt.)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Soups & Stews #4

Chili and Taco Soup

Our favorite Chili is one I call Church Chili--cuz we got the recipe from a lady at a church dinner.

Church Chili
2 lbs.  Hamburger
1 medium onion
4 cans of kidney beans
2 cans of pinto beans
2 TBSP chili powder
2 tsp. Cumin
1tsp of garlic powder
salt, pepper
1-2 jalapeno peppers cut, leave seeds in
3 cans of whole tomatoes
Add a bit of water if it seems too thick. 

Throw everything in a Dutch Oven or stock pot and simmer for 2 hours, until beans are soft. You can also omit the hamburger if you want.

Taco Soup
2 cans              black beans
1 can               kidney beans * (or your favorite combo of beans)
1 ½ lb              hamburger (lean)
2 pkg               taco seasoning
½ med.           Onion, chopped
1 can               diced tomatoes (15 oz.can) ** can use 1 can of RoTel tomatoes w/ chilies
1 can               green chilies, chopped or minced
1 can               tomato sauce (15 oz.)
3 cups             water
5 Tbsp             flour, if need to thicken soup

Cook beef and drain. Add onion and seasoning
Add all other ingredients, EXCEPT flour.

Simmer soup 30 minutes on medium heat.

If necessary, mix flour with small amount of water until desired consistency

Top with green pepper, chilies, cheese, sour cream and olives

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Soups & Stews #3

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup- Freezer Meal
I got this from a friend, just can't remember which one. Trying to give credit where it's due....this isn't mine, but I love it AND IT FREEZES!

-4 chicken boneless skinless chicken breasts, not frozen
-1 can diced tomatoes (not drained), 14.5 ounce
-1 can black beans (drained), 14.5 ounce
-1 small onion
-2 Tbsp minced garlic
-1 cup frozen corn (or a 14.5 ounce can of corn will work too) – we buy our corn in the summer when it is really inexpensive from a local farmer and freeze it.  So, I just cut the corn off the cob and use it which is why you see whole cobs here.  If I didn’t do that I would just buy frozen corn or use canned.
-1 jalapeno, finely diced (vary to taste – this will be a little bit spicy – about medium heat.  If you like mild food start with 1/2 jalapeno).  You can also use canned jalapenos if you don’t have fresh on hand.
-2 limes, juiced OR 2 Tbsp lime juice (fresh will taste better)
-1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (dried will work if that’s all you have on hand)
-3 14.5 ounce cans low-sodium chicken broth (Note: this will make a relatively thick soup – if you want your soup to go a little further you can add an extra can of broth and make it slightly thinner but a larger batch)
-salt/pepper to taste (I used about 1 tsp pepper and 1/2 tsp sea salt)

-Put all ingredients except for cilantro in a large pot.
-Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to med-low and keep it at a slow boil for 25 minutes.  If you want the chicken to cook faster, you can cut the breasts in half or thirds and then you will only need to boil for 15-20 minutes.
-After 25 minutes, take the chicken out of your pot with a fork (one breast at a time) and put it on a separate plate.  Cut into the chicken to make sure it’s cooked all the way through, then using two forks (or a knife and a fork) shred your chicken.  The chicken should shred pretty easily.  Once shredded, put back in the pot and repeat with each chicken breast until all chicken is shredded.  It’s really easy and you should be able to shred all the chicken in 3-4 minutes.
-Add cilantro in pot, mix together, and serve!
-You can garnish with fresh cilantro, lime, avocado, or Greek yogurt mixed with lime juice (tastes like sour cream).  I have also baked a Food for Life brand tortilla, then cut it into strips to make a healthier version of tortilla strips to garnish with.
If making as a freezer meal:

No cooking is required when prepping this freezer meal. Use all the same ingredients as above.  When I make this into a freezer meal I put all the ingredients in a gallon-size freezer ziploc bag EXCEPT for the broth – you add that the day you cook your meal.  Make sure to push out any extra air in your ziploc bag before sealing to prevent freezer burn.  The day before I want to make this for dinner I will usually pull it out of the freezer and stick it in the fridge to defrost.  Put all ingredients (plus 3-4 cans of chicken broth) in the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.  I usually write on the outside of the bag “add 3 cans broth” just as a reminder.  The crockpot works really well, especially if some of your ingredients are still a little frozen.  You don’t have to use a crockpot if you don’t want to, you can also cook it like I described above in a pot on the stove in about 30 minutes.