Creamy Poblano Soup & Taco Soup

Creamy Poblano Soup

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I love a good, hearty, hot soup in when the weather gets cooler, or for those freezing Winter nights of which we have very few here in Texas.  This soup was just amazing!  I modified a recipe from Epicurious, adding in about a pound of ground beef seasoned with garlic, cumin, and pepper spices, substituting heavy whipping cream for a large can of Cream of Mushroom soup, and adding in a cup of our favorite salsa to add a little more kick, and omitting the butter altogether (it doesn’t need it!).

The roasted poblano peppers really make this soup sooo delish!  It’s hard to stop eating it!

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Taco Soup

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This recipe I came up with on the fly, based very loosely on the traditional Chicken tortilla soup – but instead, using beef seasoned with taco seasoning (garlic & cumin), adding black beans (canned or already cooked, otherwise they get crunchy – ask me how I know!), a cup of salsa, two-three cups of frozen veggies from our fridge, cooked for a few hours in a slow cooker, creates the most wonderful, scrumptious, complex-texture of soup with Mexican flavor.  We ate it with cheese, guacamole, and chips to garnish!

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My picky-eater actually really enjoyed it!  Success!!!!

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So. Amazing.

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Beauty Basics – Fall & Winter Skincare

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No make-up, fresh skin, that’s wearable in the early mornings of Fall and Winter, is something that I used to not be able to do.  Summer skin seems to retain more moisture and oil naturally, making going make-up free almost preferable.  Who wants their makeup sliding off in the heat?  But with the dry, cracked, or acne-prone skin of Winter?  It’s a whole different ball-game!

As I’m getting nearer and nearer to being in my 30’s, I am embracing the peacefulness of feeling literally more comfortable in my bare-faced skin.  I love it!  ❤ I love the minimalist approach.

Of course, there are things I do though, that help me to feel this confident when make-up free.  Here are some things I’ve done over the years that have been proven to create skin that doesn’t need makeup.

Fall & Winter Skin Care Tips

  • Wash face with cleansing wash or basic face soap every day, I wash in the morning and at night
  • Wash with a specifically gentle exfoliant once every day.  I currently use a giant bottle of The Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash by Philosophy.  It’s the 32 oz, and lasts for about a year.
  • Use a thick, anti-oxidant rich moisturizer or even a basic oil (Castor Oil works like a dream and is extremely inexpensive) to sleep in at night.  Only use the oil a couple of times a week.
  • Take Omega 3 Fish Oil capsules to repair skin from the inside-out during the dryness of Winter, this also benefits your hair, making it grow faster than normal.
  • Get enough sleep!  It’s amazing to me, how much our bodies repair even minuscule damage done each and every day by free radicals that affect how we age.  If we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies literally do not have enough time to repair all the damage accrued in the day.  Sleep is one of the best anti-aging secrets then, and you really can’t make-up for lost sleep during the week, by trying to sleep extra hours over the weekend.  Our bodies just don’t work like that.  Get enough sleep each night, and wake up to healthy, beautiful, glowing skin.

Fall

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We are ready for Fall in our house.  My son was telling me how excited he was about Halloween coming up, and I totally share in his excitement!  I can’t wait for the cool breezes and the leaves changing. the cinnamon, apples, and pumpkins.  Sometimes we need a change, maybe that’s why I’ve always loved every season, with it comes fresh, new changes, and growth into new seasons of life.

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I recently instructed a woman in the post My Husband Isn’t Romantic Enough, to keep a gratitude journal by her bed, and every night, to write down something she’s grateful for, and to pray over the list – even with her husband if she wants.  I thought it would be a great idea if I took my own advice and implemented this little ritual into my life.  So, this new season I’ve been keeping a journal that logs my daily activities, thoughts about our kid’s, goals for the day to accomplish and check off, a place to log my emotion (to track depression & what may affect it), spiritual insights from my devotion time, thoughts about our dog (like “vomited in our car today” lol), and then… at the end of the day and at the end of the page, there’s a space for “Gratitude Acknowledgment.”  It really has been a wonderful exercise each night to spend time reflecting on one thing in particular that I’m grateful for – it changes your whole perspective and gives you so much peace before falling asleep.

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I won’t lie though, that first night I tried this, it was hard.  It was a Monday, our busiest day by far, I had been up since 5am, my husband usually does the school run on his own since it’s the only time he sees our son in the day, but that morning, he insisted I had to come.  So we’d already done the school run with the baby in tow, ran a couple of errands together, and then my husband totally surprised me by taking me to a jeweler to order a beautiful Police Wife badge necklace – so sweet!  So unexpected :’) .  I’ve really come to appreciate this new time with him in the morning as being extremely romantic for us – whether it is just running errands together and teasing each other, or having extra time to be intimate when the baby naps.  Even with all this love and us having a great relationship and friendship even, the rest of the day after he left for work took it’s toll on my attitude.  I got the baby down at his naptime, woke the baby up only an hour & a half later (he usually sleep 2-3 hours poor thing), and we had to go pick up bubba (big brother) from school.  Because I let the baby sleep a little extra, I left later than I should have and felt rushed to pick him up on time… something I’ve learned how to handle much better since then!

Picking him up from school is like some kind of marathon when by myself with a baby.  Last week, we were faced with temperatures close to 100 F, and his pickup is on a black top with no tree in sight.  I stay there for about 30-40 minutes, too, so that I can talk and laugh with my mom friends while our kids play together.  It’s the only time I get to see some of these mommies, and even though we were dripping in sweat, our hair even plastered down and wet, it’s well worth it.  After that we make the trek to the car, feeling like we’re crossing some African desert, my huge stroller (that could seriously be a small SUV) holds all our stuff like a caravan traveling through – thank God for ice water!  We then go home, rest, start home work, eat snacks, I let my son watch a cartoon or play, the wild dog 🙂 comes in for some time with us, we dinner, I get him dressed for his sports practice, his little cleats on, change the baby, grab the dog, and travel to his practice for the evening.

Practice is outside, but it’s cooler, and with our dog… there is never a dull moment!  Super loved seeing all the kids, the high schoolers, the people running around the track.  The team we’ve joined is like a family, since they practice 3 nights a week, and see each other 4 days out of 7, you have no other choice 🙂  A 16 year old girl took immediately to Super, and after an hour, I let her take him around – she was ecstatic & so was Super!  He’d fallen in love with her ❤

After getting home, getting my son bathed off quickly and the baby to sleep, I felt like I could barely move.

I wrote my Gratitude Acknowledgement before falling asleep like a baby –

At the end of the day, I feel so exhausted… it’s so freaking hard without (my husband) at night!  I can barely even write! (True, I can barely even read my writing.)  But I’m thankful that I ended well with our oldest son, we had an argument, but I was able to de-escalate it, and keep our relationship loving even though I felt like a zombie.”

Halloween Cookie Cakes

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This month we’ve made a couple of cookie cakes – one just the size of a personal pizza, and then one really large one (the size of a pizza pan) for a party.  These taste amazing, from a homemade chocolate chip cookie dough recipe from GOOP.  It’s truly easy to do – easier than making cookies even because it takes less time!  And yet it tastes richer than the commercial cookie cakes they overprice.

Enjoy!

Tate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Read original issue here

ingredients

makes about 40 cookies

  • 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) lightly salted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (Nestlé can’t really be beat)

preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 350º.

2. Whisk the flour, soda and salt together in a bowl.

3. In another large bowl, mix the butter with a wooden spoon to lighten it a bit and then mix in the sugars.

4. Add the water, vanilla and eggs to the butter mixture.

5. Stir in the flour mixture until just combined and then fold in the chocolate chips.

6. Spread all of the batter evenly across a foiled, greased pizza pan.  It should be about 1/4″ think.

7. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the center is firm and the whole cookie is browned.

8. Let the cake sit in the pizza pan to cool, and leave it in the pan for easy transfer (cookies break).

 Recipe adapted from Tate’s Bake Shop.

Our pictures of this baking pleasure!  My son loves this first pic… says it reminds him of how good it tastes 😉

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It takes only a few minutes to whip up the batter (the only thing that takes awhile is waiting for the butter to soften to Room Temp – but that can be sped up with the microwave).  You can also use any kind of chip… peanut butter, white chocolate (which is divine!), M&M’s work well, or caramel chips.  Doing it homemade gives you endless options to make this your own special cake.

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If you’re worried about decorating it, don’t worry – with the variety of icing tips out there, you will be able to make a pretty design.  Start with the edges… this is just a simple “star” tip (a classic one at the store) and you just get used to pressing only for a second and out will come this little design.

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For me, I’ve practiced the ghost busters logo, but it’s also easy to write on cake, outlining the letters with another (skinnier tipped) color.  Sprinkles add a great dimension as well, and your kids will love putting them on!

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And the end result!

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The Perfect Autumn Treat: Pumpkin Spice Latte Muffins

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I’ve never fallen into the whole pumpkin spice everything craze before this year, but since we absolutely love homemade baked treats, I decided to do it this year… and we were so grateful we tried this recipe from Pop Sugar !

I made two different batters (splitting the recipe equally): one with the espresso powder (for the Latte Muffins), and one that was simply regular Pumpkin Spice for my 4 year old.  The pictures might be a bit blurry sometimes – our camera wasn’t working and I had to use my phone camera (which is not the best)!

You start with the dry ingredients, the flour, baking soda, and espresso powder if you’re using it.

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The Espresso Powder I used:

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Then you add the special spices that smell like Autumnal Heaven!  Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and Cloves – spices I’ve never baked altogether with before, and completely made this process of making the muffins from scratch totally worth it!

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Next you work in a separate bowl with the pumpkin puree

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Add the white and brown sugars and the oil, then use a mixer to make the batter, after the sugar is completely incorporate, add the eggs and mix until smooth

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Add the flour dry mixture into the wet batter slowly, beating until all of it is just combined.

I ended up with the lighter batter for the Regular muffins, and the darker batter for the Latte ones.  The bowl at the top was the streusel topping mixture (minus the dried oats), follow the instructions below or watch the video to see how easy that is to create

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Now you’re ready to fill your muffin cups!

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Add the streusel on top for a bit of sweetness with the spice

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Ingredients

  • For muffins:
    2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
    3 tablespoons espresso powder
    2 teaspoons baking soda
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree
    1 cup sugar
    1 cup brown sugar
    1 cup vegetable oil
    4 large eggs

For streusel topping:
1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line a cupcake pan with liners.
  2. Make the muffins: In a medium bowl, combine flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Stir, and set aside.
  3. In another bowl with an electric mixer, blend pumpkin, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and oil; add the eggs, and mix on low.
  4. Add the flour gradually to the mixture, continuing to beat on low until fully incorporated.
  5. Transfer batter to the cupcake liners, filling until 3/4 full.
  6. Make the streusel topping: Combine oats, flour, brown sugar, melted butter, and salt together until well combined.
  7. Top each muffin with a generous portion of streusel mixture. Transfer muffins to the oven, and bake until they are golden brown, about 18-20 minutes.

We love cream cheese frosting, so we decided to make these muffins sweeter and easy to decorate with sprinkles and icing!

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The recipe made 48 muffins!!!!  They were smaller than the 24 shown in the video, so that’s what happened – but the extra was great as we got to share with family and friends, everyone loved them.

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So delicious!

http://www.popsugar.com/psvn/embed?video=32162600&width=728&height=410

Celebrate the Pumpkin

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I’m loving our Fall 2014!!  There is something about pumpkins and looking forward to the activities of October that just gets me pumped & excited!  Almost every weekend in October is full of plans and pumpkin-y things, from the first weekend when we picked out pumpkins 🙂 ❤ to Oktoberfest at the Beer Gardens this coming weekend, to Halloween parties – I want my son to really appreciate everything in each time’s season… not just feel like time passes by, but to learn how to have JOY in every season with all its unique changes and flair.

Soon, we’ll be posting us making the Pumpkin Spice (Latte) Muffins, complete with the video we use & the recipe.  We’ve already done our first batch of sugar cookies glazed with Dinosaurs, shields, and swords for my son’s Tuesday class once a week.  We’ll be posting a Frittata breakfast post – the perfect Fall morning treat aside with all its spices and warmth, along with Tamale Pie next week – with multiple ways to create it from “Yankee” aka – not really Tamale Pie, to Quick & Easy, to the real thing which uses the authentic masa.

Just this Wednesday, my husband and I were able to sneak away for a date night downtown.  It was peaceful and breezy – the perfect Fall evening – as we watched the river that runs throughout our downtown turn to black with the night sky.  It was a full moon that night, and we were able to just relax & enjoy each other, listening to the music and night life all around us.

Before we got to our destination, we walked through one of our favorite places, La Villita, or “the little village.”  This place has special memories for me as I used to dance there on weekends for performances.  This year they decorated every corner and front shop porch with pumpkins – I couldn’t resist capturing the memory!

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This is what we saw when we first came inside La Villita… the beautiful vines in the backdrop, and the first of their pumpkin show.

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And an adorable, Halloween cat – this cat could easily have been named “Pumpkin” in my book.  ❤

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The colors of the pumpkins are just so pretty in this picture – and how they slightly reflect on the white wall.  It was so beautiful.

 

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Decorating our own pumpkins with Glow in the Dark glue!

Inspiration

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I swear I can smell Fall in the air when I go out early in the morning on our patio.  I truly have a love for all the seasons – I appreciate the changes in each – but I think I love Fall a little bit better.  Summer has been wonderful, yes, even while pregnant and over-heating from just being outside for 5 minutes in the afternoon.  But thankfully, we live very close to a huge waterpark, and that’s been our playground all summer long.  The best feeling is walking barefoot in sand!

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Or for a kid, playing in it!

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The summer has been incredible also in that we got to see our son involved in sports – his first ever season playing soccer, and he’s already really good.  His last game he scored 3 goals, and played really well!  He’s athletic like his daddy and I were.

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He’s the one in the middle, they are all so adorable!

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He’s throwing the ball in, I’m behind him sitting down.

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It was wonderful going to his games every Saturday… love this little boy so much!

Ready for Fall!

I’m addicted to all the wonderful Fall foods to cook… just some from last year that I posted recipes to are the Mini Apple Turnovers, the Creamy Potato Soup with Sausage, and the decadent Traditional Chocolate Tart that has changed Christmas dessert for me forever now.  All recipes can be found here

There will be many more delicious recipes this coming season to look forward to!

Some links that are awesome:

Pregnant Mommy Rant (Things you really wish you could say to people when you’re pregnant… but you can’t)

An interview with the gorgeous Gigi Hadid on her beauty routine

Miranda Kerr’s 7 Rules for Adulthood (See if you’re stuck in immaturity or are really growing up)

Ideas for an Easier Morning

 

The morning – especially that quiet segment between when I awake and when others do – is like a sacred time of renewal, meditation, much needed prayer, and finally… creativity.  According to a study done by PHD, a media planning agency, 69% of women say they feel their least attractive when they wake up in the morning.*  I don’t know about you, but I definitely believe everyone’s morning would go easier, and feel happier if we didn’t collectively feel so yuck in these precious morning hours.

Here are some tips of my own, along with points taken from Allure’s July 2014 issue article, Rise & Shine:

  • Use a coffee timer   –   seriously, no other single device will make your morning more beautiful than being able to walk over to a brewing pot of coffee, the aroma itself is enough to pull me out of bed at an unwholesome hour.  If you don’t do coffee, or do instant tea (my best friend loves her Green Tea in the morning), taking the extra effort to just ensure that everything is organized and in its place is enough to make the process easier, and even pleasurable.
  • Leisurely Plan Your Outfit   –   Savannah Guthrie, a Today co-anchor, says she forces herself to think about what she’s going to wear for the day while in the shower, so that by the time she gets out she knows exactly what she’s going to put on.*
  • Use a tongue scraper   –   nothing works better to get your mouth feeling really clean… and if you’re like me, you don’t feel as though your morning is complete without your mouth feeling beautifully fresh.
  • Wear easy morning makeup   –   After a quick wash with an alpha-hydroxyl toner, use a tinted moisturizer or BB cream, along with cream concealer to dab with your finger under your eyes & along the ridge of your nose & sides of your nostrils.  A cream blush can double as color on your cheeks as well as naturally tinted looking lips.  Allure’s article also suggests a soft pencil eyeliner (that smudges for you), mascara, and a sharp eyebrow pencil to really make your eyes morning ready.
  • Hair   –   showering the night before gives you the option of having clean, ready to go hair in the morning, and taking an extra step or two right before sleep will save time and energy as well as give you that morning-goddess feeling.  Use leave-in conditioner on the bottom-half sections of your hair and braid in one or two braids to sleep in for soft, naturally wavy-looking, ready to go morning hair.

 

 

 

 

*Points from Rise & Shine by Danielle Pergament in Allure July 2014 issue