Monday, October 24, 2011

CrockPot Soups - it's that time of year again

So, I have a thing for soups. Maybe it's because Houston had such a stiflingly hot summer - now all signs of fall are welcome as we ease in to cooler weather (sort of - we keep flip flopping).

These are two CrockPot soups I have made recently. Since I am working so much closer to home now, I can go home during lunch and turn the CrockPot on - it's very handy! Just come home and eat, basically. CrockPot meals are also nice since I am getting off later now - less dinner prep to do when I get home.

This first recipe was a BIG HIT with my family (Mom, Memaw and Aunt Mary) when they visited a few weeks ago. I thought it was really cool that the soup was based on a boxed rice mix - the seasoning from the Rice-A-Roni seasoned the chicken and broth, too - very cool! See below recipe for my thoughts and plans for next time...


Sorry, I didn't think to take a picture until I was putting up the leftovers... There's a better picture on the original blog - see the link below!

CrockPot Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 package of Rice-a-Roni long grain and wild rice
1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
1/2 tsp pepper
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup butter
2 cups half and half
1 cup grated carrots (I diced mine and used some baby carrots I had on hand)
1 cup diced celery (we didn't have any celery, so I left this out)


Combine broth, water, carrots, celery, chicken and rice (along with seasoning packet) in a large slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Take out chicken and shred with two forks and then add back into slow cooker. In a small bowl combine salt, pepper, and flour. In medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour mixture by tablespoon to form a roux. Whisk in cream, a little at a time, until fully incorporated and smooth. Stir cream mixture into slow cooker and then let cook on low for 15 more minutes.

WARNING - Don't blindly dumb all the cream mixture into the crock pot at the end unless you want REALLY thick soup. Add it until it reaches the consistency you're looking for. I didn't use all of my cream mixture, and I still think I added too much.

IN REVIEW - Next time, for one, I think I will add onions to the soup (I love cooking with onions and always think they improve this sort of recipe). Also, I'll be more careful with the cream sauce. I also think that the soup would be good without the cream sauce (so just regular chicken and rice). My mom was going to try it this way (she's not into creamy soups).


Chicken Enchilada Soup was a favorite of mine at the Chi Omega house, and ever since graduating, I've been searching for a recipe as good as theirs, and this one comes close! It seems a little thinner than theirs, but it was sooo good and heated up nicely.

Chicken Enchilada Soup

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained (I opted for pinto instead)
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 10-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped yellow, green, or red bell pepper
1 10-ounce can enchilada sauce (I used medium, per Lan's request)
1 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup shredded Pepper jack cheese (4 ounces)
2 chicken breasts

In a 3 1/2 to 5 quart slow cooker, combine drained beans, tomatoes, corn, onion, and bell pepper. Place 2 chicken breasts on top of mixture. In a large bowl, whisk together enchilada sauce and soup. Gradually whisk in milk until smooth. Pour sauce mixture over ingredients in cooker.Cover; cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours or on high for 3 to 4 hours. Remove chicken and cut or shred into bite sized pieces. Add chicken back into soup. Top with pepper jack cheese (I did this after plating) and serve. Can also be topped with avocado, sour cream, or crushed tortilla chips.

Note: if the soup is too thick for you, just add a little more milk after it’s all cooked.

IN REVIEW - This makes A LOT (see below). We could probably eat on it 3 times (with me taking leftovers to work the next day each time). It's hard to cut down, since it calls for whole cans of things, but I made a whole recipe of it and froze the leftovers. We are having it again this week, so I'll see how well it held up in the freezer! It was SO GOOD. Definitely my favorite over the creamy chicken and rice. We had cheese enchiladas with it, which was nice too.

See, it makes a lot! This was after we'd both eaten.

I hope you have time to make these recipes, because they are great! PS - both of these recipes are from Pinterest. If you aren't on Pinterest yet, stop what you are doing and go join immediately. It changed my life. (Well, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it is a wealth of good ideas, and I LOVE it and I have a feeling you will too - trust me.)

More Holloway fun to come soon - weekend recap and Canton finds.

Love from Houston,

L and J

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

House Tour Continues - Kitchen and Breakfast Area

You've been asking for them, and here they are! More house pics for your enjoyment :)

The kitchen is basically my favorite room in the house. I LOVE everything in it, especially our granite. It's so pretty :) I may have said this in previous posts, but I was nervous when we made our selections (chose colors, finishes, flooring, etc.) that something would look off in the house or not match exactly, but we were very happy with the way everything turned out, especially in the kitchen!

General shot of the kitchen - as you can see, it's a very open area.

It looks out into the breakfast room, with the living room after that.

Our pantry - the door to the right goes into the formal living room. To the left is the entryway to the front door. On the wall to the left of the pantry is the sampler Erica Cain made us as a wedding gift - and the clock on top was from Laura Ficken (we get lots of compliments on these :) ).

Fridge and canisters. We have really enjoyed having the ice/water in the door!

Range/stove and microwave. I'm really glad that my stand mixer fits on the counter - it's easier to get to when I need it!


Close up of our sinks.

Our island - I love it!

Our drawers go out really far! I think this is cool, but it is probably standard in every house build nowadays, haha...

On to the Breakfast Room... We have a little bar in between, complete with comfy stools!

Breakfast table (if you ever came to Stonhenge to visit me and Sarah, you might remember this!)

Our buffet, where we showcase our MSU pottery. Fun fact - my square bowl has a typo on it ("Bawgs" instead of "Dawgs"). I have had it for a couple of years, and never noticed until one of my friends here pointed it out! Oh well.

The Breakfast Room looks into the Living Room.

That's all for now!

Up next for us... anniversary weekend trip (yes, our anniversary was in July, but we were about to buy the house then, so we decided to postpone the trip until October!) - we are staying downtown, going to a Brazilian Steakhouse, and going to see the King Tut exhibit (nerdy fun)!

Love from Houston!

L and J

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Pioneer Woman's Pumpkin Spice Muffins

I'm on a quest to find a good pumpkin muffin recipe (please send me one if you have a good one!). I made these this weekend while my family was in town, and everyone loved them! It's a Pioneer Woman recipe (no wonder I loved it). I wasn't looking for so much spice in my search for pumpkin muffin perfection, but it does say spice in the title so I should have known! She puts cream cheese icing on hers, and I didn't do that, but they were still good (I know they would've been good with it, too). Unfortunately, I didn't take a pic :( Sorry guys!


L and J

Moist Pumpkin Spice Muffins (with Cream Cheese Icing)

Recipe from Pioneer Woman's website:

  • Muffin Ingredients:
  • 1 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup (heaping) Pumpkin Puree
  • 1/2 cup Evaporated Milk
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Golden Raisins (optional!)
  • _____
  • Topping
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • _____
  • 1/4 cup Softened Butter
  • 4 ounces, weight Cream Cheese
  • 1/2 pound Powdered Sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously grease 12 muffin tins.

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Cut in butter with two knives or a pastry blender until it is fully incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix together pumpkin, evaporated milk, egg, and vanilla. Pour pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture. Add raisins. Fold gently until mixture is just combined.

Pour into a greased muffin pan—batter hardly ever fills all twelve unless you keep it down to 1/2 full. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon-sugar-nutmeg mixture over the top of each unbaked muffin.

Bake for 25 minutes. Allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove and allow to cool. Ice with cream cheese frosting.

To make the frosting, mix all ingredients on high until soft and whipped. Spread onto completely cooled muffins, or place into a large pastry bag with a large star tip and go crazy! Store in the fridge, as icing will soften at room temperature.