Chicken Chili Soup

A couple weeks ago, I got a recipe for Southwestern White Chili from a friend and finally, a couple days ago I tried to make it. If only I had checked the pantry first. After realizing I was missing a few ingredients, I decided to wing it. What I got turned out very tasty, but more like a soup than chili:
Chicken Chili Soup:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 large jalapeno, diced
2 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cubed or shredded
1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel
1 (5 oz) can green chilies
2 (15.8 oz each) cans white beans
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
Juice of 3 limes (about 3 1/2 tablespoons)
Chicken broth
Toss everything into a crockpot. Stir and cook on high for 4 hours. We had it with sour cream and cheddar cheese, and it was delish.


Not-So-Creamy Spinach Alfredo

I love the frozen Bertolli pasta meal Chicken Florentine & Farfalle and I've been trying to recreate it at home. I didn't think it would be too hard, I just needed a creamy Alfredo-type sauce. I found a recipe and this is what ensued: Looks scrumptious, doesn't it? {heavy sarcasm} I'm pretty sure things went badly because I used whole milk and butter instead of cream. Let me share this tragedy with you.
Not-So-Creamy Sauce:

4 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups whole milk
10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
parmesan & mozzarella cheeses
cooked pasta
Melt butter with olive oil. Add garlic and cook for a couple of minutes. Add milk and simmer. Start getting nervous when the butter doesn't combine with milk and the sauce refuses to thicken. Think that the parmesan will save the sauce. Add it and the spinach. Watch it get worse. Desperately ask your husband for suggestions. Listen to his idea and throw in a bunch of mozzarella. Once the spinach and cheeses have clumped together, toss with pasta. Choke it down while apologizing profusely. Try to believe your husband when he says that it tastes fine.
Enjoy......or not.


Birthday Cupcakes & Fruit Dip

My oldest is now 3. Old enough to show preferences for things like movies. Originally, I had planned on doing a Toy Story themed party, but life got in the way and before I knew it, I'd run out of time. Instead, her birthday turned into a pink-and-purple-fest. It started with my daughter picking out Tinkerbell plates, cups and napkins. Then she wanted pink and purple balloons. So I got matching streamers and the p & p party was born: I used the same chocolate cake recipe from Martha Stewart that I used for my brother's wedding cake. I made the full recipe and got 48 mini cupcakes and 21 regular sized cupcakes. I had to tweak the cooking time. The recipe said 25-35 minutes for the mini, and they were done in about 15 minutes. Cupcakes were finished in less than 20, rather than the 35-45 minutes. I used this buttercream formula for the frosting. I made one batch but only had enough to frost half of the cupcakes. I took half of the frosting and colored it purple with vanilla extract. The other half I colored pink and flavored with cherry extract. They were delish. I loved the cherry frosting with the chocolate cake. This is kind of funny to me because I hated when my mom would add cherries to chocolate cake batter, blah! I still think that's nasty, but the cherry frosting was wonderful.To dress up the cupcakes, I melted white chocolate chips and wrote out 3's and H's on parchment paper. After they hardened in the freezer I peeled them off and plonked them on the cupcakes: Next time I'll use a mold. They were OK, but, well I like things to look nice and neat. That does not describe these H's:
Oh well. I also made a super yummy fruit dip. I love this stuff. It's fluffy and just the right amount of sweetness.
Fruit Dip:

1 7 0z jar marshmallow cream
1 8 oz tub of strawberry cream cheese
1/2 cup whipping cream, whipped and sweetened to taste (you could use Cool Whip if you wanted)
Mix the marshmallow and cheese together until smooth. Gently fold in whipping cream. Serve with any kind of fruit you have on hand.


Making Stars

Materials Needed
*needle and thread
*35 main color beads (mc)
* 5 accent color beads (ac)
Tie 10 mc into a circle with a square knot finish, leaving a one to two inch tail. Go through 3 to 4 beads pulling the knot and tail into the circle to hide it. Cut off any of the tail that is still showing. Go through one more bead without pulling the knot through. (doing this keeps the knot out of the way)
String two mc, one ac, and then one mc. Skip the last mc strung, and go back through the ac. (the string will be on the outside of the end bead)
Then string two mc, skip a bead in the ring, and go through the next.
Repeat step 2 around the ring for a total of 5 points. To make the points stronger, go through them again in the same way.
To end the thread, go through one or two beads on the ring and tie a half hitch knot. Do this a couple of times. End by going through a couple of beads and cut off the extra thread.
YAY!!! A STAR!!!!
(for the bracelet I made nine stars and hooked them together with jump rings. If you do it, make sure the beads(I used size 11 seed beads) at the top of the points have big enough holes to fit the jump rings, I made a necklace in the same way. Other ideas I had for these were to make them out of crystal and hang them from a ribbon on a Christmas tree. I made some plastic ones that my two year old likes to pretend are the stars on Dora. She throws them in the air and catches them.)
This is the first time I've written instructions for anything, so let me know how I did.
I would also like to hear/see any ideas you came up with. It is always fun to see what awesome things people do with something so simple.


Pillows & Cookies

Finally, after almost two months I got my sewing machine out. I wanted to revamp the pillows in the living room. I found this beautiful fabric online and decided to go with it:I love them: The colors feel fall-ish to me and fall is my favorite season, so that's a good thing. On another note, I made some interesting cookies yesterday- RootBeer Cookies:

I found the recipe on Make and Takes and decided to give them a whirl. They were really good, especially cold. I did feel like they needed a little more root beer extract and actually doubled it in the frosting. Next time I think I'll double it in the batter as well. Click here for the recipe.