1.31.2011

Chicken Tortilla Soup

One of my favorite soups to make during the fall & winter is:
Crock Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup

I made up this recipe a few years ago & it has become a staple in our house during the cold months.

Here is what you need:
4-6 chicken breasts, cooked & diced
1 large (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes
1 (14 ounce) can enchilada sauce
(I use medium, but you can use mild or hot)
1 medium onion, chopped
(Or, if you are a cheater like me, I buy the pre-diced onion. My eyes are SO sensitive to onion & my eyes water so badly. The pre-diced stuff is the best invention since sliced bread!)
1 can chopped green chilies
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
1 (32 ounce) container chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
Salt & Pepper (to taste)
1 (10 ounce) package frozen corn

For the garnish:
Corn Tortillas
Avocado
Shredded Cheese
Sour Cream
Green Onions

Here are the Super Easy directions:
1. Boil your chicken breasts until fully cooked. Then, dice them up!
Or you can use my Quick & Easy Shredded Chicken Method {HERE}
2. Place diced chicken, diced tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, green chilies, mined garlic & corn into your crock pot.
3. Pour in chicken broth, add cumin, chili powder, salt, pepper.
4. Stir.5. Cover and cook on Low for 5 to 6 hours or on High for 2 to 3 hours.

About 30 miutes before you are going to serve the soup, you need to get the tortillas ready!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly brush both sides of tortillas with olive oil (or vegetable oil, whatever you have on hand!)Cut tortillas into strips (I use a pizza cutter) then spread on a baking sheet.
Bake in preheated oven until crisp, about 10 to 15 minutes.To serve, put tortilla strips over soup.
Then, I garnish that with sour cream, shredded cheese & sliced up avocado (you can garnish with green onions also, I just didn't have any)
It looks this pretty for about 10 seconds & then I stir it all together and eat it!
This soup is so easy & so yummy.
We go back for seconds every time I make it for dinner!

Enjoy!

1.26.2011

Kate's Cinderella Party

Saturday was Kate's Cinderella Birthday Party.
About 6 months ago, she told me she wanted a Cinderella Birthday Party.
My response? Yes. Done. You got it!
So, for the past 6 months, I have been "mentally" planning this party and had ideas swirling around in my head.
I was SO happy with how it turned out!

Here are the invites that I made:
{Now available in my Etsy shop!}
Because Kate's favorite color is purple, I knew I wanted to have touches of lavender along with "Cinderella" blue. I made some tissue pom poms:
The pom poms were hung above a kids table that I rented. It sat 12 kids which was perfect because we had 10 of Kate's friends at the party, plus Kate & Claire, so 12 total!
When the little girls arrived, I had crowns set up at the table so each of them could make their own crown. One of my neighbors still had some mini pumpkins leftover from Halloween, so I asked her if I could use them for the party. I added some glitter paint to them to give them that Cinderella feel!
I also printed out some Cinderella coloring pages, so that they could color if they finished their crown.
Other decorations included some fresh flowers & balloons:
The tables even has glass slippers on them (thanks to my friend Erin for mailing them!)
Napkins & Balloon
At 11:30, there was a knock at the door & guess who walked into our house?
Cinderella, of course!
As she entered the Family Room, a hush went over the room & she asked the Birthday Girl, Kate to come up. All the little girls were speechless & in awe (including Kate!)
She read Kate a Royal Birthday Proclamation.
Here is the proclamation she read:
And, then she gave Kate a Birthday crown:

Then Cinderella sat the girls down & told them the Cinderella story and sang to them.
She was an AMAZING Cinderella.
You could have heard a pin drop when she sang. All the girls were so attentive.
I was SO impressed.
Claire (aka Belle) wasn't that impressed & walked away for part of the story time:
I think she was still a little bitter she didn't get a crown from Cinderella but Kate did.
After the story, Cinderella did some fun little magic tricks for the girls, like turning tea water different colors.
After story time, it was time for lunch!
The Spread:
I set up the food table in my dinning room:
The Menu for the kids:
Sandwiches (PB & J or Turkey & Cheese)
Mini Pizza Bites:
Bibbiddi Boppidi Fruit Kabobs:
Veggies & Hummus
For the mom's:
Carriage Wheels (turkey & cream cheese pinwheel sandwiches)
2 types of salad:
Drinks!
While the girls were eating lunch, Cinderella called up each of the girls for face painting.
I wasn't sure if Kate would let Cinderella paint her face, but she did!
Kate asked for a pink & purple butterfly:
I noticed that half my friends/family wore some shade of purple to the party.
I think the subconsciously wore purple in honor Kate :)
Claire loved getting her face painted:

After face painting, it was time for cake!
Here is the dessert table:
Behind the dessert table was a banner I made Kate:
I made these cupcakes & designed some fun toppers for her:
I made dipped pretzles (Princess Wands) and dipped marshmallows ( to resemble the pillow that the Glass Slipper was carried on)
And, of course, my mother in law made another one of her beautiful cakes:

She loved having everyone singing to her...big smiles!
Trying to blow those candles out....
Kate's favorite part of blowing out candles is getting to take them out & lick the bottoms! ha!
After cake, it was time for Cinderella to go
All the girls gave her good-bye hugs...
And walked her to the door....
They all crowded at the door because they wanted to see her carriage....
(But, she came in a car & parked at the edge of our court, so we had to close the door....all the little girls huddled around the door trying to sneak a peek)
The party wrapped up soon after that & it was time to say goodbye to our guests.
For favors I got each girl a Cinderella book (because Kate LOVES to read books)
And, they got a glass slipper cookie that my friend Heather made.
Aren't they adorable?
I made the favor tags.
Kate saying goodbye to her guests:
It was a memorable party, one of my favorites for sure!
Thanks to all who came & helped celebrate Kate's 4th Birthday!

Click to see:
Kate's 1st Birthday Cupcake Party
Kate's 2nd Birthday Carnival Party
Kate's 3rd Birthday Minnie Mouse Party

1.23.2011

Happy 4th Birthday Kate!

Dear Katelyn Grace,

Today you turned FOUR.
I can't believe it has been 4 years since you were born.
In some ways, it feels like you have been part of our lives forever.
In other ways, it feels like these past four years have happened in an instant.
It is going by WAY too fast!
We have been celebrating your birthday for the past several days.
Last week, you got to bring in a birthday snack to your preschool class.
What snack did you pick? Chocolate fudge ice cream cups, of course.
I got to be there to help you celebrate with your preschool class.
I had so much fun watching you interact with your classmates & teachers.
You LOVE school. You ask to go everyday.
Your teachers had the nicest things to say about you.
They adore you & couldn't stop telling me how sweet & kind you are.
And you know what? They are right.
You are one of the sweetest & kindest little girls I know.
I am honored to call you my daughter.
Want to know who else is sweet & kind? Your 2 best friends, Maddie & Nicole.
You are so lucky to have these girls in your life. My prayer is that you girls remain friends for the rest of your lives (hey, it's possible! One of my best friends, Sue and I went to preschool together. And, one of Kevin's best friend Joe also met in preschool).
You always talk about how you, Maddie & Nicole are going to grow up together and have sleepovers and stay friends forever. I hope this is true, because I adore them and their moms!
Your other best friend is your sister, Claire.....who you call Sissy.
You love your Sissy and when she is napping, you want to wake her up so you can play with her.
You are so kind & patient with her when she takes your toys (and clothes).
Of course, you have your moments when you dont want to share.
You even let Claire help you open up your birthday presents.
Claire looks up to you & wants to do everything that you do.
She wants to wear your clothes & your underwear & your pajamas.
You are already such a good role model to her and tell her that she needs to work on listening and sharing.
You LOVE Cinderella and about 6 months ago asked me if you could have a Cinderella birthday party. And yesterday, the day finally came. We threw you a Cinderella party & it was SO MUCH FUN. (Stay tuned....I will blog about it later this week)
You wanted 10 little girls to come to your party & all 10 little girls came!
You told me your favorite part of the party was having Cinderella paint your face (which I was so proud of you for letting her do, since you normally don't ever want your face painted)
The last few nights you haven't slept very well & kept waking up asking if it was your birthday yet. Last night you woke us up at 2 am to tell us that you were now 4 years old.
Today when you woke up for the day, you couldn't wait to go to church. We have missed the past few weeks because you (and Claire) were sick. You love going to church & are so sad when we don't go. I hope you keep that passion! And, guess who we ended up sitting next to at church? Dr W (the doctor who delivered you). I thought that was so fitting :)

We went to a birthday party for Leila after church & you were such a trooper even though you were so tired.
Then after her party we came back home to get ready for your family party tonight!
You didn't want to take a nap because you wanted to play outside. (You only take naps about twice a week)
The weather was beautiful today, 70 degrees! This is warm for Nor Cal in January! It reminded me of the day you were born, because that was also a very warm January day!
Kate, you are such a joy to our family. You are so loveable and helpful.
You love to organize things and help me cook & bake. And, you have even started helping me fold laundry!
You are still a picky eater, but you have been branching out a little more and will actually try a bite of something new every once in awhile. You are eating more and are finally staring to grow out of some of your clothes!
If it were up to you, you would eat cinnamon toast, hot dogs, pizza & fruit everyday.
You are so artistic and love to color. I am so impressed by your artistic skills!
You are left handed (just like your Daddy!)
Tonight we had our families over for your birthday dinner. You wanted pineapple pizza (your favorite!) and cupcakes.
You had the biggest smile on your face as we sang you "Happy Birthday".
I know you feel loved by each person who came over tonight.
You are so lucky to have so many people who love you.
I think your favorite gift (besides your purple room) is the camera adapter that Auntie Bots gave you for your Leapster. It actually takes pictures!!!! You took over 30 pictures with it tonight & didn't want to set it down. I had to pry it out of your hands at bedtime. Oh, that made me so proud! You just wanted to keep capturing your day & your surroundings on that camera.

Kate, on your 4th birthday, I hope you know how much you are loved by us, your family, your friends and most importantly, God. I am so thankful for God's timing. I am so glad he entrusted us to be your parents & to raise you. I pray you grow up knowing how much you are loved & cared for and in return, I pray you will show God's love and care to others.

Happy 4th Birthday to my Sweet Kate.
It is an honor & a privilege to be your Mommy.
I love you to the moon & back.

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