Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2 Hoots and Salutes

{if you aren't familiar with Hoots and Salutes, trust me, it is a good thing}
I have incredibly talented friends.
And I am over the top proud of them.  .  . 
so, today I wanted to introduce you to a few!
Maybe you will add a tv show to your weekly line up, be inspired by a design, or buy a lovely sign for a blank wall! 
Either way, I know you will be amazed! :-)

 {nashville/hollywood} 
Caroline Cutbirth and I met at summer camp when we were little and reconnected at Baylor when she went Kappa! She has one of the most incredible voices I have ever heard and spent numerous years singing in the band, Stealing Angels. Now she is making her television debut on this season's Amazing Race! :-) 

{real estate} 
Erin Meadows and I went to high school together, were college roommates and sorority sisters. She is smart, witty, and incredibly business savvy! Erin works for one of the most successful real estate firms in the city of Houston and is making a name for herself in the industry. She has a unique commission program that makes tons of sense for today's Houston market! If you need any help buying or selling a home in the Houston area, I highly recommend her! :-) 

{design} 
Elizabeth Munger Stiver and I went to elementary school together and she has had an eye for color and fashion since back then! Elizabeth and her sister, Amy, started Munger Interiors which is a Houston based design firm that focuses on design and fine art advisory services. Elizabeth creates rooms that are elegant yet livable. Named "Stars on the Rise" in the design community, Munger Interiors is quickly becoming a household name in Houston! 

{baking}
Elizabeth Eggleston and I have known each other since high school and remained  close friends ever since. Eggleston's Edibles  was started as a way for Elizabeth to sell her adorable cake balls which are perfect for wedding and baby showers, birthday parties and game day. But it has turned into so much more! Cakes, cupcakes, and cookies now grace the menu! :-) A Houston based bakery, Eggleston's Edibles is famous in the Memorial area! 

{small business}
Becky Leach and I lived down the hall from each other freshman year at Baylor and were both Kappas. She recently started Little Branches and it has taken off like wildfire! :-)  Becky makes precious custom vintage signs. I especially love her university and holiday collections! 
Are you impressed? I know I am! :-) 
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Monday, January 21, 2013

3 Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos

What an amazing long weekend! 
In case you missed my feature post on The Vanilla Tulip, I shared a great appetizer just in time for the Super Bowl :-) 
With school starting back up tomorrow, a quick, easy and healthy dinner is the perfect item to add to your weekly meal plan. A one minute prep time is pretty awesome too! 
Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos
Servings: 4
1 can Green chiles, diced
1 jar salsa, (about 12 oz) 
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 whole onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs 
Place chicken in the bowl of a slow cooker. Top with salsa, diced green chiles, cumin, onion and garlic. Cover and set on low. Cook for 8 hours. Remove chicken from pot, shred and return to juices. Spoon chicken into taco shells, with whatever toppings your family likes. Or use the meat to make burritos, tostadas or as a filling for enchiladas. 
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

14 Overnight Chicken Stock in the Crock Pot

Yesterday I shared a recipe for a whole chicken in the crock pot! :-) After I finished eating/freezing the meat from the chicken, I kept all of the skin, bones, and broth in the crock pot and cooked it overnight. The next morning, I had an amazing amount of homemade chicken stock! 
I froze the stock in 2 cup bags and anytime I need chicken stock I have plenty in the freezer! 
Overnight Chicken Stock in the Crock Pot
Leftover chicken bones or carcass roughly equivalent to one small or medium sized chicken
1 onion, peeled and loosely chopped
1 rib of celery, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped (no need to peel)
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh parsley
1 sprig fresh thyme
Salt, to taste
(I didn't have any of the ingredients except for the Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot ingredients and the stock turned out wonderful. So don't worry if you don't have carrots and celery) 
After removing all edible meat from the chicken put/leave the bones, skin, cooking juices, etc. in the crock pot. If you are using the chicken carcass from the “The Best Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot” recipe just leave every single thing that’s leftover (except the meat) in the crock pot including the original onion and spices you used when making the chicken.
Add the onion, celery, carrot and spices on top of the bones and fill the crock pot almost to the top with tap water (leaving about ½” at the top).(I put 10 cups of water for around 6-8 cups of left over chicken bones, pieces and juiceCook on low for 8 – 10 hours. After the stock is done cooking turn off the heat and, using a soup ladle, pass the stock through a fine sieve to remove all herbs/bones/etc. Either refrigerate or freeze the stock for future use.
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Monday, January 14, 2013

9 The Best Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot and a "Healthy" Linky Party

Happy "Healthy" linky party day!! :-) 
Link up with recipes, workouts, success stories, and ideas for staying on track with your New Years resolutions:-) When you link up on Elizabeth Ann's Recipe Box, your link is immediately seen on the other hostess' blogs too! :-) It is a wonderful way to discover new blogs and to share great recipes and other healthy ideas! :-) 
Here are the hostesses! :-) 
Meg from Henning Love
Allison from Cupcake Diaries
Whitney from Harvest Home!
I can't wait to see all of your ideas! :-) 

Today, I'm sharing how to make a whole chicken in the slow cooker. This is so easy to prep and a short while later, the chicken is literally falling apart, is full of flavor and is AMAZING! 
One thing that I do is serve chicken for dinner the night that I make it and then freeze the rest for later use! 
Come back tomorrow to see how I make chicken stock with the leftovers! 
The Best Whole Chicken in a Crock Pot
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 onion
1 large chicken
Combine the dried spices in a small bowl.
Loosely chop the onion and place it in the bottom of the slow cooker.
Remove any giblets from the chicken and then rub the spice mixture all over. You can even put some of the spices inside the cavity and under the skin covering the breasts.
Put prepared chicken on top of the onions in the slow cooker, cover it, and turn it on to high. There is no need to add any liquid.
Cook for 4 – 5 hours (for a 3 or 4 pound chicken) or until the chicken is falling off the bone. 
100 Days of Real Food
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Sunday, January 13, 2013

6 Santa Fe Salad with Chili Lime Dressing

Tomorrow some of my 'blogger' friends and I are hosting a "Healthy" linky party! :-) Link up with recipes, workouts, success stories, and ideas for staying on track with your New Years resolutions:-) When you link up on Elizabeth Ann's Recipe Box, your link is immediately seen on the other hostess' blogs too! :-) It is a wonderful way to discover new blogs and to share great recipes and other healthy ideas! :-) 
Here are the hostesses! :-) 
Meg from Henning Love
Allison from Cupcake Diaries
Whitney from Harvest Home!
I can't wait to see all of your ideas! :-) 

In the spirit of healthy eating, here is a wonderful Weight Watchers salad! 
{I didn't make the dressing but it sounds amazing!} 
Santa Fe Salad with Chili Lime Dressing
6 Tbsp reduced-calorie mayonnaise
3 Tbsp cilantro, fresh, finely chopped
3 Tbsp water 
1 medium uncooked scallion(s), minced 
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp sugar 
1/2 tsp chili powder  
15 oz canned black beans, rinsed and drained  
1 1/2 cup(s) cooked corn kernels, fresh or frozen  
2 cup(s) grape tomatoes   
1 medium sweet red pepper(s), cut into thin strips (about 1 1/2 cups) 
8 cup(s) romaine lettuce, cut into thick shreds (about 2 hearts) 
To make dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, cilantro, water, scallion, lime juice, sugar and chili powder until smooth. Transfer to a jar or a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate until ready to use. In a large bowl or food storage container, layer remaining ingredients in order listed; cover and refrigerate.To serve, spoon salad ingredients into a bowl. Shake dressing and then drizzle dressing over salad; toss well to coat. Yields about 2 cups of salad and 1 1/2 tablespoons of dressing per serving.
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Saturday, January 12, 2013

1 Hoots and Salutes

{if you aren't familiar with Hoots and Salutes, trust me, it is a good thing}

I have amazingly talented friends.
And I am over the top proud of them.  .  . 
so, today I wanted to introduce you to a few!
Maybe you will add a couple of necklaces to your wish list, discover a piece of art, or find a new fashion inspiration.
Either way, in know you will be amazed! :-)

{art}
My precious little in Kappa, Sally Taylor, is one of the most talented artists that I know. Nate and I would love to have a piece of her artwork in our home one day. Sally is a native of Dallas and has studied in Texas, New Mexico and Italy. 
Casey Wiegand and I went to Baylor and Kanakuk together and she is another incredible artist. I am so  lucky to have a original piece that she made for me last year. Casey is incredibly beautiful on the inside and out and her humility and love of Christ draws others to her!  
Miller Gaffney, another Baylor Kappa, is a world renowned art advisor and is currently on Market Warriors on PBS, Monday evenings at 9. Her upbeat personality and sweet spirit makes her a joy to be around. 

{jewelry design}
Jennifer Welker and I have known each other since she was born! A former Texas cheerleader turned jewelry designer and mom of two, Jennifer's charms have graced the necks of Jenna Bush and Pippa Middleton. Jennifer not only has a flare for jewelry but also for fashion and looks like a million bucks every time she walks out of the house! :-) 

Cannon Lewis and my grandmothers were friends but we didn't meet until she got to Baylor and went Kappa! Her beautiful designs have been seen on Reese Witherspoon and Louise Roe. Cannon is widely talented and I love her choice of precious stones to go in each piece. 

{photography}
Summer Spooner and I were also Baylor Kappas together and she is a highly sought after photographer in Dallas. She books up months in advance and is especially known for her newborn pictures. Summer's laid back nature gives her clients such a peace and makes the entire experience so enjoyable! :-)

Sarah Snider and I were cheerleaders together in high school and close friends! She is based in Houston and her photography business covers newborns, families, weddings, and anything in between! Sarah has such a fun and upbeat personality, she has literally never met a stranger! :-) 

{fashion}
Caroline Knapp's husband and I went to high school together and he was one of my favorite guys in his grade! :-) When I met Caroline, I was immediately drawn to her sweet, southern demeanor. But this southerner has taken NYC by storm. Caroline's extremely popular fashion blog has led her to rub elbows with David Yurman and Nate Berkus!

{party planing} 
Christi Bennett and I have known each other since kindergarten! From her wedding to just a simple Stella and Dot open house, you know that if Christi has a hand in it, the party is going to be incredible! Christi also has a flair for fashion, is beautiful and always looks so put together!

Are you amazed?
Next weekend I'll share some more friends that constantly awe me with their talent! :-)
Happy Saturday! :-) 
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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

9 How to Lead a More Organized Life

I had a sweet friend ask me last week, "How do you do it all?"
{Isn't it incredible to hear other people's view of your own life?}
I have friends like Casey and Jennifer who really do 'do it all' . . .
but me. . . I'm just normal. .
After realizing my friend was being serious, I thought others might want some ideas on how to make your life more organized . . .
or at least life in the kitchen! :-)

1. Wake up early
I wake up early (like 5 am early) on most days. In the mornings, I love to have my quiet time, drink my coffee, make breakfast, start writing or post my blog for the day, read a couple of blogs, answer emails, and get dinner started if I'm making a crock pot meal.
2. Make a list of things you want to get done today! 
Make a list of what you want to accomplish today. (or for you night owls, make a list the night before) Plan when you are going to workout, run your errands, start dinner, etc.
3. Make meals easier! 
Spend a Saturday making a couple freezer meals and that way, if you do have hectic day, you can just throw one in the crock pot. And use your crock pot. A couple of minutes of prep time and dinner is ready 8 hours later!
4. Use a meal plan 
Once a week decide what you are going to make/pick up for dinner each night. Make a store list from your meal plan and go to the store once a week. Having an organized kitchen is imperative! Making a store list is always so much easier when you can see what you already have and what you need!
5. Give yourself grace.  
You aren't perfect. Some days you will fail.
But tomorrow is always another day :-) 
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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

3 Clean Eating Herb Baked Butternut Squash

Although I miss the yummy fruits of spring and summer, I always enjoy the change in our meals to incorporate winter fruits and vegetables! 
Butternut squash is one of those fun winter vegetables that you can do so much with! 
(Just do a Pinterest search for butternut squash recipes and you will see all of the options! It is incredible
I recently started following The Gracious Pantry and tried her take on baked butternut squash! 
Not only was it healthy, the squash was flavorful and delicious! 
Clean Eating Herb Baked Butternut Squash 
1 butternut squash 
Olive oil
Garlic powder
Marjoram
Parsley
Onion Powder
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cut the squash in half. Clean out the seeds, peel and slice to chunks. Put chunks in a bowl and then sprinkle herbs and spices on top. Using your hand, toss the squash so that each piece is covered with herbs. Spray Pam or pour some olive oil on a cookie sheet. Dump the squash onto the cookie sheet and spread out until the squash is in a single layer. Bake at 350 until soft (around 30 minutes.)
The Gracious Pantry
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Monday, January 7, 2013

4 Gloriously Ruined

I am so thrilled to introduce y'all to a friend of mine from Baylor. 
She has started a new series on her blog, Gloriously Ruined, in which she is sharing 52 stories of people who are changing the world. . . 
 {sweet friend, you are at the top of my list of women who are changing my world!
Wynne also has an amazing giveaway going on right now. . . 
Her story is incredible, her life is a testament to Jesus, and her faith is inspiring. 
Meet Wynne: 

Hey yall, my name is Wynne and I blog over at Gloriously Ruined.  
My husband & I just brought home our Ethiopian babes, Camp + Asher.  It was quite the adventure but now we are settling in as a family of 4 and loving every moment.  Our adoption process wasn't easy and it certainly wasn't our plan.  It was never ever on our radar until the summer of 2010 a young friend encouraged me to pray about adoption and God used her challenging question to wreck our plans and gloriously ruin our lives.  And we haven't looked back since!  
I love that God is using my voice to speak up for the 147 million orphans around the world.  I hope that this encourages you whenever you are, and if you've never even thought about adoption I pray God would put it on your heart!  

My road to adoption was through a little bit of infertility.  Well, right before we were going to start talking about infertility options, God intervened with adoption.  The year that we tried to get pregnant was one of hte hardest years of my life.  It seemed like everyone around me was pregnant and it was heart breaking.  It totally consumed my thoughts.  I finally had to give it up to Him!  and when I did, He brought something in my path that I couldn't ignore.  The thought that His plan for my family might not be JUST about me (wow, wynne, duh!) but the timing of it all could have to do with our child/ren too!  I don't know why but that bigger picture really helped me see past MY circumstances.  After about a week of praying about it, I was IN! My husband on the other hand took about 3 months.  to finally let it go, and ask God to show him.  and show him He did!  

But there was still a season of waiting.  and longing.  and that's what I want to encourage you all about.  

I just went through 3 really hard years of waiting and longing to be a mother.  There were months that were really dark.  Days that I weeped and cried out to the Lord, days I was mad and angry at Him, many days I didn't understand His timing.  Now, my arms are full and I can SEE what His perfect timing was.  I can see what part of His plan was.  You see, if we had gotten pregnant when I wanted to - I would never have gone & fallen in love with Africa, been involved with Noonday Collection, adopted and generally had my life gloriously ruined   My life looks nothing like it did 3 years ago.  My life has been gloriously ruined and wrecked for Him.  He has broken and changed my heart.  I never was one of those people that "had a heart for the nations" or always knew they "wanted to adopt".  I just wanted to live a normal american dream life - married, house, car, job and 3 kids.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but my eyes have been opened to the orphan crisis, the water crisis, and the people I've met and fallen in love with along our adoption journey have changed the way I live my life and see the world.  

In the season of waiting I NEVER could have seen this.  God has now redeemed that part of my story & is using it for His glory.  Ever since I started openly sharing about our road to a family, it's opened up so many conversations with friends (real & bloggy) that are going through the same thing.  thats part of why I blog.  because we are ALL going through things - and there are OTHERS who are going through things too.  and if we could just CONNECT with each other and encourage each other along the road.  

It's ok to talk about our struggle, it's ok to struggle.  It's ok to not be able to see Gods perfect timing in the middle of a hard season of wait.  When we are real with each other, we can relate to each other more and we can support and encourage each other on the journey.

 let God use the difficult seasons of your life to reach others for your good & His glory.  if we don't have each other to walk with, then who do we have?
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Sunday, January 6, 2013

10 Cream Cheese Crock Pot Chicken

With school starting back up, a quick and easy crock pot meal is a must! :-) 
This has been called "The Easiest Dinner Ever" as well as "Cream Cheese Crock Pot Chicken" . . . 
in other words, the prep work is less than a minute and the results are amazing! 
My kind of meal! 
I hope you have had a lovely Sunday! 
Cream Cheese Crock Pot Chicken
Serves 6-8
Bag of frozen Chicken Breast Tenderloins (2.5-3lb bag)
8 oz block of cream cheese (don't use Fat Free! 1/3 less fat or regular is fine)
Can of Black Beans, drained & rinsed. (or Pinto Beans if you prefer)
Can of Corn, drained.
Can of Rotel
Directions:
Put frozen chicken in the crock pot. Put Cream cheese on top of the chicken. Dump in the Black Beans (make sure they are drained & rinsed!!!) Dump in the drained corn. Dump in the  Rotel, Cover & cook in your Crock Pot on low for 6-8 hours. Every 2 hours, stir the ingredients. You can shred the chicken when it is done, or just leave it as tenderloins. Turn the crock pot off & let it sit for about 30-45 minutes so that the chicken soaks up the cream cheese. Can be served over rice, in a burrito, or an a tortilla with lettuce, cheese, and salsa. 
Larson Lingo
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Saturday, January 5, 2013

8 Mixed Citrus Green Salad with Orange Poppy Seed Dressing

It is cold, rainy and the perfect day for cozy cups of coffee and snuggling on the couch! 
Do you have a packed Saturday or a relaxing one after all of the holiday traveling? 

This Mixed Citrus Green Salad is one of those salads that you can just do a quick chop and then throw everything on a plate! 
I love effortless prep-work! 
I added chicken for protein and adored all of the different flavor combinations from the fruit! 
(I did not make the dressing but it sounds amazing!
Mixed Citrus Green Salad with Orange Poppy Seed
Salad:
Mixed salad greens
Avocado
Red seedless grapes, halved
Mandarin oranges
Pineapple chunks
Red grapefruit pieces
Walnuts, toasted
Dressing:
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup canola oil
2 Tbsp champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp poppy seeds
Combine dressing ingredients (all except poppy seeds) in a blender and process until blended. Add poppy seeds and pulse once. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Place salad greens on individual plates. Slice avocado and toss in lemon juice (or reserved citrus juices from any can of fruit, such as mandarin oranges). Top salad with fruit (as much as you like of each) and avocado slices. Add toasted walnuts. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

2 My Word for 2013

Faith
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us" ~ Ephesians 3:20  
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Thursday, January 3, 2013

4 Eclair Cake

I remember falling in love with this cake when I had it a couple of years ago at my sister in law's house! 
It is easy, delicious and pretty addicting! 
The graham crackers soften overnight and so you are basically biting into fluffy goodness! 
It is pretty much heaven on a plate!
Enjoy! 
Eclair Cake
Cake:
1 box of graham crackers
2 (3 1/4 oz) boxes of instant French vanilla pudding
3 1/2 c milk
1 (8oz) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
Frosting:
1 1/2 c confectioners sugar
1/2 c cocoa
3 TBS butter, softened
1/3 c milk
2 tsp light corn syrup
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Butter (or Pam) the bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2 inch pan. Line with whole graham crackers. In the bowl of an electric mixer, mix pudding with milk, beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Pour half the pudding mixture over graham crackers. Place another layer of whole graham crackers on top of pudding layer. Pour over remaining half of pudding mixture and cover with another layer of graham crackers. For frosting, blend together sugar and cocoa. Add butter and milk, mixing well. Add corn syrup and vanilla. Stir until creamy. Cover cake with frosting and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Jennifer Fitzgerald
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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

9 Freezer Meal: Cilantro Lime Chicken

The past few weeks, I have been concentrating on making quite a few freezer meals. If I make a pot of soup, we eat half of it and then freeze the other half. 
This is a great way to prepare for the busy days to come once school starts again! 
This Cilantro Lime Chicken is so easy and only takes about 5-10 minutes to prepare! 
Cilantro Lime Chicken 
1 1/2 pounds of chicken breast
Juice from 2 limes
1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 (16 oz) bag of frozen corn
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a resealable gallon sized freezer bag. Mix together and zip bag closed. When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in fridge for 24 hours. Cook on LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 4 hours in a slow cooker. Serve with tortillas and your favorite toppings (guacamole, sour cream, salsa, cheese, etc)
October Morning
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