30 March 2012

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

     1 lb. bacon, diced *
     1 onion, diced
      5 large Russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
      3 c. chicken stock
      3 T. butter
      3 T. flour
      1 1/2 c. milk
      3 green onions, sliced
      3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese, divided
      1/2 t. black pepper
      Sour cream for garnish, optional
1. In a large stock pot, cook bacon until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to drain and set aside. Drain all but 2 T. of bacon grease from the pot. Cook the onions in the remaining bacon grease for about 5 minutes, until tender.
2. Add potatoes and chicken stock to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer about 20 minutes, until potatoes are tender. With a slotted spoon, remove a few scoops of potatoes. Place in a bowl and mash with a fork. Set aside.
3. In a small sauce pan, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk, bring to a boil and simmer until thickened. Slowly stir in to stock pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer. Stir mashed potatoes back into pot.
4. Add 1/2 c. shredded cheese, three-fourths of the bacon and half the sliced green onions to pot. Add pepper. Stir to combine. Cook an additional 5 minutes.
5. To serve, ladle soup into individual bowls and top with some shredded cheese, bacon, green onions and optional sour cream.

* For just a plain, delicious vegetarian Potato Soup, omit the bacon, substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock and the green onions and sour cream become optional. Stir 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese into the soup just before serving, stir until melted and dish it up.

29 March 2012

Easter Crafts and a Chalkboard

I am loving these cute little crochet Easter eggs. I used this free pattern from one of my favorite blogs - Makes Me Happy. The pattern was super easy to follow, and they worked up really fast.

I also completed a project I've been working on for a while. I wanted a place to write a list of things my kids wanted to do when they had school vacation. I used a left over piece of the shower board we used to make the chalkboard in my daughter's room and found a neat frame on sale at Hobby Lobby, and I made this:

We did actually write our list on it - just not until after I took the photo for the post. It's a great list, swimming, dancing, movies, playing Kirby on the wii... I am using chalk ink to write on the board, and I love it. If you haven't tried it, you should.

28 March 2012

To-Do List Tuesday - Create a Seed Record


It is time to consider the garden. It is spring break and the kids and I are going to start our indoor seeds. I am especially interested in starting my tomatoes earlier this year. 

Last week I went to the garage and grabbed my seeds. They are kind of a mess. I also can't find my notes on what worked last year and what did not. Last week's post over at Homestead Revival was incredibly timely. I am going to be using this seed record to keep better track this year.

First, I made mini file folders using this free template so kindly shared by Vale Design and found a box to put them in. That was a bit of a challenge. Either the box was the perfect width, but too short, or the perfect height, but too narrow. I am settling for one that is the perfect width, but a bit wide. I am sure I will be able to figure out what to do with that extra width. Then I printed the seed record and glued it to my file folder. I also printed labels for the folders.

Then I corralled the seeds into their appropriate folders. My notes will have to be re-made this year, but I was able to at least note the variety of seed and how we are planting this spring, along with the planting dates. It looks so neat and clean! That won't last long.

What have you been doing? Link up below to share!
Also linking up to One Project at a Time.

27 March 2012

Menu Plan Monday

It's Spring Break and my husband is off to Puerto Rico for work. Timing is everything, is it not? This will be a week of simple meals, things my kids will eat; cereal for breakfast and salads for me. The weather is supposed to be beautiful. Which leads me to wonder; what happens when March comes in and goes out like a lamb?

Butterbraid and fruit for breakfast
Sandwiches for lunch
Spaghetti for dinner

Cereal for breakfast
Hot dogs for lunch (salad for Mom)
Out for dinner

Home-made Granola for breakfast
Mac N Cheese for lunch (salad for Mom)
Nachos for dinner

Cereal for breakfast
Sandwiches for lunch
Potato Soup for dinner

Cereal for breakfast
Left overs for lunch
Pizza for dinner

Orange Julius and bagels for breakfast
Subway for lunch (between soccer games)
BBQ hamburgers for dinner

Pancakes for breakfast
leftovers for lunch
Fajitas for dinner (I keep putting these on the menu and we never eat it - I wonder why?)

Linking up to Menu Plan Monday!

22 March 2012

Easter Craft Round-up

I have been Pinning some pretty cool Easter decorating ideas and craft projects. I've been working on a few - not totally ready to show them off yet - but here's a collection of fun things to try:

What great crafts are you doing for Spring?

21 March 2012

To Do List Tuesday


Honestly, I'm a little embarrassed about this. My sister has been trying to do an intervention in this area for a while. I'm not going to tell you how long. Today it is absolutely time to deal with this pile of clothes...

I was having one of those frugal/green/Great Depression moments where I really thought I would upcycle these things and make some clothes for my daughter. My sister pointed out that they were perfectly good things that actual people could be using/wearing since I wasn't. It's true. So, off they go (two garbage bags) to Goodwill. Magically, I have space between my bed and dresser - for walking in. Just walking. And an empty laundry basket. Wow.

My sister will be so proud.

What have you been doing? Share by linking up below.

I'm also linking up to A Bowl Full of Lemons!

20 March 2012

Practical Knowledge

If I wrote a book, I would put this post in the chapter titled Things (Regrettably) Useful To Know. Have you ever gone out with your spouse and left your teenage child to baby sit their younger siblings and come home to this?

Well, that is exactly what happened to us on Thursday night. The "babysitter" was watching a movie on the computer and allowing the 7 and 5 year old to watch their own movie in the Family Room. I'm sure you already know the rest of the story. Misreading the instructions, our 7 year old popped a bag of popcorn in the microwave. For. Four. Minutes. It is partly my fault. I prefer to use the air popper, and I didn't even know we had a stray bag of microwave popcorn lurking in the pantry. Believe that I have made a thorough search for additional lurkers.

On a personal note: this was particularly rough for me. During my last pregnancy, I could not stand the smell of popcorn at all. Popcorn smell = upchuck. Five years later, I'm just getting to the point where I can eat popcorn at the movies. I was not a happy camper Thursday night.

Assuming you've also opened the windows and run a fan, here's how to get rid of that awful burnt microwave popcorn smell (yes, it's a lot of steps, but trust me, it's worth it):

1. First you want to neutralize the smell. Take a spray bottle with 1/2 white vinegar and 1/2 water. Spray furniture, curtains, carpet lightly. Allow it to dry. The vinegar smell will dissipate as it dries.
2. Clean the microwave. Use any cleaner you like to clean down to the yellow stain. Clean the door, window, top, bottom, sides and vent.
3. Use acetone free nail polish remover and cotton balls to go over the microwave again.
4. Wash microwave with soapy water and rinse with vinegar water. The yellow stain should be gone. Most of the smell should be gone now, but it's still in the ventilation system of the microwave.
5. Last, peel two oranges, put them in a microwaveable dish with water enough to barely cover them and boil for 4 minutes in the microwave. Like me, you may want to babysit this process in fear of yet another burnt item in the microwave. DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR! Leave the door closed for 12 hours. You may also want to run the vent fan and leave the kitchen window open to allow the vent system to clean out.

I hope it never happens to you.