Friday, February 14, 2014

I've moved

I am now writing over on  Head on over there to check it out!

Monday, February 3, 2014

House to Home: The Kitchen

I covered some of this in an old blog that I used to have, but I wanted to share updates to our kitchen.  We bought our home two and a half years ago with a desire to put in some sweat equity.  Built in 1989 it was in a great location, but not in good condition.  Everything needed cleaned, painted, or replaced.  As I continue on with this House to Home series, you'll see more of what I mean.  For now, let's focus on the kitchen.

The Before:

Unfortunately I did not take pictures prior to beginning our work.  In the pictures above we had already removed two layers of wall paper from the walls and bought new appliances.  There were no appliances when we moved in, which is common with foreclosures.  After removing the wallpaper we did the following:
1. Prepped and painted the walls 
2. Painted the ceiling
3. Painted the trim
4. Replaced the door to the patio (The door seen in the before photos had some rot issues)
5. Painted the cabinets
6. Replaced the cabinet handles and drawer pulls
7. Replaced the old ceiling fan with a light
8. Replaced the old flooring
9. Replaced the counter tops
10. Made and installed a window treatment

Pictures of our Progress
Yes, I know the kitchen is awfully cluttered.  I'm in the process of decluttering.
The green tape marks out where we might put the open shelves.
Still to do:
1. Replace the light above the sink
2. Install the back splash tiles that have been sitting in our garage for a long time
3. Make and Install open shelves above the counter opposite the sink 
4. Major decluttering (in progress!)

My goal this year is to have those last few items done before June!  In the next few House to Home posts I will focus in on the details of the different parts of the kitchen remodel.  We did a lot of the work ourselves and it saved us a ton of money so I definitely want to pass on our experiences to you all.  Tomorrow I am going to talk about one of the things that I think made a huge difference in the kitchen, and that was painting the cabinets.  I used a Rustoleum cabinet transformations kit and I will share all about it in tomorrow's post. 

Super Super Bowl Soup

This soup has absolutely nothing to do with the Super Bowl other than the fact that I made it just before the Super Bowl came on.  Really, I was making it while my husband and son were watching the Puppy Bowl, but the name Puppy Bowl Soup just isn't quite as appealing.  This recipe has its origins in this recipe from Southern Living.  My Papa makes that chicken vegetable stew every Christmas and it is well loved in my family.  Over time I have tweaked the recipe (taken out the lima beans and ham, added more corn) and yesterday I changed it up even more.  I have been focused on working out and eating healthier as a part of my goal to lose the weight since I had baby S about 5 months ago, so I wanted to see if I could pack even more veggies into this stew to maximize my veggie intake.  Here's what I came up with:

2 32 ounce container of chicken broth
2 medium onion
8 stalks celery
2 lb of chicken breast
5 carrots
2 cup of baby spinach leaves
16 ounces of frozen corn
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2/3 cup of ketchup
2 Tablespoons of sugar
6 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons of Worchestershire sauce
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 teaspoons dried marjoram
salt and pepper to taste

Put your chicken broth in the dutch oven and bring it to a boil.  

Once it is boiling, add in your chicken, onion, and celery.  Bring it back up to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about half an hour.  Make sure that your chicken is nice and tender and always make sure it's cooked to a safe temperature.  

To speed the preparation up. I used my Vidalia Onion Chopper to quickly cut up the onion and celery.  I love that thing!

Take the chicken out of the dutch over and let it cool down some.  When it has cooled down enough, shred your chicken. 

While the chicken is cooling, cut the carrots into big pieces.  Put about half an inch of water into a saucepan and bring it to a boil.  Then throw in the carrots and spinach and cover the saucepan.  Allow them to steam for about 5 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.  
Dump the carrots and spinach into a colander.  You just don't need to extra water, so this gets rid of it.  Then put the carrots and spinach into the blender.  While blending, I drizzled in some of the hot broth into the blender through the little hole in the top of the lid to help things blend up to a nice consistency. 

Now, this is not the prettiest looking concoction ever, but pureeing the spinach and carrots helps them to disappear into the soup, allowing you to sneak in even more veggies full of nutrients.  You won't even taste them.  Which is fantastic for kids or for grown ups like me who don't really love their veggies.
To finish the soup add the veggie puree, shredded chicken, and all the other remaining ingredients into the dutch oven with the broth.  Bring everything up to a boil, then lower the temperature back down and simmer for half an hour. 

My husband and 3 year old son loved it!  Nutritionally, I would say it's a hit.  I used SparkPeople's Calorie Counter to help me calculate the calorie content for some of the items that I did not know.  Keep in mind that I'm no food chemist, but I this should give you an idea.

Servings: 16 servings
Serving Size: 1 cup
Calories per serving: 134

Generally speaking, we fill up our soup bowls when we have this as our meal and our bowls hold about 2 cups of soup, so for us it's about 268 calories for a large bowl full.  Also, I made a huge portion of the soup.  Did you see how full my dutch oven was?  If you want to scale down the recipe so that it makes 8 cups of soup, then cut all the quantities on the ingredient list in half.

Give it a try and let me know how you like it!