Five Favorite Soup Recipes

24 January 2017

Do you love soup? I love soup. It's warm, comforting yumminess. Some soups can be made on the fly, others need to simmer for hours. Many soups taste better after a day in the fridge so all the flavors blend and deepen. When I'm sick, I carve soup. Sad? Yep, soup again. Cold weather rolls in? Soup saves the day! Here are ten soup recipes my family loves. Why not stir up a pot for yourself?

1. Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup
We love Panera Bread! Since it's arrival in Lubbock, it has quickly become my newest obsession. Their Broccoli Cheddar Soup is a hit with the whole house. Little Miss lists broccoli cheese soup as her favorite, no matter where it comes from, so I'm always on the look out for a good recipe.

2. Tamale Soup
This is a recipe I created after the little eatery I first tasted it in closed down. It took some trial and error, but I finally managed to get pretty close to replicating the flavor I so loved. It is a go to when it's cold out. Though it can be made with canned tamales, I mush prefer using the fresh or frozen variety. You can use pork, beef, chicken, whatever your family prefers.

3. Slow Cooker King Ranch Chicken Soup
We love King Ranch Chicken Casserole in this house. It's a favorite, especially during the chilly months. When I first saw a friend talking about this recipe on Facebook, I knew I needed to try it. A favorite casserole turned yummy soup? Yes, please!

4. Stuffed Pepper Soup
Another family favorite main dish turned soup! I love these recipes! This one packs all the the flavor of stuffed bell peppers into a steaming bowl of goodness. Grab some crusty bread and go to town, my friends!

5. My Chicken and Rice Soup
This recipe was born when I needed to use up leftovers. It turned out amazing, is quick, and is about as frugal as it gets. This is my go to rather than chicken noodle when the sniffles take over my home.

My Five Biggest Distractions (and how I TRY to avoid them)

10 January 2017

You know how it goes, you sit down at your desk to be all sorts of productive, then BAM it's two hours later and you've accomplished precious little. Is it just me? Anyone else? You can raise your hand, we will get distracted together. No, no we won't. All joking around aside, I tend to get hopelessly distracted so easily. My intentions are always good; doing homework, banging out a post, cleaning out my inbox. Somehow my mind all too often wanders. Here are my five biggest distractions, or time sucks as I call them, and ways I try to combat them.

1. Social Media
Social media and I have a love/hate relationship. It's such a useful tool for bloggers, freelancers, authors, and so many more. Social media is also my enemy, in a few ways.

  • If I need to post on Facebook or be more active on Twitter, I tend to get caught up in writing the "perfect" tweet, post, nugget of info, whatever. In my mind everyone else int he world is wittier, smarter, or more engaging, thus I obsess over getting it right. This is ridiculous, I realize it, but it often times doesn't slow my brain any. In an effort to combat this, I set a timer. I give myself so long to get my social media "business" done for the day, then call it quits. It gives me the kick in the butt I need to get things done and not make myself crazy.
  • When I'm not obsessing over not being a social media superstar (ha, ha, ha) I get sucked into the vortex of feed reading. Whether it's news on Twitter, friend's stories on Facebook, or the five million things I want to DIY on Pinterest (seriously do not get me started on Pinterest), I very, very easily get lost devouring info online. My solution to this is once again setting a timer, but I do it a little differently in this instance. I will only allow myself leisure social media browsing time once I've ticked three things off my to do list for the day. Generally this means homework, editing on a freelance piece, and replying to emails. It gives me a break as well as keeping me from spending to long dawdling on the interwebz.
2. Research
Research is great! Hang on, let me clarify, research for some things is great, but when it comes to research papers it can be kind of a drag. It's so easy for me to get lost looking up info that I am interested in. One would think this is good, and it can be, but other times I get so caught up in fact finding that it leaves very little time for actually taking what I've learned and putting it into action. My solution to this is to first outline exactly what it is I am looking for. Once I've found what it is I need, I stop. There's no need to keep looking and collecting a ton of information I do not need/will not use when doing so takes away from the time I could actually use to complete the project. No matter how interesting a subject is, there's no reason to distract myself from what I actually need to accomplish, at least that's what I keep telling myself.

3. Food
This is how it goes: sit down, work, get hungry. Simple, right? It should be for most people. At this point, the following things happen. 1. Go get something to eat. 2. Decide to clean the kitchen. 3. Decide the kitchen is not clean enough, so sweep, mop, do things that don't necessarily need done. 4. Thinking about food makes me think about dinner and how I have no plan. These thoughts bring on a month worth of meal planning. 5. What was it I was doing? Maybe I have adult ADD, it's entirely possible. My mind doesn't always work this way, but when it does, oh boy! If this chain of events doesn't happen, a trip to the kitchen will bring on a recipe search binge that will take up hours. Learning to combat this has meant implementing meal planning and prepping, as well as putting myself on a strict time schedule. If I plan ahead some it greatly helps keep this from happening.

4. Reading
Do you love to read? I sure do! Unfortunately, I do not get in much leisure reading these days. When I do manage to sneak in some reading time it's hard to tear myself away. Usually I am either taking away from time I need to have my nose in a textbook or when I should be sleeping. There is no telling how many hours of sleep I've lost with my "just one more page" or "I'll just finish this chapter" thinking. The main thing working against me here is that I feel guilty taking time to do something that's "not necessary". Taking care of this situation has meant adjusting my thinking some. I deserve time for me and taking some isn't wrong. So, on days I finish my work as I should, I carve out some time for me to read. The world doesn't stop when I do so and it's part of taking care of me. We all deserve some fun downtime. Once again, my timer comes tot he rescue. When my time is up, it's up and that's it. This keeps me from losing out on hours of sleep wrapped up in a Caroline Kepnes novel.

5. Disorganization
Okay, so this whole post basically could be titled disorganization, but oh well. Not having my ducks in a row is the surest way for me to get distracted. On days I actually write down a to do list staying focused is much easier for me. There is a sense of satisfaction in ticking things off a list, so it helps keep me motivated. Staying organized is such a broad idea, but it can mean a few simply things. Planning for the unexpected, knowing how to ward off and deal with distractions, and scheduling your day can work wonders. My solution is to make a list, have time dedicated to work, school, etc, and a set stop time for the end of this "work day". It's how I deal and if I am consistent, it works for me.

I've shared mine, so what about y'all? What are your biggest time sucks and how do you try to combat them?

Creamy Chicken Chowder Recipe

05 January 2017

Do you love good, warm, comfort food on a cold winter's day? I sure do! In fact, adding soups, stews, chowders, and comforting casseroles to the menu is one of my favorite parts of winter. My absolute favorite recipes to warm us up are those that combine great flavor with affordability. This creamy chicken chowder recipe was thrown together by raiding my pantry and turned out to be a bowl of rich, delicious comfort food. Not only is it tasty, but it comes together rather quickly, making it a great choice for a weeknight dinner. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does!


1 lb boneless skinless chicken, cooked and shredded - Thighs, breasts, whatever you want to use works!
1/4 cup butter or margarine
1 large white onion, diced
1 teaspoon minced garlic - I use the refrigerated stuff in the jar.
1/4 cup all purpose flour
6 small potatoes, peeled and diced
1 can no salt added whole kernel corn, drained
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
6 cups chicken broth - I've used broth reserved after boiling chicken, store bought broth, and even water with chicken bouillon successfully. 
2 cups half and half - You can sub milk with no problem, your chowder just won't be as rich.
Salt and pepper to taste


In a large pot, stir butter over medium heat until melted.Toss in onion and garlic, stirring and cooking until tender. Add in flour, stirring constantly until slightly browned, to make a roux. Pour in broth and continue stirring until well blended. 

Add carrots, potatoes, and seasoning, let the pot come to a boil. Lower heat to medium low, cooking about 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender, giving the pot an occasional stir. 

Stir in corn, half and half, cooked chicken, and corn. Reduce heat to simmer and cook another 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

This is one of those recipes that you can add to and/or take away from depending on your tastes and what ingredients you have on hand. 

Inspired by and adapted from

Saving Cents

03 January 2017

With the New Year comes a whole new set of goals, or if you are like me, old goals you didn't quite meet in the previous year. High on the list of most of my friends is saving more money in the new year. There are no shortage of suggested savings plans out there: the 52 week challenge, putting all your dimes away in a two liter bottle, squirreling away every five dollar bill that ends up in your hands. I have tried numerous savings methods over the years and none that I followed really worked for me. A few weeks would pass with me successfully saving, then something would derail me. Not dealing in cash, making very little money, unexpected emergencies, all those things and more would throw a hitch in my plans and my saving would stop or my stash of cash would have to be used for something. Many families are low income like we are and I am sure, also like me, think long term substantial saving is a near impossible goal.

This way of thinking was getting me nowhere, so I decided to change things up in 2017. Enter my newest saving strategy, the pickle jar. This thing is big, a glass pickle jar I picked up months ago at a yard sale with the intention of using it as a kitchen utensil holder. The mouth of the jar was a little narrower than I needed for the purpose I intended, so it ended up sitting on the counter a few days. During that time something magical happened, loose change started to accumulate. It happened without much effort or thought on our part, we'd just empty our pockets into the jar before tossing clothes into the laundry hamper. Once money appeared in there, none of us touched it. In my case it started as a matter of curiosity, wanting to see how much could accumulate before life threw a curve-ball necessitating raiding our jar. There's no thinking about it, counting out a certain amount of money to hide away, which is why I think this works for us. The jar has moved from the counter to the bookcase, but location doesn't seem to have hindered our habit of tossing coins there daily.

What's the point of this ramble about a change jar? Don't overthink it. Any savings is progress, even a small change can lead to a good habit. Don't stress that you aren't putting away $50 a week, especially if you truly cannot afford to do so. All you need to do is save SOMETHING. Change adds up and positive habits are positive habits despite the amount you sock away. Don't stress it, just do it. So far it's working for us.