Monday, January 11, 2010

Yummy Tortilla Soup Recipe

One of my New Years' Resolutions is to get more creative and courageous in the kitchen.  While this recipe isn't hard AT ALL, I am proud because I have made it twice now and I am slowly building my confidence in the kitchen.  I got it out of my Bride & Groom Cookbook from Better Homes that my Mom gave us. They have lots of great recipes! Give it a try if you want a quick, easy and very yummy tortilla soup recipe! Enjoy! Stay tuned for my next recipe...Tex-Mex Chicken and Rice Casserole...can you see a pattern? I love Mexican food!

Tex-Mex Tortilla Soup (Makes 6 main-dish servings)

1 – 1 ¼ pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs or breast halves (I use the breast halves)
3 14-ounce cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
½ cup chopped onion
¼ cup chopped green sweet pepper
1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup frozen whole kernel corn
3 cups tortilla chips, coarsely crushed
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack Cheese
1 avocado, seeded, peeled and cut into chunks (optional)
Snipped fresh cilantro and/or sliced fresh jalapeno chile pepper
Lime wedges (optional)

  1. Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces; set aside. In a 4-quart pot combine broth, undrained tomatoes, onion, sweet pepper, chili powder, cumin and black pepper.  Bring to boiling; add chicken.  Return to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.  Add corn. Return to boiling, reduce heat. Simmer covered for 10 minutes more.
  2. Sprinkle each serving with tortilla chips and cheese.  If desired, serve with avocado chunks, snipped cilantro, sliced jalapenos and lime wedges.  (I usually just do the avocado and cilantro because the jalapenos are too hot for Kylie

Friday, January 8, 2010

A White Christmas!

Brace yourselves...this will be a long post! We had a lot of fun over the holidays! (Complete with 5 different Christmases!)  We were so surprised to see snow on Christmas Eve...and then again a few days later.  It really make it feel more like Christmas when there's snow on the ground.  We had a fun holiday this year, but it was very busy.  Unfortunately we didn't have Kylie for Christmas this year, but we used the time to surprise her with a completely new room! We moved rooms, painted, bought furniture and artwork, etc! It was great! She was totally surprised and excited. She said the room makes her feel like a big girl. (Pictures below)

Christmas # 1: We started Christmas early on the 19th celebrating with my Dad, Courtney (lovingly known to Kylie as Popo & Coco), Mikael, Nana & Papa.  We had everyone over to our house and Jeff made his famous chili.  Kylie was so excited to get her first American Girl Doll from Popo and Coco! She named her Rachel.

Kylie with Popo, Coco & Mikael                                                                      Getting her American Girl Doll!So happy!

They gave us a platter that says "The Johnsons". We used it several times over the holidays.
I love how Marley wanted to be included in this picture!

Christmas # 2: Next stop was Briarwood for Christmas with Mom's family.  Unfortunately the weather was bad so some of the family couldn't make it, but we had a great time anyway! We always do a gift exchange and have a full blown repeat of Thanksgiving dinner - which is awesome!  It was neat because we spent the night there and for the first time in many years we woke up on Christmas Morning with my Mom & Brother! What a treat! Here's a picture of our house as we left to head to Richardson...

So pretty! I love the way snow makes a house look so cozy and inviting! 

Here are some pictures from our fun on Christmas Eve!

Fun opening presents!

Jeff got an outdoor clock to go by the pool and then Meems gave us a hanging candle that matched perfectly! 

Meems & I sharing a hug after opening her present from us!

Even the dogs got new toys! We thought it was so funny that Mimi had gift bags for each dog (Marley, Muddy & Bailey) They actually knew which toys were theirs too!

                Marley having fun with her new toy!                                     Muddy with his squeaky Christmas light!

Christmas #3: Christmas Day we went to the annual Christmas party at Dad & Courts.  Taylor & Melissa did an awesome shrimp boil and I took the opportunity to show off my new platter with the appetizer we brought. It was great to catch up with family and friends!

Christmas #4:  Trey, Suzanne and Hayden came to Dallas to celebrate with us on the 27th of December. The adults did a gift exchange so that was fun! Hayden and Mikael had fun opening presents! We missed Kylie but she was definitely there in spirit! Here we are with our cousin Hayden who is 5. He's getting so big!

Christmas #5: Finally, the biggest Christmas of them all was our celebration with Kylie! We got her on the 28th of December so we were on day 9 of opening presents. We were so excited for her to arrive that we felt like kids on Christmas ourselves! We couldn't wait to surprise her with her new room! She had acquired quite a few presents from all the different family so she was excited to open everything.  First things first though, we had to surprise her with her new "Big Girl" room....

Giving Dad big hugs after her surprise... 

She literally had tears in her eyes because she was so happy

A room isn't complete without a new big girl dresser!

She loves her purple and pink Paradise! 

After the big room surprise, we headed downstairs to open gifts and Mimi got to come join in on the fun.  Kylie was so excited about her presents from all her family!

Our beautiful Christmas tree and mantle with stockings & presents!

Can you see the excitement in her face? She loved her Fashion Studio from Grandma & Grandpa!!

New robe from Mimi  - and she got one for her American Girl doll - so now they are twins! 

We had an amazing Christmas this year. We ate and drank like Romans (and are paying for that now! The gym is about to be our 2nd home!), enjoyed great friends and fun.  We love all of our family and friends and you are the ones who make the holidays special for us.  We all put so much time and effort into shopping, presents, events, etc. but when it all comes down to it - the most important thing is the people (and animals) we surround ourselves with.  We hope each of you had a wonderful holiday season and we wish you a bright and prosperous 2010!

One last photo to end with...this is how we felt when it was all over...Marley shows it best! ;-)

Love and hugs to all!
-The J Crew

Thanksgiving in Tucson!

Things have been a bit busy with t he holiday season just behind us so I'm finally getting around to posting about our fun trip to Tucson to visit Jeff's family for Thanksgiving.  We were there for a week and it was a great trip! Jeff's brother Tom and his fiancee Stacy joined us as well so it was great to catch up and great to let Kylie spend some good quality time with her Grandma & Grandpa, Uncle & future Aunt!

The week was filled with lots of baking and cooking, fun dinners, games, etc. We also met up with some of Jeff's friends from high school who he recently reconnected with. It was cool to meet people who have known Jeff for so long.  See below for a few pictures to recap the week!

Here Kylie and Grandma are licking the beater after making the homemade whipped cream we ate with our homemade pumpkin and apple pies!

The whole fam! Grandma, Grandpa, Tom, Stacy and the "J Crew" coming down on Mt. Lemmon

Daddy & Kylie with Emma...J was showing his U of A pride!

Kylie loves her Grandpa!

A night out with Troy & Jen Hoch - Jeff's friends from High School!

We are so thankful for our family and friends. Thanksgiving was a great time to reflect on the many blessings we have as a family! I promise to not get so behind on posting next time!

I leave you with a shot of a beautiful Tucson Sunset...