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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Loaded Baked Potato Soup (

March 2, 2015: As you grow up, you learn that each of your friends is a part of your life for a very unique reason. For example, my friend Holly who I met through work will always listen to my crazy anxious thoughts as they pop into my head. My cousin, Ashlea, is my prayer warrior. Any time I need prayers going out, I shoot her a text. My friend Whitney and I will always be able to pick up where we left off, no matter how long it's been since we've seen each other. And my friend Keri, who I call "History" because she's my oldest friend, Keri was my baked potato peeler. 

Keri & Kate at Keri's wedding- November 17, 2012 

Okay, okay, let me explain. When we were little, Keri and I used to collect pop tabs to turn into the Ronald McDonald House for donations. The tabs are recycled for money, and they money go to buy toys for the children who are staying at the residence. Read more about it by clicking this link. For as long as I remember, Keri has been my friend, and also for as long as I can remember, I have loved baked potatoes. They're still one of my favorite foods- hence this recipe. In Lower School, we could get baked potatoes in the cafeteria, but the problem was that they were wrapped in foil and still had the skin on them. Being the high maintenance child that I was, it was quite the problem for me that my baked potato came with skin on it. "But at home, my mom peels them for me!" So Keri, being the smart, selfless friend that she is, offered to peel my potatoes for me for a small fee- pop tabs. Ten pop tabs got me a peeled potato, and we were both happy campers- we were in business. So when making my Loaded Baked Potato Soup, who better to tell readers about than my sweet friend, Keri, who you will soon learn is much more to me than my baked potato peeler. Below is my toast that I gave at Keri's wedding in November of 2012.
Whitney, Kate, and Keri at Kate's engagement party- October 26, 2013
"Hi, I’m Kate, one of Keri’s bridesmaids, and I have known Keri since we were four years old. Back in 1990, my parents and I were boarding our sailboat, Cracker Jack, in her slip at the Fort Worth Boat Club, when along came another little curly-haired girl and her parents.  Mrs. DeVos gave us a friendly, “Hi there!,” and the little girl waved and said, “Hello!”  The rest is history.

In fact, Keri and I call each other “History,” because, outside of family, we are each other’s oldest friend.  A year after meeting Keri on our boats, we found ourselves in Country Day’s Butler Kindergarten building, not only trying to pick whether to take French or Spanish for the next 13 years, but more importantly, what outfit to wear to the Kindergarten rodeo. 
Kate & Keri at Kate's Wedding- November 15, 2014
The Omni Fort Worth Hotel
Keri, I cannot imagine my past 22 years of history without you.  At sailing camp, there were many long summer days with no wind. At all. We were sweating in the blazing sun on Eagle Mountain Lake in our little Optimist sailboats, not going anywhere whatsoever- so what did we do? We “accidently” capsized the boats so we could fall into the lake, cool off, and laugh at how sneaky we thought we were.  But let’s be honest- we WERE kind of sneaky at times… 

My mom’s first memory of us was when she heard us in the Boat Club Ballroom, laughing hysterically. 
She opened the doors to find that we had tied cloth napkins to our feet and were pretending to ice skate around the room.  To make matters worse, we then blamed it on your dad, saying “Well, Mr. DeVos said it was ok!” Between shimmying up and down your laundry chute and ordering too many Shirley Temples & fried cheese sticks at the club- we were quite the pair.
Frances, Whitney, Kate, Keri, Samantha, and Kate- Kindergarten friends at Kate's wedding-
November 15, 2041 at The Omni Fort Worth Hotel

We’ve been through a lot together.  In fact, seven of us women here to celebrate have been friends for 21 years.  Being friends for so long means we have been through the good times and the bad, the wins and the losses.  We’ve lost adored pets, loved family members, and irreplaceable friends.  But what we haven’t lost across time and across the country, is our ever-lasting, unconditional support for one another.

Keri, you and I have shared almost everything.  We shared Camp Fire, lake days, and even the chicken pox.  We shared our singing debut in the Lower School Talent Show- a performance that was so memorable, in fact, that the song we wrote is performed annually at the Country Day Lower School graduation ceremony.  
Ziplining in Costa Rica- October 2013
In fifth grade, we spent countless hours sharing a pan of paper mache- carefully placing newpaper strips over chicken wire in order to make our Mr. & Mrs. Planters Peanut costumes for Halloween- time well spent, though, seeing as we won the costume contest.  We’ve really done it all.
Fossils & Footprints assembly (1st grade)
Mr. & Mrs. Peanut (5th grade)
Easter Egg Hunt at the Fort Worth Boat Club
Camp El Tesoro
In January 2005, we shared in our excitement for a football game.  The University of Texas Longhorns met the University of Michigan Wolverines on a football field for the first time in the programs’ histories.  In case you Wolverines have forgotten, the Longhorns were victorious that year in the Rose Bowl, scoring a 37-yard field goal as time ran out, winning the game 38:37. 
Kate, Keri, and Whitney at Keri's Bridal Lunch
The City Club, Fort Worth
November 16, 2012
Now once again, a Wolverine and a Longhorn are meeting, but this time, instead of at the 50 yard line, y’all are meeting at the altar.  Your fans probably won’t be chanting “Hail to the victors, Texas fight, or go big blue,” but we will, undoubtedly be cheering for your victory.

So raise your glasses to Keri & Bradley’s newly formed team- may your pep-talks to each other always be encouraging, your cheers for one another always be loud, and your victories always be celebrated with a touchdown dance."

Watching the sunset in Los Angeles, 2011

Loaded Baked Potato Soup
Servings: 6; Adapted from

Loaded Baked Potato Soup
  • 4 russet potatoes, peeled (but don't ask Keri to do it. She's peeled enough potatoes in her life :) )
  • 3 c chicken broth
  • 3 c fat-free skim milk
  • salt & pepper as needed
  • 1 c light or fat-free sour cream
  • 1 c reduced-fat cheddar cheese
  • 12 tbsp chives
  • 6 slices bacon
  1. On medium heat, add chicken broth, milk, and potatoes- bring to a boil
  2. Once potatoes are softened (appr 10-20 mins), use an immersion blender to puree until smooth
  3. Add sour cream, 1/2 the chives, salt, and pepper
  4. Cook on low for additional 10 mins
  5. Ladle soup into bowls, and use cheese, bacon, and remaining chives for garnishing
Keep on cookin'!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Carly's Chicken Tortilla Soup

March 2, 2015: In February of 2015, I posted a picture on Instagram of a hodge podge soup that I had made. I called it Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chicken Chili- cause that's what it was, plus black beans & corn. Andy and I were iced in with little in our pantry, so we threw it all together in the crockpot and eight hours later had a delicious soup without ever having to leave our warm little house. My sister-in-law, Carly, posted a comment on my picture on Instagram. She said, "Sounds good! I made tortilla soup tonight." Of course I asked her for her recipe, and once the ice thawed, I adventured to the store and bought the ingredients. Out came Carly's Chicken Tortilla Soup, and I'm pretty sure it was the best damn soup I've ever had. And with new tastes comes old memories. 
Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chicken Chili

I remembered one cold day, taking my cousin (who on all accounts is my "pseudo-sister") Central Market's Chicken Tortilla Soup when she was sick in college. I'm beginning to think tortilla soup is a cure-all dish for head colds and cold hands. Below is my Maid of Honor toast from Ashlea's wedding in December of 2012. It's not about soup or being cold or even having a cold, but it is about being sisters, so I found it quite fitting for this recipe. And a huge thanks to my new sister for the meal that's sure to be on our go-to recipe list from now on.
Andy, Kate, and Carly at Andy & Kate's wedding
at The Omni Fort Worth Hotel- November 15, 2014
"Hi, for those of you who don’t know me, I’m Kate or “Katherine” to most of my family, and I’m Ashlea’s Maid of Honor.  When I got my note in the mail asking me to fill the role of Maid of Honor, I was immediately overwhelmed with pride, excitement, and a major dose of reality. We are growing up. We were no longer playing dress up in our mom’s clothes, but instead, my Lil Cuz was going to dress up in white lace.  We were no longer decorating our rooms with Tweety Bird & Jonathan Taylor Thomas posters, but, instead, we were decorating for a wedding reception.  Standing in my kitchen, holding your letter, I wasn’t sure I was ready to grow up.
Kate (18 mos) and Ashlea (1 month) with Granny at Kate's parents' house for Christmas 1987
in Fort Worth, TX
When we were little, Ashlea and I both had older brothers, but neither of us had a sister.  I used to ask Santa Claus for a little sister, but apparently it doesn’t work that way.  I didn’t quite understand why I never found a little pink bundle of joy under the tree until I came across this quote, “God made us cousins because he knew our moms couldn’t handle us as sisters.”  Probably true, considering the adventures and mischief we got into.
Kate & Carly at Kate's wedding- November 15, 2014
The Omni Fort Worth Hotel
I think Ashlea would agree with me in saying that our best adventures were at our Granny & Papa’s house.  Their house was home to a garage full of cardboard boxes that were perfect for making forts that went from one end of the house to another.  It was home to a moth-ball smelling, blanket filled closet that made for the best hide and go seek hiding spot.  We spent Christmases in the den, helping Papa scratch off Lottery Tickets and Easters in the backyard having Easter egg hunts.  Then there was the kitchen that made me fall in love with cooking- where we had pizza for breakfast and s’mores & hotdogs for midnight snack, with frozen apple juice & frozen peaches in between.  We made all kinds of messes- dying Easter eggs, making sticky Rice Krispie treats, and mixing every ingredient in the kitchen into what we called a “Portion Potion.”  Despite our messes and adventures, Granny & Papa never told us “No.”
Ashlea & Kate before Kate's wedding- November 15, 2014
The Omni Fort Worth Hotel

We sat on Papa’s lap eating chocolate ice cream while he watched his programs, and we sat on Granny’s lap while she rocked us until we were in our twenties.  We crawled into bed with them in the mornings to read the funny papers and we snuggled up at night to watch Johnny Carson- Ashlea & I were inseparable, and Granny & Papa were our heroes.
Kate & Ashlea at Kate's wedding- November 15, 2014
The Omni Fort Worth Hotel
When I moved to Austin to start at UT, I thought Ashlea and my’s sisterly moments would come to a halt, but luckily I was wrong.  Being the intelligent woman she is, and against her brother’s crimson-colored wishes, Ashlea called me in 2006 and told me she, too, was going to be a Longhorn.  And, to make this proud sister even more proud, Ashlea chose to go through recruitment and pledge my same sorority, Delta Gamma.  I remember calling Granny on bid day, and tearfully telling her, “Ashlea is really going to be my sister!”  Granny, in her calm, sensible, and wise tone simply said, “Well Katherine, I thought she already was.” 
Katherine & Ashlea building a snowman at our Granny & Papa's house
in Wichita Falls, TX
Granny was right- she always was right.  Lee Lee, you have always been my sister.  As little girls, every Christmas at Midwestern’s Fantasy of Lights, every one of your bounce house birthday parties, every lake day ending with a fabulous sunset- you made them all complete.  To this day, I brag to everyone about you- my cousin, my Delta Gamma Grand Little Sis, my UT cheerleader, my Physical Therapist, and my very first friend. 

Kate giving her Maid of Honor toast at Ashlea's Wedding
December 15, 2012
Your courage, patience, faith, hope, and love have been a pillar of strength for your family, through the good times and the hard.  I know Granny, Papa, and your Bubba are watching down on you and Mark today, beaming at their handiwork and crazy proud of the woman you have become, just as I am.  Let’s raise our glasses to Ashlea & Mark- You two have found a love so great and unconditional- a love that lasted across high school halls and across the state.  Y’all have cared for one another, supported one another, and cheered for one another for 7 years thus far, so here’s to 77 more.  As our Granny would say, “Keep on making memories.”  Cheers.

Carly's Chicken Tortilla Soup
Servings: 8; Adapted from The Food Network

Carly's Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 med onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 chipotle in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 6 c chicken broth (we use unsalted)
  • 1 c corn kernels (fresh or frozen, thawed)
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1/2 c cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 c lime juice
  • 1 doz tortilla chips, crumbled (for garnishing)
  • 1/2 c cheddar cheese (for garnishing)
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and sliced
  1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat
  2. Add onion, garlic, chipotle, chili powder, and salt and cook until onion softens
  3. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil
  4. After this has been boiling for appr 10 mins, add chicken breasts. Allow to boil for 20 mins.
  5. Reduce to simmer and add corn. Cook for 5 mins more.
  6. Stir in tomato, cilantro, and lime juice
  7. Ladle into bowls. Top with chips, cheese, and avocado as desired. 
Keep on cookin'!
-Carly & Katherine

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Quinoa Harvest Soup "Late Soup"

Food fads come and go just about as quickly as diet fads. Pomegranate was the miracle fruit. Bananas were good for everything from working out to curing hangovers. Pork was the other white meat. Beef was what's for dinner. Now there's quinoa. Or, as Andy likes to call it from the Bud Light commercial, "quee-no."

I bought some quinoa a few weeks ago at the grocery store, thinking it would be a healthy alternative to rice. There aren't many foods these days that I just plain don't like, so I figured it was worth a shot. High in fiber and protein, I thought I had surely found a super-food side. Well, while quinoa may be a super food, it is also super gross. (In my opinion). It is bland, sticky, and tastes like you're eating cardboard. Not to mention, it isn't the cheapest food on the shelf. So we were left with one bag of quinoa, and neither of us were going to touch it.

Andy found a recipe for a soup to put it in, and he hit the nail on the head. Quinoa has little to no flavor when prepared on its own (even when it claims to be "Mediterranean Flavored," but in the soup he made, it was a healthy, protein filled filler.

We started calling it late soup because it seems that every time we have it, we don't eat until 10:00 at night. Now anyone who knows us, knows that Andy/Kate time is at least 30-45 minutes behind schedule. That being said, the first time he made the soup, Andy underestimated the amount of time it would take to defrost chicken breasts and chop up all of the vegetables. About 9:30pm, I asked if he thought it'd be done any time soon. He wasn't very sure. But it was definitely well-worth the wait. It is a hearty, thick soup chock full of veggies & healthiness.

The second time we had Late Soup, we were helping my dad move offices. Of particular importance is the fact that I'm pretty sure that my dad runs on Andy time, and what was supposed to take about 30 minutes turned into a two hour adventure. Sweet Andy is always willing to help out, but I am seriously thinking about getting him this bumper sticker for his truck.

So all of that being said, gather up your ingredients and start early. It is a great fall/winter soup, but it does take some time to prepare and cook. Or don't start early, and you can keep up the tradition of Late Soup, too. 

Quinoa Harvest Soup "Late Soup"
Servings: 4

  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 carrot, chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Red pepper flakes
  • 2 large chicken breasts, cut in half
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese

  1. Heat oil in large soup pot over medium heat. 
  2. Add carrot and onion, season with salt and pepper, then saute until tender, about 10 minutes. 
  3. Add garlic, season with more salt and pepper, then saute for 2 more minutes. 
  4. Add chicken stock, parsley flakes, dried thyme, and red pepper flakes, then bring to a boil.
  5. Add chicken breasts to the pot then cook for 10 minutes just below boil, or until no longer pink in the center. 
  6. Remove chicken breasts to a plate then add sweet potato, russet potato, and quinoa to boiling broth. 
  7. Place a lid on top, lower heat to medium, then cook for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender and quinoa is cooked. 
  8. Meanwhile shred chicken.
  9. Add shredded chicken back to the soup, then add cheese and stir to combine.
Keep on cookin'!
-Katherine & Andy

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Chipotle-taste-alike Bowl with Spaghetti Squash

April 4, 2014: During football season, Andy and I have a Sunday tradition- order pizza or pick up Chipotle. We have each others' Chipotle orders down pretty pat, but we always complain that one of the two of us has to drive to pick it up. We'll start offering deals like, "I'll pay if you go get it," but neither of us ever want to drive the whole (ready for it?) 7 minutes down the street to pick it up. Man, we are LAZY on Sundays. As a side note: since April, Andy and I have stopped with the pizza tradish. As it turns out, eating a large pizza by oneself can make one deeply regret the impulsive quick-to-order online Domino's moment. Sunday's pizza and Chipotle have mostly been replaced with slow cooker soups and homemade meals. This one is not to be left out, as we are having it for dinner tonight! (1/04/15). 
Chipotle Spaghetti Squash Bowl
Now, I've been going to that Chipotle ever since I bought my house back in 2008. I hadn't ever really had any complaints about my Chicken Fajita Bowl until this year. Suddenly, it was like every single Sunday there was something wrong. One day, they forgot my guacamole and I didn't realize it until I was back home, comfy on our couch. Another time they told me they were OUT of guacamole, and it would take 15 minutes for them to make the next batch. 15 minutes! Yeesh. I make damn good guacamole and it does not take 15 minutes out of my day. This was a problem- we all know that Chipotle is just not complete without guac. 

At least we forget the time when they were out of rice. Excuse me say what? How do you run out of rice? Aren't you a burrito company? Well, needless to say, I was becoming quite dishearted at my Chipotle experiences, when I came across a Pinterest recipe for a Chipotle-like bowl, but with spaghetti squash in lieu of rice. This lower carb, healthier version intrigued me, so we gave it a shot on a lazy Sunday evening. Wowzers! As much as I love Chipotle, and I will probably not really mean this later, but this was almost BETTER than my weekly bowl obsession. Not to mention, I felt pretty good about eating it because instead of 16 Weight Watchers Points Plus like my bowl, this bowl only has 6 PPs! Another side note: since the completion of the Chisolm Trail Parkway, enabling us to get to the other local Chipotle in 5 minutes, we have not returned to the "always out of everything" Chipotle. 

So no, this will never replace my "Chicken fajita bowl, brown rice, fajita veggies, black beans, medium and hot salsas, lettuce, and guac on the side" order, but it is a nice substitute to save money, carbs, or your blood pressure when you hear your burrito will be consisting of hot sauce and beans. 

Chipotle-taste-alike Bowl with Spaghetti Squash
Servings: 4; Weight Watchers Points Plus Value: 6

Chipotle-taste-alike Bowl with Spaghetti Squash
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash
  • 2 large chicken breasts, cooked and cubed. When you cook the chicken, I suggest preparing it with Chicken Fajita Seasoning or something of the like
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, minced (leave appr 1/2 of the seeds in, de-seed the rest)
  • 1/2 can (appr 5 oz) Rotel 
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp oregano
  • 1/2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt & pepper as desired
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 c freshly torn cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 c grated fat-free cheddar cheese
  1. Poke holes in your squash with a fork like you would for a baked potato, to prepare to let out steam
  2. Cook the squash in the microwave for 16 mins total- rotate at 8 mins, halfway through
  3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. 
  4. Add onion, garlic, jalapeno and bell pepper. Sauté 2 minutes. 
  5. Stir in cumin, oregano, chili powder, red pepper, and a good pinch of salt and pepper. 
  6. Sauté 1 more minute. 
  7. Stir in beans, corn, chicken, half of cilantro and lime juice until well combined
  8. Cook everything an additional 5 minutes or until corn and beans are cooked
  9. Cut your squash in half and pull out the seeds
  10. Scrape the insides from the squash out- it will come out like spaghetti in strings
  11. Add the “spaghetti” from squash to the vegetable mixture and stir to combine. 
  12. Serve as one big mixed up bowl!
Keep on cookin'!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Chile Pork Verde

Me, Michael, Becca, Elise, Mallory, Lani, Amanda, Ryan, and Ray
at Guitars and Cadillacs at the FW Kickball End of Season Party for the Winter 2013 season
One night a few years ago, Andy and I went on a double date with our friends, Michael & Becca to Salsa Fuego. It is an old drive-through restaurant (what it use to be escapes me now), and it is a little hole in the wall here in Fort Worth.
Andy, me, Becca, and Michael at the American Aquarium show at Magnolia Motorlounge in May 2013

Andy ordered Chile Pork Verde, and he couldn't stop raving about it. He was bound and determined to figure out a recipe so we could try it out ourselves. So the day came when (shocked face- in awe) Andy went to... wait for it... the grocery store!! Usually I do all of our grocery shopping, but Andy took charge so he could figure out how to make the mysterious pork.
Michael, Becca, and me with Jesse, Will, Chris, and Chelsea on the 4th of July 2013 at Cabana #3

He bought all of the ingredients to make the pork, and started cooking about 5:00. About 7:00, my stomach was a-rumbling, and I asked Andy when he thought dinner would be done. "Well, the recipe says 6 hours." What! Turns out, Andy thought the 6 hours included prep & cook time, but it did not. The pork was suppose to cook for a grand total of 6 hours. Meanwhile, my stomach was eating itself. Alas, we conceded to go grab take out from Pei Wei and have the pork the next time. Good thing, too, because it was done about midnight that night.
Becca and me (and Andy and Me) celebrating my first two runs in kickball

Despite having it the day after we cooked it, the Chile Pork Verde was crazy-good. Another mishap- Andy thought the rice he'd bought was "plain white rice" but it was gumbo rice and pre-seasoned. "Not white like the picture on the box!" Andy disappointedly told me.  Oh well, we now know for next time- start cooking it early! And the rice turned out to be much more tasty than any plain white rice would have been anyway. I saved the leftover ingredients to make my own Verde Salsa the next night, and we scarfed down the long-awaited Chile Pork Verde. And, yes, I think it was much better than Salsa Fuego's!

Chile Pork Verde
Servings: 6; Weight Watchers PointsPlus Value:

Chile Pork Verde

1.5-2lb pork shoulder, fat trimmed
1.5-2 tbsp of oil for browning pork (coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil recommended)
2/3 tsp chile powder
2/3 tsp dried oregano
1/3 tbsp salt
1/3 tsp garlic powder
1/3 tsp cumin

1/2 onion, chopped
.75-1lb tomatillos, husked and rinsed
1 1/3 medium garlic cloves
1 Serrano pepper, minced (leave seeds for some spice)
1 tbsp oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/8 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 lime, squeezed juice
2 cups water

1 small can chopped green chiles (with liquid)
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped and seeded
1 Serrano pepper, chopped and seeded

1.  In a small bowl, mix chile powder, dried oregano, salt, garlic powder, and cumin.  

2. Rub spice mixture into pork shoulder and let sit at room temperature 20-30 minutes.
3.  Place tomatillos, onion, garlic, and Serrano pepper into a pot.  Season with oregano, cilantro, cumin, and salt; squeeze lime and pour in water.  
4. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the tomatillos are soft, 10-15 minutes.  
5. Press tomatillos against the side of the pot to crush and stir often while simmering.
6.  Brown the pork in oil over medium-high heat for approximately 10 minutes.
7.  Using a blender, or immersion blender, carefully puree the tomatillo mix until smooth consistency.
8.  Drain meat and add to pot.  
9. Add chopped green chiles, jalapeño pepper and Serrano pepper.  
10. Continue to simmer for next 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 hours, or until pork shreds easily.
11.  Serve the pork chile verde warm in bowls with steamed rice. 
12.  Season with cilantro, Tabasco, lime wedges, and salt and pepper to taste.  

Keepn on cookin'!
-Katherine and Andy

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup

October 6, 2013: Happy CROCKtober, slow cooker lovers!! *Note- I wrote this almost a year ago... I have REALLY fallen behind on my posting!** Today we got back from one of my top two favorite vacations- to Costa Rica! We have spent the past week hiking to waterfalls (and kissing under them!), drinking coconut milk straight out of a coconut, monkey watching, zip lining, hot tubbing, laying out, and taking in some of the most amazing views I've ever seen. 

The sun rose about 5:00am every morning, but don't worry, I wasn't awake to see the sunrise. Many other people in our house were, though. We were so blessed to join Keri & Bradley, Bradley's cousin, Keely, and their other couple-friends, Cori and Jeff, on our trip. The four bedroom, two story home was incredible, and we had plenty of room for the seven of us to spread out and have both our private time with our significant others, but also all hang out together, too. 

Picture this: We went ziplining through the rainforest with howler monkeys hootin' and hollering' as we put our feet up and zoomed through the forrest upside down or superman style. 

We hiked down a hidden dirt road for 30 minutes, only to come across an oasis with three waterfalls feeding into it. And not just trickles on the side of a Colorado mountain waterfall- we're talking roaring, knock you off your feet, hundreds of feet tall waterfalls. 

We went to a wildlife refuge where we were a foot away from jaguars with only a chain link fence between us and their baring teeth. Well, this one doesn't look so malicious, but trust me, many of them looked like they could take me out in one fatal chomp!

We had a Kudamundi we named Mr. Wiggles who greeted us on the other side of the sliding glass door every day. We ate lunch with monkeys swinging in the trees 10 feet away. We had a personal golf cart to take to our meals in an open-air cafe where we were often the only patrons because it was the rainy season. We had Mixology class, Costa-Rican style and took over the bar for the afternoon. And, of course, we cheered on the Rangers and cooked out to the sound of parrots squawking and another storm rolling in.

When we came home, we were spent. We were exhausted from traveling, hungry for burgers, and feeling very very lazy. I wanted to make something that was as easy as possible, so I could focus on getting laundry done, re-organizing my life, and getting ready for the upcoming week. 

Crockpot Chicken Enchilada Soup
Servings: 4

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups low sodium fat-free chicken broth
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1-2 tsp chipotle chili in adobo sauce (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (plus more for garnish)
  •  15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 8 oz skinless chicken breasts (16 oz total)
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions, for topping
  • 3/4 cup shredded reduced fat cheddar cheese
  • fat free sour cream (optional)


1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. 
2. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft, 3-4 minutes. 
3. Slowly add the chicken broth, tomato sauce and chipotle adobo sauce and bring to a boil. 
4. Add cilantro and remove from heat. 
5. Pour into crock pot.
6. To the crockpot, add drained beans, diced tomatoes, corn, cumin, oregano and stir.
7. Add the chicken breasts; cover and cook on low heat for 4-6 hours.
8. Remove chicken and shred with two forks. 
9. Add chicken back into the soup, adjust salt and cumin to taste. 
10. Serve in bowls and top with fat free sour cream, cheese, scallions and cilantro. 

Keep on cookin'!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Jalapeno Apricot Salmon

June 10, 2014: Well, folks, it's Birthday Week for the Strickland family, and today is MY birthday! Since 28 is just getting started, I don't have a lot to report yet. I can tell you that thus far, 28 has consisted of a big "Happy Birthday!" from the fabulous fiance when I woke up, a good workout while watching I Love Lucy, a round of "Happy Birthday to Kate & Alma (a co-worker)" sung by my new co-workers, and numerous calls/texts/Facebook posts. That about sums it up, but you know I'm not going to end the post there. 

Mom, me, and dad at our birthday celebration
June 8, 2013
Cabana #3
Eagle Mountain Lake
Instead, I thought I'd reflect back on what an amazing year 27 has been for me. Let's start in Summer of 2013. Strickland Birthday Week 2013 was spent at the lake, celebrating my 27th, my mom's 65th, and my dad's 70th. The next weekend we celebrated as my college roommate, Hayley, married her husband, Ben, in Fredericksburg, Texas. The rest of the summer included 4th of July at the lake, a Hilbers family reunion, my other college roommate, Erin, and her husband Alex's 1st anniversary party, a baby shower for my bestie, and the 3rd anniversary of Andy and my first date.

Me, Jennifer, Shannon, and Erin
The Bryant's 1st Wedding Anniversary Party
July 13, 2013
Fort Worth, Texas
Fall of Year 27 was the season of football. Of course there was TCU Frog football, But I also became a Saints fan.  There was also the football themed baby shower for my dear friend, Chelsea, and the TCU v. UT football game (see ENGAGED below!) Kolt David made his appearance in San Antonio, Texas. We zip-lined and hiked our way through Costa Rica. And on October 26th, there was a little bit of excitement as we got ENGAGED (eee!! 158 days!!) before the TCU v. UT game. We cheers'ed to Andy's 29th birthday at Shaw's Burgers, and spent many Saturdays at The Omni Hotel wedding planning. We were a Cowboys Cheerleader & Walter White for Halloween, and I played my first season of kickball after watching from the sidelines for 3 years. Fall of Year 27 was, and always be, pretty damn tough to beat, but Winter of Year 27 sure gave Fall a run for it's money.

Andy and I got engaged!
Cabana #3 & The Hickman's House
October 26, 2013
There were snow days, ice days, and ice days that turned into perfectly sunny days. We were stuck in our house for 5 days straight (for better or for worse, right?) There were four Christmases spent with the Jennings, the Rivers, the Stricklands, and the Poirots. We danced the night away at one of the girls I used to nanny for's deb party. Andy and I hosted our first (hopefully annual) New Year's Eve party and rang in the new year with some of our favorite friends. We sang along with Ryan Bingham at Billy Bob's, and we went to the rodeo three times. Chelsea gave birth to her & Chris' beautiful baby, Campbell Grace, who I could snuggle with for hours.

Andy and me at our First Annual New Year's Eve Party
December 31, 2013
Fort Worth, Texas
Then came Spring of Year 27, and with spring came weddings and more babies. First, I went back down to Fredericksburg for my Kindergarten friend, Frances', bachelorette. We watched so many friends marry the loves of their lives- The Comptons, The Dubans, and The Sims. We celebrated as Charleigh Marie turned 3... and speaking of kids growing up? This year Greyson turned 4, Sloane turned 1, and Kameron turned 8. They sort of have their own Birthday Week: April 30, May 1, and May 5. Spring of Year 27 also brought with it a job change for me, and a new truck for Andy.

Sloane Sawyer turned 1 year old on April 30, 2014
Princess Sloane's 1st Birthday Party
May 28. 2014
Wichita Falls, Texas
Greyson Senter turned 4 on May 5, 2014
Greyson's Dino Dig Birthday Party
May 18, 2014
Wichita Falls, Texas

So that brings us to Summer of Year 27. Thus far, Summer of 27 has included The Colonial, Paige & Kyle's baby, Kaden's, debut, Memorial Day at Cabana #3, toasting to another happy couple- The Broyles, and watching my beautiful cousin, Tiffany, walk down the aisle to her husband, Scott.
Kameron & me
Tiffany & Scott Chilcutt's Wedding
June 6, 2014
Grapevine, Texas
So bring it on, Year 28. You have some tough competition, but I have a crazy feeling you'll be the best year yet. 

Jalapeno Apricot Salmon
Main Dish to Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash- see story there
Servings: 2; Weight Watchers Points Plus Value: 9
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 2 jalapenos, seeded & sliced into rings
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 c white wine, I used Pinot Grigio so I could drink the rest after :)
  • 3 tbsp whole-grain mustard (I used Grey Poupon)
  • 1 c apricot preserves (Smuckers makes a light, sugar free one)
  • 4 (6oz) salmon fillets
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 lemon, zested
Jalapeno Apricot Salmon & Spicy Roasted Butternut Squash
  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Saute oil over medium heat
  3. When hot, add jalapenos to caramelize
  4. Add garlic then add white wine
  5. Add mustard & apricot preserves and bring to a simmer
  6. Simmer over low heat for 20 mins, then let cool completely
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (to make it less messy- not required)
  8. Place salmon on baking sheet and sprinkle with S&P
  9. Liberally apply Jalapeno Apricot mixture atop and top with rosemary sprig
  10. Cook on 400 for anywhere from 5-15 mins, depending on taste and preference
  11. Serve topped with lemon zest
Keep on cookin'!