Sunday, January 29, 2012

Chicken Chili With Beans

Recipe 1 0f's a good one! As I wrote in this post, I made a resolution to try 12 new recipes this year.  I have had the William-Sonoma 'Food Made Fast' cookbook, for, um years.......why didn't I use them sooner?

{Chicken Chili With Beans}


  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeño chili, seeded and minced
  • 2 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 2 cans (each 14 1/2 oz.) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro


Cook the chicken
In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the chicken and cook, stirring once or twice, until golden, 5 to 7 minutes total. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a plate.

Prepare the vegetables
Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic and jalapeño to the pan and sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chili powder and return the chicken and any juices from the plate to the pan. Add the tomatoes and their juices and 1 cup water and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring once or twice, until the chicken is opaque throughout and the chili has thickened, about 15 minutes.

Finish the chili 
Stir in the beans and cook until they are heated through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the chili into individual bowls, garnish with the cilantro and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Also can be found here.

I wasn't surprised that I loved this. I have never met a chili I didn't like. I left out the onion, and I cooked the whole jalapeno in this pot, then pulled it out. I think that's how you make it spicy, but not too much so. Oh, and I added the corn, because I thought that sounded good. It was so easy, I'll definitely make it again!

Thanks for stopping by, have a great week!



Thursday, January 19, 2012

About Two Page Layouts

Over Christmas break I had three days of no interruptions, no plans, no nothin'. I stayed in my PJ's most of the time, drank lots of coffee (and other beverages) and made it thru 4 seasons of Dexter. Oh, and I scrapbooked...alot. I try to finish one book a year for myself, and I was trying finish that up. Mind you, I don't always finish one year before starting on the new year, but I had the time, so I thought why not put a neat little bow on 2011?? And, I almost finished, just 2-3 more layouts to get done. Yeah!

While taking a break from serial killers (because, for real, that show is so wrong.....) I caught up on the past few episodes of the Paperclipping Roundtable. It's probably my #1 favorite podcast, all about scrapbooking. One particular episode was about two page layouts and how the trend in magazines and online is to showcase one page layouts with very few photos and lots of techniques and embellishments. They were debating the pros and cons and discussing the pressure that some people feel to make their scrapbook pages look like what they see in magazines and online. It got me thinking:

-I like doing 2 page layouts. Most of my books are 2 pagers.
-I am also more of an event document than a story based documenter. That is, I ENJOY making layouts about birthdays, Christmas, and I like keeping them....... in chronological order. GASP!! 2 page layouts are more conducive to this method, because I can include more pictures

However, I realize that 2 page layouts do create certain challenges. I thought I would share a few of my recent pages to show you how I deal with some of them.

supplies: fabric paper-American Crafts, letter stickers-OLD Jenni Bowlin, stars-Studio Calico (embossed in silver)
Don't you dare judge me, you know when Gaga comes on while you are in your car, you dance ; )

In this layout I wanted to include a bunch of pictures from the concert that I had printed online, plus a few of my friend and I. I tried to use the patterned paper to a) highlight my favorite photos on the left pages by matting them and arranging in a grid. and  b) tie both pages together by using it across both. I also printed out that purple strip (it has song titles on it) and ran it across both pages, hopefully leading your eye from one page to the other.

{DERBY 2011}
supplies: Studio Calico add-on kit Thimble, pocket page proctector-WeRMemory

Another issue that can come up when you scrapbook like me is having too many pictures I want to put in my books. I like doing 2 page layouts because I can fit more than just a few pictures. In facet, I kind of love this combination of one page layout and pocket page. It lets me create a fun page one-with lots of products and maybe lots of journalling, then I can arrange the rest of my pictures in the pocket page.  Sometimes I will fill a few of the pockets with paper or extras that match the other page (like I did here) or I just fill them all with pictures. When you put all these different pages in your album, it looks really good!

Obligatory close up picture of the banner I stitched, because I love the way this page turned out ; ):

Hey, look, another banner!

OK, I'll give you a minute to recover from the double dose of cuteness............ready? Let's proceed.

 Sometimes with a lot of photos it can be hard to focus your eye on ny one picture, so the layout looks cluttered. I tried to solve that by printing some larger than others, and by highlighting the left page's picture. I also try to keep my embellishments more streamlined when doing a two pager. By that I mean, I use less and I keep them grouped-for the most part. By doing this I feel like you can look around from one area to another , but it avoids the overcluttered, busy look. Hopefully.


supplies: cardstock-American Crafts, patterened paper circles Teresa Collins (inspired by Lisa), you're the best-Scenic Route

(Let me just say I miss Scenic Route. I wish they would come back and make more albumsembellishmentsbackgroundpapers....sigh.)

I used leftover scraps to make a third layout of extra pictures I had of my Nephews' birthday weekend.  I think that when I flip thru my book in a few years it will be clear that all three pages go together, even though they don't match exactly.

I hope this gives you a few ideas you can use. I am certainly no expert and I am not reinventing the wheel, here. But, the podcast made me think and want to write about it.

Do you use 2 page layouts? Do you use a lot of these new pocket pages? What are your tips or problems with them? Leave a comments, I would love to hear!


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

12 for 2012

Raise your hand if you make resolutions in January, then by March, well…….ahem.

Not only have I made (and broken) more New Years’ resolutions than I can count, but in general I lack in dedication to long term goals. Whether it’s saving money for a big purchase, losing weight, or keeping my car clean-I stink. I go all balls to the walls for a few weeks, I love the results, but the follow-up/follow-through? I get busy, distracted, move onto the other thing. Sound familiar?

Well, I for one, am sick of it. There are so many things I want to accomplish, that I want for my life. I think like any other body part, maybe discipline is a muscle you need to strengthen? A practice you need to perfect? Does that sound totally corny?

In the past two years I have accomplished two major long term goals. Two years ago I managed to save enough money to go to Europe (I blogged about that here). That was a loooong slow process, and had I been more organized and dedicated it may have only taken me two or three years…instead of seven or eight. Last year I finally finished paying off all my debts (car, student loans, credit card). Man, did that one feel good! It was also a loooong time coming, but now I am living freer than I ever have (financially).  More on this in a later post. Both experiences taught me that I can stick to and accomplish something, that I don’t always need to be impulsive. I can do something I really set my mind to. So, this year I am going to stretch my muscles again. No large, looming, youbetterdothisorelse goals, no I’m going to be skinny by summer goals. Real, motivating actions that will improve different areas of my life. 

And this is me jumping on the bandwagon of blogging about my goals and the results.

Of course I needed a graphic, right? Made using my old friend Picasa.

I'm really excited by my plans this year! Check it out:

{12 On The Twelfth}

A while ago I read about a project called 12 on the 12th. It’s not rocket science, the idea is to get out your camera and commit to take at least twelve pictures on the twelfth of each month. I’m going to stick with this for the year for two purposes: to document the little things that I do and experience during the everyday this year, and to practice my photography skills. I have an awesome point and shoot camera (Cannon G11) . It has all these cool features and capabilities that I have no idea how to use. What’s the point of paying so much for a great system if I only access half of it? So-I am going to read my manual (again) and take on a few of the mystery dials and buttons: ISO, stitch assist, macro. Whether or not I use them all the time, I think it will be fun to know what I can do if I want.
                At Write.Click.Scrapbook they are putting together a community of people who are also following along with 12 on the twelfth. You can sign up here for newsletters, inspiration, tips and to see what everyone else is doing. Even if you don’t show them to anyone else, take the pictures! I would love to see if any of my online friends take pictures and what they have going on (this project appeals to my overly nosy nature….)

{12 Dishes of 2012}

Every year I say I am going to cook more, eat out less. EVERY year I fall back into the same old habits….sound familiar? there’s lots of reasons why I don’t cook more-all lame (I live alone, I hate the clean up, I REALLY hate chopping vegetables). Lame, right? This year I am going to make AT LEAST 12 new recipes-one a month.  It’ll be all sorts of things( desserts, salads,sushi-that one is definitely on my list), and hopefully I can share the meal with a few of my friends ;). Have you heard of Recipe Spinner, an app you can use to fins new recipes using ingredient you have already, or you can spin by theme!
Really, there are a million places I can find new recipes. In fact a few years ago my brother gifted me several cookbooks. Oh, and I bought The Joy of Cooking. ahem…….

{12 Dates With Me}

I am going to have 12 new experiences in the upcoming year. This goal is a little more open ended. ‘Experiences’ means an activity, either a store I’ve never been to, a new class that the gym, a new art project. Just looking to expand my mind a little. I took one intro to Pilates class at my gym, and I would like to work up to doing a fully fledged class. Oh, and try a Pilates machine, those look really cool. I have a few other ideas as well: take a road trip somewhere new, a new park,  get a new kind of massage…haha. Obviously places like Pintrest are a great resource for cultivating inspiration. I may have trouble choosing just 12. As long as I DO 12, I win!

{12 New Cars for the New Year!!}
Kidding, kidding….did you see paragraph #3? No more car loans for this girl. The thing is, I spend more time in my car than the average bear. It’s a crucial part of my job. I often eat lunch in my car, drink coffee in my car, change clothes….you get the idea. You can imagine the amount of napknscupstissuehairscrucnchiesflyers that accumulate. And let’s not forget the cat hair. No, my cats don’t ride in the car with me, but in some ways, they are. I am SOOOOO lazy when it comes to cleaning out my car, and vacuuming-let’s just say that is not the easiest task to perform from a seated position. However, the truth is I have a NICE car, a GROWN UP car that clients/coworkers/friends ride in. ‘nuff said. So I have a monthly appointment with my local car wash that offers free vacuums (holler!).

So, there you have it. My plan for the new year. Hopefully I will get it together well enough to share what I do here.

 Does anyone else have a goal or a plan for the new year? Do tell! I’ll help keep you honest ; )

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