Monday, September 29, 2014

Crock Pot Mexican Tortilla Soup



Who doesn't love a good crockpot meal?!?  I know that the number one reason I love my crockpot is because my day goes a lot smoother knowing that I have dinner ready to go before my girls even wake up in the morning!  Last week the weather got a lot cooler in New Jersey and we are all battling colds, so I knew I wanted to create a really awesome soup!  Chopping some veggies is really all you have to do because everything else gets thrown into the crockpot to simmer away for 8 hours while you enjoy your day!



Your Shopping List for the Crockpot Mexican Tortilla Soup:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium onion, diced 
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, diced with seeds and ribs removed (you can leave them in for extra spice)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth 
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
  • freshly squeezed lime juice from 1-2 limes
  • soup garnish of choice - we use tortilla chips and shredded Mexican cheese blend - other great options would be sour cream, diced avocado, extra lime wedges, cilantro 

Now Let's Make the Crockpot Mexican Tortilla Soup:
  1. Place chicken into the bottom of the crockpot
  2. Add the onion, both peppers, beans, tomatoes, corn, and garlic on top of the chicken
  3. Pour in the chicken broth
  4. Sprinkle cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper over the top
  5. Turn crockpot on and cook on the low setting for 8 hours
  6. Before you are ready to serve (I do this around the 7 hour mark) remove chicken and shred with two forks, return to crock pot.  At this point you can also taste the broth and add extra seasoning if desired
  7. Right before serving, stir in fresh lime juice
  8. Garnish with tortilla chips, cheese, and other toppings!



My Crockpot:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Favorites

We've reached the end of another week, and that means that I am sharing my Friday Favorites with all of my wonderful readers!

1. Derek Jeter's Last Game at Yankee Stadium
I am a bit tired this morning because I stayed up late to watch Derek Jeter's final game in pinstripes!  And yes, staying up until 11pm is late for this 27 weeks pregnant mama!  It's a bittersweet Friday Favorite because I am truly so sad that his career is over, but I was so happy with the way the game ended!  John and I have spent many nights sitting on our couch watching Derek Jeter lead the Yankees!  He will be the player that we talk to our kids and our grandkids about the same way that my Daddy talks to us about Micky Mantle.  You can read my post about our Yankee Love (and see some awesome pics of my girls in Yankee gear) here!


I made a batch of these yesterday for a showing of our house...which we are still trying to sell (ugh).  I love love love these muffins!  You take three ingredients, mix with a wooden spoon, and bake!  Your house will smell A*M*A*Z*I*N*G and they taste even better!  You can find the recipe here

3.  Baking Essentials - Pink Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer
Earlier this week, I shared a new Shades of Pink post about Baking Essentials that I cannot live without!  #1 on my list is hands down my Pink Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer!  I would be lost without this thing!  

4. Chatbooks
Oh my goodness, I am so excited about this one!  I signed up for a Chatbooks subscription and my first order arrived this week!  I read about this on some other blogs and I knew I had to have them!  Here's the deal - download the app, get a subscription linked to your Instagram, and get a book for every 60 pictures you take!  Oh yeah did I mention it's $6.00?!?!  And there is no shipping!!!  You can edit the books and pick and choose pictures or you can get all of them.  I started my books for January 1st (when I began #hiloskyeveryday2014) and decided to include every picture, even pics that aren't the "everyday"!  You can decide if you want your captions included in the book (I did).  The spines of the book are also labeled with a title that you pick and a Volume number!  Such an easy way to preserve memories! 


5. Even More Halloween Pajamas

I blogged about the pink skeleton PJs during last week's Friday Favorites!  Well we were gifted even more Halloween PJs and I am so in love!  I mean there is really nothing better than clean, snuggly kids in festive, seasonal pajamas! 


Linking Up With:
Momfessionals

Thursday, September 25, 2014

#hiloskyeveryday2014 Week 39

Day 262 - This is what nap time looks like at the Hilosky House!  Feet up, Ugg slippers on, and hot chocolate with pumpkin marshmallows!  #heaven

Day 263 - Fun day at Sesame Place!  And yes, I love how my girls hold hands on the carousel!  It never gets old! 

Day 264 - 26 Weeks (plus 2 days).  The bump is getting bigger! 

Day 265 - Miss Lacie told me she needed a break from "working" on her computer to drink some tea! 

Day 266 - Yes, we stayed in our PJs all day!  When I snapped this picture, they were singing "Let It Go."  Sweet B was really into it! 

Day 267 - I can pretty much guarantee that you will see a picture of my tiny dancer every.single.wednesday!  I love how sweet she looks in her tutu, and I love how much she loves going to dance class!

Day 268 - We are really hoping that the rain does not interfere with Derek Jeter's last home game...even though these girls will be sound asleep by the opening pitch!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Shades of Pink: Baking Essentials

Last week I talked about a new feature on my blog...Shades of Pink!  It's a series about things that I get asked by readers or things that are just important to my everyday life!  You can find last week's post, all about cooking essentials, here.

Today I am talking about something that I love even more than cooking and that is baking!  I have definitely come to love cooking, especially since I am a much less picky eater than I used to be...but baking will always be my first love!

1. Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer
If you do not have one of these in your kitchen, you need to go out and buy one...like right now!  Or put it on your Christmas/Birthday/Anniversary gift list!  This thing is A*M*A*Z*I*N*G!!!  I got my kitchen aid, in pink of course, as a gift from my Mother-In-Law at my bridal shower, and I have never looked back!  This baby sits on my counter and gets used many times per week.  I should also mention that while I use it predominately for baking, I definitely use it to make dinners and such as well!  It is so versatile.  For over five years now this has been hands down my favorite kitchen tool.  They are expensive, but they are such a worthwhile investment (and you can definitely get them on sale, especially during the holidays).


 2. A Hand Mixer
As much as I use my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer for so much, it is really nice to have a hand mixer for small quick jobs!  This was another bridal shower gift from John's Grandmom and it is still going strong!  I don't use this as often...but when I have to whip up a small batch of glaze or icing, I am so happy to have it!  And of course, I have it in PINK (but unfortunately they don't sell my model in that color anymore)!  Another great advantage to a hand mixer is that you can really use it for any baking recipe that calls for a stand mixer if you don't have the counter space or room in your budget to splurge on a stand mixer right now.  My mom has never owned a stand mixer, so all of the baking I did before John and I got married was done in my parents kitchen with a hand mixer that is probably the same age as me!

 3. Really Great Baking Pans
Buy a couple of really good baking pans from the start.  Your cakes and cookies will bake evenly and never ever stick to the pans.  I cannot say enough good things about the gold touch baking pans that I have from Williams Sonoma!  They are just the best!  Here's what I would recommend getting: two loaf pans (1 pound capacity), two 12-well muffins pans (for making muffins and cupcakes), one 9x13 cake pan, two cookie trays, one half sheet tray, and two eight or nine inch round pans.  Those are what I use the absolute most in my everyday baking!

 
4. Set of Mixing Bowls with Different Sizes
This may be a given, but I am always using mixing bowls to prep ingredients.  I think it's nice to have a set with different sizes so that if you only need to combine a small quantity of ingredients you can use a small mixing bowl - it will take up less room in your dishwasher!  But you definitely want the option of having a large mixing bowl as well!  I like mixing bowls that also have a pour spout!



5. Measuring Cups and Spoons
This one may seem silly or obvious but it is so important for baking!  See when I cook I don't really measure...in fact I mostly only measure when creating a recipe for the blog so that I can give my readers exact amounts.  However, when you bake it is crucial to use exact amounts, especially when it comes to flour, baking powder, etc.  (I mean if you don't want to measure chocolate chips that is not the end of the world).  Make sure you are using measuring cups and spoons for dry ingredients and a separate measuring cup specifically for liquid to measure wet ingredients!

For your dry ingredients:

 For your wet ingredients:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Friday Favorites

I look forward to this post every single week...mostly because I am so excited when we finally reach Friday!  As usual, there were a ton of favorites this week!  Here are my top five!

1. Fall Weather...aka Hoodie Weather

Even though it gets warm in the middle of the day, the mornings are crisp and feel like fall!  We need hoodies or jackets on our morning walk!  My girls are loving these cool mornings, and I am loving the fact that the AC has been turned off for a week now! Last Sunday, Lacie and Blakely wanted to wear these sweatshirts which say their names.  They were awesome first birthday gifts from our cousins!  You can get them at Personalization Mall which is one of my all time favorite websites to order gifts for everyone from babies to grandparents!  And  I promise you this sweatshirt is adorable!

 
Rhinestone Name Pink Hooded Sweatshirt


2. Pumpkin Bundt Cake
I made this cake a few days ago and it is easily one of my new favorites!  The cake itself is 4 ingredients!  And the glaze that goes on top is optional but it is also another 4 ingredients!  This was crazy easy to make and we are loving it!  You can find the recipe here!


3. Halloween Pajamas
I know I talked about these particular PJs before, but the other night was the first night that it was cool enough to wear the pajamas...and they looked even cuter once I put them on!  The girls got a few other pairs of Halloween pajamas from our Aunt this week, so there will be lots more Halloween PJ fun in the coming weeks! 


4. Kitchen Favorites

Earlier in the week, I features a detailed post about some of my kitchen essentials since it is a question I get asked a lot by readers!  You can find the post by clicking here!  It's a simple list of kitchen tools that I absolutely cannot live without!


5. Hot Chocolate

When you're pregnant, you're only allowed one cup of caffeine per day (per my doctors recommendation).  *sigh*  This is really really hard for someone like me who loves coffee.  So I have settled for having a second cup of decaf coffee everyday...but that still wasn't cutting it!  I needed another warm beverage as we head into fall - and I don't really like tea (it kinda just reminds me of being sick...).  So I decided to get some Hot Chocolate...there's a K-Cup for that!  Best decision ever!  And what makes my hot chocolate even better are the amazing Kraft Pumpkin Marshmallows that I found (in the seasonal aisle at Wegmans).  Seriously, you need to find these things!



And of course I am linking up with:

Momfessionals




Housewife Glamour

Thursday, September 18, 2014

#hiloskyeveryday2014 Weeks 37 and 38


Day 248 - These are what my girls call their "funny faces."

Day 249 - Somehow this little lady is still opening birthday presents in September (her birthday was August 19th)!

Day 250 - Derek Jeter Day and 24 weeks (and 2 days)!  Paisley is growing!

Day 251 - Baby You Can Drive My Car!  

Day 252 - Sweet B

Day 253 - Lacie's very first day of dance class!  This is all she has been able to talk about! 

Day 254 - an afternoon walk with Nana!

Day 255 - Hot Chocolate with a Pumpkin Marshmallow! 

Day 256 - John and I had a wedding to attend and Paisley came along too!  25 weeks already! 

Day 257 - it's finally feeling like fall and in the mornings we definitely need our hoodies! 

Day 258 - some of the Daddy/Daughter artwork I found around the neighborhood...plus I can still see my feet! 

Day 259 - haha this is the difference between what my girls look like when they wake up on the morning!

Day 260 - my tiny dancer at her second class! 

Day 261 - Wearing their Frozen sisters shirts!  


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Pumpkin Bundt Cake


John has been working crazy long days.  And by long I mean 12 plus hours every weekday!  He truly amazes me!  So yesterday, I really wanted to make him a treat to surprise him when he got home from work.  Like me, John has been loving the fall weather and pumpkin flavored everything so I decided to make a Pumpkin Bundt Cake.

And this Pumpkin Bundt Cake marks CAKE MIX RECIPE #46!!!

This cake was so simple to make, and it was full of seasonal flavor!  This may just be one of my new fall favorites!  Now to make this cake extra special, I added a cream cheese glaze.  However, you don't have to...you could simply leave the cake plain or dust with powdered sugar and it would still be amazing!



Your Shopping List for the Pumpkin Bundt Cake:

  • 1 box spice cake mix
  • 1 can pumpkin puree 
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 generous cup of chocolate chips


Your Shopping List for the Cream Cheese Glaze:

  • 4 oz cream cheese (half a block)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp half and half (more or less depending on the consistency you want)

Now Let's Make the Pumpkin Bundt Cake:
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and liberally grease a bundt pan (I use nonstick spray)
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment combine the cake mix, pumpkin puree, and eggs
  3. Beat on low speed for 30 minutes, scrape down sides of the bowl, and beat on medium speed for an additional 1-2 minutes
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for 35 - 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out mostly clean
  6. Cool in pan for 10 minutes before inverting cake onto a wire rack to cool completely
  7. While cake is cooling make your cream cheese glaze by putting the cream cheese, vanilla extract, and powdered sugar in a mixing bowl and beating with a hand mixer until combined
  8. Add the half and half, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached
  9. Ice the cake once almost or completely cooled (I just spooned the glaze over the top and let it run down both sides - nothing fancy) and store cake in the fridge

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Shades of Pink: Cooking Essentials

I get asked lots of questions by my readers to write posts that go into more specific detail about different areas of my life.  So I have decided to start a Shades of Pink series, where I will blog about a specific area of my life.  It will be something that is important to me or something that I get asked about often through reader questions.  By far what I get asked about the most is my kitchen and the kitchen tools that I feel are essential for everyone with an interest in cooking to own!  I decided to divide this into two posts - today's will be about cooking essentials and next week I will do one on my baking essentials!

1. Dutch Oven
I have a 7 1/2 Quart Le Creuset Dutch Oven (in the Palm color) and I just love love love it!  It was a very expensive piece of cookware that John and I purchased when we were first married, and I use it constantly!  It goes from the stove to the oven to the fridge and can go right back to the oven.  It can be used for everything from frying foods, to searing meats, to cooking a huge pot of chili or soup!      They come in a variety of sizes, but I recommend getting the biggest one that you have space for in your kitchen because the bigger it is the more you will be able to use it for!

2. Crock Pot
There is truly nothing better than knowing that dinner will be ready for you when you get home from a long day of work.  And even though I am a stay-at-home mom now, there is still nothing better than knowing that dinner is already figured out and cooking long before that crazy dinnertime rush!  I have a super simple crockpot and it has worked great for 5 plus years now!  Believe me, I always look at the more expensive ones and put them on my "someday list" but what I have works great!  I would recommend getting an oval shaped crockpot as opposed to round so that you can make longer cuts of meat.  I would also look for one that has a high and low setting as well as a few different time options.  This is the one that I have and use at least once a week!
 

3. Knife Set (a really good knife set) 
John and I used a very inexpensive set of knives for the first four years of our marriage, and then last summer we finally decided to invest in a good pair of knives...it was life-changing!  Good knives make all of the cooking prep work faster and easier!  Plus you are way less likely to hurt yourself because you do not need to use so much pressure when cutting.  We studied that sets available at Williams Sonoma and decided on this set by Wusthof.  I am so happy with our decision to buy these, especially since we use these knives every single day!

4. Cast Iron Skillet
This is something that I just got about two months ago, but I can already tell how much I am going to love it!  Cast Iron Skillets are super versatile...you can really cook just about anything in them.  Plus they go from the stove to the oven which is an important feature in any skillet that you decide to buy! Like I said when taking about the dutch oven, I would go for a bigger over a smaller because you will get more use out of it!  I have a 12 inch one which is perfect for sautéing a few veggies or preparing a whole skillet dinner!  They are also very affordable! 


5. NonStick Pan
Nonstick pans are a definite kitchen essential for cooking eggs.  I know people who use their nonstick pans for a lot of other things, but I prefer to work with my stainless steel pans for most regular cooking.  However, I would be lost without a good nonstick pan for eggs and omelets (which is something that I make at least 5 days out of the week for the girls - they just love a good spinach omelet).  If you think that a nonstick pan is something you will use often, I would invest in a good set with a few different sizes.  If, like me, you will only really use it for eggs than just get a small pan or an inexpensive set.  I have a pair of nonstick pans, one smaller and one bigger, so that I can make one portion or a meal to serve a few people.  
6. Double Burner Griddle Pan
I use this pan every single Saturday to make pancakes!  I also use it for French Toast, Quesadillas, grilled cheese sandwiches, etc.  I love this pan by All Clad because it just goes on my stove over two burners and it is super easy to clean (you can honestly just wipe it clean).  Literally nothing sticks to this thing!  Sometimes a free standing electric griddle (the kind that plugs in and you use on your countertop) is more difficult to work with!  I also have the All Clad Grill pan which is the same as the griddle just with grill marks.  If you can afford both, get them!  But if you can only get one (or you only have room for one), the Griddle Pan will be more versatile!
7. Blender
Invest in a good blender that can double as a food processor because you will save counter space and money!  I asked for a blender last year for my birthday (seriously that is how you know you are getting old) and I use it several times a week!  I did a lot of research and chose a Ninja because it was so much less expensive then other fancy blenders.  Plus it came with a large blender container, two individual serve containers, and a food processor - all in one!  My kitchen is relatively big, but it's not big enough to make room for all of those separately.  I am very happy to have such versatility from one blender!
 


8. Good Set of Pots and Pans (or at least one good pot)
I have a great set of pots and pans that I received for my wedding shower, and I use them daily!  If you can purchase a great set, you will never regret it!  However, with that being said if I didn't have the money or the storage space for a whole set I would just buy one really large pot for cooking pasta and one smaller pot for heating sauce or an individual portion of food.  You could honestly use the Le Creuset Dutch Oven and the Cast Iron Skillet for all of your other needs!  If you do want to buy a good set of pots and pans, I recommend Stainless Steel ones that are oven safe as well as broiler safe and have glass lids that allow you to see what's cooking!  This is my exact set - I have had it for five plus years, and it is still as amazing as the day I got it!  

 Don't forget to come back next week when I share my Baking Essentials!!!

If you have any Shades of Pink that you would like me to feature, please contact me!  


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Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Favorites

It has been a longggg week, and I am so happy to see Friday arrive!  Today I am linking up with Andrea over at Momfessionals and sharing my Friday Favorites with my wonderful readers!

1. Lacie's First Dance Class 
This has been what the Hilosky House has been talking about for weeks now, especially Lacie! She has been so so so excited to go to dance class.  I did a Mommy and Me class with her but this would be the very first class that she takes by herself!  And by the first I mean the first because she has never been to daycare, preschool, or even a baby-sitter that is not family!  I was nervous that all of her excitement would turn into tears when it was time for me to leave her in the studio, but she said goodbye like such a big girl and was all smiles when she walked out of class after an hour!  The next morning when I woke her up, she said to me "Mommy, Lacie dreamed about dance class last night."  So so so cute!  I think there will be a lot of dance classes in John's future!


2. Lacie's Little Black Tutu
I couldn't talk about dance class without mentioning how sweet Lacie looked in her little black leotard/tutu with pink tights and pink ballet slippers!  I absolutely love pink (obviously) but I love black too!  In fact, when John and I got married we did a black, pink, and white color scheme!  This tutu was awesome!  I ordered it from one of the diapers.com sites and got it the next day!  Plus the skirt is attached...which if you have a little starting dance class I highly recommend!  If you get a separate leotard and skirt, there's a good chance your child will end up playing with the skirt by pulling it on and off and twisting it (you mamas of little girls know what I am talking about).  
I made this pasta dish last week, and it was so easy!  The perfect weeknight meal!  Seriously, it was so simple and all four of the people in my family loved it!  Especially the girls!  It also happens to be meat-free which is great if you are ever having a vegetarian relative or friend over for dinner!  I highly recommend giving this Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta Dish a try! 


4. My New Cast Iron Skillet
I couldn't talk about Friday Favorite #3 without mentioning the awesome cast iron skillet that I used to make the meal!  My in-laws gave me this skillet for my birthday because I had been wanting one for some time now, and it just happened to be a kitchen tool I was missing!  I have the 12 inch size, which I highly recommend so that you can make big pasta dishes like this one!  I think in the future, I may look into getting some small 6 inch ones also to be able to make cute little dishes!  My specific skillet (below) came already seasoned, which was wonderful!  

5. Paisley's Baby Blanket

Once we found out that Baby #3 is indeed a little girl, I started making a list of things we need before her arrival.  We don't need much since we already have two other girls, but one thing that I always like to get before the baby arrives is a personalized blanket.  I got this one for Blakely from Pottery Barn Kids, and it is still in amazing shape despite the hundreds of times it has been washed.  So I ordered the same one for Paisley!  It is light pink on one side and ivory on the other - and it is seriously the most cozy blanket.  I wish they made an adult sized one!  It is folded up in my closet right now and I smile every time I go in there and see it!  I can't wait to meet our sweet baby girl!  And today I am 25 weeks, so 15 weeks or less!  
You will never ever regret buying this blanket!  


What are some of your Friday Favorites? 




Momfessionals

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