Broccoli, Potatoes and Jonas

When you are hunkered down because of a snowpocalypse aka Winter Storm Jonas there’s nothing better than a bowl of yummy soup. So since I knew the weather would be pretty bad I planned to try out a potato and broccoli recipe that I’d been eyeing on Yummly.

If you don’t know what Yummly is then you are definitely missing out. It’s a free site that is a collection of recipes all in one place. It’s sorta like Pinterest in that the pictures, in this case, recipes, take you to the original site. When you want to add a recipe to your collection it’s considered a yum. I’m new to the site and unlike Pinterest I haven’t gone ham yet and yummed thousands of recipes, but there is still time. I’ve downloaded the app and have over 160 yums. I use the app when I’m in the grocery store and have only a few minutes to come up with dinner. I search for food combinations or dishes or you can even type in random items like chicken, vegetables and cheese and lo and behold — recipes appear.

So I chose to re-create a broccoli and potato soup because honestly because I had most of the ingredients.
I took a page from Cooking Classy who had the original recipe. I took several liberties and made this recipe my own. And if you know me and know how I cook then you know I very rarely measure. So I’ve linked the original recipe from Cooking Classy’s Cheesy Vegetable Chowder.

But first… let me tell you what I did differently. The ingredients I used are mostly the same, but the amounts are different. Here is what I did and in honor of Winter Storm Jonas I’m calling it:

Jonas Broccoli Potato Soup

Ingredients

• 3 TBS butter

• 2 medium carrots peeled, chopped

• 2 stalks celery, chopped

• 1/2 cup onion

• 2 TBS minced garlic, jar

• 4 cups chicken broth

• 2 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped

• 1/4 tsp dried thyme

• salt and pepper to taste

• 2 cups of milk (I used 2%)

• 1 TBS cornstarch with 1/4 cup of milk (I had no heavy cream)

• Campbell’s Broccoli Soup

• frozen broccoli pieces

Directions

I chopped all of the veggies. Sauteed the onions, celery and carrots in some butter and let it cook until the onions turned transparent. I added in my garlic and stirred some more.

I chopped some celery, carrots, onions and potatoes for the base of my soup. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

I chopped some celery, carrots, onions and potatoes for the base of my soup.    https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Slowly added the chicken broth, thyme, salt and pepper.

 

Stir all the ingredients together and let it boil. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Stir all the ingredients together and let it boil.
                                    https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Place a lid on it and bring the veggies to a boil for about 15 minutes. I added in my potatoes and broccoli at the same time and let it continue to boil. I then put in my version of heavy cream, which was whisked until thicker.

Add in the cream, cheese and give the soup a stir. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Add in the cream, cheese and give the soup a stir. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

In a separate saucepan I mixed butter and flour, whisking until it became the consistency of mashed potatoes. I then added this roux to the pot as thickener. To give it a creamy texture I added the can of broccoli soup. I let it simmer and topped it with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Soup's on: Enjoy with some crackers and a buttery yeast roll. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Soup’s on: Enjoy with some crackers and a buttery yeast roll.
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What’s your favorite soup when it’s cold outside? Share your go-to recipes with me via instagram, twitter or facebook.

 

 

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Tip Tuesday: hot oil soak aka hot oil manicure

I’ve discovered lately my nails have been very dry and no matter how much lotion I use, I can’t quite revive my cracked, peeling cuticles. As I customarily do, I searched Google for an answer. I knew I wanted something natural.

I began to find a few articles about oils, which led me to a hot oil soak or hot oil manicure. It is exactly like it sounds. I researched different oils and finally came up with my own version using jojoba oil, vitamin E oil and castor oil — all of which I already had on hand.

Here’s my recipe and the steps I took to better looking cuticles. *Note: this experiment is still a work in progress and will definitely require a couple of rounds.

Ingredients & Directions:

• 1 tablespoon Jojoba oil

• 1 tablespoon Castor oil

• 1 tablespoon Vitamin E oil

Mix oils in a microwave safe dish for 30 seconds. Test to determine if it’s too hot. If it’s not hot enough, try another 5 seconds.

File nails to desired shape and length. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

File nails to desired shape and length.
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File nails to desired length and shape. Place finger tips in the bowl and soak for 10 to 15 minutes. You can soak longer if you want, but it may require another round in the microwave. Once nails have soaked, massage cuticles in the oil mixture. Use a washcloth or cuticle stick to carefully push back cuticles.

Soak nails for 10 to 15 minutes. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Soak nails for 10 to 15 minutes. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

You can either continue massaging the oil in order to leave the oil on overnight or you can wipe off the excess. That’s it.


Oil Choices

You could use any oils, including olive oil, sweet almond oil or grapeseed oil, however I chose these specific oils for a reason. Oils have been known for centuries for its healing properties and can be better than high end cuticle creams.

Jojoba oil

Jojoba (pronounced ho-ho-bah) oil comes from the jojoba plant (of course) and is found in dry places including Mexico, Arizona and California. The oil is very moisturizing and is found in lots of cosmetic products, lotions as well as shampoos and conditioners. It’s also anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and closely resembles human sebum.

Jojoba oil can be used to moisturize dry brittle nails, cuticles. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Jojoba oil can be used to moisturize dry brittle nails, cuticles.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Here are some of its uses — leave-in conditioner or hot oil treatment, gets rid of build-up that can clog the scalp, natural hair serum, facial or body moisturizer, lip balm, facial cleanser, makeup remover, massage oil, foot softener, and scalp massage.

Castor oil

Highly recognized as a remedy for constipation, this oil is not only anti-fungal, but anti-bacterial. It can be used as an eyelash and eyebrow growth serum, promotes faster hair growth, treats dandruff, added to conditioner it promises to make hair softer and healthier, hydrates skin, lip balm, sunburn remedy, reduces appearance of scars over time, treats dry cracked heels and cuticles as well as brittle nails.

Castor oil can be used to treat dry nails, cuticles. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Castor oil can be used to treat dry nails, cuticles.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Vitamin E oil

It can be used as a moisturizer, has anti-aging benefits, soothes sunburn, skin cleanser, makeup remover, increases circulation of blood in the scalp, stimulates hair growth, repairs split ends, fades scars, treats eczema and psoriasis, treats dry nails and cuticles. It also can be used as a lip balm and to heal cold sores.

Vitamin E oil can be used to cure dry nails, cuticles. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Vitamin E oil can be used to cure dry nails, cuticles.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

What are some ways you use these oils? Do you have tips to combat dry, cracked nails or cuticles. Let me know via twitter, facebook, or instagram.

Breakfast Smoothie: the good, bad & the dirty

Ok so my title is slightly misleading. There is only good that can come of a delicious smoothie but there is also some dirty. It’s been awhile since I made a smoothie and now I’ve got the hubby liking them too, but my blender is one of the hardest appliance to clean if food is left to sit for too long. I’ll tell you how to clean it, but first let’s get it dirty. 

This recipe is easy and one you can make in minutes. It’s food and a Tip Tuesday. 

Simple smoothie with berries, milk, & yogurt https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Simple smoothie with berries, milk, & yogurt makes for a dirty blender.
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My recipes are simple and usually include the same four ingredients: milk (we use 2%), fresh or frozen bananas (tip: buy overripe bananas at the produce market at a discount, slice and freeze into little baggies for later), a handful of mixed berries (we like blueberries, strawberries and blackberries), yogurt (your favorite flavor, but I like strawberry or vanilla). Blend until smooth. As you can tell I don’t measure.

Now that you’ve made a delicious smoothie it’s time to clean up with these three items: tap water, 1 teaspoon of baking soda, and 1 squirt of dish detergent.

Baking soda, water, and dish detergent. Blend. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Baking soda, water, and dish detergent. Blend.
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Fill your blender halfway with water and add the other two items and give it a whirl. Rinse with clean water and set aside to dry. Now, I usually clean my blender this way when I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to scrub.

Rinse blender with tap water and it's all clean. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

Rinse blender with tap water and it’s all clean.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

My Birth Story: Miracles Do Happen

Throughout my pregnancy my number one main objective was to be prepared. Imagine our shock when six weeks prior to the arrival of our baby girl we learned I had preeclampsia.

I had read some about the condition but admittedly I knew very little. My mind went blank when the doctor said my blood pressure was high and the reason for the swelling in my hands and feet were likely because of preeclampsia.

It was like every episode of Charlie Brown when the adults talk but all you hear is whah, whah, whah.

I just knew he’d “sentence” me to bed rest or a short hospital stay but when he said “the only cure for preeclampsia is to induce you” my heart sank.

I immediately called my husband first and then of course my mama. I had to explain to my boss that although I had left for a routine weekly appointment I wasn’t able to return.

I never left the hospital. The next day – Sept. 9 (the day after my last blog post) the doctor began the process of induction all the while giving me various medications to help lower my pressure. Nothing seemed to work and the longer the hours waned on the more “drug induced” I became. I had no concept of time or reality. I was in active labor but never felt any contractions. In fact, I slept through most of it. When the doctor returned hours later to tell us they were going to perform a c-section I was so loopy I didn’t have time to be scared. It was after all my first time in a hospital and surgery situation.

It was all happening way too fast. Within the next moment our sweet baby girl was welcomed into the world. Our after birth bonding time was brief and by the next evening they were transferring her to a neonatal intensive care unit 40 miles away.

I was devastated to know that not only was she just 3 pounds 11 oz but we were being separated.

The day the transport service came to take my baby to the NICU. *Note: My husband asked that I not show baby girl's face. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

The day the transport service came to take my baby to the NICU. *Note: My husband asked that I not show baby girl’s face.
https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

I was able to rejoin my lady bug 3 days later. While she fought to gain weight I fought back the pain I felt in my heart and the physical pain.

We stayed at the Ronald McDonald House, which was much easier than driving hundreds of miles each week. I must take the time to brag about the wonderful Ronald McDonald staff and facilities. They were a Godsend. We were in unfamiliar territory and they made a scary situation more bearable. Not only did they provide us warm meals each night, a place to rest our heads and a listening ear but it was also a place of comfort.

There were some disappointments along the way not to mention many more sleepless nights but lots more triumphs. Her health was fine, minus a bout of jaundice and an overabundance of magnesium in her system. We met other families whose children had been in the NICU for months and others whose little ones had to endure painful, lengthy surgeries. Of all the things that could’ve been wrong with our little girl, she just needed to gain weight.

While in the NICU, the staff made sure we were informed, comforted and educated about what it would be like taking care of a preemie when we eventually returned home.

 

The staff at the NICU were so caring to explain to us how to take care of our baby girl. https://thehousethatwalkerbuilt.wordpress.com/

The staff at the NICU were so caring to explain to us how to take care of our baby girl.
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There was so much we had to learn and maybe I’ll save that for a for a future blog, but above all the shuttling back and forth to the NICU and staying in contact with doctors, our friends and family, I must say prayer was really how my husband and I were able to endure what we thought was the impossible.

 

The arrival of our little miracle wasn’t at all how we imagined but we are so thankful to God that she is here with us.
 
If you know what it’s like to take care of a premature baby or if you are a veteran mom who has some advice for this new mama, please share your tips via instagram, twitter, or facebook.