Chicken Tortilla Soup

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Well, it is getting cold very quickly this November and I am not a big fan of cold weather. I tire very quickly of being cold. So when I was meal planning this week I knew a soup would need to be on the menu and because I am from the South, obviously some type of Mexican dish is on my mind, so Chicken Tortilla Soup was the perfect choice. Even though I menu plan (ok so I sometimes menu plan…), I rarely am ever prepared to make dinner so I am always trying to find recipes that do not take long to make. Most Chicken Tortilla Soup recipes called for proper planning and a crock pot. I decided to mix and match a few different recipes to make my own ‘quickly’. I had all the ingredients on hand, which I love when that happens. There are about 16 ingredients that go into this, but they are all common ingredients and easy to prepare (seriously, I opened a few cans and used my knife twice).  I was very pleased with how it turned out, it warmed me up and satisfied my craving! Hubby loved it too. I would say that he went back for ‘seconds’ because it was that good, but truth be told, he just eats a lot LOL. This recipe was easily enough for a family of 4, or even 6 if you have little ones!! I wouldn’t half it though, just have leftovers or maybe freeze some. (**disclaimer: I have never froze this soup and cannot attest to how it holds up in the freezer, however I don’t see why it wouldn’t).

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Ingredients:

2 breast of chicken (can use more)

2 cups water

1 can chicken broth

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 can rotel tomatoes (I used cilantro and lime and highly suggest it)

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (but crushed is suggested by many others)

1 can red enchilada sauce

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

2 cups frozen corn

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp minced onion

1 tbs fresh cilantro (or 1 tsp dried cilantro, you can use much more!!)

salt and pepper to taste

6 corn tortillas

Toppings: Shredded Cheese, avocado, fresh cilantro, sour cream

Directions:

Cut chicken into small cubes and sauté with salt and pepper until cooked. In a large pot, combine all ingredients (expect toppings and tortillas) and the cooked chicken and bring to a boil, simmer for 30-40 minutes. Then cut tortillas into thin, shorter strips (I used a knife and cut them in half then cut the halves into smaller strips). Add the tortilla strips to the pot and cook for 10 minutes. Top with your favorite toppings.

Alexis, 11 Months

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My dear sweet Alexis,

I am not prepared for how much you are growing and changing! You are becoming more independent when you play. You do not always want mommy and daddy to play with you, but you want us near by while you play. You are beginning to take steps while pushing things around (you princess ride along, your pusher/walker toy, the kitchen chairs, etc…). You get very excited to take steps, but not quite ready to let go and walk on your own just yet. You are very cautious with new things and new people. You love going to Gabby and Jaci’s Volleyball games at Oakcrest High School. You love being with your family, especially your Aunt Brooke and Uncle Mikey. You have started spending two mornings a week with Mommom while mommy and daddy are at work. You love playing in the bathtub, going outside to play, and exploring all your fun toys. Mommy met some of our friends at the beach to play on a wonderful sunny day in September. You finally felt comfortable at the beach to explore on your own a little bit. You loved playing in the sand, digging in it, tasting it, and crawling through it. You were not afraid at all, so brave crawling toward the big wide ocean! You have become very social, you love to wave at all the people you see. Nana came to visit us to help mommy get ready for your first birthday party! Mommy is working very hard to throw an awesome Princess Party for such a precious Princess! You have started giving kisses to those you love. We visited your first pumpkin patch and took a hayride with the other mommies and buddies from Mops. You loved crawling through the hay and being outside. Every new thing is something to study and learn so much about. You are very curious and are constantly exploring and examining everything. You are so incredibly fun and sweet, and mommy and daddy love watching you grow and learn. We are looking forward to all the new and fun things you get to experience next.

 

(pictures to come soon)

Alexis, 10 months

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Dear Lexi-Belle,

Are you seriously in double digit months now!! I really cannot believe how much you have grown and advanced this month. You are a pro at crawling, you can crawl up and down one step, but have not ventured past that, thank God. You can crawl in and out of your ball pit, and really just about anywhere in the house. You are very funny about crawling on the hardwood floor. You keep your left knee on the floor and push off with your right leg to move. You basically half regular crawl and half bear crawl. You love to follow us where ever we go, and you do not go too far out of our sight, however, you are learning to explore more on your own. If mommy or daddy are sitting nearby you play independently wonderfully, but you do not being left alone in a room, even if we are only a short distance away. You are pulling up on anything that is half-way steady enough for you hold onto. You actually stood up without holding on to anything for about 5 seconds. You were standing and holding on to daddy playing with a piece of paper (one of your favorite things to play with until mommy takes it away because you have started to eat it lol) and you wanted both hands to rip the paper, so you let go of daddy and stood there shocked at yourself looking like “now what?”. It was a funny and sweet moment. You love crawling and chasing daddy when he crawls. You wrestle with daddy now too and you think its hilarious. Every night we play in your room (most of the time you are nakey because it is right after bath and almost bed clothes time). You love going to many toy spots and bringing toys to us to play with. There have been a few uh-ohs that end up being really funny despite the poop and pee on the floor (yes you actually pooped on the floor, but thanks to daddy’s speed you made it to the toilet before any damage was done lol). One time you peed on the floor, which in itself is not funny, but you lifted the bottom of your onesie up, peed, then put the onesie back down. We were cracking up that you did not want pee on your onesie.

You are now eating a ton of food. You have oatmeal with fruit in the morning after you nurse. Then you nurse after a nap, eat a snack (oatmeal, banana, fruit, Mum-mum*’s, etc.) then you nurse, eat dinner (a mix of vegetables mostly), then you nurse before bed. You still love nursing despite your love for food. You are not so sure about new textures though. I gave you a piece of steamed broccoli and you looked at me and the broccoli like I just gave you an alien. You have two new teeth just making an appearance on the top. These two teeth have given you many sleepless nights that mommy has had to come and comfort and take care of you.

You have started doing the most adorable thing lately. You ‘hug’ and ‘snuggle’ your stuffed animals, toys, mommy and daddy, really just about anything when we say “awwww” to you. You have to be careful though because you “awwww”ed your ducking the bathtub and got a face full of water.

Bath-time is your some of your happiest moments. You love splashing and playing in the bath. You are very silly in the water and you LOVE it!

Each new day is something different with you. You keep changing every minute and we swear you are growing literally every single night! There are few things that remain constant though, you love snuggling with mommy, playing with daddy, chewing on everything, people watcher, a deep thinker, and slow to warm up to others. You are truly a joy to everyone that knows and loves you. You are getting more and more beautiful and smart everyday.

I love you more than you know,

Mommy

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Alexis 9 months

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Dear Sweet Lexi-Belle,

This month you have made so many new changes it is like you are new baby. You have started crawling!! You started getting on your knees and then sitting back up really well, you could almost move by almost rolling around by sitting and going to your knees. Then you just took off one day and started really moving. You still only crawled for a short distance and then would take a break, reevaluate your target (mommy, daddy, a toy…) and then go back after it. Well, that is if it isn’t too far away, then you would just stare at us and then cry for us to come get you. You have also started pulling up and standing while holding on to things. You are now standing and crawling around your crib, and I must say it is very funny to randomly look at the baby monitor and see you happy and quiet playing in your crib then going back to sleep. I cannot go into your room and get you in the mornings at the first peep you make, you need time to wake up and have a slow quiet moment and maybe even fall back to sleep for a few hours. You are just like your mommy on that one, I love sleep and need a little more than most I think. You are sleep so wonderfully now! Two months after “sleep training” and you are sleeping like a champ! You are such a crazy sleeper, you turn and move all over your bed all night long. You start with only one blanket that you snuggle with, then throughout the night you pull off two to three more blankets into your crib to snuggle and lay with all night. Your fuzzy soft blankets are your magic sleepy-time snuggle piece. You are so cute when you wake up. Daddy and I love watching you on the monitor as you wake up, sit up, stand up, pull and hit at your mobile, lay back down and fall back asleep. Then when you are finally ready to get out of bed you let us know by crying/talking differently. You always smile and cuddle us when we get you out of the bed. You are so sweet.

You are become much more vocal with your sounds and noises. You love blowing raspberries and making what we call “uncle mikey’s sound”. You “talk” a lot and if we can’t see your face it is hard to tell if you are happy talking or upset talking. People who do not know you can’t tell the difference, you are very funny like that.

You eat pureed foods really well and get very excited when we start to get it ready, then we can’t feed you fast enough. You also love drinking your juice (peach juice watered down mostly) from your bottle. You are a pro at holding and playing with your bottle with your hands and feet lol. You have also mastered fit throwing as well. You mostly only throw fits when we put your carseat or trying to keep you from turning while changing your diaper. You will sometimes try to start a fit if we take something you are playing with away from you. You are pretty smart, you know where to look for things we take away from you. You are very intuitive and so curious to everything around you. When you hear anything you have to figure out what it is. Daddy and I love watching you play and figure out new things on your own. You watch us and learn new things every day. You are truly amazing. Daddy and I cannot get enough of you, kissing you, hugging you, singing, and laughing with you. We are so completely in love with you and you give us so much love and happiness. You make life so amazing.

I love you more than you know,

Mommy

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Throwing a fit because she didn't want to stand

Throwing a fit because she didn’t want to stand

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Sly little smile

Sly little smile

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Just an ordinary day…

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Today is full of moments I do not ever want to forget with our sweet baby girl. There was nothing special or spectacular about today, honestly, I never even got out of my pajamas. Today our sweet baby woke up and was sitting in her crib waiting for me to come in (I was being summoned for a few minutes already). She gave me the biggest smile and started bouncing and reaching for me. When I picked her up she laid on my chest and snuggled in so close. She gave me such wonderful laughs and smiles all morning. She ate her breakfast and played like normal. She would find something new to play with (the remote, my phone, my credit card… not one ‘baby toy’ lol) and she would hold it up to me and smile with a very proud ‘look at me’! She took her normal 3.5 hour nap, and mommy even got a nap today also (woohoo!! I LOVE naps and they are very rare these days, stupid productivity!). When she got up from her nap we played outside on a blanket for almost 2 hours while Joe and my father-in-law rebuilt our back steps. She was content, happy, sweet, adventurous, smart… she was just her everyday normal amazing little self. One point she saw me pulling grass while talking to my mom on the phone and she looked up at me, and back to my hands, and then started pulling grass too. It was so amazing to see her mimic me. She gave daddy lots of smiles and waves while her worked, and facetimed Nana to show her how she could be like mom and pull grass too. Then she fell asleep nursing, so I just gently laid down with her and let her nap snuggled up to me, I never get to do that anymore because she has become such a big girl and mostly only wants to sleep in her bed. I just laid there and snuggled her and kissed her head, cherishing each little breath. Then once she woke, she played with Joe and I for two hours, just being content and happy. My favorite part of the day was bedtime though. She snuggled up to me while we read our “Night Night Prayers” book, which is rare because she is typically “talking” to us or trying to still play or trying to nurse too soon. But not tonight, tonight she looked at every page, touched every page (tried to turn every page lol). Then she was quiet during our prayers, which is rare, she normally has her own version of prayer (hehehe God hears all prayers, right? even her yelling baby ones hehehe). Then she snuggled in close to nurse, then she stopped and stared at me, studying my face as to trying to never forget it. She kept switching between staring at me then Joe then raising her hand for kisses (she always raises her hand for us to kiss her palm, something I think she learned for her buddy Keaton). I felt so loved and felt such overwhelming feelings of love as I held this sweet loving baby. She looked at me as if to say, “I love you mommy, thank you for loving me and giving me such a good day!” We kissed her a few more times and laid her in bed, she grabbed her blanket to snuggle and went sweetly to sleep. I so cherish these amazing very ordinary nothing days that are filled with such warmth and love, those smiles, those studying looks, they moments of pride in a new skill she has learned… those are the memories that I never want to forget. These are the days that I am most thankful for with our baby girl. Being a mom is just so amazing to me!

Alexis, 7 months

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Hey Sugar-Bear,

Yes, I call you sugar-bear, sugar-plum, sugars, suggy, pretty much any form of sugar I can think of, you are just so stinking sweet that I can’t help it. You are such a happy, content little girl! Even if you are sick, tired, hungry… it doesn’t really matter, you are happy and sweet! You are such a lover! You love to hold mommy, touch our faces, lay on our laps. You have started rubbing/tickling mommy when you are falling asleep. You have the softest touch.

Speaking of falling asleep… well this month has been a time of frustration for mommy. You rely solely on mommy to fall asleep and stay asleep. I am getting up, on average, 7 to 8 times a night to put your paci back in so you can fall back asleep. I have wanted to ‘sleep train’ you for over a month now, but you and mommy have been sick. I have been reading the Sleep Easy Solution given to me by Stacia. A lot of my friends have tried it and it worked wonders. We actually started it a few days before you turned 7 months. The Sleep Easy Solution is a ‘cry-it-out’ method with support. It teaches you to fall asleep on your own instead of relying on mommy and daddy to put you to sleep constantly. The first night was awful! You cried for one hour and 45 minutes. The second night you cried for only 5 minutes, but that was a fluke night because the next 4 nights were similar to the first night. Since we started this only a week before you turned 7 months, I hopefully will have a better report next month.

You had several firsts this month. You got your ears pierced. You look so pretty! That was honestly one of the hardest things mommy has had to go through. The lady who was piercing them said that it was only the sound that scares you and that it does not hurt. Well, she lied. It most definitely hurt you. I felt like the worst mother ever! You cried a cry that I have never heard before, I could not get out to the car fast enough to nurse you and make you feel better. I know that you won’t remember it later and you they did not phase you at all. You have not even tried to touch them since you go them done.

You have started eating foods also! We have been trying for over a month to feed you solids, but you haven’t had much interest and pushed everything out with your tongue. Right before you turned 7 months you actually wanted food. You started with tasting sweet potatoes, apples (which you did not like, you acted like it was tart), avocado, and bananas. And just like everyone said, you started teething right when you began to be interested in food. It looks like you will get your two bottom teeth very quickly!

You also went to your first dance show. Your cousin Gabby danced at the Oakcrest Dance Show. During the show you ate, slept, jumped (your new favorite thing, you are a pro at it!), watched intently at the dancers! I see dance in your future for sure! Ok, ok, I hope you do love dance as much as your mommy did, but if you chose not to then I will accept that (ok I will try to accept it a little LOL).

You went to the zoo for the first time this month also. Mommy, Daddy, and Nana took you to the Cape May Zoo. You had such a great time watching the Cheetahs with daddy, playing with the little monkeys with Nana (actually the monkeys loved you, they kept putting their hands up to yours on the glass and watching you). You were so happy and fun that day! You love going on walks now. You like when daddy holds you, you look at everything and take it all in.

You gave mommy and daddy a little scare this month. When Nana was visiting this month she noticed a patch on your back. We talked to the doctor and we took you for an ultrasound to check it out. They were trying to rule out a tethered spine. The ultrasound tech was worried about doing an ultrasound on you because he was afraid you would not be cooperative. Well, you were perfect. You laid on your belly and mommy rubbed your head the entire time. You were such a good girl! The doctor and the ultrasound tech both said that everything was fine and there was nothing to worry about. Mommy and daddy were instantly at ease. Even thinking that something could be wrong with you scared us so much. We thank God that you are perfect and healthy sweet baby. Now, if we can just keep you from getting colds we will be set!

You still don’t like to be on your belly, and you flip very quickly to be on your back. You do not really have roll from your back to your belly, but you are almost there. You have no desire to crawl or be on all fours just yet, but you love to stand and jump, which is your new favorite thing to do. You love sitting up and playing sitting up, you are pretty good now. You still love being in your exersaucer to play. You love playing with daddy. You mimic his sounds and love playing peek-a-boo with him. You always have to know what he is doing if you can hear him. Daddy is your favorite playmate, but Keaton Stall is your buddy! You love playing with him. You two are so adorable together, he is so gentle and sweet with you and you love him!

I love getting to see you grow each new day. You have such a loving, sweet, content, happy, deep-thinking personality. It is so cute when you meet someone new, you stare and intently study them, you take a few minutes to warm up to people. You love shopping with mommy. You have started reaching for everything and you love feeling the different types of fabrics when mommy is clothes shopping. You really like having mommy right beside you at all times! I don’t mind most of the time because I am fortunate enough to have to the time to spend with you and love on you. You are truly the greatest blessing in mommy and daddy’s life. We love getting to play, love, snuggle, and just be with you all the time! You are a blessing and miracle to us, always bringing a ton of happiness, love, and fun to our lives!

I love you more than you know,

Mommy

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Alexis, 6 months

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My dear sweet Alexis,

I cannot believe we’ve celebrated your half birthday! Ok we didn’t really celebrate much because you and I have been sick for most of this month. We already are best friends that share everything… one day we will share clothes and secrets and lots of laughs and tears, but for now we are mainly sharing every germ and cold we pick up. As soon as one gets better, the other is sick and vice versa. But by golly we are making it through. You are so amazing even when you are sick. You really don’t let it bother you for too long, you are mommy’s little trooper.

You have mastered sitting up! You sit by yourself, and as long as nothing distracts you, you can sit for a good little while by yourself. However, if something to either side of you looks more interesting, you just fall… you’ll figure that out soon I’m sure. You continue to flip from your belly to your back and you roll side to side all the time, mostly grabbing your cute little toes. You haven’t quite figured out how to move that bottom arm to flip from your back to your belly. You successfully can pick anything up, put it in your mouth, and now throw it and wait for someone to pick it up. That is actually your new thing, you drop something and stare at it till someone picks it up. You will do this for a very long time. It is actually pretty funny to watch you figure this cause and effect out. If you are in your exersaucer and you drop at toy off the side, you pull yourself up so you can see over to see the toy on the ground, then you look at me, then back at the toy as if you are saying “hey mommy, can you get my toy, again?’ You have a favorite playmate now, Keaton Stall. And boy oh boy does he love you too! When he sees you he immediately begins to run to you saying “baby leca”! He is so gentle and kind with you. He loves playing with you in the church nursery (yes mommy and daddy finally put you in the nursery at church, and you are so good for them). You do have a preference for people and things and it is so much fun to watch you play and stare at people and things. I would pay anything to know your thoughts.

Another new thing you like doing, and something mommy said she would never let you do, and the whole reason behind starting you on a pacifier, is sucking your thumb! You don’t do it all the time, and when you do it isn’t for very long, but by golly you look so adorable doing it!! I do not care at all as long as your happy (another thing I swore not to say, because it’s not always about your happiness, but alas it mostly is).

You are growing like a weed!! You are in the 90th percentile for your height, but only the 20th percentile for your weight. You have finally moved up to size 3-6 month clothing. It was very sad for mommy to pack up your 0-3 month clothes (and yes even some of your newborn clothes that you were still able to wear). You are too long in the legs and arms for most of the 0-3 month clothes, but the onesies mostly still fit. I love getting to put new outfits on you, but there are still a ton of new outfits that you are yet to fit in, but I fear you are not done growing (which makes me sad but its a harsh reality to face) so you will fit soon enough.

For some reason this month you have had monster diaper rash, don’t worry I will not talk about it in detail. One thing we have done to heal you is to let you “air out” for a while. You pretty much pee everywhere as soon as daddy walks in the room, so we change you a lot. One day mommy let you “air out” for over 30 minutes on your changing pad on the floor. You played without peeing for over 25 minutes, then you scooted down off the pad onto the carpet and immediately peed! I just started laughing because it seemed as if you moved down just to pee on the floor. And of course since you have had such icky rashes, I have put you mostly in disposable diapers instead of your cloth gdiapers. Those stinking disposables cannot contain your poo, I am not joking you, if you go poo in a disposable, you will most definitely get it all over your outfit! Thank goodness you only poo once every day/every other day!! (ok TMI time is over).

You started eating rice cereal. Ok, well we tried to eat it. You are just not ready. You push it out with your tongue. You still got most of it down, but you aren’t really excited about the whole solids thing. Plus it made you super constipated (sorry I said I was done with the TMI thing). We have also tried a sippy cup with water. You hate it. You act like we are trying to poison you. At least you don’t act like that when we give you Tylenol anymore!

You really are the happiest, easy-going, fun, interested, nosey, sweet, loving, fun little 1/2 year old!! Mommy and daddy love you so incredibly much and cannot imagine our lives without you! You are our sunshine!

I love you more than you know,

Mommy

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I'm including this one as a joke... you just look so huge in there now!

I’m including this one as a joke… you just look so huge in there now!

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