What A Crock…Pot!

Happy day after Valentine’s Day, or as one of my Facebook friends cleverly put it “Happy 50% off candy day!”  I know there are mixed opinions about Valentine’s Day.  We should tell our loved ones every day that we love them, not just on February 14th.  However, I am not opposed to taking a day and making a concerted effort to do so, especially when the day ends with me getting flowers!  Thanks honey!!

So, my hubby asked me what I wanted for Valentine’s Day a few weeks ago.  I thought & I thought and came up with an answer…a slow cooker.  I think he thought I was crazy.  Really?  A kitchen appliance?  As a gift?  He had images of the scene from “Father of the Bride” where the groom-to-be gets his fiance an early wedding present…a blender.  She then goes into a feminist hysteric tirade about domestic life.  In the end, it was just the stress from the wedding talking, but I think from that simple scene, my hubby thought all appliances were off limits for gift giving.

I say no.  We’ve been married for 12 1/2 years.  I am still using the crock pot we received at a shower, but I’ve been noticing some things.  The small, hairline crack in the pot, the stains that don’t seem to come out after washing anymore, the chicken that seems dry, even though it has been cooking in liquid all day long.  Let’s face it…it was time for a new one.

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Tada!!  I got my wish!!  And, the hubby did great!! Digital, locking lid, adjustable temp and cooking time, warmer comes on after cooking is done.  I was amazed at all of the bells and whistles that come on slow cookers nowadays!  Back in the day, all I had was low, high and off.  

The reason I thought I would write about this is because #1, I LOVE cooking in a crock pot…uhhh…slow cooker (hard to call it by it’s proper name!!).  I love putting food in it in the morning and not having to do anything else except spoon it out in the evening!!  Plus, most recipes are super easy and super yummy.  #2, I posted the above pic on Facebook and got so many comments & “likes” from other women…how they love theirs, how they have multiples, etc.  

So, I do have a few favorite recipes that I make in the crock pot…slow cooker that I’d like to share.  The first one was given to me by a Weight Watchers co-worker.  I don’t really have a name for it…we call it Mexi-Chicken around our house.  Here it is:

Chicken breasts (I usually use 3)

1 Can of Corn

1 Can of Black Beans (I rinse mine)

1 Jar of Salsa (any kind.  I think homemade would be great!!)

8 oz. cream cheese (I use 1/3 less fat)

Put your chicken, corn, black beans and salsa in the slow cooker.  Cook on low for about 8 hours or high for about 4.  You can even add the chicken in if it’s frozen.  Just let it hang out.  About 1 hour before you want to serve, shred chicken and add the cream cheese.  The cream cheese will “melt” and you can stir it in.  It makes a bunch, so it’s great to serve if you have company.  It can stand alone in a bowl.  We’ve also served it over brown rice, but my family’s favorite way is in a flour tortilla.  I get whole wheat tortillas for me & the hubby & regular ones for the kiddos.  I’ve also seen the recipe where you add Rotel instead of salsa, but it’s up to you (I’ve never made it with Rotel).

A favorite breakfast recipe is something I make almost on a weekly basis.  Steel cut oatmeal.  If you’ve ever made steel cut oatmeal on the stove, it takes about 45 minutes to cook that way.  During the week, breakfast is really simple, so that isn’t really an option.  About 1 year ago, I found this recipe and it’s wonderful!!

You put everything in the night before and through the magic of the slow cooker, you wake up to yummy, delicious, nutritious oats.  I normally double the recipe and we eat on it all week.  You can go to fast food chains, like McDonald’s, Chick-fil-a, Starbucks, and get their version and pay $2 (or more) for something comparable.  I know this recipe doesn’t come close to that $2 mark & for a little work one evening, you’ll have breakfast for the rest of the week!!!

So, if you haven’t recently, pull out those slow cookers from the appliance graveyard in your kitchen.  Look up some new recipes, try those old ones again.  Make your life easy (and yummy!!).

Happy Friday!!!!!

 

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Date Night!

I have to admit something…I had a date with a guy on Tuesday, and he was not my husband.  He’s actually a lot younger than my hubby.  Very cute…but he doesn’t have a job and lives with his mom.  In his spare time he likes to play video games and watch cartoons.  He’s still in school.  I had to pay for dinner too, and we took my car.  Good thing he’s cute.  Oh, and he’s my son!!

Our local Chick-fil-a had a Mother/Son Date Knight last Tuesday.  It was sooo much fun!!  They decorated half of their restaurant to look like the inside of a castle.  The tables had tablecloths on them.  You paid a set fee and a waiter came to your table to take your order.  After dinner, you could visit the sundae bar!  The Chick-fil-a cow was dressed up as a knight in shining armor.  There was even a lady who came around and made balloon animals!  What a fun night!!

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I think at first, Brayden thought we were just going out to eat and I don’t think he was too thrilled about going out with old mom.  Soon after we arrive, I think he started getting a bit more excited!

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After he protected our food, we got our picture taken with the Cow (sorry for the blurry action shot!).

It was a great night!  I love that our Chick-fil-a (and I’m assuming others) do things like this.  Several months ago, they sponsored a Father/Daughter date night that Michael and Sophie attended.  I love the idea of fostering these special relationships.  At the table, they even had starter questions and suggestions if you needed some help to get the conversation going.

I have no doubt that Brayden will remember our special date in the months to come.  I hope we can make this an annual event (until he gets too embarrassed to be seen with me…which I hope is never!!).

Take some time today to spend with your kiddos (or a loved one).  You don’t have to wait around until a big event comes up.  Go to the park, play ball in the yard, sit down and actually talk to your kids.  It’s the little things that really matter to them.  Time flies by at an alarming rate.  Make these minutes count!!

Another App Review Thursday

Ok.  So, last week, I reviewed an app & titled my article “App Review Thursday”.  I stated that I really didn’t review apps only on Thursday, but couldn’t think of another title.  However, I may make this a habit…reviewing apps on Thursdays.  Why not??  I like how apps can make things easier (or more fun) to do.

I’ve shared before that my brother develops iPhone apps.  If you’re reading this via the Mommy Matters app, (available in the App Store!) you know that he does great work!!  Most of the apps he has developed have been for church use.  However, he has just released a very fun app…just in time for Valentine’s Day.

It’s called Love Coupon Builder.  Here’s the link to it for the app store.  So, basically it’s a new tech-y twist on an old school idea.  You could go the usual route for Valentine’s Day…flowers, candy, dinner, jewelry…well, actually usual route isn’t too bad.  However, you can take it up a notch and give your loved one his/her own coupons, made by you.

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Making the coupon couldn’t be simpler.  You just plug in the info.  Who the coupon is being sent to, who it’s from, what it’s for, when it expires…boom…coupon created.  You can even put a secret message in that will appear when the recipient scans the QR code.  

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After you’ve previewed the coupon, you can send it to your significant other.  You have the option to e-mail the coupon as a Pass (can be added to their Passbook on their iPhone) or simply e-mail the coupon as an image, if your significant other doesn’t have an iPhone.

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Here’s the coupon in the Passbook.

I can see this app being great for Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year.  What a great way to quickly send your loved one a note to say you’re thinking of them and love them.  

So, check this really cool, new app out.  It’s only $0.99, so you really can’t go wrong!!!  Interested in more apps my brother has developed?  Check out his website here.  

Happy App Thursday!!!

Happy Birthday Cake!

So, what were you doing 8 years ago tonight?  Hard to remember?  I remember like it was yesterday.  I was checking into the hospital.  They were going to induce me the next morning, because Brayden decided he was perfectly cozy where he was and didn’t want to come out.  He was a week late and was making no indication that things were going to change.

After a crazy day of labor, I ended up having him via emergency C-section.  It was not at all the way I imagined it, but when it was all said and done…he was perfect!  My hubby’s favorite joke is that “you should pick someone because they’re beautiful inside, not just on the outside.  That day, I saw Tiffany’s insides…they weren’t beautiful”.  Ha ha ha.

Brayden has been a joy in our lives.  He’s a very laid back, thoughtful little boy.  He’s always wanting to help others.

When he was 1 year old, I made his birthday cake.  Little did I know that it would start a tradition (and a little side business).  I decided to take some cake decorating classes at Hobby Lobby with some friends.  It was a blast!!!  I soon was hooked on shows like Ace of Cakes & Cake Boss.

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Each year, I try to make a cake that reflects his interests.  His first birthday cake was Blue’s Clues.  Then, it went Thomas the Tank Engine, a drum, Lightening McQueen, Mickey Mouse, a Minion from Despicable Me (one of my favorites!) and last year…interactive Angry Birds.  This year, I went with his favorite TV show…Phineas & Ferb.

I found many Phineas and Ferb cakes on Pinterest.  I found this one (sorry, there was something messed up with the link and you can only see the pic).

So, I tried my hand at it.  Now, I will preface this by saying I don’t make a lot of figurines, so they are really rough around the edges.  However, I’m making it for a bunch of kids who are just going to eat it…so I guess I shouldn’t be too worried 🙂

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I really like how the fence turned out.  It’s a good thing too, because I had a hard time for some reason covering the base cake with fondant…kept getting little wrinkles around the bottom.  This is why I love fondant…it covers a lot of mess ups!!

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Meet Ferb

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Phineas…told you figurines is not my thing!

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Oh there you are Perry!!!  He’s one of my favorites!

So, we are all caked up and ready to go for a fun birthday party tomorrow.  I’ll put cake #8 in my Facebook album and go clean up my kitchen.  It looks like a bakery tornado went right through the middle of it!!