Spring Cleaning & Crock Pot Cooking

Starting spring cleaning today…bathrooms are getting deep cleaned. Yay! (Yuck!) The bathroom is my least favorite room to clean so I’m getting it out of the way first.

Since I’ll be busy, this is going in the Crock-Pot Slow Cooker today.

Slow-Cooker Bacon-Ranch Chicken and Pasta
Source: www.bettycrocker.com
Cook 6 hr 10 min
Total 6 hr 10 min
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

1 lb chicken breasts
6 slices bacon cooked and diced
2-3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 package (1 oz) ranch dressing and seasoning mix
1 can (10.75 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
1⁄2 cup water
8 oz spaghetti cooked

Directions

1 Spray 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray; place chicken breasts in cooker.
2 In medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients except spaghetti. Pour over top of chicken.
3 Cover; cook on Low heat setting 6 hours or on High heat setting 3 to 4 hours.
4 When about 15 minutes are left, cook and drain spaghetti as directed on package.
5 Just before serving, shred chicken with 2 forks, and toss creamy chicken mixture with cooked spaghetti.

(Mostly) Meatless Monday: Recipes/Batch Cooking

(Mostly) Meatless Monday/Batch Cooking/Recipes Included 🙂

Today I’m making two big batches of soup. We’ll have some for supper, then the rest will be frozen in individual servings for later. I love soup any time of year. Tonight I’m making White Bean, Kale, & Carrot and Veggie Corn Chowder. I’ll also make a pan of cornbread because…well…cornbread!

Here’s the recipe for the White Bean, Kale, & Carrot soup.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons garlic minced
1 small onion diced
4 cups kale chopped
2 large carrots peeled and sliced
4 cups broth chicken or vegetable (I use veggie broth)
2 15 oz. cans white beans undrained
2 teaspooons Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a stock/soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.
Add garlic and onion; saute until soft.
Stir in broth, carrots, beans, seasonings, garlic and onion.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook until carrots are almost tender, stirring occasionally.
Add kale; cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until kale is done, stirring occasionally.

Here’s the recipe for Veggie Corn Chowder (from 100 Days of Read Food)

100 Days Veggie Corn Chowder
Source: www.100daysofrealfood.com
Prep 15 min
Cook 15 min
Total 30 min
Serving: 6

Ingredients

3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Whole-wheat flour
1 medium onion, diced
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 large celery stalks, diced
3 cups corn kernels fresh or frozen (no need to defrost)
1 teaspoon salt
cayenne pepper to taste
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups milk

Directions

1. In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and keep whisking until the mixture darkens but does not burn, 4-5 minutes.
2. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and stir occasionally until the veggies begin to soften, 5-6 minutes.
3. Add the corn, salt, and pepper to the pot and cook, stirring, for another 2 or 3 minutes. (If using frozen corn, add a minute to the cooking time.)
4. Pour in the chicken stock and milk and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until thickened.
5. Partially puree the soup by transferring only half to a countertop blender, then returning the puree to the pot, or by sticking a hand immersion blender in the pot and briefly pureeing for less than a minute. Ladle into soup bowls and serve warm or freeze in individual portions for another day.

And finally, here’s the cornbread recipe. I could just eat the whole pan right out of the oven. I heat one greased iron skillet in the oven while it’s preheating and use another iron skillet to prepare the cornbread in. Cornbread batter poured into an already hot iron skillet has the perfectly crunchy crust.

Grandmother’s Buttermilk Cornbread
Source: allrecipes.com
Prep 15 min
Cook 40 min
Total 55 min
Serving: 9

Ingredients

1⁄2 cup butter
2⁄3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Meal Plan 7/16-7/22/16

Meal Planning – Done! (for this week anyway)

I took an hour or so this afternoon to work on my meal plan for the coming week (Saturday – Friday), making use of what I have on hand as much as possible. My pantry and freezer are pretty full!

For breakfasts next week, I’ll be making the Pioneer Woman’s Breakfast Burritos; 100 Days of Real Food’s Breakfast Casserole Bites; and a batch of Amazing Muffin Cups. These are easy to make ahead and then just pop in the microwave or toaster oven to reheat in the morning. Alternating between those will be Peanut Butter & Banana, Peaches & Cream Oatmeal, and PB&J smoothies.

Lunches generally consist of leftovers and I’ll make a batch of some kind of soup (this week it’s Chicken Tortilla along with some Cheese & Chile Corn Muffins) that I can heat up as needed.

Suppers this week are:

Saturday: Grilled Burgers, Potato Salad, Slow Cooker Baked Beans

Sunday: Broccoli Cheese Soup, Sweet Cornbread

Monday: Broccoli & Mushroom Quiche, Skillet/Fried Corn, Roasted Carrots

Tuesday: Smothered Enchiladas (for Hubby), Cabbage Enchiladas (for me), Easy Black Beans & Rice

Wednesday: Grilled Teriyaki Pork Tenderloin, Mashed Potatoes, Stewed Summer Squash and Zucchini, Biscuits (if I’m feeling so inclined)

Thursday: Leftover Buffet

Friday: Homemade Pizzas (Chicken & Spinach w/Alfredo Sauce, Beef & Mushroom, Cheese)

We’ll see how much prep work I get done tomorrow. Hopefully, I can make the pie crust for the quiche and the pizza crusts for Friday since those freeze well. I’ll get the breakfast items made and my lunch soup of the week. I’ll post pictures and recipes as I make them.

Wish me luck! Happy cooking!

Lynne

Menu Planning Mond

Menu Planning Monday

I intended to post earlier in the day, but I had a lunch with sweet friends and a run and dinner with sweet running friends. But.. here’s the menu plan for this week.

Monday: Slow Cooker Greek Flank Steak (recipe below), Rice, Broccoli

Tuesday: Baked Ham, homemade macaroni and cheese, homemade yeast rolls

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches, Oven Roasted Parmesan Potatoes, Salad

Friday: I’ll be out of town for the weekend so Hubby is being left with leftover French dip sandwiches fixings, homemade chicken salad and sourdough bread to get him through Sunday. Can’t let him go hungry while I’m relaxing at the beach, now can we? 🙂

Y’all have a great week!
Lynne

Greek Flank Steak Crock Pot

Source: www.thefoodieaffair.com

Prep10 minCook8 hrTotal8 hr 10 min

Serving: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 34 teaspoon salt
  • 34 teaspoon black pepper
  • 12 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • (1¼ lb) flank steaks cut in half
  • 1 cup low-sodium beef broth

Directions

Place onion in a 5 – 7 quart slow cooker. Stir together oil, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Rub mixture over steaks and place on onions in the slow cooker. Add broth, cover and cook on low 8 hours. cut steak across the grain into thin slices (reserve half steak for another meal) Serve remaining steak with onions and gravy from slow cooker.

Dinner’s going in the Crock Pot! (Recipe included.)

Good morning! 
This is going in the Crock-Pot Slow Cooker this morning…my daughter’s favorite and her choice for today. Will serve with a side of green beans and some biscuits with herbed butter. It’s going to smell good in here when I walk I from work this afternoon. 🙂
Herbed Chicken & Vegetables
Ingredients
1 1⁄2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano
1⁄4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon paprika
1⁄4 cup olive oil or other oil for frying
1 cup white cooking wine or chicken broth
1 can chicken broth
8 medium carrots cut into chunks
1 medium onion cut into chunks
5 medium potatoes cut into chunks (or small red potatoes)
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon cold water
Directions
Mix together the flour and all the spices; coat chicken breasts in flour mixture. Heat oil in a nonstick Dutch oven (or skillet if you’re going to use the slow cooker) over medium high heat. Cook chicken in oil about 15 minutes, or until lightly brown on all sides; remove chicken and drain on paper towel.
Stir wine, chicken broth, and vegetables into Dutch oven; add chicken. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 35-40 minutes or until juice of chicken runs clear (is no longer pink). (However, the longer it cooks, the better and more tender it is.) Remove chicken and vegetables and keep warm.**
Mix cornstarch with cold water; whisk into liquid in Dutch oven. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir one minute. Serve over chicken and vegetables.
**Optional: Place chicken in slow cooker; cover with vegetables and pour wine and chicken broth over the top. Cook on low 6-8 hours. This is my preference. I then just add the cornstarch/water mix about 15 minutes before time to serve and it will usually thicken up just fine. 🙂

Annual Kitchen Organization Challenge, Part 1

Hi, all!

I’m back and ready to get started on kitchen organization and decluttering. Especially the decluttering part. I have reached a point in life where I just want less stuff to take care of. It’s time for a reality check as to what I use and don’t use in my kitchen. I love my kitchen gadgets and when I buy stuff, it’s usually for the kitchen.

As I was looking back over previous blog posts – and getting notifications from Facebook about my memories – I realized that the beginning of the year always seems to start with reorganizing and decluttering the kitchen. So I guess I start out strong and then gather things in over the course of the year and need to declutter and organize again. I’m going to (try!) to implement this rule for myself: If you bring something new in, something old has to go out. (That scared me just typing out those words. For real!)

So…let’s get started on kitchen organization. Today is easy – no physical labor required. 🙂 What I want you to do today (or tonight) is to simply walk into your kitchen and look around. That took me approximately 4.8379 seconds as I have a small kitchen. But this was a very important step. I felt my kitchen wasn’t functioning as well as it could be…that things where’re where I needed them to be. So I stood there sipping a cup of coffee, notebook on the counter, and looked around. I thought about dinner prep and what would make that more efficient. I thought about what was near the stove and what was in the pantry.

I asked myself the following questions:

  • Do I have a designated prep space?
  • Are my pots and pans and cooking utensils near the stove?
  • Are like items in the same location (baking products, coffee stuff, etc.)?
  • Is the organization in my kitchen meeting my needs?
  • Is there ANYTHING that could be moved from the counter top to another location. (Cluttered counters are getting on my nerves!)

So, I just want to take a few minutes to look around your kitchen and determine whether or not it’s working for you. If it is, then you can just sit back and relax this week. 🙂 If not, start thinking about what you can do to make it more functional. Functionality is key in kitchen organization. Key, I tell you. The fewer steps you have to take when prepping dinner (or any other meal) saves you time, right? And saving time is good. Very good.

I spent time over the last week reorganizing my kitchen cabinets and pantry. I got some new stuff for Christmas that I needed to make room for. So I got rid of some stuff instead of overcrowding the cabinets. I’m still not satisfied, so I’ll be doing this challenge along with you this week. So take a good hard look at your kitchen and see where you might want to start making changes. 🙂 Write it down. Make a list. You have to have a plan!

I’m taking my pen, notebook, and coffee and heading to the kitchen now.

Have a blessed Monday!

Lynne

Recipes from Last Week’s Meal Plan

Slow Cooker French Dip Sandwiches

The men in my family love these. I don’t remember where I got the recipe, but I’m glad I saved it!

3-4 pounds lean beef roast
1⁄2 cup soy sauce
1 32 carton low-sodium beef broth
4 whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 bay leaf

 

Directions

Remove and discard all visible fat from roast and place in slow cooker. Combine all other ingredients and pour over roast. Add water to almost cover roast. Cover and cook on low heat for 8-10 hours or until meat is very tender. (I usually sprinkle the roast with some meat tenderizer.)

Remove bay leaf. Remove meat and shred. Serve on fresh hoagie rolls or French bread with sliced cheese (Havarti or Swiss). Use cooking juices as “au jus” for dipping, if desired. Yields 12 servings.

Crash Hot Potatoes

My, oh my, I love these things! LOVE.

Source: www.stacymakescents.com

Ingredients

12 whole new potatoes or other small potatoes (I do way more than 12…like a 3-pound bag of little red potatoes)
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Fresh pepper

Directions

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make and cook them until they are fork-tender.

On a sheet pan, generously drizzle olive oil. Place tender potatoes on the cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between each potato.

With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again. Brush the tops of each crushed potato generously with more olive oil.

Sprinkle potatoes with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh chopped rosemary (or chives or thyme or whatever herb you have available.)

*I use Mrs. Dash garlic and herb mix.

Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

 

Slow Cooker Bacon Ranch Chicken

Mmmmm…..

Source: www.bettycrocker.com
Total Time: 6 hr 10 min

 

Ingredients

1 lb chicken breasts
6 slices bacon cooked and diced
3 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 package (1 oz) ranch dressing and seasoning mix (or make your own)
1 can (10.75 oz) condensed cream of chicken soup (or make your own)
1 cup sour cream
1⁄2 teaspoon pepper
1⁄2 cup water
8 oz spaghetti or other pasta, cooked according to package directions

Directions

1. Spray 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray; place chicken breasts in cooker.

2. In medium bowl, mix remaining ingredients except spaghetti. Pour over top of chicken.

3. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 6 hours or on High heat setting 3 to 4 hours.

4. When about 15 minutes are left, cook and drain spaghetti as directed on package.

5. Just before serving, shred chicken with 2 forks, and toss creamy chicken mixture with cooked spaghetti. (I serve over the pasta rather than mixing it in, but that’s just preference.)

The Joy (Ha!) of Budgeting

So…a new year starts on Saturday and with that, a new budget. Budgeting is so much fun. (Insert eye roll here.) So that’s what I’ve been working on today. Fun times, fun times.
 
I love when I look at the budget and I’ve stuck to it. When I look at it and overspent on groceries (usually the place where I overspend), not so much.
 
But it is what it is. And I’m working diligently – with the aid of coffee – to get the new one ready by January’s first paycheck. Some adjustments had to be made in our utilities since our son moved back home (imagine that!) but today I cancelled a couple of magazine subscriptions because I wasn’t a big fan of those particular ones anyway; cancelled Sirius XM radio; and we’d already done a bill combination thing with our satellite and cell phone service that saved us some money. (Supposedly. Hubby did that and I haven’t seen the bill to prove it yet, so we’ll see. Next week, in fact.)
 
In light of the rising cost of eating well, I think I’ll work harder on my garden this year. Like, really hard. Don’t tell Hubby, but the whole back yard might turn into a garden. And there are enough flower beds back there that can be moved so we can re-landscape the front yard without buying plants.
 
We had been doing so good since we took Dave Ramsey’s FPU last year, but the last couple of months, I’ll admit that we’ve been lax. Remiss. Budget? What’s that? And now it’s time to buckle down.
 
We’ve got a 25th wedding anniversary coming up in July. I think a really nice trip is in order. So getting the finances back in order is the first step.
 
Do you do a budget? Do you find anything (forms, websites, etc.) that work especially well? Do you have ideas for cutting costs and reducing bills? Please share with the rest of us!
 
Back to the calculator I go!
 
Lynne 🙂

Menu Planning in the Works

Good afternoon, all!

I’m starting with some menu planning for the coming week and the month of January. Going to use these themes for January. We’ll see how it goes and change it up in February if we have to. (Don’t tell Hubby, but he is going to join me in eating healthier.)

*Meatless Mondays

*Tex-Mex Tuesdays

*”What’s Up?” or “What’s New?” Wednesdays (undecided on name, but it will be new recipes or it might be family member’s choice)

*Throwback Thursdays (leftover buffet night)

*Family Friday (pizza or pasta)

*Soup and/or Sandwich Saturdays

*Slow Cooker Sundays

I have been scouring the internet for new recipes and downloading them to Plan to Eat which is what I use (and love!) for meal planning and am ready to get started. (This is not a usual Sunday and we have leftovers from the THIRD Christmas dinner, so we will actually be having leftovers tonight. Which is fine by me!)

We sometimes have other leftover nights if the fridge is full, but we definitely do Thursdays. Sometimes we have soup twice in one week. (I love soup!) Sometimes I’m really just not in the mood to cook and I order pizza. True confession right there.

What do you think? Do any of you do themed nights? I think it just makes it simpler when you’re meal planning. I know that the last couple of weeks with all the stuff that we’ve had going on that I’ve not been meal planning and man, oh man, can I feel it! And I don’t like it.

Meal planning is one of the easiest ways to simplify your weekdays, in my humble opinion. (That and learning to say the word “no.”)

Let’s give it a try together. I’ll post my week’s menu here as soon as I’m done.

Y’all have a blessed day!

LynneMenu