Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Home Again

Just a few days ago, I was in Las Vegas, enjoying the 104 degree, sunny weather by the pool at Mandalay Bay. Today, I'm sitting in my room, listening to the 50+ mph winds that are bringing cooler than "normal" temperatures to our fair city. Truth be told, I'm happy to be home. Don't misunderstand, I had a great time in Vegas with my girlfriends. But, there's nothing quite like coming home to my precious husband and daughters. And, to be perfectly honest, I missed my routine...and, my crockpot. (= I'm heading out to volleyball practice now, but stay tuned for some new recipes later today...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Crock Pots on Sale at Target!

Target has a very basic, 5 quart slow cooker on sale through September 18th for $15.00. Brad and I dropped by to pick one up this afternoon, but they were all gone. Grab a rain check, though, and you can get your hands on one for the sale price as soon as they're back in stock. If one crock pot is great, imagine life with TWO!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Last Week's Menu... Success!!

I am LOVING all the cooking I've been able to do lately. My crock pot is still my favorite appliance EVER, and it's the only way I've been able to feed my family every night, even with our crazy, hectic schedules. And, sloppy joes have become a weekly staple in our house. They're quick and easy and I LOVE the recipe; it's SO much better than anything out of a can or envelope. Here's the sloppy joe recipe and some more of our most recent favorites. I hope you'll enjoy them as much as we have!

Chicken Ole

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
1 (16 oz.) jar salsa (I pureed mine with a hand blender, because my kids don't like "chunky" salsa.)
2 teaspoons cumin
1 bunch fresh green onions with tops, chopped

1. Pound chicken breasts to flatten. In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth and add salsa, cumin and onions.

2. Place heaping spoonfuls of cream cheese mixture on each chicken breast and roll up. (There will be leftover cream cheese mixture.)

3. Place chicken breast seam side down in slow cooker sprayed with vegetable cooking spray. Spoon remaining cream cheese mixture over each chicken.

4. Cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours.

Apricot Chicken

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 (12 oz.) jar apricot preserves
1 (8 oz.) bottle Catalina dressing
1 (1 oz.) package dry onion soup mix

1. Place chicken in slow cooker sprayed with vegetable cooking spray.

2. Combine apricot preserves, drewssing, soup mix and 1/4 C. water and stir well. Cover chicken breasts with sauce.

3. Cover and cook on LOW for 5 to 6 hours.

4. Serve over hot, steamed rice.

Sloppy Joes

2.25 lbs. lean ground beef
1 can tomato soup
1 cup ketchup
6 TBS grape jelly
2 TBS yellow mustard
2 TBS apple cider vinegar
2 TBS light brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Brown ground beef and drain. Add remaining ingredients and stir over low heat until jelly is melted. Serve on buns or bread of your choice. We like our joes with cheese! Enjoy...

Ranch Pork Chops

6 (3/4 inch) bone in pork chops
1 (1.3 oz.) packet ranch dressing mix
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 (15 oz.) cans new potatoes, drained, quartered
1 (10 oz.) can French onion soup

1. Spray slow cooker with vegetable cooking spray. Place pork chops on bottom of slow cooker.

2. Sprinkle pork chops with ranch dressing mix and pepper.

3. Place potatoes around pork chops and pour French onion soup around potatoes and chops.

4. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 to 5 hours.

Slow Cooker Lasagna

1 lb. lean ground beef
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (29 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 Cup water
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 (8 oz.) package no cook lasagna noodles
4 Cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 1/2 Cups small curd cottage cheese
1/2 Cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a skillet, brown beef with garlic; drain. Add tomato sauce, water, tomato paste, salt and oregano; mix well. Spread 1/4 of the meat sauce in ungreased slow cooker. Arrange 1/3 of the noodles over sauce. (Break noodles, if necessary.)

2. Combine cheeses; spoon a third of the mixture over noodles. Repeat layers twice. Top with remaining meat sauce. Cover; cook on low for 4-5 hours or until noodles are tender.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Menu Planning and Crock Pot Recipes

I've discovered, not necessarily by choice but by necessity, that the first and best way to save money is to EAT AT HOME. Brad and I used to love going out to eat. Due to the recent turn of events, we've learned to really enjoy eating at home. I've really loved having a meal to present to my family at the end of each day. We're able to sit around the dinner table, pray together, enjoy some good food and talk about everyone's day. Needless to say, my Crock Pot is my new best friend. Try a few of these recipes from our menu last week and I think your's may become your new bff too... (=

BBQ Chicken and Potatoes

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
5 small or medium potatoes, quartered
1 cup honey bbq sauce
16 oz. can jellied cranberry sauce

1. Spray slow cooker with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1/2 of chicken breasts in slow cooker.
2.Top with 1/2 of the cut up potatoes.
3.Mix bbq sauce and cranberry sauce together in a bowl. Spoon half the sauce over the chicken and potatoes in the cooker.
4. Place remaining breasts in cooker, followed by the remaining potatoes. Pour the rest of the sauce over all.
5. Cover and cook on Low 8-9 hours, or until chicken and potatoes are tender but not dry.

Stuffed Green Peppers
(If your kids, like mine, don't like green peppers, remove the rice and beef mixture from inside the peppers and serve. Extra peppers for dad!)

6 green peppers
1 lb. ground beef
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 1/4 cups rice, cooked
1 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 cup beef broth

1. Cut stem ends from peppers. Carefully remove seeds and membrane without breaking pepper apart. Parboil in water for 5 minutes. Drain. Set aside.
2. Brown ground beef and onions in skillet. Drain. Place meat and onions in mixing bowl.
3. Add seasonings, rice, and Worcestershire sauce to meat and combine well. Stuff green peppers with mixture. Stand stuffed peppers upright in large slow cooker.
4. Mix together tomato sauce and beef broth. Pour over peppers.
5. Cover. Cook on low 3-4 hours.

Layered Chicken Cordon Bleu

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 lb. sliced, cooked ham
1/2 lb. sliced Swiss cheese
10 3/4 oz. can cream of chicken soup
1 box dry stuffing mix, prepared according to box directions

1. Layer all ingredients in the order they are listed into your slow cooker.
2. Cover and cook on low 6-8 hours, or until chicken is tender but not dry.

Maui Chicken

6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
14 1/2 oz. can chicken broth
20 oz. can pineapple chunks
1/4 cup vinegar
2 TBS brown sugar
2 tsp soy sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium green pepper, chopped
3 TBS cornstarch
1/4 cup water

1. Place chicken in slow cooker.
2. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chicken.
3. Cover. Cook on High 5-6 hours or until chicken is fork tender.
4. Serve over rice or angel hair noodles.

Italian Beef

4-5 lb. beef roast, cut into 1-1 1/2 inch cubes
2 or 3 beef bouillon cubes
1 tsp garlic salt
2 TBS Italian salad dressing

1. Place roast, bouillon cubes, garlic salt, and dressing in slow cooker. Stir.
2. Add 1-1 1/2 inch water around beef, being careful not to disturb the seasoning on the top of the meat.
3. Cover and cook on Low 8 hours, or until tender but not overcooked.
4. Remove beef from cooker and shred with 2 forks. Return shredded meat to cooker and stir into broth.
5. Serve over rice, or on rolls or garlic bread for an open face sandwich.

Easy Stroganoff

10 3/4 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
14 1/2 oz. can beef broth
1 1b. beef stewing meat or round steak, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 cup sour cream
2 cups noodles, cooked

1. Combine soup and broth in slow cooker. Add meat.
2. Cover. Cook on High 3-4 hours. Reduce heat to Low and cook 3-4 hours.
3. Stir in sour cream.
4. Stir in noodles.
5. Cook on High 20 minutes.

Chicken Azteca

15 oz. can black beans, drained
2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup chunky salsa, divided
5 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, cubed
egg noodles, cooked
shredded cheddar cheese

1. Combine beans, corn, garlic, cumin and half of salsa in slow cooker.
2. Arrange chicken breasts over top. Pour remaining salsa (and more, if you prefer) on top of chicken.
3. Cover. Cook on High 2-3 hours, or on Low 4-6 hours.
4. Remove chicken and cut into bite sized pieces. Return to cooker.
5. Stir in cream cheese. Cook on High until cream cheese melts.
6. Spoon chicken and sauce over cooked noodles. Top with shredded cheese

You Asked For It!

If you remember my last post, you know that I was "laid-off" back in July. At the time, Brad and I made the decision to do everything in our power to make sure that I was able to stay home full time with the kids. In an effort to live off of one income, I've started shopping at second hand stores, planning our menu and grocery list every week and making as many things from scratch as possible. Those of you've who've known me for longer than a year or so are most likely attempting to pick your jaws up from the floor... I'll give you a moment to gather yourselves; there's MORE. (=

OK... Ready for it? I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our new life. Who knew financial loss was the ticket to a happier Shellie? Hmmm... Can anyone say, "Blessing in disguise"? After nearly 11 years of marriage, I realized that I really enjoy cooking and baking. AND... I'm not half bad. I can't say that everything I've made has been great, but most of it has at least been edible. I don't know about you, but I consider that a HUGE success.

Since my amazing transformation over the past couple months, I've had several people ask me to share some of my new methods for being frugal. What better place than my blog to get the word out? So, I thought I'd start with a post about menu planning... Stay tuned!