Tuesday, December 10, 2013

19 Meals, $114

Here we go...

2 Potato Soup
2 Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli
1 Sweet Hawaiian Chicken
2 Italian Peppers and Sausage
1 Roast Beef Au Jus
1 Memphis BBQ Pit Pork Roast and Potatoes
1 Cheeseburger Soup
2 Chili
1 Honey Mustard BBQ Chicken
1 Italian Sausage Spaghetti Sauce
1 Balsamic Roast
2 Mac and Cheese (non crock pot)
2 Shepherds Pie (non crock pot)

Shopping List:

2 cartons chicken broth (or 4 cans)
3 cream of chicken
3 cans corn
4 cans tomato sauce
3 cans cheddar cheese soup
4 cans diced tomatoes
1 can diced pineapple
2 cans kidney beans
2 cans black beans
3 bottles BBQ sauce
1 bottle honey mustard

1 Memphis BBQ Pit Seasoning Packet
1 Au Jus seasoning packet

2 packages cream cheese
3 bags of shredded cheddar cheese

2 Pork Roasts
1 package roast beef
2 bags of chicken breasts
2 packages Italian sausage links
1 package Italian sausage (ground)
8-10 lbs. ground beef

2 boxes yellow rice
1 box spaghetti noodles
2 boxes macaroni noodles
4 packets of instant mashed potatoes

1 bag frozen hash browns
2 bags frozen broccoli
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables (corn, green beans, carrots)

1 bag red potatoes (or 8 red potatoes)
1 sweet onion
5 green bell peppers
2 red bell peppers

Other items I already had:
Teriyaki Sauce
Brown Sugar
Balsamic Vinegar
Chili Seasoning

When you're ready to begin, unload everything, cook the ground beef (all of it) and the Italian sausage (ground not the links) in separate pans. Wash and chop veggies, rinse the beans, open all the cans. This is a can heavy crock potting round so you might as well get that out of the way so it doesn't mess up your flow.

Then start dumping...

Potato Soup:
1/2 bag frozen hash browns
2 cans or 1 carton broth
1 can cream of chicken
Handful of chopped onion
1/3 tsp black pepper
1 8 oz. cream cheese package
1 can corn

(make 2 of these)
Update: Yum.

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli:
1 box yellow rice
1 bag frozen broccoli
1 can cream of chicken
handful of chopped onion
1/2 bag shredded cheddar
4 chicken breasts

(make 2 of these)
Update: I received compliments on this one, even though it wasn't one of our favorite. The rice can stick to the sides or bottom so make sure to mix the wet ingredients well.

Sweet Hawaiian Chicken
4 chicken breasts
1 can diced pineapple plus juice
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c teriyaki sauce

(I'll probably serve this with rice)
Update: Don't overcook this one, the chicken will dry out or become too salty.

Italian Peppers and Sausage:
1 package Italian Sausage
3 sliced green peppers
1 sliced red pepper

(make 2 of these, serve with noodles and/or garlic bread)
Update: Yum.

1 Roast Beef Au Jus
1 package roast beef
2 cups water
1 packet au jus seasoning

(serve on rolls or hoagies)
Update: Yum.

Memphis BBQ Pit Pork Roast and Potatoes
4-6 red potatoes cubed
1 pork roast
1 packet Memphis BBQ Pit seasoning mixed with 1 cup water
Update: Yum.

Cheeseburger Soup:
1 can cheddar soup
1 can diced tomatoes
1-2 lbs. ground beef
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 cans broth
Update: This one didn't work very well for us.

1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 T chili seasoning
1/2 T Smokey Mesquite Seasoning
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1-2 lbs. ground beef

(Serve on a corn bread waffle. It'll knock your socks off. Make 2 of these)
Update: Yum.

Honey Mustard BBQ Chicken:
4 chicken breasts
1 bottle honey mustard
1 bottle BBQ sauce
Update: Yum. Don't overcook, BBQ sauce will burn.

Italian Sausage Spaghetti Sauce:
2 cans tomato sauce
1 package Italian sausage
1 green pepper chopped
2 handfuls chopped onion
1 can diced tomatoes
2 T brown sugar
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
2 gloves garlic minced

(serve with noodles)
Update: Yum.

Balsamic Roast:
1 Pork Roast
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1 tsp sea salt
3 minced garlic cloves
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1-2 cups broth or water
4-6 red potatoes

Update: Yum.

Mac and Cheese:
2 boxes cooked macaroni noodles
Add 2 cans cheddar cheese soup
1 bag shredded cheddar
1/2 tsp black pepper

(Split in two tray, sprinkle half of the remaining bag of shredded cheddar on each tray.)
Update: Yum.

Shepherds Pie:
Mix 1-2 lbs ground beef with 1 bottle BBQ sauce
Put on bottom of tray, cover with half of the frozen mixed vegetables bag
Make 2 packets of mashed potatoes and layer on top of the vegetables (you can use real mashed potatoes but this is an easier option)
You can also sprinkle cheese on top (optional)

(make 2 of these)
Update: Yum.

All crock pot meals cook on low for 6-8 hours, or 3-4 hours on high. When cooking meat (especially roasts) they ALWAYS taste better when cooked on low.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

8 New Crock Pot Recipes

I've been running low on crock pot meals and wanted to do a quick restock today. This time I only did 8 meals but they are all new recipes. While I was putting these meals together my kitchen smelled SO GOOD and I didn't even have anything cooking...that means they're going to be good!

What you'll need:

Smokey Mesquite Seasoning
Smoked Paprika
Mustard Seed
1 Alfredo Seasoning packet
1 Hawaiian Luau Seasoning Packet
1 Beef Stroganoff Seasoning Packet
1 Smokehouse BBQ Seasoning Packet
1 carton chicken broth
1 large bag frozen chicken
4 pork shoulder roasts
1 beef sirloin tip roast
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 packages cream cheese
2 onions

Here's what you'll get:

Smokey Mesquite Pork Shoulder Roast
Chicken Alfredo
Pesto Chicken
Hawaiian Luau Pork Shoulder Roast
Beef Stroganoff
Creamy Tomato Chicken
Smokehouse BBQ Pork Shoulder Roast
My Yummy Roast Recipe

Smokey Mesquite Pork Shoulder Roast:
1 pork shoulder roast
1 cup water mixed with 2 T Smokey Mesquite BBQ seasoning
4 red potatoes cubed (optional)

(4 on high, 8 on low)
Update: Yum.

Chicken Alfredo:
3-4 Chicken Breasts
2 cups milk mixed with 1 alfredo seasoning packet
1 tsp Basil
2 cloves minced garlic

(4 on high, 8 on low) Serve over noodles.
Update: This didn't work. It didn't taste bad but the sauce didn't thicken.

Pesto Chicken:
3-4 Chicken Breasts
1/2 c pesto
1 cup chicken broth

(4 on high, 8 on low) Serve over noodles, garlic bread, or brown rice.
Update: This was pretty good!

Hawaiian Luau Pork Shoulder Roast:
1 pork shoulder roast
1 c water mixed with Hawaiian Luau Seasoning packet
1 can sliced pineapple (optional)

(4 on high, 8 on low) You could easily turn this to pulled pork and serve over Hawaiian rolls. YUM!
Update: Yum!

Beef Stroganoff:
1 beef sirloin tip roast cut into strips
1 c water mixed with beef stroganoff mix
1 yellow onion chopped
1 package cream cheese

(4 on high, 8 on low) Serve over noodles.
Update: Yum.

Creamy Tomato Chicken:
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can chicken broth
1 package cream cheese
2 handfuls fresh spinach
3-4 chicken breasts

(4 on high, 8 on low) Serve with noodles or eat as is.
Update: Add Italian seasoning, garlic, salt and pepper to this.

Smokehouse BBQ Pork Shoulder Roast:
1 pork shoulder roast
1 c water mix with Smokehouse BBQ seasoning packet

(4 on high, 8 on low)
Update: Yum.

My Yummy Roast Recipe:
1 pork shoulder roast
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 T Basil
1/2 T Mustard Seed
1/2 T Smoked Paprika
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
Salt to taste
1 yellow onion, sliced

(4 on high, 8 on low)
Update: Yum.


The BEST "Healthier" Fried Chicken

I started making this version of fried chicken recently and it is so good! Fried chicken is something I couldn't ever get just right and I think I have finally perfected my very own fried chicken recipe. The best part is it's healthier than your typical fried chicken and my kids gobble it up (and Isaiah isn't much of a meat eater).

Dry Rub:

1/3 c whole wheat flour
1/2 T Smoked Paprika
1/2 T Garlic Salt
1/2 T Mustard Seed Powder
1/2 t Cumin
1 T Brown Sugar

Mix ingredients together and spread on large plate. Gently toss chicken tenderloins or breasts (cut into strips) in the rub. This recipe should be enough for at least 6-7 tenderloins or 3-4 chicken breasts.

Heat a large saucepan to medium-high and melt about 3 T of coconut oil (olive oil works fine too). Place coated chicken in the pan and flip about every 3-5 or until chicken is cooked through and the crunch in brown. Don't over crowd the chicken.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Maci is 1!

Maci Abigail is one. She is fierce, shy, brave, beautiful, fun, silly, and currently attached to my hip. I love that she loves me so much. Though it's exhausting, I don't want her to be anyone else. After all, she was "fearfully and wonderfully made" God's works are "wonderful. I know that FULL well." (Psalm 139:14)

I never thought I'd love having a daughter as much as I do. She's just...my girl! She's already so girly. She loves baby dolls and clothes, and playing with make up brushes. She bats her eyes and dances (on beat!) and her sweet giggles and words are delightful. There's no other word for it. There's a pure sweetness in her tone that is practically huggable. She is MY daughter. When I had Isaiah, he sent me into a tailspin to becoming a softy. Maci turned me to Jell-O. :)

Maci is busy. She says, "I-yay-ya" (Isaiah), "hot", "yeah", "mama", "dada", "more", shakes her head no...a lot, and signs for all done. She walks, no, RUNS with push toys and takes steps on her own but isn't fully walking yet. She's sleeping great (7:30-7:30 at night, napping 1:30-3) and has seven teeth. She loves to play chase, tickle, dance, snuggle, sing, toddler gym, play on Isaiah's bed, open dresser drawers and empty them, unroll the toilet paper roll, and hide in the pantry. She keeps me on my toes for sure. I can't tell you how many times Isaiah looks at her smiling, shakes his head and says, "Oh Maci." It's such a treat to see my kids love each other so much.

We celebrated her birthday at our house with just family and a few close friends. I cried the night before her birthday. I can't believe she is one. More than that, I can't believe how fast the year went. I keep reminding myself to hold on to all the good moments and let the bad ones pass (because they WILL pass). One day my floors won't be covered in crumbs and oatmeal, my laundry baskets won't be full of baby clothes, and the house will one day be quiet. I think this means I'm getting really old. Or delirious. I mean, I feel sentimental about laundry. Who am I??

Just a mom. Loving my kids.

Now enjoy these glamour shots from Ms. Maci Girl. ;)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I Crock Pot.

I crock pot. That's what I do. It's not all I know how to do but, my goodness, the crock pot makes my life so much easier. It simply is the easiest way to have a diverse menu without the stress of spending the afternoon/evening cooking. Dump. Wait. Eat.

My other crock pot extravaganza's can be found here (12 meals $60)and here (12 meals $53).

This particular crock potting adventure includes 23 meals (4 freezer, 19 crock pot) for $115. You'll see a few repeat recipes (you've probably figured out our favorites) and many "new" recipes as well. As always, I shopped at Winco because it's cheap.

1 Tortellini Soup
2 Orange Chicken
2 Apple Honey Pork Roast
2 Creamy Tortellini Soup
2 Italian Sausage and Peppers
1 Ranch Pork Chops
1 Teriyaki Chicken
2 Pulled Pork
2 BBQ Chicken
2 Pork Tacos
2 Ranch Chicken
2 Mac and Cheese (freezer)
2 Shepherd's Pie (freezer)

Grocery List:
Tortellini (bought in bulk, enough for 3 soups)
Elbow Mac (bought in bulk, enough for 2 trays of Mac and Cheese)
1 container baby spinach
2 Apples
1 package mushrooms
1 onion
1 bundle garlic
6 bell peppers (3 red, 3 green)
1 bag red potatoes
4 Sweet Potatoes
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 carton broth
1 can evaporated milk
2 cans cream of cheddar
1 can green beans
1 can corn
1 block cream cheese
2 packages shredded cheddar
3 large bags frozen chicken breasts
2 Pork Roasts
12-14 Pork Chops
2 packages Italian sausage
1 lb ground beef
5 bottles of BBQ Sauce (I buy Kraft, it's like $0.98)
1 jar orange marmalade
1 bottle Teriyaki sauce
1 white sauce packet
3 Ranch packet
2 packets instant mash potatoes
2 taco seasoning packets
2 garlic breads
2 packages buns
2 packages tortillas

Other seasoning I had on hand:
Garlic Salt

As always, unload, clean and chop, label bags. Then I cooked the freezer meals:

Mac and Cheese:
Elbow noodles
2 cans cheddar cheese soup
1.5 bags shredded cheddar
Garlic salt to taste
Pepper to taste

(boil noodles, strain, add all ingredients until melted. Place in tray (2). Sprinkle cheese on top. Freeze)

Shepherd's Pie:
Ground beef
BBQ Sauce
1 can green beans
1 can corn
2 packets instant mashed potatoes

(cook beef, add BBQ sauce. Split in two trays. Layer 1/2 can green beans and corn on each. Split mashed potatoes. Sprinkle cheddar cheese on top. Freeze)

Now for the crock pot meals...

Tortellini Soup:
Spinach (2-3 handfuls)
2 cans diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
1 block cream cheese

(4 on high, 8 on low) Add cooked Tortellini before serving.

Orange Chicken (make 2):
3-4 Chicken breasts
1/2 jar Orange Marmalade
1/2 bottle BBQ sauce

(4 on high, 8 on low)

Apple Honey Pork Roast (make 2):
1 pork roast
1 apple
Salt and pepper
1 garlic clove

Cut slits in roast, place sliced apples in the slits, salt and pepper to taste, garlic, drizzle honey.
(4 on high, 8 on low)

Creamy Tortellini Soup (this recipe will make 2):
1 white sauce packet
4 c water
1 can vegetable broth
1 1/2 c sliced mushrooms
1/2 c chopped onion
3 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp pepper
1 can evaporated milk
Spinach (2-3 handfuls)

Split in two bags. (4 on high, 8 on low) Add cooked tortellini last.
Update: I've made this a couple of times and want it to work but it's just not our favorite. I have had people tell me they love it though.

Italian Sausage and Peppers (2):
Italian sausage (6 links)
3 peppers
Garlic bread (freeze with it)
1 garlic clove
1/4 tsp basil

(6 hours on low)
Update: Yum.

Ranch Pork Chops:
3-4 chops
1 Ranch seasoning packet
6 chopped red potatoes
Update: Yum.

Teriyaki Chicken:
3-4 chicken breasts
1 bottle teriyaki sauce

(4 on high, 8 on low)
Update: Don't overcook. The chicken will dry out and become way too salty.

Pulled Pork (2):
3-4 Chops
1 bottle BBQ sauce
Buns (freeze with it)
Update: Yum.

BBQ Chicken (2):
3-4 Chicken breasts
1/2 bottle BBQ sauce
2 Sweet potatoes, cubed
Update: Yum. Don't cut the potatoes too small or they'll turn to mush.

Pork Tacos (2):
3-4 chops
1 taco seasoning packet
Tortillas (freeze with it)

(4 on high, 8 on low)
Update: Yum.

Ranch Chicken:
3-4 Chicken breasts
1 Ranch Packet
6 chopped red potatoes.
Update: Yum. Add water when cooking!

Done and done. Remember, it doesn't have to extravagant, it just has to taste good and make life easier!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Dare I say...POTTY TRAINED?!?!?!

I am so proud of our little man. He is (pretty much) potty trained! He did it! The switch everyone said would go off [finally] did! And it's incredible. We go through WAY less diapers and even started buying 3's instead of 4's to accommodate Maci's littleness. There are still accidents and underwear does still get thrown away sometimes but overall, he's doing GREAT. He tells me when he needs to go but I still make him go frequently to be careful, especially when we're out and about.

How did we do it? Well, we didn't really. He did. I always encouraged the go but he usually said, "No, thanks." Then about two weeks ago at church I said, "Do you want to go on the big church potty?" He thought that was the coolest and went mostly on the potty for the next two days. He got 1 m&m for pee and 2 for poop. When I get a feeling he needs to poop (for some reason it's harder for him to understand when to go to the potty to poop) I let him sit on the potty with his ipad or I sit and read books to him. By the third day we were in underwear and pull-ups at night. Most nights he wakes up dry and asks to go potty. Say whaaat??? The hardest part has been keeping Maci from crawling all over him while he's on the potty (hehe) and, if I'm being totally honest, not getting frustrated when he has accidents. I don't want to make him feel bad - he's still learning after all. I kept telling myself I'm going to celebrate the small victories which soon became big victories and now we have far more "WOOO-HOOO'S" than "uh-oh's." I'm thrilled. A little sad because he's growing up but seriously, I'm not complaining.

Way to go, buddy! Mommy and daddy are so proud of you!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hold On To What is Good

Scatter brained, forgetful, tired, spacey. I never would have used those terms to describe myself three years ago. Yet, here I am. I am all those things. And I'm positive I can blame those things on chubby, messy toddler hands leaving smudges on all the furniture and windows and silly children that keep pooping on my family room floor. [sigh] I remind myself all the time this is just a phase in my life. It won't last forever...not even close. In the scheme of things it will seem to have gone by so quickly. I mean they won't poop on my floor forever...right?!

There's always so much to say about what's been happening and I never know where to begin. I rarely even finish telling a story these days so finding time and the brain capacity to type in full sentences is becoming extremely difficult. My kids are busier and busier every day so I find myself feeling a little worn out as well. My sweet husband told me today, "Honey, you work 24/7. Of course, you're always tired." Now I already knew being a mom was work but getting a little acknowledgement here and there is like a taste of heaven.

My kids are great. Better than that, they're fabulous! They're funny, polite, excited, joyful, energy-suckers and I seriously never thought I would love being a mom as much as I do. I also never thought it wear me out as much as it does, nor did I ever think I'd be that lady that's always saying, "Is it that time already? I can't believe how fast time is going." I'm an old lady. Sometimes at night when I close my eyes to fall asleep I'm almost dizzy. Then I find myself laughing at myself. If there's ever a moment I think my own mother is a little nuts I remind myself she has five children. That'll happen.

See how I ramble? Anyway, let me do some quick updates on my kids. Maci is almost 10 months and is crawling and cruising and standing on her own. She has such an expressive and delightful personality. She waves at people all the time and loves to snuggle. She's waking up about once every night but it's getting better. Again, I'm constantly reminding myself this is just a phase in my life. One day she'll grow up.

Isaiah is FUNNY. I laugh at him all the time. He's brave too. Jumps off of things no matter how high and lands on his feet. He speaks in paragraphs and has such an interesting outlook on everything. He loves bugs, trees, dirt, frogs, and always wants to be "farefoot" when he's outside. Calluses are a sign of a great childhood, right? He has swim lessons and toddler gym, each twice a week and loves going to Sunday school. He still loves playing on the ipad and knows all his letters, their sounds, and numbers. He's starting to count objects too, which is fun. On one of his ipad games it says he's at a 4 year old level. He BLOWS MY MIND! He loves to learn. He doesn't really like to use the potty yet. We're working on it. I'm tired of his diapers though. Once again, this is just a phase in my life.

It's hard and messy being a mom. Sometimes I wonder, why do I have to be the favorite? Can't I just get a little time to myself? I honestly just wish I could pee alone. But you know what? This is just a phase. I won't always be the favorite. One day, my kids are going to not want me around all that much. They might and most likely will dislike me and be angry with me at some point. To be honest, I dread those days so it motivates me that much more to relish in the moments I get with them now. The things they say, the way they look at me. The messes, the dirty diapers, the early bedtimes, the early mornings, the "I love yous", the "watch this, mamas", the giggles, kissing it all better, watching cartoons, and hunting for rolly pollies.

The more I realize this, the more I find myself reflecting on this verse:

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good." Romans 12:9

The hard parts of parenting aren't evil necessarily, I know that. But they are tough. At times, daunting and discouraging. I'm just so thankful we have a God that reminds us to not only love sincerely, wholly and completely but he reminds us to HOLD ON TO WHAT IS GOOD. My husband is good. My kids are good. My life is good. God is so, so good.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Seasoned With Salt

Salt. It tastes good. It usually makes things taste better. If your soup doesn't have much flavor? Add a little salt. Right?

I was recently told by another woman, "That's what stay-at-home moms do all day!" It was kind of a joke but also clearly insinuating that if I "stay home" every single day, clearly I have time to clean my base boards with a q-tip. Irritating, isn't it? Especially since I know very few stay at home moms that actually STAY AT HOME. I've even had a neighbor ask what I do for a living because we're always out and about. Anyway, instead of embarking on a debate or getting defensive I simple gave it HA! Ain't nobody got time for that! remark.

What I really thought was, seriously? Is this where WE are still? After all the positive publicity stay at home and working mothers have been getting, why is it necessary to belittle the other? Even if it's a joke. We are all emotional, sleep deprived, worn out moms. Let's stop pushing each other's buttons! I read an article a few months ago. I can't remember where or who wrote it (surprised?) that talked about the difference between a stay at home mom and a working mom. It was the BEST article I've ever read regarding the comparison. To put it simply, it said, To the working moms: stay-at-home moms envy the time you get away from the house, the adult interaction, solo potty breaks, and clean clothes. To the stay at home moms: working moms envy the down time you get with your kids, the ease of making your own schedule, and being able to wear yoga pants daily. Neither is easier or better. And both are hard yet so, so rewarding.

There are many reasons to criticize other moms, but there are a MILLION MORE to encourage them, appreciate them, and love them. It is much easier to love. And in the end, love always wins.

I've been working really hard on judging other parents less. I usually have no reason to. Most of the time, I'm just being critical and cranky. But sometimes I have a legitimate message and need to work on my presentation, you know? Tonight I was reading Colossians, a sweet, yet short book in the New Testament and came across this verse:

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone." Colossians 4:6

Grace. Salt. It spoke to me. Let me always remember my faults first, before pointing out others. And please, God, let whatever I say be seasoned with salt so that it will taste good coming off my lips. Just enough that it will be accepted, but not too much that it will overpower the message. I'm not sure if this was Paul's intended message but it was a message relevant to me. Maybe to you. But definitely to all us moms, working or staying home, showered or not, tired or exhausted, and LOVING our beautiful kids the best way we can.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Baby Food

When Maci was almost 6 months, I realized I needed to start making baby food again. Ugh. I can't help but be honest. That's how I felt. I don't really care for one more thing to do. So, instead of putting my big girl pants on and just doing it, I visited the baby food section at the grocery store and started buying Gerber's "first step" baby food jars. They were $0.99 for two containers which is not expensive at all so I thought I was totally justified.

I didn't buy much. Just enough to get us started. Then when I was running low on something, I realized it goes too fast and I don't want to keep buying it. So instead, I put my big girl pants on and just made it myself. Plus, the food combinations I like cannot be found at the store. Gosh, it really is so much easier...and cheaper! 1 can of pears(canned in water...very important!), a handful of spinach, and one banana makes a full ice cube tray of baby food! And only retails for about $1.50. Do you understand what that means? You are paying about 800% mark up when you buy it already made. In other words you get 8 baby food jars, for the price of 1. How's that for perspective?

Crazy! Here's how I make my food:

1. Take desired ingredients and place in blender.
2. Blend. (I use our actual blender or the Magic Bullet. No, you don't need a special baby food maker).
3. Pour the puree into an empty ice cube tray.
4. Freeze.
5. Once frozen, dump the baby food cubes into a labeled Ziploc bag.
6. Microwave a cube or two at meal time until defrosted.

That's it. Easy. And it doesn't take up space in the pantry.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Adventures in Crock Potting

Round 2. My first crock pot blog can be found here, though it's not the last time I crock potted (how's that for a word?).

Anyway, I'm going to keep this blog super simple because I think part of the reason people don't do this is because it doesn't seem simple. But it is. Trust me.

First off, I shopped at Winco.

Grocery List:

6 pork chops
1 package of pork carnitas (2 lbs.)
2 bags of frozen chicken breasts
1 3 lb. bag of red potatoes
4 sweet potatoes
2 bottles BBQ Sauce
2 Ranch Seasoning packets
2 taco seasoning packets
1 alfredo sauce packet
1 package Italian sausage
4 bell peppers (2 green, 2 red...or whatever you prefer)
1 small carton of heavy cream
2 packages of tortillas
1 loaf garlic bread
1 package hamburger buns

My total was $53

Get home, wash and chop, and label bags - Pulled Pork, Ranch Pork, BBQ Chicken and Sweet Potatoes (x2), Pork Tacos, BBQ Pork and Sweet Potatoes, Ranch Chicken, Chicken Tacos, Italian Sausage and Peppers, and Creamy Alfredo Chicken and potatoes.

Then start dumping the ingredients (as listed below) in the appropriate bags.

Pulled Pork:
3 Pork Chops
1/2 Bottle BBQ Sauce

Low for 8, high for 4. Shred meat when done and serve on the hamburger buns you will freeze with the meals.

Ranch Pork:
1/2 Package or 1 lb. Pork Carnitas
1/3 of the chopped red potatoes
1 packet Ranch seasoning

Low on 8, high on 4.

BBQ Chicken:
1/2 bag of frozen chicken (usually 3-4 breasts)
2 Sweet Potatoes
1/2 bottle BBQ sauce

Low on 8, high on 4. Make 2 of these.

Pork Tacos:
3 Pork Chops
1 packet Taco Seasoning

Low on 8, high on 4. Shred when done. Serve with the tortillas you will freeze with the meals (along with any other toppings you like).

BBQ Pork:
1/2 package or 1 lb. Pork Carnitas
2 Sweet Potatoes
1/2 bottle BBQ sauce

Low on 8, high on 4.

Ranch Chicken:
1/2 bag frozen chicken (usually 3-4 breasts)
1/3 bag of red potatoes
1 ranch packet

Low on 8, high on 4.

Chicken Tacos:
2 frozen chicken breasts
1 can corn
1 can tomatoes
1 packet taco seasoning

Low on 8, high on 4. Shred chicken when done. Serve with the other package of tortillas you will freeze with the meals (along with other desired toppings).

Italian Sausage and Peppers
1 package Italian sausage (6 total, I think)
4 bell peppers (cut fajita style)

Low on 6 or high on 3. Serve with the garlic bread you will freeze with the meals and/or noodles.

Creamy Alfredo Chicken:
The rest of the frozen chicken (3-4 breasts)
1 packet Alfredo mix
1 sm. carton of heavy cream
The rest of the red potatoes

Low on 8, high on 4.

Crock Pot meals don't always have to be extravagant. But they need to taste good. And in my mind, always, always, always be available. :)

Happy Crock Potting!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Messy Mama

These days I'm in a constant state of growth and I'm realizing that as a mother, I will never stop growing. I look back at my first months as a mom when Isaiah was so small, so quiet, and had no hair. I was lost - I had no idea what I was doing. I was just loving my child the best I could and somehow I started to figure things out. Being a mother has caused not only my heart to grow enormously and in directions I didn't know possible, but it has tested my patience and strength and allowed those two qualities to grow within me immensely. I even look back at just a few months ago when Maci was first born and know I am already a completely different mother than I was 6 months ago. I'm stronger, more patient, happier, and even more blessed. And I know I'll look at this weeks, months, and years from now and think, "Wow. I have learned so much since then." I know I won't be the same person not just because life knocks you around and teaches you lessons but because motherhood helps you embrace compassion, sympathy, patience, and creativity. I knew the day I found out I was going to be a mom it was going to change me. I just had no idea how much.

And now I have advice for other new moms and new moms to be (and a few reminders for myself). It might be a little obnoxious or even mundane but there are times I wish people would have said it to me (or perhaps they did and I didn't listen!). So here it goes...

If you are pregnant with your first child, embrace it. Everything about it. Even if you hate it. Rest, sleep, look at the baby clothes in the new dresser...again. Enjoy all the quiet - all the moments you can have full conversations with your husband and speak in complete sentences without interruption. Talk about being pregnant without fear of being annoying. This is your FIRST pregnancy and you can soak up everything about it without distractions. Go out to dinner as much as your budget allows and fulfill your cravings every chance you get.

After your first child is born, enjoy the easiness of it. I know it doesn't seem easy...maybe easy isn't the right word. Enjoy the "not busyness" of it. Babies don't need much - they need clean clothes and diapers, to eat, to burp, and to sleep. As he/she gets older finding things to entertain your child grow increasingly challenging so enjoy the moments you can just sit, rest, and watch TV (that isn't Disney Junior or Sprout).

As your first born turns into a toddler, join in on the fun. If burying your child’s feet and your feet in the sand box and becoming the sand monster when they emerge is all that’s going to entertain them, do it and don’t worry about your pedicure. (Wait. You have time for a pedicure?) If your little buddy isn’t feeling good and has a moment of pure sweetness and nuzzles into you and says, “Love you, mama!” as he smears a glob of snot in your hair, don’t say it’s gross or even react in that way. Just say, “I love you too.” Don’t expect to be clean or well-kept because that’s a battle you won’t win. But you will be needed and well-loved.

If you are pregnant with a second baby, enjoy every moment with your first baby. When baby number two comes, you won’t be able to picture life without them but you might miss all the one-on-one time you had with your first. Be sure to give them one-on-one time every day after their younger sibling arrives but don’t forget to give baby number two alone time as well…they need it too.

And always, always, always remember how small they are. Remember how much they have to learn. Remember how much you get to teach them. Remember how much they truly need you. Remember how much they love you just because you’re you. Remember to take deep breaths before reacting to stress. Remember there really is no use crying or fussing over spilled milk. Or strawberry jelly. Or paint. Or your bronzer on the carpet. Because they are only little for a short time. So let them measure the flour, play in the mud, and yell as loud as they can.

Dive in. Get messy. Love hard. Play wild. This is motherhood. We have been blessed to be called “mom.”

My sweet Maci is 6 months old already! She so sweet and easy most of the time but she has fully entered the "Where's my mama?" phase and will fuss just for me. We moved her into her room to sleep and she's sleeping a little better, which is great because I am tired. We've started her on solids and she's getting better at eating. She mostly just plays with it rather than actually consuming it. So far she's tried sweet potatoes, oatmeal, squash, carrots, pears, and bananas. She's super giggly and ticklish and thinks her brother can do no wrong! If he's around, she's happy. She's a diva...and she's beautiful. I love her to pieces!

Isaiah is getting so old. He's talking so well and beginning to understand reason more and more. He is rowdy and full of energy. He loves, loves, loves the outdoors, toddler gym, cooking, and art projects. He loves to run and chase more than anything. His favorite "things" are Car Movie anything, and he will bring a car (whatever one he chooses for the day) everywhere. The phrases he repeats leave Darren and I hysterically laughing every single day. He says I love you all the time and he prays with us before bedtime and meals. He's the bomb. I'm lucky to have such a cool kid be mine.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Isaiah is TWO and Maci is 5 MONTHS!

There have been a lot of happenings in the Moss household. Isaiah turned 2!!! And Maci is now 5 months! Have I said, "time flies"? Can I say it again? Holy cow. Life is over in a blink. I remind myself of this often, especially during the tough moments because I know it won't be forever. Afterall, my kids are at the age where they may not remember the things I say or the things I do but they will subconsciously remember how I made them feel and I always, always, always want them to feel loved.

Isaiah turned 2 this month and to celebrate we rented our Jumpin Jack and Jill and had a bounce house party. So worth it. He is getting so big. I say this all the time, but really. He's such a kid. At his doctor's appointment the doctor said he has the muscle mass of a 4 year old. He weighs 30 lbs and is 3 feet tall. He really is so strong. And funny. The kid is hilarious. And he's talking all the time - I mean full-on conversations with everyone. He also makes his cars talk to each other - he's doing a lot of pretend play. He loves his sister and is always talking to her too. Now that she's more responsive Isaiah thinks "she's funny." He also loves learning. He knows all his colors and numbers and most of his letters by sight. He can recite the alphabet and count to about 12. He also works electronics as well as I do. He amazes me. I'm so in love with him.

We finally took away the pacifier this week...4 days and counting! He asked for it the first two nights and we just said, "Not anymore, buddy." And that works. The only down side is he no longer naps. Oh well, he goes to bed earlier so I'm good. I feel bad taking it away because it was the only "baby" thing left about him (besides diapers) but I noticed his teeth starting to buck the slightest bit and I really don't want it to affect his teeth. He still loves the outdoors - climbing trees, jumping in bushes, digging in the mud, and stomping in puddles. Isaiah also attends toddler gym twice each week and is becoming quite the dare devil at home - climbing walls, jumping off furniture, running, jumping, diving...you name it. This kid is 100% boy and full of energy. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Maci is my dramatic, bubbly little diva. She is very picky and particular but laughs and smiles so easily. She's good with everyone and doesn't mind being passed around. When she's having a dramatic moment she usually just wants me. If she's having a dramatic moment with me it usually means she's really tired or needs to poop. She is a horrible sleeper. She only cat naps three times each day and wakes up at least three times every night. The last week it's been every hour. I'm dying. But I love her. She hates her crib for more than a couple hours so she sleeps with us most of the night. Despite my hesitation I let her try baby oatmeal a week ago to see if it would help and it made it worse so we stopped. I think it might be teething so we'll wait and see... I see cry-it-out in our future. :) She is rolling around like crazy but prefers sitting (almost unassisted) and her jumper.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Stay Married.

I love Facebook. Guilty. I'm not very good at staying in touch with people and Facebook has allowed me to stay "connected" to people I love but would have easily lost touch with over the years. I completely understand how it can be impersonal or obnoxious but I have been able to kindle real-life (not cyber) friendships with people I hardly knew in high school and stay in touch with old friends that are in a completely different place than I am in life. Ashamed and embarrassed or not, I like Facebook. [sigh]

I've had a Facebook since I went away to college. You know, when it was first invented and you had to have a college email address to join? Very exclusive. I've been able to witness the growth of friends, family and myself through social media. Weird, huh? From partying too hard at frats, falling in love and getting married, and having kids, Facebook has been the cyber platform for everyone I know to "shout it from the roof tops!" It's exciting. I love seeing people succeed and love life. On the other hand I've been noticing a sad trend as well. Divorce.

Divorce is hard enough as it is. It doesn't just affect two people, it affects two families, two sets of friends, and especially any children (or grandchildren) involved. It's the ugly elephant that stinks and sits in the room and won't leave. On Facebook, I've noticed several people slowly stop mentioning their spouse, take down their married "status," eventually change it to "single," and randomly post cryptic, emotional, I-will-get-through-this status updates and it crushes me. Then comes the name change. Sad. Sometimes these are couples that have been married for a very long time and opened a Facebook because their adult children asked them to and other times (probably more often) these are NEWLY married couples that decided after only a few years to give up.

My mom told me and my husband before we got married to STICK IT OUT! (Yes, all capitals and an exclamation point. It was a letter. We still write those sometimes.) Because marriage is hard, challenging, exhausting, and compromising but so is LIFE. And who wants to face the world alone? I am extremely lucky to have met the man, husband, friend, father, and partner I have. He is more than I deserve. But I'll admit there are times I want to ring his neck. Other times (most of the time) I want to tackle him with love as soon as he walks through the door just because I am so happy he came home to me, to his children, to us, to the home we are creating together. That alone makes me happy enough every day to promise him that I will stick it out, I will fight for us.

I'm not naïve in saying we're facing or have faced the hardest times in our life already. No, we've only been married four and a half years. I know life is going to get harder. And we may or may not be ready to face some of the struggles that lie ahead, but we are going to put work in our marriage and trust in God and come out on the other end alive. We are going to stay married.

We were at a wedding a few nights ago and were able to participate in the married people dance. Having been married less than five years we were off the dance floor by the first chorus but there were three couples remaining at the end that have been married 39 years. I turned to my husband and whispered, "I can't wait to be them." The wisdom we will have about being married after staying married for that long blows my mind.

I've been recently been following the blog "#Stay Married" and I have laughed, cried, and even cringed (it's called me out a few times) while reading it. It's a blog about not just staying married, but staying hopeful, being honest about marriage, and reminding us to always, always, always have God present in the marriage. It is funny and witty and sweet and intelligent. I'm thankful I found it. I didn't think we (as a happily married couple) were in need of it but I've already implemented several things I've learned while reading. I hope you all enjoy it and can find it useful too. And may I just encourage you all to stay married!

And by the way, I found the blog through Facebook. :)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Allow Me to Re-introduce My Two Favorite People...

I love these kids beyond words. They make me kinder, more patient, more loving, and more happy than I could have ever imagined. I'm so lucky to be their mom and I can't wait to see the adventures they bring me this year and all the years to come.
Isaiah. My vivacious, bossy, kind, little boy. He is sweet beyond words. Always talking to his sister - sometimes I swear they're plotting against me. This morning he was talking to her about cookies in the pantry (after I just told him, no). He's starting to call me mom or mommy sometimes, which makes my heart melt but it also makes me sad. It's just another reminder that he's getting older. He also prays. The other night before dinner I said, "Dear Jesus..." And he cut me off and said, "thanks for today, thanks for the food, thanks for the cars...amen!" He always tells me, "Love you, mama!" When he wakes up from a nap or in the morning, he runs down the hallway and says, "mama! I went ni-night!" He also told me, "you're so cute, mama!" the other day and I about died in laughter. He's really into where his food goes so now he always says, "Nogurt (yogurt) all gones in my belly!" as he tries with all his might to peer into his belly button. I could go on and on about all the funny things he does and says...he's the light of my day. We've also mastered time outs. He doesn't go often but when he deliberately disobeys I put him in timeout for 2 minutes and he stays there. When I go get him and give him a talking to about what he did wrong, he says, "Sorry mama!" And has a much better attitude after. I will admit it is so hard to put him in timeout. I feel like I'm being mean, but I know it's for his benefit. :)
Maci. My sweet, sweet girl. She has curves for days and smells like warm sugar and citrus (really, she does!). She's already turned into a mama's girl. If I walk into the room and she hears me and if I don't immediately pick her up or acknowledge her (even if someone else is holding her) she fusses until I give her attention. We're two peas in a pod already - she'll stay up at night to watch Real Housewives or Lifetime movies with me. Darren said, "See? I knew you'd love having a girl." She smiles all the time and is giggling more and more. The other day I was picking a booger out of her nose and she was cracking up. She also rolls on her side when on her back (she loves sleeping on her side too) and sticks her bottom in the air during tummy time. She's very squirmy during tummy time - she likes to move! She also loves when I sing to her. She smiles at me like she's been waiting her whole life to hear me sing! It totally boosts my ego. ;) She reminds me to slow down and enjoy the moment every day.

I look forward to what this year will bring our wonderful family. Happy New Year, everyone!