Wednesday, September 28, 2011

HalfPint Gourmet

Do you have young children?  Are you constantly looking for meals that other families feed their young children?  Well, do I have the website for you!  Welcome to HalfPint Gourmet!

HalfPint Gourmet is a great new site featuring recipes shared by other moms and dads like you, as well as a place to learn about innovative gadgets for your family and tips on overcoming those picky eaters!

Not only can you find great new recipes there, but anyone can submit recipes!  The site owners have a very user-friendly form that makes it easy.

Speaking of the site owners, Christina and Nithya are moms themselves.  Christina has a love for food and a son who enjoys it just as much as she does.  Nithya has a daughter and in addition to HalfPint Gourmet, runs another food blog, hungy desi.

I hope you take the time to look over HalfPint Gourmet!  You may even see me featured in their Beyond the Bib portion of their website!  
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Baked Potato Soup

Oh my goodness, was this delicious!!!!!  I am so happy I saw some random picture of Baked Potato Soup a few weeks ago and couldn't stop thinking about it!

My husband and I both had 2 helpings and Ella LOVED that she could "decorate" her own bowl of soup!  (She didn't want to try it until I told her about the special decorations!)  Your kids will LOVE decorating their own soup too!  I posted a picture below of her (in our terribly messy kitchen, sorry!) making her bowl perfect!

Now, the best part of this?  I found a really cool way to cube potatoes really easily and quickly!  Who knew a French Fry gadget could assist in cubing potatoes?!  It came to me in a vision yesterday, so I tried it!  Guess what?!  It worked!  That, plus the rest of the easy ingredients makes this soup incredibly easy to put together.  I assembled everything the night before, stuck the crock insert in the fridge and then pulled it out in the morning before I left and turned it on.  This is one of those meals you can cook for a long time and it won't hurt anything.  So, if you're going to be away for 10 hours or so, this would be a great choice for you!

Here's a little tip for you:  I bought pre-cooked bacon.  Yes, who would have thunk that, huh?  I did NOT feel like cooking bacon and dealing with that mess when I got home.  So, I bought a package of the pre-cooked stuff and it will be just enough for our 2 nights of this meal!  It was so easy and it might make your evening a bit easier too!

I hope your family enjoys this as much as ours did!

Baked Potato Soup

6 Potatoes, peeled and diced (a fun tip on how to do this below!)
1 onion, chopped
1 can Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup
3 cups Water
1 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Onion Powder
1 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Basil
1/3 cup Light Sour Cream
1/2 block Cream Cheese, divided
2 Chicken Bouillon Cubes

Toppings: Bacon, Shredded Cheddar Cheese, Lite Sour Cream, Chives

First, to easily dice potatoes for a soup like this, use a handy dandy French Fry cutter to the potatoes into sticks first.

Next, chop your sticks into little cubes!

Now, back to the directions....
Place your potatoes and onions into the Slow Cooker.

Top that with your chicken bouillon cubes and cream cheese.

In a bowl, mix together the soup, sour cream, water, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and basil.

Pour that mixture over the potatoes and onions.

Cook on LOW for 9-10 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.
My cream cheese was still in chunks when I came home, but I just stirred a little bit and it meted right in!
To thicken the soup a bit, take a potato smasher and smash your soup up a bit.

Now, it's time to have fun!  Put your toppings in bowls and "decorate" your bowls of soup with bacon, sour cream, shredded cheddar and chives like my daughter did!

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

This Week's Plan 9-25-11

I've had a GREAT weekend!  Lots of quality time with my kiddos and some mommy time too!  It doesn't get much better than that!

This week I'm going to take it easy.  I've planned for 3 recipes, but may only get to two of them.  I'm still trying to get back in the swing of things here.  Feeling the stress a lot lately and I'm trying to leave a little more time for myself to relax.  I hope to back in FULL swing soon ;)

This week, I'm reviewing a couple of recipes from the "The Vegan Slow Cooker" by Kathie Hester.  I cannot wait to try some of her recipes!  They all sound absolutely delicious!

I hope you are all enjoying the first week of Fall.  I'll have some nice fall recipes coming your way soon!

Here's This Week's Plan:

Monday - Baked Potato Soup

Tuesday - Leftovers

Wednesday - "Acorn Squash Stuffed with Cranberry-Pecan Rice"

Thursday - Leftovers

Friday or Saturday - Citrus Black Bean Soup

Sunday - Leftovers

Happy Slow-Cooking!
Hope Print Friendly and PDF

Sunday, September 18, 2011

This Week's Plan 9-18-11

Well, it was one heck of a week!  I wish I could share my fun crazy school stories with you, but I would totally lose my job! LOL  Let's just say, my Friday afternoon was DEFINITELY out of the ordinary. I can pretty much guarantee none of you experienced all of what I did in a 20 minute time span, ever before in your lives!  LOL Sigh......

This week, I feel like comfort food.  Let me rephrase that.....I NEED comfort food!  LOL  So, soup and Pot Roast are on the menu for the week!

I hope all of my fellow teachers out there are surviving!  It's tough to adjust back......especially after being off for a year.

Here's This Week's Plan:

Monday: Leftover Balsamic Chicken

Tuesday: Creamy Tomato Soup (with Grilled Cheese) - my husband says "why don't you just use Campbell's???????!!!!"  To which I replied "because I'm the Crock Pot lady and everyone's requesting it!" So, this better be good!  LOL

Wednesday: Pot Roast

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: I'm guessing Daddy and Ella will have Pizza night since I'll be out!

Sunday: Baked Potato Soup

Happy Slow-Cooking!
Hope Print Friendly and PDF

Balsamic Chicken

This was a delicious and healthy dinner!  I LOVE balsamic vinegar!  My husband and I honeymooned in Venice and Paris and we fell in LOVE with it!  In fact, at the airport in Venice, they had little packets of balsamic vinegar instead of ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise.  It's a staple in our house now. :)

You will love how easy this is to throw together, especially on a busy night or morning!  I put everything in the Slow Cooker the night before an stuck it in the fridge.  In the morning, I pulled it out about 1/2 hr. before I left to let the Crock come up to room temp a bit and then started it up before I left!  When I got home, my husband cooked the pasta while I fed the baby.

I hope your family enjoys this as much as ours did!

   Balsamic Chicken

2 lbs. FROZEN boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. (approx) Olive Oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 28oz. can Diced Tomatoes (or 2 of the smaller cans)
1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. Italian Seasoning
1 onion, halved and sliced

Place the frozen chicken into the slow cooker insert and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle it with salt and pepper.

In a bowl, mix together the Diced Tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, sugar, garlic powder and Italian Seasoning.

Place the onions over the chicken and then pour the diced tomato mixture over that.

Cook on LOW for 7-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
Serve over pasta.
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

French Onion Soup

I L-O-V-E-D this soup!!!  LOVED IT!!!!  It had the perfect French Onion flavor that I love and just a touch of spice, which is balanced by the bread and the cheese......the yummy oooey gooey cheese!!!!!  I am a HUGE fan of french onion soup, and often order it at restaurants!  (Although I do hate when I burn my mouth on it.....but it's totally worth it! LOL)  This soup stacks up against all the great French Onion Soups I've had!

Michigan is starting to make's it's nasty switch to Fall, so the weather is bouncing back and forth.  This evening, it was rainy and cool.  This was the perfect way to end our night!

Now, let me tell you how EASY this was to make!!!  Slice some onions, throw in a couple herbs, pour in some water, WINE, and bouillon cubes.......and you're good to go!'s that easy!  I stopped on the way home and picked up a fresh loaf of french bread, quickly sliced some cheese when I got home and stuck my soup in the oven in a ramekin under the broiler.  Done!  Dinner was served!

I hope you enjoy this as much as we did!

French Onion Soup

3-4 Sweet Yellow Onions, thinly sliced into rings
1/2 tsp. Pepper
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
7 cups of water
7 beef bouillon cubes
1 cup of white wine
French bread
Gruyere Cheese (or swiss or provolone will do)

Place the onions into your slow cooker.

Sprinkle the pepper over the top and lay the 2 sprigs of thyme and bay leaf on top.
(Isn't that pretty?!!!!)

Now, pour the water and wine over the top and tuck your bouillon cubes into the liquid.

Cook on LOW for 7-9 hours or on HIGH for 3-5 hours.

When you are ready to serve your soup, fill your ramekin just over 3/4 of the way full of soup.
 Place some bread on top.
And top that with Cheese.

Place your ramekins on a cookie sheet and put in the oven under the broiler for around 5 minutes.
(Check on it frequently so it doesn't burn!)
And there you have it!
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Sunday, September 11, 2011

This Week's Plan 9-11-11

Today, we remember all of the men and woman who lost their lives in the extremely tragic events that happened on 9-11-01. We also remember those who who lost loved ones and volunteered their time in all of the 9-11 efforts.

Well, I'm not starting my week on a very good note.  I'm sick....a little worried it's strep throat.  I'll be heading to the doctor tomorrow after work.  :(

So, here is my plan this week.....which may or may not happen due to me feeling like poop!  LOL

This Week's Plan:

Sunday: Attempted Honey Mustard was a total flop :(

Monday: Leftovers

Tuesday: Dinner at a friend's house

Wednesday: French Onion Soup

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Balsamic Chicken

Saturday: Leftovers

Sunday: Greek Chicken

Happy Slow-Cooking!
Hope Print Friendly and PDF

Rice Pudding

One of our fans, Kristy, sent me her grandmother's recipe for Rice Pudding that she was hoping I could make in the slow cooker.  I tried it out last week and it needed some tweaking!  Last night, I tried again!  It tastes awesome!

I'm not a connoisseur of Rice Pudding, but I have a friend who is.  Henry tried my Rice Pudding last weekend and kindly, said it was good.  It was still crunchy, lol.  I don't think Rice Pudding is supposed to be crunchy!  So, he suggested trying Arborio Rice.  I gave it a shot!  It worked pretty well.

Now, I hear Rice Pudding is supposed to be served cold.  I prefer it hot, but maybe I'm the weird one???!!!  Oh well, either way, the flavor is awesome!  Who knew rice, milk and sugar could taste so good?!  LOL

I would suggest adding a dollop of whipped  cream to the top like the pros, but I didn't have any, and didn't want to go get some just for the picture!

I hope you enjoy this Rice Pudding!  And Henry.....there's more rice pudding heading your way today!!!

Rice Pudding
(Adapted from Kristy's Grandmother's recipe)
3 eggs, beaten
3 1/3 cups milk
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
3/4 cup Sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup Arborio Rice
4 Tbsp. butter

In the slow cooker liner, add the beaten eggs, milk, nutmeg, sugar and vanilla.  Mix gently.

Pour the rice in as evenly as possible and give another stir.
Then add the butter.

Cook on LOW for about 3 hours.  During the last hour, stir every 20 minutes or so.
After the 3 hours on low, turn the slow cooker off and let the rice pudding sit in there with the lid on for about another half hour or so.

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Meatball Sliders

It's football season......not that it means anything in this household.....but, to most of you, it means LOTS of food and parties!  This would be a GREAT addition to your party!  These little guys are super duper easy to make and extremely tasty!  You can eat them as sliders, or just put out some toothpicks and let everyone grab a couple on their own!

The night before I made these, I put out my 2 can goods, 2 seasonings and pulled the bag of frozen meatballs out of the deep freezer and into our regular freezer.  In the morning, it took me less than 3 minutes to assemble this!  You will LOVE how easy this is!  You will also love how good these taste!

You might notice in the picture below, my provolone cheese is cut into flower shapes!  Yes, I'm a pretty cool mom!  LOL  I thought it would be more fun to make our cheese into a shape, so I let my daughter choose from the cookie cutters....and that's how the flower cheese came to be!

We used Turkey Meatballs, but you could use whatever kind of meatballs you wish!  I will tell you, i'm not a huge fan of pre-made meatballs.  This would have been WAY better with homemade meatballs!  But, being the busy mom I am, time did not allow!!!!

On another note, these were a bit too spicy for my daughter.  She ate them, but did not want to do leftovers with me today :(  You can use regular canned tomatoes instead of the chili ready tomatoes to fix that problem if you have little ones too (or if you have a sensitive palette yourself!)

If you have the time when you get home, toast the buns and melt the cheese!  We just wanted to eat, LOL!

Meatball Sliders

1 32oz. bag frozen meatballs (we used Turkey Meatballs, but use whatever you wish!)
1 14.5oz. can diced chili ready tomatoes
1 15oz. can tomato sauce
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. dry chopped parsley
Provolone cheese and slider buns

In your slow cooker insert, dump your frozen meatballs

Pour the tomatoes and tomato sauce over the top and sprinkle the garlic powder and parsley on top as well.

Cook on LOW for 6-7 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
Serve on slider buns with provolone cheese slices.
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Thursday, September 8, 2011

3,000 Fan Giveaway Winners Announced!

Congratulations to all of our WINNERS who are shown in RED below each prize!

Thank you to all of the vendors and to those who entered!

Winners have been notified via email and have 48 hours to claim their prizes, or another winner will be chosen!
*Winners were chosen via  Some winners won more than once due to multiple entries and the luck of the draw.   

$25 Gift Certificate
(Winner must be local)

Ruby Loop
$15 Gift Certificate

Thirty-One Gifts, Amy Fleischmann
Thermal Lunch Tote
Winner picks pattern and Personalized Embroidery

 6piece brooch set
Winner can choose there own colors of the picture provided.

Regina Sober, Tupperware Lady
This awesome Quick Shake

Thirty-One Gifts, Kai Lumpkin
$15 Gift Certificate

Margaret Larsen, Independent PartyLite Consultant
$10 PartyLite Gift Certificate and Two Sisters Gourmet Garlic Seasoning 

Adrian Jacobs, Arbonne Independent Consultant
$25 Gift Certificate towards a purchase from a new client from the new holiday catalog, which comes out September 1.

Family 4 Pack of Tickets
(Winner must be local)

1 Dozen FREE Gourmet Cupcakes!
(Winner must be local)

Family Ties Scrapbook Design
$10 purchase of $20 or more
Custom Orders are welcome!

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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pineapple Chicken with Acorn Squash

Yum, yum, yum, yum, YUM!!!!!  I was STARVING when I came home today and I was even more anxious to eat when my husband called to tell me how good dinner turned out!  As I was driving back from my first day of teaching and my doctor appointment which immediately followed, my husband told me him and Ella cleaned their plates it was so good!  I hurried home (safely of course) to have some and it was SO worth the wait!  The chicken was so moist and tender, and was even more awesome with a piece of pineapple on the fork with it!  The acorn squash was cooked perfectly and was so perfectly sweet and buttery!  Mmmmmmmm!!!!!

This recipe came to be from a Taste of Home Recipe one of my loyal fans sent me.  She thought it sounded good, but wanted to be able to do it in the Slow Cooker!  You know I'm always up for that challenge!  I strayed from the original recipe of course and tried to simplify it a bit!

With the weather we've been having around here (it went from 100 degrees to 56 degrees,) it felt really good to eat a nice fall meal!  Acorn squash is in season here in Michigan and is super easy to find.  The hardest part is cutting it in half.  Get yourself a big knife and cut toward the stem on both sides, then it will kind of snap in half from there!  I'm no expert, but that's how I did it! LOL

So, how did I do this on the first day back to work?????  Here's how: I put the chicken in the slow cooker insert the night before, seasoned with the salt and pepper and stuck it into the fridge.  I cut up the acorn squash as well the night before, and put that in a ziplock bag in the fridge.  While I was getting ready in the morning, I took the slow cooker insert out of the fridge.  Right before I left, I assembled everything in probably around 5 minutes (maybe a touch longer due to stopping to take pictures!).  Voila!  Not too hard!

I really think your WHOLE family will enjoy this!  It will warm you from the inside out!

Pineapple Chicken with Acorn Squash

6-8 Chicken Thighs, or any other type of meat you would like to use.
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 acorn squash, halved, seeded and cut into 1/2" slices
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 stick butter, cut into pieces
1 20oz. can sliced pineapple

Place the chicken at the bottom of the slow cooker insert and season with salt and pepper.

Cut your acorn squash in half and scoop the seeds and guts out.

Next, turn them over, cut off the ends and discard them.  Then, slice the rest into 1/2" slices.

Place all of the acorn squash on top of the chicken, sprinkle it with the brown sugar and place the pieces of butter all around.

Place your pineapple slices on top and pour the juice all over!

Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or on HIGH for 4-6 hours.

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Sunday, September 4, 2011

This Week's Plan 8-5-11

I survived my first couple days back to work (sans kiddos), but this week will be the true test!  Starting Tuesday, every 50 minutes, I will have 25-35 kiddos staring me in the eyes and doing  "The Dinosaur Dance," "Concentration Idiodiation," "Draw A Bucket of Water," "The Shoemaker," "I Let Her Go, Go" and  "At the Bottom of the Sea!"  Doesn't that sound like fun?!  Well, it is.  I always love the first week back!  I get plenty of exercise, but not sure how my voice will hold up seeing as how I've been away from singing 5 days a week for a year now!  The one song at night with Ella is nothing compared to singing all day long, 5 days a week!

I'm going to try and keep things pretty simple this week!  I will have A LOT going on and it's going to take some getting used to.  I'm not gonna lie.....I may only get to 1-2 of these recipes this week.  We may decide to go with some of our freezer meals this week.  We shall see.  It all depends on how exhausted I am!

For all the teachers going back to work this week, I wish you tons of luck!

Here is This Week's Plan:

Monday: I think we're going to grill...

Tuesday: Peachy Chicken with Acorn Squash

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Meatball Sliders

Friday: Leftovers

Saturday: Balsamic Chicken

Sunday: Leftovers Print Friendly and PDF

Friday, September 2, 2011

Asian Style Country Ribs

This was such an easy and tasty meal!  It will take you less than a minute to assemble the sauce ingredients and then maybe another minute to put the ribs in the crock and pour the sauce over the top! A great way to begin cooking my first week back to work!

We found my sauce to be too thin, but I think I've corrected that problem below.  I like to know there is sauce stuck to my ribs!  If you're a huge ginger fan, you may want to add more ginger.  I'm not a huge ginger fan, therefore, I'm very stingy with it!

Oh, and I had scallions all cut up and ready to in the last half hour or so in the fridge.  Guess who forgot about them?  That would be me!  They would be awesome with these!  I cut up 6 scallions on an angle to make them look pretty.

I think you'll find these a great alternative to BBQ ribs!

Asian Style Country Ribs

3-4 lb. Country Ribs (I used boneless because they were on sale.  Please feel free to use whatever kind of ribs you have or are on sale!)
1/2 cup Soy Sauce (I used low sodium)
1/2-3/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Garlic powder
2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. sesame seeds
2 Tbsp. Red Wine Vinegar (Or if you have Rice Vinegar, use that.  I did not)
6 scallions (approx.) cut up (not pictured because I forgot :()

Mix together the soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder, sesame seeds and red wine vinegar.

Next, in your slow cooker, place the ribs.
Pour the sauce over the ribs.

Cover and cook on LOW for 7-9 hours or on HIGH for 4-5 hours.
The last half hour, add some scallions.....unlike me who forgot!
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