Round 1 with a slow cooker!


Crockpot Chicken CacciatoreI have been completely unaware of what I have been missing.  I’ve never once cooked with a slow cooker, and I’ve successfully completed my first attempt.  I was gifted my first slow cooker for Christmas, and I almost made a big no-no when I opened the package.  Like with most appliances, I assume that they are easy and don’t require a look at the directions; so, I plugged the bad boy in, turned it on high and began to get my ingredients ready to throw in.  I noticed immediately, that the cooker had a very strange smell to it after it was turned on.  I was afraid that the food would taste like the metal smell, and so I decided maybe I should dig the instructions out of the trash and figure out what was going on.  I read the instructions and realized that you have to leave it on for twenty minutes with water inside, before use.  Thank goodness that I read the instructions, or else my meal would’ve been ruined.  For my first go around, I would say this was a really good meal.  The chicken was added whole, and it ended up coming out so tender that it would fall a part when touched with a fork.  I loosely followed this recipe loosely.

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

Ingredients

6 chicken tenderloins (3 chicken breasts)
Salt & Pepper
1/4 cup red wine
2 tablespoons capers
1 onion, chopped
1 pound fresh mushrooms, thickly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
Parsley flakes
Oregano
Basil
2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. Add your chicken, wine, capers, onions, mushrooms, garlic, chicken broth, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and seasoning to the crock pot.  Set on low and cook for 7 to 9 hours, or high for 4 or 5 hours.
2. 20 minutes before serving time, use a large spoon and scoop out about 1/2 cup worth of just the juice.  Add the cornstarch in and stir until no clumps.  Add the cornstarch/juice mixture to the crock pot, stir, and then allow to thicken.
3. Serve over rice or noodles.  I used egg noodles.

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Pinterest Creation – Mini Garlic Monkey Bread


When we have a family get together, no one says “well I’ll make the garlicbread.”  Someone always forgets to bring the rolls, and they are always just the plain butter rolls that you throw into the oven for 7 minutes and eat…and not to mention, these 7 minute rolls always end up forgotten, and burnt.  So, this year I was determined to have good bread!  I found this wonderfully easy recipe on Pinterest (by Crumbs and Chaos), and added it to my “What-I-Want-To-Make” Wednesday post.  I’m happy to say, I made it!  It was so delicious.  My aunt was convinced that it was a copy cat Red Lobster recipe, but I will let you be the judge of that.

Mini Garlic Monkey Bread

Ingredients

2 (7.5 oz) cans buttermilk biscuits
6 tablespoons butter, melted
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling on top
non-stick cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Lightly grease a 2 – 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
3. Cut each biscuit into quarters and place into a bowl.
4. Combine butter, garlic, parsley and 1/4 cup of permesan cheese.  Pour over biscuits.
5. Place 3-4 pieces in each muffin tin (remember, these will expand so don’t put too many in there).
6. Sprinkle with additional permesan cheese.
7. Bake 12-14 minutes or until golden.

To keep mine warm on the way to my family’s house, I wrapped them in tin foil, placed them in a towel in a bowl.  I then covered them up again with another towel.  They actually stayed considerably warm for about an hour.

garlic– I hope you enjoyed my post!  Let me know if you try these delicious little suckers.  Maybe they will taste like Red Lobster rolls to you too!  Feel free to pin this recipe. –

Christmas Pinterest Creation – Peppermint Fudge


Peppermint fudgeOh, how I adore Pinterest.  I don’t know how anyone cooked, worked out, planned their wedding or had a child before Pinterest.  I was having a hard time deciding what type of dessert I wanted to take to my family Christmas party this year, and I went onto Pinterest and picked the first most delicious dessert that I saw.  That just so happened to be Peppermint Oreo Fudge brought to you by Something Swanky.  It was so delicious and very easy to make.  The only problem I had, is that I was hard headed and refused to use parchment paper and it was really hard to cut out.  Everyone loved this fudge, the taste wasn’t overruled by peppermint.  Just enough.  This could be made anytime of year, it doesn’t have to be Christmas!

Peppermint Oreo Fudge

Ingredients

1 bag Milk Chocolate Hershey Kisses, unwrapped
1 cup chocolate chips
1 bag candy Cane Hershey Kisses, unwrapped (or any peppermint chocolate)
1 cup white chocolate chips
2 cups crushed Oreos (I put mine in a food processor)
2 – 14 oz cans sweetened milk

1. Prepare 9×13 baking dish by lining it with parchment paper and spray the paper with non-stick cooking spray.
2. In a medium sauce pan, over LOW heat combine the milk chocolate Hershey kisses, chocolate chips, and 1 can sweetened condensed milk.
3. Stir until melted and smooth.  Once melted, add in 1 cup of crushed Oreos.
4. Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared dish.
5. In another medium sauce pan (or clean out the one you used), stir over low heat the candy cane kisses (or any peppermint chocolate you choose), white chocolate chips, and 1 can sweetened condensed milk.
6. Once smooth, pour the peppermint mixture over the chocolate mixture.
7. Sprinkle the remaining Oreo crumbs over the top and lightly press into the fudge.
8. Let cool overnight in the fridge, and allow to set out about 1 hour before you decide to cut it.

10 things I wish I would’ve done this Christmas


 

  1. I wish I would’ve kept up with my 25 activities of Christmas.iPhone 678
    The fiancee and I spent forever making these cute envelopes with Christmas decorations on the inside.  Inside of the envelope we put different Christmas activities that we would do everyday.  Like, listening to Christmas music, watching Christmas movies, looking at Christmas lights, wearing Santa hats, etc.  Next year, I want to make these a priority.
  2. I wish I would’ve enjoyed more Starbucks Peppermint White Mochas.
    Nothing goes better with Christmas shopping than a good cup of Starbucks; especially when they have their cute Christmas cups.
  3. I wish I would’ve made everyone cookies this year.
  4. I wish I would’ve stressed less.
    I spent too much time stressing about money, and the perfect gift for everyone that I forgot about the joys of giving a few times.  NeiPhone 497xt year, I want to plan ahead of time so I can really enjoy the season.
  5. I wish I would’ve made more homemade gifts.
    Homemade gifts for sure next year!  My sister made homemade warmers for body aches and pains, and it was probably one of the best gifts I received this year.  I want to think ahead, and find the best homemade gifts possible next year!
  6. I wish I would’ve listened to more Christmas music.
  7. I wish I had made homemade decorations.
    Snowflakes, popcorn strands, pine cone ornaments, etc.
  8. I wish I would’ve spent more time looking at Christmas lights.
    We always go to look at Christmas lights on Christmas Eve with my dad, but this year things became too busy juggling two families, that we never got around to going.  Next year, I want to go look at different lights at least once every week in December.
  9. I wish I would’ve watched more Christmas movies.
    Every time I would turn the TV on, I couldn’t find any Christmas movie I wanted to watch.  But, I completely forgot that there is Netflix!  I will definitely watch more Christmas movies next year.
  10. I wish I would’ve invested in an ugly Christmas sweater. 🙂

12 things I’m glad I did this Christmas


  1. I am glad that I hand delivered my Christmas cards. 
    I originally did it to cut costs, but in the end I preferred handing everyone in my family their Christmas card.  Also, helped me keep a mental checklist of who all I’ve visited this Christmas!
  2. I’m glad I gave as much as I could possibly give.
    Money is always a stressful aspect of life, but it becomes even more stressful during Christmas time for myself.  I love Christmas, and I want to give every single person in both my family and my fiancee’s a present.  I really treestressed over this, but now that Christmas is in hindsight – I’m really glad that I gave as much as I could.  I love seeing people’s face when I give them a present, even more so when they weren’t even expecting one!
  3. I’m glad that I put the Christmas tree up a few days before Thanksgiving, with no decorations. 
    This was one of the smartest things I could’ve done since we adopted two sweet kitties from the shelter this year, and it was their first Christmas.  We knew that they would go crazy as soon as they saw the tree.  They immediately thought the Christmas tree was their personal play ground, as soon as it was put up.  Our male cat Simon, climbed up half the tree while I was fluffing it, before I even realized what was going on.  Surprisingly, they Simon in treenever knocked the tree over completely.  Just made it wobble.  By the time we put the actual ornaments on it, the cats had lost interest.  We only lost one ornament!  That has to be a record in a house with two adolescent cats.
  4. I’m glad I discovered how awesome Dollar General is.
    I’ve never attempted to wrap my presents fancily, but this Christmas I discovered DOLLAR GENERAL!  They built one super close to our house not too long ago, and it made it much more convenient to visit one.  Their Christmas decorating materials were so cheap, that I spent $25 on wrapping paper, bows, boxes, ribbon, Christmas cards, and tissue paper!  That lasted me the whole season.
  5. I’m glad that I went Black Friday shopping.
    I can’t believe I just admitted that, but I was able to get the majority of my fiancees presents for such a huge discount.  It allowed me to spend more on other people.  It was definitely crazy, and I thought that my 5’0″ foot self would get trampled, but I made it out alive.
  6. I am glad that I am still the first one awake every Christmas morning. 
    I am no longer the youngest in my family, and I am still the first one up!  I am always the one calling and waking everyone up, telling them to get their butt over to my dad’s so we can give presents!  I am surprised that I made it this year, without spoiling what I got for everyone because I usually get so excited that I can’t wait to tell.
  7. I’m glad I made a point to see everyone I cared about.
    I might have been freaking out a few days before Christmas, trying to plan what time I would be where, but I am happy I got to see all of my loved ones.
  8. I’m glad I welcome a puppy into our family.
    Yes, now I feel like we are running a zoo (two cats and a dog) but he is too precious, and he seems to be learning really quickly.  It was so sweet, coming home Christmas Eve night, to a puppy sitting on the couch and my fiancee hiding in the kitchen waiting to hear my reaction.  Of course, my first reaction was practical – “did you get him any food” “any toys” and “did you get a crate?”  And of course, the answer to all of those was a big resounding no.  He was too excited to get the puppy, that he didn’t think.  On Christmas, we got a southern blizzard, and weren’t able to get him any puppy stuff until 3 days later; but, he found our homemade water bottle toy very amusing.
  9. I’m glad I watched my favorite Christmas movies.
    The Santa Clause, Elf, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas (and yes, in that order of awesomeness).
  10. I’m glad I made some homemade gifts.Homemade
    I enjoyed making and gifting my homemade gifts (check them out here and here) more than anything else.  I think next year, I’m going to plan ahead of time, and make homemade gifts for everyone.
  11. I’m glad I made Christmas desserts.
    These are always so fun to make, and there are always great memories made when Christmas desserts are made!
  12. Most of all, I’m glad I volunteered.
    My dad and I volunteer every year at the Santa Shack.  I love seeing the kids faces when they see Santa.  Although, my favorite part is those parents who stand in line, in the cold, for 30 minutes just so their child can sit on Santa’s lap.  They can’t afford a picture, and they are doing it just so their child can meet Santa.  There is not much more gratifying than telling a parent they can have a picture for free.  So many people come up, and pay for the people behind them or just donate an extra few dollars for family’s in the future who can’t afford it.  We also dressed up as elves and delivered presents to the kids of the angel tree.

– What are you glad you did this Christmas? –