Friday, November 30, 2012

Crock Pot Meals That Don't Suck

As I said before, I fought buying a crock-pot for years for 3 reasons:
1. I had never eaten anything yummy from a crock-pot
2. I didn't want to give in to any Mormon housewife stereotypes
3. My kids won't anything that resembles soup or stew.

I finally gave in a few months ago and have been trying out several recipes and thought I'd report back. I'm putting them in order from our least successful to the most successful.

Slow Cooker Hoisin Shredded Chicken Sandwich Recipe with Asian Slaw
Slow Cooker Hoisin Shredded chicken with Asian slaw by Cooking Canuck.  
The chicken was way too salty and the slaw was tasteless.  I did leave out the cilantro (because it's nasty), so maybe that was the problem.

super salty.
Six Sisters 8 Slow Cooker Meals
We tried the ribs (greasy), chicken cacciatore (mushy and bland), and the broccoli Alfredo (mushy, watery, and bland)-my son lovingly referred to these meals as "crap in a bag". My kids hate taco soup and stew so I didn't try those.  The maple Dijon chicken looks like it may be ok.  If I try it, I will let you know.

Balsamic Chicken by the Crock Pot Exchange
Pretty good, although a little watery.  If I made it again, I would drain the tomatoes (at least one can). My father-in-law really like it, although he added BBQ to his serving- weird?

Crock-pot sandwiches are perfect for those nights that we all don't eat at the same time. I just make everything up ahead of time and people assemble a sandwich when ready to eat.

Meatball Subs-just throw some frozen meatballs and a jar of pasta sauce.  Cook for a few hours and then throw on a roll and top with cheese. Nothing fancy, but easy and cheap.  I can feed all 5 of us for $5. 
If we are all eating at the same time, I just heat it up in the microwave, but the crock-pot is just a way for me to have it hot for everyone, no matter what time they come home.

Yummy and works with chicken too.

I pretty much make this once a week. These would be great for tail-gating.

I had some chicken leftover, but ran out of buns. Most amazing grilled cheese ever!

C &C Marriage Factory's Balsalmic Glazed Pork Loin

Downright yummy.  I forgot to put in the soy sauce (I don't know if that made a difference).

Here's some more recipes that you could easily make in a crock pot:
This is my very favorite German dish!

This is pretty much everyone else's favorite German dish.  It's a tangy roast that just falls apart.  Mahlzeit!

There you have it.  I will come back and add to the post and let you know about my future fails and triumphs with my crock-pot.

To see where I link up or to add your party, please click here.
Pin It

Monday, November 26, 2012

How to Clean Up A Crime Scene

I have a sweet friend Judy.  She is charming and delightful and always gives me a small gift when I visit her.  She is a widow and currently undergoing chemotherapy, but she is always going out of her way to do thoughtful little acts of service for others.  

On Friday morning, her son took her out to do a little Christmas shopping.  While she was gone, two jerks(I can't really think of a word strong enough) broke her front door down and robbed her.  They stole her jewelry (including her wedding rings), a TV, and a quilt.  She feels very blessed that she wasn't home.  

She called the police who came and dusted for prints.  I've seen them do this a lot on TV, but have never thought how to clean it up.  Finger-print powder is black, messy, sticky, and really hard to get rid of.  She tried several things, but nothing worked.  I read a few places online to try scrubbing bubbles.  It was amazing!  All the fingerprints came right off the furniture.  The police spilled some on the carpet, and that was more challenging. It only came out about 95%.  I used a little lemon oil as well and then busted out my rug shampooer. 

Overall, she was pleased with how it looked and even sent me home with chocolate. I just hop they can track down the thugs that did this and get her stuff back-especially her wedding rings.

PS: Scrubbing Bubbles didn't give me anything to write this-just thought I'd pass on a little info that I pray you never need to know.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Truvia® Gingerbread Cookies

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Truvia® Natural Sweetener for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

This summer during my 30-days no sugar challenge, I made epically bad cookies.  My kids still tease me about them. 

Searching for tastier ways to cut down my family's sugar intake, I have come across Truvia®Baking Blend.  It is all all natural sweetner with the same texture and sweetness of sugar, but with only 75% of the calories.  One 1.5 lb.bag ofTruvia®  Blaking Blend has the same amount of sweetness as a 3 lb. bag of regular sugar.  You do not need to go to any specialty grocery stores, it is available at most local grocery store chains.  You'll also  appreciate the closeable easy pour spout.  

Truvia® Baking Blend can be used in all of your holiday baking.  There are lots of great recipes here:  I thought it would be fun to try the gingerbread cookies.

Gingerbread Cookies


I was worried when my dough resembled brown sugar that I had done something wrong, but they turned out great. So don't be alarmed if your dough looks like the above.
So what's you favorite holiday recipe that you could re-create using this great product?  Please share in the coments below.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Monday, November 19, 2012

HOOT Chocolate

I love to recycle a good idea and the owl treat bags from my daughter's b-day party are an excellent idea. (I originally stole the idea from the amazingly creative Lisa Storms). I thought these would be fun neighbor or teacher gifts. 

 For the Christmas themed bags, I made a PDF file, which you can find here . You can either use my PDF pattern or just make your own with scrapbook paper.

You can fill them with whatever you want, but I wanted to do a "Hoot Chocolate" themed bag.

Inside of the bag, I put some Chocolate Covered spoons (tutorial here), a bag of cocoa mix, and a label. Here's a PDF to the labels.

In case you need a Cocoa Recipe:

Hot Cocoa mix (taken from Better Homes and Gardens):
10 cups of powdered milk
16 ounces of powdered sugar
1 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 3/4 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
pinch of salt

Mix in a large bowl until combined. Add  1/3 cup mix to 3/4 cup hot water.

You could also say "A little something from our nest", unless you have any ornithologists on your list that know that owls don't really live in nests but in "cavities.

Or how about "We wish y'owl a Merry Christmas"?

UPDATE:  These would be perfect with these Owl Spoons.

To see where I link up or to add your party, please click here.
Pin It

Bufflalo Bleu Grilled Cheese

Are you ready for the best lunch ever? 

My husband pulled his back out doing sit-ups during his annual PT test.  He came home bummed that instead of getting an extra day of leave for maxing it, he would know be faced w/ mounds of paper work and having to re-take it.  He was also hungry.

We had some left-over buffalo chicken and bleu slaw, but no more crusty rolls, just regular bread.  Using what I had, I whipped up a grilled cheese.  It was AMAZING.  
Butter 2 slices of bread.  Place cheddar cheese on one and chicken on the other. Grill.  Open sandwich and add bleu cole slaw.

Serve one one of your kid's plastic plates. Enjoy!

To see where I link up or to add your party, please click here.
Pin It

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Curbside Chaos

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bulbs. Dig, Drop, Done. for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
Several months ago I blogged about Curbside Chaos and the amazing $5000 yard makeover from Taniya Nayak. You can check out the lucky winners here:  I would have loved to win a yard makeover.  We've been in our current home about 2 years now, and I still haven't done much with the yard.  My yard is in some desperate need of some color.
I'm a novice gardner and appreciate all the great professional advice at This is a free website with tons of great advice for all things bulbs.  It has great tips for your garden as well as fun family projects you can do with your families indoors as well. visit to learn more.
Another great tool is the Garden Guru. In 4 easy steps it will tell you exactly when and what to plant.
Step 1: Enter your country
Step 2: Enter your state
Step 3: Pick what type of bulb you want to grow
Step 4:  Check out the Planting Guide that shows you how to plant your bulbs.

Now through 11/30/ 2012,  Dig.Drop.Done are giving away a free children's gardening book with every purchase.  Just clip the Dig.Drop.Done logo from the package to send away for your free book while supplies last.   You can find bulbs at your local lawn and garden retail centers. This offer is available to all legal residents of the United States 18 years and older. Click here to find out more: free gardening themed Scholastic book 
Finally for you Twitter fans- for every share carries the # Curbside Chaos, "Dig.Drop.Done", they will donate $1 to Rebuilding Together.  It's a super easy way to raise money for the nation's leading non-profit that preserves home ownership and revitalizes communities.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Saturday, November 17, 2012

My name is Tara, and I am a lousy editor

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of GrammarBase for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

When I first started this blog, there was a tag line underneath the heading that said "Where poor photography and bad grammar connect".  I am hoping to correct both of those problems.  First of all, I signed up for a photography class.  Secondly, I am going to start using Soon this blog will look so good, you won't recognize it. is a brand new web tool that was developed to help us all become better writers.  It identifies and helps users correct problems with punctuation, grammar, spelling, style and even plagiarism.  It was specifically developed to help professional writers, non-native English speakers and those with dyslexia write flawlessly.  I can't imagine how frustrating it must be to deal with dyslexia and it is wonderful that there is not a tool to help them overcome some of their frustrations with writing.

I can't wait to have my kids start using it. Unlike most spell checks, will alert you if you've used "they're" instead of "their" or "there".  Simple spell checks just can't catch errors like that.

Despite the mounting evidence of grammatical evidence on this blog, I really do proofread each post several times before I publish it.  The problem is that my brain already knows what I am trying to say and so automatically corrects all my errors. 

So what would you pay for a fast and easy tool to help improve your writing?  How about 0$?  Seriously!

Check out and let me know what you think.



Visit Sponsor's Site

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Buffalo Chicken SandwichesTuesday Night Special

Tuesday's around here are crazy.  It seems like everyone in my family has something going on that night.  If you have a night like that at your house, may I suggest Buffalo Chicken sandwiches. They only take about 5 minutes to prepare, and people can just assemble them whenever they are ready. Bonus: No one even made any "crock-potty" comments.

Dump a few chicken breasts in your crock-pot.  You can even use a thighs if you want.  Cover w/ your favorite wing/hot sauce. (I use maybe 1/3 of a cup,add more if you like it spicier)  Turn on low for 8 hours (or high 3-4).  Shred a head of cabbage and mix with either blue cheese (if you're a purist) or ranch salad dressing. Stick in the fridge until dinner. Before serving, shred the chicken w/ a fork. 

Slice open a crusty roll (toast if desired).  Then fill with chicken, cheddar cheese, and cabbage.  Tasty.

You could also use lettuce, but I like the crunch of the cabbage.

If you love Buffalo Wings and have more time, make this-it's amazing:

Buffalo Chicken Bread

UPDATE:  If you have any leftovers you should make Bufflalo Bleu Grilled Cheese.

To see where I link up or to add your party, please click here.
Pin It

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Chocolate Covered Cocoa-Spoons

A cold-front moved in to San Antonio yesterday and we are enjoying the cooler weather. We have the rare opportunity to wear long sleeves and sip warm beverages.

Some people top their hot chocolate with whipped cream, others with marshmallows, but I prefer mine with more chocolate.

Here's a quick way to make hot chocolate more fun and tasty.

Just melt 1/3 cup chocolate chips (any flavor)  in a microwave safe bowl for 30 seconds.  Stir. Microwave about 20 seconds more.  Stir until smooth.  Then just dip a plastic spoon in the chocolate and shake off the excess.  Then you can top w/ crushed candy canes, red hots, sprinkles, mini-marshmallows or even drizzle with white chocolate. The possibilities are endless. Place on wax paper to cool.  

You can keep them for yourself or use them to spread a little holiday cheer. If you throw a few spoons in with some hot-chocolate mix, they make a fun Christmas gifts for the neighbors.

To see where I link up or to add your party, please click here.
Pin It

Friday, November 9, 2012

BBQ Pork and Coleslaw Sandwiches

To cope with our busy schedules, I have been busting out my new crock-pot on a regular basis.  For the most part, the family is not a huge fan. My son even called it the "crock-potty".   I was laughing on the inside the entire time I had to give him a typical mom lecture about respect, starving kids in Africa, your father works hard to put food on the table, I slaved over a hot stove, blah, blah, blah... 

My family really likes these sandwiches and happily ate them of their own free will.  They are perfect for those crazy nights when you know you will have no time to cook or when everyone will be eating at different times.  I can prepare everything hours in advance, and then people can just assemble their sandwiches when they are ready to eat.

Pork Roast
1 Jar Kraft Thick and Spicy BBQ sauce w/ Brown Sugar
Add pork to crock-pot with 1/2 cup of water.  Cook on low for a few hours.  Drain all the juice.  Add BBQ sauce.  Cook another 1-2 hours on low. 

1/2 onion minced
2 Tb sugar
2 Tb cider vinegar
1 Tb yellow mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup sour cream
Head of Cabbage-shredded
1-2 shredded carrots

 Mix everything but the cabbage and carrots together. Pour over cabbage and carrots and mix well.  You can even make the coleslaw ahead of time.

Make yourself a sandwich.  Enjoy

TIP:  The first time I made this, I added the BBQ sauce at the beginning and it was just really greasy.  I think it just tastes better and is healthier if you drain the meat and then add the BBQ sauce.

To see where I link up or to add your party, please click here.
Pin It

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thanksgiving Pillow Tri0

It's been almost a week since Halloween, so I guess it's time to bust out the Thanksgiving pillows that I made last year. 

Pumpkin Pie Pillow (the whipped cream is my favorite).

Be Thankful Pillow

Turkey Pillow

Happy Thanksgiving!

  To see where I link up or to add your party, please click here.
Pin It

Thursday, November 1, 2012

When's Too Old to Trick-or-Treat?

 Here's our crew last night.  I didn't manage to coerce them into any of my several brilliant family costume ideas.

My boys insisted they were going as "skaters".  This would involve them wearing their normal clothes and riding skate boards instead of walking.  I told them this was LAME and UNSAFE.   

My youngest wanted to be a zombie.  I thought this was lame, but at least he wouldn't be running anyone over on his skateboard.

My husband and I informed the boys that this was their last year to be a zombie and next year he would be applying the "No costume- no candy" policy.

So I have 2 Halloween Etiquette questions for you:

1. How old is too old for trick-or-treating?

2.  What time do you trick-or-treat?

Here are my answers:
1. Never as long as you have a good costume. I think it's lame when teenagers walk around asking for candy without putting any effort into a costume.  If you are going to participate-then participate.

2.  I think 6:00-8:00 pm.  I was really surprised no one really showed up until almost 7:00 around here.

3. Anything else bug you?