Chili Topped Macaroni and Cheese

Chili Topped Mac and Cheese

 

I’m not sure where I saw this idea of serving chili over the top of macaroni and cheese.  But ever since I ran across it, I’ve wanted to give it a try.

And oh yes.  It is just as good as I imagined it would be!

The chili with all of its meaty, spiciness contrasts wonderfully with the creamy, cheesy pasta.

A match made in dinner plate heaven!

You can use any kind of chili and macaroni recipes you like.  I link up some possible recipes below.   [Read more…]

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3 Things that Work in the Kitchen This Week – January 12

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

1. Chipotle style burritos in 20ish minutes.

My son asked to have burritos the other night.  He wanted something like Chipotle makes.  I ended up doing a quicker version of the recipes I created for the Savings Lifestyle blog a few years ago.

I took no photos and didn’t write anything down, thinking that it was just a quick meal. But it was so good and so much easier than the recipes I wrote originally.  I’ll be making this again and sharing it this time.

The biggest time saver – using rotisserie chicken.  I’ll make them again soon and share the recipe here.

2.  Skillet Chicken Curry alteration.

We also had Skillet Chicken Curry this week.  But instead of the chutney the recipe calls for, I used a can of coconut milk, like the slow cooker version calls for.

Skillet Chicken Curry with Peach Chutney

 

3.  Grocery shopping with two lists.

I shopped at my favorite little Kroger store the other day, with two grocery lists.  One for a week of Traditional Meal Plans and one for the freezer week of February Slow Cooker Meal Plans.

I like to have the freezer stocked with the slow cooker freezer meals to use on extra busy days.  And I made another video to share (it’s been a while since I did that).  I’ll upload and share the video in a post in early February.

When I was shopping for meat, I asked the butcher if he had any more cube steaks.  There was only a small package in the case at the time.  He offered to make some for me and told me to come back to the meat counter in 10-15 minutes.

I went on with my shopping and he found me in the store and delivered the meat to me.  And he was able to pack enough for a family pack, getting me a $1 off per pound.  Such nice customer service!

What worked for you in the kitchen this week?

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How I’m Trying to Kick my Migraines

This post is much different than most that I share. If you’re just here for the food, skip this one.  We’ll be back to the table on Monday!

The biggest goal I have this year is to get rid of my migraines and headaches.  I know.  That may not really be possible.  But as I thought about it, I do have control over a few things that could make a big difference in how I feel.

I almost didn’t share this post.  These things may not work for me.  Or for anyone.  The reason I decided to publish this is because maybe it will help someone.  People who deal with migraines will try all kinds of things to get rid of them.  But we also get tired of trying sometimes.  Right now I’m at the place where I’m ready to make a renewed effort.  If you’re at that place too, maybe some of these things will help.

This will be an ongoing effort for me, but here are the things I’m trying:

1.  Going to bed on time.

One thing that triggers migraines for me is being tired.  But I can make sure I get in bed by 10pm every night.  Or nearly every night.

2.  Yoga – particularly one set of poses for healthy neck and jaw.

I’ve been using Stay at Home Yoga since October.  I’m really loving this program!

Stay at Home Yoga

I like that it doesn’t require any special equipment.  And that I can do it in my living room.

There are full, multi-class series (my favorite series is Yoga for Desk Jockeys), mini yoga breaks that only take a couple of minutes and 3 short poses that focus on a specific need.

I’m committed to do the 3 poses for healthy neck and jaw everyday for at least 90 days.  I’ve logged 16 days so far (I started in December).  These poses stretch the exact muscles the massage therapist worked on last winter in an effort to treat my migraines.  As soon as I tried the poses, I knew I’d stumbled on something good.

Those poses only take about 5 minutes, so it’s easy to fit in.  Then I’ve been adding one of the other classes too.

3.  Essential Oils

After I had the flu/cold thing in November, with its weeklong headache, I broke down and bought Young Living Essential Oils.

I bought it mostly for the Thieves oil, which supports your immune system. (We diffused this when my daughter came down with the flu and no one else got sick.  You can read more about that experience here.)

I’ve been using peppermint oil and Stress Away to help ward off migraines.  As soon as I feel my shoulders, neck and jaw get tight (early warning symptom of a migraine for me) I rub Stress Away all over the area.  Then I apply peppermint to my temples, behind my ears and base of my skull.

I do think this has curbed several migraines.  And it also provides some relief when I do have one.

Young Living also has an oil called M-Grain that I’ll be trying soon.

4.  Taking vitamins daily.

I bought a big jar of gummy vitamins at Costco.  May not help, but it won’t hurt.

5. Magnesium oil

I’ve read that many people are low in magnesium and that can cause migraines (among other things).  One way to get magnesium is to spray magnesium oil on the feet each night before bed.  It’s absorbed best through the skin, which works for me because I hate swallowing huge pills.

You can easily make your own magnesium oil by boiling 1/2 cup water with 1/2 cup magnesium flakes.  Put that in a spray bottle and you’re all set.  I added drop of Lavender oil because it’s good for sleep.

6.  No sweets until after dinner.

This is a personal rule I came up with to curb my sweet tooth a bit.  I think there’s connection between too much sugar (especially chocolate sweets) and my migraines.   Instead of going cold turkey like I tried last year, I’m taking a “small is big” approach.  I’m too likely to throw in the towel if I make it too hard on myself.  Knowing I can indulge a little late in the day keeps me on track.

How it’s going:

So far, so good.  I’ve taken  a lot less Treximet than I usually do.  Time will tell if these changes will reduce my migraines and headaches.  But so far, I do think I’m moving in the right direction.

This post contains affiliate links.

 

 

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How to Convert a Slow Cooker Recipe for Oven or Stove Top

how to convert slow cooker recipes to oven or stove top

One trick I use in the kitchen is to match my cooking appliance to the kind of day I’m having schedule-wise.

I’m talking about fitting the dinner cooking schedule with all the other daily activities.  If I have more time to prep a meal in the morning, I’ll choose the slow cooker.

If I find myself at 5 o’clock having done no dinner prep, then it’s too late for crock-potting.  But some of my favorite recipes are slow cooker recipes.

No worries.  Almost all slow cooker recipes can be converted for making in the oven or on the stove.  Most of them started out with these traditional cooking methods anyway.

I’ve already talked about how to convert recipes into slow cooker recipes.  Here are a few tips for going the other way and using the oven and stove top.

1.  Soups

If it’s a soup, it can be made on top of the stove.  It will take a fraction of the time that the slow cooker calls for.  You’ll still want to follow the order given in a slow cooker recipe.  Meats go in first.  Creams, milks and cheeses are often added at the end of cooking time because you don’t want those to boil.

2.  Try using a Dutch oven.

A Dutch oven is a cooking pot with a tight fitting lid.  Many pots and pans sets come with a dutch oven.  Cast iron Dutch ovens are popular, especially those with enamel interiors.

Assemble the slow cooker recipe just as it calls for, but put the ingredients in a Dutch oven.  Bake at 350 degrees for for an hour or 1 1/2 hours.  Add time if it’s a large piece of meat.

3.  Casserole type recipes

Most crockpot casserole recipes started out as oven recipes.  Generally, baking in a casserole dish at 350 degrees for about 1 hour will work.

4.  Determine what the cooking time is accomplishing.

Is the time in the crockpot meant to cook meat from raw?  Or is it just for bringing something to a near boil, such as a sauce?  Answers to these questions will help you determine how much time the recipe will need on the stove or in the oven.

 

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40 Whole Food Slow Cooker Recipes

40 Whole Food Slow Cooker Recipes

The slow cooker can be your best friend for getting healthy meals on the table.  These recipes avoid pre-packaged items and focus on meats and vegetables.

Even though these are from-scratch recipes, they can be assembled and cooking in just a few minutes.  There’s not a difficult one in the bunch.

What you will find is variety.  There’s everything from Thai Chicken Curry Soup to African Pulled Beef Sandwiches to Chicken and Beef Shwarma.  For tastes closer to home try All Day Beef Stew, Chicken Philly Sandwiches and Ham and Bean Soup.

african pulled beef sandwich done

African Pulled Beef Sandwiches

beef stew done

All Day Beef Stew

baked chicken with summer vegetables in slow cooker

Baked Chicken with Summer Vegetables

beef and bean topped potatoes done

Beef and Bean Topped Baked Potatoes

beef shwarma in the slow cooker

Beef Shwarma

Calico Bean Soup with Smoked Sausage

Easy Chicken Curry

Chicken Fiesta with Black Beans

chicken philly sandwiches in the slow cooker

Chicken Philly Sandwiches

Chicken Posole

Chicken Posole Stew

chicken shwarma in the slow cooker done

Chicken Shwarma

Cantonese Sweet and Sour Chicken

Honey Mustard Chicken

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Curry Soup

Thai Chicken Curry Soup

french dip sandwiches in the slow cooker done

French Dip Sandwiches

Garlic Chicken with More Garlic

garlic rosemary chicken and potatoes ingr

Garlic Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes

honey dijon pork and apples in the slow cooker done

Honey Dijon Pork Chops and Apples

Italian chicken with tomatoes in the crockpot

Italian Chicken with Tomatoes

Italian herb chicken and potatoes slow cooker done

Italian Parmesan Herb Chicken and Potatoes

Italian seasoned salt chicken slow cooker ingr

Italian Seasoned Salt Chicken

Crockpot Lemon Chicken baked on a bed of Sauerkraut

Lemon Chicken Baked on a Bed of Sauerkraut

Mediterranean Chicken

pumpkin black bean chicken chili

Pumpkin Black Bean Chicken Chili

Salsa Verde Steak Slow Cooker Recipe

Salsa Verde Steak

brown sugar chicken and sweet potatoes done

Brown Sugar Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

Black Bean Butternut Squash Chili

slow cooker chicken cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore

Slow Cooker Chicken Cock-A-Leekie Soup

Chicken Cock-a-Leekie Soup

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan Soup couldn't be easier!

Chicken Parmesan Soup

Slow Cooker Chicken Minestrone

 

Chicken Minestrone

Slow Cooker Chicken Veggie Soup

Chicken Vegetable Soup

Slow Cooker Ham and Bean Soup

Ham and Bean Soup

Slow Cooker Smoked Sausage and Sauerkraut Soup

Smoked Sausage and Sauerkraut Soup

Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili

Tamale Sandwiches on Cornbread

turkey breast in slow cooker

Turkey Breast

turkey legs, italian sausage and potatoes in the slow cooker done

Turkey Legs, Italian Sausage and Potatoes

whole chicken in the slow cooker

Whole Chicken

 

Zesty Crockpot Chicken with Couscous

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Slow Cooker Chicken Minestrone Soup

Chicken Minestrone in the Slow Cooker

 

This soup is made for January.  It’s loaded with vegetables, chicken and beans.  It’s made from scratch.  And it cooks entirely in the slow cooker.  No pre-cooking meat required.

In fact, it fits in great with our Slow Cooker Soup Series from last year.

For a simple, complete meal add in cornbread or biscuits.  Or try these Rosemary Goat Cheese Muffins.

Here’s what you’ll need for the soup.   [Read more…]

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3 Things that Work in the Kitchen This Week – January 5

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

1.  Starting the day with green juice

I’ve seen photos of green juice all over the internet for years.  I’ve heard people rave about it.

IMG_5382

And I thought it looked and sounded nasty!

Then I tried it.

And I found out that it’s really good, Sam, I am.  You can’t taste the spinach at all.  I’ve been making ours with 2 oranges, 1 banana, a little orange juice or water, several handfuls of spinach and a few ice cubes.

The Vitamix blends it smooth and frothy.  It tastes like really good fruit juice.

2.  Toasted Marshmallow Milkshakes

In my quest to find anything that will blend, (I love my new blender!) I found a recipe for Toasted Marshmallow Milkshakes.

IMG_5383

I thought these were so good! And they’re really easy too. I made enough for us each to have a small glass.

3.  How I’m attempting to cut back on sugar this year.

I know.  I just shared a recipe for milkshakes.  But I am determined to find some way to stop the chronic headaches and migraines  I get.

One of the things I think contributes is eating a lot of sugary treats throughout the day.  I was very bad about this over Christmas, and paid for it with a week long headache battle.  I easily fall into eating too many sweets at other times of the year too.

So this year, instead of going cold turkey like I tried last year, I’m taking a “small is big” approach.  I’m refusing to eat any sweet treats until after dinner.  I don’t tend to graze on things after dinner like I do earlier in the day.

I’m hoping this little rule will make a difference.  I may up my game and reduce sugar even further at some point.  Or not.  For now, I’m focusing on this small goal.

 

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Resources to Get Organized for Eating at Home

January is almost here with its clean-slate outlook and fresh-start feel.  If cooking at home is one of your goals, I’ve got two resources for you.

12 slow cooker freezer meal plans

 

First up is this bundle of 12 Slow Cooker Freezer Meal Plans that can be assembled in about 1 hour each.  Each of these plans comes with a color-coded grocery list, recipes and instructions.  You can find out more here.

And now through the end of January, you can save $2 by entering the code: January when you check out.

The other resource is our Eat at Home Weekly Meal Plans.  I use these all the time!  It’s so convenient to print the list, buy what’s on it and have a plan for the week all laid out.

eah weekly meal plans 3And if I want to veer from the plan, I still have all the ingredients to make other meals, because each plan uses common pantry ingredients.

The Weekly Meal Plans save me so much planning time!  When you become a member, you have access to all three plans.

Normally, we only leave up one month of plans at a time, but  I’ve added our January plans a few days early.  Get a jump start on the new year!

Find out more about Weekly Meal Plans and how to become a member here.

 

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3 Thing that Work in the Kitchen over the Holidays and into the New Year

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

1.  Sheet Pan Turkey Dinner

For our Christmas dinner, I followed through on my plan to try Aimee’s recipe for Sheet Pan Turkey Dinner from her blog, Simple Bites.

Turkey sheet pan supper

Oh. My. Word!  This was the most amazing meal!  We all loved it and went back for seconds and even thirds.  It was so good, I dreamed about diving into the leftovers the next day.

I made just a few changes to the recipe on Simple Bites.

  • I used a turkey breast instead of the legs and thighs.
  • I increased the amounts – using 2 white potatoes, 3 sweet potatoes, 2 bundles of broccolini, 1 bundle brussels sprouts etc.
  • I made one end of the pan “plain” with white potatoes and broccolini.  The other end had sweet potatoes, cranberries, brussels sprouts, onions, celery.
  • I added the cubed bread all around the turkey, but instead of seasoning that with savory, I used rubbed sage.

The result was an amazing dinner.  It was easy to make, but does require roasting for a while, then adding things to the pan.  Roasting again and adding more items.  I played Dutch Blitz with the family, jumping in for a few hands between tending to the dinner.

2.  My new extra large sheet pan.

When I saw the recipe on Simple Bites, I knew it would require me to either buy a larger sheet pan or make two pans in order to feed all 7 of us.

Luckily, as I was buzzing through Walmart a few days before Christmas I saw a display of Nordic Ware Big Sheet pans.  It’s 21″x15″.  And it was only $15.  Here’s a link on Amazon if you want to take a look.  It’s a dollar more than in Walmart, but so worth the money.

I have used this pan so much already.  It’s great for making cookies.  Because you can fit 20 in one batch, the baking time goes so much faster.

We also used the pan for Angel Biscuits that my mom baked while she was here.  There was enough room on the pan for all of those biscuits.  With 5 cups of flour in the recipe, it makes a lot of biscuits.

3.  New Vitamix

Jim bought me a Vitamix for Christmas.  I’ve wanted a high powered blender for a long time, so I was really excited to open it.  (I wasn’t surprised though.  Jim isn’t the most subtle about gift giving. Ha!)

We’ve had a lot of fun playing around with it and we’ve made some really good whole fruit juices and smoothies every morning.  That’s not the primary reason I wanted one, but it may turn out to be the biggest benefit.

If you’ve got a high powered blender, I’d love to hear what you like to make in it.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!  What worked in your kitchen over the holidays?

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3 Things that Work in the Kitchen this Week and Merry Christmas!

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

I’ve written this post a few days early – actually on Dec. 17.  You’re reading it on Dec. 22 (or after).  I’m working hard to clear away final details so that I can enjoy my daughter’s college graduation, my dad’s 70th birthday, my extended family’s Christmas together and then…Christmas!

1.  Baking and freezing cookies

I’m sure that by the time you read this, I still won’t have started any real Christmas baking!  But with the weekend festivities in the memory bank, now’s the time to start planning for our Christmas Eve and Christmas day celebrations.

I’ll be baking cookies this week.  Probably Snickerdoodles, Amish Oatmeal Cookies, Candy Cane Chocolate Crinkles and Molasses Cookies.  We’ll eat some as they come out of the oven, but I’ll freeze the rest so they stay fresh.  They thaw so fast that it works great to keep the cookie tray loaded and ready on 12/24 and 12/25.

We’ve had plenty of fudge lately (3 kinds!), so I probably won’t be making any more.  Instead we’ll make Peanut Butter Balls, chocolate covered pretzels, Toffee.  And possibly Peppermint Patties.

2.  Christmas breakfast and dinner menus

In all honesty, I have very little idea on these right now!  That may sound bad, since I’m a food blogger, but I just haven’t had the brain cells to put to it yet.

We tend to keep things fairly the same for Christmas breakfast – some type of egg or egg casserole, Frozen Fruit Cups, cinnamon rolls (Grands from a can), coffee, hot cocoa, juice.

We’ve done all different kinds of things for Christmas dinner, but I like to keep it easy and simple too.  This sheet pan supper from Simple Bites caught my eye.  I may go with something similar, even though Aimee says that she thinks it’s too rustic for Christmas dinner, it looked perfect for us.  We are not fancy people.

In fact, one year we had Croque Monsieur sandwiches and Shaker Village Tomato Soup.  The kids still talk about how much they liked that meal for Christmas.

On keeping things simple, here’s my post on The 80/20 Rule of Christmas Baking.

3. A Christmas blessing

I pray that no matter how many or how few people gather in your kitchen, that you will all enjoy the time together and fully know what a blessing it is to have each other.

I pray that the food you prepare will not only nourish your bodies, but also your memories of this season together.

I pray that if you or your loved ones are hurting or forging through a difficult journey, that God will provide comfort to your heart.

I pray you have a blessed Christmas, remembering the One who gave His life because He loves us with an indescribable love.

Merry Christmas!

 

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