I don’t know that there is one best model of slow cooker. You certainly don’t need the latest and greatest to make delicious meals for your family. But there are a few things to consider before buying. [Read more...]
I don’t use my George Foreman grill very often, but it is handy for certain things. I especially like using it for fish (more on that below).
The biggest advantage of this small appliance is that it cooks fast!
Tips for Cooking on a George Foreman Grill
First, watch the cooking times closely. The speedy cooking can lead to dry meat if you aren’t careful. I use the info that came with the grill to guide how long to cook foods. I also set the timer on my stove so that I don’t get busy and overcook the food.
The other big tip I have is to add sauces at the end of the cooking time. Brushing meat with barbecue sauce before cooking causes the sauce to burn. Not the taste I want. Instead, I cook the meat and then add the sauce after taking it from the grill.
What to Cook on a George Foreman Grill [Read more...]
We recently got a new Costco in our town. It wasn’t long before I discovered the Costco rotisserie chicken. Have you ever wondered what to do with a Costco rotisserie chicken? If so, I’ve got you covered!
Costco rotisserie chickens cost just $5 in our store. And they are huge! I can’t buy a raw whole chicken of that size for $5, so getting one already cooked is a great deal.
After buying several of these and realizing that I can feed my family of 6 twice from one chicken, I decided to try using them to stock my freezer.
Your mileage may vary, but for my family there’s enough meat for me to make 5-6 meals out of 3 chickens. The last time I went to Costco, I bought three chickens. We brought them home and took all the meat off the bones. The meat yielded enough for 5 different recipes.
I froze the meat in plastic freezer bags in about 2 cup quantities. It’s so nice to have chicken already cooked and frozen, ready to go. There are lots and lots of recipes that use cooked chicken on this site alone. I’ve pulled 13 of my favorite recipes to share with you here.
Of course, if you don’t have a Costco, or you’d just rather cook your own chicken to freeze, that works too. Try this Whole Chicken in the Slow Cooker.
Weekly Meal Plans
If you like these types of recipes, you’ll love our Weekly Meal Plans! The plans include grocery lists, printable recipes and even a slow cooker freezer meal plan each month. Click here to learn more.
And here are the 13 recipes to use Costco rotisserie chicken in: [Read more...]
How is your Whole 30 going? At the beginning of the month I published a menu for the first 15 days. This is what my family has been eating from. Our dinners have been great! I struggle a bit with lunch and snacks, but dinner is good.
I hope this list of meals and sides will help you finish out the month if you’ve been doing Whole 30 too. Some of the recipes are new ideas that I plan to try. If they work out, I’ll be sharing the recipes on the blog. If not, I’ll spare you!
16. Pineapple Chili, salad
17. Dijon Tarragon Tilapia, broccoli, baked sweet potatoes (either leave out the dijon or find one with acceptable ingredients)
18. Italian Chicken and Tomatoes in the Slow Cooker, green beans, spaghetti squash
19. Mediterranean Chicken in the Slow Cooker, acorn squash, salad
20. Pork Chops Topped with Green Pepper, Pineapple and Onion, butternut squash skillet (recipe coming soon!), broccoli
21. Rosemary and thyme round steak with parsnips, carrots; cauliflower
22. Hamburger Veggie Soup, salad
23. Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore, spaghetti squash, salad
25. Tilapia with Veggies Baked in Foil, broccoli, butternut squash skillet
26. Chicken Curry in the Slow Cooker, baked sweet potatoes, broccoli (this is a repeat from the first half of the month, but we love it!)
27. African Pulled Beef, acorn squash, skillet greens
28. Beef Stew
29. Lemon and parsley roasted chicken, butternut squash skillet, broccoli
Whether you’re joining me for the Whole 30 plan or you’ve decided to alter your usual eating patterns in another way, you may find that lunch is a challenge.
I do fine at breakfast, mostly because I eat the same thing every day. It’s easy and good. And it doesn’t bother me to repeat the same breakfast each day.
But lunch is different. It comes at a busy part of day. Breakfast happens before the day’s activities start and dinner is carved out as a bit of a slow down time for us, usually anyway. But lunch comes smack dab in the middle of trying to do homeschool and work and laundry and kitchen cleaning and….
I want to just grab something quickly and be done with it. But the Whole 30 doesn’t allow for my favorite lunch of PB&J and chocolate milk. Or a grilled cheese. Or sandwich with bread or so many other things that I’m used to having for lunch.
So, what have I been eating the last few days? Here are a few things I’ve had and some more that I’m making plans for. [Read more...]
Happy New Year!
Next week, I’ll share some lunch ideas and my breakfast (along with a giveaway!).
I promise it’s not going to be all Whole 30 all the time on the blog. I’ve got another new series that I’ll be sharing tomorrow. We’re going to spend the month focusing on meaningful meals. More on that later.
And, of course we still have Slow Cooker Soup Fridays. And more recipes will be coming your way, although I admit to not doing a lot of recipe creation over the holidays, so I need to get busy with that!
Whole 30 menu for first half of month
Most of these recipes are already on my blog. Those that aren’t linked are either simple ideas or recipes that I’ll be creating. Hopefully, they’ll turn out well and I’ll be sharing them with you soon.
2. Beef Shwarma with cucumbers and baked sweet potatoes
3. Italian Sausage with peppers and onions over baked acorn squash.
4. Garlic Chicken with More Garlic in the Slow Cooker, cauliflower, salad
5. Garlic Lime Tilapia, broccoli and baked sweet potato
6. Hamburgers in skillet with mustard sauce, sweet potato fries, tomato and cucumber salad
7. Dijon Pork Chops and Apples in the Slow Cooker, butternut squash skillet
8. Chicken Curry in the Slow Cooker, baked sweet potatoes, broccoli
9. Slow Cooker Meatballs (made with almond meal), spaghetti squash, salad
10. Slow cooker garlic and rosemary chicken with acorn squash, broccoli or skillet greens
12. Zesty Crockpot Chicken, cauliflower, butternut squash skillet
13. Pan fried chicken topped with tomato and basil, skillet greens, roasted parsnips
15. Lemon Chicken on a Bed of Sauerkraut in the Slow Cooker, roasted carrots, broccoli or greens.
Before I start listing recipes, I feel the need for a few disclaimers. First, I’m no expert on the Whole 30 or on a paleo diet. In fact, I don’t know what the real difference is between paleo and Whole 30, only that one is stricter than the other and only lasts 30 days.
Second, from what I can tell, these recipes are “allowed” on the Whole 30 plan as long as you use the modifications stated with the recipes. But again, I’m not an expert at all. I’ve read through the book, It Starts with Food and that’s where my info comes from. However, it’s a lot of info to digest, so I may be mistaken about a few things. Feel free to educate me kindly if I’ve gotten something wrong.
And finally, my plan is to do my best during my Whole 30 (starting Jan. 2). If somehow, soy sneaks in, or dairy disguises itself and I miss that ingredient on a product, or I forget myself and grab something I shouldn’t have, I am not going to worry about it. I have no intentions of cheating. But I do have the intention of being kind to myself and realizing that making big changes like this in the midst of busy family life is a challenge. It’s okay for it not to be perfect.
Be sure to read labels when you’re shopping. Soy sneaks into everything! I even found it in a tea I wanted to buy.
And a note on the meats: The Whole30 book suggests you buy grain fed, free range, high quality meats. I’ll probably be using a mix of meats that I buy in the grocery and some better quality. I’m not feeling like I need to do perfect on this point.
No adaptation needed.
No pita or yogurt sauce with this one, but you can easily have those available for your family. Serve it with baked sweet potatoes.
Substitute parsnips instead of white potatoes. I think tapioca is okay for Whole 30. For me, it’s close enough. I don’t plan on downing a bunch of tapioca as a thickener, but it works so well in this stew that I’ll probably still use it. It’s such a small amount (1/4 cup maybe) for the whole batch of stew. (update: The instant tapioca has soy lecithin in it. I’m still going to eat this dish though. I’m not planning to have beef stew more than once or twice the whole month. You may feel differently about having that soy though.)
This is a recipe I created in preparation for Whole 30. I’ll add more meat next time I make it though.
Leave out the wine in this wine and you’re good to go.
Again, no pita or yogurt sauce. Serve it with cucumbers, baked sweet potatoes and other veggies.
You can either make your own mayo or search for one without soy in it. I think there are some good ones available if you’re willing to do the label reading.
This is such a flavorful recipe. Serve it with squash or sweet potatoes or other veggies.
You’ll have to leave out the sugar in this. Try a bit of apple juice instead. And serve it with roasted chicken.
I love this recipe! Just skip serving it over rice. It’s really good with baked sweet potatoes.
Use clarified butter and you’re good to go for this one!
Leave out the honey. Use a little unsweetened apple sauce or apple juice instead, or just skip the honey/substitute altogether.
You’ll have to substitute good quality beef broth for the soy sauce in this.
Use clarified butter.
Use clarified butter and read the labels on the seasoning to double check.
Read the labels on the lemon pepper or your seasoning of choice.
Use this for the meat and the broth.
Leave out the cheese.
Serve it with something other than couscous. Try lots of veggies and a salad.
Skip the wine. If you use the slow cooker, you won’t need it anyway. If you use the oven for the pork, try a bit of water or apple juice.
This one if just fine to fix! No adjustments needed.
Another recipe that’s good as written.
No adjustments needed.
Have all the fixings for your family, but have yours on a plate or in a lettuce wrap. Serve with lots of guacamole (keep the chips at the other end of the table!).
No alterations needed.
Leave out the wine. Serve it with pasta for the family and spaghetti squash for you.
Another good one to make meat and broth.
Watch the labels on the broth or use your own. Leave out the wine.
Whole 30 Menu for First 15 Days
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I’ve been doing lots of experimenting lately with slow cooker oatmeal flavors.
Some have been a huge hit. And others weren’t blog-worthy at all.
I tried blueberry oatmeal cooked in blueberry-pomegranate juice, which turned out tasting like grape oatmeal. Not good.
And I tried maple brown sugar, which sounded so good, but was just okay.
However, these 6 recipes are all fantastic! I tend to like things sweet, so if your sweet tooth isn’t as big feel free to cut the sugar.
I’ve also got two tips on using your slow cooker for oatmeal, so keep scrolling after the recipes. [Read more...]
Have you ever wanted to serve apple slices at a party? Or pack them in a lunch?
The problem is that, once they’re cut apples start to turn brown. But I’ve figured out a simple, two step method to keeping them looking fresh. I’ve tested this method several times. The first time, I checked the apples for several days after cutting. They stayed looking fresh the whole time. This time, I tested them for 24 hours. Again, the method worked perfectly.
The first step involves slicing the apples and letting them soak for 2-3 minutes in Sprite. I pour the Sprite in a bowl, add the apples and then stir so that all surfaces of the apples are in contact with the Sprite.
I’ve used lemon juice to dip apples, but it does alter the taste a bit. And I’ve never soaked the apples in lemon juice, just a quick dip, so the anti-browning action isn’t as good.
I’ve also heard of people using salt water to deter browning in apples. But again, that would alter the taste of the apples.
Sprite works great though. It doesn’t change the taste of the fruit noticeably at all. And that means the apples can take a 2-3 minute soak, which really helps deter the browning for longer.
The second step of the method is to drain the apples and put them in zip top plastic bags. Squeeze as much air as possible out of the bags. Then store the slices in the fridge.
I’ve held the apples in the fridge for several days with no browning happening. This is good if you need to do some party prep ahead of time. Slicing apples isn’t hard, but it can be time consuming if you have a lot to do. It’s nice to know you can do it ahead and still have fresh looking apples.
I also tested the apples after coming out of the fridge and sitting on a plate at room temperature. Here’s what they looked like immediately after I put them out.
You can see I tested 3 different varieties. The Fuji was naturally darker than Ida Red and Jonathan, but all of them still looked fresh 24 hours after the Sprite bath.
And here they are 30 minutes later:
No noticeable change. I’ve also tested the slices for several hours on the counter and there wasn’t any browning that I noticed.
So, if you want fresh slices to pack in a lunch or serve at a party, grab some Sprite and zip top bags. Don’t forget the caramel sauce for dipping!
You know how you have to eat all the guacamole as soon as you make it so it doesn’t go brown?
Of course, we tend to eat all the guacamole anyway, because we love it.
But if you’re fortunate enough to have some leftover, or you want to make it a little bit ahead of feasting time, here’s a great tip for you.
How to Keep Guacamole from Turning Brown
The main reason the guac turns brown is because of the contact with air. So you need to try to keep any air from getting to it. I have heard of people brushing the guacamole with oil, but I like this method better.
Put the guac in an air tight container. Smooth the top with a spoon as best you can. Then place a piece of plastic wrap over the top. Be careful to get it covered snuggly, so there are as few air pockets as possible. Then pop the lid on the container and refrigerate.
The container in the photo above is over 24 hours old. It still looked and tasted fresh.