Cooking Chicken for the Freezer and Me Looking Silly on Facebook Live

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Facebook Live – What a grocery trip with an Eat at Home Meal Plan list looks like

I summoned my courage on Thursday afternoon and did another live video on Facebook.  And because I’m so awesome *insert eye rolling emoji here*, I filmed the first several minutes sideways.  

In the video I share the meals I shopped for, compare Kroger vs Walmart online ordering/store pickup, get real about the grocery prices and more.  If you’ve ever wondered what you get when you shop with an Eat at Home list, this video should help answer that question. You can watch the video here.

In related news, the $49 12 month membership sale ends today!  Use the code BIRTHDAY to get the sale price.  Find out more about the plans here.

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2.  Cooking chicken for the freezer – pressure cooker vs slow cooker

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In that load of groceries that I picked up on Thursday, I got two whole chickens.  I decided to cook them right away.  I love having cooked chicken in the freezer for quick meals.  It only took about 5 minutes to get these birds in their respective pots.  I sprinkled them with grey sea salt from France, black pepper and added about a cup of water to each pot.

I set the timer on the pressure cooker for 35 minutes and used a natural pressure release.  The total time for that chicken was about 1.5 hours.  I might have gotten by with five minutes less on the cook time, but the chicken was about perfect the way I set it.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – Pressure Cooking is not miraculous in cooking speed.  Yes, the cook time said 35 minutes, but that’s not the whole story.  The total time involved was 1.5 hours.  It didn’t heat up the house and it was easy.  Bonus – the pot is easy to clean too.  Just don’t expect a cooked chicken in 35 minutes or you’ll be disappointed.

For the slow cooker, I set it on high and let it cook all afternoon and evening while we were at an out of town soccer game.  It was falling-off-the-bone tender when we got home.

3.  BBQ Festival

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Last Saturday we had enough time between soccer games to go to the BBQ Festival in Danville, KY with friends.  It was the most delicious hour of the week.  Jim and I shared a BBQ Sundae.  I know that sounds strange, but it is so good!  Baked beans, Key Lime Cole Slaw and Pulled Pork.  Hog heaven in a cup!

We also hit up the grilled corn stand.  Good corn on the cob is like eating summer.

To top it all off, I ordered a scoop of Bourbon Butter Pecan gelato and a scoop of chocolate gelato.  While I ate that, we stumbled on a place selling Bacon Chips.  They looked like dog food, but they tasted great, especially with the Bourbon Butter Pecan gelato.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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My Biggest Time Saver Plus a Sale!

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I save a ton of planning and grocery shopping time each week by using Eat at Home Weekly Meal Plans.  It’s my number one favorite time saver.  And not just because it’s my own product!  Here are three reasons why I love it:

1.  My pantry stays stocked with common ingredients.

This means even if I need to tweak a meal or test out a new recipe idea, it’s likely that I’ll have the ingredients on hand.  The color-coded shopping list makes it really easy to swap ingredients or even whole meals if I need to.  Usually, I just buy it all anyway, because I know eventually I’ll use the ingredients.

2.  No planning!

Meal planning can be so time consuming. I used to get sucked into the rabbit trails of the internet and my cookbooks, looking for recipes to fix.  Now I just print off the meal plan/shopping list and go.

3.  Recipes that fit my day – 15 minute and slow cooker meals.

Some days require a meal I can get on the table quick.  Every week the Traditional and Whole Food plans have at least one 15 Minute meal that is perfect for those nights.

There are also slow cooker meals each week, plus a whole plan dedicated to slow cookers!  These are great for days when I have a couple of minutes in the morning to fill the crockpot.  There’s nothing better than knowing dinner is done early in the day!

Sale!

My birthday is coming up in a few days and I’ll be turning 49.  I thought it would be fun to celebrate with a $49 sale on 12 month meal plans.  That’s only 94 cents per week to save several hours of planning time and stress.  And it’s an $11 savings off the regular price.  That’s a no-brainer if you’re looking for help with meal planning/list making/cooking etc.

Find out more about Weekly Meal Plans here.  The sale ends Monday, September 19.

Click here to get 12 Months of Weekly Meal Plans for just $49.  Use the promo-code BIRTHDAY at checkout.

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In Praise of Humble Weeknight Suppers

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Sponsored post Mirum Shopper. All opinions and thoughts are my own.

I spend a lot of time coming up with weeknight dinner recipes.  That doesn’t mean that we don’t hit the occasional evening and all plans fall through the cracks.  Just like your family, sometimes things just don’t go the way we think they’re going to.

You know what?  That’s okay!

And actually, it’s better than okay.  If we stop for a minute and just breathe, we can regroup together.  It’s okay to make do on some nights, pulling together what we can find for dinner.  Bring the kids into the kitchen and let them help you come up with ideas.

Hellman’s Mayonnaise is encouraging families to make a Strangewich.  What’s a Strangewich?  It’s any sandwich that uses an unexpected ingredient.

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For our Strangewich, we used peanut butter, banana and pretzels.  Since peanut butter is even more divine when it’s warm and gooey, we grilled the sandwich using Hellman’s on the outside of the sandwich to create a crisp exterior.

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Paired with a big glass of milk and apples from the fruit bowl, this makes an easy, fun supper.

Try changing up grilled cheese by adding hot sauce to give it a kick.  Or pile on the veggies, like tomato, spinach, onion etc for a “grilled cheese run through the garden Strangewich”!

Let your imaginations run wild and turn the evening of making do into a memorable supper with your kids.  Not every evening has to have a perfect dinner.  Sometimes, the very best things happen when you’re figuring it out together.

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Right now you can get two Hellman’s Real Squeeze for just $7 at Target stores.

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored and I have been compensated for my time, however all opinions are my own.

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Paris Trip – What We Ate and More

Paris us in front of love wall

Jim and I recently got to take a trip to Paris together.  It was our first time to go to Europe and the longest trip we’ve ever taken with just the two of us.  It was wonderful!

I wrote about my apprehensions about taking the trip in this post.  Like so many of the things we worry about, it all turned out fine.  More than fine, actually!  We are so grateful that we booked the trip and went, even when there were many reasons to keep us at home.

Maybe you’ve been thinking about a memory making trip or another event, but something is stopping you.  I know that there are times it just doesn’t make sense to follow through, but often we put things off for small reasons.  We hold ourselves back, making up excuses to not follow through, building up false barriers.  If that sounds familiar to you, let this post be your encouragement to follow through!  You’ll be so glad you did.

Our Tour Group

Instead of going it alone, we decided to take a Rick Steves Tour.  I never would have considered a tour, if not for this post from Amy at MomAdvice on the tour they took in Italy.  We loved being part of the tour group.  Our guide was phenomenal.  On the first day, she taught us all how to use the metro and equipped us with metro tickets just like the locals use.  We rode the metro all over the city by ourselves and never felt uncomfortable about it, thanks to her instructions.

The tour gave us plenty of time to explore the city on our own in addition to group times.  We also had local guides at the Louvre, Versailles and in the Marais district.  These guides were fantastic in helping us really understand what we were seeing.

As for our times together as a group, we really enjoyed that as well.  We met a lot of interesting people and had a great time getting to know them.  We toured together in the mornings and also had three dinners together.  The rest of the time was ours to spend in any way we liked.

Sainte Chappelle

It’s impossible to pick a favorite out of everything we saw, but Sainte Chappelle would at or near the top for me.  We toured here one morning with the group and had to leave far too soon.  Lucky for us though, there was a violin concert that night and our guide offered to arrange tickets for us.  Jim and I took her up on the offer, used the metro to get back to the oldest part of the city where Sainte Chappelle is located and paid for our tickets at the table our guide told us about.  We chose the cheap seats at the back, which was perfect because could see all the windows during the concert.  What an amazing experience to listen to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in that beautiful place!

The Food

Rue Cler fruit market

Food in Paris is everywhere and it’s all so good!  Fruit and vegetable stands line the streets, there are boulangeries on every corner and most restaurants have seating outside.  Often the chairs face the street at these cafes.  I guess French people take their people watching seriously.

I had put a number of things on my Paris food bucket list before we left:

A picnic style meal

We had an unintentional picnic on a bench near the Abbesses Metro Station in Montmartre.  We saw tables at the place we chose to eat and also a line to get food to go. We got in line and chose our food, then realized that since we’d gotten it to go, we couldn’t sit at the tables.  Had we sat down to begin with, we could have ordered food brought to us.  For some reason this concept threw us a couple of times.  It turned out fine though, because we found a place to sit on a nearby bench, the drizzly rain paused for a while and the warm baguette we bought was the best of the whole trip.  We also picnicked near Notre Dame with these eclairs for dessert:

Paris eclairs

  Onion Soup

This was served at our first group dinner and it was delicious!

Onion soup

 Macarons

I wanted to try macarons, because the only time I’d had them at home I wasn’t impressed.  We had macarons from a small bakery in Montmartre and again at the famous Laduree.

Laduree box

It was fun to go to Laduree on the Champs Elysees.  We chose a box of six macarons in six different flavors.

Laduree macarons

They are beautiful.  We liked them all except the Rose flavored one.  I thought that tasted like my grandma’s bathroom!  Overall though, macarons are not my thing.  There are so many, many other sweet treats to eat that are much better.  They’re very photogenic, but I’d rather feast on croissants, pain du chocolat, creme brulee, eclairs …

Fallafels in the Jewish Quarter

L'as du fallafel

I’d heard about this fallafel place and seen photos on Instagram.  I really hoped we’d get to eat here and we did!  If you look closely at the crates in the left of the photo, you can see they are full of eggplants.

This meal was fantastic.  We shared it with two people from our tour group.  It was fun to get to know them while we ate messy, delicious fallafels.

The best meal

The best meal I had was at our second group dinner at Bistro de Gaspard.  I had duck with potatoes and roasted onions.  The menu gave it a longer, more appetizing name, but I can’t remember that.  I only remember how amazing it tasted!  The picture doesn’t look like much, but trust me this was wonderful.

Paris duck dinner

The caramel dessert topped the meal perfectly.  Every spoonful carried the most intense caramel flavor without being too sweet.  Perfection!

Paris caramel dessert

The biggest surprise

At our first group meal, we were served coffee.  In France this means a shot of espresso.  I don’t care for espresso, but I decided to try it anyway.  Oh my!  Un cafe in Paris is not the same thing as an espresso in the States.  Instead, it’s an intense coffee flavor without any hint of bitterness or harshness.  I could have downed several of these a day easily.

Paris un cafe

If anyone knows how we can make coffee like this at home, please let me know.  I did try a Starbucks espresso when we got back and yuck!  Not the same at all.

What we brought home

I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in our group to bring home salt as a souvenir.

french sea salt

This type of salt is very expensive here in the States, but at the grocery store in Paris it was under three Euros a bag.  It adds a lot of flavor to recipes and it’s a fun way to remember the trip while doing an everyday task like cooking.

chocolate bars assorted

We also brought home a fantastic chocolate haul.  Visiting a chocolate shop was on my Paris bucket list, but I didn’t have a specific shop in mind.  One afternoon we asked the young lady working the desk at our hotel and she gave us the name of a great little shop on Rue Cler.

Chocolate with pistachio

This is the pistachio filled bar.  In the words of the young man who let us sample a bite in the chocolate shop, “it’s crazy”!  The color is reminiscent of guacamole, but the taste is pure pistachio.  So good!

Chocolate block stack

We also bought this stack of single origin chocolate.  We haven’t unwrapped these yet, but I’m looking forward to trying them all.

Paris was everything I imagined and more!  I’m so, so grateful Jim and I were able to go together.  To top it all off, we got bumped up to first class on the way home.  Those seats that fully recline to a bed are no joke.  That’s the way to travel!

New Motto – Take the Trip!

I hope reading about our trip has been an encouragement to you to follow through with your dreams.  Don’t let little worries get in the way of living life.  I’m not just talking about big trips to Europe.  There have been plenty of times in the past when I’ve let small worries get in the way of date nights, short get-aways, etc.

My new motto is “Take the trip!”  Whether it’s a small trip to take a walk in a new part of town or a larger opportunity, it’s worth it to stretch myself and do something new.

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A Salad for Peace and Victory

Spinach Salad with Sweet Potatoes, Peanuts and Blue Cheese

Over the last few months, I’ve intentionally not paid much attention to the news.  Or maybe I should say, I’m very deliberate about the news and the sources I seek out.  But sometimes events happen and they demand our attention.  They come in with all the pain and confusion and helplessness attached.

There’s been a lot of that this summer.

Events that feel so big, so full of hurt and hate, that it’s hard to know how we should respond.  How can we make a difference or help in the face of such anguish and pain?

sweet potato spinach peanuts

Maybe it’s with the smallest actions that we are able to bring light to the dark world.   Maybe it starts with simple things.  Teaching our kids about people in the past who made a difference with their own quiet actions.   Gathering our family and friends around the table together.  Sharing a meal and a conversation may seem too small to matter, but I don’t think it is.

Spinach Salad with Sweet Potatoes

This salad is inspired by George Washington Carver.  Carver devoted his life to doing what he knew and loved best – growing plants.  That may seem a little too simple to make a difference, but the results of his life are dramatic.

I love the way Andy Andrews weaves George Washington Carver’s story in with several others to show us how the butterfly effect works.  Go watch that video now.  I’ll wait for you and I promise that it’s worth your time.

In 1942, George W. Carver wrote a short pamphlet titled, “Nature’s Garden for Victory and Peace”.  In it he outlines all kinds of things that can be grown in a small garden that will help feed a family.  My salad is based on a few of the things he mentions, but I’ve updated it for modern tastes and to account for buying the ingredients in a grocery.  I’m a terrible gardener.

I also flipped the name from his original “Victory and Peace” to “Peace and Victory”.  In our world today it feels like peace is the victory we need.

The recipe for the salad is below.  If you make it, talk with your family about Carver and his work with peanuts, sweet potatoes and victory gardens.  Talk about how his small actions made such a huge impact in the world.  Talk about Moses Carver and his brave action to rescue and raise the infant G.W. Carver.

Talk about Susan Carver, whose friendship with Mary overcame all kinds of things in that hate-filled world they lived in and how the seeds of that friendship between women eventually led to two million people being saved.

George Washington Carver salad ingredients

Whether you make this salad or not, do whatever it is you do best.  I share recipes.  You may help people with banking or teach kids in school or take care of sick people or…

And know that whatever you do, however small it may seem, it is making a difference for good in the world.

Keep flapping your butterfly wings!  Gather your family around the table and show them that they have butterfly wings to flap too.  If we all flap our wings enough, we’ll bring good into this hard world.

Spinach Salad with Sweet Potatoes and peanuts

A Salad for Peace and Victory

Serves: 4-6 servings

Spinach, sweet potato salad topped with peanuts and blue cheese
Ingredients
  • 1-2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2-3 Tbs. olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 6 cups baby spinach or turnip greens
  • ¼ cup peanuts
  • ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese
For the dressing
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbs. honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Cook sweet potatoes in olive oil in a skillet over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add diced onion and garlic to the skillet. Continue cooking about 5 more minutes until sweet potatoes are tender and browned.
  3. Make the dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients in a container with a tight fitting lid. Shake well.
  4. To serve salad, top spinach with sweet potatoes, peanuts and blue cheese. Drizzle with dressing.

 

 

 

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12 Tex-Mex Slow Cooker Recipes for Summer

If you have been around my blog for long, you know how much I love Tex-Mex. I love the flavors, the spice and how many easy options there are for Mexican style food in the slow cooker. Needless to say, Tex-Mex makes a frequent appearance on our dinner table.

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One of the most popular recipes on the site is the slow cooker fajitas. The fajitas have minimal prep time, so you can get them into the slow cooker quickly. Slow cooking them makes the flavors blend. Plus, making them in the slow cooker means it’s an easy choice to make to feed a crowd! I love that both beef and chicken are freezer friendly. That means you can prep them in batches and easily grab one for the slow cooker in the morning! Speaking of freezer friendly food, shredded taco beef is a huge saver for me. I make up a big batch, and freeze the leftovers for later. Super easy, and there’s so many meals you can make with it as a base.

And tacos! My kids love tacos because they can build their own. While there are hundreds of recipes out there for delicious tex mex food in the slow cooker, these 12 are some of our go-tos and family favorites. Enjoy!

Summer Tex-Mex Slow Cooker Recipes

  1. Salsa Verde Steak
  2. Smoky Chipotle Chicken Tacos
  3. Black Bean and Salsa Chicken and Cornbread
  4. Shredded Taco Beef
  5. Creamy Jalapeno Chicken Tacos
  6. Sloppy Chicken Tacos
  7. Beef Fajitas
  8. Chicken Fajitas
  9. Pork Carnitas
  10. Beans

From other Bloggers

  1. Slow Cooker Enchiladas
  2. Tamale Casserole

Ever wonder what you can serve with Tex-Mex?

Check out this post filled with ideas for some of my favorite sides! 

 

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Big News! Revealing our latest project

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Eat at Home Weekly Meal Plans now has a new member site that is easier than ever to use.  We had outgrown the old site and it was stretched beyond its limits.  I am so happy that we now have a much easier place for members to download their plans.

Here’s what it looks like for members when you first login:

member area screen shot

See that are on the left that the orange arrow is pointing to?  Now members will be able to have access to past months plans.  If someone was a member in March, those plans will always be there.  We can’t go back further than March, but as new months are added while you’re a member, you will have access to those.  No more rushing to download everything before the month ends.

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Above is another screen shot.  We’ve had things organized like this for a while, but it all looks cleaner in the new member area.  You can choose a type of plan (Slow Cooker is in there too, but it wouldn’t fit on my screen with the others.)  Choose to download everything for one plan type or download by the week.

Downloading the menus gives you color-coded grocery lists, like the one below and all the recipes for each week.  This is what it looks like on my phone screen.  I usually print them out if I’m going to the store, because I prefer paper to juggling the phone with the list while trying to shop.

phone grocery list

Now is a great time to become a member, if you aren’t already!

Things get so busy in the spring of the year, with sports and end-of-school-year activities.  It can be hard to fit in dinner, but using Weekly Meal Plans is a huge help!  We have 15 minutes meals and slow cooker meals each week, so you can fit dinner into your day.

Even if this helps you avoid eating out just once a month, the plans more than pay for themselves.

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easy food for busy people

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Shopping lists aren’t just for groceries – Spring Style Challenge

We’ve all got strengths and weaknesses.  I’m good at dinner, but I’m terrible with clothes.  I don’t know what things go together or what makes a good outfit.  And I hate, hate, hate to shop.

That’s why I really love doing Alison’s Style Challenges.  I started doing them a few years ago, when she offered her first Spring Challenge.

These challenges make the shopping so easy – you get a list of pieces to buy, kind of like a grocery list but for clothes.  The pieces become the “ingredients” that get mixed into outfits.  Each piece can be used multiple ways, just like a can of diced tomatoes can be used for an Italian meal, a Mexican dish or a pot of vegetable soup.

Shopping the closet (and the store):

[Read more…]

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Today’s the last day

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Today’s the last day to get Slow Cooker Freezer Meals for a great price.

Pick up one volume for just $7.97 or grab both for $12.97.

I love having these for busy days.  I can pull a meal from the freezer, thaw it quickly in the microwave and then pop it in the slow cooker.  With just a few minutes of effort in the morning, we’ll have dinner ready that evening.

You can purchase and find out all about what’s included here.

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1 Hour Freezer Stash Plans – On Sale Now!

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If you love having a few dinners stashed away in your freezer for really busy days – this is the sale for you!

Each of these volumes has 12 plans in it with 6 meals each, grocery lists and assembly instructions included.  They’re designed so that you can put together 6 meals for the freezer in just 1 hour.

I love having my freezer stocked with slow cooker freezer meals.  It’s so easy to pull one out on a busy morning, pop it in the slow cooker and know dinner is ready.

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You can pick up one volume for just $7.97 or both for $12.97.

You can find out more and purchase by clicking here.

Slow cooker freezer meals is a feature that our Weekly Meal Plan Members get.  Each month we load a new freezer plan in the member area as part of the Slow Cooker Meal Plans.

This sale runs through Feb. 24, so don’t wait!

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