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Easy Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken

01 July 2014

Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken ~ An easy, 1-step meal!

Once again, it's been awhile.  Thank you to those of you who have born with me through my many inconsistencies in blogging lately.  My baby is due to make his appearance very soon, so I can't say that I am back for good right now, but I plan to at least post occasionally until we get out of the newborn stage.

We had company this weekend and the hubby made the comment that this was the best he's eaten in a while...referring to the fact that he hasn't gotten many home-cooked meals lately.  Unless you count boxed macaroni and cheese. Or peanut butter sandwiches, pancakes, and egg scrambles...that he made.

Oops.

I've decided to try to be a little better about cooking these last couple of weeks before the baby comes.  I tried using an online menu plan service recently, but it just didn't work out for me.  I love the company that produces them and the meals were tasty, but I had a hard time getting excited and motivated to cook when I didn't plan the meals myself.  Also, they were all completely new recipes that I had never tried before (with no pictures!), and when I don't have much energy to begin with, it's difficult to get excited about a meal I've never had before.  So I decided to break from my norm this week and cook mostly all meals we've eaten before.  I can know what to expect, look forward to them, and the best part is that they are all super easy.

While these barbecue sandwiches aren't on our menu this week, they certainly could be.  They are so simple that you don't really even need a recipe, and I kind of feel silly giving you one.

I usually like to make my own sauces from scratch, but the folks at BBQ Pit Stop were kind enough to send me a complimentary jar of Blues Hog barbecue sauce to try out.  We can be kind of picky over at my house about sauces, so I wasn't so sure about this, but the hubby raved about the sauce on this barbecue chicken. I'm not a big barbecue fan, but the sauce was tasty, and not too spicy for my taste buds.  (I will add 2 disclaimers to this though, the spice flavor did intensify a bit by the next day for leftovers, although it still wasn't that spicy.  Also, I was a bit disappointed to see high fructose corn syrup on the ingredient list, since that's one of those processed ingredients we try to avoid.  I'm thinking they need to come out with a HFCS-free version, and the hubby and I will be eating it up!)

With a jar of barbecue sauce already made up and a crock-pot (or slow cooker, whichever you prefer to call it) to boot, this recipe is so easy that my 18 month old could do it.  Well, nearly, anyway.  I would want some of the sauce actually on the chicken though.

We all need no-brainer meals like this one sometimes.  These barbecue sandwiches would be perfect for the upcoming fourth of July holiday. They're easy and "hands off", so you can focus your time in the kitchen on other things while still having a very tasty main dish.  Have a blessed and happy 4th!



Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken ~ An easy, 1-step meal!


Easy Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken

3-4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1 jar of your favorite barbecue sauce (I used Blues Hog sauce)

1. Place ingredients in slow cooker on high for 3-4 hours.  Remove chicken and shred before serving.


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Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

15 May 2014

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Banana Muffins ~ A delicious, healthy (no-refined sugar!) breakfast to start your day

I finally broke out the baby pool.  I have been avoiding going outside at all, due to the intense heat (it's been 90° lately!) and the fact that I am pregnant.  Pregnancy = must be cool at all times.

Anyway, my little girl just turned 18 months old, and I decided it was time to stage a photo shoot again.  The last time I had done this, she was only 11 months old and not really mobile yet.  I knew it would be difficult to get a good shot since usually all I get is the back of her head.

And I did get plenty of those this time...


I came out ready with her chair, a blanket to cover it, headbands, and her "bear friend" to keep her happy.  Yet it was all to no avail.  The best picture I got was still a frown.


So I scrapped that and broke out the pool.  Happy times abounded! (Still no pictures though.)

Wouldn't you know, the hubby was able to get her to smile for me just before bed, so we did get a great smile.  Too bad I had the wrong lens on the camera so it's an uber close up, but at least we've got her face.



ANYway...

Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Banana Muffins ~ A delicious, healthy (no-refined sugar!) breakfast to start your day

I have a new muffin love. I may be guilty of saying this before, but I'm serious this time.  These muffins are the best eveeeeerrrrr.

An amazing smooth peanut butter taste mixed with a bit of banana.  Can you even imagine a more delicious combo?

These muffins are healthy too - no refined sugars and 100% whole wheat flour - which makes them a perfect breakfast, snack, or quick treat to grab when the munchies take over.  The mini muffins are even easier to eat 10 at a time.  They're so little it's hard to even notice that you're eating anything and that peanut butter flavor will make you keep coming back for more.

Notes on this recipe:
1. I used Trader Joe's salted natural peanut butter in this recipe, so if you use unsalted peanut butter, you may want to up the salt in the muffins.  Also, if you are using peanut butter that has sugar in it, you could probably cut back a bit on the honey. (Although not too much, since that will affect the texture of the muffins.)
2. You can sub Greek yogurt for the plain yogurt if you prefer, again, the Greek yogurt is thicker so your muffins may be a touch drier.
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Skillet Ham & Cheese Gnocchi

13 May 2014

Skillet Ham & Cheese Gnocchi ~ A quick and easy meal when you need dinner on the table fast - plus it's full of veggies!

I haven't been doing very well with my twice per week blogging again...I just haven't felt like posting new recipes, mostly because I haven't really felt much like cooking.  It could be the last trimester of pregnancy + the heat is finally catching up with me. I think that's what I'll blame it on anyway.  It could also be that we've been busy and gone nearly every weekend, headed to the hubby's family's house, and then we sometimes have visitors during the week, or I've gone home to my family quite a bit too.  Things are going to have to slow down at least after the baby comes. (Not that I'll feel like cooking then either though!!)

Skillet Ham & Cheese Gnocchi ~ A quick and easy meal when you need dinner on the table fast - plus it's full of veggies!

Anyway, we've also been pretty emotionally drained with the hubby stressed, since he was coming up on the end of a semester in his PhD program, while anticipating a summer class and teaching an undergraduate class in the fall. (Congrats to my amazing hubby, btw!)  Also, we've gone to the hubby's family's house very often this spring because his grandmother is not doing well and is currently in hospice care.  It's been an emotional, sad, and stressful time for all involved.

Easy meals have been the name of the game around here lately.  Or leftovers.  Or frozen chili that I have had in the freezer for probably way too long.

Skillet Ham & Cheese Gnocchi ~ A quick and easy meal when you need dinner on the table fast - plus it's full of veggies!

This Skillet Ham & Cheese Gnocchi fits the bill for a quick and effortless meal. I bought the gnocchi, hence the easy meal, but feel free to fancy things up a bit by using homemade gnocchi.  I threw in some extra veggies to make myself feel better for using packaged gnocchi.  Homemade gnocchi is on my list of things to try after the baby.  Like long after the baby.

Skillet Ham & Cheese Gnocchi ~ A quick and easy meal when you need dinner on the table fast - plus it's full of veggies!

I loved this meal, besides it's simplicity, because it was so tasty and saucy.  I don't like my casseroles dry and this one had plenty of juices, to make it just perfect.  I like to think of it a little bit like a grown-up version of mac and cheese.  Of course, my little girl loved it as well and even happily ate the broccoli (cut up into miniscule pieces, mind you).

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Hawaiian Ham Quesadillas

29 April 2014

Hawaiian Ham Quesadillas

Ever play the comparison game with your child's development?  For instance, I am not a big fan of messes, so I don't let my daughter play around with her silverware in her food.  She would end up getting it everywhere - except her mouth - if I let her have free reign.  So I just feed her instead.  The way I figure it, her motor skills will eventually be developed enough for her to be able to eat with utensils.  Until then, there's no point in attempting to rush it and making me frustrated with messes, right?

All was well until I saw a child who is my daughter's age, using a spoon perfectly.  I began to have mommy angst over whether I was doing the right thing by not teaching her about silverware.  Of course, I hopped on the almighty Google, to find out if she should have this all-important skill set yet.

Darn Google.  No relief for me yet, when I find out that she is supposed to be able to use a spoon and fork.  And then I realized, once again, that I'd never seen a normal 10 year old kid that couldn't figure out how to use a spoon and fork.  I think she's going to be ok.  She'll get it eventually.  And in the meantime I'll continue feeding her, I won't have quite as many messes, and that new rug I'm hoping for will stay a bit cleaner. (*hint *hint hubby)

Besides, it's obvious that my child is clearly intellectually superior to every other child.

Duh.

That brings me to today's finger food recipe.  No silverware needed for this one, if you so choose.

Hawaiian Ham Quesadillas

I love this meal because it's bursting with juicy, pineapple-y flavor and is super quick to whip up for an easy lunch.  Fresh pineapple is better, but it's totally ok to use canned, if that's all you have on hand.

This is a pantry meal for sure - another reason to give it two thumbs up, in my book.  The hubby raves on my cooking abilities when I make this. (Please don't tell him there isn't really any cooking involved in this recipe.)  And of course, our little garbage disposal daughter loves it too.
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Easy Baked Spinach Ravioli

18 April 2014

Easy Baked Spinach Ravioli

Have you ever heard of oil pulling?  I hadn't, until a couple of weeks ago, when I ran across a post on it in my blog feed and then saw a whole bunch of stuff about it on Pinterest. 

I figured that I didn't have much to lose, so I went ahead and tried it.  The jury is still out on whether it works or does anything at all for me or not.  I don't think it was doing anything, but then I switched to an organic coconut oil (one that you can actually taste the coconut flavor), and I'm hoping it will do something more for my teeth sensitivity.

I've also very recently started using magnesium topically, doing oil cleansing for my face, and brushing with activated charcoal.  I feel like I've gone off the deep end a little bit.

And yet, I still eat ice cream and marshmallows.

Go figure.  I guess you've got to find balance somewhere!
Easy Baked Spinach Ravioli

On to the pasta...
I love pasta, but haven't had that much of it since being pregnant.  I am never in the mood for things like spaghetti.  However, I loved the idea of a ravioli bake because of its simplicity.  I threw it together in the morning before church, popped it in the oven, and it was just about ready to eat when we got home.

I love meals like this.  Simple and easy, yet still healthy enough to make me feel good about feeding it to my family.  If you want to make it even more from scratch, make the ravioli homemade too.  Homemade ravioli is delicious, but I gave up making it after having my baby girl, since it is also time-consuming.  Either way you have it, this makes a delicious and easy meal for your family.

Notes about this recipe:
1. Feel free to use ground beef, ground turkey, whatever meat you want in this recipe. I used venison because that's what we had on hand.
2. Generally, I like to cook a large batch of ground meat at once (if you're getting it from the store, just come home and cook it) and then stick it in the freezer in smaller packages for quick meals.  It's super handy and it doesn't really take any extra work. (Actually, it's less work if you fry a couple of pounds at a time.)

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Whole Wheat Cinnamon Maple Muffins

15 April 2014

Cinnamon Maple Muffins ~ Healthy, light, & airy, with no refined sugar!

I posted last week about the Mom Conference, and it has been seriously so helpful for me.  I'm sad that all the speakers & lectures are over, but I'm pretty excited about applying the things I learned.

One tip that I took away, was a challenge to make Mondays "No Sugar Mondays".  Doctor Rach mentioned that the American Health Association recommends no more than 3 teaspoons of sugar per day for 4-8 year olds and 4-6 teaspoons for 9-12 year olds.  However, the average American child consumes a whopping 30 teaspoons of sugar per day.

Now, our family usually eats pretty low sugar, so I don't think my little one is taking in anywhere near that much in a day, but that staggering statistic was enough to make me excited about ditching sugar (in all it's forms, honey, molasses, maple syrup, refined sugars, HFCS, etc.) for one day per week.

I had already made up my meal plan for the month, but still thought that I was up to the challenge anyway. (This was late Sunday night).  I ran into my first roadblock when I realized that we were out of milk, meaning I couldn't make the no-sugar breakfast that I planned to.

Scrap that.  We ended up having these banana muffins that I had leftover in the freezer.  They are still pretty healthy, but definitely have a little bit of sugar in them (not to mention the white chocolate chips on top that my daughter prefers to just pick off and eat).

The next hiccup I ran into was for the very next meal.  We were planning to have sloppy joes, but I had forgotten that ketchup (even my organic, no high fructose corn syrup, ketchup from Trader Joe's) has sugar in it.  I scrambled to find a different recipe and settled on one with decidedly less sugar, but it still had a tiny bit of molasses in it.  I managed to easily make our sides of corn and hummus sugar-free.  However, I remembered that even though I had used homemade hamburger buns with our sloppy joes, they still had a wee bit of sugar in them (honey).

Alas, this whole "No Sugar Monday" was a lot more difficult than I had originally thought. (Plus, whenever you tell me I can't have sugar, that just makes me crave it even more.  With quite disparaging results, I might add.)  Next week, I'm going to plan ahead a bit more to make sure we can have a completely sugar-less day.

Cinnamon Maple Muffins ~ Healthy, light, & airy, with no refined sugar!

On to the muffins - which aren't completely sugar-free - but it's not Monday anymore, so our family is off the hook.

It seems like I've posted lots of dinner recipes, so here's a recipe for a healthy snack or breakfast for your family.  We had them for snack one day, mostly because I adore muffins for snack, then I packed the rest of them up and put them in the freezer for another quick snack.

With these cinnamon maple muffins, it was love at first bite.  I knew immediately that I would have to blog about these.  They were light and airy, which I loved. Sometimes it can be a bit difficult to get a nice moist, airy muffin with completely whole wheat flour.  And that's another that is great about these muffins...100% whole wheat.  Finally, I love that there is no refined sugar, only a bit of maple syrup to sweeten.

Go ahead and try these muffins, I know you'll fall in love with them too.
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The Best {Slow-Cooker} Chicken Fajitas Stuffed with Guacamole Salad

10 April 2014

The Best {Slow-Cooker} Chicken Fajitas Stuffed with Guacamole Salad

Have you heard of the Mom Conference?  It's completely free, going on all week, and 100% online.  There are several "classes" or videos each day for you to listen to on topics ranging from parenting to finances, organization, and personal care.  I've enjoyed so much listening to these lectures and benefited greatly from them. Now I'm ready to purge our clutter, organize the house, and keep a better daily schedule!  I've also got some great home remedies up my sleeve for energy, teeth whitening and more.  If you haven't heard of the Mom Conference, I'd encourage you to go check it out ASAP before it's over.  There's still several days left to learn from.

After that public service announcement, we'll get right to the recipe.

The Best {Slow-Cooker} Chicken Fajitas Stuffed with Guacamole Salad

These fajitas are a-MAZ-ing!  Every time we have them, I eat way too many.  And then there's the leftovers, which means I continue on my fajita binge for several days.  They are THAT good, trust me.  The hubby loves it when he finds out these fajitas are on the menu, and we both continue to go ga-ga each time over the leftovers.  (Plus, having fajitas for leftovers is kind of like having a freshly cooked meal since the warmed fajita mixture is scooped into a fresh tortilla each time.)

Besides tasting so awesome and being packed full of flavor and juice, these fajitas have something else going for them.  They are a super-easy, hands-off, slow-cooker meal.  It really doesn't get any easier than this. These fajitas are one of my favorite Sunday lunches because it's so simple to dump the ingredients into the crockpot before heading over to church, and you've got a nice, hot meal waiting for you when you get home.

The guacamole salad is optional, but it definitely ads to the fajitas.  In keeping with the "set-it-and-forget-it" fajitas, you can mix this guacamole salad up ahead of time and just add the avocados in before serving (so they don't brown).  I originally planned to serve the guacamole salad on the side with the fajitas, but the hubby decided it would be terrific on the fajitas.  It was a genius idea and we've been enjoying the fajitas "stuffed" ever since.

The hubby commented the other night, while we were eating fajitas, (these were the LEFTOVERS, mind you) that he didn't think he could get anything better at a restaurant than he was getting with leftover fajitas.  The only thing better a restaurant affords is, of course, the atmosphere.  This is a 5-star recipe y'all.
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