Friday, October 25, 2013

Sweet and Sour Cherry Chicken: Crock Pot/Freezer Meal

I am a huge fan of freezer meals.  I'm also a huge fan of crock pot meals.  It doesn't get any better than coming p with a new crock pot freezer meal idea for me!  Yesterday, as I started to prep dinner for the crock pot, I saw I had leftover cherry pie filling from the night before (made some cherry turnovers).  So I grabbed the pie filling and tossed it in a bowl.  Then I thought, instead of using orange or pineapple as my fruity accompaniment to my sweet and sour chicken, why not cherry?  So I grabbed all of the usual ingredients, but when I went to grab the peanut butter.......I saw my chocolate cherry peanut butter......why not just toss that in too?  I'm going to admit, I was very nervous to try this meal!  But in the end, it was delicious, and my family ate every single bit of it (no leftovers for lunch).  We enjoyed this meal with some rice and sauteed veggies.  I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we did!

2 tbsp. Planters NUT-rition cherry chocolate peanut butter
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
2-3 sliced bell peppers (I used red, yellow, and orange)
1/2 cup of cherry preserves or pie filing (I used leftover cherry pie filling, 1/2 can)
2 sliced onions
1/4 cup sweet chili sauce
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/4 cup of water
4-8 skinless chicken thighs (or any cut of chicken you enjoy)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix everything except the peppers, onions, and chicken.  Slice your peppers and onions.  Place your chicken in your slow cooker, top with onions and peppers.  Then pour your cherry sauce mixture over the top.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Then enjoy!

For a freezer meal:
Pour all of your ingredients except the onions, peppers, and chicken into a freezer bag (omit the 1/4 cup of water).  Squeeze your bag to mix well.  Place your peppers, onions, and chicken into the bag once mixed.  Press the air out and seal.  Give your bag another give mix, then freeze flat.  To cook later on, thaw for about 30 minutes to an hour, pour into your slow cooker, and cook on low for 6 hours. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Options, Potty Training, and a Three Year Old

My son turned three this past August.  Leading up to his birthday, he still wanted a bottle at bedtime, and would stay up all night screaming until he got one.  After his third, I knew I was doing something wrong......he wouldn't give his bottle up!  Earlier this week, I grabbed all of his bottles and threw them in the trash.......with my three year old watching.  His jaw dropped, time slowed down, the background zoomed out as his face became the focus on my attention.....and then it happened.  My son threw his body into the corner of the kitchen.  He began the tantrum of his life!  After about five minutes of screaming, he curled up into the fetal position and began to rock....."what did mom just do?".  It took him a while to regain composer.  He moved on with his day, but he surely remembered the horrific event that had just taken place.  When Daddy came home, the first thing he told him was "Mommy threw the bottles in the trash!".  The hubby and I knew it was going to be a long night.  As we placed him down for bed, he asked for a bottle, the hubby reminded him what Mommy had done.  So he rolled over, closed his eyes, and tried to forget.....falling asleep while doing so.  Since this tragedy, he has had no problem falling asleep.  The idea was, if I didn't give him the option of having a bottle, then maybe he would just roll over and fall asleep without one.

While the bottle fight was happening, we noticed our son, the three year old, was starting to try to sneak snacks.  At lunch time he would eat his cookies, and then avoid his sandwich and fruit.  He would avoid anything nutritional at every meal time, if he knew he had options.  So this week, and the grocery store, we walked down the snack aisle.  We passed by every single one of his favorite snacks without grabbing any of them.  We circled back around to the produce, where I asked for his input on what to buy.  So for lunch today, instead of a snack, fruit, and sandwich, my son got fruit, a veggie, and a sandwich.  He didn't have the option of a cookie or chips, and guess what....he ate every bit of his lunch!

So what does this have to do with potty training?  Options!  My son knows we have pull-ups and diapers in the house.  With every issue we've had with my son, we've stopped giving him options, and have come out victorious!  We have decided to one day soon, throw out all of his diapering gear, and no longer give him the option of diapers and pull-ups.  Fingers crossed this will work!

What potty training tips do you have?

*Update: We "tossed out" all of his diapering gear (by tossed out, I mean we threw it into a clean trash can, and the hubby dug it back out when my son wasn't looking).  Let's just say I spent the entire day cleaning pee off of my floor.  We are still working on potty training him, but aren't having any luck.  Rewards aren't working, letting him run around nakey doesn't work.  Why is it potty training doesn't get any easier on child #2?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Freezer Meals: Chicken

This week my local grocery store has chicken leg quarters on sale for $.59 per pound.  I usually buy the big 10 pound bags, and freeze them.  I realized that thawing the bags whole was a disaster!  So I started to separate them into individual meal portions.  I'm a fan of freezer cooking, so I decided to start making meals as I portioned them (duh, why didn't I think of that before?).  Unless you want a whole leg quarter (the thigh and leg combined), then you're going to have to separate the thigh from the leg.  Once you butcher your chicken, you will have thighs for certain meals, and legs for other meals.  This is what was on sale, so that is what I am using.

Here are the freezer meals I am going to make with my chicken:

Honey Chicken
Hawaiian Chicken
Cafe Rio Chicken
French Chicken
Maple Dijon Chicken
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Pecan Stuffed Chicken (instead of using breasts for this recipe, I pounded out thighs and rolled them, securing them with toothpicks.  Try not to poke your freezer bags with them.)

After I butcher my chicken and cut up my veggies, I had lots of chicken bones and veggie scraps.  I made up 8 cups of chicken stock to freeze also.

Shopping List: 
Chicken – 4  10-pound bags
Red bell peppers
Onions (keep scraps)
2 cans of cranberry sauce
1 bottle French dressing
1 bottle Catalina dressing
3 boxes onion soup mix
Lemon (for lemon juice)
Celery (keep scraps)
1 pack of dry ranch dressing

Things I already have on hand (but you might need to get):
Soy Sauce
Pineapple juice (from canned pineapple rings)
1 can of pineapple rings
Salt & Pepper
Parsley flakes
Pecans (I had some in the freezer from when I made granola)
Italian dressing
Red wine vinegar
Maple syrup
Dijon mustard
Chili powder
Chicken broth (made homemade)

For later (when you prepare your meals):
Whole wheat buns or lettuce to make wraps
Provolone cheese

Bread (for toast)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Spirit Day : I Am Against Bullying

Today is Spirit Day!  Today we take a stand against bullying, specifically bullying against LGBT youth.  But I wanted to share my own bullying story right here:

My child has dealt with bullying since preschool.  At first, her teacher said it was because she was smarter than the kids, and never gave them the chance to answer questions, so they made fun of her.

Then she switched to public school, where not once, but twice she was assaulted by the same boy (who has since moved school districts).

My daughter, who will be 9 next month, has since become overly sensitive.  I want to believe that it's just part of her growing up, but I do feel that bullying has bent (not broken) her spirit.  

Last night she cried about how none of the children in her class like her.  So we sat down and talked.  I asked her if she had any friends.  She replied that two girls in her class like her.  I then asked if she had friends in Girl Scouts (which she just started this year), she replied that all of her Scout friends liked her.  I took this as an opportunity to teach her a very valuable life lesson.  My response to her, "not everyone in life is going to like you.  There might be people who flat out hate you.  But these people probably don't truly know who you are as a person.  And it's their fault for not allowing themselves to get to know you.  You are going to come across a lot of people who don't like you Soph, but all you need to worry about is the people who do care for you.  Because they like you for who you are.  If you try to get everyone to like you, then there's a good chance you're not being true to yourself.  So instead of crying over people who don't like you, smile about those who do."

I can relate to my daughter.  As a child, my only true friends were the neighborhood girls I grew up with.  I transferred schools a lot, I wore glasses, and was tall.  I wasn't a girly-girl.  I was probably the only girl in my class who begged her daddy for a pink shotgun!  But if I have learned one lesson from it, it's to be thankful for what's in front of you; the people who surround you will always be there for you.  It doesn't help to worry about those who are unkind, because them not taking the time to know you is their loss.

In honor of Spirit Day, sit down with your child, teach them what it means to be a good person.  Because the only way to end bullying is to teach our children how to accept things that are different.

Crock Pot Korean BBQ Tacos

Campbell's has recently came out with these new slow cooker sauces.  And of course, I had a coupon to try them.  I quickly grabbed the Korean BBQ sauce......simply because of the recipe on the back.  Per the directions on the pack, I placed my beef roast into my crock pot, and poured the Campbell's sauce over the top.  Night one we enjoyed the beef served with rice and with sauteed peppers, but night two we enjoyed the recipe on the back......Korean tacos.....but with my own twist of course!

By the time the beef was done cooking (8 long hours later), the beef was shredded and covered in delicious sauce.......which was perfect for tacos!  So here is what I did on day two:

Since the meat is cooked and flavored, you only need to heat it up for the tacos.

For the slaw....cabbage (I used 1/2 a head), carrots (1-2 carrots), red bell pepper (1 large pepper).

Thinly slice all of the ingredients and toss together.  This will act like your lettuce for your tacos.

I also thinly sliced onions and green onions to add to our tacos.

For the sauce....I mixed together 1 1/2 cup of sour cream, 1/4 cup of sweet chili sauce, and 1 tsp. of sesame oil.  That simple!  The sauce is creamy and sweet which helps to counter the tangy meat and red peppers.

Where is the rest of the recipe?????  That's it!  Simple, right?  We served our tacos on regular tortillas (meat, slaw, onions, and sauce).  We enjoyed out meat with fresh veggies sauted in a bit of soy sauce and sesame oil, and brown rice.

We have yet to try the other sauces Campbell's has to offer, but after trying the Korean BBQ, I am sure the others will be tasty!

This leftover meal took me less than 30 minutes to prepare (which was mainly because of the rice).  Super simple, and super tasty! 

Check out my original post over at my food blog!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Cancer Awareness

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month.  Breast cancer is an issue that hits close to home.  For many years, my husband's grandmother fought her battle against cancer.  In 2009, she became our angel.  Then in 2010, my husband then lost his cousin Andrew to lymphoma cancer.  However, as much support as we give to these well known cancers, there are still lesser known cancers, such as mesothelioma, or asbestos cancer.  One of my readers, Heather, is a survivor of this not so familiar cancer.

Here is Heather's story:
Heather and her family

"I am a wife, mother, and a mesothelioma survivor. When my daughter was 3 ½ months old, I was diagnosed with this rare and deadly cancer, and given 15 months to live.  My prognosis was grim but I knew that I needed to beat the odds for my newborn daughter, Lily.  It’s been 7 years now and I feel that it is my duty to pay it forward and inspire others.
I clung on to hope throughout my whole journey with mesothelioma. When you have hope, it makes the battle easier.  I want people to be inspired by me, I want to make them fight; give them something to hold on to when all else fails. That is why I do it.  If I inspire one person, I've done my job."

Heather's mission is to help bring hope; where there is love, there is always hope.

Watch Heather's story:

For more information on mesothelioma cancer, visit

Make sure your order your FREE information packet about mesothelioma, which includes an awareness bracelet.  I ordered mine to wear and help bring awareness, will you?

What is your story?  Have you been touched by a disease that you feel isn't getting enough attention?  Help spread the word.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

My Home Management Binder

It's been a while since I've done a post, but I figured I would write one over a project I have recently home management binder.  I always have 2,000 things bouncing around in my head.  Add the fact that I'm a bit Type A/OCD, and you'll understand why I needed a binder!  As you can imagine, no two binders are ever the same.  My binder includes sections for school, Girl Scouts, a register for our bank account, medical information, bills, etc...  Whenever I get a bill, I toss it in.  When my kid brings papers home from school, they get tossed in.  I have a section for receipts, online orders, I even have a sheet with upcoming (FREE/LOCAL) activities for our family.  I browsed lots of different sites to find different templates to fit my binder (as well as made some of my own).  I bought a large binder, and still have room to add sections if I need to.  But for now, my binder seems to be keeping my cluttered mind on track!  So, while I go scrub the blue marker off of my 3 year old's face, you can check out these free printable binder sheets I found (and LOVE!).  Make sure to check out the blogs they came from to find more great printable sheets!

Found this blank calendar (and more) over at DIY Home Sweet Home.

This weekly planner was found over at The Peaceful Mom.

I found this daily planner (and lots more sheets) over at World Label.