Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sticky and Sweet Slow Cooker Chicken

I know I've said it before, but why do I not think to use my crock pot more during the summer? It doesn't overheat the house and you still get some mighty tasty meals. I tried a new recipe in my crock pot the other day. Sticky & Sweet Chicken Drumsticks.

My husband is the master griller, but we were on a tight schedule the other night so I knew there wouldn't be time to stoke up the BBQ and get the meat all grilled before I needed to leave, so this was the perfect alternative.

The preparation wasn't too hard, and I actually pulled the chicken out of the freezer and put it directly into the crock pot. The time-consuming part was making the BBQ sauce. You certainly don't have to make your own sauce, I'm sure, but I thought I'd try it out. 

After the sauce was made, I poured it on the chicken and turned the crock pot on high. The recipe calls for covering the chicken in the sauce and making sure it's all mixed in. 

I turned the chicken and made sure to smother the BBQ sauce all over the meat about halfway through since I wasn't able to do it in the beginning with the chicken frozen solid. I had it cook for a little over 4 hours on high since the meat had been frozen. I don't think that was necessarily a good choice; the meat wasn't very juicy by the time all was said and done. But, it smelled amazing.

After the chicken was broiled on both sides, we served it up with some yummy salad, rolls, watermelon and pasta salad.

This dish was beautiful and tasty and summery. In the future, I may not cook the chicken for as long since it was a bit dryer than I would've liked, but it still turned out quite delightful. Sweet and, indeed, sticky, but yummy! 

Friday, July 18, 2014

How To Shuck Corn

Do you remember when you were a kid and you watched your mom (or dad) shucking the corn off the cob and would beg to do it, and then once you started you were immediately tired of doing it? Or, was that just me? The worst part was the little tiny corn hairs (I totally had a moment of forgetfulness and couldn't remember the name of that stuff! It's corn silk by the way!) that seemed to stick like static to the corn or to your arm, your fingers, your...well, just anywhere that it landed it seemed to just cling. So, as I grew older I grew smarter (except for the occasional brain fluffs - "corn hair"? really?) - I quit begging to do it and began hiding while it was being done, frequently unsuccessfully. 

As the main meal maker in my home, I have now reached a time in my life where I am having to shuck the corn. My husband is gracious enough to help me when he's available to do so and my kids haven't reached the age where it's fun to do it - or at least it appears to be fun to do. So, I work real hard removing every last strand of corn silk. Until today. No more do I work real hard on this. 

Thanks to the Huffington Post, you don't have to anymore either! Check out this video for a more visual description.

No peeling, no mess, no heating up the kitchen. Stick the whole ear of corn (I did one at a time) in the microwave, set it on high and cook for 3 minutes.

After the microwave dinged at me, I used my ove-glove (although you could use a regular pot holder if you don't have the awesome ove-gloves (aka grill gloves) ) to remove the corn from the microwave. It will be very hot.

After you remove it from the microwave, cut off the shank (the end that doesn't have the hair) and a little of the corn. Then grab that corn by the peel and the silk and give it a super good shake. It pretty much just falls right out, although I did have a time or two where the corn didn't shake out very easily. Nuking it a bit longer probably would've been a good idea at that point, but it eventually did come out after many brutal shakings.

I did this with 8 ears of corn and out of the 8, 2 were a little more difficult to remove - nothing as challenging as peeling without this step though. This was fantastic.

At this point, the corn is cooked and you can eat it, although I prefer the way my mom cooks corn, so I proceeded to boil the corn with a little lemon juice and a pinch of sugar and they were delish! 

And now you know the secret to shucking corn. I don't know that shucking corn has ever gone this smoothly or quickly before. I will definitely be doing this again. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cheesy One Pot Pasta with Parmesan and Pine Nuts

Awe dinner...I have a love/hate relationship with you. I LOVE to eat, but coming up with a plan of what to make at last minute - I hate. This could always be avoided if I would just sit down and plan out my meals for the week, but alas, my organizational/scheduling skills have not attained this level of greatness in recent years. Thankfully, there is this great site called Pinterest that helps the procrastinator in me. I discovered this recipe a while ago and since I had all the ingredients, I gave it a try. To check out the recipe, go here.

Photo from Barefeet In The Kitchen's Blog
This was super quick and took little preparation. The most time-consuming part of the preparation was cutting the tomatoes, shallots (or onion) and basil, which took just a few minutes.

30 minutes, start to finish and this dinner was ready to go. It was delightfully simple and tasty. It had a little kick to it from the red pepper flakes, but it was kind of a nice addition to the dish.

Barefeet In The Kitchen's blog says that this is really creamy, but mine didn't turn out quite as creamy as I had hoped/expected. I may not have put in enough cheese though. I definitely liked the added crunch of the pine nuts though. That was uber tasty. Highly recommend doing that.

In conclusion: Simple recipe = happy mama. Yummy recipe = happy daddy (and everyone else). Quick recipe = happy kids. Yay for another Pinterest win!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Super Giant Bubbles Recipe

Bubbles, bubbles everywhere! Here's a fun activity to do with your littles to keep them entertained. Bubbles!  

Photo from Pinterest
There is no link to share as this was just an image, so I'll just tell ya about my experience. Cade helped me make the bubble solution. 

This was super simple. All of the ingredients were things I already had at home. The only thing I struggled to find was a big enough bucket...oddly enough. I guess my brain just wasn't fully functioning when I was making this. I ended up using a mop bucket, which worked well, but for it being a bit larger than necessary. Seriously, if that's the biggest concern, it really was no biggie.

Stirring the solution without creating bubbles was more of a challenge than I would've expected. I think it was due to the corn starch sticking to the bottom of the bucket. Oh well. We made it work.

I set the timer for an hour and put the bucket out of site so Cade wouldn't be impatiently waiting and we went swimming while we waited. I love summer. 

Once the solution had sat for an hour, we took it outside and blew bubbles. Cade had trouble blowing them, so I did most of that - but he had a blast popping them. 

The bubbles weren't super wimpy bubbles either. It was quite nice. I used a bubble wand that we already had from the dollar store and we also made some out of pipe cleaner. All worked nicely. 

"Seriously, mom, a picture? Just blow the bubble for me already..."

We left the bucket outside to play with over the next few days and the bubble solution never faltered. It worked wonderfully and continued to produce bubbles as long as the blower had some skillz. Yep, with a 'z.' Because, I am that cool. There you have it. Easy-peasy bubble making recipe. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

60 Minute Cinnamon Rolls

Just the other day I posted about some tasty paleo cinnamon rolls and this is the sister blog post to that one. The fat sister. The unhealthy, but terribly good looking sister. (I feel like I went too far...too far?? Oh well...) :) 60 Minute Cinnamon Rolls. Pure bliss.

Photo from

These cinnamon rolls took practically no time to make, as far as cinnamon rolls go. The recipe called for regular yeast, but all I had was bread machine yeast (don't you hate it when you don't discover this until after you are in the middle of mixing??). I went to the Fleischmann's yeast website and found that I could, in fact, use bread machine yeast as regular yeast. Yay! Fleischmann's and my bread machine yeast for the win!

Once I got the starter ingredients in the bowl, I let it set for a bit. It was uuuugly and I didn't take a picture of the yeast mix after it had foamed, so I'll just spare you the gory image of disgustingness. 

As the yeast was foaming, my son and I started working on the chocolate chip cookies I was also preparing for our MOPS retreat. This is totally unnecessary to this blog post, but I thought I'd share so that I could show you how baking is done at our house....

I suppose this could have something to do with this post as it shows you just how quick and easy making these cinnamon rolls was - I was able to do it as I made chocolate chip cookies. Oh yeah! This sweet toothed mama was happy!

After all of the ingredients had been mixed and set for the allotted amount of time recommended, I sprayed down my kitchen counter with pam (after it had been washed and dried better than a surgeon right before surgery). Seriously, how had I never thought to do this? The dough was so much easier to work with when the surface was greased. 

Obviously, I still didn't get the perfect rectangular shape, but as I stated in my paleo cinnamon rolls blog, I'm not so much into taking a ton of time getting it into the right shape. After preparing the filling, I spread it out on the rectangular blob and patted it down. 

I took a hint from the last cinnamon rolls I made, and placed parchment paper in the bottom of the baking dish I would be using. From there, I rolled up the cinnamon rolls, made marks where I'd be cutting them so they'd be even (for the most part) and then cut them apart and placed them in the baking dish. Don't they look divine?

I didn't bake them right away, in fact, I put them in the fridge and didn't bake them for 2 days. They continued to rise a bit over the next 24 hours (I think they stopped after that) and the lid was being pulled off of the baking dish due to the sheer mass that the cinnamon rolls were creating. It was a beautiful thing. 

On Sunday morning, I took the dough-y rolls out of the fridge and placed the baking dish with the rolls into the pre-heated oven. Obviously I removed the lid on the dish as well. 

Thankfully, my lovely friend, Katie, helped me determine whether the rolls were done when they were supposed to be. I put them in the oven for the entire 15 minutes and looked at them, thought they looked good and pulled them out. Katie, however, being the wise one that she is, told me that, although they looked super tasty, the middle ones were still looking quite doughy. So, back in the oven they went. 5 minutes later we pulled them out and flipped them over onto a cookie sheet. Everyone delighted in the beauty of these tasty looking cinnamon rolls. Did you catch that? "Tasty looking." Yeah. They still weren't done enough. Everyone that had taken a bite quickly discovered they still needed quite a few more minutes. So, back into the oven they all hurriedly returned.

Within a few minutes (10, maybe?), we pulled them back out of the oven and they were definitely cooked and, although now a bit more crystalized from the frosting that had been melted and then hardened in the oven, were still delicious. I imagine the 15 minute bake-time would've been perfect had it not been for it being in the fridge and likely needing to thaw for just a bit. Oh well, lesson learned. And I'm not really complaining. These still tasted pretty fantastic.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Paleo Cinnamon Rolls

This weekend, I went to a cabin at Detroit lake with some pretty amazing women. It was our annual MOPS Steering Team (aka leadership team) retreat and it was wonderful, relaxing, helpful, lesson-building and just grand. In years past, we've gone to a camp that prepared our food for us - which was quite a luxury, but this year we opted to have everyone make one meal. It worked out quite nicely. On the last day of our retreat, my co-coordinator and myself made breakfast. We sincerely wanted to spoil our team; they worked so hard and we wanted them to know how very much we appreciate them. We had decided ahead of time what to make for food: an egg-bake dish, fruit, orange juice, and cinnamon rolls. When we found out about some of the ladies' allergies, we decided we should accommodate all of our lovely workers. (You can't really show how much you appreciate *all* of them if you don't prepare food that *all* of them can eat.)

Just for kicks, here is a picture of my amazing steering team

Paleo seems like a safe bet for most allergy-related meals...unless you are allergic to nuts...then you have to be very careful with paleo options as well.

Anyway, I decided to stick with making cinnamon rolls and found a recipe for paleo cinnamon rolls!
Photo from Pinterest

This blog may be a bit redundant since the blog linked above has all of this information, but I wanted to include pictures (from when I remembered to take them) so you could see what it should/could look like. First, I toasted the pecans. I did not use walnuts. I was a little concerned that I wouldn't know when they "start to smell delicious," since I'm not much into nuts, but these - you could totally tell when the pecans started to smell delicious. I don't think you'll have trouble figuring that out. It just smells a little toasty and almost kinda sweet...but maybe that was just what I thought. After the pecans were toasted, I made the dough. 

Once the dough was done, I stuck it in the fridge for 15 minutes. It seemed firm enough to me prior to sticking it in the fridge, but it definitely didn't hurt. After I took it out of the fridge, I rolled it into a ball so that I could more easily flatten it out. In the blog above, it recommends rolling the dough into a large rectangle. How on earth people make it into any shape other than a blob is beyond me. Ok, maybe it's not "beyond me"...I suppose if I had more patience, it might work better. ;) The other thing they recommend is putting the dough in between two pieces of parchment paper. This is one of the most ingenious ideas I've ever tried when baking! It keeps your dough from sticking to the counter and it's easier to manipulate. The one thing that I would recommend is laying the parchment paper on a towel. I didn't do this at first and my parchment paper was sliding all over the place. So frustrating! Also, laying the parchment paper on top was awesome because then nothing stuck to the rolling pin either! Genius, I tell ya!

I made up the cinnamon rolls' filling - which was incredibly sticky because of the honey - and did my best to practice self-control and not lick the bowl. I did add in the cardamom, which I think made it smell even better. All of this smelled delectable, by the way.

Smearing it on the cinnamon rolls was much easier than I expected; not like frosting a cake where it feels like the frosting kinda globs together on the spoon. 

See - a giant not-very-rectangular blob
I then added the toasted pecans. I only used a 1/4 cup of pecans rather than a 1/2 cup. I wasn't sure how many people would like the nuts in there, so I didn't want to put in too many. 

It kinda looks like a big blob of a maple bar, doesn't it?
Once this was done, I rolled up the cinnamon rolls starting with the edge closest to me. I didn't struggle too much with the edges being more blobby than rectangular - it still rolled nicely and fairly evenly. Along the way, I had to pinch and manipulate the dough so that it didn't break apart in some spots, but it really wasn't difficult to mold.

Once all of that was completed, I cut the dough and placed it on a piece of parchment paper (the one that I had already been using for rolling it) in a baking dish. 

I didn't have any coconut cream, so I skipped that step and drizzled honey over the top of the cinnamon rolls and sprinkled some cinnamon on it. 

Then I stuck it in the oven. I baked it for about 15 minutes longer than recommended, because it seemed to take a long time for it to even get golden, but it worked and I don't think they really burnt.

Not counting baking time, I'd say this recipe took about 30-45 minutes to make. Quickest cinnamon rolls ever. Once they were completed, I put the lid on them and brought them to retreat. Two days later, everybody got to enjoy them. Our ladies who needed paleo-friendly food said they were very tasty and even had seconds. Another friend tried them and said they tasted nutty, but she liked them. Unfortunately, I have to go off of just what everyone else says and not give my own personal review as I was too busy devouring my non-paleo-friendly cinnamon rolls...and those were AMAZING! (I'll post the recipe next.) I'd say this recipe was a success. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Refinishing and Refreshing Your Wood Furniture

A little note to my readers: Every week, I have a goal to do at least 3 blog posts in that week. I have been falling behind on this goal far too frequently, as of late, so my goal is going to change. My goal is to write at least two blog posts a week. I planned on picking days, but I'm not going to just because my schedule with the littles is unpredictable. Thank you, dear readers, for coming back and continuing to read my posts despite their inconsistency. And with that, on with the blog!

A while back, I wrote about removing water rings from your wood furniture. Today, I'm gonna cover the next step of that. My wood cabinets and tables look worn. They look rugged and a little warped. They've needed to be refreshed and an extra measure of TLC and I finally managed to do so. See that worn look?

It wasn't hard. It took very little time, but it just wasn't my top priority.  I had recently bought a large container of coconut oil from Costco and since I had it on hand and just saw this handy little tip on Pinterest, I tried it out. You can check it out here.

This was so simple. Seriously. It couldn't have been easier - take a little coconut oil on a rag and buff your wood furniture. 

Before the coconut oil
After the coconut oil

This took very little time and my cupboards and tables looked amazing. Here is an after picture of the cupboard. Isn't it amazing, the difference?

I did this a few weeks ago and looking at the cupboards now, they still look quite nice. I think a good buffing every 6 months will be plenty. There you have it - tried and true and working great.