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V-Day Miscellany

Happy Valentine’s day! Or as I like to think of it: Happy Chocolate-Has-No-WW-Points day! In the Beez family, we are celebrating the holiday with take-out from Szmidt’s, because nothing says LOVE like lovingly made sandwiches and pierogies. For serious, I am looking forward to dinner tonight big time.

Last week I failed to make a crock pot meal, so I did two this week. The first was Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore from Skinnytaste. I dumped a bunch of dried red pepper flakes in there, which made the dish even more appealing to Mr. Beez. It was too spicy for me, but I evened that out with a hearty dollop of sour cream. On the whole this recipe rated “Good,” meaning I’ll keep it handy as something to make now and then and mix up the variety, but it hasn’t been one of our absolute favorites.

Crock Pot Chicken Cacciatore

The second crock pot meal was Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Soup from Baked by Rachel. This recipe was supremely easy, and Mr. Beez declared it to be “amazing.” I don’t think he’s ever called anything I’ve made “amazing” before. Not even our kid. He was all sheepish about wanting to eat all the soup, and I was like “listen, it takes like 2 minutes to throw together, and I have all the ingredients to make another pot. Chow down.” Needless to say, this recipe is going to stay in heavy rotation, especially with all these polar vortices we keep having.

Slow Cooker Fully Loaded Potato Soup

Am I the only one who thinks today for whatever reason is a perfect day for ROD STEWART ALL DAY LONG?

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Party Weekend, Party Food

Party Weekend, Party Food

This weekend involved multiple parties and social engagements. We also visited my in-laws, and I was thrilled to take a short nap on their couch, because I can only take so much running around and socializing. Today (right now really) is also the Superbowl. The only part of the Superbowl that the Beez family is really interested in is the snacks. I made tasty Superbowl snacks, but of course made way too many for our party of 3, so there will be plenty of snacks brought into the office tomorrow.

One of the parties this Party Weekend was a 3 year old birthday party at the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. We have visited the museum several times before, but this was our first time there for a party. I was so impressed with the party, it was such a lovely time. Of course with a room full of toddlers, it’s total chaos, but it was managed, fun and safe chaos. The party was just long enough for everyone to have tons of fun, but ended before the kids started having exhaustion meltdowns. Baby Beez (and I) had such an awesome time, it was so fun. We had the lucky timing that the party ended right as the museum’s Chinese New Year celebration began, so we got to see the wonderful lion dance performance.

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Our little Superbowl snack-fest was meant to be all out gluttony, but I did a 4 mile run right before chow time, and consequently wasn’t even all that hungry. I chowed down, but didn’t CHOW DOWN, so that was good. On the menu:

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Seafood nachos, by request of Mr. Beez. He seemed to like them. I thought they were fine as far as nachos go, but lump crab is expensive, and I would have been just as happy with regular cheese nachos. I mean, cheese and chips, you can’t really go wrong.

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Cheesy tater skins, also by request of Mr. Beez. Super easy and super good (bake potatoes, cut in half, scoop out middle, toss in cheese, bake some more, top with chives).

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And from the WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS SOONER files: Buffalo chicken dip stuffed potato skins. @HezziD shared this recipe on twitter today, and while I originally wasn’t all super crazy about Superbowl snacks this year, once I saw that tweet, I was all “I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE!”  And yes, it was everything I could have ever hoped.

We also had chili and pizza available for the eating, but never got around to eating either because omg, why did I make this much food for 3 people?

Unrelated to the above, this week’s slow cooker meal: Crock Pot Beef & Broccoli. Super easy and super satisfying (a little salty for my taste, but easily remedied). This one’s going into permanent rotation in this house.

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Hello, Sunday

Hello, Sunday

Today I took a nap, cleaned up the house, read a couple magazines and did laundry. It’s almost like I’m a normal person! Usually Sunday is full of running around and work and all the normal things that normal people do to get ready for the week get shoved to the side and forgotten. I did need to do a lot of work today, but I hit a wall, because there were things around the house that needed to be done, or I would completely lose my mind. So I took care of things around the house, and as a result I’m going to pay for it this week with having to be more focused, more efficient and working even longer days, but it is what it is.

My once-a-week crock pot cooking has been a success. We’ve been trying lots of new recipes, and not only is it super easy to throw a meal in the crock pot, but I also end up making enough food to feed us for at least two meals. This means healthier meals and less money on take out, with minimum time and energy investment.

Lemon Chicken Orzo

Two weeks ago I tried 365 Days of Slow Cooking’s Lemon Chicken Orzo soup recipe and it was just lovely. It is a warm and comforting winter meal, but not so heavy as a chunky soup. I ended up eating several bowls of it for one dinner, whoops! It’ll last a bit longer if you don’t strap on the feedbag like I did.

This week I made Skinnytaste’s Crock Pot Balsamic Pork Roast, and it is an instant favorite.  It is SO incredibly easy and SO incredibly delicious. We were so hungry that we ate the whole thing up before I even remembered to take a picture, but there are plenty of gorgeous pictures over at Skinnytaste’s site, so you should check them out.

Last night, Mr. Beez and I had a date night where we went to an early play, went out to dinner and then went to the movies. I let him pick the movie, since I pretty much pick everything all the time. He picked Gravity. I was not interested in it to begin with, but it was pretty good. It has tones of tension and the outer space imagery is all beautiful. We saw it in 3D and I expected to pretty much be horribly motion sick the whole time, but ended up being OK. I ended up liking it a lot, and it re-confirmed that I absolutely have no interest in traveling to outer space. Ever.

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Thursday, back at it.

This is my first Thursday back in the “real life” schedule. November through December was a mess of days on and days off and days with parts of both. Now we’re back to a more typical schedule. Thursday, for some unknown reason, is the day every week when Baby Beez totally loses her $**t. She thrashes and screams and I have to drag her in to school. I have no idea why Thursdays are so often like this. Baby Beez, however, did not get the message that today was Thursday and she acted like a normal human 3 year old, instead of a screaming beast. It helps that today is show & tell day (the theme is “white,” so she brought her white stuffed cat) and she really likes show & tell. Who doesn’t?

For last week’s crock pot recipe, I made Winter Corn Chowder from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker.  Despite the cheese I threw on top, the recipe itself is vegan. I found the recipe, as written, to be a little plain. By adding in a little splenda (to make “sweet corn chowder”) or a little hot sauce (to make “spicy corn chowder”) it kicks things up to a better flavor.

Winter Corn Chowder

This week, I’ll be making the Old Fashioned Vegetable Soup from the same book, and will be serving it with grilled cheese sandwiches. With the weather so cold, all I can think about is soup.

Given my failure to properly track my Weight Watchers points lately, I am giving WW’s Simple Start program a crack. So far, it’s going brilliantly. It helps that I have been sick all week and chowing down on cold medicine, which has killed my appetite. But even with the hungries starting to creep back now that I’m feeling a little better, I’m finding it easier to operate off a fairly comprehensive list of approved foods, instead of being presented with all the things I can’t eat, and struggling to figure out what I can. As long as I eat (to satisfaction, not complete fullness) from the list, I only have to count the up-to-7 off list points. Counting to 7 is manageable for me.

I am listening to Hole’s “Live Through This” and pretending it’s the mid-90s. I’m not entirely convinced this album is office appropriate, but it’s what I need to make it through this dreary morning.

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32 Before 32: Keepin’ it Real With Pinterest (for once)

32 Before 32: Keepin’ it Real With Pinterest (for once)

This 32 before 32 is a two-for-one, because it is also my crock pot recipe for the week. When I decided to put “Actually Make Something I Pinned on Pinterest” on my list, I had something more crafty in mind. But then it came down to the wire last week and I still hadn’t made my crock pot recipe for the week, and I saw this pin for a tasty looking Crock Pot Chicken Korma (and here is the link to the original page). As a bonus, I already had all the ingredients in my house!

We were a few minutes away from leaving for brunch, when I remembered that I planned to serve the crock pot chicken korma for dinner. Also, I had to get it started before leaving, or it would not be done in time. Even with adding the extra step of sauteeing the onions and garlic before putting them in the crock pot, and chopping up the butternut squash, yam and chicken, the whole thing took about 20 minutes to prepare. This is absolutely a doable recipe to throw together before leaving for work in the morning.

crock pot korma

This recipe added some nice variety to the usual rotation of soups and stews that I make in my slow cooker. Was it as good as a korma from an Indian restaurant? Nah. But it was plenty good for an easy at home meal, and I’m sure it would freeze easily. The chicken isn’t even necessary, and I think this would taste very good as a vegetarian dish, especially with some added potatoes or cauliflower.  Mr. Beez declared the meal a success, and helped himself to seconds. Baby Beez refused to eat it, because she is only interested in cotton candy flavored yogurt and plain noodles for the time being.

Chicken Korma

Now if I could just get around to making a few of those 800 cookie recipes I have pinned….