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October 31, 2012

Slow-Cooker Garlic Chicken


As many of you know I love my slow-cooker. I literally use it at least once  a week. It wasn't always that way though. Growing-up I don't remember if my mother even owned a crock-pot. If she did I don't remember it being used. At all. I do remember the very scary old pressure cooker that she used at least once a week. The pressure gauge was the scariest thing and my mom made it worse by scaring me to death if I ever went near it. I was determined that it was going to fly off and attack me. I'm surprised that I don't still have nightmares about that kitchen tool. Luckily last year my mother-in-law was nice enough to give me a brand new pressure cooker/canner. My mother-in-law much like my mother loves her pressure cooker. She is always calling me and telling me about the meals she is making with it. One of my favorite dishes that she makes is a pork and chicken pasta sauce that is absolutely delicious. The meat literally falls off the bone. So last summer I learned to use the pressure canner and cooker and realized that it won't actually try to kill me in my kitchen. I still prefer my slow-cooker though and use it throughout the year. Last week I tried a new recipe for Slow-Cooker Garlic Chicken from Everyday Food Magazine, which looked simple and flavorful.

This recipe has 11 ingredients. It takes a total of 7 1/2 hours (on low), 25 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store. Instead of a whole chicken I chose to use half thighs and half drumsticks. I really hate cutting-up whole chickens and avoid it when possible. Since I don't eat gluten I substituted brown rice flour for the all-purpose flour used in the recipe. My chicken took a lot longer than the four minutes per side to brown suggested by the recipe. I would estimate it took a total of 15 minutes. At the end of the browning time I de-glazed the pan with the white wine, which helped to scrape up the leftover brown bits adding to the flavor of the dish. Finally, instead of serving the chicken over couscous I served it over brown rice. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My husband and two boys really loved this recipe. The chicken turned out very tender and the garlic was delicious. I ended up adding cornstarch to finish thickening the sauce, which worked well poured over the rice. I always cook on low in my slow-cooker since it's easier to start a dish in the morning when my house is calmer. A very easy slow-cooker recipe that made enough for multiple meals.

For the recipe go to Slow-Cooker Garlic Chicken.

October 28, 2012

Make Your Travel Plans Easy With Gogobot

Planning a trip can be a lot of work. Not only do you have to think of how to get to the destination and where to stay, but where to eat and what to see. It can all be a little overwhelming. Wouldn't it be great if there was a way to make it easier?



Gogobot was launched in 2010 and is a social travel site. Since it started it has been named one of Time’s top sites of 2011 and winner of the 2010 Crunchie award for Best Design. What makes Gogobot different than other travel sites is the fact that it allows you to connect with friends to see what their advice and opinions are on where to eat, stay etc.

Having grown-up and lived in Seattle for the first 23 years of my life, it is a city that I love to spend time. My two boys haven't had the opportunity to visit yet and I would love to plan a trip back home to show them all the sites and food that Seattle has to offer. Using Gogobot traveling a trip back home to Seattle would be easy.

First off the hotel. That would be the easiest part of the trip to plan. I have stayed at the W when I lived in Seattle. It is beautiful and the staff is fantastic. Plus the site gives it very high reviews.
Where to eat? I have a soft spot in my heart for Carmelita vegetarian restaurant. It opened two blocks from the house that I grew-up in and I was able to eat at it the first week that it opened. As you can see from the picture below the food is beautiful and delicious and worth the trip into a Seattle neighborhood to find it.
What to see? Having received my undergraduate degree from the University of Washington, no trip to Seattle would be complete without a trip to see the campus. In the spring with the cherry blossoms are blooming it is beyond gorgeous. I would spend hours studying outside (weather permitting) just to spend time on the beautiful grounds. Plus it's free, so would also be a great way to save money :)
I love how easy it is to use the Gogobot webpage and all the information is easy to follow. The reviews are my favorite part of the site. It is one thing to see photos and tourist information, but the ability to read first hand accounts of other people's traveling experiences is a great resource. If you are planning a trip, or just dreaming about one day taking one, go check out Gogobot!

Gogobot allows you to tap into the knowledge of your friends when planning a trip anywhere. You can find like-minded travelers and inspiration for your next vacation, creating easy-to-use wishlists you can return to again and again.
And when you are not in vacation mode or planning a trip, you can discover hidden gems in your own neighborhood for entertaining guests or a weekend staycation.
The best part? Every page on Gogobot is personalized. You can see reviews from your friends and people you are following at the top, which allows you to weed out the noise and fraudulent reviews that become a problem on other review sites. Check out Gogobot today!
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Gogobot. The opinions and text are all mine.


October 27, 2012

Pork and Green Chile Stew


Anyone else have a hard to handle three-year-old? My youngest son this last week has been given new meaning to being a toddler. He is in the middle of a growth spurt and when he isn't eating he is having a complete melt down. Shopping with him in tow has become impossible and I am beginning to want to have a temper tantrum myself. The thing that has saved my sanity is cooking and baking. Cooking has always been my lifeline. As a teenager when everything was crazy in my life cooking was my way to relax and stay grounded. To this day it has the same effect on my well-being. I love to cook and bake and they are a great way for me to feel as if I am doing something worthwhile for my family. Recently, I tried a new recipe for Pork and Green Chile Stew from the September issue of Food and Wine magazine, which looked filling and delicious.

This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes a total of 45 minutes, 25 minutes of which is active and makes 6 servings. I had to go to multiple stores to find all the peppers needed, but that is normal for my area. I ended up buying Anaheim peppers, since I could not find decent poblanos. Since I was cooking for my kids I seeded all my serrano chiles, my kids can be pretty picky when it comes to spiciness. As I always try to do I served brown rice instead of white. I prefer using brown rice almost exclusively. In order for the stew to thicken completely I allowed it to cook for 50 minutes, instead of the 20 suggested by the recipe. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I really enjoyed this recipe. Over rice it is delicious, but it was also great heated up in a bowl and eaten more like a traditional stew the next day. The flavors from the chiles were delicious, I loved how rich the stew turned out and the pork literally melted in my mouth. My two kids loved the pork and picked it out of the peppers, which is normal for them. Overall, a great chile stew recipe that I would make again in the future.

For the recipe go to Pork and Green Chile Stew.

October 25, 2012

Apricot Lime Glazed Shrimp


Sorry for the lack of posts this week. I decided to paint my house this week and of course, I started out with wanting to just paint the living room. This quickly evolved into more paint and more rooms. I'm almost done though and it looks so much better, so I am happy. There's nothing like a little bit of paint to completely transform a room. So back to the food. One of my kids favorite foods is shrimp. They could literally eat two pounds of shrimp all by themselves if I let them. Since shrimp is on the expensive side I limit our shrimp consumption to approximately twice a month. I also like to try new recipes as often as possible so each shrimp dish feels and tastes like something completely new. My taste buds seems to get bored very quickly and variety is key, especially with shrimp since we eat it so frequently. Recently, I tried a new recipe for Apricot Lime Glazed Shrimp from the July issue of Family Circle magazine, which with 5 grams of fat and 33 grams of protein per serving looked like the perfect healthy dinner option.

This recipe has 9 ingredients. It takes 15 minutes of prep and 15 minutes of cooking time and makes 4 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and I made no ingredient modifications. Since I eat gluten free I buy gluten-free soy sauce, a lot of cheaper brands use wheat as a main ingredient. Instead of white rice I served the shrimp over brown rice, we only eat white rice in limited amounts. Brown rice also cooks great in the microwave which I love! To grill the shrimp I used an indoor grill. I love my indoor grill it is so much easier than going outside, especially in the winter. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My two sons really loved this dish. While, I like snow peas I would have preferred sugar snap peas in this recipe. The additional sweetness would have been delicious. This recipe only makes 6 shrimp per person, so I would suggest doubling the recipe if you want larger servings. The best part of this recipe was the quick prep and cook time. With only thirty minutes of total time, it makes for a great weeknight meal.

For the recipe go to Apricot Lime Glazed Shrimp. (registration required)

October 19, 2012

Gluten Free Banana Peanut Butter Muffins


I am a huge snack eater. Three meals a day has never been something that I could stick to, but instead I eat 6 smaller meals. My two kids are the same way. They pretty much eat from the time they get up to when they go to sleep. Since they eat so often, I make sure that the snacks that I have in the house are healthy and filling. With the fact that I am now eating gluten free it has been trail and error with recipes and making sure that my two sons don't notice the changes. Recently, I tried a new recipe for Banana Peanut Butter Muffins from the October issue of Parents magazine, which looked perfect for snacking and easy to convert to being gluten free.

This recipe has 10 ingredients. It takes 30 minutes of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 30 mini muffins. I made a number of changes to this recipe. First, instead of using whole-wheat and all-purpose flours I used brown rice flour. Brown rice flour is a great gluten free substitute and I use it frequently in baking. Instead of making mini muffins I made regular sized, with the recipe making 12 regular muffins. Finally, I used liners to make the muffins easier to take out of the muffin tins. I chose not to top with jam, my two boys loved them with the peanut butter alone. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

These muffins were delicious. The combination of peanut butter and banana was perfect and the recipe held-up well to being made gluten free. Best of all the recipe was easy enough that my six-year-old helped me with the whole thing. A very easy recipe, perfect for snacking or anytime of the day.

For the recipe go to Banana Peanut Butter Muffins. (registration required)

October 18, 2012

Frieda’s Specialty Produce Spooky Foods Campaign

My two boys absolutely love Halloween. They told me this year that Halloween is their favorite holiday, ranking above Christmas and their birthdays. I was always the same way growing-up. Halloween was always great, full of candy, costumes and parties. Plus my mom decorate the whole house with spooky decorations, which I loved. Since I love to cook I also love making new recipes incorporating the Halloween theme. My boys love helping me find fun and exotic items at the store to use in my dishes, the more unique the better. Since we live in an area where we are limited on grocery store options I often have to go to three separate stores to find all the items needed for a particular recipe. Wouldn't it be great to have one place to go online that was full of fun and unusual fruits and vegetables to use for Halloween?

California-based Frieda’s Specialty Produce is currently having a Spooky Foods Campaign lasting the month of October. It’s a great way to get families involved in exploring exotic fruits and vegetables while celebrating Halloween. Here are a few examples of their products: 
 
Don't those look fun? My boys were entranced with the photos and absolutely loved the idea of the products. Interested in learning more? Head on over to the Frieda's Specialty Produce Facebook page or to their webpage to find more information and see the full range of their products. I hope everyone has a great Halloween!

Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this post. As always all opinions expressed are my own.

October 17, 2012

Slow Cooker Chicken Tagine


The weather in the area that I live has been all over the place. One morning it is 30 degrees and the next 70. My body hates all the up and down of the weather changes. I would be much happier if the weather just stuck to hot or cold, instead of layers one day and shorts the next. Regardless of the crazy weather lately this is still the time of the year that I love to use my crock-pot. There is something about fall that just shouts for a slow cooker. Coming home to a great pot roast or chili in the evening is comforting and perfect for a fall dinner. Recently, I tried a new recipe for Chicken Tagine from the November issue of Family Circle magazine, which looked flavorful and perfect for a busy weeknight meal.

This recipe has 13 ingredients. Since I am now eating gluten free I made a few changes. Instead of regular wheat flour I used brown rice flour. I substitute brown rice flour frequently and it works great in recipes. Additionally, I made my chicken stock from scratch which I almost always do in dishes. I prefer the taste and flavor to store bought. Finally, instead of couscous I used quinoa. Quinoa is a great substitute for pasta or rice and I use it as a base for recipes frequently. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My two boys really loved the chicken in this dish. They weren't as big of fans of the onion and fruit, picking around it to eat the rest of the chicken. The one change that needs to be made to the recipe is the amount of salt. There was nowhere near enough salt in the recipe. I salted my chicken stock and the dish was still undersalted. The cinnamon flavor could also be increased to 1 1/2 tsp like the cumin and ginger. Overall, an easy crockpot recipe that was very kid friendly.

For the recipe go to Chicken Tagine.

October 16, 2012

Glutenfree Blueberry-Flax Buttermilk Pancakes


I love pancakes. Growing-up Sunday mornings were my favorite time of the week. It always meant a big breakfast with bacon and pancakes. Lots and lots of pancakes, piled high with butter and real maple syrup. My two boys have carried on my love of pancakes. Their eyes go wide when they see me pulling out the griddle to make their favorite breakfast food. However, after I started having problems eating gluten pancake breakfasts were something that I wasn't able to enjoy. Luckily I found that brown rice flour can work beautifully in pancakes and they can be a part of a healthy breakfast routine. Recently, I made a new recipe for Gluten free Blueberry-Flax Buttermilk Pancakes from Everyday Food magazine, which looked delicious and perfect for a big breakfast.

This recipe has 11 ingredients. It takes a total of 30 minutes, all of which is active and makes 4 servings. Since the original recipe was not gluten free, I obviously made a number of modifications. First instead of all-purpose flour I used brown rice flour. I used low-fat buttermilk instead of full-fat and frozen blueberries. I made no further ingredient modifications. Instead of a skillet I made my pancakes on a griddle, which I love since the pancakes always come out evenly browned. I always melt a tablespoon of butter on my griddle when making pancakes, it makes the outside delicious. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I loved how light and fluffy these pancakes turned out. It's the worst feeling when you try a new pancake recipe and they end up flat and tasteless. These pancakes were nothing like that. Plus with 18 grams of protein per serving they are a great breakfast option. This is definitely  a recipe I would make again in the future.

For the recipe go to Blueberry-Flax Buttermilk Pancakes.

October 15, 2012

Senate Bean Soup

We eat a lot of beans in our house. My oldest son absolutely loves any type of bean and will pick them out of dishes. He is the only child I know that loves beans more than basically any other type of food. Luckily for him we live in a state that also loves beans and dried beans are available everywhere. My husband is on a diet where he eats beans at every meal, so I prepare beans very frequently. Of all the members of my family I am the one that gets bored with food the easiest. I like to change up my menu plans and recipes as frequently as possible. A few weeks back I tried a new recipe for Senate Bean Soup from Savuer magazine, which looked different than my usual bean routine and perfect for my bean loving family.

This recipe has 6 ingredients. It takes a total of an hour and twenty minutes and makes 4-6 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store and I made no ingredient modifications. The ham hocks that I ended up purchasing were slim on meat, so my soup had less meat than it would if I had used meatier ham hock. I let my beans cook for an additional ten minutes after mashing a portion of them in order for them to fully thicken. Make sure to adequately salt, it takes a lot to taste fully flavorful. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My two sons really enjoyed this recipe. It was very easy to follow and took little effort to prepare. The leftovers re-heated well the next day and it made more than enough for two meals. Bean soup is a great way to save money and takes only a few dollars to make. I love making large batches of bean soup and freezing the leftovers for future meals. This recipe would be perfect for this purpose.

For the recipe go to Senate Bean Soup.

October 14, 2012

Appalachian Cider Baked Beans

I'm back! I have been without a computer for over a week, thanks to a number of unfortunate events. In a single week our car needed fixed, my dryer broke (and couldn't be repaired), my glasses broke and my netbook completely broke. Needless to say it was an expensive week. Instead of buying a new netbook I decided to treat myself to a nicer computer and bought a MacBook Pro. So far I love it, so hopefully my streak of bad computers has come to an end. I hope everyone has been enjoying delicious food, I have and have a number of great recipes to share in the next week. A few weeks back I tried a new recipe for Appalachian Cider Baked Beans from the October issue of Southern Living Magazine, which looked delicious and great for a West Virginia food blogger.

This recipe has 7 ingredients. It takes a total of 5 and a half hours of cooking and prep and makes 6 cups of beans. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients at my local grocery store. Pinto beans are a stable in the West Virginian diet and you can literally find them even at convenience stores. Instead of salt pork I used sliced pork jowl. I special order my sorghum syrup, but I also have bought it at craft fairs all over my area. I had to add additional water as the beans cooked in order for the beans to not burn. I would estimate that I added an additional two cups over the course of the 5 hour cooking time. Make sure to use a Dutch oven with this recipe. It really does make a large difference in the way that the beans cook (I promise :). I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

These beans were delicious. My husband thought these were the best baked beans that he has ever had and my two boys absolutely loved them. The only thing that I would modify is the use of whole onions. I understand the idea of keeping them whole for flavor, but the end texture wasn't something my husband and I liked. Instead I would slice the onions, which would keep the flavor and improve the texture. Definitely a recipe to add to my recipe book!

For the recipe go to Appalachian Cider Baked Beans.

October 4, 2012

Chewy Granola Bites


I love snacks. Growing-up I ate more snacks than anyone else I knew. I seemed to always be snacking. When I don't snack I get very cranky, not just a little bit but I literally go from nice to mean in a matter of seconds. A lot of it has to do with my blood sugar. When I was pregnant with my youngest son they had me monitor my blood sugar levels and it turned out that my blood sugar crashes relatively frequently. When my blood sugar crashes I turn nasty. So I make sure to keep high protein healthy snacks around to avoid these mood swings. My two boys can be just as grumpy as I can without snacks. In particular my oldest has a hard time focusing on school work and gets in far more trouble when he doesn't eat enough. I am always on the lookout for new recipes and last week I tried a new one for Chewy Granola Bites from Parents magazine, which looked perfect for snacking.

This recipe has 5 ingredients. It takes 20 minutes of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes approximately 30 balls. I made a number of modifications to this recipe. First I am not a fan of regular white rice cereal and my local grocery store didn't have brown rice cereal, so I substituted flax cereal instead. I chose to use almond butter, I prefer the taste and texture in recipes. Finally I ran out of granola (thanks to my husband and two boys eating most of the bag) so I only used a cup of granola and 1 1/2 cups of flax cereal. Instead of making thirty balls, I made my snacks larger and had a total of 15. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

My two boys loved these snacks. They literally ate them all in one afternoon. I like that they are no-bakes and take very little effort to put together. They are so easy that my oldest was able to help me with the entire recipe. Plus they are full of nutrition from the peanut butter and flax cereal.

For the recipe go to Chewy Granola Bites.

October 3, 2012

Slowcooker Lemony Lentil Soup


I love fall. The leaves, the weather and most importantly the food. I have never been a warm weather person and I pretty much am miserable all summer with the humidity and the heat. No amount of air conditioning ever seems to cool me down enough. When fall rolls around the the temps start to drop, I love it. The weather hasn't gotten bitterly cold, but is just cool enough to start to enjoy great dishes like soups and stew. Beans are one of my favorite ingredients in the fall. There is something very comforting and delicious about all varieties of beans. Luckily my two boys share my love of beans, with one of their favorite fall dishes being bean soup. They absolutely love it and will eat multiple servings. Last week I tried a new recipe for Lemony Lentil Soup from the September issue of Parents magazine, which looked like a perfect fall dish.

This recipe has 12 ingredients. It takes 6 hours of total time, 15 minutes of which is active and makes 4 servings. I had no problems finding any of the ingredients and made no substitutions. I know from previous experience that my local grocery and super stores don't carry red lentils. However, the farmer's market in Charleston does, so I always buy a few pounds and keep it in my cupboard. I love that they have bulk beans, they are a great way to save money. Make sure to mince the carrots and onion. The recipe states to chop both of the ingredients, but my husband and I weren't fans of the texture after being in the crockpot. I would suggest dicing both of the ingredients and then sauteing them in a little bit of butter until they are soft and then adding to the crockpot. This would eliminate the texture problem. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I love lentil soup. The lemon flavor in this soup was delicious and really brought out the flavor of the lentils. The one thing that I was not a fan of was the texture of the carrots and onion. They tasted almost not all the way cooked and they definitely would be better diced and then sauteed instead of chopped. The leftovers of this soup re-heated well and my two boys ate the leftovers happily.

For the recipe go to Lemony Lentil Soup. 

October 2, 2012

Crock-Pot Oatmeal Banana Maple Parfaits


Breakfast has always been my biggest food struggle. I am great about eating balanced lunch and dinners, but breakfast is another story. If you have read my blog for a while you know that I have made a number of food changes in the last 6 months. One of the major changes I have made has been to eat a healthy breakfast each and every morning. Some mornings it can be a major struggle, but I still make the effort. One way that I have found to save a lot of time at breakfast is to prep the ingredients or whole meal the night before. As you all know I love my crockpot and it can be a great breakfast tool. Most people think of their slow-cooker as a dinner helper, but it is also perfect for breakfast. Last week I tried a new recipe for Oatmeal Banana Maple Parfaits from the September issue of Family Circle, which looked like a perfect healthy breakfast option.

This recipe has 7 ingredients. It takes a total of 8 hours of cook time and 15 minutes of prep and makes 6 servings. All the ingredients were easy to find at my local grocery store and I made no ingredient modifications. Make sure to use pure maple syrup, the imitation syrup pales in comparison. I actually only used the pumpkin pie spice as a topping on my serving. My two boys tried the oatmeal with the pumpkin pie spice and did not like it at all, so I took it off their servings. I chose to serve the parfaits in milkshake glasses. I thought it made for a great presentation and worked well to eat. I followed the remainder of the recipe as written.

I really liked these parfaits. It took my two kids longer to warm up to them. When I first made them with the pumpkin pie spice, they weren't fans, but when I served them the leftovers and left off the spice they loved them. I like that they use the crockpot, it saves a lot of time and the results were delicious. I would definitely make this recipe again.

For the recipe go to Oatmeal Banana Maple Parfaits.
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