Sunday, November 3, 2013


There is nothing quite as insane, yet oddly satisfying, about completely frogging a half complete hat just to try out a new starting technique you just found online.
And better still? It's working better than I hoped!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Em's Birthday Picnic

Emily turns SEVEN on Wednesday, but since she'll most likely be spending the week with her Mommy, we had our party yesterday.
Our backyard is unfortunately barren of grass, toys and a playset. And I've been so busy that making game stations was...well...not happening.
So we met up with everyone at the park here in town. It's funny because initially we were only expecting a HS friend and her crew of 5 and a new friend with her 3 plus 1. We wound up with friends showing up that we hadn't seen in years. It was so awesome for us AND all the kids.
She was amazed we knew EXACTLY what she wanted. Haha!
Gifts from friends makes this girl HAPPY.
B got a girl...that he's got a crush on.
Nope, these boys aren't related..not with those noses...
D enjoying the cake pops that Grampa made since he couldn't make it.
Most of my friends wouldn't get why I geeked out when I saw this on the picnic table, but fans of Doctor Who will get it.
Perfect end to a perfect day

For the food, we grabbed a big pack of 24 hot dogs from Aldi for $3.99 and 3 packs of buns for $0.79 each. I boiled the hot dogs and then put them in the buns. We had a big container that some storage containers came in. It was perfect. It kept everything neat and the lid kept the steam in so the buns didn't get crusty.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan

I've seen recipes on Pinterest for making chicken parm in the crock pot and I've been wanting to do it for a while now. Yesterday, I didn't plan ahead for dinner before I left for work, but I was contemplating making the chicken parm. When I left work, I called T to ask what was for dinner, and the first thing out of his mouth was...Chicken Parm!

When I got home, the internet was being wonky and wouldn't load Pinterest on my phone so I could get to the recipe. I remembered that it had bread crumbs involved and the chicken was supposed to have that nice crispy crust. Well...mine didn't get the crispy crust, since I didn't get to reread the recipe. But when I bit into the chicken, my reaction was "Holy COW, this is AMAZING". We will DEFINITELY be making this meal again when the kids get home. And if My Fitness Pal is to be believed, it's roughly 375-400 calories per serving, too!

Slow Cooker Chicken Parm
Frozen chicken tenders - I used about half the 2.5 lb bag from Aldi
1Jar spaghetti sauce - I used the mushroom kind from Aldi, but any of their sauces would be great
2-3 Tbsp minced garlic (I LOVE garlic, so you can do more or less, depending on your taste)
1 box whole wheat thin spaghetti - Aldi has fit and active brand
1 small can mushrooms
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
Parsley, Basil, Oregano
Onion Powder

I started by layering the chicken tenders in the bottom of the crock pot, and then sprinkling the onion powder, salt, pepper and Italian herbs on top.
Next I dropped the healthy dose of garlic on top, along with the bread crumbs and grated Parmesan. And then you pour in the spaghetti sauce. Once I poured the sauce in, there was still a good bit in the jar that I wanted to use and not waste. Rather than using a spatula to try and scrape it out, inevitably getting sauce all over my knuckles, I poured in a little bit of water, no more than 1/4 of the jar, put the lid on and shook it until the sides were clear. Then I just dumped it, water and all into the crock pot.
I didn't have all night to wait, so I put the lid on the crock pot and set it to high. If I'd been smart and set it up before I left for work, I would have set it for low and just let all the ingredients make friends through the day. But it's nice to know that I can set it for high and have a delicious meal in about 2 hours (during which I watched a couple episodes of Orange is the New Black on Netflix.

Once the chicken was cooked through, I put the pasta on to cook. In it's own pot. On the stove. Haha...after the rice fiasco the other night, I wasn't taking ANY chances with dinner. So I just cooked the spaghetti like normal on the stove. Once it was done, though, I just drained it and dumped it into the crock pot with the chicken and sauce. I mixed it all through and then sprinkled some more Parmesan on top (I'm a firm believer that you can almost never have too much cheese).
This was so good that we were all fatties and ate the WHOLE THING. No leftovers.
So do yourself a favor - make this for dinner. You can thank me later.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Sriracha Chicken

Hi. My name is Megan. And I'm addicted to Pinterest.

There. I said it.

And I made it, too.
Sriracha Chicken, that is.
I have this bad(?) habit of looking at the name of something and the picture and saying to myself "You can make that, you don't even need to look at the recipe!"

That's what happened here.

I saw the Honey Sriracha Chicken on Pinterest and despite my lack of love for the spicier foods in life, I decided it was a must for our lives.

I decided that I would throw this one together in the crock pot. I want to sound cool and say that it was because I knew the flavors would meld together and it would make everything super flavorful and delicious. Really, though....I didn't want to stand and baby it at the skillet and the chicken was still frozen. :)
Chicken tenderloins - I used about 2 lbs because I wanted to have leftovers
Edemame - this is optional, but they are spicy delicious!
Corn - 1 can
Crushed Pineapple - About 3 Tbsp
Sriracha sauce - I used about 4 Tbsp, but it really depends on your preference
Honey - We only had about 1/4 of the small bear left, and I used half of that
Plain Yogurt - approximately 1/2 cup
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder to taste

I layered the chicken on the bottom, then threw the edemame and corn on top. Add the crushed pineapple and the rest of the ingredients on top, pour in some water (how much sauce do you want? Don't forget that the chicken will release a decent amount of juice, too). I was in a hurry so I put it on high for about 2 hours, but this would be PERFECT to set up before work, set it to low and let it cook until you get home. **Wait until just before serving to fold in the yogurt. It seems like it tempers the spice of the sriracha more than if you let it cook in there from the beginning.**

I have to put a disclaimer in here. Travis doesn't like rice. He grew up with rice at meals like I grew up with mashed potatoes...except I still love mashed taters. Instead of letting me make the pasta I had intended to put this deliciousness over, he suggested rice.

In my head, I KNEW that making the rice in the rice cooker and then adding it was the way to go. And then my laziness and desire to do nothing took over and I dumped the rice in the crock pot, convincing myself that it would be fine and the rice would be done in 20 minutes or so.
Don't do this. Either cook it separately or make pasta. The rice didn't cook. It stayed crispy inside and mushy on the outside...and it's gross.

But there's light at the end of the tunnel for this mess! There's hope for you yet!
D LOVES the cheese roll up from Taco Bell. We pulled the chicken out and shredded it. T had a quesadilla and D and me had chicken and cheese roll ups. DELICIOSO!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Grocery Shopping on a B.U.D.G.E.T

Recently, my team at work lost our overtime. Now, I am a strong advocate of living within your means, not using credit (beyond the obvious of house/car) if at all possible and not relying on overtime to survive. But I must say that it is really hard to go from having that little bit of extra cash each paycheck to have fun with to having to budget tightly to make sure you have enough food for everyone. And have I mentioned that with the hubs father living with us, we're a house of SIX. Eep!

So instead of freaking out and losing my marbles over how we were going to feed everyone AND keep it healthier than frozen pizza and chicken nuggets, I turned to Pinterest. Ok, I won't lie. I totally lost my cool, freaked out, raged, cried and stared at the wall when we found out about the income loss. But I had to so I could get it out of my system and move on.

Back to Pinterest. I've got my boards organized so that I have a healthy foods and a not so healthy but yummy foods. If you want to see my boards (including the others that are NOT food oriented), you can follow me. I went first to my healthy foods board for inspiration. I have learned in the past that my family doesn't do well when I try to make a per day menu. We all tend to eat what we crave, within reason, and trying to make a menu telling us what we were going to eat each day for the next week was setting us up to fail. I think that's the first thing you need to think about - how does your family typically choose it's meals? How much variety do they usually prefer? If they're comfortable eating the same basic meal plan each week, then half the work is already done for you. Otherwise, you'll want to sit down and make a menu.
This is the menu I made this morning to help me figure out what to buy. I went through last paycheck's menu and wrote down the meals we enjoyed or the ones we definitely want to try. Then I went through my Pinterest food boards and found other meals that we might want to try. Looking at the menu, I know there are foods on there that don't seem very healthy (Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo, anyone?) but these are just ideas to get me thinking. You'll see later how I make them a just as tasty but lighter version. The point of the above menu, posted on our fridge, is so we choose a meal off the menu and know from the start that it's healthy, tasty, and best of all - we have the ingredients already on hand.

Once we get the menu figured out, then it's time to make the grocery list. I shop at Aldi. If you've been there, then it's 'nuff said. And if you don't? Well, this will help you, too, but you don't know the savings you're missing.
My list above is just the basic lay out. I tried to group similar items together, or at least items that are near each other in my Aldi. For the frozen meats, I bought 2 of each, just to make sure I have enough to make a couple of different options. I only bought one of each package of fresh veggies (cucumbers not included), just because I don't want to risk them going bad before I can use them.

Before (am I the only one who gets excited when I see the 10 free diapers on the side of the box?):
After $188 at Aldi - our trunk is really big...and a lot of the stuff is buried in and around the diaper box!
So there you have it. Other than some more veggies, bread, milk and breakfast cereal, that should last us for 2 weeks. I do have to admit that we stopped by Food Lion after dinner tonight so I could get some whipped topping and vanilla wafers. I'll post the recipe for using those later - there are 2 frozen recipes that are AMAZING and won't kill your diet!

I'm Baaaaaack!

It's been a long time, shouldn't have left you...
Sorry, I've been listening to my Justin Timberlake station on Pandora lately and Aaliyah plays often.

Anywhoo...We moved into our new house and we're settled in. There's still no art on the walls, but we're working to figure out what we want to have that we'll ALL be happy with (SORRY babe, not having horror movie posters all over the house!)

The big kids finished 2nd and first grades at their new school and things went MUCH better than at their old school. It's amazing how getting to start over can make all the difference. They're both looking forward to the upcoming school year with new friends and cousins that just so happen to go to school with them. And Em's birthday is coming up with our first ever birthday party at OUR house.

Baby D (who is not so baby and will be THREE in September) is just about done with his speech therapy and everyone is shocked at how well he's enunciating and the sentences he's stringing together. We've been trying to use bigger words around the house, not just for his benefit, but for the big kids, too.

And the last update. The girl who shares my cube wall, and the rest of her team that sits near us for that matter, call me SuperMegs because of all the from scratch cooking I do, sewing for me and the kids, and general craftiness. They're consistently amazed at how I get up and get myself ready for work while packing lunches and getting the kids up and ready.To me, it's hilarious that they think I'm so spectacular when in my head it just all makes sense and seem normal. But on those off days when I have no confidence in myself, I pull out the Wonder Woman earrings the hubs got me for Christmas. They "totes" help. :)

So the friend at work keeps pestering me to set up a blog with my cooking and crafting adventures so she can learn from me. Little did she know that I already had a blog that I'd been neglecting and wanting to get back into. This one's for you, Kisha...I'm going to start later tonight with a blog about today's menu planning and grocery shopping trip. Since we lost overtime at work, money has gotten a little bit tighter and we've had to make sure that our grocery shopping for 2 weeks at a time is tight and on point. If we forget anything, it had better be little and cheap, and NOT a whole meal, right? So the first blog post on this will include the menu for my family for the next 2 weeks and the grocery list I made (and of course don't use because lists live longer, more productive lives inside my head). I'll also share the before and after pictures of our trunk so you can see what the money bought.

After that, I'll try to do a post or two each week on meals that I've cooked and the family has enjoyed. We are all trying to eat healthier, so you won't see a lot of meals with red meat, and (hopefully) you'll see more veggies in play. Remember, B hates veggies, so if I can make healthy, delicious veggies that HE'LL eat, then you'll be good, too!

See you soon!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

We're Moving!!!

Yup, we finally did it. We got our ducks in a row, the tax man paid up and we are signing the lease today.

I've lived with my parents for the past 5 years, since my last relationship went south. While I was employed I entertained the thought of purchasing my own home, but I just couldn't find the right house in the right area for the right price. And it's a good thing, too, considering I both lost my job and got pregnant in 2009. I guess it was just the universe telling me to wait for something better.

Then in 2009, T and the big kids moved in. Remember the lost job? September, 2 weeks after they moved in. And the pregnancy? D was our Christmas miracle.

It's been a tough road, but it feels like our hard work and faith is finally paying off.

Stay tuned...I finally got the blogger app, and I can't imagine I won't have some crafty home ideas for rentals!