Tuesday, July 31, 2012

italian chicken: "slow cooker sunday's"

i love making pasta salad during the summer.  i always take it to parties or get-togethers and it is usually a big hit.
here is an awful pic i took with my phone last year.  pasta salad is on the bottom right.

i was craving it this past weekend, but definitely not craving all of the pasta.  so i left it out.
Vegetable Salad

 
ingredients:
cherry tomatoes
green bell pepper
red bell pepper
celery
radish
black olives
sharp cheddar cheese
salt & pepper
italian seasoning or oregano
italian dressing
{i always use the wish bone brand}

this dish is so good with, or without the pasta (obviously much better with).  you can add or leave out any veggies you want.  i have noticed that a lot of people who aren't usually a fan of celery and especially radishes don't mind them in this dish.  you can't really taste them and they add a nice crunch.

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slow cooker sunday's:
vegetable salad {plus chicken}
2 hours cook time
Veg Salad plus Chicken
i didn't want the vegetable salad to go to waste so i cooked some chicken in the slow cooker and added it to the salad.  really simple, really easy, & really good!

ingredients:
chicken breasts
italian dressing
seasoning

directions:
clean chicken
season with italian (i also seasoned with a little tony's).  pour italian dressing over chicken.
cook on low for 2 hours or until cooked throughout
Chicken

remove and serve when ready.
veg salad chicken 2

i like this dish in the summer.  i find it difficult to eat a lot of veggies in the summer because they just seem more wintery.  this way they are raw, cold and delish...works for me!
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Thursday, July 26, 2012

top knot & lobster

last night i did my first top knot:
no sock and no bobby pins...
just a ton of hair!

new fav summer polish:
I Eat Mainely Lobster
OPI
it's a little lighter than cajun shrimp and has a shimmer to it, i love it!
{lobster fingers & shrimp toes is a perfect combo, just sayin}
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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

buffalo chicken sliders: "slow cooker sunday's"

slow cooker sunday's:
buffalo chicken sliders
2 hrs cook time

ingredients:
boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 bottle louisiana wing sauce
1 small bottle frank's hot sauce
1 packet ranch dip
2 tables spoons butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
tony's
1 bag of slider buns

directions:
turn your slow cooker on low and add butter and garlic.  leave in slow cooker while you are preparing your chicken.

cut chicken breats into pieces according to the size of the buns you have.  i bought slider buns so my chicken was on the smaller size.  sprinkle with tony's.

add both bottles of hot sauce and ranch packet to the slow cooker and stir.  add chicken and cook on low for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

remove and serve when ready.

i put a spoon full of ranch dressing on the bottom toasted bun, provolone cheese on the chicken and sliced pickles on top.

...

leftovers:
buffalo chicken salad

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my mom is coming in town!!!  i am so excited!  i spent all day yesterday cleaning the house, the dogs and getting everything ready for her visit.
somebody didn't want their bath...
   



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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

top 5: healthy habits

i try to do these 5 things every day.  i may miss one or two but for the most part, they are a staple in my everyday routine.

1. breakfast smoothie
i literally can not start my day with out one, it just wouldn't be the same.  i occasionally switch up ingredients but what i have going right now is pretty awesome.

3/4 cup water
1/4 cup vanilla soy milk
4 ice cubes
1 banana
1/4 cup oats
1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt
(i add one packet of splenda to the yogurt)
1 cup blueberries
sometimes i'll throw in some fresh fruit if i have it

2. green tea
green tea is really good for you.  i love to drink this in the afternoon, usually after i eat lunch, while i'm working on crafts, blogging or something of that nature.  i drink decaf and i usually add 1 splenda and some honey.

3. post workout protein
i try to work out or exercise 4-5 times a week.  the second i walk out of the gym i am craving the peanut butter toast.  maybe it's because i built up an appetite at the gym but i am usually racing home to eat this.  follow it up with a cup of hot green tea...yum.
3 egg whites
1 slice whole wheat toast w/ peanut butter

4. vitamins
every morning i drink an emergen-c.  i pretty much always buy the super orange but the pink lemonade is good too.  if i stay on top of drinking one a day i rarely get sick.  it's usually when i forget to take them on vacation with me that i come home with a cold. :/

every night i take a multi-vitamin before i go to bed.  a couple of years ago my hair was not growing fast enough so my hair dresser recommended taking a prenatal vitamin.  so that's what i did and i've been taking them ever since.  i always take it with a cup of milk.  evidently you are supposed to have taken prenatal's for 3 months before you get pregnant so whenever that happens i'll be good to go.  pretty much a win-win situation if you ask me.

5. water
water
water
water!!!
i try to drink a lot of water all day, every day.  i usually start off with a glass of cucumber water first thing in the morning and then i continue drinking water the rest of the day.  i hate feeling dehydrated and in this texas summer heat, that can happen way to easy.  water is soo good for you, your health, your skin, etc.
stay hydrated people!
   


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Monday, July 23, 2012

Red Velvet Chocolate Chip Cake Balls

I had a request for cake balls, red velvet or chocolate chip.  Why not both?  I made the red velvet cake according to the directions.  Once the cake cooled completely, I added nestle chocolate chip mini morsels before I added the icing.  I used cream cheese icing and vanilla almond bark for the outer shell.  For decoration, I drizzled chocolate icing and red icing that I dyed from the remaining cream cheese icing.
Ohhh they turned out so good!!!

For a tutorial on how I make cake balls:

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Friday, July 20, 2012

cucumber water

my mom sent me an email a couple weeks ago about the benefits of cucumbers.  too bad i can't find the email anymore :(
either way, i picked some up at the store that sunday and made it a point to be better at incorporating them into my diet.  i started with a cucumber tomato salad that i have made several times, so i knew that would be delish.
Recipe here.
i knew that eating fresh cucumbers every day would get rather boring so that lead me to some heavy research...

cucumber water
slice up a cucumber, put them in a pitcher of water, let it steep overnight and there you have it...cucumber water.
oh this is so awesome and refreshing first thing in the morning. cuc's are packed with vitamin A & C and are extremely hydrating which is very beneficial first thing in the morning since your body dehydrates over night (not to mention, great hydration for these HOT summer days).  each batch of water is good for about 2 days so my husband and i each drink a glass or 2 a day which ends up working out perfect.  i think i'll have another glass right now!
happy friday!
 
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fav free fonts

ok, so i have downloaded one or two fonts before but i am now officially obsessed!  i've seen a lot of pins on pinterest about "free fonts" and it always seemed easy.  after a lot of research on pinterest i found myself at LOVELY LITTLE SNIPETS blog, which features a lot of fonts including a super easy step-by-step guide for installing found HERE.

so that's what i did. it was easy as can be and i've been busy downloading ever since!

here are my fav's from today...
  
i found all of these at dafont.com
BUDMO  MA Sexy  Belta  Callie Hand
Cutie Pop by Megan Toy
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pulled Pork Burritos

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork recipe here
Refried Beans 
Cilantro Lime Rice
Pulled Pork
Salsa Verde
Queso Fresco
Top with salsa and fresh cilantro.  I used whole wheat tortillas for ours.

Cilantro Lime Rice:
Cook rice according to package.  I used white Jasmine long grain rice and I added about a tablespoon of olive oil and a generous pinch of salt.  Once cooked, squeeze fresh lime juice and add fresh chopped cilantro.
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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Pork

Slow Cooker Sunday's:
BBQ Pulled Pork
8 hrs cook time
Ok, before I even start, this is seriously the best meal that has come out of my crock pot yet.  Simply heavenly.

Ingredients:
2 lbs pork loin
2 onions
2 carrots
2 celery stalks
1/2 can beef broth
(I actually used chicken broth bc that's what I had and it turned out just fine, I'd use either)
salt & pepper
pork season rub
minced garlic
BBQ sauce (I used sweet baby rays)

Directions:
Chop up the onion, carrots, and celery and throw it all in the crock pot.  You can leave the pieces large because you will discard them later.
Season the pork with salt & pepper and whatever else you'd like.  Rub the pork season rub all over both sides.  Put some evoo in a pan and sear both sides over medium-high heat until brown.  Place right on top of the veggies and cook on low.
(During my research, I read several recipes that threw their pork straight into the slow cooker without searing it first. I will probably take that route next time to see the difference.)

6 hours later...
Remove from slow cooker, discard veggies (or save for leftovers) and leave the juice in the pot.  This is the step where you shred the pork.  I always do my shredding with 2 forks(whether chicken, pork, etc.). It usually works pretty well but in this case the shredding should be super easy.  After 6 hrs in the cooker the pork should just fall right apart at the slightest touch....mouthwatering!!!!
Put the shredded pork back in the slow cooker, add about half a bottle bbq sauce (I only used half the pork), season with Tony's and stir.  Switch cook setting to warm for about an hour or so.  
{Important: I only put about half of the pork back into the pot because I wanted some pork without BBQ sauce.  I added the veggies that I saved from earlier and together it was delish!  Looking back, I wouldn't have shredded all of the pork I left out.  Just to have a variety}

Remove and serve when ready...
I put a little BBQ swirl on the bottom bun, shredded pork and topped with homemade coleslaw.  Yum!

Sides:
Tomato & Cucumber Salad
Diced tomato, cucumber & sweet vidalia onion.  Use you own judgement as to how much of each.  I love tomatoes and my husband is not too big on onions so I make mine accordingly.
Cut the tomato first and salt & pepper them while you are chopping the onion and cuc.  This way, the salt pulls the juice from the tomato while you are busy chopping.  Add about a tablespoon of sugar, a tablespoon of olive oil and about 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar, maybe more maybe less.  I like mine very vinegar-y so who knows how much I end up putting in mine.  Last, sprinkle with oregano. 
Great summer side!
Especially while I'm on this cucumber kick.

Leftovers:
BBQ Pork Sliders
The next day I decided to switch things up and top with pickles instead of coleslaw.  Perfect for a summer lunch!

...

Click here to see what I did with the shredded pork I set aside...it was yummy!

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On another note, I can't express how excited I am about my new camera!!!  I can't get over how great the pictures are turning out.  My old camera broke a while ago and to be honest, I haven't really felt the need to rush into getting a new one since I always end up using my iPhone.  Well, half way through this meal I ended up getting so frustrated with my pictures and how they just didn't compare at all to the blogs I had been reading soooo that lead me straight to Best Buy of course.  I got the Nikon s8200 and it's amazing...couldn't be happier!  The best part about it, it has a pet setting!  Ahh, meant to be :)
Sweet little Maxer


 
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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

pesto shrimp pasta: "slow cooker sundays"

slow cooker sunday's:
pesto shrimp pasta
4 hours cook time

ingredients:
1 lb frozen medium sized shrimp
1 lb frozen bay scallops
1/2 can low-sodium chicken broth
1 package fresh mushroom
1 large bundle fresh broccoli (or frozen)
1 medium onion
2 lemons
pesto - buitoni all natural
olive oil
minced garlic
garlic powder
onion 7 herb seasoning
salt & pepper
tony's
zesty table blend seasoning
2 cups bow tie pasta

directions:
drizzle olive oil into bottom of slow cooker.  add 1 tablespoon (or more) of minced garlic and 3/4 container of pesto.
add frozen shrimp & scallops and all seasonings.  stir, set slow cooker to low and let cook while preparing veggies.

dice onion and cut broccoli to bite sized pieces.  add to slow cooker along with mushrooms.  cut one lemon in half, squeeze all the juice out and add halves to slow cooker.  add half can of chicken broth, stir and cook on low for 4 hours. 
(you may have to add more seasoning after adding all ingredients depending on your preference.)

once cooked, prepare pasta.  boil 2 cups of bow tie pasta.  once cooked, drain water and leave in pot.  add remaining pesto to pasta and stir.
add pasta to slow cooker, squeeze second lemon, stir and serve when ready.

i was in a bit of a pinch for time so i cooked this meal on high for 2 hours and it came out perfect!

...

appetizer:
bleu cheese wedge
1/4 head of lettuce
blue cheese dressing
diced tomato
diced turkey bacon
top with bleu cheese crumbles
yum!





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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Slow Cooker Spaghetti & Meatballs

Walking into the grocery store this past weekend, the front was decked out with "all american" cook out food.  Yum.  Unfortunately, hot dogs in the slow cooker was not something I wanted to try out.  Now before we start, I know spaghetti is traditionally a Italian dish rather than "american" but it was definitely a staple growing up in my mom's house...one of my all time favorites. With my mom's birthday this week and fourth of July the day after, I figured this would be a great week to make her homemade spaghetti sauce and meatballs. :) 


Slow cooker Sunday's:
Spaghetti & Meatballs
8 hours cook time

Ingredients:
1 lb ground turkey (or beef)
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk (I used skim)
fresh basil
olive oil
minced garlic
1 medium onion
1 large can tomato sauce
3 small cans tomato paste
2 small cans tomato paste (basil, garlic & oregano)
salt & pepper
italian seasoning
garlic powder
onion & herb seasoning

Directions:
Drizzle a little bit of olive oil to the bottom of your slow cooker.  Add diced onion, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper, garlic powder and onion & herb seasoning.  Stir and let simmer on low while preparing meatballs.

Meatballs:
Put meat, milk, bread crumbs, Parmesan, salt & pepper, seasoning and diced basil in a large bowl with enough room for mixing.  
Mix together with your hands and roll into approx. 1 inch balls and set aside.

You might want to remove your rings for this because it can get a little messy.

Spaghetti sauce:
Add tomato sauce and all cans of tomato paste to slow cooker and stir.  You might need to season the sauce again.
Place meatballs on top of sauce and gently push them down into the sauce.  Use a spoon to cover the tops of the meatballs.  Be careful not to break them apart.
Cook on low for 6-8 hrs stirring occasionally.

I love mushrooms in my spaghetti sauce so I added some after about 4 hours.

Leftovers:
This recipe makes a large amount so I was able to fill an entire large Tupperware which I put in the freezer for a lazy day.

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Happy birthday, Mom!
xoxo
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