Yummy Fall Dessert Links

Yummy Fall Dessert Links

Yummy Fall Dessert Links

Who doesn’t love to try new Fall dessert recipes?!?!  And here are some great ones to get you started.  I know … it’s only August.  But in my defense, it’s almost THE END of August.  So Fall is just around the corner.  And there are apples, and pumpkins, and “etc” … that need to be baked into sweet recipes for you and your family to enjoy.

Crock Pot Apple Crisp – this is a yummy recipe, guaranteed to make your house smell wonderful this fall!  From Jenn at More Than A Mom Of Three

Homemade Granola – this from my sister’s blog, The Crooked Fence Blog.  My sis is a wonderful cook, and makes great and healthy goodies for her family, which includes 3 teenagers!

Brownie Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake – this is a luscious-looking dessert from Jolene at Flavours and Frosting.  Brownies, pumpkin AND cheesecake – this sounds like heaven!

Mini Apple Pie Bites – from Jessica and Jacy at All She Cooks

Mixed Berry Crisp – this is an easy dessert recipe from Anjanette at Mamma Young At Home

Apple Cinnamon Cream Cheese Bread – from Jen at CincyShopper.com

Pumpkin Bars with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting –  from Angela and Laura at About A Mom

Hopefully these fall dessert recipes will inspire you!

I will be adding to this list, so feel free to comment in the section below, and share your fall dessert recipe.  I would LOVE to add it to the list, and share it with other readers.  Thanks!

 

5 Steps To A Successful Grocery Budget

5 Steps To A Successful Grocery Budget

5 Steps To A Successful Grocery Budget

So you’ve decided to set a grocery budget to corral that spending at the grocery store.  If you’re like me (and I’m betting that you are, even if just a bit) you may struggle with sticking to that budget.  It’s easy to overspend, especially when you have a spouse and/or kids who are asking for things that might put you over budget.  Or maybe you start out with good intentions, but find that halfway through the month your grocery budget is gone and you now have to overspend.  Ya gotta eat, right?!?!

Here are a few steps to help you stay within your grocery budget:

  • Set a monthly amount to spend on groceries, and then put the cash in an envelope – this will make it easier to stick to your budget, and not be spending more than you intend by using your debit card to pay for groceries. And DO NOT use credit cards to pay for groceries! Why in the world would you want to buy a gallon of milk this week and be paying interest on it 6 months later?!?! Oh, I know – the “points” and other goodies offered by the credit card companies. GET OVER THAT! It’s not worth it. Personally, I’d rather have the extra cash I DON’T spend in my pocket than the promise of “points” on my credit card. But maybe that’s just me.
  • Make a weekly meal plan – if you have a plan, you will be better able to stick to your grocery budget. A weekly plan will help you know what to fix for dinner each day, and will lessen you impulsively stopping for fast food or pizza on your way home from work, etc. Here are some resources that you can use:  15 Tips for Better Weekly Meal Planning, Meal Planning: Save Time In The Kitchen
  • Look for sales and coupons that you can take advantage of at the store – look through the ads for local stores in the paper, or in newspaper inserts. You can use these sales to help with your weekly meal plan; weekly sales can lead to ideas for inexpensive meals for that week. Also, check the newspaper or websites for coupons that you can use. Some useful websites where you can find and print coupons: www.smartsource.com, www.coupons.com, and www.redplum.com
  • Make a list, and stick to it – the best way to blow your food budget is to go shopping without a list. Your list will keep you on track, and (if you stick to it) will make sure that you don’t overspend on items that you don’t need. You might think you need them, because you want them in the moment when you see them on the shelves. But they are impulse purchases, and they will ruin your grocery budget.
  • Go grocery shopping once a week – don’t make a trip to the store every day, or every other day. Don’t run to the grocery store for one or two items that have suddenly run out. If you make a list, you will be able to get what you need when you make your weekly shopping trip, and won’t overspend. Remember, the less time you spend in the store the less chance you have of overspending on your grocery budget.

What are your favorite tips for saving money, and staying within your grocery budget? Share them with us! Use the comments section to add your favorite tip, or if you have a post about grocery budgets – share the link. Your ideas can help the rest of us.   :)

 

Crock Pot Chicken Recipes

Crock Pot Chicken Recipes

Crock Pot Chicken Recipes

I am always on the lookout for great (AND EASY) crock pot chicken recipes.  I love to use my crock pot to cook dinner while I am at work, or doing more interesting things.

I love being able to put a few ingredients into the crock pot in the morning, and when I get home from work or errands … there’s that wonderful smell of dinner cooking when you walk in the door.

Then just pair it with a salad and/or some fresh bread or rolls – and you have a satisfying (and did I mention EASY) meal for you and your family.

Crock pot Chicken Recipes

Crock pot Chicken Recipes

So here are links to some great recipes for you to try:

Crockpot Ranch Chicken from Penny Pincher Jenny – only 4 ingredients

Crockpot Greek Style Chicken from Arlene at Flour On My Face – a family recipe for baked chicken that she successfully converted to a crock pot recipe.

Here’s another recipe from Arlene at Flour On My Face:  Crock Pot Chicken a la King

Best Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Recipe from Lolli at Better in Bulk

Easiest Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken – one of my own recipes, and only uses 3 ingredients

Crockpot Taco Soup – again, one of mine – and a favorite for my whole family

I will add to this list of crock pot chicken recipes, so why not let me include yours?

Just leave a comment below, or email me with the link.  I would love to add yours to the list!

Oh, and if you were wondering:

“People tend to use the terms “Crock Pot” and “slow cookers” interchangeably, but they are not, in fact, interchangeable. While all Crock Pots are slow cookers, not all slow cookers are Crock Pots.  Crock Pots are to slow cookers as Kleenex are to tissues, or Band-Aids are to bandages. Crock Pot is a brand name.” – from A Brief History of The Crock Pot, The Original Slow Cooker by the Huffington Post.  There is a lot more to the article, so feel free to click and learn more.

OK, so I learned two things from this – Crock Pot is not one word, and I should have entitled this post “Slow Cooker Chicken Recipes.”  Oh well … next time I’ll know better.  :)

 

 

Why I Will Not Drive With My Parents – Part 2

Why I Will Not Drive With My Parents - Part 2

Why I Will Not Drive With My Parents

Oh yeah.  In my previous post “Why I Will Not Drive With My Parents – Part 1” I mentioned that my folks feel the need to critique my driving.  That’s my other pet peeve about driving with them.  They can’t seem to remember that I have been driving for many years now, and I am not still 16 with a newly-minted drivers license.  Here’s an example:

We switch drivers in Spokane, and it’s my turn in the hot … uh … driver’s seat.  Now you need to know, once you head south out of Spokane there is a LONG, uneventful drive until you get to the Tri Cities area.  And, as I hope, everyone else in the car falls asleep.  YEESSS!

My hope is that everyone STAYS asleep until we cross back over into Oregon.  But that’s not going to happen.  Both my parents wake up just before we start through the Tri-Cities area.  And my mom fires up the “navigator” app on her phone.  She seems to have forgotten that I have driven this route numerous times while my daughter attended college in Missoula, when I went to visit her there for football games and such.  Or drove over for graduation.  Etc.

Go Griz!

 

Anyway, she doesn’t say anything, just opens the app.  But I can hear it … from the backseat, the voice calmly directing me which exit to take, how long before I need to turn, etc.  I bite my tongue and resist the urge to frantically reach back, grab the phone and chuck it out the window.

With the Tri-Cities area cleared, my parents start in again just short of the Oregon/Washington line.  After their nap, they are rested and primed.  And they disagree about which highway we need to take to get back to Portland.

Mom – (to me) “Now you’ll need to take Highway 34 as soon as you cross over the bridge.”

Dad – (sitting in the front seat, not hearing what Mom just said) “Highway 375 should get you right onto Highway 84 as soon as you get across the bridge.”

Mom – (to Dad) “Once you get on Highway 34 it automatically turns into Highway 84.”

Dad – (still not hearing what Mom said, asking my daughter in the back seat) “Rachel, can you hand me a bottle of water?”

I drive across the bridge, planning to take Highway 34, because I already know that’s the shortest way to get to Highway 84.  As I get to the exit sign for Highway 375, Dad pipes up and says, “Right here.  This is where you need to get off.  Take this exit.”  Oh, what the hell.  I love my dad.  I don’t feel like arguing.  We’ll take the exit – not a big deal.  But now Mom is riled.

Mom – “No!  That way is all small towns and back roads.  It just adds time.  Your dad likes to go that way because it’s habit.  You should have stayed on and got off at the exit for Highway 34.  Now we’ve added about half an hour to our drive home.”

Are you beginning to understand why I will not drive with my parents?

Dad says nothing.  Rachel says she has to go to the bathroom.  Mom tells me that I should start looking for a fast food place rather than a gas station, because gas station restrooms are notoriously more unclean than fast food restrooms.

I drive on, gritting my teeth.  I will be so glad to change drivers again.  We drive on in silence for about 5 miles, passing through a couple of wide spots in the road that might be towns.  No fast food places, though.  I see a sign for a nearby town, and ask Rachel if she can wait for another few miles.  Mom informs me that she thinks that town is too far away for Rachel to wait.

I see a gas station with a convenience store attached, and swerve across lanes like a drowning man grabbing for a life preserver.  As I bounce against the curb in front of the store, I frantically unhook my seatbelt and announce, “Driver Switch!”

As my daughter and I stand outside the restroom a few minutes later, waiting for my Mom to exit so we can all get back into the Tahoe, I whisper in her ear, “If I ever agree to another road trip with Grandma and Grandpa, I want you to hit me in the head with a 2X4.”  She grins and winks at me.  She understands why I will not drive with my parents.  :)

5 Countries I Want To Visit

One of the “biggies” on my bucket list is to travel.  And I have a list of 5 countries I want to visit.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the money (right now) to make these trips.  But someday …

So here is my list of five countries to which I would like to travel:

Great Britain & Ireland - 5 countries I want to visit

Great Britain & Ireland

  • Scotland
  • Ireland
  • England

This would be my first choice, making a trip throughout all 3 countries.  I have been told by my grandmother that many of her ancestors came from this area.  I would love to visit, and get to know this part of my family’s history better.  I have always loved Irish music, and Scottish accents.  The history of this part of the world has been of interest to me for a long time.

Australia & New Zealand - 5 countries I want to visit

Australia & New Zealand

  • Australia
  • New Zealand

I have wanted to visit these two countries for many years now.  My father visited New Zealand many years ago, and I remember him telling us all about what he had seen.  I would love to see both of these countries!

Greece - 5 countries I want to visit

Greece

  • Greece

This choice is a sentimental one on behalf of my husband.  He died 4 years ago, and he wanted to visit Greece ever since he was in high school.  He never got the chance.  So I would like to go to Greece, and take my daughters, making this trip in memory of him.

So where would you travel, if lack of money were not a barrier?  Where would be your favorite vacation destination?  Or, if you have traveled, where was your favorite place to travel?  Share with us in the comments section below.

You can also check out 25 Random Facts About Me, if you’re curious to know more stuff about me.  :)

National Cheesecake Day

National Cheesecake Day

National Cheesecake Day

Today (July 30th) is National Cheesecake Day!  I don’t know about you, but one of our favorite desserts is cheesecake.  When my oldest daughter was on a trip with her grandparents in New York, the test of any restaurant they went to for dinner was if there was cheesecake on the dessert menu – if so, then that restaurant was appropriate for dining!

So in honor of this day, here are some of the best links to rockin’ cheesecake recipes:

Simply Recipes Perfect Cheesecake Recipe

Tyler Florence, The Ultimate Cheesecake recipe

Southern Living’s “To Die For” Cheesecake recipes

Original New York Cheesecake recipe from Epicurious

And for those of us (like me) who have never tried making cheesecake before:

How To Make Perfect Cheesecake – from The Kitchn

Have fun, and enjoy your National Cheesecake Day!  :)

 

 

Easiest Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken

Easiest Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken

Easiest Crockpot Hawaiian Chicken

I recently saw a Facebook post by a friend about a crockpot recipe for orange chicken. It was one of the those really easy recipes, with just a few ingredients but promising a great meal with no effort whatsoever.

I love those kind of recipes. They make my day.

So I decided to try my own version. I didn’t have the orange marmalade that the recipe called for, but I had apricot/pineapple jam – so that was used instead.

Here’s how it went down:

4 large chicken breasts

1 jar of Smucker’s apricot/pineapple jam

1 bottle of Kraft BBQ sauce

Ingredients for the easiest crockpot Hawaiian chicken

Ingredients for the easiest crockpot Hawaiian chicken

That’s it – just three ingredients. I layered two of the large chicken breasts in the bottom of the crockpot, and put ½ of the jam and BBQ sauce over the top. Next, layered the last two chicken breasts, and covered them with the remaining jam and BBQ sauce. Then turned on the crockpot and walked away.

Easiest crockpot Hawaiian chicken ever!

Eight hours later, I turned off the crockpot and then walked away again – for about an hour this time, to let the chicken cool just a bit. Then I took two forks and shredded the chicken, leaving it in the crockpot for awhile longer to allow the juices to soak in even further, keeping the chicken very juicy and moist.

There was a lot of juice, and I thought at first that there would be too much liquid. But as the chicken cooled a little I realized that there was just the right amount to allow the mixture to be poured over rice. And that’s exactly what I did. I had steamed brown rice that morning, so poured some of the chicken mixture over the rice. It was awesome!

Easily the easiest and best Hawaiian chicken I’ve ever made. The pineapple in the jam gave it a sweet taste that was just right. Next time I will have to try it with the orange marmalade.  :)

Want more crockpot recipes?  Here are a few more to try:

Crockpot Taco Soup

Crockpot Tomato Lentil Soup

 

Why I Will Not Drive With My Parents – Part 1

 

Why I Will Not Drive With My Parents

Why I Will Not Drive With My Parents – Part 1

I recently returned from a road trip to Montana for my oldest daughter’s wedding.  The wedding was wonderful, and I will probably post something about it later. But right now, I want to discuss/vent/whine about the drive over and back … with my parents.  Yes, in order to be fiscally responsible, I chose to drive with my parents.  They are in their early 70’s, so they are still very responsible on the road, and they have a more dependable vehicle than I do at this time.  So my youngest daughter and I packed our suitcases and loaded up their Tahoe to share the ride to Montana. The ride over was not very eventful … probably because my dad as not along for the ride on that leg of the trip.  He was not able to get away from the farm early enough to leave with us, so he flew in the next day.  It’s not that he is the source of drama … he’s not, really.  It’s the two of them, my Mom and my Dad, together … in the same vehicle … for 10 hours … that’s where the drama comes from.  And where the “funny” starts.

Now you need to know that my parents are happily married.  They will celebrate their 52nd wedding anniversary later this year.  They have a good marriage, and are a great example of a true partnership – both in their marriage and in their business.  They have modeled the partnership of marriage for us kids at every level, every day.  It’s just that … how do I say this?  As they age … their interactions sometimes lack the “finesse” that they once had. My problems with my parents don’t center around their driving skills … not really.

Although, I will say that my Mom does exhibit the typical reticence to exceed the speed limit that plagues many of her peers.  She is not like her mother.  My grandmother owned a Dodge Charger, and once got a speeding ticket while driving all of us grandkids to vacation Bible school.  ‘Nough said.

No, the problems break down into two areas:  disagreement between them about how the other one is driving, and feeling like they also have to direct MY driving. Example:  on the drive back my dad was the first one up to drive when we left the hotel in Montana.  Which is only fitting, because he was the one who made the decision about how early we would hit the road that day.  The man cannot stand to have a leisurely drive home:  when we were kids, and were returning from a family vacation (those were few and far between, BTW) he would floor it all the way home.  Once we are pointed in the direction of the farm, the only thing that matters is getting back there ASAP.

So back to my story – Dad is driving, and making good time.  My daughter and I are dozing in the backseat of the Tahoe.  My mom is sitting in the front seat, watching signs and commenting on how fast the other drivers are driving.  Soon she starts asking my dad if he needs to pull over and change drivers, pointing out that everyone was up late the night before at the wedding reception and is he getting too tired to drive.  My dad is doing a fine job of driving – he’s not swerving at all, maintaining a safe speed, and generally had the vehicle under control.  The fact that my daughter and I are able to sleep while he is driving should attest to the fact that he is not an impaired driver.  But Mom keeps asking every 10 miles or so.

Finally Dad does the only thing he can – he pulls over at the next rest stop and they change drivers.  And he’s asleep in the passenger seat within 60 seconds.  Not because he was that tired … but because my dad can sleep anywhere, and will take any opportunity to catch a cat nap.  He’s a farmer, people.  And this is harvest season, so he’s been repairing machinery by day and swathing fields by night.  If he sits down and is still for a minute, he’s going to fall asleep.

To Be Continued ….  :)

Here’s a related clip from one of my favorite comedians, Tim Hawkins.  This is so true, and hits close to home!