Sunday, September 23, 2012

Crockpot Apple Hot Cereal

Fall has especially begun and thank goodness for that! I am sooo ready for the apples and cinnamon and pumpkins that fill the kitchen for fall baking - yum! My wonderful dad brought me a dozen apples from his "farm" (aka the apple tree in his backyard) last week, so of course I had to whip out my slow cooker and turn these delicious pommes into a breakfast-worthy hot cereal. I give you Crockpot Apple Hot Cereal!

Crockpot Apple Hot Cereal

12 peeled, sliced apples
2 cups granola
1 T cinnamon 
1/4 cup honey
2 T melted butter


1. Spray inside of your crockpot with nonstick cooking spray
2. Put apples, granola, and cinnamon in the crockpot and mix it well
3. Stir together honey and melted butter and mix it into the apple mixture
4. Put on the crockpot lid and cook on low for 5 hours or until the apples are cooked
5. Serve plain or with a dollop of plain or vanilla yogurt on top

Refrigerate the leftovers in individual portions for super-easy weekday morning breakfasts.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Full Weekend of Family Time

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go. Although, unlike John Denver, I'll be catching a train, not a plane, this evening - at least I can thank God for *that* small favor! Regardless, I can definitely relate to the elephant of emotions currently sitting on my chest, weighing down my lungs and making it physically hard to breathe. As soon as my husband gets home from work, we're heading downtown to have an early family dinner and then they're putting me on the train to Portland. I can't even count the number of times I have left my family for work over the past 14 months, and yet it never gets any easier. I'm sure people are getting tired of me kvetching about it, though!

We had a great weekend, lots of family time. I took the evening train up from Portland on Thursday. It had been a long two weeks since I'd seen my husband or Monkey, which felt even longer after spending the whole summer with Monkey and lots of extra time with my husband, as well! Back-to-school is a little extreme at my apartment this year - everybody goes back to Tacoma. Friday I spent the morning volunteering in my husband's classroom, helping each student in turn dress up and take a "Hollywood headshot" to use in class activities throughout the year. Man, I'm going to have to ask my husband to write
about his fantastic classroom decor this year - it's pretty much the best Hollywood theme come to life ever! Friday afternoon was telecommuting back to the office in Portland.

Friday night was frantic, last-minute costume fitting & alterations (did I mention I haven't seen Monkey or his little body in 2 weeks?), all in preparation for getting up super-early on Saturday morning to drive down to the Kelso Highlander Festival (2/3 of the way to Portland, ironically) for Monkey to compete for the very first time as a Beginner - yeah! While I think it's inhumane to have to get up at 5:30 am on a Saturday for any reason, doing something cool with Monkey and my husband is at the top of the list.

Monkey did the Fling for the first time in competition (or onstage at all!) and the Sword for the third time in competition, although the first time he's managed to do it as well in competition as he does for shows and in practice - yeah! My husband and I were so proud that he got a 5th place medal in both dances, that he remembered his manners (stepping back after the sword to let the little ladies next to him walk off stage first - aaaw!), and that he didn't get a "stamp" (Beginners have to place 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in a Highland dance in order to get a stamp and have to get a stamp at 6 different competitions in order to move up to the next category, Novice). It sounds strange to be grateful for no stamp, I know, but one of the reasons we have Monkey in Highland is so he can learn discipline and the value of working hard at your goals. Let's just say that his practice habits haven't quite caught up with his ambitions, at this point. We're happy for him to take as long as he needs in Beginner!

Saturday afternoon my husband and I took a much-needed nap. Monkey did not. Two of his cousins were over (granny was watching them while their parents were at work) so Monkey was busy playing. It proved to be a bit of an issue later that evening, though, when we took Monkey to the Puyallup Fair for the first time. Have I mentioned my husband is a Puyallup Fair fanatic? He's been dreaming about this moment, taking his offspring to experience this magical event with him, for *years*! Needless to say, the reality of a tired, cranky, 7-year-old Monkey Boy did not live up to the husband's expectations. Sad times for him :-( I had fun, though! Probably because I went into it with only the expectation of spending time with my husband and son. Low expectations are often the key when dealing with tired children, I find.

Sunday was lay-around-the-house-and-be-lazy day for me, although I did spend some time helping my husband with housework. I also got together a giant pile of outgrown Monkey clothes to take to our favorite Tacoma resale shop, Blooming Kids, this morning. Have I mentioned how fantastic they are? They let me bring in clothes when I'm in town and then pick up the money and clothes they can't use the next time I'm back in town. Very helpful for the mommy who commutes 200 miles to work. It was lovely to get 9 full paper bags of outgrown clothes out of Monkey's room today!

So yeah, overall a good weekend. Except now I have to go. Will this ever get easier?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mmm, Mmm, Good!

You know what I love? When you try a new recipe, not really expecting too much beyond nourishment, and it ends up being entirely, deliciously good. So good that you think, oh my goodness, how have I never made/tasted this before?!? I seriously can't wait to try this recipe on my husband and Monkey Boy the next time we're all in the same city.

So I started out at Food on the Table (sidenote: Have you tried Food on the Table for meal planning/grocery list making? It's amaaaazing! My favorite feature is it takes the budget benefits of meal planning a step further and suggests recipes based on what's currently on sale at your favorite 3 grocery stores - no more searching the sale fliers!). Found a recipe for Sour Cream Chicken & Potatoes and thought it sounded tasty. Hey, I like chicken, I like potatoes - why not give it a try? I decided to mix is up a little tonight, though, based on what I had available in the house and what sounded good. Oh, also based on the fact that I don't currently own a blender or a potato masher. Sad, yes? Que sera, though - here's the recipe:

Emily's Sour Cream Chicken & Potatoes

4 large white potatoes
1 cup fresh or frozen spinach
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup sour cream
2 T butter
1/2 cup frozen diced onions
1 clove garlic, diced
4 chicken breasts
1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes w/garlic & olive oil, undrained

You will also need a large pot, a large bowl, a casserole dish, a potato-peeler, a paring knife, a can opener, and a few spoons.


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2. Peel potatoes, put in the large pot with enough water to cover, add spinach, and bring to a boil. Cook until tender.

3. In the large bowl, combine Parmesan cheese and sour cream. Blend with a spoon.

4. Drain potatoes & spinach, mix into Parmesan cheese & sour cream. Mash potatoes until fairly smooth with the side of the spoon (um...feel free to use your potato masher, if you have one...just be sure to mash before adding to the cheese/sour cream mix or you'll have a big mess!)

5. In the large pot (which will now smell yummy like potatoes & spinach) saute the onions and garlic in butter. Add the chicken and brown on both sides. Add the can of tomatoes and simmer until everything is all hot and bubbly and delicious.

6. Pour the chicken mixture into the casserole dish. Top with the potato mixture. Pop in the preheated oven.

7. Cook in 15 minute increments until the top is bubbly and slightly browned around the edges - you basically want to make sure that the chicken is fully cooked and the cheese is all bubbly. Mmmm...warm cheeeese...anyhow, I let mine cook for 30 minutes.

8. Carefully remove the casserole from the oven (sidenote: I also don't have any oven mitts, at the moment. I never seem to remember this until it's time to remove something from the oven...sigh...) and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

9. Serve. Eat. Burp. Pack up any leftovers for tomorrow. Yum!

This recipe serves a family of 4 for one dinner or, if you live alone on weekdays, like me, a family of 1 for one dinner, as well as 1 container of leftovers for tomorrow's lunch and 2 containers of leftovers to pull out of the freezer when the next cravings hit. Did I mention yum?

Hope you like this recipe as much as I did!