Archive for April, 2011

Crock Pot Meal: BBQ Pulled Chicken

I “invented” this recipe a few days ago and just had to share!  This recipe has all the components we are looking for:

  • Quick
  • Easy
  • Nutritious
  • Easy on the pocket-book
  • Oh, so tasty!

Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Chicken

Things You Need

  1. Chicken breasts (approximately 1/4-1/2 pound per person/serving) (you can just as easily use pork)
  2. Chicken broth or stalk (1 cup, water will work as a substitute)
  3. Your favorite BBQ sauce (we used hickory smoked and it was delish)
  4. Buns/bread of choice (for a low-carb option try making it into a wrap)

How-to

  1. Put chicken – doesn’t even need to be thawed – into the crock pot.
  2. Add chicken broth, stalk, or water
  3. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 8 hours.
  4. Strain juices, and shred chicken on a plate using two forks.
  5. Mix shredded chicken with your favorite BBQ sauce.
  6. Add to your bread of choice and enjoy!

(Remember you can always make extra and freeze some for an even quicker meal in the future.  If you are new to the blog, or missed the posts on Once A Month Cooking and freezing meals, then click here, here, and here

Some Simple Side Options

  • Baked beans (I add brown sugar and extra BBQ sauce to mine….my husband says they are world-famous, even though he’s never left the US)
  • Corn on the cob
  • Watermelon
  • Okra or fries  (here is a recipe for homemade okra)

Are you looking for a great desert idea?  I made the cake-mix cookies I talked about here and they were so good.  I say were because we’ve already scarfed them down.  I didn’t have any buttermilk, so I added an extra 1/4 cup oil in its place.  The mixture looked a little dry (because the box of cake mix I purchased was 18.5 oz instead of 16 oz), so I added an extra egg.  Click here for that recipe.   Here’s a picture 🙂

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Sorting Out Everyday Stresses

Since having Kaden (who is now 8 months old, woot and tear), I’ve had a few many completely stressed-out moments.  Let me back up a little.  I had Kaden last August and was off work for almost 3 months.  Laundry was always washed, the house was spotless, and dinner was on the table by the time my husband got home from work.  And then I went back to work.  Do I need to go on?  Ok, I’ll go on.  I have a constant pile of laundry, the house is never spotless (pretty clean, but never the way I prefer it to be), and my poor husband has to wait for dinner.  Ok, the last part was a little sarcastic because I’m not a traditional wife who rushes home to cook for the hubby (he’s good with it!).  I have to find time to snuggle with my baby boy, love on my husband, clean the house, shop for groceries, do the laundry, cook meals, and the list goes on….all after working 40 hours a week.  Boy, I need a massage just from typing all of that! 

Being a mom is the most wonderful, rewarding experience we will ever have.  Our hearts are immediately filled with indescribable love; and our stress-level doubles.  Isn’t it worth it though?  Every mom has different stresses in their lives, right?  Please tell me it isn’t just me…:) 

I was stressed to the max a couple of weeks ago, and must have been complaining about the constant mound of laundry quite a bit that week, because my husband asked, “What is so stressful about the laundry?”  He went on to say, “It seems to me that doing laundry would be stress-free.”  He got me thinking…

Yes, the idea and act of doing laundry does seem pretty simple.  So, why does it always stress me out?  I began to examine what specifically about the chore got to me.  I came to a conclusion and found two reasons why “laundry” irked me so much. 

  1. I like my home to be clutter-free and I had mounds of laundry (somewhat of an exaggeration) in several rooms of my house.  My husband and I got in the habit of piling our laundry in the middle of our bathroom floor.  It didn’t matter if I had the laundry caught up and all we had were dirty clothes from that day, there was always a “pile” that I had to look at – a constant reminder every time I went in our bathroom.  My son’s room had its own pile beside his dresser.  I never put a basket in his room because his pile was always pretty small.  Then, we piled dish towels in front of the washer and dryer.  Piles of laundry haunted me every day. 
  2. It took me a long time to sort.  I don’t start a load of laundry until I have a full load.  I’m too conservative with soap and water to wash partial loads.  So, by the time we collected a full load of any one group (whites, colors, Doug’s work clothes, towels), there was a mound of laundry.  It would take me 20 minutes to sort and spray wash before starting the first load for the week.

Ok, I figured out why I hated laundry.  I decided to remedy the problem instead of complaining (internally or externally) week-after-week.  A trip to Wal-Mart and $25 later, my problem was fixed.  Check this out…

(Imagine the heavens opening and shinning a light down with some hallelujah music in the background)

There were only three options at the local Wal-Mart, so I chose the bin above.  However, I’m a little disappointed after looking at the online options here.  I would have selected a more stylish option.  Oh, well.  I love my laundry sorter.  My husband and I can now sort as-we-go.  Once a bin gets full, I load the washer.  I actually have a great formula worked out for those of you with front loaders – put laundry in sorter, squish, put more laundry in sorter, squish, once the sorter gets full (sometime after the second squish), then it is ready to go in the washer.  Very technical, huh?   I put a small basket in my son’s room next to his dresser and a basket in the laundry room for towels.  My laundry pile/sorting problem has been solved, and I can honestly say that I no longer stress over laundry.  My husband helps me fold and put away because he is sweet like that.      

 

The Moral of the Story:

After the long story about my hatred toward laundry and my stress-reducing purchase, I must say there is a moral for all of you.  If you feel stress (let’s all take a moment to laugh at the “if” part of this sentence) then find a way to eliminate or reduce that stress.  Isn’t it amazing how the smallest tasks, like doing laundry, can really top off a stressful week?  If we can eliminate or reduce small areas of stress here and there, then we’ll be on our way to a happier life.  Here is a how-to summary for you:

  1. Examine the areas in your every-day life that cause you stress and bring you down.
  2. Step away from thinking about the task itself and think about what specifically about that task is particularly stressful.
  3. Find solutions to remedy the problem (like buying a laundry sorter).
  4. Implement and de-stress!      

You know you are a mom when the best purchase you made all month year wasn’t your post-pregnancy, I feel great jeans or the handbag you found on sale for 75% off; it was your $25 laundry sorter!   

What seems to stress you out the most?  What remedies do you plan to put in place or have already put in place to de-stress your life?  Please share so that everyone can benefit (I bet we all stress over similar tasks).  I need a quicker way to tackle my bathrooms.  How do professional cleaners do it?  Do you have any tricks?

Happy Easter!

HAPPY EASTER!!! 

I don’t have a post prepared (I’m a little busy with family festivities!).  I just want to wish my readers a Happy Easter.  I hope you are having a great day with your family.

If you are looking for some last-minute Easter fun, then check out these posts from earlier this week; Easter activities, egg decorating, and Easter treats

Enjoy your day!

An Excuse to Eat Treats

Holidays make for a good probably the best excuse to eat sugar (my favorite food group)!  These cookies caught my eye about a month ago while flipping through the Parents magazine.  I immediately ripped out the page and added it to my recipe pile (that is hidden in a kitchen cabinet).  About a week later, I bought the ingredients.  Since then, I’ve been waiting to eat these cookies.  My husband is equally, if not more, excited.   If you do not like sweet cream cheese icing smooshed between two cake cookies, then you are crazy this recipe is not for you.   However, if you do then keep reading!

Did you miss the Easter craft and egg decorating posts?  Check them out for well-rounded Easter fun.

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Cake Mix Cookies
 
Ingredients
(makes about 30 sandwich cookies)
 
  • 1  18.25-oz. pkg.  yellow cake mix
  • 1    egg
  • 1/4  cup  canola oil
  • 1/4  cup  buttermilk
  • 1  Tbs.  multicolored small round sprinkles
  • 1-1/3  cups  canned vanilla frosting (I bought cream cheese icing)
  •   Yellow, blue, and red food coloring
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl combine cake mix, egg, oil, and buttermilk. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth (dough will be stiff). Using a 1-teaspoon measure, spoon 1-inch mounds of batter onto prepared sheets about 2 inches apart. Shape mounds into balls and flatten slightly. Top each with sprinkles.
  3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned and edges are firm. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  4. Divide frosting among 3 small bowls. Tint frosting yellow, blue, and pink with food coloring (1 drop each blue and red and 2 drops yellow). Frost the bottoms of half of the cookies. Top with remaining cookies.

 

I”m excited to try these cookies.  I’ve been thinking about them for weeks.  Let me know if you like them!

Now That’s A Decorated Egg!

Oh, how I love decorating Easter eggs.  Isn’t it fun taking a plain, white egg and turning it into something fabulous?  Many of my childhood Easter memories revolve around decorating eggs.  There are 6 of us in my family, so we decorated a lot of eggs.  My mom was quite the penny pincher and would have us blow out the egg into a bowl – did you ever do that?  We would punch a hole in the top and bottom of the egg and then blow until the blood vessels in our eyes were about to pop.  We were left with hollow shells and a bowl full of egg.  Thankfully – after a lot of complaining – we started boiling them.  My mom would still make sure we ate the eggs in some way or another.  To this day, I love decorating eggs.  I enjoy using my creative side, but not nearly as much as I enjoy the family time.  

Simple How-To

  1. Gently place eggs in single layer in large saucepan. Add enough cold water to cover eggs by 1 inch. Cover. Bring just to boil on high heat. Remove from heat. Let stand 15 minutes. (Adjust time up or down by 3 minutes for each size larger or smaller.)
  2. Pour off hot water and rapidly cool eggs by running them under cold water (or place in ice water) until completely cooled.
  3. Mix 1/2 cup boiling water, 1 teaspoon vinegar and 10 to 20 drops food color in a cup to achieve desired colors. Repeat for each color. Or, use this Color Creator for more colors.
  4. Dip hard-cooked eggs in dye for about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon, wire egg holder or tongs to add and remove eggs from dye. Allow eggs to dry.

 

I’m always looking for innovative ways to decorate eggs.  Here are some fun ideas we can all try this year.

Decorating Ideas 

  • Painted eggs: Mix 20 drops food color and 1/2 teaspoon vinegar in small container. Paint hard-cooked eggs with a small paintbrush or cotton swab. Go wild with stripes, polka dots and zigzags.
  • Designed eggs: Before dyeing, place rubber bands, stickers such as chicks, rabbits, flowers or other springtime favorites, or paper reinforcements on the eggs to create the design of choice. Once dry, remove the rubber bands, etc., to view the design.
  • Personalized eggs: Write initials, names or draw pictures on the egg with a white or light-colored crayon (white is best) before dying.
  • Marbleized eggs: Mix 1/4 cup boiling water, 1 teaspoon vinegar, 1/8 teaspoon oil and 4 to 8 drops food color in shallow bowl. Gently roll egg in the mixture for 30 seconds, or until the egg is the desired shade. Transfer the egg to a second color mixture, and repeat the process. Allow the egg to dry completely. Wipe away excess oil with a paper towel.
  • Tie-dyed eggs: Place several eggs in a colander in the kitchen sink. Splash eggs with vinegar. Drop yellow food color onto eggs. Gently shake the colander for a few seconds to help the color spread. Let stand 30 seconds. Repeat with 1 or 2 additional food colors. After the final stand time, lightly rinse eggs with water. Drain completely. Allow eggs to dry.

 

If you love Martha Stewart crafts and would like to take egg decorating up a notch, then you’ll enjoy Martha’s 62 Ways to Decorate an Egg.  I’ve included pictures of just a few amazing Martha creations. 

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In honor of Earth Day, let’s recycle those egg cartons.  Try bringing critters to life.

  1. Begin by mixing 3/4 cup of potting soil and 2 tablespoons of grass seed in a bowl. Add water to moisten the mixture, then set it aside.
  2. Cut away a three-cup section of an egg carton, then trim the section along the longer edges so that your grassapillar will look the same from both sides. With a permanent marker, draw a face on one end as shown. Gently spoon the seed mixture into the cups.
  3. Set your creation on a dish in a brightly lit spot and keep the soil moist. The grass should sprout in about a week.  

 

Did you miss yesterday’s post?  Click here for fun craft and activity ideas. 

Do you have your own decorating tips or ideas?  I’d love to hear them.

Fun Ideas for Easter: Start Planning Today

Easter is such an amazing opportunity to spend time together as a family and create memories.   Here are some fun activities for the big day.  Coming up tomorrow and Saturday; fun ways to decorate easter eggs, and fabulous Easter treats.   Have fun planning!!

These Easter crafts double as decorations and are easy (and fun) to make.  The kids will enjoy seeing their decorations displayed throughout the house.  Raid your craft closet, drawer, or bin.   If you don’t already have everything you need, then you can find inexpensive items at a local store.  Cut construction paper into desired shapes, then decorate with craft items you found or purchased.  You can use things like; felt, markers, paint, glitter, stickers, piping and the list goes on.     

Easter mazes  and coloring pages are always fun (and I’ll also mention easy and inexpensive).  You can find more mazes here and more coloring pages  here.

I hope I’ve given you some great ideas to help celebrate Easter with the kiddos.  I always enjoy spending time with family, dying eggs, eating treats and so on.  They are great activities to top off an already amazing day.  In the midst of the hustle and bustle, don’t forget to acknowledge the reason behind the holiday and thank the Lord for all He has done. 

Check back tomorrow for fun egg decorating ideas!

Who says you can’t change: new FTLOM!

First, let me apologize for going MIA.  Sometimes we all have to take a step back to do some restructuring.  Most blogs are centered around the author….my blog is centered around YOU.  With that in mind, I will periodically evaluate For the Love of Mom to ensure I’m providing relevant information that interests you.

After evaluating the poll results, submitted by readers, I’ve made some changes.  Please continue to provide feedback as For the Love of Mom is always evolving.

Now, let’s move on to the interesting part…

I’m eliminating two categories; birth announcements and inspirational stories.  While these topics had some interest, the majority of you communicated that you prefer to read about other topics.  In addition, these topics are very specific to one individual or group of individuals.  Readership continues to spread nation-wide, causing these topics to be more and more irrelevant to readers.

I’m adding a new category; chasing date night.  Many of you asked for this!  Having children is wonderful and exciting; it is also very exhausting.  It is easy to get caught up in parenthood; letting romance go to the way-side.  Even the closest of couples need rejuvenated every now and then, and a healthy relationship makes for a happier home for mom, dad, and the children.  I hope you enjoy the new category!

I’m moving one category; beauty boosts.  There are mixed reviews for this topic.  Some of you love the posts, while others could do without.  Even though we are all striving to look our best with little almost zero “me” time, the topic doesn’t seem to fit with the other categories.  Don’t worry, lovers of this topic, I’ll soon launch a blog designed just for you – Reclaimed Stilettos!  The blog will be about fashion, beauty, and much more!  It will all be focused round getting our “mom” grove back – hence the name RECLAIMED Stilettos.  Stay tuned for the announcement!

I’m keeping these categories; cooking, family fun, parenting and mom must-haves.  The majority of you indicated that you enjoy these categories. 

NOW for the NEW For the Love of Mom structure

Categories/Planned Posts

  • Ah, Cooking – 2 recipes per week; one quick-and-easy and one fun/new recipe
  • Family Fun – 1 post per week; fun activities for the kids or family
  • Parenting – 1 post per week; a wide range of topics
  • Must-haves – 1 per week; items to make our jobs a little easier (or more exciting)
  • Chasing Date Night – 1 post per week; a wide range of posts from date ideas, to communication tips….the list goes on.
  • Q & A – Ask me questions.  If I don’t know the answer, then I’ll find it.  I’ll post randomly when questions are asked. 

** I’m somewhat spontaneous, so I may deviate from this schedule from time-to-time. 

Are you are all excited about the new For the Love of Mom?  Please continue to post and provide feedback.

 

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