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Crock-ful of Goodness!

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When temperatures start to fall, people usually tend to dust off their slow cookers and throw together a warm, cozy meal. Don’t get me wrong—I do it, too, and I cannot be more of a ‘set it and forget it’ fan! But…I’m here to tell you that this handy dandy appliance isn’t seasonal—oh no, my friends. I use this bad boy all year long. And here are a few of my favorite slow cooker recipes that are good for any time, any occasion! *Don’t forget to use one of the best inventions since sliced bread…slow cooker liners—they make clean-up a cinch!

Jessica’s Mac & Cheese
8oz. elbow macaroni noodles, cooked al dente (slightly undercooked)
1c. milk (I highly recommend using whole milk—the natural fat helps to keep the mac & cheese from getting runny)
12oz. evaporated milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
4c. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4c. grated parmesan cheese
1/4c. butter, melted
Salt and pepper to taste

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Place the cooked macaroni in your crockpot (with the liner in there) and pour the evaporated milk, whole milk, melted butter, eggs, 3c. of the cheddar cheese and salt and pepper in there. Stir it all together and top with the remaining cheddar cheese and parmesan cheese. Cover and cook on low for about 3 hours. Some of the bottom and edges will get a little brown—don’t worry—those are some of the best pieces! 😉
*I double this recipe (just cook it for 4 hours) and serve it for almost every party we have at our house—it’s always a hit!

Crockpot BBQ
5lb. pork shoulder (I like to trim off the fat before cooking it, but you can do it after it’s cooked if it’s easier)
1 to 2 bottles of barbecue sauce, your choice!
And that. Is. It.

Place the pork shoulder right into the crockpot. Don’t add anything else—while it’s cooking, the natural juices will help keep the pork tender. Cook on the low setting for 8 hours. Once it’s finished, take pork out of the crockpot and slice, dice or chop—whichever way you want to serve it! Remove the lining on the crockpot carefully so you can place the chopped BBQ back into the pot. Pour the sauce over the pork and stir up so the sauce covers the BBQ evenly. Turn the WARM setting on, and keep it that way until you’re ready to serve—it’s that easy! My sister-in-law Margaret made this on a family trip up to Wisconsin, and this recipe fed 8 adults (with very healthy appetites) and 4 kids…and we even had some leftovers to spare!

Enjoy!

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Microwave Mexican Lasagna

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A few years after college, I was living the single girl’s dream. Sharing a cute townhouse with a couple friends, cooking together, chatting it up and watching tons of reality TV. And while today I look back on that time with “ahh…the good ol’ days” nostalgia, I also look back and recall one of my favorite recipes. Yes, it was yummy. Yes, it was almost always accompanied with some margaritas. But what really appealed to 24-year-old me was this: the only appliance I needed for this was THE MICROWAVE! It was so convenient…and it was still a meal! I felt so grown-up. 😉 To this day, if I’m in a pinch, I will throw this together for the kids—they love how tasty it is and I love how easy it is. It’s a win-win!

Mexican Lasagna

16 Corn tortillas

1 can of enchilada sauce

1 bag of shredded Mexican cheese

2 cups pre-cooked chicken, diced

8 oz. softened cream cheese

Chopped green onion (optional)

In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the cream cheese and half the shredded cheese. In a smaller bowl, pour half of the enchilada sauce and dip 4 tortillas in the sauce. In a microwavable (obviously) glass baking dish, place the tortillas on the bottom—they can overlap. Then spread 1/3 of the cheese mixture in a layer, and sprinkle 1/3 of the chicken on top of that. If you’re adding onions, sprinkle 1/3 of those next. Then repeat the whole layer again, starting with 4 more tortillas dipped in enchilada sauce. Repeat it again and place the remaining tortillas on top, sprinkle the rest of the shredded cheese over the tortillas and pour all the enchilada sauce you have left over it all. Now for the easy part—cover and microwave for about 15 minutes. And that’s it!

*You can also use browned ground beef instead of the chicken if you like, and even though I use mild sauce, feel free to spice it up with some hot sauce!

This is a great recipe that is quick and easy—you can even heat up some microwavable Spanish rice and you’ve got a delicious meal, perfect for your amigos or your familia.

Enjoy!

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Weekly Specials

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Now that we’re back into the swing of things with school schedules, soccer practices and dance classes, I’m starting to remember why I started planning out my meals ahead of time for the week…! It’s just so much easier to have that part of my day taken care of—and I have to admit that having a homemade chalkboard menu hanging in my kitchen makes it even easier for me to keep my menus on track. In theory, I knew that taking 15 minutes every Sunday night to physically write out my menu for the next 5 days would save me some stress. But since I am a very visual person, I knew I needed something staring me in the face every day so I could stick with it.

We had the perfect space in our kitchen—right above the trash can, between the sink and the pantry—but I could not for the life of me find a tall, skinny chalkboard that would fit in the space, match my mid-century modern decor AND do the job. So…I decided to take matters into my own hands and get a little crafty. And—you guessed it—it was so easy!

Chalkboard Menu

Small can of chalkboard paint

A cheap wooden picture frame—any size you want!

Sand paper

Craft paint

Foam paint brush

Carefully take the glass out of the picture frame. Sand down the picture frame and repaint it with the color of your choice. While you’re waiting for the frame to dry, paint the first coat of chalkboard paint directly on to the glass. Allow that to dry, and add at least 2 more coats. When it’s completely dry, place back into the frame and hang it up—that’s it!

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I’ve found some great chalk pens at local craft stores that allow me to update our menu each week—it’s less stress in planning for me, but it also means I don’t hear “what’s for dinner?!” a million times a week. 😉

Try it out and send us a pic of your chalkboard menu boards—I’d love to see them!

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