Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I *heart* My Crockpot

Bible Study starts a little early tonight, because we are having a potluck dinner and then a meeting! YAY! I love potlucks...brings me back to my good 'ole Baptist roots. :o)

Anywho, during Christmas I joined a "Secret Santa" (*ahem* no such thing!) at work and I got THE BEST GIFT EEEEEVEEEEEER!! Well, from a work function anyway. It is...wait for it...a 500+ page cookbook full of crockpot recipes!! I'm talkin' everything from breakfast, to casseroles, to dressings, you name it, it's in there. It even tells you what size/shape crockpot is best for each recipe. So, now I have to go out and buy 10 more crockpots of various shapes and sizes!

Since I am currently working, sometimes it's nice to be able to throw a bunch of stuff into the cooker, forget about it, and have a yummy, no-stress meal ready and waiting at the end of the day! Especially when I need to have something ready to go for evenings such as this...and it's still relatively (technically?) homemade., I wicked *heart* my crockpot. :o) This is what I made for church tonight:

Old-Fashioned "One-Pot" Bean Dinner
(as always...tweaked to perfection!)

8oz to 1 Lb lean ground beef (I used about 1 1/2 lbs.)
1/2 pound sliced bacon or turkey bacon, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped
2 31-oz cans port and beans (or if you're like me, 16oz can Touch of Honey beans, 16oz can Maple beans, 28 oz can Homestyle beans. I doesn't add up to 31 oz. Close enough)
1 16-oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15.5 oz can lima beans, drained (Instead, I used can of Cannelini beans, rinsed & drained)
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp liquid smoke flavoring (????? OPTIONAL!)
3 tbsp cider vinegar

Cook ground beef over medium-high heat until browned; drain fat and transfer meat to slow cooker. In the same skillet, cook the bacon & onion over medium heat, stirring until limp. (about 6-8 minutes). Bacon should be slightly undercooked; drain the fat. Transfer bacon/onion to slow cooker and add rest of ingredients. Stir to combine. Cook on LOW for 6-9 hours, or until hot & bubbly.

I could smell this outside our door when I got home. I cannot wait to eat it!! I think tonight's potluck will be a "TOOT"!! :o)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Faith & Football

We watch football in our house. My husband is a loyal, devoted, die-hard Patriots fan. Remember them? In the 2007 season they were unstoppable...THE team...and went undefeated until the Superbowl. Where they lost. Miserably. That was the same year Bill Belichick was caught cheating...on the field and on his wife. And the same year Tom Brady left his pregnant girlfriend for a model. In the beginning of the 2008 season, Tom Brady gets injured, dashing any hopes of a repeat of 2007's success. Not to mention all the other injuries occurring throughout the season. My husband, the loyal, devoted, die-hard Patriots fan at one point says something like this: "You have to wonder if God has a hand in all of this and is judging this team for their pride and sin?" Hmmmm....

Fast forward to 2009, NFC Championship, Arizona Cardinals vs. Baltimore Ravens. The Arizona Cardinals weren't even supposed to be there, now they are competing for a spot in the Superbowl?! How about that quarterback, Kurt Warner? Plucked from arena football to play for the Rams (winning them a Superbowl), the Giants, and currently, the Arizona Cardinals. He's a Christian, right?, I previously asked my husband. Yes, indeed he is. We've all heard the sports players "thank God" when they get a big win or catch a pass, but how many of them actually know what that means? Or live out their faith in Jesus Christ?
Kurt Warner does! After the '99 Rams Superbowl win, an interviewer says to him, "Kurt, first things first--tell me about the final touchdown pass to Isaac." Warner's response? "Well, first things first, I've got to thank my Lord and Savior up above--thank You, Jesus!" He has since founded the First Things First ministry.

Last night, with about 2 minutes left in the game, I asked Aaron, "Do you think it's total coincidence that this team is about to win this football game? I sure don't." I think it's entirely possible that the Lord is blessing this team because of one man's faith and committment to Him. At the ceremony immediately following the game, with white & red confetti streaming from the sky, thousands and thousands of fans cheering in jubilation, Terry Bradshaw begins to interview the Arizona quarterback, and this is what he says:

I was moved to tears to hear this man giving sincere praise and credit to our Lord! What a testimony.

The cardinals have (surprisingly!) secured their spot in this years Superbowl. They will face off against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are experienced, tough, and have a stellar defense. I asked my husband if he thought Arizona had a shot. Of course they do, but it won't be easy...citing the superiority of the Steelers defense.

We have yet to see if the Arizona Cardinals will win it or not, but I do know that to get all the glory, my God has moved MUCH bigger things than an NFL lineman.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

CVS Today

I robbed CVS again today! START THE CAR!!! :o) I got 3 more boxes of crackers and 2 boxes of Absolutely Divine cookies for FREE (after coupons!) & got $3 ecb's back!! I'm going back tomorrow for more, I think. I need to get some more of the 6-pack water...apparently a shipment comes in tomorrow. The boxes of Absolutely Divine cookies are on sale 2/$5 and I have 2 more $1/1 coupons (I had 2 I used earlier, too), so that makes it $3 and I'll use another $3 CVS coupon making those free! This has been a great week to get my ecb stash back up...for free!

Forgot to tell a little story from yesterday. When I went to the one CVS to get my water, the girl at the counter was trying to convince me to take a cart. I'm like "Nooooo. I'm fine!" It's only 2 6-packs of water, you know. So, yeah. I was walked out, made it halfway across the parking lot, and totally ate dirt!! :o) Serves me really hurt (went face first onto my knee), but I have to admit, it's kind of funny.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tasty Tuesday

I bought a new Weight Watcher's cookbook and I've determined it was a good investment since I have been using it pretty much non-stop. There's a great variety of options: quick meals, more time consuming meals, lunches, sandwiches, etc. I love it. I thought I'd share every so often about recipes I've been trying that are especially tasty!

This dish was fantastic, filling (I think because of the chickpeas), and healthy! The hardest part was cutting up the veggies...everything else is done in the microwave! I think it's one of those dishes where you could add whatever vegetables you wanted and play with the seasonings (kind of like I did!) and it would still come out great! Enjoy!!

Provencal-Style Vegetable-Chickpea Stew

1 eggplant (1 pound), cut into 3/4 inch dice (I didn't use eggplant)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 (28-oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained (again, you could play with this too. I used garlic & onion flavored)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 red bell peppers, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
2 small zucchini, sliced (I used a green squash & a yellow squash. Nice color!)
1 large onion, coarsely chopped (I used a red onion)
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 1/2 cups rinsed and drained canned chickpeas (I used 2 cans)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I fresh grated a block)

Stir together the eggplant and oil in a large microwaveable bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and prick a few holes in the plastic. Microwave on high until the eggplant is softened, about 4 minutes. (If you don't use the eggplant, just add oil in with the other veggies.) Add all the remaining ingredients except the beans and Parmesan to the eggplant and stir to combine. Microwave, covered, on High until the veggies are softened, about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature sprinkled with the Parmesan.
(1 1/2 cups = 7 Points)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Good Reads

I've added a new area to my sidebar called "Good Reads". I plan to add to the (for now) short list as I read different things that impact me in one way or another. Check it out!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Off and Running

Happy New Year!! Well, today I started to put into practice my 2009 goal of assigning specific tasks to certain days. I decided to try out the aforementioned schedule, meaning today was "plan grocery shopping and weekly menu" day. The grocery circulars usually come today, but because of the holiday there was no mail, so I decided to try and view the flyers online. Well, I generally go to 3 different grocery stores, depending who has what on sale, and lo and behold, each of those stores not only has the online circular, but I could click an item in the "flyer", add it to a "shopping list", and print out the list when I was finished!! It was amazing!!! So now I have 3 lists, nicely separated and easy to read, to bring with me when I go tomorrow. I think I have stumbled onto a good thing.

Today I tried to start with planning meals and then figure out the grocery list. I wasn't very successful. I'm not accustomed to planning out a weekly meal schedule at all, so I think that this will take some practice. So, I kind of have a make-shift schedule thought out, which I hope to solidify over the weekend. Any helfpful tips are always appreciated!