Slow Cooker Survival

Earlier this fall, I sent out the plea for help to my church's mom's group. Our dinner times have reached a new level of chaos. The kids are hungry, know I am cooking, but want food right away. Hudson has taken to pulling out plates and banging them against the counter until I feed him. The only solution I could imagine was dinners that didn't require me to be in the kitchen prepping. Desperate for some prep and freeze meals I could throw in the crock pot later, my mom friends delivered. They sent some serious winners, my favorite is this Indian Chicken Stew from Colleen:

2 lbs skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1 inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 tsp curry powder
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 15 oz cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 14/5 oz cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp lime juice
9 oz fresh spinach

If you want to prep this meal to freeze, add all of the ingredients except for the last three (lime juice, spinach and rice) in a gallon size freezer bag and shake to coat the ingredients with seasoning. Freeze for up to six months. Before cooking, let thaw for 12-24 hours. Note: You can also freeze after you cook this meal, but do not add the spinach. 

  • Lightly coat a 6 quart slow cooker with nonstick spray or oil. 
  • Add chicken, onion and garlic. 
  • Add curry powder, ginger, salt, and pepper. Toss to coat. 
  • Stir in drained beans, undrained tomatoes, broth and bay leaf. 
  • Cover and cook on high 4-5 hours or low 8-10 hours.
  • Stir lime juice into cooked stew.
  • Stir in spinach leaves into stew and let stand 2 to 3 minutes to wilt.
  • Serve with rice (and naan if you have it)

More favorite crock pot meals:
Kentucky BBQ Chicken
Enchilada Soup from SkinnyTaste
Cilantro Lime Chicken from Six Sisters
And a Three Bean Chili adapted from Smitten Kitchen that I am working to make crock pot and freezer friendly. But you should go ahead and try it anyway, because it is amazing.

The Year of the Firemen

alternative title: The Year of Few Good Pictures

Like most little boys, Behr and Hudson have been excited about all things fire trucks. It helps that one passes us here in the city about every three minutes. Hudson makes the fire truck noise and points with excitement. Behr exclaims, "Go save people!" Behr was a fireman two years ago (in this hand-me-down yellow jacket) but hadn't fully grasped the concept. 

When I saw this fireman's coat in Behr's size at Costco, it sealed the deal. You have to love a good Costco impulse buy. It helped that Mark and I had been plotting how to transform our wagon into a masterpiece for the trek down East Capitol Street. A fire engine was the perfect choice! A few days before trick or treating I also snagged these hats from the target dollar spot (similar) which are a hard plastic, way better than the flimsy ones you can get for free. 

The boys might not have performed for the camera, but we passed some real fireman who honked and waved at us. Definitely one of the their highlights. 

Behr accompanied Hudson to most of the houses, teaching him how it works. Behr was eager to say thank you, even thanking people before getting any candy from them. Hudson was miffed that not every house offered candy. He would shake on the locked gates we passed, not wanting to miss a single opportunity. Hudson also cracked us up by trying to go back to the same houses again and again. Behr said he was smart, wanting to get the whole bowl of candy instead of just a few pieces.

Disclaimer: compensated affiliate links may be used in this post.

November Goals with Grace

We ran some errands this past weekend, the day after Halloween.  Stepping into the stores felt more like the week after black Friday. Shelves had been stocked with Christmas and already ransacked, lines were longer than I've seen in months, and the buzz of anxious chaos left me shaken. Looking forward through the month of November, I want to be conscious to keep our family pace relaxed.

Recap of October Goals:
  • I've been working on a writing project - are you sick of hearing me talk about this yet?
  • Trim back the excess - this is going well, and I am excited to share about it!
  • Write every day - October was like a punch in the gut. I definitely didn't write, but I missed it and I am ready to be back here more regularly.
  • Start my mornings in worship - I got back into consistently reading my Bible, I hope to add exercise back as we begin November.
  • Better breakfast - we are still working on this one. 

November Goals:
  • Maybe the goal to write isn't going very well...
  • Get outside. This used to be a goal of mine during the warmer months. Now that the weather is getting cold, its even more important to get outside early and often.
  • Order and address our Christmas cards before Thanksgiving. No more waiting too long and feeling frantic.
  • Leisure reading - two books in November. I haven't decided which books they will be, but I want to spend enough time reading to get through two books this month. Its important to set an example of reading for my boys.
  • Family reading time. Similar to the personal reading goal, I want to finish a few chapter books with the boys. We are currently reading Stuart Little and we get on so many tangents of laughter and imagination we just don't get very far in the book. Reading daily would help us both finish books and continue to have our hilarious conversations.

Linking up with Hayley of The Tiny Twig for Goals with Grace
I'd love to hear what your November goals are looking like 
and how you balance the crazy of the season. 

Disclaimer: compensated affiliate links may be used in this post.

All Things Pumpkin

Adding pumpkin puree or apple sauce to my year round baking adds both sweetness and health benefits. Pumpkin is packed with iron, vitamins A and E, and fiber. Apples are packed with vitamin C and fiber. Either choice is a win.  Every fall from my CSA bounty, I make and freeze bags of pumpkin puree (see guide below) and apple sauce to use all year round.

Pumpkin Pancakes

My pumpkin pancakes were a last minute fluke and definitely aren't from scratch. I take the basic Bisquick box recipe and tweak it to make it work with pumpkin puree.

2 cups Bisquick mix + more for thickening if needed
1 cup milk
2 Tbs coconut oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1-2 cups pumpkin puree or apple sauce

Since the puree or applesauce varies in consistency, I mix everything together and then determine if the batter needs additional bisquick mix. This recipe is very forgiving, which is why the amount of puree is flexible. Since I typically freeze my pumpkin puree in 2 cup batches, I use one batch at a time. But if I have already added some to a soup or different recipe, than the left over puree ends up in pancakes.

Other pumpkin perfect links:

 +  My 2010 guide to roasting neck pumpkins for year round pumpkin puree.

 +  Guide to squash and pumpkins, a handy guide for farmers markets.

 +  CSA Inspired Stuffed Acorn Squash

 +  My favorite Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from Two Twenty One.

 +  Brown Butter Pumpkin Waffles

I am working on a pumpkin bread and also pumpkin chili. Neither recipe is quite right, but I look forward to sharing when they are. What is your favorite way to incorporate pumpkin?


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