Flank Steak in the Slow Cooker

So remember how I said that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to blog more?  Well, that was over a week ago.  Oops!  I do have a good excuse – I, like the rest of the country, got sick.  And, that was after my husband and my 8-month old baby got sick.  Let’s just say it wasn’t the best week for our family.

Anyway, I did manage to make a meal courtesy of Pinterest this week.  This recipe for Flank Steak, from LifetimeMoms, promised the following in its pin description:

If you enjoy cooking with a crockpot, this flank steak recipe is for you. Flank steak is a rather inexpensive cut a meat. If it is not prepared properly, it can be rather tough. This recipe is so easy and makes the most tender flank steak.

Basically, you throw the browned flank steak into the slow cooker with a few spices and green chillies, and it makes the most tender flank steak.  I followed the instructions (using 1/2 a can of green chilies because we were not in the mood for spicy) and by the end of the day, I had some very tender flank steak.

Unfortunately, it didn’t really taste like much.  I didn’t taste the green chilies, in fact, I think it tasted like pot roast.   I was planning to serve it on tortillas with some pickled onions and sour cream, but I wound up shredding it with some BBQ sauce and serving it on buns.  Not a bad save, but not what I was hoping for.

BBQ Beef

Here’s the recipe.  If you give it a try and it turns out with a delicious, spicy Mexican flavor, let me know what you did!

Flank Steak

1 Flank Steak –  1 3/4 lbs to albs (cut in half)
1 small can of green chiles
1 large red onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon of chili powder
1/4 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 cup of water
1 tbsp of olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic minced (depending on taste)

1. In a small pan, brown flank steak in olive oil on both sides.
2. Add all ingredients to slow cooker.
3. Cook on low for 4-5 hours if you prefer it sliced, cook 5-6 hours if you prefer it shredded.

Serve shredded over rice, in a tortilla or even plain.

Recipe courtesy of LifetimeMoms.com

No-Knead Crusty Bread

Crusty Bread

Happy New Year to everyone!  I hope you all had a fabulous holiday season.  I had a very wonderful yet incredibly busy holiday with a road trip back to Michigan.  I took a little break from blogging to recover, but I’m back and better than ever.  In fact, I made a resolution to blog more, so here it goes!

So, this pin – No-Knead Crusty Bread – is all over Pinterest these days.  One of my Facebook friends gave it a try and it looked amazing, so I decided to give it a try a few weeks ago.

I’ll put the full instructions at the bottom of this post, but here’s the quick and dirty.  Mix some yeast, flour, salt and water.  (I threw in a tablespoon of sugar, too.)  Let it rise overnight, then back in an 450 degree oven for 45 minutes.  You have to preheat the pan for 30 minutes beforehand, so plan on an hour and 15 minutes of time with the oven on. Here’s a look before everything went in to the oven.  (Side note: I got this cast-iron dutch oven from my husband for my birthday.  It’s perfect for this recipe!)

Pots and dough

That’s it!  No kneading, no fussing around.  And, when it’s all done….

crusty bread

Continue reading

Fold Your Sheets the Pretty Way

Folded Sheets

Just a quick post today – I’ve been swamped these last few weeks with Thanksgiving, shopping for Christmas and getting ready for a baby shower that I’m hosting next weekend.  But I saw this pin on Pinterest many moons ago and I finally gave it a try last week.

Kelly at Imperfecthomemaking.com posted this great tutorial on how to fold bedsheets – Four Ways to Fold Bedsheets.

If you’re like me, I usually fold the flat sheet and just bundled up the fitted sheet in a ball and shove it in my linen closet.  It’s a total mess, and when I do need to use those sheets, they are wrinkled and look sloppy.   I was in desperate need of this post.

I used Method 2, like the picture above, that creates a little package for your sheets.  Here’s how mine turned out:

IMG_1914

It’s like a nice little package in my linen closet!  You should give it a try today!

Leftover Turkey Tetrazzini

Raise your hand if you have leftover turkey!  Since I hosted Thanksgiving this year and all of my guests had long drives home, I have a lot of turkey just sitting in my fridge.  And, I can only have so many turkey sandwiches.  So, where do I go to find good recipes for leftover turkey? Pinterest!

Leftover Turkey Tetrazzini, courtsey of Taste of Home, was floating around Pinterest, so I thought I would give it a try.  A huge bonus – I had all of the ingredients (or at least a variation) in my house so no need to run to the grocery store.  This dish was the best way to use up all of those leftover ingredients in my fridge.

Continue reading

Maple Sugar Cookies

Well, Thanksgiving is officially over.  I don’t know about you, but I’m still stuffed.  So much good food over this weekend.  I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time (yikes!!) but everything went off perfectly.  (My Trader Joe’s turkey was delicious – very moist and juicy.)  But, one of the highlights of this weekend’s culinary experience were a cookie recipe I found on Pinterest.

On Monday, I threw together a batch of these delicious Maple Sugar Cookies, courtesy of www.thirtydayshomemade.com.  Maple is my husband’s favorite flavor so it was kind of a no-brainer to give these a try.

The recipe is pretty simple – a basic sugar cookie with a splash of real maple syrup.  Yes, you have to get the good stuff, but it’s so worth it.   I made three dozen cookies and froze the rest of the cookie dough for Christmas.

Here’s how they turned out:

 

The verdict from my Thanksgiving guests – huge thumbs up!  The maple flavor is subtle but enough to amp up your average sugar cookie.  I will say that the recipe makes a whole lot of icing, so I might cut it in half and make a little more if I need it.

So, if you need a delicious cookie for presents or a cookie exchange, give these a try!

Cleaning the Dishwasher

So, Thanksgiving is coming.  And, for the first time, I’m hosting my family for the weekend.  That’s right – I’m making a turkey, folks!  (A quick side note: I picked up a turkey from Trader Joe’s this weekend. They brine their turkeys for you, so I’m very curious to see how it turns out!)

And, to prepare for my guests, I’ve been on a house-cleaning mission.  And, this past week, I cleaned something that I have never cleaned before: the dishwasher.  I know what you’re thinking.  Why clean the dishwasher?  Doesn’t it take care of itself?   But I saw this pin floating around Pinterest and figured it was time to give it a try.

So, following the instructions from One Good Thing by Jillee, I grabbed a little vinegar and baking soda and starting cleaning.  The basic instructions are:

  1. Start with an empty dishwasher. And, I mean empty.  Dig around in the bottom of your dishwasher to make sure there are not any rogue pieces on the bottom.
  2. Place a small cup of vinegar on the top rack and run your dishwasher on a normal setting with hot water.
  3. After the cycle, toss some baking soda in the dishwasher and run it again.

Here’s my story:

  1. I emptied my dishwasher and pulled out the bottom rack to see if there was anything in the bottom.  Lo and behold, I found 3 big chunks of glass.  I have no idea how they got there, so they were probably from the owner before us.  Yuck.
  2. I ran the dishwasher on super-hot – pretty simple.  When I opened it back up, I noticed that there were still some stains and gunk on the inside.
  3. I threw in the baking soda, grabbed a brushed and scrubbed the door, the silverware container and the sides.  I ran it again and, voila, clean dishwasher!

In the end, I have a sparkling clean dishwasher.  (Sorry, I didn’t take a picture since you really couldn’t tell the difference unless you stick your head in there.) I added one step where I really scrubbed the insides, but other than that, it was very simple.  Plus, I think my dishes seem to be getting cleaner.  Nice!

Makeup Brush Cleaner

Sorry for the delay in posting.  It’s been a busy few weeks around my house a.k.a my daughter is now down to two naps a day, and since I usually blogged during the late afternoon nap, I’m a little behind the times.

Anyhoo, one thing I love about Pinterest is how it reminds me to do things.  I have my usual cleaning routine, but I usually find some post about cleaning your base boards (yeah, I should probably get to those) or this pin about cleaning your makeup brushes.

I saw this pin and figured it was high time to clean my makeup brushes because honestly, I have never cleaned them.  Ever.  There isn’t a website linked to the pin, so here are the directions in the description:

You will be surprised to see all the makeup that is left in the water. How to properly clean your makeup brushes. (a tablespoon of white vinegar in a cup of hot water, and a 20 minute soak, followed by a hot, then cold rinse and pat dry will do it. Disinfects, dissolves grease/makeup, leaves no film, and inexpensive.)

Here is my before:

And, here’s the after.

I will tell you: the water was perfectly clear after 20 minutes.  It wasn’t until I vigorously shook the brushes that the water got dirty.  I rinsed the brushes as instructed.  And they stunk like vinegar.  Gross.  I finally washed them with some baby shampoo to make them smell nice and that’s when the dirt really came off the brushes.

So, in short, I would skip the vinegar soak and just wash the brushes in baby shampoo.  It got the dirt out and it made them smell nice.  Sorry Pinterest, I think you failed me this time.  :(

 

Chicken/Veggies/Potatoes Bake – Too Simple to be Good?

This recipe has been floating around Pinterest for the a while now.  It’s one of these recipes that looks too simple to be good.  So, I thought I would give it a try.

I couldn’t find a webpage that links to the description so here’s the pin description with the recipe:

A friend of mine brought me this when I had surgery. Now it is my “go to” dish for taking to people who have had babies, surgery, etc. 4-6 raw chicken breasts, new potatoes, green beans (fresh or canned-really any green veggie would work. Broccoli is good, too). Arrange in 9×13 dish. Sprinkle with a packet of Italian dressing mix and then top with a melted stick of butter. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Enjoy!

I followed the instructions as written – chicken, potatoes and a can of green beans.  I used two large chicken breasts and one can of beans, cutting down on the quantity since there are just two people in our house eating table food.  (Pureed sweet potatoes doesn’t count…sorry baby Avery.)  A stick of butter and the Italian dressing mix, and in the oven it went.

One hour later, our house smelled like wonderfully baked chicken.  I thought about pulling it out a little early since my dish was a little smaller, but the potatoes were still a little crunchy at the 45 min. mark.  That being said, I wish I would have boiled the potatoes a little bit before baking because the chicken was over-done and a bit chewy.

With a little tinkering, I think this recipe could be a success.  This one may be a little too simple to be a success, but I’m willing to give it another try.

Pin now, read later…Photography Apps on Your iPhone

Alright Pinterest people.  It’s time to admit something.  How many of you have those pins that say in the description, “Pin now. Read later.”  Raise those hand, folks, because I see those pins all the time.  Now, how many of you actually go back and read those pins?  Anyone?  Anyone?

I’ll admit it – I do it.  I pin those Pins and then completely forget about them.  But, last night, after my sweet baby cashed out at 7:30 p.m. and my husband decided to watch a Bond movie, I decided to go back through and actually read those Pins.  And, I’m glad I did because I found a sweet app for my iPhone!

15 awesome photo editing iPhone apps is an article from BabyCenter – a great website for new moms like me.  I’m obsessed with taking pictures of my new little one and so I thought it might be fun to check out these different apps to have fun with the photos.  Instagram is awesome, but hey, there has to be more out there, right?

So, after looking at a few of the apps that they describe in the article, I downloaded PicFrame and gave it a shot.  (Side note: I actually purchased FrameArtist because PicFrame wasn’t free, and I’m too cheap to spend the 99 cents.)  It’s a fun program that lets you access photos from your phone, Facebook, Instagram, etc and put them in a collage.   With the free version, you can save up to 5 collages in a file size big enough to print.  Nice!

I grabbed a few photos from Facebook of my sweet baby girl and after about 10 minutes, came up with this:

 

This turned out so cute!  I may have to make a few more of Avery (maybe one month, three months, etc) and frame them together.  Yay for a great app!

Crockpot Chicken Tacos

You know that you really want to try a recipe when you find the same pin multiple times on your board, “Recipes to Try.”  Yup, that was me.  I guess I really wanted to try this one because I had pinned it twice.

Here is Crockpot Chicken Tacos – courtesy of Chocolate Therapy.  And, I’ll be the first to admit – I was very skeptical of this one.  Throw chicken breasts, salsa and taco seasoning in a crockpot, and presto?  Perfect chicken taco meat?  No way.

So, I threw three boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds) into a crockpot with one jar of salsa (ok, it was more a mishmash of salsas that I had in my fridge) and 1/2 of a packet of Trader Joe’s taco seasoning.  (I used half because that’s what it calls for when you use about a pound of meat.)  Six hours later on low….

And, perfect, juicy tasting chicken ready for tacos!  I shredded up the chicken breasts and poured a little bit of the cooking juices and mixed with the shredded chicken.  With a little tomato, sour cream and lettuce, we had juicy, delicious chicken tacos.   I didn’t even get a chance to take a photo because my husband gobbled it up.  His quote: “These are the best tacos we’ve ever had.  You can make them every time.”