Crockpot warm crab & artichoke dip

hot crab dip (1)

We are in full force re-decorating mode over here but that’s certainly nothing new. This week we have been working on what is considered the dining room, which like hello, we have absolutely no use for a formal dining room. The only dinner parties we are hosting consist of mac & cheese and juices boxes am I right? We are turing the room into a homework/study room for the kids. We’ll have desks, maps, our family computer, open shelving for books, and other learn-y things. The room is right off the front of the house and the kitchen, a perfect place to put our family computer so I can keep an eye on my little buggers.

I also decided to tackle the laundry room this week because I dunno,  I’m insane. The sitch with the laundry room is that we are going to totally gut it someday and turn it into a mudroom with lockers, because it is right off the back door coming from the garage. There is a huge walk in closet upstairs that we would like to transform into our laundry room. But because we are not millionaires, that will have to wait a few years. I thought I could just let the laundry room sit until then, whenever then may be,  but it’s really just the worst. It’s yellow on the top half of the walls and it might possibly be the worst shade of yellow known to mankind. The bottom half of the walls are painted an awful tan color and are made out of.. wait for it….p l a s t i c wall sheeting,  that is supposed to look like wood I think? I don’t even know really. I am not sure what it is, but its bad. I spend so much time in the laundry room that this week I just decided to start painting. Plus, I had plenty of free time as we stay-at-home moms do, double plus, painting is something I can do alone. There is something so rejuvenating and therapeutic about painting. Out with the old, in with the new. I am about halfway done with the walls and fake wood wall thingys, the light fixtures are changed (thanks Ralphy), and I’m going to cover the old plastic cabinets with some vintage floral wall paper. It is coming along quite nicely! I will definitely be sharing pictures when it’s all done.

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Beyond that , this week has been rather movie like really.  And by that I mean everything has gone wrong in an almost comical way. We are calling it “The Holzmann Show” because if we don’t laugh about it, I can guarantee you we are going to be crying about it, and that’s no fun.  A few highlights of the production, for your viewing pleasure include, but are not limited to: A kitchen table leg falling off , causing the table to collapse and gracefully slide the warm meal that was about to be consumed right onto the hardwood. A chimney inspector makes a grand cameo to explain how a proper chimney and fireplace should be installed, and that ours was certainly NOT one of those, and if we ever want to use our fireplace again it will cost us the small price of 15 thousand smackeroonis. Special appearances from a teething 6 month old baby that only wants to be carried or nursing ALL DAY LONG, and sleeps a total of 3 hours a night, and a 3 year old boy who finds it hilarious to do the opposite of what his mother says. Let’s not forget a husband who is working days AND nights, so the days don’t feel like they ever really end… and the lead role played by a crazy lady who just wants 5 minutes to herself Alright alright, I’m done.

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I like to think I am accustomed to the chaos of our family and that I can handle it pretty well, but honestly, I have my moments where I get really frustrated and want to scream. Sometimes I do. This week I did. Having a “big” family tests me in so many ways… I am not like the moms who can handle ALL OF THE THINGS (there are so many things) with eloquence and grace. I work really hard to try and enjoy this incredible life God has given to me, but I don’t always succeed. I am a total Martha that is always striving to be more of a Mary. Motherhood is the most incredible gift that God has given me, but it can be such a roller coaster and learning to adapt is challenging.

So on this cold, windy, day I am warming my toes by the fire (in our other fireplace), and drinking dark chocolate hot cocoa, watching the Packer game, mind you there is a baby on my lap, and 3 little boys running around playing tackle football in my living room, but still, feeling extra blessed.

<insert brilliant transition here> Speaking of warm fire, how about a warm snack from the crockpot? (there it is!), I have been using my crockpot like its my job lately. Like for real. At least 3 times a week our meal is a crockpot meal and it’s amazing. It makes me look like a super star with a hot meal ready for my boys at the end of a long day. Sometimes I don’t even tell Ralph I made it in the crockpot. I’m like “can you believe I had time to make these beef brisket sandwiches and mac and cheese bites, whist keeping the house spotless and mothering so effortlessly all day long?”, (all of that stuff really does happen every day) Anywho….this warm crab dip from Pinch of Yum totally rocks. You can make it in the crock pot, your house will smell amazing, and it’s gooey and super cheesey. Soul food. Also perfect game food. I am warming the leftovers up right now for Ralph and I. I served mine with tortilla chips, crackers and some extra cheese for sprinkling on top. No complaints.

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Ingredients
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 14 ounces canned or jarred artichoke hearts
  • 8 ounces canned jumbo lump crab meat
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1¼ cups milk
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup Gyurere cheese, shredded (or parmesan)
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Your favorite dipping chips
Instructions
  1. Remove the seeds from the jalapeño and pepper. (wear gloves! I never learn...) Then chop.
  2. Saute peppers in a teaspoon of olive oil and set aside.
  3. Drain artichoke hearts and chop.
  4. Drain crab and chop.
  5. In your pepper pan (which is now empty because you set them aside), melt butter.
  6. Add flour and whisk until you get a paste. Let the mixture bubble for a minute.
  7. Slowly pour in milk and whisk.
  8. Let the sauce heat over low for a few minutes to thicken.
  9. Then pour sauce, salt, cheese, artichokes, crab, scallions , peppers, and lemon juice into a small crock pot.
  10. Let it heat all together on low for about an hour before serving.
  11. Sprinkle with extra cheese right before serving with chips or crackers.

 

 

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Cold bean & rice veggie salad

rice and bean salad (1)

Spring is here…..well sort of. We had a few really nice days here in Wisconsin and now it seems to be hanging in the 40’s to low 50’s with sunshine. I think that it’s still way too chilly to be spring but I’ll take it. We have been outside as much as possible and beyond that it’s been a bit busy over here, so I apologize for the lack of posts. We are getting ready to move and have a baby (any day now!) so there is quite a bit to do if you can imagine .

My “free-time” has been spent packing and still nesting like crazy. Even in these last weeks of pregnancy, with my body aching and so sore, all I want to do is scrub something, anything! Everything that can be washed in the house has been washed. I went through a tub of Oxy Clean in the last couple weeks and an entire can of carpet cleaner (because I was scrubbing my vehicle mats so much, trying to get every little spot out) just to give you an idea. I just can’t stop! My whites are whiter than they have ever been and my rugs look brand new. Also, I just impulsively bought a wet/dry vacuum to better clean the floors with. Well it wasn’t super impulsive because it is the same one we got my sister-in-law for her birthday and she sold me on it. No more getting down on my hands and knees to clean the floor AND getting an even better clean?! Sold. The vacuum should come today and I am already giddy about cleaning my floors. I have been watching You Tube videos of all the infomercials about it, so excited! So if you need something cleaned bring it over, seriously. I am searching for things to clean around the house at this point. And before this post gets any lamer lets move on to this delicious, fresh salad.rice and bean salad

I came up with this concoction after buying a huge bag of mixed beans from Costco and not really wanting to make bean soup like I normally do with them. I threw some things together and then found the recipe for the dressing, which is the best part of the salad. It’s tangy, refreshing, and a tad bit sweet. The longer you let the salad sit in the fridge the more flavor the rice and beans will soak up. And the nice part about this salad is the versatility. You can pretty much toss in whatever veggies, grains, nuts, and cheeses that your little heart desires and it will still turn out great. I am going to make this again soon and add some red cabbage and sliced carrots for a little more crunch. Oh and I didn’t put this in the recipe but I threw mine on top of a bed of mixed greens with a squeeze of lemon over it and it was divine. This makes for a perfect, protein & nutrient- packed, lunch that will last you a good week in the fridge.

Cold bean & rice veggie salad
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Ingredients
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice
  • 3-4 cups cooked beans ( I used a variety of pinto, kidney, black, yellow split peas, lima, and lentils) OR 2-3 cans of precooked beans, rinsed
  • 1 bag frozen yellow corn, thawed
  • 3-4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • ⅓ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • feta cheese
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl combine: cooked rice and beans, corn, onions, tomatoes and cilantro.
  2. In another smaller mixing bowl, whisk together oils, vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt, cumin, chili powder, and pepper.
  3. Taste and season accordingly.
  4. Pour dressing mixture over rice and beans and toss to coat.
  5. Store in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving for best results.
  6. Add feta or any other cheese right before serving.

Happy day to you!

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Mini cherry cheesecake bites

mini cherry cheesecake bites (2)

Last week my friend threw a Pinterest/wine tasting party. We all had to make a recipe we had been wanting to try off Pinterest and bring a rare or favorite  bottle of wine for tasting. Since I couldn’t participate in the wine part, I brought my own bottle of alcohol-free merlot, which sort of made me feel like a part of the fun! Boo! I can’t wait to have my first glass of wine after baby and breastfeeding. The food tasting however, I was all about that. I made 2 recipes: the first was a super easy, to-die-for version of salted caramel creme brûlée from Tastefully Simple, and the second were these adorable mini cherry cheesecake bites. I have had my eye on them for a while via Pinterest of course, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to whip them up!

mini cherry cheesecake bites

The great thing about this recipe is that it’s easy peasy to throw together, and the finished product looks so fancy. I mean all you really have to do is mix the cheesecake ingredients; beyond that the hardest part is separating all the mini baking liners and spooning a cherry on top of each little piece. So simple! One tip I have is to make sure you bake them long enough…I ended up baking mine a few minutes longer so the wafer became more of a crust and wouldn’t get mushy. 
mini cherry cheesecake bites (3)

Mini cherry cheesecake bites
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Ingredients
  • 2 packages cream cheese (8oz)
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Vanilla wafers
  • Mini aluminum baking cup liners
  • Cherry pie filling
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix together cream cheese and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until well combined, stir in vanilla and lemon juice.
  3. Place a vanilla wafer in the bottom of each mini aluminum baking cup, rounded side down (they won't lay perfectly flat).
  4. Spoon the batter evenly over the wafers.
  5. Bake for ~15 minutes or until edges appear set; remove from oven and let cool.
  6. Top with cherry pie filling and refrigerate.

One more helpful hint before you go: The vanilla wafers are slightly too large for the mini cup liners so they won’t sit just right. Don’t freak out though, once you start filling the cheesecake mixture on top of them, they will straighten out a bit, trust me. Even if the wafers are a little slanted in the bottom of the liners, you won’t even be able to tell once they are baked and covered with the cherries.

 

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Chicken salad w/ almond honey mustard dressing

chicken salad with honey dressing

So we had a couple GORGEOUS days outside in Wisconsin these past couple weeks. And by gorgeous I mean it has consistently been below zero or slightly above all winter, and it was 50 degrees and sunny the other day. Some days have only been in the 40’s, which honestly feel like summer with the sunshine. Yesterday I seriously wore crop jeans and a jean jacket, but I think baby keeps me a little warmer than normal too. Granted we still have a bunch of snow and everything is really muddy and wet, but we will take it. We have been slapping on our rain boots to go walks, going to the park, and playing outside after school gets out. Our clothes may get soaked but it’s nothing a load of laundry and a bubble bath can’t fix.

chicken salad with honey dressing (1)

All this “nice” weather made me want to ditch all the casseroles, soups, and hearty bakes I had planned for the week and substitute with something fresh and light. Also I have been craving salads my whole pregnancy so coming across this recipe on Pinch of Yum had me pretty excited. Besides all the delicious-ness topping this pretty salad, the dressing is phenomenal. It certainly is not your typical honey mustard–it’s tangy but sweet, and the garlic is strong but not overpowering. If you are not a honey mustard fan, have no fear! I actually altered a few ingredients from the original recipe because Ralph isn’t a honey mustard fan and it turned out fantastic! I was licking the food processor with my fingers after I made it. So one word of advice: if you are going to make this salad you have to make the dressing to go with it, don’t use a store bought, I promise you it will be worth it! It’s really simple too–basically you just toss a bunch of ingredients in a food processor and call it a day.chicken salad with honey dressing (2)

We lived on this salad all week and I am already planning on making another trip to the store so we can have again next week. Do you guys do that too? We always seemed to get hooked on something and have it a bunch of days in a row before we get sick of it.

One more thing–my kids loved this salad! I don’t know about your little ones but I know it’s hard to get most kids to eat their leafy greens. Topping them with fruit, nuts, and cheese really worked well for mine. I made a small amount of the dressing with a little extra raw honey and half the garlic for the kids–they loved it!

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Ingredients
  • 2 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 2 cups grapes
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 3 cups lettuce (your choice) I used a blend
  • ½ cup feta cheese
  • ½ cup almonds slivers
  • 3 tablespoons almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon liquid coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons grape seed oil
  • 1 tablespoon stoneground mustard
  • ½ tablespoon raw honey
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic
Instructions
  1. Toss salad ingredients together.
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine: chicken, grapes, blueberries, lettuce, feta cheese, and almond slivers.
  3. In a food processor or blender ( I used my ninja), prepare your dressing.
  4. Blend together: almond butter, coconut oil, orange juice, grape seed oil, stoneground mustard, honey, salt, and garlic cloves.
  5. Add more of anything after you taste it. I ended up adding more oil for the consistency.

Today’s forecast is high of 49 degrees and sunny, plus it’s Friday! What a dream!

 

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Chicken quinoa & broccoli casserole w/bacon

broccoli bacon casserole

There are just a handful of things we need to do to our house before selling, so we have been working hard on a few projects around the house for the last few days. Sunday we bought a new kitchen sink and faucet and while researching the cost for a plumber to install it for us, Ralph and I thought he could do it himself. After a few hours and a trip to the store for drains (who knew those don’t come with a sink when you buy it? crazy), success! Ralph is very handy around the house but this was impressive! He saved us 300$ and the sink looks beautiful!

The next thing on our list was fixing cracked plaster in our downstairs bathroom and repainting the walls. I was planning on calling someone to do it for us, but I was feeling confident vibes from the successful sink installation– so off to the hardware store I went. It took me about 5 hours and I will spare you my whining about how I can barley move my body because I am so sore, but I did it! The bathroom looks so fresh and new. This may sound like a lame feat to you crazy do-it-yourselfers (you guys seriously rock), but we are not you. We have lists and lists of projects but then with the kids and our schedules we can never seem to find time. We always end up hiring someone to make it easier but I know most of it we could really do ourselves.  So this plumber guy and  plastering lady are high-fiving all day over here!

broccoli bacon casserole (2)

So besides that we are still getting things ready for baby around the house, at least as much as we can until we move. If you’re a frequent reader you know how rough my pregnancy has been, but I am telling you, this third trimester is bliss. I may be sore all the time but I get incredible energy for most of the day, which allows me to cook and clean! I can’t express how amazing this feels after months of my body not allowing me to do these things. Granted by 4pm I am spent from working on things all day, but its worth it! I am back to my weekly meal schedules and this broccoli quinoa recipe made my list this week by the word bacon alone. Besides being incredibly tasty, this casserole is so simple that you don’t even need to cook the quinoa ahead of time. The only part that takes time is frying the bacon and I suppose if you really wanted to you could skip that part. I highly recommend you don’t though…..for obvious delicious reasons. Go make this. If not for it’s ooey gooey-cheesy-ness, do it for the BACON.

Chicken quinoa & broccoli casserole w/bacon
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Ingredients
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • ½ cup cooked, crumbled bacon
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 teaspoons seasoning (your choice)
  • ¼ cup shredded Gruyere cheese (or your choice)
  • 3 cups fresh broccoli florets
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan on medium heat, bring the chicken broth and ½ cup of milk to a boil. Whisk in the rest of the milk and the poultry seasoning.
  2. Next whisk in flour until creamy sauce forms.
  3. In a mixing bowl, mix the sauce from the stovetop with one cup of water, the quinoa and the bacon.
  4. Pour the mixture into a butter greased 9x13 pan.
  5. Cut chicken into strips and place on top of quinoa mixture.
  6. Season, cover with foil, and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees.
  7. Next put broccoli in boiling water on the stovetop for 1 minute or until it turns bright green.
  8. Run under cold water and set aside.
  9. Remove casserole from oven and make sure quinoa is done. (you will be able to tell if the germ has popped open to form a little spiral)
  10. It may need to go back in for an additional 15 minutes or so depending on your oven.
  11. When casserole is done toss in the broccoli, cover with cheese and bake again just until the cheese is melted.

Thanks to Lindsay from Pinch of Yum for yet another great recipe!

 

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