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
 

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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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.

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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!

 

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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Fresh Waldorf salad

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Today is Ralph’s 27th birthday. When it’s my birthday I want the royal treatment. I want to be pampered and waited on. Not Ralphy. He woke up just like any other day, made us all eggs and toast, took all the garbages out, did the dishes that I left from the night before, and helped me get the kids off to school. Every morning his selflessness amazes me and his birthday is no exception. Among many other great qualities, one of Ralph’s greatest qualities is putting others before himself. Although his life is incredibly busy and stressful with his work load, he is always thinking of ways to not only help make my life easier ,but for everyone that he cares about. He is one of those people who does really nice things for people who he doesn’t even know and wants no recognition for it. Most times I will find out months later about something generous he did for someone because he doesn’t even tell me. 8 birthdays ago was the first birthday I got to celebrate with Ralph and he still makes my heart flutter just the same. And only people who make my heart flutter get fresh Waldorf salad in the fridge for the week!

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You know those salads with apples, whipped cream, and snickers that someone always brings to a baby shower or get together? Those are my favorite. This recipe reminds me of those salads but a little bit healthier? Maybe, maybe not. When I came across this recipe I had written down ages ago, it sounded so refreshing and I thought it would be perfect to keep in in the fridge all week for a snack. Oh and it didn’t disappoint! It turned out beautiful and so yummy. The kids thought it was ice cream with fruit in it. Jokes on you kids. This salad isn’t totally bad for you if you use the right ingredients; it’s just bad-ish for you. The sugar is the only thing really, but as long as it’s real organic cane sugar we will all live to see another day I think. So whip this up for your next get-together and everyone will want your recipe! I am curious to see how it keeps in the fridge this week, I will get back to you on that.

 

Ingredients
  • 5 apples, your choice, diced (unpeeled)
  • 1 8-ounce can pineapple tidbits (drained)
  • 1 cup seedless red and/or green grapes, cut in half
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup pineapple juice
  • ½ cup cream
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 1 8-ounce carton whipped topping or favorite whipped cream

Instructions
  1. In a small pot, whisk together sugar, flour, cream, butter and juice.
  2. Heat on medium until boiling.
  3. Remove from stove and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Fold in whipped topping.
  5. Mix with fruit and nuts just before serving.

 

Here is my favorite post I wrote last year about Ralph in case you want to know more about my Mr. Wonderful. The birthday boy requested a chocolate chip cheese cake (his favorite), my Merlot meatballs, lobster bisque (courtesy of Costco!), and loaded baked potato crisps. Works for me. Happy Monday playas.

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Crunchy Thai quinoa salad

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Heres the thing guys. I sat down to work on this post and all I wanted to do was complain about my pregnancy and being overwhelmed and the weather and everything else there is to complain about. But then I thought nobody wants to read that garbage. Everyone has things to complain about but I think we all have a whole lot more to celebrate and be happy about. I know life has its rough patches (believe me) ,but that’s what my girlfriends and my journals are for. I can fill their ears with all my baggage anytime I want! I want my blog to be a happy place, about happy things. I normally don’t like to share a whole lot of our personal life on here but can I share one thing that we are ecstatic about over here? Do you mind? It’s a really happy thing I promise.

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A couple of weeks ago our offer was accepted on the house of our dreams! We have had our eye on it for about 2 years and the way it all worked out had to be God’s plan for us. We are all pretty excited about it but it still seems a bit surreal. We are saying goodbye to our first home of 4 years and we love our home to pieces. Right now we live in a tiny, cozy , cape cod that we never want to leave. Our growing family however has caused us to search for more space and land. So although this will be an emotional move for us, it will also be a beautiful change of setting for our family (of almost 6!).

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And now this beautiful salad right!? When I saw a picture of this recipe in my Pinterest feed I knew I needed it, now. That is 20% my impulsive personality, 10% my impatience to wait another day to make it, and 70% my pregnancy cravings crying to be fed. I already had supper planned, a roast thawing and all that jazz, but that pork roast was going to have to wait. As soon as I saw this gorgeous, colorful, crunchy salad I had to have it right away. I ran to the market and gathered the ingredients and crossed my fingers that it would turn out because $$$. Buying good produce this time of the year is pricy as we all know, and decent cashews! Plus I doubled the salad for leftovers so it ended up being quite the expensive salad to throw together. But it was totally worth it, I promise! And if you’re going to be frugal about something, don’t let it be your health/food, that’s what I say.

red cabbage quiona

The crunch of red cabbage is the greatest crunch don’t you agree? Comparable to a good crunchy slab of iceberg lettuce but packed with the strong flavor of an onion. It’s safe to say I am passionate about a good crunch. I also love a good salad, in fact I will often order a salad when we go out to dinner. But during this pregnancy especially salads have been a major craving of mine. Even though a big salad does fill me up, of course I always eat a whole second, not so healthy course afterwards. Something like a burger or chicken sandwich. Lot’s of mayo. Yum. Oh losing this baby weight is going to be fun! Worth it times a million!

Head on over to Ambitious Kitchen for this great recipe. I didn’t change a thing in the recipe besides doubling it, so I didn’t feel right sharing it on my site. Happy crunching!

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