Monday, January 19, 2015

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

I love to make beef stew. Especially when it's cold outside.

And I love to eat beef stew. Anytime.



Slow Cooker Beef Stew

3 T. olive oil
2 lb. beef stew meat
1/4 cup flour
1 envelope Beef Stew seasoning mix
1 t. thyme
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
2 T. dry minced onion
2 T. Worchestershire
4 cups of regular V-8 juice
2 cups water
2 t. beef bouillon crystals or 2 beef bouillon cubes
1 c. baby carrots
5 medium potatoes, skin on & cubed

Heat the oil in a large pot. Mix together flour, seasoning mix, thyme, salt & pepper and coat the beef cubes with it in a large bowl. Brown the meat in the hot oil. Place browned meat in a 5-6 qt. slow cooker and cover with onion, cubed potatoes and baby carrots. Pour water and beef bouillon into the hot pan the meat was browned in, and heat to boiling to deglaze the pan.  Add Worchestershire and V-8 juice to hot beef broth. Pour over meat and vegetables in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours, or High for 4-6 hours. Stir before serving. Serve with hot rolls or cornbread.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Tips for a healthy winter


Hi! I was asked to share my best tips for staying healthy during the cold months. This was great, because I do have some. With six kids (four still at home) and one of whom has Type 1 diabetes, I have had huge interest in keeping sickness out of the house. A diabetic is at risk of heading to the hospital for any virus--just because of the havoc it can cause with the blood sugars, ketones, etc. So I don't apologize for my bordering on germ-phobic ways. ;)

Anyway. Take a look at the pic above. Therein lies the key to my best tips.

#1. That bar of soap says, "Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Wash your hands!" This is the biggest thing we do as a family. It used to be me telling my kids to wash their hands EVERY TIME we or they return home from anyplace else, AND before eating. (Washing after using the bathroom is a given). But now my husband is a believer. He is often the first to say, "Wash your hands," as we walk in the door from anywhere, and washing his hands is the about the first thing he does when he comes in from work. (Visit Lanmom Originals for more pretty & all-natural handmade soaps just like the one pictured.)

#2. Water! Drinking enough water is SO important, and I swear by it. Especially if a stomach bug hits someone in the house, I tell everyone else to make sure they are drinking enough water. That's at least 8 8-oz glasses a day for an adult. I am absolutely positive that all the times that a stomach bug hit only one or two of us, and then no one else, is due to making sure we drank at least the recommended amount of water each day for protection. It really works.

#3. Vitamins! I take a multivitamin daily that has extra B-vitamins, but my kids like Emergen-C and will drink it daily. I know lots of people who swear by the extra vitamin C, and I think it does help, especially if you feel a cold coming on.

There you have it, my top three tips for staying healthy during the winter. Washing our hands and drinking enough water are two things that we actually do year-round to stay healthy, so I don't think these are things just for winter. And there are, of course, other things I do to help, such as letting my kids get fresh air every day, using disinfectant wipes on bathroom surfaces a few times each week, and keeping things clean. Not to mention the importance of healthy eating and exercise (Jared is great at both!). For some yummy energy-boosting recipes, check out the recipes at Aloha.com.


What are your best tips for staying healthy in winter?

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Top Three Recipe Posts of 2014, Plus the #1 of All Time!

Here are the Top Three Recipes of 2014 for this blog:

Tied at #1 are:



Hot Cheesy Chicken Hoagie



and Chicken Broccoli Casserole.  Both of these recipes are great to warm up with when it's cold outside!


The #3 2014 recipe is:


Ham Fried Rice, definitely one of our family's most favorite recipes, and still my favorite way to use leftover ham.


Meanwhile, the far-and-away top-viewed recipe on this blog continues to be:

 
Pineapple-Coconut Bundt cake.  I just made it up one day. Who knew?!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Happy 2015!!

It's finally 2015.

The year 2015 has loomed large in my mind, for one big reason: Elder Sedlacek comes home halfway through this year! When he left in 2013, it seemed like such a loooong tiiiiiime away.......now it's here. Crazy how fast that time went.

Anyway, we have a tradition every New Year's Day. That is to hike up the mountain behind the LDS temple just above our home, and build a snowman. A big snowman. Sometimes Mother Nature cooperates with this tradition, but sometimes not. This year she decided to, on Christmas Day, when we finally picked up the first real snow of this winter with 11.5 inches.

This particular year was extra fun because: 1. We have a new son-in-law to help us out. Son-in-law Jeff is on the far right in the picture above while Hubby Jeff is taking the pic. (Yep, two Jeffs in the family now. People ask me if that ever gets confusing? Once in awhile for them, but not really for me. Nicole has good taste and chose extra wisely!)  2. I have a new DonJoy OA knee brace that made it possible for me to hike up there and back down, pain-free.

The snowman building wasn't perfect. Earlier in the week, we had one of those nasty canyon winds that carried off a lot of the snow and left the surface snow so dry that it wouldn't pack nicely. But thanks to several five-gallon buckets and some effort, we were able to build a 7-foot snowman.

Once the snowman is built, the kids like to sled back down. Then we head home to warm up with some hot chocolate.

Here's to a great 2015!!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

English Trifle



One of our holiday traditions is to make and enjoy an English Trifle. My hubby spent two years serving an LDS mission in the midlands of England and North Wales, and trifle became one of his favorite things. This is an almost authentic version, using ingredients readily found here, but if you have access to an English pantry, I include those ingredients below. One year we had a friend visit from England, and she taught us how to make trifle. Since then I have figured out how to replicate it as closely as possible with ingredients from my local Smith's.

First off, here is what you need to make a  berry trifle:

a white cake mix (or ready-made sponge cake from a British pantry)
2 small boxes of Jell-o gelatin, raspberry flavor (or English "Jelly")
one bag of frozen berries (raspberries, blackberries & blueberries)
1 large box Cook & Serve Jell-o pudding, vanilla flavor (Bird's Custard powder is one English variety)
1 pint of whipping cream
powdered sugar & vanilla

24 hours before you want to serve the trifle, mix the white cake mix according to the package directions and bake in a Bundt pan. Transfer the cake to a plate, then leave it uncovered and let it sit out overnight. The next morning, slice about 1/2 the cake into 1-inch slices and stand them upright in the bottom of a trifle bowl. I usually end up with about 10 slices of cake in my bowl. Leave a little space in between slices. Fill the spaces with the frozen berries, like so:



I like to try to make it look pretty.  :)

Once that step is done, mix the raspberry gelatin with 2 cups of boiling water and stir until dissolved. Then stir in 2 cups of cold water. Pour the gelatin slowly over the cake and berries so it can soak in.



Now cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in the fridge until the gelatin is set. This will take a few hours. Meanwhile, prepare the cook & serve pudding according to the directions on the package and then cover the surface of the pudding with plastic and let it chill in the fridge until the trifle is ready. If you can get English custard powder, make that, but if you can't, cook & serve pudding comes closer than the instant version. It's worth doing.

The set jello layer with the custard layer added.
Finally, whip the pint of cream with a little powdered sugar and vanilla if desired. It doesn't need to be overly sweet with all the other sweetness going on in the other layers. Pour the pudding/custard on top of the set cake/berries/gelatin layer, then top that with the whipped cream. Serve immediately or refrigerate up to two hours. Trifle is best the same day it's assembled, but leftovers can be enjoyed the next day--if there are any. 







Monday, December 22, 2014

Soft Molasses Gingersnaps



One year, one of my awesome neighbors delivered a plate of these gingersnaps. And oh boy, they were the best gingersnaps I'd ever had. Soft, chewy and delicious. My whole family loved them. So naturally, I begged asked her nicely for the recipe, and she was kind enough to share. I did tweak it just a tad, using half white and half brown sugar instead of all white sugar. The recipe also has a range for the amount of cloves, and I use the maximum amount.

Soft Molasses Gingersnaps
1/4 c. softened butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/4 c. molasses
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 t. sea salt
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
1/2 - 1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ginger
2 c. flour
1/3 c. granulated sugar for rolling

 Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugars together until creamy. Blend in molasses and egg. Combine dry ingredients together in a smaller bowl, then add all at once to wet ingredients. Mix well. Form dough into 1" balls (makes a small cookie) and roll in granulated sugar. Place balls on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake for 8 minutes for a soft & chewy cookie. For a crispier cookie, bake 10 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen.

***For all the diabetics out there, two of these cookies made from 1" balls costs a total of 23 carbs.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winter Wedding



Our daughter was married last Saturday. 12-13-14! And it was the most awesome day ever.

When they set the date, she and her fiance decided that they wanted a winter theme, without it being "Christmasy." So we set out to accomplish that. A whole heck of a lot went into it, but it was worth it.

We started with this:

and this:

and my smart hubby worked up this:



From there we purchased 300 yards of white gossamer, 100 yards of gold gossamer, and about one dozen second-hand Christmas trees. Not to mention a giant fan cover, loads of heavy gauge wire, tablecloths, table runners and other various things. We rented black lanterns and borrowed lots of white lights.

And we turned all of that (and more) into this:



After the wedding luncheon, we switched things up a little and added some lights to the center of the canopy, like this:


We were able to pretty much transform the space, and our daughter and son-in-law were really happy with how it turned out. Much thanks to family and friends of both the bride and groom for helping us pull it off! 

Colors: evergreen, blush, gold and cranberry
Centerpieces: wood rounds, evergreen of various types, blush roses, berries and cedar roses
Chair sashes: 1 1/2 yds of gold gossamer

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

DIY Mason Jar Lanterns




Hi!

So a couple posts back, I mentioned that my oldest daughter is getting married next month. Make that about 2 1/2 weeks from today!

We decided pretty early on that we would do the decorating ourselves...in large part because my hubby is pretty fearless about taking on a challenge, so he decided he could handle rigging up a fabric-draped circular ceiling that Nicole wants for her luncheon and reception. Once we felt like that was doable, it was easy for me to say I could handle the rest of the decorations. The wedding has yet to happen, but so far, so good. Today I am sharing one of the projects I've been doing to try and have a beautiful wedding on a reasonable budget.


The reception will take place in a church building in our neighborhood, so the intent is to transform it as much as possible. That includes dressing up the outside a little bit. Nicole wanted paper luminaries to line the sidewalk, but the more we thought about the possibility of snowy weather, the more I thought it might be good to have something a little sturdier just in case.

Enter the DIY Mason Jar Lanterns, something you have probably seen on Pinterest. They are easy to do and turned out pretty well. Luckily for me, my aunt happens to have five matching shepherd's hooks to hang them from. The hooks will be about 20 inches off the ground, so I decided that pint jars would be the perfect size.

For two pint jars, I mixed a couple tablespoons of the glue with a teaspoon or so of water, and then stirred in the glitter. Gold is one of Nicole's accent colors, but silver would be pretty as well. I learned that you want to go heavy on the glitter in order to have a good coating inside your jar. Once your glitter to glue ratio looks good, add a little more. Lesson number one. :)

Paint the inside of the jar with the glittery glue. I turned the jars upside down on paper for a little while to let the excess drip out, then used my finger to smooth out the drips on the inside of the jar. Once that's done, let the jars dry for several hours. Once the jars are dry, simply take some wire and wrap it around the neck of the jar to form a handle. I used 20-gauge colored copper wire, and it seems plenty able to hold the weight of the jar. A wooden chalkboard tag, with lettering yet to be added, finishes it off.

FYI: Gold battery-operated votives came from Dollar Tree, and all other supplies, including the awesome chalkboard tags {my most favorite recent find!} came from Bennion Crafts.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Five-grain Pumpkin Spice Muffins


Hi! I'm guest posting over at Simply Sweet Home today, where you will find the recipe for the yummy muffins above. They make a great Thanksgiving morning breakfast. Click on over and check it out. Thanks to Jerri for featuring my recipe!