Warm Fall Stew

Hunting season has officially started; not that it ever really ended in this house…we just go from hunting crabs/fish to deer.  As I’ve mentioned before, I’m happy to have a husband who hunts (for the most part) because it allows us to stock our freezer with meat that I know is hormone/antibiotic free.  Plus venison is super lean and healthy.  One of my favorite fall dishes is a simple crock pot dish….Hunters Stew.

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I love this because there is virtually no preparation involved.  Just layer everything in the crockpot, pop on the lid and when you walk in the door from work the house smells great and dinner is ready.  I always pair this was some buttery crescent rolls and we’ve got a delicious and filling meal. 

Hunters Stew

4 medium carrots, cleaned and chopped (I use a bag of frozen carrots)

4 medium potatoes chopped

1 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of celery soup

1 (10 3/4 oz) can cream of mushroom soup

1 (2 oz) dry onion soup mix

1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat cut into bite sized pieces

1/2 soup can of water

Several generous shakes of Garlic Gold Sea Salt Nuggets

Place a layer of vegetables in slow cooker. 

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Add one half of soups, one half soup mix, then half of meat and a few shakes of Garlic Gold. 

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Repeat layers.  Add water.  Do not stir.  Cover and cook in slow cooker 6-8 hours on low.  DSC_0296

This was so good tonight for dinner and I even have enough leftover for lunch tomorrow. 

DSC_0298 This would be a great idea to throw together for a late dinner after Trick or Treat this weekend. 

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Halloween Treats

It’s almost Halloween which means it’s time for tricks and treats!  We have our fair share of tricks around here

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(Shhhhhh….don’t tell him there’s spinach in there)

…but this house prefers treats!  My wonderful mother-in-law gave me this idea a few years ago and I’ve used it quite a bit. 

Pretzel Candies

1 bag of mini pretzel wheels

1 bag of seasonal colored plain M&M’s

1 bag of milk chocolate candy disks (I get mine at Michaels)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with pretzel wheels.  Add one chocolate candy disk on top of each pretzel wheel.  Bake in the oven for 3 minutes.  Immediately press one M&M into the chocolate disk on each pretzel.  Allow to cool. 

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These are adorable and can be used for any holiday that you can find coordinating M&M’s (which is just about all of them).

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I packed some up in small Halloween baggies that I also got from Michael’s and the boys will be giving these to their classmates for Halloween on Friday.  Quick, easy, and adorable!

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I’m Alive, I’m Alive…..

and to make it up to you I have one of my favorite recipes to share. 

Whew…what a horrible week it has been.  It started with the stomach flu, progressed to strep throat (accompanied by fever, chills, exhaustion…you name it) and ended with an excruciating case of canker sores in my mouth (which I always get when my immune system is suppressed by sickness or stress).  Honestly it was insane.  I’m happy to report that I’m almost feeling normal this morning.  However my house sure isn’t.  I need at least the weekend to recover from just letting things go….it’s not pretty my friends! 

On to more important business.  My little guy Logan is the “Spotlight Kid” at daycare this week.  He has a bulletin board of pictures with information about him in his classroom and I wanted to celebrate the occasion by bringing in a yummy dish to share with his daycare friends and teachers.  My Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle…okay, I lie…it’s Paula Dean’s Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle, but that should just validate it more!  I started making this for Thanksgiving a few years back and  it was such a hit that I’ve been making it ever since.

DSC_0281Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle (Paula Dean)

1 package of gingerbread mix (Paula says 2, but that’s WAY too much)

1 (5.1 ounce) package of cook and serve vanilla pudding mix (instant works too)

1 (30 ounce) can pumpkin pie filling

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 tsp cinnamon or cardamom

1 (12 ounce) container of frozen whipped topping

1/2 cup gingersnaps (optional)

Bake the gingerbread according to package directions and let cool.  Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool.  Stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cinnamon/cardamom into the pudding.  Crumble some gingerbread into the bottom of a large pretty bowl.  Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped topping.  Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping.  Sprinkle the top with crushed gingersnaps.  Refrigerate overnight.

This is SUPER easy.  Logan helped me very step of the way.

DSC_0274  He also taste tested…hey, he can’t have his friends eating crap! 

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And I always have enough leftover to a) let the boys enjoy some pudding and b) make mama a little mini trifle to enjoy at 1am in the morning (okay, that part isn’t normal either, but it’s an example of how the week has gone).

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It’s great to be back.  Get your flu shots!  :) 

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Sick, sick, sick

sick Sorry for the lack of posting…I’ve been sick, sick, sick.  Yesterday the stomach flu and now strep throat.  Yuck!  I’ll be back soon with some more exciting eats…there’s nothing exciting about hot tea and cough drops. 

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Apple Butter Happiness!

I wish you could smell my kitchen right now.  Not only does it feel like fall outside this morning, but it smells like fall because of what I just made in my crockpot.  Apple Butter….caramel apple butter to be precise.  This recipe is SUPER easy but it does take a few hours in the crockpot.  I started it last night before bed and was awakened to the smell of cinnamon and cloves this morning.  So good. 

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Caramel Apple Butter (in the crockpot)

14 large apples

2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 tsp cloves

1 Tbsp vanilla

1 bag of caramels

Peel apples and cut into quarters.  Throw them in the crockpot with the vanilla.  Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (I did this last night and just set my alarm for 4:30am to continue)

When the cooking is done, mash the apples with a potato masher or a fork.  Stir in the sugars, cinnamon and cloves.  Cover again and cook for 6 more hours.  During the last hour, unwrap and throw in an entire bag of caramels.  Mix and recover to allow the caramels to melt into the apple butter.

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Someone was salivating just smelling it!

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This is so good!  I made this recipe last year and actually froze a few jars.  It worked very well.  I had apple butter until July of this year. 

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So good!  This would make an excellent gift with a little tag with the recipe.  

I put some on my maple pumpkin pancakes this morning.  I also added some of my granola mix from Mix My Granola

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Yum!  I have to say that this granola mix is some of the best that I’ve had.  I love the dates and the almonds and cranberries.  I can’t taste the bee pollen enhancer at all (which is nice, because I was a bit weirded out by it, but loved the health benefits).   But, my absolute favorite part (I can’t lie) are the peanut butter bites.  So good and so big!  I’ve been just eating this by the handful straight out of the can.  Honestly, I’m super impressed with Mix My Granola.  Not only is their granola great, but it’s organic, shipping is super fast, and the size they give you is incredible.  I’m definitely excited to try more combinations!

Okay, breakfast is over, the pups are at soccer practice with Daddy and…

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I’m hitting the treadmill for a quick run.  Have a great Saturday!!!!

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To Run or Not To Run….

That’s what I’ve been struggling with lately.  This summer was the first time in years that I did not have a set exercise routine.  And because of that I really fell off the exercise wagon.  I actually lost weight, but I honestly didn’t feel nearly as good as I do when I’m doing something consistently.  However there’s just something about fall that rejuvenates me and motivates me to set a goal.  I don’t know if it’s the crisp air, the leaves changing or all the apple pie, but I start to feel like a kid again.

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I’ve mentioned the local 5K Turkey Trot that’s in our area every Thanksgiving.  I think I’ve finally made the commitment…I’m going to do it.  And now I’m really going to do it, since I just made this public and all.  The last time I ran it was about 3 years ago…right before I got pregnant with Logan.

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Yep, that’s me…smoking some old guy in 2007!  ;)  I finished with a time of 29:35.  Not bad for my first 5K and I had only been running for about 8 weeks.  I’d love to do better this year, but I’m trying hard not to put pressure on myself for time.  Making the commitment to actually run is huge for me. 

So, I’m in week 5 of the Couch to 5K program.  I really do love this program.  The only thing I hate about this time of year is the fact that I need to run at 5am, and I just can’t bring myself to do it outside in the dark…so I hit the treadmill in our basement.

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It’s actually a great setup…I normally end up watching QVC.  But I still get bored.  I try really hard to get outside one day on the weekend.  This has helped a lot! 

In other healthy living news I had a surprise on my porch tonight.

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The nice people at Mix My Granola sent me a fabulous mix that I created myself.  I was impressed right away for two reasons:

1.  I just ordered this on Saturday….that’s fast delivery!

2.  The tube is HUGE.  I can’t believe how much they give you.  For what’s inside, it’s a great value. 

Here’s my mix.  I named it Mommy’s Mega Mix:

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Low fat granola, organic dates, peanut butter bites, bee pollen powder, and carob powder…oh yeah…and lots of LOVE!  I’m so excited to try it.  I plan to mix it in with my yogurt tomorrow as my afternoon snack.  I’m super curious if you can taste the bee pollen powder which is one of their new enhancers.  According to their website: 

Bee pollen may help build the immune system. It contains protein, carbohydrates, fatty acids, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and lecithin, beta-carotene and selenium; all nutrients that have been shown to have powerful antioxidant effects in the body. Thus, it has been theorized that bee pollen could help treat conditions associated with free-radical damage, such as cancer, heart disease, and decreased mental function. Bee pollen has also been touted as an anti-aging supplement, and its proponents claim that it can prevent the weight gain, decreased libido, lethargy, and decline in muscle and skin tone associated with aging.

Check back tomorrow and see what I think. 

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All Time Favorite Cookies!

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Andy and I attended a beautiful wedding on Friday night.  The venue was beautiful.  It was in an old barn-type building that was huge.  The cake was probably the best part.  Buttercream icing.  Sweet…just like it should be. 

Another one of my favorite sweet indulgences is Giada De Laurentis’ Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies.  I started making these a few years ago, after reading rave reviews and I’ve been making them ever since. 

Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 cup old fashioned oats

2 1/4 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)

1 cup (packed) light brown sugar

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 oz English toffee candy (I used Heath) finely chopped

1 cup Hazelnuts, toasted, husked, and chopped

1 12 ounce bag of semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. 

Toast hazelnuts until slightly brown.  I did mine directly on the stovetop and it worked just fine.  I then chopped mine in my magic bullet. 

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Chop oats in a food processor.  Add oats, flour, baking powder and soda, and salt to a medium sized bowl.  In a larger bowl combine the sugars and butter and mix until fluffy.  Add the eggs and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture and stir until just blended.  Stir in the toffee, hazelnuts, and chocolate chips. 

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Drop 1 rounded Tbsp of dough onto cookie sheet spacing each cookie about 1 inch apart.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool slightly on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes.  Remove and let cool completely on a wire rack. 

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These are delicious!  My favorite part is that they are so moist and chewy….probably the toffee candy.  My favorite way to eat them is to warm them for about 7 seconds in the microwave and eat with a glass of milk or dunk them into my tea at night. 

While the boys did a little fall yard work

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I got busy making dinner. 

It was a bit chilly this evening, so we tried Jenna’s Creamy White Chicken Chili recipe with some French bread warmed in the oven.  Jenna’s right on with this recipe.  It was very good.  A bit spicy, but the sour cream seemed to cut the spice a bit.  Don’t get me wrong…I LOVE spice, the boys…not so much! 

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Andy even loved this one and he’s a picky eater.  We all went back for seconds and I have just enough left for lunch tomorrow.  Try this one if you haven’t already! 

I’m about to cuddle with the boys and sip some chai tea to accompany another one of those fabulous hazelnut cookies.  Nite!

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