Another Saturday Crock Pot Meal

The picture doesn’t look great, but it smells yummy. πŸ™‚

This Saturday crock pot idea is really working well for me. Tonight we are having a pot roast with carrots and potatoes. I went to bed around 10 pm, but the baby was awake at 2:30 to nurse, and the 2 year old was awake at 3:30 with a poopy diaper. 😦 I wasn’t able to fall back asleep until 4:30 so, I did not feel very rested when the boys were both awake for the day at 8:30. Thankfully they woke up the 11 year old too. πŸ˜‰ He helped me with the 2 year old while I nursed the baby again. By 10 am I was able to have dinner going in the crock pot.  

My husband used the crock pot this week too. He cooked up some chicken breasts for dinner the other night, and made enough for lunches for a couple of days. He simply put 4 frozen breasts in the crock pot with some spices and let it cook all day. He was able to shred the meat with a wooden spoon since it got so tender. For dinner he made mashed potatoes and gravy to go with the chicken. I had made a batch of cole slaw the night before so that went well with it too.

For lunches we made wraps with the chicken, some salad mix and honey mustard dressing. They were satisfying, and a nice healthy choice. The fact that chicken breast is so much cheaper than the deli meat we were buying for sandwiches is a bonus too.  

Unfortunately leftovers won’t work for my husband’s lunch tomorrow, but I know what I’ll be having. πŸ™‚ 

I’ll probably make some more chicken tomorrow so he can have a nice wrap Monday, and the rest of us will be able to make wraps or tacos out of the chicken for our lunches too. These little time and money savers are making my hectic life a little less so. 

Mom’s Chicken Pot Pie

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I knew what I made wasn’t really my mom’s pot pie recipe, but I didn’t think it was too far off. Tonight, I checked my recipes to find my copy of my mom’s pot pie recipe only to realize I wasn’t even close to the original. I guess I can say this is my own pot pie recipe. πŸ™‚

I won’t be sharing exact measurements for much, since I don’t measure the ingredients. I just wing it every time I make it. πŸ˜‰

I use frozen chicken breast, sometimes 2 large ones sometimes it’s 3-4 of varying sizes. I usually put in about 3 medium potatoes. I like using red skin potatoes, and I do keep the skin on them. For other vegetables I use Normandy blend, which is a combination of broccoli, cauliflower, yellow squash, zucchini and carrots. My husband does not like peas, so we never eat them. My mom’s recipe called for both onions and peas, but my family does not like them. Her recipe called for a can of cream of celery soup, and sometimes I will use one. Usually I use Β cream of chicken soup.

The first step is to get a pot of water boiling. It has to be large enough to hold the chicken and vegetables with enough room to boil without spilling over. I season my water with poultry seasoning, garlic salt, pepper, a bay leaf and sometimes I’ll add a dash of oregano or basil. Next I put the chicken in the pot. I put in whole frozen breasts. While they start to cook I wash and cube my potatoes into bite size pieces. I add those to the water, and take out a chicken breast. I cut the chicken into bite size pieces. At this point it will still be frozen in the center, but it cuts easily. I toss those pieces back in the water and cut up the rest of the chicken the same way. At this point I preheat my oven to 350 degrees and add some of my frozen Normandy blend vegetables to the pot. I don’t measure, so I just put what I think will fill my pan.πŸ˜‰ The pan I use is 13″x9″. While the mixture starts boiling again I work on the pot pie filling. I melt a stick of butter and pour that in the pan, then I add the can of cream of chicken soup and a cup of the water from the pot stirring it all together. My next step is to mix the topping, which is equal parts milk and Bisquick. I use 2-2 1/2 cups of each. By this point it’s time to drain the chicken and veggies. I usually don’t save the liquid, but it feels like a waste to dump all those flavors down the drain.😞 I make sure I pull out the bay leaf I had seasoning the liquid and spread everything into the pan, coating it with the soup mixture. Finally the Bisquick mixture gets poured over the top of the meat and veggies. I try to poke any of the bits under the topping to make sure the topping covers it all well. Then it goes into the oven until the topping is golden brown. My new oven cooks faster than my old one, so it only takes 45 minutes instead of an hour.

I know it’s not a traditional chicken pot pie, but my family really enjoys it. I still think of it as my mom’s pot pie, since I have taken a few steps from her original recipe. πŸ˜‰

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

Saturday’s are hard for me. 

I work Friday’s 4am-2:30pm, getting up to pump at 1:45 to start my day. The commute to/from work is nearly an hour, so I get home around 3:30pm to a house full of boys. Since I am still breastfeeding the 7 month, old I usually have to sit down with him shortly after I arrive home. 

I don’t get much done on a Friday after work, but I almost never get to nap. Yesterday was no exception. It wasn’t overly strenuous, but after putting away my work gear, fixing myself a large iced coffee, and nursing the baby we went out to the golf course next to our property. I had the baby in a front carrier, so I didn’t play, I just walked the course with the boys. (Hubby, 11 year old, and 2 1/2 year old) We were out just over an hour, then we came in and fixed a nice easy dinner. Chicken ravioli with broccoli in alfredo sauce, with some garlic toast. πŸ™‚ We watched a movie as a family, then played some mad libs. It was 11:30pm by the time I was settled in bed. I really hoped the baby would cooperate and give me some rest. He didn’t wake up until almost 4am, so I got a decent amount of sleep. πŸ˜‰ Hubby was up getting ready for work, and about to leave. I brought Jacob to bed with me to nurse, and kept him with me nursing him every couple of hours until about 8am. 

Since I have been trying to stick to my meal plan, I knew tonight’s dinner was scheduled to be chicken tacos. I got dinner in the crock pot just after 9am, and now I know I don’t have to worry about anything until dinner time tonight. 

Being so sleep deprived during the week, going to bed around 10pm to have my first alarm go off at 1:30am is rough. Saturday can be so exhausting when it’s my responsibility to get up during the night with the baby, so hubby can get his rest before his work week starts. He doesn’t get enough sleep either, since it was 11:30pm when we went to bed and his alarm goes off at 3:30am. πŸ˜› I am just grateful that baby Jacob didn’t choose to be up at midnight or 2am like he does sometimes. πŸ™‚

Here is my chicken taco “recipe”…

I put mild salsa in my crock pot to cover the bottom, sprinkle on a generous amount of taco seasoning, place frozen boneless/skinless chicken breast on top of the salsa/seasoning then add more salsa on top of the chicken. That’s it!

I will let it cook on low for several hours, and then shred the chicken before dinner. Tonight we are having soft tacos, so we will just put some of the chicken and salsa mixture on a soft tortilla and add lettuce, cheese and sour cream to our liking. 

This is after cooking for about 3 1/2 hours. The chicken creates a lot of liquid as it thaws and cooks. I know I shouldn’t open the lid, but I can’t help giving it a bit of a stir. If it’s too moist at dinner time, we can just use a slotted spoon to serve.  Once the chicken is shredded I’m sure it will seem thicker.

I am looking forward to a nice relaxing day without watching my clock to make sure I am ready to prepare dinner. Often times the baby will need to nurse, or 1 or both of the little ones will require diaper changes at crucial moments of dinner preparation. I tend to burn food, over cook pasta or make other mistakes when I have to do so much multi tasking. I hope to make more successful meal plans in the future to make these difficult days easier. πŸ™‚

Sticking to a plan

After taking a week off from meal planning, I can say that I like meal planning. πŸ˜‰

We could not keep the exact meal plans that I set up, due to having more food leftover than I planned on or being too busy on certain days to make the meal that I intended to make. It was nice to have a list of meals to choose from that I knew I had the ingredients for on any given night. Last night was a non-planned night, and we nearly ordered take out. We have been fighting illness, and lack of sleep so it was so tempting to order dinner. Thankfully my husband stepped up, chose what to make and made it. We really didn’t want to spend money on take out, since we both have been losing hours at work lately. We knew we had plenty to choose from in the house, and it was already 6:30pm too. He made cheeseburgers, mac & cheese and green beans. I was very tired, and about to pick up my phone to place an order. Hubby saved the day, and about $30 on take out too.

This week I am back to making a plan. I am more aware of what meals will create leftovers, and trying to separate those meals so that I don’t stuff my fridge with so many that we end up wasting food. My husband and I don’t mind having leftovers as lunches, or even dinner again, but my 11 year old has a phobia of leftovers. πŸ˜‰ Unless it is a pizza shop pizza. ;P He won’t even eat leftover homemade pizza. 

I’m also not sure what day will be grocery shopping day this week. I don’t venture out on my own to do the shopping on the weekend, so we usually shop on Tuesday when my husband and I are both off of work. That is the only day we get off together as a family though, so it’s hard to waste any of it to grocery shop. 😦 

This week will probably have some curve balls thrown in, because I need to make a dental appointment for my husband. If he gets in on Tuesday, then we’ll probably shop before or after his appointment and see how that affects dinner timing and the planned meal. Otherwise, his appointment will have to be after I get home from work one day, which would definitely throw off the timing of dinner, and possibly interfere with the ability to make the meal I was planning on. I think I have everything on hand for the meals I planned until next Saturday, but we will run out of some staples before then. Being flexible is the key to my meal plans being successful or not. If I was strict with myself, I would surely fail at this. πŸ˜‰

I think making a dinner plan helps throughout the week by providing easy lunches on days when either my husband or myself are home with the 3 kids. (2 of which who are very demanding of our time) It also makes lunch decisions easier to make if we know what dinner is going to be. I personally don’t like having something for lunch that will be too similar to dinner.

I have noticed a difference in my stress level when I have a plan in place. I’m sure that having a better routine will eventually be noticed by the rest of my family too. 

 

Homelife… Meal Plan

This week I wanted to be more organized, especially when it came to meal planning. I can say I had some success doing so. πŸ˜‰

We had done a pretty full grocery shop, with some ideas for meals in mind. We have a chest freezer that stays pretty well stocked, and a fairly well stocked pantry too. I made a list of meals according to things I had on hand, time I thought I would have to prepare certain meals on certain days, and I tried to plan out the week so that there was a good variety day to day.

I started on Tuesday, and the first dinner went off without a hitch. We had tacos. We wanted to use up some salad mix that we had in the fridge before it went bad. I buy taco seasoning in bulk at Sam’s Club since tacos is a meal that the whole family enjoys. I can actually get my two year old to eat soft tacos. I don’t put any lettuce in his though. Just seasoned meat and shredded cheese.(Usually mozzarella that we also buy in bulk.)

Wednesday we planned on homemade pizza. I don’t make the dough from scratch, but I buy frozen dough at Market Basket that is preseasoned and inexpensive. Once thawed, I cut the dough into 3 pieces to make “specialty” pizzas to please everyone. I will cook mine separately in my toaster oven, since nobody wants theirs contaminated with my onions, peppers and feta cheese. πŸ˜‰ I will make the other 2 on the same rectangle pan in my regular oven. Plain cheese for the 2 boys and usually turkey pepperoni for my husband. Sometimes I will put chicken and pepperoni on his if he’s in the mood for that extra meat. This week we ran into a small issue on pizza night. We were out of pizza sauce! I usually have 2-3 cans in my pantry since we make pizza about once a week, but apparently we didn’t add it to our shopping list when we used the last can. 😦 We improvised, and just opened up a can of garlic and herb pasta sauce to use instead. Since we used very little of the sauce for the pizza, my meal plan had to change for the next day so I wouldn’t waste that sauce.

Thursday’s original plan was to make a pot roast in the crock pot, but instead I used the sauce I opened the night before to make chicken parm. for my 11 year old. My husband wasn’t in the mood for chicken parm., so I made a batch of General Tso’s chicken for us. (I had chicken parm. the next day for lunch, to use up leftovers.) Both meals were quick and easy to make, so it wasn’t too much of a hassle to make 2 dinners. I forget now, days later what the 2 year old had. It may have been a grilled cheese sandwich. 

Friday was going to be baked chicken, with veggies and rice. We had too many leftovers in the house to make another big meal. My husband and I had some leftover General Tso’s chicken. He had a cheeseburger too, and I made some honey bbq chicken to go with mine. Just a few pieces from a package we buy in bulk, that I heated in the microwave. My 11 year old had a cheeseburger with a bag of chips. Again, I forget what the 2 year old had, he’s so picky it was probably pb and fluff.

Saturday (yesterday) I made a pot roast in my crock pot. I started it around 10 in the morning, and it cooked all day without me giving it too much thought. I am always tempted to open the crock pot and check on the veggies, or move the meat around so none of it dries out from being stuck to the sides. I refrained from touching it until 4pm, when I did move everything around and check the doneness of the veggies and meat. I was afraid the meat was going to be tough, but when we finally ate around 6:30, the meat was very tender. I made some Pillsbury crescent rolls, and a gravy from the juices to complete the meal. My 11 year old was not at all interested in this meal. I made him try some, but allowed him to make a plate of nachos for himself instead.

Tonight I was going to make another meal in my crock pot. It was going to be a corned beef dinner with veggies. Again, we have too many leftovers to make it worth cooking another big meal. It will be leftover pot roast tonight. Obviously my 11 year old will have something else. Possibly a cheeseburger, or a chicken burrito. We’ll see what he is in the mood for at dinner time. 

Tomorrow, Monday night I think we will either have the chicken dinner I had planned for Friday, or I will make a chicken pot pie. If I want my 11 year old to eat the same meal as the rest of us, I will probably go with the pot pie. He really doesn’t enjoy my baked chicken. He doesn’t like foods that get crispy at all. 

Now, I will try to make another meal plan. Hopefully it will go smoother next week. We will go to the grocery store Tuesday, either before or after my baby’s 6 month check up. πŸ™‚ I will try to check my stock more thoroughly before we go shopping. We keep an index card on our fridge to jot things down as we think of them, and it is so frustrating to start that list the same day we have been shopping. πŸ˜›