Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Mini 10 Concludes with Breakfast for Dinner

I took my shiny clean beanpot out of the dishwasher and considered whether or not I wanted to make barbecue chicken for dinner tonight or wait until tomorrow.

This was the last day before the start of homeschooling and we had errands a plenty this morning and afternoon! By the time I got home, I wanted to sit down and not have to get up for a while. My son, on the other hand, was ready for chicken.

But I just did not feel like heating up the oven or eating barbecue chicken to be honest. So we will do it tomorrow. In fact, my son offered to prepare it since it is so simple and I just might let him.

Put in the chicken, pour barbecue sauce over it, turn the oven on and let it sit for a few hours. That's it!

Tonight, instead, we had waffles and cereal. Yes, we did! I was and am tired. But tomorrow, my reluctant cook quest for slow cooking, easy one pot meals far better for dinner than breakfast, resumes with my customary enthusiasm :).

Thanks to all my mini 10 readers for dropping by during the challenge!

See you tomorrow!


Monday, August 30, 2010

Leftover Mac and Cheese, a Slow Cooking, One Pot Meal

Leftover Meal

After we finished dinner last time, there was still enough left in the beanpot for another meal. So I just put the beanpot in the refrigerator and took it out today for tonight's dinner. It is stoneware, so it's safe for the oven, refrigerator, microwave and dishwasher.

But it is not a good idea to take it from the fridge and put it in the hot oven right away. I let it sit out for a couple of hours so it could return to room temperature.

I warmed it up at about the same temperature (200 degrees), and added some butter to it before I put it in and after I took it out to wake it up a little.

Just As Good

Our meal tonight was almost as yummydelicious as last night's except for missing that elusive fresh-from-the-oven thing that makes it just that much better on the night you cook it.

As I ate, I continued to marvel at how good it was! You know, when I am out at restaurants, I am wary of ordering macaroni and cheese because sometimes, it's not quite right. The cheese is too sharp or too gooey, or there's too much of it, or the texture is just off in some other way.

So it's dawning on me that when you are the one cooking it, if it turns out okay, you can create something that tastes exactly the way you want it! That amazes me!!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Best Slow Cooking Mac & Cheese I Have Ever Tasted!!


That macaroni and cheese truly was the best I have ever tasted. I cannot believe that I, reluctant cook, ordinary homeschooling mom, basically still a novice when it comes to new meals, made a mac and cheese that tasted that good!!! And I was so worried that something would go wrong.

I expected it to be crusty and dry but it surprised me and was anything but. It was just like I like it, not too cheesy, not too dry, soft and yummy comfort food!

I feel excited, now, about all my other planned one pot meals!! I asked my son if that wasn't the best mac and cheese I have ever made (I've only tried it once or twice before, I think) and he agreed rather enthusiastically that it was, LOL!

Here's what I cooked it in...

And I got the recipe from Three Ingredient Slow Cooker Comfort Foods.

Now this book's recipes are designed for a slow cooker that has "high" and "low" settings. Obviously, with my beanpot, I used oven temperatures. So I altered it a smidge. I cooked it at 250 degrees for 2 1/2 hours and that worked out perfectly!!

3-Ingredient Slow Cooker Comfort Foods: 200 Recipes for Flavorful Favorites Slow-Cooker Style

See you tomorrow!


Saturday, August 28, 2010

Pizza, anyone?


Once again, I did not make the one pot meal. I'm sure I have mentioned it, but in case I haven't, I have spent the past couple of weeks racing to the finish line to get my homeschool planning done. As a Waldorf homeschooler, I plan every single day of my son's year in advance.

Last night, I finished and was so excited, I could hardly stand it!!

But then, I felt miserably exhausted and kind of sick. Today, I feel better but not up to cooking. I ordered pizza, instead.

Hopefully, by tomorrow, I will have fully recovered!

Can I tease you by telling you which slow cooker, one pot meal I'm going to make whenever the heck I get around to it?

Mac and Cheese Bake

Friday, August 27, 2010

Guess What I Did Today?

A Confession

Unfortunately, no, it wasn't making my first ever slow cooking, one pot meal! I had an early-morning appt., not nearly enough sleep last night and the task of finishing my homeschool planning for the next year once I got back home.

Homeschool Planning

Although I love homeschooling, the planning process almost always stresses me out completely!!

Because of that anticipated stress, this year, I waited much too long to begin the planning process and have been practically buried under it for the past couple of weeks. I was not completely sure I would get it done.

But I did!!

Homeschool Lunch Plan

After I finished, however, my son reminded me that we had not yet planned our lunches for September. Now, normally, I have not been one to do that kind of planning. Creating the dinner plans for next month was my first foray into genuine, stick-with-it-past-tomorrow meal planning. But I promised we’d do the lunch planning, too, so that’s what we did.

Tomorrow, we have nothing planned for the afternoon except cooking the beanpot meal!!

See you tomorrow!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Slow Cooking, Easy One Pot Meals Extravaganza Begins...

My beanpot finally came!! I was so excited to get it out of the box. It’s even prettier than it looks in the picture.

The Extravaganza Begins

So, tomorrow, we start the beanpot slow cooker, one pot meal cooking experiment!!

I did not get the cookbook yet, but I have a couple of recipes I can try anyway. Normally, I will try one or two new recipes a week plus the one my son is learning to make on Fridays. But for these first few days, I might get inspired and make one new recipe each day. Not sure.But what I do know is that tomorrow, I plan to try a macaroni and cheese masterpiece (I mean, recipe).

Today’s Dinner

Today, we finished up the pasta we made last week and I made a cheese sauce to go with it. It tasted good but was thicker than I wanted. I put in extra milk and it still didn’t lighten up. So I couldn’t finish mine because I got full from about half of what was on my plate. My son stepped in to save the day! :)

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Three Homeschool Meal Plans

Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook 3-Ingredient Slow Cooker Comfort Foods: 200 Recipes for Flavorful Favorites Slow-Cooker Style 

This year, I have been letting my son participate as much as possible in planning our homeschooling year.

We decided together which holidays we would incorporate into our homeschooling this year and he told me which ones he had had enough of for now. We decided that Fridays would be our cooking day and he asked to choose one meal a month to learn to cook by himself.

So today, we did a lot of meal planning. We used the beanpot cookbook and two other slow cooker, one pot meals cookbooks...

(1) First, we chose the eight meals he would learn during the school year.

What we're going to do is cook the same thing every Friday for a month with me helping until the last Friday and on that day, if he feels comfortable, he will cook without me. At least half of the eight meals are pasta (we love pasta) but I did coax him to branch out a bit and add some meals that were not pasta-based.

(2) Next, we planned the meals for September. My plan is to try something new on Mondays and Wednesdays, do the meal on Friday that he has chosen, order pizza on Saturdays (for pizza and game night) and have leftovers on the nights in between.

(3) We need to plan our sandwich lunches, too, but we’ll get to that another day this week. I like how quickly you can put lunch together if you make sandwiches, but they must be tasty!

See you tomorrow!


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Homeschool Cooking

My nine-year-old son is quite the budding young chef! We have been baking bread and making cookies and stirring spaghetti sauce together for years now. Late in the afternoon, we wait to hear "Hey, y’all!" and then, settle in to see what Paula Deen is cooking. Occasionally, we try something she’s made, usually a pasta dish.

And he now makes our oatmeal in the morning, except for pouring the boiling hot water on our Kashi apple-cinnamon oatmeal. I do that part!

So he has asked to cook some things all by himself.

What’s a homeschooling mom to do? Obviously, we will make cooking part of our homeschooling this year. Last year, we did it with baking bread using bread mixes. This year, I am planning to teach him to make at least 5 meals (a school week’s worth) by himself.

Though I still don’t have my beanpot, I did get another cookbook in this afternoon. This one has three-ingredient slow cooker, one-pot meal recipes.

I suspect we will pick our five from there. I’ll keep you posted!

See you tomorrow!


P.S. I suspect that one of them will be the meal we had for lunch today: baked beans and bacon. Yum!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Living in Limbo

So on Saturday, the Fed-Ex truck comes to the door with a big box and I am sure it's my beanpot! I get all excited, ready to go to the store to get chicken broth (I don't have enough here at home), chicken breasts, broccoli and broccoli soup. Plus, some other things, but mainly, the makings of tonight's dinner.

False Labor

And, indeed, the big box is from Celebrating Home, so I'm sure my beanpot is in there! I struggle to get the thing upstairs and can't wait to try the meal I'm going to make.

And then, I open it.

That's what was in there. Two of those! My lamps and a Christmas gift I got for my partner.

No beanpot! And obviously, there wasn't enough room in the box, but where is my beanpot?

Sigh. It will probably get here Monday and I didn't really expect it until next week. I guess I'm just disappointed.

The Real Reason I'm So Impatient

Whenever I try something new, I worry about whether or not it's going to work. Then, I have trouble with waiting to try it because I want to get it over with so I'll know one way or the other. Haven't we all ordered stuff in the mail that just grew dusty wherever we laid it to rest in our house?

Back to Excitement

But if it does work, I will get to have a lot more yummy meals, and I can completely get rid of that worry I get around the end of the afternoon about whether or not I will have enough energy for dinner. I love the idea of preparing dinner while the day is still somewhat new. Before the reserves are depleted!

So I am really going to give it several chances to work. I'll just have to build in more time during that part of the day and make the meal prep part of our homeschooling each day.

Stay tuned! :)


Sunday, August 22, 2010

It's the Mini 10 Challenge!

Can't wait to see who amongst our great big group of Ultimate Bloggers, plus any newcomers, will participate in this mini 10 challenge. Leave me a comment and say hello! Tell me about your blog...

This is a new blog for me, both for the Ultimate Blog Challenge, and in general. I am chronicling my quest to find ways to cook with less hassle. I consider myself a beginning cook and a reluctant one because just reading a 15-ingredient recipe for something that takes 20-30 minutes just to prepare it, not even counting how long it takes to cook the darn thing, exhausts me!

As a sort of last-ditch effort, I have decided to try a beanpot. It is a slow cooker, stoneware, and it can go in the microwave, the oven and the dishwasher. That last one is particularly salient for me, because another thing I strongly dislike about cooking is washing pots and pans!

So as soon as my Celebrating Home beanpot arrives, I will be off on the grand adventure!

By the way, I have been reading a couple of blog posts by a fellow blogger at LittleBooks.com and she has issued a "six words" challenge. Hers is to use six words to describe your life. I was thinking maybe those of us participating in this challenge could use six words to describe our blogs.

Here are mine: slow beanpot cooking, making cooking easier. What are yours? Tell me in your comment...

See you tomorrow!


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Blogging Challenge

Starting tomorrow, this blog will participate in a ten-day blogging challenge designed to help it network among other blogs and gain some exposure!

It's called Mini 10.

Want to join and blog for ten days? Go to Blog Challenge for more info.

See you tomorrow!


Friday, August 20, 2010

Tonight's Dinner...

Still no sign of my beanpot yet, so I went looking for something fun to cook that would console me. Oh my gosh, did I find something good!!! Look at this treasure I found over at Tasty Kitchen...

It's all the things you love, together in one meal: bacon, pasta, tomatoes...

She Wears Many Hats gives excellent play-by-play instruction (with pictures!) in this guest post and it seems easy enough that even I could do it. She provided this yummy photo, too. I can almost taste it, can't you?

Can't wait to try it!!

See you tomorrow!



Thursday, August 19, 2010

A Ton of Homeschool Lunch Ideas...

These come straight from an article titled Lunch Box Food by Suzanne Myers, the Hillbilly Housewife. Here are some of my favorites from her very extensive list.

For some, I added my own idea for a variation or left out part of hers...

Tuna salad sandwich w/ celery
Chicken salad sandwich (she adds raisins)
Meat loaf sandwich w/ tomatoes (sliced or diced)
Bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich
Bacon with fried eggs sandwich (yum!!)
Sloppy Joe sandwich
Turkey and bacon sandwich w/ bean sprouts
Sliced cucumber sandwich w/ cream cheese (for afternoon tea?)
Egg biscuit with sausage
Sliced roast beef sandwich w/ cream cheese (or melted brie w/ red peppers~ yum!)
Hamburgers or hot dogs
Cubed chicken sandwich with bbq sauce, cheese and mayo
Chicken or beef fajitas

She also has a long list of ideas for taking in a thermos. Soups and more...

I love these ideas, because I often run out oif creative ideas for sandwiches. I would like to try all of these during our next homeschooling year...

Which ones will you try?

Need more back-to-homeschool ideas?...

Back to Homeschool
Homeschool Scrapbooking
Native American Studies

See you tomorrow!


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Just Hit the Motherlode of Slow Cooking, One Pot Meal Recipes

Today, a great big cookbook came in the meal, Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook. I wasn't expecting it to be so huge. Can't wait for my beanpot to arrive so I can try some of the recipes. I already have some great ideas to choose from for my first one!

At the grocery store today, I wanted to stock up on chopped chicken, onions, tomatoes and the like, but when I looked at the dates for most of them, I was afraid they wouldn't last enough.

So I'll load up next week!

I was telling my son about it and he was excited, too!

The beanpot recipes will be fun to try, too. A lot of them only have 2-3 ingredients. And only take a couple of hours.

See you tomorrow!


Looking Ahead to My First Slow Cooking, One Pot Meal...

My Beanpot

Just checked on my beanpot! It should arrive sometime next week. I can hardly wait to get started cooking in it!!

I ordered a couple of cookbooks that haven't gotten here, either, but I have seen another recipe I think I might try...

Beanpot Chicken

Place 5-6 breasts of chicken in the bean pot and pour 1 can chicken broth and 1 can of cream of celery or broccoli soup.

Add a few garlic cloves if you choose. Slow cook at 300° for several hours and serve over egg noodles or rice.

Option: add broccoli florets for the last few minutes.

Doesn't that sound yummy? With only 4-5 ingredients altogether, that you just dump in the pot!

Monday, August 16, 2010

What to Do When You Don't Feel Like Cooking a One Pot Meal...

Have a non-supper...

"Occasionally, dinner just doesn’t happen for whatever reason – a delayed appointment, a webinar gone into overtime, or just plain lack of motivation (if we’re being honest here) – and we eat what I’ve come to call 'The Non-Supper'. It’s usually something fast, requires no cooking and generates minimal dishes."~~Aimee Wimbush Bourque, writing for Simple Bites.

In the rest of the article, Ten Guilt-Free Non-Suppers, published today, she gives ten non-supper ideas that are nutritious enough to serve to your kids without feeling guilty. Check it out ~~ it's an awesome article!

Great idea, isn't it, moms?

I confess that I, too, sometimes create non-suppers.

And I have tried some of those suggestions but look forward to trying some of the others on those days when I just don't feel like cooking or am rushing home late from an errand that took longer than I expected.

I will probably go for bonus points, too!

How about you?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Chicken Enchilada One Pot Meal

I have already found a recipe I want to try...

Place in the Bean Pot......

4-6 Boneless Chicken Breasts
Chicken Enchilada Soup Mix from Celebrating Home
Add 2 Cups of Water

Bake for 1 Hour @ 350 degrees

Doesn't that sound yummy? Can't wait to try it!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

52 Weeks of Easy One Pot Meals ~~ New Blog Plan!

"Bean Pots bake food wonderfully & clean up is a snap! It creates a stone oven and makes its own juice!" ~~Celebrating Home

Here we go again but I think it's going to stick this time!

I'm on a mission. I have to confess that I am still learning to cook. I have been doing fairly well in my experimenting, so far, but my next confession is that I don't really like to cook, especially if there are a lot of ingredients, if it takes a long time, if there is lots of chopping and dicing, and then, lots of pots to clean up after it's all over. It's much easier to just make a bowl of cereal and a couple of pieces of toast. Heat up frozen dinners.

Or become close personal friends with Papa John's!

But of course, that's unacceptable over the long haul. So I am on a quest to beef up my repertoire and add some meals I can create easily. If I can find recipes with 3-5 ingredients, even better!

I'll be using the beanpot you see here and on the main page and I will chronicle both the successes and the misfires. Hey, if you know of some recipes I can try, let me know! Meanwhile, week by week, I'll let you know hwo it's going.

How many meals will I make each week? Hmm. I'm not sure. At least one, and then, I'll post about whether the leftovers were as good and what I will create next.

See you here on the blog!