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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Easy Mexican Crockpot Chicken

I love my crockpot and as a working (outside of the home) mom, I need to use it more.  Here is a recipe I found on Pinterest from RecipeMothers.  I changed it up a little, so here is my version.  It's so easy you won't believe it.

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I made 6, but whatever fits in the bottom of your crockpot)
can of black beans
can of corn (leave the liquid in)
can of Rotel
8 oz block of cream cheese
taco seasoning
ranch dressing mix
rice or tortillas (or both)

I always use a liner in my crockpot because I HATE cleaning it afterwards. Place the chicken breasts on the bottom of the crockpot. Dump the beans, Rotel and the whole can of corn (including the liquid) over the top of the chicken. Because I don't trust my husband to do too much, I put these ingredients in a bowl the night before.

The original recipe called for Fiesta Ranch dressing mix, but I couldn't find it so I improvised.  I used a taco seasoning and ranch dressing and mixed them together.  I used most of both packets because I had 6 chicken breasts, but use your best judgment as to the amount of seasoning you want. Dump it on the top of the vegetables.  Finally, place the block of cream cheese on the top.  No need to chop it up (unless you really want to).

Turn the crockpot on low for 6 hours.  Some versions of this recipe use chicken that is still frozen, so in that case I would plan on 8 hours. It would probably work well if everyone is out of the house all day. If you have a husband who forgets to turn the crockpot on at the right time, it will still work in 4 hours on high.

When it is done, stir so the cream cheese gets spread throughout.  Pull out each chicken breast, cut it up and return it to the pot.  You will probably be able to shred it with a fork - it is so tender!  Serve over rice or use in tortillas.  We did both.  The rice thickens it really nicely so it isn't runny in the tortilla.  My kids loved this and they are not generally an easy sell. 



Saturday, August 29, 2015

Tie Dye with Acryllics

I've been collecting a lot of pins on Pinterest and haven't had a chance to try all of those cool crafts. My extended family met at Kentucky Lake over the 4th of July, and never missing a chance to try a craft, my very own Craft Diva and I tried out this tie dye method from Ricochet and Away!  I found it to be easier than most dyeing methods I have seen and it's something kids can easily do.  However, I would not expect to wear the finished product for at least 24 hours due to drying (and possible need for re-dyeing.) I found everything I needed for this craft at Walmart:

White cotton shirts
Acryllic Paint (I used Waverly Inspirations Chalk Paint in Ocean, Peacock and Pool)
Plastic spray bottles (one for each color)
Package of rubber bands (office supply section)
Plastic gloves (acryllic will come off your hands, but the scrubbing is a pain)

I started with damp shirts and instead of rolling them the way described in the tutorial, I wadded them up into a ball.

This, my friends, is the wrong way.  I had to repeat the painting process more than once because I didn't roll the shirt, but wadded it up into a ball.

Next, combine the paint with some water in the spray bottle.  I used about 70/30 water to paint ratio, but you have to try for yourself.  Too much paint will result in a stiff mess.  Now spray.  We alternated these complimentary colors for the best effect.

After spaying them thoroughly, I put each shirt into a plastic shopping bag and squished them to get the paint distributed.  It didn't work as well as I wanted, because as I said, I wadded up the shirts the wrong way to start.  After removing the rubber bands and seeing big blank white spaces, I realized my mistake and had to roll the shirt up again for another round of spraying.

Once you get the desired amount of paint on the shirts, you need to let them dry completely before wearing (or you will wear the paint).  I also wanted to make sure my shirts didn't accidentally run in the laundry, so before I washed them, I soaked them in cold water and vinegar for an hour.  (It's probably not necessary, but it's the best way to set dye of any kind.)

I made shirts for all of the cousins, but here's the one that turned out best from my grand-nephew.



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

STG Top 5 Kid Crafts

Creativity in kids should always have an outlet and my daughter is the original Craft Diva. Unfortunately, as she gets older, she's less interested in crafting although she is still really creative. Today I'm reliving the best Craft Diva crafts for kids.  These are easy to do and your kids will be proud of the results. Click on the title to see the original post with detailed instructions.

1.  Origami Ninja Stars - This has to be one of the most popular posts I ever wrote.  This is a craft Kenzie found on her own and her instructions are very simple because we managed to take some good pictures.  Use multicolored copier weight paper for the best results.

2.  Corn Syrup Painting - This is definitely one of my favorites.  You need to use a heavy sketch book paper for this one because the "paint" is heavy and thick.  You will love the shiny smooth effect you get using the paint, but don't forget - it needs lots of time to dry!

3.  Yarn Mache Bowls - These are messy, but even the youngest kids can do this craft (once you make the paste).  This is a great way to get rid of yarn stashes and your child will like having a functional bowl for small items.

4.  DIY Finger Paints - These are also in the easy/messy categories.  One word of warning - be ready to put the paints to use within the first couple days of making them.  They do tend to ferment and will get smelly if kept sealed up in a bag!

5.  Melted Crayon Drawing - We saw this craft many times before we did it, so it wasn't too hard to do.  We were going with a slightly sophisticated product with a black canvas and black paper wrapped crayons from Michaels.  It's a little tricky to do it in a circular pattern like we did, so you might want to stick to the horizontal version.  Also, be careful with those hot glue guns, hair dryers and melted wax crayons with little ones.

So that's it!  While I've been writing this, my now-12-year-old Craft Diva noticed the post and commented that she wants to do more crafting.  We'll see, but if she does, you will see it right here.

Keep those kids crafty!


Monday, August 24, 2015

Please - No - Not Yet!

I'm starting to see things - things I just don't want to see yet.  It's just disturbing.  I'm only going to describe it, not show pictures because it's just too disturbing.

Reminder - it is still AUGUST.  Summer is not quite over even if kids have gone to school.  Fall is definitely not here yet.  I'm not ready to see pumpkins and harvest decorations on Pinterest.  Halloween blogs posts are most certainly premature.

I live in Arizona so it is even more shocking to the system to see these images when the daily temperature is still averaging 103 degrees.  On the other hand, I'm not sure there are too many (if any) places where the leaves are turning or spice mulled cider is in order.  Don't push me!

I'm asking for a moratorium on Halloween, harvest decorating, pumpkin recipes and God forbid - Christmas, until at least September 15.  Would it kill you to wait that long?  There will still be time to decorate our front porches in highly flammable dead corn stalks and plant mums. We will still be able to try every conceivable meal course with pumpkin as the primary ingredient. The spooky clever Halloween treats that look like spiders, witches and guts can wait.

Step back from the harvest leaves and take a breath.

Thank you.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Adventures in Fundraising - Gourmet Meals for a Year

As some of my readers may know, I am the chairperson for the Mission Campaign for our youth choir, Pueri Cantores St. Bernard of Clairvauxand my husband is the director.  We are raising money to travel to Rome on December 26 and sing for the New Year's Day Mass of Peace with Pope Francis!  It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for 46 singers, ages 8 through 18, and it's even more special because we will be sharing the experience with 5,000 young singers from every continent!  I get the shivers every time I think of the trip for my 2 kids.

We had some pretty intense fundraising activity last Spring and are gearing up for our last push before we make our final trip payments in mid-October.  We did a number of "basket raffles," and made about $3,000.  As one of our "basket raffles," we raffled off 12 months of homemade gourmet meals, one per month.  Our winner was a nice couple in our parish choir.  I've made several of these meals and although it is a bit of work, it's fun for me.  I wouldn't call my self a gourmet cook by any stretch (don't tell them that!), but I can follow a recipe and enjoy trying new ones.

This month's menu includes:

Cucumber Ginger Sesame Salad
Honey Mustard Chicken
Garlic Parmesan Mashed Cauliflower
Meyer Lemon Pound Cake
Peach Raspberry Sangria

I've linked two recipes to the items above (none are original to me!).  The other items I found inspiration, but in the end changed them in favor of my own recipe.  One of those was the Cucumber Ginger Sesame Salad:

It's very easy - cucumber, carrots, edamame and toasted sesame seeds.  I used a store bought Asian Sesame dressing.  The best part of this recipe was cutting the cucumber.  Using a potato peeler, I worked around the top of the cucumber to make twists that are so pretty! Before mixing them with the other ingredients, I laid them out to dry a little.  I hate when cucumber salads are watery because of the cucumbers.


These meals are delivered on the third Sunday of every month.  I try to make extra of everything so I can feed my own family as well.  This month I started about 24 hours before delivery with the pound cake and sangria.  I will admit I'm cheating a bit, using a store bought mix. This one is from Krusteaz and if the smell while baking is any indication, this is going to be seriously yummy!


I have always wanted to make sangria, especially a white peach version.  For the fruit, I used 2 yellow peaches and 1 white nectarine with raspberries.  Then I added 1/2 c. of peach schnapps, 1/2 c. of brandy, 2 12 oz cans of 7-Up and 2 bottles of Moscato wine. That will make about 10 good servings of sangria. A good sangria requires at least 8 hours to mix and I'm gave mine 24. And oh, it was worth the wait!

I was also pleased with the Honey Mustard Chicken (see link to recipe above).  I served it over white rice.

Hey, if you appreciate this fundraising suggestion, the recipes or just my blog, we would love your support.  Our YouCaring fund is HERE and even the smallest donations are appreciated!