December 31, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 31: Granola

I want to make this again but with some extra ingredients. I think it would make a great granola trail mix, perhaps after it cools mix in dried fruit or maybe even some small chocolate pieces. Something to make it sweet, it was good not just for breakfast!

 5 cups oats
 1/4 cup honey
 1/4 cup melted butter
 1 T flax seeds
 1/4 cup slivered almonds
 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut

Melt the butter in the microwave then add in the honey stirring well.  Place all the dry ingredients into the slow cooker. Add the honey mixture into the cooker and mix up making sure everything is coated well.  Cover and cook for about 4 hours on high. Stir at least twice every hour. When it's done dump out onto some parchment paper to let it cool. You can leave it in clumps or break it up more to your liking. Seal in an air tight container or in a ziplock.

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December 30, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 30- Pork chops and Stuffing

I didn't really like this recipe but am sharing hoping other will. A friend gave me this and it's very basic and simple. The kids enjoyed it, there were no left overs I just feel it needed something extra. Maybe I'll revisit it and soup the recipe up!

1 Box of your favorite Stuffing or 2 ups of cubed dried bread lightly seasoned ( Italian seasoning  works great)
1 cup of Chicken Broth
1 can cream of mushroom soup-  or any other soups you like
4+ porkchops

Mix the stuffing and the broth together. Place your pork chops into the slow cooker and pour the soup over the chops. Cover it with the stuffing and cover.  Cook for 4 hours on high.

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December 29, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 29: Italian Style Penne

You can leave the sausage out of this all together if you wanted . The next time I make this I'd like to add a little cream, or possibly make a vodka sauce . It was really good.

4 cups chopped tomatoes ( roma keeps best shape) you can use 2 cans diced tomatoes, because of all the extra juice in the can you don't need the entire 4 cups
1 cup cooked and chopped up bulk sausage
1/2 pound dry, whole wheat penne pasta
1 tsp. Italian herb seasoning
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 cup low sodium, chicken or vegetable broth, no sugar added
Parmesan cheese for garnish

Place the pasta on the bottom of your slow cooker insert. On top of that, pour the diced tomatoes. Then add the beans. Pour the broth over the top. Sprinkle the Italian herb seasoning, garlic and onion powder over the top and cook on low for about 2 hours.  Pasta should be cooked, sprinkle with cheese and pepper to taste .

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December 28, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 28: Irish Soda Bread

Never would have thought of making bread in the slow cooker. My kids enjoyed this, I've never really enjoyed this bread but it looked as well as smelled wonderfully. So it was a win!


2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup raisins
Dash of salt


Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Using a pastry knife, cut in butter until mixture is crumbly. Add in the buttermilk, about 1/4 cup at a time, until a dough forms. Stir in raisins.
Lightly flour a place on the table or counter. Knead  dough for about 2 minutes. Carefully slice an x on the top of the dough. Place into your slow cooker in a circular mold. Cook on high for about 2 hours, or until bread is golden brown.

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December 26, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 26 & 27- Beef Stew & Rice

Confession. I do not like making rice. Don't even know why either, love to eat rice, not so much making it. I'm funny that way . On to the recipes-

Beef Stew is always a must on cold winter days, so get out the crock pot and get making some hearty stew.


2 cups beef broth
1 cup water
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup flour
1 1/4 cups cut-up fresh potatoes
1 1/4 cups cut-up fresh carrots
1 1/4 cups cut-up fresh celery
1 1/4 cups sliced onions

Mix vegetables, water and broth together in cooker. Coat beef with flour. Stir into ingredients in slow cooker and cover. It's that easy to make this. Cook for about 8 hours on low , the beef will be perfectly tender.

To make rice in the slow cooker.
1 Tablespoon  butter
1 cup white  rice
2 cups water
pinch of salt

The Directions:
 Rub the butter along the inside of the crockpot. Put the rice in , then water and salt. Stir. Cover and cook for 2 hours on high.

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December 25, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 25: : Lemon Dill Salmon

I've never had fish in the crock pot before so this was a huge jump. I came up with the recipe by pure fluke so I'm glad it worked out. I will say check the fish at the 1 hour mark to see if it's fork tender, otherwise you can keep cooking it. Shouldn't be more than an hour though. You also don't have to use onion. 


1 pound salmon fillets
1/4 cup butter, melted plus a tablespoon not melted
5 tablespoons lemon juice or use lemon slices
1 tablespoon dried dill weed
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
sea salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste

 Rub the non melted butter along the bottom of the crockpot. Place salmon on bottom, pour melted butter over fish with lemon and sprinkle with seasonings. If using lemon slices simply place the slices ontop of each fillet. I added onion slices to mine.

Cover and cook in the slow cooker for about an hour on medium. Check to make sure it's done, should be fork tender.
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December 24, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 24: Broccoli Soup

This is a really easy soup that will be great as a lunch, dinner or even a side to have along with dinner. My kids don't always like it though, I really enjoy this soup and it's even better with garden fresh broccoli!

1/4 cup butter
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup flour
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups  broccoli florets,
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Extra cheddar cheese for topping if desired


Melt butter in a skillet and add in onion . Cook until the onion is tender. Spray 4-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. In 12-inch skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Stir in flour and stir cooking for about a minute or two. Should thicken.  Gradually stir in milk until smooth then pour mixture into slow cooker.  Stir in broth, broccoli, pepper and salt. Cover and cook for about 4 hours on low. Add in the cheese until it's melted. Serve with additional cheese is wanted.

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December 23, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 23- Coffee Cake

Dessert in the crock pot! Yes! It's that easy and it tasted great.  My kids wanted a special after school and it's always a crazy time of day so being able to make this before hand have it cooking while I'm rushing around town to pick them all up from school it's a great thing to come home too.

Crumb topping:
2 1/2 Cups  Flour
1 1/4 Cups Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Teaspoons Cinnamon
1/2 Cup Stick Butter, melted
2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup sliced almonds

The cake :
1/2 Cup Stick Butter, softened
1 Cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 Cup Sour Cream
2 Cups  Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

For crumb mixture . In a bowl  add the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon and mix.
Add in the melted butter and the vanilla extract. Mix together until it looks like crumbs , set it aside.

For the cake - Add  sugar and butter, and mix well. Add in the eggs, vanilla, sour cream and mix well. Add in all the remaining ingredients and mix it well. Grease your crock pot and add in the cake mix. Sprinkle the crumb mixture on top and cover. Cook on high for 1 and a half hour to 2 hours until toothpick comes out clean.
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December 22, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 22: Pork and Beans

Pork and beans! My kids love beans and it always feeds a crowd . If I'm lucky there's left overs for lunch the next day. This is really easy to make and it's great for cold days. You can make this as a meal or have it on the side of something. It goes well with a pot roast. I did find this to be "soupy" and thickened it a little with starch, so the next time I make it I may not use as much as much water.


3 -4 cups raw dried navy beans, cover with
8 -12 cups cold water, and soak overnight
3 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon molasses or 1 tablespoon corn syrup
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups ketchup
3 cups water
1/4-1/2 lb bacon, slices raw

Make sure you soaked the beans over night. Rinse them out and add them into the slow cooker.  Add enough hot water to cover the beans by about an inch.  Add remainder ingredients and cover . Cook about 7-8 hours on medium. Beans should be tender when finished.
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December 21, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 21: Stuffed Cabbage

I love stuffed cabbage, and often assemble the day before to cook in the oven because boiling the leaves up takes time then you need to assemble. With four kids I'm always lagging behind when we have this for dinner so I started assemble the day ahead.

 When I realized I could just end up making the whole thing in the morning and have it cook in the slow cooker all day I was more than happy to try it out. Came out great, and the kids really enjoyed it.

1 large head cabbage
1 can ( 8oz) tomato sauce
3/4 cup cooked rice
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 onion chopped
1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 can tomato juice
Salt to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Cook cabbage in boiling water just until leaves fall off head. Set aside 12 large leaves for rolls; drain well.  Cut out the thick vein from the bottom of each reserved leaf, making a V-shaped cut; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the tomato sauce, rice, green pepper, egg and onion and beef.
Place about 1/3 cup meat mixture on each cabbage leaf; overlap cut ends of leaf. Fold in sides, beginning from the cut end. Roll up completely to enclose filling. Secure with toothpicks if desired.
Place cabbage rolls in a 3-qt. slow cooker. Tomato over rolls. Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or until filling reaches 160°. Just before serving, sprinkle with salt and cheese if desired. Sprinkle with cheese
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December 20, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 20: Roast Chicken

A slow cooker is the perfect way to cook a whole chicken. I love that it always comes out moist, and you can toss in vegetables with it to have a complete meal cooking all day long. The most work you do is shake seasoning over the roast and bam- Dinner is served.


1 whole chicken 5-6lbs
Poultry seasoning
2 cups baby carrots
about 10 baby small red potatoes quartered
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup water

Directions place your vegetables in the bottom of the slow cooker. Place chicken breast side up on top of the vegetables. Please remove the innards( neck, heart gizzards)  . Place these in a pan on the stove and cover with water. Season your chicken with poultry seasoning and place the butter in the slow cooker. Cover and cook for about 6-7 hours on med ( longer for slow, shorter time for high)

To make gravy boil the gizzards in the pan on the stove. Thicken with either corn starch or flour . Turn down to a simmer and keep whisking till it's thick, if it's still runny thicken with more flour.

You can cook a large turkey breast this same way and it always comes out perfect!
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December 19, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 19: Carrot Soup

This is a great recipe because I can just double it all up and make a bigger batch this one makes small bowls but not everyone likes carrot soup in the house. Make more if you need it simply by doubling, go easy on the curry and ginger though you can't undo spice in the end.


6 large carrots, chopped small
1 cup onion, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 3/4 cup vegetable broth
1 14 ounce can coconut milk
sea salt, to taste

Place all the ingredients into the slow cooker but leave the milk out. Cook on low for 5 hours. Carrots should be soft and you should be able to smash them up. You can scoop out everything and blend or use a potato masher to work them down. It should be easier the longer you cook. Total cooking hour is 6-7 hours. When it's finished mi in the milk slowly and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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December 16, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 16 & 17: Spiced Cranberry-Apple Cider

This is a double recipe day! I made two ciders in one day, using a bit of the Apple Cider to make the Cranberry Apple Cider. They were both good but the kids enjoyed the Cranberry version better. Both are easy to make and they will be perfect for holiday parties or cold winter days.

I served the Cranberry Cider with slices of Lemons. 

Apple Cider

12 medium size sweet apples
2 oranges
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp whole cloves
1 tbsp whole allspice
1/2 cup of brown sugar


Chop apples and oranges into large chunks. All the remaining ingredients into the slow cooker.
Fill the slow cooker with enough water to cover all of the apples. Cover and cook for 8 -10 hours.
Serve right out of the cooker or you can strain and serve in another pot. It makes about a gallon so make sure you use a big crock pot.


1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons whole allspice
4 sticks  of cinnamon
6 cups bottle apple cider
6 cups cranberry juice

In 4- to 5-quart slow cooker, mix all ingredients.
2Cover; cook on Low heat setting 4 to 6 hours. Before serving, remove allspice and cinnamon.
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December 15, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 15: Chicken Cacciatore

This is an easy crowd winner and if you have a broiler chicken on hand instead of using the chicken pieces you can use left over broiler chicken pieces in a pinch. It won't have to cook as long. 


2 medium onions sliced thin
8 pieces of skinless chicken breasts and thighs
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon basil
1 bay leaf
1 can of tomatoes
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup of mushrooms

Place onions in the slow cooker then place chicken on top. Pour all the other ingredients into the slow cooker. Cover and cook for 7 hours on low. Chicken should be tender and nearly falling apart when finished. Top each serving with cheese a some Italian seasoning or even serve with noodles.

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December 14, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 14: Baked Apples

This was a really fun recipe to do. The kids helped prepared this after I cut the apples so it's easy and perfect with a side of homemade ice cream. The kids didn't like the idea of caramel sauce so I didn't make much at all. The apples were sweet and they said it reminded them of apple crisp, but I think it was more like Apple Pie with a bonus of warm oatmeal.

6 Apples
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter . Cut into 6 pieces

Combine oats, brown sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl. Cut out the centers of your apples, getting the core out seeds and center. You want to make a bowl. Whatever good apple pieces you have mix in the bowl with the mixture you already have. Place mixture into each apple and top with a piece of butter and press down a little. Place apples in slow cooker . Cover and cook for 3 hours.
The original recipe listed caramel sauce which you can add in of course but I left it out. I tasted really great!
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Destined for Love


Book #2 The Bradens, Love in Bloom Series #5

You met Rex Braden in Lovers at Heart, Book One of the The Bradens (Love in Bloom Series). Jade Johnson is about to turn his comfortable rancher's life upside down. Don't miss this powerful love story.

Rex Braden is wealthy, hard working, and fiercely loyal. Sweat at his brow, he works the family ranch by day, then kicks back at night with part time lovers who require nothing more than his physical presence a few times each week. But that was before. Before Jade Johnson, the daughter of the man his father has been feuding with for over forty years, moves back into town.

After ditching a horrific relationship—and her veterinary practice in the process—Jade Johnson returns to the safety of her small hometown and finally finds her footing. That is...until her horse is injured and Rex Braden comes to her rescue. The last thing she needs is a bull-headed, too-handsome-for-his-own-good Braden complicating her life.

Despite the angry family history, sparks fly between Rex and Jade, and attitudes follow. Fifteen years of stifled, forbidden love stirs a surge of passion too strong for either to deny—and the rebel in each of them rears its powerful head. Loyalties are tested, and relationships are strained. Rex and Jade are about to find out if true love really can conquer all.

DESTINED FOR LOVE is part of the 9 book Love in Bloom series.  

**CONTENT WARNING: Due to mature content, recommended for readers aged 18+**

My Review:

I nearly didn't read this book, a series seems to always flop after a few books, but this one sure did not! No, it certainly didn't. I fell in love with all the characters and held my breath between page turns just waiting for what else would come. Foster has truly made me a top fan, the words were flying off the pages and I finished this book within two days.

Destined for Love begins on the Branden Ranch which just happens to be a rival ranch owned by the Johnson family. You will meet Jade Johnson in this book as she flees from a horrible relationship and leaves her job. Upon arriving on the ranch things kick up a notch as rivals pretty much clash from the start, but here's the thing- there's something stirring between Jade and Rex. Despite the nasty war between families which has been going on for about forty years, there's no denying the sparks flying between the two.

From the moment Rex and Jade  collided in the book I was truly hooked.  Their story flows and sizzled with each turn of the page. You've got two strong headed people, both not really looking for any sort of relationship but sure do find it and through heated pages you are left with the question of all times-  can true love conquer all? Will the families finally see eye to eye and end the war? You'll have to read the book to find out.

If you enjoy a hot steamy read with a little intrigue and drama you'll enjoy Destined for Love by Melissa Foster. You can read all the books in this series as a stand alone, but I highly recommend reading them all!

Buy the book from......

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About the Author

Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of a number of International bestselling novels. Her books have been recommended by USA Today's book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women's Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary Cafe. When she's not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success.

Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children, she's written for Calgary's Child Magazine and Women Business Owners Magazine, and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa's interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod.

Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes
comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on The Women's Nest
or her personal website.

Follow the Author

 Facebook    Twitter    Google+    Goodreads    Pinterest 

Follow the Book Tour


Book #1 Snow Sisters, Love in Bloom Series 
Sisters In Love

DANICA SNOW has always been the smart, practical, and appropriate sister. As a therapist, she prides herself on making reasonable, conservative choices, even if a bit boring, and as part of the Big Sister Program, she has little time for anything more in her life. 

BLAKE CARTER is a player. He never gets bored of conquering women, and with his sexy good looks and successful lifestyle, he has no trouble finding willing participants. When his friend and business partner dies in a tragic accident, he suddenly, desperately, wants to change his ways. The problem is, he doesn’t know how to stop doing what he does best. 

WHEN BLAKE walks into Danica’s office, the attraction between them is white hot, but Danica isn't the type to give into the heat and risk her career. Danica’s desire sets her on a path of self-discovery, where she begins to question every decision she’s ever made. Just this once, Danica wants to indulge in the pleasures of life she’s been so willingly ignoring, but with her Little Sister in turmoil and her biological sister’s promiscuousness weighing heavily on her heart, she isn’t sure it’s the right time to set her desires free. 

Book #2 Snow Sisters, Love in Bloom Series 
Sisters In Bloom
You loved Danica and Kaylie in SISTERS IN LOVE, find out what happens next with SISTERS IN BLOOM "

Kaylie Snow has always been the fun, flirty, pretty sister. Now her burgeoning baby bump, hormone-infused emotions, and faltering singing career are sending her into an unexpected identity crisis. Watching her older sister, Danica, glide through a major career change and a new relationship with the grace of a ballerina, Kaylie’s insecurities rise to the forefront—and her relationship with fiancé Chaz Crew is caught in the crossfire.

Chaz Crew has everything he’s ever wanted: a lovely fiancée, a baby on the way, and soon, the film festival he owns will host its biggest event ever. When he’s called away to woo the festival’s largest sponsor—and the lover he’s never admitted to having—secrets from his past turn his new life upside down.

With her baby shower around the corner and her fiancé’s big event looming, the pressure is on for Kaylie to pull herself together—and for Chaz to right his wrongs. In a few short weeks, the couple who had it all figured out will learn things about life and love that may change their minds—and their hearts.

Buy the book from, Barnes and NobleKOBO

Book #3 Snow Sisters, Love in Bloom Series

Sisters In White

Danica and Kaylie Snow are about to celebrate the biggest day of their lives—their double wedding—on an island in the Bahamas. But no wedding is complete without a little family drama. The two sisters aren’t ready to face the father they haven’t seen since he divorced their mother and moved away to marry his mistress, and live with Lacy, the half sister they’ve never met.

While Danica has exchanged letters and phone calls with Lacy, Kaylie has fervently tried to pretend she doesn’t exist. Lacy is sweet, fun, and nearly a mirror image of Kaylie. To make matters worse, not only is Lacy looking forward to meeting her sisters, but she idolizes them, too. As the countdown to the wedding date ticks on, their parents are playing a devious game of revenge, and there’s a storm brewing over the island, threatening to cancel their perfect wedding. The sisters are about to find out if the bond of sisterhood really trumps all.

Buy the book from and NobleKOBO

Book #4 The Bradens, Love in Bloom Series

Lovers at Heart

You met Treat Braden and Max Armstrong in Sisters in White, Book Three of the Snow Sisters (Love in Bloom Series). Now fall in love with Treat and Max all over again, and see where their hearts take them next.

Handsome, wealthy resort owner Treat Braden is used to getting what he wants. When Max Armstrong walked into his life six months earlier, he saw right through the efficient and capable façade she wore like a shield, to the sweet, sensual woman who lay beneath. She sparked an unfamiliar desire in him for more than a one-night stand, leaving his heart reeling and his blood boiling. But one mistake caused her to turn away, and now, after six months of longing for the one woman he cannot have, he’s going home to try to forget her all together.

Max Armstrong has a successful career, a comfortable lifestyle, and she’s never needed a man to help her find her way—until Treat Braden caught her attention at a wedding in Nassau, causing a surge of emotions too reminiscent of the painful past she’d spent years trying to forget. Max will do anything to avoid reliving that pain—including forgoing her toe-curling, heart-pounding desire for Treat.

When a chance encounter turns into a night of intense passion, Treat realizes that the mistake he made six months earlier may cause him to lose Max completely. He will do everything within his power to win her heart forever—and Max is forced to face her hurtful past head on for the man she cannot help but love.

Buy the book from and NobleKOBO

COMING SOON.......................

Release Dates......
Friendship on Fire, Now Available;
Sea of Love, Now Available,
Bursting with Love, January 9, 2014 
Hearts at Play, January 9, 2014


Three Lucky Winners will each receive ebooks for

Lovers at Heart (Bk 1 of The Bradens) & the very first book of the Love In Bloom Series, Sisters In Love (Bk1 of the Snow Sisters)

Ending on Sunday 22nd December at 11.59pm EST

Open Worldwide

Enter Below & Good Luck !!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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December 13, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 13: Enchiladas

This is a great family dinner , serves about 4 people so use more of each ingredient for a larger family. You can add corn into the mix if you wanted, or hot peppers if your family like's it hotter.  Hearty and hot it's hard to turn this dinner down


1lb ground beef
1 onion chopped
1/2 cup mixed bell peppers chopped
1 can pinto beans rinsed and drained
1 can black beans rinsed and drained
2 tomatoes chopped
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
6 flour tortillas

Cook beef in a skillet along with the onions and peppers until the beef is just a little browned. Vegetables should be tender. You don't have to cook the meat all the way through this is going to be cooking for a few hours.  Next Drain any liquid in the pan. Add in the next ingredients up until the cheese.  Cook through.  Turn the heat off and get the slow cooker ready.

You can do this two ways, you can layer the meat mixture between the flour tortillas or roll them up.  Assembled the way you want  , top with cheese and optional black olives. Cook  on low for 4-5 , beef should be cooked through and beans soft.
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December 12, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 12: Collard Greens

Collards are a hard leaf, it takes awhile for you to cook them down unlike say spinach which can be steamed fast or just mixed into a warmed pan for a few minutes. Having a slow cooker comes in real handy for cooking collards, they take up to three hours to cook before they are ready to eat when cooking on the stove so why not cook them all day in the cooker and not have to stare at it or stir all the time?


2-3 bunches of collards
1 onion cut up
Pieces of ham and or Ham Bone


Clean the collards and discard any discolored ones. Make sure you wash them well on both sides. Lay 4 leaves down ontop of each other and roll them up. Now cut the "jelly rolled collards" into half inch pieces. You should have a line of cut collards, depending on your likes you can leave them like that or cut in half.
Repeat this for all the remaining collards. Cut your onion in quarters ( or smaller it's up to you)  Place collards , onions and pieces of ham ( you can have a fatty pieces of ham they work great) into slow cooker. Pour water in to cover all the greens.

Cover the cooker and cook on med for 4-6 hours. Collards should be tender not tough . Check half way through cooking if they are too tough put it on high for the remaining time.

My husband likes to eat his collards with Red Wine Vinegar, I like them without. I also like left over collards and place them in any sandwich I may be having, they are the best with left over pieces of steak for a steak sandwich.

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December 11, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 11: White Bean Soup

This recipe was a combo of a recipe and the fact that I just had left over vegetables that needed to be used up. It cooked up really well and though my kids didn't enjoy it as much, I certainly did. It's hearty and warm for a nice cold day. A friend gave me this recipe and I added my changes in.

3 cans cannellini beans undrained
1 onion chopped up
4 cups raw kale <- I had half kale half collard greens
4 cups chicken broth <- I used Turkey broth that I made from Thanksgiving
4 tomatoes chopped
3 teaspoons dried Italian herb seasoning.
1 cup chopped parsley ( fresh)
8 garlic cloves minced
Original recipe didn't call for carrots but I cubed up the left over carrots that were on hand about a cup and a half worth.
Salt and Pepper to taste


Dump everything into the crock pot. Cover and cook for 5-6 hours. Hard directions right? Save your strength for eating the soup!

 I really liked this soup,  it was a nice change from other's I've tried and just hit the spot. Didn't need to add salt into this at all, my broth was cooked and seasoned plenty so do not add any salt until you have tested it out. There's nothing like ruining an entire pot of soup when you add too much salt!

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Wonderfully Dysfunctional by Buffi Neal


The true story of... A woman who laughs at funerals. A gypsy mother who refuses to wear a bra and a father who refuses to leave his first wife. A brother who sleeps under the coffee table and a sister who was kidnapped. A cheating minister, a missing uncle and a feisty, red-headed grandmother who was longing to leave it all.

Buffi always knew her family was unusual, but she was lucky enough to escape that gene. Or was she? Joined by her siblings at the bedside of their dying grandmother, Buffi begins on a journey of self discovery as they recall stories of their youth including juicy family secrets, inappropriate practical jokes, abuse and betrayal. She is on a quest to find Normal but finds herself instead.

It Must be Genetic is about an American family of no particular importance, descendants of the once wealthy and revered Perry clan, but stripped of their family wealth during the Great Depression. It’s full of quirky characters like grandmother Mopsie; a sexy divorced mother of two in the 1950’s who would turn the heads of her conservative neighbors when hosting the best poker parties in town, but who can now be found sleeping her days away in the bed of a nursing home. The story climaxes when Mopsie accidentally reveals a secret that sends her family frantically searching through old documents to find the son she gave up for adoption half a century ago.

It Must be Genetic is about acceptance, forgiveness and the great capacity to love. The story is written from the perspective of a third generation divorced mother, Buffi, who realizes that the very traits that make her family dysfunctional may be the same traits that make it so wonderful. At 64,000 words, it's paced for a quick-and-easy read.

Buy the book from.....

Barnes and Noble

Buffi Lynn Neal is a free-spirited mother of two currently living in a small town in Central New Jersey. She earned her Masters of Computer Science from Lehigh University. She also holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in both Mathematics and Physics.

Although Buffi spent twenty years working in the field of Computer Science she longed for the day that she could use her passion for writing to tell the unusual stories of her life.

Who am I? I'm a forgetful, kind-hearted, forty-plus year old mother of two who has great logic skills but spells worse than a fourth grader. I'm afraid of the dark and never shut my eyes in the shower. I bite my nails and peel my sunburn. Actually, I will peel anyone's sunburn. I would rather stick hot burning embers in my eyes than take out the garbage and I would rather be comfortable than look good. Like my mother and grandmother, I love the beach.

I am much more than I can write and I can write much more than I am.

Buffi is currently working on the second memoir in her "Wonderfully Dysfunctional" series. 

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Wonderfully DysfunctionalTM - Breaking the Silence

At the age of nine I met my grandfather for the first time. It had been over twenty five years since my mother saw him. He arrived completely by surprise, bringing gifts for all, and was ready to be a part of our lives. I was the lucky one chosen to take a month trip to Florida with him. During the day it was ice cream, new clothes, and Disney World, and during the night it was something very unnatural. What my family did not know, was Grandpa Jack was a pedophile.

"Breaking the Silence" is part of the "Wonderfully Dysfunctional" Memoir series. It's the journey of a young girl who loved her grandpa so much that it would take thirty years, four deaths, two lawsuits, many lawyers and doctors before she would Break the Silence and tell her story of love and abuse through the eyes of a child.

buffi neals booksWonderfully DysfunctionalTM - 1982 Out Past Curfew 

It was 1982. I was only fourteen, and it was the year I learned about sex, drugs, love, and friendship. It was the year I became a woman and my mother became a person. It was the year of firsts for many of us; our first real kiss, first drink, first smoke, and first ride in the back of a police car.

We were a poor family living in a middle class neighborhood. The world was exciting and everything was new. I was a sponge soaking up all the good and the bad life had to offer. I learned that the child of an alcoholic has an unmistakable talent for holding their liquor, a teenager has the power to drive their parents to insanity, and if you turn your back on a friend you have turned your back on yourself. 

"1982 Out Past Curfew" is part of the "Wonderfully Dysfunctional" Memoir series. It's about the coming of age, the struggle to understand your sexuality and accept your past. It's about finding lifelong love and friendship from the most unexpected people. Many life lessons happened after curfew in 1982.

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I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.

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December 10, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 10: Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joes! Who can pass these up? No one that's who!

I didn't get a chance to taste these, my parents were visiting from New York and this meal was served while my husband and I headed out for a kid free dinner- yes a kid free dinner. I got a warm meal, didn't have to cut someones meat, didn't even have to protect my food from little tiny hands snatching away my meal! It was to say the least a treat! If my parents are reading this, thank you again for the kid free night!

 My kids and my parents enjoyed this meal and I'm told they really liked it. Some of the kids had seconds so that's a winner in my book, hope you all enjoy!

Thanks to my parents for taking the picture! 

2 lbs Ground Beef
1 Medium Onion, chopped
1 Small to Medium Green Pepper, seeded and chopped
2 stalks celery chopped fine
1 1/2 Cups Pasta sauce
2 garlic cloves minced
1 Teaspoon Mustard
1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
*1 teaspoon Chili seasoning

* For the chili seasoning start with one teaspoon. Two of my kids don't enjoy the spice but I have personally in the past added more for a smaller portion . Gives it a nice kick!

In the crock pot toss in all the ingredients. Mix up really well. Cover and cook for 4-5 hours or until the meat is all cooked. Depending on the kind of beef ( the amount of fat in it)  you will get a different amount to juice, so if by four hours it's not juicy enough just add in more pasta sauce of choice- but it normally comes out just right without having to add more.  Serve with
Serve on hamburger buns.

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December 9, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 9: Creamy Mashed Potatoes

These are the best mashed potatoes I've had in sometime! They cook for a warming 7 hours and come out rich , creamy and buttery. I've added in celery and onions because I wanted a change. It was a good addition, everyone liked the spuds. If you don't care for the onions or celery, there's no need to add them in there,  but if you do just make sure they are chopped up really nice and small.


5 pounds of potatoes, peeled and cubed
 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
5 tablespoons butter
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 medium onion chipped small
1/2 cup celery chopped small
Fresh garlic, 2 cloves, minced
Pepper and Salt to taste

Extras Parmesan cheese, chives

 Peel potatoes and dice them into small cubes. About 2 inches big. Toss them into the slow cooker. Pour your chicken stock over the potatoes and add in butter , celery and onion garlic. Sprinkle lightly with pepper ( you can omit this if you don't want pepper) . Cook on low for about 6 hours. When the potatoes are soft mash them up with a and mix well. Add in Parmesan cheese if you want it in there. Serve with sour cream if wanted as well or top with more chives.

Easy, and oh so yummy! Enjoy!
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December 8, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 8: Brown Sugar Ham

I know many of you have been commenting saying you haven't thought about cooking certain things in the slow cooker and I bet a ham is one on the list as well. Why not cook a ham in the slow cooker though,  it already takes awhile to bake in the oven so why not free up your time? The other good thing about this is, if you are doing a holiday dinner or planning for a special dinner for guests, you'll have other dishes to cook. The slow cooker will free up the oven for those other dinner dishes and if that doesn't get you, the best part is - the ham always comes out super moist!

The brown sugar and butter make the best juice to pour over the ham for serving. 


5-6lbs smoked ham (depending on your size of a ham make sure you get one that fits)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 stick of butter melted
1/4 cup water


Mix the brown sugar, ground mustard, butter and water together.Place ham into the crock-pot with it's butt side up ( flat part placed down in cooker)  Pour mixture over the ham. Cover and cook for 6-7 hours on low.

You can use a spiraled ham ( one that's already sliced) Just make sure you face it down in the cooker, this will cut down on the chances that the side dry out while cooking.
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December 7, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 7 : Garlic Beef Strogannoff

I completely forgot to put in the Worcestershire sauce in this dish, sure enough as soon as I tasted it I knew something was missing. Bet if I had remembered to add it in, it would have added that extra zing needed. Even without though it was still a winner, everyone liked it! The dish served 8 people and we still have tons of leftovers so this would be a great family dinner meal.

The meat becomes super tender as well after cooking so long so it was really enjoyed! 
The creamy white you see through the dish is the cream cheese. 


1 beef bouillon cube
1 cup boiling water
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 cups mushrooms
1 large onion chopped
3 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce  
1 1/2 to 2 lbs rough steak trimmed or stew meat
1 package of cream cheese

Hot noodles ( don't cook in slow cooker) Just cook before serving


In a slow cooker pour in the water and the next five ingredients. Place in the cube of bouillon , then the beef mix up the best you can. Cover and cook for about 6-7 hours or until the meat is tender. Before serving cube up the cream cheese and mix into the slow cooker till melted and combined. 
Serve over noodles and top with sour cream, garnish with chives. 

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December 6, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 6: Pork and Beef Barbecue Sammies

This is a fun and messy dinner for everyone to enjoy. Though there's never left overs it would make a great lunch the next day, the kids eat this so fast I'm lucky to get my share! Once again it's so easy there's really no way you can mess this up.


1 can tomato paste
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds beef stew meat
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin cut into cubes ( same size as beef cubes)
2 medium green peppers chopped
2 large onions chopped

Rolls & Lettuce for sandwiches


In the slow cooker combine the first six ingredients. Stir in the beef and pork, peppers and onions. Cover and cook 7 hours or until meat is tender. Shred the meat and serve on rolls.


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December 5, 2013

Crock-Pot Recipe Challenge Day 5: Swiss Steak

I've been after a Swiss Steak recipe for awhile.  Tried many in the past years and they just don't seem to come out right so when I found out there was a slow cooker Swiss Steak, I just had to make it!  Best thing is you can make tons of gravy with all the juice from the slow cooker. Gravy, nommy nom nom! 

I added a chopped tomato into the crock-pot as it was cooking. Added a little zing!  

 3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon pepper
2 2/2 pounds boneless round steak
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup beef broth
1/3 cup water
1 cup celery chopped
1 cup onion chopped 
1 garlic gloved minced


In a shallow bowl combine the water, pepper and a dash of salt. Cut the steak into six servings. Dredge each piece into the flour while you heat the butter in a skillet. You will brown each piece of steak in the skillet before placing into the slow cooker. Combine the remaining ingredients and pour it over the steaks. Cover and cook on low for about 6-7 hours or until the meat is tender. 

Gravy- if you want thicker gravy you can thicken it up in a pan on the stove. Just heat the juice from slow cooker and get it to the boil before you stir  in some flour. I sprinkle a handful as I whisk and keep it at a boil- keep whisking!  It will thicken real fast. 
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Where Petals Fall by Melissa Foster


On the surface Junie Olson’s life looks idyllic, from her handsome husband and beautiful daughter to her successful business, the bakery she'd always dreamed of opening. But in the past few months her world has slowly unraveled. Her precocious child is withdrawing, showing unexplainable signs of emotional regression, a condition that frays the bonds of Junie’s once impenetrable marriage. When her father dies suddenly of a heart attack, Junie packs up her daughter and goes home to help her mother. Her homecoming stirs up memories of the nightmare she thought she had put behind her, the disappearance of her childhood friend, Ellen. Haunted by recurring memories of what happened on that fateful day, Junie must gather the courage to revisit her past and untangle the secrets surrounding her missing friend, and the trauma that has caused her little girl to climb back into herself. As the pieces come together on the event that shook her small town, and at the risk of losing everyone she loves, Junie will question everything she thought she could rely on and everyone she thought she knew.

WHERE PETALS FALL is a gripping and emotional novel with an undercurrent of suspense, featuring a determined mother whose world slowly comes apart around her. Readers will root for Junie as they follow her transition into an indomitable heroine who must reconcile what she discovers about her husband and family’s tragic past, and find a way to put the pieces of her family back together and carry on.

My Review-

I've read a couple of Melissa Foster's books and let me tell you, I've not once been disappointed. I'm going to jump right in here and lay it on down.

Junie, has opened her own bakery - one she has always dreamed of owning. She is married to Brian and has a four year old daughter Sarah, everything seems to be alright until her daughter begins to withdrawal from life itself. Junie as any mother would be is worried and stressed about how to help her daughter. Feeling helpless and caught on what to do she tries to help Sarah in any way she can . Things start to slip though, her marriage suffers and she's trying to hold it all together. No matter what she tries though things just seem to start falling apart and to makes matter's worse- Her husband suddenly passes.

Dealing with the passing of her husband Junie moves back to her hometown with daughter in tow. Going back home stirs up memories for Junie, about a little girl who had up and vanished. Could it mean something? Why is it all starting to stir back up, and why is her daughter slipping away from her? Little by little she tries to piece things back together again. Along the way people she had trusted haven't been as she thought they would creating a wonderful dynamic story.

As you are uncovering new lies and mystery throughout the book you are caught in an emotional grip of a story you won't be able to set down easily . There is so much more I can say about this book but I'm afraid I'll end up letting some spoilers slip. You won't be disappointed if you pick this book up, Foster did an amazing job once again and delivered a captivating story for her readers. Suspense , mystery and an ending that leaves you hopeful you won't go wrong with Where Petals Fall.

 I enjoyed getting to know the characters which were very well written and realistic. This is a book that has caught me by page one and with every turn of the page had me wondering, guessing and stunned to find out the truth as it went on. I loved the mystery but most of all I loved how the story just flowed. This book had some flashbacks and moments where it brought you somewhere else . Foster managed to bring you where you needed to go right along with the characters and the plot without missing a beat.

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About the Author

Melissa Foster is the award-winning author of a number of International bestselling novels. Her books have been recommended by USA Today's book blog, Hagerstown Magazine, The Patriot, and several other print venues. She is the founder of the Women's Nest, a social and support community for women, the World Literary Cafe. When she's not writing, Melissa helps authors navigate the publishing industry through her author training programs on Fostering Success.

Melissa hosts an annual Aspiring Authors contest for children, she's written for Calgary's Child Magazine and Women Business Owners Magazine, and has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Melissa's interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape

Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes
comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on The Women's Nest
or her personal website.

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I received this book to review through Beck Valley Books Book Tours, all the opinions above are 100% my own.




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