Favorite Thing Friday: Easy Crock Pot Recipes

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I am not a cook, but recent recipe finds on Pinterest have allowed me to serve hot and yummy meals. The best part is all of them require very little effort.

For years, my crock pot sat useless on my counter. This is mainly because everything that came out of it sucked. I had pretty much given up on the thing, until Pinterest came to the rescue. After finding a number of crock pot recipes in the Food & Drink section, I followed the image links and read what people had to say about each recipe. Thanks to blogs and comment sections, I learned what was worth trying and what to leave alone. Plus, I learned a lot about how to cook in a crock pot.

As someone with a stressful, full-time job, the ability to toss a few things in a pot and come home to a warm meal is pure gold. Having tested almost a dozen recipes, these are my Top 5 favorite crock pot recipes (so far).

1. Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Pork

Four ingredients are all you need for this recipe. It’s so simple, it’s almost unbelievable how good it tastes!

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Click on the image for the recipe!

I highly recommend using Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ Sauce.

2. Crock Pot Italian Chicken

Follow the recipe on the pin description, rather than the link. I’ve made this a few times and it’s fantastic every single time. The only tricky part is making sure the cream cheese is soft enough to blend into the other ingredients, (microwaving it is okay!).

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Click on the image to see the pin.

Rich and creamy, this simple meal is tasty over pasta or rice.

3. Slow Cooker Red Beans and Sausage

I was intrigued by using sausage in a chili-esque dish instead of beef or chicken. Sausage offers a new take on an old dish and I really like it!

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Click on the image for the recipe.

I made a few adjustments to this recipe in that I cut down the amount of beans and added chili flavored tomatoes instead of garlic roasted. The recipe calls to serve it over rice, but I decided to serve it with soft tortillas instead.  This chili wraps up nicely into a little burrito.

4. Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

I will never go back to boxed Mac ‘n Cheese after trying this recipe. What’s not to love about creamy, tasty, and easy?!

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Click on the image for the recipe.

The only modification I made was adding chunks of cooked kielbasa sausage. The result is a hearty, home-cooked meal.

5. Crock Pot Chicken and Potatoes

Simple, simple, simple! Three ingredients and some water pulls together a filling and flavorful meal.

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Click on the image for the recipe.

I used baby red potatoes as they are my favorite. I also adjusted the layering suggested in the recipe. To keep the chicken moist, I added a bit more water and buried the chicken within the potatoes instead of on top.

Happy eating!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

Favorite Thing Friday: Cooking From Pinterest

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Cooking has never been my thing, but every once in a while I get the itch to make something tasty. When my summer vacation began, I felt an enormous urge to hang out in the kitchen and make dinners and desserts, (easily my favorite part of eating). Part of this impulse can be blamed on a year’s worth of collecting “recipes” on Pinterest.

My Cooking and Baking board started as a place to collect yummy looking treats like Snickers brownies and cheesecake slices. Then, I started finding super easy recipes for actual meals. I’m no chef, so any pin with the words, “simple” or “fast” got my attention. Once my summer hiatus from teaching began, I decided I’d try to make something from my board at least once a week. Little did I know just how much fun that would be! Not to mention mouthwateringly good!

The first adventure started with two pasta salads I pulled from one pin:

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Broccoli and Feta Pasta Salad – This is one I’ll be making again with some minor adjustments. It’s a good recipe, but it needs a little more kick in terms of spices.

Peas and Ham Pasta Salda – Overall, a very good salad that is easy to make. While the ham gave it a nice salty taste (which compliments the hardboiled eggs nicely), I’m wondering how it would taste with grilled chicken cubes.

Then, I made a Broccoli Quinoa casserole, which is quite possibly the best casserole to ever come out of my oven:

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Broccoli Quinoa Casserole

I followed the recipe, but I also made some adjustments. Instead of plain quinoa I used a fire roasted red pepper and basil flavored quinoa blend. Then, I added some pre-cooked chicken chunks.  Absolutely amazing!

One of the quicker meals, turned out to be an instant new favorite. I’m a fan of any meal that can be made all in one pot, so a pin for a Black Bean-Zucchini-Rice Skillet instantly spoke to me:

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Black Bean-Zucchini-Rice Skillet

It’s ready in under 20 minutes and is jammed packed with flavor. This is one I’ll definitely make again, especially when I go back to work in the fall.

On the dessert end of things, I found a recipe so good I can’t wait to make it again. This No Bake Cheesecake is so quick and easy, I can’t believe it turned out so yummy!

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4 Ingredient No Bake Cheesecake

With only four ingredients and a pre-made pie crust, this recipe is a snap. It was so easy, I was starting to think it was too good to be true, but the first response out everyone who got a piece was “Mmmmmmmm.” Enough said.

I’ve got another round of Pinterest recipes planned for next week and hopefully they will be just as good!

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

Paying it Forward . . . Again!

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After three full months in the blogosphere, I can’t help but be thankful for every reader that visits my blog.  At the same time, I am just as grateful to have found a wonderful community of bloggers that offer an immense amount of insight and inspiration.  Back in June I posted some of my favorite links, but the list has since grown.  It’s time to share a few more blogs that deserve the spotlight!

Random Acts of Writing [+art]

Stunning photography and art meet beautiful quotations with a dash of philosophical contemplation. Easily one of my favorite blogs because there is always so much inspiration not only for writing, but for life in general.

Moonlight Baker

I’m not much of a cook, but I love this blog!  Recently, she posted a recipe for Nutella Cheesecake Bars that was so easy to follow even I could make them.  They were absolutely divine and I suspect all of her recipes are just as delicious.  This site boasts highly original recipes for everything from breakfast to desert, making it well worth the visit to see what’s cooking!

Joss Burnel – The Crowing Crone

Count on Joss to highlight the simple pleasures of life with beautiful photographs of nature and thoughtful posts on the little things that matter most.  I look forward to new posts as they offer a nice bit of serenity when I need it most.

The Conscious Classroom

A wonderful site that offers interesting and unconventional tools for teachers.  This may be a bit of a shameless plug, but I do contribute to this site from time to time.  😉  If you are an educator or a parent looking for techniques and inspiration for engaging students in the act of learning, this is a good place to find some new ideas.

W. Chaser

The process of writing is never easy as real life, the inner critic, and frustration threaten to rob us of our creativity.  W. Chaser writes about these struggles and the little victories that make writing a truly rewarding craft.  The honesty and humor of this blog is what keeps me coming back for more.

Thinking of Rob

Everyone has a guilty pleasure and this is mine.  😀  In a previous post, I admitted that I am one of those Twilight people, (A Bookshelf of Organized Chaos). Well,  I am also a Robert Pattinson fan. Yup, I’ve seen every one of his movies and loved them!  Thinking of Rob is one of the best fan sites I’ve ever encountered in the mania that surrounds Twilight.  Not only do they post the best photos, fan art, and news, but they are very respectful of Rob as a person, (no tabloid stuff, negativity is not tolerated, and rumors are not proliferated).  They keep things very professional and I have so much respect for what they do and how they do it.  With Breaking Dawn: Part I hitting theaters in a few months, this is the site to keep bookmarked for all the latest news!

Happy Reading!

c.b. 2011