Crock Pot Mondays - Early this week so you can make a batch of this Taco Soup and have ready for the New Years guests!
We'll be busy over the next few days so I decided I better get out this Monday's Crock recipe early so that you can make and have ready for Football Bowl Games and other New Years guests you may have. I love this recipe that my sister tweaked to perfection from a Paula Dean recipe. Click on the picture below for the recipe as I took photo from the cookbook I created with our most favorite family recipes. That cookbook idea is another blog post to come in the new year! Note: the recipe calls for the chicken cooked and shredded BUT I'll tell you I often cheat and throw in the 3 chicken breasts uncooked, let them cook in the crock with other items all day, remove and shred when done and then add shredded chicken back to crock for serving. You can tweak it to use the types of beans your family prefers as long as you use 3 cans as noted below and most times I actually grab the can of the "mexicorn" instead of just a can of regular corn. It makes a large batch and is more like a stew/chili than a soup. Great for a football party or any large group! Happy New Years Everyone! I'll be working on more crock pot recipes and organizing ideas while we relax over New Years and look forward to a great 2013!!
It's not officially 2013 yet but today begins the first of my resolutions...This next year will bring many changes for our family - the main one being the fact I'll be "retiring" from my job at the CPA firm I've been with for 9 years to fully concentrate on building my professional organizing business. It's exciting and challenging all at the same time. It will and has forced us to really look at hard at the House of Payne's budget for cashflows. As we all know, if there is less money coming in then less needs to be going out. So with that being said, I've decided as part of my organizing business and blog posting I'd challenge myself to the Great Envelope Budgeting System Project of 2013! As of this morning I've updated all our accounts in Quicken, balanced the checkbook for my "household" account and basically will pull out the majority of the small balance now that bills have been paid and prepare my envelopes to use for groceries, gas and small incidentals over the next few weeks. I've always been a coupon shopper and look for deals but I'll be going into overdrive while also figuring our where we'll be cutting back. I'll be updating you all on my progress via the blog and passing on hopefully lots of ideas to help you all in your household budgeting. I've been helping companies do budgeting and related cost efficiency consulting for years - NOW it's time to bring it home and to my organizing clients for their homes! I'd love to hear any ideas or suggestions you all use for your own homes!! Please email, leave comments to blog posts or get in touch on facebook. Wish me luck :)
Getting ready for a New Years Party or having friends over to watch the bowl games? Even with as much as I love organization - when I see new organizing goodies I always ask myself how can I find more than one use for ANYTHING I buy. These Martha Stewart lables are a great example of that...I thought the label was a great idea since they are waterproof and can be used indoor and out - already a good start. The packaging shows them being used to label plant pots...OK one idea but that's when the item needs to be put to the test and see what else can be done with it...The red pull portion is slighly elastic which allows it to be pulled onto the pots or anything else really up to a couple of inches...lots of possibilities which I decided included using them as drink tags...I love these since they can be used on more than just wine glasses...fit onto cans, water bottles, beer bottles, etc. You get the idea AND since they are waterproof it doesn't matter if the can/bottle sweats - tag is good to go. Tag is big enough to decorate with sharpie pens to suit. Kids can do their own :) I like these tags too as a gift tag - especially if giving homemade james/jellies, "gifts in a jar" since the wrap around the glass so easily. Obviously uses around the house, attic, garage and OUTSIDE TOO are endless. Challenge yourself to think about how to find more than one use for things!
I am hoping you all had a great Christmas filled with goodies from Santa and great food just as the House of Payne did (thanks to my Mom!!!) One of our family traditions involves giving and getting ornaments for special occasions or while traveling to commemorate our trip. Some ornaments were given to the kids when little for different things by grandparents, etc. I may remember what each one represents but at some point my memory may not be great so just in case - I always keep a sharpie on the mantle so I can label each new ornament. I like noting who its from and the year. Some are marked with the trip location, some marked with which person it was given too, etc. But no matter what they are all labeled so as the kids grow up and inevitably some of these get passed down thru the generations maybe others will know why they are special. This Christmas House ornament was given to Shannon & I by his mom and dad, when we moved into our "new" house in 1996 after we married. It's still the house we are in today and I am blessed to take it out each year and hang it on the tree and look back on some many wonderful years here.
Merry Christmas Everyone!! I am so blessed to be surrounded with family and friends over the next few days. I am also secretly happy that I know in a few minutes the following ingredients are going into my crock so that dinner will be ready for us after church tonight! We'll be able to eat dinner and then be ready to ride around and look at the Christmas lights all over the neighborhood as we love to do each year. Wishing you all a blessed Christmas and hope you too will find yourself around those you love most. As always, start with a lined crock pot then add: 2 onions and 2 bell peppers, sliced to bottom of crock, then lay 2-3 lbs chicken legs over onions. Combine the following: 3 garlic cloves minced, 2 14.5 oz can stewed italian style tomatoes, 4 oz. can italian style tomato paste, packet of dry italian dressing/seasoning mix, and 1/2 cup white wine. Cook 4 hours on high or 6-7 on low. Serve over hot buttered pasta of choice. Serve with garlic bread and a salad.
I bet many of you just like me will be wrapping lots of presents for loved ones this weekend. Make it easy on yourself by setting up a wrapping station. If you can, find a closet or other area to designate as your wrapping storage area and sort through your items. If a closet area isn't in the cards for you - consider using the bottom draw of a dresser in your guest room. Its a perfect size to house rolls of gift wrap and flattened gift bags etc. Use a dollar store container to house your ribbons as show in the picture or get an inexpensive small tension rod to slide rolls of ribbon onto and can be stored anywhere the tension rod can be wedged into. There are numerous fancy containers and shelving systems for the items but they can be pricey so how about getting creative with cheap bungee cords from dollar store? They can be used on the side of a closet wall or back of door and the rolls of paper and gift bags could be held back with a couple of well placed cords. I even saw on Pinterest how your could use rolls of wrapping paper as holiday decor. Longest rolls on bottom graduating up to smaller rolls and bows made a Christmas tree mounted to wall to serve as decor and easy access to wrap during the season. Pretty cool! Gift bags hung from bottom of "tree" storing ribbons, bows and tissue paper. Once you find a way that works for you and you make sure you have all the supplies you need your wrapping should go quickly and happily!
This is the recipe and ingredients I absolutely swear by for some of the best pulled pork to come out of someone's crock/home kitchen. It's simple but I note that two critical items will need to be purchased special as they will not be at your local grocery. However, it is well worth the effort to get hold of them: You'll need a 5-6 lb bone-in Boston Butt/Pork Shoulder Roast. You'll put the roast in a lined large crock and cover with 1/2 jar "WOODY'S COOK-IN SAUCE" - My grocery store special orders this for me but you may need to order via web on your own. It's a super concentrated BBQ sauce and gives a richer/deeper hickory laced flavor than anything else I've ever tried. Obviously you can use another BBQ sauce to suit you but I really hope you'll go to the effort to get Woodys and give it a try. Their website is www.woodysfoods.com. They have more than one type sauce but I always use the orginal Cook-in Sauce in jar with white lid and writing. Cook the roast topped with sauce on low overnight about 10-12 hrs. Once roast is clearly falling apart, remove from crock and cool for about an hour so it can be pulled/shredded by hand. Discard any fatty bits and bone. Second critical item: North Carolina Vinegar Based BBQ sauce now is to be added to pulled meat. Our favorite is from a small place BBQ in Weldon, NC called "RALPH'S BBQ". My husband's Dad's side of the family is from these parts and we are lucky enough to get hold of ours when family visits are made up that way. BUT I know they will ship! My sister called a few years back to place an order when the family supplies were running low and they shipped out quickly and sent a bunch of goodies (key-chains and magnets, etc.) in the package! They still don't have a website but you can call them at 252-536-2102 to place an order. Again, you could use another BBQ sauce to add/top your pulled pork but Ralph's sauce is what makes the pork the best you'll ever make. The vinegar/spicy sauce will marinate the pork and can be served at this point or can be refrigerated and then reheated when needed. Serve on great sesame seed buns and have lots of pickles to add to your sandwiches! It'll serve a crowd and its a crowd pleaser any time of year!
My sister Jackie gave me this "recipe" years ago and I've loved it since. The "mix" can be made up and put in decorative pouches as go-to gifts with an instructions tag and recipients just need to add their own citrus. "CHRISTMAS SCENT" You'll need: 3 cinnamon sticks, 3 bay leaves, 1/4 c. whole cloves, 1 lemon (halved), 1 orange (halved) and 4 c. water. Combine all items in stainless steel saucepan and bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer as long as you like, adding additional water as needed to keep mixture from drying up. Can be stored lightly covered in fridge and reused the next day. Makes the house smell amazing!!!
Stay prepared with quick, homemade, go-to gifts for neighbors, friends, hostess gifts for parties, etc.
Got a few bucks and a few minutes? Great! Because that's all you need to make these Deviled Nuts. Super quick go-to gift to have on hand for the holidays or can be made in a pinch! Glass snap-latch containers are $1 each at your local dollar store. Here's what you'll need and how to make:
3T. Veg Oil, 3 cups mixed nuts, 2 T. Sugar and 2 T. Jen's Deviled Delish Seasoning Mix (SEE BLOG POST FROM 11/30/12 FOR RECIPE OR SEARCH IN HOLIDAY CATEGORY). That's right - ONLY 4 items!!!!
Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat, add nuts and cook/stir in hot oil 2 to 3 minutes until slightly browned. Sprinkle sugar and seasoning mix over nuts, stir to coat evenly, heat 1 to 2 more minutes. Drain nuts on wire rack lined with paper towels. Once cooled, load into glass containers and decorate to suit. If you like even more heat for your nuts, add another 1tsp. of red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper to nuts when sprinkling in the sugar and seasoning mix.
With as much tea as I drink ( it's alot...) eventually the inside of the mugs have to be dealt with to get all the staining off that the dishwasher (or dish soap if washed by hand) will not get off. It's as simple as a sprinkle of baking soda into the mug and a paper towel slightly dampened with hot water. Work the baking soda into a paste inside mug with paper towel and a few whirls around mug will lift stains right off. This same process will work to lift stains off corningware/pyrex and plastic containers. Easy, cheap and makes your items look like new again.
Jen Payne, CPA, Professional Organizer and mom to two boys: Brendan (17) and Ryan (15).