recipe: crockpot tomato and mushroom chicken

Continuing on my quest for the best and easiest crockpot recipes around, I flagged this one in my Google Reader and decided to try it out last night. With a willing friend invited for dinner, I ran home on my lunch break to toss this in the crockpot and get it cooking. That was the only drawback to the recipe - it's not one for a morning start before a full day. Since my office isn't far from home, it wasn't a hardship to make this work and I'm so glad I did!

Crockpot Tomato and Mushroom Chicken
(Credit: 365 days of Slow Cooking)

5 (6 oz) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (I used 2 lbs. of chicken tenders - on sale!)
1 (16 oz) can diced tomatoes with basil
2 tbsp minced garlic
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dry mustard
1 (4 oz) can mushrooms, drained (I used portabellas)
1 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 c. tomato sauce (my own addition)

Place chicken in slow cooker. Stir together the tomatoes, garlic, soy sauce, and mustard; pour over the chicken breasts. Cook on low for 4-5 hours. Mix water and cornstarch together until smooth. Pour into the slow cooker, along with the mushrooms. Keep lid off and turn to high. Stir. Let thicken for about 10 minutes. I thought it needed a little more sauce so, I added some more tomato sauce at this point and let it heat through before serving. Serve over your favorite pasta.

The verdict: So delicious! The soy sauce gave me pause when looking over the ingredient list but, it was in no way discernable in the flavor of the recipe. All of the flavors melded together to make a rich sauce and the chicken was so soft that it just fell apart (kind of a pulled-chicken effect). I will definitely add this to my favorites list. Very easy and healthy.


a tale of three burpies...

I was off work yesterday (YAY...offices were closed for Yom Kippur) so, I spent the majority of the day at home alternately relaxing and sewing (or, prepping for future sewing). I got it in my head a while back that I would make all of the burp cloths our son will ever need in his lifetime and, while I was at it, also make bunches for friends and their little ones.

I seriously underestimated the prep work for this project!

Although the three I finished came out SO cute (see above) just cutting the fabric for only six different color combos took hours hunched over my kitchen table. HOURS. Hunched over, needing to take frequent breaks because this little boy was pressing down on my pelvis and threatening to dislocate both hips.

I also seriously underestimated the amount of ironing that would be required.

Iron the fabric prior to cutting. Sew the three pieces together and press the seams. Iron the cloth diapers. Iron the ends of the decorative piece on all four sides to fit to the diaper center. Have I ever mentioned that I loathe ironing?

Regardless, the hours were all worth it and I have to admit that this little project was very satisfying. I'm a very novice sew-er and originally purchased my machine for sewing on scrapbook pages. This may have been a bit labor intensive but now, I now have a lot cut and ready to sew and go anytime I have a half hour or so to spare. I'll count it as a success of a day :-)

Later last night I was able to show Mr. Boom the results and his response, "You made these? Like, sewed them yourself? And, you didn't call my mom over to help?" Um, no...thanks for the vote of confidence honey. And then, "So, how much could you sell them for?"

[Credits: I merged the instructions for burpies from Susan Weinroth and Chickpea Sewing Studio to come up with my own take...thanks for the inspiration, ladies!]


recipe: apple spice cookie bars

Last week after our apple picking trip, I went on a search for apple recipes in my favorite foodie blogs and on the net. Last weekend's cake was a huge hit but, I wanted to try something a little different this time and also wanted something a bit more portable to send with Mr. B who will be away for work most of this week. Heather of Heather Drive always inspires me with her baking prowess so, when I saw her rave about these cookie bars, I knew I'd have to try them.
Apple Spice Cookie Bars
(Source: Heather Drive & Good Things Catered)
- 2 cups + 2 tbsp. all purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. allspice
- small pinch ground cloves
- 1/2 cup (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup white sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
- 2 apples, peeled, cored and diced (about two cups)
- cinnamon sugar for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 9x13 pan with foil and baking spray.
2. In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Whisk to combine well and set aside.
3. In bowl of stand mixer, combine sugars and butter and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to combine.
5. Add vanilla extract and beat to combine.
6. Turn mixer on slow and fold in flour mixture a little at a time until just combined.
7. Fold in apples.
8. Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan and sprinkle top generously with cinnamon sugar.
9. Place in oven and bake until cooked through, when top slightly bounces back to the touch, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from pan, cutting and serving. (Bars will be very soft.)

The verdict: This recipe more than lived up to Heather's rave. Light and fluffy, moist and just delicious! I'd liken the consistency to a cake, definitely not a denser cookie bar as one normally thinks of them but, oh-so-good. I had two of my male cousins over to watch football tonight and several bars disappeared, I did damage to a couple others and so did Mr. B. I'm sending the majority out of town with him because I know I won't be able to resist them if they stay in the house!


recipe: autumn apple cake

Autumn is officially here, along with...apples!!! Yesterday, Mr. Boom and I went apple picking with my cousin and our god-daughter. It was sunny and warm - a perfect day to pick the ripe Honeycrisps and Jonanthans. We ended up bringing home close to 9 pounds so, I needed a good apple recipe and quick! I found this heirloom one online this morning, complete with a rave review and lots of photos and had to give it a try.
Apple Cake
Credit to SmittenKitchen

6 apples (I used the two types I had on-hand)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
5 tablespoons sugar
2 3/4 cups flour, sifted
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional -I omitted)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a tube pan or bundt pan. Peel, core and chop apples into chunks. Toss with cinnamon and sugar and set aside.

2. Stir together flour, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl (I used my stand mixer bowl). In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, orange juice, sugar and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients into the dry ones, then add eggs, one at a time. Scrape down the bowl to ensure all ingredients are incorporated.

3. Pour half of batter into prepared pan. Spread half of apples over it. Pour the remaining batter over the apples and arrange the remaining apples on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until a tester comes out clean.

The Verdict: Delicious!!! The house smelled heavenly as this was baking, it rose up nice and high and the top apples got carmelized and golden brown. This is a dense but very moist cake that was simple to put together. The longest step was peeling and dicing the apples. I was a little concerned about the seemingly overly wet consistency of the batter following the instructions as written, but it baked up beautifully. The flavors are rich and deep. I sent a large piece over to my in-law's and, within minutes, my father in law was calling me to rave and give his thanks (and asking if there was still more to go around!). I think this will end up a fall favorite.
As always, if you try this recipe, I'd love to hear what you think!

While we were at the orchard yesterday, my husband snapped my 24 week belly phot0 - apples and all! I think this is my favorite weekly shot so far :-)


My weekend warrior...

In their infinite wisdom (insert eye roll here) previous owners of our condo had removed the closet from our second bedroom thus, creating a den and leaving us with both a lack of storage space and a dilemma. We needed more storage for ourselves and now, even more importantly, for our baby. We had spoken to a contractor but, neither of us really wanted to take time off of work to be home to supervise construction. Then, my husband remembered just how handy he is, recalled that we had a three day weekend to make progress and decided to do it himself.

As of this morning, framing is done and wiring/installation of the closet light, wall switch, outlet and cable hookup are in progress. So proud of him!

UPDATE: As of Monday night, the sheet rock and patching are finished. Just need to let the patches dry then prime, paint, add trim work, the shelving/rod system and doors...yay!!! Looks like we will have a fully functional closet very soon.

-- posted from my iPhone


22 week belly shot...

Definitely rounding out now! Grow baby, grow...

-- posted from my iPhone


when i look down...

My view from above at 21 weeks 5 days. No toes!
And, feel free to call me a cliche but a half jar of these was my after work snack on Monday. Yeah, true story.
The home improvements keep rolling along. This weekend: Mr. B installed knobs and pulls on every cabinet. Simple change, huge difference!
-- posted from my iPhone
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