Crock Pot Pineapple Chicken

Slow cooker recipes (especially dump and done ones) are perfect for nights when I know I”ll be busy and won’t have time to actually cook.  They’re also perfect for days when I simply don’t want to cook.  Pineapple is one o my favorite fruits, so trying this one out was an easy choice.  (Almost as easy as making it!)  You will need:

  • Chicken
  • Salsa
  • Black Beans
  • Corn
  • Pineapple
  • Brown Sugar

Get the full recipe here, or check out my pin on my Yum board.

Crock Pot Pineapple Chicken

Review

One of the ingredients for this recipe it hot wing sauce and I simply couldn’t bring myself to buy it.  The amount that was being added to the slow cooker was so tiny, and I knew I wouldn’t use the sauce again, especially if I turned out to not love this recipe.  Instead, I bought the hot salsa and added more than the recipe stated.  So, when I say that I found this recipe overly sweet, know that this modification definitely contributed.  However, I find it hard to believe that a tablespoon of wing sauce was going to change it that much.  I think the real culprit here was the brown sugar.  I think the recipe would have been better without it.

Overall, I liked the idea of the recipe, but the final product wasn’t for me.  It was too sweet, and I actually wanted more pineapple.  If I were to try this again (and I’m not sure if I will). I will cut out the brown sugar, add another can of pineapple, and buy the super hot salsa.  This one wasn’t my winner, but it might be yours, especially if wing sauce is something you would use outside of this recipe.

Quilt Progress

As soon as I finished my brother’s quilt, I started on another one for my cousin.  This time I wanted to try out triangles.  She picked out the grey/yellow/green color scheme, and I got to work.  Along the way I have learned a LOT.  This quilt is still in progress, but I thought I’d share how it was going so far.

Triangle Quilt in Progress

So far I have half of the top sewn together (top right), and it was an ordeal to get me there.  I cut around 300 triangles so I had some extras to play with during the layout.  In the end, I decided on 14 down by 20 across, which meant a total of 280 triangles used.  In the middle two pictures, you can see how I laid everything out on the floor of our spare bedroom.  I had to move almost everything out, but it worked.  Once I had the layout, I carefully picked up each row in order and kept the rows separate from each other.  I also made a giant chart of every triangle and what it was.  I obviously didn’t do it well enough, though, because on the bottom row of the sewn top you can see that one of those green triangles matches up with another same fabric triangle directly above it.  I could pull it all out, but I’m not going to.  It would involve ripping the row as well as ripping several triangles.  It will bug me, but it stays.

Once I figured out how to join the triangles together, things went really well, but before that, it was several hours of sewing, ripping, and questioning what the heck I was doing.  In the bottom left picture, you can see how I put together the triangles at first.  The problem with this, of course, is that when I join the rows together, those pretty points will become blunt tops.  I had half a row done before I realized that.  (And had ripped out triangles again and again trying to get that point.)  The bottom right picture is what I actually needed.  I need that point nestled 1/4 inch in so I can have the crisp point when I joint he rows.  To get this, I actually drew in my quarter inch seam allowance on the back of each triangle.  The point where those seam allowances crossed was the recessed point I wanted.  It added a little time, but saved me a ton of grief in the long run.

Overall, I’m pretty pleased with how this quilt is coming along.  My lines are straight, my points are crisp, and everything seems to line up fairly well.  I’m excited to finish the top and get to the actual quilting.  I haven’t decided what I want to do for that yet, though.

Enchilada Bake

Sometimes when I’m going through Pinterest I see something and think, I don’t know what that is, but I’m going to make it.  That’s how I ended up with this enchilada bake recipe.  Normally I wouldn’t have looked twice, but something about the picture made me want to make it.  For this recipe you will need:

  • Chicken
  • Quinoa
  • Onion
  • Black beans
  • Enchilada sauce
  • Cheese

Check out the full recipe here, or my pin on my Yum board.

Enchilada Bake

Review

This recipe was amazingly simple.  It was basically a dump and heat sort of recipe if you already had some cooked chicken on hand.  When I made this, I didn’t even bother halving it, and good thing because the entire pan was gone by the end of the night!  This recipe is GREAT.  I tried this out about two weeks ago, an have made it twice since then.  The flavors mesh really well, and it’s fairly cheap since most of the items come in a can.

This would be a great recipe to make in a huge batch for a party.  I really think it’s something everyone can enjoy, plus it’s pretty simple (though making the quinoa can take some time up front).  Plus, there are so many small substitutions you can make to better fit your own flavor preferences.  You could replace the chicken with any meat, or even throw in some more veggies in place of meat.  You could switch up the cheeses.  You could add some more spices to give it a different kick.  You can use rice instead of quinoa.  This is a great recipe to make your own, or just make as is.  I definitely recommend this one!

Haircuts

If you follow me on Twitter, you probably saw that I had a problem with a haircut recently.  Basically, I decided to try out a local place only to end up with something I really didn’t like because the person cutting my hair didn’t cut my hair, but, rather, cut a cut they knew how to do.  That cut resulted in this:

Here’s what went wrong

  • I did ask for shampoo, and it was faster than I wash my own hair in the shower. Basically she just rubbed shampoo in my hair for about 30 seconds. I could feel it tangling because she wasn’t really using her fingers, but her palms.
  • The water was nearly too cold, like almost cold enough that I said something.
  • She never asked how I normally wear or part my hair-two important factors. Curly hair needs to be cut differently from straight hair because of how it lays. Your layers shouldn’t be a straight line like straight hair. Knowing whether or not I often straighten my hair would affect the cut. Also, knowing where the client parts is important to getting a cut that suits the overall style that they favor.
  • At no point in time was I asked to tilt my head, lift or lower my chin.
  • I asked for thinning, but I don’t think that happened. Usually a special pair of scissors are used for this, and she never switched scissors.
  • She never moved from behind me while cutting, nor did she swivel my chair.
  • The chair was never raised.
  • The entire “cut” took 10 minutes.
  • She decided to blow dry my hair without a diffuser and ran her fingers through it over and over again while doing so. (This makes curly hair very frizzy.)
  • She did not attempt any style at all when the cut was complete.
  • She never asked me to remove my glasses. I did it on my own when I realized she wouldn’t.
  • There was only one mirror, and it was one of those freestanding full length oval mirrors that you can spin/tilt. This was the only mirror offered to me to check my cut (no secondary mirror to see the back).
  • When she was “done,” she asked me to run my fingers through the hair and let her know how it “felt.”
  • She asked if I was willing to lose length in the back. I said I wanted to fix my layers that had grown out oddly, and knew I needed to lose a little length for that to happen, but didn’t want to lose a lot. She barely cut any of the longest layer and considered this fitting my request (even though it made the bottom layer oddly out of proportion with the rest).
  • She literally said nothing to me the entire haircut.

There were a million times I should have spoken up, but didn’t; so it’s my fault too. For my part, I just said it was all fine, paid, and left. I just wanted to get out of there.

However, I was able to get an appointment at a salon “in town” an hour away.

It’s not fully “fixed” at the moment. Because of how “wrong” the layers were cut, I’ll need several follow up trims to help with the “holes” that were left. But, overall, I am much happier with this than the first cut. The moral of this story? It could be “you get what you pay for,” but I think “you can never do too much research” also fits.

Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast

I’m trying out French toast recipes again, always looking for that perfect at home diner breakfast.  Today’s contender adds strawberries and cream cheese to the mix in an effort to woo me.  For this recipe you will need:

  • Eggs
  • Bread
  • Cream Cheese
  • Strawberries
  • Milk
  • Vanilla

You can see the full recipe here, or check out my pin on my Breakfast board.

Strawberry Cheesecake French Toast

Review

This one had so much potential and it just….didn’t work.  Let’s look at what went wrong.  Once again, my grocery store did not have thick cut bread, so I decided to make sandwiches instead of pockets.  I really don’t think this contributed to my disappointment because the real let down was the cream cheese filling itself.  The problem with this filling is that it is not a cheesecake filling.  If it was, there would have been a little bit of sugar thrown into it.  Without that sugar, it’s just strawberry cream cheese.  I think that if the filling had been sweeter I wouldn’t have needed syrup at all.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.  Instead I ended up feeling like syrup was necessary to cut down on the overly cream cheese taste.

Will I make this again?  Maybe.  It has potential if the filling is tweaked.  But I think I might wait until we get that thick bread to try another French toast recipe period.  (Who am I kidding?  I’ll be making some for lunch today.)

Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Buttercream

This week has been kind of ridiculous, so I think the best way to close it up is with a sweet something to send you off to your weekend.  Lemon + (other fruit) is a combo I can’t get enough of, so these lemon cupcakes with blackberry buttercream went straight onto my “to bake” list when I saw them.  You will need:

  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Butter
  • Lemon
  • Blackberries
  • Sugar
  • Milk

Check out the full recipe here, or my pin on my Just Desserts board.

 Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Icing

Review

As always, changes were made.  This time I did NOT change out the flour to whole wheat (shocking, I know!), but I did make some other changes.  I use vanilla Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and soy milk instead of regular milk.  I also had a problem with the sugar, which I’ll discuss later.

When I mixed up the cake batter, I was a little worried.  The wet mixture seemed like an odd combination, and when I added it to everything else, I was worried by the somewhat lumpy texture.  However, my fears were unfounded.  This was seriously one of the best cake batters I’ve ever had.  It kept a soft yellow color, and was light and spongy.  I will DEFINITELY be using this batter as a base for other recipes down the road.  The flavor was spot on too.  Just the right amount of lemon!

The buttercream, though.  Hoooooo boy.  And it’s all my fault.  I’m certain that the actual recipe is lovely. This is all on me.  Here’s what happened:

Me (at the grocery store):  Oh look!  Pourable powdered sugar!  So cool!  (I put this in my cart.)

Me (at home, adding sugar to my icing):  Huh, this looks kinda grainy.  Strange.  (Keeps adding and mixing.)

Me (mixing icing):  This really is gritty.  Maybe I should write a letter to the company.

Me (reading the sugar box):  Granulated sugar? Awwwwwww, no!

So, my buttercream turned out, well, not right.  I had already halved the recipe (even though I made a full batch of cupcakes) because I don’t like a ton of icing on my cake.  So, I decided to double the cream cheese in the batter to see if that helped with the overall gritty feel and overly sugary taste.  And, it did, but not as much as I would have liked.  The blackberry puree worked perfectly though!  That flavoring was spot on.  So, my icing wasn’t great, but that was my fault-not the recipe.

Will I make these again?  Absolutely!  I can’t wait to try this batter out with other flavors!

Stuffed Pepper Casserole

Back before Pinterest, I had a great stuffed pepper casserole recipe.  I used to make it twice a month or so, and it was delicious.  But somewhere in between prepping the house for sale, selling it, and moving a long distance, I lost the recipe.  I’ve been trying to find a replacement ever since.  For this recipe you will need:

  • Green peppers
  • Ground meat
  • Tomato sauce
  • Cheese

Check out the full recipe here, or my pin on my Yum board.

Stuffed Pepper Casserole

Review

Since there were only two of us, I halved the recipe.  I was shocked to find that this still filled a 9×13 pan.  I would guess that a full recipe would fill the 9×13 pan all the way to the top.  That was a lot more food than I was anticipating, but I really shouldn’t have been surprised if I thought about it.  I probably wouldn’t have minded all the leftovers if I liked the recipe, but it was surprisingly bland, and seriously low on green pepper.

Could this recipe be fixed?  Yes.  I think that adding spices, adding more green pepper, cutting down the tomato sauce would all help; but that kind of sounds like a whole new recipe, so I won’t be doing that.  Instead I’ll be trying to find a new recipe that reminds me of that perfect, long lost one.

April Birchbox Review

When April’ box came I couldn’t stop looking at the box!  It was gorgeous!  So much so, I had to include a picture of it too this month!  The box was designed by Rifle Paper Co, which has some truly lovely items.  Enough about the packaging, let’s talk products!

April Birchbox

  1. Cargo Swimmables Water Resistant Blush (Full Size:  $26):  My skin is naturally pretty pink, so blush isn’t something I normally wear.  However, when I am doing something more formal (like going to a wedding or an interview), I usually will put on blush.  This blush came in a color that was perfect for my skin tone.  The first time I put it on, it went on nice and light, which is important to me because I don’t need a lot to get the right amount of pink on my cheek.  The second time I might have been a little heavy handed.  However, it was easy to blend and remove a touch to make it right.  As for the waterproof aspect, well, I didn’t go swimming while wearing it, but I did splash my face with water to see what would happen, and it appeared to stay in place.  It did mostly wear off by the end of the day, though.  Would I buy this?  Maybe.  It’s hard for me to find blushes that are the right color for me, and this one was.  It would be a contender.  (But I sort of hope I get some other samples just to see if there’s something I like more.
  2. LAQA &Co Sheer Lip Lube Pencil (Full Size  $20):  I really liked the concept of this pencil.  It was very smooth, and super easy to apply.  You could put on just a touch or layer it for a more vibrant color.  However, the color was all wrong for my face.  I tried it several times (thinking that different outfits or different types of light might affect the color).  No matter how I wore it, though, it was never right on me.  That said, eventually I layered it with the Cynthia Rowley lip stain I got a box or two ago, and that was a nice combination.  Bottom line?  I loved the product, hated the color.  I might consider this in a different shade.
  3. Whish Three Whishes Body Butter-Blueberry (Full Size:  $24):  On one hand, this product is super thick.  I’ve had Whish products in my box before and thought that they were great at hydrating.  However, the smell just doesn’t work for me AT ALL.  It smelled like blueberry candy-overly sugary and too sweet.  I made the mistake of using it on my legs after one shower, and got sick of it very quickly.  After than I used it once or twice in moderation so as not to be overwhelmed by the smell.  I just couldn’t get past that fragrance, though.  12 year old me would have loved this.  32 year old me?  Not so much.
  4. Beaver Professional Hydro Nutritive Moisturizing Shampoo and Repairing Conditioner (Full size:  $15/$16):  I’m reviewing these last two together because that’s how I used them.  I’ve gotten shampoo samples before, but never had a set.  I rather like that there was a set because I like to use products with their counterparts when possible.  I was able to get 3 washes out of the conditioner before I ran out, but 6 of from the shampoo, so I was able to try the shampoo solo as well.   (The samples were the same size, but I just need more conditioner for my hair.)  I felt like they did what they promised-my hair felt softer and healthier.  I have coarse, curly hair that tends to be dry, and both of these worked hard to help with that.  However, I need some other product to put on after the shower if I decide to switch to this shampoo/conditioner combo because it didn’t really work with my current product routine.  While soft, my curls didn’t define as well and ended up looking frizzy.  I probably wouldn’t purchase these unless I found that other product that would work with them (though I do like the idea of finding that other product).

All in all, another great month with my box.  As always, I love playing with new products and learning what I do and don’t love.  I’m getting kind of close to running out of my face wash, so I’m hoping to find something new to give a go in an upcoming box.

Does Birchbox sound like something you’re interested in?  Here’s my referral link.

Maple Mustard Salmon

My low-cholesterol salmon search continues!  I will not rest until I can eat salmon for two weeks straight and not repeat a recipe.  Today is yet another in that search.  For this you will need:

  • Salmon
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Maple Syrup

Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it?  Check out the full recipe here, or my pin on my Yum board.

Maple Mustard Salmon

Review

These pictures don’t look pretty.  Apparently the mustard really didn’t photograph well in the early evening light.  Oh well.  It kind of fits because this recipe didn’t totally work for me.  Part of what didn’t work for me was absolutely my fault.  Even though the recipe says it serves three and I made three fillets, there was way too much sauce.  I used all of it.  I should have known better.  I should have used a little common sense and realized that once it was brushed on, I didn’t need to continue and down the fish.  The other thing that didn’t work for me was the mustard/maple ratio.  I feel like it would have been better to take out one tablespoon of mustard and exchange it for another tablespoon of maple syrup.  Maybe that’s just because I like sweet things, but I thought the balances was, well, off.

Will I make this again?  Maybe.  I might give it another try with the modified ratio and an attempt at not drowning the fish.  But, I’d probably only make it because I didn’t have any other ingredients on hand and wanted salmon for dinner.