Monday, January 9, 2012

My Crockpot Cooking Discovery . . .

So I started my week with a plan for dinner each night of this week.  For tonight's meal we had Crockpot BBQ chicken, baked potatoes, mac & cheese, and a salad.

Ok, first off, I didn't fix a salad.  I just didn't feel like it, and Dave didn't want one.

But otherwise, this meal was a success!

Last night, before I went to bed, I made the BBQ sauce:

I followed the directions in the RECIPE except I used 1/2 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of vinegar.  Some of the comments in the recipe said the BBQ sauce was runny so I added more brown sugar hoping that would thicken it up.  It did.  Mine wasn't runny at all.  I also used fresh chicken breasts and not frozen ones.  Some comments suggested that frozen chicken made the sauce runny.

I put the chicken and BBQ sauce in the crockpot's crock  :)  and in the refrigerator.

I washed the potatoes last night too.  I let them sit out and dry overnight.

During lunch today, I started the chicken crockpot cooking on high.  It needed to be ready by 4:30 for Dave's "lunch" tonight.  The chicken is in the wide oval crockpot. 

Guess what's in the tall crockpot . . .  Baked Potatoes!

Do you still call them "baked" potatoes if they're cooked in a crockpot?

In my internet surfing this weekend I found an awesome food blog called A Year of Slow Cooking In 2008, Stephanie O'dea made a New Year's resolution to use her slow cooker every day during the year 2008.  She recorded her journey -- recipes, successes, discoveries, and failures -- in her food blog.  She has some awesome knowledge about crockpots because of this year-long resolution to herself.

One of her discoveries . . . you can cook baking potatoes in the crockpot!

You may already know this fact, but I didn't know it at all!  I tried it today. 

I followed her directions.  <------ There's the link.

It was very easy.  I pricked the dry (after washing) potatoes with a fork and wrapped them in tin foil.  Put them in the crockpot on high (since I was starting at 12:30).  By 4:30, when I was packing sweet Dave's "lunch", the potatoes were squishy (or soft) like they're supposed to be when they're done.  You can cook them on low all day too.  Stephanie O'dea suggested this would be a great way to cook the potatoes when having a potato bar for supper or a party.  Cool.

Anyway.  Here is the baked potato fresh out of the crockpot:

It was really good.  You know  . . .  Good . . . like at the steak house - I didn't have to cook it -- Good!  The potato really tasted like the potatoes you eat when you go out to eat . . . not at all like the ones I cook in the oven or microwave.  That little beauty was 3 points.  6 points after I added the low-fat margarine and sour cream.  So worth it!

The chicken turned out pretty good too.  My chicken:

The sauce was very good with it.

The boys liked the chicken.  Zach doesn't like potatoes (weird) so I made mac & cheese for him.  Easy dinner.

Also for your information, when I made my menu for the week, I used a menu planner/grocery list sheet I found at one of the websites.

It was very handy.  The grocery list is right beside the menu so it makes it easy to plan your trip to the grocery store.  You can get this same planner HERE.  I also found another version of the same kind of planner HERE.

In other news . . . I went to weight watchers this morning and after a week of counting points, drinking water, and no exercise . . . I had lost 6.8 pounds!  Ta Da!  

Actually, I believe that 4 pounds of that loss can be attributed to me giving up the sweet tea for a week.  I seriously lived off of sweet tea.  Really good . . . really sweet TEA.

I worried that I wouldn't be able to do it "cold-turkey", but I found something that has really helped me.  It is one of my new favorite things:

My sister turned me on to this little treat.   It's MiO, a liquid water enhancer.  When you squirt a little in your bottled water . . . it makes it taste so much better than plain water.  And since it's liquid, it mixes instantly.  The bottle is small and fits easily in my purse.  One little bottle lasted me a whole week  . . . three water bottles a day for a whole week.   That's a lot of squirts!  And guess what?  Gary got some in for me at Tems.  And it comes in a sweet tea flavor!  Don't you just love that! 

Another one of my other favorite things since I started this diet is the "cutie" clementine. . .  not Shane's hand . . . it's cute but I'm talking about the little oranges:

They are soooooo good!  Sweet . . . no seeds . . . easy to peel . . . goodness!  Even Dave loves them!  I have only eaten the trademarked "cuties" so I don't know if regular clementines are easy to peel, seedless, and as sweet.  The "cuties" are a hybrid mandarin/clementine that was bred to be easy to peel, seedless, and sweet.  They are expensive (to me) . . . but I think they are worth it.  At least while I'm dieting!  A little perk!

Also, one of my favorite things are these wonderful marinade seasoning packets by McCormick, Grill Mates:

 I use them a lot when I grill.  In fact, I'm using the garlic, herb, and wine packet and the mesquite packet this week.  I've been using them for a few months now . . . after Beth Scoggins told me how wonderful they are.  They really add great flavor to chicken.  I am going to try the mesquite on boneless pork chops this weekend.  They have them at Tems in the seasoning pack aisle.  They are definitely worth trying.

Okay.  My food tirade is over.

Let me tell you what happened last night at the farm! 

When I went out to feed our cats -- black cat and yellow cat -- I saw this animal standing a few feet from the patio looking at me . . . just standing there . . . looking at me . . .

I couldn't tell what it was.  I thought it was a fox.  Then it moved!  That's when I realized it was a bobcat! 

Or either a very big cat!  When it moved . . . it sat up on it's honches(sp?) just like a big cat . . .

I eased back into the house and freaked out!  Dave was at work.  He's always at work when snakes, giant lizards, and bobcats show up around the patio!

I was debating on whether to get the gun or not . . . then decided to watch it instead.

It hung around in the backyard for a while. . .stood out by a tree. . . 

I brought the cat's food back inside and have decided to only feed them in the day time.  Poor kitties!

And the worst part of this is . . . I couldn't find black cat!  only yellow cat was on the patio where they stay.  :(

Here's a picture of the animal/ bobcat/ ?

I tried to lighten it up . . .

So all day I've been thinking about the possible bobcat encounter I had last night and about my poor missing black cat. 

The good news is . . . when I got home from work today . . . black cat was on the patio!  He didn't get eaten!  I was so glad . . and I don't even like cats.

So now, tonight, Dave has texted me -- after showing my pictures at work -- and he says it was a coyote!

Is that any better!?!  If I see it tonight . . . I think it might meet it's maker  . . . if you know what I mean . . .  I practiced shooting this afternoon with Dave . . . so I'm ready. . . I think . . . 

If I get it . . . we'll know whether it's a bobcat or a coyote! 

Why don't you look at the picture and tell me what you think it is?  I have no idea since I haven't seen either one in person before!  Do coyotes move like a cat?

That wraps up the past couple of days at Ferrell Farm.  The boys have been quiet tonight . . .

almost too quiet . . .

I've got to go check on them.   See you later!

Tina and the Ferrell boys

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