Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats

Friday, October 31, 2014

Crocktober: My Top 5 Crock Pot Meals

Did you know many people refer to the month of October as "Crocktober"?
Not only is today Halloween, but it is also the LAST day of October.  Boo.
This first full month of Fall, is when most break out their comfort dishes as soon as a chill hits the air.  Casseroles, soups, hot sandwiches and chili's start making their way onto our tables and frankly, nothing excites me more.
I love Fall.  I got married in the Fall.  Come August when it is hot and miserable I often travel in my mind to a crisp autumn day when I'm under a blanket watching a football game and drinking hot chocolate.  And since in my heart of hearts I believe that everyone loves Fall as much as I do, I have picked out my Top 5 Crock Pot Meals.
Because nothing is better than great smelling food drifting through the house in October.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How to Roast Garlic and Ways to Use It

*You still have 3 days to enter my $150 Visa Gift Card Giveaway!*
Lets get our roast on, shall we?
I've often heard wonderful things surrounding roasted garlic.
It's sweet.
It's milder than fresh garlic.
It tastes like a buttery spread.
I figured if any of those three things were right, then I would like it.  Garlic and I have always been friends, so why not try making it a different way?

Here is how this whole thing works.
1.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Peel the loose paper ends off the garlic bulb.
3.  Take a sharp knife and cut off the head of the garlic so the bulbs are exposed.
4.  Drizzle the entire bulb with olive oil.
5.  Wrap up in tin foil and bake for 45 minutes.
6.  Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
7.  Gently squeeze the softened bulb, releasing the roasted garlic.
Prevent yourself from eating the entire bulb.  I had to!  Mainly just for the fear of no one coming within a 10 foot pole of me.  {The garlic would be worth it, but I'd get lonely.}

The night I roasted this bulb, all that garlicky goodness went into my killer mashed potatoes {recipe coming!}, but as I stood there in the kitchen I kept imagining all the wonderful things I could do with this.


Slathering on hot oven toasted bread.

Pureeing into a cream sauce for pasta.

Mixing into hearty soups and casseroles.

Heck, even eating it plain!  {I've heard many do this when they feel a cold coming on.}

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Iowa Blogger $150 Visa Gift Card Giveaway

I have a great one for you today my lovely readers!
As many of you know, we have some super duper talented bloggers in the state of Iowa.  Many of which I have met and have become life long friends.  These ladies have a lot of talent, all unique in their own right and I am very excited to bring you this great giveaway.
Think about it as an early holiday gift from me!
We will be choosing one random winner on November 1st, so enter today!  And in the meantime scroll through some of my "favorite things" circulating around the web right now.  If you win, just think of me as your personal shopper.  Buy something for yourself or spend it on a friend.  The point is FREE money.



Enter Here:

Friday, October 24, 2014

Mini Pumpkin Pancake Muffins

The kids and I did NOT dream of a way to use up that last half of can of pumpkin while bored one afternoon and we most certainly did NOT eat all 24 of these mini pancake muffins in one day.
I wish I was telling you the truth.
We did pour over different recipes to use up that can of pumpkin and we did eat ALL of these.  But before I get hate mail of how it is irresponsible to eat a whole pan of muffins in one sitting day, let me tell you these are easily a one bit wonder.
You can stick the whole thing in your mouth!  They are light, airy and delicious and I dare you, just dare you to not eat at least half of the pan.
You call these pancake muffins because they are great dipped in maple syrup and because they taste like a pancake {obviously}.
I think I need to make a batch again this week.  It's been one of those weeks.  In the last three days we've been installing new windows, doors and today....carpet in our living area.  Not all was planned, as we are the 'save for one project at a time' kinda family, but it happened.
Right now I am sinking my toes into that squishy new carpet while trying to not fall asleep at the computer.  Staying at home with three little babes is not for the faint of heart.  I'm tired!
That is why I bake.  It is my stress reliever!
And before we get to this recipe....yes, I am still working on my 2-Week Meal Plan.  I know some of you have asked how it was coming.
Well, it's coming!  That is about all I can say.  When it's finished, tweaked and double checked I'll be sure to share.  Between burping the baby, breaking up fights between and 3 and a 5 year old and construction, it is slowly getting done.  You know...after I type one sentence and start o fall asleep at the computer!
While you are waiting, make these muffins!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza

Today is my 8 year wedding anniversary.  Back in 2006 we were young {24 and 25} and just starting out on this journey.  It seems so long ago, but when you say 8 years that doesn't seem very long at all.  I remember is was cold and rainy ALL day.  Not exactly a beautiful wedding day, but they say rain is luck, right?
Tonight we have plans to have my mom come babysit and for us so we can actually go out to dinner ALONE.  I cannot remember the last time that happened.  Certainly not since baby number three came in May.
And here's a Happy Anniversary shout out to our good friend Mark and Jana as well!  They share our same anniversary and we met them on our honeymoon.  We've stayed in touch ever since!  They came to visit us once here in Iowa and I hope someday we get the chance to go visit them in Detroit.  They have the cutest kids on this planet.  Just sayin'.
So, in honor of our anniversary coming up I made a few yummy meals over the weekend.  One being this pizza.  We love pizza.  Like, really love it.  I've said before I could probably eat it a few times a week.  

When we are out at a good pizza restaurant we will often order Chicago style.  If you are not from the Midwest, this style of pizza is a bit backwards and almost resembles a pie instead of a pizza.  The crust is super thick and the toppings are layered on backwards {cheese, toppings, that order}.

Sometimes one nice large slice will do you in.....not like the typical 2-3 slices a normal person would eat.  It's so thick and hearty a little bit goes a long way!

I made this pizza pie earlier in the day and then set it in the fridge until we baked it off in the oven that night.  It worked just perfect.  You do need to allow about 30+ minutes for it to bake {hello, there is a lot of stuff in there!}, but waiting that 30 minutes is completely worth it.  Be sure to let it set at least 5-10 minutes to cool down a bit before digging in.  Otherwise you will have a sloppy, soupy mess slicing your first piece.

Feel free to add in your own favorite toppings in this one.  We kept it simple with just sausage, but anything works - pepperoni, mushrooms, peppers, onions, olives, whatever!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Mu Shu Chicken Fried "Rice"

*A big thanks for all the heart-warming comments from last week's post. 
If you missed it, you can read it here.*
In an effort to LOSE THIS BABY WEIGHT, I've started incorporating some light, fresh meals into our rotation.
Don't worry, I'm not going to go all "diet-y" on you.  That just isn't me.  I believe in good food.  Here at home I'll just be eating smaller portions and sneaking in a light meal here or there to keep me in check.
Mmm, k?
Now that we got that out of the way, let's talk about this dish.  It's light, refreshing and filling and although it looks a bit complicated it isn't.  It came together so quick!
I told my kids we were having "chicken and rice", which it essentially tastes and looks like.  They bought it!  My son had two bowls.  It makes this mama's heart just go pitter-patter seeing them down a bowl of vegetables for dinner.  It doesn't always happen, but when it does I rejoice {silently of course, because if I drew attention to it, they'd no doubt stop eating it.}

The husband, who gets home in the wee morning hours from work and who is usually scrounging for food at this time, even claimed in the morning that is was really good - yet still light enough that he wasn't stuffed when going to bed.
Much better than the usual chips and salsa he eats in gallons.
And here's the thing.  Use whatever veggies you want in this.  Definitely keep the cabbage in there, but if you don't have carrots, that's fine, use something else.  I thought about using some cauliflower in this, but opted for using up my broccoli instead.  Be creative!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Crock Pot Apple Butter

Fall has officially hit the Midwest.  The last two days have been filled with a cold, wet rain.  About enough to send this mama through the roof at points.  Three kids trapped in a small house is a recipe for disaster.

What has saved us is them "helping" me in the kitchen.  We made this fabulous apple butter, as well as a big batch of tacos and a layered taco dip one night, plus homemade popcorn on the stove {which is always a huge hit}.

The rest of the week is supposed to dry out, and although cool, we should be able to get our hinnies outside to enjoy the changing leaves and crisp weather.

Holy moly is this good on a hot, toasted English muffin.  I meant to make a batch of homemade biscuits, but then my Betty Crocker day went down the wayside and I pulled an English muffin out of the fridge and called it good.
I'm not sure if your kids are like mine, but every day around 3:00 p.m. they NEED a snack.  I'm not sure what it is, because I know they don't really need it.  They will not starve.  But for whatever reason if I don't give them something, that hour before dinner can be a nightmare.
So I give in and give them something.  It usually involves a fruit or vegetable, but yesterday I gave them each a half of an English muffin slathered on this good stuff.  We all agreed it IS going on our oatmeal in the morning.  How great will that be?!
If you have a crock pot and around 15 apples, make this!  It will give you two pints of yummy goodness!  One to keep for yourself and one to give away.