Monday, January 29, 2018

Crockpot Monday: Cheesecake

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I confess that I was well into adulthood before I liked cheesecake. Even now, it's more of a once in a while thing versus something I want all the time. Since my youngest loves it though and his birthday was just two days ago, I had to share this recipe with all of you!

Ingredients:

Crust:
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tablespoon brown sugar
3 Tablespoon melted butter

Filling:
16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon flour

Directions:

Find a heat-resistant dish that will fit into your crockpot for the cheesecake. You’ll be creating a water bath for this recipe.

In a plastic zipper bag, crush your graham crackers into crumbs with a rolling pin. Put a cup of the crumbs into a medium bowl, and add melted butter and brown sugar. Stir until it's wet and crumby. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the dish you are going to use.

In a separate bowl, cream the cheese, sugar, eggs, flour, cream, and vanilla with a hand-mixer. Pour the cheese mixture on top of the crust. Add 1/2 to 1 cup of water to the bottom of your crockpot. Lower your cheesecake dish inside being careful not to splash any water into it.

Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours. Check after 1 hour, just in case. The cheesecake is done when the edges are no longer shiny and have set. Let the cheesecake sit in the cooling crockpot for an hour, before removing and transferring it to the refrigerator. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours before cutting and serving.

**If you want to mix it up a bit, try different kinds of graham crackers! 

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Friday, January 26, 2018

Book Review: The Book of Joe - The Life, Wit, and (Sometimes Accidental) Wisdom of Joe Biden

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The ultimate guide to America's favorite vice president, filled with all of the key moments, all of the lessons, and none of the malarkey.

The aviators. The Amtrak. The ice cream cones. The memes. Few politicians are as iconic, or as beloved, as Joe Biden. Now, in The Book of Joe, Biden fans will finally have the definitive look at America's favorite vice president--and what he can teach us.

Structured around key moments in Biden's life and career--and filled with Biden-isms like "That's a bunch of malarkey" and "I may be Irish, but I'm not stupid"--this blend of biography, advice, and humor will reveal the experiences that forged Joe Biden, and the lessons we can use in our own lives. Along the way, readers will also encounter fun sidebars on his love of muscle cars, his most endearing gaffes, his bromance with President Obama, and much more.

Yet beneath the memorable Biden-isms, the book will reveal an inspirational story of a man who keeps "getting back up." We need this right now. Much as Biden has come back from both professional missteps and personal heartbreaks, sometimes we all have to get back up and fight. Given Biden's reputation as a decent, plainspoken, patriotic statesman of integrity, this entertaining and practical book will be both a celebration of great political figure and an essential guide to creating the America he believes in so dearly.

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I'm pretty sure that I'm one of the least political people on this planet. It's not that I don't care, it's that I get completely overwhelmed and ....well, this isn't about me, is it? It's about this book and the fact that I am so glad that I followed my instincts and picked it up.

If you've been on social media at all, you've seen the Biden/Obama memes and you've chuckled and perhaps even wished for a friendship like that. It made me curious to know more about our former VP and where he came from. Enter The Book of Joe.

This fantastic biography shares with us the life of Joe Biden. It includes his hardships, his tragedies, and yes, his successes. I can't claim to know the man after reading it, but if he is anything like this book portrays him, I want to know the man. His love of family and his willingness to fight gave me an entirely new respect for a man that I only knew through memes.

So, if like me, you're overwhelmed by politics and especially with what's happening now, take some time and read...well, for lack of a better phrase...of a better time. Read about the man, not just about his politics. It was well worth it and I would recommend this to anyone interested in politics, biographies, or even a bit of self-help.





I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own. Now, I need to go write some of the quotes from this book onto my bathroom mirror.


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Monday, January 22, 2018

Crockpot Monday: Caramel Apples

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I'm not going to lie. I'm a girl who loves desserts..okay, a girl who just loves food. Still, when fall rolls around, caramel apples are an all time favorite. Now, don't worry..I know that it's January but who says we can't enjoy our favorites year round? Not this girl!

Ingredients:

1 bag of Caramel candies.
4 large apples
Nuts/sprinkles
2 Tablespoons water
Popsicle sticks

Directions: 

Unwrap all of the caramel and add them and 2 tablespoons of water to the crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 1 to 2 hours, checking every 20 minutes or so. The caramel is ready when it is shiny and can be stirred easily.

Put the popsicle sticks into the apples by the stems. Use a spoon to ladle the caramel over the apple, and swirl to completely cover the whole thing. Dip into chopped nuts or sprinkles if desired.

Let cool on parchment paper or wax paper. Once cool, try not to eat them all! It's nice to share.


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Friday, January 19, 2018

Book Review: Flurry the Bear and the Throne of Frost (Book #3)

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The land of Mezarim gets hit by a mysterious change in the weather. The temperature drops below freezing. Snow and ice blanket the entire region, and a massive blizzard is on the horizon. The citizens of Ursus fear the worst.

Flurry hopes to relax with his friends, but when his sister and another bear cub go missing, panic ensues among the village. Flurry, Noah, and a wolf named Vallidore embark across the frozen land to find answers and save their friends. Unbeknownst to Flurry, he will come face-to-face with the evil villain known as Jack Frost.

With his polar bear army ready for battle, Jack Frost plans to conquer Flurry’s homeland. Is Flurry outmatched or will he prevail against the most ruthless tyrant his world has ever known?

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Sometimes it takes a second start for a book to click with you and that was the case for me and this book. When I first picked it up, I just couldn't get into it. I felt as if I was missing something. Well, it turns out that I was! When the author gave me his book to review, he didn't tell me that it was the third book in the series! Oops!

Luckily, once you get past the first couple of chapters, you get drawn into the story and the characters quickly become familiar. The story moves at a fast pace, but not so fast that you get left behind. I especially enjoyed that different characters came from different cultures and it showed in the writing. The choice for what kind of critter Jack Frost is surprised me and that's not a bad thing. It was a fun twist for sure.

Since reading this book, I discovered that it's #3 in at least a series of 6. That makes the slight cliffhanger/unanswered questions ending a bit easier to handle. If asked if I would recommend this book, I would say absolutely! It's perfect for the upper elementary/middle school set, but I would get books 1 and 2 to start out with. It's just more fun knowing all of the characters and backstory going in!

With any luck, the author will send me the rest of the series and we can learn about it together!





I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.


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Monday, January 15, 2018

Crockpot Monday: Chicken Tacos

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If you're anything like me, your children have insane schedules and when you add your own into it, it's enough to make you go grey! At least that's the excuse that I'm using. It can't be that I'm getting old...naaahhh.... So, insane schedules call for delicious, easy dinners!

Chicken Tacos:
Ingredients:
Frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Can of tomatoes and chilies (and the juice)
1/3 cup of water
1 cup frozen corn
Can of kidney beans (drained)
Your favorite taco or burrito fixings
Shells or tortillas

Directions:
Add your chicken to the crockpot. Cover chicken with the tomatoes, water, and corn. Cook on low for 7-10 hours, or on high for 5-6. Shred meat with forks and stuff into your favorite shell or tortilla. Top with your favorite toppings and enjoy!





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Monday, January 8, 2018

Crockpot Monday: Cream Cheese Chicken

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Holy crow! My oldest turns 18 this week! I'm not ready for this! Where have the years gone? Yesterday I was visiting him in the NICU and now he's getting ready to graduate and go to college..since I'm going to be all weepy and emotional, how about a nice easy recipe this week?

Cream Cheese Chicken:
Ingredients:

2 cups cream of mushroom soup
3 - 4 pounds chicken breast tenderloins
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon white granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cloves minced garlic
1 block of cream cheese (to add later)


Directions:

Put everything except for the cream cheese into the crockpot.
Cook on low for 6 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through and begins to shred. Shred the chicken with two large forks, and mix in the block of cream cheese. Switch the crock to high and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the cream cheese is fully melted.

Serve over pasta.





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Friday, January 5, 2018

Book Review: Daughters of Arkham

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In Arkham, Massachusetts, the line between the haves and the have-nots is steeped in colonial tradition that stretches back over four hundred years. The Daughters of Arkham, a secret society of wealthy women, stand at the center of it all. On the surface, their power is assured by blood and money. Beneath it, they hold pacts with strange entities beyond the understanding of mortals.

Fourteen-year-old Abigail Thorndike is the scion of the most important family in Arkham. When she becomes mysteriously pregnant, she is outcast, left alone to unravel the secrets of her haunted town. Abby must risk her status, her humanity, and the fate of her unborn child to stand against her family and the rising darkness to defend the very town that shunned her.

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Sometimes you're handed a book and it turns out to be nothing like you were expecting. That's what happened to me with Daughters of Arkham. For some reason, I was expecting something a bit more Batman related. I blame that on the fact that when I think Arkham, I think Arkham Asylum and that I picked this book up from the author at a convention. My brain was firmly in comic mode.

This book is not that. It's a very well written Young Adult horror novel. So well written that as someone who doesn't do a lot in the horror genre couldn't put it down. I was picking it up every opportunity I had. While the main characters may be teenagers, the authors took the time to really develop them so that you form a connection with them as a reader. There is just enough detail in every scene that you can see it in your head and that ending...woo boy...I need to get in touch with them about book 2 soon!





I received a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. All thoughts, comments, and opinions are my own.

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Monday, January 1, 2018

Crockpot Monday: Chicken Pot Pie

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Welcome to a new year! Last year went by so fast! I can't believe it's already 2018. What I can believe is that you should start your new year the way you want to continue it so let's start with something yummy!

Chicken Pot Pie:
Ingredients:
Filling:
2 chopped up skinless chicken thighs or breast halves
1/2 cup chopped carrots (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon onion powder
canned cream-of-something soup (or see homemade alternative down below)
2 Tablespoons low fat milk

Homemade Soup Alternative:
make a roux on the stove top with the butter and flour, then whisk in the other ingredients.

1 Tablespoon butter
3 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup low fat milk
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Biscuit Topping:

2 cups biscuit mix
1/2 Tablespoon white sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
3/4 cup low fat milk

Directions:

Spray crockpot with cooking spray. Chop up the chicken and put it into the crockpot. Dump in the vegetables and all of the spices. Stir in the cream-of-something soup (canned or your homemade version) and add 2T of milk to the can, swish it around and pour into the crockpot. Stir well.

In a mixing bowl, make up the biscuit topping. Spread the dough on top of the chicken and veggie mixture.

Cover and cook on high for 3-5 hours, or on low for 6-7. This is done when the biscuit topping is golden brown, and is hard to the touch in the middle.

If you find that your crockpot seals really well and you have a bunch of condensation building up, you can prop open the lid with a wooden spoon or chopstick.





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