Thursday, January 24, 2013

Accidental Crockpot Creation

I have no idea how this happened, but I'm pretty happy it did.  If you've been following the blog for awhile you know that I'm completely afraid of my crock pot.  I don't know how to use it, the recipes that I've found are usually multi-step, include cream of something, and I'm always afraid that I'll leave for work and burn the house down. 

I was inspired by Hy-Vee's $3 dinner idea for Beef and Vegetable Lo Mein when I logged on to activate my new fuel saver card.  It was yum at first site and I wasn't sure how I was going to pull it off...enter the crock pot.  I knew I had a package of frozen steaks in the freezer that desperately wanted to be eaten, so in the morning I popped them (still frozen) into the crock pot with a garlic clove, half an onion, a little olive oil and a splash of soy sauce.  I turned it on low and hoped for the best (and that our homeowner's policy was current.) 

Over my lunch hour I stopped at Hy-Vee, which is literally my place "where everyone knows your name", waved hello to all the friendly employees that I have come to love, and ran into several friends who were also grocery shopping sans kiddos.  I picked up some fabulous produce, including the organic broccoli and seasonal oranges pictured above, and only broke the rules for four cans of diced tomatoes.  My total was $68.04. 

When I came home from work about 5:30pm we still had a kitchen to speak of and the meat smelled incredible. I quickly washed and chopped up some broccoli, mushrooms, and scallions, heated a pan and coated it with olive oil. I threw in another garlic clove and sauteed the mushrooms and broccoli.  I sliced the meat and put it in nearly last since it was already cooked.  I added a little of the drippings from the crock pot to the pan for extra flavor, and squeezed half an orange for a little citrus note.  Scallions went in just before I put everything on the plate.  While all of this was going on in the pan, I quickly boiled some lo mein noodles (which believe it or not, I had in my cupboard!)

It was a truly fabulous Use-it-Up night!  I still don't totally trust my crock pot, but I might be gaining just a little more confidence in it...

What I Used-Up:
Three frozen steaks
Lo Mein Noodles
1/2 onion
1 orange
1 head of broccoli

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Spring Break 2013

I figure we are about two weeks away from the 2013 barrage of friends' photos from spring break trips from Cancun to Key West.  So I'm really super excited to be the very first among you to post pictures from our thrilling spring break staycation.

This trip was a big deal for our little family as we determined that it was the very first time we all stayed away from home together for more than one night.  So as my little sister packed for her semester-long Italian adventure, her big sister's family hit the road for a thrilling weekend in Beatrice, NE. Leaving after work, we made a stop at Grandma Clara's for pizza and playtime, and then proceeded to roll into the big city around 10pm.  Way past everyone's bedtime. 

Daddy left the next morning bright and early to work cattle, leaving Jett and I to a day of exploration.  First we enjoyed the gourmet breakfast bar at the hotel, where Jett enjoyed watching the pancake machine.  We were upgraded to a room with a view.  Jett's favorite view of a Ford dealership, and just beyond the horizon we could see the shining bright green of a John Deer implement.

After taking in the view and lounging in our suite, we set out to see the sites and found a very big, very orange playground at the YMCA. 

It was a balmy 40 degrees so before long our course was changed indoors where we watched elementary basketball practice.  All that exploration made us hungry again and Jett got to have his very first McDonald's Happy Meal.  Excitement didn't quit as we got to watch a man in a red lift and bucket fix the lights on the golden arches. 

Our morning adventure left us feeling quite exhausted so back to the resort we went for a little siesta.  We woke up just in time to join our cousins at another fun park.  For a little afternoon snack, we visited Dairy Queen where it was about 105 degrees, and if you closed your eyes and used your imagination the Blizzard machine sounded just like the roar of the ocean.

Soon it was time for the main event, the St. Paul Lutheran School carnival.  There were games of all kinds from cake walk to bean-bag toss - our favorite! 

There was even a big fake cow that we got to touch. We happily waved goodbye to everyone and finished our adventure with pizza at a quasi-alfresco cafe on a beautiful deck looking out on the inside of the furniture store in the mall. 

I sincerely hope that I haven't made you too jealous. I wish you lots of sunshine and excitement on your own spring break trips this year!