Thursday, January 30, 2014

Slow Cooker "Melt in Your Mouth" Pot Roast

There's nothing quite like sitting down to a hearty, slow cooked dinner at day's end. And, it's even better when that dinner is pot roast with all the trimmings. This recipe has proven to produce thee best pot roast I've ever made. Every component is pure perfection. The meat is juicy and fall-apart tender. The vegetables are cooked just right and are full of flavor. The seasonings are simply spot on and the broth yields a fabulous gravy-like sauce that is divine when poured over everything prior to serving.

We usually have leftovers of this, so we often make hash the following day. The leftover roast is, also, fabulous utilized in a hot roast beef sandwich for lunch.

Yields 4 - 6 servings.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Valentine's Day Printables and Gift Ideas

Love is in the air, friends. I decided to have a bit of creative fun with some Valentine's Day printables and gift ideas. I didn't want to go the traditional route of candy and processed sweets, however, so I came up with some unique DIY ideas that I think you'll adore.


Why not package up either loose leaf tea or specialty tea bags in a creative way for a teacher or co-worker? (This printable would work with hot cocoa or a specialty coffee, too.)

I chose triangle-shaped tea bags and packaged them into mason jars.  I used a burlap topper and some raffia to make it extra-special. (You could even use a clear party gift bag. For an example of putting together gift bags with homemade toppers, feel free to visit my Holiday Hot Cocoa Kit with Homemade Stir Spoons post for inspiration.)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

One Skillet Creamy Pasta

I love when dinner is simple to prepare and scrumptious to devour.  This is one of those dishes that is surprisingly easy, yet really wows the whole family.  The sauce is similar to an alfredo. This recipe uses whole milk instead of heavy cream.  A little bit of cream cheese keeps everything smooth and creamy so you won't miss the heavy cream at all.

Grab a skillet.  Toss in the ingredients and you'll end up with one amazing dish! I added in some chopped fresh spinach and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.  Fresh tomatoes would be fabulous in this, too.  Be sure to use fresh Parmesan ... the pre-packaged shredded kind just doesn't just melt as smoothly.

Yields 4 servings.

Monday, January 20, 2014

My New Gig as a Contributor on Teal & Lime

I'm so excited to share the news that I'll be a contributor on Teal & Lime.  If you've never visited Jackie over at Teal & Lime, you're really missing out on some fabulous DIY home decorating ideas.  The blog is Jackie's online journal of making a house a home.  You'll find tons of inspiration and creative ideas for making your own space a place that truly reflects YOU.

Jackie has chosen nine contributors to each offer monthly posts throughout the upcoming year.  The contributors will each post on different topics and offer quality ideas on various home-centered subjects.  My topic is Kitchen Made Simple.  I'll be sharing a mix of articles on simplifying things around the kitchen, homemade food gifts and printables.

Here is a list of topics that you'll find throughout the upcoming year from the contributors:

  • Sew Your D├ęcor
  • Home Efficiency
  • Design Do's and Don'ts
  • Graphics in the House
  • Carpenter's Secrets
  • Organized with DIY
  • Craft Tips and Tricks
  • Kitchen Made Simple

If you'd like to read an introduction to the new contributors, you can visit Meet 9 of My Favorite People on Teal & Lime.  And, be sure to get to know Jackie while you're on the site.

My first post is scheduled to be "live" this Thursday, January 24th.  Each month, I'll be sharing a small write-up here on Joyously Domestic when my contributor post there is ready.  Also, I'll keep you updated on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, too.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Slow Cooker Coconut Milk Overnight Oats

Oh, man, am I loving on this recipe!

I shared with you my Slow Cooker Overnight Steel Cut Oats recipe back in 2012.  It has the basics you'd expect to find in an oatmeal recipe -  milk, water, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and a little butter.  I've been making it on a regular basis since then.  The family loves it.

But, I decided to try swapping out the regular whole milk for a can of coconut milk recently and scaling down on the list of ingredients.  And, let me just tell you that I could kick myself for not doing so sooner.

The premise of the concept of cooking oatmeal in the slow cooker is that you toss your ingredients in just before heading off to dreamland and wake up to breakfast ready in the morning.  It's genius.  It works so well for our family since all of our wake-up times are staggered throughout a ninety-minute period.   Having a hot breakfast waiting for each of us is awesome.  I just turn the slow cooker down to the warm setting when I wake up, then breakfast stays hot as each person trickles in to chow down.

I have been digging coconut milk these days and have been experimenting with it in different types of recipes.  This one did not disappoint.

I use some organic cane sugar in this recipe, but you could substitute white sugar, brown sugar, honey or agave.  This doesn't come out super sweet, so you'll want to allow for each person to sweeten their bowl as desired.

And, you can go bonkers on the toppings or mix-ins you use - fresh berries (I'd wait to add them after cooking or you'll end up with mushy berries and discolored oats), nuts, seeds, coconut or dried fruit.

Yields 8 servings. (You can refrigerate leftovers for another morning.)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Simple & Quick Baked Chicken Nuggets

Say goodbye to the chicken nuggets that you've come to know at your local fast food joint!  Yes, I know that it is super fast and convenient to speed through the drive thru once and awhile.  But, if you take the time to make chicken nuggets at home, you can rest assured that you are controlling the ingredients, you are spending less money and the best part - they taste so much better.  You can even plan a little in advance to save some time by having your chicken cut up into chunks earlier in the day or the night before.  I even get mine all "breaded" and prepped a few hours prior to dinner, so that the only work I have to do is pop these into the oven.
My kids and Steve go nuts for these.  While they do have a little less breading than traditional nuggets, they don't seem to miss it at all!  And, while I serve these to my children with ketchup (their preferred dipping condiment of choice), I think these rock dipped in honey.  And, I like to serve these up with some homemade baked fries on the side - another wallet-friendly alternative to fast food.

The prep time is only about 10 - 15 minutes, so it's a pretty simple dinner option for a busy weeknight.

Yields about 4 dozen nuggets.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bacon Drippings Scalloped Potatoes and Ham

Bacon grease.

Not the healthiest of topics - especially during the time of year when many are focusing on resolutions of health and wellness.  I apologize.

I grew up with grandmothers who always saved the grease after frying up bacon.  It was like, liquid gold to them.  They used it to flavor green beans later in the week or as the base for country gravy.  My Kentucky-raised granny would buy bacon sometimes just for the purpose of using the leftover drippings that week for a specific dish.

My husband is a bacon fanatic.  Whenever he grocery shops with me, I know it's inevitable that he'll wind up browsing the bacon section and throwing some in the cart.  We have bacon with our weekend breakfasts - thanks to him - a couple of times a month.  I always save the leftover grease.  (Blame it on my upbringing.)

So, when I was working recently on a scalloped potatoes and ham recipe using leftover Christmas ham, I had this insanely crazy idea to toss in a few dollops of our solidified bacon grease.  The idea wasn't so crazy to me at the time - I always top my scalloped potatoes with some pats of real butter.  Butter is fat.  Bacon grease is fat.  But, bacon grease equals tons of flavor.  It all made perfect sense. 

The result was the tastiest scalloped potatoes I've ever had.  I've tested the recipe twice since then and I have simply come to adore it.  The bacon grease not only imparts flavor, but it creates almost a velvety texture when it comes to the "mouth-feel" of the sauce. 

Obviously, this isn't "diet food."  Besides testing for the blog's sake, this isn't something I'd make repeatedly in a short period of time.  But, the next time you're craving classic scalloped potatoes and ham or needing something to take to a potluck, I urge you to give this recipe a whirl.

This makes enough to feed an army.  If you're not serving an army, that's okay.  In my household of five, we make sure we have leftovers of this.  The leftovers may even be better actually.  Just spoon some into a large coffee mug or ceramic bowl the next day, splash in a little milk and heat until bubbly in the microwave.  There is nothing better.  I pinky swear!

Monday, January 06, 2014

Chicken & Vegetable Dumpling Soup

We are in the midst of Winter Storm Ion here in Southern Michigan.  The kids are home from school today (and we've received confirmation of the same for tomorrow) and Steve is home from work.  Our last twenty-four hours have consisted of an insane amount of snow shoveling, driveway plowing, stockpiling wood inside of the house for our wood stove, curling up under blankets watching t.v. in the living room and listening to the wind howl outside of our windows.  We did our grocery shopping three days ago - in preparation for possibly being home bound for several days.

I picked up everything needed to try out this Chicken & Vegetable Dumpling Soup recipe.  We love Chicken and Dumplings in our house.  I wanted to use those same flavors and ingredients, but turn the recipe into a soup. 

I adore this recipe because sour cream is used in the dumplings.  It brings such a wonderful tanginess to the biscuits.  Also, they cook up especially light and fluffy.  Know, however, that these are not your typical, traditional dumplings - they are definitely different in texture.  If you have a dumpling recipe that you prefer, I'm sure you could substitute it for these if you don't like or don't have sour cream on hand. 

This totally warmed our bellies (and souls) today as we endure wind chill temps hovering in the negative twenties.  I used homemade chicken stock, but a good-quality store-bought stock/broth would be fine.  And, this is a great recipe for taking advantage of leftover chicken or even a store-bought rotisserie chicken.