Easy Vacation Dinner After a Long Day of Hiking

By: Azure Stilwell

crack-chicken-recipe

This past weekend we took full advantage of the beautiful weather and went on a family mini-vacation to Helen, Georgia. The cabin we stayed in was absolutely beautiful, with breathtaking views of a lake in a little valley. Helen itself was cool but it was the winding back roads and color changing trees that made the trip for us.

During our trip, each family took turns cooking dinner. On my parent’s night my mom made “crack” chicken. This stuff was delicious. We used Hawaiian Sweet Bread Buns, lightly buttered and toasted in the oven as our base for the filling. A nice vinegar salad or coleslaw will balance out the richness of the chicken mixture very well. Below I will post the recipe for “crack” chicken but I also wanted to let you know that I hiked up almost a mile up to Anna Ruby Falls and it was absolutely gorgeous. (Though I nearly died from an asthma attack, the view was so worth the breathlessness). The hike was a not-so-friendly reminder that I have got to get into better shape, but eating “crack” chicken is not the way to that path. Just sayin’. 🙂

Crack Chicken

Ingredients:

  • Chicken breasts (4 or 5) or you can use chicken strips (but maybe change cook time to 4 hours)
  • 16 oz cream cheese
  • 1 packet of ranch seasoning mix (2 if you really like the ranch taste). We used Hidden Valley.

Instructions:

  1. Mix ranch and cream cheese together. Place chicken in crockpot and cover with cream cheese mixture. Set crockpot to low and cook 6 hours. Once this mixture is on, go have fun. Come back and move to step 2.
  2. Fry up 1 pack of bacon and break into tiny pieces (you want it to be kind of crunchy)
  3. Lightly butter and toast your buns of choice.
  4. Shred chicken mixture with two forks, place on toasted sweet bun, top with bacon bits, and enjoy the best chicken sandwich ever.

You’re welcome.

Show Me the Money

 

By: Azure Stilwell

Saving money

Anyone who knows me knows I love a great deal. I enjoy saving money whenever I can, so I rely on a few apps and websites to get me great savings.

Ibotta: An app that allows you to unlock various grocery or retail items by watching short videos, answering a multiple choice question or simply pressing unlock. It only takes a few seconds to unlock each item. Once they are unlocked you simply go grocery shopping, scan the items, and take a picture of your receipt. Money is then added to your account and can be taken out when you reach $20. My favorite ways are regal cinema gift cards and itunes. I have saved hundreds of dollars over the last year and half using this app.

Saving’s Catcher: A Walmart app that allows you to shop at your local Walmart and then upload your receipt. The app/website then compares all local stores (usually 50 to 90) for a better price. If one is found you get the difference back and can add it to a bluebird card that can be used at any Walmart or an e-gift card for Walmart.com. I used my savings from this site to pay for almost all of my son’s Christmas gifts two years ago. I have used it countless times to purchase birthday presents for others.

Saving Star: An app that allows you to upload store cards for automatic savings when an item is purchased. You simply add the available items that you want to your account and then shop. Upload your receipts for places that don’t have a card, like Walmart. With this app I have my funds added to PayPal.  For me this one takes a little longer to earn money because you sometimes have to buy in bulk but it has still been worth it.

Finally, the www.kelloggsfamilyrewards.com site allows me to upload a receipt via my cell phone whenever I purchase a Kellogg’s item. I have gotten tons of iTunes cards, movie tickets to AMC, and free kids books. This is the easiest site for me to use and I rack up lots of points with all of their bonuses.

I hope these resources help you save some money, too!

A Fall Treat

By: Azure Stilwell

pumpkin-muffins

This is my favorite month of the year! I love the cool weather, the festivals, the fair, and Halloween. It’s all about yummy foods and fun.

One of my favorite muffins to make during the Fall is so simple I didn’t think it would actually work when I found the recipe on Pinterest. All you need to make these pumpkin spice muffins is one can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, but real pumpkin) and one box of spice cake mix. You mix both ingredients together, bake, and enjoy. They look like rustic muffins because they come out all lumpy on top, but they taste fantastic. My boys love it when I make cinnamon cream cheese icing to go on top but they taste great with or without the icing. If you want to dress them up then pipe on the icing and top with a candy corn pumpkin. So cute!

To make the muffins:

  • 1 can of Libby Pumpkin
  • 1 box of spice cake mix

Combine ingredients with a large wooden spoon. (Your mixer will thank you for not using it.) Spoon the mixture into greased muffin cups.Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

To make the icing (optional):

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Beat butter and cream cheese with a mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, and then cinnamon and vanilla; mix until smooth.

Tortellini Florentine Soup

By: Azure Stilwell

tortellini-soup

In honor of Fall, I have decided to post one of my favorite soup recipes. Given to us by a friend, we have tweaked it a little to make a lighter version. It has become a Fall staple in our home. You get the same great flavors with less fat and sodium. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 9-oz package refrigerated 3-cheese tortellini
  • 2 14-oz cans reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 10-oz container refrigerated light Alfredo Pasta Sauce (found at Publix or shelved if another store)
  • 2 cups shredded deli-roasted rotisserie chicken (remove skin)
  • 3 cups baby spinach (we like to use a 50/50 Spinach-Kale mix)
  • ½ cup sundried tomatoes (cut in half if you want smaller chunks)
  • 1 oz of grated parmesan cheese (fresh has a more potent flavor so you use less)
  • 1 loaf of crusty Italian Bread

Directions:

  1. In a big pot, cook tortellini according to package directions. Then drain and set aside.
  2. In the same pot, combine broth and alfredo sauce. Stir in chicken and tomato strips. Heat just to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered for 5 minutes.
  3. Add cooked tortellini and spinach to chicken mixture, cook for 1 to 3 minutes to heat through and wilt spinach.
  4. To serve, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and break off a hunk of Italian bread.

Yields 6 servings. Great for freezing so you may want to double recipe.

Weighty Issues

By: Azure Stilwell

One of the issues with Bipolar Disorder and the medications I have to take is that I tend to forget things. I have alarms for everything: to remind me to take my medications, to get my son off of the bus, to wake up, to go to bed, and the list goes on. Yet even with these alarm clockreminders I still manage to miss a thing or two. It is very frustrating. So I always try to keep my posts honest and relevant to my ordinary life, which is why I share things like the following.

I am starting a weight loss journey. I went to see my primary care doctor and she suggested a meal plan and exercise routine, but after 3 weeks I have not been able to keep it going. I need accountability on a regular basis and someone to cheer me on. So I am joining the Livestrong program at my local Y, which gives cancer survivors 24 free classes beginning this month. I am also thinking very hard about re-joining Jenny Craig as I did have success with that program in the past. I became concerned (way overdue) during a recent hospital stay when I actually saw the number on the scale. Let’s just say being breathless all the time makes sense when you are carrying another person around.

I am hoping to find some great recipes that I can share with you. I will keep you posted on my progress. Today: 0 for me and 1 for my food baby. I am now putting an alarm in my phone so I am reminded of my next blog post. I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend. 🙂

Introducing Our New Every Woman Bloggers: Meet Azure Stilwell

AzureMy name is Azure, it’s a color blue. I got it from my hippie parents. I am wife to Jay and a stay-at-home-mom of two boys. My oldest, sweetest, and laid back child, Steven, is going to college in two weeks so I will be very emotional for a while. My youngest and funniest, Jake, is entering fourth grade, and everything with this child is an adventure.

I am excited to begin this journey on the Every Woman blog! I had the pleasure of meeting some of the other winners a few weeks ago at Pitter Platter and I look forward to reading my fellow bloggers’ upcoming posts. I was surprised when I got the email letting me know that I was a winner. I really didn’t expect it – so it was one of the most exciting things that has happened to me lately.

I am diagnosed Bi-polar, and I struggle with my weight, so you will probably read a blog post or two about those topics. I love to eat and travel, and I’m pretty crafty, so I anticipate some words about those topics as well. I recently started my own blog (a work in progress), peckedbychickens.com, as a creative outlet for all of the things I go through in life.