Tasty Tuesday: Slow Cooker Beef Stew

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Slow Cooker Beef Stew

Serves 4-6

4  pounds bottom round, well trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces 
1 cup all-purpose flour 
1/3 cup olive oil (plus more if needed) 
2 large onions, diced (2 cups) 
1 6-ounce can tomato paste 
1 cup dry red wine 
1 pound potatoes, cut into 2-inch pieces (about 4 cups) 
1/2 pound baby carrots (about 2 cups) 
2 cups beef broth 
1 tablespoon kosher salt 
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves 
1 bay leaf 
1 cup frozen peas, thawed 
Coat the beef in the flour. Heat a few tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the meat, a few pieces at a time, adding more oil as necessary. Transfer to a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker.
Add the onions to the skillet and cook over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and coat the onions; transfer to the cooker.Pour the wine into the skillet and scrape up any browned bits; add to the cooker. Stir in the potatoes, carrots, broth, salt, thyme, and bay leaf.Cover and cook on low heat for 7 1/2 hours, or on high for 4 hours. Add the peas and heat through.
I’ve made a lot of different beef stew recipes over the years and this one from Real Simple is now my go to recipe. Not only is this recipe extremely easy, it is delicious! I always make this at least once in the summer when I’m longing for colder weather but it’s always a let down so as soon as the weather started to cool off I planned this for one of our first cool nights of the season. It makes great left overs too!

6 Steps for a Smoother Day

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There are days I feel like I barely keep my head above water. This weekend for instance, I was sick with a cold. I was very lucky to get sick on the weekend so Cary was home to take over, but weekends like this when you are sick, or on vacation, or just having a normal weekend, I never feel like I can get everything done.

Since getting married almost 9 years ago, and then having a baby almost 2 years ago, there are a few things I try to do every day to make my day run smoother, even if it really doesn’t, it always makes me feel better.

1. Make the Bed: It sounds simple but it makes a huge difference. Take 5 minutes every day to make the bed. If you stay home like I do, keep your bedroom door open so every time you walk by you see a bed all made and crisp and clean, it makes you feel better every time. If you work, there is nothing better than to come home to a made bed! Well maybe cooked dinner and a dozen roses, but the made bed does help!
2. Take Time for You: Ok, as women we hear this all the time. Especially as moms. But seriously, even if it’s 2 minutes, take time for yourself. Get a hobby. I personally love to read and get sucked into Netflix shoes. I always like to have a book I’m reading or a show I’m watching so that if I do have 5 minutes to myself I can pick up where I left off. In our days when Hoke didn’t nap I didn’t have the luxury of having 1-2 hours to myself, you may be in this boat too. So here is the thing, LIE! Say you have to go to the bathroom, take your phone and play on Facebook for 5 minutes. Offer to run to the grocery store the second your husband gets home to pickup butter (you can always use more butter). Just take a few minutes for yourself.
3. Put on Lipstick: There are days I don’t have time to shower, wash my hair or even put on a decent outfit. I cannot tell you the difference it makes to put on some bright red lipstick! Don’t look like a clown or anything, but put on something with some color and glance at yourself in the mirror, you will feel better I promise!
4. Menu Plan: Ok, don’t stop reading I’m getting ready to let you in on a little secret. Menu planning helps me tremendously. Yes, it is time consuming, but plan a week at a time and then you don’t have to worry for 7 days. Ok, here is my secret…..PINTEREST! Pin recipes! I only pin things that I can honestly see myself cooking. I have separate boards for pasta, meat, soup, slow cooker and vegetarian recipes. When it comes time to plan (I do mine on Sunday as well as my shopping) I just get on pinterest and open those boards. It takes me 20 minutes tops!
5. Eat: Seriously! Working full time I would wake up in enough time to shower and run out the door, skipping breakfast. I was always starving by 9am, great way to start a day! Now that I stay home it’s even worse! There are days I am so busy that I forget to eat and it’s noon and I can barely stand. Even if it’s a piece of toast, eat something to start your day.
6. Play: This, sadly, is sometimes very hard for me. Sitting and playing with trucks or legos can be boring let’s just be honest. But I have noticed, the days I sit with Hoke for an hour in the morning and play, the rest of the day seems to run smoother. When I say play I mean 100% full attention play. Don’t look at your phone, don’t watch TV, play and give your child your full attention. I have found that Hoke can have 15 new toys in front of him and still scream if I am on the phone while playing with him. But, he can have an empty coffee can and a ball and if I’m paying attention to him he is satisfied for an hour! Act like it’s the best, most coolest thing you have ever done, they will love you for it and it really does help your’s and your child’s day run smoother.

Any tips you have for a smoother day? I would love to know!

Ladies…I Beg You…STOP DOING THIS!

Yes, I’ve ventured way off the 31 day challenge course but I have had this on my mind for a few months and today decided I wanted to get on my soap box and talk a bit about body image.

I read something a few months ago from a woman who was expecting a child, this was after having other children. She was bragging about how quickly she lost her baby weight before and how quickly she planned to lose it this time, needless to say, I no longer read things by this mother. Her words hurt so badly I can’t even begin to tell you. They didn’t just hurt me and my struggle with losing baby weight, they hurt me for all the other mama’s and women in general out there who struggle not only with weight, but their body image as a whole! Not everyone is this blunt, thank the good Lord, but it really made me think and re-think my stand on weight after turning 30 and after having a baby.

I was lucky, I lost a lot of weight in the hospital with Hoke. But I also gained a lot and those last 20 lbs. took me 10 months to get off. Yes I got back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but I also gained a bit back after I cut back nursing and after I turned 31. Not only is the weight thing a struggle but Lord have mercy does my body not look the same. Without getting into details, I’m pretty darn sure no woman’s does after carrying a human in her stomach for 9 months. Some get their bodies back, some don’t. Some do, get pregnant with a second, third, forth and never can get theirs back and ladies IT’S OK!!

I decided I wanted to make a list of things that not only made me feel better but may make others feel better too.

1. Don’t brag about your weight loss because you never know someone else battle: I don’t even mean a battle with losing the weight. As a woman who lost a child, I seriously longed for that weight gain. When I got pregnant with Hoke and had a healthy pregnancy for the first time I did a happy dance when I saw the scale move up, up, up. Maybe not towards the end but in the beginning it was music to my ears. You don’t know someone’s battle. You don’t know that woman who longs to have the weight gain because it means she is growing a baby!

2. You had a BABY! A HUMAN!: You formed a life inside your body. Sit and fathom that for a second, a human being. Your hormones went up, they went down. Your metabolism shot up then plumited. You were starving one second and throwing up the next. Your body was not your own for NINE MONTHS. That’s almost a year! Why in GOD’s name would you think your body would morph right back to bikini model status even 4 months after giving birth. It’s not normal and it is healthy, best of all, It’s ok!

3. Try to look at it from the other perspective: When I read what this woman wrote, needless to say my first feeling was anger. Why would she say this, how does this make other people feel. And then I think I went and weighed myself haha! But I had to think for a second, maybe this is her struggle. Maybe she defines herself by her looks and how other’s perceive her and believe me, I was there a long time ago. So I thought, that was her battle and that maybe this was her way of getting through it. It still made me mad but that made me feel a bit better.

4. You should be with someone who loves and respects the miraculous thing you did: I hope and pray that you have a partner who respects and loves you for the gift of life you bestowed on this world. I hope this person does not look at your new body with disgust but with complete love and awe at the task you yourself took on. I hope this person tells you you are beautiful and special every day. This person may not be your husband, your partner or your child’s father. It may be your best friend, your mother, your father, but I hope you have someone who makes you feel what you deserve to feel.

You are beautiful. At a size 0 or a size 30, you are beautiful. Whether you have had a baby, had 6 babies or none, you are beautiful! You are beautiful not only because you are unique and no one else is like you but you are beautiful because of your heart. Pretty is as pretty does my friends, remember that!

 

10/21: Tasty Tuesday: Arrabiata Sauce

pasta sauce

 

Ok, so I don’t have a recipe this week. We were on vacation this weekend so that means Monday is spaghetti night! I had to share a post on my favorite pasta sauce of all time……Trader Joe’s Arrabiata sauce.

I love this stuff. Can I just tell you how quick this makes dinner?!?!? The sauce has no preservatives, is completely all natural and only like 4 ingredients. It has a little quick, its super thick and delicious, it’s just wonderful! I want to share a few ways we use this amazing stuff.

1. Spaghetti with meat

2. Spaghetti with arrabiata, a bit of cream and frozen peas.

3. Lasagna

4. Sausage pasta bake (so simple, brown some sausage, toss the sauce, stir in some al dente pasta and bake with a bit of cheese on top, perfect!)

5. And the best…..Pizza sauce!! Even with simple toppings this pizza POPS!!

If you are looking for  a quick healthy dinner, that tastes home made, stock up on this stuff!!!

Vacation……from Vacation

Tropical-Vacation

 

Does anyone else know how I feel? We went out of town this weekend, it was my very late birthday present. We went as a family and really enjoyed ourselves but why is it that when we take time for ourselves to enjoy ourselves and just rest it always makes more work and basically the need for another vacation?

I have neglected the blog, the Etsy shop and to be honest, my laundry, all for this weekend trip. I am back though, running on fumes but back and plan to get back to my 31 day challenge this week I promise.

Happy Monday!

10/16: Fall Fashion: Zest Cafe and Home Art

 

After yesterday’s post I had so many uplifting messages to keep things going that I am very excited about today’s post! I was thrilled when Zest Cafe and Home Art started selling my jewelry in their shop. I have loved Zest since I was 10 years old, yes this restaurant is over 20 years old! Not only does Zest have amazing food, the brie and fruit appetizer is out of this world, the little shop attached has the most unique finds!

I love Zest for a fun girls lunch or dinner, you never mind waiting for a table because you can shop! The times I love Zest the most are the holidays like now. I don’t love fall decorations, yes I LOVE fall but I also hate orange, especially with black, so that makes it very difficult to find items that work with my taste. Zest never fails me, I always find at least one thing I can’t live without. And Christmas…..don’t even get me started! But, Zest also has a wonderful back section with all things baby and toddler, I even loved this section before I had a child.

So if you live in Raleigh and you have never tried Zest, or you are traveling there soon please check it out!!!

10/15: #Write31Days so far, My Thoughts

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I’m half way through. The 31 day challenge has been just that…..a challenge. But I also realize that I’m not completely sure I like the direction this challenge has taken me. Sure I’m sharing fun things for fall but I don’t feel like I am connecting with readers like some of the others in the challenge, or that I am being open and honest like I want to be. Long and short, the posts seem empty to me.

So with all that, I’ve decided I’m not sure I want to keep things going the way they have been. I do plan to write every day for the rest of the month and I do plan to have fun fall things but I also have thoughts I’ve been wanting to share that I feel like I haven’t done for the past few weeks.

Would love your feedback, have you enjoyed these posts?

 

10/14: Tasty Tuesday: Sausage and Kale Soup

sausage and kale soup

 

Sausage Kale Soup

Serves: 6-8

2-3 sausage links cut into slices

1 small onion chopped

2 cloves of garlic chopped

1 green pepper

1 red pepper

2 tbsp. tomato paste

1-28 oz. can of diced tomatoes with juice

6 cups chicken broth

1 bung of kale trimmed

salt and pepper to taste

shredded cheese optional

Saute the onion and peppers on medium high heat in a large dutch oven until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and continue to cook for about 2-3 more minutes. Add the chopped sausage and brown for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and mix everything together. Add the chicken broth scraped up all the bits on the bottom of the pot are removed and mixed in. Let this simmer for 20 minutes then add all the kale and mix in. Season with salt and pepper. Once the kale is cooked down it is ready to serve. You can serve with some shredded cheddar cheese as well.

I had all the ingredients ready for a crock pot kale and sausage soup that I forgot was crockpot when I went to start dinner at 3:00 the other night so I made this up as I went along. It was really great! We used a somewhat spicy chicken sausage in ours which gave it that extra kick! Let me know what you think.

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