Oct 052016
 

Updated for 2016…

NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words during the month of November. This can seem like a daunting and time-consuming task and when you have work and house to run as well it can seem almost impossible. With some preparation, you can make November run more smoothly.

I’ve looked at a few prep lists for NaNo and noticed that mine was a little different. I decided to share it in hopes it helps someone else. I’m actually posting this in plenty of time this year!

Plan all meals for the month of November. Make sure to keep the next two in mind while making your November menu and consider doing a search for quick meal ideas. You can find what I did last year here: Freezer Meals

If you search Google for printable menus and freezer inventory, you’ll find a plethora of templates that you can print or edit and print to help keep yourself organized. I’m hoping to have some custom printables for next year, but making something like that isn’t really my forte. I might have to enlist some help. wink, wink, nudge, nudge 

Freeze leftovers for easy meals in November. My FoodSaver is one of my best friends all year round, but it’s particularly helpful for stocking up on meals for November. The bags are more compact than plastic containers, so you can fit more in your freezer. Freezing meals in plastic containers makes things handier, but make sure to cover the food with plastic wrap to help deter frost.

Dust off that crock pot. Your crock pot can be a time saver and is for more than just making a roast. There are quite a few crock pot/slow cooker recipes posted to help get you started.  I also have some one skillet/pan and one pot recipes, too. Jumping on the freezer meals bandwagon is helpful, too.

Detail clean the house. I have spring-cleaning and then NaNo cleaning. If the house is freshly detailed, those quick room cleanups go even faster. Besides, a super clean house can make you feel more comfortable with putting things off for a day or two so you have more time to write. 15-minute cleanups can help you feel more comfortable with leaving the deep cleaning until later.

These tips allow for a quick cleaning or maintenace cleaning inbetween more thorough cleanings. Find out how to clean any room in 15 minutes or less.

Source: 15 Minute Cleanups for Every Room of Your Home

Schedule blog posts. If you have a blog, write a few blog posts in October and schedule them to post in November to squeeze out a little more writing time. Unless you’re doing NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) as well. I don’t know if scheduled posts are cheating, but it doesn’t seem sporting to me.

Learn your software. I made the mistake of installing new software to use while in the middle of  NaNo. I spent more time trying to learn the new software than I did writing for several days. I use Scrivener when I write and while it’s pretty intuitive, I’d still hate to walk into it cold at any point during NaNo. I can’t recommend Scrivener highly enough, but I’ll save that for another post. Check it out, though. Just give yourself enough time to learn it if you decide to get it. You can always import your work into Scrivener later and in the last few years, there has been a discount coupon for Scrivener if you complete your 50,000. Doesn’t mean there will be this year, but there could be.

Jot down notes or make an outline. While there are many people who can sit down to a blank screen and just start typing, I’m not always one of them. Faced with a deadline, I feel more comfortable with some kind of direction in mind. Doesn’t mean that my characters don’t wander off script and I wind up with a different story than I planned, but it helps keep me from running into that brick wall called writer’s block.

Do any research needed ahead of time. Frantically researching while trying to finish NaNo can be a word count killer. I didn’t finish more than once because I didn’t get all my research done.

Fill out your calendar with appointments and obligations. Make note of these. What days are you not going to be able to write? If there are five days in November that you cannot see a way to fit writing in for whatever reason, adjust your daily word count accordingly and aim for that.

Let your friends and family know what you’re doing. They might scoff, but knowing ahead of time can ward off an explanation later. Listening to the scoffing while you’re doing NaNo not only takes time away from writing but could also damage your flow with negativity and drama you don’t need.

Make a playlist. A playlist of music that fits your genre or in some way fosters your creativity can help drown distraction and put you in the mood to write. Use headphones for best results. 

I use music I own, Pandora and playlists on YouTube depending on my mood. YouTube less so. I’d be tempted to watch, but there are plenty of audio only playlists, too.

Here’s one of my favorite YouTube playlists when I need some creepy background music. Not audio only, but I hide it behind other windows until I forget there’s video.

For those of you participating this year, write like the wind! I’d love to hear/read how you’re doing so feel free to comment on a post, contact me or drop me an email.  Feel free to add me as a friend on the NaNoWriMo website, too!

Jul 082016
 

Another great recipe for small slow cookers. I’ve found that since I’m only cooking for two now, the small slow cookers are wonderful for training myself to stop cooking for an army. I still love loading up my 6-quart slow cooker and having tons of leftovers for future meals and to freeze, but sometimes it’s nice to just have a small meal with less cleanup.

On occasion, I’ve started to make this recipe only to find that my ketchup has disappeared. Honest, I never remember using the last of it. Undaunted, I replace the ketchup and brown sugar with 1/3 cup of BBQ sauce and it’s just as good.

If you don’t like peppers, you can replace them with any vegetable you think would taste good with ketchup and brown sugar. I’ve tried zucchini and squash, both were pretty good. Fresh, thick sliced tomatoes were wonderful. Green beans and potatoes were my favorite substitutions. If you decide to use potatoes, I suggest sticking them on the bottom with the onions on top of the pork chops.

Slow Cooker Rancher's Pork Chops
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Cook Time
8 hr
Cook Time
8 hr
Ingredients
  1. 2 slices bacon, cooked crispy and crumbled
  2. 2 pork chops
  3. 1 small onion, sliced
  4. 2 green bell peppers, sliced
  5. 1/4 cup ketchup
  6. 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
Instructions
  1. Cook bacon in skillet until crispy. Allow to cool, crumble and refrigerate for later.
  2. Brown pork chops in bacon grease for about a minute on each side.
  3. Place onion slices in bottom of 1.5 quart crock. Might fit in a 1 quart. Works well in a 2 quart. Place pork chops on top of onions then peppers on top of pork chops.
  4. Mix together ketchup and brown sugar, pour over peppers in crock.
  5. Cover and cook for 6-8 hours on low.
  6. Add crumbled bacon before serving.
Notes
  1. Don't like peppers? Omit or replace!
Kryson's Kreations http://krysonskreations.com/
Slow Cooker Ranchers Pork Chops

Jul 012016
 

Spicy, meaty and easy!

We don’t usually eat soup when it’s warm outside, but this soup we eat year round. To cool it down and make it seem less like soup during the summer we add sour cream, avocado slices and sliced green onions.

This also makes a fantastic camping soup because you can use all canned foods, which frees up room in the cooler. Some of the garnishes have to remain cold, but you can pick and choose which garnishes to take or leave them out completely.

Taco Soup
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Ingredients
  1. 1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 can 15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed)
  2. 1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 can 15 ounces pinto beans, drained and rinsed)
  3. 2 medium tomatoes, diced (or 1 can 14.5 ounces diced or petite diced tomatoes, drained)
  4. 1 bag 12 ounces frozen sweet corn (or 1 can 15.25 ounce sweet corn, drained)
  5. 1 pound shredded cooked chicken, BBQ, rotisserie, pan fried or however you like it (or 1 can 12.5 ounce chicken breast, drained)
  6. 1 can 10.75 ounces cream of onion soup
  7. 1 can 10 ounces red enchilada sauce (or 1 can 10 ounces green enchilada sauce)
  8. 2 cups chicken broth (or 1 can 14 ounces chicken broth)
  9. 1/2 taco seasoning recipe (or 1 packet taco seasoning)
Instructions
  1. Stove Top and Camping Directions:
  2. Add all ingredients to a large pot.
  3. Heat until warm (about 20 minutes). Stir occasionally.
  4. Serve with your choice of garnishes.
  5. Slow Cooker Directions:
  6. Mix all ingredients except beans in crock pot.
  7. Cook on low for 3 hours, add beans, stir and cook for another hour.
  8. Serve with your choice of garnishes.
Notes
  1. Garnish suggestions: tortilla chips, shredded cheddar, shredded monterey jack, green onions, red onions, avocado slices, fresh chopped cilantro, ancho or poblano peppers, warmed tortillas, guacamole or whatever you like with your Mexican food.
  2. Love rice? Add a cup of cooked rice before serving for something a little different.
  3. Love pasta? Try frying some Pastina in butter, boil until al dente and add to soup before serving.
  4. Replace chicken with cooked hamburger or shredded cooked steak to make Beef Taco Soup.
Kryson's Kreations http://krysonskreations.com/
Taco Soup

May 132016
 

Slightly smoky and full of flavor, this easy baked beans recipe is great for a small meal or can be doubled, tripled or more to feed a crowd. If you double the recipe, it just fits in a 1.5-quart slow cooker.

Make sure to add extra time to the minimum if you double, triple or quadruple the recipe. The sauce will thicken the longer it cooks.

You can use your favorite BBQ sauce. I use KC Masterpiece because that’s what I usually have on hand.

Slow Cooker Baked Beans
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Ingredients
  1. 1 (16 ounce) can pork and beans, undrained
  2. 1/3 cup brown sugar
  3. 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
  4. 2 teaspoons dry minced onion
  5. 2 sliced crisp cooked bacon, crumbled
  6. 2 Tablespoons ketchup
  7. 2 Tablespoons BBQ sauce
  8. 2-4 drops liquid smoke (optional)
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients to a 1 or 1.5 quart slow cooker.
  2. Stir and cook for 4 to 8 hours.
Notes
  1. Sauce thickens the longer it cooks.
Kryson's Kreations http://krysonskreations.com/
Slow Cooker Baked Beans

May 062016
 

I had a couple boxes of stuffing and wanted to find something to do with them other than just following the box directions. I happened to run across a recipe for crockpot chicken and stuffing, but I didn’t have any chicken. The stuffing was pork flavored, so I decided it was a sign and substituted pork for the chicken.

I’ve made this several times now. Sometimes I only use one can of soup and I’ve even used no soup and twice the sour cream. I don’t always add water or wind up adding it more towards the end depending on how liquidy the mixture is. I don’t like the stuffing too wet or too dry, so I modify it while it cooks, but I don’t always have the chance. If I’m not able to keep an eye on it, I follow the recipe below and it works well.

You can replace the pork loin with 4 chicken breasts, 2-3 pounds of turkey, 2-3 pounds of pork chops or any other meat you like with stuffing. Use your favorite stuffing flavors or make your own.

Slow Cooker Pork and Stuffing
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Cook Time
8 hr
Cook Time
8 hr
Ingredients
  1. 2-3 pounds pork loin
  2. 1 medium onion, diced
  3. 2/3 cup celery, chopped (optional)
  4. 2 (10.5 ounce) cans cream of mushroom, onion or celery soup
  5. 2 boxes of pork stuffing mix
  6. 1 cup sour cream
  7. 1 (12 ounce) bag of frozen green beans or french style green beans
  8. 1/2 cup water
  9. Olive oil spray or Non-stick cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Spray slow cooker with olive oil or cooking spray.
  2. Place pork loin in slow cooker. Add onion and celery.
  3. Pour dry stuffing mix on top of pork and vegetables.
  4. Stir together soup and sour cream. Spread over stuffing mix.
  5. Dump green beans on top.
  6. Add water on top of green beans.
  7. Cook on high for 4 hours or cook on low for about 8 hours.
Notes
  1. Add less water if you like your stuffing dry, more if you like it very moist.
  2. You can shred the pork into the stuffing or slice it and serve the stuffing mixture on the side, as pictured. It's good both ways.
Adapted from Jennifer
Adapted from Jennifer
Kryson's Kreations http://krysonskreations.com/
Pork&Stuffing

Mar 162016
 

Like many households, every St. Patrick’s Day we have our traditional corned beef dinner. It’s one of our favorite meals I’m sure in part because it’s such a rarity. While I have Irish roots, I’m not sure if that’s what started the tradition or if was the sale on corned beef around St. Patrick’s Day. Either way, it’s been a tradition in my family for as long as I can remember and I continued the tradition once I was on my own.

I’ve coupled the meal in the past with grasshoppers (a creamy adult drink), green bread and many different green colored desserts, but corned beef is the only staple. 

Simple, easy and delicious! Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Slow Cooker Corned Beef
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Cook Time
8 hr
Cook Time
8 hr
Ingredients
  1. 3-4 pound corned beef
  2. 1/2 cup water
  3. 3 potatoes, thick sliced
  4. 4 large carrots, thick sliced
  5. 1 medium onion, thick sliced
  6. 1/4 to 1/2 head of cabbage
Instructions
  1. Place corned beef in 5-6 quart slow cooker and cover with water.
  2. If there was a spice packet included with the corned beef, sprinkle over meat.
  3. Arrange potatoes, carrots and onion, in that order, on top of meat.
  4. Place cabbage, 1/4 or 1/2 depending on size and what will fit in your slow cooker, on top. Placing the cabbage on top keeps it out of the liquid and helps keep it from getting too mushy.
  5. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
Notes
  1. Sometimes I use baby carrots instead of thick cut carrots. My local grocery store often has a coupon for a free bag of baby carrots around St. Patrick's Day.
Kryson's Kreations http://krysonskreations.com/
Slow-Cooker-Corned-Beef

Mar 012016
 

In the spring, as a part of spring cleaning, I make and freeze tons of pasta to save on cooling during the summer. I always freeze several bags with 2 cups of macaroni so I can make this recipe. My little 1.5 quart slow cooker doesn’t heat up the kitchen much, so this gets made often when the temperatures soar.

Consider adding crumbled bacon or ham for a yummy main dish.

Serves 2-4 depending on how much you love macaroni and cheese.

Slow Cooker Macaroni and Cheese
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Cook Time
2 hr
Cook Time
2 hr
Ingredients
  1. 2 cups al dente cooked macaroni noodles
  2. 1 Tablespoon butter or margarine, melted (or 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil instead)
  3. 1 cup evaporated milk
  4. 1 cup shredded cheese
  5. 1 Tablespoon minced onion
  6. salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Grease 1.5 quart slow cooker with butter, margarine or olive oil.
  2. In a lidded bowl, toss cooked macaroni with butter, margarine or olive oil.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, stir and pour into slow cooker.
  4. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 hours.* Stir every 30 minutes.
Notes
  1. *Not all slow cookers heat the same. It's a good idea to check it at 2 hours and see if the cheese has completely melted into a creamy, not stringing, sauce. If you overcook it, the cheese starts clumping together forming little cheese balls.
  2. You can use any cheese you like. I use a colby and jack mixture most of the time. I've also used Italian blend, Mexican blend, half cheddar and half provolone, but my favorite was sharp smokey cheddar.
Kryson's Kreations http://krysonskreations.com/
slow-cooker-mac-n-cheese

Nov 052015
 

I mentioned in my Prep for NaNoWriMo post that having freezer meals ready for November is helpful, so I thought I should share what we did this year. My original plan was to keep from cooking tons of dishes and freezing them. I wanted to have crock pot and casserole dishes ready to go with a minimum of pre-cooking. That’s not exactly what happened and it took me more time than I planned. Two days longer than I planned.

I cut down my list several times before we decided on the amount of food we actually wanted to try to stuff in the freezer. I had lots of big ideas and not enough room!

You can’t see everything in the picture, but this is most of it.

freezer-meals

I don’t have all the recipes posted, but I’ll keep editing this post and linking to the recipes as I add them. Gives me plenty of things to post during NaBloPoMo.

The full list of everything we made (the hubby was a huge help):

Slow Cooker Salsa Chili

Slow Cooker El Paso Ham

Corn Bread

Skillet Zucchini

Easy Cheesy Potato Sausage Skillet

Pizza Pasta

Taco Seasoning

Taco Soup

Slow Cooker Green Beans with Bacon

Tater Tot Breakfast Muffins

Breakfast Crescent Quiches

Bread Machine Egg Bread

Granola

30 cups chicken broth
20 cups beef broth
32 cups Slow Cooker Beef Stew
5 cups Spiced Pears (for Overnight Oatmeal)
1 pound Pinto Beans
1 pound Black Beans
Sheppard’s Pie
Slow Cooker Loaded Potato Soup
18 Freezer Burritos
5 pounds Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

I feel like I’m forgetting something…

Oct 192015
 

Yet another family favorite! Sour-Creamed Pot Roast doesn’t last long around our house. Flavorful and creamy it’s a prefect blend of things we love but shouldn’t eat.

I’ve tried adding more vegetables to the recipe, but it’s just never as good so I serve veggies on the side. It pairs well with almost anything, but I usually serve it with Slow Cooker Green Beans with Bacon or Tomato Salad. I haven’t yet posted recipes for the other sides I often choose from.

Slow Cooker Sour-Creamed Pot Roast
Serves 6
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Cook Time
8 hr
Cook Time
8 hr
Ingredients
  1. 4 slices bacon
  2. 3 pound beef chuck roast
  3. 8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms (optional)
  4. 1 cup chopped onion
  5. 1 teaspoon salt
  6. 1 bay leaf
  7. 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  8. 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  9. 1/4 cup water
  10. 1/2 cup sour cream
  11. 3 Tablespoons flour
  12. 2 Tablespoons snipped parsley
  13. 1/2 teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet or substitute browning sauce
  14. cooked egg noodles
Instructions
  1. Cook bacon in skillet or cast iron skillet until crisp. Remove from skillet to a paper towel covered plate to drain.
  2. Cut roast to fit in slow cooker. and brown on all sides in bacon grease. Place roast in slow cooker. Place mushrooms on top of roast.
  3. Stir together onions, salt, bay leaf, cumin, pepper and water. Pour mixture over meat.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
  5. Once cooled, crumble bacon and refrigerate for use later.
  6. Remove roast from slow cooker and discard bay leaf. Skim fat from the broth left in the slow cooker and pour broth into a saucepan. Return the roast to the slow cooker and turn to warm.
  7. Blend sour cream and flour. Stir into hot broth. Cook broth mixture over med-high heat until thickened. Do not boil. Stir in parsley and Kitchen Bouquet or browning substitute. Season gravy to taste.
  8. Serve meat over noodles with gravy and garnish with bacon.
Kryson's Kreations http://krysonskreations.com/
Slow Cooker Sour-Creamed Pot Roast

Sep 252015
 

I love it when pork shoulder goes on sale because I can finally have me some pork stroganoff!

I looked at this recipe many times before I finally made it. I always thought stroganoff was supposed to be made with beef. That’s the way I always made it and wasn’t sure I would like it with pork. Turns out, I liked it better. Especially with smoked pork shoulder.

Another family favorite thanks to trying something a little different.

Slow Cooker Pork Stroganoff
Serves 6
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Cook Time
8 min
Cook Time
8 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, 1 inch cubed
  2. 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  3. 1 cup onion, chopped
  4. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  5. 8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
  6. 1 cup water
  7. 1 Tablespoon instant beef granules or Better Than Bouillon
  8. 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  9. 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  10. 1/2 cup sour cream
  11. 1/4 cup dry white wine
  12. 3 Tablespoons flour
  13. hot egg noodles
Instructions
  1. Brown pork in hot oil on all sides and drain. Add onion and garlic. Cook until tender, then transfer to slow cooker.
  2. Add mushrooms to slow cooker.
  3. Combine water, bouillon, parsley and pepper. Pour over meat and mushroom mixture.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
  5. Turn to high and heat until bubbly (about 10 to 15 minutes).
  6. Mix together the sour cream, wine and flour. Stir into pork mixture and heat until thickened (about 15 minutes).
  7. Serve over noodles.
Kryson's Kreations http://krysonskreations.com/

Slow-Cooker-Pork-Stroganoff

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