Slow Cooker Meal Roundup


After our babies were born, meals were one of the most needed, and appreciated gifts we received.  Having multiple infants at home meant providing around the clock care, which left very little time for our own self care.  Simple things like a hot shower or warm cup of coffee became luxuries and having a nice meal together was a rarity.  When someone delivered a meal, we were oh-so gracious.  After our gifted meals were depleted, I was faced with the challenge of putting a decent meal on the table.  Out of necessity, I learned how to cook more than queso in a slow cooker. With a lot of trial and error, I rounded up a handful of our own family’s favorite slow cooker meals, which I typically prep as freezer meals.

To pay it forward, freezer meals are now our go-to gift for families welcoming new babies.  Rather than sending a cooked meal, I add all the raw ingredients into a gallon Ziploc bag and freeze it. Then, when the family is ready to use the meal, they can add it to their slow cooker.  To make a complete meal, I also send a whole grain and steam in bag vegetables.  Everything is packaged in a plastic bag with a label, directions, and use by date (three months after prep).  Before prepping freezer meals as gifts, I always check with the family dietary restrictions and preferences. If you’re looking for some tasty, easy to prep meals for yourself or to gift to others, give our favas a whirl!  The last batch of meals I prepped took me 90 minutes and I ended up with 10 meals (half for our family and half to share).


Chicken Taco Bowls

  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • 1 can Rotel (mild if your family is sensitive to spice)
  • 1 t. minced jar garlic
  • 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • ½ Tbsp cumin
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 t black pepper.

Cook on low 4-6 hours, or high 2-3 hours.  Shred chicken with a fork.  Serve over long grain rice and garnish with shredded cheddar, sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt), and salsa.  Or, make tacos instead!

**This recipe is good for families on dairy free (without garnish) and gluten free diets.

Adapted from Budget Bytes

Curry Chicken



  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 13.5oz can of coconut milk
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 cups of frozen mixed vegetables
  • 14.5oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp minced jarred garlic
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  •  2 tbs. curry powder
  •  1 tsp. salt
  •  1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (adjust heat as needed)

Cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hours.  Serve over basmati rice or with naan.


** I like this recipe for families on dairy or gluten free diets.  You can omit the chicken and add chickpeas for a vegetarian version.

Adapted from from New Leaf Wellness

Orange Chicken

  • 2-4 skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1 cup  orange marmalade
  • 1 cup barbeque sauce
  • 3 tbsp. soy sauce

Cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hours. Serve over steamed brown rice with Asian stir fried vegetables.


Adapted from the Frugal Girls

Creamy Pesto Chicken


  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 3 Tbs. Ranch dressing mix
  • 1 cup water + 1 tsp. Better than Bullion OR 1 cup chicken broth
  • 8 oz. cream cheese cubed
  • 1 small package of frozen broccoli florets (reserved)

Cook on low 4-5 hours or high 2-3 hours.  Shred chicken then add frozen broccoli and cook an additional hour.  Serve over long grain rice pasta.

**Avoid this meal for families with tree nut allergies.  For a lower fat version, substitute 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt for cream cheese.

Adapted from The Picky Palate

White Chicken Chili

  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 2 cans white beans (drained)
  • 1 can mild Rotel
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2-3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hours.  Shred chicken.  Garnish with sour cream, shredded cheese, and green onion.  Serve with cornbread, tortillas, or tortilla chips.

Adapted from Texas Tales 

Italian Chicken

  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • 8 oz. cream cheese cubed
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 1 package of Zesty Italian dressing mix

Cook on low 4-6 hours or high 2-3 hours.  Serve over pasta with a salad or steamed green beans.

Adapted from  Stick a Fork in It.

We are currently in a season of welcoming new babies, but freezer meals also make excellent gifts for families grieving a loss, following a hospitalization or surgery, etc..  A homemade meal is a wonderful gesture to warm a friend’s heart.



For other slow cooker and simple meal ideas, check out my slow cooker meals board and Mom & Kid Approved Meals board (this board consists of meals vetted by fellow moms of multiples) on Pinterest.




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A Feast of Plenty

Typically my parents host Thanksgiving for our family, but this year they had plans to attend the Dallas Cowboy’s game in the afternoon.  To keep from rushing the feast, George and I offered to host.  Hosting a Thanksgiving feast is quite an undertaking, especially when you have big shoes to fill, but I think we delivered.   Prepping things ahead of time helped keep things running smoothly the day of.

The weekend before, Nisey and the kids made votive holders using Dollar Tree hurricane jars, Elmer’s glue, silk and felt leaves, and twine.  I think they turned out perfectly!


For a rustic tablescape,  I used a burlap table runner paired with fall colored place mats and napkins, pumpkins, and wooden chargers with an “S” monogram inherited from my grandmother.  I really love using family heirlooms for special occasions like Thanksgiving.



As hosts, George and I planned to roast the turkey as well as a few other key players while the rest of our meal was delegated to our guests.

Beverages: Apple Pie Moonshine (adults only), Mulled Cider

Appetizers:  Spiced Pumpkin Soup & Jalapeno Cranberry Cheeseball

Main: Roasted Turkey

Sides: Cornbread Dressing, Braised Green Beans, Macaroni Salad, Sweet Potato Casserole, Scalloped Potatoes

Dessert: Pumpkin Pie Bars, Pecan Pie Bars, Chocolate Pie

If you’d like to try one of our menu items, stop by our Thanksgiving Pinterest board for links.

Sydney, clad in her Sofia the First ballgown, volunteered to be my sous chef the day prior.  She was charged with mixing cornbread for the dressing while George roasted pumpkins for the soup. Before bed on Thanksgiving eve, our cranberry sauce was chilling, the components of the dressing were prepped, the turkey was in a brine, and the pumpkin soup was complete.


Since the bird occupied the oven, our soup simmered perfectly in the crock pot in the morning.  By the time our guests arrived, the soup was creamy and warm.


Our den is quite small, but it made for a cozy gathering.  I’m also aware that we may need a few more chairs as Seth was relegated to the kiddy rocking chair.




Between our dining room and kitchen, there was adequate room for twelve adults, but it was a bit tight for the quads.  We moved their child sized table to the kitchen and Rylin set the table for them.  The seemed to enjoy having their own table.



The dogs notoriously prey upon the kid’s dinner plates so we sent them to doggy jail for a bit.


After stuffing our bellies with decadent morsels, the girls cozied up on the sofa to watch the recorded Thanksgiving Day Parade while the boys enjoyed football upstairs.  By the end of the day, I was utterly exhausted, but it was a perfect day spent with family and friends.


Keeping with tradition, we snapped a family photo completed with coordinated wardrobe.  We started with subdued poses, but ended with this silly one.  It’s my favorite shot by far, mostly because it appears that George is yanking my Dad’s hair, but apparently he didn’t touch dad at all.

Silly Thanksgiving Family Photo



Class Party

The last time we enjoyed a play date with the Bell Quads, I mentioned feeling a bit sad that my kids don’t have the opportunity for class holiday parties. I don’t know why, that just seems to be something fun for little kids to do. Noting the fact that between us we have a full capacity Mother’s Day Out class, Amber suggested we have a little class party of our own for Saint Patrick’s Day.  Brilliant!

Originally, Amber intended to hostess this shindig.  However, her crew became extremely ill last month and was under quarantine orders for four weeks!  I started feeling a bit loony after our week-long escapade with a stomach bug so I can only imagine what she experienced.   I invited the Bells to our house in hopes of providing fresh scenery.

Keeping up with the party theme, I dressed everyone in assorted Saint Patrick’s Day attire.  Oddly enough, several of them came from hand me down bins.   Amber and her crew also dressed the part in shades of green.

Amber brought themed plates and party decor while I served a green meal.  For the main course, I wanted to serve a new family favorite (it is a super easy recipe that also happens to be green in color #WINNER).  The recipe originally came from Picky Palate, but my family wasn’t fond of it as is.    After making several tweaks to the recipe, I came up with one my family demolishes.  Seriously, my kids eat 3-4 servings each when I make this meal so I knew Amber’s kids would approve as well.  To make the green menu complete, I served steamed broccoli, a tossed green salad, and key lime yogurt bites.

While I was tossing ingredients together for our class party, I prepped two more batches for freezer meals.  We have several friends with new babies, and I know freezer meals are among the most appreciated gifts for new moms.  In case you want to give this recipe a spin…

While I plated dinner, Amber introduced paint with water books she scored at Target’s One Spot.  It was shockingly quiet as these little artists went to work.  It really resembled a little preschool class.

Paint with Water is a low mess toddler acvity

When dinner was ready, both Amber and I marveled at how big our kids have gotten.  I couldn’t help but reminisce about our first play date that involved doling out several rounds of bottles, assembling four pack ‘n’ plays, and alternating kids through the quad table.  It was A LOT of work in those days.  Now the eight of them can gather around a dinner and feed themselves using utensils.

Green Dinner for St. Patty's Day

Amber’s party plates were really cute, but I really loved them when it was time to clean up after dinner.  I simply tossed eight plates into the garbage instead of washing them.  After dinner, the kids spent time in the playroom before we changed all eight into pajamas.  And, just like “school” all eight gathered on the playroom rug for story time.  It was absolutely precious watching all eight sprawled out or crouched around to listen.

When the bedtime hour approached, the quads bid their buddies farewell with hugs (ADORABLE!).  George and I tucked our four in, and then I helped Amber load her crew into the Suburban.  I’d say it was a “class party” quad play date success!

farewell hugs

Do you celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day?



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Lifespan of a Pumpkin {Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake & Spiced Pumpkin Soup}

This year, my mom charged me with making desserts for Thanksgiving.  My Dad, sister, and I enjoy the tradition of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, but it’s not my mom’s favorite.  In order to make something my mom would like, and preserve tradition, I thought pumpkin pie cheese cake would fit the bill.  I found a recipe for Pumpkin Cheesecake bars, but it wasn’t pie-like enough so I adapted it.

As I made my shopping list, George reminded me that instead of using canned pumpkin, I could roast sugar pumpkins for a more robust flavor.  And, better yet, I could use the sugar pumpkins from the Flower Mound Pumpkin Patch to make fresh pumpkin puree.  I was slightly hesitant since these pumpkins had been on our porch a while.  George gently reminded me that pumpkins sit outside at pumpkin patches all season and are still good to eat as long as the flesh is firm.

Roasting sugar pumpkins is a simple process, but I was thankful George took over and involved the quads.  First, he washed the pumpkins well and peeled the monogramming from them so the paint wouldn’t leech inside.  Next, he cut the pumpkins in half and scooped out insides.  Finally, he laid them face down on a foil lined baking sheet.  They roasted in the oven for an hour at 400 degrees.

he cut the pumpkins in half and scooped out insides.  Finally, he laid them face down on a foil lined baking sheet.  They roasted in the oven for an hour at 450 degrees.

The quads took turns helping to scoop out the insides.

roasting pumpkin

Roast pumpkin face down 400 degrees for an hour

The aroma of roasting pumpkin was delightful!  Once the pumpkins were roasted, we removed the skin and pureed the pumpkin in our food processor.

roasted pie pumpkin

I added about a cup of water to the food processor to smooth the pumpkin.


Once the pumpkin was done, I used it to make my Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake.

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake recipe made with roasted pie pumpkins

To make your own Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake, you’ll need the following:

    • 1 1/2 c. graham crackers crumbs (I used a food processor, and it was about 3/4 sleeve of graham crackers)
    • 1/4 c. granulated sugar
    • 1/4 c. melted butter
    • 4 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
    • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 c. roasted sugar pumpkin puree (1 can of pure pumpkin would also work)
    • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (you can also combine equal parts nutmeg and cinnamon)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a spring form pan, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter then press evenly across the pan.

Using a stand mixer, combine cream cheese, vanilla, eggs, pumpkin puree, and pumpkin pie spice.  Pour filling into the spring form pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for an hour.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool before refrigerating.  Keep in the refrigerator at least 3-4 hours before serving.  Garnish with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice.

I was admittedly a tiny bit nervous about serving a dessert on Thanksgiving that I created and had never tasted before, but felt confident in the ingredients.  It was a winner and enjoyed by everyone, including the quads!  I think it will be on our Thanksgiving menu annually.

Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake

I had quite a bit of pumpkin puree leftover after baking my pie.  I decided to use the remaining puree to make Spiced Pumpkin Soup from a recipe we clipped from a magazine years ago (we’ve had it so long, I don’t know the original source).

spiced pumpkin soup made with roasted pumpkins

You’ll need:

  • 4 tbs. butter
  • 2 minced onions
  • 2 tsp. minced, jarred garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed coriander
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 6 cups pumpkin puree (you can also use three 15 oz. cans of pure pumpkin)
  • 5 c. chicken broth
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar

Melt butter in a stock pot then saute onions until clear.  Add garlic until aromatic then stir in spices.  Cook about another minute.

Add pumpkin and broth, stirring well.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat.  Simmer 10-15 minutes. Slowly add brown sugar, then milk and cream.  Serve with crusty bread.

I’ve been enjoying our spiced pumpkin soup for a few days and have enough to freeze for later.  From the farm to the table, our pumpkins had a quite a lifespan, and I’m happy they didn’t end up in the garbage.

What is your favorite pumpkin recipe?



P.S. Now that Thanksgiving was fully celebrated, the Christmas decor commenced at our house!

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Just Three Ingredients

Now that it’s October, I’ve been willing it to feel like fall more and more each day.  The daylight is getting slimmer, I pulled fall clothes from the attic, my house is decorated for fall, but it seems like a façade given the warm weather.  This week, I had enough of the summer weather and decided to make my favorite fall cookies with the babies. Peanut butter.  I’m not sure why exactly peanut butter makes me think of fall, but it does.  I pulled my family cookbook down, searching for the recipe, but no avail.  I searched online for a recipe and thought I found a good one.  It called for butter, brown sugar, peanut butter, and milk among other things.  It wasn’t long before I realized I poured the last of the milk into Rylin’s sippy cup.  Peanut butter cookie making plans foiled!  Then, I remembered my mom making three ingredient peanut butter cookies.  It seems crazy, but she always made perfect peanut butter cookies so I gave them a try.

To make 2 ½ dozen cookies, mix

1. 2 cups sugar

2. 2 cups peanut butter

3. 2 eggs

Scoop the dough out with a cookie scoop then press with a fork, making a crosswise pattern.

Bake 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees.

After mixing the dough, I scraped the last bits of peanut butter onto four baby spoons so the babies could lick it off.  They are officially Shawvers because they lapped it up!  Next time I'll add a chocolate chip and they will have our official "Peanut Butter" snack.

After mixing the dough, I scraped the last bits of peanut butter onto four baby spoons so the babies could lick it off. They are officially Shawvers because they lapped it up! Next time I’ll add a chocolate chip so they can try our official “Peanut Butter” snack.

I should know by now, but I may never learn.  The babies have a long reach and they can grab most anything on the quad table.  Mason snatched some dough from the cookie on the corner.

I should know by now, but I may never learn. The babies have a long reach and they can grab most anything on the quad table. Mason snatched some dough from the cookie on the corner.

The aroma that spilled from my oven was delightful!  I made these cookies on Tuesday and as of today, there are none left.  What is your favorite fall dessert?



Chicken in a Crock Pot

For years our family mercilessly teased my Aunt Linda about her limited cooking prowess. When my cousins were dating, they often invited their boyfriends over for dinner. The joke would always be “Don’t ask what’s for dinner because it’s chicken in a Crock Pot”. That’s the only thing Linda ever seemed to cook. Being a busy working mom, she managed to get dinner on the table by tossing chicken and some sort of sauce into a crock pot most nights. If they didn’t have chicken in a crock pot, it was most likely take out instead. I don’t recall ever having one of these infamous chicken in a crock pot dinners so I haven’t the foggiest idea how they tasted. I only remember years of barraging remarks from everyone about how Linda only knew how to cook chicken in a Crock Pot.

Before the quads, George and I were foodies. We loved experimenting with new recipes and relished homemade meals. We rarely go out for dinner and can’t tell you what fast food restaurants are near our home. We have a history of inviting people over for dinner only to get them involved in dinner prep. After work, I almost always cooked dinner and if George was off work, he did. (George is actually a better chef than me and taught me a lot about cooking over the years.) Having four babies at home makes it difficult to find the time for exquisite cooking. Sometimes it isn’t even the cooking that is difficult, it is managing to go to the store to buy needed ingredients for a recipe if I found time to choose a recipe. I try to keep our pantry and freezer stocked with versatile staples so we can whip something reasonable on the fly. We bought some freezer meals from Costco, but we miss fresh homemade stuff.

Thanks to Pinterest, I am rethinking Linda’s style of cooking. There are actually tons of recipes for the crock pot besides pot roast. I’ve experimented a bit and found a few keepers. I found a recipe for Crock Pot Chicken Tacos, but realized I was missing half of the ingredients and it wasn’t even a Crock Pot recipe. I improvised with what we had and it turned out great! George loved the tacos so much he had a second helping.

Here’s what I threw in the Crock Pot:

1 can of tomatoes with green chiles

1/2 can of chicken broth

1/2 an envelope of Ranch dressing mix

1 envelope of taco seasoning

4 frozen chicken breasts

I put it on high for an hour then stirred it a bit and flipped the chicken. I left it on high about 2 more hours then shredded the chicken and returned it to the Crock Pot where it simmered on low for 30 more minutes or so until we were ready to eat. We had lettuce, shredded cheese, salsa, and cream cheese for garnish. However, I think it would be great with feta or jack cheese, avocado, lettuce, and tomatoes in a corn tortilla.

Here's what I dumped into the Crock Pot.

Here’s what I dumped into the Crock Pot. I only had half of an envelope of Ranch dressing because we sprinkle it on popcorn, but you could use an whole one.

After a few hours, I shredded the chicken with two forks.

After a few hours, I shredded the chicken with two forks.

We needed some side dishes so I used Rice a Roni and steam in the bag roasted corn.  Voila!

We needed some side dishes so I used Rice a Roni and steam in the bag roasted corn. Voila! Lame, I know, but it worked.

Here are the results!  George added cheese to the rice, but I don't think it was necessary.

Here are the results! George added cheese to the rice, but I don’t think it was necessary.

We had a lot of chicken leftover so I transformed it into chicken tortilla soup the next night. Here’s how I did that:

In a stockpot, I sautéed

1 large onion diced

4 minced garlic cloves

4 corn tortillas cut into strips

and handful of chopped cilantro

a few tablespoons of olive oil

I then dumped the following into the stockpot:

leftover chicken

2 32 oz. boxes of chicken broth

3 cans of tomatoes with diced green chiles

1 tablespoon mild diced jalapenos from a jar

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 bay leaf

a dash of pepper

We garnished the soup with avocado, crushed corn chips, fresh chopped cilantro and Colby Jack cheese. It turned out really well.

In addition to making these two meals, I found the Six Sisters blog at: On it, they have a post about how to make 8 freezer meals for the Crock Pot. They provide a grocery list sorted by area in the store and a list of the recipes. You then dump a bunch of raw ingredients into gallon sized freezer bags. When you are ready to cook them, you thaw 24 hours in advance and cook in the Crock Pot. They claimed the prep work would take an hour, but it took me much closer to two hours. Apparently the six sisters work more efficiently than I do, but there are six of them and only one me. I now have eight Crock Pot meals in my freezer ready to go! In fact, we are trying the first, Country Style Pork Ribs, tomorrow. We are making our traditional New Year’s black eyed peas and corn bread, which I thought would go well with ribs.

Our family has a tradition of eating black eyed peas for good luck. It dates back to the Civil War when the Union troops burned all of the crops in the south. The black eyed pea crops were spared because they were used for animal feed. People living in the south survived the harsh winter by eating black eyed peas! Last year, we made a batch and brought some to our RE prior to my IUI on New Year’s Day. George thought it was a horrible idea, but I wanted to keep our family tradition alive. As it turned out, they were quite lucky for us! We struck the quad jackpot in 2012.

I am signing off for 2012, but don’t worry there is plenty more to come!



Of course, I wouldn’t leave out a baby picture so here you go!

Everyone is wearing their Baby Legs!  The girls are still a bit small for them, but I just love Baby Legs so they are wearing them anyways.

Everyone is wearing their Baby Legs! The girls are still a bit small for them, but I just love Baby Legs so they are wearing them anyways.

We did a little art with the babies using their adorable footpritnts.  We don't have tons of wall space for art, so we bought a frame and stack of canvases. We will make new art for the changing seasons.

We did a little art with the babies using their adorable footprints. We don’t have tons of wall space for art, so we bought a frame and stack of canvases. We will make new art for the changing seasons.