Sunday, January 23, 2011

Slow Cooker BBQ Beans

With the Packer vs. Bears game at 2pm today, I decided to make up my beans in the slow cooker so they'd be done when we got home from church. I did some research on making beans up in the slow cooker and this is what I came up with.
  • 3 cups dry beans (I used 1 cup of each Great Northern, black beans, and red beans)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3/4 cup bbq sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Chipotle Tabasco Sauce
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup onions, chopped
  • 3/4 cup red pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon McCormick's Grillmates Smokehouse Maple seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoons chili powder
  1. Soak beans over night or at least 8 hours. Rinse, and then transfer to a large saucepan. Cover beans completely with water and bring to a boil on the stove. Let boil for 30 minutes.
  2. While beans are boiling, combine all remaining ingredients in your 5-6 qt. slow cooker and turn on high.
  3. Drain beans and add them to the slow cooker. Let cook on high for 6 hours.
I came up with this recipe after looking through 3 different recipes - Sweet & Spicy Barbecue BeansSuper Bowl Barbecue Baked Beans, and Slow Cooker Homemade Beans.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Menu: January 24-February 13

I am planning 3 weeks of meals just to see how it goes. I'm contemplating making up menus in 2-4 week increments so that I am better prepared for grocery shopping, etc.

Week 1: January 24-30
  • Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Spaghetti, side salad, and French bread
  • Man Pleasin' Jambalaya - This is one of my husband's favorite meals and I love it because it doesn't create a bunch of dishes for me to wash:)
  • Chicken Enchiladas Chicken fajitas and fruit salad instead
  • Roast chicken, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, and biscuits
Week 2: January 31-February 6
Week 3: February 7-13
  • Chicken Quesadillas and Mexican Rice
  • Roast pork loin, sweet potatoes, and veggies
  • Pork loin and veggie stir fry over rice
  • Beef Tenderloin, roasted reds, and california medley veggies 
  • Sub Sandwiches (homemade French bread is great for subs)
If you would like some more inspiration, check out the master list (I know it's still not completely finished).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Menu: January 17-23

I'm having a hard time deciding on meals for this week. In fact, I've had a hard time coming up with meal ideas quite a bit lately. Hmmm... My freezer is very full right now as far as proteins go so I may attempt to create a menu that lasts more than just a week at some point in the near future. Anyway, here is the start of this week's menu.
  • Beef Stroganoff, veggies, and maybe some dinner rolls.
  • Creamy Chicken Wild Rice soup and Parmesan Herb Bread
  • Beef and Bean Chimichangas and Guacamole 
  • Chicken Alfredo Supreme Pizza
    CHANGE: It ended up being just me and the girls so Miss E and I made her favorite Fluffy Pancakes and fresh fruit for dinner. I did make one change to the recipe in that I used coconut oil instead of butter.
  • Grilled meats (haven't decided whether to do brats, steaks, pork or chicken), BBQ Beans, and I'm still trying to come up with another side dish, maybe a veggie tray? We're having a bunch of friends over after church for the game so I was trying to come up with some good game day foods that I can prep ahead of time.
If you don't feel like waiting around for me to finish my menu, here is the master list (I know it's still not completely finished) for more ideas.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Mr. R's Slow Cooker Beef Roast

Mr. R. has not been napping well since the week before he turned "4". Today he decided that he wanted to make dinner and he wanted it to be roast beef. I pulled all of the seasonings out of the cupboard that go well with beef and let Mr. R. pick what he wanted to add (and to some degree, how much to add). This is what he came up with and it was pretty good.
  • 2-3 pound boneless beef roast
  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons Chipotle Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon sage
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 water
  1. Combine all but roast, cornstarch, and water. Rub mixture all over roast and place in slow cooker; cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  2. Remove roast from slow cooker. Whisk cornstarch and water, add to drippings. Set on high.
  3. Let roast sit for 10 minutes. Slice into 1/4" pieces. Spoon sauce over slices and serve.

Church Valentine Banquets

This year will be year number six that the hubby and I have been planning our church's Valentine Sweetheart Banquet. In that time we've done almost every game imaginable. Being I am knee deep in planning for this year's banquet, I thought that I'd share a few things I've learned or done. I should note here that we only invite married and engaged couples attend.

Location - In the years that we've organized the banquet, we have never held the banquet on our church property. I know that this is more expensive for the couples attending, but it is also less work. Our church does not have a fellowship hall or any other room that is a large enough in size AND aesthetically appealing. We have an old gymnasium that takes a LOT of work to transform it into something even remotely romantic. This will not work for everyone, it is just what our church does. We do charge $45 per couple and usually still have 30-40 couples attend.

Program - We usually have 3-5 games throughout the evening, sing a couple of songs as a group, and have some special music. We also get a special speaker and have a big prize drawing at the end. The hubby is and always has a been quite the entertainer (he'd thought of going into comedy before God called him into the ministry).

Games - We've done several different games in the past and try to do completely new ones each year. Although, we may end up reusing a few of the old ones this year as we are getting low on game ideas. Please comment if you know of another game or two that you or your church has done.
  • Love Bingo - Use the conversation hearts candies as markers. We usually play a few rounds and have small prizes for each winning couple.
  • Candy Count - We've done this every year except our first. Place a giant jar of candy hearts (kisses, m&m's, etc.) at the entrance to the party room. As each guest walks in, hand them a slip of paper and encourage them to write down their name and the number of hearts they guess might be inside the jar. Toward the end of the evening, announce the name of the one who guessed the closest amount and give him the candy as a prize.
  • Newlywed Game - Pick 4 or 5 couples. Have the wives sit on one side of the room and the husbands on the other side. Ask each group a different question about their spouse. Then have the other group write down the correct answer.
  • The Most Romantic Husband - We had each of the wives at the banquet fill out a questionnaire about how romantic their husband was (here is a copy of it). Each question had to be answered by a number. The wives then added up the numbers to get a total. Then the 4 husbands who scored the most "points" were given a love poem. The husbands had to read this poem to their wife as romantically as they could. The crowd then voted on which husband did the best job. Many of the "shyer" husbands scored higher romance points and had to read poems to their wives.
  • Love Songs - have each table pick one husband to participate in this game. Give each husband a kazoo and have them play "Jesus Loves Me". The crowd decides who does the best job.
  • Verse of Love Match - make up a list of verse and have guests try to guess what the reference is. They get one point for book, 1 for chapter, and 1 for verse. 
  • Proposal - each table picks a couple, then the wife sits in a chair while the husband gets down on one knee. The husband must then "propose" to his wife all over again. The crowd picks their favorite proposal. 
  • Pudding Head - Each table picks one couple to participate in this game. The couple is then blind folded. The wife has to feed a pudding cup to her husband. The other couples at the table can help by telling the wife to move her hand up, down, left, or right. The first couple to finish the pudding is the winner. Bibs are a must for this game. :o)
  • Love Trivia - Make up a list of questions about Love, Valentine's Day, Marriage, etc. and have the couples try to answer them correctly.
  • Will You Be My Valentine? - The hubby came up with this idea last year as a starter game. We put card making stuff at each table (crayons, markers, scissors, constructions paper and completely blank cards and envelopes). As the guests arrived, the husbands were told to make their wives a valentine. They had till the end of the dinner portion of the evening to finish. Then all of the guests voted on which Valentine was the best. It was really fun and everyone enjoyed it (at least they seemed to).
  • How Well Do You Know Your Wife - This is a variation on the Newlywed Game. Most of the paid staff at our church attends the Valentine banquet each year so one year we played a game involving only those on staff. A few weeks before the banquet we gave the wives of 3 staff members a questionnaire about themselves (15-20 questions about their favorite food, favorite Bible verse, etc.). The night of the banquet we had the different husbands sit and answer the questions from the questionnaire. It was lots of fun to see how many of the questions that the husbands actually got wrong.
  • Baby Picture Match - A month or so before the banquet collect baby pictures of different couples at church. Then print copies of the photos (in either black and white or sepia to keep them uniform). Put together a poster or display board with the different pictures giving each a number. On the game sheet put the couples names like this:
    • Husband _____ & Wife _____ Last Name
      Then tell those playing the game to match the numbered baby pictures with the corresponding husband or wife. I like to have pictures for 12-18 different couples (24-36 pictures total). Couples get 1 point for each correct match (24-36 possible points). 
  • Engagement Stories - A month or so before the banquet talk to 12-18 different couples and get some info on how they got engaged. Ask them to answer 5 different question about their engagement: where, when, how, how long had they been dating, and wife's maiden name. We then wrote up a short story of each couple's engagement. At the banquet, each team (couple) had to try to guess which couple went with which engagement story. We had a list of the couples and numbered the stories for matching purposes.
  • Candy Necklace - I know it's an odd name for a game. Have each wife here a candy necklace around her neck and the husband has to eat the candies off the necklace without using his hands (this may not work if your group is on the "stiff" side).
  • Pickup Lines from Song of Solomon - pick some outlandish verses from Song of Solomon (i.e. SS 4:1b, "...thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead." keep the choices G-rated), give one to each husband. The husband has to come up ith some sort of pickup line to use on his wife based on the verse. Each table picks a winner and then the winners from each table read their lines to the audience and they vote on a winner. Here's the winning line from this year's banquet,
    Verse: SS 7:4a, "Thy neck is as a tower of ivory;"
    Pickup Line: "Your neck is fair and slender like an ivory tower, and I want to climb it."
  • What would you do for your wife's affection, would you...? - Each husband picks a number out of a hat, which corresponds to an activity (see the list below for ideas). The husband must then complete the activity for a prize.
    • Whistle at your wife after eating crackers
    • While blindfolded, identify your wife
    • Change a “stinky” diaper in 30 seconds (plastic baby doll + chocolate pudding filled diapers)
    • Burp “I Love You” to your wife 
    • True or False Question (must verify with the wife) 
    • What style cut is the stone on your wife’s ring? 
    • Where did you and your wife go on your first date? 
    • Where would your wife say that you went on your first date? 
    • In 30 seconds, name 10 things your wife keeps in her purse.
  • Wedding Picture Match - This game is much like the Baby Picture Match game except you get wedding pictures from 12-18 different couple (make sure the copies are in black & white or sepia). Then for the game have people match the wedding picture with the couple AND guess the correct month and year, like this:
    • ______ Husband & Wife Last Name - when _______ (month) ________ (year)
      The teams (couples) get 1 point for each part of the question that they get right (1 for correct picture, 1 for correct month, 1 for correct year).
Here are a couple of other game ideas that we haven't used before but I've found while looking for new ideas.
Prizes (for the games) - I put together inexpensive gift baskets for the different game prizes (yes, I do use double coupon days to get much of the filler items). We try to have 2-3 prizes for each game. Here are a few of the different baskets that I've done:
  • Breakfast Basket - pancake mix along with syrup or muffin mix, coffee packet, mugs, hot chocolate packets, and tea.
  • Romance Basket - sparkling juice, candles, chocolates, goblets, love poem book or something similar.
  • Movie Night Basket - microwave popcorn, candy boxes, root beer, and root beer mugs.
  • Game Night Basket - some small games like Uno, Skip-Bo, Boggle, etc., small bags of chips, candies, etc., and tumblers.
Favors - We want everyone who attends to go away with some type of prize so we've tried to include favors each year. Most years we just do little candy bags at each place but last year we got fresh cut roses for the centerpieces and then let the wives each take one home with them. This year I'm trying to come up with something different. Any ideas?

Prize Drawing - 5-8 weeks before our banquet we start contacting local businesses about donating items for our prize drawing. We offer them advertising in return and place a "Thank You" page in our program with the names and addresses of the different donors. We also encourage those attending to stop in and thank the different businesses. We usually end up with around 10 different prizes ranging from free Culvers ice cream to a nice hotel room.

Menu - Being we've always had the banquet at a restaurant or banquet facility, I've never had to make up a menu from scratch. One thing we try to do is stick to a chicken entrée and then a beef or fish option. Also, when picking a veggies we usually go with a California medley veggie as most people like at least one of the veggies in the blend.

Decorations - Usually the only decorating we do is centerpieces for the tables. One year I was able to get roses for $10 a dozen from Walmart the day before the banquet so we put 4 roses in a bud vase and then let the ladies each take one home. We've done little glass bowls with floating candles and glass beads sitting on top of mirrored tiles.
I've also taken cylindrical vases; filled them with the glass "rocks", valentine party wire, water and floating candles; and placed them over mirrored tiles.
One year, I was able to get a bunch of terracotta pots for free from a nearby florist. I then painted them dark brown, sponged them in a bronze metallic paint, and filled them with fake flowers (that I got for 75% off a few weeks after Christmas at Walmart) and large pillar candles (50% during a Hobby Lobby sale). Everyone thought that I had purchased them. 

This past year (2012), I was able to dress up some simple clear glass vases with ribbon and a flower. The vases had decorative glass stones and pillar candles in them. I added some 2.5" brown burlap ribbon and then secured the ribbon with a floral/feather hair clip.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Menu: January 10-16

I have been battling a head cold for almost a week now so I'm doing simple foods this week. We are also busy with church stuff this week.
  • Monday we have a calendar planning meeting for church and dinner will be provided so now cooking for me.
  • Tuesday I will be making a Tex-Mex Taco Casserole (black beans, Mexican rice, chopped tomatoes or salsa, black olives, ground turkey, cheese, onions, sour cream) from some of the leftover taco fixings. I will try to get a recipe posted before tomorrow but we shall see how the day goes.
  • Wednesday will most likely be spent at my MIL and FIL's house. I very much enjoy eating dinner there. :o)
  • Thursday we will be having pork loin (check out all the different options), mashed potatoes, and veggies. CHANGE: Mr. R has not been napping as well since turning the big "4" so he asked if he could "make" supper. He told me that he wanted to make Roast Beef, Carrots, and Potatoes along with some biscuit muffins. He helped me prep the ingredients for the roast and then I put everything in the crockpot. I have a package of steam-in-a-bag potatoes so he's going to make them up. Then we'll do up some carrots on the stove. 
  • Friday we have the annual Worker's Appreciation Banquet at church.
  • Saturday is the Packer vs. Falcons game so I'd like to make something a little more "game friendly". I may make up some venison brats, grilled potatoes, and grilled/sauted veggies (onions, peppers, zucchini, summer squash, and carrots in olive oil and garlic).
  • Sunday I have decided to go with some chili in the crockpot and homemade bread or rolls (may even make up a triple batch and freeze some for later). I will just have to save the turkey, sweet potatoes, corn and fresh bread for next week. 
Here is the Master List if you need a few other ideas for dinner this week.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Menu: January 3-9

This is going to be another busy week getting back into the normal routine after all the time off over the holidays. Trying to keep the menu simple.