Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Crockpot Orange Shredded Beef with Riced Cauliflower

I'm a fan of crockpot recipes.  I LOVE preparing food in the morning and having it ready in the evening after filling my home with delicious aromas.  So when my BFF shared a recipe that she made that was tasty and cooks in the crockpot I had to make it!  Her recipe was from newleafwellness but I made a few changes to fit my family's needs.

The riced cauliflower was an addition for the beef to either go over or as a side dish.  Now I am a cauliflower fan and my family is absolutely not.  I've tried so many different ways to serve it so that they'll happily eat it and unfortunately this one was not successful.  They ate it but complained.  I however loved it, especially with some salt and a dab of butter.  Next time I make the Orange Shredded Beef recipe I will serve it over my Brasilian Rice instead.

I found the leftovers for this recipe even better than the first day by the way!

Crockpot Orange Shredded Beef
1.75 - 2 pounds of beef (roast)
1/2 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed it is about 1 orange worth)
1 Tbsp orange zest
4 Tbsp apple cider vinegar 
2 Tbsp soy sauce
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 inch ginger root, peeled and grated (about 2 Tbsp)

1. In a medium bowl add orange juice, zest, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and ginger.  Stir to combine.
2. Place beef roast (preferably frozen) in your crockpot and pour the sauce over it.
3. Set on Low for 8 hrs.
4. When fully cooked shred beef with a fork and spoon sauce over the meat to fully combine.
5. Serve over rice, or riced cauliflower (see recipe below).

Note: Check your crockpot an hour or so before finishing to make sure it still has enough liquid.  If it's looking dry add some water.  I didn't need to do this but my BFF did.

Riced Cauliflower
1 onion, chopped
1 head of cauliflower, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, diced
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Wash and roughly chop 1 head of cauliflower (I used a medium head and had enough for 6 people!).
2. "Rice" in small batches by putting through a food processor (or blender).  Took 4 batches to complete mine (and I think I made it too small).
3. In a medium to large pan heat olive oil and saute onion until translucent.  Add garlic and saute for 1 more minute.
4. Add cauliflower and 1 cup of water.  Cover and cook for 6-10 minutes or until heated through (and the water absorbed, like rice!).
5. Serve warm with salt and pepper (and butter) to taste.

Remember the leftovers taste even better!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Fisher Price Friday - Car and Boat Set

I've got another early Fisher Price set for you, the Car and Boat #685 made between 1968-1969.  It is very similar to the Car and Camper #686 made during the same years.  Those two sets had shared pieces including the trailer, boat and little people.  Only the boat was exclusive.  

The car variations were used for a variety of original sets including the original #952 Play Family House and the #718 Tow Truck and Car.

The Car and Boat set had five pieces; trailer, car, boat, boy and a dog.

The blue and white boat looks very similar to another FP boat so I pictured them side-by-side to show the size differences.

The smaller boat is from the #932 Amusement Park set, the larger for this Car and Boat set. 

There were variations to this set in the cars, trailer colors, boat colors and even the boys.

There were three variations of yellow boys, they had either white, red or blue hats (the blue hat boy is shown in my Car and Camper entry).  In my experience the white hat boys are more difficult to find.  There were three dog variations; red, white or blue dotted collars.  All the figures had straight sides and were smaller than the FP figures to come later.

All of the dog variations were used for a variety of other early Fisher Price sets as well including the #192 School Bus (red collar) and the #952 House (white collar).  Of course these were only for early editions of those sets, as later the figures chunked up like the other little people.

The boats have two holes in the bottom that match up with the trailers pegs which prevent the boats from slipping off while moving.  There are also red/white boats which are more difficult to find that the blue/white combination.

There were four color combinations of cars as shown above.  

Some cars variations had metal rivets.

Whew, that was quite a bit of information for such a tiny little set!  If you'd like to see more car and trailer sets check out:

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Backyard Playhouse

February and March in Phoenix are one of the main reasons we live here!  It's sunny and warm'ish (70-80's), perfect for playing outside.  Before we know it the hot hot 100+ degree weather will return so we're enjoying the outside while we can.

The girls even planted a few seeds and are eagerly watching for growth every day.

My girls favorite backyard activity is our playhouse.  As they age the play outside is moving from digging in the dirt to more elaborate restaurant themed play.  For example lately they've had their own "Zupa's Restaurant".  An interesting choice since we've only eaten at the actual restaurant once or twice!

All set up!

Sweet girls enjoying their playhouse.  BTW, when I told my oldest (age 8) that we'd eventually get rid of the playhouse when they outgrew it she replied vientimently that it would never happen.  That she would always want to play in it.

Oh that they would stay young!

The Playhouse:

Friday, March 18, 2016

Fisher Price Friday - I'd Like to Teach the World To Sing

In honor of St Patrick's Day yesterday I thought I'd share a green toy for Fisher Price Friday. :)  It's the Pocket Radio Music Box I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing #766 made between 1977-1978.

Although I did not have this toy as a child it was from my time (made the year I was born) and the song brings back many memories.  I recall singing this very song in a Community Theater production with a bunch of other kids in middle school.  Ah memories.

The music box has a green plastic front and the wooden back is covered with mostly yellow lithographs.  It is held with a white and red vinyl strap.

The left side of the box has pictures of flowers, a tool box (with handsaw), a bumble bee and a bright sun. The right side shows a beehive on a bench (handy) and a few bees buzzing around.

The pictures that scroll across the screen as the music plays include a pink house that has the sign "Love" on it having the roof repaired, a happy earth, children singing, the beehive with a bee keeper, another happy singing earth being kissed by white doves (I kid you not) and also the words "I'd like to teach the world to sing".

It's a very hippy, earth-hugging kind of toy!

I'd like to build the world a home
and furnish it with love,
Grow apple trees
and honey bees
and snow white turtle doves.

(Although I won't blame you if you sing in your head: "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, I'd like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company. That's the real thing." when you hear the music).

For More Music Boxes Check Out:

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Happy St Patricks Day

Hope you have a happy and pinch-free St Patrick's Day!
(note: my sweet 8 year old set up the FPLP scene for me this year)

Monday, March 14, 2016

3 Drinks for the Price of 1 at Starbucks :)

I am a fan of Starbucks and thanks to my many drinks a week I have "earned" a Starbucks Gold card through March 2018.  Ah-hem.  Anyway, a lovely perk of being a Gold Card member is FREE REFILLS (works for the lower Green level too).  Did you know this and more importantly do you take advantage of it?

I've sort-of-known about this perk but didn't take advantage of it fully until recently.  Here's what I'm talking about.  For the low low price of $2.93 I got not one, but three Grande drinks!  It was such a great deal I did it three times in the last week. 

Drink #1 - A "Misto" my go-to favorite winter drink.  It's basically a cafe au lait, 1/2 brewed coffee (I get the dark blend) and 1/2 steamed milk.  I ask for extra foam and 2 sugar in the raws (for a grande) and a "to-stay" cup whenever possible.  Because it's much better to drink out of a cup and the other customers give you inquisitive and somewhat envious looks.  This drink cost me $2.93 including tax.

Drink #2 - My first refill, a dark brew coffee (still grande) and I add 1/2 and 1/2 and sugar packets.  It rings up as $.50 but when you use your Gold (or Green) Card it zeros out.  Cost = FREE!

Drink #3 - After reading, chatting with friends or just chilling for a couple hours I'm ready to actually leave Starbucks so I ask for my next refill to go.  A (grande again) 2 pump peach green iced tea, easy ice.  Cost = FREE

How great is that?  The free refills FYI include: iced tea (not w/lemonade), iced coffee, hot coffee and hot tea.  No matter what drink you get first (even a frappuccino!!) you can get refills of coffee/tea for free with the Gold (or Green) Card.

If hanging out in a coffee shop for a few hours isn't in your schedule you can also get the refills while you do errands.  A few of my local grocery stores (including Target!!) have Starbucks inside.  I get an iced coffee when entering the grocery store and a refill as I'm leaving.  Two drinks for the price of one ($2.75 for a Grande Vanilla Iced Coffee).

So go caffeinate up before they change this reward!! 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Fisher Price Friday - Car and Camper Set

I've got a set that's before my time but well loved here with my littles.  It's the Play Family Car & Camper #686 made between 1968-1970.  The set is tiny and was only made for 3 years but is oh-so-cute!

The set had five pieces including a camper, trailer, car, boy and his trusty dog Lucky.  It had quite a few variations besides the one shown above including different colored cars, trailers, dog collars and even the boy's hat!

The camper is solid wood with lithographs on each side.  The top has a hole just perfect for the dog (or boy) to ride in.

The right side of the camper has the door, lamp and a window that shows a huge salad bowl inside the camper.  Interesting choice!

The left side of the camper has a larger window and this time it's a huge bouquet showing with flowers flying outside the window.

The camper has two holes that fit perfectly over the trailer.  The trailer is plastic with plastic wheels and matching colored axles.  The trailer could be white or red.

The car is plastic with matching plastic axles unlike the later Garage cars that had metal rivets.  The car has a trailer hook in a "C" broken shape and no gas hole.  It came in a red top/white bottom version too.  There were many other small variations for the experts things like metal rivets on the bottom, Fisher Price on the tires, etc.  

The little set had two wooden little people figures.  They both have straight sides unlike the later larger/curvy FPLP to come.  The dog could have a blue, red or white collar all with "dots" rather than lines.  The boy was always yellow but could have a red, white or blue hat.  The red hat version also came with the #685 Car and Boat set as did the blue collar dog.

Happy Camping!

For more (much larger) camping sets check out:

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Lemon and Raspberry Sour Cream Pie

It's that time of year where there are people regularly offering fresh lemons (and other citrus) for free.  Just this last couple of weeks I've brought home a couple dozen lovely homegrown lemons thanks to friends!  Since there is only so much lemon I can use in my regular cooking I searched out recipes (ah-hem desserts) that are lemon flavored.

This recipe passed the Pinterest test and it's a winner!  So if you're up to your eyeballs in lemons at your house too don't just make lemonade, make pie!

Lemon and Raspberry Sour Cream Pie

1 8″ pre-baked pie shell
3 lemons, zested & juiced (1 Tbsp. zest + 1/2 cup juice)
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup granulated sugar
3 egg yolks
1 cup milk (I used whole)
1/2 stick butter, cubed
1 cup sour cream
whipped cream, to garnish
fresh raspberries (or jam) to garnish

1. Pre-bake your pie crust (homemade or store-bought, I found a tasty and organic pre-baked pie crust at my Fry's Grocery) and let it cool completely.
2. In a medium size saucepan, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, cornstarch, sugar, egg yolks and milk. Cook over medium-low heat until thick, whisking frequently.
3. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter. Allow the custard to cool completely.
4. Once cooled, whisk in the sour cream. Pour into your pre-baked pie crust and refrigerate at least two hours.
To serve, slice and top with raspberries (or a layer of jam) and whipped cream.

Serves 8 (or 4, you know, depending on how much you LOVE pie!).  Remember to keep it refrigerated.

For more lemon recipes check out:

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Delicious Baked Sour Cream Donuts

I've got a new baked donut recipe to share!  Evidently I only make donuts when we have play dates because I haven't made them since the last time we had friends over.  I liked our last Cinnamon Sugar Donut recipe but thought I'd try a different one this time.

I LOVE making donuts for play dates since they are easy and a super fun snack with kids.  The weather has been amazing here lately (ah Arizona winters) so we ate them outside while the kids played.

Sour Cream Donuts

1 cup all-purpose flour 
1/2 tsp baking soda 
1/4 tsp salt 
Pinch of nutmeg 
1/2 cup sour cream 
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for coating the doughnuts 
1/4 cup coconut oil 
1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
1 large egg 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare donut pan by greasing it with coconut oil.  In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and pinch of nutmeg. Set the dry ingredients aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sour cream, granulated sugar, coconut oil, vanilla extract, and the egg. Switch to a spatula and stir in the dry ingredients.  Fill a plastic storage bag (or a fancy icing bag) with the batter and pipe it evenly among the prepared donut pan. The batter should reach about half way up the inside of each circle. Bake the donuts for 12–16 minutes until the top edges begin to turn golden brown. Remove the donut pan from the oven and let the donuts cool for about 5 minutes before tossing them in the extra granulated sugar.

I found that this recipe made 6 very full (and delicious) donuts with extra batter to spare so I made a bonus heart shaped donut too.

The girls loved the donuts! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Fulfilling a Wedding Gift...12 years later

It took 12 years but we finally have new silverware.  Not that we've been using our hands all this time, let me explain.

Back when we were getting married we registered for lovely and relatively expensive silverware which unfortunately no one bought us.  At the time it didn't seem like a good idea to buy it ourselves so we made due with the oh-so-bachelor IKEA Dragon set.  Not to knock IKEA since I am clearly a fan, but this was one of their cheapest sets.  Only $9.99 for a 20 piece set! (note that I see they are STILL the same low low price 12 years later).

Between a decade of use, small children and a penchant for pieces falling into the garbage disposal they have become pretty worn.  We were way overdue for a more substantial/long lasting set.

We've looked a couple times over the years but could never find a set that we both agreed on.  They were either too shiny, too huge (what's with all the giant spoons?) or too expensive.

On a whim during a date night last month I suggested browsing Crate & Barrel to see if they had anything new that we'd agree on.  Well lo and behold there was not one but two sets that we liked!  

After some deliberation Clark made the cut.  Not too big, not too shiny, not too expensive and not too boring.  Perfect!

Welcome home Clark, we're thrilled to have you and hope you last a long time (watch out for the disposal)!