October 21, 2014

Slow-Cooker Meals: Chipotle Peach Ribs

#SlowCookerMeals, Slow cooker, ribs, BBQ

I realize prime BBQ season is over now that we've hit fall, but Ricky LOVES ribs.  I found some racks of ribs on markdown at Walmart for $3.99 and they've been hogging my freezer space. (Pun intended) Desperate to find an easier way for fall off the bone meat, I turned to my Hamilton Beach slow-cooker.  You won't believe how easy this recipe is!  I am wishing I would have done more than one rack!!

After this week's Walking Dead episode, it took me a few days to even be able to type up this recipe.  If you don't watch the show, you're lucky!

Don't forget: I have a Hamilton Beach Set & Forget Slow-Cooker giveaway going on this month! Head over to this page to enter!

Not a fan of chipotle peach flavor?  Use whatever style BBQ sauce you love.  I highly recommend sticking with the tasty Sweet Baby Ray's varieties!
#SlowCookerMeals, Ribs, BBQ, Sweet Baby Ray's, Chipolte, Smuckers

Here's what you need:

  • 1 large rack of ribs 2-4 pounds (always check for markdowns!)
  • 1 bottle Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipotle BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup McCormicks Pork rub
  • 2 tablespoons Smuckers Peach Preserves
  1. Preheat slow-cooker to LOW setting for 7 hours.
  2. Rinse ribs with water and dry.  Place on a large cutting board and coat both sides with pork rub.
  3. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 bottle of BBQ sauce with peach preserves. Set aside.
  4. From the bottle, squeeze enough BBQ sauce in the base of the slow-cooker to coat the bottom.  
  5. Brush the sauce from the bowl on the ribs. Discard any remaining sauce, since it's touched raw meat. 
  6. Place ribs in the slow-cooker and cover.  DO NOT TAKE OFF THE LID.  It's tempting, I know, but let them cook for the full 7 hours.
  7. Once cooked, remove and brush with the rest of the sauce in the bottle, adding some extra peach preserves if wanted.  They are great out of the slow-cooker, but for more of a char, broil them for 3-4 minutes.
#SlowCookerMeals, Ribs, BBQ, Sweet Baby Ray's, Smuckers Peach Preserves

This sauce mixture is amazing on any meat.  I like to throw boneless chicken thighs in the slow-cooker with a can of peaches and the sauce for pulled chicken sliders.  Use on pork roast for a new spin on pulled pork.

What's your go-to BBQ sauce?


October 16, 2014

Book Review: All Fall Down

Jennifer Weiner, All Fall Down, Books

I discovered Jennifer Weiner books about two years ago and I really love her style of writing.  Plus, she is the funniest person to follow on Twitter during a reality TV show- especially Bachelorette or Bachelor nights!

Her most recent book came out in June and I made sure to read it as soon as it hit the shelves.  I keep meaning to write a review, but summer kind of got in the way.  Whoops!

With Weiner's books you get complex characters and the female leads who are always realistic--somewhat flawed, always somewhat humorous.  I love that her books aren't predictable, like many other authors in this writing genre.  

All Fall Down follows Allison, a popular writer and mom of one.  Allison seems to have her life together, yet she holds a little secret: she actually can't keep her life together and she has a major addiction to pain pills.  Everything comes crashing down (hence the title) and she hits an all time low.

The bulk of the book is devoted to Allison getting her life back on track.  I really enjoyed that the story wasn't sugar coated--she does struggle and everyone doesn't hug in the end.  I won't give away too much!

Months after reading this book, I still think about it quite frequently.  That's the sign of a great book, isn't it?!  Once you get started with her books, you'll want to read them all.  I really loved Best Friends Forever and Then Came You as well.

What are you reading right now?

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post.  These links help keep this blog running. 


October 14, 2014

One Month Into Kindergarten! {Plus: Our Simple Homework Station}

Well, we've made it through the first month of kindergarten with the twins!  The girls are enjoying their experience so far and our routine is pretty established.  Are they exhausted after a full day of school? YES!  Do they wake up like beams of sunshine every day? NO!  But all in all, we're doing pretty well.

One of my biggest concerns was the twins being in the same class.  I was afraid they would cling to each other and not branch out.  I was SO wrong!  They (somehow) barely spend time together!  Maddie has a new best friend that she talks about non-stop.  When we walk up to the school, I hear kids calling "Maddie! Olivia!".  It makes me feel so much better that they are liked...isn't that every parent's fear?  Olivia has quite a few friends she talks about and quite a few BOYS she seems to like.  She had to wear her Ninja Turtle shirt to soccer last Sunday to show a certain boy.  Uh-oh....
Homework Station, Kindergarten

It is shocking how much they are learning already.  They are already reading many popcorn words (common sight words) and they are spelling like crazy. I'm sure by Christmas time they will be asking for many books to read! Part of their homework is to read for 20 minutes a day.  I like to have them look at their take-home books for about 10 minutes and the rest of the time is when I read out loud to them at night.  

Kindergarten, Homework, Budget Friendly School Supplies,Being Cheap is Easy

One thing I HIGHLY recommend is setting up a homework station basket to stay organized.  At first, we tried composition notebooks to practice numbers, letters and words, but I found some great dry erase boards at Walmart for 75 cents.  They are working out MUCH better!  While you can buy number and letter flash cards, I just made my own with index cards to quiz the girls.  Since they are in school until almost 4, I really don't want them to spend the rest of their day doing homework and sitting down, so we just quickly go through their take-home folders after snack time to see what needs to be worked on.  

To wind down at night, I've introduced chapter books.  I'm so excited to start sharing some of my childhood favorites with the girls!  Gabby does get a bit restless, so I usually start off with a picture book. We started off with Junie B. Jones, which the girls seem to love. After two books, I've grown a bit tired of Junie, so we've moved on to others.  One new find we're loving (thanks to an Instagram recommendation!) are the Magic Tree House books.  We're halfway through Dinosaurs Before Dark and they are a perfect introduction to adventure books for kindergarten age and up. Final series we've jumped into are the Ramona books, I'm hoping to show them the movie when we're done! I love getting the e-books from the library so we can read them on the iPad/Kindle on the go! 

What We're Reading Now, Kindergarten, books, read out loud books

Number one thing I've learned so far about full day kindergarten is that rest is important.  Your child is going through a LOT at once and they will need extra snuggles and rest to cope.  Our bedtime is between 7:15-7:30 and the twins crash!  On weekends, as hard as it is, I try to keep the errand running to a minimum.  I let them play to their hearts desire all weekend and even attempt to squeeze in naps, if possible.  

Another lesson learned: keep lunches simple.  At our school, they have 20 minutes to eat...which really isn't much for little ones.  Maddie is a super slow eater, so I've had to play around with the perfect amount of food to send so she'll actually eat. Hot lunch is something we only do occasionally, especially since Maddie seems to not enjoy it.  

How's school going for you so far? Any books you can recommend?

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