The Explorer: Creative Crockin’ Recipes

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When putting our new book, “It’s Our Crockin’ Life“, together, we had no hesitation in creating the Explorer chapter (could be one of our FAVES!). You see, Jenna and I would not consider ourselves typical crockers. In fact, we are far from it! Most people think of crock pot recipes being strictly stews and pot roasts and our crockin’ cookin’ is waaaaay beyond this. Both Jenna and I are creative individuals. While I love to scrapbook and Jenna loves to sew, we knew in creating this chapter we really wanted our personalities to shine through and to put together a chapter full of your non-typical slow cooker recipes—even non-edible recipes too!

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Along with being creative, I would definitely say there has always been an explorer side in me. I grew up on a ranch and loved exploring on my four-wheeler. One of my favorite memories I have is packing a backpack full of snacks and drinks  and loading up on the four-wheelers with my family and all of us taking a ride to either look for deer sheds (antlers, that is) throughout the property or taking the back road to the nearest town. I could drive for hours on my four-wheeler. You would even catch my friends and I hooking up anything sturdy enough to pull behind the four-wheeler and taking turns pulling each other through cow manure…..yep, it’s insanely true! I can hear us laughing hysterically now!!!! And SMELL us too!

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I’m also a roller coaster junkie and am proud to announce that I introduced my husband to his first roller coaster! HOLLA! He is not so much a roller coaster fan, but my little Gracie girl is. She absolutely LOVES the rush of adrenaline from them all! Now, we don’t like the roundy-round ones all so much, but anything with a good drop WE ARE IN! Talking about the roundy-round ones, my Gager boy cannot stand anything that is going to get his stomach (not even a swing) and my sweet M-I-L took him to the park for fun and started spinning him on the merry-go-round. She said he turned completely green and well, you know what comes after that! YUCK!

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I like to embrace adventures and new experiences, but I’m definitely not spontaneous. I like to do my research and really think about my decisions first. With that being said, I really thought I would surprise my hubby recently  when I came to him in May, a couple of days before our anniversary, and said “you know, I’ve always wanted to go to the Grand Canyon and I think we should just load up this weekend and drive out there!” (16 hour drive!) My “oh-so-VERY-spontaneous” husband looked at me like I had lost my mind and wondered where his wife had gone!

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We headed out in June for a family vacay to the Grand Canyon and it was so much FUN! On the way up we checked out the Meteor Crater in Winslow, AZ and made sure we checked into an Embassy Suites or the “Big E” as my kids call it, to take advantage of happy hour and swim time for the kids. Then we headed onto Flagstaff, AZ. We did a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon…..absolutely amazing! and then went to the Grand Canyon afterwards and took many many pictures and walked all kind of trails. WOW….what an amazing feeling to stand out there overlooking this magnificent greatness on this earth we live in. To stand out there and take it all in with my family is a memory I will have for the rest of my life. Seeing my kids faces light up in awe was priceless!

We then made our way to Bearizona! The kids loved seeing all the animals and we got some good laughs watching the little bear cubs. We also got to go the Out of Africa Wildlife Park. Kris and I were able to zip line for the very first time. We watched the tiger splash show and the predator feed. This was right up Gage’s alley as he LOVES anything to do with wild cats. Our trip was full of laughs and we made lots of memories! It literally takes the stars to align perfectly for us to take a vacay together as a family of four. On the way back home, both kids thanked us for the fun journey that had just experienced and Gage reminded us that it was our very first vacay with just us four. Talk about striking the heart just a tad…..so we made a pact to jump in the car and go EXPLORE together every summer from now on!

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Don’t be afraid to unleash the explorer side in you in the kitchen! What’s the worst that can happen? Yes, you might have a flop….Jenna and I have had many, but it hasn’t stopped us from trying different things and altering recipes to perfectly suit our families! We hope you explore our new book, “It’s Our Crockin’ Life”, and become a non-typical crocker just like us!

You can Crock THAT?!
Lasagna
Pizza
Love You Berry Much Bars

Happy Crockin’ Y’all!

The Budgeter: Crockin’ savings for your wallet!

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As the saying goes, “money makes the world go ’round”… well this chapter in our new book It’s Our Crockin’ Life can put a stop to that nonsense! Whether you are trying to make it those last few days before payday, saving for your kiddos college, or you just enjoy getting the most bang for your buck, saving some money here and there is never a bad thing!

My husband has definitely balanced me out. While visions of fun to be had, cute clothes, home renovations, and such dance around in my head- he is one to think of budgets, savings, and “eatin’ cheap” ;) Let’s just say, this chapter makes him happy. And it doesn’t cast any shadows on my love to get a home cooked meal to my family… Don’t get me wrong. There is NO cut back in the flavor department, just a little more padding in the wallet.

Since we are in the midst of summer, I realize even more how helpful this chapter is! Kids are home more, vacations are booked (and always tend to cost a little more than you plan for), activities happening all around,

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and if you have kiddos you know that there will be that dreaded back to school shopping trip that will put a dent in the wallet. The kids are getting really excited about our trip to Colorado Springs coming up, so these recipes will help me save a little so that they can get a little souvenir here or there, or squeeze in one more activity. We did Disney summer 2014, and we were longing to go back just as soon as we came home. I would love to go back in the next couple years, so I need to be putting some of my Crockin’ savings into a “Disney or Bust” jar :)

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Although I hate to admit it, I will have a {gulp} kindergartener come August (I can’t believe this is really happening), and if I can fit a little more into my August grocery budget, then I can get him a couple extra outfits to start the year :)

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I may start a tradition of taking each kid on their own shopping day before school… partly because it will be a fun one on one day with them, but mainly so we can cut down on those morning grouchies when it comes to picking out clothes! Spencer has gotten so picky about everything down to the fit of his SOCKS!

I hate to bring up the holidays in July… but let’s be honest THEY. ARE. COMING. And let’s just say I will be ready to hit Black Friday hard! LOL. We always have a good time, and some dinner time savings will make it even more fun.

While we are on topics that I don’t want to bring up. In the back of my mind I see this little thing wanting a wedding someday. Even though I don’t want to even think about that happening any time soon… IT WILL. And it would be nice to be prepared (yeah right!).

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There are so many ways that people choose to save money. Shopping store sales, clipping coupons (I never have gotten the hang of that. I end up throwing out coupons I find 6 months past expiration that I had the best intentions of using)  , buying in bulk, buying generic, the list goes on… but my favorite way to save is crockin’! It tastes so good you won’t even realize the difference- but your bank account will!

Happy Crockin’, Y’all!

Jenna

Here are some recipes that will give you an idea of what you will find in this fun & frugal chapter of It’s Our Crockin’ Life:

Loaded Cheeseburger Pasta

Ground Beef Chalupas 

Garlic Chicken Thighs

 

 

Ingredient Watcher

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The Ingredient Watcher Chapter: It’s Our Crockin’ Life

On a daily basis we get asked if we have any recipes that have fresh ingredients or if we have “clean” recipes. So it was a no-brainer to add the Ingredient Watcher chapter into the new book. Not only did we give you some really yummy recipes in this chapter, but we included some very fun pictures of our kiddos as well!

Look at our babies, literally BABIES! Oh where has the time gone?!?

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When Jenna and I created the Facebook page in August 2011, it was to help us and about 30 of our mommy friends get a home-cooked meal to the table… Little did we know we would end up making a business out of it!

ingredientwatcher2Just a few of our mommy friends treating ourselves to pedicures. (August 2011)

We were so tired of the inevitable question we kept asking ourselves at 4PM in the afternoon, “Hmm, what do I fix for dinner?” We felt by providing a home-cooked meal we were providing our families with a better meal than if we had just gone through the drive-thru.

We have such a wide variety of crockin’ followers that like different recipes for different reasons. From crockers just wanting a home-cooked meal, to fresh crockin’, to absolutely no msg packets and soups so they make their own seasoning packets and cream of soups, to the vegetarians and the gluten free crockers. It was quite a bit to consider in putting this cookbook together, but we think you will all be pleased! An added feature to the new book, “It’s Our Crockin’ Life”, is that we included a slow cooker size and serving amounts to each recipe in the book! HOLLA! We think this feature alone, will make quite a few of you HAPPY!

VURRnON_koFWgtpyljikAWLBimwBID1q5AA0b7rNFjUTh60wZE9FSaQezAVRU5ADpYhACQYwiDMy2cD-SHSO7j-FpmNLT4pSKvW_1rg2KOL2kxOQlPlUyV8IlfxgPef533owCDgAn actual shot from Crockathon 2015. This recipe made it into the book and it’s absolutely scrumptious!

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Yummy veggie bowls!

Whether you are the cook that wants to just get a meal to the table or the cook who really watches what you feed your family, this chapter is amazingly delicious and we hope you check it out!

Veggie Bowls 

Healthy Mess

Healthy Crockin

Happy Crockin’,

Jenna and Nicole

Crowd Pleaser Cookbook Inspiration

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The Crowd Pleaser

Are you ready to fix a meal that everyone will DEVOUR and be coming back for more? Well look no further as this chapter, The Crowd Pleaser, in our new book, It’s Our Crockin’ Life, has many delicious recipes or as we like to call them…..Our FAVES! And you want an added bonus?! These meals feed more than a few!!

In creating the different chapters throughout our new book, I was able to take a walk down memory lane. You see, for our family, get togethers always consist of FOOD….. a lot of food! (We always said my Nanee could feed an army!)

Whether we are getting together for a birthday celebration, an actual holiday, or just getting together to eat (which we like….ok, LOVE to do often) there is always plenty of food, food, and more FOOD! We love all kinds of food, but I am southern and I was raised on southern food. If my Nanee were here today and asked me what I wanted her to fix, it would be fried venison backstrap and homemade biscuits and gravy…..THAT’S JUST HOW SOUTHERN I AM Y’ALL!

When your favorite food is made, it just makes you feel all  comforting inside. Makes you feel loved and cared about! That’s how my Nanee made me feel every time I visited her and Pop.

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Gracie girl and her cousin, Cross, all cuddled up drinking their hot tea!

My mom can whip up our favorite meals too!I can always expect my absolute favorite chocolate cake for my birthday, which I finished up in no time this year and didn’t share much….shhhhhh, don’t tell anyone!

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My mom and I in the kitchen after our Christmas Eve program at church-2014!

And now that I am a wife and mother, I LOVE doing the same for my little family!

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Take my hubby, Kris, for instance….the man LOVES, LOVES, LOVES, the French Dip Sandwiches in our book, Slow Cookin’ Companion. Pair them with mac & corn and you have not only just made his day, but his week too! Love this man with all I have!

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My sweet Gager boy loves him some homemade chicken pot pie. I’ve never seen a kid eat so much food. I love seeing his precious smile when he smells the aroma and says, you made CHICKEN POT PIE!!!! Thanks mom! He is a basketball playing fool! We surprised him with Spurs tickets and you would have thought he won the lottery!

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Oh and my Gracie girl can put away anything sweet of course, but when I fix her pork chops, she just rants and raves about that “chicken”, LOL! Speaking of chicken, she loves Chicken in a Hurry toooooo! How I can forget that one I do not know, as she says we eatin’ that chicken on the bone?! I love it when Gracie looks through the cookbook to find something for me to make!

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I don’t know if y’all have a ritual or not when it comes to cooking and food, but my family sure does. You cannot have meatloaf without mac & cheese and green beans! Hamburgers, baked beans, and mac & cheese or macaroni & tomato. Campfire stew will NOT be eaten without each saltine cracker buttered and individually placed in the bowl to be broken in half and then gobbled up. Taco Stew has to be accompanied by shredded cheese, sour cream, fritos, and guacamole, and in making casseroles they have to be accompanied with a big, huge, fresh green salad loaded with lots of veggies! YUMMY!

Don’t forget to checkout our new cookbook, It’s Our Crockin’ Life, hitting shelves August 2015 for all brand new delicious recipes!

French Dip Sandwiches
Chicken in a Hurry

Happy Crockin’ Y’all,

Nicole