Lifestyle

What Happens in Dollar General Stays in Dollar General

At the moment, I’m working between 60 and 70 hours a week.  Mostly due to the fact that I took a vacation during June’s month-end close, and we recently lost a staff accountant.  I’ve been purposely seeking time management tactics to help me balance my life a bit better during this time…. By the way, if you’re interested in that sort of thing… this isn’t a bad podcast…

I took the day off today even though I’m afraid I’ll regret it later in the month… yesterday I was interviewing someone and they asked me what CPA stood for and I honestly couldn’t remember.  So I decided this might be an indication that I need a break.

On the way home from work last night I called and scheduled myself for a massage.

As I was driving to Massage Envy today, I was thinking about the various errands I need to run, and thinking about ways I can manage my time better, get things off my plate, etc.  One of my weekly errands is going to Dollar General to pick up the week’s supply of Mountain Dew Kickstart, which is $1 at DG versus $1.35 at Wal-Mart.  (See this entry for more details about my addiction- Good news!  They’ve brought my flavor back to the States!)

As I was waiting for my massage therapist, I was wondering if I could find a way to get my Kickstart delivered, maybe I could even do some sort of auto-order service or something… so I looked it up, and sure enough, I can order it through Amazon and it’s even cheaper than Dollar General, and if I order a two month supply at a time, there wouldn’t be shipping… and hey look you can get an even bigger discount if you do an auto-order.

So I signed up.

My first order won’t arrive until Thursday though, and I currently have only one cold Kickstart in the fridge at home, which obviously is not enough to make it until Thursday.  So after my massage, I stopped at Dollar General to refill this week’s stash… One last time.

I filled up my cart with 6 Kickstarts and a candy bar, and got behind a woman who was buying three small items: deodorant, a pack of gum, and toenail clippers.

The clerk bagged her items in a very large bag.  The woman told her she didn’t need that big of a bag.  The clerk explained that they were out of normal sized bags, and these were all the bags she had.  The woman huffed and puffed, and made exaggerated movements lugging the huge heavy bag off of the counter… and stormed out of the store, pissed off at the universe.

The clerk sighed and began to ring up my items.

Clerk:  People are really freaking out about these bags.  I’m not sure what to tell them, we’re out of regular bags!

Me:  Did you see the way she drug that bag off the counter like it weighed 20 pounds?

Clerk:  Yeah you wouldn’t think a huge plastic bag would make her two pounds of stuff weigh that much, would you?

Me:  No, but I guess that’s why I’m an accountant and not a physicist.  Apparently, I just don’t understand the way the world works.

Customer behind me:  *guffaws*

The clerk finishes bagging my stuff, and apologizes for the huge bag. I told her I have bigger things to worry about, and I hope her day gets better.

I walk out to my car, pop the trunk, and load up my precious Kickstarts.  As I’m getting in the car, the man who was in line behind me walks out.  I notice him staring at the front of my car, turning as he walks past it to look back at it. He gets to the other side of the car and motions for me to roll down my window.  Thinking he’s about to tell me I have a flat tire or a dead body dragging, I oblige.

Him:  I know this is gonna sound weird, but… are you married?

Me:  Um. Well yes, I am.

Him:  Well damn. You’re a really beautiful woman. And you seem so sweet.

Me:  Aw. Thank you!

Him:  Do you live around here?

Me:  Oh, no, actually… I just stop here sometimes on my way home from errands to get my soda.

Him:  Oh. Well.  Maybe I’ll see you again sometime.  I live just up the road.  I’m in here all the time!

Me:  Ah. Well, maybe you will.  Have a good weekend!

I didn’t have the heart to tell him I was hoping to never have to go to Dollar General again, thanks to Amazon.

Fate can be a cruel mistress sometimes.

Lifestyle

Cost Benefit Analysis

I just did something I’ve never done before in my life.

Not only have I never done this thing, never in my life have I ever even considered doing this thing.

And now that I’ve done it, I’m wondering what it says about the person I am today compared to the person I’ve been the last 42+ years.

For the first time in my career, my employer doesn’t offer regularly scheduled CPE for my CPA license.  They reimburse me for it, but I have to find it and take it more or less on my own time.  It’s just something I’ve never had to really worry about figuring out and making sure I get in until now.

So I’m doing this online class, for 16 CPE credits… and by “online class” I mean I download a 300 page document, “read” it, and then take an 80 question test.

There’s no time limit or anything (well I guess technically there is –  I need to get this done before December 31… ). I just need to get at least 80% on the test.  And!  if I should happen to fail, I could take the test over.  As many times as I want, actually.

I’ve been diligently working on the test here and there over the last couple months, reading the questions and finding the section in the 300 page document that covers that topic, reading it, and finding the answer I know is correct.

Tonight, I got to question 72.  I thought to myself, “Most of these answers seem to be B.  I wonder what would happen if I just answered the rest of these questions B.”  And I laughed at my joke.  Because, really, why would one blatantly not even try to answer a question on a test correctly?  I mean, an OPEN BOOK TEST.   Like, it’s foreseeable why one would just guess… I mean, it’s foreseeable but one would really only do that if they were in a huge hurry or actually really didn’t know the answer for sure.. then one might be okay with just narrowing down what seem to be the best choices and guessing… you know, if you were in a really really huge hurry.  Or if a man had a gun to your head and was saying… JUST GUESS.  YOU AREN’T ALLOWED TO LOOK IT UP!  IF YOU LOOK IT UP I’LL SHOOT YOU.  Then it would probably be okay to… you know… guess.  In that scenario.  Yes, in that scenario, it would definitely be okay to just … guess.  In that scenario, it would be okay to just pick an answer willy-nilly, right?

But the man did say to GUESS.  To be a legitimate guess you have to read the question and at least try to figure out the best answer, right?  So in that scenario I couldn’t just say B to the rest of the questions, could I?  Because then he might shoot me for not following directions.  The man specifically said GUESS, didn’t he?  It’s important to follow directions! If you don’t, you could get yourself shot!

I thought to myself, “Wait, hold up.  No one’s going to shoot you, first of all.  (Why are you even thinking about that… you need help!). Second of all, you’ve already looked up 71 answers.  You’re going to pass.  Just choose B for the rest of them.  Chill out.  Jut answer the questions.”

Anyway, just to be sure, I checked to see how many questions I had to get right in order to pass (56).. and figured I was on question 72, and I was sure about all of maybe 2 of my answers… and I thought again, “Why are you doing this??  Just answer the questions.  Pick a letter.  Submit the test.  Get back to your Saturday night!”

So I read question 72 and tried to think, based on my basic level of professional knowledge about impairment of goodwill, what might be the answer?  I got halfway through the choices and thought, “Why are you doing this??  Just pick a letter.  Submit the test.  Get back to your Saturday night!”

*BIG SIGH*

*WINCE*

I clicked:  B, B, B, B, B, B, B, B, B

9 B’s.

My hand hovered over the mouse, positioned over “SUBMIT TEST”.

I asked myself… are you SURE you want to do this?

*DEEP BREATH*

Yes.  I’m sure.

<click>

I waited with baited breath for my score.

I passed!  88%!!!!

Now… back to my regularly scheduled Saturday night.

Be honest.  Do you think less of me?

Recipes

Sunday Adventures with a Crockpot

Rainy Sundays are perfect for putting a soup on in the crockpot.  I decided to try a new eMeals recipe.  But I had to decide whether I wanted to use my regular old crockpot, or my instant pot.

If I’m just wanting to use the crock pot feature, and don’t need to take advantage of the instant pot’s feature allowing the cook time to be delayed, I actually prefer the regular crock pot.  I feel like crock pot recipes I make in the instant pot take longer to cook and are more watery than I like them, compared to using the “regular” crock pot.

My plans to use my crock pot were foiled, though, because when I took the crock pot out of the cabinet, I found it had burnt on food on its walls, that apparently I missed seeing the last time I washed and put it away.

I (halfheartedly) attempted to scrub it clean, but it wasn’t budging (and who knows how long it had been there, anyway), so I googled “HOW TO CLEAN BURNT FOOD OUT OF CROCKPOT” and found the suggestion to dump 1/4 cup of baking soda, water and a squirt of liquid soap into the crockpot, cover and cook on high.  The directions said to cook for 4 hours, but I only did 2, and the gunk wiped right out.  Easy peasy.

In the meantime, I loaded up the instant pot with the ingredients for Chicken Tortilla Soup, and eight hours later, I had dinner.

Here’s the recipe:

  • 1.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces (but I used to 12.5 oz cans of canned chicken, drained)
  • 32 oz carton of chicken broth
  • 10 oz can diced tomatoes and green chiles
  • 12.7 oz pkg frozen Southwest vegetable blend, thawed
  • 10 oz enchilada sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic (I used a teaspoon of refrigerated minced garlic)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin (I used 1 heaping teaspoon)
  • 2 tsp chili powder (I only used 1 light teaspoon)
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • Tricolor crispy tortilla strips

Throw everything but the avocado and cheese in the crockpot, cook on low for 8 hours.  Garnish with avocado, cheese and tortilla strips.

This was good stuff, will definitely be saving this recipe.  I did have trouble finding the Southwest vegetable blend – only one of the two local Walmart stores carried it.  I’m sure if I shopped at fancier places, though, it would be easy to find.

And no, Tarzan wouldn’t try it.

Recipes

What My Husband Wouldn’t Eat For Dinner Tonight

You guys!  I’m super excited!  I tried a new emeals recipe tonight and it was ah-may-zing! I mean really really good.  Company-worthy.  Shoot, I’d go as far as saying restaurant quality.  Definitely a new favorite in my recipe box.

However, it is a little spicy.  I’m not a big spicy food eater, but I can handle it a little.  Tarzan used it as an excuse not to eat it.  I really didn’t think it was that bad.  I’m not sure there’s a way to make it milder, I think that’s the point of the recipe.

Anyway… here goes:

Spicy Pork Ragu

  • 8 oz rigatoni
  • 1 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 24 oz jar of arrabbiata sauce
  • parmesan cheese

I threw the pasta with 4 cups of water in the instant pot, on the manual setting, for 6 minutes.  I know, I know, it’s not that hard to boil pasta.  But, I love using the instant pot, because it frees up my stove space, I don’t have to worry about stirring to keep it from boiling over, it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, etc., etc.  I can just set it and forget it while I work on the rest of the stuff.

Heat the olive oil over medium-high, then cook the pork until no longer pink.  No need to drain!  Dump in the wine and the sauce, cook and stir on medium until the pasta is done.  Drain the pasta, then dump in the pot with the rest of the stuff, stir, and serve with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

This is seriously good stuff.  It’s just something different from your run of the mill pasta dish, the flavors of the wine and the arrabbiata sauce blend so well.  It reminds me of Pasta House’s Shrimp Diablo, which isn’t on the regular menu, but they serve it as a lunch special on Fridays.

I had never even heard of arrabbiata sauce, but I found it at Wal-Mart with the rest of the pasta sauces.  I used the cheapest brand I could find, which turned out to be a Sam’s Choice label.  The recipe actually called for grape tomatoes, but the arrabbiata sauce I purchased had little balls of tomatoes in it already, so I skipped that part.

Someone else needs to try this!

P.S.  The recipe is supposed to serve 6, and comes out to 516 calories a serving.

Recipes

What I Did with 4 Ounces of Rigatoni

So tonight I decided to experiment with my instant pot.

I had leftover Cowboy Chili from last week, and I had about a fourth of a box of rigatoni noodles.  I really hate it when recipes don’t call for a full box of pasta… what are you supposed to do with four ounces of rigatoni noodles?

So I decided to kill two birds with one stone and finish up these leftovers.

Since I had made the chili in my instant pot (with the slow cooker feature), it was already in the inner pot from my instant pot.  So I just took a slotted spoon and fished out the stew meat chunks.  Then I dumped the pasta in the chili broth, set the instant pot on 6 minutes using the manual setting, locked the pot and waited to see what would happen.

What happened, was the pasta was cooked perfectly (I chose 6 minutes because that was how long a different recipe I recently called for cooking rigatoni)… and the broth was steaming hot enough so that when I mixed the stew meat back in, it adequately heated the meat, so it was ready to eat as soon as I got it all stirred up!

I thought it was great.  My husband?  He had hamburger helper.  *shrug*

 

Recipes

I Wonder Why They Call it Cowboy Chili?

Well, we survived Snowmageddon.  Got home from work Friday evening and neither one of us left the house again until Sunday.  Over 24 hours of torture marital bliss.

Actually, it wasn’t that bad.  I’ve been sick with my annual Cough That Won’t Go Away.  It was a good excuse to do absolutely nothing.

It was a little unfortunate that I hadn’t made it to the grocery store before the blizzard… we were forced to eat frozen pizza Friday night.  I had a rare hankering for fried chicken and mashed potatoes Saturday.  Tarzan offered to go to the gas station up the road and get me some, but they didn’t have mashed potatoes and I knew that just wouldn’t do.  So instead I had Raisin Bran (Tarzan had a bologna sandwich) and Sunday morning we went to brunch at Ponderosa (which was about as awful as it sounds, but I got the fried chicken thing out of my system anyway).

With all the spare time available, I perused emeals and planned my meals for the week (lunch at work and dinner at home, 6 servings a piece, and given that Tarzan rarely eats My Food… “meal planning” for the week equates to two emeals recipes).  Sunday evening, I mixed up “No-Cook Black Bean Taco Salad” for my lunches, and this morning I put “Cowboy Beef Chili” in the instant pot (using the slow cooker feature, setting the timer to start later in the day).  Both recipes turned out to decent, although I think the Cowboy Beef Chili was more brothy than I would usually want chili… but I do think it would make an exceptional base for vegetable beef soup.

I altered the original recipes a bit:

No-Cook Black Bean Taco Salad

  • 2 (15-oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/2 cup no fat Ranch dressing
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso fresco
  • romaine lettuce

Mix the first 4 ingredients, spoon over lettuce.  (The recipe also called for tortilla chips and avocado, but I skipped the chips in the interest of saving calories.  The avocado would have been a nice touch, but I wouldn’t use a whole avocado in one serving, and it would have just turned brown.)

 

Cowboy Beef Chili

  • 2 lbs stew meat
  • 32 ounce carton of beef broth
  • 2 cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes (with seasonings added)
  • 1/4 cup frozen chopped onion*
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic*
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder*
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin*
  • 1 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

I chopped the semisweet chocolate in my Ninja, it worked great.  I wasn’t sure about chocolate in chili, but while I couldn’t taste the chocolate, the chili had an exceptionally good flavor.  As I mentioned.. it was more soup than chili, I think.  I’ll defintely use this base recipe again someday, but add potatoes and vegetables for a vegetable beef soup.  I think it would be delicious.

*The recipe actually called for 2 cups of chopped onion, and twice the amount of minced garlic, chili powder, and ground cumin.  I tend to be sensitive to all those ingredients, and typically always half those.

So… now you know what I did on my winter break.  😉

Recipes

Life is Good

I’ve kept a diary since I was in third grade, and one thing has always been true:  The more interesting my life gets, the less I write.  🙂

So you might take that to infer that my lack of activity here indicates that interesting things have been happening.  And… you’d be somewhat right.

The most significant thing is, I’ve changed jobs again.  This time you might even say I’ve changed careers!  I’m still in accounting, but doing something completely different and in a completely different industry.

Around August, it became apparent that my health could no longer sustain the travel my job requires.  I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rhuematoid Arthritis as a child.  Since my teenage years, I have only had a minor flare here or there, easily controlled by over-the-counter meds and the occasional cortisone shot.  But, in November of last year I began to have more serious symptoms.  The cortisone shot didn’t help this time.  It would ebb and flow, but things got progressively worse as the year went on.  After a particularly tiring work trip that included almost 24 hours in a airport due to delayed flights, I just kind of fell apart.  It was time to make a change

This is kind of a big deal because I’ve worked really hard at building a career in my current niche, and I was good at what I did, and I was paid well, etc.  However, it was more than just my health.  I don’t say these kind of things often, but I felt that God was telling me I needed to make a change, and now.

So… I did.

Several things have happened since then that I won’t get into here, but have confirmed that this was the exact right thing to do.  Besides that, I am loving my new job, loving my short commute, loving having regular hours, and my marriage is improving.

Also!  I think I’ve cooked more in the past month than I have in the past two years (which might be part of the aforementioned “marriage improvements”…)

The latest addition to my recipe book is this.  I was looking for a recipe to use up some ham pieces I had, and when I came across the recipe I had almost everything I needed to make it, so I thought, what the heck.  I substituted canned chunk chicken breast (two 12.5 oz cans) for the turkey, and doubled the crackers for the topping, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly.  Tarzan didn’t love it, but he also didn’t complain (which might also be part of the aforementioned “marriage improvements”). Our oldest granddaughter (who is currently living with us), liked it too.  In fact, the next day, she chose the leftover casserole over the ribs Tarzan had grilled (and he was very offended).

So anyway.  Things have slowed down a bit.  Priorities have changed.  Life is good.

Recipes · Uncategorized

Pursuit of the Perfect Taco Pizza

Early last week, Tarzan grilled some sirloin steaks.  A few days later, noticing the leftovers had not been eaten, I consumed the rest of it for lunch one day.  Apparently all day long that day, he had been dreaming of coming home to his leftover sirloin.  I really thought he had forgotten about it.  To make up for it, he wanted to go to Pantera’s Pizza, which is over an hour away (on a work night!) to try their taco pizza.

My husband is something of a taco pizza connoisseur.  He claims that Pizza Hut used to have the best taco pizza, but they discontinued it.  I think that must have been a long time ago.  Probably before I was born.

He doesn’t like Casey’s taco pizza.

There used to be a place a couple of towns over that had it, although he said it wasn’t as good as Pizza Hut, it was passable by his standards.

He had recently been perusing Pantera’s website (that iPhone’s good for something!) and saw that they had taco pizza and wanted to try it.

So, heavy with guilt from eating his sirloin, I had to give in (did I mention it was a work night?!).

He was sadly disappointed, as Pantera’s taco pizza did not meet up to his expectations.  The main thing they all do wrong, he says, is they fail to use refried beans.  Pantera’s version appeared to use some sort of thickened-up taco sauce in place of pizza sauce, which in Tarzan’s estimation, made the meat too greasy.

Last weekend, we took a boat ride.  We sputtered down the river to the next river town over, docked our boat (probably on someone’s private dock, but there wasn’t a NO TRESPASSING sign), and walked to a local pizzeria.  We were the only customers there, and Tarzan and the owner of the pizza parlor debated the makings of a great taco pizza.

They agreed to disagree.

At any rate, over the weekend I picked up the makings for a taco pizza from the grocery store, and we tried it last night.  My version was roughly based on this recipe.  The biggest thing I did different was instead of making two 12 inch prebaked pizza crusts like the recipe calls for, I used a refrigerated Pillsbury crust (13.8 oz, classic crust) and made one larger pizza, with the same amount of toppings (Tarzan doesn’t like his taco pizza with the tortilla chips on top, so I left that out).  The crust filled up essentially all of a large cookie sheet… I prepared the it as directed on the packaging of the pizza crust (including greasing the pan, and prebaking for 8 minutes on 400) and then, once the toppings were on it, baked it another 6 minutes at 350… because I thought that’s what the directions on the crust package said, but now that I’m looking at it, it actually said to keep it at 400.  So that might explain why the crust wasn’t as crispy as we would have liked it… something to note for next time.

Tarzan had two or three pieces, liked it okay – thought it would have been better if the crust was crispier.  Thinks next time we should make it with thin crust.

This made a LOT of food for two people, and it’s a heavy meal (you have to eat it with a knife and fork).  Tarzan won’t eat leftover pizza, so I had it for lunch and dinner today… and I think we still have 6 or 7 pieces left.  It was definitely worth making, and next time he has a hankering for taco pizza I think we’ll just make it at home.  He says he liked it just as much as he liked anything we’ve gotten in a restaurant recently.  So until Pizza Hut brings back taco pizza, I guess this is our game plan!

 

Uncategorized

Meet Charlie

This introduction is long overdue.  On April 2, Charlie the La-Chon, officially joined our family.

When I met him, it was like a scene out of a cartoon or a Disney movie or something.  Like when there’s a bunch of dogs in a pound, and People are coming, and one particular dog is showing off, so he gets picked?  That was Charlie.  Pick me!  Pick me!  Pick me!  He was practically pushing his litter mates out of his way to get to me and show off.  When I went to leave, he tried to climb in my purse.  He wouldn’t fit, so he started trying to pull things out of it to make room.  I was pretty smitten.  But he wasn’t old enough to go home yet and I didn’t know for sure what my work schedule was going to be, at this point I was just window-shopping. But I couldn’t stop thinking about him!  I knew he was “the one”.  I had already named him before I even knew for sure I was going to get him.

Anyway, I picked him up on April 2 and he’s been an excellent addition to our family.  I asked Tarzan a week or so ago if he was glad we got him, and he said, “Oooooh yes.  You’re a lot less crabby now!”

Ha!  I didn’t take offense.  I don’t think I realized how having a loving pet around impacts your stress levels.  And we’d had our Delilah since before we were married (we shared custody of her before we moved in together), so we had never really been without a pet.  I realize now that Delilah, in a way, made us a family.

Charlie is a bit more attached to me than Delilah was.  Delilah loved everyone, but she didn’t really love any one person more than anyone else. Delilah didn’t necessarily have to be in the same room with me at all times – sometimes she was, sometimes she wasn’t.  For example, because of the robe hook that I have over the door of my bathroom, the door doesn’t really close all the way (unless you really force it, which I never do).  Delilah wasn’t bothered if I went into the bathroom and closed the door.  Charlie, on the other hand, pushes his way in.  Delilah lived here almost ten years and never even tried.

Charlie will follow me around the house.  It’s particularly funny when I’m doing something that requires me to be in and out of several rooms in a short period of time, like folding and putting away laundry or something.  He wants to be wherever I am, but he also wants his toys with him.  He’s constantly carrying his toys into whatever room I’m in, settling down to play, then just about the time he gets situated I go into another room.  He’ll jump up, grab his toys, run after me.  Get settled into that room.  Then, when I move again, a few minutes later, he’ll kind of *sigh*… and draaaaag everything to the next room.  Settle in, and kind of give me a look like… “Don’t you ever sit still, woman?”

He’s a very good boy.  We love him.

 

 

Recipes

Why You Haven’t Heard From Me and What I Made For Dinner Last Night

I haven’t been the most faithful blogger, have I?

The last couple few months have been sort of…hard.  A lot of little things that aren’t such big deals on their own kind of adding up and making it difficult to find nice things to say.  Such as:

  • My husband made a large, unauthorized purchase.  I am still trying to devise the appropriate punishment.
  • My mother married my uncle and moved an hour and a half away.  This was also unauthorized.
  • I injured myself and could not exercise for nearly 3 weeks.  Which in itself is enough to make me cranky (exercise is my stress reliever) but also I was taking a pain medicine that I believe was making me anxious and unreasonable.
  • Our dog died the Tuesday before Christmas.  I was out of town for work at the time.
  • Someone very close to me has been going through some really hard family stuff and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to help.
  • I got a ticket for rolling through a stop sign on New Year’s Eve.
  • We began having these weird power surges in our home and couldn’t figure out what the issue was.  It all came to a climax on our anniversary when we blew a breaker on the pole outside of the house… at 8:30 pm while I was in the basement on the treadmill.  (Imagine being thrown off a treadmill in pitch darkness.). And then my husband almost died because I almost killed him over a half-baked DiGiornio pizza.
  • Work has been either feast of famine… and each is stressful in its own way.
  • I found out I have emphysema.  Which explains a lot about my recurring bronchitis and why cough medicine never seems to help as much as it should.

BUT IN OTHER NEWS.

I made dinner last night.

My brother and I got my dad and stepmom iPhones for Christmas.  I put them on my data plan.  Since they do not have wi-fi at home, they needed to come over to my house and install the latest software updates.  I also needed to change some settings on their phones to see if I could stop them from blowing through our data so quickly.  (What did they do with themselves before they had iPhones?  I don’t know.)

So I invited them over for dinner.

I made Beef Tortellini, an old recipe I’ve had for a while but I think this is the first time I tried it.  My edits to the recipe:

  • I started 2 cups of water boiling on the oven while I put everything else together.  By the time I had everything else in the crockpot, the water was boiling, and I added two teaspoons of beef bouillon granules to the water for the beef broth called for in the recipe.  Granules dissolved really quickly.  Easy peasy.  Don’t buy beef broth pre-made if you can help it.  This is so much cheaper and less waste.
  • I didn’t brown the meat.  I never do when I’m making things in the crockpot.  I believe it’s a wasted step.
  • I used one teaspoon of minced garlic, because we are not huge garlic people.
  • I used about 30 oz of marina sauce.
  • Didn’t have fresh green beans.  Had a 12 oz bag of frozen cut green beans, which I let thaw overnight.  Probably wasn’t necessary to thaw them though.
  • I used 2 teaspoons of dried parsley.  (The rule for converting fresh spices to dried, is use about a third of what you would use if you were using fresh.  The recipe called for 2 tablespoons of fresh parsley.  A teaspoon is about a third of tablespoon.)
  • I used 1/4 teaspoon of dried rosemary, approximately the same logic as for the parsley.  Roughly.  It’s ok.
  • I couldn’t find 9 oz packages of refrigerated cheese tortellini, Walmart only had 20 oz.  I used the entire 20 oz package.  I think it would have been too soupy otherwise.  And adding the tortellini in 30 minutes before and turning the crockpot on high worked perfectly.  (That always makes me nervous, adding things in the crockpot at the end, not sure why.)
  • I put the stuff on about 10 am, added the tortellini at 4:30 p.m. and we ate at 5 p.m.  So, total, 7 hours cooking time.

It was a good meal.  I served it with just salad.  My husband did go back for a seconds, although I could tell it wasn’t his favorite.  But at least he didn’t complain.  I think next time I would serve it with shredded parmesan cheese.

I also made banana cake, because I had some over-ripe bananas to get rid of.  I have two banana cake recipes, one calls for sour cream and the other calls for buttermilk.  I was actually going to make the buttermilk version, but when I got to the store all they had was half gallons of buttermilk, and I did not need that much, so I switched to the sour cream version.  Made the cake exactly per the recipe, but I used whipped cream cheese frosting…although the frosting in the recipe looks interesting and gets great reviews.  Just wasn’t feeling that adventurous… and couldn’t see buying instant coffee just to make cake icing.

Anyway, the cake was definitely the star of the show.  Dad went back for seconds (so did I), Tarzan had a huge piece, and my stepmom requested to take some home with them.

Here’s to a better 2018!