Slow Cooker Cola Pot Roast

It’s cold outside! I’ve been in comfort food mode lately, and this is the perfect cozy, cold weather main dish. Assemble this roast in the slow cooker in the morning or at lunch time. Savor the aroma all afternoon, or be greeted by the yumminess as you come home from work. The sugar from the cola adds sweetness to the meat and helps to tenderize it.

Slow Cooker Cola Pot Roast

Click here for a printable version of this recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 cup cola-flavored carbonated beverage
  • 1/4 cup spaghetti sauce seasoning mix (a store bought packet would also work)
  • 1 coarsely chopped onion
  • ¾ cup chopped celery (about 3-4 stalks, give or take)
  • 1 additional teaspoon salt (the sauce seasoning mix has salt in it as well – so you can omit this if you’re watching your salt)
  • Additional garlic, minced, if desired (there’s dry minced garlic in the seasoning mix, too)
  • 3 lbs. beef chuck roast (the roast pictured above is bottom round)

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, break up tomatoes in their juice. Stir in cola, spaghetti sauce seasoning mix, celery, and the additional salt and garlic if desired. Stir until spaghetti sauce mix is dissolved.
  2. Place the onion in the crock pot and put the roast right on top. Pour the sauce mixture over the roast and cover.
  3. Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours.

So how about you? What’s your favorite cold weather comfort food? Link to the recipe in the comments – I’d love to check it out!

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Homemade Hot Cocoa

This is a rich, creamy, and (most importantly) easy homemade hot cocoa recipe. You will never want to go back to instant packets again.
Homemade Hot Cocoa
The Hubberman likes to joke. Not in the “a penguin walks into a bar” sense, but more in the “I’m pulling your leg” sense. So when he looked at his phone yesterday morning and said, “Hey, they’re saying six to eight inches of snow for tomorrow,” I thought for sure he was joking. You see, he pulls this stuff so much (at least once a day) that I have to sift everything through my gullibility filter before responding. Well, imagine my surprise when Hubberman brings his phone over and shows me his weather app. Six to Eight. As the afternoon progressed, the projected totals increased. Now as I sit typing, the snow is falling and they are now predicting up to 18 inches. It is a hot cocoa day for sure. Sipping Cocoa

Homemade Hot Cocoa

Click here for a printable version of this recipe

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup hot water
  • ½ gallon whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa, chocolate chips and salt.
  2. Over low heat, add 1 cup hot water and stir well until chocolate chips have melted and ingredients are well blended.
  3. Slowly add milk, stirring continually. You can add more or less to taste.
  4. Slowly warm over low heat, then add vanilla.

Note: This makes 8 mugs of hot cocoa. If you don’t want to make this much at once, mix the sugar, cocoa, and chocolate chips in a bowl. Divide the dry ingredients roughly in half, using half in your saucepan right away and saving half in an airtight container in a cool dry place. To the saucepan, add ½ cup hot water, 4 cups of milk, and 1/4 tsp. vanilla according to above directions. This will make 4 mugs of cocoa.Almond milk can also be used instead of cow’s milk. Just be sure to heat slowly.Almond milk will take on an even nuttier flavor when heated, so keep that in mind. We think it tastes quite yummy.Garnish with whipped cream or mini-marshmallows! Happy sipping!

Our Thanksgiving Table

We’re in full scale planning mode for Thanksgiving over here! Hubberman has purchased the turkey, I’m gathering ingredients for our side dishes, and I’m putting the finishing touches on the Thanksgiving decor around the house.

I thought I would share our Thanksgiving “tablescape” (and the little helper I had as I was arranging things.)

Autumn Table

Autumn Table

Autumn Table

Cat Centerpiece

Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving next week!

Some ladies ask for jewelry…

…But I asked for a compost bin!

IMG_0842

It was a landmark birthday for me this September. I turned the big four-OH.

And all I really wanted for my birthday was a compost bin. Call me crazy.

I grew up around the old-school, out-in-the-open compost heap, to which was added a continual supply of kitchen and garden scraps. However, after considering our backyard set-up and doing a bit of research (OK, ALOT of research) we decided to go with a drum/tumbler style compost bin, which is designed to create compost in batches.

In a nutshell, “green” and “brown” scraps are added in the proper proportions until the tumbler is filled high enough to make a nice batch without being too hard to turn. Then, you stop adding scraps, and simply turn the drum once a day or every other day for 2-3 weeks or longer while it composts. Eventually, you have yourself a finished batch.

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Kitchen scraps await a trip to the tumbler

We are still in the process of adding to our bin, and so far we are making good progress. I figured even though we are moving into colder weather, I could still get things started. if things slowed down in the composting department as the weather cooled, so be it. I can wait for my first completed batch. And as luck would have it, we had a stretch of very warm weather in the high 80′s the past week or so, and that’s gotten things percolating nicely.

Live and Learn.

Always Google first. I should know this by now! But seriously, what was I to think when I saw this guy in my garden?

hornworm

photo credit - Berkshire Botanical Garden. I was too freaked out to take a photo of mine.

My first inclination, when I saw this horn worm festooned with white eggs was, “Get it off get it off get it off!” And sadly, that’s what I did. Turns out, mutant horn worms are actually a good thing.

After googling, I discovered that the horn worm clinging to my bell pepper plant was actually playing host to Braconid Wasp eggs, which would have eventually killed it. Once the eggs hatched, the resulting wasps would have done the same to all his friends. Oh well. Live and learn!

Definitely the strangest thing I’ve seen in my garden this season. What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen in yours?