Friday, August 16, 2013

AH-MAZING (suuuuuper easy) Slow Cooker Roast

My grandma was the most amazing cook on earth. She had this way of combining simple ingredients that would make a masterpiece. A dash of this, a sprinkle of that, and poof: heaven in your mouth. Through many years of experimenting, trial, and MANY errors (bless my wonderful husband) I've become a fairly good cook. I'm by no means my grandma, but I hope to be someday.

I don't know why but slow cooker roast beef is one of the hardest things for me to make! I just never really seem to like the combination of flavors, tenderness of the meat, too many vegetables, not enough vegetables, too little broth, too much broth, it's get the picture. I had a hunk of beef in the freezer (no, not my husband! hehe) that needed to be cooked so I reluctantly pulled it out and took one more shot at a slow cooker roast. To my complete amazement, it turned out amazing this time!! The combination of flavors was a heavenly chorus to my taste buds. Don't let the amount of garlic scare was awesome!! So, as I share this recipe, I hope it turns out just as yummy for you as well!

Crockpot Roast Beef

2ish lbs beef roast (really any nice chunk of beef will do. haha!)
2 cans cream of mushroom soup
10 cloves garlic (minced)
2 chicken bullion cubes
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup hot water
1ish cup baby carrots
2 small onions quartered and peeled apart
5ish small potatoes quartered (I left the skin on)

*Mix together mushroom soup, garlic, bullion cubes, mustard, and water in slow cooker.
*Trim off fat from beef (Some like the fat on. It's entirely up to you) and place in soup mixture.
*Layer vegetables over meat starting with onions, then carrots, then potatoes.
*Turn slow cooker to low and cook 7-8hrs. It's okay if it cooks longer but it should be done in about 7-8hrs.
*You can give it a stir every few hours, but not necessary.

Ahhhhhh, finally a roast I'm excited to make over and over and over again! Enjoy!!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Vacation of Your Dreams on a Budget {Part 2}

I'd like to say my long absence from blogging has been to hold my great following of readers in suspense. To hold you on the edge of your seat, biting nails, fidgeting with anticipation....

Did it work? ;-)

My come-back blog is dedicated to all those who have been patiently waiting on new money-saving tips. I hope I don't disappoint you. Let's save some Benjamins!

Vacationing vs. Money Saving. Those two oppose each other, right? I mean, honestly who goes on vacation thinking they will save money? Although you may have every intention of sitting on a beach, drinking mojitos, and ordering the cabana boy around, (no judgment, hehe) there are some key ways you can have that very relaxing vacation and still save money.

1. Vacation with family/friends. I understand some people go on vacation to get away from family and friends. That's completely understandable. But, considering that isn't you, it can be a money-saving option to split a rental house with others. You can get all the amenities you need at a fraction of the cost. Carpooling, groceries, lodging, it can all be split and be quite cost effective.

2. Bring your own food. We drove to the beach this summer so it was feasible for me to pack a cooler and large box of food. When we actually got to the beach we did make a Wal-Mart run but only spent around $20. We planned ahead of time and brought snacks, fruit, cookies, cereal, milk, cheese, vegetables, and juice with us in the car. The cost of groceries at hot vacation spots is astronomical. What a banana costs in Destin, Florida is about 3 times more than what it costs at home. No joke.

3. Pay with CASH. Shoooooooooooow me the money!! There have been actual studies that have proven people are far less likely to spend cash. Think about the last time you paid for something with a credit card. Do you even know how much you spent? I bet it didn't really occur to you how it felt. What about when you use your debit card? You feel that more than when using a credit card, but it's still easy and quick. You don't actually see the subtraction of money taking place so it's not as painful. But pay for something with cash and you actually see the money go away. It almost hurts to see Mr. Benjamin go to another home and all you have left are a few Mr. Jackson's, a Lincoln, and two Washingtons. (if you don't know which bills those are, look it up!!) This takes some getting used to, but you will be amazed at how well this works.

4. Create a budget for your vacation and stick to it. Whatever you decide to spend on vacation, don't go above it. Research as much as you can ahead of time to see the cost of restaurants, snorkeling, boat rental, ski equipment, etc. The more prepared you are, the more realistic your budget can be. By paying with cash, once the money is gone, it's gone. You will be able to stick to your budget as well as not buying a bunch of touristy souvenirs. If paying with cash you may decide you don't really need 4 back scratchers carved out of pig skin. (then again, maybe you do...still no judgment ;-)

5. Do spend money on something nice. Vacation is about relaxing and doing things we don't get to do at home. It's OKAY to spend money on yourself. Make sure you plan a big splurge for you and/or your family. For us, we really wanted some GOOD seafood. Man, oh man, was it worth every penny. There's a delicate balance between saving and spending and enjoying and splurging. Do plan on spending your money on something good. After all, you are on vacation, right?