Simple Crock Pot Cranberry Apple Cider

It is a fact that the first time I made this Cranberry Apple Cider, a young boy visiting our home looked into the crock pot, saw the floating cranberries, and asked, “Are those berries poisonous?”

cranberry cider33

Hey. It was a fair question. He’s been taught well. Never eat berries without first asking what they are and checking to be sure that they are safe to eat. Smart kid, that one.

I assured him that the berries floating in my cider were merely cranberries, but my proclamation meant nothing at all to him. So he stood waiting for me to answer his actual question, “Are those berries poisonous?”

cranberry cider22

I’ll admit that for at least two seconds, my mind started heading down the path of possible answers I could but should not give. “We’re not really sure, but we decided to try them and see what happened.” Or maybe, “Yes, but they were so pretty we decided it didn’t matter.”

But only a terrible hostess would scare visiting children, so even though this kid is a regular guest in our home and knows we specialize in sarcasm, I ignored the untrue answers threatening to come out of my mouth and told him, “Yes. But only if you chew them up and swallow them. If they’re just floating in your cup, they won’t hurt you.”

I kid, I kid.

I actually didn’t have to say anything at all because while I was quietly saying, “Nope, they’re just cranberries. Not even a little bit poisonous.” My almost 13-year old was sharing his own scary remarks about how his mom sometimes, but not always, puts poisonous berries in the cider so the family never knows which batch is safe, then ended with, “So. You want to try some?”

cranberry cider11

It’s so much fun to be a guest at our house. You should definitely come drink cider with us sometime. If you dare. Mooh-ha-ha.

Well now that we got all the sarcasm out of the way (a Christmas miracle), let’s get on with the niceties about this recipe.

This Simple Crock Pot Cranberry Apple Cider actually smells like Christmas. Yes, if you’ve ever wondered what Christmas smells like, this is your answer. It also looks like Christmas because what is more festive looking than (potentially poisonous) red berries, oranges, and cinnamon sticks in a crock pot? So pretty!

The best news is that this may be the simplest recipe you can make during the holiday season. Put ingredients into crock pot. Turn on crock pot. Let the smell of Christmas fill your home.

Simple Crock Pot Cranberry Apple Cider

Simple Crock Pot Cranberry Apple Cider
 
Author:
Serves: 8-10
Ingredients
  • 64 ounces unsweetened apple juice
  • 1-2 whole oranges, sliced
  • 16-ounces fresh cranberries
  • 3-5 cinnamon sticks
Instructions
  1. Place all ingredients into a slow cooker.
  2. Heat on low for 3-4 hours.
  3. Serve and enjoy!

TIP: After you make the first round of cider, save the cinnamon sticks, oranges, and cranberries to reuse in another batch of hot cider.

Simple Crock Pot Cranberry Apple Cider

This cider is fun to leave in a crock pot for several hours during the day so that at all times the house smells wonderful and at any time a cup can be refilled!

The Simplest Chocolate Peanut Clusters

Truly these Chocolate Peanut Clusters can’t get any easier.

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I make some with semi-sweet chocolate and some with white chocolate and when it’s all said and done, I’ve spent about 10 total minutes making amazing Christmas treats.

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You don’t have to scoop these treats into muffin cups, but they sure do a lot to dress up the plate, don’t you think? (Read more ideas here for ways to serve festive food without using food coloring.)

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The effort it takes to make these Chocolate Peanut Clusters involves pouring chocolate chips into a saucepan with peanuts, then stirring them both together until they melt. Two-ish minutes later your mission has been accomplished. Scoop the melty mixture into muffin-lined cups. Refrigerate. Serve or package up to give as gifts.

If only all of our Christmas preparations would be this easy!

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Simple Chocolate Peanut Clusters

The Simplest Chocolate Peanut Clusters
 
Author:
Serves: 9-18
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dry-roasted peanuts (unsalted)
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (milk chocolate, semi-sweet, or white chocolate*)
  • 1 shake of sea salt
Instructions
  1. Pour peanuts and chocolate chips into a sauce pan.
  2. Cook and stir over low heat until chocolate has melted and coats the peanuts.
  3. Scoop coated peanuts into regular or mini-sized muffin paper liners.
  4. Allow the clusters to cool until set, about 20 minutes.

*I get my White Chocolate Chips from Olive Nation. They offer some with a little bit cleaner ingredients and I love their quality.

By the way, Olive Nation loves Heavenly Homemakers readers so much that they give us a 20% discount on our orders! Shipping is free when your order is $50 or more. Use the code home for the discount!

Simple Chocolate Peanut Clusters

If you’re into more time consuming treats (ha!), try these Truffles. I prefer simpler recipes, but of course the effort it worth the prize when you make truffles. They also make amazing Christmas gifts!

truffles3sm

Also great for gift giving: Homemade Peppernuts. My grandma always made these at Christmastime!

Peppernuts
What kinds of Christmas treats do you enjoy making to share?

Some of these links are my affiliate links.

Simple Bacon Cheeseburger Roll

Go bunless or go home. Wait. That’s just weird. Yes, that’s my weird way of saying that with this Simple Bacon Cheeseburger Roll there is no bun needed.

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Would you look at that bacon-wrapped meat, just waiting to be put into the oven to make everyone come and ask you forty times when dinner will be ready? This is the worst and the best thing about this recipe. All the smells. And the waiting. Because of the bacon and the cheese and the spices and the meat – everyone will be so eager to eat this delicious-smelling dish. It’s the best! And the worst. Life is very hard because of the good smells and the waiting.

Note how simple this is to make. It is also worth a big mention that this can be made ahead of time (up to two days), then slid into the oven in time to bake for dinner (and to frustrate all the people with the smells).

First, lay your bacon in a pan.

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Then press your hamburger meat over the top and sprinkle on everything that makes it smell better and taste better.

bacon meat44Next, sprinkle on the shredded cheese.

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Then roll it up. Do you see how easy this is?

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You will bake this and smell this and try to be nice while you have to smell it but still wait eat it. We pray for strength to make it through these hard times.

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Then slice it and try to remember to throw out some form of fruit and vegetable because really? We’ve forgotten this nutritional need because today we’re all just in it for the bacon and the smells.

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Simple Bacon Cheeseburger Roll

Simple Bacon Cheeseburger Roll
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • ½ pound bacon
  • 1 pound hamburger meat
  • 1-2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion salt
  • 1½ cups shredded cheese
Instructions
  1. Lay bacon slices in single file into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Pat hamburger meat evenly over the top of the bacon.
  3. Sprinkle garlic powder and onion salt over the meat.
  4. Top with shredded cheese.
  5. Roll it up.
  6. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45-55 minutes or until bacon is cooked to your liking.

Simple Bacon Cheeseburger Roll

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How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice

I read and hear the debates every year at this time: Pumpkin Spice Coffee, or no?

Pumpkin Spice MIx

I promise to love you no matter your preference in this matter, but I have to admit that when it comes to Pumpkin Spice in my coffee: I heartily vote no!

Not that I’ve actually ever tried it. I’m sorry. I’m a coffee-with-cream girl and I’ve already made up my mind about Pumpkin Spice Lattes before I’ve tried a sip. Can I pretend to be a 5-year old and say, “I don’t like that” even though I’ve never actually tried it?

I’ll try all the new vegetables put in front of me. I’ll give most foods a fair chance. But when it comes to my beloved coffee combined with the fun, seasonal pumpkin spice, that is where I must draw the line.

I do love eating a pumpkin spice treat with my coffee. But to stir the pumpkin spice directly into my coffee, on purpose, with a spoon? Now why would I want to go and ruin my morning like that? Why?

I’d love to hear how all of you feel about the infamous Pumpkin Spice Lattes. It’s possible that some of you love them so much that you are convinced that they were served at The First Thanksgiving. With a dollop of cool whip. And topped with a candy corn.

I can’t even.

DIY Pumpkin Spice Mix

Now the cinnamon-nutmeg-clove pumpkin spice combination itself – this is the essence of fall. When making a pumpkin treat of any kind, I have always pulled out the variety of spices needed and added them each separately. But in the name of simplicity, this year I decided to shake together my own little jar of Pumpkin Spice perfection.

This year as I make all of our fun pumpkin muffins, pies, pancakes, and cookies, I’ll save myself a bit of time and effort and get out my cute jar of Pumpkin Spice.

Think of all the precious seconds I’ll save because of this new jar of Pumpkin Spice I have finally added to my kitchen. Thanks to this, I’ll actually have time to tie my shoes before running out the door.

Homemade Pumpkin Spice

How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice
 
Author:
Serves: ½ cup
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tablespoon ground allspice
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients and store the spice blend in an airtight container.

Quick and Easy Pumpkin Spice Mix

What to Make with Pumpkin Spice

From now on, I’ll sub my Pumpkin Spice in all my Pumpkin Recipes!

12 Pumpkin Recipes

 

Here are some of our featured Pumpkin Recipes!

Be on the lookout this fall for several new recipes we can use with Pumpkin Spice. I’ve been experimenting and to be sure, my house smells wonderfully pumpkin spicy all the time right now!

If you’d like to shake some Pumpkin Spice into your coffee, please go right ahead. I’ll even sit with you while you drink it. We can still be friends.

Do tell. Are you a Pumpkin Spice Latte lover?

Simple Barbecue Beef Roast (2 Minute Prep!)

Before I tell you about the easiest Barbecue Beef Roast on the planet earth, I must ask this:

How did we ever get through life without knowing how to make the Easiest Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes?? I don’t even know.

Well, I guess I do know. I had given up on making mashed potatoes altogether. Never able to fit it into my schedule, or not wanting to mess with the mess if I did have time – I just stopped making them. We’ve been through all this.

But now that I know I can make them like this and it takes almost no effort, time, or clean-up? I’ve made them for my family at least once each week since.

My children are so happy. My husband is so happy. But I am the happiest because I feel like a great big champion when I’ve made not just a delicious, wholesome dinner but fantastic mashed potatoes too. I feel like a rock star. Mashed potatoes have made me a rock star.

I obviously measure success in ways that no one else does. Everyone else can have their fame, fortune, fancy boats, big houses, and cool cars. We have our mashed potatoes. This is what dreams are made of.

bbq roast beef

Well, perhaps it’s time to move on to information about the Barbecue Beef Roast?

This new recipes is even easier than the potatoes, which of course, is saying something. So if you happen to have two crock pots, you can make both of these on the same day and your family will stand up at the table and give you an ovation.

The first time I made this roast, I did this:

  • Walked to the freezer and got out a roast. (30 seconds)
  • Opened the package and put it into a crock pot. (20 seconds)
  • Got out some barbecue sauce and dumped it on the roast. (20 seconds)
  • Grabbed and onion, pulled off the outer layer, rinsed it, and quartered it, then threw it in with the meat. (40 seconds)
  • Plugged in the crock pot, turned it on low, walked away. (10 seconds)

This, my friends, is how we make dinner in 2 minutes.

My kids scrubbed the potatoes for me and we got those started in our second crock pot a couple hours later. At dinner time, we mashed the potatoes (2 minutes), steamed some green beans (30 seconds of “work”/5 minutes of cook time), and got out a bowl of fresh pineapple.

This dinner is glorious.

P.S. I considered making gravy but decided I had “worked” hard enough to make this dinner. So I chose to simply use the juice in the crock pot. That was still perfection.

Simple Barbecue Beef Roast

5.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Barbecue Beef Roast (2 Minute Prep!)
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 3-4 pound beef roast, frozen or thawed
  • 1-2 cups BBQ sauce
  • 1-2 medium onions
Instructions
  1. Place roast in a crock pot (frozen is fine).
  2. Douse the meat with barbecue sauce.
  3. Quarter the onion and place in the crock pot.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 10 hours if frozen or 8 hours if thawed.

Simple Barbecue Roast Beef

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Simple Garlic Butter Shrimp Recipe (3-Ingredients!)

It’s not that I can’t handle thawing meat ahead of time for dinner. Ok yes. That’s exactly what it is. I can’t handle thawing meat ahead of time for dinner. Or soaking beans, which is probably why I need to break down and get an Instant Pot.

I frequently rely on the “thaw meat in a tub of water” method so I can have dinner ready on time. Or I use recipes like Simple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast or Simple Overnight Saucy Crock Pot Chicken that don’t require any thawing at all.

Today, I’m happy to introduce to you yet another “don’t worry about thawing the meat” recipe: Simple Garlic Butter Shrimp.

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I only buy shrimp occasionally since it’s a bit on the pricey side and I don’t have a great source for it here in Nebraska. (We’re good at raising cows and chickens here in my beloved state. Shrimp? Not so much.)

But occasionally I’ll grab a couple bags of frozen shrimp to cook for my family as a special treat. It takes no effort to make this, and it can go from freezer to skillet without a problem!

Simple Garlic Butter Shrimp

Simple Garlic Butter Shrimp Recipe (3-Ingredients!)
 
Author:
Serves: 3-5
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds raw shrimp (any size, frozen or thawed)
  • ¼-1/2 cup butter
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder or freshly minced garlic
Instructions
  1. Cook ingredients together in a skillet for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Easy as that!

I usually just serve this shrimp by itself with some fruit and veggie side dishes. But if you really want to go all out, I recommend making Alfredo Sauce with Pasta to go with this Garlic Butter Shrimp. It’s amazing, plus tastier, cheaper, and healthier than what you can order in a restaurant.

Simple Garlic Butter Shrimp

Here are more Simple Recipes you’ll love!

Truly, all of these recipes are ridiculously easy, good, and nourishing.

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Hot Vanilla Milk (3 Ingredients)

Hot cocoa is wonderful. Hot tea hits the spot. I think we all know how I feel about a lovely cup of coffee. (Best thing ever, in case you weren’t sure.) But this Hot Vanilla Milk is a fun option to offer when you need a little variety in your hot drink repertoire.

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If you want to make it really special, add one of the fun Flavored Whipped Cream options I shared below. As fun as it is to hit a coffee shop sometimes for a special treat, it is not fun to pay $4-$5 per cup of delicious drink. This Hot Vanilla Milk and all the other fun drink options I listed below will save us all loads of money because we can make many great hot drinks at home!

Hot Vanilla MilkYum

Hot Vanilla Milk (3 Ingredients)
 
Author:
Serves: 3-4
Ingredients
  • 3 cups milk (I use whole milk)
  • 2 Tablespoons real maple syrup (give or take)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Whisk milk and maple syrup together in a small sauce pan.
  2. Stir over low heat until milk mixture begins to bubble.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.
  4. Serve right away.

hot-vanilla-milk

I will now make a list for you of all the hot drink recipes I’ve shared here through the years. With this Hot Vanilla Drink recipe, there’s a hot drink for every day of the week! Plus I included a few fun add-ins to the list. Hot drinks are fun. Hot drinks with flavored whipped creams are even better!

Homemade Hot Cocoa

What are your favorite hot drinks? Do you live in a cold-weather area? My family (here in Nebraska) is doing everything we can to stay warm right now.

Simple Crock Pot Chicken Soup with a Kick – 4 Ingredients!

It’s as if this soup knew we needed it in our lives. As if somehow, in the mysterious ways only known to soup, it recognized that many days of the week are busy, and our time in the kitchen is limited, but we still want a hearty meal as the sun goes down. Therefore, on the day we needed it most, this soup arrived, begging us to make it on a morning we are still half-asleep and thinking about the other items on our agenda for the day.crock-pot-chicken-soup-with-a-kickThis soup! I don’t think I’ve ever made one that takes less effort or energy. I didn’t even thaw the chicken ahead of time. I had all four ingredients already in my home because I almost always have:

  • boneless chicken
  • salsa
  • chicken broth
  • cheese

I didn’t have to chop, stir, measure, or think. I put the ingredients into my crock pot, plugged it in (always recommended), turned it on, and walked away. Six hours later we sat down and ate soup.

If all of life was as easy as this soup, we would all turn into lazy, squishy people. Seeing as most days we are going-going-going, I don’t think we need to fear the squish. But this soup? It’s got our back at the end of a busy day, because it recognizes all we do and it’s here to say, “Dinner? No problem. I’m here for you. Sit down with your family. Eat. Enjoy.”

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Simple Crock Pot Chicken Soup with a KickYum

5.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Crock Pot Chicken Soup with a Kick - 4 Ingredients!
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 16-ounces salsa (more or less is fine)
  • 32 ounces (1 quart) chicken broth
  • 8 ounces cheese (cheddar, Colby jack, Monterrey, Pepper jack - whichever you prefer)
Instructions
  1. Put all ingredients into a crock pot.
  2. Cook on hi for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8.
  3. Shred chicken and serve.

What to serve with this Chicken Soup with a Kick:

  • Tossed salad
  • Fresh fruit

Consider adding to your bowl of Chicken Soup with a Kick:

  • Crushed tortilla chips
  • Sour Cream
  • Sliced Olives
  • Black Beans
  • Corn

This soup will work wonderfully to serve to guests. It is seriously delicious and need I remind you? You don’t have to thaw the chicken ahead of time. I mean, you can if you want. But why plan ahead when this soup doesn’t require it?

This recipe, for sure, will be one of my go-to recipes this fall and winter.

Hopefully you also saw the Simple Baked Salmon and Asparagus recipe I posted earlier this week. If you’re wondering if there’s some kind of theme going on – perhaps a conspiracy to force us put healthy meals on the table with very little effort – you are right on track. Meals that take just a few minutes to prepare. Healthy food ideas and guides that prevent us from spending hours in the kitchen. Plans to save our family time. Oh yes. This is definitely in the works.

It’s here! Check out our amazing Simple Meals program!

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Check it out! Cooking Guy (my friend’s son) is at it again. He’s four. He made this soup. See? I TOLD you it was simple!

If you’re going to buy Simple Meals (and you really, really should), you should click through the video to YouTube and buy it through Cooking Guys link. He deserves a little referral money, don’t you think?

High Five Recipes: Easy Butterscotch Bars

People can’t get enough of these butterscotch bars. They’re made with whole wheat flour but no one knows. They’re made with only five ingredients that you probably have on hand – so easy!

butterscotch_bars

I originally posted this recipe in 2010, but decided to post it again for you today. Why? Because butterscotch bars. And also because I have only been home 3 of the past 11 days so I’m behinder than ever. While I play catch up and work on new projects (wait till you see!), I wanted to bless you a recipe so you could bless others.

High Five Recipes 2

You’ll be glad to know that this is a High Five Recipe! (High quality recipes + five ingredients or less = High Five Recipe)

This is not a Low Sugar Recipe, however. So make them to share with others, and saver them slowly (as opposed to gobbling down half the pan before you realize what happened).

 

Easy Butterscotch BarsYum

3.3 from 3 reviews
High Five Recipes: Easy Butterscotch Bars
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1¾ cups sucanat or brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
Instructions
  1. Stir melted butter and sucanat together.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well.
  3. Stir in flour and mix until well combined.
  4. Pour batter into a 9x13 inch baking pan.
  5. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes.

These bars are gooey, rich, and need I remind you to make them to share with friends?

Now that I’ve been making these butterscotch bars for so many years, I get frequent requests for them.

  • “Laura, would it be too much for me to ask you to make a batch of your butterscotch bars for me for my birthday? Like very year for the rest of my life?”
  • “Laura, my friends and I were talking about your butterscotch bars and now we want some. I told them I’d ask…can you make us a batch?”
  • “How much arm twisting would it take for you to make another pan of your butterscotch bars?”

These requests make my day, and since the bars are so easy to make, I almost always say yes! If you haven’t tried these bars yet, do it. They’re crazy easy, but beware: people will beg you to make more. You’ll have more friends than you ever had before and everyone will love you for providing the butterscotch bars. It’s hard, but you can handle it.

Easy Butterscotch Bars - Five Ingredients!

Real Food Bacon Ranch Chip Dip

Bacon Ranch Chip Dip

I was looking through Pricematerz.com this week to see what produce I could get for great prices, and what do I see? Oodles of sale prices for chips, frozen pizza, and crackers. It must be Super Bowl Week.

I’d forgotten all about it. For us right now it’s Blizzard Week, and we are in preparation for Youth Rally Weekend (where our church hosts 120+ teens for a fun and spiritually encouraging weekend). Therefore, I’m very much out of football mode. This is not such a shocker, since I’m always out of football mode and don’t even know who’s playing this weekend. Denver? And some other team? Forgive me.

Now that I’m (only barely) caught up on what most Americans are thinking about this week, I’ve decided to share a new chip dip recipe in case you want to make this for your Super Bowl party. It includes bacon, sour cream, cream cheese, ranch dressing mix, and shredded cheese – so you know that means it is delicious. Since the recipe is coming from me – so you know that means it is easy.

Our family tested it with corn chips, potato chips, and baked tortilla chips. We all preferred a different chip – which basically means that anything goes.

Why do we have so many chips on hand? Oh my goodness, you do not want to see my stash of chips right now. It has just a little something to do with my preparations for Youth Rally Weekend where somewhere between 15-20 teenage boys will be staying at our house from Friday-Sunday. They’ll eat their meals at the church building, but it’s so weird that they are all hungry again when they come back here for the night. It’s like they’re normal or something.

For this dip recipe, you’ll need this Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix recipe. Make it by the jar-full because that mix is what makes the world go ’round.

Real Food Bacon Ranch Chip Dip

Real Food Bacon Ranch Chip Dip
 
Author:
Serves: 10
Ingredients
  • 1 pound bacon
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons homemade ranch dressing mix
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I used colby jack)
  • 2 cups sour cream
Instructions
  1. Cut bacon into ½-inch strips.
  2. Cook the bacon to your liking, then drain.
  3. Stir cooked bacon into a bowl with all other ingredients.
  4. Spread mixture into a 2-quart baking dish.
  5. Bake in a 400° oven for 20-25 minutes or until dip is bubbly and hot.
  6. Serve with corn chips, potato chips, or baked tortilla chips.

Easy Real Food Bacon Ranch Chip Dip

Are you in Super Bowl Week mode? Or Blizzard Week mode? Or Something Else Week mode? Or all/none/some of the above?