Simple Build-a-Spanish-Rice-Bowl

Sometimes I think I have picky eaters at my house. Then I realize that my kids eat a huge variety of foods and I should be grateful.

I mean, when I was a little girl, I liked exactly two varieties of fruits and vegetables: green beans (canned) and apples (with the peeling off). Somehow this kept me alive, I made it to college, and learned to eat salads (to avoid the Freshman 15, of course). Later, I got married and found out about a thing called broccoli. Little by little through the years, I’ve tried and liked dozens of fruits and veggies, expanding my repertoire many times over.

Though I still don’t like jicama.

It’s okay though because I often sit in my recliner snacking on raw spinach, which isn’t even weird, not even a little bit, am I right? I can’t figure out why my teenagers tease me about this.

Well anyway, my kids aren’t really picky, I’m realizing, because they like and eat a big variety of fruits and veggies. But still, we all have our preferences. Some of us really like cheese and some of us think it’s fun to snack on spinach.

Because of our wide variety of preferences, sometimes, instead of making a meal that everyone has to eat whether they like it or not, it’s fun to instead set out a big buffet of choices and everyone can build their own plate or bowl.

I love this idea so much that I include a category for this every single week in our Simple Meals plans. Build-Your-Own buffets are a huge time saver and make for a really fun meal too!

Today’s idea is Build a Spanish Rice Bowl.

I used to make Spanish Rice all in one pot, but some people like corn and some don’t. Some like black beans and some don’t. Some want sour cream and some don’t. I have found it easiest to simply set out all the fixin’s and let everyone build their bowl the way they like.

We each pile in our favorites:

spanish rice bowl41

Then stir it up and dive in.

spanish rice bowl11

The bowl above has a lot of greens (bet you can guess which mom that belongs to), no rice (can we even still call it spanish rice?), a whole lotta ground beef and black beans, and a dollop of sour cream.

But this one got piled up with rice, meat, beans, corn, and salsa without the greens and sour cream.

spanish rice bowls21

So it got stirred up to look like this.

spanish rice bowls31

At the end of the meal, everyone was satisfied and happy because their bowl was filled with everything they wanted and nothing they didn’t want. Of course, many participants in this meal filled their bowl more than once, which is also fun because they could either choose to fill it the same way as the first time or create something new the second (or third) time around.

Build a Spanish Rice Bowl

5.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Build-a-Spanish-Rice-Bowl
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground beef, seasoned with chili powder, garlic powder, and salt
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can sliced olives
  • Shredded cheese
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Fresh greens
  • Cooked corn
Instructions
  1. Set out any or all of the ingredients listed above, along with anything else your family might like.
  2. Allow each person to fill their bowl the way they like.

Those are just some of the foods you might want to set out for your Build a Spanish Rice Bowl buffet. I’d love to hear of any add-in ideas your family might like.

Build a Spanish Rice Bowl

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5 Top Family-Friendly Recipes

I suppose it’s obvious that if I’m sharing a recipe with you here, it’s because my family loves it. But what I really enjoy is when you try a recipe and send me feedback about how much your family loves it too!

Here are some messages I’ve received recently. I’m sharing them here because everyone needs to know how these recipes save time, money, and are a hit with families! If you haven’t tried these yet, here are a few reasons you should. :)

About Simple Pizza Chicken Bake, Pam said: I made this for our small group last night, and they scraped the pan clean. My husband asked me to make it again. It was a hit! Thank you so much for your fun and easy recipes.

pizza-chicken-bake

About Last Minute Creamy Bacon Spaghetti Amber said: I’ve made this 3 times now, and it’s definitely a family favourite! I always double the cream cheese, because… cream cheese. Yum! So good. Thanks for another great recipe!

And Tara said: Laura, I just made this tonight after we spent an extra long time at the park. We ran home and got in the door at 5:30pm, and I had nothing planned for dinner. Thankfully I had bacon and cream cheese, so I threw this together and steamed some broccoli, and served it with a side of applesauce. It was on the table at 6! So easy, and it was a big hit with everyone in the family—including the 3 year old twins that are very picky these days.

bacon-spaghetti

 

About Simple Chicken Cheeseballs with a Kick with a Kick, Megan said: These were SO GOOD tonight that we all just called them “amaze-balls”. Thank you!

simple-chicken-cheeseballs1

About Homemade Vanilla Wafers, Jennifer said: This is definitely a keeper!  Hubby kept going on & on about how ‘good these vanilla wafers are!’ He had a hard time not eating them. This comes from someone who likes his white flour, white sugar type cookies. Thanks!!! But thanks from all 6 of my children, too.

vanilla_wafers

 

About Simple 3-Cheese Crock Pot Pasta, Tosha said: My 3 year old son made this today! He added spinach because that is his favorite vegetable! I love that even he could do this with a little supervision from mama!

crock pot pasta2

 

Have you tried any recipes here recently that you love? I’d love to hear how they worked for you.

Also, it’s been really fun to hear feedback from Simple Meals subscribers. If you get Simple Meals Planning Packets in your inbox every week, share here what you love about them!

 

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 Crock Pot Pizza Casserole

Of all the Simple Recipes I’ve been sharing around here, this Simple Crock Pot Pizza Casserole has proven to be the very simplest. Get this: No cooking necessary to make this recipe. A two-year-old could make this. Or a very busy adult. Either one will do.

pizza casserole1

This Simple Meal requires one dish (a crock pot) and thirty-seconds of prep (dump/stir/plug in). Your meal cooks itself.

As you can see from the above picture, I even cheated on my veggie side dish by simply setting out mixed greens and grape tomatoes. Therefore absolutely nothing about this meal took any work or actual cooking.

Now, you can add other cooked meats to this if you want. You can chop in some mushrooms and peppers if you want. None of those tasks take long, but they do take a few more minutes of prep. Sometimes I throw those veggies onto the table as side dishes, along with a can of black olives. Or, in a pinch, sometimes I skip it all and just throw out the mixed greens.

Either way, this meal is completely effortless, very inexpensive, and ridiculously good.

This spring, we’ve found this meal great to throw together before leaving for the soccer field. When we get home, we immediately get to sit down to an awesome, warm dinner. (Spring soccer is cold. I have done this cold soccer season for 15 years. When does it end?! Good thing my kids are worth it. Good thing I have a really great coat, and hat, and gloves, and fuzzy blanket. Good thing I can come home to warm comfort food at the end of my wind-blown, drizzly soccer cheering experience.)

Look how effortless this is —>

Simple Crock Pot Pizza Casserole

Simple Crock Pot Pizza Casserole
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 16-ounces UNCOOKED whole grain pasta
  • 50-ounces pizza or spaghetti sauce
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 6-ounces pepperoni
  • Optional: additional cooked meat, sliced olives, chopped sweet pepper, and/or sliced mushrooms
Instructions
  1. Stir uncooked pasta and pizza sauce in a crock pot.
  2. Cook on low for 3-4 hours.
  3. Stir.
  4. Top with shredded cheese and pepperoni.
  5. Cook for an additional 10 minutes on low to melt cheese.

Simple Crock Pot Pizza Casserole

Will your family love this, or what? But trust me: no one will love it as much as you. Because this recipes allows you to cook without cooking. It provides you a great meal without working for it.

And now, if we could all find ourselves such a thing as a Self-Cleaning Crock Pot. (Tip, I soak my crock overnight and everything comes clean easily in the morning. No need to scrub when soaking does the hard work for us, am I right?)

Want to enjoy more Simple Recipes? We’ve got a bunch!

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Join everyone who is LOVING Simple Meals! Your meal plan, recipes, and grocery list will be sent to you every single week. All you have to do is execute to super simple plan. Win back your family time! Eat well. Love the simplicity! Read about it here and join us!

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Simple Crock Pot Shredded Ranch Chicken (for Tacos or Salad)

Once again, feel free to make this new recipe even if you failed to thaw chicken ahead of time. (See also: Simple Crock Pot Chicken Soup with a KickSimple Overnight Saucy Crock Pot ChickenSimple Overnight Melt-in-Your-Mouth Beef Roast, and Simple Garlic Butter Shrimp – all recipes that do not require thawing meat ahead of time.)

You might be thinking, “Do you ever plan ahead? Don’t you ever thaw your meat? This is what lists are for, Laura. Get yourself a planner!”

ranch chicken salad1

I do have a planner. And a calendar. And several phone reminder alarms that go off all week to remind me of important things to do and places to be.

But my planner, calendar, and phone can’t walk to the freezer to get out the chicken, now can they? So basically, frozen meat is what I have learned to deal with in this life, and there’s nothing that can be done about it. My crock pot gently says, “I’m here for you. I’ll thaw and cook your meat – all at the same time. So you just quickly throw it in here and go about your day.”

Hmm. I think I like my crock pot better than my planner. My crock pot saves my neck, makes my house smell amazing so as to make people think I’m actually working at today’s food, then kindly provides my family with dinner. Meanwhile my planner just bosses me around and tells me what to do all day. Rude.

Planner? You could learn a thing or two from Crock Pot. And Phone Alarms? You need to just sssshhhhhhhhhussshhh once in a while. I heard you the first four times you went off. I know I have a deadline. Can you not see that I’m down on the floor trying to sort through these tax forms? Seeing as you are way over there in the other room, one cannot expect me to just bounce off the floor and spring into the kitchen to swipe your sound off. I can’t afford to be inflicted with a strained muscle if I want to try and keep up with everything Planner is making me do.

And Calendar? I’d much appreciate it if you stop staring at me, mocking me with all your words and appointments. Why don’t you just say, “Stay home. Relax.” once in a while? But no. You’re all, “Take your kid to this, head over to that, so-and-so and such-and-such, be sure to, and don’t forget.”

It’s possible that I may need anger management classes as I learn to deal with the organizational tools that help me handle all my responsibilities. In the meantime, I will happily forget to thaw my meat and let my BFF, the Crock Pot, save me once again with another Simple Recipe.

Simple Shredded Ranch Chicken (for tacos or salad)

5.0 from 1 reviews
Simple Shredded Ranch Chicken (for tacos or salad)
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2-3 pounds boneless chicken thighs or breasts
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning*
  • 3 Tablespoons dry Ranch Seasoning**
Instructions
  1. Place chicken in the bottom of a crock pot.
  2. Drizzle on olive oil.
  3. Sprinkle on seasoning mixes.
  4. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
  5. Shred chicken and serve with favorite taco toppings on hard or soft shells.

*Here’s my Homemade Taco Seasoning recipe.
**Here’s my Homemade Ranch Seasoning recipe.

Simple Crock Pot Shredded Ranch Chicken (for Tacos or Salad)

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Simple Crunchy Ranch Chicken Strips

Did you get your free Simple Recipes, Volume 1 eBook yet? You will LOVE how easy it is to put real food meals on the table. As you can tell with the Simple Garlic Shrimp recipe and now this Simple Crunchy Ranch Chicken Strips recipe – we are now well on our way to Simple Recipes, Volume 2.

Simple Recipes excitement

Let’s keep the Simple Recipes coming!

ranch chicken12

Today I’m excited to share a recipe that has been a family favorite for several years at our house. Of course, seeing as I like everything to be simple now, I’ve pared down the steps it used to take to prepare this chicken. (Pick up one little piece of chicken. Dip the piece of chicken. Dip it again. No thank you.) C’mon. We have more important things to do with our lives…like attempting to have a Family Movie Night.

Attempting? Yes. Allow me to share a little issue I have as of late.

I can’t stay awake for a movie. Ever. It goes something like this:

  1. I get excited that our family has an actual free evening.
  2. We decide to have a movie night and discuss which movie to watch together.
  3. We make snacks and special hot drinks to enjoy while we’re watching the movie together.
  4. Everyone takes forever to actually get their food and drinks and get themselves into the living room to start the movie. (I’m always the picture of loving patience during this time.)
  5. I begin to get nervous, knowing my eyes struggle to stay open if it gets too late. HURRY EVERYONE!!! Thankfully, we’ve started the “get the movie set up and snacks on your plates” ritual at 8:00. Surely I can handle staying awake for a movie with it being so early, right? Well, one would think.
  6. We finally get situated and start the movie at 8:32.
  7. I finish my snack and fall asleep promptly at 8:47.
  8. I wake up just as the credits roll at the end.

Every. Single. Time.

It doesn’t matter what movie. It doesn’t matter what time we begin. (I know this because we tested to see if I could stay awake during an afternoon movie while drinking a cup of caffeinated coffee. I still got sleepy. You may as well ruin every movie for me by telling me who gets married and who dies and who the hero is because I may never watch an entire movie again.)

Well, anyway. The Simple Recipes and Simple Meals resources do everything they can to keep you out of the kitchen and offer you more family time. As far as staying awake during a Family Movie Night goes – you’re on your own. There’s obviously nothing I can do to help any of us with this need.

Simple Crunchy Ranch Chicken Strips

Simple Crunchy Ranch Chicken Strips
 
Author:
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup whole grain flour (rice, wheat, corn, etc) or crushed corn flakes
  • 3 Tablespoons Ranch Dressing Mix*
  • 1 cup melted butter, divided
Instructions
  1. Cut chicken into strips about 1 inch wide.
  2. Drizzle ½ cup melted butter into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  3. In a bowl, stir together parmesan cheese, flour, and ranch dressing mix.
  4. Stir in the chicken pieces until they are coated.
  5. Spread the prepared chicken pieces into the butter in the pan.
  6. Drizzle the remaining butter over the chicken.
  7. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink.
  8. If desired, broil chicken for about 2 minutes to crisp it up before serving.

*Here’s my Homemade Ranch Dressing Mix recipe.

Simple Crunchy Ranch Chicken

Notice the recipe offers you a “cheater” method to get these chicken pieces into a pan in a short amount of time! You can dip each piece one at a time if you want, but I simply melt the butter into the pan, stir the chicken all together in a bowl with the flour mixture, then dump it into the buttery pan. It’s so simple!

Typically I prefer chicken thighs over breasts because they are juicier and more flavorful. For this recipe though, I like chicken breasts. I also keep my eye out for mark-downs at the store on chicken breasts pre-cut into strips. It’s a time saver and the mark-down keeps the price reasonable!

‘Fess up! Can you stay awake during movies?

Here are more Simple Recipes you’ll love!

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

If you haven’t joined Simple Meals yet, you are missing out on SIMPLE becoming even MORE SIMPLE! (It’s actually possible. I do the work for you.) Check it out here (and get $10 off!). Get an full Simple Meals Planning Packet in your inbox every single week!

15 Delicious Ways to Use Chocolate Chips and a Big Enjoy Life Chocolate Chip Discount!

I shared this last year, but am re-sharing today to be sure you all see the awesome Enjoy Life Chocolate Chip deal happening right now!

Real Food Monster Cookie Bars

It’s always fun this time of year to find discounts on my favorite Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips! Companies avoid shipping them out during the summer months because they arrive in the mail messy and melty. Therefore the price always goes up when it’s warm. But winter? Well, this is one reason to like winter. If we can’t enjoy warmth and sunshine, at least we can enjoy chocolate. (One must choose to seek joy in all circumstances.)

Today I found that Amazon is offering huge discount!!!

Why the Enjoy Life brand? Because they are soy free, dairy, and nut free. They taste just as yummy as any other brand, and we have the benefit of avoiding soy! I keep these on hand at all times!

Right now (but who knows how long this price and coupon will last??) you can get a 6-pack of the chocolate chips for just $18.60! That makes each package just $3.10 – and amazing price for these gems!

enjoy life six pack

Want some chocolate chip recipes?

15 Recipes That Use Chocolate Chips

Malachi has been helping in the kitchen more lately, thanks to the Kids Cook Real Food course. At this point, he’s mostly motivated by dessert – as in, he would prefer not to “waste time” making boring ol’ scrambled eggs or ranch dip. I’m going to need him to get over that very soon, but to keep it light today I asked, “What do you want to make?” His answer? “FUDGE.”

Okay then.

I had him make this Peanut Butter Honey Fudge recipe, but with almond butter instead of peanut butter. It doesn’t get any easier than this 3-ingredient recipe. Though we’ve decided that the result tastes more like a Tootsie Roll than fudge. Still awesome.

malachi fudge 1

Our other favorite recipes that include chocolate chips are:

Giant Breakfast Cookies

breakfast_cookies

Chewy Granola Bars

chewy_granola_bars
Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

Chocolate_Chocolate_Chip_Muffins
Coconut Flour Muffins

Coconut_Flour_Muffin
Baked Oatmeal Cups

Baked_Oatmeal_Cups
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

pumpkin_chocolate_chip_muffin_3

(…which can also be made into Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread.)

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread
Peanut Butter or Caramel Truffles

Delicious Homemade Truffles

Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

cookie_bars

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

flourless_cookie_1

Mudballs

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(No Flour) Monster Cookie Bars

Real Food Monster Cookie Bars

Easy Peanut Butter Snack Bars

peanut butter snack bars

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Balls

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Balls

There. I gave you 15 excuses to eat chocolate chips. Plus a lovely discount on my favorite brand of chocolate chips. Plus a lot of pictures to make you want chocolate right this minute. You’re welcome or I’m sorry – take your pick.

Some of the links in this post are my affiliate links.

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.

shrimp1

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.

Get all those recipes in an eBook FOR FREE when you join Simple Meals! —>

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How To Make Your Own Popcorn Flavor Shakers (7 Varieties!)

Two Christmases ago, we surprised our boys with this Vintage Popcorn Machine. It’s been super fun for family movie nights – but especially fun to use when we invite friends over.

popcorn machine

I’ve had it on my to-do list since then to make fun flavor shakers to go with our popcorn. (Not that coconut oil and sea salt aren’t amazing in and of themselves.)

Finally, I got the shakers made for my kids to enjoy a year later – in time for Christmas this year. Then it took another three months to type this out to share with you. Time flies when you’re eating popcorn.

So if anyone understands that it might take you until 2019 to make these, it will be me. But if you happen to find a few minutes before then, do try to whip these up. It doesn’t take long, I promise. (Neither does washing windows, but do I ever get around to that? No. Let’s stop talking about that and eat some popcorn, want to?)

popcorn-shaker-collection2

The beauty of these Popcorn Flavor Shakers is that they taste just as good, if not better than, the commercial ones you can buy at the store. But of course, when we make our own we will save money and include only healthy ingredients.

You may find it helpful to blend these ingredients together to make a fine powder for easier sprinkling.

7 Popcorn Flavor Shaker Recipes

Taco

2 Tablespoon dried minced onion
1 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Ranch

2 Tablespoons dried minced onions
3 teaspoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

(These ingredients are the same as my Ranch Dressing Mix, so if you have that on hand, simply blend it and pour it into a shaker.)

Barbecue

3 teaspoons smoky paprika
1 teaspoon sucanat or brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Hot Chocolate

2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Salted Caramel

3 Tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Cinnamon Sugar

3 Tablespoons sucanat or brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Pizza

1½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoon oregano
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper

make-your-own-popcorn-flavor-shakers

Want a printable that includes the shaker labels and easy recipe reference? Join our free newsletter list (we have a lot of fun together!) and I’ll send it to you!

popcorn-shakers2

If you’re already on my Heavenly Homemaker’s Newsletter List, I sent you an email yesterday with these goodies attached. :)

The Easiest Mashed Potatoes in the World! (How the crock pot can make mashed potatoes great again)

Because I work from home and we school at home, my daily commute and our trek to school are as far as walking downstairs to the kitchen from our bedrooms (uphill both ways, mind you). This also means that my work attire is typically quite casual and sometimes involves pajama pants.

It all makes sense, then, that I would run out the door to a meeting a few evenings ago where I would join many professionals who had just left their offices. They were so dressed up and looked so nice! I took a seat, looked down, and that’s when I noticed that I was still wearing my slippers.

Nailed it. But at least I had on actual pants.

I’ve gotten to the point of laughing (most of the time) about the craziness of my days – mostly because I truly do love my life – even if it is sometimes questionably insane. The “day of the slippers” I had gone from one kid to the next to the next as we tried to crank out papers and assignments for school, along with a video that was due for a church event the minute we got back from a three day out-of-state basketball tournament. Try as I might, never once was I able to sit down to even answer a work email.

The day after that was no different (except that I was still wearing those same slippers). So I’m not sure what came over me when I decided that morning to try the Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes so many of you told me about after I’d lamented that my mashed tater making days had come to an end.

They take too much time, said I. They make too much of a mess. I’ve got to keep my meals simple!!

All of this is true. After all, I don’t even have time to remember to wear shoes when I go out in public. Therefore no one should expect me to make mashed potatoes for dinner.

But since the crock pot version seemed just as simple as making baked potatoes in the crock pot – and I’ve been doing that for years – I decided to give mashed potatoes one last chance.

The easiest mashed potatoes in the world!

You guys. My children are so happy that you are in my life. They had long since forgotten that mashed potatoes were an actual thing. Imagine their faces (and their full plates) when I presented them with a crock full of beautiful, fluffy, delicious mashed potatoes THAT HAD TAKEN ALL OF 2 MINUTES TO MAKE.

The crock pot has made mashed potatoes great again.

What’s the difference in the amount of work/time/dirty dishes compared to making mashed potatoes on the stove-top? The difference for me is enormous!

When I made potatoes on the stove-top, I’d dirty a pot, and I’d almost always allow the potato water to spill over and dirty the stove-top. Then I’d transfer the cooked potatoes to a bowl and use my beaters to mash them. This means I’d dirty my counter-tops because I’m a messy cook and potatoes would fling precariously from the beaters.

I can’t even handle the memory of making mashed potatoes this way. I just had to walk away.

But here’s how to make Simple Mashed Potatoes in the Crock Pot. I do warn you ahead of time and apologize because I no longer know how to cook in small quantity. If you aren’t feeding an army of teenage boys, feel free to cut this recipe in half.

The Easiest Mashed Potatoes in the World

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Simple Mashed Potatoes (How the crock pot can make mashed potatoes great again)
 
Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 5 pounds potatoes (I prefer yukon gold)
  • 1 cup whole milk, half-and-half, or cream
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • ¼-1/2 cup butter
  • sea salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Scrub, but don't peel the potatoes
  2. Cook them in a crock pot on low for 8-10 hours or on high for 5 hours.
  3. Mash soft potatoes directly in the crock with a potato masher.
  4. While mashing, dump in the milk, sour cream, butter, and salt.
  5. Continue mashing until potatoes have reached desired consistency.

How to make the easiest mashed potatoes in the worldA few extra tips: 

  • If you don’t like potato skins, peel them before baking them. Of course, this requires an extra step, takes away some nourishment, and I just can’t handle it. (The skin on yukon gold or red potatoes is much thinner and easier to eat, so I recommend sticking with those potatoes in this recipe!)
  • You don’t have to add sour cream and butter to these, but if you don’t, what even is the point of eating them??
  • These will cook faster if you cut the potatoes into chunks, but again, then we’ve added an extra step to the process which changes the name of these potatoes to “Almost the easiest mashed potatoes in the world.”

Much to my family’s delight, I have made mashed potatoes two weeks in a row after a very long mashed potato hiatus. A huge thank you to all who suggested this method!

Tell me if you’ve tried mashed potatoes this way? If you haven’t, promise me you’ll join this mashed potato party!