Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Fun Free Music! (Legally!)

This one isn't a pin, but a super fun tip I wanted to share with you. A couple of months ago I discovered this web service that allows you to download three songs a week, free of charge, that are mp3 format and compatible with iTunes, any mp3 player, android, mac & windows. New stuff, old stuff, all genres. I just downloaded two singles off the new John Mayer album that isn't even released yet. Even iTunes only has one of the songs available. I know you must be thinking by now that there must be some kind of catch, some charge or subscription hook. . . .

I'll be honest. You are right.

But the fabulous part is, the only membership you need is to your library--which is free!!

If you want to check out the website, it is but just going to that link won't get you in. You've got to enter through your library's website link. So check out your library website's page and search for Freegal Music. If you are local to me, go to the city library's page-->HPL online-->digital downloads and scroll to the middle of the page and you will find the link there.

Part two of the fabulousness: You get three downloads for EACH library card, which means, if your kids have their own cards, you can download three songs for you and three songs for them.

Here is what I've downloaded so far, and not spent a single penny:

(In no particular order, well, maybe alphabetically. . . )
1. Adele--Skyfall
2. Alicia Keys--Girl on Fire
3. Britney Spears--Ooh La La
4. Cheap Trick--I Want You to Want Me
5. Foster the People--Pumped Up Kicks
6. Harlem Freaks--Harlem Shake
7.  John Mayer--Paperdolls
8.  John Mayer--Wildfire
9.  Justin Timberlake--Mirrors
10.  Justin Timberlake--Rock Your Body
11.  Justin Timberlake--Senorita
12.  Justin Timberlake--Suit and Tie
13.  Ke$ha--Die Young
14.  Ke$ha--Die Young (Deconstructed version)
15.  Ke$ha--Crazy Kids Remix
16.  Ke$ha--Dirty Love
17.  Little Mix--Wings
18.  Miranda Lambert--Easy Living
19.  Miranda Lambert--Mama's Broken Heart
20.  Miranda Lambert--Me and Charlie Talking
21.  Miranda Lambert--Over You
22.  Miranda Lambert--White Liar
23.  Miley Cyrus--We Can't Stop
24.  The Vaccines--Wreckin' Bar
25.  The Vaccines--Teenage Icon

That is a deal! Just wanted to share it with my friends so you can start browsing the selection! And if your library doesn't have a subscription, maybe you can ask them about getting one.

Pin 210: McCormick's Meatloaf Copycat Recipe

Original pin:
Mum in Bloom ~: From Scratch: McCormick's Meatloaf Seasoning

Last night was meatloaf night around here. I had intended to pick up a spice packet at the store but yesterday was a little crazy and I forgot. Pinterest to the rescue. I just did a quick search and this was the first one to pop up. It claims to be the McCormick's recipe. I had all the ingredients on hand so I decided to give it a try.

My copycat picture of the ingredients. Her counter and backsplash are strikingly similar to mine as well. . . 
The final mix is a little more than I expected and I wasn't sure if this was for one meatloaf or intended to use for multiple. In the comments of the original post I found that it is for one so I dumped the whole thing in.
I mixed everything else in and the herbs were already starting to smell good. Just needed to add my extra ingredient that goes in all my cooking:
not ketchup. . . love.
My ketchup writing skills are a little sub-par. One hour later, and smelling delicious, the meatloaf was done and out of the oven. 

The meatloaf had a great flavor, although I'm not sure it was exactly McCormicks. It was a touch on the dry side so next time I might add just a bit more milk. I made it with extra lean ground beef so that may have caused the dryness. A little ketchup on top fixed that right up. My husband took one bite and said, "Is this a new recipe?" He liked it but he, too, noticed it wasn't quite the same thing.

Total cost: $0

Total time: 5 minutes

Final verdict: We really did like the flavor in this meatloaf. I didn't have to go out of my way to locate any random ingredients. It came together in seconds. We really did like the flavor better than the original. Next time I may make this in bulk so I can just measure up what I need. I will definitely make this again, and either use a less lean meat or add a bit more milk to keep it moist. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Pin 209: Shredded Chicken in the Stand Mixer

Original pin:
I really thought I HAD pinned this but after using the pin search and conducting my own, apparently I didn't pin it. I must have just read it somewhere and let my vise-like memory retain it for future use. I searched it on Pinterest and there is a ton of different sources so I can't attribute this to one original.

Anyhoo. . .

One of my absolute favorite slow cooker meals is lime-chicken tacos. Incredibly easy, versatile, and the leftovers freeze amazingly well. The most time consuming part of the whole process is shredding the chicken after it is cooked. I usually use the old two-fork method and spend a good ten minutes or so shredding each piece up individually.

When I recently made this dish, I really did have to weigh the benefits of trying this one out. You may remember Mr. Pinspiration's deep dislike of dish work and I think he secretly believes that I intentionally use more dishes in meal preparation than necessary. He especially hates those "hand-wash only" items, such as my stand mixer bowl and accessories. Pulling this out really had to be worth it if I was going to suffer the sighs and grunts of Mr. Pinspiration at dish time. I figured I could try it once.

I placed my warm, super tender, cooked chicken breasts into the mixing bowl. They were starting to fall apart already!

Locked and ready, I turned the mixer on to watch the magic. 

Holy stand mixer, Batman!! The entire bowl was perfectly shredded in approximately 3 seconds!!

Back into the slow-cooker for the final preparations and then my meal was ready to eat. Just load it into some warm tortillas and dinner was served!

Total cost: $0

Total time: 1 min (It took a few seconds to put the chicken in the bowl, carry the bowl to the other side of the kitchen. . . )

Final verdict: I could not be more amazed at how quickly it all happened. I couldn't even get any in-action shots before it was done! And the shredding was much more uniform than my old fork-on-fork method. Was it worth the extra dishes to wash?? Absolutely! I will NEVER hand shred meat again! I can wash and put away the mixer in less time than I was hand shredding the chicken previously.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pin 208: Slow-cooker Beef Stroganoff

Oh hello there!

It has been a while since we've seen each other.

First, I was studying really, really hard to finally take that test I had been putting off. Day of the test, I had to drive across town in the summer's only rainstorm--which happened to be a road-flooding-highway-closing-near-hurricane-torrential downpour. A great load of stress to start off the morning with. After almost two hours of testing I left with this:

My stomach was in so many knots. Then the drive home, while sunny and dry-ish, wasn't any better due to a jack-knifed semi closing the entire freeway. But I can breathe easy now because that is all in the past and I have added an extra pin to my pin collection.

By this time, our summer was in full swing and I was shuttling kids from swimming lessons to playdates to gymnastics to fairy class to library reading club to drawing class to ballet. . . .

Next up was a full week of VBS for me and the kids at church while still making as many lessons and playdates and everything else we had committed to. I needed a break so we headed out here for some relaxation:

Back at home, and mostly recharged, it is back to playdates and lessons and clubs and all the fun stuff of summer. But no more studying!!! WooHoo!!

So to catch up on a pin I did back before all this test nonsense. . .

Back during the forbidden foods week

I tried this slow-cooker beef stroganoff dish.

Original pin:

It was super simple to toss it all together and it smelled delicious cooking. My only complaint was that when I added the sour cream to the hot dish it curdled and left little dots of sour cream curdles throughout. It didn't affect the taste and the curdles weren't large enough to affect the texture.

But I would NEVER be able to sneak this dish past "anyone" with sour cream curdles in the mix. As for taste, the kids and I thought it was yummy. Not unlike a meatballs and noodles with brown gravy I make sans sour cream on a regular basis around here. That eating child will just fall all over himself for any dish with pasta or gravy as a component. My non-eater has actually been a quite impressive eater the last few months and has been upgraded from "non-eating child" to "meat-eating child" as that is his favorite food group. He will eat pretty much any kind of meat and if you put something else close enough (or under) he might accidentally eat that too. As you may guess, he ate most of the meat out of this dish and a few noodles.
Total cost: Around $10 for a full slow cooker of this dish. It made at least six adult sized servings, if not more. The littles and I couldn't finish all the leftovers and ended up tossing some later in the week.

Total time: 10 minutes hands-on plus cooking time

Final verdict: It has a nice flavor and you can't beat the easiness of it. Because of the sour cream it will never be a regular around here. We didn't love it enough to try to sneak it past daddy and we probably won't make it again.