I’m in love…with the Crock Pot

I really should be saying slow cooker but just like we call tissues-Kleenex, we call slow cookers-crockpots so that’s what I’m going to refer to it as here. He treats me well and even feeds me, what’s not to love about a crockpot??? I know in the world of instant everything a crockpot seems outdated and old fashioned. Especially since the Instant Pot or pressure cooker hit the scene. I do have a little thing going on with my Instant Pot (post soon come) but it can NEVER REPLACE THE LOVE I HAVE FOR MY CROCKPOT!!! So let me count the ways…

  • It takes cheaper cuts of meats and tenderizes them – That meat you can purchase because you’re on a budget is sometimes a little tougher but it will be broken down by the slow and low cooking of your crockpot. Also great for beans.
  • It cooks a meal WHILE YOU’RE GONE!!! – this in itself should be one of the number one reasons that you should own a crockpot! Who doesn’t want a meal waiting for them when they get off from work, errands, & chauffeuring kids around? I’ll wait…
  • This is a great appliance for beginners – There is nothing complicated about using a crockpot and there are so many great easy recipes for new cooks!
  • They use less electricity – Crockpots actually can reduce electricity costs especially if you have a newer version and they actually use less energy than a pressure cooker.
  • There are soooo many recipes – from simple to complex a lot of things can be made in the slow cooker.
  • Flavor – because of the slow and low cooking the food has better taste in every bite.

So since I’m all about this slow cooker life let me give you a few tips as well:

  • Get a slow cooker with a timer. A lot of us leave our home for the day and we are not always back to turn the crockpot to warm when the 4-6 hours are up. Do yourself a favor and get a crockpot with a timer so it will automatically switch to warm when the time is up and you won’t have burnt food (contrary to popular belief you can burn food in the crockpot- ask me how I know). I have linked one <a href=”http://&#8221; target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>here.
  • Prepare your food the night before or meal prep on the weekend but you are more apt to use your crockpot if you have your ingredients ready to go ahead of time.
  • Stop lifting the lid on your crockpot!!! One of the ways it cooks is it keeps a certain temperature for a certain time period, sometimes your recipes don’t come out as tender or flavorful because you’re lifting the lid before time. That increases cooking time so if you need to check on it just peep thru the lid- that’s why they make glass lids!
  • Use crockpot liners- they are life savers! You can get them from any local grocery store and they make clean up a dream! Or check them out with this <a href=”http://&#8221; target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>link.
  • Be creative! There are sooooo many recipes you can cook in the crockpot beyond taco soup (even tho that’s a great one). Get on Pinterest, check Amazon for books (I’ve linked them on my storefront) or check out my blog and Instagram for recipes, ideas and inspiration.

So those are some of the many reasons I fell in love and still am to this day with my crockpot. I have linked my most recent grocery haul and mini meal prep below that helped me prepare for some delicious crockpot meals I made this past week. So do you own a crockpot? What’s your favorite recipe to make in it? Comment below!

Love Ricki

If you decide to make a purchase through my links, I will earn a small commission  for it. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to offset expenses to run this blog and other platforms so thank you!”

My favorite kitchen books

Hi y’all! In this post I want to share my favorite kitchen books and why I think it’s worth reading them. Notice I said kitchen books because not all of them are actual cookbooks even though they may contain recipes. Back in 2009 and 2010 when I became pregnant and had Lil Diva I began to learn about how to manage a household efficiently. I also became addicted to reading blogs. They were relatively new then but I was grateful for the people who wrote them and shared so much information! That’s probably why I always wanted to blog lol. I wasn’t a SAHM but a lot of the things I learned from mommy bloggers helped me be able to work and feed my family well. And helped me to stay on a budget. So today I’m passing this information on to you!

First we’ll start with my absolute favorite cookbook ever even tho apparently I have lost it in my move last year BUT I have it on kindle lol so…

This was one of the very first books I bought when I really got interested in making cooking and meal planning work for me. I was OBSESSED with my slow cooker and I wanted to try every recipe possible. Well it’s probably in this book! One of the reasons I love this cookbook so much is that it has sooo many recipes using simple ingredients you probably already have. When cooking for different people who seem to have different taste buds it’s always best to cook simply. I’m more adventurous when it comes to cooking because I love trying new things but my family isn’t. If you want to get started cooking for your family start with this book and inexpensive slow cooker and plan 2-3 nights a week. You will discover it’s not hard to put together a meal at all. .

Miserly Moms by Jonni McCoy was one of the first books I read on learning how to be frugal. Not cheap but frugal which to me means being able to meet the lifestyle goals I want by managing my money well. I’m not quite there yet lol but I’m trying. In this book I learned and still live by several principles she shared in her Eleven Miserly Guidelines. She taught me not to shop at the same store and making a menu plan based on grocery ads. This book was written for women who wanted to make the switch and stay at home with their children vs working outside the home but they’re are so many gems here that can be applied to anyone who wants to save money. I highly recommend this book. I also have her second one Miserly Meals on Kindle where she shared more recipes.

Cut your Grocery Bill in Half by Steve and Annette Economides (America’s Cheapest Family which is their other book and also very good) is another book that isn’t a cookbook that contains a few recipes (but not many) BUT it really gives good information about reducing your grocery costs. Some things I learned from this book: more tips on menu planning, knowing food prices for your area and stretching meals and how to store and organize your refrigerator and pantry. They also talked about once a month grocery shopping and cooking and even though I don’t practice this there some good tips to glean from it.

Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn is still a book I reach for often. She is one of the original several people’s mama and has TEN kids! Some biologically and some thru adoption from other countries which is really cool because she shares recipes from her kids origins in this book as well. Why I love this book: In addition to the many recipes I have tried and love she also gives helpful tips on how to grocery shop, meal preparation and has a section on the homemade pantry which gives recipes for dressings, seasoning mixes and more you can make yourself. I recommend this book especially if you are feeding a larger family like myself.

Who doesn’t love Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman? I have been following her blog and making her recipes for YEARS and she has not disappointed me yet. She has about 5 cookbooks currently but her first two The Pioneer Woman Cooks and Food from My Frontier are my absolute favs! The reason I love these books: She cooks real food with a little fancy stuff thrown in here or there. This where I learned how to add cream cheese to my mashed potatoes (best idea ever and no you don’t taste it) and how I learned to cook the beat pot roast ever. She also has a bomb lasagne recipe! Get these books if you want to hearty and filling down home food! Also she still has tons of recipes on her blog which I love!

Miss Kay is the beloved matriarch from the Duck Dynasty Family and she can cook! In Duck Commander Kitchen she shares May recipes she has made to feed her family through the years. I enjoyed this book real southern food using regular ingredients. Again sometimes I think I’m fancy and my cooking will reflect that but there is nothing like a good bowl of pinto beans and cornbread which she shares in this book. If you’d like to try your hand at southern and some creole/Cajun recipes check this book out!

If you know me you know I enjoy baking. And one of the recipes I use to be famous in my family for was Red Velvet Cake! Well The Cake Mix Doctor by Ann Byrn is where I got this easy but delicious recipe from and it’s absolutely worth the cost of the whole book. Cake mixes are cheap but you can make truly delicious recipes from them and she shows you how in this book. She also shares some frosting/icing recipes and shares history & tips on how you can use cake mixes to make delicious cakes (some with some alcohol!) brownies and bars. This is one of my top favorites, if you love to bake or even if you don’t but would like to contribute a delicious desserts for family gatherings and holidays- get this book!

Yeah so I think this book is going to be my favorite favorite!!! It’s my dinner inspiration ebook!!! I’m writing a book lol. I won’t call it a cookbook per se because it’s more like me sharing recipes I’ve tried and loved and passing on to you to make your own. I’d like to think on my platforms I don’t show you how to cook but I inspire you to want to make something (mostly dinner lol) good to eat! Hopefully this ebook will make you want to cook and actually like it, that’s my only goal. Look for this ebook to be available for purchase next month!

Editors note: My cookbook is finished! Looking for delicious but easy recipes that don’t use complicated ingredients? I got you! Check out my cookbook which is available to purchase here: https://payhip.com/b/WN19

So those are my picks and link to all the books are discussed is here. Listen I heard if you want to hide something from someone, put it in a book. Don’t let that be you. I understand knowledge about any and everything can be found online but there is NOTHING about having your own library that can never be taken away from you! Let me know in the comments if you already have these books or which ones you’re looking forward to purchase!

Love Ricki

If you decide to make a purchase through my link, I will earn a small commission for it. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to offset expenses to run this blog and other platforms so thank you!”

I Slid in her DMs – Friendship in your 40s

Bestie date!

Yup you read that right, I slid in her DMs. On Instagram of all places! It’s so funny to me when I tell people that and see the look on their face but the truth is social media is a pretty common place to meet people in this day and age. So let me tell you the story and then we will get into some tips on how you can maybe meet and develop friendships as long as you are not apart of that “no new friends” club. Thanks Drake *side eye*

So I honestly can’t remember how I started following Sheena on Instagram but some kind of way I did. I remember I thought she was beautiful (because as women we can appreciate another beautiful woman) and she was stylish. I also noticed she had just moved into a new home which she was decorating and she lived in Houston! So I liked a few pics (well maybe more than a few lol) and commented here and there. Let me back up some tho. I had recently felt a yearning in my heart for a friend, a real friend. I had been going through some things, I was struggling and I remember asking God to bring me a friend. Not a relative because I do have a sister and sister in laws that I am close to but sometimes you need a friend who isn’t family. Where you know the connection is based on ya’ll purely having a mutual affection for each other. Plus a person outside your family tends to be less judgmental and of course unbiased. I even remember posting on my Instagram stories about how I was open to friendship but I felt it was just weird trying to make friends when you were older. Let me tell you something, when you pray and ask God for something He will give you the desires of your heart as long as it aligns with His will. I didn’t know what I know now but looking back it all makes sense.

Our first lunch in 2017 and the Toni Braxton concert in January 2019

So anyway back to the story, Sheena was decorating her new home and since I knew this I used this information to slide in her DMs. I was browsing the At Home store and noticed they had pillows on sale. So I sent Sheena a message with a pic of the pillows. She said thank you and let me know she would be picking some up. I don’t remember but I think she also shared it on her stories as well. Listen I was thinking to myself I hope this lady doesn’t think I am weird or crazy or something because back then stories was fairly new and people weren’t really responding to them or sending messages like they do now.  So I continued to follow along with her stories and I would message her and she messaged me back here and there etc. Really wasn’t too much going on until she relaunched her boutique.  I decided to buy a purse I really liked from her but instead of shipping it to me we decided to meet up for lunch so I could get it from her. Now if you know anything about Houston Sheena lives way on the Southside of the city (still does) and I live way on the Northside (still do) about 45-60 minutes away (yes Houston is that big!). So we decided to meet at a central location for lunch and I can say we had a really great time just laughing and talking about our lives, our kids and just things we loved. I knew I had left that lunch with a new friend. Now were we best buddies? Not yet but we continued to keep in touch thru IG actually (even though we had each other’s phone numbers we still DM each other ALL THE TIME). We would share posts, laugh, comment on each other’s posts and stories and so on. We started showing up on posts on each other’s page. We met again for brunch and I came to Sheena’s house and ironically we did a live together before Christmas about marriage lol. Well later that December Sheena decided to start her weightless journey and I had mentioned to her that I had lost weight through the Keto diet. I gave her the basics because I am no expert but Sheena took that information, did her research and took off! I mean my friend really did the damn thing and lost over 60 lbs. But this was just the beginning of our story. I can’t really get into specifics about everything but I can tell you she is someone that was brought into my life when I needed it. When I decided to end my marriage she was there, through my tears and sadness she was there, when I struggled and was hurt she was there. When I was proud of myself for making a way for me and my kids on my own she was there, when I celebrated turning the big 4-0 she was there. She was never judgmental, she always told the truth and she was always caring with her words. I also knew if I needed to whoop someone’s ass she was down for the cause! Just being honest. I’m sure we have moments where we get on each other’s nerves (like when I wanted to nap in the DR, what? naps are a sign of good health!) but Sheena has blessed my life. I only hope I have been able to be as good as a friend to her as she has been to me. She’s my sister, she’s even my sister’s sister, that’s how good she is! And this was all because I decided to send her a message. I talk to her EVERYDAY and I don’t even want to imagine what my life would be without her. I write this now with big old tears falling onto my keyboard but I LOVE YOU SHEENA & I thank God and the Universe for letting us cross each other’s path! He will do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20-21) because He did it for me with my best friend!

The Holiday dinner and Girlfriends live we did! We were always business minded- still are!
Punta Cana with the Ladies
Happy Hour with my sister and sister lol

Now that the sappy stuff is done let’s talk about making friends later in life specifically your 30s, 40s, & beyond. Here are my tips:

  • STEP OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE – This may mean visiting a new spot to eat at, commenting on a post when you’re usually just a lurker or speaking to someone while waiting in the checkout line at the grocery store. I can tell you right now going outside of that comfort zone is scary BUT the best things can happen when you take that chance.
  • FIND COMMON INTERESTS – I hear all the time opposites attract but you have to have some similarities to get along with someone! Sheena and I both have four kids similar in ages. We are both the oldest, love style and make up and decor and so on. These things give us something to talk about and bond over. Find people that like things you like. And in the next bullet we will discuss how.
  • USE SOCIAL MEDIA – Listen how do you think these hook ups are happening??? People are meeting each other thru social media. Whether its a DM or a Facebook group folks are finding people with common interests and forming friendships. There are so many groups on Facebook. Groups for mommies, singles, single mamas, TV shows, memes, diet groups and I could go on forever. As a person that has been apart of some of these groups there are often meet & greets and events that happen where you can meet new people. GO TO THEM! Our Seasoned & Single FB group had a painting event in August. We met some fabulous ladies and had a great time. You can too you just have to get up and go out and be social!
  • GIVE IT TIME – When me and Sheena first met we had a great time and we hit if off but we weren’t Besties right away. Just like anything else good worth having in this world it takes work and time. We made time to talk AND listen to each other. We made time to see each other in person. We learned about each other and eventually walls came down and now we are the dynamic duo you see on your IG feed all the time. We live in an instant society however when you meet someone new, it might take some time to develop a friendship and thats okay.

Those are my tips but I want you to leave reading this post truly believing that friendship is a good thing. Based on the question sticker I posted yesterday on IG and the way the media pits women against each other I don’t think people view friendship and sisterhood as valuable anymore. I know if God wanted us to be alone He wouldn’t have created 7,655,957,369 people (as of 2018) to be in this world together. True friendship and especially sisterhood is necessary so we can continue to be encouraged, inspired, supported, esteemed, challenged and improve our quality of life. Yes even later on in age.  You of course cannot get time lost or wasted back BUT the God I know and serve can redeem your time and have you thinking you have known someone and been best buddies all your life! Ask me how I know.

Love Ricki

Cook with Me: Taco Ring

Hi Y’all! I recently filmed a Grocery Haul & Cook with Me on YouTube sharing the infamous Taco Ring Recipe. I figured I would also write it out for anyone that wants to try it! Hope you enjoy and don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe to this blog and my YouTube channel for more content on the single mama life on a budget!

Looking for more recipes like these? Check out my new cookbook available for purchase here: https://payhip.com/b/WN19

Love Ricki

Meal Planning for People who don’t like to Meal Plan

I don’t understand why people have to be rebels and not get with the program. Meal planning is where it’s at!!! *Insert clapping hands* It saves time, money and it’s waayyyyy less stressful than standing in front of the refrigerator and squinting and frowning because you don’t know what the hell you’re going to make for dinner! Plus you’ll have less wrinkles. BUT I know it isn’t for everyone so that’s why I am writing this post. Some people just like to live on the edge and they can afford botox so meal planning is not a top priority. However, I want to show you how you can meal plan even if you don’t like it and I also included some meal ideas for when you are stumped on what to make. So here are my tips:

  1. Keep a stocked pantry/fridge/freezer. To be able to cook meals on the fly you have to have inventory. Make sure you have the basics you need to make simple recipes and your favorite recipes. This way you are always able to make the process of choosing what to have for dinner easy.
  2. Make your own recipe book. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You can get a notebook from the dollar tree and write down every recipe you ever made or want to make. Or you can just keep a master list in your phone. Or dedicate a board on Pinterest. The key is to have a list that you can refer to when trying to come up with an idea of what to make for dinner. And even if you DO like to meal plan you should have a list of recipes to refer to when planning out your meals for the weeks anyway.
  3. Assign a theme to every night. Sunday – Soul food Sunday, Monday – meatless Monday, Tuesday – Taco Tuesday, Wednesday – Italian Night, and on and on. You assign it based on what your family usually likes. That way at least you have an idea to start with on what to make. For example for Taco Tuesdays you can make tacos, nachos, enchiladas, chimichangas etc.
  4. Have a Fend for Yourself (FFY) night or nights – I actually include this in my meal plan but it’s an easy idea that everyone should follow. This actually doesn’t involve eating out. It means you get the night off from cooking and everyone figures it out. I have older children and no husband so this is pretty easy for me but this can be done with smaller kids by buying their favorite lunchables and snacks & fruit and letting them eat it for dinner. I promise YOU WON’T GO TO JAIL FOR FEEDING YOUR KIDS SNACKS FOR DINNER! I mean just don’t do it everyday, Or do. I won’t tell anyone. Little kids are usually snack lovers anyway so in my opinion it’s a win/win for everyone. And as far as the husbands, since I no longer have one I probably am not the best person to follow advice from but I’m pretty sure they can figure it out too. I’m just saying! *shrugs shoulders*
  5. My final tip is utilize the internets. Google is your friend. So is Pinterest. And blogs like this one. If you have some ingredients on hand and you are not sure what to make, put it in a search and see what recipes you can come up with. I will warn you though this is truly living on the edge because you may not like what you try but then again you just might. That kind of living raises my blood pressure because I HATE wasting food and my money but if you got it like that…heeyyyyyy.

So those were my tips for meal planning for people that are so against the awesome idea of planning what to eat in advance so they are not stressed and hungry. No judgement from me lol. Below I have listed a few meal ideas for when you THINK there’s nothing to eat in the house. And of course they are all budget friendly. Let me know what you thought of this post and if you meal plan or if you’re a rebel and choose to live life dangerously hungry!

Simple Meal Ideas:

Soup & Sandwich – Can of soup and your favorite sandwich with deli meat or a bowl of Top Ramen with the deli meat or leftover chicken in it.

Quesadillas – Anything can go between two tortillas and some cheese. Beans, meat, veggies, the options are endless.

Baked potato bar – Baked potatoes are super filling and can be plain or topped with whatever you can think of.

Pasta night – You can use any shape pasta you want, any sauce and add any topping and you are even better than Chef Boyardee.

Pizza & Salad – Frozen pizzas (even those cheap ones for a dollar!) and a simple salad can satisfy hunger. Or you can make your own by buying the pre made crusts or using tortillas, bagels, garlic toast or even a slice of bread. Pretend you’re at Mod’s and pile on the toppings, it’s free (kinda).

Love Ricki

Light & Easy Pumpkin Spice Latte

It’s almost fall ya’ll even though here in Texas it doesn’t feel like it. We are still experiencing  temperatures in the 100s! But I’m going to pretend it’s a cool 70 degrees from the comfort of my air conditioned house and enjoy a fall favorite, the Pumpkin Spice Latte. But with a twist. I am not a big pumpkin fan. I actually am annoyed how the food industry tries to make so many pumpkin spice flavored items as soon as the calendar hits mid August. I don’t understand the obsession. It’s okay but I don’t want EVERYTHING with pumpkin flavor. And I always chuckle because eventually I see the same products clearanced a few months later because they didn’t sell. But enough about that, I do still enjoy a light pumpkin flavor with my coffee every now and then. And since I don’t want to spend the money for a strong one from you know where I went to Pinterest to find a recipe to make on my own. But most of those recipes featured pumpkin in it and seemed a lot of trouble for one drink so I made up my own. So if you like a light flavor of pumpkin in your coffee, check out my recipe below!

 

Light & Easy Pumpkin Spice Latte

 

I also uploaded a video to my YouTube channel showing you how I decorated my coffee station for fall! Check it out here:

This was a collaboration with my sisters Sheena & Jessica! Make sure to check out their videos linked in the description box!

I hope you enjoy the video and let me know if you try the drink!

Love Ricki

Back to YouTube!

Hi Y’all so you asked and I delivered! I am have relaunched my YouTube channel and I am so excited with all the ideas for content I plan on bringing you! Please make sure you subscribe and check out my first video back below!

Don’t forget to like and comment!

Love Ricki