3 Barbecue Chicken Recipes for Crockpots

Barbecue chicken is a popular dish, and there are probably millions of crockpot recipes floating around for it. To make it a bit easier, there are three different recipes listed in this article. You can scan through and see which one sounds best, or combine them all to come up with a brand new recipe!

Recipe #1

1 Chicken, cut up and skin removed
1 Cup Ketchup
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
3 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce

Place chicken in crockpot. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Cook for 4 hours on high, or 8-10 hours on low. Delicious!

Recipe #2

4-6 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Bottle BBQ Sauce
1/2 cup White Vinegar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Mesquite Seasoning
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2-1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

Mix BBQ sauce with all ingredients listed under it. Place chicken in crockpot. Pour sauce over all. Cook on low in crockpot about 4-6 hours. Serve with baked beans, potato salad and coleslaw.

Recipe #3

1 Frying Chicken, cut up or quartered
1 Can Tomato Soup
3/4 Cup Onion, chopped
1/4 Cup Vinegar
3 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Sweet Basil
1/4 Teaspoon Thyme

Place chicken in slow cooker. Combine all other ingredients and pour over chicken. Cover tightly and cook at “low” for 6-8 hours.

Enjoy!

Easy Dessert Recipes

Searching through recipes, you see all kinds of variations and unique dessert recipes. However, finding just the basic recipes can be somewhat of a challenge. What if you don’t want anything fancy? That’s where this article comes in – here you’ll find the top five basic dessert recipes. This is nothing more than simple recipes, with no extra ingredients. They make great every day desserts, or perfect dishes for those just learning to cook.

Sugar Cookies
This particular sugar cookie recipe is not the type you can roll out and make into shapes. It is a very simple recipe for “drop” sugar cookies, which means you spoon them onto a pan and bake.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

2 eggs

¾ cup sugar

2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Instructions:

1. Add flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Mix well and set aside.

2. In another bowl, whisk eggs. Add sugar, oil, and vanilla extract. Mix well. Stir in dry ingredients.

3. Roll into walnut-sized balls and place on baking sheet, pressing down slightly and dusting with sugar.

4. Bake at 400* for 8 minutes, or until cookies are light brown.

Pudding Pie

If you’ve never made a pudding pie using basic pudding mix, you are in for a treat! These pies are ridiculously easy to make, and extremely delicious. It only requires a pre-made pie crust and 3 ingredients!

Ingredients:

1 pkg. Instant Pudding (chocolate, butterscotch, etc – your choice)

1 ½ cup cold milk

2 cups Whipped Cream

1 Pie Crust (Your choice, but Oreo pie crust is suggested)

Instructions:

1. Beat pudding mix and milk with hand blender for 2 minutes.

2. Add pudding mixture to pie crust, top with whipped cream.

3. Chill for 3 hours or overnight.

Chocolate Cake

Even though it’s much easier to buy a box of chocolate cake mix, sometimes you want homemade all the way. This recipe is super easy for a homemade chocolate cake, and doesn’t take as much time and energy as you may think. Also included is an easy recipe for frosting to go along with this cake. Of course, you can use any kind you want, but what’s included is a chocolate frosting recipe.

Cake Ingredients:

2 c. flour

2 c. sugar

1 c. water

3/4 c. sour cream

1/4 c. shortening (You may want to use easy-to-measure shortening in a package)

1 1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

1/2 tsp. baking powder

2 eggs

4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted

Cake Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 inch pan.

2. Add all cake ingredients into large mixing bowl, and mix well by hand. Beat with a hand blender for 3 minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally.

3. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool completely before adding frosting.

Frosting Ingredients:

1/3 c. butter

3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted

3 c. sugar

1/2 c. sour cream

2 tsp. vanilla

Frosting Instructions:

1. Mix butter and chocolate thoroughly.

2. Blend in sugar.

3. Stir in sour cream and vanilla.

4. Beat until smooth.

Brownies

Again, while it may be easier to make brownies from a box, sometimes you just want to make it yourself. This is about as easy as it gets for brownies, and you can add your own additional ingredients if you like (such as chocolate chips, walnuts, etc.).

Ingredients

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 eggs

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

1. Add ingredients in a bowl in order, mixing well.

2. Grease a 9×13 pan. Pour in mixture.

3. Bake at 350 for 20 – 30 minutes. Insert a toothpick, and if it comes out clean, it’s done.

Cheesecake

Most cheesecake recipes use springform pans, but not everyone have these in their kitchens, since they are only used for cheesecake. This recipe does not require a springform pan, and does not even need to be baked!

Ingredients:

1 graham cracker pie crust

8 oz. soft cream cheese

1/3 c. sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

1 c. sour cream

8 oz. Cool Whip, slightly thawed

Instructions:

1. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add sour cream and vanilla, and mix well. Fold in Cool Whip until well blended.

2. Pour into pie crust and chill for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these basic recipes for desserts, and have fun making your own variations!

Rainy Day Craft Idea: Crayola Window Markers

If you are looking for a rainy-day activity, why not try window markers?

When we saw these in the store, we thought they would be perfect for my eight year old daughter. She’s quite the artist, and loves decorating all kinds of surfaces (including ones she’s not allowed to!). We let her draw her heart out on the big bay window in the living room, and she had a blast.

On the window, it looks like a combination of marker and crayon. The markers do not wipe off too easy, so allows kids to draw freely without accidentally wiping any off on their clothing or hands. It should be noted these are “washable”, and will take a cleaner of some sort to take it off. However, we used a simple all-purpose cleaner from the Dollar Tree, and it came off super easy. In fact, it was so simple to clean up, even the kids could do it. I would assume any decent window cleaner or another all-purpose cleaner would do the trick.  This makes it a perfect addition to our art supplies, since the kids can clean it up very easily themselves when they are done.

These are available in just about every art supply store, Amazon, or directly off the Crayola store. We found ours in the local grocery store, so keep your eyes open for these gems.

A big thumbs up from mom and kids both!

When the lights go out…

At some point, it happens. The electricity goes out for a number of reasons – storms, ice, power company issues, etc. We’ve become so dependent on electricity that we often don’t know what to do with ourselves. No TV, no video games, no movies, and no computer. If you are lucky to have battery operated devices such as MP3s or radios, you’ll have a bit of entertainment. However, the fascination doesn’t last for long with kids, and they’ll soon be looking for something to do.

This list covers ten different activities for both night and day when your lights go out.

During the day:

1. Dust.
Even though it’s not the most entertaining activity, it’s still one that needs to be done. If possible, get the kids involved in dusting or cleaning areas they can reach, while you take care of the cobwebs in the corners.

2. Play games.
Hopefully, you have a game or two stashed in a closet somewhere. Pull it out and play with the family! If your home has gone totally digital, make up a game. Ask the kids to make up a game, since they’re imaginations can come up with almost anything.

3. Crafts.
Are there projects you want to get to, such as sewing or painting? Without a computer, you now have the time to.

4. Clean the House.
Since all you need are window cleaner and a paper towel, get the windows cleaned. Don’t forget the mirrors, too! You can also pull out the furniture polish, or scrub the neglected cupboards and drawers.

5. Sort clothes.
Kids grow out of clothes fast, and there’s always a stash of outgrown items somewhere. Use this time to sort them and put them into bags.

6. Go outside.
If the weather is nice enough, go outside. If it’s not, bundle up and go outside anyway! Go for a walk, go sledding, or pull weeds. If the weather is really nasty, you may want to skip this option. If possible, though, attempt to find an activity outside of the home.

At Night:

1. Write.
If you have a laptop or computer that runs on a batter, sit down and do some writing for fun. If nothing else, you can always write the old fashioned way – with paper and pencil.

2. Talk.
Not on the phone – with the people in your house! Remember those people you talked to before there were all the electronic distractions? Sit down and chat for a while! Ask about current events, friends, or anything else that comes to mind. You may be surprised with how well your family can communicate with each other if given the chance.

3. Tell stories.
Take turns making up stories, or telling parts of stories. You can also have the kids share their favorite books with everyone.

4. Pretend your camping.
Grab the sleeping bags and tents! Set up right in the living room, minus the roaring fire (unless, of course, you own a fireplace). Grab some snacks and pretend you’re out in the wilderness!

There are lots of activities that can be done when the lights go out; you just have to be creative. We’ve become a spoiled society with our modern advances, sometimes it’s nice to remember what it’s like without them.

Great Movies of the 90s – Part 2

This is part two of the series “20 Great Movies of the 90s”, listing the last ten. If you missed part one, be sure to check out the first half here.  Again, these movies are in no particular order. Ranking is based on one person’s opinion of the top movies of this era.

11. Dolores Claiborne (1995)

You can’t go wrong with Stephen King. Based on his best-selling book, this movie does an awesome job of telling the story of Doloris Claiborne, the middle-age woman who killed her husband. Generally the book is always better, but in this case, the movie follows the book almost exactly. It stars Kathy Bates as Doloris.

12. Grumpy Old Men (1993)

If you are looking for pure comedy, this one will have you giggling. Watching two older men fighting over a younger woman is comical in its own way, but these two take it a step further and begin to prank each other. A wonderful 90s classic, but only suitable for kids over thirteen based on a few sexual innuendoes. If you like the first, be sure to check out the sequel, “Grumpier Old Men”.

13. Groundhog Day (1993)

Ever wish you could replay the same day over again, and do things a little different? Phil does just that, although it wasn’t wished for. He eventually learns to make the best of it, and change his attitude about life for the better. Insert Bill Murray as the lead character “Phil”, and you’ve got yourself an instant blockbuster.

14. Interview with the Vampire (1994)

This drama showed Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise as vampires, but not in the “Twilight” sense. Based on the book by Anne Rice, and also featured an amazing performance by a very young Kirsten Dunst. This movie was filled with suspense, and gave people an idea of what being a vampire would really be like (and not in a good way).

15. The Sandlot (1993)

When your (age) and new in town, it’s hard to learn how to fit in. When Scotty Smalls tries to impress his new friends by loaning them a baseball for their never-ending neighborhood game, he makes the mistake of “borrowing” a signed Babe Ruth baseball from his step-father. A homerun sends it over the fence into the yard of a massive dog nicknamed “The Beast”. The gang makes some hilarious invention and plans to attempt to get it back.

16. Sleeping With the Enemy (1991)

Take a peek into the life of an abused woman, and see how she makes great strides to release herself from his grasp. This movie featured a terrific performance by Julia Roberts as the battered woman, with a fantastic surprise ending.

17. My Cousin Vinny (1992)

When two boys are accused of a robbery and murder in a backwoods town, one calls on his Cousin Vinny Gambini (Joe Pesci) to defend them in court. Vinny is a little rough around the edges, but learns he can be the great lawyer he’s trying to be.

18. Empire Records (1995)

If you are in need of a fun movie that reminds you how easy life really was when you were a teenager, this is the movie you’ll want to grab. Featuring several close friends bonded by the home-town record store they work at, who pool together to “save the Empire” when it’s threatened by corporate take-over. It’s full of quirky humor and cute comments, eventually becoming a cult classic of the 90’s.

19. What Dreams May Come (1998)

One of the few movies out there that only gets good just as soon as everyone dies. Set in an interesting version of heaven and hell, with a beautiful (and sometimes terrifying) backdrop. While mostly on the dramatic side, a romantic theme weaves its way in, but not in the “gushy” sense. Starring Robin Williams as Chris Nielsen, hell-bent (literally) to save the woman he loves.

20. Awakenings (1990)

Another amazing movie starring Robin Williams as the doctor who believes he’s found a cure for the catatonic in a mental institution. This movie makes us appreciate our lives, being thankful we have the ability to do all the things we can do.

This list should remind you of some of your favorites. Spend an afternoon watching these wonderful movies, or pick up a few you have not heard of before!

Easy Chocolate Birthday Cake

It may seem easier to go out and buy a cake for a birthday party, remember how much time and money you’re spending. Even though you have plenty of tasks to complete before the birthday party, making the cake can take less time than you think. Plus, you’ll be providing a special gift made by your own hands.

The following recipe is a bit different, but still in the realm of “chocolate cake”. It’s absolutely fantastic for a change from normal, often dry, birthday cake.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake and Frosting

Cake:
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 c. water
3/4 c. sour cream
1/4 c. shortening
1 1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted

Frosting:
1/3 c. butter
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
3 c. sugar
1/2 c. sour cream
2 tsp. vanilla

Preparing the Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 13 x 9 inch pan. Add all cake ingredients into large mixing bowl, and mix well by hand. Beat with a hand blender for 3 minutes at high speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.

Preparing the Frosting:
Mix butter and chocolate thoroughly. Blend in sugar. Stir in sour cream and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

If it’s a child’s birthday party, let the kids decorate the cake with chocolate sprinkles, candy, and candles. Allow them to be creative, and enjoy themselves too. It’s a great activity to do before opening the presents, and entertainment for the little guests.

Enjoy the party!

20 Great Movies of the 90s – Part 1

The other night I was surfing though the movie channels (hurray for 3 months free HBO from Dish Network!), and a few 80s and 90s movies caught my eye. I started to remember all the really fun movies I watched growing up, and decided to make a list of the dramas and comedies for the family.

Keep in mind this is more or less my list, in no particular order. It’s based on nothing more than my personal preference. This is also only part 1 – part 2 will be listed next week.

Many of the movies on the list you may have heard of, while others might have slipped past you. If you have not seen them, give them a try! They may be lacking the special effects of the movies today, but they were still special in their own way.

1. Dutch (1991)
Dutch was a feel-good movie for the family, with very few raunchy innuendoes. It was the type of movie that made 90’s movies great – it was not a sappy romantic comedy where you guessed the ending, nor was it a slap-stick comedy that was more stupid than funny. It had its heart-warming moments, but for the most part was just random hilarious mishaps.

While trying to impress his girlfriend and take an interest in her son, Ed O’Neal stars as Dutch Dooley, the working-class man on a road trip to bond with Doyle (played by Ethan Embry). What made it a top movie was its unique story line and setting, mixed into a fun comedy that made you smile when it was over. It even snuck in a tiny message that high class doesn’t mean “better than you”.

2. Maverick (1994)
Back when Mel Gibson was hot, and adored by millions of fans, he starred a movie set in the old west. He wasn’t the only top actor – Jodi Foster and James Garner also co-starred.

There were plenty of twists and turns throughout the movie, and several times you wondered if Mel Gibson’s character was going to come out on top. Close calls, quirky lines that made you giggle, and suspense made this a fun movie for all.

3. Curly Sue (1991)
An adorable little girl (Alisan Porter), and her homeless “father” Bill Dancer (James Belushi), scam their way across the country to eventually find a real home. Another feel-good movie for families, which make you stop and think what choices you would make if left in this position. Are the decisions James Belushi’s character made best for the little girl?

4. Can’t Hardly Wait (1998)
While this movie is targeted more towards teenagers of the 90s, it still promotes a “happily ever after” theme with an average teenage boy after the girl of his dreams. It stars Ethan Embry as Preston, and Jennifer Love Hewitt as the girl of his dreams. What makes this movie fun is its reminder of high school days, lusting after love was the hardest part of life. Set on the last day of school, in the midst of a wild graduation party.

5. Dazed & Confused (1993)
No matter what the time period, teens have always had their “hang out” places and activities. This movie is set at the beginning of summer in the 70s, including a cast of various high school students. From naïve new freshman trying to fit in, to senior football players deciding what is most important in life. Each ponders their place in the social scheme, while go in search of a good time.

6. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)
Slightly on the dramatic side and lacking in true comedy, this movie takes a look at the average life of Gilbert Grape (Jonny Depp). His life is not terrible by any means, although he realizes life could be better once meeting a new (and exciting) friend (Juliette Lewis). Featuring Leonardo DiCaprio in an amazing performance as Gilbert’s mentally challenged younger brother.

7. Robin Hood – Men in Tights (1993)
If you need a movie with loads of laughs, this is the one! It swings more to the “goofy comedy” side, including many witty comments and comments which adults would find humorous and kids will not fully understand. For this reason, it makes an excellent family movie everyone will enjoy.

8. Forever Young (1992)
Forever Young is an awesome drama with comical and romantic moments. Mel Gibson stars as Capt. Daniel McCormick, who agrees to be frozen in time after the love of his life goes into a coma. The cryogenics experiment, which was only to last a few years, falls by the wayside. Daniel finds himself more than fifty years in the future when he’s accidentally unfrozen by two boys (Elijah Wood and Robert Hy Gorman).

9. A League of Their Own (1992)
If you are interested in dramatic movies with subtle comedy, this movie is for you. It’s based on a true story about the woman’s professional baseball league during World War 2, featuring all-star cast of the top movie stars of the nineties. Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Jon Lovitz, Rosie O’Donnell, and many more stars in this heart-warming movie.

10. What About Bob? (1991)
When you put Bill Murray as the lead character, you are in for a goofy comedy. There are no shortages of laughs as Mr. Murray stars as a mentally disturbed (yet loveable) patient in search of “the cure” from his new favorite psychiatrist.

Be sure to read part two for the rest of the list!

Hosting an Elmo Birthday Party


What kid doesn’t love Elmo? At some point in time, it seems that every child seems to grow some sort of fascination with this favorite character. Though Sesame Street has always been a favorite through the years, Elmo always tends to steal the show. It starts early for some kids, as the fascination seems to set in around the toddler years. As kids are old enough to watch Sesame Street and to really understand it, most of them tend to have a special affinity for Elmo as their character of choice.

Because of his popularity, it only makes sense to have a birthday party with Elmo! Here’s how to go about hosting one.

Invitations

In this electronic world, it’s nice to take the time and mail personal invitations to your child’s friends. And because Elmo is so easy to draw, you can make them yourself out of red construction paper. Simply cut out the shape of his head and eyes with red paper, and glue white, black and yellow paper to make his face.

On the back, or inside the card, add the details of the party in the third person, as that’s how Elmo always talks. “Tina is having an Elmo’s World Party” or “Hooray! Elmo invites you to Tina’s birthday Party!”

Create Elmo’s World

If you’ve ever watched Elmo on Sesame Street, then you know firsthand that it’s all about “Elmo’s World”. This segment of the show focuses solely on Elmo, his goldfish Dorothy, the cute little crayon-created place where he lives, as well as a few favorites such as Mr. Noodle, talking to babies, and his sometimes uncooperative furniture and window blind. Do your best with an Elmo birthday party to recreate “Elmo’s World” in the comfort of your own home.

For instance, if your child has a playhouse, cover it with large sheets of white paper and draw it as a cartoon house with crayons. Either that, or cover your walls in the party area with paper and draw windows and a door in crayon. As part of the activities, you can even have your guests draw on the walls with various crayons to create Elmo’s furniture and Dorothy the goldfish.

Elmo, Elmo, Everywhere

It’s not going to take much to get the kids excited about Elmo. You’ll likely have some Elmo stuffed animals and figures on hand, but as he has been around for decades, it won’t be too difficult to find him, either new or at second-hand stores. Though you can certainly incorporate all sorts of decorations with the Elmo theme, just having stuffed animals or puppets is plenty for your child’s birthday theme party. The idea is to think of shapes and primary colors, as this is what Elmo is all about – circles, squares and cheery color. Be creative and think like a kid!

Don’t forget Mr. Noodle. For fun entertainment, have somebody (Dad?) volunteer to act as this goofy character. Think of some activity (such as how to use a skipping rope) that Mr. Noodle always gets wrong, with plenty of slapstick. Have your guests call out on how to get it right. Because Mr. Noodle is always silent and full of body expression, a great alternative would be to play a game of charades.

A Simply Delicious Elmo Cake

As Elmo is simple to draw (basically a bunch of circles and ovals), you can easily bake a cake of Elmo’s cheerful face. Since Elmo is furry, after the cake is baked and cooled, use a serrated knife and cut indents along the edges to create fur. Trace his eyes with a toothpick to finish the outline of his face. Then, trace an outline of his features (eyes, nose and mouth), and fill those in with white, black and yellow icing. Fill the remainder of the cake with red icing. For his nose, wait for the yellow icing to slightly harden, then roll it into a nose and stick onto his face. Serve with ice cream.

Other snacks to serve at the party are Goldfish crackers and fruit such as sliced watermelon or cantelope – they are the shape of Elmo’s mouth.

Party Favors and Creative Thank You Cards

Before the children leave, be sure that each child leaves with a goodie bag of Elmo memorabilia. At your local dollar store, you can find stickers, pencils and small Elmo figures, as well as crayons, of course! Another neat idea is to have a personalized Elmo candy bar in the goodie bag, or even as part of you child’s thank you card. Your little guests will fondly remember your child’s party for months to come!

by Chris Molnar
Themeaparty.com