Rule #132: Don’t mess with Nonna’s kitchen. 

I’d like to think that one day, I’ll be a wise old Grandma who doesn’t take any lip off of anyone, can cook like the devil, and can hug you hard enough to make all your worries disappear. All the stories I’ve ever heard of Italian grandmas (aka Nonnas) has made me feel like maybe I’ve got a little sassy Italiana in me somewhere. They live for their families, cook meals to feed small armies, and protect their kitchens (and recipes) with their lives. This recipe is one of those Italian family gems I’ve tweaked a bit to go in the slow cooker. Sunday Sauce is basically a combination of pot roast + spaghetti bolognese. What could be more Italian grandma than that?

slow cooker sunday sauce

To take it to a whole notha level: this bad boy is a slow cooker recipe. Throw it all in the pot, crank ‘er up, and you’ve got home cooked Italian comfort food in a matter of hours.

slow cooker sunday sauce

There’s a little Italian turkey sausage you’ve got to brown before throwing it into the slow cooker, but you can always brown that the night before. Just store it in the fridge and throw it in the next morning. Chopping the veggies + pancetta the night before makes it easier to add to the pot when you’re ready, too.

slow cooker sunday sauce

Don’t skimp on the Parm + the basil, y’all. Nonna says that’s a “No, No.” She’s even shaking her finger at you. 

slow cooker sunday sauce

Depending on your mood, you can serve this Sunday Sauce with good ole spaghetti or with some sautéed zoodles. Nonna said that was okay. 

slow cooker sunday sauce

The leftovers hold up very well in the freezer. Just store in airtight containers or Ziplocs, thaw in the fridge overnight, and heat up the next day.


Slow Cooker Sunday Sauce

2 hot Italian turkey sausage links, casings removed
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
10 baby carrots, chopped
3 oz. pancetta, chopped
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed with your fingers
3-4 lb. trimmed Boston butt roast (pork shoulder)
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup Cabernet (or other dry red wine)
28-oz. can whole tomatoes, undrained
24-oz. tomato puree
1/2 cup water
Freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish
Basil, julienned, for garnish

Option A: Prep the night before. Chop all of your veggies (onion, garlic, carrots) and pancetta. Store mixed together in a covered container in the fridge overnight. Store the browned sausage in a separate container until the morning.

Option B: Do it all that morning.

Brown the sausage in a skillet over medium-high heat. Remove from skillet and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Place all ingredients (minus Parmesan and basil) in a large slow cooker or Crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 9 hours. Turn the heat to low, shred pork, and cook an additional 30 minutes.

Serve with spaghetti or zoodles. Garnish with Parmesan and basil.

Click Here for Printable Recipe: Slow Cooker Sunday Sauce

You wanna know what my favorite kind of bar is? Hint: it ain’t the kind with the alca-ma-hol (although those can be delightful, too). Nope, no siree. My favorite kind of bar is a LOADED BAKED POTATO BAR! YYYaaaaassssss, honey. Gimme all of that starchy, hearty, build-it-to-your-own-level-of-perfection POTATO BAR. Oh lawdy. I’m getting hot flashes just thinking about it. This little Slow Cooker Magic is a taste of all the goodness that’s in that same potato bar but with a lot less clean up and a lot less work.

slow cooker loaded baked potato soup

I use regular ole Russet baking potatoes for my soup. I know some folks use red potatoes, some use yellow, but for me, there’s nothing like the original baked potato flavor hidden in these guys.

slow cooker loaded baked potato soup

You just give them a good scrub, a peel, (this is starting to sound like a spa day), and then you chop them into equal size pieces (about 1/2″-ish cubes).

slow cooker loaded baked potato soup

Throw ’em into the biggo Crock Pot. [By the way, do you say Crock Pot or slow cooker… it’s one of those things. You’re either a ‘Crock Pot’ kinda person or a ‘slow cooker’ kinda person. No judgement. Just a thought.]

slow cooker loaded baked potato soup

Throw in some butta, onion, and garlic.

slow cooker loaded baked potato soup

Add in some chicken stock (yes, you can use chicken broth but stock is better in my little ole opinion). Add in some salt and pepper for flavor. Give it all a stir, and cook it until the potatoes are tender. You can either cook it on high for 5 hours or low for 10. Whatever your little heart desires.

slow cooker loaded baked potato soup

Once the potatoes are fork tender, give everything a mash with the ole potato masher.

slow cooker loaded baked potato soup

slow cooker loaded baked potato soup

Add in some bacon bits. Yes, I use bacon bits. You’re welcome to roast or fry up some real bacon on your own, but this is Crock Pot Wednesday in our house. Ain’t nobody got time for dat.

slow cooker loaded baked potato soup

Besides, it says “REAL” bacon, right?

slow cooker loaded baked potato soup

Then you add in some half-and-half and cheese. Give ‘er a stir. Give ‘er a taste to check the seasonings. Throw in some green onion, and you’re done, honey bun! Time for the couch and Netflix. Or homework and bath time. Whatever phase of life you’re in, buddy.

slow cooker loaded baked potato soup

Hello, lover.

slow cooker loaded baked potato soup

Get in ma belly.

slow cooker loaded baked potato soup

Lookin’ for more Crock Pot (or slow cooker) recipes? Check out these little lovelies:

Crock Pot Pork | Chicken + Wild Rice Casserole | Caribbean Pork | Chicken Cacciatore

Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup


Slow Cooker Loaded Baked Potato Soup

3 lb. Russet (baking) potatoes, peeled, cut into about 1/2” pieces
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 quart chicken stock
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
4 tbs. unsalted butter
1 tbs. Kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup half-and-half
1 1/2 cups (6 oz. package) shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup real bacon bits
3 tbs. chopped green onion

Place first 7 ingredients (through pepper) in a slow cooker. Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 10. Once the potatoes are tender, mash everything with a potato masher. Stir in the half-and-half, cheese, bacon bits, and green onions. Continue to cook until the cheese has melted (just a few minutes). Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Garnish with additional toppings and enjoy!

Toppings:
Shredded cheddar
Bacon bits
Green onion
Sour cream

Click Here for Printable Recipe: Crock Pot Loaded Baked Potato Soup

I have a confession: I kind of cheated. I did Crock Pot Wednesday on Monday this week because I was just too freakin’ pooped already. This week has been a doozie trying to catch-up on laundry, dishes, cooking, shopping, etc. from being gone last week. Side note – how can being gone ONE week feel like an eternity in Laundry Years? Just sayin’…

crock pot pork chops

Anywho – I went with probably the easiest Crock Pot recipe I have. My co-worker and good friend gave me this one a looooooooong time ago. Every time I make it, Jon Boy says, “Man babe, this is so good,” as if he’s never had it before. Makes me one happy lady to know he likes it plus it’s so stinkin’ simple. Here’s how it goes:

crock pot pork chops

Get This Stuff

2 cups chicken stock + 1 package Lipton Onion Soup Mix + 2 cans/cartons Cream of Chicken Soup + 1 package pork gravy mix + 4 boneless pork chops

crock pot pork chops

Dump It All in the Crock Pot

crock pot pork chops

Cook on low for 8 hours until pork chops shred easily with a fork. Serve over rice or egg noodles. Garnish with green onions or parsley.

crock pot pork chops

Shout out to my Daddy’s super old Crock Pot BTW. That lady is a solid cooking gem.


Now for my Rant-of-the-Week (plus its solution):

I HATE junk mail. Like… rage-a-holic HATE it. It’s a time waster, it’s a money waster, and it’s definitely not “going green” by any means. We recycle more than we throw away, so you can understand why this waste of paper drives me bananas. I’ve researched a few ways to get off the mail lists of major distributors. Here’s what I’ve found:

To Opt-Out of Credit Card Mailers:

I’ve done this tons of times for every place I’ve lived. I don’t like the idea of credit card applications with my name on them floating around in the USPS system. I also hate having to shred about 8 a week! Mama ain’t got time to waste, y’all. Be sure to submit the form, then print, sign, and mail the form to the address given. Just filling out the online form only gets you off the list for 5 years. I also had to complete the form using only my first + last name then again for my first + middle initial + last name. Kind of a hassle, but if you’re already filling it out and mailing one, you can just go ahead and do the other.

Opt Out Prescreen


To Opt-Out of Red Plum Mailers:

Fill out the form in the link below. I didn’t fill out the phone number or the email address. I also did one form for Jon Boy (my hubby) and one for myself just to be safe. If you’re worried about not getting the coupons, you can always grab coupons online.

Red Plum Opt Out


To Opt-Out of Catalogs, Magazines, and Other Mailers:

This online site helps to control the kinds of catalogs, magazines, and other mailers you receive based on the affiliated companies you choose. You can choose to receive NO catalogs, mags, etc. or you can choose which you’d like to receive based on the companies you like. It will also link you to Opt-Out PreScreen to get out of credit card offers, too.

DMA Choice

Another super-simple way to stop catalogs from let’s say Pottery Barn (if you’ve ordered from them, they’ll always send you their affiliated catalogs) is to look on the back. Near your address, there will be a website you can go to to opt-out of their catalogs. You just enter your customer number (located near your address) and they should stop your catalogs/magazines within 6 weeks. Side note about Pottery Barn though – they have a few different magazines: Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Outdoors, Pottery Barn Bed + Bath, etc. Make sure you get out of all of those you want to stop receiving.


Another Helpful Website (Click Here)

#1 Thought this Thursday: Be a parent. Enough said.

it is your circus

#2 Thought for Thursday: I never want to appear that I think I’m even remotely perfect. I’ve been reading tons and tons of blogs + social media about people who genuinely think they’ve found the key to life + happiness + the perfect eye cream that also can tone your butt. Enough!!! I want to read the REAL side of life. Give me tips, yes. But also tell me how your kid stuck his hand in poop and put it on your face while you were changing his diaper.

And if you’re going to project perfection, work on your grammar first.

my-life-may-not-be-perfect-but-at-least-i-know-the-difference-between-your-and-youre-70b0c

These two are too much for me sometimes. Penny is the sweetest, most patient baby girl in the world. Corey is also the sweetest, but definitely 100% boy. Sometimes, he’ll purposefully step on her tail or her legs or even her belly (thank you, toddler rage). She just sits there and takes it – licking him profusely. Their hugs make any bad day better for me.

corey and penny

Can we just take a minute to appreciate a few things:

This kid’s love of food – notice the drool?

This kid’s attempt to use a fork like a big boy.

That strawberry falling…

corey douglas

and Corey’s quick cover-up of the folly. He gives a good attempt at using the fork. However, if it doesn’t get into his mouth on the first try, there’s always the hands. I call that tenacity.

corey douglas

Crock Pot Wednesday was a hit yet again! Toot, toot! I tweaked a combo of recipes I’ve had for a while to make a super comforting dinner on what turned out to be a very rainy day. It felt like fall for just a day (in the middle of Houston summer), so it was all worth it for me!

crock pot chicken + wild rice casserole

Fall is just around the corner, and I’m super excited to try these little witches’ hats. If you know me, you know that me + crafts = a lot of cussing and eventually me just running to Etsy or Hobby Lobby to buy what I tried to make. So, with that said, we’ll see what happens with these hats when the time comes.

Anywho – back to the Crock Pot Chicken + Wild Rice Casserole! I used a couple of boxes of this version of Rice-a-Roni (I dumped the seasonings it came with – sorry, not sorry):

crock pot chicken + wild rice casserole

 And I used another “recipe” if you can even call it that using my Crock Pot for the chicken. I use this 99% of the time when a recipe calls for cooked chicken or a rotisserie chicken. I keep tons of containers of this cooked, shredded chicken in the freezer so I can pull it out the night before I make something.

crock pot shredded chicken

It’s pretty simple:


Crock Pot Shredded Chicken

5 lbs. chicken breast
1 carton low sodium chicken broth
Water

Place chicken breast in Crock Pot, pour in broth, and pour in water until chicken is totally submerged in liquid. Cook on high for 8 hours or until chicken shreds easily with a fork.

Store in airtight containers in the fridge up to a week or the freezer up to 4 months. Thaw overnight before using cooked chicken.


My Crock Pot actually has a feature so that you can sauté the onion + celery + garlic right in the pot instead of having to transfer. It’s kind of sexy, if you ask me. One less pot to clean? I’ll take it.

crock pot chicken + wild rice casserole

Otherwise, this is a dump-and-go recipe. It makes 6 very generous servings that come in at around 520 calories each. I hope you and your peeps enjoy it!

chicken + wild rice casserole


Crock Pot Chicken + Wild Rice Casserole

2 tbs. unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 carton (4 cups) chicken broth
2 (11-oz.) cans/containers cream of mushroom soup
2 (4.3-oz.) boxes Long Grain & Wild Rice (discard seasoning packets)
2 lbs. cooked, shredded chicken (see recipe above or use rotisserie chicken)
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
8 oz. Colby-Jack cheese, shredded, divided
Green onions, for garnish

In a large skillet or Dutch oven (or your Crock Pot, if you have that option), melt the butter over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and celery until softened (about 5 minutes). Add garlic; sauté 1 more minute. Place onion mixture in Crock Pot on the low heat setting. Add chicken broth, soup, rice, chicken, S&P, and stir to combine. Gently stir in 2/3 cheese, cover, and cook for 4 hours.

Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Cover with remaining 1/3 cheese, cover, allow cheese to melt, then serve. Garnish with green onions.

Okay, I have to be honest. I can NEVER remember how to spell Caribbean. I actually just misspelled it trying to type it just then. GUH! So, needless to say, writing this recipe was tough.

slow cooker caribbean pork

One day, maybe I’ll remember. Until then… thank you, spell check.

slow cooker caribbean pork

And thank you, Caribbean Pork Gods.

slow cooker caribbean pork

The flavors in this dish are perfectly balanced: citrus + sweet + spice (but not spicy). They are taken over-the-top when you pair with Zesty Coconut Rice, cilantro, and an extra squeeze of lime at the end. LOVE this one!

slow cooker caribbean pork
This was another Crock Pot Wednesday win! Jon Boy actually guffawed [and almost choked, but in a good way] when he took his first bite. I took that as a sign that he loved it, needless to say. “Definitely a repeat babe. Definitely.” Winner, winner, crock pot dinner.

slow cooker caribbean pork

I’ve had this cookbook for yeaarrrsssss. I love it. I’ve cooked this pork the way they’ve written it and loved it! I wanted to see if I could convert it to a Crock Pot recipe, and voila – it worked! They also have a great recipe for King Ranch Casserole that’s always done me proud. I love that these are recipes that Southern Living’s readers have actually tried, reviewed, and revised. Y’all know southern women can cook and be vocal, so you know they can be trusted.

slow cooker caribbean pork

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Crock Pot Wednesdays are the best. I know there’s a little extra step in searing the pork (or you can skip it, but I’d recommend taking the extra time). By searing the pork, you’re helping to seal in some of the juices and add some brown to the mix – which is always a good idea!

slow cooker caribbean pork


Slow Cooker Caribbean Pork

1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup grapefruit juice (1 large grapefruit)
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 tbs. light brown sugar
3 bay leaves, crumbled
2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 (5 lb.) Boston butt pork roast (pork shoulder)

Combine all ingredients except the pork in a large bowl; stir to combine. Place the pork in a large Ziploc bag and add the marinade. Turn to coat and refrigerate overnight.

Option A (recommended): Heat a large Dutch oven or skillet over high heat. Place the pork in the Dutch oven and pour the marinade into the Crock Pot. Brown the pork on both sides (about 5 minutes per side). Place pork in Crock Pot.

Option B: Dump everything into the Crock Pot.

Cook on high 8 hours or on low for 12 until pork shreds easily with a fork. Occasionally baste the pork with the liquid if you can. Discard any fat from the pork.

Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges. Best served with green peas + Zesty Coconut Rice.

Adapted from Southern Living