Author Archive

Instant Pot One Hour Chicken and Dumplings

Posted January 25, 2016 By dealinanddishin

As part of my Adventures in the Kitchen series we met the Instant Pot. I’m in love with this guy. It has made meal time so much faster, and opened up dinner and lunch options!

One of my Hubs favorite meals is Chicken and Dumplings. Notice I say it is his favorite. I love eating them, but I have never liked to make them.

Originally I would boil chicken, make my own dumplings, and cook it that way. That is my least favorite way by far!!

Then I found a crockpot recipe for chicken and dumplings that used frozen premade dumplings, and this was a recipe I liked a lot. However, this one takes hours to make!

I wanted a fast hot meal this weekend for lunch. I never ever would attempt Chicken and Dumplings for lunch unless I plan to get cooking at the crack of dawn. I can barely make my coffee when I get up, much less deal with ingredients.

I got out the Instant Pot, and ended up with One Hour Chicken and Dumplings! The fastest and easiest recipe I’ve ever had for them. The Hubs and I are both happy now!

One Hour Chicken and Dumplings

1-1 1/2 pounds of boneless skinless frozen chicken
10.5 ounce can Cream of Chicken Soup
Can of Water
2 cups of Reames Frozen Egg Noodles
2 tsp. Chicken Bouillon (optional)
1/4 cup Diced Onion (optional)
Makes 46 ounces of Chicken and Dumplings, which was enough for lunch for 2 adults and 2 kids and leftovers 1-2 adults and 1 kid.

This recipe can be adjusted as you like. You can use less chicken, more noodles, or more soup and liquid. It is up to you. The more noodles the more liquid you will need..they soak it up good.
I used up what was in a bag I found in the freezer. It makes a very meaty recipe, which is very filling.  It had a thick liquid that still could have rolls dipped into.

Put the chicken, soup, and water into Instant Pot.

Seal and set on Poultry. The default is 20 minutes, but I did it for 25 since it was frozen. Release steam (use a long utensil to turn the valve), and cut up chicken. The extra five minutes made the chicken fall apart, and so easy to cut. I scooped it out into a bowl and shredded it up with a fork.ChickenCooked

Add the 2 cups of Reames frozen noodles. AddNoodles

I prefer these to their dumplings for the size. They seem to be exactly the same, but one is in small strips. Turn the Instant Pot to “Slow Cook” for no more than 30 minutes with lid off. Noodles willstick, so be sure to stir. Now is also the time to taste and add extra seasoning if needed. I added 2 teaspoons of Chicken Bouillon, pepper, and onion powder. My noodles were ready in 15 minutes.

That’s it! You are ready to serve in under an hour!ChickenDumplingsDone

Next time: I will add 1/4 cup onion to the chicken when I put it in the pot to cook.

Be the first to comment

Adventures in the Kitchen: The Instant Pot

Posted January 24, 2016 By dealinanddishin

I have been burned out and stressed out all December with things to do, and I have slacked off so bad with cooking. That then has been very visible in my appearance as well. Way too much eating out. You know sometimes it is the best option you have. I’m really trying now to get ahead of those weeks and get some easy meals for us to have.

I love the crock pot..I really do! My highest viewed post ever is my Creamy Crockpot Potato Soup Recipe. On days when I am home all day it is fabulous to throw everything in a pot and let it work all day.

However, I’m not great in the morning at thinking of what to make for dinner 12 hours later. I’m getting kids off to school, trying to go to Y, run errands, plan meetings, etc. I think about dinner closer to lunch time. That’s too late for most of my crockpot recipes.

This Christmas my Mom and I each got an Instant Pot. The price was great at $75 (with silicone mitts included) from Wal-Mart, and the reviews were overwhelming positive. The price has gone up since Christmas, but still a great deal for all that it can do. We tried hers on Christmas day with a pot roast and were impressed. Now we are both emailing each other weekly with whatever new thing we did in our pot!

What is the Instant Pot?

It is basically an electric pressure cooker, but has more functions than a traditional stove top pressure cooker. You have slow cooker, saute, rice, soup, poultry, meat, bean, porridge, multigrain, plus manual settings!

My mom had the stove top pressure cooker with the jiggly bit on top, and it worked but you had to baby it. It would lose water, so you had to keep checking that. The stove burner isn’t even so you would have to adjust that. You would have to pay attention to when pressure was reached, start timing, and then get it when done. Honestly, I’m in the kitchen enough with the prep and clean up of meals I don’t want to be in there the whole time it is cooking too.

Instant Pot gives me the freedom of a crockpot with the speed of a pressure cooker. It builds up pressure with a little steam release, and that’s the last you noise you hear it make until the time goes off. It automatically starts timing once the pressure is reached. You lose hardly any water..I’ve noticed  1/4 cup loss of water after I cooked potatoes with a 1 cup of water to start. Please be sure to read your manual before using your Instant Pot. There is also a recipe book, plus their website has lots of recipes as well.

Hint: The pressure will come shooting out of the top if you release it manually. It is a touchy valve, so I just use a plastic spoon to turn the valve on mine to avoid any possible steam burns.

It has been a month since I got mine, and I’ve used it 6 times already. One day I used it twice for dinner, because it is that quick and easy to clean up. I made the main dish and then some potatoes to go with it.

I can’t wait to start sharing the recipes I try, and hope you enjoy them as much as we have!

Plus..this is so cute to me. It has this happy chime when you get the lid on and seal correctly!

(post contains affiliate link)

Be the first to comment

Girl Scouts Snack Badge Printable Recipe Cards

Posted January 9, 2016 By dealinanddishin

We are in our first year of Brownies, and have been working on some of the legacy badges.
LegacyBadgesSome badges can be done in one meeting or field trip, but a couple have a lot more parts. Those two are the Painting and Snacks badges.

Snacks will have us trying a sweet snack (we made a s’mores snack mix), a savory snack, a drink, and an energy snack. That is a lot for one meeting. It could work for an overnight, and that’s how we plan to get the drink and energy parts completed.

This meeting we worked on savory. I decided to make a cheese ball recipe a friend gave me years ago. I used a cookie scoop and scoop some of the mixture on each of their plates (13 in total), gave them food service gloves, and they were able to roll their own. We rolled ours if they chose to in bacon bits. Cheese balls are very simple and there are so many recipes online, but mainly have a cream cheese and shredded cheese base with extras added depending on what flavor you might like.

The other way they got involved they wrote down the recipe on these cards I made in Word. The ones I used have just ingredients on the front and directions on the back. That worked out perfectly for this age. When printing these selecting to flip on the “long side” they lined up better for cutting out. There are two on each page. I would suggest cardstock. Recipe Cards (front and back) 

I also made this style with directions started on the front and continuing to the back, and when they get older we will use those. When printing these selecting to flip on the “long side” they lined up better for cutting out. There are two on each page. I would suggest cardstock. Recipe Cards (together)RecipeCards1

Be the first to comment

Paper and Yarn Star Ornaments

Posted December 18, 2015 By dealinanddishin

StarOrnament1I needed a fairly simple and fast craft for 20 Girl Scouts (Second graders). Being close to Christmas I wanted something festive. There are some other cardboard and yarn ornament crafts, but they use circles. I wasn’t in love with the outcome.

I got out my Slice cutter and noticed a I had a star pattern..hmmm. Wonder how that would work?

It worked really well. Cut out 4″ stars. You could use Word to make a star and print on card stock then cut, or make a template and trace. I used Card Stock (Hobby Lobby sells big multi-color packs, and lots of sales there!)


Make a small snip in between the points.


I used some glitter yarn, taping the end in place on the back. Then going through the holes as demonstrated in the video you make another star! Snip your string, tape to back. Hole punch and use left over string for a hanging loop! It takes the girls a minute to figure it out, but most of them did and could help others. It ended up being really cute and cost nothing out of pocket!

Be the first to comment

Here Comes The Elf on The Shelf

Posted November 28, 2015 By dealinanddishin

I would say almost everyone knows what Elf on the Shelf is, but if not I will give a little explanation as I understand it. The Elf on the Shelf is a visitor of Santa’s that comes and stays with a family during the Christmas season. The elf reports back nightly to Santa of the behavior of the children in the house. I guess it is supposed to encourage good behavior, which should be year round in my opinion. Most important you cannot play or touch the elf! Our rule is the parents can move ours if needed. Elves now are more into mischievous antics, jokes, or bringing goodies during the month. Here is the official Elf on the Shelf website.

Some have already started their Elf on the Shelf tradition, but we wait until December 1st. It coincides with our Advent calendars (this year LEGO Star Warsand Barbie ).

We are starting our third year of elf antics from our friend, Snowflake. I have to say she has done a little too much that first year. The bar got set a little high, so I’m always looking for ideas for the elf.

In case you are in the same boat I am, here are last year’s elf antics to help you out! Another fun thing is a letter from your elf announcing his or her arrival. Ours made a code, which you can see here!

(Post contains affiliate links for purchasing items mentioned. Post contains my own opinions.) I included links to Amazon for the products mentioned, but I would also recommend checking LEGO and Target for the LEGO Advent calendar as well. They sell out, and at times very early in the year. I buy ours in October or as soon as the LEGO one is released!

Be the first to comment

LEGO KidsFest 2016 Dates Released! #sp #LegoKidsFest

Posted November 13, 2015 By dealinanddishin

As a US Family Guide blogger I got to go and giveaway tickets to LEGO Fest St. Louis last year! It was a great time, and I really want to go again this June to the one in Louisville! Stay tuned…

Heads Up!! These do sell out!

Charlotte, NC: Feb. 19-21 (Charlotte Convention Center)

Harrisburg, PA: April 8-10 (Farm Show Complex & Expo Center)

Kansas City, MO: May 13-15 (Kansas City Convention Center)

Louisville, KY: June 3-5 (Kentucky Exposition Center)

Milwaukee, WI: Oct. 7-9 (Wisconsin Center)

Houston, TX: Oct. 21-23 (NRG Center)

Cleveland, OH: Nov. 4-6 (I-X Center)


 LEGO® KidsFest announces tour stops for 2016 at new and returning markets

Follow on Twitter @LegoKidsFest


(Hartford, CT) LEGO KidsFest kicks off its eighth year on the road with new tour stops and a return to some popular markets.

New tour stops in 2016 include Charlotte, NC (Feb. 19-21), Harrisburg, PA (April 8-10) and Kansas City, MO (May 13-15).

It’s been three years or more since LEGO KidsFest stopped in Louisville, KY (June 3-5), Milwaukee WI (Oct. 7-9), Houston, TX (Oct. 21-23) and Cleveland, OH (Nov. 4-6).

Covering more than three acres of space, the LEGO KidsFest extravaganza brings all of the hands-on, minds-on fun of LEGO building and experience together in an activity-filled event for all ages and builders of all skills.

“Our 2016 LEGO KidsFest tour is going to delight both new and returning audiences,” said Vince Rubino, Events Manager for LEGO Systems, Inc. “We’ve still got some favorites on the show floor, like the Big Brick Pile, Creation Nation and the Race Ramps. There are also many new and unique activities designed for building, learning and fun.”

Five sessions — all identical and 4½ half hours in length — are held at each tour stop. LEGO KidsFest tickets can be purchased at Tickets are $19 for the Friday and Sunday afternoon sessions, and $22 for both sessions on Saturday and the Sunday morning session.

On tour since 2009, previous LEGO KidsFest tour stops have included major cities such as Chicago, Boston, Dallas, Atlanta, San Jose, Cleveland, Richmond, Phoenix, Portland and more.

Some of the activities at the shows include:


  • LEGO Model Museum: life-sized models made entirely from LEGO bricks
  • LEGO Master Builders: live demonstrations and activities from the crew who get paid to play
  • Race Ramps: build a custom car, then race it down the ramp against friends and family
  • LEGO Star Wars: build and display a Star Wars model
  • LEGO Disney™ Princess: create a princess scene to add to a LEGO story book
  • LEGO Super Heroes: pose with a life-size Spiderman model and more
  • LEGO DUPLO®: younger visitors can explore imagination through building
  • LEGO Retail:purchase LEGO merchandise and official KidsFest tour goods
  • LEGO Friends: build for the five empowered friends from Heartlake City
  • LEGO Ninjago: spin the way to being a Spinjitzu member
  • LEGO Mindstorms: build and program robots and snakes
  • LEGO Technic: get hands-on with the cool, realistic vehicles at the booth
  • Creation Nation: build your own creation to add to a custom map of the U.S.
  • Brick Pile: a gigantic pile full of LEGO bricks for creative play and enjoyment
  • Monochromatic Builds: bricks of a single color foster group creativitylkf1604pinterestancmtgrphx736px


About the LEGO Group

The LEGO Group is a privately held, family-owned company with headquarters in Billund, Denmark, and main offices in Enfield, USA, London, UK., Shanghai, China, and Singapore. Founded in 1932 by Ole Kirk Kristiansen, and based on the iconic LEGO® brick, it is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of play materials.

Guided by the company spirit: “Only the best is good enough”, the company is committed to the development of children and aims to inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow through creative play and learning. LEGO products are sold worldwide and can be virtually explored at

For more news from the LEGO Group, information about our financial performance and responsibility engagement, please visit

LEGO, the LEGO logo, the Minifigure, DUPLO, LEGENDS OF CHIMA, NINJAGO, BIONICLE, MINDSTORMS and MIXELS are trademarks of the LEGO Group. ©2015 The LEGO Group.The LEGO KidsFest is produced by BuzzEngine, a marketing and events organization. LEGO KidsFest was awarded Best Proprietary Event by Event Marketer Magazine in 2013.



Be the first to comment

We are in our first year of Brownie Girl Scouts, and were working on the Girl Scout Way. This is perfect timing, because Juliette Gordon Low’s birthday is October 31st. I had given hints at the last meeting about what we were going to be celebrating at the next meeting.  The first hint was our sticker for our folders (if you bring your folder you get one), and it was a pumpkin. The second hint was our snack, popcorn. Not just any popcorn, but Boy Scout popcorn.

I found lots of ideas on Pinterest on celebrating Juliette Gordon Low. Feel free to visit my boards. One activity was this Juliette Gordon Low puppet. We also learned a song about Juliette, and did an action story. There is a great Word document on the Arlington Girl Scouts page. It is titled, Juliette Low’s Birthday Ideas. It is 24 pages of song variations, stories, and games!  The snack of course followed the theme. Since it was a birthday we had cupcakes, and going along with when her birthday is had pumpkin ones.

Super simple cupcakes to make. I would suggest adding the stems right before serving. They melted a bit overnight, but were still great! Here is what happens overnight if you do the Tootsie Rolls early..a little more rustic looking.

Make whatever flavor of cupcakes you like according to the package.
When cool ice with orange frosting. I love I can just buy orange instead of messing with a bunch of food coloring.

Then  add your Tootsie Roll stem (perfect if have nut allergies in your troop like we do). Slice the Tootsie Roll in half lengthwise, then roll between fingers to desired size.CupcakeBatch

 I wore food service gloves when doing this part. You can buy them at Sam’s for about $9 for three boxes of 500 each. I like them for handling food at meetings, etc.foodgloves

Be the first to comment

First Time Visit to the Ohio Renaissance Festival #review

Posted October 19, 2015 By dealinanddishin

Back in July I had received an offer to receive tickets for my family to go the Ohio Renaissance Festival in exchange for sharing about the event and our experiences for US Family Guide.

The Ohio Renaissance Festival is only open September 5- October 25 on Saturdays and Sundays.

We just got back yesterday from our visit. We started Fall Break Friday so we had a weekend getaway. The Ohio Renaissance Festival is in Waynesville, OH, and is close to halfway between Cincinnati and Columbus. That was great for us, and I will be sharing about our visits there as well in another post.

The Ohio Renaissance Festival was actually much bigger than we expected. It is a large field for parking, and then more field for shows inside and stores and food around the perimeter. This is just the left side of the parking area!

We had a great time! The weather was on the chilly side, but with lots of  sun it was perfect. I’m going to share pics and video clips I took while there and some tips, observations, etc.


1. Bring Cash. I saw some places took cards, but cash seemed to be king here. It is the faster and easiest really with how busy it can get. Plus Parking is $3, and I didn’t see any option other than cash for that.

2. Look At Show Schedule. There are many shows, but they don’t run continuously through the day. Some like the joust have three shows around 12, 3, and 5. Here is this year’s show schedule and descriptions.

3. Sit at Busy Shows Early. The shows fill up, but the Joust by far was the most packed!! There is seating I believe you can pay for as well. The bleachers were filled, and everyone else stood around. This is tough for us shorter people and kids. People were already seated 40 minutes before.

4. Tips. Some shows, food servers, and restaurants accept tips. It was not required of course.

5. Dress Up. I would guess over a third of the people were dressed up: gyspy, medieval, fairy, etc. We weren’t sure how many did. Go ahead!



1. Grown Up Humor and Behavior. If public drinking, smoking, bawdy humor bother you then you will not like it. The humor like the this sign goes right over my kids’ heads but cracks us up. It is the Medeival times here, and it was fun. They don’t say anything R-rated at all. There are some special 21 and over shows later.

2.  Food Portions. They are some items that are huge! This was the Lord Frakenfurter…made me blush. The turkey leg is massive, and the cheeseburger must’ve had 3-4 slices of cheese on it.
IMG_9711 IMG_9710
3. Expense Potential. You could spend a ton of money here. That is true with any amusement park. You have rides, games, stores, food, and tips (optional) that could rack up money.

Don’t get overwhelmed that there are more costs inside. You are getting a good value for those tickets. The number of shows you could see in the day is worth the tickets. The joust will be different each show. The Kamikaze Fireflies do a completely different show at the end of the day as well. You can see the artisans who have shops workign their trade: forging, leather stamping, glass blowing, etc.

We would go back for sure! I would plan my day better next time. We got distracted by the shops right away.

I am happy we got to see The Kamikaze Fireflies, a comedy acrobatic duo using you guessed it…Fire! Show was so funny and great!


I have more clips on my YouTube page, here!

We saw the Washing Wenches…lol! They were the first we saw when we came in. They bring up men from the audience and have them prove their “manliness”. It’s all in good fun and the crowd loved it.

We saw the Pirate show. It was a slapstick pirate adventure on a big pirate ship. That was my daughters’ (age 7) favorite.
PiratesShow PirateShow1

We saw the joust as well. That is something you aren’t going to just see anywhere, and is a very interesting experience.
Jousting2 Jousting3 Jousting4

I would have loved to have seeen more shows.  We didn’t realize how many shows there were (usually 30 minutes long), stores, and space. We spent 4 hours here, and still have a 4 hour drive home. Next time I will get the schedule to plan our day, dress up, and allow more time.

My only real improvement suggestion is the seating at the joust. I would love more bleachers on the end.

Be the first to comment

Long Overdue Update

Posted October 12, 2015 By dealinanddishin


This is a very long overdue update. Last I wrote I was in a dark place with my Dad in the hospital, Mom needing a hysterectomy,
and not sure what all was going to happen.

He had Congestive Heart Failure from a lot of water retention (at least 6 lbs. came off during his hospitalization). Then we learned the hard way that sleeping pills and people over 80 don’t mix well AT ALL! We’re talking hallucinations and crazy behavior. That was the scariest would my mom deal with that. Thank God once that got out of his system and he was released he got back to normal.

Then Mom had her much overdo hysterectomy. The surgery went very smooth other than her being so sick to her stomach after the anthesia..that lasted most of the night. She got released the next day, and has had a great recovery. This is good because at the age of 67 it was a bunch of bull shit she had to have this done, but her body was going a little crazy. No cancer, but if left alone the doctor felt it was a matter of time and one of the biopsies would come back bad.

Then had my boy’s 12th birthday! Holy cow..4 years until he drives…6 years until he graduates! This is last year before the “teens” starts. He has started 6th grade and doing so well. Middle School, bus with the high schoolers, hauling a trombone daily had me nervous. Happy to report he has taken it all in stride. It’s looking like an all A grading period, but really his transition going smoothly is more important than A’s or B’s.
IMG_8284 11822868_10205020490494783_5437763988027812723_o
Little girl is in 2nd grade now and a first year Brownie (which I am assistant leader) so she is keeping quite busy.11864934_10205020716460432_7533512504237996452_o

We are no longer in Cub Scouts, so I’m a full time Girl Scout now!

We are also doing karate weekly, bowling league for the kids and one for the hubs and me, and 4H…I think that’s all! Oh and Religion class on Wednesday evenings for Hubs and daughter and Sunday for son.

12141702_10205357494719678_2109401713613825823_n (1) IMG_7886 IMG_792612030378_10205298241718390_9181817368838129545_o

Oh and I celebrated 15 years of marriage to this great guy!

It has been nonstop!! We are approaching Fall Break…woohoo!

I got free tickets to the Ohio Renaissance Festival in exchange for an honest review, read more here.tile_ohiorenfest-tile

Since we’re going to have a 4 day weekend we figured let’s make it a mini vacation. I think we can all use the break. Now, a vacation for us is going from morning until bed. We aren’t lounging people :) That comes this Summer, with my plans for our first ever beach visit (my first too!)

The renaissance festival is basically between Cincinnati and Columbus…sweet! I loved the Cincinnati Zoo the first time we went, even with having a car wreck our first day of that vacation. I’m super excited to stop there on our drive out. We will stay in Columbus and go to the Columbus Zoo, check out Sequoia Pro Bowl, and visit the Easton Town Center (it’s got a LEGO store..that’s a must!). Then on the back home go the Renaissance Festival.

I will be updating on everything from the hotel (first stay at a Holiday Inn), festival, zoos, any cool restaurants or attractions we find.

After our vacation this Summer I bought an app called (no affiliate link..just go search them in iTunes). Anyway it has all kinds of weird and random spots in the areas you pay for. I’m hoping to find something interesting.

Be back soon…I promise!!

Be the first to comment

Peter Pan Had The Right Idea

Posted July 20, 2015 By dealinanddishin


Being a grown up is hard. Hardest part is when you grow older so does everyone around you. This past year it has really hit home that my parents are getting older, and time is limited. Then this past week I have a Mom, who needs surgery (not life threatening), and now a Dad who’s been in the hospital for the last four days with congestive heart failure, blood pressure all messed up, and various other things happening.

I am not coping well. I am functioning. The house is decent. The kids are oblivious, but I’m bubbling under the surface. Mini breakdowns happen daily, and I have been able to hold off a major one.

Partly I feel like I shouldn’t be so Mom is the one who is dealing with a sick husband and her own stuff. I’m off an hour away with my kids trying to keep our normal routine.

I don’t post on Facebook, because I don’t want to seem attention seeking, and also because I am more private than people realize. It seems to be ironic to have a blog, but if you look through it I don’t get real deep about myself or family. Just like Facebook I keep it all pretty even keel and happy. I just have to release some of this…guilt, worry, sadness, just whatever keeps popping to the surface.

Too much unknown. Anxiety whenever the phone rings. Worries about what happens if he doesn’t come home. Worries about what if he does. Worries about what to tell kids if something does happen.

However, it is too late for me and I have grown up and this is all a part of that…a really shitty part.

Be the first to comment