Slow Cooker Honey Parmesan Pork Roast

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Back into the cold depths of winter...or at least that's what it feels like when I step outside this week. The high has been hovering around 0 degrees, and the low has been dipping dangerously below 0. I'm beginning to think it is never going to warm up here! In the meantime, while I daydream of warmer days, there is nothing better than a warm meal from the slow cooker to help take off the chill.

I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest, and was pleasantly surprised at not only how little work it was, but how delicious the end product turned out. Typically, I tend to avoid pork. I'm not a pork chop or Iowa chop lover by any stretch of the imagination, and I find that more often than not home-cooked pork ends up being super tough, dry, or overly seasoned. (I do however love myself some pulled pork, or pork roast in a slow cooker). Yum. Yum. Yum.

Step One: Gather the ingredients.

Step Two: Combine ingredients for the honey parmesan glaze, and pour over pork roast. Make sure to lift of the edges so that the bottom of the roast gets coated as well.

Step Three: Set slow cooker to low, and walk away for 6-7 hours!

Step Four: Remove roast to a warm plate, slice, and tent with foil. 

Step Five: Skim the fat from remaining liquid in the slow cooker, and pour the juices into a medium saucepan over med-high heat. Bring to a boil. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstartch and water until smooth. Gradually whisk into the juices in the saucepan. Return to a boil for 2 minutes, or until thickened, making a glaze. Spoon glaze over sliced roast, and enjoy!

Recipe from Six Sisters Stuff

SLOW COOKER HONEY PARMESAN PORK ROAST | Yield: 6-8 servings | Total Time: 6.5-7.5 hrs


1 (2-3 lb) boneless pork roast
2/3 C Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 C Honey
3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp dried basil
2 Tbsp garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4 C cold water


Line slow cooker with plastic liner, or coat with cooking spray. Place roast in slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine parmesan cheese, honey, soy sauce, basil, garlic, olive oil, and salt. Mix well. Pour over pork roast, be sure to lift the sides to coat bottom. Set slow cooker for 6-7 hours on low.

Remove pork roast from slow cooker to a serving platter. It will likely fall apart a little - that's OK! Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Skim fat from the juices; transfer to the saucepan. Bring to a boil. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and cold water until smooth. Gradually stir into the saucepan. Return to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Slice the roast into thin slices, and serve with honey parmesan gravy.

Side suggestions: Salad, potato, steamed veggie.

Do you have a favorite recipe that uses pork?

Week 26

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Week 26 | an update

How far along: 26 weeks

Best moment this week: I got to enjoy a couple of long walks outside this week when the temps warmed up for a couple of days all the way to 50 degrees!

Worst moment this week: Shoveling. After said warm-up, we then had a blizzard that loaded up our driveway with about 4 inches of snow. I told T that I will not be shoveling ever...(meanwhile, he seems to have forgotten what a shovel looks like). The snow this time was far too heavy and icy beneath for me to consider it a safe activity. While T agreed, he still hasn't hopped on board the 'I'll shovel next time' train...

Things I miss: Warm weather. Seriously. This week is supposed to hover around 0 degrees with negative temps again for the lows. EVERY. DAY. THIS. WEEK.

Maternity clothes: Yes. Above top from Target, scarf from Kohls, leggings from Motherhood Maternity. One of my favorite outfits so far :)

Sleep: Not to bad, except for a couple nights I had serious acid reflux issues.

Movement: LOTS of movement this week. Papa T has been impressed with the strength of Baby W's kicking. 

Food Cravings: Cheeseburger. Sweets. Fruit. I think all the movement is making baby hungry, because Mama N definitely has a bigger appetite this week.

Food Aversions: Nothing this week.

Queasy or sick: Had a couple of nights with horrible acid reflux this week. Luckily, it hasn't been every night, so hoping this doesn't become an ongoing issue.

Belly button in or out: Mostly flat. A little out near the top.

Rings on or off: On. So far, any swelling I've had seems to be directly related to how much sodium has been in the foods I'm eating. This has always been an issue for me, so I typically try to avoid or limit super salty foods, and prefer to go light on the salt in my own cooking adding any additional seasoning later if it needs any.

Not looking forward to: Glucose test and getting more blood drawn at this week's OB appointment. Yuck. Last time I had blood drawn I had a giant bruise on my arm for almost 3 weeks.

Looking forward to: Possibly getting to meet Baby N someday very soon!!! My sister-in-law H has been dealing with some blood pressure issues, and we are all patiently waiting super excited about the possibility of meeting baby N sooner than expected if her doctor decides to induce early. Non couch and chairs show up tomorrow!! Yeaaaaa!

Week 25

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Week 25 | an update

How far along: 25 weeks...T & I realized last night that we've now entered month 7! Baby W will be here before we know it!

Best moment this week: T's parents surprised us with the very first gift for Baby W. It is the most adorable super soft little lamb blanket/playmat, similar to one that T & I had been eyeing the last time we found ourselves perusing baby items. In other great moments, T surprised me with flowers for Valentine's Day, and my parent's surprised us with a visit over the weekend to help us clean out our garage and rid it of an insane amount of cardboard boxes, styrofoam, and plastic packaging that were beginning to make it look unrecognizable. Yippee for some early spring cleaning!

Worst moment this week: I had a slight touch of the flu bug over the weekend, and it pretty much knocked me out for a solid 24 hours. Luckily, I'm now on the mend, and pretty much back to my normal self.

Things I miss: Air. I've been feeling out of breath quite a lot lately as Baby W continues to grow and take up more of the space previously dedicated to helping with breathing.

Maternity clothes: Yes. Really looking forward to warmer weather to get out some maxi dresses that aren't so restraining.

Sleep: Lots of tossing and turning this week, but I think that was because I wasn't feeling well. Haven't really had to get up much in the night yet, which is great.

Movement: Baby W has been very active the last couple of days when I wasn't feeling the best. Probably mad that I wasn't eating. T finally got to feel some good kicks this week, and I just loved the look of wonder it brought to his face.

Food Cravings: Smoothies and soup.

Food Aversions: Anything with too intense of a flavor profile.

Queasy or sick: Yes, but likely just from being under the weather rather than pregnancy related.

Belly button in or out: Still pretty flat, but the top is starting to head out.

Rings on or off: On.

Looking forward to: We ordered a new couch for our main living space, and it's supposed to arrive this week! Very exciting.

Mama J's Sugar Cookies

Monday, February 17, 2014

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you all had a fabulous Valentine's Day weekend. While I know this is not everyone's most favorite holiday, I tend to enjoy something nice like LOVE to celebrate when winter has been dragging on with apparently no end in sight (yes, we got more snow last night...sigh).

Today, I thought I'd share with you the delicious little Valentine cookies I made to celebrate the day. This recipe comes straight from my mom's kitchen, so it is sure to delight :)

Step One: Gather the ingredients.

Step Two: Mix the wet and dry ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Cover and refrigerate at least two hours.

Step Three: Roll out cookie dough to desired thickness, and cut out cookies. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for 6 minutes, or until slightly golden. Remove to a wire cooling rack.

Step Four: While cookies are cooling, mix up the frosting.

Step Five: Decorate to your heart's content. Enlist some helpers if you choose. I kept my decorations pretty basic (in an race to be able to devour these delightful cookies sooner) but you can get as fancy as you like with the decorating.

ON A SIDE NOTE: These cookies are excellent in any shape, so don't let my Valentine's version stop you from cutting some out for say the upcoming Easter holiday...Easter eggs and bunny cookies perhaps?

MAMA J'S SUGAR COOKIES | Yield: 3-4 Dozen | Total Time: About 3 hours give or take


1 C butter, softened
2 C sugar
2 eggs
3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
3 C flour
1 tsp cream of tarter
1 tsp baking soda

1 Tbsp butter, melted
Powdered sugar - you'll need almost an entire bag depending on how much frosting you like
Milk, tsp at a time
1 tsp vanilla
food coloring


Combine butter, sugar, eggs, milk and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer. Use a paddle attachment to mix together. Add remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. Cover bowl, and chill dough in the fridge for at least 1.5hrs (I chilled my dough overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove cookie dough from fridge, and roll out on a well-floured surface to desired thickness. (My cookies were a little under 1/4" thick.) Cut out shapes using your favorite cookie cutter. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and bake for 6 minutes, or until slightly golden. Remove to a wire cooling rack.

In a medium, microwave safe bowl, melt 1 Tbsp butter. Add a small amount of powdered sugar, and mix to combine. Add 1 tsp vanilla, and a little more powdered sugar until combined. Alternate adding 1 tsp milk at a time, with additional powdered sugar until you reach your desired consistency. Add a few drops of food coloring at the end.

Frost cooled cookies, and decorate with sprinkles if you choose.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Slow Cooker Hot Italian Drip Beef

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I've determined to deem February the month of the slow cooker. With baby on the way, I'm even more drawn to finding recipes that are not only delicious, but also quick and easy to prepare. Ok...truth...the current, and more important reason I am drawn to slow cooker recipes is because T is often not home at the same time every evening, and slow cookers have the awesome capability to keep dinner warm without drying it out.

I've made this hot Italian drip beef recipe several times after stumbling upon it last fall. It is about as easy as it comes when talking slow cooking, and the flavors are super delicious. T & I both agree it is one of our favorites. We both love the little spicy kick that comes from the peperoncini's. If you do end up with any leftovers, know that the meat reheats perfectly. I also think this would be the perfect meal to make ahead and reheat for a tailgate party or any game day event.

Step One: Gather the ingredients. Not much to this meal!

Step Two: Line your slow cooker, then combine all ingredients together.

Don't forget to use the juice in addition to the peperoncini peppers!

Sprinkle the Italian seasoning and kosher salt over the top.

Mix everything around so that the spices coat all sides.

Step Three: Cover, and set slow cooker to low for 6-8 hours.

Step Four: After 6-8 hours, if you used a rump roast (a leaner cut of meat), go ahead and remove from the slow cooker and thinly slice. If you used a chuck roast (a more marbled cut), you should be able to shred the meat. Return the sliced or shredded meat to the slow cooker to coat with all of those delicious spices before loading up your sandwich.

NOTE: I've tried this recipe with both cuts of meat, and T & I decided we like to have sliced vs. shredded as it doesn't make our sandwiches as soggy with the excess juice. Taste is pretty much the same, so if you prefer shredded vs. sliced, stick to the chuck roast.

Step Five: After shredding or slicing your meat, butter up some fresh hoagie rolls and pop them in the oven to toast. After they are toasted, add the meat and any peperoncini peppers you'd like.

Step Six: Optional. Top with your favorite cheese (T & I prefer pepperjack for a little added kick), and pop back in the oven to melt. Serve with a small bowl of the juice from your slow cooker for dipping.

Recipe from The Pioneer Woman

SLOW COOKER HOT ITALIAN DRIP BEEF | Yield: 8-10 servings | Total Time: 6 hrs.


1 whole beef chuck or rump roast, 2.5 to 4 lbs
1 can Beef Broth or Beef Consomme
1/2 jar (16 oz.) Peperoncini Peppers, with juice (about 15)
3 Tbsp (heaping) Italian Seasoning
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 C water
Buttered, toasted deli rolls
Sliced Pepperjack, Mozzarella, Provolone, Havarti (your choice)


Line slow cooker, and place roast inside. Add beef broth/consomme, peperoncini peppers with juice, Italian seasoning, kosher salt, and water. Give it a stir, then set for 6 hours on low heat.

After 6 hours, slice, or shred meat with two forks, and serve on buttered, toasted deli rolls with a slice of your favorite cheese over top. Get out an extra small bowl if you'd like to dip your sandwich in the juices.

Thats it. Simple. Quick. Easy. Perfecto.

What are your favorite slow cooker recipes? I'd love some new inspiration.

Week 24

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Week 24 | an update

How far along: 24 weeks

Best moment this week: Trip to Iowa City with the family to cheer for the Hawks as they took on Michigan at Carver Hawkeye Arena. Also had so much fun hitting up some of our favorite IC haunts and meeting up with friends and family we don't get to see too often. Baby related - we ordered our nursery furniture!! Sooo exciting. It'll be here in 4-6 weeks.

Worst moment this week: T hasn't been sleeping the greatest (read: talking in his sleep), and sometime in the middle of Sunday night he grabbed me and picked me up - rudely interrupting my peaceful sleep. I am hoping whatever nightmare he was having he was trying to rescue me rather than try to toss me overboard. As usual, he had no recollection of this incident the next morning. Hopefully Baby W will take after Mama W instead of Papa W when it comes to sleep patterns. On a related note, not a chance Baby W will be sleeping in the same bed as T & I. Who knows what T might do then!

Things I miss: Slip on shoes. Last night the windchill in our part of the state was a balmy -38. As Baby W continues to grow, bending over to tie my winter boots or shoes is becoming more difficult, and I long for warmer days and the ease of ballet flats and flip flops.

Maternity clothes: Yep! Above pants and top are from Gap. Highly recommend Gap Maternity yoga pants if you are in the market.

Sleep: Pretty good, except for the incident described above.

Movement: Yes. Many little kicks, mostly in the late evening this week.

Food Cravings: Salad, although maybe that is just because I got to enjoy my two most favorite salads over the weekend - Buffalo Chicken Salad at Atlas in Iowa City, and BBQ Ranch Chicken Salad at Cheesecake Factory in Des Moines on the way home. Also very much enjoyed the oatmeal monster bars and puppy chow my mom provided for the gang over the weekend.

Food Aversions: Nothing this week.

Queasy or sick: No. Mostly over my cold from last week.

Belly button in or out: Still relatively flat, although starting to make it's way out.

Rings on or off: On for now, but my fingers seem to be a little more swollen this week.

Looking forward to: Valentine's Day of course :) I love a good reason to get dolled up. T & I don't currently have anything planned, but hopefully we'll at the very least get a chance to go out for a nice dinner date.


The entire Nielsen clan enjoyed catching a game at Carver Hawkeye Arena over the weekend as the Hawks took on Michigan. Iowa was the underdog going into the game, and we ended up beating the Wolverines by almost 20 points. Great game!

T & I cheering for the Hawks.

My brother T and sister-in-law H sat with us at the game. Probably not too many more road trips for these two before Baby N makes his appearance!

How was your weekend?

Skinny Cheesy Potato Casserole

Friday, February 7, 2014

A skinny cheesy potato casserole you say...Can it be true? Can it be real? Yes, my friends, this is THE REAL DEAL. I stumbled across this little gem of a recipe while looking for a healthy, but comfort-food style side to go with a slow cooker meal I'll tell you about next week - stay tuned!

Growing up in a traditional Midwest family, often times, meat and potatoes were a significant part of the dinner menu. And lets be honest...have you ever met someone that doesn't like a hearty helping of cheesy potatoes? Me either.

This alternative version is excellent, and packs the flavor punch WITHOUT any of the typical fat and calorie-laden comfort favorites of canned soup, sour cream, or butter. Hallelujah!

Step One: Gather the ingredients.

Step Two: In a large bowl, mix everything together.

Step Three: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare an 8x8 glass or ceramic baking dish (spray with cooking spray), and spread the potato mixture evenly. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, then pop into the oven for 55 minutes.

*NOTE: Do NOT use an aluminum pan when baking with yogurt. Because of the acidity, the yogurt will react with the aluminum and give your dish a bad taste. For more info about cooking with yogurt: CLICK HERE

Recipe adapted from The Spotted Lamb

SKINNY CHEESY POTATO CASSEROLE | Yield: 4-6 servings | Total Time: 1hr 15 min.


16 oz frozen shredded hashbrowns (1/2 of a full bag)
3/4 C plain Greek yogurt (If you use Dannon brand, you'll need 2 small containers of yogurt to get 3/4 C)
1/4 C low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 C skim milk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 C shredded cheese (not low-fat), I used sharp cheddar
salt and pepper to taste, (sprinkle a little over the top before baking)

*NOTE: This recipe can easily be doubled and put into a 9x13 baking dish if you have a crowd, and reheats well.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients into a large bowl, and stir until well combined. Spray an 8x8 glass or ceramic casserole dish with cooking spray, then spread the potato mixture evenly in the pan. Bake uncovered for 55 min.

*NOTE: While this recipe is much more healthy than typical cheesy potato casseroles, you still need to use regular cheese rather than a low-fat alternative to avoid a watery casserole.

Do you have a favorite 'lightened up' recipe?

Week 23

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Week 23 | an update

How far along: 23 weeks

Best moment this week: Started to feel Baby W's tiny kicks occasionally on the outside. Shhhhh...T hasn't had the pleasure of experiencing this yet, and I'm sure he will soon be all hands-on when he learns of this recent development. He's been pouting a little about wanting to feel the baby's movements, and keeps asking me when he can feel Baby W.

Worst moment this week: Catching T's terrible cold. Ugh. Being pregnant and sick are not ideal. All of my typical cold remedies are off limits, and I'm stuck taking allergy medicine, which has basically been no help. 

Things I miss: Being able to take cold medicine. 

Maternity clothes: Yes. Thinking I need to find some maternity PJs. Much to T's dislike, I am an avid lover of PJs, and insist on cute things to wear to bed. An old T-shirt and sweats just won't cut it for me. My non-maternity PJs are becoming a little difficult to wear, so I may have to invest in just one nice set of maternity PJs to get me through till June.

Sleep: Not too bad this week although breathing is more difficult with a cold.

Movement: Still not very consistent, but have started noticing little kicks from the outside.

Food Cravings: Chocolate and fruit. 

Food Aversions: Nothing I can think of.

Queasy or sick: A cold is all.

Belly button in or out: Still flat, but probably not for much longer!

Rings on or off: On.

Looking forward to: T & I are heading to Iowa City this weekend to watch the Iowa men's basketball team take on Michigan with my entire family. This will likely reinforce my thoughts that we never should have left our favorite town in the state with all of it's delicious dining options and fun things to do. We are also planning to take part of the trip to get Baby W's nursery furniture ordered. Sooo exciting!

Baby Shower Bonding

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Over the weekend, T & I ventured to my hometown so I could attend a baby shower for my lovely sister-in-law H. The party was sweet and simple with some tiny stuffed frogs as centerpieces and lemonade and cookies to munch on as the mama-to-be had a chance to socialize and open baby gifts.

Mama J and Aunt J catching up at the shower.

In a whirlwind of a few hours, Baby N went from having just a handful of necessities, to having a well stocked arsenal of baby supplies ready to go as soon as he arrives. This is a look at some of the haul. The bigger items like swing, highchair, pack n' play were on a separate table.

Of course, H and I had to take the obligatory 'bump' pic of the future cousins :) It will be so much fun for them to play together in the coming years!

Do you have any suggestions for must-haves to include on a baby registry?

Slow Cooker Pesto Ranch Chicken

Monday, February 3, 2014

A new month has arrived. In other news, groundhog Punxatawny Phil saw his shadow yesterday, so it seems that we have another full 6 weeks of winter to look forward to. Blah. After that bit of news, and one of the worst Superbowl blowouts I recall ever seeing last night, the first weekend in February didn't have much to be encouraged about. I will say, Bruno Mars is definitely towards the top of my list of concerts I need to attend. He sure does know how to put on a show! The only 5 minutes of the Superbowl worth watching last night!

On to the recipe. This is seriously one of the best Pinterest recipes I've found. It takes almost zero time to prepare, and the result is beyond delicious. Perfect for a super busy day!

Step One: Gather the ingredients.

Step Two: Mix together the pesto, ranch seasoning packet, and chicken broth.

Step Three: Line slow cooker, arrange chicken, and pour pesto mix over top. Stir to coat both sides of chicken. Set to high for 4-6 hours, or low for 6-8. That's it! This chicken will be falling apart it will be so tender after cooking. 

Recipe from Picky Palate

SLOW COOKER PESTO RANCH CHICKEN | Yield: 6 servings | Total Time: 4-8 hours


6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 (7 oz) jar pesto
1 pkg ranch seasoning mix (I used Hidden Valley brand)
1/2 C low-sodium chicken broth


In a small bowl, combine pesto, ranch seasoning mix and chicken broth. Stir until mixed together.

Prepare slow cooker with a liner. Arrange chicken breast halves in slow cooker, and pour pesto mixture over the top. Mix around a little to coat both sides of the chicken. Set slow cooker to high for 4-6 hours, or low for 6-8 hours.

Thats it! Serve with a side salad, veggie and crusty bread.
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