Great Recipes

Sweet and Sour Crockpot Chicken

Sweet and Sour Crockpot Chicken

I love Asian food. It’s my favorite to eat and cook. I don’t love all the sugars that can be found in the sauces, especially when you’re getting takeout. There are HUNDREDS of recipes for sweet and sour chicken found all over the internet and many of them are also to be made in the crockpot. I found a ton and took some inspiration from many and made my own. I’m going to post the exact way that I did it but there are some things you can do to switch it up.

First, I used apple cider vinegar. You could easily use rice wine vinegar for more of an authentic homage but I use my rice wine vinegar for a cucumber side and I didn’t want to use all of mine.

Second, I use a monk fruit brown sugar. I like being able to have all the sweetness for none of the guilt. You could substitute the monk fruit brown sugar for equal parts of honey or even real brown sugar.

I use chicken breasts but you could use thighs. I cook this low and slow and in a nice sauce so I haven’t gotten mine to dry out at all but if you’re afraid your might do that, feel free to use thighs instead.

I serve mine over white rice. You could obviously choose brown rice instead or keep it carb free and throw it over lettuce wraps!

Serves 4


  1. Two pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts
  2. Four tablespoons of corn starch (divided into two tablespoons each)
  3. Two bell peppers sliced. I use red and yellow for color.
  4. 1 20oz can of pineapple chunks in 100% juice (not syrup)
  5. One small onion
  6. Two cloves of garlic
  7. 2 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
  8. 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
  9. 1/4 cup of sugar-free ketchup (you can use regular if you’d life but it’ll be sweeter and I don’t have regular at my house)
  10. 1/4 cup of brown sugar monk fruit sweetener. (I use Anthony’s but you can use whatever brand you like.)
  11. 2 tablespoons of low-sodium soy sauce
  12. Salt to taste


    Prep Chicken:
    1. Cut your chicken breasts into chunks and put them into a gallon zip lock bag.
    2. Pour two of your tablespoons of over the chicken and shake vigorously until all is coated.
    3. Start to pan sear your coated chicken. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan. I cooked until they started to brown at about 3-5 minutes. When they’re done searing, put all of the chicken on the bottom of your crock pot.
    Start Making the Sauce:
    4. Drain your pineapple chunks. Put the chunks to the side as you won’t need them until the last thirty minutes of cooking. Save ALL the juice.
    5.Mince the onion and 2 garlic cloves and put into a bowl.
    6. Grate the 2 teaspoons into the bowl with the garlic and onion.
    7. Pour all wet ingredients into the bowl (ketchup, apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, 1/2 cup of saved pineapple juice) into the bowl.
    8. Put your 1/4 cup of monk fruit brown sugar into the bowl and stir all the ingredients.
    Crockpot time
    9. With your chicken on the bottom of the crockpot already, pour the sauce over the chicken and cook low for seven hours.
    For the last hour of cooking:
    10. Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken the sauce.
    11. Add the pineapple chunks and both bell peppers sliced.
    12. Serve over cooked white rice or other desired accompaniment.

My NINJA crock pot is a beast. I think it cooks a little faster than what most crock pots do. If you have this issue with yours, you can do what I do instead of cooking for 8 hours! If I am putting it in the crock pot when I’m leaving in the AM (6:30), I’ll set it for 3.5 hours. My NINJA goes into buffet mode when the actual cook time is done. I’ve found that by the time I am home (5 PM) that the buffet setting has done the rest of the cooking on buffet mode without over cooking. At that time, I’d add the leftover cornstarch, peppers, and pineapple and cook on low for a half hour.

This is a hit in our house! It serves four. There are only two of us so I usually get dinner for one night and leftovers for the next. I can see if we were both really hungry eating the entire thing at once though because we love it so much!

Let me know if you try this recipe out and if you add any of your own flare or changes to it!

Great Reads

Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle – Expected out June 9

Publish Date:
Jill McCorkcle
Started: 5/13/20

Goodreads Summary:“Jill McCorkle has long been one of our wryest, warmest, wisest storytellers. In Hieroglyphics, she takes us on through decades, through loss, through redemption, and lands in revelation and grace. As always with McCorkle, the story feels so effortless and true that we might well miss what a high-wire act she’s performing. But make no mistake: She’s up there without a net, she never misses a step, and it’s spectacular.” —Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Great Believers

Lil and Frank married young, launched into courtship when they bonded over how they both—suddenly, tragically—lost a parent when they were children. Over time, their marriage grew and strengthened, with each still wishing for so much more understanding of the parents they’d lost prematurely.

Now, after many years in Boston, they have retired in North Carolina. There, Lil, determined to leave a history for their children, sifts through letters and notes and diary entries—perhaps revealing more secrets than Frank wants their children to know. Meanwhile, Frank has become obsessed with what might have been left behind at the house he lived in as a boy on the outskirts of town, where a young single mother, Shelley, is just trying to raise her son with some sense of normalcy. Frank’s repeated visits to Shelley’s house begin to trigger memories of her own family, memories that she’d rather forget. Because, after all, not all parents are ones you wish to remember.

Hieroglyphics reveals the difficulty of ever really knowing the intentions and dreams and secrets of the people who raised you. In her deeply layered and masterful novel, Jill McCorkle deconstructs and reconstructs what it means to be a father or a mother, and what it means to be a child piecing together the world all around us, a child learning to make sense of the hieroglyphics of history and memory.

My Review:

How could I be only 42 pages in and be so heartbroken? Already at this point I recognized how bittersweet life really is. I felt immediately connected to the characters but longed for their everlasting life. Although their lives have tragedy, their day-to-day life seemed somewhat normal. Remembering every day occurrences and longing for them is what broke my heart so quickly. It felt like I was watching an old movie reel knowing it was about to be cut off and longing for it to keep going. I felt sad and didn’t want to continue to put myself through the sadness but knew that the characters’ lives were not really all that sad but just a normal life playing from beginning to end.

The author’s writing is so beautiful and this book is the true definition of modern literary fiction. Although there was no plot to find, this character driven book was much more than that. It’s a story of broken relationships and hardship that I felt truly compelling and heartfelt.

I whipped through the first half of the book and then things slowed down for me. I felt like the repetitiveness at that point was doing more harm than good and it’s ultimately why I ended up rating it 3 stars instead of the 4 that I believed I was going to give it at the start of my read.

This book is definitely a book I will remember for a while and I feel like it really pulled at my heart. I recommend this read for sure.

Great Reads

The Jane Austen Society – ARC Out Tomorrow! May 26

Publish Date:
Natalie Jenner

Goodreads Summary:
Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable.

One hundred and fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives and their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home and her legacy. These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, and a movie star, among others—could not be more different and yet they are united in their love for the works and words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss and trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

My Review:

Oh my heart! First things first, as an English Literature major, you’d think I would have read Jane Austen in my time. When I was a kid, I attempted Pride and Prejudice and just didn’t continue. I have yet to read any Jane Austen even though I am well aware of her literary accomplishments. That didn’t take away from this book. There were some points where I didn’t necessarily know the character or quotation from one of her works but I was still able to understand it.

Let me just say, I really struggled at first to get through this. I was struggling, felt defeated, and didn’t want to push through but with most of my reads, I usually do not abandon a book! I loved reading about Mimi as a character and her chapters but they were few and far between. About 130 pages in, it was just BAM I LOVE THIS. I needed to know all the details and wanted so much for everything to work out for our characters. I think that’s around when Mimi becomes a main staple in the book and she really did it for me.

The book is really cute and I think if you love Jane Austen, you will LOVE this book. If you aren’t a Jane Austen fan, you will still appreciate and love the book! It’s a slow burn (at least it was for me) so be ready to take some time to get into it. This isn’t necessarily a life-changing or fast read but it was a great palette cleanser.

By the end of the book, I felt connected to each of the characters. They each were deserving of what they longed for and I felt like their goodness shined through so bright. They were wonderful and quaint. The small-town relationships left me longing for a simpler life (not quarantine simple) and I felt like this book showcased those times wonderfully even a different country.

I recommend this read! This has made me want to go back and discover Jane Austen. The characters’ love for her is so convincing and beautiful!

Great Reads

The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor

the shark club
Publish Date:
Elin Hilderbrand

Goodreads Summary:
One summer day on the beach in Florida, two extraordinary things happen to Maeve Donnelly. First, she is kissed by Daniel, the boy of her dreams. Then, she is bitten by a blacktip shark.

Eighteen years later, Maeve has thrown herself into her work as a world-travelling marine biologist discovering more about the minds of misunderstood sharks. But when Maeve returns home to the legendarily charming and eccentric Hotel of the Muses where she was raised by her grandmother, she finds more than just the blood orange sunsets and key lime pies she’s missed waiting for her.

While Maeve has always been fearless in the water, on land she is indecisive. A chance meeting on the beach with a plucky, irresistible little girl who is just as fascinated by the ocean as Maeve was growing up leaves her at a crossroads: Should she rekindle her romance with Daniel, the first love she left behind when she dove into her work? Or indulge in a new romance with her colleague, Nicholas, who turns up in her hometown to investigate an illegal shark-finning operation?

My Review:

If you know me, you probably know how much I love anything related to the ocean. When I was a kid, I had wanted to be a marine biologist but decided against it because I didn’t want to move away from my family where ideal locations for this job would be. Although I love my job, I sometimes find myself envious of this’d adventurous souls who chose this career. I’ve swam with sharks, fed and held with stingrays, and played with dolphins. I donate often to marine causes and watch countless documentaries. These preferences of mine made this book even more perfect for me but even without these personal preferences I would recommend the book!

This book is so underrated. It’s not only a book full of love, forgiveness, and adventure. It was funny, surprising, and kept me turning the pages as quickly as I could. I got to read this in the middle of the Caribbean and I’m so happy I picked this place to read it because although I wasn’t in the settings of the actual book, it was similar enough for me to get all the feels!

I felt connected to most of the characters.  This book also is a great example of being a role-model and it will make you want to find a little to help guide through the world and let that little experience their dreams! Maeve and Hazel’s relationship was amazing and I loved how Maeve was able to become a great mother figure to Hazel and look past her relationship woes finally.

Without giving up too much of the book, it is a great example of love, forgiveness, selflessness, and adventure! I have two wishes for the book which is why I knocked one star off. I wish Maeve and her twin brother, Robin’s, relationship was played out a little more. Robin ends up being such a major part and I felt like I didn’t get to know him enough. I also wish the ending and suspense was built up more. This could have turned into more of a thriller which only would have elevated this book for me. All in all, it is a book that I highly recommend. It is the perfect beach read!


Great Recipes

Iced London Fog Latte WW FRIENDLY!

Hey Ya’ll! How many of you like tea lattes? I definitely do but you can’t get them at many places around me other than Starbucks. As much as I was loving my London Fog Latte, I wasn’t loving the points and I wasn’t loving the price. A Venti was costing me $5.70 or so and that just wasn’t something I wanted to spend every single day. And then one day as I was watching them make my iced latte, I thought to myself, “Why the heck am I just not making these?” And so the next day I did and it tasted EXACTLY like what I was buying. It was less calories AND cost way less. Starbucks offers almond milk but it’s sweetened and I wasn’t sure how much they were actually using so I couldn’t count points accurately and I didn’t want it sweetened anyway! So here’s my Mock Starbucks Iced London Fog!

Iced London Fog Latte

Serves 1


  1.  Two tea bags of Earl Grey tea. You can use whatever brand you like. Amazon has many like the one I linked but you can definitely find them in your local grocer.
  2. 1/2 Cup of Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  3. Sugar Free Vanilla Coffee Syrup (I use Torani and it can be found at most grocers as well as Amazon here)
  4. Ice (I usually use at least 1/2 of a tray because I like mine super cold)
    Continue reading “Iced London Fog Latte WW FRIENDLY!”
Great Recipes

Ground Turkey and Butternut Squash Soup

This soup recipe is so versatile and forgiving which is why it is my favorite. You can sub veggies or add veggies such as beans or spinach (at the very end). It is super filling and is literally one of my favorite soups I’ve made!

Ground Turkey and Butternut Squash Soup

Serves 6-8


  1.  One 16 oz package of ground turkey meat (I use 98% fat free but you can sub what  type of meat mixture that you want)
  2. Two large carrots
  3. Three celery stalks
  4. One red onion
  5. Six cloves of garlic (we’re garlic lovers but you can minimize your cloves if your family is not)
  6. One butternut squash
  7. Two small potatoes (about 8-10 grams total)
  8. Four cups of vegetable stock
  9. One cup of chicken broth
  10. One 28 oz. can of tomatoes
  11. Two tablespoons of dried oregano
  12. Two bay leaves
  13. One and a half cups of radiatore pasta (or other small pasta such as shells) Continue reading “Ground Turkey and Butternut Squash Soup”
Great Reads

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

Publish Date:
Elin Hilderbrand

Goodreads Summary:
From New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand, a summertime story about identical twins who couldn’t be any less alike.

Nantucket is only two and a half hours away from Martha’s Vineyard by ferry. But the two islands might as well be worlds apart for a set of identical twin sisters who have been at odds for years. When a family crisis forces them to band together — or at least appear to — the twins slowly come to realize that the special bond that they share is more important than the sibling rivalry that’s driven them apart for the better part of their lives. A touching depiction of all the pleasures and annoyances of the sibling relationship, Elin Hilderbrand’s next New York Times bestseller, THE IDENTICALS proves once and for all that just because twins look exactly the same doesn’t mean they’re anything alike.

My Review:
I tried reading a Hilderbrand novel some point last year. I was not a fan and although so many people always reccommend her books, I’ve steered clear of reading anything else from her. I decided to read In Cold Blood by Truman Capote and I was having a hard time getting into it. Because of this, I decided to start what I would consider a lighter read to enjoy in the car. Looking through available reads in my Libby app from the library, I came across The Identicals. I decided, why not?

With that being said, I was pleasantly surprised. I got into the book quicker than I expected and also quite enjoyed it. I believe that Hilderbrand is good to pick up when you’re looking for a lighter read. The Identicals had some pretty heavy topics but the way Hilderbrand writes, the topics seem much lighter than they actually are. This is good and I believe it is a perfect beach read. This isn’t a bad thing! Sometimes, beach reads are just what I want and these types of reads have their own following!

I wouldn’t pick up The Identicals if you’re looking for a heavy, page-turning, shocking text. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it and found myself opening it whenever I had a chance. I laughed a bunch, felt connected to the text (even though I’m not from Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket), and really felt like Hilderbrand left me wanting more.

Great Reads

The Grace Year by Kim Liggett

Hello and Happy New Year!!! For those of you wondering if I’m alive, I am! I’ve been super busy with my new job but in a really good way. I enjoy it a ton but I never have a second to myself during the day. BUT before we went on Christmas break, I went overboard and did a bunch of work early so today I actually have a free second. With resolutions flying around, I don’t like making them because I never truly stick to them; however, this year I’d like to get back to more regularly posting because it truly did make me happy. Being off this last week allowed me to emerge myself in some reading again and it felt great. With that being said, I finished 91 books for the 2019 year! I would be happy to reach even half of that goal with my busy schedule for 2020 but we’ll see! So, here’s a review for a book I DID actually finish recently!






Publish Date: 10/8/19
Kim Liggett

Goodreads Summary:

A speculative thriller in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale and The Power. Optioned by Universal and Elizabeth Banks to be a major motion picture!


No one speaks of the grace year. It’s forbidden.

In Garner County, girls are told they have the power to lure grown men from their beds, to drive women mad with jealousy. They believe their very skin emits a powerful aphrodisiac, the potent essence of youth, of a girl on the edge of womanhood. That’s why they’re banished for their sixteenth year, to release their magic into the wild so they can return purified and ready for marriage. But not all of them will make it home alive.

Sixteen-year-old Tierney James dreams of a better life—a society that doesn’t pit friend against friend or woman against woman, but as her own grace year draws near, she quickly realizes that it’s not just the brutal elements they must fear. It’s not even the poachers in the woods, men who are waiting for a chance to grab one of the girls in order to make a fortune on the black market. Their greatest threat may very well be each other.

With sharp prose and gritty realism, The Grace Year examines the complex and sometimes twisted relationships between girls, the women they eventually become, and the difficult decisions they make in-between.

My Review:
MAJOR UNPOPULAR OPINION HERE: I DISLIKED The Handsmaid’s Tale. I went into this a little weary because it’s been compared to it. BUT I have recently found more of a love for Dystopian and Fantasy reads. They’re not usually what I go for but recently I’ve been craving them so with The Grace Year popping up EVERYWHERE, I figured why the hell not?! So onto what I thought… QUESTIONS! THIS BOOK HAS LEFT ME WITH SO MANY QUESTIONS! Why is The Grace Year an actual thing? What has happened to make this world so primitive? What started these horrific traditions? ANSWERS…NONE. The book works and you don’t actually need any of these clarifying questions to understand it but it’d be nice to understand what occurs in this world to lead to The Grace Year.

I’ve seen a ton of wonderful reviews for the book and I’m not knocking them. I enjoyed the story but I felt a little underwhelmed. Tierney and Ryker’s relationship felt like it needed more clarification and was underdeveloped for what it turned into. I also felt like with such a wrenching premise, that more could have been added to keep me at the edge of my seat. The first 150 pages or so for me was a roller coaster. I would get interested, something would happen, and then I would be bored again. This happened again and again but the interesting parts were just enough for me to keep flipping those pages.

More questions that I felt could have been answered without adding more layers to the story…  What made Kiersten so evil? I want to know more other than the obvious reasoning. And why did the girls so blindly follow her as a leader? These questions took a bit away for me. Because of this, I felt like character development was underwhelming. And Hans! His character development was lacking as well. His entire character was underused in my opinion which left me wanting more from him as well.

I really teeter tottered with what to actually rate the book because I wasn’t blown away for a five star read and I wasn’t underwhelmed enough for a three star read. For me I felt like there could have been so much more. The last 125 or so pages really redeemed the book for me. It got super interesting and crazy in my opinion but again, I feel like the book could have been this good in its entirety.

Overall, I recommend the read for the insight.

Great Reads

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Publish Date:
7/15/14 (earlier in Sweden)
 Fredrik Backman

Goodreads Summary:
A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

My Review:
Hey all! It’s been quite a busy few months lately and my posts have really died down so I apologize! Life has been awesome but a whirlwind for sure. I’ve read so little and so sporadically that now as I sit down to update I am embarrassed to say it’s difficult to write a review on something I read so long ago. But I do have something to comment on and it’s what I’ve just finished!

A Man Called Ove is my very first Fredrik Backman and it won’t be my last. I wish that it hadn’t taken me so long to pick one of the many books I own by him off of my shelf. The book had all the feels to it! Ove is a very likable grumpy old man in my opinion. His life story had me laughing and crying in many points. I liked Ove a lot because he reminds me of my fiance and my father and late grandfather. They are all not overly friendly and not much of people people. Ove’s scheduled visits policing his neighborhood is something that reminded me of my grandfather as he was someone who believed in what was right and what was wrong. Ove had quite a few short straws drawn in his life and for the traumatic life he had, Ove was rather pleasant in my opinion.

I adored the relationship he had with Sonja. Like my fiance, father, and late grandfather, Ove simply melted for their significant other whereas others were not exactly well taken to by him.

The actual basis to the story is quite sad and had me feeling so sorry for Ove. His conversations with Sonja and his thought process was so bittersweet that it’s hard for me to give an exact feeling about how I felt about the situation. It is important to note that this sad story is not exactly for everyone and people should tread with caution who have dealt with suicide or suicidal thoughts in their own lives.

I have to comment on Fredrik Backman himself. He writes with such maturity and brings about life experiences so raw and filled with emotion that I honestly expected Backman to be a 70 year old man that has lived through some experiences himself. Although Backman’s young age does not mean that he has not lived through such profound experiences, it does speak on his maturity level profusely. He is a great writer and his writing feels as if he had been writing for ages (in a wonderful way).

I highly recommend A Man Called Ove. It has all the feels and I loved every moment of it!

Great Reads

Spin by B. John Gully

Publish Date: 6/18/19
Author:  B. John Gully
Started: 8/12/19
Finished: 8/13/19
Pages: 96

Goodreads Summary:

In the midst of an election, a career politician finds that he is unable to sleep at night. The bags under his eyes are becoming increasingly noticeable as he yawns his way through interviews. His eight-year-old daughter seems to be mimicking his poor sleep habits, but to her, staying up late is as cool as it gets. The current trend in politics is an age of spin. If one is not careful, they may spin so much that they find it hard to rest. 

My Review:! Being in the book community, I get a ton of books to read. Many of them are sent from big house publishers, WHICH I LOVE. However, sometimes an opportunity comes up where I get to read something that is self-published and you just think to yourself, “someone should have picked this up!” Spin is just that!

Spin follows a mayor up for re-election and the qualms that follow such a high profile job. It follows what it’s like to be constantly “spinning” in the world of politics and shines light on the perspective of the candidate. 

This book had me laughing out loud countless times! From the second I picked up the book, I was immediately hooked. Gully has a real knack for writing. He was detailed and thorough the entire time without giving me too much information that I found myself skipping lines or paragraphs. No fluff involved! Super descriptive while being straight to the point and I SUPER appreciate that. 

Our characters were real and their relationships valid and believable. I zipped through the book. So why my four star rating for something that I loved? It’s just that! I loved it and wanted so much more! The book is short and sweet and I wanted more and more! Gully set this story up so well that he could have gone on! But, I get it. This was a snapshot of the life of a politician spinning and that’s what was accomplished. I just wish I could have gone on and read more about lives of the characters I grew so attached to after our unique conclusion. 

This is an awesome debut and I honestly hope that Gully gets around to writing more. More about these characters, or even a completely different premise and book, I’ll be lined up to read it! Take a chance and read an independently published book! It’s not something we get around to sometimes and this one was so well worth it.