Slow Cooker Cajun Alfredo Pasta

Slow Cooker Cajun Alfredo Pasta

I admit I get tired of brown rice and beans recipes.  They are healthy but sometimes boring.  Sometimes I need to do something different.  In honor of Mardi Gras I searched “Cajun Crockpot Recipes”.  I found “Slow Cooker Cajun Alfredo Pasta Recipe” and decided to have fun.  It looked easy too. 

 

Here is the link for the original recipe. http://www.budgetsavvydiva.com/2012/09/slow-cooker-cajun-alfredo-pasta-recipe

 

I did make one notable change as I thought 10 to 14 ounces of pasta would be too much.  I settled for 8 ounces which worked well here.  Below are the ingredients I used.

  • 1 Teaspoon – Garlic Powder
  • 1 Tablespoon – grated parmesan (powdered kind)
  • 1 Teaspoon of Pepper
  • 1 15 oz. jar of Alfredo Sauce (I accidentally bought the roasted garlic one)
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Paprika
  • Pinch of Nutmeg
  • Pinch of Salt
  • 1/3 Cup of Fresh Grated Parmesan
  • 1 8 oz. box of Banza Chickpea Pasta (Shells)

 

I added all the ingredients with the exception of the pasta to my crockpot.  The picture below is just the liquid.  I am following the original recipe to a tee at this point.

 

After 2 hours in the low position I added Banza Chickpea Pasta (Shells).  I just discovered them at my local grocery story and am now a fan.  Fooducate lists them as a Top Product (A-) and it takes like regular pasta.  I looked at their store locator which indicates you can buy at Target stores.

 

Below is my picture after turning the crockpot off.  I cooked the pasta for one hour.  I probably should have cooked it just a little bit longer.  I am thinking 90 minutes to 2 hours instead of one but still this recipe came out well.

Below is my last picture which was my lunch Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.  Tuesday I went to a Fred Pryor seminar in North Haven, Connecticut and I had no place to heat it up.

I will make this again.  I think next time I will make my own Alfredo Sauce as I know the one I used was not the healthiest.  Still I am pleased with this.

 

For more of the different crockpot recipes I have tried, visit my site at http://alzibluk.com/category/crockpot/.

All the best,

Alan
Alan Zibluk
http://alzibluk.com

PS:More Family Time?

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Nearly $2 billion has been wiped off bitcoin’s value in three days all because of a fork

Nearly $2 billion has been wiped off bitcoin’s value in three days all because of a fork

 

 

Just under $2 billion has been wiped off the value of bitcoin in under three days as a fight over the future of the technology underpinning the cryptocurrency wages on. Bitcoin was trading at around $1,142.60 at the time of publication, giving it a market cap of $18.53 billion, according to CoinDesk data. This is down from highs of $1,255.32 on Tuesday, which valued the total bitcoin pile at $20.36 billion.

Meanwhile, rival cryptocurrency ether is up over 84 percent from highs of $29.87 on Tuesday to trading at all-time highs of around $55 on Friday, according to Coinmarketcap.com. The market capitalization shot from $2.68 billion to $4.95 billion. It is the only other cryptocurrency to be valued at over $1 billion. Much of the inverse price movement stems from traders' worries over the future of bitcoin and the underpinning blockchain technology.

What's happened?

To understand the issue, it's key to look at how bitcoin transactions are processed. Transactions by users are gathered into "blocks" which is turned into a complex math solution. So-called miners, using high-powered computers work these solutions out to determine if the transaction is possible. Once other miners also check the puzzle is correct, the transactions are approved and the miners are rewarded in bitcoin.

But there's a massive backlog of transactions in bitcoin that are waiting to happen. The number of outstanding transactions is up more than four times from just six months ago, according to data from bitcoin wallet Blockchain. This is bad for a system that has promised fast and cheaper transactions than the traditional financial system.

Because of this, a group called Bitcoin Unlimited has emerged. This faction is suggesting increasing the size of the block which would allow more transactions to be bunched together and processed. Major bitcoin industry players including Roger Ver have backed the plan. But some developers in the community suggest that increasing the block size could be unsafe.

What's this about a fork?

The real concern is if Bitcoin Unlimited gains major support, it could have an impact on the underlying blockchain technology that supports bitcoin. Bitcoin Unlimited has about an 11 percent market share of all the "nodes" in existence. Nodes are the backbone of bitcoin's infrastructure and refer to those mining the transactions as well as those tracking the movement of bitcoin to make sure it is all working correctly.

Nodes can run Blockchain Unlimited software which would signal their support for increasing the block size. If 50 percent of bitcoin miners adopted Bitcoin Unlimited, there would then be two major blockchains and a "fork" would be created made of Bitcoin Core, the current main software behind the infrastructure, and Bitcoin Unlimited. Both blockchains would continue to run as long as there are nodes running them. But there would then be essentially two different coins – Bitcoin and Bitcoin Unlimited.

So why has the price fallen?

And this is why bitcoin has seen sharp declines in price, while other cryptocurrencies like ether have gained support. "Bitcoin traders may have wanted to offset some of their exposure should a fork occur or the scaling deadlock to continue, and ether seems to be the most promising alternative. Bitcoin-ether volumes have surged since and are currently rivaling bitcoin-fiat currency trading liquidity," Aurélien Menant, founder and CEO of Gatecoin, a regulated blockchain assets exchange based in Hong Kong, told CNBC by email on Friday.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Things to be Learned About Bitcoin From Living On It For A Week

Things to be Learned About Bitcoin From Living On It For A Week

 It is possible to live on Bitcoin in San Francisco for a week. It cost me about 4.85 Bitcoins. I sometimes had to live on the fringes to get by. It is only recently possible to live on Bitcoin for a week. Three of the four merchants I relied on for my most basic need – food – only started accepting Bitcoin in the last month. It would have been much easier to do my experiment in Berlin. I could have just hung out all week in Kreuzberg, a neighborhood with the highest concentration of merchants accepting Bitcoin, including, importantly, a bar.

 

It’s disconcerting to live on Bitcoin with the currency volatility. The buying power of my little 5 Bitcoin bank has fluctuated wildly since I created it, from a BTC valuation high of $140 USD to a low of $90 USD. I bought 28 mini-cupcakes at the low point for .5896 BTC. They were $56 at the time (which is already crazy). Reevaluating at BTC's high point, I spent $86 on cupcakes. My expense report is going to be a nightmare. Bitcoin will not be able to stabilize as a currency until there are more places that list their prices in Bitcoin.

It’s hard to convince someone who has never heard of Bitcoin before to accept it as payment. You can simply choose to walk away from the person who won’t accept Bitcoin payment, but that is hard to do when the person is your landlord. Bitcoin is hard to explain to people. It is perhaps like what it was like explaining “Internet” in its infancy. The easiest way is to call it "the local currency of the Internet," "the Internet applied to money," or "stateless virtual money." Or given the mysteriousness of its unknown and now absent creator ("Satoshi Nakamoto") and the fact that thousands of people have turned their computers into autonomous mining drones working for mining pool operators that have spent and will spend years slaving away on Nakamoto's code to create new Bitcoins, this may actually be the Singularity's mint.

There will only be about 21 million Bitcoins made. That number will be reached in 2140. As of this writing, over 11 million Bitcoins are in circulation. Bitcoin is like digitally paying in cash, in that you can move money online from one person to another person without using an intermediary like a bank, a credit agency, a Paypal, or Western Union, and you can do so without attaching your identity to the payment. It’s like having your own email server and creating a different address for every message you send out. And it means no one can shut that wallet down – as happened to Wikileaks when payment providers refused to process payments sent to it.

But it is not like cash in that the movement of the money is traceable. The security of Bitcoin comes from the fact that the whole network sees that a particular transaction happened, and that money moved from one place to another place. It’s as if every time you paid in cash in the real world, the serial numbers were scanned so that you could trace the money as it moved around, making it near impossible to introduce fake new money.

So it’s less anonymous than you might think, but it would have worked very well for Junie Hoang, the actress who sued IMDb for posting her real age on the site. Hoang had scrupulously kept a pseudonym while working in Hollywood but when she paid for an IMDb Pro account, she had to use a credit card which revealed her real name. IMDb used her real name to find (and post) her birthdate. That wouldn’t have happened if she could have paid in Bitcoin. Other potential Bitcoin uses might include online purchases we don’t want to be associated with our identities. There’s been much attention paid to Bitcoin being the currency of choice for drug purchases on Silk Road, but it could also be useful for paying for the online purchase of porn or sex toys; embarrassing or illness-revealing medications; pregnancy tests (say if you don’t want the store you’re buying from to know you’re potentially expecting), or a donation to an organization where you wish to remain anonymous. As my colleague Andy Greenberg notes, Bitcoin accounts for 99% of the assets of non-profit Defense Distributed, maker of the 3D-printed gun.

In-person Bitcoin purchases rely heavily on QR codes. I’ve never seen so many people actually using QR codes. Living on Bitcoin is a great way to lose weight. As it is not widely accepted, you are prevented from spontaneous snacking. And because most transportation providers do not currently accept it, you must walk or bike a lot. I lost 5 pounds in a week. There are people who are very excited about the idea behind Bitcoin. They are the Bitcoin Believers. You can call them techno-libertarians or digital gold bugs. They like the idea of a monetary system not controlled by a government that doesn't have a Fed that can choose to print money when it wants to. They are generous. I received over 10 BTC in tips from enthusiastic readers.

There are people who are very excited about the financial opportunities behind Bitcoin. There is a whole economy of miners, mining equipment makers, payment processors, money exchangers, and speculators rising up around it. It is actually thriving. There are a ton of people trying to make money off of this thing. Some are legitimate businesses and some are pure gambles, such as the Redditor with a wife and child who used the $30,000 limit on his credit card to buy Bitcoin when it was valued at $14-25 USD and cashed out when it went above $200. He did not respond to a media request; he may still be celebrating.

If you're not a techno-libertarian or a Bitcoin opportunist, the appeal of Bitcoin is still revealing itself.
(1)
It lets you make digital purchases in stores without revealing your identity (by using a credit card with your name and number on it). It would let you do the same thing online. 
(2) Merchants can avoid paying high transaction fees and don't have to worry about fraudulent purchases that result in charge-backs. "When a transaction is done, it's done." If merchants were to offer discounts to Bitcoin shoppers, that would make the currency more appealing.
(3) For spending internationally or while abroad, you don't have to worry about converting your money to the local currency, and the conversion fees that go along with that.
(4) It allows people to make purchases when they are banned by other traditional payment providers.

"PayPal alone blocks access from over 60 countries, and many credit card companies have similar restrictions. Some are blocked for political reasons, some because of higher fraud rates, and some for other financial reasons," said WordPress in a blog post when it enabled Bitcoin payments. "Whatever the reason, we don’t think an individual blogger from Haiti, Ethiopia, or Kenya should have diminished access to the blogosphere because of payment issues they can’t control. Our goal is to enable people, not block them."

Timothy Lee is likely right that we don't really know all the ways it could be used yet: "Bitcoin allows wealth to be reduced to pure information and transmitted costlessly around the world—something nobody knew how to do before 2009. Its applications won’t be immediately obvious, especially to ordinary users." I won't totally believe in Bitcoin until I can buy a fresh cup of coffee with it. Bitcoiners are the new vegans. Merchants that offer their goods to this niche community can tap into a fervent and loyal customer base. OkCupid, WordPress, Reddit and others have already figured that out.

I am not the first person to try to live only on Bitcoin. In the summer of 2011, a 25-year-old electrical engineer went on a road trip from Connecticut to Los Angeles, only using Bitcoin the whole way. He accomplished this mainly by meeting up with people from the Bitcoin community to whom he paid BTC to buy things for him in U.S. dollars. He also got over 500 BTC in donations from the Bitcoin community. "It was pretty wild," he told me.  "When I left 1 BTC = 1 USD; 1 tank of gas == 35 BTC. When I hit LA during the 2011 peak 1 BTC ~= 30 USD; 1 tank of gas == 1.2 BTC." He also survived, though he would not have had he obeyed my rule of only buying from merchants who sell goods and services for Bitcoin.

I couldn’t have done any of this story because I couldn’t pay for my smartphone with Bitcoin. The major flaw in my experiment: it would have been near impossible without the data plan on my Verizon iPhone — which is one of the things I couldn't pay for with Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is on the U.S. government's radar. The Treasury Department told Bitcoin exchanges in March that they need to do due diligence to prevent money laundering. James Freis, counsel at Cleary Gottlieb and former director of the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network,  says Bitcoin is unique in that it's not possible to regulate the administrator (the absent Nakamoto) — the administrator is now a diffuse network making Nakamoto's code a reality — but it can regulate the companies that exchange Bitcoin for cash. Freis says the guidance offered by the Treasury department doesn't mean Bitcoin is legal or illegal, but that the exchanges "have to follow the rules.” Freis is skeptical about Bitcoin's future. "Bitcoin only has value because people accept that as a form of payment," he says. "But that acceptance could go away in an instant.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Questions about Bitcoin you were too embarrassed to ask

Questions about Bitcoin you were too embarrassed to ask

This has been a big week for Bitcoin. On Monday, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held the first-ever Congressional hearing on Bitcoin. Later in the day, the currency's value reached an all-time high of more than $800. That has left a lot of people scratching their heads. What's Bitcoin? How do you use it? And why would anyone want to? Read on for answers. (Inspired by Max Fisher's classic explainer on Syria)

What's Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is an online financial network that people use to send payments from one person to another. In many ways, Bitcoin is similar to conventional payment networks like Visa credit cards or Paypal. But Bitcoin is different from those and other payment networks in two important ways. First, Bitcoin is decentralized. For-profit companies own the Visa and Paypal networks and manage them for the benefit of their respective shareholders. No one owns or controls the Bitcoin network. It has a peer-to-peer structure, with hundreds of computers all over the Internet working together to process Bitcoin transactions.

Bitcoin's decentralized architecture means that it is the world's first completely open financial network. To create a new financial service in the conventional U.S. banking system, you need to partner with an existing bank and comply with a variety of complex rules. The Bitcoin network has no such restrictions. People don't need anyone's permission or assistance to create new Bitcoin-based financial services. The second thing that makes the Bitcoin unique is that it comes with its own currency. Paypal and Visa conduct transactions in conventional currencies such as the U.S. dollars. The Bitcoin network, however, conducts transactions in a new monetary unit, also called Bitcoin.

That seems really weird! Why would anyone use a payment network based on an imaginary currency?

It is weird. Almost everyone who encounters the idea for the first time (including me) has the same reaction: That can't possibly work. But so far the market has proved the skeptics wrong:

Bitcoin has captured the imagination of venture capitalists. A startup called Bitpay, which processes Bitcoin payments on behalf of vendors, raised more than $2 million earlier this year. Coinbase, a startup that helps consumers buy and sell bitcoins, has raised $5 million. And last month, a Bitcoin startup called Circle raised $9 million. Why are people so excited? Bitcoin enthusiasts believe that Bitcoin's peer-to-peer architecture and low barriers to entry will allow the creation of a new generation of innovative financial services, in much the same way that the Internet's open architecture led to innovative new online services. There are also many Bitcoin fans who see the currency as an antidote to the inflationary tendencies of central banks, though, as we'll see later, this argument for Bitcoin is misguided.

This just sounds like a bubble. Do people use the currency for anything besides speculation?

I just mentioned Bitpay. It provides a good sign of Bitcoin's growing popularity for "real" transactions. In September 2012, the company announced that it had signed up 1,000 merchants to use its service for accepting Bitcoin payments. Just a year later, the company said, it passed 10,000 merchants. Bitpay works with a wide variety of merchants. Some sell online services like Web hosting or virtual private networks. Others sell jewelry and electronics. There are even restaurants and cupcake shops that sell their wares for bitcoins.

And yes, Bitcoin has significant illicit uses. Programs like Satoshi Dice allow people to gamble online. Until recently, a Web site called Silk Road helped dealers sell millions of dollars of illicit drugs. It's hardly unusual for new payment technologies to attract illicit use. Pornography was a big draw for both the first VCRs and the early consumer Internet. New payment technologies often attract criminals looking for new ways to move their funds without government scrutiny.

Another application for bitcoins that is expected to become more important in the future is international payments. Right now, wiring money internationally involves slow, expensive and inconvenient services like Western Union. Bitcoin is international, and its fees can be much lower than conventional wire transfer services. There's still work to be done to make such a system affordable and user-friendly. But it has the potential to disrupt the international payment industry.

Who created Bitcoin?

No one knows for sure. The currency was created by a person who identified himself as "Satoshi Nakamoto." While the name sounds Japanese, Bitcoin's creator never provided any personal details. He collaborated with other early Bitcoin fans through online forums but never met with other members of the Bitcoin community face to face. Then, starting in 2010 he gradually reduced his involvement in the currency's development. His last known communication came in 2011.

We don't know who Satoshi Nakamoto is, but we do know that if he ever surfaces, he will be an extremely wealthy man. Millions of bitcoins were created in the currency's first two years, and Satoshi likely owns hundreds of thousands of them. At today's prices, he would be a millionaire many times over. Before leaving the scene, Nakamoto passed his torch to a mild-mannered developer named Gavin Andressen, who is currently the project's lead developer. Andressen now works under the auspices of the Bitcoin Foundation, the closest thing the anarchic Bitcoin community has to an official public face.

Where do bitcoins come from?

In a conventional financial system, new money is created by a central bank, such as the Federal Reserve. But the Bitcoin network doesn't have a central bank. So the system needed an alternative mechanism for introducing currency into circulation. Bitcoin's designer solved this problem in a clever way. As I said above, hundreds of computers scattered around the Internet work together to process Bitcoin transactions. These computers are called "miners," and Bitcoin's transaction-clearing process is called "mining." It's called that because for every 10 minutes, on average, a Bitcoin miner wins a computational race and gets a prize. Currently, that reward is 25 bitcoins, worth around $12,500. These prizes provide a strong incentive for more people to join in Bitcoin's transaction-clearing process, helping the currency to remain decentralized.

This reward declines on a fixed schedule: Every four years the reward falls by half. So, from 2009 to 2012, it was 50 BTC, now it's 25 BTC, and starting in late 2016 it will fall to 12.5 BTC, and so forth. If you do the math, you'll find that there will never be more than 21 million bitcoins in circulation. Right now, there are almost 12 million bitcoins in circulation, so the Bitcoin money supply will never be more than twice its current size.

Isn't that a huge problem? I learned in economics class that deflation can cause economic problems.

It's true that deflation has traditionally been associated with economic problems, but there's little reason to think this will be a problem for Bitcoin. That's because deflation is only a problem if it is what economists call a "unit of account" for a nation's economic system. Right now in the United States, salaries, mortgage payments, rents and other long-term financial commitments are priced in U.S. dollars. As a result, if the value of the dollar rises unexpectedly, these "sticky prices" can cause severe economic distortions. Unable to cut wages, employers have trouble making payrolls. Unable to renegotiate their debts, homeowners have trouble making their mortgage payments. Tenants get stuck with rents they can't afford. The result is a recession.

Hardly anyone uses Bitcoin as a unit of account. You'd be insane to sign a contract promising to repay a loan of 100 BTC in 10 years or to take a job where your salary was priced in bitcoins. Even the Bitcoin Foundation, which pays its employees in bitcoins, still sets its employees' salaries in dollars, converting employees' dollar-based salaries into the corresponding number of bitcoins on each payday. As a result, fluctuations in the value of bitcoins don't cause the kinds of economic disruptions that fluctuations in the value of traditional currencies do.

How do I get bitcoins?

One option is to mine them yourself, but that's not a good choice for beginners. For everyone else, your best bet is to purchase them with a conventional currency. Web sites known as exchanges will let you trade bitcoins for conventional currencies with other users. Even more convenient are companies like Coinbase, which will withdraw cash from your bank account and convert it to bitcoins at the current exchange rate. A few Bitcoin ATMs are popping up, which will directly trade paper money for Bitcoins. Here's a video of someone using a Bitcoin ATM in Vancouver:

Okay, I bought some Bitcoins. Now what?

Next you'll need a place to store them. Bitcoins are stored in "wallets," which in this case are just files that contain encryption keys, or secret codes that allow you to transfer your bitcoins to other people. There are several options. One is to store them yourself using one of the Bitcoin programs available for Mac, PC and Android. Another option is to entrust them to a third-party Web site known as a "online wallet." A third option is what's known as a "paper wallet," where you print out your encryption keys and store them in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box.

Each has risks. If you choose to store your bitcoins yourself, then you could lose them to a hacker, a hard drive crash or a lost mobile device. But if you choose to use a third party, you need to worry about that third party swindling you or becoming bankrupt. The Bitcoin market is largely unregulated, so there are few legal protections if you happen to choose the wrong online wallet service. Paper wallets avoid the pitfalls of other methods, but they're tricky to set up correctly, and of course you're out of luck if you lose the piece of paper.

Okay, I have some bitcoins and found a secure way to keep them. What do I do with them now?

There are thousands of Bitcoin merchants online who will sell you everything from jewelry to electronics to illegal drugs. You can also spend bitcoins in "real life." To spend them in person, you need a Bitcoin mobile app. Generally, the store you're buying from will show you a QR code representing the Bitcoin transaction. You then scan that QR code with your phone, and the mobile app will send the required number of bitcoins to the store. Then you walk out the door with your purchases.

Of course, right now the options for face-to-face Bitcoin transactions are rather limited. Earlier this year, Kashmir Hill of Forbes lived on Bitcoin for a week. Because she lived in tech-savvy San Francisco, she was able to find enough Bitcoin-accepting merchants to get by, but just barely. So Bitcoin is far from being a practical currency for day-to-day use.

Should I buy bitcoins?

Probably not. There are two reasons you might want to buy bitcoins: to purchase goods and services or for speculation. Right now Bitcoin isn't a very practical payment technology for ordinary users. The software is too complicated, and the risk of loss due to hackers, forgotten passwords, hard drive failures and so forth are too large. Also, Bitcoin is extremely volatile right now, so your wallet could go from having $100 worth of Bitcoins one day to $50 the next. And right now, as Hill discovered, the technology just isn't used widely enough to make it a useful option to have in your pocket or purse. For most people, conventional payment technologies like credit cards are going to be more convenient.

What about speculating on Bitcoin? Once again, the currency probably isn't a good choice for ordinary users. The security and reliability risks of Bitcoin loom much larger if you invest thousands of dollars in the currency. You don't want to run the risk of losing thousands of dollars because you forgot a password or had an unexpected password failure. And the currency is extremely volatile. It might keep going up, but it could also lose 90 percent of its value next week. In other words, you should only jump on the bandwagon if you have a strong stomach.

If people shouldn't buy bitcoins, then what is all the fuss about?

Once again, the analogy to the Internet is instructive. Until the 1990s, the Internet wasn't a practical technology for ordinary folks to use, either. It used complicated text-based programs, and you had to be a computer expert to use it effectively. But it would have been foolish for an observer in 1990 to dismiss the Internet as too nerdy for mainstream use. Over time, entrepreneurs took the basic infrastructure of the Internet and built innovative and user-friendly online services such as Google, Facebook and YouTube.

Bitcoin boosters are betting that the same will happen with Bitcoin. The "raw" bitcoin network isn't very accessible, but startups like Coinbase and Bitpay are slowly fixing that. Some day soon, someone may develop Bitcoin's "killer app," a program that provides a financial service that has clear advantages over conventional banking. That might be an international money-transfer network with lower fees, a practical system for online micropayments, or something else that no one has thought of before.

Could bitcoins ever replace conventional money?

It's possible, but it doesn't seem very likely. People want to use the currency that most other people use, and in the United States that's going to be US dollars for the foreseeable future. And that's a good thing: if Bitcoin became the standard currency of the US economy, then its fixed money supply would create a serious risk of the next economic downturn snowballing into a depression.

However, there could be a lot of room for Bitcoin to complement conventional financial networks. After all, Paypal gained traction because the conventional financial networks of the day weren't meeting all of users' needs. Bitcoin's open architecture could allow it to be even more disruptive. People are unlikely to ever eschew conventional financial networks altogether, but there could be a substantial market for Bitcoin-based services that perform certain services more effectively or affordable than conventional alternatives.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

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