Philly Cheesesteak Crock Pot Stuff Peppers

Another Pinterest recipe find! I already loved meal planning, but Pinterest makes it so much easier guys. I altered the original recipe by making it a crock pot recipe. The original recipe didn’t call for blanching the peppers, which I know from stuffed pepper experience that you must do if you are just oven baking them. So if you want to use the original recipe and skip the crock pot, be sure to blanch (bring whole peppers with tops cut off and seeds removed to a boil in water so they will be soft and easy to cut when eating). Slow cooking them in the crock pot means no blanching, the slow cooking method makes the peppers perfectly tender.
Recipe slightly adapted from Peace, Love & Low Carb.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 large green bell peppers
  • 12 slices of deli roast beef
  • 12 slices of provolone cheese
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 8 oz sliced button mushrooms (I got the pre-sliced ones from Sam’s!)
  • 2 tablespoons low fat butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

Slice onions and mushrooms (if not pre-sliced). Cut the tops off of the 3 peppers you’ll be stuffing. Dice the other 1/2 pepper and the pepper tops. Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Saute sliced onions, mushrooms, garlic, and diced peppers over medium heat until onions start to caramelize  Salt and pepper to taste. 
Slice roast beef and add to the mushroom/pepper/onion mixture. Slide the 3 remaining bell peppers in half length wise, removing seeds and ribs. Line peppers halves in the bottom of crock pot. Push one slice of cheese into each. 
Spoon beef/onion/pepper/mushroom mixture into each pepper half. Fill to the top and then over fill with the remaining yummy mixture because it’s sooo good and you don’t want to waste it! Cover and cook in crock pot for 3 hours on high or 5 hours on low. 20 – 30 minutes before serving cover each pepper with the other slice of cheese. Allow it to get melty and perfect. 
If you want a prettier presentation, you can carefully transfer them to a cast iron skillet with tongs and put them in the oven on broil for a few minutes to brown the cheese. They are perfectly fine without that step, I’m just currently obsessed with my cast iron skillet and serving anything and everything in it. 

These are so tender, yummy, and a perfect Philly Cheesesteak fix! I couldn’t eat a whole pepper, I ate one half and half of another. But with good sides you could really just eat one half! So this recipe with great sides would feed 6. For boys or super hungry people it would feed 4-5.


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Crockpot Buffalo Chicken

I know I’m a posting maniac in the last two days, BUT I know most of you have the day off today for the holiday! So either you’re cooking and ideas are helpful or your relaxing and have some spare time. What better to do in your spare time than catch up on blog reading and meal plan? Thus you need reading material, ideas, and inspiration. Also… I’m trying to get to my 100th post! On the post I’ll announce changes to the blog and other fun things. This is the 95th in case you were wondering. 🙂 

This recipe has quickly become one of my favorites. You know I don’t repeat recipes often. I usually wait at least 3 months to cycle things back around, unless I absolutely LOVE them. Well this one has been repeated! It’s so stinking easy and soooo good if you like spicy things. Three ingredients! AND you don’t have to thaw anything. 

Ingredients: 

  • 3 lb bag of frozen chicken breasts
  • 1 bottle of buffalo sauce (I usually use Frank’s but I got this Texas Pete one for free from an RA and loved it just as much)
  • 1 packet of dry ranch mix

Directions: 

Add chicken to a large crock pot. Sprinkle with ranch seasoning. Pour over hot sauce. Cook on low for 6 – 7 hours. Remove chicken from crock pot, leaving sauce in. Shred chicken with a fork and add back to crock pot. Cook on low for 30 minutes to an hour. 
That’s it! I like to serve mine on some nice rolls or buns. I used onion rolls this time and they were YUMMY! I made a batch of healthy ranch dressing using 1 packet of dry ranch, 1 cup of non fat Greek yogurt, and 1/2 cup of skim milk (1/3 a cup is 2 points and I used much less than that) to spread on the buns. I topped each sandwich with julienned celery, matchstick carrots, and some reduced calorie blue cheese crumbles. 
This makes 8 good sized servings at 4 points per serving, not including bread or toppings. 

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It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year!

Nope. Not Christmas… AUTUMN! Okay… technically it’s not until September 22nd, but almost! It’s close enough for me to begin celebrating all things fall!! Living in the Louisiana (the land of few trees and even fewer than change colors) for the past four autumns, I forgot that Mississippi and places in the south can actually have autumn! Some of the trees are starting to change already. Driving down the interstate, a breeze of wind caught the leaves of a cute little yellow tree and they magically fluttered through the air. I actually got tears in my eyes and squealed “fall” in utter bliss with a big smile while driving in my car. So in my world, it is officially time to light the fall candles, put out the fall candy (it’s so cute in a mason jar!), bake all the fall things, and hang my homemade fall wreath!

And so this weekend, the official weekend of the end of summer, I fully welcomed autumn with all the love I could deliver! How you might ask? A party with the kitchen, a few cans of pumpkin, and me! I’m so thankful for this season coming now! After a month of all the chaos that is the beginning of a school year in the higher education world, I’m finally back. Life has been so busy, three weeks of training, and the first hectic week of school and students moving in. I haven’t been able to workout or eat properly at all! The good news, I didn’t gain! The bad news, I didn’t loose anything but my motivation. The coming of the season I love was just what I needed to find my motivation. I literally haven’t cooked or planned a meal in a month (food provided, eating out, lots of cereal, etc.). This week, that all changed. I planned meals for the next three weeks and had a pumpkin/autumn extravaganza!

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Pumpkin Spiced Cream Cheese

I took this recipe directly from my favorite recipe blog skinnytaste.com. I didn’t have agave nectar, so I added 3 extra tablespoons of brown sugar instead of the 2 tablespoons of agave. She mentioned that agave was sweeter. So, I started with 2. It wasn’t quite sweet enough, so I added 1 more. It’s SOOO good. I’ve been eating it with apples, but I can’t wait to try it on bagel thins as well. The recipe makes a little over a cup. It’s made with 1/3 less fat cream cheese and 1 point per tablespoon. I am fairly certain I will keep this in my fridge until spring reappears! 
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Pumpkin Butter

This recipe also came directly from skinnytaste.com . I didn’t make any changes at all. She suggests 1-2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice, according to your taste. I LOVE pumpkin pie spice, so I used two. She says you can use apple cider or juice, I used juice. 2-3 cinnamon sticks, I used 3. I used Libby’s canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling). Can I just tell you, this is amazing! In the comments on her blog post people asked how long it would last in the fridge, and she says 3 days. It makes A LOT, like 4 cups a lot. I plan on using it past 3 days though. I did some research and most places said you could use apple and pumpkin butters longer, up to 3 weeks. BUT still, there is no way I’d use 4 cups, so I am freezing some in ice cube trays for individual portions to store in a freezer ziplock bag. I do believe I will eat this for breakfast every day this week! It would be fabulous on pancakes, waffles, biscuits… Oh my gosh… MUST MAKE BISCUITS! My mouth is watering thinking about this yummy spread on biscuits. It’s only 3 points for a 1/4 cup! This yummy pumpkin butter is also a the key ingredient in….

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Pumpkin Spiced Lattes


Another recipe straight from my favorite! Anyone else anticipate the re-release of Starbucks’ pumpkin spiced latte every year? Or the pumpkin spiced coffee creamer that only comes out around the holidays each year. I am ecstatic when this happens every autumn! Gina (Skinny Taste’s author) to the rescue again! I followed the recipe exactly, except… It makes 2 serving and I definitely drank all of it! 3 points a serving (or 6 if you drink both like me). You need this! I also looked up how to make espresso in a coffee pot. 1 tablespoon of coffee per 1/4 cup of needed espresso. So I brewed 2 cups of water + 8 tablespoons of coffee. I’ll save the rest for another batch tomorrow. 
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And then, with all the yummy sweet pumpkiny things. I had to have an equally yummy fall dinner right? What better way to do that than in the crock pot?! My crock pot, Tyler Duff Crock Pot to be exact, is my favorite cooking tool for autumn and winter. It’s just so warm and cozy! Chicken was on sale at Sam’s, which isn’t a typical crock pot meat, but I worked with what I had and threw some stuff together that came out really yummy!
Fall in a Crock Pot Chicken


For sounding more professional, in the picture I named it Autumn in a Pot. But doesn’t fall in a crock pot sound so funny? Funny image for sure. But really, the ingredients kind of did fall in the crock pot! 
Ingredients:
-1 large sweet onion
-3 sweet potatoes, cubed
-3 boneless skinless chicken breast
-1 cup dried cranberries
-3 or 4 small Gala apples, sliced
-1 package chicken gravy mix
-chicken broth
-McCormick Smokehouse Maple Seasoning
-salt
-pepper
I tossed the onions in first, cut in half, quarters, and then once more. Threw the cubed potatoes on top of that. Sprinkled them with salt, pepper, and the McCormick seasoning. Seasoned the chicken breast on both sides with the same seasonings. Sprinkled the gravy mix over all of that. Tossed the apples and cranberries on top, poured over 1 cup of chicken low sodium, fat free chicken broth. I finished it with a little more of the maple seasoning, some nutmeg, and a cinnamon stick. Put the lid on, cook on high for 4 hours, and don’t touch. It was really yummy! Very much an autumn meal: cozy, warm, and filling. 
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AND since I’m determined to eat healthy this week, I whipped up some fruity chicken salad to use for lunches. I usually do good with breakfast and dinner but not so good with lunch unless I have leftovers or plan! Breakfast this week will be full of pumpkin goodness! Since canned chicken was also on sale at Sam’s, chicken salad sandwiches will make my lunches happy!
I don’t use any full fat mayonnaise! I use a tad of fat free mayo and for the rest of the “wet” I use fat free sour cream.  A big can of chicken, dried chives, ground sage, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder to taste. Red seedless grapes and 1 gala apple chopped. Perfect as a sandwich and yummy on crackers too! 
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Stay tuned tomorrow for Brownie Batter Dip, Strawberry Fluff, and Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Homemade Caramel Sauce! Also, if you haven’t heard of pinterest.com, you are missing out! It’s a virtual pin board! You can “pin” things you find on the web and like or things you make yourself (I’ve started pinning all my recipes). BUT the best part is browsing other pins. Everything from food, to DIY projects, to clothes, to crafts, EVERYTHING! You should follow me: pinterest.com/kasialindsay!
I hope you can enjoy and celebrate fall too! Or mourn the last official weekend of summer, if you must. (If you are one of *those* people, hehe kidding, I love you even if you don’t love the coming season as much as me!) Happy healthy eating!

Recipes Continued!

STEWED SQUASH 

I don’t really know the definition of stewed, but we called it stewed in my family!

I use fresh squash from the grocery store, but you could use frozen too. Fresh is better though! Cut of the ends and slice the squash. Cut up a sweet onion, yellow is my favorite with it. If you want it to be REALLY yummy fry two or three pieces of bacon first. If you do that, add the onion and squash then with a little butter or margarine.  If you don’t do bacon, put a little butter or margarine in the pan and just start cooking the squash and onion down. Cook it on high first, tossing it a bit, until the onions start to not be so tough. Add a water and cover it and cook it on low. And as always, add salt and pepper. Don’t add a lot of water, you can always add more but you can’t take out. Just very little, enough so it doesn’t stick to the pan and burn. The squash will be tender and yummy when it’s done.

STEWED CABBAGE 

You make this pretty much just like the squash. Chop your cabbage up pretty small. Not like cabbage small, but small. Add some butter or olive oil to the pan. Once it’s warm add one chopped sweet onion and chopped cabbage. Toss it around until cabbage starts to wilt a little. Then add water. With the cabbage you can add more than with the squash, cover the bottom of the pan with water, but just barely. Turn on low, cover, and let it cook! It’s will melt down into yumminess. Add salt and pepper. You can do bacon with the cabbage too if you want.

CROCK POT SMOTHERED PORK CHOPS
 
Totally just made this up because I didn’t want to cook when I got home and wanted to use the crock pot. I cut up two onions, 1 red and 1 yellow and tossed them in the bottom of the crock pot. I rinsed some pork chops (which were actually pork steaks on the label but looked and tasted like chops with a different kind of bone or something) and put them on top of the onion. I poured a can of mushrooms with juice on top and then 1 can of fat free cream of mushroom soup and a half a can of water on top of that. Turned the crock pot on low and let it cook while I was at work. It was really yum! The meat all just fell of the bone and it had really good flavor.

Black Bean and Corn Salad I just threw this together to have a side dish with quesadillas. Simple. It’s nothing magical or fancy, but a good quick, cheap side dish for Mexican meals. 1 or 2 cans of black beans drained and rinsed, depending on the corn to bean ratio you like. 1 can of corn drained. 1 small red onion chopped. Salt, pepper, garlic powder. If you have lemon or lime juice squeeze some of that in. Drizzle just a tad bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar to your taste preferences. Can add up to a 1/4 cup of balsamic. If you don’t have balsamic you could use Italian dressing. Add some cilantro if you like and have it. Let it chill for 15-30 minutes for all the flavors to marry. You can also add green onions and chopped bell pepper if you want, or even some chopped tomato. Use what you have and want! I did mine with just beans, corn, onion, seasonings, olive oil, and vinegar.

STUFFED CHICKEN BREASTS

Simple, yummy, and impressive! You can stuff them with whatever you like. I usually do spinach, onions, and Monterey jack cheese. You could do a laughing cow cheese wedge, cheddar, mozzarella, whatever you like. Or no cheese at all! You could really stuff it with anything you like, mushrooms, olives (eww for me), capers (always ew), a sauce, etc. The sky is the limit.

So you need your stuffing stuff and chicken breasts, how every many you want to make. If you want to butterfly the breasts you can, but I’m not very good at that. Knives scare me. So I choose a more fun method! Smash! Pound! I  place a chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap, break out the good ol’ mallet and pow! Pound it until its flattened and thin-ish. 1/2  or 3/4 inch maybe? I’m a horrible judge of inches and such. Sounds right. I mean not paper thin or thin enough to rip, but thin.

Season the chicken on both sides. I use salt, pepper, and Chef Paul’s Magic Chicken Seasoning. You can use whatever you want and whatever flavors work with your stuffing. Next, lay out your stuffing items and roll the chicken breast up tightly. Stick in a tooth pick to keep it secure. Place chicken seam side down in a baking dish. Bake at 350 for 30ish minutes. It depends on your oven. Remove toothpicks before serving. You can serve them whole. For a pretty presentation for entertaining, slice the breast in little rounds. It’s really pretty. You can see the swirl of the yummy stuff inside.

Funny tip: If you use colored toothpicks, your chicken will be pretty and colorful aka look silly. If you aren’t trying to impress and it’s just family, who cares. But just fyi, use non-colored ones if entertaining.

CROCK POT COUNTRY BBQ RIBS 

This is the skeleton recipe I use to make these ribs. I’ve made them using everything listed and leaving some things out when I didn’t have them. I prefer it without the diced tomatoes. It also tastes fine without bell pepper if you don’t have it. I just use regular cider vinegar, I don’t know if it’s different from dark or not, but tastes fine too me. I think it would be fine with any kind of vinegar that you have really, and even without if you don’t have it.

http://www.food.com/recipe/tasty-crock-pot-bbq-country-style-pork-ribs-60052

 
TURKEY NUGGETS 

I try to work in at least one turkey breast cutlet meal in my monthly meals. I was trying to not do the same baked, shake-n-baked, etc, method. The turkey cutlets are cheap and yummy and I love turkey. It’s a good variety to the normal meats we eat and use often. So I sliced the turkey cutlets into little nugget sized pieces. I gave them a milk bath and then a seasoned flour dip. I did a mix of flour, cayenne, bread crumbs, parmesan, salt, pepper, and Chef Paul’s Chicken Magic. Then I coated the pan in about an inch of a mixture of olive oil and vegetable oil, let it get hot and fried them. It wasn’t a deep fry, but not a sauté either. I put them on paper towels to get excess oil off and patted them with another napkin to get even more. Yummy with some homemade honey mustard (honey + mustard is all I use and how I like it, I don’t like it with mayo).

BEEF KABOBS

I actually found premade beef kabobs on sale at my local grocery story and cheated and used those. But it’s simple. Skewers. Beef cut into pieces. Bell peppers cut into pieces. Onions cut into pieces. You can use mushrooms too if you want. I made a marinade of orange zest, lime juice, salt, pepper, worcheshire sauce, and red pepper flakes and let them sit in that for a couple of hours (could do longer if you had it, even overnight). I grilled mine. Before grilling I sprinkled on some steak rub seasoning. I turned them to get the nice yummy grill marks on each side. I ate mine with A1 because I LOVE A1.

ROASTED CHICK PEAS 

These are really yummy as a snack! Just in a bowl like peanuts or trail mix at a party would be great too. I made them with my meal and loved them as well.

Drain 2 cans of chick peas then spread them out on some paper towels. With another paper towel dry them. Just run it over, rolling them around, getting them as dry as you can. Cover a cookie sheet in tin foil and transfer chick peas to the cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil and toss the chick peas around to coat them in the olive oil. Sprinkle with Tony’s or Greek Seasoning or cayenne pepper, you can  use whatever seasoning you like. Roast them in the over on 400 for 10 – 15 minutes. Check them every five minutes. They can burn easily and quickly. You want them to have a slight crunch.

BEST GRAVY EVER

I was so so so proud of this gravy. I’ve made gravy, but never this good. It really is all about the elbow grease and perseverance. The best method is to use the pan you used to make some sort of meat and use the drippings. I wasn’t making meat, so I decided I try “seasoning” the pan by frying up some onions I’d use in the gravy. I coated the bottom of the pan with olive oil just barely and sliced up two onions. I sautéed them down REALLY well. I let the pan and the onions get caramelized. I took out all the onions to save for later. I added two heaping tablespoons of flower to the pan and began to wisk. And wisk. And wisk. And wisk. Elbow grease. Keep going and going and going. Let your flour brown, not burn! But brown. Not light brown, but a medium to dark brown. When you think it’s brown enough, go a little longer! When you really are happy with the browningness (yes, I made up a word), keep wisking and start to slowly add broth. You can use whatever, I used chicken because it’s what I always have on hand. You can use water as well if you don’t have broth. Slowly add it so you can dissolve all your yummy browned flour. Add a can of broth, or about 1 cup and 3/4ths. I added just a tad of beef bullion granules since I used chicken broth. Salt and pepper to taste. Taste it! Add what it needs. I added a little parsley too. I then added the onions back. Was the best gravy ever!

POTATO SALAD 

I have no measurements. I just tasted and made it how I like it to taste. I washed and quartered red potatoes, leaving the skins on. Boiled them until tender, but not super mashed potato worthy tender, a little more stiff than that. I drained them and let them sit in the drainer cooling so they kept a little of their shape. Once cool, I put them in a bowl and added some mayo, a  little mustard, some sour cream, chopped some sweet and dill pickles, grated some onion in, added some dried dill, salt, and pepper. It’s all about you and what you like. Like it creamy? Add more mayo or wet stuff. Like more mustard? Add it. Don’t like pickles? Don’t add them. Make it your own! I like it with red potatoes, with skins, chunky, and not too creamy.

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER CUPCAKES WITH BANANA BUTTERCREAM 

These are so yum! The have great depth and texture from the addition of crunchy peanut butter and chocolate chips. I made the cupcakes exactly like this recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/chocolate-peanut-butter-cupcakes-264752. The only difference was I made mini cupcakes because they feed more people usually are are just cute!

You could top them with a cream cheese icing, or just a buttercream icing or chocolate icing. I was really hooked on the idea of a banana icing. The idea of chocolate, peanut butter, and banana made me just so excited! But I couldn’t find a banana icing recipe. The icing was trial and error and will probably be for you too, BUT I think I got a recipe down. I haven’t tried it again since “perfecting” it, but I think it should work well. If it doesn’t, do you own trial and error and have fun eating the mess ups!

What ended up working the best was taking a buttercream recipe and altering it a bit to add the banana. It wouldn’t make it until second day, but it was soooo good first day.

1 banana
1/2 cup butter, softened (you can use margarine but the flavor will not be the same)
2 2/3 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/3 cup half-and-half (can use cream and milk or just cream or just milk)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
banana chips (optional)

Ok cut the banana into thirds, or big pieces, and mix it until it’s mush. I just put it in my stand mixer and let it mix. Could easily do it with a hand mixer as well if you don’t have a stand mixer.
Cream butter with banana. Blend in remaining ingredients until desired consistency. If it’s too runny, add more powdered sugar. Spoon icing into a ziplock back and snip off the end. Pipe icing unto cupcakes. You can top with pieces of banana chips. Crowd pleaser! Everyone that had them loved them. The banana compliments the chocolate peanut butter flavors soooo well!

S’MORES BARS

My cousin Marissa and I made these a couple years ago and just LOVED them. I mean it really is s’mores without the fire. I make it just like the recipe usually, but I do prefer dark chocolate bars to milk chocolate bars. The milk chocolate is a little too rich for me. The dark chocolate is more bitter so not as sweet. This time I also used homemade marshmallow fluff in place of marshmallows. But you can do it either way. It’s a perfect end of summer beginning of autumn dessert. Also would be great for a rainy, cold day inside with hot cocoa.

http://www.food.com/recipe/smores-bars-169114

Take 3

I made over Sunday dinner yet again! Recap: I made a Sunday dinner of pot roast, veggies, and rice with gravy. I used left over rice as a spring board and inspiration for my diner party meal and made chicken fried rice as an entree. On Friday (cooking day number 3), I used the left over roast! One of my favorite things my mom made when I was growing up was beef taquitos with guacamole. Until recently, and I don’t know why, I was scared to make the taquitos myself. I’ve made guacamole a lot, but never braved the taquitos until the last time I made pot roast. I was so incredibly tired of roast leftovers. Roasts are big! And I’m only one person. After the third or forth time, you start developing that never want to eat this again feeling. In order to not swear off roast forever, last time when I got to that point, I decided to just try it. They turned out great! Taquitos will always be a roast makeover meal for me now.

Make the guacamole first so it can be chilling and developing its yummy flavor while you prepare and cook the taquitos. Serve taquitos with plenty of guacamole for dipping! I also made a corn salad that I didn’t like. But you could serve with black beans, refried beans, corn, mexicorn, cucumber and tomato salad, corn salad, or anything else with a fresh and/or mexican feel. For a fun, simple, extra touch to any side or salad, slice up a tortilla in very thin strips and pieces. Fry them in the oil, let the excess drain off, pat them to remove even more oil. They add a fun extra crunch and really spark up the presentation. I used one flour tortilla and one sun dried tomato wrap.

Beef Taquitos

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 minutes
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INGREDIENTS:

  • Approx. 2 cups of chopped and shredded roast beef
  • 9-10 tortillas (I use flour)
  • toothpicks
  • oil
  • 1/4 of chopped onion (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Take your left over roast and shred and chop it pretty small. If you like onion you can add it to your beef mixture. The onions don’t get cooked really, they stay pretty crisp. I like it with onion, but if you don’t like raw onion you can nix the onion. I don’t add anything else because the left over pot roast is flavored so well. You can add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes to taste if you like. Could even add some chopped bell pepper or lime juice. I like them simple because I love them with the guacamole. The flavors of the guacamole compliment it well.

I cover a small section of my island with plastic wrap and then start building the taquitos. I use a 1/4 measuring cup, but don’t fill it completely, just a little under. Scoop a little less than a 1/4 of a cup of the meet onto the bottom of the tortilla and roll! These aren’t supposed to be super thick. Do it to your preference and what you like, but traditionally they are supposed to be thin. Close each one with a tooth pick.

Heat your oil. I use a combination of vegetable and olive oil. I probably cover the pan 1/2 inch thick. It’s not deep frying, a pretty shallow fry. I am totally not an expert fryer. I just guess on what to do. I keep my oil heated between medium and medium high heat. Don’t over crowd you pan, they shouldn’t touch. Fry them just a minute or so on each side. They should be golden brown. Toasty, but not dark. Put them on a napkin covered plate to let the excess oil drain.

 

Chunky Guacamole

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Print

(Recipe from Better Homes and Gardens cookbook)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 medium roma tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/4 of a small red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (I use 1 tablespoon of sour cream instead)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 ripe avocados, halved, seeded, peeled, and coarsely mashed (you know avocados are ripe because they just barely push in when you squeeze them)

DIRECTIONS:

Mix all ingredients except avocados in a bowl. Gently stir in mashed avocados. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for up to a hour. Chilling is a must! The flavors get all happy and married.

I try to make a Mexican meal at least once a month, because I LOVE Mexican food. Tacos are everyone’s default, but try this! It’s just as easy and really good. It could also be an appetizer at for a party. Slice the taquitos and add individual toothpicks, but don’t forget the guacamole! Taquitos and guacamole are married! They need each other. I leave you with a vital Mexican food tip! Have you ever made Mexican food and just felt like it was missing something? The something is always lime! Add lime to your rice, your chicken for your quesadillas, squeeze it on your tacos, squeeze it on top of your taquitos!

 

Simply Simple

Tyler Duff made me my favorite meal that he makes me for Sunday dinner last Sunday (Sunday is a cooking day, in case you forgot!). Sunday dinner, I’ve come to realize, is different for everyone. My entire life growing up I thought everyone ate the same thing on Sundays! I didn’t realize until high school that it wasn’t a universal Sunday dinner. In my family every Sunday (with some rare exceptions) we had roast and rice and gravy. Some of the fixins (sides for you non-southern folk) varied, but always roast and rice and gravy. And what is Sunday dinner without rules?! Sunday lunch was at Mamaw’s, but you only got to eat if you went to church. You better not show up if you didn’t go to church and you better not sit in anyone else’s chair! Oh, and Papaw’s rules: You must eat your green beans and help with the dishes (well only the girls got the privilege of helping with the dishes).  Don’t even think about eating one of Papaw’s mini Snickers (always kept in a jar in the fridge) if you didn’t eat your green beans and help with the dishes! Then the cousins would sit on the porch swing or climb on the hay bales while the grown ups watched football. And a nap was always included somewhere in there.

Sundays are different for me now, but I think fond memories of Sunday dinners may be why I choose for Sunday to be one of my cooking days. People change, life has its seasons, and we grow up whether we want to or not (even if we still wear pig tails, sleep with stuffed animals, and anticipate Camp Rock 2), but Sundays still involve family for me. They might not share my genes, but they are my family just the same. Every Sunday I get to see so many lovely faces of my church family. And some Sundays even involved Sunday lunch with them too! I wonder if the reason why Sunday naps feel better than all other naps is because they are mixed with a side of nostalgia and happy place? Hmm… Maybe. And maybe that’s why roast and rice and gravy is such a comforting meal to me, that extra secret ingredient of nostalgia. Well Tyler Duff makes a killer roast! This isn’t my Mamaw’s recipe, but it’s an incredibly easy and yummy one! I found it on my favorite site of course (food.com). It has 1,215 reviews! I had to try it. I’ve since shared it with many people who all say this is the only way they make roast now. It doesn’t get much simpler than roast, and this recipe is the simplest of simple!

To Die For Crock Pot Roast (link)

1 beef roast, any kind
1 package brown gravy mix
1 package Italian dressing mix
1 package ranch dressing mix
1/2 cup water 

Place beef roast in crock pot. Mix the dried mixes together in a bowl and sprinkle over the roast. Pour the water around the roast. Cook on low for 7-9 hours.

That’s it! I always put veggies in too, which taste so good with the flavors. I’ve done a different combination of new potatoes halved, regular potatoes quartered, baby carrots, pearl onions, regular onions quartered. This time I wanted rice and gravy so did whole carrots, celery, and onions. All of it’s good. It makes it’s on gravy too! I use it as is, but you could take the gravy and add flour to thicken when it’s finished if you want. Don’t use a little bitty roast, or it may be too salty (according to reviews).

You’re Sunday nostalgia may be different than mine, but we all have it. Whether your Sunday dinner was roast and rice and gravy like me, fried chicken, classic spaghetti, chicken and dumplings, red beans and rice, or whatever, you will still love this roast! You can have it on Monday or Thursday too, it will still be just as yummy! Add some simple nostalgia to your life this week. It just makes you feel good. Make your Sunday dinner, take a Sunday nap, or sit on a porch swing (for 5 minutes since it’s so stinking hot right now!).

Meet My Husband

Have you met my husband? He’s super helpful. He adores me so much that on occasion he has dinner ready for me when I get home! I walk in and the house smells so warm and inviting. He is so easy to clean up after and doesn’t require a lot of work. I think he’s quite perfect. Meet Mr. Tyler Duff Crockpot.

I love my Crockpot so much that I affectionately named him after my former Food Network future husband and my current Food Network future husband. I used to want to marry Tyler Florence, but then I found out he was married. So, he’s still my favorite, but Ace of Cakes Duff is my second favorite and new future husband. Yes I know he has a girlfriend, but girlfriends don’t always last forever. I’m just sayin’.

Tyler and Duff made me a super yummy meal on Friday. I love BBQ and have been craving it since Memorial Day. It passed… no BBQ. Then 4th of July passed… no BBQ for me again. So, when I came across a pulled pork recipe, I had to try it. It’s almost effortless, and so so so so so good! Made ALOT. I have pulled pork for days, but it’s so yummy! If you like pulled pork or BBQ at all, you must try it. Don’t buy it! Make it. I promise it’s worth it. I made some coleslaw (1 package of coleslaw veggie mix, 1 cup of low fat coleslaw dressing, salt & pepper. Or you can make your own dressing and chop your own veggies, but… We already know how I feel about julianing things. Next time I will make my own dressing though. Cooked some corn on the cob. I added a little coleslaw on my sandwich, gives it a little crunch. Not everyone likes that, but lots of people do! Yummy almost effortless meal. Try it!

Crock Pot Pulled Pork

4 lbs  pork roast shoulder or butt (I used a picnic shoulder and cut off the binding)
2 large onions (I used vidailia)
1 cup ginger ale
1 (18 ounce) bottle favorite barbecue sauce (They suggest Sweet Baby Ray’s, I used some new Mississippi Honey Mustard one)
barbecue sauce, for serving

1. Slice one onion and put it in the bottom of crock put. Wash roast, pat dry with paper towel, place on top of onion. Slice second onion and put on top of the roast. Pour ginger ale over. Cover and cook on LOW for 12 hours. (Yes 12! Do it. It’s worth it.)

2. Remove the meat. Strain the onions and discard all liquid, save the onions. With two forks, shred the meat, discarding any remaining fat or skin. Most of the fat will have melted away. Return the shredded meat and the onions to the crock pot, stir in the barbecue sauce. Continue to cook for another 4 to 6 hours on LOW. (I had to eat some after it had been cooking with the sauce for just an hour and it was great then! I let the rest of it cook the full 4 and so yummy!)
 
3. Serve with hamburger buns or rolls and additional barbecue sauce. Any leftovers freeze very well. Their Tip: freeze ready-made sandwiches – a scoop of meat on a bun, well-wrapped. These make a great quick meal or snack. To reheat, remove wrapping, wrap in a paper towel, and zap 1-2 minute in the microwave. (I think I will for sure do this. I’m telling you, I have a TUB of pulled pork left. And I’ve eaten 3 sandwiches so far. Looks like I haven’t even eaten on it!)

If you don’t have a Crockpot, you are missing out! And if you do, you should name yours. 

Recipe Sunday

For some reason on Sunday’s I always feel like cooking. And I always prepare some meal on Sunday night to put in the crock pot on Monday morning. And today’s recipe is…

Glazed Pork Tenderloin and Sweet Potatoes
Amanda and her mom made a version of the pork tenderloin that was great! I didn’t have the recipe so I decided to searched recipezaar.com for a similar recipe and combined things from different ones I liked to come up with this on. 

INGREDIENTS

* 3 lbs pork loin
* 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (inch cubes)
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/4 teaspoon pepper 
* 1 cup apple juice or chicken broth
(For Glaze:)  
* 1 cup of preserves, I’m using strawberry
* 1/4 cup apple juice
* 2 teaspoons dried rosemary leaves, crumbled
* 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  
DIRECTIONS

Oven:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Remove any excess fat from the roast.
3. Put potatoes in bottom of 13×9 baking dish sprayed with non stick cooking spray.
4. Rub the salt and pepper into the surface of the pork then brown each side in a pan.
5. After browning, deglaze the pan afterward with the broth or 1 cup of apple juice
6. Place pork on top of potatoes.
7. Pour broth or apple juice over all.
8. In a small saucepan, heat the preserves, apple juice, rosemary and garlic over medium heat, stirring frequently.
9. When thickened, spoon 1/4 cup mixture onto pork reserving remainder.
10. Insert meat thermometer so tip is in center of thickest part of pork.
11. Bake uncovered 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes or until the thermometer reads 155°F.
12. Cover pork with foil and allow to stand 15 to 20 minutes or until thermometer reads 160°F.
13. Cut roast into slices.
14. Heat the reserved preserves mixture and serve with roast.

Crock Pot:
1. Put potatoes in the crock pot.
2. Remove any excess fat from the roast.
4. Rub the salt and pepper into the surface of the pork then brown each side in a pan.
5. After browning, deglaze the pan afterward with the 1 cup or less of apple juice or broth.
6. Place pork on top of potatoes.
7. Pour broth or apple juice over all.
8. In a small saucepan, heat the preserves, apple juice, rosemary and garlic over medium heat, stirring frequently.
9. When thickened, spoon 1/4 – 1/2 cup mixture onto pork reserving remainder.
10. Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours on high or 8-10 on low.
11. Cut roast into slices.
12. Heat the reserved preserves mixture and serve with roast.

I also wanted to bake something so I made some mini muffins.

Oatmeal Streusel Muffins
This recipe is from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook on page 126 in the breads section.

INGREDIENTS

*1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
*3/4 cup of rolled oats
*1/3 cup sugar
*2 teaspoons baking powder
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1 egg, beaten
*3/4 cup milk
*1/4 cup cooking oil or apple sauce
(For Streusel Topping:)
*2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
*1 tablespoon rolled oats
*3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
*1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
*2 tablespoons butter
*2 tablespoons chopped pecans or walnuts

DIRECTIONS

1. Make streusel topping and set aside. (Mix flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon in small bowl. Cut in 2 tbsp of butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Can stir in two tbsp of chopped pecans or walnuts if desired.)
2. Preheat over to 400. Grease muffin tin and set aside. In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, oats, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in center of flour mixture, set aside.
3. In another bowl, combine egg, milk, and oil (or applesauce). Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture. Stir just until moistened. (Note: Batter should be lumpy. Stir with a wooden spoon just until the ingredients are moistened. Do not overmix or the muffins will be peaked and have tunnels and a tough texture.)
4. Spoon batter into muffin tin, filling each two-thirds full (makes 12 standard muffins, 24 minis, or 6 jumbo). Sprinkle streusel topping over muffin batter in cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes for standard muffins or 10-12 for mini muffins (30 at 350 for jumbo) until golden brown or toothpick comes out clean. Cool muffins on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Serve warm.

And for dinner I ate a gourmet classic, grilled ham and cheese ha.

I’m thinking if I come up with a theme for every day I will blog more. Not that I have to blog more, but I like writing. It’s a good creative outlet for me. Recipe Sunday, Contemplative Monday, Poetic Tuesday, Quotable Wednesday, Question and Answer Thursday. There we go.