It has most certainly been awhile! You must be under the impression that I’ve been surviving on take out and peanut butter sandwiches! No worries…things haven’t been that bad. School is a bit busy (aka overwhelming), so it has been a lot of slow cooker meals for us. Who ever created the crock pot, I thank you. I appreciate the lack of mess every evening and the fact that dinner is taken care of each morning before I walk out the door. This particular crock pot creation was a home run. Simple and delicious, what can be better?
- 1 pork loin (whatever size feeds your family best, the one I cooked was about 1.5 pounds); allow it to take the chill from the refrigerator off while preparing the rest of the recipe
- 1 large sweet onion, sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
- 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2-3/4 cup fresh pineapple, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 large or 2 medium carrots, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (and whatever else may sound good in your refrigerator, diced potatoes would also be fantastic!)
- 1/4 cup apple cider or pineapple juice
- For the dry rub: 1/2 tsp. ancho chili powder, 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. garlic salt, a pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper Read the rest of this entry
Phew! Finals are over and I have a few weeks off before resuming classes. I am looking forward to getting back into the kitchen over break and trying all the recipes I’ve been stockpiling during my study breaks (aka periods of pure procrastination!) It is finally feeling a little bit more like the Holiday season now that I’ve caught up on sleep and feel like a real member of society again. I am in the preliminary stages of my Holiday shopping and have already brainstormed a few really great gift ideas. One of my gift ideas is actually a little bit of an at home project, so I look forward to sharing that after the Holidays! It seems like a great project and I can’t wait to get it started tomorrow morning. I’ll be sure to share after the Holidays when all of my gifts have been dispersed! I love giving personalized gifts because I feel that it really shows people just how much you care. I am also excited about creating all my favorite Holiday recipes! A particular favorite of mine is my candied almonds! I’m planning on making them this week and will be sure to share the recipe. They are to die for!
On to today’s recipe:) On a quick trip to Whole Foods I saw that Bibb lettuce was on sale for $1.99, avocados were on sale for $1.00, and ground chicken was also ridiculously on sale. I couldn’t resist any of these items and because of my underlying love of lettuce cups I knew I had all the makings of a very quick and healthy meal. If you know me at all, you know that I love all things spicy food. So naturally, I knew these ingredients would lend themselves very well to creating a twist on the traditional Asian inspired lettuce cup. It was undoubtedly a success and I’m not certain I’ll ever transition back to using taco shells after coming up with this recipe redo. One can’t beat tasty and healthy! Plus cutting the calories from the taco shells allows me to feel a little less guilty about having a small scoop of my homemade vanilla ice cream in the freezer (recipe to follow soon!).
I made a very simple guacamole to add on top. I used one avocado, a 1/4 cup of sweet onion which I rinsed under water to get rid of the pungent onion taste/smell, and a small handful of pickled jalapeños which I minced. I added a squeeze of lemon juice and salt and pepper and mashed it all together with a fork. I let it hang out in the fridge while I prepared to the rest of the meal.
- 1 head Bibb Lettuce, pre-washed and leaves separated
- 1 pound ground chicken, turkey, or beef
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
To a small bowl, add:
- 1 tsp Chili powder
- 1/2 tsp ground Cumin
- A liberal pinch of Cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp Worcestershire
- 1/2-1 tsp Sriracha or hot sauce
- Fresh cracked black pepper
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Thanksgiving dinner was a success! Matt and I had a wonderful meal and I thoroughly enjoyed putting my own twist on a few classic recipes. We did, however, miss our families and look forward to spending time with them on Christmas. Our Thanksgiving menu included: homemade cranberry sauce, semi-homemade cornbread stuffing, chive and cream cheese mashed potatoes, homemade yeast rolls, and of course turkey and from scratch gravy. I also made a few desserts! You can check out my quick and delicious apple pie recipe and be on the lookout for Matt’s favorite dessert, cream cheese pumpkin roll. We had a lot to be thankful for this year and I am so glad I was able to prepare such a flavorful meal for my well deserving husband.
The turkey was fantastic! I stuffed the cavity with oranges, lemons, sage, thyme and fresh sprigs or rosemary. I made a compound butter with sage, thyme, rosemary, and fresh cracked black pepper that I spread on the skin of the turkey. I basted the turkey regularly with pan drippings and some melted butter infused with the same herbs I listed above. It was so good! I’m glad we have a lot of leftovers!
One of Matt’s favorites sandwiches is the Turkey Cranberry sandwich from Paradise Cafe and Bakery. I decided to draw inspiration from that when looking for a way to repurpose our leftovers. I used my homemade cranberry sauce (Never made it? It’s so easy! Throw a bag of cranberries into a small stock pot with 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, a splash of orange juice and apple cider, as well as a generous pinch of cinnamon and orange rind and let it simmer on the stove until the cranberries break down and the sugar thickens the sauce. It only takes about 20 minutes and is a thousand times more delicious than the canned variety!) and avocado on this sandwich and it really made the sandwich fantastic. I also added a generous sprinkle of my semi-homemade cornbread stuffing (I’ll fill you in on this recipe later!).
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What better way to celebrate a 3 day and Holiday weekend then with a barbeque. Although we’re missing my favorite part–the grill–I am able to make a killer substitute using our crockpot and making homemade barbecue sauce. I can’t even imagine how good this recipe would taste if we actually had a grill to cook it on. What can you do though–when life gives you lemons. This was the first time I have ever made homemade barbecue sauce. Not only is it super simple, it is super delicious…and the best part? It only takes 5 minutes of cooking time to bring the barbecue sauce together! I won’t ever go back to the bottled kind. Who knew it was so simple? This recipe also makes about 4 cups of sauce that can last in the refrigerator for up to a month if stored in an airtight container. Next summer I plan stock up on the homemade sauce to enjoy for weeks on end.
This barbecue sauce tastes like the sauces that are provided at authentic barbecue places. It’s not nearly as thick as the sugary commercial version, so if that’s what you are looking for, this sauce is unfortunately not it. I will say though, that this barbecue sauce has much more depth than the commercial kind. It’s sweet and tart at the same time (from the brown sugar and vinegar) with a little heat thrown in (from the dry mustard, ginger, and chili pepper). We were pleasantly surprised with how delicious the sauce came out and Matt is already asking for me to make ribs to try it on next.
I was inspired to make my own barbecue sauce because the more I learn about the production of food in our country, the more conscious I am about what we are putting into our bodies. I am really trying my best to become an informed cook to protect the things my husband and I are consuming. So many products have ingredients that you–1. don’t know you’re eating or 2. loads of artificial preservatives and additives. It gives me piece of mind to know exactly what kind of products we are consuming on a daily basis. It is also a bonus because it is good for our bodies too. I would say the only packaged food we eat on a regular basis is 90 second rice and that’s the way I intend to keep it for the rest of our lives. I splurge on a bag of chips probably every three months (but even those are typically organic) and in moderation. I really believe that your body does reflect the fuel that you put in it and you can’t expect to feel well if you aren’t doing your part to treat your body well. That is why I enjoy creating recipes like my crockpot chicken because it allows us to always have a healthy protein on hand and sets us up to make delicious meals with very low effort.
Makes about 4 cups of sauce
- 1 1/2 cups of ketchup
- 1 cup red wine vinegar (cider vinegar can be substituted if necessary)
- 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup Reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tbs. dry mustard
- 3 tbs. chili powder
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 2 tbs. honey
- Pinch of cayenne pepper and/or red pepper flakes
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbs. canola oil
- Juice from half a lemon
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We love all foods that are Mexican in our house. Tacos. Fajitas. Enchiladas. All of it. Sometimes it gets a little monotonous eating the same foods though–and that’s why I like to come up with what I refer to as recipe redos. If you are tired of making the go to dishes, like tacos and burritos, you’ll love giving this dish a try. I not only love Mexican food but am obsessed with soup. I literally could eat soup every day and not get tired of it. Matt on the other hand, refuses to eat soup in scorching weather, so it has been awhile since I’ve made any. Now that the weather is cooling down a bit, it was my free pass to make one of our favorites. This recipe for Chicken Fajita soup is definitely one of my favorite recipe redos. This recipe is also very vegetarian friendly–omit the chicken and add another can of black beans, and you have yourself a high protein meal with a lot of veggies. I like to serve my soup over crushed tortilla chips and cheese as opposed to sprinkling them on top. I like that the chips get soft and they actually help to thicken the soup. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do–it’s the best on cold Fall evenings–plus it can definitely feed a crowd and it’s a one pot meal. Bonus.
- 1 box (32 oz) of chicken or vegetable stock
- 2 red peppers–sliced to uniform thickness
- 1 large red or sweet onion–sliced to uniform thickness
- 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 can condensed chicken soup
- 1 can black beans-rinsed and drained
- 2-3 cloves of cloves of chopped garlic
- 1 can enchilada sauce–mine was the medium heat level
- 1 lb of chicken breast–precooked, I cooked mine in the slow cooker earlier in the day
- 1/4-1/2 cup pickled jalapeños chopped–or less if they are fresh/based on your heat preference
- 1/2-3/4 cup of frozen corn (optional)
- Cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, & avocado for garnish
- A squeeze of lime juice over each bowl served (optional)
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Thai food is one of our favorite types of cuisines. I have been recently experimenting in the kitchen to try to figure out how to recreate our favorite dishes at home. While out shopping recently, I found a Thai spice mix that I have been wanting to use. I’m not certain of all the spices in the Thai mix but I do know that there is cumin, sesame seeds, dried chiles, and I think some sort of garlic powder. I used the mix to season the chicken in the dish but if you don’t have a Thai spice mix you can easily substitute. I am really happy with the way to dish turned out. I liked the addition of the carrots and the corn because it adds a small amount of sweetness to a spicy dish. The fresh basil imparts a fantastic flavor that I don’t think would be the same with dried basil (so I highly recommend using fresh basil). I served the chicken over frozen whole grain brown & wild rice that only required a few minutes in the microwave. All in all I think the meal was a success and I look forward to making it again in the future.
- 1lb of skinless, boneless chicken breast
- 2-3 tsp of Thai spice blend or use salt & pepper to season chicken
- 1/2 pepper–I used green because that’s what I had on hand
- 1/2 fresh snow peas
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, sliced on a bias
- 1-4-1/2 cup frozen corn
- 15-18 fresh basil leaves
- 2-3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1-2 tsp fish oil
- 1-2 tsp soy sauce
- 2-3 tbs of Sriracha–based on your desired level of spiciness
- Brown rice
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Chicken on the bone was something I avoided eating for several years because it well…creeped me out. Now that I am the primary cook in the house, I’ve learned that chicken on the bone doesn’t have to be scary and it is often a lot cheaper than the boneless counterpart. Today at Whole Foods I bought nearly 3lbs for less than 10 dollars…you can’t beat the price. I had to convince myself that it all started on the bone…just that someone did the work for me before it got home. Once I got over my general freaked-outness I have learned that chicken on the bone is quite tasty and doesn’t dry out like boneless chicken can in the oven. It’s really a never fail kind of preparation and sets you up for easy recipes later in the week if you roast a few breasts in the oven earlier in the week.
Once the chicken is throughly cooked, it is easily cut away from the bone and cubed for a variety of recipes. The chicken skin peels easily off the chicken and because you left it intact you can always count on your chicken never being dry. I often throw boneless chicken into the crockpot but this is just as easy if you find a better deal at the grocery store like I did.
A necessity in the kitchen…a digital thermometer. I bought this one at C&B on sale for $8 dollars regular $25.