Monday, September 1, 2014

9 Crock Pot Meals

With another school year fast approaching...(as in tomorrow) and a request by a friend of mine I thought I would post all of the meals I prepared this year. Unfortunately, this was an after thought so I don't have any pictures to post. The suggested cook time is based off of my current crock pot. I have found I have to cook my meals for a shorter amount of time than the time typically suggested. I have had one too many dried out meals due to over cooking. All of these meals feed the two of us for dinner and most recipes have leftovers for lunch the next day. 

I have collected these recipes over the years and have made changes every time I have made them. So, tweak where you need. Remember to use FREEZER gallon bags and have a black marker handy to write the names and cooking times on the bags (before putting the contents in)  :)

Beef Burritos
1 top round roast (approx 2 lbs)
1 diced onion
4 minced garlic cloves
2 T. whole peppercorns
2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (1 only use 1 pepper)
1 1/2 t. chili powder

1. Add the above items into freezer bag.
2. When you are ready to cook, put the contents of the bag in the crock pot and cook on low for 5-7 hours. 
3. When the meat is cooked, strain the juices and add the juice back to the crock pot. (by straining you get the peppercorns and onions out) Shred the meat and add the juice back to the crock pot and cook for additional 30 minutes on low. 

Dijon Chicken
2 lbs. chicken breasts
1 cup chicken broth
1 onion, chopped
2 T. dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic
2 bay leaves 
1 t. thyme (or less if you're not a big fan of thyme)

Cook for 4-6 hours on low. 

Cilantro Lime Chicken
1 1/2 lbs of chicken breasts
juice of 2 limes
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1 bag frozen corn
1/2 chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can black beans
1 cup water
1 tsp. cumin

Cook for 4-6 hours on low. 

Herbed Turkey Breast (haven't actually seen the outcome of this recipe)
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. sage
1/4 c. terragon
1 T. thyme
4 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
Turkey Breast (3 lbs)

Cook for 6-7 hours on low. 

Sesame Chicken Sauce  
1 c. reduced sodium soy sauce
2/3 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
2 T. ketchup
2 T. sesame seed 
4 chicken breasts

Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve with rice.

Easy Steak Marinade (this is for the grill/not the crock pot)
1/3 c. reduced sodium soy sauce
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c.  lemon juice
1/4 c.  Worcestershire sauce 
1 1/2 T. garlic powder
3 T. dried basil
1 1/2 T. dried parsley
1 t. pepper
1/4 teaspoon tabasco
1 t. minced garlic

Cover steak evenly with marinade. Toss and knead bags to coat steak with marinade. 

Chili Maple Glaze Chicken
1-2 lbs chicken breast
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. maple syrup
1 T. chili powder

Cook on low for 4-6 hours. 

Sweet Teriyaki Chicken 
1 c. low sodium soy sauce
1 c. sugar
1 t. garlic salt
1/2 minced onion
1-2 lbs. chicken

Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve with rice.

Crock Pot Cajun Chicken
2 lbs. chicken
1 t. cumin
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t onion powder
1 t. garlic
1/4 t pepper
1/2 t. salt
2 cups frozen corn
1/2 c. diced pepper
handful of cilantro
(I also threw in a cup of salsa)

Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Shred and use in tortillas. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Homemade Italian Salad Dressing

We have so much lettuce! So much so, we ran out of salad dressing. I thought, why buy salad dressing when I have enough spices I could make my own? I scoured some recipes and then adapted them to make my own.

Super Quick Italian Salad Dressing

Mix the following together in a bowl:
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 T. onion powder
2 T. oregano 
1 T. dried parsley flakes
1/2 T. sugar
1 T. salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Next, measure out 2 Tablespoons and put into a jar. 
Add 1/4 c. white wine vinegar and 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil. 

Continue until you are out of the dry ingredient mixture. 

Refrigerate until you are ready to use. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Fish Tacos

Fish tacos are probably...okay not probably...they ARE the winner of most favorite meal in this household. Last Sunday night we had a craving for some good Mexican fare. Unfortunately, we do not live in Florida our craving wasn't met by the take out place down the street. Feeling extremely let down, I asked my husband what he wanted for dinner on Monday night and I am not sure if he read my mind, but he immediately said fish tacos.

I cannot replicate the amazing fish tacos we had in Tulum, Mexico, but we try. Their recipe had FRESH white fish, fresh tomatoes, jalapeno, lime juice, cilantro, avocado, and the best salsa ever. We ate them in the bus, off of our lap and, quite frankly, it was the best meal I have ever had.
Tulum, Mexico...oh I want to go back!
Usually, I will make fish tacos with the ingredients above, but I came across a wonderful find while I was shopping at Wegmans the other day. 
Casa Mexicana

This stuff is the BEST! And, so easy. I was making 3 pieces of fish, so I used half of the package. Also, instead of using Vegetable Oil, I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Other than that, I followed the directions on the package. The fish marinaded for approximately 6 hours in the refrigerator. 

Plus, we cooked the fish on the grill and warmed our soft tacos on the grill, too! (A definite MUST)

Aluminum foil "bag" prep: Instead of spraying the aluminum foil with nonstick spray, I spread a layer of coconut oil and put the fish on top. Top the fish with the "leftover" marinade. Then, fold the sides to make a "bag"

Do not put holes in the aluminum foil bag. 

Grill to 500 degrees. Then turn down to low heat when you are ready to cook.
Cook for approximately 6-7 minutes. (Fish should flake easily)

When grilling the soft taco shells, spray the grill top with nonstick spray. Place the soft tacos directly on the grill top. Grill each side for about 1 minute.

Look at these heavenly photos:


Topped with tomatoes, avocado and cheese

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Last Night's Dinner...Bruschetta Pizza

Fresh basil leaves from the garden...I cannot wait for fresh tomatoes from the garden...this is one of my favorites! (Bonus: I (as in ME) grilled it on the grill all by myself) :)


Friday, June 27, 2014

Blueberry Season means Blueberry Muffins!

     One of my favorite summertime memories is the smell of blueberry muffins baking in my great-grandmother's kitchen. They didn't have air conditioning, so the kitchen was incredibly warm which (to me) makes the memory even more intense. My great grandmother was an incredible baker, so that may also lend to my memory. My mom inherited the baking gene...I just dabble from time to time. And today, well I was craving some blueberry muffins.

     I won't be able to recreate the incredible blueberry muffin experience from so many years back, but I will say right now with this recipe it is hard to stick to eating just one muffin. They are delicious!

(Again, terrible photographs, but the recipe is WORTH it. Trust me) 

Oh, and I had a some help from my little fur baby...

Blueberry Muffins

Muffin Ingredients
1 1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. white sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/3 c. vegetable oil 
1 egg
1/3 c. skim milk
1 cup quick oats
1 cup blueberries

Crumb Topping Ingredients
2 T. white sugar
2 T. brown sugar
3 T. flour
3 T. butter* (see below)
1 t. ground cinnamon

Step by Step Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin pan or line with muffin liners. 
2. Combine flour, sugar, salt, oats, and baking powder in mixing bowl. 
3. Combine vegetable oil, skim milk, and egg in another bowl. Mix this with the flour mixture. Fold in blueberries. 
4. Fill muffin cups to the top.
5. In another bowl, mix the crumb topping mixture together. Add the butter last. Use a fork to mix together. 

Top each muffin with the mixture. 
6. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. 

**Butter Note**
I tried something new. I used this as the "butter" for this recipe. I am loving this product. The crumb topping mixture was very greasy when I first mixed it together, but I was pleasantly surprised when the muffins were done baking. We have used this in place of our regular butter and have been very happy with the taste. I highly recommend it! 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chicken, Lettuce, and Avocado...Now, what's for dinner?

I took a quick inventory of what was in the kitchen and knew I needed to continue to include all of this lettuce somehow...I found a very ripe avocado, some frozen chicken and (of course) lettuce. What to do? What to do? Clearly, I needed some inspiration...came across this recipe from SteakNPotatoesKindaGurl.

It was delicious, but we grilled our chicken (and bacon...more about that in a bit) and I did a Creole rub for the chicken. The chicken ended up being too dry. Next time, I think I am going to soak it in a this will be a recipe I "redo" in the coming weeks.

So, yes, we grilled our bacon!!!!!  It was amazingly delicious!!! I didn't think any improvement was needed from our weekend morning bacon, but now that we made it on the grill...I might have my husband fire up the grill every weekend from now on. All I did was put the pieces of bacon on a piece of aluminum foil and my husband put it on the top shelf. Cooked 2 1/2 minutes on each side. It was a new type of crispy.

This picture doesn't do the bacon ANY justice.
(All of the pictures for this post were taken with my camera phone...apologies for the fuzzy pictures)

So, the recipe that I followed is below. I already am thinking of some changes based on my own preferred taste. It was a very easy recipe and still quite yummy.

Chicken Lettuce Wraps with Avocado Bacon Dressing

Avocado Bacon Dressing
1 ripe avocado (mashed)
approximately 1/4 t. cajun seasoning (I used a bit more)
1 1/2 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. hot sauce
1/4 t. Worcestershire sauce
3 pieces of bacon (crumbled)
salt/pepper to taste

Grill the chicken (We grilled at 450 degrees for 3 minutes on each side)

Lay the chicken on romaine lettuce leaves.

Top with the Avocado Bacon dressing.
Picture was taken with my camera phone...and terrible planning with the background. Ah well.
My husband actually ate it as a wrap. I cut everything up and made it into a salad. A few bites in we both topped it with our homemade salsa. 

All in was delicious. And, the grilled bacon...I still cannot say enough. YUM!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Warning: Cute Reflections

Such an unusual post for me, but I want to keep a record of this for myself. Plus, I must remember to do this at the end of every school year.

This school year was my first full year as a 3rd grade teacher. (11th year overall...WHAT?!?!?) And, this is where I should "plug" my school and all of that, but I want to focus on this assignment and how fulfilling it was to do. I will save the "plug" for another day.

At the end of the school year, I hate to admit this, but A LOT of "busy work" gets assigned. I hate it because I do not like to waste time and "busy work" is wasting time. That being said, the end of a school year seems to be a very busy time for teachers and all of the odds and ends that need to be done "behind the scenes" as a teacher. So, the "busy work" gets sparingly as possible. (I also love I hate wasting paper, too)

Anyway, I came across this assignment on Pinterest (of course) and thought it would be a great way to start off a morning. It was meant to fill some time, start the morning off quietly, no stress, or focus on sentence structure...basically a low key reflection. Little did I know the type of responses I would get. Nor did I realize how seriously this assignment would be taken. Some of the kids took many hours to complete their list of 10.

Here are a few of my favorites:
#1 - There are no words. Absolutely hysterical! :)

Everything from the first day to ice cream

#8 - It doesn't get any better than that!

#10 - it's the little things/events that mean the most to them!

#10 - the whole goal of his year and my goal for him! 

#1 - Best teacher EVER (I feel like a rock star)

I really cannot put into words how much this class meant to me. They are some of the most creative and imaginative kids I have ever had. In addition, the discussions we had about all different types of subjects were incredible. We had deep discussions about anything and everything. I will truly miss this group of kids.

All in all, if you are a teacher and you are reading this post....I HIGHLY encourage you to use this as a reflective piece at the end of the year. AND, make sure you take the time to read them. Take pictures of the papers you love. Look at them on the bad days and remember, there is always time to be a little bit silly.

The most serious group of 3rd graders ever. 

Yummy Cilantro Lime Steak Marinade

Time to get back at this! 

I was fortunate enough to get a full time teaching job this past school year, so the blog took a major backseat. As in, the way, way, WAY backseat. Most weeks, I was lucky to get food on the table at all. I will admit, this was the first "school year" that we had take out during the week. Thank goodness for Wawa and Sheetz

Our garden is in full swing! Which means it is time to scour Pinterest and the internet to find recipes to take care of all of these veggies that seem to be producing at an overnight rapid rate. Right now, we are in the thick of lettuce season. Long story short, we started some lettuce from seed...took care of them indoors...transplanted them...and then we thought they all died. So, I bought some lettuce that had already started (bought TOO much), planted that and now we have SO MUCH LETTUCE. The lettuce we thought had died, didn't. And, the plants we bought are thriving. 

Along with the lettuce, I have a cilantro plant that is also growing by the second. I love fresh cilantro. It has the best taste and smells so good!

I had a craving for steak, so I logged onto Pinterest and found this gem of a recipe from Simply Scratch. It is delicious and very easy to put together. After we grilled the meat, the smell of cilantro combined with the grilled meat smell was heavenly!

Cilantro Lime Steak Marinade


1-2 lbs. strip steak
Generous handful of cilantro
Juice from 1 lime
1/3 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 t. honey
1 garlic clove
1/2 t. cumin
1/2 t. red pepper chili flakes
1 t. red chili pepper

Step by Step Directions
1. In a food processor, pulse the cilantro, extra virgin olive oil and garlic clove together. 
2. Add the rest of the ingredients. Pulse to combine. 
3. Pour mixture over steak in a resealable bag. ("Smush it" around to cover the meat) Refrigerate until you are ready to grill. 

Ready to grill?

*Heat to High heat (between 500-550 degrees)
*Grill 4 minutes on each side. (for medium well)

After you remove the meat, LET IT REST! I have heard this over and over, but it's true! The meat will retain the juices and the flavor will be overwhelming. So, let it sit. Eat a salad, set the table, grab another drink, but do not cut the meat for 10 minutes after taking it off of the grill. 

We made our steak into Steak Tacos that Simply Scratch used with this recipe. Paired it with the fresh lettuce from the garden, homemade salsa, Monterrey jack cheese, all on a warm tortilla shell.