I opened the fridge this morning and remembered I had a chuck roast thawing. Actually, truth be told, it was well thawed and on it’s way out if I didn’t do something with it today. My usual go to is a crock pot version of a shredded beef taco. We love it. The thing is, I make it all the time and I wanted a challenge. Why? I’m not sure because frankly I am incredibly worn out. I decided on a crock pot meal, but with more labor intensive ingredients.
This page contains the recipe for the sauce. I also hand made the pasta as well as the focaccia bread. I will put up more recipes as time goes on that you can do if you want the undertaking of an all scratch dinner.
- beef chuck 1-2 lbs
- 2 cans diced tomato (I get the oregano basil kind)
- 1 can 6oz tomato paste
- healthy dose of salt and pepper
- 3 cloves minced garlic
- 1 large carrot
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 1/2 red wine
- 2 cups bone broth (you can also use beef or chicken stock)
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- 2 tbs olive oil
THIS IS HOW YOU DO IT:
- Place your diced onion, garlic, carrot, and rosemary at the base of your crock pot.
- Mix together your stock, red wine, tomatoes diced and tomato paste in a separate bowl.
- In a heavy bottomed skillet (to help collect heat) on medium high heat, add your oil.
- Salt and pepper liberally the meat.
- Brown all sides of meat in skillet. It takes about a minute each side.
- Place the meat on the goodies in the crock pot.
- Add your tomato mix on top.
- Heat on low for 4-6 hours.
- Pull meat out, shred. If the sauce is too chunky or runny for you, feel free to use an immersion blender to help break it down and/or transfer the sauce to the stove. Heat on medium to a simmer until sauce is thicker. I placed the meat back in and put the crock pot on high for about an hour with the lid slightly open to release some of the liquid. Replace meat and serve over cooked pasta, with polenta, or potatoes.
Some More Pictures:
And THE FINISHED PRODUCT:
For dinner, I was looking for something rich, something deliberately flavorful. I mostly wanted to use the odds and ends we had… but let’s be real, this lady went to the store anyway.
I started with the bone broth I had thawed. What to do with this large mason jar of goodness? I remembered we had mussels in the freezer. My husband and I were just discussing Cioppino and how it is one of his favorite seafood dishes. I started with that for the base of my idea. In the end, we had a random mix of things for dinner (including risotto) but it all turned out yummy.
I add zoodles in this recipe. It is because it is better for you than pasta, and I had some pre made/spiralized zoodles in the freezer.
- 20 mussels. cleaned and ready to go
- 1 medium sized cod fillet, chopped
- 2 tbs each of chopped chives, chopped parsley and thyme
- 1 can fish stock
- 3 tbs butter
- 2 tbs olive oil
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 large carrot diced
- 2 stalks celery thinly sliced
- 1 leek sliced
- 1/2 white onion
- 3/4 white wine
- 2 tbs capers
- 1 tsp bay seasoning
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 2 bay leaves
- Pinch of saffron (optional)
- Zoodles (optional) 1-2 cups
I know I know…. this is a lot of ingredients, but the flavors are divine. I did include a sliced baguette that was toasted lightly in the oven to help soak up the juices.
- Put some olive oil in a deep pan on medium heat
- Mix in the carrot, celery, leek, onion and garlic and heat for 3 minutes.
- While the veggies are heating up, mix together the mustard, fish stock, fish sauce and white wine.
- Pour the mixture into the pan, add bay leaves and saffron if desired, and crank up the heat to med. high
- Cover with a lid and you want the veggies to cook til just before al dente. This is about 5 minutes when the pieces are very thinly sliced.
- Add the mussels and cod. Bay seasoning is added here too. Cover and cook on medium high for 6-8 minutes. Zoodles can be added the last 3 minutes. The mussels should be opened. If not, discard any closed remaining.
- Add butter, herbs, and capers as well as the zest and juice of one lemon. Give it a stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.
What happened at dinner, was the risotto was essentially ignored for the first time in history and the family focused on this bowl of yummy right here.
I haven’t posted in a while. There’s been a lot happening in our family and it hasn’t always been good things. I realized this morning that I really wanted to cook something. Something yummy that filled a void and opened my heart. So… I decided to try to something new mixed with some of my old favorite things.
Never had I ever made blackened tilapia. It was a first for me. Guys, I won’t ever go back. It was so good.
My first step was to make the avocado topping. I call it, “the goop”. I was so proud of Ellie. We were at the store today and as I was picking a few out, she shouted, “avocado!” as loud as possible. Everyone looked up and applauded her. That is no easy feat for a newly 2 yr old to belt out.
For the avocado goop:
- 2 avocado’s, halved, pitted, and insides thrown into the food processor.
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tbs sour cream
- 1-2 tbs red onion
- 1/2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/2 of the juice and zest of a lime
- 1/2 tsp of: salt, oregano, cumin, paprika, cayenne, pepper
- 2 tbs chopped cilantro
Run everything in the food processor, except for the cilantro. I like to add this in the end and give it a pulse or two for texture and appearance.
Next, the parts that go with the taco:
- Corn or flour tortillas *we are very flour tortilla in this household
- green cabbage very finely shredded
- 1/4 jalapeno finely diced
- 1/4 red onion very finely chopped
- 1-2 limes cut into wedges
- cilantro- a lot! chopped
- olives if you like
- a mix of 1/4c mayo, 1 tsp sriracha, 1/4 sour cream mixed together
For the Fish:
- Tilapia (1 lb makes about 4-6 tacos)
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 1/4 tsp garlic salt
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp bay seasoning
- 1/2 tsp salt and pepper
- 2 tbs oil for cooking
- Mix the seasonings together in a small bowl.
- Rub the fish with the seasonings.
- Heat your pan and oil to a med-high heat.
- Cook each side of fish for about 4 min/side.
- There will be a fragrance. This means good things!
- Pull the fish from the pan and it should flake apart as you dig in.
- Place a tortilla (warmed is our preference) on a plate. Add the cabbage, jalapeno, onion, fish, cilantro, and goop along with whatever you want such as the sour cream/mayo/sriracha sauce. Squeeze some lime on there too, for good measure.
Take a bite,
My daughter Ellie will be 2 this weekend. I can’t believe how quickly time has flown. She is our last baby and while I’m slowly learning to savor the final baby moments, she definitely suffers from being the “second child”. What do I mean by this? Well… with our first I made homemade baby food, organic non gmo everything, special meals created out of a baby food book to help meet all of her needs. With Ellie? Pouches. Store bought food, food from the floor, how old is that water bottle, I s’pose dirt is fine… Ellie has come to love her morning routine that consists of two store bought pouches followed by her actual breakfast meal. When she was sick she only ate pouches because her cold irritated her and she couldn’t breathe and chew at the same time. Talk about problems…
We were spending $30-50/month on pouches. Ridiculous. Instead of cutting her off entirely, I decided to finally buy the reusable pouches. This is great for your wallet, your child, and the environment. I bought the Nature’s Little Squeeze pouches. These are the 7oz ones as shown in the picture. I chose these because they are larger for bigger bellies, dishwasher safe, and can be put in the freezer or fridge. The ziplock like seal on the bottom holds up well, even when curious toddler fingers try to open it.
I wanted to share a smoothie I made that even our 5 yr old loved once she got over the “baby food” pouch. I wind up making something fresh every 4-5 days depending on how much Ellie finds she wants. The food can keep for about a week in the fridge. Due to it being winter and there aren’t a lot of quality fresh fruits, I have chosen to buy a large bag of fruit/berries from Costco from the freezer section. I like to hide vegetables in the pouches because Ellie is still turned off by spinach.
In the blender:
2 cups spinach, 1 cup mango, 4 large strawberries, 1 banana, one can coconut milk with the fat, 1 tsp ground flax seed, 1 tsp nutritional yeast
Blend this up and separate it into the pouches. Yum! I had to beg to have a taste. If you find it too thick, add little by little some almond milk (we use unsweetened vanilla)
*If you use something like blackberries or raspberries where the seeds can be hard to take in (myself and my girls are big on texture), try blending then straining the berries to help get out the seeds.
I have started writing down my triumphs and errors in shopping and meal planning. It isn’t always easy. There’s a lot to take into account. One of the biggest things I’ve learned, don’t shop with your husband. 🙂
What are some of the best ways to shop on a budget?
- Don’t shop hungry: This is a common mistake I make. I get moving, get the kids ready and out the door… and while I shop the aisles I realize I forgot to eat breakfast. My cart fills up with useless crap because I let my stomach try to tell me what we need.
- Compare Ads: We get some great ads in the mail. I will sit down and compare the deals. Better coupons here? Better Friday deals there? Pick your plan of attack. Cut out your coupons and create a list to follow at that particular store. Shop more than one store, if you can. I will save part of my shopping trip for later in the week if it means better deals on the horizon.
- Buy in Bulk: Seriously, best idea ever. I love that wonderful place called Costco. We get a majority of our meats and produce there. Eggs come by the two dozen and they are free range organic. Bananas are something we go through quickly. We can buy two large bundles and I like to peel and freeze as many as I can for smoothies. Bulk up on milk, yogurt, coffee, big bags of spinach, meats….
- Make your list and STICK TO IT: I am guilty of becoming sidetracked. Oh the samples, look at that pretty packaging, I wonder what I can make with this, what is THAT? Don’t fall for it. Stick to what you have planned and go for it.
- PRESHOP: This has become my secret weapon. Every month we create a budget for our groceries, among other categories of life. My job is to stick to this budget with little to no error. No, I’m not always fabulous at staying within the lines, but I do a pretty decent job. When I am curious how expensive a trip will run, I plug the groceries into the online shopping cart to get an idea. It’s great to do when I’m cutting it close to the limit. If I go over, I can deduct what items aren’t necessary. Speaking of which…
- What isn’t needed? Cut out the crap. Juice? Not necessary. It is a treat to have juice in our house. Our girls stick with water mostly, with milk sometimes. We don’t binge on chips or candy, all things that can easily run up your tab if you aren’t careful. Energy drinks? Ew. Soda? Nope.
- Pick the cheaper cut: Choose flank over skirt steak. Don’t buy pre-marinaded meats. Thaw your own! I’ve noticed I can buy frozen seafood for less money than the store thawed version. I love fresh, but it isn’t always available. Might as well buy frozen. More for your buck and can last longer.
- Bought a million peppers. Now what? I will go to Costco and get 6-8 belle peppers in a package. Or onions! Pre cut, separate out, and put into bags. I have a large freezer in the garage that I place my stash into. I love dicing and slicing. Pre-made bags for omelettes, stir fry, etc. A variety of cuts help.
- Stretch your ingredients: If I buy fresh herbs, I make sure it is herbs that I can use through the week for different meals. Thyme? Perfect for chicken and fish. Cilantro? Awesome for any mexican food. Blend together herbs for sauces. Freeze them in ice cube trays so you can add them to a hot dish as needed while cooking. If I know I will have some onion in my rice, I’ll use the other half for a stir fry or soup.
- Make your own: While I do love the convenience of store bought broth, I like making my own. Bone broth is easy to make with your bone and veggie scraps. Maybe you will find a post on that soon since it’s about time for me to make some.
How do you plan your meals?
When planning meals for the week I take a few things into account:
Weather: Is it going to be snowing and frigid? Maybe a yummy crock pot soup is in order. Is the weather insanely hot with record highs? Looks like the husband will be grilling with an easy light side dish or two to help you stay cool.
Theme: Is there a trend going on in my planning? Taco Tuesday? Leftover Wednesdays? Is Monday the day one of your kids pick what they would like to have?
What is on sale? I will pick what we are having based on what I can pull from the freezer and have thawed in time. I will also pick our meals based on what is a good deal at the store.
Stretch your ingredients: Can I make a large amount of sauteed chard one night to go into a scramble the next day? Can I use that cauliflower rice in a stir fry tomorrow? How can we finish this loaf of bread? Leftover chicken or steak can turn into a french dip or taco salad. Tortillas leftover? Make breakfast burritos!
How much time do you have? Believe it or not, as a stay at home I have some days that are busier than others. Am I watching children beyond my own? Is there a play date? A game that will creep into cook time? I won’t plan something elaborate if it’s a long day. I will throw things in the crock pot or take advantage of things I have prepped the day before.
Create your menu: I usually go by a list of what is planned for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Often times to cut corners I will have pb&j on standby for lunches when we didn’t cook enough for leftovers. I love having a visual to refer to. I will see if there are ingredients that can be found in common in the menu to help steer where the bulk buying may help.
Don’t be afraid to get creative! I love playing with our food. You never know what you can come up with. I have some extra bacon, why not wrap the chicken with it? Should we throw some of these lemons in the chicken? This avocado ripened quicker than planned, maybe a yummy dressing can be made? You never know what will limit you until you try. And I have a secret to share: food is for fun. It is indeed limitless. 🙂
So tender, juicy, sweet with a hint of heat…
Why I love making pulled pork: 1. It is super simple and can easily be thrown in the crock pot 2. We can have it a million different ways. 3. I especially love this for game days. 4. You can also premake a large batch, separate it into ziplock freezer bags, freeze em and pull them out as you please.
Tonight we will be making a pulled pork sandwich topped with coleslaw. Other nights, this is amazing on top of homemade mac n cheese. It’s amazing in a tortilla with melted cheese and sauteed onions…
- 2ish pounds of pork tenderloin
- 1/4c chicken stock
- 1/4c apple cider vinegar
- 2 c bbq sauce (I love sweet baby rays) A honey or brown sugar kind is best, divided
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Mix together the chicken stock, apple cider vinegar and one cup of bbq sauce.
- Mix together your spices.
- Place the pork into your crock pot and rub the meat with the seasoning mix.
- Make slits across the pork, about halfway through to allow the sauces to penetrate.
- Add the sauce.
- Set to High for about 5 hours.
- Shred the meat and place back into the crockpot.
- Stir in the remaining bbq sauce and let the meat sit on a low or warm setting for 20 minutes so it can take in the flavors.
Take a bite!
I am in love with avocados. They are rich in nutrients, easy to manipulate with flavors, and the perfect healthy fat to add to your meal. About 10 years ago, after having some guac at a local restaurant, I decided I wanted to make my own. Do you ever get the store bought kind and it’s too creamy or has that “sour” taste of sour cream? Ick.
When I took this picture, no lies, my mouth was watering because it was all I could do to wait the 10 seconds to take a bite. I love the fresh flavors and to play a little bit with more or less spice depending on who I am feeding at the time. This is the perfect side dish with your favorite tacos, something to bring to a friends game day, or just to have to take with you throughout the week when you’re at work. I also have a sneaky trick to help keep it fresh!
- 4-6 large avocados
- 1/2 jalapeno, finely diced and seeded
- 1-2 roma tomatoes (depending on how much you like the sweetness)
- 1/4 c cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 c white, red, or yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove minced garlic
- juice of half a lime
- 1 tsp sea salt, plus a little more for taste
- 1 tsp cumin
- 3/4 tsp cayenne
- 1 tsp adobo seasoning
How to Prepare:
- Slice your avocados in half, take out the pit and scoop out the avocado into a bowl. Save one pit!
- Add your lime juice, garlic, and spices and begin to work with a fork, mushing it down. If you like your guacamole more creamy or if you discover you have some “strings” of guac (ie it was too ripe), use an immersion blender to throw it into a food processor.
- Add your onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and tomatoes. Gently stir together.
You’re done! Dip a chip, dip veggies, or add as a topping!
But wait! How do I keep it from getting brown? It looks so gross the next day!
My trick is to add the pit back into the guac. Get it nice and nestled in. Then, cover with saran wrap so it is touching the surface. Finish by adding a lid! You can always mix the guac back up and it will be green once again. If you like the citrus taste, add more lime juice as it will help the color keep.
Spicewise, I really enjoy Penzey’s spices. They are of amazing quality and you can get most spices and herbs in bulk if you are like me and use a ton in your cooking.
Don’t skimp on the cumin!