Thursday, February 16, 2012

Super easy pork tacos

Awhile back my mom bought me a few pounds of smoked pork butt from a local fundraiser. At first I was a little annoyed because there wasn't going to be a lot of room for it in my (already tiny) freezer. I cut it up in smaller portions and put in individual baggies and managed to cram it all in the freezer after feasting on it for a few days.

I have to say I am no longer annoyed because I came up with an amazingly quick and delicious thing to make with it!

Put 1 can of black beans (rinsed) and 1 can of diced tomatoes with chiles in a saucepan, add about 2 palm sizes of the BBQ pork, shredded (I half this and it feeds the two of us just right). Sprinkle with cumin and simmer until most of the tomato liquid is evaporated... I do it on low about 20 minutes. Serve on warmed tortillas with cheese or avocado. AMAZINGLY delicious and simple.

Any other ideas on using left over BBQ pork?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Slow cooker: EASY turkey!

Earlier this month Mother Nature gave me an early birthday present and had some delightful weather in the mid-fifties. It was rainy and some would consider it dreary but I was absolutely loving it :) It also made me want some warm and yummy fall comfort foods!

I was yearning for Thanksgiving but don't always have patience for the prep and clean up of an oven roasted turkey. So, I got into researching... did you know you can cook turkey in a slow cooker!?!?

I found this incredible simple recipe on

Slow Cooker Turkey

1 bone-in turkey breast, about 5-6 pounds
1 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup mix - ya know, that blue box :)
1 tb butter (optional)
1/4 cup chicken broth (optional)

Cut off any excess skin of the turkey. Rub onion soup mix all over outside of the turkey and under the skin. Place in a slow cooker. Add butter and broth if you want. Cover, and cook on High for 1 hour, then set to Low, and cook for 7 hours.

From personal experience: flip the turkey if you can about half way through cooking. Also, don't be an idiot like me and accidentally turn the slow cooker "off" instead of on "low" for an hour after the hour on high... yeeea... that was dumb of me... I cooked it an extra hour on high to make up for it.

Yup, that's it. I had a little scared because my frozen 5 pound turkey didn't seem to fit in the slow cooker, but after it thawed I was able to jam it in after I cut off the neck part. I happened to have a little chicken broth left over from another recipe so I added that too, and was able to make a little gravy out of it. It was amazingly tender and my husband, who doubted this recipe from the very beginning, was pleasantly surprised. We ate it with HUGE sweet potatoes and then used the leftovers to make several turkey sandwiches as well as this Turkey Tetrazinni.

I realize that the "blue box" dried onion soup mix is not the most natural of of seasonings.... sodium diphosphate, coloring, probable MSG... ick. I just couldn't resist the simplicity of this recipe (and the fact that I had the soup in my pantry from awhile back). If you can think of any natural and flavorful replacements, please discuss in the comments!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Typical Work Week

I am sometimes asked what I will eat during a typical work week. Well, in making this list I realize I eat out more than I (or my pocketbook) would like - but sometimes it's necessary. I am also very aware that I have a sweet tooth - I definitely depend on that something sweet to help me through the work day.

Monday Lunch:
Monday lunch will probably be something leftover I made on the weekend - this past weekend it was Pasta e Fagioli. Yum! If I pack my lunch I usually include craisins or a banana and a piece of dark chocolate.

Monday Dinner:
Lately I've been crazy about these steak tips in peppered mushroom gravy over whole wheat noodles with a side of broccoli. Whenever I cook, I always cook large enough portions to make at least 2 meals for the 2 of us out of it. If I get on the treadmill after work I'll treat myself to some Talenti Roman Raspberry sorbet! Just kidding... I'll eat it either way.

Tuesday Lunch:
Uh oh... Chick-fil-a sandwich (fried when I'm naughty, grilled when I'm good) on a wheat bun with a side salad with half the packet of Caesar dressing and a half sweet/half unsweet tea.

Tuesday Dinner:
Leftover beef tips! Talk about a quick and easy dinner.

Wednesday Lunch:
Out to eat again... one of my favorite places isLyn's Gracious Goodness. The best part is I can walk there from my main office and get something healthy! My favorite: Mediterranean chicken salad with a side of fruit salad, and if I'm feeling like I need a Wednesday pick-me-up, the fudgy tart :)

Wednesday Dinner:
If I go out to each for lunch, I will probably make something light for dinner - possibly an avocado tuna salad sandwich on whole wheat with fruit and vegetable juice.

Thursday Lunch:
Drive home to eat cheese & crackers, carrots, craisins, and chocolate. I love how they all start with "C".

Thursday Dinner:
Possibly my Stir Fry of if the hubby wants it, we'll sometimes get the frozen organic pizzas from publix.... white spinach pizza for me, meaty Italian for him. We've also been kind of crazy about made-from-scratch mac&cheese with lots of veggies (our own vegetable plate).

Friday Lunch:
Leftovers from yesterday night

Friday Dinner:
It's date night, go out to eat!

I don't talk about breakfasts here because my breakfasts are usually a consistent pattern. I talk about them here!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Our new staple Mac & Cheese

Who doesn't love a bit of comfort food now and then?

While we graduated from the "blue box" several years ago, we have been using the Annie's or Hodgson Mill boxes for a quick dinner lately. However... no more!

The following is based on a recipe I found from Southern Living. The original recipe called for a whole extra cup of cheese to be put on top; I decided if this is going to be our usual that we should probably reserve that for special occasions.

This made 4 hearty servings. I like to make it in a pie plate :)


  • 1 (8-oz.) package elbow macaroni - I used whole wheat organic shells

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups milk ---> EDIT: Because I use lower fat cheese I cut back to 1 and 1/2 cups milk for a thicker roux - PERFECT!

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

  • 4 oz (about 1/2 block) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded - I used Cracker Barrel brand cheddar with 2% milk


  • 1. Boil noodles according to package directions (or a little less if you like it a little more al dente). Drain and keep warm.

  • 2. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk, and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. Stir in salt, black pepper, shredded cheese, and cooked pasta.

  • 3. Spoon pasta mixture into a lightly greased 2-qt. baking dish (or pie pan!)

  • 4. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Stir-Fry, revisited

Last Wednesday I made this tofu stir fry:

This time around, I used sliced chicken instead of tofu, and chicken broth instead of beef broth. I also used basmati rice instead of brown rice.

I identified that it was too much rice wine vinegar that was making the tangy taste I didn't enjoy. This time, I reduced the vinegar to 1 tsp instead of 1 tb.

Once again, I used the Costco frozen stir fry veggies.

It was AMAZING :) It will definitely be part of my regular rotation. Don't you love it when you work with something and it turns out amazing?

So, here is the final modified recipe:

2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 teaspoons vegetable oil, divided
1/2 to 1 lb chicken, diced
3 cups hot cooked long-grain rice
4-5 cups frozen stir fry veggies or 1/3 of the Costco Frozen Stir Fry Veggie bag

Combine water and cornstarch in a bowl; stir with a whisk. Stir in broth and next 6 ingredients (broth through crushed red pepper). Heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; stir-fry 8 minutes or until golden brown. Remove chicken from pan. Add 1 tb vegetable oil to pan. Stir-fry the frozen veggies until heated through, about 8 minutes (OR you could microwave them if you want to keep them crisper). Add chicken and broth mixture. Bring to a boil, and cook 5 minutes or until sauce is as thick as you like. Serve with rice.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Magic Muffins

These muffins are what I serve with my Gumbo; they also go well with beef stew or another hearty dish. They are not exactly a "whole food", but they are delicious, and everything in moderation, right?

I got the idea from these muffins from watching Rachael Ray's 30 minute meals.

1 box corn muffin mix (I like Jiffy)
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
Cheddar Cheese

Coarsley chop up some scallions (I use about one stalk), some cheddar cheese (about 2 oz?) and fry up and crumble some bacon (1-2 slices). Feel free to add more to make the muffins more indulgent :)

Mix the muffin mix as directed - with Jiffy, you add an egg and 1/3 cup milk. Let it sit for a minute - this would be a good time to spray your muffin pan with nonstick spray - it makes 6 regular sized muffins or about 16 mini muffins. Add in the scallion/bacon/cheese and divide among muffin cups. Cook at 400 (or 350 for mini muffins) for about 15 minutes - as soon as they start browning they're ready!

You can thank me later :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The best Gumbo

I am about to share with you one of my best recipes. This is my usual "company is coming over recipe". In the past 6 months, I have made it for Michael & Jessica, CJ & Meagan, Lauren & Jeb, my parents, Adam's parents, Adam's uncle & aunt, and ourselves at least twice. I hope I'm not forgetting anyone. What can I say, it's good!!

This recipe is from Cooking Light. I love it because I barely had to modify it. It makes 8 hearty servings. It takes awhile to make... about 1.5-2 hours... so plan ahead.

Cooking spray
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided - I use BUTTER!
1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces - I use about a pound of chicken breast - from you guessed it, Costco
1 pound low-fat smoked sausage (such as Healthy Choice) or turkey kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds - OK, Adam nearly killed me when I brought home my turkey kielbasa, especially when CJ & Meagan came over. "They are from MEMPHIS, get REAL CAJUN SAUSAGE!". So yea, use real Cajun sausage. It's what makes it REAL.
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper - or more, if you like it spicy :) I use 3/4 tsp and it gives it a nice bit of heat, but not too much
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
5 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (14.5-ounce) can no salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
3 cups (1-inch) slices fresh okra - use fresh, not frozen - HUGE difference
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 2/3 cups hot cooked long-grain rice - I use 2 cups uncooked basmati rice

Heat a large Dutch oven or a really big pot over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add 1 teaspoon oil (butter), chicken, and sausage; sauté for 3 minutes or until browned. Remove from pan (leave drippings in pan). Add onion, bell pepper, and celery to pan; sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and red pepper; sauté 4 minutes or until onion is tender and garlic is fragrant. Remove from pan.
Add remaining oil (BUTTER) to pan. Add flour to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook about a minute or until roux is light brown, stirring constantly with a whisk (the original recipe has 10 minutes, but the roux was way to dry to cook for that long). Gradually add broth, stirring constantly with a whisk. Add chicken and sausage, onion mixture, tomatoes, okra, and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Stir in parsley and shrimp; cook 5 minutes or until shrimp are done. Discard bay leaves. Serve over rice.

This is delicious and makes great leftovers. 5 stars. I make it along with my MAGIC MUFFINS - to be blogged about soon :)