4 AMAZING Dinners For This Week

This past week was a dream: dinners prepped on Sunday, 5-10 minute heat up time and best of all….AMAZINGLY GOOD!

My husband sent me this link: http://www.buzzfeed.com/melissaharrison/slow-cooker-spring-dinners this past week-ish. I dutifully marked it and promptly forgot about it until he asked what I thought of the Spring-time recipes he’d sent. Quickly re-opening the link, I made last minute changes to our grocery order (thank you http://www.peapod.com). Am I glad I did or what! I tried 3 of the recipes and found a fourth (we’re trying another 5 this upcoming week!). Could not give a higher recommendations.

In order of preparation time:

1. Easiest Crock Pot Salsa Verde Chicken

Cook time: 2 hrs Prep: Dump 2 things in Slow Cooker
Via http://www.skinnytaste.com Cook time: 2 hrs Prep: Dump 2 things in Slow Cooker
http://www.skinnytaste.com/2013/04/easiest-crock-pot-salsa-verde-chicken.html

My notes: I used generic salsa verde, chicken thighs (what I had on hand), and served with sour cream/ corn tortillas/shredded (purple) cabbage. I threw this in the slow cooker while I was prepping for the week.

Recipe: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2013/04/easiest-crock-pot-salsa-verde-chicken.html

2. Carrot Ginger Soup

Recipe Looks intimidating but it's seriously 6 things.  Cook time: 8 hrs.  Prep: 10-15 minutes (I promise)
Via homemakershabitat.com Recipe Looks intimidating but it’s seriously 6 things. Cook time: 8 hrs. Prep: 10-15 minutes (I promise)

My notes: 1) shallots, 2) pre-copped carrots, 3) orange zest, 4) orange juice, 5) sweet potato, 6) fresh ginger (didn’t finely minced it), chicken broth (nope not homemade). Forgot the rest of the recipe…served with salt, pepper, sour cream & siracha (siracha is NOT required)

Recipe: http://homemakershabitat.com/2010/03/slow-cooker-carrot-ginger-soup.html

3. Slow Cooker Barbacoa Beef (whoops I ordered corned beef brisket…STILL DELICIOUS)
http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-for-a-crowd-big-game-day-barbacoa-165301

My notes: Sorry no picture (they had an intense legal page). This did take a minute to make (probably because I wanted to use my stick blender). I halved the recipe and we enjoyed corned beef/mustard/swiss cheese sandwiches for lunch.

Recipe: http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-for-a-crowd-big-game-day-barbacoa-165301

4. Crockpot Roasted Chicken and Root Vegetables

Via Comfortably Domestic
Via Comfortablydomestic.com…Cook time: 7.5 hours Prep time: 30 minutes. VERY MUCH WORTH THE TIME

My notes: Just think of this as: 1) Veggie prep, 2) Chicken prep 3) Spice rub prep. I cooked this for 8-8.5 hours and it tended to be a smidgen dry because of this. Cook for 7.5 hours. This was DELICIOUSLY DELICIOUS. We made quesadillas for lunch out of these for two people in addition to dinner. Cannot recommend this one enough. The instructions look overwhelming but it turned out to be pretty simple.

Recipe: http://comfortablydomestic.com/2013/10/10/roasted-chicken-root-vegetables/

Top 5 Slow Cooker Frozen Recipes (Delicious Required)

Seeing that this past week was a meat mash wash (read my recipes failed to be delicious), I am going to rehash my top 5 recipes (which might be my last couple posts??). In no particular order other than flavorful, easy to make, and down right good.

1. Savory Pepper Steak ( https://mamathyme.com/2014/02/04/dad-friendly-slow-cooker-meal/)
– Continues to meet the mark. It’s legitimately delicious, easy and the whole family loves it.

2. M’s Tortilla Soup ( https://mamathyme.com/2014/03/16/tortilla-soup-amazingness/)
– Can be made (quickly) on a stovetop or in a slow cooker. Family favorite for about 8 years now! (Where does the time go????)

3. Turkey Lentil Soup ( https://mamathyme.com/2014/02/24/now-that-one-was-delicious/)
– Surprise! We loved it!!

4. Beef Fajitas ( https://mamathyme.com/2014/03/22/fajitas-march-madness-perfection/)
– The seared meat with the spice rub were … well it’s 7am and I’m wishing it was for dinner tonight. The rub added so much flavor! We had it as a main entree, in lettuce wraps or burritos. So YUMMY!!!!!!

5. Beef Curry ( https://mamathyme.com/2014/02/09/paleo-with-a-twist/)
– Again…delicious

How I do it:
1. Prep and freeze on weekend
2. Cook at night (thaw prior to cooking) Monday morning before work place in containers (we like glass)
5a. Thaw Tuesday night’s dinner Monday morning
6. Monday night….dinner’s ready! SO MUCH TIME FOR ACTIVITIES!!!!!!
7. Repeat

Minus the Steak...it was defrosting in the microwave for 8 minutes
Minus the Steak…it was defrosting in the microwave for 8 minutes

Everything You Know Is Wrong

Is it me, or are all the studies I grew up with being proved wrong? Fat: IT’S BAD FOR YOU–GO LOW/NO FAT!!! Wait, hold the breaks, eating fat in your diet might be good? http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/03/31/295719579/rethinking-fat-the-case-for-adding-some-into-your-diet

While we’re at it, don’t eat Butter!! It’s so fatty! Eat Margarine…But wait some butter is good but don’t eat the ones that have GMO. Watch out for Monosato….http://foodbabe.com/2014/01/20/is-butter-secretly-ruining-your-health/

Personally, my sensitivity level for “studies” has been completely desensitized. There is a study out there for pretty much everything to the point where various studies disprove the other theory. This whole fear mongering tactic has gone on from the beginning of, what I perceive as, time. I recently saw an ad from perhaps the early 1900s stating that “LET US CURE YOUR ACID MOUTH WITH OUR TOOTHPASTE” we’ll even send you strips to see if you have acid mouth. Well shucks, the human mouth is slightly acidic.

Point being, I am done with studies and scare tactics. “It” just has to make sense to me. So somewhere in this, I am trying to find what a balanced diet looks like. I am not a doctor, nor do I have experience in this field, but at the end of the day: natural should make sense right? The whole adage: “you are what you eat” should prevail?

I hadn’t intended to go on a rant, but apparently I did. I intended to say hey! I made homemade butter recently! It was alot of fun! I bought a small thing of organic, gmo free whipping cream, threw it in the mixer and about 8 minutes later had beautiful yellow delicious butter!

So delicious on toast!
So delicious on toast!

Coconut Oil????!!!!

I’ve kind of fallen in love with coconut oil. When my sister in law mentioned that she used coconut oil as a moisturizer I was highly skeptical. I kept seeing articles online that sang the glories of the oil, so I decided to give it a shot (step aside my long favorite Clinique). As I moved past my evening face care routine, I started looking for other coconut oil uses.

I found Plantain Chips

They were slightly delicious
They were slightly delicious

Recipe from http://www.hollywoodhomestead.com/plantain-chips/

3 green plantains
2.5 cups coconut oil for frying (I used 3/4 cup)
Sea salt to taste (definitely a must)

1. Chop plantains very thinly
2. Heat oil in large pan (I used 3/4 cup because I just didn’t have 2.5 cups to spare)
3. Add one plantain to heated oil (move with spatula after first few seconds to make sure it doesn’t stick)
4. Fry on each side on medium high for about 6 minutes ish per side
5. Place on absorbent paper towel and lightly salt while hot
6. Repeat for the other two plantains

Fajitas — March Madness Perfection

When I first looked at this recipe, I thought: NO WAY. However, as I idly read through the related blog (http://www.stacymakescents.com/crock-pot-beef-fajitas), I found the recipe ultimately became spices, meat, slow cooker, so I gave it a shot. Since I tend to be pretty clueless about meat cuts, it was helpful to me to read as long as you have 2-2.5 lbs o’beef — it did not matter. This recipe was flavorful and a home run as my mother says.

In short this recipe is: Spices + Meat + Brown = Ready for slow cooker.

The Spices
The Spices

Beef Fajitas (Modified)
2 ½ pound beef roast (I used chuck roast, but apparently any cut will do)
1/2 yellow onion sliced
3 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon of chopped/bottled garlic
1 teaspoon onion salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1. Combined spices, coat meat, browned meat (3 minutes on each side…not required it just seals in alot of flavor), cook or store in freezer.
2. When ready cook on low for 8 hrs.
3. We served with salsa, sour cream on tortillas (so not 100% Paleo…). We didn’t have any bell peppers etc.

Note: For a Paleo version, the cooked beef was delicious by itself and I would have served with lettuce.

Helpers Mean:  Quick, Easy, Fast Recipes.  Period.
Helpers Mean: Quick, Easy, Fast Recipes. Period.

Tortilla Soup Amazingness

Several years ago, a friend (M) shared this recipe with me. It has changed somewhat into our version of her soup, but in honor of her, we still call it M’s Soup.

Simple But Delicious
Simple But Delicious

So far, I have made this twice in the slow cooker with pretty good success. Put the following in the slow cooker, cook on low for 8 hours:

15 oz Can of Corned Corn (or a frozen bag of corn)
10 oz Can of Rotel or chopped tomatoes (Undrained)
10 oz Black Beans (Drained)
16 oz Chicken Broth
2 Chicken Breasts
Pinch of Salt and Pepper

Optional:
1 Small Can of Chopped Green Chilis
1t Red Pepper Flakes
1T Oregano

When complete, I shred the chicken (while still in the crockpot), pack it up for the evening. To serve, I like grated cheese on my soup (George doesn’t), and stirring in some tortilla chips.

Now that one was DELICIOUS!

So I finally think I am ahead of the game. Last weekend I made a whole bunch of frozen slow cooker recipes. I may have realized yet again I DO NOT have it straight on chicken and that I should never ever cook pork belly (no matter how organic or grass fed). So let’s just say my “Savory Chicken” was well received by our new family addition (our rescue Siberian Husky Niko).

On the other hand, there was one recipe that stood head and shoulders over the rest: “Turkey Lentil Vegetable Soup.” The recipe is here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/beefy-lentil-vegetable-soup/detail.aspx

Bloody Mary Mix to the rescue?
Bloody Mary Mix to the rescue?

Modifications:
I used ground turkey, did not use canned mushrooms, did not add celery (George isn’t a fan) and cooked on low for 8 hours. I did play around with the “tomato juice.”

As for the tomato juice….I may need to back track on this one. I’m not a big fan of Bloody Mary drinks so a while ago we bought two bottles of mixes (sans alcohol) to “convert” me. I just don’t get the spice and the tomato…it’s a bit nasty to me. So the good idea fairy thought I’d clear out some fridge space and use the Bloody Mary mix for the tomato base. The ingredients looked pretty straight forward and were alcohol free so…why not. I used a bit of the “Bold and Spicy” and their “Traditional” mix as well.

Definitely on the delicious side of the house. I am finding that slow cooker soups turn out pretty good. I just don’t want to eat soups 24/7.

Paleo with a Twist

Just sounds DELICIOUS
Just sounds DELICIOUS

I think I’m a bit out of sync here. I need to post here AFTER I’ve tried the recipe(s). However, this week I’m just too excited about two sites I’ve found. I shortened the recipes to keep with the goal of quick-easy-simple however my changes MAY have been influenced by what I had on hand. I am loving coconut milk, fresh ginger and am pretty excited about cilantro! After making the Savory Pepper Steak from last week, I am convinced the trick for slow cooking is building flavor. I’m hoping these last three items make for delicious dinners this week!

Beef curry came from http://www.rubiesandradishes.com/2013/12/03/easy-slow-cooker-curry-2-ways/. I chose to try the beef version since the cook time is closer to 8 hours. I also added about a tablespoon of fresh ginger and a teaspoon of minced garlic (or one clove).

Cilantro chicken came from http://www.honeygheeandme.com/2014/01/crock-pot-cilantro-chicken-whole30/ I modified this one a lot.

1 large yellow onion, about 2 cups diced
5 large garlic cloves, about 2 tbsp minced
1 Serrano chile pepper, about 1 tbsp minced (half deseeded) I used a can of chopped green chilis and kept the juices
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek I didn’t have on hand
1/4 tsp black pepper
3/4 tsp salt
1 can coconut milk (not light)
2 cups fresh cilantro, chopped
4-6 chicken thighs, boneless/skinless (approx 1.25- 1.5 lb) I used 5 gmo free, organic chicken drumbsticks.

I didn’t brown the chicken or the beef…I threw it all in a plastic bag, labeled it and froze it for this up coming week. We’ll see how it turns out!

If you’re interested, I’m on Pinterest as ‘Mama Thyme’, I’m tracking the recipes I love and my research recipes (recipes in test).

Dad Friendly Slow Cooker meal

Today I am writing from a small unglamorous town while on travel for work. The whole saying goodbye to George and Sweetpea is never exactly easy, but these little trips fulfil my engineering/industrial -isms. There’s that and sleep. A full night of uninterrupted sleep is simply glorious.

Before I left, I made a few meals to help support George as he enjoys his week with Sweetpea. Which brings me to this week’s featured slow cooker recipe from http://www.mommysfabulousfinds.com/2013/10/easy-crock-pot-freezer-meals-2.html (slight modifications due to what I had on hand and/or Sweetpea’s patience).

I’ve tried about 6 of mommysfabulousfinds recipes but found that I really needed to take them out after 6-8 hours, which for our working family is just not possible. Even though the slow cooker switches to warm, the meat still cooks and becomes tough, dried out meat mash. As I learned previously, cooking slow cooker meals at night, packaging them in containers for the day and reheating for dinner does the trick.

Minus the Steak...it was defrosting in the microwave for 8 minutes
Minus the Steak…it was defrosting in the microwave for 8 minutes

Savory Pepper Steak
Prep: 10-20 minutes (Sweetpea helped)

1 lb pre-chopped thawed beef (I try to go for GMO free, organic etc)
1/2 chopped red onion
1/2 chopped large green pepper
5 t chopped garlic (yes I cheat and use the pre-chopped)
1 can original Rotel
1 can chopped green chilies
1 T Steak Seasoning
2 T Worcestershire Sauce
1 T A-1 Steak Sauce

I did not drain the Rotel or the chilies. Since I planned to cook this recipe in the morning I placed it all in a glass container (and refrigerated it) prior to cooking.

The last time I made this, it was easy to make, flavorful and delicious.

Fun Fact: When you have leftover meat and don’t enjoy groundhogs day: try making burritos/quesadillas/sandwiches for lunch!

Paleo Frozen Slow Cooker meals

The Actors
Smokey Roast: The Actors

So much of my day to and from work is rush-faster-leaner-stronger…….so when it’s time to sit down and enjoy dinner — I would rather pass on the tasteless meat mash. My slow cooker focus is: quick, easy, less than a million ingredients/steps, and delicious.

When a friend mentioned she was making “SLOW COOKER KOREAN GRASS FED SHORT RIBS” I was intrigued. Could be slightly amazing. Two recipes later….and I have the prospects of decent exciting dinners that happen to be Paleo — I count that as a win.

To me, the Korean Short Ribs are more complicated than simple (you have to brown, chop, blend, prep stuff). The recipe is here: http://nomnompaleo.com/post/3762844557/slow-cooker-korean-grass-fed-short-ribs I made it anyway.

My other adventure for today was “Smokey Roast” which had equal praise and was quite simple to make.

Stir “The Actors” in a bowl, thoroughly cover/rub into 2.5 lbs beef chuck roast, brown in coconut oil (5 min each side). Chop 1 onion. Put in bag. I stopped there. I’ll add 3/4 cups water when I cook it for 7-8 hours. We’ll see how I did! The recipe came from here: http://everydaypaleo.com/smokey-roast/

I love rectangular teaspoons/tablespoons
I love rectangular teaspoons/ tablespoons

Wholesome Living: Finding Balance