Do you ever stock up on meat when it’s on sale and freeze it, only to then have to come up with a meal that specifically uses that “great deal” before it gets freezer burnt?! Yeah, that’s what I’m going through today. I thawed out a package of sweet italian ground sausage. I’m sure I bought it with some sort of intention…. but then it got buried in the freezer under half a dozen packages of frozen vegetables. After making winter vegetable soup, I found my meat stash and now had to face the task of figuring out what to make with the ground sausage.
Normally, you can substitute ground sausage in most ground beef or ground turkey recipes. It makes great chili, an incredible lasagna and even is creative in meatloaf. But I wanted to work on a recipe that truly highlighted the spices of the sweet italian sausage. You can use any variety of sausage, just understand that the flavors will ultimately completely change up the overall dish– so if you want hot sausage or you want to un-case a beer bratwurst, that’s totally fine. You can play with the flavors by changing up your meat selection– or using up something you find in the bottom of your freezer!
So tonight, we’re having crock pot dirty rice. I love that this dish uses the word “dirty”, but it’s so true. This is the antithesis of steamed, white rice. It muddles together all the flavors from the spicy meat and the sweet vegetables and somehow the tomato paste marries it all together. Yes, that’s what this is– a “dirty” “marriage” of flavors. Ha! I hope you enjoy this classic spicy one-pot meal and that it warms up your winter night.
1 lb sausage, crumbled and browned
3 cups water
1 cup uncooked long grain rice
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
1/2 large red bell pepper, finely chopped Read more
This afternoon, I went with my family to an apple orchard to pick fresh, local produce to enjoy. It felt organic. Not in the “lacking chemicals and pesticides” way, but in the “feeling connected to the earth and supporting something good”. My kids loved picking the fruit and sampling all the different kinds of apples. I am eager to make my escalloped apples recipe as soon as possible.
But the best part of the day was coming home to dinner already made and a very hungry family to feed!
One of my favorite meals to cook and eat is pot roast– meat, potatoes, carrots, celery, onions… all the basics. It’s so filling and full of great nutrients. One crock pot is a whole meal. But sometimes I like to vary it up a little. I made a very similar recipe today, but instead of beef, I used three turkey legs as our protein.
The meat becomes so tender it falls off the bone. I used whole carrots because they make such a nice presentation and Read more
The morning is half over and my whole family is still wearing pajamas. Yay for snow days! But since it’s dreadful and cold outside, I need something hot and satisfying to fill our bellies. I decided that we should head south of the border tonight and enjoy some Mexican fare, so today I am sharing my recipe for chicken tortilla soup. This recipe is simple and easy (and note– it freezes well, too!) and you can definitely vary the spiciness of the dish, depending how much heat your mouth can withstand.
I am sharing my basic recipe for this soup, but feel free to add any of the following to the pot for additional spice. I would recommend only picking one or two of these things as each one packs a punch:
1/2 t. cayenne pepper OR
1 chopped jalapeno pepper OR
1 t. Tabasco sauce
You can also decorate your chicken tortilla soup in a variety of ways. Try sprinkling some fresh, chopped cilantro on top, or a few slices of avocado. If the spice is more than you anticipated, cut it with Read more
Here’s your history lesson for today, folks… let’s learn about barley. If you are a “meat and potatoes” kind of person, barley is a great item to add to your grocery list. Barley rations go all the way back to biblical times, I think, it’s healthy, hearty and inexpensive; is one of the world’s top harvested grains; and here’s a fun one– one of its main purposes is for producing beer and malted beverages.
Now that you’ve done your studies, let’s prepare your eats! This stew is meaty and thick and satisfies the hungriest belly. It is a meal in itself, but I prefer a small bowl of it with a side salad— and a beer, so I can be consuming barley in multiple forms. This is a nice variation to the common beef stew.
On a nice fall day like today, your house will be filled with the warm smell of meat, vegetables and an easy dinner. Enjoy!
1 lb. beef stew meat chunks
1 c. baby carrots
4 stalks of celery, cut into chunks Read more
Filed under: Appetizer, Dinner, Side dishes, vegetarian
I am fortunate to have a husband that loves my cooking and loves to eat. He tries everything I make and is very agreeable about most of it. But today, I had the privilege of watching my husband cook his first crock pot meal. And it turned out great!
Today’s soup includes a lot of produce, but unlike my normal vegetarian vegetable soup which has small bits of lots of vegetables, my hubby’s recipe includes chunkier cuts of vegetables and not as much variety. The real kicker of this soup is the topping– add a few jalapeno peppers and you’ve got a treat to eat without any meat!
I definitely encourage you to Read more
Tonight is open house at my son’s school and the timing makes dinner as a family tough. So, it is going to be date night instead— but eating out is expensive, so I’ll feed the kids early and then us parents can eat when we get home (and the kids are sleeping!). But since I’m not sure what time we’ll get home from the school, I’m going to start the crock pot late this afternoon so that dinner is ready when we get back.
One of my favorite appetizers is those amazing sauced up thai chicken wraps that you can get at fancy Asian-inspired restaurants. The unfortunate part is that the lettuce is totally an illusion making you think this is a healthy choice. The typical sauce is usually full of really salty, sugary, high calorie ingredients that I totally don’t want to indulge in tonight. So I’ve come up with a healthier way to enjoy this treat, using the crock pot to get the most out of all the flavors and then whipping up a quick sauce in a pan to coat the whole mixture.
Most restaurants serve this dish with iceberg lettuce because it is crisp, but you can also use leaves of romaine lettuce or even tortillas. I hope you get to enjoy this at your next date night at home, too!
2 stalks celery, chopped Read more
If you read my post about the cute $7 crockpot that I saw on sale last week, this recipe would be the perfect fit for it! If you have a “little dipper” sized crock pot, you can make this dip and then use the crock pot to serve it and keep it warm. I thought these flavors fused together well for an easy afternoon snack.
I’d recommend serving my summer onion dip with crisp pita chips, wavy potato chips, baby carrots and cut up celery. It also would be great on a baked potato! It’s a basic enough recipe that it would be great on top of pretty much anything. Enjoy!
1/2 c. chopped basil leaves
juice of 1 lemon
8 oz. cream cheese, warmed Read more
Filed under: Appetizer, Dinner, Recipes, Side dishes, vegetarian
The title of this recipe is a lie. This isn’t a soup. But it’s not a stew and it’s not just a pasta main course, so I don’t know what else to call it. Technically, it does have broth in it, so therefore I qualify it as a soup. And since it’s my blog, I get the right to label it however I want to! But this is my disclaimer– there is nothing light weight or soupy about this dish. It is delicious and easy and full of flavor and takes just a few ingredients and a few minutes to make a whole meal. BUT– all of those details are way too much to put in the title, so I just call it tortellini soup. Enjoy!
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 brick of frozen chopped spinach (no need to thaw, just dump it in frozen)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 12-oz. packages of frozen cheese tortellini
Put all ingredients EXCEPT tortellini in the crock pot. Cook on high for 3 hours. Add frozen tortellini to the pot, stir it around and cook on high for one more hour. Top with a little Parmesan cheese when served.
As much as winter is the time for soups and stews, I really like summer soups too. This one isn’t too hearty since it’s a puree and I think it tastes really light when it is served warm, not hot. I’ve had to become really creative with vegetables this summer— with so much amazing local produce, I tend to over buy!
I like to base this recipe on carrots, because the orange color of the puree is so inviting, but feel free to experiment with whatever is in your basket. Just remember to include a starch (potato, sweet potato, kohlrabi, etc.) to help thicken the dish and something sweet (apple, beet, melon, peach) to make this unique for summer. Herbs are totally up to your discretion, too. I like fresh basil, but if you have rosemary or thyme or some oregano, those would be great as well.
Whatever you do, you are making a crock pot of wonderful by using fresh vegetables and your imagination. This should be served in a bowl, but it’s perfect when it’s thicker than soup, but thinner than mashed potatoes. PS– it’s also a GREAT puree for baby food, but you can make it for your whole family to eat. Enjoy!
4 c. fresh carrots
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 yellow squash, cut into chunks
1 medium sweet onion, chopped
2 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
1 medium apple, cut off of core
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
6-8 leaves fresh basil
2-3 c. vegetable broth
Put all vegetables and herbs into the crock pot, pour broth on top. Cook on high for 6 hours. Using immulsion blender, puree in pot. (If you don’t have one, then let dish cool and puree in batches in a standard blender.) Serve with a dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt on top and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.
Happy birthday to my husband. He is an amazing man, father, lover and friend. And he loves my cooking. So for tonight, I wanted to make him a nice dinner. But of course, I still have the kids to take care of today, a house to clean before company and a dog that is begging to go out, so my options for fine dining were a little limited. I decided to start a crock pot of food at lunchtime instead of at breakfast— our dinner will be done right as the kids are going to bed… so we can eat a meal as adults and maybe even partake in a glass of wine.
I had totally planned on doing chicken fajitas for dinner tonight or some sort of hearty “man” food, but my hubby went out with his coworkers for lunch at a Mexican restaurant, so I needed to reroute my dinner plans. Since I already had the chicken, I decided to make chicken cacciatore (pronounced catch-ahh-toe-ree) instead. It’s robust and filling, but an easy one pot meal.
Cacciatore is usually served over a thin pasta like angel hair, but it can also be served over rice, if you prefer. I like to top mine with grated Parmesan cheese instead of putting the cheese in when it’s cooking. You can also add other vegetables if you’d like– many cacciatore recipes add mushrooms and/or fresh basil leaves.
You don’t need a celebration to dine on this great chicken dish. Enjoy!
4 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 small onion, sliced thin
1 green pepper, sliced thin
1/2 red pepper, sliced thin
1/2 yellow pepper, sliced thin
1 medium zucchini, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 c. spaghetti sauce
1 T. parsley flakes
1 t. basil flakes
1 t. oregano flakes
1/2 t. celery seed
1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 t. salt
Combine vegetables in crock pot, top with all seasonings and stir together. Pour in tomatoes and sauce and stir again. Place frozen chicken breasts on top of mixture. Cook on high for 4-6 hours. Serve over thin pasta or rice.