Let’s Taco-bout Soup

Taco (type) food-2

Kristy-0

What in the world is up with taco related food in this house?! The last time I decided to make tacos, I realized I was out of cumin for the seasoning mix and crushed the dreams of my poor children by my failure to produce tacos for them.

Somewhere between my craving for taco soup and the grocery list I made for my husband, I completely and utterly forgot cumin. I could have gotten taco seasoning in a packet, but no…I forgot that as well.

As per the usual, I was midway into making dinner for my hangry little brood before I realized I HAD NO TACO SEASONING OR THE INGREDIENTS FOR THE HOMEMADE VERSION. What. The. Crap. WHY does this keep happening?!

You know what, that’s a rhetorical question. Moving on…

I was in a particularly salty mood so I proclaimed we were having Sort-Of-Taco-Soup. My husband and the kids were (less than) enthused, but complied as they know my sanity is thin some days. I will spare you the recipe I used, and instead post the REAL one below the pictures. The real recipe is actually really good and easy- just remember the seasoning (or homemade) mix! 😉

The onions are totally optional. I didn’t have an actual onion so I used the minced version to add to the ground beef. Also, I usually use plain, petite diced tomatoes, but my husband went to Publix, took a child (the oldest one was the tribute), in a monsoon rainstorm (Irma) so he was practically a saint in my eyes. He could of brought home whole tomatoes and I wouldn’t have said a word!

Picture of the meat and onions. Eh…let’s face it. There’s nothing attractive about a picture of raw meat….

The cans can be thrown in any way you want, but for blog picture and OCD purposes, this is how they ended up. We aren’t going to talk about those two corn kernels in the black beans…

Also, be sure to fill up two of the cans with water and add it to the mixture! This is so important because it will definitely give you the little “oomph” of liquid needed for this soup. This is also the step where you would add the seasoning mix.

Once the meat is browned and drained, it can be added to the veggie and taco seasoning mixture. Stir well and then pop on a lid, set the burner to low/medium heat, put the timer on ten minutes, and you’re done.

We like to put cheese on top and eat it with tortilla chips.

I hope you enjoy this one as much as we do!

.

Print Recipe
Taco Soup- Updated Version!`
A few years ago I posted a taco soup recipe. It took a while, but we have found a version we prefer much more than the one I originally posted. It's simple, quick, and cost effective. The best recipes usually are!
Course Main Dish
Cook Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
bowls/people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cook Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 10 minutes
Servings
bowls/people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Brown ground beef in a skillet (can also throw in a diced onion, but not necessary). Drain well.
  2. In a separate large pot, mix tomatoes, corn, black beans, and taco seasoning packet. Stir well.
  3. Take two of the empty cans, fill with water, and add to the pot.
  4. Add browned ground beef and stir well.
  5. Cover and heat on low-medium for 10 minutes.
  6. Serve with cheese and tortilla chips. Enjoy!
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A Break and Easy Chili

I took a break. I had intended for it to be a short break that only lasted a few days. A few days turned into a few weeks.

Homeschooling is no joke.

Actually, let me backtrack. My children are in a blended program which means they attend school two days a week and their curriculum follows the local schools, but the other five days a week they are home and I am in charge of making sure all their schoolwork/testing is completed and answering any questions that may arise. Even though I’m not making up the entire lessons, it is still a chore. It’s a learning process for sure.

Also, I became really focused on monetizing the blog. I started this little blog/journey years ago as I love to write and I like to pretend to know how to cook. I’m not sure I do either particularly well, but they are a great way for me to unwind and let go of stress. When I rebooted my blog, I joined a few Facebook groups and the members were very focused on numbers, traffic, monetizing, etc. I got a little too wrapped up in that mindset and got burned out extremely quickly. I needed to take a step back and remember this blog is about my kitchen experiences. It is for me and my friends that choose to follow. Anyone else that wants to stop by, read about the craziness, and use the recipes are welcome and I enjoy having the guests, but if this blog only has ten readers per post, that is okay as well.

So now that all of that is out of the way, let’s get to the food!

My husband and I are HUGE NCAA football fans (ROLL TIDE!) and one of our “traditions” is to make a big pot of soup, stew, or chili on game nights. Unfortunately, we were camping when Alabama played their first game, so we settled for making our regular pot of chili when Tennessee played this past Monday. (On a side note, GO VOLS!- I grew up in a family of TN fans)

The beauty of this chili is that it is SUPER versatile! You can add or subtract anything and it still works! I’ve made it with and without beans. I’ve made it without the tomato sauce. I’ve made it with a lot more chili powder. I’ve made it with and without cheese. It is just so. incredibly. simple.

I’m including the recipe I used Monday. If you change it up, post below and let me know how you made it! I’m always up for trying new things! 😉

To begin, I diced a medium sized onion and a medium sized green bell pepper. I threw them into a large pan with a pound of ground beef and let it brown.

I drained the fat and then added the following into the meat mixture:

  • one can of tomato sauce
  • one can of petite diced tomatoes
  • two cans of chili beans (pintos) *I like to add one medium and one mild can*

I mixed the canned products in thoroughly and then added in the chili powder and garlic powder.

 

I made sure the spices were also mixed in well and added the lid to the pan, turned to simmer, set the timer to twenty minutes, and relaxed. An occasional stir here and there and we had a fantastic dinner.

Easy. Fast. Yummy.

Does it get any better?

Print Recipe
Easy Chili
This simple recipe is great for those cold fall nights. It's very easy to change up and make it fit your diet and/or personal taste. Hope you enjoy! *This is not a spicy recipe at all as my children do not like spicy foods. I just want to make sure that if you are wanting a "kick", you know to add some spice! 😉
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 15 Minutes
Cook Time 10 Minutes
Passive Time 20 Minutes
Servings
People
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 15 Minutes
Cook Time 10 Minutes
Passive Time 20 Minutes
Servings
People
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Brown ground beef, onion, and bell pepper in a large pan. (Drain fat)
  2. Once browned and drained, add in tomato sauce, tomatoes, and beans.
  3. Add chili powder and garlic powder and stir well.
  4. Place lid on the pan and turn the stove eye (or burner... whatever you prefer to call it) down to simmer.
  5. Let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. After 20 minutes, remove lid and serve topped with cheese. Enjoy!
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It Expired When?!

Well…crap.

I had such awesome ideas for tonight’s meal! I was even going to do a before and after video to accompany it. The before video was naively uploaded before I had an after video. Total rookie mistake there… (the video is uploaded onto the JOABC FB and Insta pages)

Unfortunately, awesomeness was not meant to be. Here’s the story:

First off, I started off much later than usual. With piano practice, preschool orientation, and our first day of blended home school, we were running behind on time and energy once dinner rolled around. Luckily, on Saturday we had an amazing (albeit a little dry) roast and I saved a little to make BBQ Stuffed Potatoes.

However, I did not check the expiration date on the barbecue sauce until I was WELL into cooking. We are talking about completely and utterly ruined the potato stuffing. The sauce expired in September 2016!

I mean…COME ON! Really?! How in the world has this barbecue sauce been hiding in the back of my pantry for that long? I just noticed it a week ago and patted myself on the back for having a good, easy staple sitting on the pantry shelf. I’m just going to assume it magically appeared. There’s no other explanation…

Luckily, a little quick thinking with a half pack of bacon and a half block of sharp cheddar cheese saved our meal tonight.

Whew! I definitely deserved those few extra double stuffed Oreos I sneaked after my kids went to bed!

 

Print Recipe
Oven Baked Potato
This delicious potato is crispy on the outside with fluffy goodness on the inside! Finish with your favorite toppings to make this a go-to and simple meal. Also, absolutely no foil is needed in this recipe! This serving size can easily be adjusted to feed as few or as many friends/family as needed.
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Wash and dry potatoes thoroughly. Make a few holes in the potato with a fork to release steam during baking.
  3. Put the potatoes directly on the oven rack for 45 minutes.
  4. After 45 minutes, remove the potatoes (use an oven mitt or tongs!!!) and brush thoroughly with oil and put a small pinch of salt on each side of the potato.
  5. Return the potatoes to the oven for another 15 minutes.
  6. Once the potatoes are done cooking, they should be slightly crispy on the outside, but slightly "soft" to the touch when removed from the oven.
  7. Slice open, fill with toppings, and enjoy!
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Only One Dish

Today was busy. Not just a little busy either. It was (and for the record, one child had not had a nap, one had a pre-teen attitude issue, and the other asked approximately 265,873,005 questions about everything from space to why some flies bite. Plus, the husband worked overtime today.)  :

  • piano- 2 kids=1 hour
  • lunch with my husband (30 minutes away)
  • drop off paperwork at doctor (that said husband forgot)
  • drive back 30 minutes to meet my brother with a camera charger
  • drive to my aunt’s business to pick something up
  • drive past the grocery store (oops) so stopped at the dollar store to grab a few things
  • go back to grocery store #1
  • leave #1, go to house to deliver cold stuff
  • unpack cold stuff into the refrigerator while kids stayed in the car and played WWF (well, they wrestled. They’ve never actually seen WWF)
  • go to grocery store #2 because #1 didn’t have everything I needed
  • as I was unloading the car at #2 it came a monsoon
  • got home and unpacked the car for a second time while all three kids whined for drinks
  • started laundry and dishes
  • started dinner
  • did more dishes
  • changed out laundry
  • continued dishes
  • finished supper
  • ate dinner with kids
  • bathed kids
  • bedtime
  • etc. etc. etc.

See! But do you want to know the thing I’m most annoyed at? I did dishes for TWO HOURS. Why? I keep thinking if leave them there, they will get done. No one does them though. I have to cook and clean?! What kind of torture is this?

Tonight, in protest, I made One Pan Chicken Dinner. Okay, okay… It wasn’t technically in protest. I basically picked this meal because it’s one pan. It really is the easiest meal ever and incredibly yummy! Actually, since it is so simple to make, I’ll just share a few pictures and then the recipe. I’m too exhausted to write too much anyhow!

And the best part? Simply rinse the pan out, shove that baby in the dishwasher, and you’re done! A glass of wine to celebrate the simplicity is optional!

 

Print Recipe
One Pan Chicken Dinner
This easy recipe only messes up on pan and is easy on the wallet.
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 60 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 X 13 glass baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Wash and dice red potatoes and put on one side of the dish.
  3. Line chicken down the middle of the dish (if it's thick, butterfly first and then place in dish)
  4. Pour entire bag of frozen green beans down the open side of the dish.
  5. Sprinkle Italian seasoning over entire dish.
  6. Place small pieces of butter over entire dish.
  7. Cover with foil and place in the oven for 60 minutes. Chicken is done when it is no longer pink inside and the juices run clear when the chicken is cut.
  8. Serve and enjoy!
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Forgotten Food Medley

Apologies for missing yesterday’s post! I had a severe case of the Mondays or something, so I’m posting today to make up for it.

This past Sunday night I was running low on EVERYTHING. It was so late by the time that I got started that I literally only had two choices: find something I could prepare quickly in the pantry or go out and grab food. My children had already decided we were having Zaxby’s and were excited. Not today kids, not today. I decided to go the unpopular route and chose to make something at home.

I quickly searched for foods that were floating around the pantry, fridge, and freezer. I manged to find a few questionable carrots, a very small bag of broccoli, an almost empty bag of rice, and a can of cream of chicken. It was like a medley of the forgotten foods! (sorry for the crappy picture. It was an afterthought.)

First, I started the instant rice on the stove. I prefer “normal” rice, but, like I stated, it was late!

As the rice was cooking, I prepared the can of cream of chicken.

I used the microwave to steam broccoli and carrots separately and then mixed them together. (They could have been steamed together, but I was busy deciding whether or not I wanted to chance the carrots.)

Once my forgotten foods were finished, I tossed everything into one pot, mixed it together, and served with fresh green beans I had made earlier that day for a family gathering.

My family LOVED it. It was so good for being so simple!

 

On a side note, this would also be wonderful with some grilled chicken thrown in. I may try that next time, but if you are searching for quick and simple meal, this is the way to go!

Were we hungry or did I just totally rock that one out on a whim?

I think I’ll choose the latter option!

(Sorry for the lack of quality pictures. I was just not on my game Sunday night!)

Print Recipe
Rice and Veggie Mix
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cook rice according to package directions.
  2. While rice is cooking, prepare cream of chicken according to can directions.
  3. Steam broccoli and carrots by your preferred method (microwave or stovetop).
  4. Once all the food is cooked, mix together in medium-large pot.
  5. Serve with a side or bread.
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Who Needs Directions?


I finally got around to making this casserole Wednesday night. I had put it off after seeing it took over an hour to cook. I mean, really?! Who has time for that? However, I finally had time so I tried it. In all reality, I did not have time, but I had chicken that was going to expire so I made time.

I am going to apologize in advance. I have failed you miserably when it comes to bringing you quick and easy recipes with few ingredients. This is not one.

I started really late as I COMPLETELY forgot it took an hour. I started prepping at 6:30. The casserole still needed to bake though. I figured getting done at 7:30 was late, but still acceptable. I failed to realize I needed to wash and/or chop EVERY. SINGLE. INGREDIENT.

Once I finally finished all the prep, I had to layer the ingredients. This was actually kind of fun and I made pictures of each step!

Repeat the above layers a second time and then cover with heavy cream and a little butter here and there. Cover with foil and bake!

I stuck it in the oven at 7:20pm so we didn’t actually eat until 8:40ish. Oh well….

Oh, but wait! Did I mention that I didn’t pay much attention to the ingredients? The recipe I used was aggravating because the page kept scrolling up incessantly on my phone so I kind of only halfway followed it. Plus, the recipe had measurements for the vegetables and meat. I’ll measure seasonings and such, but with vegetables and meat, I don’t. Plus, I was feeling salty about how much time this stupid recipe was taking so I was not in the least bit concerned with it. Anyhow, there was a key step I realized I had overlooked about five minutes into the hour long cook time.

After one hour, remove foil and sprinkle remaining cheese on casserole. Return to oven for five minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

Remember this pre-foil picture? See all that cheese?

I looked at my husband and said, “Oh well!” What could I really do at this point? Not only was it most likely already melted, but there was no way I was going to try and pick it all off. Luckily, it seemed to do just fine and didn’t burn at all!

The casserole tasted okay. I was really hoping it would taste as amazing as it looked! It absolutely has potential though.  Next time, I will grill the chicken and season it ahead of time and “pre-boil” the potatoes. The chicken was just too plain and the potatoes were still hard. Other than that, it was pretty good. I thought the cream would be gross, but it was actually good!

I’ll include my altered recipe below with notes on how to make it better. If you make this, I encourage you to play with it and definitely make it your own! Good luck!

Print Recipe
Loaded Baked Potato Casserole
This casserole is good, but could definitely use improvements! I have included the steps I intend to use next time, but I strongly encourage you to make this your own!
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 65 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 65 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Grease a 9 X 11 pan and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Layer half of the ingredients as follows: -potatoes -chicken -broccoli -bacon -onion -cheese
  3. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  4. Repeat layering steps (EXCEPT CHEESE) with the second half of the ingredients.
  5. Season again and then cover with heavy cream. Slice butter and layer over top of casserole and cover tightly with foil. Put into the oven for 1 hour.
  6. Remove casserole from oven and remove foil. Sprinkle on 1 cup of cheese and return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
  7. Remove and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
  8. **NOTES: I strongly suggest seasoning and grilling the chicken and paraboiling the potatoes beforehand and reducing the cook time. This way is okay, but the chicken is fairly bland and the potatoes were a little too hard. This recipe definitely has potential though.
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Cumin, Where Art Thou?

It’s taco night! Nope, just kidding.

This was the quote that sent rage through my house. My kids went straight from pleasant to demonic and it just so happens my husband was out of town. They don’t handle change very well anyhow, but when you take away their taco dreams and they are already hangry. No, just no.

Obviously, my minions are taco FANATICS. I make my tacos with a homemade seasoning mix to go into the ground beef. I also add in refried beans and my kids love it. They don’t even realize they are eating the beans, but it’s my secret way of stretching the taco filling and getting some sort of extra protein into their tummies.

The reason my dinner plans changed? As soon as I started rummaging through my spice cabinet, I realized I was missing cumin. At this moment, cumin and I are NOT on good terms.

I had to figure out something to feed the kids so I made Cheeseburger Macaroni. I don’t know if it’s an actual recipe I got somewhere or not, so I’ll improvise and type something up below. I usually make this when I have no plans and need something quick.

Here are the necessary ingredients:

I started by boiling the macaroni noodles. I didn’t/don’t have a measurement for this. I have always cooked the entire box and my husband takes any leftovers to work for lunch for a few days.

While the noodles were boiling, I browned the ground beef and onion together in a skillet on medium/high heat. 

Once the noodles were soft and the meat properly browned, I drained both and combined them in a large pot. On a side note, make sure the pot is LARGE. If not, this happens:

I could barely move the spoon. I ended up needing to move the mixture to a large skillet, but that was almost too small as well.  Next time I prepare Cheeseburger Macaroni, I will make sure my big pots are clean….

The cheese mixture needed to be watched and stirred constantly. For this reason alone, I always do the sauce last. First, I warmed up a 1/2 cup of milk on the stove until it was right at boiling (I also threw in a big pinch of salt and pepper).

Next, I mixed in a (generous) cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese. It is very important that the cup of cheese is put into the milk in 3 or 4 handfuls. After throwing in a “handful”,  I whisked the cheese until it was completely melted before adding the next handful.

If you throw all the cheese in at once, it tends to clump (I know this from experience!) Also, it’s gross to get a big clump of cheese in your meal!

Once the cheese sauce was fully melted, I poured it over the noodle and meat mixture and stirred until combined.

I mixed it on the stove top eye that I was using to cook the food. It was turned off at that point, but it was still warm so it helped the sauce mix in better and kept everything hot. If you do the same, just be careful that it doesn’t burn!

Here it is! My two big kids ate it and my youngest complained. She’s a threenager so her judgement is skewed.

Print Recipe
Cheeseburger Macaroni
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Course Main Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Recipe Notes
  1. Bring LARGE pot of water to a boil and add macaroni noodles.
  2. While water is boiling, brown ground beef and onion in a separate skillet.
  3. Drain water and meat/onion mixture and combine in large pot.
  4. Bring milk to a boil and turn heat down to medium.
  5. Add in cheese one handful at a time and stir until melted before adding next handful.
  6. Once cheese sauce is melted completely, pour over meat and noodle mixture and mix well.
  7. Serve and enjoy.
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Colander Calamity

Last night was a doozy- even for me.

To begin, my husband and I either ate something bad or we had a small virus, but he and I were both feeling pretty crummy. I thought that some chicken noodle might do the trick and I’ve been wanting to try homemade for a while, but didn’t have a recipe. I raided my pantry and hoped for the best.

The night actually got off to a decent start considering the crummy day I had experienced. I had all these awesome ingredients! Surely something good could come out of it. (And yes, bacon doesn’t normally go into chicken noodle, but it’s bacon. Who turns down bacon?!)

I got the chicken broth boiling and dumped in the tomatoes. This was going well! I needed to get the carrots and celery in next so they could boil for a few minutes longer than the pasta and get tender. Unfortunately, I still had unwashed, unpeeled, and undiced vegetables. I worked as quickly as I could with the vegetables to get them into the pot.

Once the veggies were taken care of, I decided to start the bacon. I avoided burning it on the stove altogether and opted for the oven. (In hindsight, I should have started the bacon first. I’ve adjusted the recipe to reflect this.)

Once the bacon was in the oven and the vegetables had boiled for a few minutes, I added the pasta to the pot along with the concoction of seasonings I had put together. I even measured this time to keep up with what I used. I was feeling fancy! Once everything was in the pot and mixed together it looked kind of gross, but I kept pressing forward!

 All was going well until my two youngest children came into the kitchen singing the song of their people. If you have children, you know it well. It’s the “I want a drink!” and the “What is for dinner?” songs masterfully sung in the key of whine. I shooed them out and got back to making dinner.

I realized the pasta was overcooking and grabbed my collapsible colander (strainer). I popped it out and set it in the sink to use. I did not have intentions to drain the entire pot because I was still wanting chicken noodle, but I had entirely too much liquid for my liking.

I started to pour liquid into the colander and then it happened. I tipped forward a little too much and, unbeknownst to me, the colander didn’t pop out properly.

 

Disaster. Full-scale, disaster. During the commotion the kids came in again, saw my face, and ran away quickly. Just as I was about to have a nervous breakdown, the timer on the oven went off. The bacon was done. I doused my frustration with a piece of the bacon.

I took what tiny amount of pasta I had left in the strainer and crumbled a few pieces of the bacon to place on top. I had to try my pasta creation since I literally made up the recipe as I was going.

It was good! It was actually REALLY good! It’s too bad no one else in my family got a chance to give it a try.

Maybe next time…with a new colander.

Easy Peasy Pasta

  • 6 Cups Chicken Broth
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) petite diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 4 carrots- diced
  • 4 celery stalks- diced
  • 1 bag of medium egg noodles (12 oz)
  • 1 pack of bacon
  • 1 Tbsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400. Once ready, put bacon into the oven for 20 minutes. (May need to flip it halfway through.)
  2. Bring chicken broth to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, put undrained tomatoes, diced carrots, and diced celery into the pot and let boil for 5 minutes.
  4. After 5 minutes, place noodles and spices into the pot and stir well. Let boil until the noodles are al dente.
  5. Drain pot (leave a little liquid for a soup type consistency)
  6. Crumble cooked bacon on top
  7. Serve- should be 4-6 servings if you don’t dump it into the sink.

So-So Stew

Budget Stew. This recipe was listed online as something named similar, but I’m pretty positive the pictures and the recipe DID NOT go together. Not even remotely. Plus, I had to change it slightly to keep it from burning. So, this is it’s new name…I guess.

Budget Stew is exactly what it sounds like-stew on a budget. It’s cheap to make and my husband and two of my children liked it. My three year old (that hates all non-fried foods) didn’t care much for it and, surprisingly, I wasn’t a huge fan myself. I think I was going for something “beefier” and came out with something “tomato-y”. Those are words, right?

To begin, I need to clarify something that’s noticeable in this picture. The ground beef looks old. It looks terribly disgusting. It was not old or disgusting. It was fresh and was vacuum packed immediately after being purchased (I buy in bulk and then separate and freeze). When ground beef is packaged in this way (vacuumed), it turns brown. Something to do with oxidation or something. I don’t really know. I glazed over reading about it. I just know that turned brown (but was still edible) and no one was sick. WIN!

I had intended on presenting an easy Crock-Pot meal with little to no prep. I am about to fail….

To begin, the meat needs to be browned. I didn’t realize this until I had already peeled the carrots which leads me to the next step. The carrots need to be peeled AND the potatoes. But oh wait, the potatoes do not have to be peeled and I’m just illiterate. GRRR.

Once the meat is browned, drain it and then put it in the Crock-Pot with all of the vegetables that you have peeled, sliced, and diced. Arrange all the vegetables and meat and take a picture and post it on social media. Tell everyone that they just fell in that way. Kidding…sort of.

Next, it’s time to put the sauce in. I used garlic powder (you know my love for this stuff if you’ve read any earlier blogs) instead of real garlic and mixed it with the other spices in a small glass bowl. Then, I dumped the spice mixture and a can of tomato paste into HOT water to help the paste “melt”. Can I insert here that I despise tomato paste? I think it is the nastiest thing ever. I’m not even sure why, but I can’t stand it. I may have gagged a little while scraping the can…. Anyhow, pour the liquid on top of the meat/vegetable “art” and stir everything around.

Put the lid on the Crock-Pot and cook on low 6-7 hours or high 4-5 hours.

On a side note, I chose to cook on high (actually I just forgot to start dinner so I didn’t have an option) and 3.5 hours in, I had to add about 3/4 cup of water. The stew was so very dry that it began to stick to the side of the Crock-Pot so I had to add water. I’m adding this to the recipe at the bottom, but it may or may not be needed. Use your best judgement.

Also, I made cornbread because I felt like the stew needed a bread with it. I’ve included the recipe. It has been posted before, but it’s buried somewhere in archives.

By the way, I didn’t have any at the time, but Crock-Pot bags are seriously the greatest thing since sliced bread. They make clean-up a BREEZE!

Budget Stew

  • 1 lb. ground beef, browned and drained
  • 5-6 potates (peeled or un-peeled) diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  1. After browning the ground beef, add it to the Crock-Pot along with the potatoes, carrots, and onions.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and oregano.
  3. Pour this mixture over everything in the slow cooker. Stir.
  4. Cover and cook on LOW for 6-7 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours. (If preparing on High, may need to check water levels around the 3 hour mark. If low, add another 3/4 Cup of water.
  5. Serve and enjoy

Idiot-Proof Cornbread (a.k.a. Southern Cornbread)
from the backside of Martha White Cornmeal bags

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/3 cups milk (or 1 3/4 cups buttermilk)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups self-rising enriched white corn meal mix
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Coat 8 or 9 inch pan skillet or baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place skillet or pan in oven 7-8 minutes or until hot.
  3. Beat egg in medium bowl. Stir in milk, oil and corn meal mix until smooth. Batter should be creamy and pourable. If too thick, add 1 to 2 tablespoons more milk.
  4. Pour into prepared skillet or pan. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Makes 8 servings.
    **Note: I use the 9 inch round pan. The 8 X 8- inch pan makes cornbread that’s a little thicker than we like. **

The Chicken Nuggets that Weren’t

Last night we had some old favorites at our house. I’m so familiar with salmon patties that I can practically cook them in my sleep. Nothing could go wrong with that, right? Um….yeah.

Although last night was relatively uneventful compared to most nights, I did manage to burn my fingers more than once and my pot of potatoes overflowed. By the time my children started asking for snacks, drinks, and dinner every two minutes, I was feeling my eye twitching every time they came into the kitchen. Then Ella, my three year old, walked in and said, “What are we having for dinner?” After my son told her salmon she immediately turned her nose up and started to whine. I quickly caught her attention and told her we were actually having “giant chicken nuggets” (which is exactly what my son thought they were until last year). It is slightly deceiving, but I go with whatever works!

Let’s get started! Here’s what you will need for the salmon patties. Well…and oil, but you get the drift. This recipe is very reasonable on the wallet.

A few important notes:

  1. Get boneless and skinless. If not, you’ll be like me the first time I made these and spend an hour trying to pick the minuscule bits of skin and bones out before just throwing it all away and screaming in frustration.
  2.  I have used different brands and noticed some of them need more or less cornmeal. Just be warned that all brands are different and what works for Double “Q” may not necessarily work for another brand (in terms of cornmeal amounts needed and such).

I mixed together two cans of salmon in medium-sized bowl. I always drain one and just dump in the second one with liquid and all. I added in two eggs and used a fork to mix the eggs and salmon together and then I added in the 1/4 cup of cornmeal and mixed well. Last night I added in an extra 1/8 cup. I usually know it’s “ready” when I push it all to one side of the bowl and it doesn’t automatically slide back into place.

After mixing them up, drop them by small spoonfuls into a skillet of hot oil. You can make bigger ones if you want. I vary on sizes.

It’s time to flip when they turn golden brown on the sides!

Once they are done, they should look like this on the inside:

As a side I also made cheesy smashed potatoes. I washed and sliced five UN-peeled potatoes and boiled them while I made the salmon patties. I then added a little milk, a Tbsp of butter, and a handful of cheese and mashed them up. The skin is just extra nutrients and it’s so much easier than peeling it. I also used my trusty Pampered Chef steamer (no, I don’t sell it- I just adore this product) to steam frozen broccoli in the microwave.

All in all it was a fast and easy dinner!Oh and my three year old still thinks we had chicken nuggets. And she ate every. last. one.

*Disclaimer: I make these pretty plain. You may want to add more seasonings, but we prefer them this way. This should be considered a base recipe by most.

Salmon Patties

  • 2 Cans of boneless, skinless Salmon- ONE drained (I prefer Double “Q”)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 C of cornmeal (may need an extra 1/8 C occasionally)
  • olive oil

Combine regular can of salmon and drained can. Add eggs. Mix together with a fork. Add in cornmeal and mix well. If needed, add extra cornmeal. Heat olive oil in skillet on medium to medium/high heat. Drop spoonfuls of salmon mixture into hot skillet. Turn patties when the edges turn golden brown. Once patties are done, move to a paper-towel covered plate to soak up any extra oil. Serve.

Cheesy Smashed Potatoes

  • 5-6 washed, un-peeled potatoes
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 2-3 Tbsp milk
  • “handful” of shredded sharp cheddar cheese (real technical measurements here…)

Slice potatoes and add to a large pot of boiling water. Let potatoes boil until they are tender and easily mashed with  fork. Drain and return to pot. Add in milk and butter and mash by hand. After butter melts, add in a handful of cheese and hand mash.