Last weekend I made shepherd’s pie and it turned out to be one of the best things I may have ever made. It was so good that I kind of want to make it again. And again. And then again.
I have officially made shepherd’s pie twice in my life. The first time was a few years ago and it was quite a failure. Well. It wasn’t BAD. I just remember being very disappointed with it. And I think at some point I had to run to the grocery in the middle of making it because I wasn’t following a recipe and realized at the last minute that I needed something urgently. That sounds like something I would do.
I found a recipe on Pinterest that makes shepherd’s pie in a cast iron skillet which is a little bit quicker and requires only about one less pan. But you know what? One pan is one pan and if I have a say, I will always vote for the method using less dishes. It ended up working perfectly and I can promise you that I will forever make shepherd’s pie in my cast iron skillet. It’s so silly to cook the filling in a pan and then transfer it to a baking dish when you can just cook it all in a pan that can go in the oven. I don’t know… it’s just genius and everyone should just listen to me and do it.
As for the actual shepherd’s pie. Wow. It was delicious. I tweaked the recipe a little to make it easier and I really just didn’t think some of it was super necessary, like adding an egg to the mashed potatoes and I wanted peas in mine… little things like that. I think what really made it so good was the A1 sauce I decided to throw in there at the end. I have a feeling that’s not a normal ingredient to go into shepherd’s pie, considering I haven’t seen it used in any of the recipes I looked up, but believe me when I tell you, adding A1 sauce brings it to the next level. You get an extra kick of salty-sweet-tanginess that you really just can’t get from anything else. We even added more once we dished it all up for dinner!
There’s just no way you can go wrong with this dish. Meat and potatoes. Isn’t that every guy’s dream? It’s a little time consuming to make since you have to the filling and the mashed potatoes to go on top, but I can promise you, it’s worth all the work. It’ll feed you and another person two dinners and a lunch and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be wishing for more after every bite!
Skillet Shepherd’s Pie
Adapted from Laura’s Sweet Spot
Makes 6 servings (it fed Brad and I two dinners and a lunch)
1 pound ground beef
2-3 pounds of russet potatoes, cut into chunks (you can peel them but I prefer the skins on)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and Pepper
1/2-1 whole cup milk (just depending on how thick you want your mashed potatoes)
Butter (to go into your mashed potatoes. Dare I say I used a whole stick of butter in mine??)
1/2 onion finely shopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 medium sized carrots, peeled and sliced
1 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
2-4 tablespoons of A1 sauce (start off with a little and taste as you go)
2 tablespoons cornstarch
Ok- put the potatoes into a large pot and put enough water to cover the potatoes by about an inch. Add a hefty pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat and allow to simmer until potatoes are soft, about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of your potato chunks. Drain. Mash the potatoes either with a masher or with a hand mixer. Add the milk a little at a time along with the butter until you get a desired texture and taste. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside when finished.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a cast iron skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and carrots. Once they start to soften, add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the ground beef and cook until browned, drain any leftover fat. Mix in the tomato paste and then slowly add the beef broth, worcestershire sauce and A1 sauce. Again, add a little of the A1 sauce at a time making sure to not add too much for your liking. Bring to a boil. Add thyme and peas and simmer for about 5 minutes. To thicken the sauce, pull a couple spoonfuls of the sauce and mix with the cornstarch to create a thin paste. Stir into the meat and veggies mixture. Allow to simmer for another 5-7 minutes until sauce is nice and thick (you might have to add more cornstarch). Spoon the mashed potatoes onto the top of the meat and spread around evenly. Place in the oven, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. It’s already hot so it doesn’t have to go in there for very long. You can flip the broiler on to just brown the tops of the potatoes, but I wanted to bake it for a little while.
Remove from oven carefully (the sauce seeps up from under the potatoes) and let it sit for a couple minutes. Spoon into bowls and enjoy!!
(This photo has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I just think it’s really funny and needed a photo to put at the top, so this is it. It’s from our rehearsal, obviously, and it’s a very “Beth and Brad” photo. I’m a crazed mess and he is calm and collected. It’s why we work so well.)
Quite frequently I get asked questions regarding how I plan meals. How often do I go to the grocery store? What day do I go to the grocery store? Do I plan meals in advance? How many meals do I plan at a time? How do I decide what meals to make? Do I have a budget?
You know… questions like that. But when I give them my answer I always expect them to say “oh yea, that’s how I do it” or “yea, I go to the grocery store on that day too” or “I definitely plan my meals ahead”. But apparently, I surprise people with my answers. And, in turn, that surprises me. I pretty much just assumed I used a system that everyone uses but I guess that’s not really the case. So… I figured I might as well write a post about it.
Now, I TRY to only go to the grocery store once a week. It usually ends up being twice a week though. There’s always a last minute thing I need that I forgot or something like I couldn’t buy salmon on a Sunday and eat it on Thursday or most likely it’ll have something to do with Saturday night dinners. While grocery stores are definitely on my way home from work, I try to avoid doing pretty much anything after work. Mostly because I just really like to get home as soon as I am done working. That being said… I do end up doing my major grocery trip on Mondays more than I would prefer. But really, I prefer to do it on Sunday mornings. I like to go on Sunday mornings for a few reasons. The main one is that it’s soooo much less crowded. I hate going to busy grocery stores and having to wait in lines. It’s the worst. But another reason why I like to go on Sundays is because Brad has the opportunity to go with me. I very much get into a zone when I am at the store, I have a list prepared and I am pretty much on a mission. So he usually ends up just following me with the cart. However, I enjoy his company and I think it’s fun to do together. It’s also really nice to have someone there to give me an opinion rather than me asking myself and debating out loud while other fellow shoppers wonder if I have split personality disorder. (Sadly- I really do talk to myself like that) There are weeks of course that I have to go on Mondays. Which sucks, but whatever. I stop on my way home from work, in my dirty icing and paint covered pants, my hair a mess and glitter all over every inch of my body. It’s a lovely sight.
The grocery store I go to most often is Kroger. Kroger and Publix are the main grocery stores down here. I like Publix (they have fresh pizza dough that I buy all.the.time.) however, I believe they are expensive. With my Kroger card, I save anywhere from $5-$20 in one trip. But also, I use the fuel points to get gas in my car (hello extra 10 cents a gallon!). We have really nice Krogers down here anyway. Especially in our town. We literally have the nicest Krogers I’ve been in. And they have a really great “natural food” section, which we have discovered has a lot of the same stuff as Whole Foods, only muuuuuch cheaper.
Another store I shop at is actually Costco. Oh and Sam’s Club too. I absolutely LOVE buying in bulk. Since we do live a little further out, it’s really not fun if you realize you forgot to buy a can of chicken broth or if you decide you need another can of beans in that chili or need some rice for the sick dog (yea, that happened this week). We are really lucky and have a huge garage that has a little cut out/extra room deal that was meant to be a pantry. It’s nice and cool down there and the heavy duty shelves we had in Indy fit perfectly. It’s literally like a mini grocery store down there and I love it. I do have lots of things I’d like to add down there, but that will all happen eventually. Here’s a list of things that I buy in bulk and have found to be extremely handy:
Canned Diced Tomatoes
Canned Tomato Paste
Canned Tomato Sauce
Oatmeal (always old fashioned rolled oats, never the quick ones. You can do so much more with them)
Canned Beans (any kind Costco has, I grab)
Canned Green Beans
Ramen Noodles (I have an asian noodle recipe that I absolutely adore that uses just the noodles)
Salsa (Both a kind to eat with chips and Pace Salsa to cook with)
Spices (right now I just have cinnamon, chili powder and peppercorn, but I would eventually like to have many many more)
Cholula Hot Sauce
An extra bag of dog food (it’s always a good idea to have this, especially if there is some horrible weather that will leave you stranded at home for a few days. Can’t forget about the furry kids!)
Obviously, that’s not all on the shelves right now. But most of that was at one point. You can’t buy all of that at once or you’ll end up spending $1,000 real quick. But it’s good stuff to eventually have on hand.
In addition to our basement pantry, I like to buy freezer items. Since my last trip to Costco was at least a month ago, we’ve eaten a lot that I had in there, so the photo below is a horrible example. But I’ll tell you what was once in there:
Frozen Mixed Veggies (perfect for a quick soup or just a plain side dish)
Mixed Stir Fry Veggies (it almost feels silly to use the fresh vegetables now in stir fry just because the frozen mix is soooo much easier)
Items that are not purchased in bulk but I like to have in there anyway:
Hash Browns of some sort
Ice Cream (no explanation needed)
Margaritas (again, no explanation needed)
Sometimes I have frozen fish, like tilapia or cod. Just for something quick to make.
Mojito Cheaters (this is a really good one. In an ice cube tray squeeze a bunch of fresh lime juice and tear up maybe 7-10 mint leaves. Top off with water freeze and then put in a freezer ziploc bag. These are really good to put in your water when you want some flavor and always good to put in some rum, soda water and a little sugar for a SUPER easy mojito!)
Currently I have a few frozen burritos in there that I made a few weeks ago out of Mexican rice, salsa, beans and a little cheese. They are awesome for lunches!
I also like to make frozen breakfast burritos or breakfast sandwiches. Usually made with eggs, cheese and sausage. I love having frozen breakfast stuff… makes the mornings sooo much easier.
Hmmm I think that’s it for the freezer. But it’s all basically things that are really nice to have in case you need a last minute meal… and then some extras. I really love being so prepared! It just makes life so much easier! And! It makes grocery store trips so much less expensive! I’ve never actually calculated out how much money we save by buying things in bulk, but we have to save SOME money, right?
Ok- so now you know where I like to shop and what I like to keep in the house. Next up- planning the meals!
I do this pretty much every Sunday morning. I get up, eat some breakfast and sit on the couch and get to work. Every single week, before I start researching, I ask Brad “is there anything you really want for dinner this week?”. Sometimes he can list off 4 meals, sometimes he lists off zero. But that is always my first priority. Gotta keep my man’s belly happy! Once he gives me his input, I think about if there is anything I really want for dinner that week. Then I decide if this is a week we need a good amount of leftovers or not (the bank account decides that) and then once I determine what types of meals I need to make (lots of leftovers or not lots of leftovers, Brad’s picks and my picks) I start researching recipes. I usually check on the food blogs that I follow and see if they have done anything super interesting that week, and then I head over to Pinterest to look at my “Dinner” board. It’s hard for me to tell you exactly what I do because well, 1) I don’t really pay attention and 2) it varies. But for the most part, that’s what I do. I write all the days down on our new super cool chalkboard wall in our kitchen and start planning what meal is on what day. Once all of that is figured out, then I make my grocery list!
My grocery list is laid out how my mom used to do it. I think anyway. It’s laid out sort of in order of how the store is laid out. In the top left corner is all the fresh produce because that’s always where you go in first. Then below that is deli stuff, like deli cheese, deli meat, fancier mozzarella (not in block form)… stuff like that. Then, right below that is meat… chicken, beef, bacon, breakfast sausage… all of it. Then in the bottom left corner is all your “in the middle of the grocery store” stuff. Like canned stuff, cereals, crackers, seasonings, baking stuff… you get what I’m saying. I try to keep that part of the list super small since they say you should shop on the perimeter of the store for healthier food. In the top right corner is dairy and other refrigerated stuff, like milk, eggs, sour cream, rolls of biscuits, block cheese…. And then lastly, in the bottom right corner is freezer stuff. I think that’s pretty straight forward.
I have always made my grocery list that way and always will. And I have always planned my meals that way and again, always will. I’ve never been a fan of having to go day to day trying to figure out what to eat for dinner and then having to go to the store everyday. It’s not my thing. I am such a homebody that I really just want to be home as much as possible. And too- while I do love to go to the grocery store, I just don’t love it enough to go multiple times a week. Plus, it makes life so much easier and a little less stressful if you are prepared for the week. Anything can come up at any point of the day and it’s nice to know that at least you have everything you need and know exactly what you are making for dinner that night. Sometimes we change stuff, sometimes we don’t follow the plan, but I think 90% of the time we do. I mean, geez, I put so much effort into it, might as well!
I don’t know if this has been helpful at all for anyone, maybe it’s at least been an interesting read. Now you don’t have to spend your days wondering how I do all of this because I am sure you were so worried. But, whatever. It’s interesting and really… I just get asked so much that I figure it’s going to be on SOMEONE’S mind! So… that’s that. Hopefully next week I’ll have some actual food to post about. Who knows though… I haven’t made my list yet! Ha. Ok- I’m done.
Ok ok ok… I’m sorry I’ve been a little M.I.A. lately. I’ve been a little preoccupied with the usual stuff… Basically with life in general. I can’t really remember what has happened in the last 10 days, but I’m sure there have been things… I hope there have been things anyway. How lame would that be if I didn’t accomplish anything in the last 10 days??
Meh… it’s January so therefore it’s ok to not really accomplish much. I’ve been working a lot, we’ve been trying to maintain a consistent workout schedule, we’ve been busy with friends and family, I have found a new obsession with Pinterest (I am so behind on what’s cool these days) and I’ve been very consumed by this whole “try to continue to eat ‘cleanly’ and not go out to eat hardly ever” thing. There have been days that it’s been a challenge, but we have majorly cut back our eating out and it definitely shows in our bank account. It’s amazing how much money you can save just from something so simple!
Oh… I know what I’ve been doing for the last few days… (I just remembered this) I’ve been addictively (did I make that word up?) watching Sons of Anarchy and this just in… Breaking Bad. Good god… the things I have been missing in my life! Well, I’ve always been a Sons of Anarchy fan but I started watching it at like the end of the second season so I decided to start from the beginning. Brad and I only just started watching Breaking Bad on like Friday night (it’s now Tuesday) and we’ve watched the whole first season. Which, hold on! The first season is only 7 episodes so don’t get your undies in a bunch! However, I am literally so obsessed and uncontrollably addicted that it’s all I think about. A television show. It’s pathetic. I know. You don’t have to tell me. And I can’t wait to watch more tonight.
Ok… now that you are all fully aware of my television addictions and strange desires to watch shows about cooking meth and cancer and motorcycles and guns and high school science teachers and violence and …
Oh god. I’m doing it again. AH!
Ok. Moving on.
Let’s see. We made these little burrito bowls like the day after we decided to stop doing CLEAN. It definitely fits in the CLEAN program and it’s also SUPER easy so I have a feeling we will be making this many more times. Oh! It’s also pretty cheap too! All you need is rice, 2 cans of beans and two avocados, a lime and cilantro! I mean, I didn’t keep track of how much it cost, but I’m sure it’s under $15 and fed us for two lunches! You do also need some seasoning, but I would hope everyone has garlic powder and cumin on hand. We always have a bag of brown rice in the pantry too, so for us, it was even cheaper!
This would also be a perfect meal to use leftover rice for. I know that whenever we make rice, for maybe stir fry or something like that, we always have a buttload leftover (wait, did I just write “buttload”? Why yes, yes I did) and we usually end up throwing at least some of it away. This is the perfect answer to that never ending problem! Even if you have a little bit leftover, say like a cup’s worth, you can still pop open a can of beans and pour it on top and dollop some guac on there too and you’ll have a great lunch! If you wanted to get really crazy, you could even wrap all of it up in a tortilla, but then it wouldn’t be considered a CLEAN recipe. Whatever you choose, I think you’ll really enjoy this dish!
1 cup uncooked brown rice (this should make 3 cups of cooked rice)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinse
Chili Powder (optional)
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of cilantro, roughly copped
Cook the brown rice according to the package directions. While the rice is cooking, make your guacamole. Mash the two avocados in a bowl. Poor in the lime juice and chopped cilantro. Mix together. When the rice is done cooking, poor some in a bowl and top with beans. Sprinkle the garlic powder, cumin and chili powder over top, along with salt if desired. Then plop a couple spoons of guacamole on top and go to town!
Welp, today is day 4! We are chuggin along! It’s been going well, fast actually. I’m surprised this week has gone so quickly. We’ve made a couple pretty good meals that I thought I would share with everyone! All of these recipes are coming straight from the Clean Program website. There’s tons of resources on their website, including a meal planner that we have been using! There’s a Pre-Cleanse planner and a full on 3 week Cleanse planner. We expect to use most of that planner for the next 3 weeks. So all of the recipes that we have used so far have been from that meal planner.
If I’m going to be honest… for the most part, these recipes are time consuming to make. We’ve been making breakfast the night before while dinner is cooking. It’s a lot to do all at once, but it works well with our schedules. We’ve actually had quite a bit of leftovers and I’ll be sure to note that in each recipe!
1 cup almond flour or meal
1 cup almond or rice milk
pinch of sea salt
splash of vanilla (optional)
½ cup almond butter
2 teaspoons cinnamon
coconut oil (you only need like 1 tablespoon)
cashew or almond butter + fresh or frozen berries
Mix batter until well combined and almond flour is smooth. On high heat, bring a frying pan or griddle
to a very warm temperature, add a teaspoon of coconut oil and let it melt, spreading on the pan to avoid sticking.
Lower heat to medium and with a measuring cup pour pancakes onto the pan/griddle and wait until they begin to
bubble on top and then flip. Serve warm with almond or cashew butter and fresh berries.
Miso Glazed Salmon:
2 wild salmon fillets
3 tablespoons gluten-free miso
2 teaspoons coconut nectar
In a small bowl mix the miso, coconut nectar and enough olive oil to make it into a thick liquid. Cover
the fillets and broil or pan fry until cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Serve warm.
Butternut Squash Fries:
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly ground pepper
flavor variations: cinnamon: add 1 tsp of ground cinnamon along with the salt, oil and pepper and toss.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease. In a
large bowl, add all of the ingredients and toss to combine. Lay squash slices on the baking sheet in an individual
layer. (If the pieces are touching, it will take longer to bake) Bake for 25-35 minutes or until golden brown and
beginning to crisp on the edges, turning pieces over halfway through
This one is actually two recipes. We ate the side dish (Cranberry Mango Millet Salad) on Monday for lunch and had so much leftover that we ate it with some Black Bean Burgers on Tuesday. The salad makes enough to eat for 2-3 meals. And it’s pretty good!
Cranberry Mango Millet Salad
1 cup millet
½ cup quinoa
3 cup water
1 mango, cubed
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup unsweetened dried cranberries
¼ cup yellow onions, diced
Lemon poppy seed dressing:
¼ cup lemon juice
1½ tablespoons coconut nectar (or a few dashes of stevia to taste)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
¼ teaspoons herbamare seasoning
Place millet and quinoa in a strainer and rinse in cold water for a couple of seconds. Place rinsed
grains in a medium sized saucepan and combine with water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce
heat to simmer and allow to cook for 10-15 minutes, or until water has absorbed. Remove from heat and allow
to sit with the lid on for 10 minutes before removing and allowing to cool. Meanwhile, combine remaining salad
ingredients in a large bowl. Add lukewarm or chilled grains. Stir to combine. In a small bowl, mix together lemon
poppy seed dressing ingredients before pouring over the salad. Serve at room temperature or cold.
Black Bean Quinoa Burgers
We were able to make 6 burgers out of this. They were smaller but we ate 4 for lunch and then saved the other 2 for lunch the next day. We also topped them with avocado and extra lime juice. I highly recommend this as they are a little bit dry and the avocado and lime add some good moisture. And it’s super tasty!
cup black beans
cup quinoa cooked
1 teaspoon cumin
lime juice from 1/3 lime
salt and pepper to taste
cayenne pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 yellow onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, diced
1 tablespoon coconut oil
In a medium mixing bowl, mash the black beans with a fork. Mix with the quinoa and then add the
other ingredients. This will make 2-4 patties depending on how big you like them. Heat the oil in a skillet over
13edium-high heat. When the oil is hot, fry the patties until they are nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Turn and
fry the other side
Wilted Spinach and Spiced Chicken
This recipe only serves ONE, so you have to plan accordingly. We actually liked this so much we are going to eat it again on Saturday. We doubled the mango when we first ate this, but when we make it on Sunday, I think we are going to just use one mango. In case you were wondering.
1 4-5 ounce chicken breast (we did one chicken breast per person)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground paprika
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
¼ teaspoon ground coriander seed
2 tablespoons sliced red onions
1 ripe mango, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 large handfuls of fresh spinach
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat oven 350°F. Place the chicken breast in a baking dish, coat with olive oil, sea salt, paprika,
cumin and coriander. Bake for 12 minutes or until fully cooked (check with a fork). Remove from the oven and let
it cool on a cutting board, once the chicken is slightly cooled, cut into thin pieces. Meanwhile, heat a large saute
pan over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and gently cook the onions for 2-3 minutes, stirring
continuously. Add the mango and cook until warmed through. Add in the sliced chicken breast, gently toss then
add in the spinach and lemon juice. Cover the pan and allow the spinach to steam. Sprinkle in a touch of sea salt
and serve immediately
Shepherd’s Pie With Lamb
This has fed us for one dinner and sort of 2 lunches. We ate small amounts at like 11 and then at about 2 today. It’s crazy good! I’ve never had lamb before and never really wanted to, but it’s the only red meat we can eat. I’m trying to be adventurous and stick to this plan, so I ate it. And it wasn’t bad! I even ate the mushrooms in it too! My only suggestion would be to use much less garlic for the mashed cauliflower top. It doesn’t really get the chance to cook so it’s very overpowering.
1 medium head of cauliflower
1-2 garlic cloves minced
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
¼ cup unsweetened, plain almond, rice or coconut milk
salt and pepper to taste
optional, but tasty: chives or other fresh herbs
Preheat oven to 400°F. Chop cauliflower into florets. Steam until tender. Put in blender or food
processor with garlic, coconut oil. Puree until smooth. Slowly add milk until proper consistency – smooth, but still
thick. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
1 pound ground lamb
3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 cloves garlic minced
1 medium onion, chopped
6 ounces baby bella or cremini mushrooms, sliced (we used baby bellas)
1 large carrot chopped
1 celery stick, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh parsley
1 tablespoon coconut flour or almond flour
¾ cup chicken, vegetable or mushroom stock
2 tablespoons wheat-free tamari
dash of balsamic vinegar
Heat oil on medium in a large skillet. Add onions and saute until translucent. Add carrots, garlic,
mushrooms and celery. Saute until they start to soften. Add lamb and saute for 5-10 minutes or until the meat
starts to brown. Stir in the coconut or almond flour. Add broth and herbs and reduce the heat to low and simmer,
stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes until liquid reduces and sauce starts to thicken. Stir in tamari and
balsamic vinegar at the end. Add salt and pepper to taste. Put meat and vegetable mixture in a casserole dish.
Spread the mashed cauliflower over the top. Bake for 35 minutes.
This recipe comes for the actual CLEAN book. It was our first time making juice and the first time using our new juicer. It was really good, however, it was pretty tart because there’s a lot of lemon. I would suggest using at the most half a lemon, if that. It says in the book that you can put all the ingredients in a blender and then just strain all the fruit chunks. We opted for the more expensive route… buying a juicer. It’s really cool and quick. It’s a little pain to clean up, but it’s worth it. I am very excited to use it more! This recipe serves1.
2 green apples
1/2″ piece of ginger
1 cup of spinach leaves
1 lemon, peeled
Just put it all through a juicer and drink!
Sooo… again… all these recipes except for the juice came from the website. It’s definitely worth checking out. Even if you don’t want to do the full pre-cleanse/cleanse you can at least make some of these recipes! I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted with our progress!
Merry (very) Late Christmas! Sorry I’ve been MIA for the past week. The holidays just get a little crazy for us. They usually consist of a lot of food, a lot of driving, a lot of presents and a lot of family time. None of which I am complaining about, of course (expect for the driving thing, if that went away, I wouldn’t cry about it)! We had a busy, yet much less stressful holiday than Thanksgiving. There’s less people and less of a rush for Christmas and that’s why I love it so much. I hope everyone else had a wonderful holiday!
I debated posting this recipe because it’s really nothing special, but I left my camera at my parents’ house and so therefore can’t post about anything else until I go get it. And because of that, I decided this recipe was worth posting! It’s so easy that it almost seems silly to write about it, so I don’t really have a whole lot to say. I thought maybe people would appreciate an appetizer post since there are many parties coming up for New Years (dang, I should have posted this sooner so you guys could bring this to all those damn ugly sweater parties!). Currently, we are still debating on what to do for our New Years. For some reason we have terrible luck with New Years so I’m really not going to bother putting pressure on it. Honestly, with how much we have had going on lately, I wouldn’t hate being at home with the pups and cuddling (and falling asleep) with my hubby on the couch. We’ll see what happens…
Ok, so this dip requires 6 ingredients… I know, I know, it says FIVE Layer Taco Dip, but forgive me, you need SIX ingredients. You need a can of refried beans, sour cream, taco seasoning, cheese, tomatoes and scallions. Yep! That’s it! And it’s as simple as spreading the beans on a platter, mixing the sour cream and taco seasoning and spreading that over the beans and then topping with shredded cheese, diced tomatoes and chopped scallions. So simple, yet SO.FREAKING.GOOD. You can add as little or as much sour cream/taco seasoning as you want (I went light as Brad isn’t a sour cream man) and you can even add mashed avocados as well (never tried it but thought I’d share the idea). You can add salsa too! Oh the options are endless. Well, maybe not endless, but sort of endless.
So bring this dip (don’t forget the chips!) to any party, whether it’s for New Years, for a birthday or really… for a party in your own house on a Sunday that involves sitting and watching football in your pajamas and falling asleep on a couch under a blanket with a dog. Wait… you guys don’t call that a party?? Oh… nevermind then. Whatever, you get the idea. Just make this and eat it and you’ll be very happy!
Oh and two things to end on: 1) The world didn’t end so that is super exciting and 2) We got a blizzard here in Indy and it was pretty much awesome… except for the roads, the roads were not awesome. But it was pretty fun and really hilarious getting to watch Cash see and play in snow for the first time! Gosh I love having dogs! Ok… I just wanted to talk about that stuff. I’m done now.
Somehow this is the only photo I have of the blizzard. I have about 5 videos of Cash playing in the snow, but no photos of the hour long driveway clearing or Etta running around or our trip to Lowe’s to get supplies for a project or anything fun like that. Oh well. You get the idea that there’s a lot of snow!
Wait. I forgot… Happy New Year!!!
5 Layer Taco Dip
My mom has made this for years, so it comes from her
I have no idea how much this serves, it lasted for 2 days for Brad and I though!
1 can of refried beans of your choice (I always use the vegetarian ones)
1-2 cups of sour cream (depending on how much you want to use)
1 packet of low sodium taco seasoning
2-4oz shredded cheddar cheese
1-2 finely diced tomatoes
2-3 scallions, finely chopped
Serve with tortilla chips
Ok… so this is really something that you have to use the amounts based on your preferences. Spread the refried beans on the bottom of a pie plate, serving platter or any kind of dish you want. Mix your sour cream and taco seasoning (I used about 1 cup of sour cream and half a packet of taco seasoning. Taste test as you add the seasoning and be sure to do a little bit at a time!). Spread that over the beans. Sprinkle the cheese over that (again, as much or as little as you want) and top with the diced tomatoes and chopped scallions! Adjust quantities as you wish, it won’t hurt my feelings, I promise! Enjoy!
Well, I figured that since the world is going to end on Friday, I might as well squeeze in some posts so that everyone has some quality options for what to make for their last meal. I kid, I kid… the world isn’t ACTUALLY going to end… I hope not anyway, I have a lot of stuff that I still want to do!
Now that we have established my stance on the Maya calendar apocalypse the world is ending on Friday stuff… Let’s talk CHILI! Yay!!! I have shared with you an excellent vegan chili recipe, but while this one still doesn’t have meat, it isn’t quite vegan. Only because there is beef broth in it (you could sub vegetable broth or water to make it vegan though!). Yea, I got really creative on this one.
Anywho… this is a spicy chili. That will happen when you add 2 jalapenos, a green pepper and a poblano pepper to it. Oh and two packets of chili seasoning. However, it has incredible flavor. Roasting the vegetables brought out this wonderful smoky charred flavor and it really brought out the spiciness of the peppers, but also some of the sweetness. Mmm it was just really good.
I also added a fair share of beans to this chili. Which shouldn’t be that surprising considering I absolutely LOVE beans. You can use as many or as little as you want (but keep in mind, the beans are the main part of this chili, so use at the bare minimum 2 cans). You can use black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, red beans, cannelini beans… the list goes on! I had black, red and pintos in the pantry, so that’s what I used. If you wanted to, you could add a pound of ground beef to this to sub out some of the beans… I actually just thought of that. As always, this is definitely a recipe you can easily adapt to your liking!
Well, you could make this as your last meal for sure! It’d be a good one to end on. Better than what we will have. I forgot the world was ending on Friday when I made my meal plans and grocery list for the week, so we’ll be eating black bean and rice burritos. Obviously, not a bad choice… steak and lobster might have been a better way to out though! Haha!
Ok… I’m done talking about the world ending. I promise.
Spicy Roasted Vegetable and Bean Chili
Adapted straight from my head.
Makes 6-8 servings depending on how big your servings are
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 stalks of celery, chopped
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 large green pepper
1 large poblano pepper
1-1 1/2 cups frozen corn
1- 8oz can of tomato sauce
1- 14oz can of petite diced tomatoes
2-3 cups of beef broth (depending on how thick or soupy you like your chili)
3 cans of beans, drained and rinsed (again, I used black, pinto and red beans)
2 packets of chili seasoning (I use the reduced sodium ones)
Ok… Move one of your racks in your oven to the top and turn your broiler on high. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Place your peppers (I cut my green pepper in half so it would be easier to broil) on the cookie sheet and place under the broiler until the peppers get really charred, turning them a couple times to get all sides nice and black. Once the are charred and they are soft, pull them out of the oven and place in a plastic ziploc bag and set aside. Put your corn on the cookie sheet and place under the broiler for a few minutes, tossing the corn so it chars evenly. Once that is done, pull it out and just set the pan aside.
While the peppers are in the ziploc bag (hopefully not melting the bag like mine almost did since I bought the store brand of bags rather than the actual quality ziploc brand), put a large pot on the stove on medium heat. Pour the olive oil in there and once that is hot, add the onion and celery. Cook, stirring frequently until they are tender. Add the corn.
At this point, remove the peppers from the bag and rub off the skins. Chop the peppers (removing the stems and seeds) and add to the pot. Toss in the chili seasoning, the tomato sauce, the diced tomatoes and some of the beef broth. Don’t add all of it in case you want your chili on the thicker side. Stir that all together and then add your beans.
Simmer, covered, for a good thirty minutes. Add a pinch of salt, if needed, as well as more beef broth, also if needed. Simmer for another 10 minutes.
Top with mounds of cheese, a lot of saltines and maybe even a dollop of sour cream. And ENJOY it!!!
Woah. Prepare to be amazed. These chicken tacos are crazy good and even crazier easy. I promise.
Usually when we eat chicken tacos, they end up being more like chicken fajitas because we grill the chicken and a bunch of vegetables. But last week, I really had a craving for chicken tacos, like what you get from Mexican restaurants. However, I had been feeling creative and decided to try to make my own recipe.
And these were the finished product. I kid you not, all you need is chicken, salsa and taco seasoning… and of course your taco toppings. You simply throw the chicken, salsa and seasoning in the Crock-Pot with a little water, set it on low and cook it all day (or if you are like me and start this at 2 in the afternoon, I would suggest you crank it to High).
The chicken comes out juicy and tender and full of flavor. You can make them as spicy (use hot salsa or add some hot sauce) or as mild as you want them (use mild salsa and mild taco seasoning). You can also really jazz them up by adding peppers, onion, maybe some canned green chiles… but I opted for the basic stuff first. When I make these next (which I 110% will), I might add some sliced green peppers and sliced yellow onion just for a little something extra.
These tacos are perfect for a busy day or evening or for a day that you don’t really feel like going crazy in the kitchen. They are also fantastic left over and make great leftover nachos too! Enjoy!
Crock-Pot Chicken Tacos
Makes about 4 servings
For the Chicken:
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cup of your favorite salsa (I find that Pace Picante sauce is the best salsa when cooking!)
1 package of taco seasoning ( I use the reduced sodium ones)
Couple dashes of your favorite hot sauce (say… Cholula)
1/2 cup water
For the Tacos:
Taco shells (Soft or Crunchy)
Shredded Cheddar cheese
Any other toppings you like!
Spray the inside of your Crock-Pot with cooking spray (this makes it easier to wash dishes!). Place chicken breasts in the Crock-Pot along with the salsa, taco seasoning, hot sauce (if you are using it), and water. Stir everything together. Turn Crock-Pot on either Low (if you are doing this in the morning) or High (if you are doing this in the afternoon).
About 1 hour before you are ready to eat, shred the chicken with 2 forks and stir together with the sauce. Note: I removed some of the sauce before I shredded the chicken because it was easier to shred the chicken without a bunch of sauce flying everywhere. Also, that way I could control how much sauce was in my chicken in the end. You definitely don’t have to do this though.
Once the chicken is shredded, stir everything together and turn Crock-Pot to Low (if not already) and let it cook until you are ready to eat! Assemble your tacos and eat away!!
Can I ask you guys something? … Where did 2012 go?? It’s December 2nd and I can’t seem to wrap my head around the fact that another year has gone by. Time seems to be going a little to fast for my liking and it’s starting to freak me out.
On the bright side, I am excited that it is the holiday season, which, let’s face it, is the best season of all. Nothing makes me happier than the first snow, lots of sweaters, a ton of time with family, and packing on a couple pounds so that I can stay warmer in the cold weather (wait, did I just say that makes me happy?). Either way, the cold weather definitely bring in new cravings for comfort food, especially hot, hearty soups that simmer on the stove for an hour and leave your kitchen smelling heavenly. Oh yes… how I love those meals.
This soup is by far one of the best soups I have made and I am pretty damn proud of it. The original recipe I based this off of was a more brothy soup. It’s not thick and it doesn’t have any barley in it. But with a few of my (fantastic) tweaks, this soup will leave anyone feeling full and satisfied after just a bowl! Which is perfect because it lasts longer and feeds more!
The recipe this is based on is from a store/restaurant/cafe in Geneva, Illinois. It’s called The Little Traveler. It’s the ultimate girl place, filled with everything from kitchen stuff to candy and tea, from kiddie toys to fancy crystal bowls, from a year round Christmas room(s) to some pretty interesting clothes… it has everything. But best of all it has a little restaurant inside that has, by far my favorite vegetable soup. When I thought the other day about making it though, I was worried that it just wouldn’t be enough for us. Sometimes I get really hungry and let’s face it, a bowl of soup just doesn’t do it for me. I remembered I had a package of barley still in the pantry from when I made beef stew about a month ago and decided I’d make some alterations to the original recipe to make it more filling.
It’s a rather simple soup to make, it does take a little time though to cut up all the veggies and simmer. But in my opinion, it’s well worth the wait. It is loaded with vegetables and has a lot of flavor that comes from beef broth. You could try to make this soup vegan by using vegetable broth, but I worry it would be quick as flavorful. You could pair this soup with fresh out of the oven cornbread or crusty bread or biscuits… or it my case, just a lot of saltine crackers. Whichever you choose, they will pair well with the soup.
This is the most perfect meal for a cold night, especially a Sunday night where you can curl up on the couch and watch football, if that’s your thing. If it’s not your thing, then just make it on any night you want, no big deal. I really think you will enjoy this soup, I hope so anyway! I’d love to hear about if you do!
Hearty Vegetable Barley Soup
Adapted from a recipe that’s not online or anywhere to be found other that in my mom’s recipe box… oh wait, yes it is, I wrote about it on my old blog!
Makes a lot… I’d say at least 8 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
4 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
14-28oz petite diced tomatoes (I don’t like a lot of tomatoes so I only used half of a 28oz can)
6-8 cups of low sodium beef broth (I used about 7 cups, almost 2 full cartons)
1 really big thinly sliced potato
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons dried parsley
3/4 cup pearl barley
1/4 of a small head of cabbage, chopped
2 tablespoons flour
Ok… heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, celery and onion and saute until they start to get tender. Add the tomatoes, beef broth, potatoes and the basil and parsley and bring to a boil. The stir in the barley. Add salt. Simmer this for a good 30 minutes. Next, add the cabbage and stir. Using a ladle or measuring cup, remove about 1/3 cup of the broth from the pot and stir in the flour. Poor this back into the soup and stir to combine. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Check seasonings and add any if necessary. Serve and enjoy!
You know what sucks? Other than it being Sunday already, or that we started training for Tough Mudder this week, or the fact that we had to rake leaves this morning and our yard is already covered in more…
It sucks that it gets dark SO early now. It’s really not that bad for me exactly because I get out of work around noon everyday so I get to enjoy daylight while others are stuck at work sitting in front of computers in an office… it’s one of the benefits of working 4am-noon everyday. However, it sucks that it gets dark so early because it ruins all my photos I take of our dinners! I start dinner while it’s still plenty light out, but it gets dark so quickly that by the time I’m finished, I have to take photos with our kitchen lights.
Oh the misery. How will I ever survive??
Anywho… last week I was feeling under the weather. I had to go home from work at 5am on Thursday but luckily felt decently well enough to go in on Friday. However, my stomach was still in recovery mode for many days (and I think it still isn’t quite at normal yet). I thought I was ok but everything I ate upset my stomach. Brad claims it was “Beth-didn’t-get-a-flu-shot-itis” (if you saw the way I am about needles, you wouldn’t suggest I get one). I think I just ate something weird or something along those lines. Whatever it was, it sucked. So I decided I was going to make chicken and noodles. But it turns out this recipe is more like a thick chicken noodle soup than anything.
No matter what you want to call it, it’s amazing. And it will make you instantly feel less sick than you did before you ate it. You’ll feel cured (for a few hours anyway). This soup literally makes you feel so much better with the first bite. It’s a perfect comfort food for a day that you are feeling under the weather, but also for any day that the actual weather isn’t so lovely. It makes for a great Sunday night meal that will give you plenty of leftovers come Monday for lunch and even Monday night for dinner (for two people).
It’s moderate on the labor scale. It’s not as easy as warming up a can of Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup, but it’s worth the work. You can easily gather up enough energy and you’ll be so happy you did. I loosely adapted this recipe from Pioneer Woman (link is below), but I had to do some major tweaking as I was in no mood for deboning and boiling my own chicken. Instead I used a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and quality store bought chicken stock. I also finally bought some of those chicken bouillon cubes to get even more chicken flavor. Sometimes I just don’t think chicken broth or stock and actual chicken gives it enough umph. I was also able to finally find Reames Homestyle Egg Noodles which is something I have searched for at least 3 times at our grocery store but have never found. Which, come to find out, is because they are on the very top shelf in the freezer section and pushed pretty far back on the shelf which makes it nearly impossible for a 5’2″ person like me to find. What are those grocery people thinking!?
In the end I was REALLY happy with the results. I felt that my tweaks worked out really well. The soup had a perfect amount of flavor to it, it was thick but not too thick and in my opinion it had just enough veggies in it. I’m telling you, this is going to be my go-to chicken noodle soup recipe. It’s better than any version of that soup I have ever tried to make. It will forever be at the top of my list of things to eat when I’m feeling crappy. And I am 100% sure it will be up there on your list too!
Chicken and Noodles OR Chicken Noodle Soup
Loosely adapted from Pioneer Woman
Makes about 6-8 servings (for us it was closer to 8)
1/4 yellow onion, chopped
2 whole carrots, peeled and chopped
2 whole celery stalks of celery, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Meat of 1 whole rotisserie chicken, shredded or cubed
2- 32oz containers of chicken stock
2-3 chicken bouillon cubes
Salt and Pepper
1- 16oz package of Reame’s Frozen Homestyle Egg Noodles
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
First, shred or cube your chicken and set aside. Heat the olive oil in large soup pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, onion and celery. Saute for a few minutes until the veggies start to get tender. Pour in the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and add 2 of the chicken bouillon cubes (reserve the 3rd for later in case you want it, I like to start with less, you can always add more but you can’t take away!). Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the chicken and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add the noodles and simmer for another 15-20 minutes until the noodle are tender. Pull out about 1/2 cup of the chicken stock in a measuring cup and add the flour to it. Stir until the mixture is smooth (add more stock if needed). Slowly add that to the soup, while stirring. Let that simmer for a couple minutes until the soup starts to thicken. Add more flour if desired. Add salt and pepper to taste.
You can add dried parsley, thyme, turmeric or whatever else you want. I just didn’t want anything crazy with my stomach being weird. I didn’t think the soup really needed any of that, but you might!
Believe it or not, these black bean burgers have been on my list to make for about 6 months. I have bought the ingredients for them at least 3 times over those 6 months and still never got around to making them. That is, until the other day! I had no reason for not making them, I just for some reason never did. I’m so glad that I finally got to it. These things are awesome!
Now, technically these are “spicy” black bean burgers, but they are only spicy if you add the jalapeno. However, if you are anything like me and you think you have a jalapeno in the fridge that you didn’t use the other day, when in fact you don’t…. well… they aren’t so spicy. But they are still tasty! They just don’t have the kick.
They are actually very simple to make. However, I was determined, once again to not use all the required appliances in order to lessen my dish washing load. I’m not sure what my deal is. I get so excited to have all these awesome food processors, blenders, mixers, cheese graters…. and I love them, but when it comes down to it, somedays I don’t want to use them only based on the fact that they are more time consuming to wash. I should really stop doing that. Anyway… I found that they didn’t stay together super well, but I have a feeling that’s because I didn’t use the food processor to really blend some of the ingredients together so they didn’t act as much like glue as they should have… that’s my guess anyway. So these may be more like “black bean sloppy burgers” but they still have the same awesome flavor as they would if they weren’t sloppy.
These are a great alternative to a real burger. They are just as filling, if not more, and they are so much better for you! They also have soooo much more flavor. We paired them with some steamed veggies and chips and salsa. We also topped our burgers with avocado and hot sauce. Definitely the way to go! Enjoy these! They are a perfect meal for Meatless Monday!
Spicy Black Bean Burgers
From Eat, Live, Run
Makes 5- 1/3 cup size burgers, which are pretty thick burgers
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon ground flax seed plus 3 tablespoons of water
1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons tomato sauce
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup corn (I used frozen)
Avocado for topping
Hot sauce for topping
Olive oil (or canola oil) for frying
In a small bowl or measuring cup or mug (whatever is easiest to clean!) stir together the ground flax and water. Set aside.
Add the jalapeno and garlic to a food processor or blender and mince finely. Add one can of beans and pulse until combined. Add cumin and salt and pulse more until pretty smooth.
Transfer the bean mixture to a large bowl. Add the bread crumbs, tomato sauce, corn and flax. Stir to combine. Add the remaining beans.
Heat a little bit of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, scoop the bean mixture and form a patty with your hands. Place on piece of parchment paper or foil. Make remaining patties until you have used up all of the bean mixture. Fry in the pan for about 4 minutes per side until crispy and golden brown. Warning! These were pretty tricky to flip, so just be prepared!
Serve the burgers with avocado and hot sauce, maybe even some tomato and lettuce too!