Slow-Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos

I  love taco night:) Especially when all the work takes about 10 minutes to prepare and then the crock pot does the rest. I seared the meat and prepared the sauce the night before. I decided that it was best to have it ready to go so I don’t have to stress about it the next day. There is lots of spring cleaning I need to finish…one less thing is just that – one less thing.

The verdict: The meat was so flavorful, tender, juicy and not at all spicy. It just has a wonderful smoky flavor from the chipotles and smoked paprika. I used two chipotles in mine and they weren’t overpowering at all. We ate these tacos with my “orange” rice, this salsa, cilantro and some shredded Colby Monterey jack cheese. I suppose some day I should share my “orange” rice with you all since I have mentioned it in several different posts🙂 Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Slow-Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos – adapted from Gimme Some Oven

  • 1-2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds beef (boneless chuck roast)
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin (*cumin is my favorite, so I always use extra)
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Flour tortillas
  • Favorite taco toppings

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat.  Meanwhile, combine the chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika in a small bowl.

Rub the spice mix into the beef, covering each side evenly. Once the oil is hot (it will shimmer a bit in the skillet), place the beef in the skillet and sear on each side.

Remove the beef from the skillet and place in the bottom of a slow cooker.  Leave the pan on the heat, and add in the beef stock to deglaze, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the tomato paste and minced chipotle and whisk into the pan sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for a few minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened slightly.

Add the diced onion and minced garlic on top of the seared beef in the slow cooker.  Pour the pan sauce down over the onions, garlic, and beef.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Remove the beef from the slow cooker and shred with two forks.  Use a slotted spoon to remove the onions from the slow cooker, and mix into the shredded beef.

Serve the beef in the flour tortillas, topped with your favorite taco toppings.

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Beautiful Burger Buns

I love that I save money making buns like this at home. They’re fresh, free of preservatives and artificial ingredients and so much more flavorful than anything you can find at Publix. The only down-side to making so many different things at home is that I’ve ruined my son’s chances at finding a wife who does the same. He’s mindful of the things I make asking if it’s “from scratch” and couldn’t stop telling me last night how my cooking is the “best in the world”:) Anyway, I used these for this sandwich and they were a good fit for because they held up well to all the sandwich ingredients without falling apart. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Beautiful Burger Buns – adapted from King Arthur Flour

  • 3/4 to 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon instant yeast

Directions –

1. Mix and knead all of the dough ingredients – by hand, mixer, or bread machine – to make a soft, smooth dough.

2. Cover the dough, and let it rise for 1 hour, or until it’s doubled in bulk.

3. Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a round 1″ thick (more or less); flatten to about 3″ across. Place the buns on a lightly greased baking sheet, cover, and let rise for about an hour, until very puffy.

4. If desired, brush buns with melted butter. Or brush lightly with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water), and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

5. Bake the buns in a preheated 375 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, till golden. Cool on a rack.




Grilled Teriyaki Sandwiches with Pineapple, Bacon and Swiss

One of the biggest stress relieving things I can do for myself is to come up with a weekly meal plan. There are only a few things that are more frustrating and stressful than not knowing what I’m going to make. This was a good week because I easily came up with five meals without really trying and that isn’t something that happens often. This was one of them:

Teriyaki Marinade – heavily adapted from Allrecipes

  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/3 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1.5 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast – pounded thin
  • these buns
  • 1 pineapple sliced 1/2″
  • 3 strips bacon
  • 3 slices baby swiss
  • romaine lettuce

Directions –

1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a microwave safe container. Heat the marinade for about 1 minute or until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool.

2. Place pounded chicken in a Ziploc bag and pour marinade over top. Marinade for at least 12 hours.

3. Preheat grill to 350 -400 degrees. Grill the chicken for 15 – 20 minutes total. Once you’ve flipped the chicken to cook the other side, put the pineapple slices on the grill. After about 5 minutes, flip the pineapple slices over and place the bacon and cheese on the chicken to warm through.

Buffalo Chicken Calzone

Quick Post: By now you can tell we like buffalo chicken! I love Frank’s Red Hot because it has great flavor and a mild kick to it. I made two calzones tonight – one for the adults and one for the kids. The other calzone had mozzarella, Parmesan, cheddar, pepperoni and sliced baby Portobello mushrooms in it. They both tasted excellent:) I warmed up some marinara sauce for the kids to dip theirs, and for the buffalo calzones I made a quick blue cheese dip. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Calzone – a Mom Make’s Recipe

  • 3/4 pound roasted chicken breast, shredded
  • 1/4 batch of this pizza dough
  • 1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/3 cup sharp white cheddar
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 1 egg plus a splash of water for the egg wash
  • pizza seasoning to taste

Directions –

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

2. Roll out your pizza dough in a large rectangle – about 10×14 inches. Sprinkle your shredded cheddar on the dough leaving at least an inch of space from the edge. Toss your roasted chicken with the Frank’s Red Hot to coat, then layer on top of the cheese. Sprinkle the Gorgonzola and Parmesan cheeses over the top of the chicken.

3. Brush the egg wash around the perimeter of the dough, and then fold the long side of the dough to the opposite side and crimp to seal. Place on a lined baking sheet, brush the top of the calzone with the egg wash, and bake for 15 minutes.

Blue Cheese Dip – a Mom Make’s Recipe

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup blue cheese
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste

Directions –

1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. YUM!

Peanut Butter Pie

Quick Post: This has to be the easiest, least-fancy dessert I have ever made. I’m not usually one to make something this unhealthy, but it’s one of M’s favorites. Don’t judge it’s outward appearance! I know chocolate would make all the difference, but this pie is decadent enough without it in my humble opinion. I know M would disagree, as he likes things so sweet it makes my teeth hurt! Also, he just really loves chocolate. If you decide to make this, make sure it sits in the fridge for at least four hours, but overnight would be even better. The last time I made this we didn’t wait too long – it tasted ok, but the day after it was so much better. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Peanut Butter Pie – adapted from Let’s Dish

  • 1 (8-inch) graham cracker pie crust
  • 1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 (8 oz.) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed

Directions –

With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth.  Blend in peanut butter and vanilla.  Fold in whipped topping.  Spoon mixture into prepared pie crust.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours, or until firm.



Chicken Parmesan

Quick Post: This recipe is a combination of a few different techniques and ingredients I pulled together from some simple chicken parm recipes. I liked the addition of Panko in this recipe verses the typical Italian breadcrumbs. I pulled the shallow fry method from the same recipe, but baked the chicken, sauce and cheese in the oven before serving like this one. Oh, and I used my favorite marinara sauce for this recipe. This was a tasty and filling meal – even my picky eater happily ate this. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Chicken Parmesan – a Mom Makes Recipe

  • 4 chicken breast cutlets
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with 2 TBSP water
  • 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • oregano, salt, pepper to taste (for Panko)
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 3 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 batch of this marinara or at least 2 jars of your favorite store-bought sauce
  • 1 pound of thin spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Directions –

1. Preheat oven 400 degrees and put a large pot of water to boil.

2. Clean and dry your chicken well. Set up an assembly line for your breading – one shallow dish for your flour, one for your egg, and one shallow dish for the season Panko. Season your chicken with kosher salt and pepper then lightly coat with the flour, then dip in the egg mixture, then coat the chicken with the seasoned Panko – set aside.

3. Heat oil and butter in a large, heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat until a pinch of the breadcrumb mixture sizzles immediately when added. Add the chicken breasts and fry without disturbing for 5 to 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Using tongs, turn the chicken breasts and fry another 4 to 5 minutes, or until just cooked through and golden brown.

4. Place the finished chicken in a 13×9 baking dish. Top the chicken with enough marinara sauce to cover the tops of each, then sprinkle the parm and mozzarella cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

5. While the chicken is in the oven, cook off your spaghetti noodles in rapidly boiling, liberally salted water – cook according to package directions. Drain pasta, spoon over some marinara and set alongside your yummy chicken parm! Enjoy!:)

Three Ingredient Crock Pot Dinner…(and it’s good, too!)

Quick Post: Easiest.Dinner.Ever. Crock Pot meals are so convenient and this one is no exception. If you want to use the store bought ingredients, it’s even easier. I had some carrots that I needed to use up so I roasted them in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes seasoned with kosher salt, pepper, and some olive oil. I didn’t roast any garlic for the potatoes described on the blog, so I just mashed my potatoes with Parmesan, some butter, half and half, milk, salt and pepper. They’re really basic, but that’s okay because the pork makes its own gravy – yum! Thank for reading, enjoy!

Ranch House Crock Pot Pork Chops – adapted from Picky Palate

Directions –

Place all ingredients in a crock pot – cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.

Homemade Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup…(yes, I am a bit of a food snob)

Why make this when you can just buy it, you ask? I’ll tell you why – after reading the ingredient list does it sound appetizing? Nope – so why not give your family the very best and make it at home? It’s quick, easy and cheap!

I’m using this for a crock pot meal that only has three ingredients and one of them is pork chops. I thought why not up the flavor and make sure I’m not giving my family something with way too much salt and chemicals. That thought inspired me to make the other two ingredients at home. This ranch mix smells fresh and this condensed soup tastes great and I can’t wait to try the end result. I used fresh onion and garlic for this which requires a little more cooking, but it will equal lots of fresh flavor. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Yield: 3 cups (about 2 cans)

Ingredients – adapted from Tammy’s Recipes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth*
  • 1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder**
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder***
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or less; taste to test)
  • 1/4 teaspoon parsley
  • dash of paprika
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup flour
Instructions:

1. In medium-sized saucepan, boil chicken broth, 1/2 cup of the milk, and the seasonings for a minute or two (longer if using fresh onions or garlic).

2. In a bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 cup of milk and flour. Add to boiling mixture and continue whisking briskly until mixture boils and thickens.

Additional Notes:

*I use the broth from my oven-roasted chicken. Refrigerate broth and then take fat off the top. If you’re using chicken bouillon + water for your broth, you may want to add a little extra seasonings, such as lemon pepper, extra garlic, or seasoned salt, since my broth normally has bits of those in it. You can also add bits of chicken, but if you have good rich chicken broth, you probably won’t need any chicken in it.

**Or, diced onions (boil with broth for a few minutes)

***Or, fresh minced garlic (boil with broth for a few minutes)

Homemade Chili Mac

I love having a well stocked pantry! All I needed to pick up from the grocery store today for this meal was the ground beef. This is the kind of meal I like to make when I don’t want to put too much effort or thought into dinner – sorry, family! I don’t think they’ll mind;) They’re concern isn’t how much time a meal took but it does have to taste good, of course.

This recipe delivers smoky, slightly sweet flavor with a hint of spice. I didn’t add quite the full amount of green chiles for Little S – she’s so picky as it is, I didn’t want her to feel justified in not liking this meal. It’s so good and she’s still moping at the table picking at her food. M on the other hand loved it and had two helpings!  God has a sense of humor is all I can say – they’re so different:)  Either way, I’m going to have to make this again soon. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Chili Mac Ingredients – adapted from The Cooking Photographer

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 ¼ pounds lean ground beef
  • Salt and pepper to season beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (4.5 ounce) can chopped mild green chiles
  • 8 ounces (2 cups) elbow macaroni
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
  • Freshly ground pepper

Directions –

1. Heat oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat and add ground beef and diced onion. Season with a dash of salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder. Once the meat is no longer pink, strain off the grease in a colander and place the meat mixture back in the pan.

2. Add chili powder, cumin, onion powder, coriander, 1 teaspoon salt, minced garlic and brown sugar and cook over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant.

3. Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes with roasted garlic, can of green chiles, elbow macaroni, and 2 cups water. Stir to combine, cover and keep at a high simmer for about 14 minutes or until juices are absorbed and macaroni is tender.

4. Stir in pepper jack, vintage cheddar, and cilantro and season with freshly ground pepper. Taste for salt and add if needed. Garnish with sour cream and parsley if desired.

Baked Teriyaki Chicken

I have used this recipe so many times and we’re not sick of it yet. This time however, I served myself a lot less rice than I used to and tons more veggies instead. This picture was taken after I had already eaten some (oops) then I remembered I wanted to blog about it! Normally this is served over white rice and steamed broccoli then topped with some of the sauce the chicken cooked in – it’s so yummy! Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Baked Teriyaki Chicken Ingredients – adapted from Allrecipes.com

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 12 skinless chicken thighs

Directions –

In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the cornstarch, cold water, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and ground black pepper. Let simmer, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens and bubbles.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

Place chicken pieces in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish. Brush chicken with the sauce. Turn pieces over, and brush again.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Turn pieces over, and bake for another 30 minutes, until no longer pink and juices run clear. Brush with sauce every 10 minutes during cooking.