Easiest Ever Crockpot Sweet and Sour Meatballs

 

Sometimes you need to bring a dish to a potluck or birthday party. Or there’s a big game on and you’re hosting. Or maybe you just want to try something different for dinner, but don’t have the energy or time for something complicated.

Allow me to help!

This recipe for sweet and sour meatballs is a longtime classic in my family. There are only three ingredients, though one of them may be surprising to you. Trust me, the finished product is delicious!

Using a slow cooker makes this as simple as: pour, mix, turn on. Done.

Three ingredients sweet and sour meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 1 jar cocktail sauce
  • 1 bag mini meatballs
  • 1 ~12oz jar jelly (grape or blackberry work best)

Optional: You could add some vinegar for more tang, or some cayenne or other red pepper for a bigger bite.

sweet and sour crock pot meatballs

Step 1: Pour the meatballs in the crock pot. I poured them in right from frozen and it works just fine.

Step 2: Pour in the cocktail sauce & jam, and mix well. Turn to low for at least 4 hours, up to 12 hours.

sweet & sour meatballs in a slow cooker

You could serve these on buns, or with toothpicks, or on skewers like a kebab. The flavor is surprisingly complex for just two ingredients!

 

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Mini Apple Pie Bites

 

These little gems were inspired while searching for healthy options to make for Pi Day (March 14 = 3.14) to take to work and share. While I do love pie, I don’t love butter, preservatives, saturated fat, mountains of sugar, etc. But I also don’t want to eat a bland, tasteless pile of cardboard and call it “pie”.  So what’s a health-conscious dessert lover to do?

Make these!

Mini Apple Pie Bites

They are like a mix between apple pie and apple crisp, in a bite-sized muffin-like package! And with about 50 calories per mini muffin, you can easily have 2 or 3 and not even feel bad. They are very easy to customize too. Add raisins, mash in a banana, change the spices if you don’t like nutmeg. If you add some protein to the recipe these would make a great pre- or post-workout snack.

This recipe makes about 24 mini muffins, or you could make a dozen normal sized muffins. If I had known how delicious they would be, I’d double or triple the recipe! This will become a staple in my house I’m sure. Better stock up on applesauce…

Apple Pie Bites Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup pancake mix
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 1 whole apple, diced small
  • 2 tbsp syrup or sugar
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg

mini apple pie bites mixed ready to bake

Step 1: Wash your apple, and dice very finely. Once baked this gives your pies a sweet, chewy texture. If you don’t want any chunks at all, just replace with another 1/2 cup applesauce.

Step 2: In a bowl, mix all the ingredients well. If too dry, add a bit of water or apple juice. If too moist, sprinkle in more oats until you get the consistency you desire.

mini apple pie bites in tin

Step 3: Spray a mini muffin tin, and add 1 tbsp of the mixture. Bake at 375 for 17-20 minutes on the bottom shelf of the oven, until pies are solid and turning brown on top. Let cool, then pop out onto a plate.

Mini Apple Pie Bites

Mini Apple Pie Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 cup pancake mix
  • 2 cups applesauce
  • 1 whole apple, diced small
  • 2 tbsp syrup or sugar
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Wash your apple, and dice very finely. Once baked this gives your pies a sweet, chewy texture. If you don't want any chunks at all, just replace with another 1/2 cup applesauce.
  2. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients well. If too dry, add a bit of water or apple juice. If too moist, sprinkle in more oats until you get the consistency you desire.
  3. Spray a mini muffin tin, and add 1 tbsp of the mixture. Bake at 375 for 17-20 minutes on the bottom shelf of the oven, until pies are solid and turning brown on top. Let cool, then pop out onto a plate.
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I can’t wait to share these at our Pi Day party!

 

Ahi Tuna Tacos

 

GUYS! I just found out my ALDI carries frozen Ahi Tuna steaks, 3 for $4.99.

While I love canned tuna and all it’s uses (tuna salad, tuna puffs, tuna noodle casserole…) this is a whole new level. A tuna steak is like, next-level-fancy tuna! It still has all the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, tons of protein, and trace minerals like magnesium and selenium, with the added benefit of looking like you’re at a 5-star restaurant when you serve it.

grilled ahi tuna steak

Finding these culinary gems called for some fish tacos! I adore fish tacos when they are well done. The combination of delicate fish, tangy crunchy slaw, corn salsa and spicy ranch is just unbeatable in my opinion. And yes, you have to have all those pieces to make it truly complete. But I guess, if you must, you could do something different with the toppings… we can still be friends.

Grilled ahi tuna steak

I didn’t even marinate or spice the fish, letting it’s true flavor shine and balance out the other toppings. This recipe makes enough for 3 hearty tacos, adjust as needed based on how many tuna steaks and how many servings you have.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tuna steaks
  • 1/4 cabbage, shredded
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt & black pepper
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 cup corn
  • 3 tbsp ranch
  • Chili powder
  • 3 tortillas

Ahi tuna taco with slaw and corn and avocado salsa

Step 1: Combine the corn and the diced avocado. Slice the cabbage thinly or shred it. Mix with the mayo and lemon juice and spices. Let sit while you cook the tuna.

Step 2: Grill the tuna steaks on an actual grill, or use a panini press/George foreman, or just cook on the stove top by frying in a greased pan 3-4 minutes per side, until just browned on the outside and still slightly pink in the middle.

ahi tuna taco with black beans and rice

Step 3: Cut or flake the tuna and place on the tortilla. Add a scoop of the corn and avocado, a spoonful of slaw, and a tbsp of ranch. Sprinkle the chili powder on top, roll up, and enjoy!

This is such a fresh, flavorful combination, I could eat these every week! And thanks to ALDI I probably can now. Just take out however many fillets you need the night before, and let it defrost in the refrigerator. You could also split up the steak into 3 smaller corn taco shells. Serve with a salad, fries, or beans and rice.

These also make a great lunch, grilled and flaked over a big green salad. That’s exactly what I did with the 3rd fillet that we didn’t use for dinner.

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Ahi Tuna Tacos

Ahi Tuna Tacos

Ingredients

  • 3 tuna steaks
  • 1/4 cabbage, shredded
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise or Miracle Whip
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt & black pepper
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 cup corn
  • 3 tbsp ranch
  • Chili powder
  • 3 tortillas

Instructions

  1. Combine the corn and the diced avocado. Slice the cabbage thinly or shred it. Mix with the mayo and lemon juice and spices. Let sit while you cook the tuna.
  2. Grill on an actual grill, or use a panini press/George foreman, or just cook on the stove top by frying in a greased pan 3-4 minutes per side, until just browned on the outside and still slightly pink in the middle.
  3. Cut or flake the tuna and place on the tortilla. Add a scoop of the corn and avocado, a spoonful of slaw, and a tbsp of ranch. Sprinkle the chili powder on top, roll up, and enjoy!
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http://www.budgetepicurean.com/healthy/ahi-tuna-tacos/

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How to: Cook Dried Beans in a Slow Cooker

 

One of my all-time-favorite money-saving appliances is the handy dandy slow cooker. It is amazing at taking tough (cheap) cuts of meats and slow cooking them to tasty perfection. It is great for making wicked frugal soups and stews. It makes dinner a breeze on crazy weeknights, keeping me from just ordering a pizza or take out. And it allows me to make staple items, like beans, for literally pennies per serving.

Beans aren’t usually listed on “top 10s” of superfoods, but I think they should be. There are so many kinds, black, pinto, navy, chickpea, green… And they are a fantastic source of protein for a very pocketbook-friendly price, I can usually find them about $1 per pound. And since beans plump when you cook them, you get much more than one pound out of that bag. If you find a good sale or buy in bulk, that price drops even lower. You can’t beat that in a can!

However, you also can’t beat the convenience of canned beans. Just sitting on a shelf, ready and waiting for a taco Tuesday or a last-minute decision to make minestrone. All you need is a can opener and you’re in business.

But you’re paying a premium for that convenience.

Someone else took the time to soak and cook dried beans ahead of time, and stick them in that can. They also may have chemicals or preservatives or flavorings or way too much sodium in the can. When you cook your own, you are in control of all these things.

So here’s the big secret: You can cook your own dried beans at home, with just a few minutes of effort, and have delicious beans ready to toss into whatever any time! For, like, a dollar!

Enter the slow cooker.

crock pot black beans with nori

Almost every Saturday, I toss a half pound or a pound of either black, navy, chickpeas, or pintos into a slow cooker with water to cover them, and let them soak overnight. Then on Sunday, I change the water and add some spices and let it simmer all day. The finished product gets canned, separated by cup into individual bags and frozen, or put in the refrigerator for use that week.

That way I have a stock of frozen beans ready at a moment’s notice, and fresh beans for recipes whenever I want! Hello, black bean and egg burritos, white chicken chili, tortilla soup, or red beans and rice anytime.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound beans
  • Water to cover
  • ~2tbsp vinegar (any kind)
  • Spices recommended: 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp fennel seed, onion, chili powder, or oregano. Choose 1-2 you like and see what happens
  • Optional: 1 strip of seaweed

Step 1: Cover your beans with water, and let soak 6 hours or overnight. Drain, and cover again. Cook on high for about 4-6 hours, or low for 8-10.

Slow cooker pinto beans canned

Step 2: You can keep the cooking liquid, or discard, up to you. I usually keep it, especially when canning or freezing the beans, and then drain just before using in recipes.

The beautiful thing is that now you have this super-cheap base to use to make your own refried beans, hummus, (did you know you can make hummus with black beans too!), vegetarian burger patties, or you can can them for later. (By the way, do use a pressure canner, or keep them in the refrigerator. We don’t want botulism now do we?)

 

Slow cooker dried beans

Slow cooker dried beans

Ingredients

  • 1 pound beans
  • Water to cover
  • ~2tbsp vinegar (any kind)
  • Spices recommended: 2 bay leaves, 1 tsp fennel seed, onion, chili powder, or oregano. Choose 1-2 you like and see what happens
  • Optional: 1 strip of seaweed

Instructions

  1. Cover your beans with water, and let soak 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain, and cover again.
  3. Cook on high for about 4-6 hours, or low for 8-10.
  4. You can keep the cooking liquid, or discard, up to you. I usually keep it, especially when canning or freezing the beans, and then drain just before using in recipes.
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http://www.budgetepicurean.com/vegan/how-to-cook-dried-beans-in-a-slow-cooker/

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