Category Archives: Casseroles

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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Make Ahead Egg Muffins

 

Usually, my morning routine looks something like this:

6:10 – hit snooze
6:17 – hit snooze
6:24 – finally get up, go make coffee
6:25-7:15 – enter a black hole in space and time
7:16 – realize I’m gonna be late if I don’t move it
7:17-7:20 – pack lunch, maybe breakfast
7:21-7:30 – run out the door and pray for light traffic

Now, I don’t know what your mornings are like. But if you’re anything like me, you like your sleep and don’t have time for a long and leisurely brekkie every day. And if you do, good for you! You can still use this quick-and-easy make ahead recipe and then have more time for you in the AM.

Make ahead egg muffins in muffin tin

These egg muffins are so simple, and you make a dozen at once. That way you can put 2-3 in baggies and refrigerate or freeze. Then breakfast all week is only a push of the microwave button away! You can scale up to feed a big family, or even make just one serving by mixing 2 eggs and desired ingredients in a coffee mug and microwaving. (Didn’t know that little trick? Oh yeah, it’s the best.)

You can also customize it to your taste preferences. Anything you would normally eat with or in scrambled eggs you can probably adapt to this recipe. Try sausage, or bacon, or ham. Vegetarians, this is a blank canvas! Add zucchini, shredded carrots, sweet potato, broccoli or cauliflower. And cheese is optional, but highly recommended!

Butter mushrooms and onion

Ingredients (makes 12 egg muffins):

  • baker’s dozen (13) eggs
  • 1 med onion, diced
  • 1 pint mushrooms
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 1 cup raw spinach
  • Optional: shredded cheese, breakfast meats, other veggies

butter and onions in pan

Step 1: In a pan over medium heat, add the butter and diced onion. Cook 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion becomes soft and see-through. Pre-heat the oven to 350, and spray a muffin tin really well with cooking oil. (Stuck, baked-on egg is the worst.)

scrambled egg and greased muffin tin

Step 2: Add the diced mushrooms, and cook another 5-7 minutes, until softened. You can add a few tbsp water or chicken stock if they seem to be sticking or burning. Just before pouring into the muffin tin, add the spinach to wilt.

scrambled egg in muffin tin and eggs

Step 3: Break all the eggs into a bowl, and whisk violently for a minute or two. Mix in the cooked onion, mushroom, and spinach. Pour into the muffin tins until 2/3 full; leave a little room because the egg will puff up as it cooks.

make ahead egg muffins with cheddar cheese

Step 4: If desired, sprinkle with shredded sharp cheddar or whatever cheese you like. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until egg is fully cooked. Watch carefully at the end so that it doesn’t brown or burn.

I’d recommend letting these cool for a few minutes, then removing to a different plate or container quickly. You don’t want the egg to set and harden in the tin. It’s so easy to whip up a batch of these on the weekend, and you can even mix up the mix ins to have tons of options every day.

As for the cost? A dozen eggs is .99 – 1.29, or 4.50 for organic cage-free. Depends greatly on what you use to mix in, but the cost for an onion (~.50), mushrooms (.99 on sale), butter (maybe .50), and spinach (~.25 for 1 cup) for me comes to about 2.25. This makes 12 muffins, and I generally eat 2 for breakfast, so 6 servings. Let’s estimate high:

4.5 + 2.25 = 6.75 / 6 = basically just barely over a dollar per day, and that’s if I use the fancy eggs! For plain jane eggs, the cost drops to maybe 50 cents for an awesome breakfast that includes protein, fats, and a serving of vegetables! I can get behind that. I hope you can too!

 

Last Minute Apps & Snacks

 

So, rumor has it tonight is some big sportsball thing…

Just kidding, of course as an American I’m aware of what is basically a national holiday, the Super Bowl! This year we even get back Roman Numerals (remember those things from history class? dare you to remember what more than 3 letters stand for…)

SuperBowlLILogoThis is a little ironic for me this year, as I just moved from CT (New England) to NC (the South, like Atlanta). While I could root for either, I think I like the Falcons’ colors better TBH.

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Whether you’re hosting or attending a party, you may not have had time to fully prepare, or you may have realized you have way more guests than you have chicken wings. In that case, you could panic and spend this week’s paycheck at the deli or getting a pizza…

OR you could try any of these super-simple app and snack ideas, each guaranteed to cost <$10 and take minutes to put together! I know which one I’d go with.

*Twice baked potato skins: Rinse and poke holes in a dozen medium potatoes. Bake at 350 for 45 min – 1 hour, until soft. Cut in half, scoop out the insides into a bowl and mash with some cheese or milk. Load back into skins, top however you want, and bake open-faced for another 15- 20 minutes. You could even build a “pick-your-own-toppings” bar, or let them keep warm in the oven until needed.

*White bean dip: Open a can of white beans, drain. Puree in a blender, and add garlic salt and lemon juice to taste, slowly pour in olive oil until you get your desired consistency. Serve with pita chips and fresh veggies.

*Bruschetta: Slice Italian bread thinly, top with diced tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil and/or balsamic vinegar. Bake at 350 for 15ish minutes, sprinkle with basil, parsley, and/or garlic salt.

*Mac-n-cheese bites: Make a box of mac n cheese, then scoop into a greased muffin tin. Sprinkle with bread crumbs or crushed crackers, bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Portion control!

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*Bacon-wrapped asparagus: Take slices of bacon and wrap around 2-3 bunched asparagus spears. Lay on a pan and bake in the oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes, until bacon is crispy but asparagus is soft.

*Football deviled eggs: Make deviled eggs as normal (hard-boil a dozen, cut in half, take out the yellows. Mash with some mayo and mustard, fill back into the white halves) but then make them cute with football “laces” made from chives, black olives, etc.

*Caprese salad: Super simple, just layer sliced fresh mozzarella and tomato with some basil leaves, drizzle with olive oil. Bonus points if you get baby mozarella and grape tomatoes and put them on a skewer!

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*Quesadillas! Who doesn’t love quesadillas, they are a perfect hand-held food. Just take 2 tortillas, fill as you like with beans, avocado, guac, hummus, any kind of cheese, and fry on both sides until golden. Slice into quarters and serve with dips and toppers.

*Crock Pot Meatballs! There are so many options, but the best ones are just toss-it-in-and-wait. Swedish Meatballs are a classic, of course you could do regular tomato sauce and serve with thick hoagie buns, or try sweet and sour for an Asian twist.

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*Loaded nacho bar: Open a bag of chips and dump into a big bowl. Line a table with smaller bowls of beans, salsa, guac, sour cream, sliced olives, shredded lettuce, cheese, etc and let your guests customize to their heart’s content.

*Black bean hummus: open and drain a can of black beans. In a blender, combine with a clove or 2 of garlic, 2 tbsp peanut butter (yup you read that right), and olive oil. Whir until smooth!

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*Spinach Artichoke Dip: there are so many variations, but I’d go for any crock pot version. This way you can toss all the ingredients in, turn it on high when you arrive, then by halftime that dip is ready to keep the party rockin when all the wings are gone

*Football pepperoni roll pinwheels: roll out a tortilla, cover with a thin layer of pizza sauce, mini pepperoni, and cheese. Roll tightly, press down to make an oval shape. Cut into slices, lay on the side, and draw football laces with mustard, sour cream or sliced pepperoni

*Football shaped fritter: these are the cutest darn things, and actually quite healthy! Don’t let the beer-chugging manic shushing everyone know there’s a serving of veggies in there

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*Classic cheese or veggie tray: if you have some carrots, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, or radishes, just serve with some ranch dressing or any dip. And if you’ve a brick or chunks of random cheeses, now is a perfect excuse to lay them all out artfully and clean your fridge at the same time

Whatever you make or eat, make sure you enjoy the company. That’s what any party is really all about!

Slow Cooker Enchilada Casserole

 

Slow cookers are such a blessing to a busy cook! Whether you don’t like cooking, don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen, are feeding just one or an army, slow cookers can make healthy, quick meals a snap. With a small amount of planning, you can have dinner ready and cooking in 10 minutes or less before you run out the door, and come home to a hot, home-cooked meal at the end of the day.

Enchiladas are a favorite in my house, because they are customizable, economical, and delicious! Tortillas are cheap, and can even be made at home, corn or flour, for pennies. You can use chicken, beef, or keep it vegetarian with tofu or beans. And beans are great money savers! Especially if you buy dried, and cook them at home (another thing slow cookers are great at!).

Slow cooker enchiladas

In this recipe, I used burrito-sized flour tortillas, because they happen to be the exact size of my slow cooker. You can use smaller corn tortillas and layer them, or even roll individual enchiladas and pile them up in the sauce. Whatever makes you happy!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef or turkey
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (or diced whole tomatoes)
  • 1 cup frozen corn (or canned)
  • 1 can black and/or pinto beans, drained
  • 3-4 tortillas
  • 1 jar enchilada sauce
  • Shredded cheese to taste

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Step 1: Brown your ground meat in a frying pan, and drain. Add the pepper and onion, saute until softened. You can add any spices you like here, such as cumin, taco seasoning, chili powder…

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Step 2: Spray the crock pot with cooking spray, if you like. Line the bottom with a tortilla.  Layer on the meat, tomatoes, corn, and beans. Top with sauce, cheese, and another tortilla.

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Step 3: Continue layering 2-3 times, until the crock is full. Top with some more cheese, and the enchilada sauce.

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Step 4: Set to low for 4-6 hours, or high for 1-2 hours. A programmable crock pot is best to ensure you don’t burn it. Cut yourself a nice slice, and enjoy!

 

Sidenote: If you don’t have a slow cooker, or just want to try something different, do the same thing but in a pie pan or 8×8 pan. Layer all the ingredients, cover with foil, and then bake at 350 for 1 – 1.5 hours. Still an enchilada casserole! You can also then freeze this for re-heating easily later.

Baked Tamale Pie

 

Let me tell you a story.  So I love finding new things to cook that save me money, and I’m always willing to try something new.  Ethnic cooking of all kind intrigues me (as evidenced by my attempts at Ethiopian lentils, greens, and chicken). So when I find something that is steeply discounted, ethnic cooking, and I’ve never tried, it’s like a moth to a flame.

One day, I was at the grocery store, enjoying my trip through the discount sections. If you don’t know what that is, find out immediately! Most grocery stores have sections in the back where they deeply discount things that are out of season, almost ready to spoil, or dented or scratched. As long as you don’t care about aesthetics (you’re not gonna eat the can, you’re gonna eat the tomatoes inside) and are prepared to use it pretty soon, this is a gold mine of cheap groceries.

So I’m looking through the discounted canned goods, and a bag catches my eye. It’s green and yellow, and says “Maseca”. My small experience with Mexican cuisine tells me it has something to do with tamales, so since it was like a dollar, and the bag said it could make something like 150 corn tacos from one bag, I had to try it! Turns out, it is like a dried masa, which is corn flour used to make corn tortillas. I know homemade corn tortillas will happen someday soon now!

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To my delight, in the frozen section, chorizo was also on sale this week! I picked up a package, and knew I also had some black beans at home in my pantry. (Always buy canned goods on sale that you use often, and keep them on hand for when inspiration strikes!).

When I read up on how to make tamales, it sounded a bit too intimidating to buy corn husks and try this on my own. So instead I decided to make some kind of Mexican chili type thing. I didn’t want corn tortillas at the moment, so how to use the maseca?

Ah ha! As a crust and topping! Like a Mexican pie. Then I can have all the flavors of tamales, but without all the work. Brilliant.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 – 1 pound chorizo sausage
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 2 cups masa (1 cup maseca, 1 cup water, 1 tbsp crisco)
  • 1/2 cup diced veg: tomato, onion, bell peppers, hot peppers if that’s your thing
  • Shredded cheddar cheese

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Step 1: If you already have masa, you can skip this step.  But to make masa from maseca, just mix together 1 cup maseca, 1 cup water, and 1-2 tbsp Crisco or lard to make a thick batter. This is also the dough used to make corn tortillas if you want to do that.

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Step 2: In a large pan, fry your chorizo until browned. Drain if there is a lot of fat in yours. Add the beans and any veggies you’re using, and heat until the peppers are soft and tomatoes release their juices.

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Step 3: Line a 8×8 or 9×9 oven-safe pan with the maseca dough, pressing it into the sides and corners. Pour the cooked meat and beans into the lining and spread it evenly.  Heat your oven to 325.

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Step 4: If using, sprinkle on a layer of shredded cheddar.

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Step 5: Cover the pie with another layer of the dough.

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Take a little ball of dough, flatten it with your hands, and smush it together on top.  This is also the way you make the tortillas, by flattening it and moving the dough between your hands.

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Smush it all in there, pressing with your fingers to make sure the top layer of dough is smooth.

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Step 6: Bake in the oven at 325 for 45 minutes, or until the top is nicely browned and the dough is cooked throughout.

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Cut it into squares. Mmmm look at all that flavorful deliciousness!

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Top with whatever you like, I used sour cream, tomatillo salsa, and more bell peppers. You can also use hot sauce, more cheese, whatever makes your taste buds say “Ole!”. Enjoy!

 

 

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One Week of Meals from One Pork Roast

 

Do you ever wish you had more time?  Do you feel like you spend too much time at the grocery store, or in the kitchen, or waiting for delivery? Does you bank account look emptier because of all the ordering out you do?  Do you want an easy way to make a week’s worth of homemade meals, for less than $100, with minimal prep and cook time from one grocery trip?

I thought so. Here is your answer!

This post is created to show you how to get a week’s worth of dinners (with some leftovers for lunches too) from a single 4 pound pork roast.  All recipes easily feed 2 adults, with many recipes making much more food for leftovers and re-make meals.

By planning ahead to use one main dish all throughout the week, you can get creative and ensure that none of your food dollars get wasted by literally throwing them away. You will save time throughout the week by not having to go to the grocery store to pick up “just one or two things” and not having to worry what to make for dinner, it’s already planned out. And you can eat healthy, whole food, home cooked meals all week long!

Here is the list of recipes you will be making if you follow this plan:

As far as cooking equipment, you will need at least a frying pan, and preferably a slow cooker. You can slow cook the pork in the oven, and make the casserole in the oven as well, but that requires slightly more hands-on time from you. The full grocery list can be found at the bottom of the post, and you can go to individual recipes by clicking on the links throughout.

The first thing you’re going to need to do is assess your pantry and freezer situation.  If you have plenty of Italian dressing, some frozen mixed veggies, noodles, and plenty of spices, you’re already halfway there on this week’s grocery list. Then make your list of what you still need to make the recipes, and head to the store.

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You will need to pick up a nice pork loin roast, or other pork roast. I recommend 3-5 pounds for 2 adults for one week’s worth of meals.  You can adjust to larger or smaller sizes if feeding a larger crowd, or just one, or if you wish to double recipes or omit certain recipes this week.

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Once you have your pork roast, use a sharp knife to cut 2-4 pork chops off the end. You can also ask your butcher to do so if you go to a regular grocery store. These pork chops can be frozen for later depending on when you want to make the Italian Pork Chops.

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Once you have your chops cut, take about 1 pound off the remaining roast. This will be diced up into cubes.  You can also freeze these chunks for later, depending on when you want to make the Pork Lo Mein Stir Fry.

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As for the remainder of the roast, put that guy into your crock pot.  This is gonna become one delicious, fall-apart pot of BBQ Pulled Pork. If you’re game, add a sliced onion and a can of beer, then cook on low for 8-10 hours or high at least 4 hours.

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Shred the pork roast with two forks.  I recommend removing half of the meat to a container in the refrigerator, and adding 1 cup BBQ sauce to the rest and cooking another hour on low.

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Now you have about a pound each of plain pulled pork and BBQ pulled pork! Plus 2-4 chops, and a pound of diced pork in the freezer. And that’s after less than an hour total of hands-on prep time.

Now you can use the shredded plain or BBQ pork for:

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Pulled Pork Burritoes (above) or Quesadillas:

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And slow cooker pork and rice and broccoli casserole:

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And the diced pork chunks for a delicious homemade lo mein:

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And the best part is, you can choose when to make these recipes and in what order, because the pork chops, diced pork, and shredded cooked pork all freeze very well. You can turn these into breakfast and lunch too, pulled pork omelettes are great, as are BBQ pulled pork sandwiches on nice thick buns.  Enjoy!

 

Full Grocery List

  • 1 4-5 pound pork roast
  • 1 cup Italian dressing
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • Frozen or fresh vegetables of your choice
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce (or more, to taste)
  • 1 package tortillas
  • ~1 cup white or brown rice
  • 1 can beans (black or pinto)
  • 1 package lo mein noodles
  • Soy sauce
  • Shredded cheese
  • Fresh or frozen broccoli
  • 1 cup milk (optional)
  • Burrito toppings – sour cream, guac, salsa, etc.

And seriously, that’s it! I guarantee you can buy all of these items for under $100 (at least everywhere I’ve lived from Colorado to Connecticut).

 

Also, if you’ve read this far and you’re curious, I also have a post explaining all the cuts of a pig. So next time you go to the store, you can know the difference between a rump roast, shoulder roast, and a loin. 🙂

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Slow Cooker Pork and Broccoli Rice Casserole

 

Sometimes, you just can’t. Can’t even. Can’t even think about running to the store, slaving over a hot stove, balancing a meal or a checkbook.

But your tummy is growling, your spouse is complaining, your kids are whining, your friends are coming over for dinner.

Enter the slow cooker.

It is a savior for anyone rushed for time (and who isn’t??) or tight on cash (can I get an AMEN!) or doesn’t love to cook (can’t say I feel it all the time, but there are days…) or lives alone, or feeds a family of ten, or… you get my point. I flipping love the things.

You can get a tiny 2 or 3 quart slow cooker for single or double cooking. You can get a giant 8 or 10 quart workhorse for crowds and big appetites, you can get multiple crocks in one base for buffet style hands off cooking. I kinda want one of those now… The point is, if you don’t have one you should get one!

This recipe is super simple, a classic favorite I pull out time and again.  I used pulled pork here because that is what I built into this week’s meal plan, but you could just as easily use shredded chicken, steak, tofu, etc.

Slow Cooker Pork and Broccoli Rice Casserole

It involves items I nearly always have around the house, including frozen veggies and brown rice.  Feel free to use white rice, or wild rice, or even crazy things like quinoa or couscous instead. You can also substitute any other frozen veggie you are partial to if broccoli just doesn’t do it for ya.  And if you’re feeling extra crazy and decadent, use milk instead of water, and toss on some shredded cheese at the end, just before serving.

Slow Cooker Pork and Broccoli Rice Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup shredded cooked pork
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 1/2 cups milk / water / broth
  • 2 cups frozen broccoli (or veggie of choice)

Optional: shredded cheese

Slow Cooker Pork and Broccoli Rice Casserole

Step 1: Put all the ingredients in the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or more, or high for at least 2 hours (to thaw the veggies).  Alternatively, you could put this in a baking pan and bake at 350 for 2 hours (1 if you use fresh and not frozen veg).

 

 

What are your favorite slow cooker meals??

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Italian Pork Chops

 

Everyone who is a fan of recipes that are cheap, and quick, and take less than 5 ingredients, raise your hand!

Ok now put your hand back on your mouse or keyboard, so you can keep scrolling and read your newest favorite weeknight recipe.

Italian Pork and Veggies

This recipe kind of just happened one day; I had a bottle of Italian dressing in my refrigerator, as I often do. I had also picked up a “family pack” of boneless pork chops and separated them into 2-per-bag zip locks. (HUGE money saving tip if you’re cooking for one or two! Buy in bulk to save $/per pound, then parcel it out into meal-sized bags and freeze.)

Since I also always keep cans of diced tomatoes in the pantry, and bags of frozen veggies in the freezer, this meal came together in a snap! With supreme flexibility (Green beans and zucchini, no? How about broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, or onions? Boneless, bone in, doesn’t matter. Or use chicken! Or shrimp. Or tofu, why not), healthy options galore, and a very low price point (I’d estimate $2 per meal for 4 meals), this is a go-to recipe in my repertoire.

Italian Pork Over Rice

Ingredients:

  • 2 pork chops
  • 1 cup vegetables of choice
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup italian dressing

Italian Dressing Pork Chops

Step 1: Put the pork chops and the Italian dressing in a frying pan, and cook on medium heat for 7-9 minutes, until browned on one side.  Flip and cook 5-7 minutes until brown on the other side. You will have to decide when to add the vegetables based on whether you use fresh crispy ones (broccoli, carrots) vs softer or frozen ones (peas, fresh green beans, zucchini).

Easy Weeknight Pork and Veggies

Step 2: Add the canned tomatoes with juice and any other vegetables at this point. Simmer for 4-6 minutes, until heated through. Serve like this for a low-carb meal, or serve over rice or with baked potatoes on the side.

 

Italian Pork Chops

Italian Pork Chops

Ingredients

  • 2 pork chops (or chicken breast/thighs)
  • 1 cup vegetables of choice
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup Italian dressing

Instructions

  1. In a frying pan, put the pork chops and the Italian dressing. Cook on medium heat for 7-9 minutes, until browned on one side, and flip. Cook 5-7 minutes until brown on the other side. You will have to decide when to add the vegetables based on whether you use fresh crispy ones (broccoli, carrots) vs softer or frozen ones (peas, fresh green beans, zucchini).
  2. Add the canned tomatoes with juice and any other vegetables at this point. Simmer for 4-6 minutes, until heated through. Serve as is for a low-carb meal, or over rice.
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Stuffed Zucchini Boats

 

With the end of summer and onset of fall, summer fruits and vegetables begin to close down shop. The last of the tomatoes are ripening on the vine, the peppers are turning red, and the final enormous baseball bat sized zucchini are finally the last of the crop with no more flowers in sight. If you’ve exhausted the number of times you can make stir fry, or latkes, or zoodles, and have bags full of shredded zucchini in the freezer for later, here is a great recipe to make zucchini taste brand new to close out the season!

This recipe has a lovely presentation, and will make people think you’re a master chef who spent hours in the kitchen. In truth this takes about 10 minutes of prep and assembly, then you simply bake it until ready. You can easily make this vegetarian by omitting the ground turkey and using tofu or lentils or some other kind of bean / meat substitute.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 large or 2 smaller zucchini, cored
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup salsa (optional but recommended)
  • Optional: spices to taste

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Step 1: Cut the zucchini in half length wise, and use a knife or spoon to scrape out the inside core. Make sure you remove all the seeds, but you can save the pulp to add to the stuffing.

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Step 2: In a bowl, mix the cooked rice and meat (or beans, tofu, etc) with the pieces of zucchini pulp and salsa. Add the eggs and bread crumbs and any spices you want and mix well.

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Step 3: Spoon the stuffing mixture back into the hollowed out zucchini boats.

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Step 4: Bake face-up on a baking sheet in an oven set to 350 for about 25-30 minutes, until zucchini is soft enough to pierce with a fork and stuffing is slightly crunchy on top.

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That’s all there is to it! You can sprinkle on a bit of Parmesan cheese or garlic salt right before serving, or add extra salsa on top. You can sneak extra veggies in there too, I added a few bites of some roasted beets I had in the refrigerator, as you can see by the lovely pink color.

 

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

Ingredients

  • 1 large or 2 smaller zucchini, cored
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup cooked rice
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup salsa (optional but recommended)
  • Optional: spices to taste

Instructions

  1. Cut the zucchini in half length wise, and use a knife or spoon to scrape out the inside core. Make sure you remove all the seeds, but you can save the pulp to add to the stuffing.
  2. In a bowl, mix the cooked rice and meat (or beans, tofu, etc) with the pieces of zucchini pulp and salsa. Add the eggs and bread crumbs and any spices you want and mix well.
  3. Spoon the stuffing mixture back into the hollowed out zucchini boats.
  4. Bake face-up on a baking sheet in an oven set to 350 for about 25-30 minutes, until zucchini is soft enough to pierce with a fork and stuffing is slightly crunchy on top.
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Spicy Chicken Bacon Stir Fry

 

Ever come home after a long day, when you are mentally and physically exhausted, and starving because you probably only had a coffee all day long, and you want good home cooked food but you just can’t… and someone else cooked for you?!?

BEST DAY EVER, am I right??

Well, I will tell anyone who stands still long enough to listen that I’m the luckiest lady alive, and my now-husband (still makes me a bit giddy to say that) is an amazing chef when he wants to be, or is forced. 😉

So let me assure you, this recipe is easy to make, and man-tested and approved. Any son, teen, boyfriend, husband, neighbor, ex, whatever, is sure to love it. I mean, basically anyone who loves bacon will love this, so you’re set. (I’m so sorry vegetarians, vegans, and anyone who doesn’t or can’t eat bacon. I’ll post one for you next time!)

spicy chicken bacon stir fry

Ingredients:

  • 1  boneless chicken breast
  • 1/2 pound thick cut bacon
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small chili pepper (jalapeno, cayenne, or serrano works well)
  • Optional: you could add a cup of extra diced veggies, stir fry is very forgiving. Try cabbage, bell pepper, mushrooms, onions, carrots…)

Step 1: Cook the rice as needed, set aside to cool (or use leftover rice).  In a frying pan, cook the bacon until crisp. Set aside on paper towels to drain, and crumble.

Step 2: Pour out bacon grease, leaving about 1 tbsp in the pan. Cook the chicken until browned on both sides, remove and slice thinly or shred.

chicken bacon stir fry

Step 3: In the frying pan, add the soy sauce and balsamic, cook the peppers (and any other veggies you add) until fragrant, about 5-9 minutes. Add the rice, and mix well. Add the chicken and bacon back in, mix well and serve!  With a salad or some steamed veggies on the side, this is a perfectly delicious meal.

 

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