Tag Archives: crock pot

Instant Pot Thai Pork Wraps

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This shredded pork wrap filling can be made in an Instant Pot or slow cooker. The pork is seasoned with a soy peanut marinade and makes a flavorful meal everyone will love. Top with chopped peanuts and julienned cucumbers for a great crunch.

Serve in tortillas for wraps. For a low-carb meal, use Bibb or Butter lettuce leaves for lettuce wraps, or serve on a bed of chopped lettuce.

Instant Pot Thai Pork Wraps 1

RECIPES:

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Filed under Instant Pot, Low Carb/Keto, Main Dishes

Hearty Beef Minestrone Soup

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As a polar vortex takes hold of the country, there is nothing more comforting than a bowl of hearty beef minestrone soup and warm homemade bread.

Chock-full of tender ground beef, vegetables, beans, and pasta, this soup is very filling and is especially good topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

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Some of us here are avoiding pasta these days, so I sometimes cook the pasta separately and let people add it to their soup when they dish it up.

This soup also freezes wonderfully. So make a big crock-pot full and set some aside to eat another day. The one thing you need to do when freezing this soup is to freeze the soup WITHOUT the pasta stirred in. Freeze the cooked pasta separately and add the pasta when you reheat the soup. If you freeze the pasta in the soup, it will be mushy when you reheat it.

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For a delicious bread to serve with your soup, try one of these recipes:

Whole Wheat Bread, or Rolls:

Whole Wheat Bread

Crescent Dinner Rolls:

Crescent Rolls 2

 

RECIPE:

Hearty Minestrone Soup

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2 Tbs olive oil
1-2 lb ground beef (use 2 lb for a thick soup)
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups beef broth
1 can white beans, drained
1 small can (6oz) tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 Tbs Italian seasoning
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Kitchen Bouquet or beef bouillon base
½ tsp fresh ground pepper
1 large carrot, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cups finely shredded cabbage
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 cup small pasta shapes
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

In a large pot, brown ground beef in olive oil; drain excess fat. Add onion and garlic to the pot and cook until tender. Add broth, beans, tomato paste, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper, carrots, celery, and cabbage. Bring to a boil; simmer 30 minutes. Add zucchini and cook 10 minutes. Add pasta and cook about 10 minutes, just until pasta is tender. Add additional water if soup is too thick. Remove bay leaf. Taste and add additional salt, if needed. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

To cook in crock pot: Brown ground beef, onions, and garlic as above. Place in crock pot. Add remaining ingredients (except for Parmesan) and cook on low for about 8 hours. Turn to high heat, add pasta, and cook until pasta is tender, about 30 minutes.

To freeze soup: Prepare as above, but do not add pasta. Place in freezer containers and freeze. Cook pasta separately in water. Drain, cool, and freeze pasta separately. Add cooked pasta to soup after thawing and reheating.

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Layered Chicken Taco Salad in Baked Tortilla Bowls

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Sure, you can eat taco salad on a regular plate, but it is much more fun to eat it out of an edible tortilla bowl. Tortilla bowls are also a great enforcer of portion control. Have you ever noticed that when you layer taco salad on a plate it seems to grow well beyond your original intentions by the time you add all of the toppings you want? Tortilla bowls are the perfect solution, especially for the kids in my family who usually end up with a plateful of food they can never finish.

Intimidated by the thought of shaping and deep-frying tortillas? Me too. Good thing these are simple to make, and baked instead of fried. All you need is a super-old-scratched-and-rusty muffin pan.

Tortilla Bowls

To make your baked tortilla bowls, warm tortillas slightly in the microwave (just enough to soften). Spray both sides of tortillas lightly with olive oil cooking spray (or brush very lightly with oil). Turn a muffin tin upside down. Press tortillas into the spaces between muffin cups. Make sure the bottoms of the tortilla bowls are flat so that they will not wobble when served on a plate. Bake at 400F for 8-10 minutes, or until crunchy and just beginning to brown.

You can layer your regular taco salad fillings in the bowl (seasoned ground beef, cheese, lettuce, etc) or try this layered shredded chicken salad. It is similar to some of the semi-fast food Mexican restaurants where you build your own burrito/salad. There are layers of seasoned chili-cilantro rice, black beans, crock-pot cooked shredded chicken, and a cilantro ranch dressing.

Green Chili Cilantro Rice

This Green Chili Cilantro Rice is also great served alongside other Mexican dishes or grilled meats.

RECIPES:

Layered Chicken Taco Salad in Baked Tortilla Bowls

Layered Taco Salad 1

Crock-Pot Shredded Chicken
Green Chili Cilantro Rice
Tortilla Bowls
Cilantro Ranch Dressing
Black Beans – mix with 1 Tbs lime juice
Shredded Cheese
Corn
Lettuce
Chopped jalapenos or banana peppers
Salsa
Sour Cream

Place baked tortilla bowls on a plate. Layer with rice, black beans (these are really good mixed with 1 Tbs lime juice!), shredded chicken and other desired toppings. Top with cilantro ranch dressing and serve.

Crock-Pot Shredded Chicken
2 lb boneless chicken breasts or tenderloins
1 cup prepared Italian salad dressing
1/2 cup salsa
1 Tbs taco seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced

Stir together all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until chicken can easily be shredded. Shred chicken, stir in sauce from pot and serve. If the sauce is too thin (this will especially happen if you use chicken that is injected with broth), shred chicken and return to crock pot, then cook on high with the lid OFF until sauce thickens.

Green Chili Cilantro Rice
1 ¾ cup chicken broth (or water+2tsp chicken bouillon)
1 can (4 oz) diced mild green chilies, undrained
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs olive oil
½ tsp salt (omit salt if using bouillon)
1 cup Basmati rice (or other long grain variety rice)
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine broth, green chilies, garlic, olive oil and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in rice, cover, and simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes, or until rice is cooked. Stir in chopped cilantro. This can also be cooked in a rice cooker: combine all ingredients except cilantro in rice cooker and cook according to directions; stir in cilantro.

Tortilla Bowls
Flour tortillas
Olive oil (or olive oil cooking spray)
Muffin tin

Warm tortillas slightly in the microwave (10-15 seconds; just enough to soften). Spray both sides of tortillas lightly with olive oil cooking spray (or brush very lightly with oil). Turn a muffin tin upside down. Press tortillas into the spaces between muffin cups. Make sure the bottoms of the tortilla bowls are flat so that they will not wobble when served on a plate. Bake at 400°F for 8-10 minutes, or until crunchy and just beginning to brown.

Cilantro Ranch Dressing
1 package ranch dressing mix
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup buttermilk or regular milk
2 tomatillos** or 4 Tbs green salsa
½ bunch of cilantro (about 1 cup chopped)
2 cloves garlic
1 lime, juiced
1-2 jalapenos (with or without the seeds; with seeds=spicier)

Combine all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until well mixed. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours before serving for optimal flavor.

**Optional: Roast tomatillos for 20 mins at 400°F before adding them to the blender. If you are using a spicy green salsa instead of the tomatillos, go easy on the jalapenos.

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Hearty Beef Chili

092810 018-1This is my standard go-to chili recipe. Thick and hearty. Full of roasted vegetables, ground beef and sausage (chorizo is my favorite), and two kinds of beans in a thick, spicy sauce. No runny broth-that is soup, not chili.

I know that a true Texas chili does not have any beans, but while I love the flavor of a good Texas chili, I also love beans. I love the taste, the contrasting texture they give to chili, and the fact that beans are so good for you! So while my chili may not be approved of by hard core Texans, I will continue to put beans in.

Chili is a great crock pot meal, and tastes even better the second day.

You can make this chili the “fast” way or the “it takes a little longer but is so worth it” way. The difference is: to roast or not roast the veges (onions, peppers, garlic). I have definitely made my share of chili the fast way, but I do prefer the additional flavor you get by roasting the vegetables before adding them to the chili. To roast the onions, garlic and peppers: peel onions and cut in half. Cut larger peppers in half and remove seeds. Smaller peppers, like jalapenos can be left whole. You can roast a whole head of garlic, or roast individual cloves (this will be faster). Place onions, garlic and peppers on a foil-lined roasting pan. Brush with olive oil. Roast at 475°F for about 15-20 minutes, or until veges begin to blacken. See How To Roast Peppers or How To Roast Garlic for quick tutorials.

Top your chili with shredded cheese, sour cream or chopped raw onions (red onions or scallions are great). And make lots: chili freezes wonderfully for another meal another day.

RECIPE:

Hearty Beef Chili

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1 ½ lb ground beef
½ lb chorizo or hot Italian sausage
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 onions
1 red pepper
1 large banana pepper
2 jalapenos, (use seeds for a spicier chili)
2 cloves garlic
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped (or 1 tsp chipotle chili powder)
1 Tbs adobo sauce from chipotle pepper can
1 can dark red kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
3 cans (14 oz) diced or crushed tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) tomato sauce
3 Tbs chili powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp dried basil (or 2 Tbs fresh)
1 Tbs chili paste
1 Tbs cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
Tomato paste, if needed
Toppings: shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped raw onions (red onions or green onions)

Cook ground beef and sausage until browned. Drain and place in a crock pot with the cooked bacon. If desired, roast the onions, red pepper, banana pepper, jalapenos and garlic (Brush with olive oil and roast on a foil-lined baking sheet at 475°F for 15-20 minutes). Chop vegetables and add to the crock pot with the remaining ingredients (except tomato paste and toppings). Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours. Taste after about 4-6 hours. Add additional salt or more heat (more chili paste or crushed red peppers), if desired. Thicken with tomato paste if chili is too thin. Serve with desired toppings.

 

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Thanksgiving: Roasted Garlic Stuffing

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When it comes to stuffing, I stand firmly on the “outside of the turkey” argument. I am not a fan of soggy stuffing straight from the bird. Or that you have to overcook your turkey in order to bring the stuffing to a safe temperature.

The problem with this can be: how do you fit everything in the oven that needs to be baked and have it all hot at serving time. Especially when you only have one oven. I am experiencing some serious Dual-Oven-Envy at my house. Especially at holiday times.

Solving the problem of competing oven-needing foods is doable with a little advance preparation. Pies can be cooked the day before. Rolls can be prepared and partially pre-baked (more on this later this week). But what about things that need to be cooked same day?

An appliance that can be used to your advantage here is your Crock Pot. With stuffing, however, I really like the crispy bread edges that you can only get in the oven. So I compromise: early in the day, before I put the turkey in the oven, I bake my stuffing at 400°F for 30 minutes, ensuring perfectly crispy edges. I then transfer the stuffing to my crock pot, set it on the lowest heat possible, and keep it warm in the crock pot while the turkey cooks. If you are not making a huge amount of stuffing, some oval casserole dishes will fit directly into the bottom of a large crock pot. If not, just scoop the stuffing into the crock pot, trying to keep the crisp top edges on the top in the crock pot as well.

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This is a pretty standard bread stuffing recipe, with the addition of roasted garlic and dried cranberries. I love the contrast between the smoky flavor of the roasted garlic and the sweet tang of the cranberries. Need help roasting garlic: click through to How To . . . Roast Garlic. It is pretty simple.

You can also add mushrooms, but I usually leave them out to appease my Mushroom-Hating-Children. Occasionally, however, I will chop them finely in the food processor, and then no one is the wiser.

You can use store-bought bread cubes, or make your own (highly recommended). Cube several different varieties of bread: white, wheat, rye, English muffins, bagels—all those ends that no one wants to eat. Spread in a single layer on large baking pans. If you have the time, and the humidity is not too high, just leave them sitting on the counter for 2-3 days to dry out. Stir them around occasionally. Be careful though: these sandwich ends that no one wanted to eat yesterday become just like candy to little fingers when they are turned into bread cubes. So start with more bread than you think you will need. Also: the bread will shrink as it dries, so start with more fresh bread than the dried cubes called for in the recipe.

If you are short on time, dry them in the oven at a very low heat (200°F max), stirring often. It will take about 1 hour to dry the bread in the oven.

RECIPE:

Roasted Garlic Stuffing

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½ cup butter
2 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped celery
1 cup sliced or finely chopped mushrooms, optional
1 head of garlic, roasted (about 10 cloves)  <see How To. . . Roast Garlic>
12-13 cups dry bread cubes
1 tsp poultry seasoning
1 Tbs fresh sage, finely chopped or 1 tsp dried sage
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped or 1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp marjoram
2 cups turkey or chicken broth (additional if needed)
1 cup dried cranberries, optional

Sauté onion, celery and mushrooms in butter. Crush roasted garlic cloves and stir into skillet. Pour vegetables over bread cubes in a large bowl. Mix in seasonings. Stir in enough broth to moisten. Stir in cranberries, if desired. Place in a covered casserole dish and bake at 325°F for 1 hour (or 400°F for 30 minutes).

COOKING TIPS: Stuffing can be prepared the day before and refrigerated overnight. If oven room is a problem, cook stuffing early in the day (before you put the turkey in the oven) for 30 minutes at 400°F. Transfer stuffing to a crock-pot and heat on very low heat until serving time.

Yield: this makes a lot! About 15-20 good-sized servings

 

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Southwestern Ham and White Bean Soup

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Thank goodness for crock pots on cold fall days full of errands and after-school activities for both kids and parents.

This soup is best made with a leftover meaty ham bone, but you can also start with a chopped ham steak. If my ham bone is not meaty enough to yield about 3 cups of chopped ham, I will usually add additional chopped ham to the soup.

If you are using a ham bone, this is a two-step crock pot soup. The ham bone simmers in a crock pot full of water and aromatic herbs, onion and garlic until the ham can easily be removed and chopped (about 4 hours on high). I like to strain out all of the little bits that fall off of the ham, along with the herb sprigs, and then return the strained broth to the crock pot with the chopped ham and additional ingredients. TIP: add remaining ingredients to the crock pot first, along with chopped ham. Then add strained broth until crock pot is full (then you don’t risk overflowing your crock pot adding in all of the good stuff).

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This soup has a southwestern flavor with the addition of salsa, diced hot green chilies, mild chilies, beans and corn. Plus some standard soup veges (onions, carrots, celery); you could add anything you are looking to get rid of in your produce drawer.

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Serve it plain or with any number of desired garnishes (cheese, green onions, crushed tortilla chips or baked tortilla strips, sour cream, olives, additional salsa or hot sauce). I have found that the likelihood of my children eating soup is directly proportional to the number of “toppings” they are allowed to pile on.

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Serve with these Cheddar and Herb Drop Biscuits

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RECIPE:

Southwestern Ham and White Bean Soup


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1 meaty ham bone
1 onion, quartered
4-6 cloves of garlic
Sprigs of fresh herbs: rosemary, sage, thyme,
————-oregano, and/or basil**
1 bay leaf
½ tsp cracked black pepper
1 yellow onion, diced
1-2 carrots, diced
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1-2 hot peppers, finely chopped
1 cup corn
3 cans white beans, drained
1 can diced green chilies
OPTIONAL: additional chopped ham, 2-3 cups total,
—————– (if ham bone is not very meaty)
2 cups salsa
salt
1/4 cup fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped
OPTIONAL GARNISHES: shredded cheese, tortilla strips or
———– crushed tortilla chips, green onions, sour cream,
———– additional salsa or hot sauce

Place the ham bone, onion, garlic, herbs, bay leaf and cracked pepper in a large crock pot. Add enough water to cover the ham bone (about 6-8 cups). Cook on high for 4 hours, or until ham begins to fall off of the bone.

Remove ham bone from the crock pot; allow to cool slightly and then chop ham into bite-sized pieces. Strain broth from the crock pot, reserving the broth. Discard herbs and ham bone. Add all remaining ingredients, except salt, parsley or cilantro and garnishes to the crock pot with the chopped ham. Add reserved broth until crock pot is full; add additional water, if necessary. Cover and cook on low for about 6 hours. Taste and salt as needed (about ½ – 1 tsp kosher salt, depending on saltiness of ham). Stir in parsley or cilantro.

Serve in bowls with desired garnishes.

**Note: You can also use dried herbs in place of the herb sprigs. Choose 2-3 herb varieties and add about ½ tsp of each.

 

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