Favorite Crock Pot Meals

So if you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably seen me talk about my love of cooking. And if you follow me anywhere or know me IRL you know that I am a big fan of easy, cause let’s be real – adulting is hard enough as it is without making everything more difficult than it needs to be. So I don’t. I have come to realise that there is no point in making things more difficult than they need to be. And this philosophy applies to cooking, at least in my kitchen. Yes, occasionally I will get fancy and make some 3 course dinner with soup and salad – but you can ask Steve, this is about as rare as me shaving my legs in the winter (it doesn’t happen).

So since I’m, lets call it lazy, how do I still manage to eat delicious, healthy, simple meals? I own a crockpot. Actually now I own 2 thanks to the lovely people at Vonshef who replaced my beloved slow cooker which died two weeks ago.

And since I am always on the hunt for good, tried and tested slow cooker dinners, I figured it would be a great opportunity for me to share my favorites. I realise this might not be the most exciting reading post (except for this intro) but I hope it helps all of you who want to make your lives easier and yet still eat delicious food.

Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti with Meatballs – Steve isn’t the biggest meatball fan (he prefers meat sauce) but he loved these

Crock Pot Gumbo – my coworkers had never had gumbo before so I brought this in – huge hit! Easy to add extra veggies to too

Coconut Lime Chicken – such an easy summer meal!

Thai Chicken Soup – big hit in our house, a hardy soup to warm your bones

Chicken Caesar Sandwiches – another great summer meal

Sweet Potato Chickpea Chili – meatless monday dish

Cabbage Roll Soup – low carb & delicious

Bourbon Street Chicken – much better than anything they serve at the foodcourt!

Corn Chowder – another great summer recipie

Salsa Chicken and Spinach – 5 min prep time? Winner!

Adobo Chicken – choose your spice level!

Ratatouille – so colorful and delicious

Hawaiian BBQ Pulled Chicken Sandwiches – great for big groups in the summer

Salsa Chicken – 2 ingredients, so easy!

Chicken and Dumplings – One of Steve’s favorites

Potato and Corn Chowder – great for winter

Tomato Soup – not your normal canned soup

Beef Bourguignon – when you don’t have time to cook like Julia Childs

Goulash – when we returned from Budapest this is all I wanted

Tikka Masala – this one deserves it’s own blog post – maybe one day

Tomato, Kale & Quinoa – for those days you’re feeling super healthy

Chicken Cacciatore – a crock pot version of my Dad’s famous dinner

White Chicken Chili – when you’re over tomatoes

Split Pea Soup – great with a nice piece of gammon

Chicken, Potatoes and Green Beans – when your oven is full but you need a simple meal

Chicken Chili – more traditional chili with tomatoes and chicken

Curried Butternut Squash Soup – delicious soup that’s a little different

These are just a few of the slow cooker meals I’ve made over the last few years. Most of these are US recipes but are easily convertible to metric and visa versa. When I make them I tend to make my own little alterations – adding extra veggies or substituting something that’s not easily found in the UK. So if you do decide to try any of these please let me know below – and comment on the original bloggers post!

Happy eating!

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DIY Vegetable Stock

I’ve mentioned on Instagram a few times that I’ve started to make my own vegetable stock. It’s so easy and I feel like I’m wasting less food. Since I tend to buy a lot of fresh veggies to cook with I always have a bowl of scraps when I’m done that just go in the trash, which just felt wasteful. So now instead of buying bullion cubes (liquid stock isn’t very common here and when you find it it’s very expensive) I make my own. It’s so much easier than you think!

As with most of my brilliant ideas – I got some inspiration from buzzfeed. They opened my eyes to how I could use vegetable scraps to make my food taste even better.

So I now bag and freeze all of my scraps and maybe every 2-3 weeks I empty them into a big pot, fill it with water and let it cook for at least an hour. Depending on what’s in my fridge I often add some extra fresh veggies – an onion or shallot, some herbs etc. You don’t have to but it can help make room in your fridge for the next week’s groceries.

If you’re going to do this I suggest stocking up on some silicone ice cube trays. I have a bunch of holiday ones I use for making gifts but for the rest of the year they hold my stock. I find the silicone ones are easier to empty when cooking – but I use normal plastic ones too.

Sunday is Soup Day

If you follow me on Instagram – which I highly recommend you do – you might have heard me mention that I was going to do a blog post on the meals I cooked this week. And since part of my 2018 goals is to adult, keeping my word seems to be an important part of adulting. So here is me, writing this post! Be proud!

So Sunday afternoon I did the food shop at Tesco and when we got home I started on a few meals. I like to make 2 or 3 things on Sunday so I dont have to cook as much during the week. It also ensures that there are leftovers for lunch that week.

This Sunday I made 2 soups – Leek & Potato and Tomato & Chorizo Soup along with my own vegetable stock. Unfortunately for me my crockpot died so I had to make the leek & potato soup on the stove – which turned out fine, it was just more work watching it etc.

I have scoured the internet for the chorizo and tomato soup recipie I use (cause you know I didn’t dream it up on my own) and I can’t find it. If you’re interested I’ll do a post with pictures etc of how I make mine. It’s super easy and it’s a nice change from standard tomato soup – it goes well with a fancy grilled cheese if you’re so inclined – this one is my favorite!

For the Leek & Potato soup – I followed the recipie & just doubled the carrots and celery to squeeze in more veggies. And I added an onion, because why not right? Otherwise it was as simple as taking it out of the crockpot when I realised it wasn’t getting hot and putting it in a big pot on the stove on low for about an hour. If I had known I was going to do it on the stove in the first place I would have browned the veggies first to add some extra flavor. Once it was cooked – a quick wiz with the hand blender. Easy, healthy and a crowd pleaser.

 

Keto – I’m Eating What

Keto is a high fat, adequate protein, low carb, no sugar lifestyle eating plan… better known as a diet. A friend of mine back in the US said she was doing it and had had a lot of success, so I did a little research. And when you look up the recipes of the things you’re encouraged to eat and they include butter, double cream, avocados, steak, eggs and peanut butter I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! I don’t know of any diets that encourage you to add butter to your veggies or want you to pour that bearnaise sauce over your morning eggs. So I thought why not-  Steve and I eat pretty healthy as it is so this might feel like a nice change, and if it helps drop some pre wedding weight – awesome!

Today is day 3 of Keto No Cheats as I’m calling it – I tried to do it for a few weeks but I kept slipping up – hello sugar and carb addiction! So for this week and next I am 100% in. So far I feel hungry all the time… wrraaarrrr… but I’m trying to stay positive that it will get easier. I’m pretty satisfied with the food – I mean c’mon! Last night I had chicken with a butter, bacon, spinach and heavy cream sauce! Yum. I made some zoodles (zucchini noodles) which were pretty yummy too so all in all not too bad! Tonight I’m planning on lemon butter salmon with zoodles!

After the two weeks we are off on holibobs – I still need to tell y’all where we’re off to – so we’re gonna have a break and enjoy the all inclusive life. Then when we get back we can make the call as to if we want to keep on it or try something else.

If we do decided to stick with it I’ll start sharing recipes etc on here – hopefully it won’t be hard to convert some of our favorite meals into keto friendly!

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If this plan appeals to you let me know and we can be healthy eating buddies!

Tomatoes, Eggs & Chorizo

If you ask Steve my favorite thing to do in the kitchen, he will say it’s to tell him to say “yes chef” when he’s helping me. He wouldn’t be lying but I wouldnt say its my favorite thing to do. My favorite thing to do is borrow a recipie I find online or in a cookbook and modify it to make it my own – sort of like an evil kitchen scientist (Steve’s term, not mine). It’s not that I think I’m a better chef – but I try and squeeze as much goodness into one meal as I can.

510AI7sYiWL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Recently I bought this cookbook for a reddit swap I’m doing. Before I mailed it off to my swap partner I decided to flip through it and see if there were any recipes that caught my fancy. Of course I found 5 or 6 that I liked so being cheap thrifty I photocopied a few I thought looked good and I made one last night.

Joe calls it Tomatoes, Eggs & Chorizo which I personally think is a bit of a weird name for a recipie. But this guy is all about simple, healthy meals so why make it more complex than need be?

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The original recipie from the cookbook

The original recipie looks really yummy and I dont doubt I’ll make it in the future just as Joe  intended – I had a fridge full of veggies that needed to be used. So I spiced it up a little bit by adding onion, garlic and peppers.

I sauted the veggies in canola oil along with the chorizo. It took 10-15 min since there was a lot of veggies. After everything was soft and the kitchen smelled amazing I added 2 cans of tomatoes. The recipie called for one but since I always cook for 2+ meals I added two and some water to thin it out a bit.

Once the tomatoes have heated up and everything is bubbling and beautiful smelling add a pinch of red chili flakes – depending on how hot you want it you can add cayenne pepper as well. I didn’t but Steve added some to his bowl.

Turn the heat down to low and carefully make little divots in the pan with a spoon. Slowly add the eggs – I suggest adding at least 4 to this size or more. I ended up cooking 3 more. Make sure to salt and pepper the eggs when they’re still raw – the flavors will mix better. Once the eggs are in the dish put the lid on top and allow them to poach slowly. Keep an eye on them – they’re best when they’re just a little runny.

Here’s the final result – not pretty but oh so yummy! Steve and I both really enjoyed this meal – its full of veggies and lots of protein. This will go in my file for quick and easy meals for sure!

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Patriotic Treats

This year I really got into the red white and blue spirit and made 2 different patriotic desserts. Neither one was a perfect success but they were both yummy – and when it comes to sweets thats what counts right?

cupcakes

My first USA themed dessert were my blue velvet cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese icing and fresh raspberries. I made the for Steves & my offices as a special treat to celebrate our heritage.

Unfortunatly my favorite blog – The Pioneer Women didn’t have a recipie for this particular treat so I went to food.com for my recipie which you can find here. As you can see I had to adapt the recipie from cakes to cupcakes – which is normally straightforward but I learned with any velvet cake – the instructions are critical. Unfortunately I didn’t follow the step by step instructions (blame the sunshine) so my cupcakes didn’t rise like they should have and they were more gray than blue.

I didn’t have butter milk – they sell it here but its expensive and I never remember to get any, so I use the vinegar trick. Measure the amount of buttermilk you need but leave it a little low. Then fill it up the rest of the way with vinegar – about a teaspoon or so. Let it sit for a few minutes for the magic to work and voila – buttermilk.

My other patriotic dessert was my red white almost blue rice crispy treats. These are pretty self explanatory to make but in case you dont know how here is the recipe. Me being the crazy lazy blogger I am didn’t snap a photo of mine – but I borrowed this one from google so you can see what they’re meant to look like.

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These are what they should look like

1 bag of large marshmallows equally divided into 3 bowls

1 large box of rice crispy cereal – or any other crunchy cereal

3 tablespoons of butter divided into 3 equal parts

red & blue food coloring

Start by spraying your baking tray with non stick coating – get every nook and cranny or these babies will not come out of the pan!  Put 1 bowl of marshmallows in a pot over low-medium heat and add the butter. Stir until melted – adding red food coloring until you get it to the color your like. Remember it will disperse with the cereal so make make it a little extra intense. If your pan is big enough pour your cereal into the pan (heat off). Mine wasn’t so I poured the melted marshmallows into a bowl with the cereal and used a spoon to mix it all. It will cool quickly but its still very pliable. Spread the red batch in the will greased pan.

Repeat the above steps but this time no food coloring – this is your white layer of your dessert.

For the last layer do the same thing, replacing the red coloring with blue. Layer on top of the white later in the greased pan and allow the whole pan to cool before cutting – an hour or 2 should do it.

Cut and serve!

You can get creative with adding sprinkles to the mix or different kinds of cereal – maybe red white and blue cereal and skip the food coloring. This is such an easy treat to make and you can let your imagination run wild!

 

Sheet Pan Chicken

What has 2 thumbs and hates doing dishes? This girl here! I really hate dishes after spending the better part of my sunday bulk cooking for the week, making cupcakes and doing laundry. I’m too tired to come up with dinner for us but I also know I need to watch my purse this month as its Steves Birthday and someone needs a £70 airbrush… another story for another day.

So what do you do when you have random veg in the fridge, fresh raw chicken from costco and 2 thumbs? You make a sheet pan meal – that’s what!

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Italian sheet pan chicken – pre oven

If you’re looking for a beautiful instagram worthy meal to impress your in-laws this isn’t it. There’s no getting around the fact that sheet pan meals aren’t exactly beautiful. But what they lack in beauty they make up for in ease to prepare, cook and clean up.

I tossed this is my open already hot from cupcakes for 25 minutes while I made rice in the rice cooker.

Side note – if you dont own a rice cooker go out and buy one now. They’re not expensive, you dont need an instant pot or whatever the rave is right now. $10/£15 will buy you one from Walmart/Argos. Rice is so much easier to make in one and you can use it for all kinds of grains! My UK rice cooker and my US rice cooker

Making this is so easy – I got 2 ziplock baggies. Chicken in one and veggies in the other. I used green beans, tomatoes and onions. Use whatever looks goods or is about to go bad in your fridge. For the italian marinade I put olive oil, rapeseed oil, balsamic vinegar oregano, thyme, basil and a few cloves of garlic into our ninja and blitzed it for 30 seconds. Didn’t event get a cutting board dirty! Poured half into bag with chicken and half into veggie bag and let them sit while I continued to cook. Once the cupcakes we’re out of the open I poured the 2 bags onto the sheet pan and tossed it in. Voila!

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Winner winner chicken sheet pan dinner!

There really isn’t a set recipie for this meal as you can adapt it to how you want it. Make it vegetarian and use tofu steaks (I think that’s a thing), do chicken strips and colorful veggies for kids. I always suggest in season veggies or whats on sale!

Do you make your own sheet pan chicken? How does your recipie differ from this one?

Pineapple Chorizo Dinner

Everyone needs a few meals in their arsenal that they can a) cook really well b) is a total crowd pleaser and c) has ingrediants you always have on hand. For me this Pineapple Chorizo rice dish is one of mine. When I tell Steve its on our weekly menu he gets super pumped. And honestly so do I. I love making it and I love eating it more.

I found the original recipie for this dish over at How Sweet It Is – a great blog with lots of yummy recipes. The first time I made it I followed her directions and recipie and it was amazingly delicious – but also on the expensive side to make. Which is fine, but if its a go to meal I like to see if I can tweak it to be more budget friendly.

This is my recipie

4 cups cooked rice
2 tablespoon rapeseed oil
1 sweet onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 packet of chorizo – cut in 1/4 circles
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1-2 cans of pineapple
2-3 bell peppers, chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced
any other veggies you have in the fridge – zucchini, carrot, celery, radishes and eggplant are all delicious

Start cooking the rice right away – its a fast dish to make and it’ll be easier not to have to wait on the rice.

Cut up all your veggies, your chorizo, onions and garlic.

Oil the pan and let it warm up before adding onion. Saute for a few minutes and add garlic. Add chorizo and cook for 5 min. Chorizo is an already cooked meat so dont look for it to turn brown.

Take the chorizo out of the pan and toss in the pineapple. The oils will cook it quickly. Once its soft and a little browned remove it.

Add more oil if need be. Toss in the veggies including the peppers in order of hardness. Carrots before eggplant (for example). Saute the veggies and add the salt, pepper and paprika.

Add the chorizo and pineapple back to the pan and mix all together. Let it cook a little more so all the flavors mix.

We skip the sauces – they’re good but not necessary for this dish.

Serve hot over rice, with green onions as garnish.

This is such an easy dish to make – takes about 30 min and is pretty healthy as long as you load it with veggies. I like it because I always have these items on hand. Chorizo is a staple in my house and lasts for ages – so does canned pineapple. I use whatever veggies I have and voila – a meal everyone loves!

Sorry there aren’t any pictures on this post – last time I made this it was gone so quick I didn’t get a chance to snap any!

What are some of your go to, easy, always on hand meals?

Cooking For An Army

I have to apologize to you, dear readers, I have been a slacker of a blogger here lately.

Honestly I have been working a really odd shift at work – 12.30pm – 9pm which has thrown me totally off my game. Thankfully it’s temporary!

Since here lately I’ve been going to bed super late (hello trying to wind down at 9pm) and sleeping in – cooking has gone out the window. Theres 0 point in trying to cook something super early for that evening – especially when I should be at the gym working out. So I’ve taken to batch cooking on sundays to make my life just a little easier and so Steve doesn’t order a takeaway every night.

Batch cooking is essentially exactly what it sounds like – cooking in large quantities and putting the food in the fridge to be reheated throughout the week. If I was really on my game I’d do crock pot meals for during the week but I’ve been lazy so microwaved leftovers have had to do.

The first thing I make when I am batch cooking in veggies – cause let’s be real, they are the last thing you want to cook fresh every night when you’re making yourself dinner. Plus I find if they’re cooked and in the fridge I tend to add them to my meal.

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Rainbow of veggies

This was the tray of veggies I made this past weekend. From left to right its plumb tomatoes halves, red peppers, shredded carrots, yellow peppers, onion, green peppers and asparagus. A good mix and flavor profile. Put some rapeseed oil with oregano, paprika, salt, pepper and crushed garlic over the top. 20 min in the oven – boom! rainbow of veggies ready to grace any plate.

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I also made a tray of shrimp in the same dressing. It was warm on saturday and a shrimp, veggie salad was the perfect meal. Plus we had shrimp and rice with veggies for the dinner monday night.

What isn’t pictured is the Crock Pot Chicken Teriyaki I made and the One Pot Spinach Pasta. I actually subbed in chicken instead of shrimp for this recipie – its what I had thawed at the time. Both super easy, I cooked all of this at the same time so I could do one load of dishes.

Are you a fan of batch cooking? What are some of your favorite recipes you like to cook in bulk?