Pulled Pork

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The great thing about shredded meat is that it can be used for a MILLION other recipes! Some on my menu for this week are: smothered burritos, pulled pork tacos, pulled pork, egg and potato scramble with salsa for breakfast and pulled pork and cheese quesadillas for the bebe. The pork turned out a little bit salty…not too salty but almost! So I recommend waiting to add salt until you pull it out of the oven to taste.

INGREDIENTS
2-3 lb pork shoulder or roast
1 small yellow onion, cut into large slices
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups chicken broth
1 Tbs chili powder
1 Tbs cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
3 Tbs olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large cast iron skillet (I used my skillet!) over medium high heat.

While oil is heating, trim pork of excess fat and cut into 4 chunks. Once oil is heated, sear meat on all sides then transfer out of skillet.

Add onions to skillet and sauté until almost transparent then add minced garlic to pan. Cook until onions are transparent.

Pour in chicken broth then transfer meat pack into skillet. Add seasonings.

Transfer skillet to oven and bake uncovered for 2 1/2 hours. Then cover with foil and bake an additional 30 minutes or until meat is done and easily pulls apart.

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Freezer Meals For The Week

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Since it’s my first time cooking freezer meals I decided to go with a few easy and low prep dishes that I know my family will love and eat! I made 2 smaller dishes of Chicken Alfredo (the round pans), a pan of Meatless Lasagna, Beef and Cheese Enchiladas with leftover enchilada sauce, Beef Stew, 3 Bean Chili, and some Cheese Shells. This round I used foil pans, foil and Saran Wrap to store my meals but I’m already hunting these babies down so my husband can take individual freezer meals to work and heat them in the microwave!

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Okay so for the recipes! I usually just throw these things together without sticking to an actual recipe and hope for the best so bear with me!

Beef Stew

  • 1 lb beef stew meat
  • 2 Family Size bags of frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 potatoes, diced
  • 3 beef bouillon cubes
  • 3-4 cups of water plus one extra cup.
  • flour
  • garlic salt, pepper and meat tenderizer
  • freezer bag
  1. Season meat with garlic salt, pepper and sprinkle liberally with meat tenderizer. Then sear the meat over high heat until all sides are nicely seared. Or you can skip this step!
  2. Dump meat into a gallon freezer bag then add diced potatoes and vegetables, beef bouillon cubes and the 3-4 cups of water.
  3. With the reserved 1 cup of water, add a few tablespoons on flour and whisk until you get a glue-like consistency. Add to freezer bag.
  4. Squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible then zip shut.
  5. And you’re done!! To cook, thaw then simmer on the stove until meat is cooked through or toss in your crock pot for several hours!

3 Bean Chili

  • 1 can black beans with juice
  • 1 can red beans with juice
  • 1 can chili beans with juice
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 lb ground beef or plain breakfast sausage (my husband prefers the sausage!)
  • garlic salt
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  1. Brown ground beef or sausage in a large skillet.
  2. Add cans of beans and tomatoes, stirring until combined.
  3. Add seasonings to taste. Beware that the longer the chili sits, the more flavor its going to have. So its better to add seasonings if need be than for it to be too salty! Personal experience ya’ll!
  4. Add chili to freezer bag, squeeze air out and seal.
  5. Can be reheated on the stove or put in the crock pot. The longer it simmers, the better it tastes!

 

Lasagna

On this recipe I used a foil lined glass baking dish to assemble my lasagna then flash freezed it. Once frozen I pulled it out of the baking dish, wrapped the foil around it, and put into a freezer bag.

  • lasagna noodles (I used whole wheat)
  • 1 lb ground beef or Italian sausage (or go meatless)
  • 16 oz cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 67 oz jar of spaghetti sauce or 2 normal sized jars
  • garlic salt
  • Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tbs minced garlic
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • foil pan or freezer bag
  1. Boil lasagna noodles in a large pot of salted water according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, brown meat in a large skillet with minced garlic. Drain if necessary. Add spaghetti sauce to pan and stir.
  3. In a bowl, mix together cottage cheese, egg and season with salt and pepper.
  4. When noodles are done, lay out on a sheet of foil to keep from sticking.
  5. In a baking dish or foil pan, spread a small amount of sauce on the bottom of the pan.
  6. Begin layering noodles, cottage cheese mixture, sauce and mozzarella cheese topping the cheese with garlic salt and Italian seasoning. Repeat until all ingredients have been used. Freeze!
  7. Thaw in the fridge overnight and bake covered at 350 for 45 minutes then bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes or until bubbly.

Creamy Chicken Alfredo Pasta

This is an amazing recipe and so delicious! My one year old and husband were real big fans 🙂 The recipe is located in the link above but I’ll go ahead and include it in this post. This website has TONS of yummy looking recipes to try!

  • 1/2 16 oz package of penne pasta
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 2 cups whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk (I used almond milk)
  • 2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded (I used a rotisserie)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/8 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions in salted water.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the whipping cream, milk and Parmesan cheese, whisking until combine.
  3. Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Sauce will begin to thicken after several minutes.
  4. Add chicken, chicken broth, garlic, oregano, and thyme to the sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir and let simmer for 3-4 more minutes until chicken is heated and sauce is thick.
  5. Spray your baking dish or foil pan (I used a deeper 9x 13 pan) with nonstick spray and add noodles to the pan. Pour sauce over top of noodles, add the mozzarella cheese then sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
  6. If you’re making this dish to eat immediately then cook under the broiler until hot and bubbly. To freeze this dish I wrapped the pan in Saran Wrap then foil and froze it. Thaw out and reheat under broiler when ready to eat!
  7. This dish is best served immediately after being cooked. I sent my husband to work with leftovers and when he reheated it, the sauce kinda disappeared…it’s still good reheated and sprinkled with garlic salt but its not the same as fresh out of the oven!

Beef and Cheese Enchiladas

Again, I don’t have exact recipes nor do I know how many corn tortillas or how much cheese I used in this recipe! I kept heating and rolling enchiladas until my pan was full 🙂

  • corn tortillas
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • cheddar or colby jack cheese
  • homemade or canned enchilada sauce
  • garlic salt
  • chili powder
  1. Brown your ground beef adding garlic salt and chili powder to taste.
  2. In your foil pan or baking dish, spread a small amount of sauce across the bottom of your pan.
  3. In a skillet, heat your corn tortillas over medium-high heat until slightly browned and pliable. I usually “fry” mine in heated oil for a  few seconds on each side but this time I thought I’d try a lighter version and just heat them on a skillet.
  4. After tortillas are heated and meat is browned, you can start assembling! Sprinkle some cheese in the middle of the tortilla, top with some beef and add more cheese. Roll up and place seam side down in pan. Continue until all ingredients are used up.
  5. Pour sauce over the top of enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese.
  6. To eat immediately, bake in oven at 350 degrees until hot and bubbly. For freezing, I flash froze these then wrapped in foil and Saran Wrap. To reheat, thaw and bake as directed above!

 

So this was my haul for this week. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to start compiling and trying out some healthier options to fit my diet as well as my family’s taste!

Protein Peanut Butter Cookies

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I have a HUGE sweet tooth and when I get a craving for something sweet, all willpower and motivation go out the window. So I’ve started trying to find and make healthier options so I don’t completely blow all my hard work on a pint of ice cream ;). These peanut butter cookies are relatively healthy…the only thing I don’t eat on a daily basis is the maple syrup. But with only 1/3 of a cup, it’s really not too big of a deal! Hope you enjoy 😀

INGREDIENTS
1 cup natural peanut butter (I used chunky)
1/3 cup maple syrup
3 Tbs almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup oat flour (just grind oatmeal in a blender or bullet!)
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
1/3 cup chocolate chips (I left these out)

DIRECTIONS
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2) Mix all wet ingredients together and in a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients together.
3) Slowly add flour mixture to wet ingredients and blend until thoroughly combined.
4) With your hands, roll dough into 10 balls then place on a greased cookie sheet.
5) Press dough down with a fork to flatten.
6) Bake for 12 minutes.

Whatever You Have In Your Kitchen Cookies

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This is not a healthy cookie recipe by any means but it’s one that my daughter and I have fun making and eating together!! I’ve made this recipe using Rolo candies and chopped walnuts and Hershey’s dark chocolate almond candies with caramel pieces. Both came out amazingly! This is a great base recipe to add whatever you like or have on hand 🙂

INGREDIENTS
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
To taste, chocolate chips, nuts, caramel pieces and/or candy pieces

DIRECTIONS
1) Whisk together flour, salt and baking soda until combined.

2) In a separate bowl with a hand mixer, beat together butter, vanilla and sugars.

3) Slowly add in flour mixture until thoroughly combined.

4) Fold in chocolate chips, nuts, candy pieces, etc.

5) On an ungreased cookie sheet, placed rounded tablespoons of dough a few inches apart.

6) Bake at 350 degrees for 10-14 minutes until edges start to turn golden brown.

7) Let cookies cool before transferring to a serving plate. Cookies will be slightly gooey coming out of the oven but they finish cooking while cooling.

🔹Makes between 2-3 dozen depending on size of spoonfuls.

Homemade Baked Chicken Nuggets

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I tend to feed my toddler pretty healthy but I always keep some back up foods in my pantry and freezer like chicken nuggets, fish sticks and Mac and cheese for those busy days that I don’t feel like cooking. Tonight was one of those nights! So I went to my freezer for chicken nuggets…and there was NOTHING 😭. So I ended up cooking when I didn’t want to BUT I’ll have these nuggets to heat up over the next few days and I know exactly what ingredients went into them. Even better!!

INGREDIENTS
🔹2 chicken breasts, cut into nugget sized pieces.
🔹bread crumbs, enough to coat chicken pieces (I used a combo of zesty bread crumbs and graham cracker crumbs)
🔹1 egg
🔹1/4 cup milk
🔹Tony’s Creole seasoning
🔹salt and pepper
🔹garlic powder
🔹olive oil

DIRECTIONS
🔷Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
🔷In a dish mix together the egg and milk then season with salt and pepper.
🔷In a separate dish combine bread crumbs, Tony’s, and garlic powder.
🔷Coat chicken pieces in egg mixture then in bread crumb mixture.
🔷Place nuggets on a baking sheet then spray tops of chicken nuggets with olive oil.
🔷Bake for 10 minutes, flip nuggets over and bake for another 10 minutes.

*Makes enough for 4-5 people.

8 meals for 3 people. All for under $50!

My husband and I have started buckling down on our expenses lately due to a few life changing plans we’re making so I’ve been looking for ways to cut down on our cash flow out. We really don’t spend insane amounts of money on anything nor do we go out often due to our 1 year old so it took me a while to find a place to start making cuts. One of the things that I (used to) spend a lot of money on is groceries. After tallying it up one day I realized I was spending over $700 a month in groceries! Yes, you read right. $700! So basically, it was averaging about $200 a week. And there was only 2 of us! I was horrified and frankly, a bit terrified to tell my husband lol. Needless to say, he was horrified as well.

When I first began trying to cut my grocery bill, I started buying organic foods only for Harper (my one year old), buying cheaper meats for my husband and I, ditching the gluten free pastas and trying to use coupons. I figured about $100 weekly was an agreeable amount. Honestly, I used my “budget” as kind of a base line. I’ve always menu planned but I would see something new in the store I wanted to try, or I decided to add a meal to the menu at the last minute, etc. $20 or so over wouldn’t hurt anything, right? Wrong! That budget pretty much went out the window and we were back to square one spending too much money. 

I saw a pin on Pinterest a while back where a woman had a $25 a week budget for her and her husband’s grocery bill. I was convinced that there was NO WAY I could ever get my bill that low. Throw a few organic vegetables into your cart and you’ve already hit your budget!  But after reading some of her suggestions, I was really convinced that I could do this! It totally made sense. I set aside $50 for the grocery store (this includes toilet paper, laundry soap, etc.) So along with some of her suggestions, I’ve added a few of my own that have helped me stay on (and under!) budget.

Menu Plan 

  • Do not go to the grocery store without a plan! Fail to plan means you’re planning to fail. Sit down and plan meals for every day or every other day of the week. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Account for leftovers! Bonus points if you can recreate another meal with leftovers from the day before 🙂 Include every item you need for that recipe on your grocery list.

Base Your Menu Plan Off Of Things You Already Have

  • Always check your food stock before menu planning. Look in your fridge and pantry to see what base items you have and create meals off of that! For example, I had a package of chicken thighs ($3.14) in the freezer that I had forgotten about and a bag of potatoes in the pantry. All I needed was a bag of baby carrots to make chicken with roasted carrots and potatoes. That meal cost me about $5!! Cheap and easy 🙂

Go vegetarian a few times during week

  • This is a super easy way to cut costs and you really don’t even miss the meat! A few things I have on my menu plan this week that are meatless: 3 bean chili, spinach and cheese tortellini, gluten free spiral pasta with squash, garlic, spinach and tomatoes tossed in pesto, and cheese omelets with fresh fruit and toast for my daughters breakfast. I plan on going vegetarian most of the week and saving the meat for when my hubby is off work.

Shop sales

  • Take advantage of sales ONLY IF YOU ACTUALLY USE THOSE ITEMS. I used the excuse ‘well it was on sale!’ all the time when I would buy extra things and that is exactly what would blow my budget. In my store, Wal-Mart has clearance shelves for food that has packing damage or is about to expire. I always check this little section and only buy the things I need. I actually got 4 packages of gluten free pasta for $1 a piece! You can’t beat that price and I have several meals that I can make off of that. 

Stick to your list

  • Easier said than done! I still struggle with this one. It’s sooo easy to throw in an extra item here or there and think it wont hurt anything. But stay strong!

Cook cheap meals

  • A lot of the times my hubby likes to grill out on his days off and lets be honest, steaks can get pricey. So when I know this is going to happen, I plan several super cheap meals the previous week to help stretch the budget to where we can afford rib eyes. Example: my 3 bean chili costs $3.64 to make (add $4 if you add meat), chicken thighs with roasted vegetables cost me about $7 for 4 servings and spaghetti with meat sauce and garlic bread is about $13 for 6-8 people. With those 3 meals alone at $24.64 you can eat for 6-7 days! And depending on your budget, you’ll have PLENTY of money left over to splurge on steaks, baked potatoes, grilled asparagus and beer. YUM.

Use coupons!

  • I never thought coupons applied to me because I don’t buy things like Poptarts, candy, soda, and chips. Where are the coupons for fresh veggies?! But HEB is really good at handing out coupons based on your purchases that day. I’ve gotten bananas, almond milk,and a few bags of frozen veggies for free plus $5 off baby wipes, diapers. You cant beat that! I don’t go crazy with the coupons (kudos to those who do!) because just thinking about being an extreme couponer gives me a headache. But I do keep an envelope on my fridge that I put all my coupons in after shopping. Before a trip to the grocery store I’ll go through the envelope and see if I have anything thats worth taking. When you’re sticking to a strict budget, every few dollars really helps! 

Use A Calculator To Keep Track

  • This has sort of become a game to me. I keep my calculator app out on my phone and keep track of every thing I put in my cart. This helps me stay on track and I usually like to see if I can beat my budget. I get an adrenaline rush the closer I get to my limit….I’m lame I know. 

This is an example of my haul for today. My budget was $50 and I came in at $47.89. The Shout, chicken breast and almond milk were my most expensive items!

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My menu plan for this week:

  • 3 Bean Chili
  • Spinach and Cheese Tortellini
  • Kitchen Sink Pasta
  • Fish Sticks and Organic Mac & Cheese (already had items)
  • Chicken Thighs with Roasted Vegetables
  • Grilled Chicken with Green Beans and Sweet Potatoes or Rice
  • Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Potatoes and a vegetable
  • Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and Garlic Bread

So I have 8 meals here all with leftovers for $47.89!! Thats some pretty good shopping if I do say so myself! 

Loaded Baked “Potato” Soup

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A few months ago, I went through a cauliflower phase…cauliflower rice, cauliflower pizza, cauliflower mashed “potatoes”, etc. It got a little out of hand. Just ask my husband. Thankfully I ran out of ideas of stuff to replace with cauliflower and moved on to something else 😉.

Once again I am completely amazed at how awesome cauliflower is. This soup came out AMAZING and it is surprisingly hearty and rich. It was the perfect meal for this cold wintery weather! I promise you won’t even miss the potatoes in this soup…in my opinion it was even better than the original version!

INGREDIENTS

8 slices of bacon, chopped
1 celery stalk
1/2 onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups of cauliflower, grated ( about 1 medium sized head)
2 cups chicken broth, divided
2 cups milk (I used almond milk)
2 1/2 cups of cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper
2 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp flour (I used whole wheat)

DIRECTIONS

*In a large soup pot cook bacon over medium high heat until done.

*While bacon is cooking, dice onion and celery. In a small bowl, mix together flour and 1/4 cup of the chicken broth. Set aside.

*Remove bacon from the pot with a slotted spoon leaving 1 Tbsp of bacon fat in the pot. Add onion, celery and garlic to pot and cook until soft.

*Add cauliflower to pot along with the 2 Tbsp of water and stir. Put a lid on the pot and steam the cauliflower until soft. About 5-7 minutes.

*Add remaining chicken broth and milk then bring to a boil. Stir in flour mixture, reduce heat and simmer for 3-4 minutes until soup has thickened.

*Turn off heat. Stir in 2 cups of the cheese until melted and add half of the bacon.

*Top bowls of soup with remaining cheese and bacon.

The original recipe called for hot sauce but because I didn’t have any, I used Tony’s Cajun seasoning to give it that extra little kick 😉.

Original recipe from Iowa Girl Eats.