Tag Archives: crock pot meals

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Two weeks of meals

12 Nov
Ready for another two weeks of dinners?

Ready for another two weeks of dinners?

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted our two weeks of meals menu, and I always get great feedback from readers when I do. Therefore, I’m sharing our current menu plan with you today. Hopefully it will provide you with some dinner ideas and inspiration.

If you’re a new reader, this is how we generally try to plan out our grocery shopping every two weeks on pay day. We create a two week menu and try to stick as closely as we can to it. It almost never stays 100% on track, so we almost always have some carryover for the next two weeks of meals.

We have found that this is the best way for us to stick to a budget and to always have a (relatively) healthy, homemade meal for our family to eat together every night. It doesn’t always work out perfectly, but it’s better for us than not planning at all.

Week 1:

Sunday: Corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots

Monday: Tacos  *This lends itself well to taco salad or seven layer dip with chips for lunches the next day. This time around it was the dip, last time we had them, I did taco salads.

Tuesday: Lasagna

Wednesday: Pork chops and applesauce (homemade)

Thursday: Choice of hot dogs, hamburgers or chicken burgers

Friday: Pot luck dinner at Girl Scouts

Saturday: BBQ Ribs

Week 2:

Sunday: Dinner at friends’

Monday: Shepherd’s Pie (this was a ‘cook once, eat twice’ extra Shepherd’s Pie frozen from a previous month)

Tuesday: American Chopped Suey pasta bake

Wednesday: Lemon Basil Meatballs and egg noodles (this is from the make ahead meals Pampered Chef party that I attended in September)

Thursday: Dinner out, Girl Scouts are touring a local eatery, so we’ll be eating there afterwards

Friday: Pizza

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Mongolian Beef (Take Two)

2 Oct
This was so good, I almost forgot to take a picture of it!

This was so good, I almost forgot to take a picture of it!

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

As you probably know by now, I’ve been making crock pot meals approximately four times a week, as a means of getting us through this fall sports schedule (which ends at the end of October for us).

So far, it’s been working out well, allowing me to “cook” meals that are ready when we get home from whatever we’re at, arriving home in time for dinner even though no one was here to cook dinner. I’m lucky, in that I am usually home from work at lunch time most days, so I set my dinner up at that time and let it go when I go back to work. Depending on when we need to eat, I put it in anywhere between 10 am and noon.

A week or two back, however, we had a crock pot debacle. As I was making the Who Needs a Cape Mongolian Beef, one we were really looking forward to, I licked the spatula before throwing it into the sink (AFTER I’d used it) and realized the Hoison sauce I’d bought was VERY VERY spicy. I was nervous for the outcome. I even watered down the sauce during the cooking time.

I kept my fingers crossed that it’d work out for the best, but it didn’t. It was so spicy. No one really liked it.

I wrote “BLECH” on my recipe sheet and prepared to throw it in recycling.

I was so disappointed. We’d really been looking forward to this one.

However, when I shared the news with my friend Gina, she asked what kind of Hoison sauce I used. When I told her, she looked it up and found that it contained red hot chili peppers.

Just like the band from the 90’s.

Red

Hot

Chili

Peppers

Yikes.

We’re not spicy food lovers here, most of us.

I decided to try the recipe again, because both Gina and another friend of mine, Amy, had both tried it and proclaimed it to be as amazing as we’d thought it would be; a top favorite on their lists of meals.

I went to the store, I turned all the Hoison sauce bottles around so that I could see the ingredients. I found one with chili peppers. That one was definitely out. I found another that said “slightly spicy.” Forget it.

I finally chose one that seemed safe and decided that this week we’d give it another try.

This Monday night, we did.

SUCCESS!!!!

It was sooooooo good. Totally delicious.

And, there was a little bit left, just enough for my lunch on Tuesday, and guess what??

It was even better the second day! The flavor was bursting! I thoroughly enjoyed my lunch.

We served our beef with our usual Chinese Fried Rice, but I also added a batch of quinoa as one of our side dish offerings. Personally, I love mixing the quinoa with the rice, and that’s what I did with the Mongolian Beef. It was fabulous.

So the lesson learned is two-fold: 1) check the ingredient labels when buying a new sauce, and 2) don’t give up!

I’m so glad we tried the Who Needs A Cape Mongolian Beef again, it’s most definitely a keeper!!

I’ve linked to the recipe twice in this post, and I’m putting her recipe below as well. I hope you’ll give it a try, and remember, if you don’t like spicy, CHECK YOUR LABELS!

WHO NEEDS A CAPE
MONGOLIAN BEEF

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. stew meat
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, thickly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh minced ginger
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce

Instructions

  1. Freezer directions- dump all ingredients into a labeled freezer bag, seal, mix up, freeze flat. It’s as easy as that!
  2. When you’re ready to cook- take the bag out of the freezer the night before and let it defrost in the fridge. The next morning dump the bag into the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. If you’re going to be longer just add a bit more water so it doesn’t dry out. Serve with fresh slice green onions and rice. Yum!

What’s For Dinner Wednesday: Asian Lettuce Wraps…in the crock pot

25 Sep
This was by far, one of my favorite crock pot meals from the first week. Every single one of us loved them.

This was by far, one of my favorite crock pot meals from the first week. Every single one of us loved them.

I’ve been keeping you all up to date with our ongoing crock pot meals experiment as the school year goes on.

I must say, so far so good.

The one I’m sharing today, however, was by far my personal favorite meal of all the ones we have tried thus far.

It is a recipe for Asian Lettuce Wraps and it’s the meat that you cook all day in the crock pot.

My house smelled absolutely amazing on this day, thanks in part to the sesame oil that is used in the recipe.

This was one I could not wait for even the next day, so that I could use the leftovers for my lunch. In a way, it was almost like our DIY taco night, but with an Asian flair instead.

Serving everything "on the side" allows people do customize their wraps, adding as much or as little of whatever the want to each of their wraps.

Serving everything “on the side” allows people do customize their wraps, adding as much or as little of whatever the want to each of their wraps.

I served everything a la carte, with Chinese Fried Rice as our side dish, and I let everyone build their own wraps. I wasn’t sure if everyone would try their food in the lettuce or not, but I encouraged them to at least give it a try. I ended up having to put out even more lettuce as each of us had two or three wraps that night.

The wrap that is pictured above (before being rolled up and eaten) actually has the rice on the bottom, followed by the meat and then the Chinese noodles, chopped cashews and the sauce.

DELICIOUS.

I saved the sauce as leftovers as well, and the next day I used it to make my leftover wraps for lunch, but the following day I just had the leftover rice and used the sauce on top of that. Perfect.

Although most of my crock pot recipes have been coming from the Who Needs a Cape website, this one actually didn’t. It was sent to me by my friend Gina, who is doing this crock pot recipe experiment along with me, far away in another state. But we’re trying out some of the same recipes and then some different ones, and letting each other know how they are. This is one she tried out first and loved it, passing it along to us. We loved it too. She found it at Today’s Creative Blog and I’ve linked to it above. The recipe is below, as well.

So today, I am passing it along to you as well. It was very different for a crock pot meal, and you’d never know it was made in the crock pot. It was fun and unique and tasty. I encourage you to try it out, and if you’re up for it, give the Chinese Fried Rice a try too. We use that as a side dish often and it always goes over well.

*In the recipe below, my modifications were: ground turkey instead of chicken, I used apple juice not wine, dried ginger not fresh, cumin instead of coriander, and cashews instead of peanuts. *

Crock Pot Asian Lettuce Wraps from Today’s Creative Blog

  • 2 chicken breasts – cut into really small pieces. (most recipes call for ground chicken or turkey)
  • 2 cloves garlic – chopped really small
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup white wine or apple juice – I used apple juice because I didn’t have wine
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger (you can also use what you have in your spice cabinet)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (same as rice vinegar)
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce,washed. Trim lettuce leaves to the size you want to use
  • Peanuts for garnish
  • Dipping Sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon red chile paste
The fried rice was great with the dipping sauce right on top, and some of the wraps had the rice right inside!

The fried rice was great with the dipping sauce right on top, and some of the wraps had the rice right inside!

Instructions

  1. Cut your chicken into very small pieces and place inside your crockpot.
  2. Combine all other ingredients into your crock and stir.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours or low for 4-6 hours.
  4. Prep your lettuce leaves by washing, patting dry and trimming. I used Romaine, but butter lettuce would also work. Place your chicken directly onto the lettuce.
  5. Dipping Sauce
  6. Combine all ingredients together before your chicken is done. I like to let mine sit a bit before serving.
  7. Drizzle a small amount onto your chicken filled lettuce, garnish with peanuts, wrap it together and enjoy!

What’s for Dinner Wednesday: Anything I can crock pot

11 Sep
On the table and ready to eat!

On the table and ready to eat!

It’s back to school time.

Back to sports time.

Back to scouts time.

And of course, back to work time.

That makes cooking dinner time quite complicated.

This fall, for the first time, everyone’s every thing is on every night, with pick ups and drop offs in and around dinner time.

Most nights we can eat together but most nights there is going to be no one home to cook.

As I looked at my schedule for the next eight weeks, I knew I had to come up with a solution, and fast. If I could figure out how to get everyone everywhere and home again, I needed to have a meal waiting when we got here. Eating together is really important to us, and so is eating a home-cooked, healthy meal.

Around the same time I was contemplating my fall schedule dilemma, a friend of mine, Gina, forwarded me a link to the blog whoneedsacape.com, Specifically, to the 40 Meals/Four Hours recipe collection.

I was sold. It looked like exactly what I needed–the ability to prep meals way ahead of time and cook them while I was gone on the days that I needed them. It almost sounded too good to be true.

Very rarely have I found a crock pot meal that we all like, that I’d want to make again. But, with so many options to choose from–more than a dozen recipes, all of which could be prepped ahead, it was worth a try.

I decided that rather than prepping several sets of any one recipe, I’d instead go through the list, see what sounded like things my family might like, and try each one just once. If they were successful, then I’d prep more of the ones we liked for the future.

Elizabeth happened to be around when I first received the link. We clicked through and looked at every photo, every recipe. We came up with a list of those we wanted to try. It seemed doable.

This week alone, I’ve got several of these recipes on my list to try out. The very first one, made on Monday night, was a keeper, according to my family. As I try each one, they’ll appear on future “What’s For Dinner Wednesday” posts if they’re deemed worthy by my family.

Maple Dijon Chicken was the one I chose to try out first. I opted to switch out the chicken thighs that it called for, switching in boneless, skinless breasts instead.

The recipe was simple and quick to prep, which I liked. I could have prepped it ahead and froze it, but this time I didn’t need to. I had some time in the morning to do it. The house smelled great all day long! I love that about crock pot cooking!

Here is the recipe as found on Who Needs A Cape.com, with my few modifications. Give it a try and see what you think! I served ours with brown rice and veggies on the side. Thumbs up all around!

Throw it all in the crock pot and turn it on!

Throw it all in the crock pot and turn it on!

MAPLE DIJON CHICKEN

Ingredients

  • 6-8 Chicken thighs  (I used boneless, skinless breasts, thawed.)
  • 1/2 C Dijon Mustard
  • 1/4 C Maple Syrup
  • 1 T Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 can of Sliced Mushrooms, drained* (I used fresh mushrooms.)
  • 1 onion sliced*  (I used half an onion.)

Instructions

  1. Spray crock pot with non-stick cooking spray
  2. Place chicken in crock pot
  3. Mix together mustard, syrup, vinegar and pour over chicken
  4. Top with mushrooms and sliced onion
  5. Cook on low for 6 hours