Back to the Basics- Meal Planning and an Easy Crockpot Pork

Hey all! The new school year is almost upon us. Back to those busy nights filled with homework and after school activities. Back to those nights where we all get home and everyone wants to know that dreaded question, “What’s for dinner?” Well, look no further. I have got you covered.

I am back to work…school for me starts tomorrow. Teacher pre-planning; the bane of my existence. Becca has nightly cheer camp this week; Katie has gymnastics; Lizzie is in the midst of her treatments soon…we have a lot going on here. We all still have to eat though, and our health and wallets cannot afford to go out too much, so home cooked meals are necessary. So what is a busy and slightly frantic mom to do? Start back my weekly meal planning and pull out my crock pot and freezer meal ideas…

Here is what I plan to do for this CRAZY week.

Sun- I realize that this is Monday, but what I made last night is another meal for this week. In case you missed it yesterday, here is what we had…

http://funfoodiefamily.com/2014/07/28/sausage-and-rigatoni/

Monday- Easy Crockpot Pork- I took a boneless pork butt seasoned with salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, fennel seeds, and dried Italian seasoning. I added rough chopped onion, 2 cloves smashed and chopped garlic, 3 tablespoons Worcestershire, and 1 container of beef broth. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. The pork turned out moist and full of flavor. You could drain the juices, but I would keep them. This oniony meaty broth would be a great base for a soup. Heck, you could even add some of this pork to it in a bowl and voila, pork soup!

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I had this pork and a side of the onions with a side of BBQ sauce.

Tuesday- Leftover pasta

Wednesday- Leftover pork

Thursday- Homemade Sub sandwiches at the pool

Friday- Pizza delivered to the pool

Well, those last 2 days are my plan anyway. It is still only August, so there are lots of hot pool night ahead, right?

Olive Oil Fried Eggs

Skip the spray and butter! Instead use a good layer of olive oil in the bottom of your pan to fry up some yummy eggs. Cook to your liking. I love mine sunny side up!

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Serve with some toast to soak up all that yummy yolk. For the kids, cut up the toast in strips. We call them dipping strips or soldiers. Fun and delicious!

Sausage and Rigatoni

I needed to take a trip to the grocery store today, but instead I opted to spend the day at the pool. Summer is almost gone for us, so I need to soak up all the last summer fun I can. Instead, I raided the fridge and pantry and decided to make this delicious dish. Sausage and rigatoni with a quick homemade marinara sauce. Family approved!

Sausage and Rigatoni

Ingredients

Sausage- I had kielbasa in the fridge. I think Italian sweet or spicy sausage would have been great with this. Even a ground sausage would be fine.
Rigatoni- use whatever pasta you have- bowtie, spaghetti, penne, etc.
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 small can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons sugar
fresh herbs- basil, sage, oregano, and, marjoram
1 cup of mozzarella cheese

Directions

Use a large heavy pot. Add in a bit of oil. Cook your sausage. Take out of the pan and slice in to bite sized chunks.
Add in your diced onion. Cook for 3 minutes or so, then add in your garlic. Cook for another 3 minutes. Add in your tomato paste and mix for a minute or so. Then add in your cans of crushed tomatoes and tomato paste. Mix together. Add back in your sausage. Simmer on low.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta. Drain and add in to your sauce. Add the cheese to the top and place in the oven under the broiler for 5 minutes or until your cheese begins to become bubbly and brown.

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Spicy Quick Pickle Veggies

I had a ton of okra, beans, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and peppers I got from the farmer’s market the other day, so I decided to make a jar of quick pickles. These guys turned out so good; super flavorful and very spicy.

Ingredients

a couple handfuls of okra- Trim off ends and slice okra in half
2 sweet peppers- 1 yellow, 1 green sliced in thin strips
1 jalapeno pepper, cut in half- I used the ribs and seeds, but you can take them out if you wish
handful of beans (green, purple, yellow)- Trim off ends
handful of cherry tomatoes, whole
3 garlic cloves, peeled, whole
3 1/2 cups cider vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
4 cups water
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
pinch of red pepper flakes
4 cups water

Directions

Add all the trimmed vegetables, except the garlic, into a large, stainless steel mixing bowl or stockpot. Combine all the rest of the ingredients in another large saucepan, and bring to a boil over med-high heat.

Carefully pour the boiling liquid over the vegetables, and make sure all the ingredients are submerged in the brine by using some large plates or glass platters to hold them under the liquid.

Cover and let cool to room temperature. Add them to your mason/Bell jar. Transfer to refrigerator and chill before serving. Pickled vegetables can be kept refrigerated, completely submerged in their liquid, in an airtight container, for up to 2 months. =) Enjoy!

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Veggie Stir Fry with Orzo

Happy hump day! I went to my farmer’s market yesterday afternoon and hit the jackpot! Tons of amazing veggies and lots of watermelon, peaches, and berries. Planning it all out? Nope. Just going with the flow and making stuff up as I go along. Last night I made this … http://funfoodiefamily.com/2014/07/23/orzo-and-cheese-stuffed-tomato/
I also quick pickled okra, beans, tomatoes, and peppers. I am going to put up that recipe soon.

Tonight I decided to make a veggie stir fry and add in the rest of my leftover orzo. One pot vegetarian wonder! I added beans (purple and green (taste the same and the purple ones turn green when you cook them), peppers (sweet and spicy- 1/2 jalapeno with seeds ), and halved cherry tomatoes added to 3 tablespoons oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. I cooked them down for a few minutes with a touch of salt and pepper. Then I added a bit of hoisin sauce, teriyaki sauce, and stir fry sauce. Not a lot…I really just eye-balled it, adding about 1 tablespoon of each. Then at the end, I added in my orzo and stirred very well.

Such a gorgeous dish! The jalapeno added a subtle heat that just kept building as I ate each bite. You can just taste that these veggies came straight from the garden. Fresh and tender; each amazing veggie’s flavor came through.

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Orzo and Cheese Stuffed Tomato

Forget Meatless Monday! Eat what you want when you want. Lots of veggie options today from my local market. I found a pretty heirloom tomato. The guy said it was hollow and needed to be stuffed. #challengeaccepted

Orzo and Cheese Stuffed Tomato

All I did was cut off the top and hollow out the inside of a summer heirloom tomato… I filled it with leftover cooked orzo and topped with mozzarella. Broiled on low for 10 minutes. YUM!
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Braised Beef Short Ribs in Tomato Sauce

I am enjoying my last week off by cooking up some yummy meals in the kitchen! Today’s lunch was super tasty, so I had to figure out a way to one up myself. When I saw these beautiful beef short ribs on sale today, I knew what I had to do. I live for short ribs. When I see short ribs in the store or on a menu at a hip or fancy restaurant, I always consider getting them. Love them in every way, shape, and form. I have done both beef and pork ribs on the blog, so this is not too far off base with what I have done before. I could charge you at least $22 for this entree. =)

This is a one pot wonder if there ever was one! The meat can cook for hours on end in this tomato sauce; it slowly falls of the bone to create this velvety rich sauce. I served it on top of orzo sprinkled with a bit of parmesan with a side of crusty bread for scarpetta (Italian for sopping up sauce and cleaning your plate). You could serve this on any starchy pasta or polenta. I even served it on mashed potatoes in one recipe.

Braised Beef Short Ribs in Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

Beef Short Ribs or Beef Back Ribs-
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 glass red wine- I used Malbec, my new favorite red
1 small can diced tomatoes
1 large can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter

Directions

Salt and pepper both sides of your ribs.
Brown ribs in a bit or oil in large dutch oven on med. high heat, about 6 minutes per side
Take out ribs. Add onions. Cook for about 6 minutes. Stir.
Add garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes. Stir.
Add tomato paste. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.
Add wine. Sir and reduce for about 5 minutes.
Add your cans of tomatoes, worcestershire sauce, and sugar. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add in your meat. Cover. Stir every 45 min or so. Cook for 4-6 hours.

****You could do this in your crock pot by adding all ingredients in your pot in the am (you still need to brown meat, but you can do this the night before). Stir and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. You could also put all of this in the oven on 375 until the meat falls apart 4-5 hours.

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Seafood Steamed in Garlic, Butter, and Wine

My lunch today was pretty special. I was at the grocery store and passed by the seafood department. There were these little clams and mussels that seemed to be calling my name. I decided to get some. Then I noticed the shrimp and lobster tails were on sale, so I bought a small serving of each.

I decided to cook them in this creamy rich sauce. Garlic and butter go hand and hand with seafood. I had juice running all down my arms and face. I loved sopping up all that juice with my crusty bread. In Italian, that is called “scarpetta.” You could serve this with pasta or on top a fresh bed of sauteed veggies. Me? I just loved enjoying all the flavors of the seafood and garlicky butter. So succulent!

Seafood Steamed in Garlic, Butter, and Wine

Ingredients

1 lobster tail
6-8 shrimp
6-8 mussels
6-8 clams
3 cloves garlic
3/4 stick of butter
splash of white wine

Directions

In a large pot (I used a circular dutch oven)
melt your butter
cook your garlic for about 3-4 minutes
add your wine- cook down for about 3-4 minutes
add all your seafood
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stir, put a lid on it
cook for about 6 minutes or until all the clams and mussels have opened (throw out the ones that do not open) Your shrimp should be pink and your lobster tail should be red

Serve with a side of crusty bread for sopping up all that delicious juice!

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Chicken and Shrimp with Mustard, Bacon, and White Wine Sauce

How ya’ll doin’ tonight? Not sure how to describe this bad boy. Creamy, smoky, mustardy and succulent. I have been thinking of combining these ingredients for quite sometime. Whole grain mustard, bacon, white wine…awesome combo! I was thawing some chicken thighs today and have been thinking of this dish all day. So here is how I put it together…

Chicken and Shrimp with Mustard, Bacon, and White Wine Sauce

Ingredients

6-8 pieces of bacon
1 onion chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
6-8 red potatoes (yellow or fingerling can substitute) Chopped in even small pieces. Depending on the size of your potato, I would say in quarters or 6ths.
1 heaping tablespoon stone ground mustard
3-4 Chicken thighs
1/2 pound- 1 pound of raw shrimp (anywhere from 10-20 shrimp depending on size.
a few tablespoons of white wine (can substitute with chicken or seafood stock)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large cast skillet or pan (cast iron or dutch oven)…
Cook your bacon. Take out and place on a paper towel to cool.
Brown chicken in your bacon grease. Take out chicken.
Add in your onions and potatoes. Cook and stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes. Add in your mustard. Stir for 5 minutes. Add in your wine/stock and reduce for 5 minutes.
Chop your cooled chicken. Add back in your chicken. Cook for 10 minutes.
Chop your cooled bacon. Add in your raw shrimp, chopped bacon, and heavy cream. Cook and stir just occasionally under 10 minutes- when until your shrimp curls and turns pink.
Done =)

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Kale and Beet Chips

Hey there! I am here with another idea for summer veggies. Make them into chips! I did my chips 2 ways; kale and beets. Crunchy and healthy.

For the kale- tear or cup off the leaf from the rib and stem. Discard the rib and stem. They are just too fibrous to eat. No bueno. I sprayed a cookie sheet with Pam. Then I sprayed the kale with Pam and salted it just a bit. You could use olive oil. That is fine. Plus, it has no fat or calories, so it is a bit more figure friendly. But if you have olive oil spray, that would be fine as well. Still healthy! Cook at 450 for about 15 minutes. This stuff cooks fast, so be on the watch so it doesn’t burn. I don’t mind when it turns a little brown, but more than that and it is unedible. 014

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for the beets- slice very thin, preferably on a mandolin. Use the guard and be careful! I treated the beets the same way as the kale. Pam and a little salt and pepper. These take a bit longer. Mine went about 30 minutes. 015

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These are a great way to eat kale and beets even if you don’t think you like kale or beets. The kale has this amazing salty crunch that just sort of melts in your mouth after each bite. The beets are a mix of sweet and salty and are just beautiful. I think next time I will gild the lily and add a sprinkle of grated ginger. Ginger and beets go hand in hand.