Since it has still been snowy and cold here (seriously, I’m over it…), I made a large batch of beef and barley soup in the crockpot this week. This recipe makes a full crockpot so I had plenty leftover to freeze. The best part, it’s healthy — what many would consider “clean eating” and it’s super easy to throw together in the morning, forget about, and have a nice warm dinner ready and waiting in the evening.
I served mine with homemade green bread (recipe coming soon) in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. I tried to convince the trio that it was Leprechaun Stew but they weren’t fans. Bo ate two bites, Clara and Anna ate one. Personally, I thought it was delicious.
I’ve always loved oatmeal, but for the past several years I haven’t eaten it often — mostly because I simply didn’t have the time in the mornings to babysit a pan of oats on the stove to make sure they reached the right consistency. My mornings are filled with attempting to feed, dress, and contain my trio so that they end up at school on time. In text, this seems like a simple task, but in reality, it made dealing with a pot of oatmeal for 30 minutes in the morning nearly impossible.
Recently, I discovered the perfect crockpot steel cut oatmeal recipe. It is divine! I’ve eaten it nearly every day for the last two weeks and it is perfect for my busy mornings! I make a batch on Sunday evening and then I have breakfast ready for four days that week. I make the batch plain and add my toppings based on my mood. To the oatmeal above, I added half of a sliced banana, a teaspoon of brown sugar, and 10 pecan halves chopped. Amazing. Seriously. It’s the texture and creaminess of the oatmeal that makes it so delicious!
The recipe below makes 4 servings, but can easily be doubled or tripled if more people in your family eat oats. I store them in a Tupperware container and scoop out what I would like into a bowl and microwave for about a minute and 15 seconds before adding my sweetener and toppings. Some topping ideas besides the banana/pecan mixture include mini chocolate chips/chopped almonds/sugar, chopped apple/crunchy peanut butter/honey, and this mornings creation – raisins/brown sugar/vanilla extract – tasted like an oatmeal cookie!
In a small crockpot, combine the steel cut oats, water, and salt. Stir. Cook on low for approximately 4 hours, on high for approximately 2 hours until desired consistency. Transfer to a Tupperware container and store in the fridge for up to 6 days. Dish out and microwave in the morning - topping with your desired ingredients.
Yesterday, we we went for a family walk after our Thanksgiving dinner and it was beautiful outside. The temperature was nearly 60 and just gorgeous. Today, winter has set in with temperatures in the low 30’s and wind chills in the teens here in the Midwest. I can’t say I’m thrilled (I told Mike today I wanted to live in Florida) but at least I can have warm soup for dinner while curled up by the fire (if I can convince Mike to light one…) 🙂
Continuing with our Mexican kick, I threw together (literally) chicken tortilla soup. I’ve made several versions, but this quick and easy crockpot recipe wins out often because it is so painless. It makes a lot, freezes well, and is good for leftover lunches. I’m not sure where the base recipe originated from but it’s probably somewhere in cyberspace.
I threw this soup together while the trio was eating breakfast and it was ready to go by lunchtime with thawed chicken breasts. I’ve also made it using frozen chicken breasts, which I’d recommend if you plan to make it in the morning and serve for dinner. This soup pairs well with BLT Guacamole and chips.
If you have some leftover turkey that you’d like to throw in instead of chicken, I think it would be just as good. I’d reduce the cook time to 2 to 3 hours since the turkey is already cooked. I don’t see anything wrong with adding a bit of Mexican flair to your Thanksgiving leftovers!
2 - 15 ounce cans of Rotel tomatoes with green chilies
1 cup chicken broth
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper
4 corn tortillas, sliced into ¼ inch stripes
2 Tbsp. cilantro
½ cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
Place chicken in crockpot and toss in the chilies, garlic, onion, Rotel, broth, cumin, and salt and pepper on top. Stir occasionally while cooking to shred chicken as it cooks. For frozen chicken cook on high for 8-9 hours. For thawed chicken, cook on low for 4-5 hours. Just before serving, add tortillas and cilantro. Serve by topping each bowl with shredded cheese, diced avocado, and a squeeze of lime.
I’ve spent the afternoon making dinner to take to one of my friends who just had her fourth child. The primary ingredient in many of the dishes that I made (and will hopefully be sharing with you soon) is this amazingly easy, cheap, and delicious crockpot chicken stock.
Mike and I just discovered the wonders of making our own chicken stock about a year ago. We make large batches and freeze it so we always have homemade chicken stock on hand. I think the flavor is much deeper than the canned broth — plus it’s significantly cheaper too. Especially for days like today when I need mass quantities! Today I used over 10 cups of chicken stock!
The main ingredient in our stock is the carcass of a rotisserie chicken. Every couple of weeks Mike will pick one up on his way home from work for an easy dinner. The kids love it plain and we enjoy making wraps with the shredded meat. Once we’ve picked it clean (or as clean as we want — we aren’t big fans of the dark meat) I throw it in the crockpot with ingredients that we always seem to have on hand and let it simmer away for a day or so before straining and freezing. Homemade chicken stock is the base for many of my recipes.
In a large crockpot, drizzle the oil and add the chopped celery, onion, carrots, and garlic. Let simmer a bit until the veggies are warm and then add the chicken carcass, water, and parsley. Simmer on low for 10-12 hours. Strain. Stock can be used immediately or frozen.