Is fall really around the corner?

This past weekend was a tease of fall weather; it was 95 on Friday and Saturday morning – a shocking 60! Talk about a drastic change. It remained cool through Sunday thanks to some rain and a slight breeze but Monday morning, BAM, right back up to 87. Of course people of this city freaked out and I saw some scarves, fuzzy boots, and velor track outfits. I mean really… scarves? I don’t mean cute or fashionable scarves I’m talking bulky winter scarves. *face palm*

With the reminder of fall being around the corner I was excited to see a slow cooker feature in a diabetic magazine while waiting in the check out line at the grocery store. I picked up a copy because honestly I have about 4 slow cooker recipes that are my ‘go to’; it’d be nice to add some variety and find some new ‘go to’s’. There are some breakfast recipes which look interesting, the only down side is that they take 2-3 hours so you can’t cook them overnight. I don’t see myself waking up at 5AM to start breakfast so I can eat at 8AM. Maybe if we have overnight guests I’ll cook something the night before and reheat it in the morning however who likes rubbery, leftover eggs? I’ll have to find a way to create those meals. There were also great tips if you whip up your own recipe; protein to liquid ratio, % of starches to liquid, etc. Overall I’m ready to use and abuse my slow cooker this coming fall season.

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Speaking of my slow cooker, a classic in this house was Wednesday’s meal, stuffed cabbage. I followed that recipe for ingredient purposes only but I also added 1 large can of crushed tomatoes and 1 more can of tomato soup. To the meat mixture I added maybe 1/2 cup of crushed tomatoes (strained w/ a slotted spoon), I didn’t want the meat to dry out since I used lean ground turkey.  To the slow cooker I poured 1 can of soup, placed the cabbage rolls, poured the 2nd can of soup and the remaining crushed tomatoes (including all liquid).  They turned out so good! My house smelled amazing and dinner was super yummy 🙂

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We had shrimp fried rice …er… quinoa! Last Monday I cooked most of dinner that morning! I have 1 hr from the time I get home from teaching lessons to leaving for band rehearsal, clearly not enough time to prep and cook an entire meal. When I got home I threw the egg rolls in the microwave (hey, if the cooking directions offer oven and microwave instructions, opt for the faster one when time is not on your side), pan cooked the shrimp (which takes maybe 4 minutes?), and dinner was ready! Oh yeah, microwave the quinoa for a few minutes and cover it with a damp paper towel to create steam. A quick and healthy dinner, a much better option than fast food!

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I’ve been on a mushroom kick and last Thursday I found this yummy recipe. I had a leftover mixture of mushrooms/bacon from pork chops the week before and when I saw a honey-dijon chicken recipe topped with bacon and mushrooms, it was like the recipe was waiting to be found.

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Who can resist a good burger? I’m going to dub this one as the Thanksgiving burger. At first I wasn’t really sure of the ingredients and how it would taste but hello, it’s a Rachael Ray recipe so you know it’s gonna be good! I forgot to take an ‘after’ pic but click on the link and you’ll see it there 🙂 . These were super easy to prep and I cooked them on the stove. Also don’t be turned off by the grainy mustard (as I was) – I cut the amount in half so there would just be a hint of it in the cranberry sauce. Basically, it was delish. This is a keeper! Oh, english muffins are the buns (toast them so they don’t become soggy!), so fun! It kept the burger light.

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Last night’s meal was on point! Again, having only 1 hr to eat on Monday’s means getting dinner ready in the morning. These chops were so easy to put together, maybe 20 minutes to prep and cook (totally doable if you need a quick dinner after working a long day!). Since I’d be working when things would need to be reheated I left detailed instructions for my husband to get dinner going, at 4:20 he preheated the oven to bake roasted red potatoes (from the freezer section), after a few minutes he put in the pork chops, the remaining 6 minutes were used to steam veggies in the microwave. I love those steamer bags but these are plain veggies, no extra fatty or sodium filled sauces. Sprinkle some seasoning on the veggies and boom, a lovely side dish. Dinner was ready by 5:05 (I get home at 5pm) and devoured by 5:40.

Don’t ignore the freezer section, you can find some yummy things in those aisles.

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I think I forgot to write about these mini taco cuties last week. So easy and perfect for game days! Use won ton wrappers (I used 2 partially layered on top of each other, for each mini taco), fill with browned/seasoned meat (I used regular ground turkey + chili seasoning + diced onions), top with shredded cheese, and bake for 8 minutes (or until won ton wrappers are golden brown) at 350 degrees. Top with salsa once they’re done! These were scooped up so quickly so if you’re the chef for the day be sure to taste your creation before serving to guests!

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Patience is key, young grasshopper

I pinned this recipe a year ago… ONE WHOLE YEAR! My intentions were to make it for St. Patty’s Day (last year) and clearly I never got to it.  This year I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity.  Don’t cringe at the thought of corned beef and cabbage egg rolls, I know it sounds strange but it was really good – mind over matter, people.

Instead of doing the usual slow cooker corned beef over cabbage, which there is nothing wrong with … but since I’m on this cooking adventure I just had to try these egg rolls.  We opted to bake instead of fry – a great step to a healthier alternative.

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I cooked the beef on Sunday in my slow cooker while we took a day trip to the San Marcos Outlets, Cabela’s, and Salt Lick – which has THE BEST pork ribs. Anyway, back to our holiday dinner. Prep the meat a day beforehand, you won’t be rushing around the day of! The day of: sauté thinly sliced cabbage and onions; boil potatoes (to turn into mashed p’s) … that’s it! I used the leftover egg roll stuffing to make “sides” – nothing goes to waste in this house! Egg rolls are really easy to make and then a 1000 Island dipping sauce, yum! Think of it – a reuben uses 1000 Island so why not for these?  Some of the egg rolls were: beef/cabbage/cheese and beef/cabbage/mashed p’s/cheese. LIGHT spray the wrappers with cooking spray, put in the oven at 400 for 20-ish minutes (or until the wrappers turn golden brown). Remember, everything is cooked already – you’re just crisping the rolls. I had leftovers for lunch yesterday and dipped them in ketchup. I love ketchup, like really love ketchup. It was our wedding favor after all!
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So I know I said I’d be visiting our favorite dishes from here on out but I have to brag about this one because it was the best version to date.  Cheeseburger Pie – which is Josh’s request 100% of the time when I ask what he wants.  We kept having issues with the “crust” so I looked on the interwebs and found a Betty Crocker version; other than Martha, this is a woman I can trust when it comes to fixing disaster recipes.  I had definitely been using too much Bisquick mix.  Also, I added mushrooms, onions, and hamburger seasoning (thank you Bolner’s), oh and topped the “casserole” wish shredded swiss cheese before pouring the mix – cook that baby at 400 for 25 min. BEST CHEESEBURGER PIE SO FAR! I’ve been making it for 4 years now – it just goes to show that recipes take time to perfect.

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Use an actual pie dish for the perfect portions.

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This week’s line up in no particular order:* copy cat Panera broccoli and cheese soup with pork chops (covered in caramelized onions) – I’ll let you know how the soup turns out
* spaghetti and pork/quinoa meatballs
* chicken cordon bleu pizza (using a Bisquick crust) – new recipe, I will blog about it
* grape tomato/shallots with ravioli + salad
* Shakshuka over rice + bread for dipping (Friday/our Lenten meal)