Quick Dinner: Beefy Taco Skillet

Ok, so pictures with this post because I didn’t think about writing it down until after we had already eaten second helpings. I didn’t think you’d want to see a pic of an empty, dirty skillet.

This recipe is inspired by what I had in the cupboard. I really wanted tacos, but we didn’t have any of the usual fixins’, so I rummaged through the cupboard and the spice rack and here is what I came up with.

If you are wondering why didn’t I just go to the store, or send the Mister…. You mst be new here! I pride myself on being able to use it up, make do, or go without. But a woman should never be denied tacos, or a reasonable facsimile.

Beefy Taco Skillet (serves 6, maybe more)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground meat (I used beef, but you could use your fav. ground meat)
  • 1 can condensed tomato soup +1 can of water
  • 1 small tin tomato paste
  • 1 can beans, drained and rinsed (I used Sun’s Pinto beans with Jalapeños) Pintos, Kidneys, or black beans would all be good in this recipe
  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, dices (I used red)
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms slices (I used fresh, but feel free to use canned, drained and rinsed)
  • 2 cups cooked rice (I had leftover white rice in the fridge, but feel free to use brown if you like it better)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 2 cups shredded Mexican or Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • Sour Cream (optional topping)

 

Directions

  1. Brown meat over medium heat, breaking it apart as you cook.
  2. Add chopped veggies. Cook until onions are clear.
  3. Add beans, soup, tomato paste, and taco seasoning. Simmer 10 minutes, until well combined and bubbling.
  4. Add rice and stir to coat rice and incorporate into mixture.
  5. Top with cheese and turn to low. Cover skillet, allowing cheese to melt, about 5 minutes.
  6. Top each portion with sour cream, as desired.

Serve with Tortillas and a green salad. Despite having a whole can of soup and water in it, it is not soupy at all. Cooking it on medium really tightens it up, especially once the rice is added.

When I make this again, I will be adding more veggies: 2 onions, 3 bell peppers (one red, one green, and once yellow), and 2 cups of corn kernels (probably frozen). I may also omit the can of water and add a can of salt-free diced tomatoes in their own juice. All of these changes will add bulk to the entree without adding too many more calories.

You could also top this with crushed tortilla chips and a little chopped cilantro (I am one of those people who can’t eat cilantro- it tastes like soap and makes my tummy urpy).

 

 

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Celebrate July 11th with Chick-Fil-A and 7/11!

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Tomorrow is 7/11/17 and that means FREE SLURPEES at 7-11. From 11am-7pm, most (like 99%) of 7/11’s in the US will offer a free special sized Slurpee.  WOO HOO.

It is also Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-Fil-A! That means if you show up in a cow themed costume/apparel from opening until 7pm, you will recive some sort of free food!

  1. Make or buy your cow costume (or any sort of cow apparel, really).
  2. Wear your cow costume to your favorite Chick-fil-A between Opening and 7 p.m.
  3. Receive a free entree!

To find the full details and a list of what you can receive for free, check out this page. Kids get a kids meal, and adults get an entree (but free is free, so woo hoo!).

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2016 Cow Appreciation Day Outfits!

We love free events! In order to participate and keep our our out of pocket low, I re-purpose stuff around the house to suit our needs for the event.  Last year I made Henry and myself shirts and kept them. His shirt was a little too big and thankfully he has grown up, not out. It might be a little shorter than he’d like, but it will do. he’s got black shorts to wear as well )I’ll probably wear black yoga pants).

I painted a Cow onsie for Bitty Bird last year, but it doesn’t fit.  I think I gave it to someone who was going to have a baby.

IMG_4744.jpgIMG_4746.jpgI made tails from pieces of felt, and pinned them to the shirts (and the back of Bitty’s tutu). We will be re-using our tails again this year too. I’ll be making new ears for all of us. Mine will be attached to hair clips, Henry’s will be on a head band.

IMG_4742I dug through her closet and found a black shirt for her, a white tutu, and a headband that I can sew a couple cow ears onto.  To cow-ify it, I painted white spots onto the shirt.

To keep the paint from seeping through the shirt and the paint sticking the shirt together, I re-used an old Amazon shipping envelope.

We had all of this stuff in the house, so it will cost us nothing! I will be kicking down a few bucks for a large sugar free lemonade!

Are you going to either event tomorrow?  

Review: Home Chef Meal Service

I love to cook. When US Family Guide and Home Chef offered me two free meals for two, I jumped at the chance. Home Chef delivers ready to cook meal kits. The shopping and most of the prep work is done! You get just enough of each ingredient, and you add minimal ingredients that are already in your pantry (salt, pepper, oil, water).

Each Dish comes with a recipe page that its into a 3-ring binder (which is included in your first order FREE).  Directions are step by step with photos, and all ingredients are listed on the card in case you want to make it yourself from scratch again.

So, I got my first kit in the mail last month, but right away something was off. Some of IMG_4166IMG_4170the veggies were not in good shape. IMG_4171I called customer service in the hopes they could just resend me the spoiled ingredients, but instead they gave me credit for two more meals, which wouldn’t have been a problem, but that meant it was another week before I could do my review.

I improvised with the steak salad. I had a bag of Romaine salad on hand, and some grape tomatoes to substitute for the ingredients that were not edible in the kit.  The steak was great. Overall it was easy to prepare.

Last week, the replacement kit arrived. Again, similar issues with some of the more delicate produce (cucumber, grape tomatoes, Roma tomato), but this time I didn’t bother calling. I just tossed the inedible produce, and subbed in what I had in the fridge. I made the Goat Cheese and Bacon Naan flatbread pizzas first- They were so easy and tasty.

I made a few tweaks (I didn’t use the honey to caramelize the onions- That’s totally cheating!). I made this the same day the box arrived and I will definitely be making it again!

img_4569.jpgThe other recipe that I received was the Shawarma Chicken Bowl.

The poor tomato and cucumber were both inedible. The cuke was frozen upon arrival (Due to it’s location in the box directly on top of a blue ice block), and the tomato looked like it had been knocked around a bit.

I improvised the dish a bit and it turned out ok. What I didn’t care for was that the seasoning on the meat and rice is the same. I did like how the chicken came out. It had a great level of seasoning and flavor. I grilled it on our outdoor BBQ.

OVERALL: Home Chef is a great way to try out new recipes if you are not an experienced cook.  It was nice to open a box and have all of the ingredients all ready to prep and cook. It is expensive for a family- starting at $9.95 per serving. That is still WAY cheaper than going out to eat, and in my opinion, these dishes could be restaurant quality with a little work on the consumers end (using proper knife skills, reading and following directions completely).  They worked great for us when we wanted to have a stay in date night and watch a Redbox.

I would be careful when choosing entrees not to pick ones with more delicate veggies, just because they tend not to travel well in the box with the blue ice type frozen blocks.

That’s the nice thing about Home Chef, you can choose your entrees out of a list of many. And the menu changes frequently, so you won’t get the same dishes again and again.

If you want to try Home Chef for yourself, Check out my post here with details on how you can save $30 off your first purchase!

Disclosure: I received this offer for free in exchange for my honest opinion. I received no monetary compensation, and all opinions are my own. Sometimes I utilize affiliate links. To learn more about my use of affiliate links, please visit my disclosure page.

Family Recipe: Marinated Salad

6f6a6154-1This salad is a  favorite at our house. Because of it’s simplicity, it’s great to take to potlucks too! It would be a great addition to any holiday feast table.  It’s Vegan, Gluten Free, Low Carb, Paleo compatible!  No excuses- Give it a shot!

Marinated Salad (serves 4)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Mural of Flavor
  • 1 t. granulated garlic
  • 1 t. granulated onion
  • 2 large cucumbers, sliced into coins
  • 3 large tomatoes, sliced (your choice of variety)

Directions:

  1. Mix the vinegar, oil, and spices in a small bowl, set aside.
  2. Place the veggies in a large bowl.
  3. Slowly drizzle the dressing mixture over the veggies and toss lightly to coat. Cover bowl (I use a bowl like this one) and store in the fridge for 4-12 hours before serving- this allows the flavors to mingle. The salad can be stored for up to 4 days.

Sliced fresh mushrooms are also great additions to the salad, as are drained, rinsed canned artichoke hearts. If you aren’t concerned about it being vegan, adding 1/2 cup of cubed Monterey Jack cheese is tasty too!

Big Holiday Meals on a Budget!

imgp8302Now that we’ve gotten through with Halloween, we can start focusing on Thanksgiving and Christmas. That means two big family dinners, and most likely, countless other get togethers, potlucks, and shared meals.

Here are a few tips on how to prepare some healthy meals and stay on budget!

Ask for help! Everyone has a dish that they excel at making. Ask friends and family to bring their best dish. It will make everyone feel included and cut down on your budget. Each Thanksgiving, my parents make a turkey, rolls, stuffing and potatoes (I make the gravy as soon as my mom pulls the the turkey out of the roasting pan to rest!). Our guests bring all sorts of other awesome dishes. We all end up stuffing ourselves and taking home tons of leftovers. But the best part is trying all of the great, different dishes! Just make sure that everyone tells you what they are bringing.. You may just end up with 10 green bean casseroles!

Make a Budget and stick to it Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses! If you can’t afford everything that you think you need, just do with what you can afford. Trust me, you don’t NEED 5 different types of dessert!

Shop at discount stores. You all know my love of 99 Cents Only and Grocery Outlet by now, so I shouldn’t have to remind you, but don’t forget to shop at discount stores too! You’ll find all kinds of deals! I love starting my weekly shopping trip at 99 Cents Only. While they don’t accept coupons, I frequently find great deals on produce from name brands like Dole, Del Monte, Foxy, Driscolls, and Earthbound Organics! Check your local stores websites to see what’s on sale before you leave home.

Stretch your budget with low cost items. Potatoes are usually very inexpensive, so stretch your menu with a tasty, filling potato dish. Despite their bad reputation as being full of carbs, potatoes are also high in vitamin c, potassium, vitamin B6, and manganese. Roasted spuds tossed in olive oil and fresh herbs- YUM! Other inexpensive foods this time of year are apples. Apple crisp is one of my favorite dishes. I’ll be posting the recipe later this week!

Don’t forget your coupons! Starting in the next week or so, printable coupon sites (like the ones listed here) and coupon inserts will be peppered with coupons for holiday feast foods. Canned soups, french fried onions, stuffing, pantry staples. And don’t forget rebate/couponing apps (like these) too! You will be saving money left, right, and center!

Prepare food that is in season.  For the fall, that means root veggies, gourds (yeah, that includes pumpkins!), apples, dark leafy greens (think kale, etc.), and for those in warmer climates oranges and pomegranates! Buy meat that is on sale (typically turkey, ham, and prime rib). Tons of baking supplies and pantry staples go on sale in the fall and winter too. Stock up when prices are low- most pantry staples have a long shelf life. It will help you stretch your budget through the spring.

Bake/cook from scratch! Not only is home made food more cost effective and healthier than pre-packaged foods. Bonus- home made baked goods like bread and cookies always taste better, right? Here is my go to beer bread recipe and my families favorite cookie recipe

 

My favorite: Use what you have on hand!  Before you hit up the stores, write out your menu for these special occasions. Make a list of  ingredients needed for the recipes and check your pantry.  You’d be surprised what you may already have.

 

I’d love to hear your tips for saving money on food this holiday season!

 

New Recipe: Artichoke Bruschetta Casserole!

Artichoke Bruschetta CasseroleI’m on a new recipe kick right now. I don’t often get inspiration from Pinterest recipes because they are either things we don’t eat, or are overly complicated or cutesy. Instead I draw ideas from cookbooks, magazines, stuff I see at the grocery store while  I cruise the aisles,  and Buzzfeed’s Tasty Videos that are all over Facebook.  I was jonseing for Olive Gardens now defunct Spinach Artichoke dip the other day, so imagine my surprise when I stepped foot into my local 99 Cents Only…

IMG_1755I found a jar of this Bruschetta at 99 Cents Only the other day and small jar of Artichoke dip. I knew I had to take them home and concoct something delicious!

I set to work in the kitchen to find some other ingredients that would pair well to I could whip up something fabu for a meatless meal. I pulled out a bag of frozen spinach and cheese to compliment the flavors of the dips.

 

 

IMG_1754We had a spaghetti Squash on the counter, so in order to keep the dish healthier and full of veggies and fiber, I opted to bake up the squash and use it instead of the traditional noddles or pasta in a casserole. If you’ve never cooked with spaghetti squash, I posted a tutorial here.

After rummaging through the freezer and fridge, I assembled the ingredients and got working! There is no photo of the finished product because it got eaten up quickly.

 

Artichoke Bruschetta Casserole

Directions:

  1. Clean and bake the spaghetti squash. For info on how that’s done, check out the tutorial here.
  2. While the squash is baking, mix together the two dips in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the spinach and half of each cheese. Stir until completely mixed.
  4. Prepare a 9×9 glass pan with spray release.
  5. Place all of the spaghetti squash shreds/”noodles” in the bottom of the baking dish, and smooth down to create an even layer.
  6. Pour the dip mixture over the top and smooth to evenly cover the squash.
  7. Top with the remaining cheeses.
  8. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese has started to brown and bubble.

This dish is gluten free and vegetarian. To make it vegan, use dairy-free cheese! If you HAVE to have meat, this would be great with grilled chicken, or Italian sausages mixed in or served along side.

This recipe serves 2 as a main dish or 4 as a side dish.