This is my FIRST official post on OurFullPlate.com! It is so scary and exciting all at the same time. I have been talking about this site for a few months now and everyone I have told about my new venture has been nothing but supportive. So… THANK YOU ALL from the bottom of my heart! I hope you not only learn something from me but also share recipes, tips, and ideas too with me (and any other crazy followers).
So here goes…
Ok so I thought long and hard about what my first blog was going to be about and after many ideas I kept going back to CROCK POTTING! I won’t go as far as calling me the Betty Crocker of Crock Potting but I LOVE the crock pot THAT much that I seriously would consider changing my name if the price is right of course. My preference for crock potting is healthy and easy! So without further ado, my first blog post is my All-Time Top 3 Crock Pot Recipes that you can find on my dinner table at least several times a month.
- A Cubana’s Mexican Style Pork Tenderloin
- Italian Meatballs=Heaven
- Pesto and Sun Dried Tomato Tuscana Chicken
A Cubana’s Mexican Style Pork Tenderloin
My first ever crock pot meal which is a staple in my home was adopted from my good friend, Christine. Actually it was Christine who bought me the crock pot that I still use today. So thank you Christine for making me the avid crock potter that I am today!
- 1 Pork tenderloin
- 1-2 cans of black beans (I love love love beans so I always use 2. I use the Goya Black Bean soup cans because it gives the meal more flavor than the ordinary black bean varieties)
- 1 can of salsa (I use the Goya Pico de Gallo)
- 1 cup of frozen corn
- 1 red onion chopped (optional)
- Salt to taste
- To serve/ garnish:
- Fresh chopped Cilantro
- Cheese (I use a pepper jack and shred it over the meal)
- Place the pork tenderloin at the bottom of the crock pot.
- Dump all the ingredients on top of the pork.
- Set it and forget it. Cook on low for 8-10 hours and you are done! If you take it out early and the pork won’t easily shred keep it in longer. Trust me. The longer you cook pork tenderloin the easier it is to shred. Don’t fear it will dry out; it won’t I promise. If you put pork tenderloin in the crock pot frozen, just put it on high for about 6 hours and it should still shred by the end. If not do as I mentioned above: cook until it shreds easily with a fork. It is very hard to mess up anything in the crock pot, trust me. Pork tenderloin is very forgiving. This was my first crock pot meal I ever made. After that meal I never looked back.
Traditionally, I serve this meal usually over short grain brown rice but lately Casa Cross is kicking off a new no grain lifestyle (not DIET) so now I serve the pork over Chipotle style cauliflower lime and garlic rice! Yum! Recipe to follow soon! (I can’t give it all to you; I need to give you a reason to come back)
Whatever you decide to serve the pork over, don’t forget to put chopped fresh cilantro and cheese and enjoy!
Ok this meal is hands down my favorite crock pot recipe in my repertoire right now. My family loves it and can’t get enough of these yummy meatballs. My friend, Marilyn, made it for me in January when I was at Army Training at Ft. Huachuca and I have not stopped making it since then. Julian, my 22 month old, can seriously eat 4 of these yummy meatballs in one sitting on his own so it is truly both a kid and adult crowd pleaser. Marilyn found this recipe on A Year of Slow Cooking. (By the way, BEST website EVER if you are looking for new crock potting ideas). My favorite part about the recipe is the sauce. Seriously the sauce is two ingredients: tomato paste and broth. I recently used a store bought tomato sauce for another recipe I made and I couldn’t believe how sugary jarred sauce is compared to this wonderful and simple “sauce.” After this recipe, you may never buy another jar of Ragu or Prego sauce again.
My adaptation for this recipe is when I prepare this recipe I make enough to feed an Army. Yes you read it correctly, an Army. I literally quadruple the recipe and then divide the meatballs into 3 gallon freezer bags (remember my boys are small but they can E-A-T so I rather have 3 “bigger” portions than 4 little ones). The reason I do this is because if I am ever in a pinch during the week and I have no dinner planned (yes I am not perfect hate to break it to you), I can take a bag of these yummy meatballs out of the freezer, dump it in the crock pot, make the quick and easy sauce and viola, I have a yummy meatball dinner waiting for me. Please note, if you want to prepare this meal for the day of, just take one of the servings and put in freezer for 2-3 hours before you place it in the crock pot to cook. The meatballs need to be somewhat frozen to help hold it’s shape in the crock pot.
So below I wrote down the measurements for the original recipe and then for my Army super sized/ “save the day” portion.
1/4 cup (1 cup) chopped Italian Parsley
1.5 (6 lbs) pounds lean ground beef (I always use 90-96%)
4 slices (16 slices/ 1 package) of smoked raw bacon, diced (I tried using turkey bacon once and it was good but not the same as the good stuff. And in my opinion if you are using lean meat I think you can splurge on the real bacon)
1/4 (1 cup) cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 (1 cup) cup Panko-style breadcrumbs
2 eggs (8 eggs)
2 tablespoons (8 TBL) dried minced onion flakes
1 tablespoon (4 TBL) garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 tsp) kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon (2 tsp) ground black pepper
Additional ingredients used during preparation:
1 cup flour (I used whole wheat flour to roll out the meatballs)
Additional ingredients used for each gallon size bag you make and put into your crock pot:
2 cups chicken broth (I use warm water and half a bouillon cube)
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
In the biggest mixing bowl you have, combine the chopped parsley, ground beef and diced bacon. Add in Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, eggs, and the dried spices and COMBINE WELL. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.
After the meat is mixed thoroughly, roll meat into golf size balls and then roll the meatballs into the whole wheat flour. What I did was just pile them all up on my cutting board and then divide them into your gallon size bags and put into the freezer for a rainy (or busy) day! Again, if you want to make the meal the day of just put one serving in the freezer and freeze for 2-3 hours before putting it in the crock pot. If you are saving them for a rainy day then keep the meatballs in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you are ready to cook the meatballs, place the frozen meatballs in your crock pot, then mix the 2 cups of broth with the tomato paste and pour over the meatballs and cook for 8 hours on low. Prepare to be wowed!
I started off by serving these meatballs over whole wheat pasta (whatever you have penne, spaghetti, shells, etc) but again since our no grain diet lifestyle change I have been serving it over spaghetti squash and seriously it is so so good! Jackson calls it “special yellow noodles.” In the future post, I will consolidate all of my favorite grain substitutions (veggies) for a later post but for this particular side all you have to do is buy spaghetti squash (any size but I always try to buy the biggest I can), cut it in half, scoop out the seeds, place the squash flesh/ meet down on a cookie sheet and put in the over at 400 degrees for 1 hour and then done! When you take out the squash, take a fork and rake the squash out and you will be left with a stringy yummy goodness.
I also serve it with fresh grated parmigiano reggiano cheese.
Pesto and Sun Dried Tomato Tuscana Chicken
Pesto is a such a great spread and should be incorporated in many meals. It may have a lot of fat but I promise you it is good fats. News flash people: good fat is good for you!
1 pack of chicken breast (with the fat cut off)
1 cup of pesto
1 package of dried sun dried tomatoes (I used the ones in oil once and it made the dish really oily with the pesto so if you use the ones soaked in oil please strain)
1 can of artichoke hearts (drained)
1 can of fat free cream of celery (used to give it a little creamier consistency)
½ to 1 cup of peas (the more veggies the better)
I usually place the chicken first on the bottom of the crock pot, then the cream of celery, and followed by your pees, artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes. The last touch is the pesto. Then cook for 8 hours on low.
I serve this too over whatever whole wheat pasta I have but again if you are “no graining it” serve it over sauteed garlic spinach. Yum! Again recipe to follow in a future post I am working on that has all yummy vegetable substitutions for grains. I also top it off with fresh grated parmigiano reggiano cheese. (Do you notice a pattern? I LOVE cheese)
See your Recipe Book.