Slow and Steady

Getting a slow-cooker has proved to be a successful meal maker on most Sundays. I love the idea of throwing a whole bunch of stuff into a big pot and letting it just cook for hours, without needing any attention from me. After trying slow-cooker lasagna for the first time a few months ago, I knew I wanted more of it, but I wanted to switch things up. So, I tried a buffalo chicken lasagna a few weeks ago that was amazing (I need to find that recipe so I can share it with you!), and then I made a Southwestern lasagna.

Even though this is the first year I haven’t filled out a March Madness bracket in awhile, I’m still interested in the games. So, throwing this in the slow-cooker and plopping myself on the couch was just what the doctor (aka myself) ordered on Sunday. It also made enough that the hubs and I will be able to enjoy it mid-week as well. I’m a big fan of making something that has leftovers, especially when the meal is a winner. When I was trying to figure out what I wanted in the lasagna, I realized there are so many different variations you could make. Ours was on the spicier side, but you can of course dial down the spices to your liking, or swap them out for something else!

Of course it wouldn’t be complete without some guacamole, so thanks to the wonderful Hormel, I picked up some Spicy Wholly Guacamole. It was the perfect addition to the meal, and they aren’t messing around with the spice! I would definitely try their pico de gallo and guacamole dip they have, too.

Southwestern Lasagna
– Serves 4 –

1 lb. ground beef, ground turkey, or soy crumbles (I used Jennie-O ground turkey)
1 green pepper, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 10oz. can Rotel tomatoes & green chiles
1 10oz. can enchilada sauce
3 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp Adobo
1/4 tsp paprika
8oz. shredded cheese blend
6 burrito sized flour tortillas (I use Chi-Chi’s brand)
guacamole, sour cream, and salsa for garnish 

1. Brown meat until cooked through, and drain any excess fat (if there is any). Mix in spices (chili powder, cumin, Adobo, and paprika) until combined.
2. Combine ground beef, diced onions, diced green pepper, black beans, and tomato and chilies mixture in a medium sized bowl.
3. Layer 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of your slow-cooker. Follow with a tortilla, 1 1/2 cups of the meat/veggie mixture, and a 1/4 cup of cheese.
4. Continue layering, ending with a tortilla at the top. Finish it off with another 1/4 cup of cheese, and pour the rest of the enchilada sauce on top.
5. Cook on low heat for at least 2 hours. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: Hormel Foods sent me a $50 gift card as a member of their Extended Family Food Blogger program in order to create a meal using products from the Hormel family, and to blog about it. The opinions in this post are my own. 

Sweet Potato Chipotle Beer Chili

This month’s Hormel Extended Family Food Blogger theme was slow cooking, specifically with a Crockpot. They actually sent me one in order to create my meal – how awesome! Having only just made my very first meal a la slow cooker last week (it was this), I was psyched to give a new recipe a try. I really love the idea of a slow cooker, since it gives you the opportunity to set up your meal, go about your day, and come home to something delicious. I will most definitely be putting some type of slow cooker meal into heavy rotation in our house this winter.

Because it’s fall and the weather is slowly getting cooler, I first knew I wanted to make chili, and as an ingredient have what I consider to be a classic fall food – sweet potatoes! From there, all the other ingredients kind of fell into place based on what I invision a good chili to include. And, of course I had to add beer – its such a great cooking ingredient. This also made enough for leftovers, which is always appreciated. While I don’t mind bringing frozen meals for lunch, I would much prefer a leftover, and I can’t justify eating out more than once a week (if even that).

So, after a long run and making a trip to the Halloween store in hopes of finding a costume for my husband, it was great to come home to this!

Sweet Potato Chipotle Beer Chili… with Turkey
– Serves 4 –

1.25 lbs ground turkey (or leave this out, use ground beef, etc.)
1 large Spanish onion, diced
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 15.5 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 8 oz. cans diced tomatoes with jalapeños
12 oz. Mexican beer (I used Corona)
2 chipotles in adobo, plus 2 Tbsp adobo sauce [or less depending on your spice preference]
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder 

1.  Combine all ingredients in your slow cooker
2. Cook on the high setting for 2 hours
3. Serve with your favorite chili toppings (shredded cheese, sour cream, etc.) 

Childhood Favorites: Monkey Stew

This month’s Hormel Extended Family Food Blogger post is in regards to childhood favorites. While it’s true I grew up loving hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, macaroni and cheese, and all the other things deemed “typical” for a child to like, there was one dinner that was my hands-down favorite. I think the name might have played a part in why I liked it, because it was fun telling people what I was having for dinner, and seeing the extremely confused look on their faces. But, it also tasted great. As you can guess by the title of the post, it’s Monkey Stew!

Monkey Stew itself is super easy to make, and versatile. In my house, it was usually served over pasta or mashed potatoes, with a side of peas. It could definitely be made into a sloppy Joe styled sandwich, or as a base for chili, and more. My favorite style of Monkey Stew was over mashed potatoes, and if an extra vegetable was needed, with peas. We always had salad with our dinners growing up, but we often had other vegetables as well. I’m not sure why, but peas seemed to always be the go-to with this particular recipe.

Now that I’m married, I’ve been thinking about recipes that I want to keep as “go-to’s” in my recipe arsenal for when I have a family. This recipe will definitely be on that list, since it was such a favorite growing up. So, of course for my re-creation I made mashed potatoes, and served it with peas. Instead of using ground beef, though, I went with Jennie-O ground turkey. When you put it all together, it’s a hearty meal that takes no time at all to make. This was just what my husband and I needed after Sunday’s long run, too.

Monkey Stew
– Serves 4 –

1 package Jennie-O ground turkey
1 15 oz. plus 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce (I used Hunt’s)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
Salt & pepper, to taste

1. In a sauté pan over medium heat, brown the meat, and season with salt and pepper. 
2. When the meat is almost fully cooked, add the diced onions and sauté them together until the meat is cooked, and the onions are soft.
3. Add in the tomato sauce, cover, and let simmer about 5-10 minutes.
4. Serve over mashed potatoes or pasta.