Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos (or Nachos)

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I am the Goldilocks of Crock Pots.  I actually own three of them.  I have a tiny one for dips, a medium size one that used to be my one and only, and now a huge 7 quart programmable one.  It’s nice when you know you have a crazy day, that dinner will be simple that night.  I don’t know if I can call this one a “recipe,” but this is a nice simple meal for us on those crazy days.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos/Nachos/Whatever device you like

Let’s Get Cooking

Ingredients:

  • Taco Seasoning (I have always made my own, let me know in the comments if you want me to post my recipe)
  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I get free range from Natural Local Food Express)
  • tomato, onion, bell pepper, chopped (whatever you have in the house and need to use up.  Leftover salsa is great too)
  • liquid to prevent sticking (water, stock, broth, beer.  The choice is yours)

Dump everything in your slow cooker, with enough liquid to prevent the chicken from cementing itself to the inside of your cooker (don’t ask how I know these things)

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Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Mine is programmable, so I usually set for 7 hours and it will switch to the “keep warm” feature after 7 hours.

Shred the chicken with a fork and you are ready to eat!

Dress it up however you like.  We like nachos here

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my boys nacho creations, with some shredded cheese and Calder Dairy sour cream

I don’t eat dairy, so mine (header photo) is topped with avocado and some delicious green leaf lettuce.

You could probably serve the chicken in an old shoe and it would be delicious.

Enjoy!

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Food Haul 3.28.13

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I don’t think I really ever realized how much food we use in a week until I started posting these food hauls.  It’s very interesting to take a look and see what we use in a week.  This weeks Door to Door Organics boxes were big again.  As you can see in the picture above, there is the usual suspects as far as produce, along with some dandelion greens and baby beets.  My husband ordered some Easter treats from Zingermans; a brownie and some fudge eggs.

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The second box from Door to Door had milk from Calder Dairy, cheese, boneless skinless chicken breasts, some breakfast sausage from Graham’s Organics, and Avalon 313 whole wheat bread.  One loaf is for my mom, she babysits for me so I bake and get things in my boxes for her.

We went to Pure Pastures (Natural Local Food Express) this week too.  Talked to Garry a little bit and found out that he will be at both the Canton Farmers Market and the Dearborn Farmers Markets this season.  He also let me know my quarter cow should be ready in a week or two.

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Picked up some necessities from Pure Pastures; free range eggs, garlic powder, chocolate milk from Calder Dairy, free range boneless skinless chicken breasts, and dark chocolate almonds.  The almonds are my treat, they are so delicious.  I only need two or three to satisfy a craving.

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A few random items from a local bakery.  They sell bread crumbs for 50 cents a bag and I keep them in my freezer.  I bought the bacon cheese for my husband, and made him a grilled cheese sandwich.  I think I’m wife of the year right now.

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This last photo is probably the most random of all our food this week.  My husband is a mechanic, and is always checking out cars for people.  This person needed him to take a quick look at something.  He works in produce and stopped by later that day and handed us a bag with these goodies.  The bananas are already cut and frozen waiting to be made into Green Monsters!

Food prices this week?  I think we are around $115.  It’s a little higher than I would like right now, considering we have a huge beef purchase coming up.  But, we purchased almost five pounds of chicken breasts.  I’m making chicken nuggets for the freezer.  Recipe coming as soon as I finish testing it!

Want to Learn more about Door to Door Organics?

Roasted Broccoli

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I like my veggies, but sometimes the same old thing can get mundane. I’m not a major foodie, I don’t put zest on things or have a very refined palate. However, I can still appreciate the differences that cooking methods make. Steamed broccoli is good, but roasted broccoli is a whole new level. It’s crazy easy, and oh so delicious.

Let’s Get Cooking!

Preheat your oven to 425

Wash the broccoli and cut into florets. Then dry until you can’t dry anymore. This will make all the difference between roasting and steaming. Roasting involves caramelization, and water will interfere with the process.

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Toss broccoli with your oil of choice (mmm, toasted sesame oil) and some garlic and onion

Lay florets on a cookie sheet covered in foil

Bake 10 minutes, stir/flip, and bake 10-15 more minutes

Keep an eye on them, you want nicely browned not charred.

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Consume. Probably all of it. It’s really good.

Green Monster Smoothie

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Don’t run away, I promise it is good.

Pinky swear

But yes, I’m telling you to put handfuls of raw spinach in your smoothie.  Such an easy way to get those greens in!  There are tons of green monster “recipes” floating around the interwebs, here is my contribution.

Ingredients:

  • one or two frozen bananas.  (see photo below for freezing instructions)
  • two handfuls of raw spinach (when I cant get local, I buy organic baby spinach from Costco and freeze in portions, just shove two handfuls in a Ziploc bag and freeze)
  • peanut butter (depends on how much you like, a spoonful gets the job done)
  • milk, about a cup or so, depending on blender size.  I use Almond milk
  • add ins, whatever you like.  I’m partial to ground flax seed and a little coconut oil
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freeze banana by cutting into two inch sections and freeze on a parchment covered baking sheet

We have a Magic Bullet blender that I love (dishwasher safe!) so depending on what blender you use, your method might be slightly different

Place bananas and some milk in blnder cup

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Add spinach, peanut butter and any additions

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Add enough milk so mixture will easily blend.

Blend, blend, blend

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I know, it looks a little crazy

I swear, it tastes like a milkshake

Seriously

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Clink glasses and say cheers with local two year old

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Who will promptly demolish his and steal yours

Let me know how you like it.  What do you add to yours?

No Bake Granola Bars

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Up until recently, I didn’t know that you could make granola bars at home.  I guess I never gave it a second thought,  You go to the supermarket and there are like 9 million choices, seems like there is a granola bar for every taste.  So, I made the decision to see if I could make my own.  Hop on Pinterest or Google, and there are a million recipes.  Since I’m incapable of following recipes, I find one and tweak it until I like it.  I will probably do more posts with other styles and flavors, but this one is the current favorite in our house.

I based this recipe on this one from Lauren’s Latest.

Gather your ingredients:

  • 1/4c butter
  • 1/4c honey (I will never measure honey, I hate dishes.  I just eyeball it)
  • 1/3c brown sugar
  • 1/4 c Peanut butter.  (again with the no measuring.  I’m a bad cook for this reason.  We like PB, so I probably use more than 1/4)
  • 2c quick cooking oats
  • 1c puffed rice cereal (or Rice Krispies)
  • add ins.  I like mini chocolate chips, coconut, and slivered almonds.  Hubby likes dried cherries and slivered almonds.  One of the beauties of making things at home is you can add anything you like.

Let’s get cooking!

In a medium bowl, add together the oats, rice cereal, and your add ins (except chocolate, I recommend not adding chocolate until the bars are made and pressing them in.  Heat + chocolate = not a cute bar.)  Set aside

I cut the dried cherries into small pieces, they are expensive!

I cut the dried cherries into small pieces, they are expensive!

In a small pot, melt together the butter, honey, brown sugar and peanut butter until bubbly.  Reduce the heat and cook (stir like crazy) for two minutes.

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Pour your gooey mixture into the bowl with the oat mixture and quickly mix the ingredients.  I usually start with a spoon and end up using my hands.  Work quickly before it sets up, and don’t burn yourself.

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Once mixed, form the bars by spreading the mix out on a cookie sheet covered with a sheet of parchment paper.  Press down the mixture firmly and you will have one big sheet of delicious.  If you want to add chocolate, this is the best time, just sprinkle the chips and press them down.  You will get some melting, I encourage licking your hands.  Let it cool for a few hours.

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Once cool, cut into bars.  A pizza wheel cutter is perfect for this job, but any knife will work.

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I’m cheap I love to recycle, so I cut the used parchment into rectangles and wrap the bars individually in the parchment.  I then wrap in foil to maintain freshness.  Plus my husband is a mechanic, and takes these to work.  Layers of protection to protect them from shop grime.

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Sure, I could go all Pinteresty and wrap them in ribbon and bows, but I keep it real here!IMG_7734-001

Click Here for a printable copy of the recipe

Food Haul 3.21.13

Food Haul 3.21.13 realfoodinarealworld.com

Huge food haul this week!  My husband had a birthday and we are restocking our shelves.  I will just give a summary so it’s not hideously boring.  We hit up Natural Local Food Express in Dearborn Heights, Target, and our weekly Door to Door Organics order.

First up is Natural Local Food Express (the Dearborn Heights location)

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Highlight of this trip was the chicken pasties.  Such a quick and delicious dinner!  I am going to talk to Garry or Su and find out more about the pasties, they were great.

Next up is the accidental Target trip.  Accidental, because I had to get some toddler supplies but my husband was with me.  He made some interesting choices, but I’m keeping it real and here are what “food products” landed in my cart.

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Told you, I’m keeping it real. Not proud, but we usually do pretty good.

Last up is Door to Door Organics.

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Huge order this week.  The Smoking Goose (Indiana) Applewood smoked bacon is a favorite here.  I love Avalon (Detroit) 313 bread and I got the birthday boy a brownie from Zingermans (Ann Arbor).  From Calder Dairy (Carleton) we got milk and sour cream.  Strawberry yogurt from Thomas Organic Creamery (Henderson) and La Michoacana (Detroit) tortillas.

For anybody interested in food costs, we spent $32 at Natural Local Food Express and $92 at Door to Door Organics

Want to learn more about Door to Door Organics?

Quick Tip – Lentils

Lentils are a star player in our house.  We have been making a lot more vegetarian and vegan dishes and my husband doesn’t really like beans.  Lentils are a superfood, with somewhere around 16g of fiber and protein in one cup!  Today I will give a quick run down of how I buy, sort and store lentils.

Lentils can be pricey depending on where you buy them.  In keeping with our desire to buy locally sourced goods, I purchase them in bulk bags from Garry at Natural Local Foods Express/Pure Pastures.

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Lentils, like any other dried bean/legume should be sorted before cooking.  This is because there can be rocks and other debris that are picked up when they are harvested.  To save time, I like to sort mine before putting them up for storage.  Just scan through small amounts at a time and pick out anything that looks odd.  I then store my lentils in an airtight glass container that I picked up at Ikea.

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I also follow the exact same protocol for split peas and any other dried bean.  Keep them in a cool, dark place and they will be good for upwards of a year.  Cooking lentils is easy.  Be sure to give them a quick rinse and boil three cups of water for every one cup of dry lentils.  After the water boils, add the lentils and bring back to a boil.  Turn down to simmer and cover for approximately 30 minutes.

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Vegan Lentil Soup

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I love a warm bowl of soup.  When we started Meatless Mondays in our house I figured the easiest way to ease in would be through soup.  What is not to love about a steamy hot savory bowl of vegetables and broth?  Bonus points if you serve it with fresh, hot crusty bread.

Drool….

I have made this recipe several times now, I always tweak it a little depending on what produce is in the house and needs to be used up.  That’s one of the perks of being a home cook, you can do whatever you want to a recipe.  Add what you like, omit what you hate.  There are no rules, and the kitchen is one big playground.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2c onion, diced
  • coconut oil (or oil of choice) to saute
  • 3-4 carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 bell pepper (I like red), diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I think garlic is subjective, some people luuurve it, others not so much)
  • 1tsp oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1tsp basil
  • 1 (15oz) can tomatoes (crushed, diced, whatever you fancy)
  • 2cups dry lentils (sort and rinse)
  • 8cups water (you can use broth for more flavor, but I use water)
  • 1cup fresh spinach (any leafy green is good)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • splash of vinegar to finish (I’m not into vinegar, I usually leave it out)

Let’s get cooking!

Saute the onion, carrot and celery in the oil

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Feed leftover coconut oil to local German Shepherd

Add garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil and cook for two minutes

Add lentils, tomatoes and water

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Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for one hour

Stir in spinach and let wilt down for a few minutes.

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Season and serve!

This recipe makes a ton of soup, probably enough for eight people.  We are a family of three, so I freeze the leftovers flat in quart zip top freezer bags.

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I hope you enjoy this soup!  It’s a good basic recipe to have in your rotation.  Plus, lentils are an amazing superfood!

Disclaimers: I have no idea where I adapted this recipe from.  

Simple Beauty – Sunday Breakfast

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My husband does little cooking, but the man makes an awesome breakfast!

On Sunday mornings that we are both actually home, my husband likes to make a big Sunday breakfast.  For the first time in like two months, we got that chance this weekend.  It was delicious!  We had eggs (the free range eggs from Natural Local Food Express), hash browns (Alexia brand, also from Natural Local Food Express), Sausage (Grahams Organics, from Door to Door Organics) and whole wheat toast (Avalon 313, from Door to Door Organics). 

A nice, simple breakfast that tastes gourmet because of using high quality ingredients.  This has been one of my biggest lessons in eating local; when you use high quality ingredients, your food will taste amazing, even with simple preparations.