Planning Makes My Brain Happy

I have my planner and my go to crock pot cookbook….I’m ready to take on this busy week. I am really liking the meal planner insert and I’m using the pages to keep of what I accomplish instead of what I have to get done. It’s been empowering in a time of high stress. I am really enjoying my planner and color coding so far in 2020.

Tonight’s recipe is meatloaf and mashed potatoes magically all cooked in my instant pot and waiting for me when the family gets home tonight. It takes some prep time the night before but really the Instant Pot does all the heavy lifting. And bonus, if I call it “Meatloaf Cake” then my kids gobble it up.

Now I need to plan out the rest of the week! Happy Cooking!!

My New Favorite Pork Roast

I accidentally invented a new favorite recipe. And I thought I’d drop a quick post to share with you all! The hubby and I wanted to cook up some pulled pork for our friends at out Baby-Q a few weeks back. Normally I chuck a pork butt in a crock pot with some salt and pepper and go low and slow for most of a day.  But because pork and apple go so well together and I have so much apple jelly this year and I added the two together.

Homemade Apple Jelly Pork Roast

  • 5-7 lbs pork butt/shoulder
  • 1/2 pint of homemade apple jelly
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Place the pork fat side up in a crock pot. Sprinkle dry seasonings all over the pork. Using spatula spread apple jelly all over the pork and deposit any leftover around the meat. Cook on low 8 hours or until pork is fork tender. (You can adjust your seasonings according to your own taste. I don’t always measure exactly so do what feels right.)

You can also cook this in an oven in a roasting pan. Just set your oven to 185 or 200 degrees and cook 8-9 hours. However, this method might require more frequent checking of the meat since the oven will pull out more moisture than the crock pot.

Not only did this make everyone in the house drool for hours, it was some of the best pork I’ve ever eaten. It was uber moist with just the slightest hint of apple. We literally at it so fast that I didn’t even have time to take photos for you. But I promise this won’t disappoint!


Freezer Fill-Up

My nesting seems to involve making sure we have food after Jellybean arrives. I previously talked about canning tomatoes and apples, and my adventures have continued!

This past three day weekend I added to the freezer and pantry!


Eight crock pot meals of the chicken variety. I used this pin/blog post from Pinterest for those interested.



I turned some beef neck bones into rich beef broth (frozen in freezer safe ball jars) and there was even enough beef bits for two BBQ sandwiches!


Then I turned these pots into 9 more pints of tomato sauce. And not pictured was four pans of beef and three cheese lasagna! I used my own recipe but everything is fully cooked and so we just have to thaw and bring back up to temp! Easy peasy and yummy for our post baby fog!!

That brings my count to nine casseroles, eight crock pot meals, and more cans of apple sauce and tomato sauce than I can count right now. Pardon me while I rest on my laurels and put my feet up.

I’m interested….does anyone else out there prep for busy times by filling the freezer?

Snow Day Pork Stew

Since I was home yesterday I decided to throw together some hearty stew to keep us warm after shoveling snow.

I started with:
– 2 frozen cubed pork steaks
– 2 cups baby carrots
– about a cup of caramelized onions leftover from another day
– I can cream of chicken soup
– 1 can progresso meal starters, creamy mushroom flavor
– 1 to 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
– 1 package of red pepper flake from pizza delivery
– salt and pepper to taste

I mixed all the ingredients except the pork, salt, and pepper together in my crock pot until well combined. I them added the pork and covered with sauce mixture. I cooked on low for 7 hours or until pork is fork tender.

Pull out the pork and cut into hearty sized chunks:


Stir remaining sauce mixture and taste. Add salt and pepper to taste:


Combine all ingredients back together!


We served over some whole grain rice steamed with half water and half chicken stock. The soup is very hearty and rustic with the large chunks of pork and whole baby carrots. It would have been better with potatoes, but I am trying to use more whole grain sources and less starchy vegetables.

The creaminess of the soup and starter play well against the spiciness of the red pepper flake. The carrots were fork tender and the caramelized onions added a much richer texture than just adding raw uncooked onions. This recipe was very very filling and just what a snow day needed!

All in all not a bad made up on the fly recipe.

Everything But The Kitchen Sink Soup


After a long tough work week, I am in no mood to cook. By alas, we must eat. So bleary eyed I started pulling leftovers from the fridge and staples from my pantry yesterday. I ended up with a (medium hot) spiced beef and veggie soup.

Roughly here is what I put together:
– leftover mashed sweet potatoes
– stew beef cubes
– canned green beans
– jar of homemade salsa
– leftover home grown frozen sweet corn
– canned hot chili beans
– beef bouillon cube
– fresh ground black pepper
– crushed red pepper flake from leftover pizza delivery packet
– garlic powder
– water
(I didn’t measure I just dumped and stirred)


Turned out pretty yummy and filling! The husband was neutral about it. I think he could taste the sweet potato (even though I didn’t tell him) and he doesn’t like them.

I’m calling this a win. It was hearty, delicious, and it cleaned out my fridge! It was even good for my packed lunch today…


Crock Pot Asian Peanut Butter Pork

After many many days of sour stomachs and flu hangovers, the hubs and I have our appetite back! So in honor of that here is the latest Pinterest recipe adventure, Crock Pot Asian Peanut Butter Pork! (from a pin that led to the Cassie Craves food blog)


Ingredient list was simple and I only made two substitutions! I used apple cider vinegar instead if white because that’s what I had on hand and I used a bone in pork butt instead of tenderloin. Why you ask? Simple, bone in pork is tastier, cheaper, and holds moisture better (at least in my opinion). Moisture retention in slow cooked meats is essential!

Set up was easy too as I did all the measuring and slicing the night before and stored in the fridge. So in the morning i just had to throw together! First onion…


Then the trimmed up pork butt…


Then remainder of the ingredients….


I let this slow cook for 7 to 7 1/2 hours. The sauce did scorch a bit on the sides mostly because the hubs slacked on his scrape and stir job during the day. But it didn’t seem to affect the flavor. I deboned the pork and shredded with my fingers it was so tender. I chose to blend up the remaining liquid and onion into a sauce to make it creamier even though the recipe didn’t specify…


And then mixed in the sauce into my shredded pork…


I served mine with leftover corn and mashed potatoes from the fridge. But it would also be excellent over rice or even on a bun for a sandwich.


I LOVED this recipe mostly because I love PB. I could detect the tang of vinegar, little hints of brown sugar, and lots of peanut goodness. The hubs could take it or leave it, he wanted it to be spicier. (He also didn’t enjoy smelling PB all day either.) Such is the eternal struggle in our household, sigh.

This is another Pinterest success that I think will remain in my crock pot arsenal!

Sweet and Sour (and Hot) Beef

My husband and I truly disagree on very few things, but level of spice in food is one of them. My husband likes a good burn and bite or even make your nose run hot. I like mild to medium spice but nothing that hurts (so to speak). It’s a constant battle and I usually win. Mostly because I am the cook, lol!

Today I tried a new crock pot recipe that I hoped would strike a balance. I made Sweet and Sour Beef from the Taste of Home Slow Cooker Classics. Pretty simple recipe:

2 lbs boneless beef round
16 oz tomato sauce
Sliced carrots
1 sliced onion
1/2 cup molasses
1/3 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt

Basically put the beef in the bottom if the crock pot, mix the remaining ingredients together, and pour over beef. Cook on low 7 ish hours. The cookbook also called for this to be served over noodles, but we are trying to cut out starch so we skipped that.


Results were great! I strained the juices and thickened into a sauce with a basic flour and butter roux.



It made a devilishly thick sauce with a hint of sweet molasses and a vinegary bite at the end. The chili powder and paprika gave just enough heat for me. The husband sprinkled on some crushed red pepper flake for added heat. I will note that crock pot recipes don’t always make the most beautiful dishes.

The low and slow cooking really softens the ingredients and tends to make everything the same color. Don’t let this discourage you! Crock pot food is delicious and can be really healthy. Not to mention it is hot and ready for you when you get home!


I LOVE this cookbook and this recipe got a big thumbs up from the hubby. Definitely a keeper! The house smells wonderful and it was very filling even without the noodles. I betcha the husband even goes back for a midnight snack!


Pot Roast Heaven

Ooooooo myyyyyy gooooooood. Dinner was magical! Never under estimate the power of grain fed well staight from the farm beef. The roast literally fell apart when I took it out of the crock pot. It was fork tender but retained a nice texture without being mushy.


The flavor brought me back to my childhood and the amazing dinners my mother used to make us. I grew up in rural America where beef quality is king. The mix of the spice of the ranch and Italian seasonings with the earthy flavors of the gravy and beef was heavenly. I have always loved this recipe but store bought beef can’t hold a candle to what I made today!


The onions came out buttery and soft, but under seasoned. I could take them or leave them really. The potatoes cooked nicely and were delicious with a little of the beef drippings drizzled over them.


All in all……so much deliciousness. And the compartmentalism worked like a charm and it was nice to keep the flavors separate that is until I wanted to combine them. DEFINITELY doing this again!

Happy Eating!!