Crocktober: Taco Soup

October 1 = the start of International Crock-Pot season, right? Any appliance that you can throw a bunch of ingredients in, check back in 4 hours, and voila a delicious meal appears, is something I can really appreciate. Matt was telling me about a Taco Soup recipe that his mom used to make that he loved. I asked his mom to email me the recipe and she told me the best part of the recipe was that it was “EASY!”. Easy? And a meal Matt will actually like? Cue the rainbows, chirping birds and the fast-clap hands emoticons.  You can really add whatever you’d like, and this will turn out great. We used the following:

  • 1lb ground beef (we used ground turkey)
  • 1 can sweet kernal corn
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can dark kidney beans
  • 1 can light kidney beans
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can Rotel (we used 2  because we like spicy)
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning (dry) (again, we used the hot seasoning)
  • 1 pkg ranch dressing (dry)

1) Brown the meat. Add some salt and pepper, cumin, or whatever seasoning you desire. Drain the grease.

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2) Add the meat and all of the other ingredients into the crock-pot. Do not drain any of the veggies. Let simmer in the crock-pot for as long as possible. The longer it simmers, the more the flavors have time to soak in. We use the Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners which makes clean-up a breeze. Making an easy process even easier? Done and done.

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The recipe tastes so much better if you make it while screaming through the entire Florida game, right MRH?

3)  Watch as many college football games as possible while you let the meal cook.

4) When you’re ready to eat, make a condiment plate to spice things up. We had cilantro, limes, cheese, jalapenos, and you can never go wrong with Fritos.

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We need to work on getting Matt some new dinnerware. Bless his heart.

4. Add toppings and  enjoy! Go back for so many refills that you don’t think you’ll be able to eat again until next weekend.

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The Fruits of Quick Pickling

Last week I introduced you all to  Sweet Pea’s Pickled Veggies – my mom’s famously delicious recipe. This week I perusing the Trader Joe’s website [confession: I was browsing their wine selection at 10am on a Wednesday], and they had a feature article about pickling fruit…sounds interesting, and something I never had thought to pickle before! Check out their recipe’s for Ginger Honey Pickled Peaches, Pickled Strawberries w/ Black Pepper & Thyme, and Citrus Pickled Bell Peppers. The pickled peaches sound amazing, and I can’t wait to try it out! The website also includes a free download for printable jar labels for your tasty treats. Perfect, inexpensive and easy gift idea!

Sweet Pea’s Pickled Veggies

When we were in college my mother started coming up with grandmother names for herself. What? Your mom wasn’t already dreaming of grandchildren when the thought of marriage and children was the furthest thought in your mind? Over the years it’s progressed from Mimmy, to Mims, and she’s currently landed on Sweet Pea. Poor lady has a few more years between her and kiddos and I can only imagine what names she’ll come up with next…

I mentioned last week that we’re heading to Florida later this week to vacation with Matt’s family. I always like to bring his family a little something, and  thought Sweet Pea’s Pickled Veggies would be perfect. Pickled veggies are really easy to make, and amazingly delicious. We like ours really spicy, but you could reduce the amount of red pepper flakes or hot sauce if you prefer. The ingredient list looks intimidating, but I promise it’s spices you already have in your cabinet. If you don’t have something, get creative and use what you have! You won’t  be disappointed – they’re bright and colorful and great to snack on during those southern summer days.

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Sweet Pea’s Pickled Veggies

-2 cups white vinegar

-1/3 cup sugar

-1/3 cup honey

-4 teaspoons sea salt

-2 teaspoon dill seed

– 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

-1 teaspoon hot sauce

-1 teaspoon ground black pepper

-12 whole cloves

-4 bay leaves

-1 teaspoon garlic powder

-sliced veggies (be creative with this! our favorites are cucumbers & cauliflower, but you can use whatever)

– – – – –

1. Fill up jar with your cut vegetables. You can combine a variety of veggies in one jar, or just stick with one type per jar. We use the quart and half, wide mouth, Mason Jars.

2. Combine  the first 11 ingredients in the jar with the veggies.  Shake until all the sugar has dissolved.

3.  Chill at least 4 hours, shaking occasionally. Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

Tee Time & Off To The Races

This past weekend is the only “free” weekend we have in May, so I was expecting it to be relaxing; silly me! We did manage to cram a lot of fun into the past few days, and wore a lot of different hats – literally!

Friday: We kicked the weekend off by grabbing some craft beer from Common Market and walking over to Food Truck Friday to eat dinner. The Food Truck lot was booming, the busiest I have ever seen it!  After finishing our delicious tacos from The Tin Kitchen, we headed to the  South End Gallery Crawl – an art crawl that South End put’s on the First Friday of each month.  We don’t consider ourselves “artsy” people, but the gallery crawl was really fun! I never knew there were so many galleries so close to us in South End. The galleries all had unique feels and a variety of art. We ended the evening by walking to Sullivan’s to meet some of our friends, Jade and Chris for a drink.  They both have had significant accomplishments take place in the past few weeks, and it was fun to celebrate their success! We’re so proud of you J&C!

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Saturday AM: We had planned to attend the Wells Fargo golf tournament on Sunday, but due to the weather report, we decided we better go on Saturday if we wanted to have decent weather. Matt and I went to the tournament together last year, and is one of our favorite things we’ve done. It’s so neat to see the golfers you see on TV every weekend, so close up. I have a huge crush on Rory and Webb, and wish that Phil was apart of my family. The weather wasn’t ideal, but I loved every minute of exploring the course with  MRH. It’s one of those events that I can see us making a yearly tradition for a long time!

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Saturday PM: Unfortunately we didn’t get to spend all day at the tournament because we had already made plans to watch the Kentucky Derby later that evening. We raced home from Quail Hollow, changed from our fleeces and tennis shoes and into our seer sucker and big hats.  Our contribution to the party were the Mint Juleps, which was an adventure seeing as neither one of us had ever drank or made them. Like any southern woman in cooking distress, I consulted  Southern Living magazine for some recipes.  The recipe called for mint simple sugar, but we decided it would be more fun to make it ourselves rather than buy. I am lucky enough to have a farmers  market that is set up right outside of my office building, so I purchased a plant of mint that we hope to later plant. We decided on the traditional mint syrup, and then also the grapefruit-honey syrup – delicious! We made the syrup’s on Friday night and let them sit overnight so that the mint would have ample time to diffuse in the syrup. Mint Julep’s are actually pretty simple; load a cup with crushed ice and then add 2 parts Bourbon and 1 part syrup. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked the Juleps despite the fact that they contained Bourbon ( I had a disastrous run-in with Evan Williams back in college that ended very very badly. It took almost two years before I was able to talk to anyone named Evan without getting nauseous). We placed bets on a few of the horses and were so excited that Orb was one of them!

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Sunday: As expected, Sunday was dreary and gross outside. We were very glad we had decided to go to the tournament on Saturday. I don’t think I would have been much fun in the pouring rain. We embarked on our typical Sunday tradition, bottomless mimosa’s at Vivace. It’s always easier to convince Matt to go to the mall after a few drinks… and my plan worked  – we headed to South Park afterwards to run a few errands. Later that night, our friends Kelly and Mark invited us over for dinner. The guys grilled chicken, beef and lobster tails – – so good, and Kelly had prepared a spread of appetizers, fresh veggies and fruit, and paleo brownies (that actually tasted pretty good!). Kelly and Mark are the best hosts! And as always, it was great to see our other friends that were also there, Sam, Courtney and Rich. Having a fun Sunday night surely makes Monday morning a lot more bearable!

 

Valentines Day 5.

 

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I undoubtedly inherited the “holiday” gene from my mother. I love holiday’s and I love celebrating! I’m not a huge fan of Valentines Day per se, but it’s a reason to celebrate and a good reminder of how much love I have in my life. Matt completely spoils me pretty much every day of the year.  He is always so good about taking care of me – I can’t tell you the last time I cooked a meal for him, he’s the best! We’ve recently been reading The 5 Love Languages (more on this later) and Matt’s “language” is Acts of Service; meaning his emotional communication preference is through acts of service.  We’ve celebrated a lot of holidays lately (Christmas, New Years, Birthday) and have an anniversary coming up, so we decided we would celebrate Valentine’s with a low-key dinner on Saturday. Taking this all into account, I decided I would surprise Matt with a special Valentine’s Day Breakfast this morning that he would not be expecting.

1. Anthropologie Fluer-de-lys Juice Glasses: Recently I have been really getting into depression glass. I love all of the different color options and it always reminds me of my Grandmother who collected a lot of pieces. I had my eyes on some replica depression glass juice glasses from Anthropologie. Right after Christmas they went on sale and I scooped up 4 smaller juice glasses and 4 larger tumblers for a steal! Since I don’t do much entertaining, and don’t usually eat breakfast at home, I haven’t been able to use them. I am so glad this morning gave me the chance to break them out!

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2. Van’s Wheat & Gluten Free Waffles: Because of some recent health issues, I’ve had to eliminate gluten from my diet (kill me now!). Luckily there is a lot of exposure to gluten-free allergies and a lot of great alternatives. I found these wheat and gluten-free waffles at Target, and they tasted great. I don’t think Matt would have ever noticed if I hadn’t told him.

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3. Cookie-Cutter Waffles: I knew that I wasn’t going to have a ton of time to make an extravagant breakfast because we had to get off to work, so I stole this cute idea from Christina at Carolina Charm. If anyone knows my mother, then no one should be surprised that she owns five hearts,  lip and cupid cookie-cutters.  I borrowed those from her and used them to make Matt’s waffles into heartfelt shapes. A nice extra touch!

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4. The Dish: I first fell in love with The Dish when I saw the Charlotte, NC platter at Paper Skyscraper. I love the city collection and wish I had one of everything from their Charlotte collection (platters, cups, mugs, popcorn bowls, tea towels). After going on their website I found the have so much more than just cities; political parties, colleges, seasonal, occasions, southern-theme, nautical, states, so many! I think these make awesome gifts!

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5. KillSwitch App: For those of you without a special someone today, don’t worry, I didn’t forget about you! The KillSwitch app launched today and would have really come in handy back in my college days!  If you aren’t quite ready to de-friend the d-bag, this app “makes it easy to eliminate your ex’s entire presence on your Facebook timeline — in one fell swoop.   Identify the target ex from your list of friends. The app then crawls your profile for content (photos, videos, wall posts and status updates) linked or tagged with that person’s specific Facebook ID. In the next step, you have the option to delete all the content or manually select and vanquish certain interactions”. The app costs $0.99 and proceeds will go to the American Heart Association of New York.

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