There’s that glorious period of about a week after a major grocery run where I am pretty sure of what the daily menu will look like. I have a good handle on what we have in the house and a decent idea of what is or is not expired. It’s always a mix of cool new recipes I’m wanting to try, and the routine family favorites.
After those sevenish days it gets tricky. I *could* go to the store, but ugh. Then we start running out of easy meal options and the fresh veggies dwindle. I rough it for as long as I can, maybe picking up some milk here, some bread there, eventually stretching that big grocery run for two weeks.
And then… it’s the dregs. The grocery dregs.
This is where planning dinner becomes a major challenge and I get stubborn about not wanting to do another big grocery run.
Turning to the great Google god for help, I pick three or four major ingredients I have on hand that I think *might* work harmoniously for a meal for the four grown adults in my household. Usually it’s onions, [some kind of meat], [pasta/rice/legume], [frozen or canned veggie]. Sometimes I’ll throw in a wild card like “coconut milk” or “shelled walnuts.”
Thankfully, as I’ve become better and better at spotting good recipes online, these Google adventures turn out pretty well. I usually blend several of the recipes that pop up (taking from the best of the comments sections).
This time it was “onions,” “sage sausage,” “white beans,” and “crushed tomatoes.”
I ended up hitting pay dirt – the resulting stew is hearty, filling, and really delicious. I was completely out of bread and wanted something doughy to dip in the stew, so I paired it with my first-ever attempt at focaccia bread (carmelized (charred?) onion).
Sausage, Bean, and Tomato Stew
Recipe type: Stew
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 4 sausage links
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 Tablespoons squeeze bottle garlic
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 cubes chicken bouillon
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasonings
- ⅛th teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup water
- 1 10 oz. box of frozen spinach
- 2 15 oz. cans white beans (cannellini are good)
- Salt to taste
- Add olive oil and sausage links into a large pot over medium-low heat.
- Once golden and firm, remove from heat and slice into rounds.
- Return to pot, add onion and garlic, and turn heat up to medium.
- Stir occasionally until onions are soft.
- Toss in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, chicken bouillon, Italian seasonings, red pepper flakes, black pepper, water, and spinach.
- As the ingredients in the pot are heating up, rinse the white beans in a colander and drain.
- Add drained beans to pot and stir occasionally until bubbling and hot.
- If too thin, let reduce over medium-low heat. If too thick, add water ¼ cup at a time until desired thickness is reached.
- Salt to taste.
- Serve on its own, or pair with some kind of yummy bread. 🙂
What do you make when you’re low on ingredients?
I know that it’s still pretty cold in many parts of the country, but around the bay area, it has been warm. Hot even. Uncomfortably so. Sometimes it is especially hot out, and super hot inside, and hot everywhere, and why is it so hot? Heat is the worst. Ugh.
Hot days make me avoid doing anything that will make it even hotter in the house. Like, you know, MAKING FOOD. (Or moving, for that matter). Luckily, I have a beef taco recipe that takes very little time and doesn’t do much to affect your thermostat. Thank goodness for quick, oven-top food.
Tacos are also a great food for entertaining. Just put out a bunch of ingredients and people can assemble their own yumminess however they would like. We did just that this past Friday. Taco bar!
The hardest part, really, is chopping all of the things that need chopping. Luckily, my handsome and wonderful boyfriend was on hand to do the food prep. He used to be a general manager at a deli and has retained all of his fancy/fast sous chef-y skills.
Here we are, post-eating at a Spaghetti Factory on his birthday. The day after is when I forced* him to do taco prep.
Mark, blissfully unaware of the taco horrors he would face in less than 24 hours.
*Asked politely and he very sweetly agreed.
We put out a really nice spread of ingredients and it all got gobbled up pretty quickly.
You’re looking at: limes, chopped cilantro, diced onions, sliced black olives, green and red salsas, sliced avocados, diced tomatoes, canned refried beans, jalapeños, shredded lettuce, and canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. We also had shredded cheese, sour cream, the beef taco filling (recipe below), shrimp (which I tossed in garlic powder, salt, adobo pepper sauce, lime juice, and some butter before throwing the whole thing into the oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes), hard taco shells, soft taco shells, lettuce wraps (for the carb avoiders), and Adam cooked up some garbanzo bean flour quesadillas (for the slow-carb angle). It sounds like a lot of stuff, but many of the ingredients we already had on-hand in the cupboard or from our local produce box.
This all came together for some mighty fine tacos. Behold.
Don’t forget the shrimp tacos!
All together now!
The meat itself was flavorful and cooked up quite quickly. A nice mix of onions, ground beef, adobo chipotle sauce,tomato paste, cumin, garlic, salt, pepper, and a little butter.
Well, now I’m hungry again. Oh well. On to the recipe!
Ground Beef Tacos Filling
Recipe type: Dinner
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1½ cups diced onions
- 4 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 Tablespoons garlic powder
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 2 Tablespoons Cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
- Start by melting your butter in a medium pan.
- Toss in the onions, and cook them until they've softened a bit (about 3 minutes or so). Stir occasionally.
- In a large bowl, add your ground beef, tomato paste, garlic powder, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
- Carefully strain some of the liquid out of the canned peppers and into a separate container (about two Tablespoons) . Unless you want a *really* intense flavor, I don't recommend including the peppers themselves. Just use the liquid around them.
- Mix the pepper juice into the beef, then add the whole mixture to your pan with the onions.
- Cook until there is no pink left in the beef and the meat is nicely browned. (Stir often enough to keep things cooking evenly).
- Serve as part of your very own taco bar and enjoy!
Remember that time I had WAY TOO MUCH pulled pork on my hands? (Pro-tip: you can NEVER have too much pulled pork). (Basic Slow Cooker Pulled Pork | Pulled Pork Enchiladas | BBQ Pulled Pork Pineapple Pizza) Crud, I used up all of my “Ps” with the name of that last recipe. 😉
I ended up making a casserole with some of the mountains of pulled pork we had left over. A gooey, funny-lookin’, unstructured mess of a casserole that got gobbled up FAST.
That’s a casserole face that only a mother/father could love. But it sure is tasty. Delicious tater tot and pulled pork casserole face.
It’s not low fat. Or gluten free. It’s not high in protein. Or low in carbs. This is just lazy, cheesy, delicious decadence with a touch of high school angst (tater tots make me think of cafeteria food). It comes together quickly and easily and can sit in your freezer waiting for its moment to shine (if you’re a plan ahead type).
Behold how the cheese glistens, eager to welcome you into its gooey goodness!
Imagine you’ve just trudged in from your agonizingly boring day job and just want some comfort food. Preheat your oven, throw some stuff into a mixing bowl, transfer to a casserole dish, wave your magic wand and BAM. Delicious flavors IN YOUR FACE.
Go ahead, try it out!
Pulled Pork Chronicles Bonus: Tater Tot Casserole
Recipe type: Casserole
- 1 can baked beans
- Frozen tater tots
- 2½ cups Shredded cheese (I used cheddar and added a couple of slices of Velveeta over the top of the whole thing, but anything would work great. Monterey Jack. Mozzarella. Heck, mix your cheeses. Go wild!)
- 3 cups pulled pork
- 1 cup BBQ sauce (if your pork doesn't already have some kind of sauce mixed in).
- Can of cream of chicken soup
- 1 onion, chopped
- Optional tablespoon of Sriracha
- Preheat your oven to 375.
- Put everything except the tater tots, ½ cup of cheese, and the baked beans together in a bowl and mix well.
- Line your casserole dish with the baked beans.
- Sprinkle on the pulled pork/cheese/onion mix.
- Line the top with one layer of tater tots (I lined them all up, but you can just dump a single layer on if you're feeling unmotivated).
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until the tater tots start to get crispy.
- Remove from oven, sprinkle with last half cup cheese (and Velveeta slices, if you are so inclined) and put back into the oven for about 5 minutes (or until the wonderful, amazing cheese melts).
- Devour. Probably in a bowl, 'cause this thing is kinda sloppy. Delicious sloppy.
I know, I know. I just posted another alternative Egg Roll recipe. But when one of my besties, Angel, requested some sort of egg roll for her birthday party, I just couldn’t resist!
Unfortunately I forgot that she doesn’t like beans, but everyone else devoured them.
As soon as the idea of a burrito type egg roll entered my head, I knew it was going to be amazing.
I think when I do these again I’ll also use some seasoned rice, but they were incredibly delicious and hefty just the way they were.
Mexican Egg Roll - or - Burrito Roll
Recipe type: Appetizer, Side Dish
Cuisine: Asian-Mexican Fusion
- 8 ounces refried beans
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 packet taco seasoning
- 4 ounces shredded cheese
- 8 ounces salsa
- 1 large avocado
- 1 package large square wonton wrappers
- Enough oil (corn or vegetable) for frying
- Brown the ground beef in a large skillet with the taco seasoning and prepare the avocado by cutting it in half and then slicing the halves thinly lengthwise.
- Assemble each egg roll with a spoonful of beans, salsa, ground beef, large pinch of cheese, and slick of avocado. Roll them tightly enough to ensure salsa doesn't leak out of the sides.
- Once all the rolls are assembled, fry them in about two inches of oil headed to 350 degrees.
- Remove from the oil once they are a crunchy golden brown.
- Enjoy warm with sour cream and salsa for dipping!
This recipe is part of Feeding A Crowd: French(ish!) Birthday.
This is so easy that it’s practically criminal. Let’s get to it (Adapted from HERE).
Recipe type: Dinner
- 1-2 sausages per person (I used 8)
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons garlic
- 2 cans white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- A few sprigs of rosemary and thyme
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 425.
- Dump out the cherry tomatoes into the bottom of a casserole pan. Make sure there is a single layer that covers the entire length and width of the pan.
- Using a silicon brush, brush the garlic over the tomatoes.
- Lay sausages over the top of the tomatoes, then drizzle on some olive oil and vinegar.
- Arrange a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme throughout the pan.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper (to taste)
- Bake until tomatoes just begin to split and the sausages are golden.
- Remove from oven, stir in beans, and return to oven for another 20 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy!
Wanna check out the rest of the French(ish!)-inspired menu? Try one of these!