Sunday, January 23, 2011

Busy Sunday

Right now I am *finally* relaxing, sitting on the couch eating a Dietz & Wilson Kosher Dill pickle spear (be still my heart), watching what Jake likes to call "suped up Lifetime movies" on Showtime On Demand ("suped up" because they actually used famous actors).  Today has already been a busy day and it is Sunday!  We SHOULD have gone to church, but I have had zero energy to get dressed up these past few weeks and thus we were incredibly lazy today.  Around 11:15am we FINALLY got out the door, dressed and ready to go grocery shopping.  After spending $150 at Marsh on any and everything we could find, we hit up the Steak 'n Shake drive thru for lunch.

We raced home, unloaded all of the groceries, ate, and then Jake ran to orchestra practice while I put Cole down for his nap.  I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, put away the groceries, and got started on our crock pot meal for tonight.  Mom is flying in around 6pm and so I figured it would be easier to have our meal waiting for us once we got home---aren't slow cookers the best?  Anyway, tonight's meal is from one of my favorite slow cooker cookbooks: Fix It & Forget-It.  Here is the recipe just for you:

Taco Soup with Pinto Beans (by Janie Steele, Moore, OK)

1 lb. ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
3 14-oz. cans pinto beans
14-oz. can tomatoes with chilies
14.5-oz. can chopped tomatoes
15-oz. can tomato sauce
1 pkg. dry Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix
1 pkg. dry taco seasoning
15.25-oz. can corn, drained

*Brown beef and onions in skillet.  Drain.
*Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.
*Cover.  Cook on Low 4 hours, or until ingredients are heated through.

Makes 10-12 servings

Pretty easy, huh?  You can even brown ground beef ahead of time and freeze it in a ziploc bag to make the prep for this soup even easier.  This will be our second time having it and the first time we LOVED it!  I will warn you, though, it makes a freaking ton.  Tonight we'll have myself, Jake, Cole, mom, and Matt to all help devour it...but if you are looking for something that has fewer servings (aka leftovers), try halving the recipe.  I realize it isn't super convenient to do that as you'll have half packets of things left over, but otherwise you'll be eating Taco Soup for the next 3 years straight.

I'm feeling generous today, so here is another recipe from Fix It & Forget-It that we really like as well (and will be having later this week most likely).

Bean Tater Tot Casserole (Marjora Miller, Archbold, OH)

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. bag frozen string beans
10.75-oz. can cream of mushroom soup
1 cup shredded cheese
21-oz. bag frozen tater tots

*Crumble raw ground beef in bottom of slow cooker.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
*Layer remaining ingredients on beef in order listed
*Cover.  Cook on High 1 hour.  Reduce heat to Low and cook 3 hours.

Makes 6 servings

NOTE: Last time I made this I followed the recipe to the letter.  We always use lean ground beef (either 8% fat or 4% fat), but even with lean beef this dish was a bit too greasy for our tastes.  As a variation I would suggest browning the ground beef beforehand, as you do in the Taco Soup recipe, and then cover and cook on Low for 4-5 hours.  Yes, technically it is not as "easy" as putting the raw beef in there, but you'll save quite a bit in fat content.  The other alternative is to use EXTRA lean beef (we're talking 4% fat or LESS).

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