Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce

It’s always a mistake to grocery shop with Mr. Prevention. I get bombarded with comments on prices and how, “It would be sooo much cheaper if I _______________!” Fill in that blank with any number of possibilities. On our most recent grocery shopping extravaganza he made a point to stop in the marinara section to point out that a 3-cup jar of marinara was on sale for $1.

I know better than to turn to the label and point out the preservatives and and undesirable ingredients (because really, why is there HFCS in marinara sauce?). EVEN IF it is only $1. Dare I even suggest that I enjoy cooking from scratch? And obviously I enjoy good food.

I grew up on jarred marinara. Classico’s marinara, to be exact. And, it’s good. But it’s no match for a slow-cooked, meaty marinara made from scratch. No offense, mom. At least it wasn’t Prego! ;)

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Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce adapted from The Cooking Nurse and Food.com

1 lb ground beef (I used 97/3)
1 lb ground pork
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 (28 oz) cans no salt added diced tomatoes, with juice
2 (6 oz) cans tomato paste
2 (8 oz) cans low-sodium tomato sauce
2 bay leaves
5 garlic cloves, pressed
4 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp dried basil
3 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp dried thyme

Directions:

Brown meats and onion in a skillet and drain well. Transfer to your crock pot.

Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and cook on low for 8-12 hours. Yield: 10 cups (20 servings, 1/2 cup each).

Nutrition Information (per 1/2 cup): 159 calories; 7.7 g. fat; 27 mg. cholesterol; 374 mg. sodium; 11.6 g. carbohydrate; 2.7 g. fiber; 10.1 g. protein

Result: This was a meaty, rich, and hearty spaghetti sauce. I used low-sodium and no added salt canned products to help reduce the sodium content (with all the canned goods, my sodium intake has been too high!). You can always add salt, so don’t worry about losing flavor. The meat (especially the pork) is so flavorful that the tomatoes will take on the flavor of the meat and spices rather than salt. Delicious and easy! Enjoy!

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The second half of the last night’s dinner story has to do with wheatballs — a vegan “meatball” remake. To say they were a fail would be a massive understatement. They smelled great and all of the individual ingredients were all fine by me, but chickpeas + vital wheat gluten + soy sauce + nutritional yeast + wheat bran + garlic + parsley + olive oil = boooooooooonk. Fail. I hate to waste, but after trying them…my gag reflex kicked in.

Firstly, some things just aren’t meant to be made vegan. I’ll add meatballs to that list of vegan no-go’s. Secondly, unless it’s cookie dough, I’m not interested in eating dough. This is likely the reason gnocchi doesn’t interest me, either.

I should’ve taken a picture, but I didn’t. I think I was too sad over wasting food. But I vow to bring you the good, bad, and ugly on my blog. These….were ugly. :( Crock Pot Spaghetti Sauce…was good! :-D You can’t win’em all and I was about due for a major fail.

Question: Jarred spaghetti sauce, or from scratch? Meaty, or meatless?

FYI: Fish consumption is at an all-time high in the world. Love it! :-D

P.S. Happy Birthday, Shirley! Have a wonderful day!

TGIF!!!

Cincinnati Skyline Chili {Crock Pot}

Growing up, my mom made the best chili (she still does, I’m sure…but I haven’t had any in years :( ). It wasn’t a recipe as much as it was a 6th sense — it always tasted the same. And, it was always served over pasta. Always.

I like chili just as is in a bowl, but there’s something extra special about chili over pasta. Comfort food at its finest, I guess. And seeing as we are now Ohio residents, it was only appropriate to try Cincinnati-style chili (the Cincinnati-style chili restaurant is called Skyline). Approve!

While this photo is…terrible and pretty unappetizing, you can’t judge this recipe on its looks. This is a recipe Mr. Prevention took as leftovers for lunch — something he NEVER does (for some reason, the cafeteria’s pizza or chicken fingers always win out over my leftovers). That’s how I know it’s good, and husband-approved. And I would like to take this opportunity to pat myself on the back. I have been taking full advantage of my crock pot, just as planned :-D

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Cincinnati Skyline Chili slightly adapted from Crock Pot Tuesdays and allrecipes.com

2 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef (I used 90/10, ground sirloin)
15 oz. can tomato sauce
8 oz. tomato paste (1 1/3 cans)
5 Tbsp chili powder
2 1/2 Tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp steak sauce
4 3 1/2 cups water

Directions:

Brown ground beef lightly on stove top. Combine all ingredients in crock pot. Stir well, and cook on low for 12 hours or longer. Yield: 8 cups (8 servings).

Nutrition Information (per cup): 273 calories; 13.1 g. fat; 71 mg. cholesterol; 675 mg. sodium; 16.9 g. carbohydrate; 4.6 g. fiber; 24.8 g. protein

Result: Mr. Prevention and I really liked this…it is something totally unique and has a touch of something special in the way of cinnamon, nutmeg, and chocolate, I do believe! This has a kick but isn’t spicy. That may not make sense, but it will after you try it. Delicious, and very simple! You can cook it as looong as you need to, too…always a bonus! Enjoy!

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Hopefully today brings some more favorable weather. On a positive weather-related note, Lily now knows how to ice skate :-D Yesterday was a most enjoyable, lazy day which included nearly clearing out the DVR, watching the Shawshank Redemption (favorite movie of all time), crying for 15 minutes after the movie finished, and a cat nap on the couch. There was a good workout thrown in there, too (3 1/4 mile run + 20 minutes on the elliptical)…but that was certainly not the highlight of my yesterday…if I’m being honest :) Maybe because I had watched everything good on the DVR? Probably. Sometimes, we all need a good, lazy snow day!

Of course I played some in the kitchen. I shredded brussels sprouts, diced a honeycrisp apple, and toasted some pine nuts only to run out of creativity to formulate a dressing. The components are now all in my fridge awaiting some creativity juices to flow, or unless somsone has a brilliant suggestion for me? :) And then there was online shopping…Williams Sonoma…a glass cake stand with a dome lid. At least I stopped there.

Because then came my ingenious idea for a Valentine’s Day gift for Mr. P: a deep clean of our house. However, Molly Maids quoted me nearly $275. Too rich for my blood. Any ideas on Valentine’s Day gifts? It can be more romantic than a maid, no problem. ;)

Question: Do you eat your chili as is, or atop pasta or rice?

Happy Thursday,

Recipe Copy-Cat: Chipotle Burrito Bowls

Good morning! I hope everyone had a relaxing and wonderful weekend! Last day of January, here we are…bring on spring!

Mr. Prevention and I are pretty good about eating at home and keeping dining out to a minimum. We eat out consistently once a week, and often times two — almost always on Friday and Saturdays nights. Occasionally, he will throw me for a loop and request a Thursday dinner out, but it’s not too common since we both work Monday through Friday.

When I dine out, I like to order something I either wouldn’t or couldn’t make at home, or that Mr. Prevention doesn’t like (i.e. coconut anything, polenta, etc.). And then there’s other restaurants that I love and adore for their simplicity and healthfulness…one of those restaurants being Chipotle. While there are nutrition pit-falls on Chipotle’s menu (i.e. 290 calorie tortillas, 1/2 cup portions of sour cream, and handfuls of cheese), the overall quality is there — plenty of lean meats, vegetables, and fiber (beans!).

In perusing Chipotle’s menu online one day, I saw that the Barbacoa pork offered a few less calories than the chicken, carnitas, and steak options. Curiosity got the best of me, and so that’s what I ordered in my burrito bowl (hold the sour cream and cheese, please!). The meat was so tender, juicy, and perfectly seasoned. I’m a Barbacoa convert…I get it every time!

When I saw a slow-cooked Barbacoa recipe land in my inbox from Skinny Taste, it went onto this week’s menu with no hesitation. Chipotle at home? Yes please! This is a dish I do want to make at home…on the regular!

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Slow Cooked Sweet Barbacoa Pork from Skinny Taste originally from Favorite Family Recipes

2.5 lbs pork loin roast, all fat trimmed salt and pepper, to season garlic powder, to season 6 oz Coke Zero 1/4 cup brown sugar (unpacked) 1/4 cup water

8 oz Coke Zero 6 oz can sliced green chilies 8 oz tomato sauce 1/8 tsp garlic powder 1/8 tsp cumin 1/8 tsp chipotle chili powder (to taste) salt and pepper to taste 1/3 cup brown sugar (unpacked)

Directions:

Season pork with salt, pepper and garlic powder and place in the crock pot. Add 6 oz of coke and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Marinate refrigerated for a few hours or overnight turning meat at least once while marinating.

Remove crock from refrigerator, add water, and cook on high for about 3-4 hours (or until it shreds easily). Remove pork from crock pot and discard any liquid left in the pot. Shred pork with two forks.

Step two: In the crock pot, combine 8 oz coke, green chilies, tomato sauce, chipotle chile, garlic powder, cumin, chipotle chili powder and remaining brown sugar.

Put shredded pork back in the crock pot and combine with sauce. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, cover and cook on high 1-1/2 hours more. Yield: 10 servings (4 oz. each).

Nutrition Information (per 4 oz): 213 calories; 7.1 g. fat; 69 mg. cholesterol; 342 mg. sodium; 13.2 g. carbohydrate; 0.8 g. fiber; 25.7 g. protein

Result: Mmmm! This was EXCELLENT! Certainly one of my favorite crock pot recipes. I was pleasantly surprised as to how LEAN this cut was. All of the fat was easily removed by trimming and it was overall extremely lean and flavorful — oh, and MOIST! Enjoy!

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To go along with the Barbacoa, I made a pico de gallo consisting of 2 Roma tomatoes, 1/4 cup diced onion, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon of olive oil, 1 clove mined garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Perfection!

Recap: Cilantro-Lime Rice (rice with chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice), black beans, Barbacoa pork, lettuce, corn, pico de gallo, and a dollop of low-fat sour cream. Heavenly!

Have I mentioned how much I love Mexican food?!

Question: What would go in your burrito bowl?

Have a great (and tasty!) week,

An Indian Feast

I almost didn’t post today. You see, I have a bum finger. I would take a picture and post it, but for some that might ruin the mood of food, if you know what I’m sayin’. In short, I fell… wrong (…after being shoved) during my hockey game on Sunday, and my finger is presumably sprained. In addition, my nail bent back really really really far down (if I just gave you the willies, you’re imagining my thumb’s state correctly). Blood was involved and it is not pretty. Oh, and it is painful…very, very painful. For the record: love your thumb. You use it a LOT, believe it or not.

Enough whining, more substance. Substance in the form of a homemade Indian feast!

Sundays are usually my “kitchen day”. I have the time and the desire to always whip up something on Sundays. I usually reserve Sunday for my more labor-intensive meal of the week…which this meal was not. But if you see a Sunday trend with meals, that is probably it: higher difficult/prep.

When Biz posted a Tikka Masala recipe that her readers went on to rave about, it went straight onto the menu. And when I came across a crock pot Indian dish on The Big Red Door, my Indian dinner menu was complete.

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Slow Cooked Red Curry from The Big Red Door and The Gourmet Vegetarian Slow Cooker

2 lbs small red potatoes, cubed into 1 inch pieces 1 yellow onion, sliced 1 can (14 oz) light coconut milk
2-3 Tbsp red curry paste
2 Tbsp agave nectar (or brown sugar)
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 large sweet potato, cubed into 1 inch pieces
2 cups fresh or frozen green peas
salt to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Directions:

Scrub potatoes, cube, and place them in the slow cooker with sliced onion.

In a small bowl, mix coconut milk, red curry paste, agave and soy sauce together and pour over the potatoes (red and sweet). Cover and cook on low for about 5-6 hours, or until the potatoes are slightly tender when pierced with a fork.

Add peas. Continue to cook, uncovered, for 15 minutes longer.

Serve over rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serves 6 (about 1 cup).

Nutrition Information (per serving): 228 calories; 2.3 g. fat; 0 mg. cholesterol; 366 mg. sodium; 48.8 g. carbohydrate; 6.8 g. carbohydrate; 7.7 g. protein

Result: I really loved this recipe! It is so easy, vegetarian, vegan, healthy, and delicious! It can serve as a side dish or an entree. It is colorful and packed with fiber. The coconut flavor isn’t that strong (Mr. P didn’t even taste the coconut — and I didn’t tell him it was there ;) ), and the heat is just a touch. Enjoy!

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Chicken Tikka Masala from My Bizzy Kitchen

1 pound(s) boneless skinless chicken breasts 6 oz nonfat, plain Greek yogurt, divided 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice 4 tsp ground cumin, divided 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp cayenne pepper 1 tsp black pepper 1 Tbsp regular butter 1 tsp minced garlic 2 tsp paprika 1/4 tsp curry powder 6 item(s) dried red chili peppers (I used 2 dried Ancho peppers)
2 cup(s) 15 oz. canned tomato sauce
1 small jalapeno, cut in half, seeded and chopped
1/4 tsp Sriracha chili sauce
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

Directions:

Mix 3 ounces of yogurt with the diced chicken, lemon juice, 2 tsp. cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper. Let sit for an hour.

Melt butter and add jalapeno pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons ground cumin, paprika, curry powder, sriracha sauce and stir for 2 minutes, until nice and fragrant.

Add chicken and cook for five minutes. Add tomato sauce and dried chiles and simmer for 15 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked.

Remove from heat, stir in remaining 3 ounces of Greek yogurt. Garnish with cilantro and serve over brown rice (brown rice not accounted for in nutrition information). Serves 4 (4 oz. of meat with sauce).

Nutrition Information (per serving): 204 calories; 3.8 g. fat; 63 mg. cholesterol; 781 mg. sodium; 9 g. carbohydrate; 2.3 g. fiber; 32 g. protein

Result: Hot-say-tot-say! Not for the weak! The heat weak should leave out the Sriracha. ;) This was good! Mr. Prevention loved this dish, as did I. Tikka masala doesn’t have to be hard, and Biz broke it down for us! And talk about healthy…love it! The tomato sauce jacks up the sodium content quite a bit, and there’s really no getting around that. But everything else checks out perfectly, especially serves atop a bed of fluffy brown rice. Enjoy!

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So, how’d I do!?

Did you know that a “masala” is just a blend of spices? I learned that from Aarti Party on the Food Network in her latest episode — I didn’t know that!

Question: Do you like it hot…or not?

Keep it clean, people! ;)

Crock Pot Tamale Pie

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As planned, I have been utilizing my crock pot lots this fall & winter. It makes me VERY happy to have a “home cooked” meal, even after being away for home all day.

It makes eating during 15-hour work days a bit easier, too. Here’s what I packed to go to work with me yesterday:

Breakfast: papaya & low-fat cottage cheese, coffee
Snack: banana
Lunch: Crock Pot Tamale Pie leftovers
Snack: 2 clementines
Dinner: Lightened Up Caesar Salad

I know that if I don’t pack for a FULL day away from home, I’m going to make poor food choices. And that’s never a good thing! Leftovers help me pack my lunches, and crock pot meals are a great way to make multiple servings with no additional effort or time :-D

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Crock Pot Tamale Pie adapted from A Year of Crockpotting and Bean Town Baker

3/4 cup cornmeal 1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastryflour
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup sugar Splenda granular
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed 1 can fire roasted tomatoes 1 can corn, drained 1 Tbsp chili powder 1 tsp cumin 1/2 tsp paprika 1/2 cup 2% shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

Spray your crock pot with cooking spray. Dump in the filling ingredients–cheese, too!– and stir well to distribute the spices. You will not be able to stir this again, so please check to see that the spices aren’t in a clump anywhere.

In a separate bowl, mix together the cornbread topping. When finished, pour evenly over the filling, spreading with a spatula if needed.

Cover and cook on low for 4-7 hours or on high for 2-4. I cooked on high and it took about 2.5 hours. Serves 6.

Nutrition Information (for 1/6th of recipe): 323 calories; 5 g. fat; 43 mg. cholesterol; 335 mg. sodium; 57.5 g. carbohydrate; 10.8 g. fiber; 12.2 g. protein

Enjoy!

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And while I am loving my crock pot, I am more than ready to say farewell to winter. Central Ohio has had ice and is expecting up to 5 inches of snow today. Thankfully, I have meetings just 5 minutes from home today. :-D

I want to apologize for somewhat falling off the face of the blogosphere. For the few moments a day I’m at my computer, I am often returning student emails. But I hope to catch up with everyone this weekend, if not sooner! :-D

Question: Are you satisfied with vegetarian meals, or do you prefer a serving of meat with your meals?

Happy Thursday!