Pulled Pork Tacos

Pulled Pork Tacos

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Creeking

Photo Credit: My friend Liz over at superveggiemom.com

Summer. If I had it my way, we would leave the house in the morning and wander back around dinner time, only to venture out again for chasing fireflies. There would be creek wading, crawdad hunting, fossil searches, water fights, tag playing, and an occasional break relaxing on a blanket carefully placed in the shade.

Let’s face it. This only happens a handful of times during our crushingly busy summer, and since I want to bask in the sun and not fret over the always-looming question “what’s for dinner?” I toss this in the slow cooker and don’t look back. Not once.

It’s easy, kid-pleasing (for mine, “No slaw, please. But, add avocado!”) and not too filling after a hot, long day. I don’t know what to tell you about left overs, because we never have any. If you do, I’d love to know how you managed them.

 

 

Cheesy Mex Chicken with Fritos (Slow Cooker) (Naturally Gluten Free)

Cheesy Mex Chicken

I hopped on my bike and headed down the country road with the white bridge in site. The creek was just a short ride and I leaned my bike against the rail and jumped over it into the tall grass. I shimmy-ed down the steep bank and found a foothold on one of the large stones my sister and I placed there. It was hot and I was eagerly seeking the cool, bubbly, water in the shade under the road. I carefully made my way across by jumping stone-to-stone and landed on the large flat one that served as my shoe stool. If I ruined another pair, I knew my days at the creek were numbered.

My bare feet sunk into the wet, sandy dirt and my body instantly felt the relief. This summer was boiling and the creek was lower than usual. I patted some water on my face and started turning rocks. Crawdads, minnows and tadpoles scurried along as I inspected the creek bed.

This last week I took my daughter ‘creeking’ for the first time. While it was not at ‘my’ creek, it certainly brought back many faded memories.

Photo Credit: My friend Liz over at http://superveggiemom.com/

Photo Credit: My friend Liz over at http://www.superveggiemom.com

The summer heat is upon us, the kids have activities all over the place, and getting dinner on the table is getting harder and harder. This recipe has many perks – quick to put together, leave in it in the crock pot, no ovens to heat up the kitchen, and utterly cheesy and kid-pleasing. Add fresh cilantro, a squeeze of lime and avocado, because it’s summer, and you can.

Cheesy Mex Chicken with Fritos

Ingredients

2 (10 ounce) cans Ro-tel Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies (Original), drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained (check ingredient label for gluten)
2 tablespoons instant tapioca (found in the baking isle of most grocers)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs*, trimmed
salt and pepper
1 cup Fritos corn chips, slightly crushed, plus more for garnish
1 1/2 cup Mexican cheese blend (grated)
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed (or one package freezer sweet corn)
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

Garnish
extra Fritos
diced avocado
1/2 lime, cut into wedges

*my grocer did not have these, so I de-skinned and de-boned two packs of regular chicken thighs

Preparation

Drain tomatoes. Add to crock pot. Drain and rinse beans. Add to crock pot. Stir in tapioca and cumin. Nestle chicken into crock pot and salt and pepper.

Set crock pot on low for 4-5 hours.

Remove chicken and place on cutting board. Shred into large bite size pieces.

Stir one cup Fritos, 1 cup Mexican cheese blend, corn and cilantro into slow cooker. Gently stir in chicken and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook on high for about 10 minutes until cheese is melted in.

Portion into bowls and top with Fritos, cheese, avocado and a small wedge of lime.

Notes: If left in crock pot, it may thicken too much. Add very hot water, one half cup at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

Meaty Minestrone Soup (Gluten Free)

Minestrone

1993

I laid there in my bed listening to the rain drum down on the farmhouse metal roof. The noise a constant low vibration with water dribbles making their way down the gutters. My room sat above the family room and every night I could here Dad thunk his recliner foot-rest into the chair and walk to the kitchen for his ice cream bed-time snack.

The savory air from dinner still hung in the air. It was full-on Autumn and the temperatures where plummeting. They were even calling for snow on Halloween this year. 

2014

The pond beyond my backyard is rippling with rain drops and the leaves are disappearing from the trees with help of the stiff breeze. My baby girl is singing in her bed, determined out out-wit nap time. My son is crunching away on his after school popcorn snack. I wonder if his second loose tooth will make it through the day or if a Golden Dollar will make it’s way under his pillow tonight. It is full-on Autumn and the temperatures are plummeting. They are even calling for snow. It’s Halloween. Time for some warm soup.

Meaty Minestrone Soup

Ingredients:
1 pound hot sausage, removed from casings
1 1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced carrots
1 small zucchini, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 can green beans (reserve liquid)
1 can hot and spicy chili beans (check label for gluten)
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 cups beef stock
2 cups water
2 cups gluten free pasta or prepared rice, cooked per package directions.

Preparation:
• In a large dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat, brown spicy sausage until no longer pink, drain if needed, add onions and cook until softened.
• Add carrots, zucchini and celery. Stir to combine.
• Add (including all liquid) green beans, chili beans, diced tomatoes, beef stock and water.
• Stir and bring to a boil over high heat.
• Turn heat down to simmer and cook for three hours, stirring occasionally.
• Serve in individual bowls topped with cooked pasta or rice. (Do not add pasta to soup until serving.)

• Notes:
This soup is spicy, but for an extra kick use spicy or Italian green beans and/or spicy tomatoes.

Perfect for the slow cooker! Brown sausage and soften the onions. Add to crock pot with all other ingredients. Set crock pot on High for 4-6 hours.

One-Pot Mexican Chicken & Rice (Gluten Free)

Nappy's Chicken Shit

I was on a school bus,  for the first time in more than a decade, and much earlier than ever in my life. Still dark, we couldn’t see the landscape. It was quite chilly, there was no sound except the motor. All the passengers where silent with their thoughts and the bus rocked us gently back and forth. I can pretty much fall asleep anywhere, but right then my nerves where taking over and keeping my stomach uncomfortable and fluttery. ‘How long is twenty six miles, anyway?’ It seemed like an eternity getting to the marathon start line and every second I sat there I pictured my legs having to carry me all the way back.

Yes, I had put skates on again, even after my disastrous start in the sport.  Mystery Man and I put the inline skates on every weekend and racked up the miles on the local trails. My miles were much different than his. As I pushed, sweated, and worked for every stride, most of his time was spent skating backwards in front of me, coaching me along, and on occasion would break away to ‘stretch his legs’, then wait patiently for me to catch up.

I reminded myself that we were here for fun. After all, we had met up at this race in Duluth Minnesota for more than the skating. Friends came from several states away. Ones we hadn’t seen in far too long. The skating, to them, was only secondary.

Stepping off the bus, I was astounded. Three thousand five hundred people where here to skate this race and yet everyone was calm, collected, and making their way to the appropriate fitness stage for start times. We found ours, but not our friends. The crowd was too thick. Bang! Here we go!

I have seen wonderful sites in my life. The Sistine Chapel. The Rome Colosseum, Big Ben, the canals of Amsterdam. But, that finish line is one of the most memorable and beautiful things. Bleachers full of people flanked each side of the the road. Flags, banners and festive music filled our senses and took the pain from our legs. Mystery Man stayed with me all the way to the end and we crossed the finish line together.

We found our friends and hugs lasted minutes as we soaked everyone in. It had, indeed, been way too long.  We had two days and we planned to make the most of it. Lunches lasted through dinner. Toasts where made with silly sayings and laughter, and solemn memories and wet eyes. Laughter rang in our ears long after retiring for the evening, and as I lay there and took stock of my body that I had pushed to the limit, the parts that hurt most were not my legs, but my cheeks and abdomen from smiling and laughing. Suddenly the skating, for me, was secondary.

________________________________

 

This is a recipe from a friend in the skating community.  We (lovingly) call it Chicken Shit in our house, but I have renamed it for you. Your welcome.

 

One-Pot Mexican Chicken & Rice

Ingredients:
1 Pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (cut into bite-sized pieces)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 – 13 Ounce can chicken broth
1 – 8 Ounce can tomato sauce
1 Package taco seasoning (check for gluten in the ingredients)
1 can corn, drained
1 green pepper (diced)
1 1/2 Cup minute rice
1/2 Teaspoon hot sauce (optional)
Corn chips

Toppings:
All Toppings are Optional
1 – 2 Ounce can Sliced Olives
Shredded Mexican/Spicy Cheese
Sour Cream
Lettuce
Tomatoes (diced)

Preparation:
• Heat olive oil in 4” deep heavy pan over medium heat until shimmering
• Add chicken and cook (stirring) until no loner pink
• Add broth, tomato sauce and seasoning packet. Stir and bring to a boil.
• Reduce heat and simmer for minutes.
• Add corn and pepper, stir and bring to a boil.
• Stir in rice, cover the pan and remove from heat.
• Fluff with fork and adjust spice with hot sauce if desired.
• Serve with toppings and corn chips.

Notes:
For a crowd – Do not drain corn. Add one cup of water and one additional cup of rice. Transfer to crock pot on low. Serve directly out of crock pot. Check periodically to make sure it does not dry out. Add water as needed. This dish is just as good, or better the next day.

Options:
Vegetarian –  Add one can of thoroughly rinsed black beans, omit the chicken, use vegetable broth.