Best Damn Soup Evah!

It’s fall y’all! Well, not really but it is September, the month of my birth, the month that fall will begin, and the time when all things tend to get busy for me as a teacher, volleyball mom, cabinetmaker’s wife.  I talk often about putting veggies away for winter and #preppingforwinter, and I’m not talking about some random fierce winter because…. I live in Oklahoma. Next week the highs are supposed to be in the 90’s all week, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want something easy to fix for myself and my family on a busy weeknight. It also doesn’t mean that I don’t want to use all natural ingredients.

Enter….the best damn soup evah! What makes this soup so great? Well, it’s wonderful on it’s own as it’s a just a homemade vegetable beef soup, but what makes it even bettah’ is that every ingredient in the soup was either grown and harvested by me, or killed/butchered by us. I know where EVERY. SINGLE. INGREDIENT. comes from and since I’ve either frozen or canned all the ingredients, it’s super easy to make.

This is why I do what I do. Gardening, farming, homesteading, plus having a full time job is hard work, but it’s so worth it in times like these. In fact, when I said I was making this soup, my oldest farmhand (daughter), a freshman in college, decided to come home for the weekend so she could eat the soup!

***Hint – Want to make it even better? When serving plop down a nice dollop of your favorite grass fed buttah! Butter makes everything better, and enhances the taste even more.

Best Damn Soup Evah!

Ingredients

  • 2 quarts canned tomatoes
  • 1 quart canned green beans
  • 1 quart canned carrots
  • 1 quart canned potatoes
  • 1 pint frozen corn
  • 1 quart frozen cabbage
  • 1 Tbspn garlic powder
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp bail
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 Tbspn salt
  • 2 pounds beef (I use elk, venison, axis venison, wild hog, etc)

Instructions

  1. Turn crockpot on low (7-8 hours) or high (4-5 hours)
  2. Pour tomatoes into crockpot, using an immersion blender to blend them smooth.
  3. Brown meat of choice in a pan. Keep all the drippings. When done browning pour meat and drippings into the crockpot.
  4. Add carrots, potatoes, corn, green beans, and spices into the crockpot.
  5. Thaw cabbage just enough that you can chop it into small pieces, and put into crockpot.
  6. Stir all ingredients together and leave alone.
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2017/09/13/best-damn-soup-evah/

Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes

I could start by saying that this is the busiest time of the year for us, but I’d be lying if I said that. Our family is always busy. I’m not sure if it’s because we are all stress junkies, over committed, or that we call just enjoy having many activities, hobbies, responsibilities, or we are all insane.

Whatever the reason, at least 3 nights a week at our house finds us eating in shifts, or having little time for dinner. We LOVE our dinner times together. It’s the time that we connect, talk about our day, laugh, and de-stress before the next activity, appointment, responsibility. It is true that I try to cook 90% of the time. I also try to cook as natural as possible. But in full disclosure, there are nights that we are running through a drive thru, or eating leftovers.

 Coming up with something new and different can be exhausting and tedious. However, just tweaking a good old comfort food recipe can really make a difference.

We love sloppy joes. There was a time when we had them at least once a week. The can of processed M*nwich was a staple that I picked up each week on my grocery store trip.

 The rub happens, when you have a husband that doesn’t eat bread (of any kind), you have two teenagers that MUST have hamburger buns, and you yourself have to watch how much bread you eat.  The awesome things about these Sloppy Joes is that they can be a meal within themselves. You can eat them with buns the old fashioned way, in a bowl just by itself, or in a low carb wrap. It’s versatile and a little different from the traditional Sloppy Joe, but definitely an upgrade in my opinion.  Have you ever tweaked a comfort food? How did it work out? Let me know in the comments!

Easy Homemade Sloppy Joes

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. Lean Ground Beef (or ground pork. turkey, or vension)
  • 1 cup Sweet Onion (red, white, or yellow is fine) finely diced
  • 1/2 cup Green Bell Pepper, finely diced
  • 1.5 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2/3 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Ketchup
  • Two 8 oz cans No-Salt Tomato Sauce
  • 1.5 tsp Mustard
  • 15 oz. can Black Beans drained, rinsed
  • 14 oz. can No-Salt Diced Tomatoes
  • 6 oz. can Tomato Paste

Instructions

  1. Cook first 5 ingredients in a large pot over medium heat until meat is browned. Stir to break up meat so it crumbles. Drain off any fat.
  2. Add water and remaining ingredients
  3. Stir well and bring to a boil
  4. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2017/04/21/easy-homemade-sloppy-joes/

Baked Chicken Caprese

One of the best things about growing herbs either indoors or outdoors, is having them at the ready. I used to cook with the dried herbs I found in grocery stores.  I thought it was the same thing, yeah….it’s not.

Whether it’s rosemary for Butter Butt Chicken, or oregano for my Herb Encrusted Pork Loin, there is no substitute for being able to grab fresh herbs for your recipes.

My favorite thing to eat in the summer is Caprese Salad, it just screams summer and deliciousness. I was looking for some new easy, but flavorful recipes to make for dinner. Our family loves baked chicken, and I love Caprese salad so I decided to combine the two and the results were phenomenal. Seriously, I had no idea how it would turn out. Every single person in our home loved it and begged for more (even my 17 y/o who is QUITE the picky eater). You can serve it with a side of roasted veggies or a nice side salad and it’s perfect for a busy evening, or even a nice Sunday dinner! Give it a try and let me know what you think about it!

Baked Chicken Caprese

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Category: Entree

Cuisine: Italian

Yield: 6

Serving Size: 6

Baked Chicken Caprese

Ingredients

  • 3 large chicken breasts
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 1 package mozzarella pearls
  • 1 cup washed and trimmed (stems off) fresh basil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cooking spray

Instructions

  1. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray.
  3. Butterfly each chicken breast and then place between two sheets of wax paper. Pound thinly (I use a wooden rolling pin to pound the chicken).
  4. Lay each thinned breast on the cookie sheet.
  5. Layer each breast with basil leaves, sliced romas, and mozzarella pearls.
  6. Fold each piece of chicken in half (think hamburger fold).
  7. Sprinkle garlic powder, salt, and pepper on outside of chicken breast.
  8. Cook at 375 for 30 minutes.
  9. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2017/04/16/baked-chicken-caprese/

 

Easy Chicken Salad and Lunch Prep

As I continue in my quest in not eating out, I have to conquer the worst meal of the day…..lunch. It’s not that I don’t like lunch, but it is that as a teacher my lunch time is usually used for other things. I am known to grab something in a bag or a box or run through a drive thru instead of a healthy lunch of real food.

Chicken salad is not something that I’ve been a fan of. I realize that there are about a million recipes for chicken salad out there and I really haven’t found one that works for me. It’s either too bland, too mushy, even too chicken-y (yes that’s a word!).

This recipe is one that I altered after trying several different other kinds. The main thing that works for me is the zip from the chili powder, the sweet from the grapes, and the crunch from the almonds. I eat this with crackers, or in a whole grain wrap. It’s not just my favorite, but it’s also a favorite of everyone in the house. I now have to hide it in the back of the fridge to be able to make it last.

My Chicken Salad….

My Chicken Salad….

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups Diced Cooked Chicken Breast
  • 1/2 cup Green or Purple seedless Grapes, quartered
  • 1 Stalk Celery, trimmed, diced
  • 1/3 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1/8 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp. slivered almonds

Instructions

  1. Combine chicken, grapes, and celery in a bowl.
  2. Combine with mayo and chili powder (add salt and pepper if desired)
  3. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before eating.
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2017/03/28/my-chicken-salad/

Crock Pot Pork Loin and Butternut Squash

I have been struggling as of late. It’s that crazy nutso time of year for us called spring. With spring we have added responsibilities from the garden and the bees, but both of the girls are also in high school soccer and club volleyball. I noticed a few weeks ago that we had gotten into the slump of eating out WAY too much. I have always prided myself on the fact that we eat fresh and home-cooked meals 90% of the time, but we were barely hitting 50% because we were just so busy and honestly too tired to make dinner.

I reached out to some friends that have similar lifestyles to ours, as well as my facebook group for some ideas and I pretty much all got the same advice, suck it up.

Ok, ok, not in so many words, but the gist from everyone was to make the time, plan ahead, and make use of things like slow cookers, BBQ grills, and Instant Pots. I know this. I just didn’t want to. I stomped my feet around for a day or two, then pulled up my big girl boots and got crack – a – lackin’ in the kitchen.

I know why I didn’t want to eat at home, but I didn’t want to face it. We had all gotten bored with having the same cycle of food, yet I just was so tired and busy that I didn’t have the energy to come up with some new ones. Well, the rest of this month, I’ll be knocking your socks off with some great new easy, go-to, healthy recipes .

This recipe was a take on my Herb Encrusted Pork Loin, but one that could be done in the slow cooker.  I really haven’t liked to do pork loin in the slow cooker as I always thought it was super dry. After talking to a friend, she mentioned that if you sear the loin first, and then pour broth over it to cook (instead of water) it would help seal in the moisture! She was absolutely correct and I will honestly never cook a pork loin in the slow cooker any other way! The bonus with this recipe is that one side is already in the pot so it’s not too much more to think. I cracked open a jar of my home canned green beans and it was a perfect dinner for the 4 of us.

Crock Pot Pork Loin and Butternut Squash

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Serving Size: 6

Ingredients

  • 8 oz. cubed Butternut Squash
  • 1/2 tsp EACH: kosher salt, black pepper, pumpkin pie spice, garlic powder
  • 1.5 lb. boneless pork loin rosast
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 quart chicken stock or bone broth
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened apple sauce

Instructions

  1. Place cubed butternut squash into slow cooker. In a small bowl, combine all the seasonings. Rub mixture all over pork loin; set aside.
  2. Heat Olive oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. When hot, add pork loin and brown on all sides. Place the pork on top of the butternut squash in slow cooker. Pour broth and applesauce over. Cover and cook on high for 3 hours or on low for 5-6 hours.
  3. Remove cooked pork to a cutting board. Portion out and drizzle sauce over pork and squash.
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2017/03/25/crock-pot-pork-loin-butternut-squash/

If you want more motivation and inspiration RIGHT.THIS.MINUTE, then here are a few resources that should help you find what you are looking for. Remember, recipes are just a guideline, they are not the gospel. Feel free to tweak and change things to make something that you know you’ll love.

The Healthy Make-Ahead Cookbook: Wholesome, Flavorful Freezer Meals the Whole Family Will Enjoy – $10.03 Paperback / $1.99 Kindle

The Make-Ahead Kitchen: 75 Slow-Cooker, Freezer, and Prepared Meals for the Busy Lifestyle – Paperback  $16.74 / Kindle $7.99

Make-Ahead Paleo: Healthy Gluten-, Grain- & Dairy-Free Recipes Ready When & Where You Are – Paperback $17.97 / Kindle $9.99

Herb Encrusted Pork Loin (aka the recipe that gave me street cred)

We visit a warehouse store 4 times a year to stock up on bulk items. Often we pick up several large pork loins and cut them into 3 pieces each, cover them with freezer paper and save them in the freezer for later.

When I was learning to cook about 5 years ago I was that person who people delegated to bring paper products, drinks, ice, or the one thing that I could make which was homemade pizza.  I wanted to make something that was tasty, easy, and looked like a masterpiece. This was the recipe. It was seriously so easy, and gave me instant credibility with my family and friends.

Now it is a great go-to on a busy night. I can put it in the oven on my way out the door to pick up a kid and it’s done by the time I get home. Also, like the other night, when my previous idea was a complete and epic fail, it was something easy to pull together just in nick of time for dinner.

Herb Encrusted Pork Loin (aka the recipe that gave me street cred)

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 55 minutes

Yield: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 pork loin (1.5 - 2 lbs)
  • 2 tsp of each: garlic powder, oregano, rosemary, paprika
  • 1/2 tsp of each: salt, pepper, red pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Cooking Spray

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425
  2. In a small bowl mix all herbs.
  3. Spray pan or casserole dish with cooking spray.
  4. Place loin on pan and slather with olive oil.
  5. Rub herbs on oiled loin.
  6. Cook for 35-45 minutes or internal temperature is 145 degrees F.
  7. Allow the loin to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2017/03/14/herb-encrusted-pork-loin-aka-the-recipe-that-gave-me-street-cred/

 

 

 

Butter Butt Chicken

Sundays are busy days around our house. Sometimes it involves church, but usually it involves working at the farm, or just trying to catch up on housework and chores for the upcoming week. However I always take Sunday dinners very seriously. It is the one day of the week that we are all home and enjoy dinner at a decent hour, enter “Butter Butt Chicken”.

I subscribed to several food magazines and I love them. However I always get so frustrated because I don’t have the time or the money to put together most of those recipes. In addition, my family knows what they like to eat and are kind of creatures of habit. I like to take the recipes I find in the magazines and make them fit to our lives. While trying to name the recipe, my kids started asking for “Butter Butt Chicken”. They and pretty much everyone else thinks it is hilarious for some reason to shove the entire stick of butter….ahem….in the “cavity”.  Whatever you want to call it, it is scrumptious and looks like you have been slaving in the kitchen all day. An added bonus is the carcass makes a fantastic bone broth later on.

Butter Butt Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 medium young chicken
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • Rosemary, Garlic Powder, Salt, Pepper,
  • Cotton twine or string
  • 2 Large Onions
  • Cooking Spray

Instructions

  1. Unpackage and wash the chicken, be sure to clean out the inside (giblets, etc).
  2. Spray your pan (I use a cast iron skillet, but a casserole dish or anything simliar should work). Roughly chop two large white onion and place on the bottom of the pan.
  3. Place chicken on top of onions.
  4. Liberally place rosemary and garlic inside the cavity of the chicken (I use about 2 tbsp of garlic and 1 tbsp of rosemary, but you can get carried away here and it doesn't really matter).
  5. Shove the stick of butter inside the cavity of the chicken.
  6. Take cotton string/twine and tie back legs of chicken together.
  7. Sprinkle the outside of the chicken with season salt and pepper. Be liberal about it.
  8. Place pan in a preheated oven at 375.
  9. Cook for 45 minutes.
  10. Then open oven and turn the pan 180 degrees.
  11. Continue cooking for another 45 minutes.
  12. Remove chicken from oven and let sit 10 minutes before serving.
  13. Use the mixture under the chicken as a 'gravy' if desired.
http://houghfamilyhomestead.com/2017/03/14/butter-butt-chicken/