Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Crockpot Cooking: Shredded Beef Tacos

We were given a crockpot for a wedding gift, and I've been looking forward to trying it out for a while now. Last week I finally got around to doing so. I think my husband can attest to how excited I was about cooking in it for the first time--pretty sure I talked about it quite a bit! For my first endeavor in crockpot cooking, I decided to make a recipe that I got from my mom: Shredded Beef Tacos. They are delicious and unique from other taco recipes I've tried.

This recipe makes enough for at least 10-12 tacos, if not more, depending on the size of your roast and how full you fill the tortillas. The roast I used was about two and a half pounds. My husband and I have been taking leftovers to work with us for lunches, but leftovers are also supposed to freeze well if you want to save some for later.

After I successfully made my first crockpot meal, my conclusion is this--I love crockpots and can't wait to find more ways to make use of this great invention. It was wonderful to come into our apartment when I got back from work to the wafting smell of slow cooking roast. And the best part was actually eating the tacos!

Shredded Beef Tacos
  • 2-4 pound Roast
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • Adobo Seasoing (2-3 tsp)
  • 2 cups black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1-2 cups frozen corn

Place roast in a the crockpot. (You may want to trim off some fat first--I was able to get a much leaner cut of meat by doing this). Sprinkle Adobo seasoning and taco seasoning packet on top, as well as black beans, corn and salsa. The recipe calls for 2-3 teaspoons, though I didn't really measure it out--just sprinkled until it looked like the top of the roast well well coated. For those of you who have never used Adobo seasoning, it's a wonderful spice combination including salt, oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, pepper and other spices. You will probably not find it on the aisle with the rest of the spices; I found it on the Hispanic food aisle. It's one of those hidden gems that you might not find if you don't know what you're looking for. (Extra tidbit about Adobo seasoning: It also makes great seasoning on top of baked tilapia if you want an additional use for it.)

Cook all day on low--about 8-10 hours. It's well worth the longer cooking time--it came out really tender and moist and fell apart when I shredded it.

When meat is done, transfer to a large pan and shred with two forks. Mix meat back into sauce in crockpot.

Serve on tortillas with sour cream and cheese. Yum!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Berry Cream Muffins

Cooking is a simple delight for me. There is something immensely satisfying about combining a variety of ingredients and ending up with something tasty to eat. And the things you can come up with are endless!

After getting married last summer and now having an apartment of our own, my love for cooking and spending time in the kitchen has really taken off. There is something really special about having my own kitchen, doing my own meal planning and stocking the kitchen with the ingredients I like or want to try. I have found a whole new world in searching for recipes and finding creative ways to make meals, pastries, desserts, side dishes, etc., as well as trying old tried and true recipes that bring back nostalgic childhood memories (I had a mom who is a great cook to set an example for me!).

The recipe below is for Berry Cream Muffins. I found the recipe in my Taste of Home cookbook, which my grandma gave me as a Christmas gift about a year ago. 

These Berry Cream Muffins, I must say, are now one of my all-time favorite muffin recipes. They are very moist and flavorful, and they are great to have with a bowl of cereal for breakfast, as a snack or even as a dessert. I made these today, and when my husband, Lukas, walked in the door, one of the first things he did was comment on how good the house smelled. When I told him what I had made, he wasted no time in doing a little dance to the kitchen to sample the freshly baked goods, which was followed by many "Mmm's." :)

Berry Cream Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cup fresh or frozen raspberries, blueberries or blackberries
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sour cream or yogurt
½ cup vegetable oil
½ teaspoon vanilla

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add berries and toss gently. I have tried this recipe with blueberries, raspberries, and as shown in this blog, a mix of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries. They all turned out delicious. 

Combine eggs, sour cream/yogurt, oil and vanilla. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. The recipes turn out well with either sour cream or a flavored yogurt. Today I used a raspberry yogurt, supplemented with a little bit of sour cream to get the full cup specified by the recipe. Either way, the yogurt and/or sour cream makes these muffins delightfully moist!

Fill greased muffin cups. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-22 minutes. This recipe makes about 12 muffins.

Optional Streusel Topping: 
You don't have to do the streusel, but I've always included this. Really, who doesn't like a sweet, crunchy, cinnamon topping on the top of a muffin? For the streusel, mix 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 3 tablespoons quick cooking oats, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon. Cut in 2 tablespoons cold butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over muffins before baking.

And there you have it. One of my very favorite muffin recipes! Happy baking!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Journey of Delight

Simple Delight.

That's the theme of this blog, which may sound a little obscure at first, but to me these two words are ones of great significance. My husband, Lukas, first started using the phrase and it’s one that has stuck with me. The words “Simple Delight” have to do a lot with what with what God has been teaching me. They are a description of the kind of person I want to be, and by the grace of God, it is an area in which I hope to continue to grow. 

I like how Jim Elliot put it “Wherever you are, be all there.” It’s about having a simple contentedness in a busy world. A commitment to thankfulness no matter what the circumstances. A commitment to learning to rejoice in all things and see the good in things, even when things are difficult or challenging or seem less than ideal.

I don't want to miss out on the simple delights of life. A sunrise. Going on a walk. Spending time with a loved one. Making my apartment homey and inviting. The satisfaction of making a delectable meal or dessert. Simple creative outlets. Putting my best foot forward every day at work. Laughter. The little and big blessings that make up life. The blessings that are so easy to take for granted or miss if we’re not intentional. It's too easy to waste precious moments worrying, analyzing the past, contemplating the future, or getting frustrated with challenges. This shouldn’t be! I want to live life to the fullest!

So what will this look like for a blog? The idea is to fill this blog with things that inspire simple delight in me, whether a recipe worth trying, the beauty of nature, decorating ideas, or musings about life. Please let me know if you have any suggestions. What are simple delights in your life? I hope you’ll join me for this journey.

Photo by Anna Keagy