because what is life without good food?

Crock pot / slow cooker dishes

Crock Pot Garden Marinara Sauce

Garden Marinara Sauce in the Crockpot

I am guest posting over at Stacy Makes Cents! Stacy contacted me back in June to ask if I would do a guest post for her in August … something made in the crockpot. The only things she asked were:

  • Not a recipe already on the site
  • Submitted a week in advance of your date
  • Only use whole food ingredients

I thought that’s no sweat! I can totally handle that … Well, time went by and the date she had given me as a deadline came and went and I hadn’t sent her anything. You know how life gets so busy … this guest post completely slipped my mind! So I totally failed on the “submitted a week in advance” part, but I did make a new recipe with whole foods!

So head on over to Stacy’s blog for the recipe.

Garden Marinara Sauce made in the Slow Cooker

This recipe was shared at Weekend Potluck and Manic Monday.

Cinnamon Kissed Green Chile Pork Stew

Cinnamon Kissed Green Chile and Pork Stew

Sometimes you make a wish and send it out into the world and just trust that the world will take care of it.

I try to be very careful with my wishes, because I have seen wishes gone awry. I have wished for things in my past that have come true, but not in the way I expected them to. I guess in the end, it all turned out right, so the wishes were good even if the (temporary) implications seemed bad.

This time my wish was simply this: to find someone that would love me for who I am. I never was the person my ex wanted me to be, and I apparently wasn’t the woman that the guys I’ve dated since wanted me to be. But I know I am a good person, I have a big heart, a lot of love, and I think I just need to find the right person who will love me for who I am. I know I am not at all your typical woman … I am very independent, strong, and intelligent, and a lot of men are scared away by that. And I will not ever even consider dating someone if I don’t feel a strong connection between us. There seem to be a lot of those very superficial guys … and very few connections.

Anyway, about a month ago, I sent out my wish, with a lot of love and acceptance for who I am and a sense of trust that it would be okay whether or not I find someone. I am okay just being me.

A few days later, a friend of mine contacted me … things have changed in his life and it made me step back and look at each time we have met in a different light. It’s very strange … this is not what I expected and yet, it seems right. I’m waiting to find out what happens. When one of my wishes is granted, there always seems to be a twist to the wish, something I didn’t expect. But I am just letting go and trusting that things will work out for the best …

Cinnamon Kissed Green Chile and Pork Stew

Cinnamon Kissed Green Chile Pork Stew

  • 3/4 lb. pork cutlet, chopped into small hunks (You can also use ground beef, ground venison, or even chicken or leftover turkey.  The pork is really lovely in it, though.)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups chicken broth (add enough to make it as soupy as you want it)
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small turnip, peeled and chopped (optional)
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Hatch Green chile, roasted, peeled, and chopped, with juices (I used a 13-oz. frozen container of real Hatch Chile from NM. It’s not an easy thing to obtain where I live … if you don’t have any authentic Hatch Green Chile, you can use canned, and add jalapeno or other hot pepper to give it some heat as desired.)
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Throw everything into a crockpot, set it on low and let it cook all day. Top with grated sharp cheddar cheese at serving, if desired.

This stew is the perfect thing to eat when you are cold or when you have a cold. It will warm you up, clean out your sinuses and make your body feel good all over. There is nothing like some good hot chile to chase the germs away.

Oh, and it is the absolute perfect thing to use over breakfast burritos. Ideally you should make the burritos in a park nearby the International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque at 5 a.m. just before the fiesta begins, with coffee and bailey’s and champagne. Then put away all the cooking and drinks and walk over and amongst the beautiful colors of the balloons. Sometime in your life you should do this.

The breakfast burritos will be another post … soon!

Cinnamon Kissed Green Chile and Pork Stew

This recipe was shared at Wonka Wednesdays, Gooseberry Patch’s Slow Cooker Recipe Roundup and Katherine Martinelli’s Mexican Blog Hop.

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Pork Sliders {Guest Post from Kitchen Psycho}

I am travelling this week, so I asked my foodie friends if they would help me out, and I was just amazed, within minutes, three of my sweet friends had volunteered to help me out. Jennifer from Kitchen Psycho was the first to send me a post.

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Pork Sliders

I really really love what she says in her “about” section on her facebook page and I think this says a lot about her:

“Food is never just food. It’s also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, & who we want to be.”

— Molly Wizenberg

I think that right there says so much about the kind of person Jennifer is. She pours a lot of herself into her recipes and she has a great sense of humor, which I think you will see in this post … thank you again, Jennifer!

“Aaaack!” Eloise exclaimed in horror. “The party is THIS weekend, and I have no idea what to bring. I don’t want to take the same, old, boring dip!”

[Enter the hero.]

“Never fear! Kitchen Psycho is here! I have something that’s just right for this time of year, and your friends and family will LOVE it!”

[Kitchen Psycho and Eloise embrace]

“Oh, thank you! What would I do without you?” Eloise wonders.

“I’ve been wondering the same thing!” Kitchen Psycho quips.

[They both chuckle.]

[End of scene.]

If only it were as easy as the commercials! In my opinion, there are two types of people in the world: the kind that do things the easy way, and the kind that do it the right way. Sometimes, the two are the same. But when it comes to food, that equality is not common. Often, the easy stuff is full of preservatives, hormones, fake sugars, BLECH! How often do people fix cheese dip out of Velveeta? I rest my case. That stuff isn’t even real cheese! Food should be made with with real ingredients and from scratch! But I digress…

This week, I have dedicated one of my posts as a DOUBLE post, meaning, it can be seen on TWO blogs. Sumptuous Spoonfuls has been so kind as to grant us a small stint on their blog, and we will also post as usual on our blog at!

Over at, Karly and Jenny have a Secret Ingredient Cook-Off every week! For 26 whole weeks, we have used one common ingredient to make two Main Dishes, two Sides or Appetizers, and two Desserts. This week is Cinnamon Week over at Kitchen Psycho, and already, we’ve made a Moroccan Chicken Stew and Chai Banana Bread with Coffee Spice Icing. Sounds good, right?
Well, today we have an appetizer for you. It’s a super easy slow-cooker recipe, and it’s great for bringing to a get-together. I found this on under the name “Cinnamon Pork”. The only improvement I would make is this: Add a few slices of bacon to the pot. Because everything is better with bacon, right?

The slider idea is purely my creation. You can choose to make a Main Dish out of this by slicing the pork tenderloin into medallions and serving with rice and a veggie, say, steamed broccoli.

Slow Cooker Cinnamon Pork Sliders


(recipe from

  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 (3/4 pound) pork tenderloins, cut in chunks

Add everything to slow cooker and cook on low 4-5 hours.

 For sliders:

  • small wheat dinner rolls
  • slices of cinnamon pork
  • goat cheese, softened
  • dash of Chinese Five Spice
  • slices of tomato and lettuce

Spread goat cheese onto sliced rolls. Sprinkle with Five Spice and layer slices of pork, tomato and lettuce.

Recipe and Photo Courtesy of Jennifer Raper,

Annz Philly Cheesesteak French Dipz

Annz Philly Cheesesteak French Dipz

I think I always want French Dips in the fall. But a French Dip isn’t entirely what I want –what I REALLY want is a Philly Cheesesteak sandwich with the onions and peppers piled high and lots of melted cheese oozing all over AND I want that tasty au jus for dipping my cheesesteak sandwich. Most restaurants offer a French Dip with just the meat and the au jus (which is good, but it’s just not quite there!) — or they will give you the Philly Cheesesteak, but they don’t include the au jus! I gotta have the best of both worlds.

And if you want the best of both worlds, sometimes you gotta make it yourself.

(Well, actuallly I find most of the time it’s just better if you make it yourself …)

I tried a lot of other French Dip recipes in my crock pot and I sort of liked them, but found some of them were too salty and others just didn’t have quite enough flavor, so I set out to make my own. I had found this Zaatar seasoning at the World Market and I was curious how it would go in this. Zaatar is a middle eastern seasoning that is strongly scented with thyme and sesame seeds. It adds a lovely flavor to the meat along with the other spices. The garlic mellows as it cooks and permeates the meat beautifully (and makes your house smell heavenly!)

Annz Philly Cheesesteak French Dipz

Annz Philly Cheesesteak French Dipz

For the meat:

  • 3 lb beef or venison roast
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled (yes, the entire head!)
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar seasoning ( a middle eastern spice) — or if you can’t find Zaatar use 1 teaspoon thyme + a few drops of sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 1/2 cups beef stock
  • 15 peppercorns

For the sandwiches:

  • Hard rolls
  • Onion, thinly sliced
  • Bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • Provolone or other mild white cheese, sliced


  1. Put all ingredients for the MEAT into a crockpot and cook on low for 7-10 hours or until the meat is falling-apart tender.
  2. This is the #1 MOST IMPORTANT STEP that I always forget. Take the meat out of the juices and IMMEDIATELY put it in a covered dish and let it rest for at least 15 minutes while you prepare the au jus. (This is so important for sealing the juices into the meat and I am so bad at remembering to do it!)
  3. Strain the liquid & vegies through a strainer, catching the juices in a bowl beneath. Set the liquid aside while you slice the meat. (You can save the strained out cooked vegies for piling on the sandwiches along if you like. I like to do that. The garlic cloves are really tasty especially after cooking in the meat juices all day!)
  4. Now, slice the meat thin — or if it is falling apart too much to slice, just shred it with a fork.

If you just want French Dips, pile the meat on the buns now and enjoy with the au jus! BUT if you want the Philly version, here’s what you do.

  1. Saute the onion and bell pepper briefly in a pan sprayed with cooking spray until the onions are translucent. I usually pour in a bit of the au jus as well while I’m sauteeing–it adds a nice flavor. (I think a few mushrooms tossed in at this point would be sublime, but I never seem to have any on hand when I’m making this!)
  2. Set the bottom half of the rolls on a baking sheet.
  3. Pile the meat on the bottom half of the hard rolls, top with sauteed onions & peppers, then with slices of cheese.
  4. Bake at 350 for 5 – 10 minutes or until the cheese melts all over the meat. When the cheese is almost melted, toast the top of the buns.
  5. Pull the cheesy meaty buns out of the oven and top them with the toasted “tops”.
  6. Serve with the au jus in little bowls on the side for dipping. With a nice colorful side salad.

Annz Philly Cheesesteak French Dips

The salad on the side is one of my Summer Berry Salads.

This is part of my series of 31 Days of Warmer Connections. Every day in October, I am blogging about connections through food. I got my daughter to finally TRY the meat (had to bribe her with pictures of fairy houses) and she loved it! She took just a little taste of the meat to start, then a BIG hunk. YES! Now  … do you think I can convince my son to try it? Ah well, probably not.

I am really looking forward to feeding this to my parents this weekend!

This recipe was shared at Gooseberry Patch’s Slow Cooker Recipe Roundup.

Lentil and Eggplant Stew Mole

Lentil & Eggplant Stew Mole

It’s September and stew is on my mind. Usually when people think of stew, I think they think of meat, but I have found I don’t need meat to make a good hearty stew. If you throw a few beans in with some vegies and spices, you end up with something that is not only tasty and good for you, but also high in protein and flavor.

I know some of you are afraid of eggplant. I have a friend who teases me about putting eggplant in things. She can’t stand the thought of eating eggplant. What is so scary about eggplant? Is it that it’s purple? Oh how can you scorn such a lovely hue? What is more beautiful than an elegant lavender or that dark dark purple so dark it’s almost black. What better color to eat than purple?

Usually the purple cooks out and you end up with more of a brown color anyway. In fact, it looks a lot like meat! But the taste is sublime.

I suggest if you have an aversion to eggplant, perhaps you ought to give it a try. You might discover you like it … and that would open a whole new world of taste to you.

In this dish, I even covered the eggplant in chocolate for you. Yes, chocolate. In a stew. I know it’s weird. But it’s a good kinda weird. Go on, take a bite! It’s delicious …

Lentil and Eggplant Stew Mole

Lentil and Eggplant Stew Mole

I saw this recipe on Serious Eats and thought it would be a wonderful hearty way to cook up some of my eggplant. Mole is a spicy savory Mexican sauce that is usually made with chile peppers and dark chocolate. I couldn’t find my cocoa powder, so I had to substitute chocolate syrup! It turned out beautiful though, with just a hint of chocolate aftertaste.


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano + a bunch of fresh oregano leaves (or 2 t. dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red lentils
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 large tomatoes, peeled and chopped (or one 15-oz. can)
  • 3 skinny Japanese eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 lb., the recipe says)
  • Chopped tomato and cilantro, for garnish


  1. Toss everything into the crockpot and cook on low until the stew is cooked and the lentils are soft and plump … or until you get home after the day’s activities and you are starving for something hearty and hot. That’s what I did. I let it cook from morning till about 9 pm when we got home.
  2. Serve hot over rice with chopped tomato & cilantro on top.

Mahogany “Beef” Stew with Red Wine & Purple Potatoes

Mahogany Beef Stew with Red Wine and Purple Potatoes

Is it starting to feel more like fall for you yet? I notice it in the air here … chillier evenings, brisk mornings, a few leaves are falling already. And in the fall, I think of stews and soups and hearty warm dishes … so I know it’s still August, but the weather is telling me it’s time to make stew.

I say “beef” here because I didn’t actually use beef in this recipe … I used venison. I have a freezer full of venison and I don’t even eat meat that much! But everyone in my family hunts (besides me!) so there is always lots of venison. It’s a very lean and healthy meat, leaner than most any beef you can find. Some people think it tastes gamey, but really if it’s cooked and seasoned properly, you can’t tell the difference.

Now let’s talk about the potatoes. Have you ever heard of a purple potato? I think they are actually called blue potatoes … why on earth would they call them blue potatoes? They are most definitely purple! Nobody argues whether an eggplant is purple or tries to name it blue or red … it’s just PURPLE!

Anyway, about the potatoes. My dad grows them in his garden. You might have noticed I’m partial to purple if you’ve read any of my eggplant posts, but I’m also HIGHLY partial to potatoes. I could seriously eat potatoes all day long and never tire of them. So when you take a potato and make it purple? Yeah, these may just be the absolute perfect vegetable. My dad tells me they have as many antioxidants as blueberries. I don’t know if you’ve read about the super-powers of blueberries, but hey, trust me when I tell you that this is a super-good thing.

My dad’s purple potatoes have an intensely dark purple skin. Almost black.

Purple potato

And when you open these dark, dark purple potatoes, inside they are this lovely mottled lavender color. Look at that! Isn’t it pretty?

The lovely lavender inside of the purple potato

Maybe you have no purple potatoes … I know they are not easy to find! Don’t worry, red potatoes will stand in just fine for purple. (The lovely purple disappears into the stew!) Or yukon golds … or whatever potato you happen to have on hand, really. And if you don’t have venison, it’s okay, you can use beef. Choose a lean cut, though–and don’t worry if it’s tough. You’re going to slow cook it so it will be fall-apart tender and so tasty and warm it’ll toast your insides.

The secret ingredient in this stew is the hoison sauce. It will give your stew a complexity of flavor that nobody will quite be able to put their finger on. Shhhh! Don’t tell them! They don’t need to know all your mysterious cooking secrets … and they certainly don’t need to know how ridiculously easy this stew is to put together.

Mahogany Stew with Red Wine and Purple Potatoes

Mahogany Beef Stew with Red Wine and Purple Potatoes


  • 1 1/2 lb. venison or beef “stew meat”, chopped in rough hunks. You can use a roast or really whatever cut of meat you like.
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 good-sized carrots, peeled and cut in thick hearty slices
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 c. of beef broth
  • 1 c. of red wine (I used Malbec, but any red wine that you like to drink will do)
  • 3-4 good sized potatoes, peeled and chopped. I used 6 of the purple ones, but the ones I have are small. Just toss in potatoes until you think there’s enough potato in there!
  • About 10 whole peppercorns
  • 3 T. hoison sauce (if you don’t have any on hand, it’s easy to whip up your own hoison sauce.)
  • Chopped fresh herbs: I used a sprig of rosemary (finely chopped), thyme, pineapple sage, parsley, and basil. (It’s ok to use dried herbs here too if you don’t have fresh.)


  1. I see a lot of crock pot stew recipes where you brown the meat and there are like 7 to 10 different steps. This is a crock pot recipe! It’s supposed to be EASY! I suppose you could do that … but frankly I am too busy … I just toss everything except the fresh herbs into a crockpot and let it cook all day on low heat. Towards the end (like in the last hour or so), add the herbs. (If you are using dried herbs, go ahead and toss them in at the beginning too!) You can add the rosemary earlier … rosemary can handle being cooked forever.
  2. Enjoy. Refrigerate the leftovers and heat them up as desired. It’s even better the next day.
Mahogany Stew with Red Wine and Purple Potatoes

This recipe was shared at Gooseberry Patch’s Slow Cooker Recipe Roundup.



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