Category Archives: Make Ahead Meal

Fall Slow Cooker Pork Chops

My heart gets happy this time of year when I start to switch over to my fall meal menu. This doesn’t have to mean all stews and chili (we can save some of that for winter, people) but the incorporation of some great fall produce. This Fall Slow Cooker Pork Chop recipe is a go-to in my house in the cooler months. It incorporates sweet potatoes, apples, onions and sauerkraut for a deliciously hearty yet healthy fall meal. Just a little peeling and cutting in the morning will give you an earthy evening dinner.

Fall Slow Cooker Pork Chops

Fall Slow Cooker Pork Chops
Serves 4-6
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced into rounds
4 large apples, sliced
1 large onion, sliced
1-2 lbs boneless pork chops
1 2 lb bag sauerkraut, drained
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

In slow cooker, layer sweet potatoes on bottom, followed by apples and onions. Place pork chops on top. Lay sauerkraut over the top. Pour apple cider vinegar. Mix all spices together in a both and sprinkle over the top. Cook on low for 7-8 hours.

So simple. So delicious. So fall!



Filed under Budget Friendly, Cook, Healthy, Main Dish, Make Ahead Meal, Uncategorized

Korean Style Bear Tacos

So I admit that we’ve been pretty bad slackers about posting new recipes lately. I suppose that’s just what happens when you combine summer with jobs, more babies, interstate moves, potty training, the list goes on. But fear not, we’re still alive and cooking (even if we’ve got some standby recipes on repeat) and experimenting with some new things when we can.

This recipe is my most recent experiment with bear meat. Of course, most people don’t have bear hanging out in the fridge and that’s totally fine – beef, pork shoulder or other wild game would work great as well. This one is inspired by this delicious “globally-inspired” taco place by my house and adapted from this recipe. It’s a nice little way to mix up your ho-hum taco night without too much extra effort.


Korean Style Tacos
For the Roast
2-3 lb bear (or beef) roast
1/2 C soy sauce
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 granny smith apple, julienned
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger
1/2 C honey
1/4 C rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
black pepper
3-5 C water

Place roast in a glass baking pan.  Scatter apples and green onions on and around roast in pan. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, oil, honey, garlic, ginger and pepper, then whisk well to combine.  Pour marinade over meat and vegetables. Marinate overnight.

In the morning, transfer roast and marinade to a slow cooker. Add water one cup at a time until the roast is 1/2 to 3/4 covered with liquid. Slow cook on low for 6-8 hours. Once meat is tender and falling apart, remove roast from slow cooker and gently shred with two forks.

For the Tacos
small taco size tortillas, warmed
1 C cabbage, shredded or chopped to coleslaw-like sized pieces
1/2-1 granny smith apple, julienned
3/4 C matchstick or julienned carrots
4-5 radishes, julienned
2 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
pinch kosher salt

1-2 tsp sriracha, to taste
1/2 C mayo

Prepare cabbage, apple, carrots and radishes and combine in a medium bowl. Add cilantro and toss to combine. Whisk together lime juice, oil, cumin and salt and pour over slaw mixture. Toss again to combine. Slaw don’t need to be exact – make your slaw to taste and for the appropriate amount of people you’ll be serving. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together sriracha sauce and mayo, adding sriracha until you reach your preferred heat level.

Assemble tacos by spreading sriracha mayo on each tortilla and topping with meat and slaw. Drizzle with additional sriracha if desired.




Filed under Healthy, Main Dish, Make Ahead Meal

Slow Cooked French Dips with Stout Au Jus

A few years ago, the hubs pulled a black bear tag and, lo and behold, came back from his hunt with well over 100 pounds of bear meat. This was the year we were getting married and had just bought a house and funds weren’t exactly free-flowing so I took it as my mission to take his “gift” and make the most of it in free meals (this is what love looks like, people). Some of the things we tried left a bit to be desired (ahem, bear ribs) but others, like this recipe below were pretty fantastic.

This year, another bear ‘showed up’ in my freezer and I was actually quite excited to bust back out the slow cooker and make this version of a hearty French Dip Sandwich. Of course, most people don’t just have bear at their disposal but this would be just as wonderful with a beef roast.
french dip3
Slow Cooked French Dip Sandwiches with Stout Au Jus
4 lb beef or wild game roast cut
1 can beef consomme
1 can french onion soup
1 bottle stout beer
dash Worcestershire
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 small bunch fresh thyme
cracked black pepper
sliced swiss cheese
French rolls

Place roast in a slow cooker. Pour beef consomme, french onion soup and beer over meat. Add Worcestershire, garlic and cracked pepper. Toss in bay leaf, rosemary and thyme. Slow cook on low for 8-9 hours or on high for 4-5 hours until meat is very tender.

Remove meat from slow cooker and shred or slice thinly, depending on meet you’ve chosen. Place meat on sliced French rolls and top with a slice of swiss cheese. Microwave for about 30 seconds to just melt cheese. Ladle jus from the slow cooker into a small bowl for dipping to serve.


Filed under Make Ahead Meal, Quick & Easy, sandwich

Hearty White Bean & Smoked Ham Soup

Have you ever have a favorite lunch or dinner place that you max out on or move further away from and then totally forget about for awhile? Then one day something trips a magical memory trigger and you suddenly ask yourself why it’s been forever since their deliciousness has crossed your path?

This happened to me recently and in my case, it’s an extremely tiny and eclectic soup place. A Milwaukee “soup Nazi” of sorts that I worked by for years until my career took me around town for a few years to offices far from his shop. When I moved back to a downtown office almost two years ago, I had all but forgotten about the place – until a few weeks ago. It was one of those first grey, gloomy and freezing pre-winter days and a Whole Foods salad just wasn’t going to cut it. I needed warm, hearty soup and BOOM, memory trigger tripped.

I ordered a Northern Bean and Ham Soup and couldn’t stop thinking about it so I took my own riff on recreating it for home – swapping his rice for barley and tossing in a few more vegetables from the remains of my CSA. Now, even though I’ll be going back again soon, I’ve got a permanent reminder in my files.

white bean and ham soup

White Bean & Ham Soup
8-10oz smoked ham hock, deboned and cubed
1 C pearl barley
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
1 C swiss chard or kale, stems removed & leaves chopped
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans great Northern white beans
5 C chicken stock
1 C half and half or 2% milk
6 Tbsp butter
kosher salt
black pepper

Prep and chop all vegetables. Melt butter in a large stock pot and once almost melted, add onion, carrot and celery. Saute vegetables over medium heat for 6-8 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper. Once they begin to soften, add garlic and saute another 3-4 minutes. Add small amounts of chicken stock as needed if vegetables begin to stick to the pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape any browned bits off the bottom into the stock.

Add ham, beans, barley and remaining stock. Stir to combine and reduce heat to a low simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, then add kale/chard and half and half. Continue to simmer for another 30 minutes, checking to see that barley is fully cooked. Season well with salt – about 1-2 tsp – until flavors pop.

white bean and smoked ham soup



Filed under Main Dish, Make Ahead Meal

Broccoli, Kohlrabi & Cheddar Soup

Dear Broccoli Cheese Soup,
I’m sorry I always thought you were gross. I was judgy, not believing that you could be anything more than a lunch room catastrophe. I was wrong. As it turns out, you’re a CSA box miracle. A girl can only eat so many kinds of kohlrabi slaw and you neatly absorbed its persistent appearance in my box without batting an eye. I’ve realized the errors of my ways and am now sharing your magic with the world.
Humbly yours,
Broccoli Kohlrabi & Cheddar Soup
1 large head of broccoli, trimmed to florets
1 large kohlrabi, cubed
3/4 C carrots, julienned
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 1/2 C chicken stock
2 C sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/2 C parmesan cheese, shredded
2 C low fat milk
6 Tbsp butter
1/4 C flour
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 1/2 – 2 tsp kosher salt
cracked black pepper

Trim broccoli. Remove exterior from kohlrabi and cube. Julienne carrots or measure out prepared matchstick carrots. Melt three Tbsp butter in a large stock pot, then add in onions and kohlrabi. Saute for 5-7 minutes, then add broccoli and carrots. Saute for another 5 minutes. Next, add chicken stock to pot. Reduce heat slightly to medium-low and cover. Allow vegetables to steam for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Working in two batches, transfer vegetables and stock to a large food processor or blender and puree to desired consistency (I like mine to be fairly smooth). Transfer pureed vegetables back into stock pot.

Meanwhile, in a separate pot, melt remaining three Tbsp butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Gradually add milk about 1/2 C at a time to thin out the flour. Once milk is fully incorporated, whisk in cheeses. Let simmer for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally until cheese is mostly melted. Transfer cheese mixture into stock pot and stir to combine.

Stir in mustard, salt and black pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste and let simmer for another 10 minutes.



Filed under Garden, Make Ahead Meal

Ham & Potato Chowder

I’m a soup kinda gal. Come fall and winter it’s one of those perfect dishes that warms you up and feels so seasonally right. When your house is as hectic as mine, the fact that it makes great leftover lunches and freezes like a dream makes it even more ideal.

This Ham and Potato Chowder is rich, creamy, savory and just salty enough to leave you wanting just a few bites more when your bowl is empty.

Ham & Potato Chowder
4 Tbsp butter
4 Tbsp flour
4 C unsalted chicken stock
2 C whole milk
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 large Yukon Gold potatoes, chunked
6 oz ham, cubed
1/2 C corn
1 1/2 Tbsp sherry
3/4 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
cracked black pepper

In a stock pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk in flour, which will form a bit of a paste on the vegetables. Add 1 cup of chicken stock and continue whisking to thicken stock and smooth out flour paste. Season with Old Bay. Continue whisking in the remainder of the stock. Whisk in sherry and milk, then add in potatoes and ham. Reduce heat and let soup simmer for 45 minutes. Add in corn, pepper and additional salt to taste. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread or biscuits.


Want more winter soup recipes? Look no further than HAP’s soup stash.


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Filed under Main Dish, Make Ahead Meal

Elk (or Beef) Pot Pies

January is finally rearing it’s ugly head with sub-zero wind chills – although sadly there is nary a snowflake to be found around here, which means I’m just staying bundled inside instead of getting my ski on. With all that time spent inside, Will’s weekend nap times have turned into make-ahead-meal sessions for me. I’ve been knocking out hearty and warm comfort foods left and right, like these pot pies full of classic wintery flavors.

I have the good fortune to have a freezer full of elk at my disposal, which helps seriously cut the fat and pump up the protein for this dish, but a roast-style cut of beef would work just as well. If you happen to have wild game at the ready, this is a great way to keep the lean meat nice and juicy. On the same kind of note, pre-fab pie crust would be a good time saver but if you have the time, the homemade crust is really worth the little bit of extra effort.
elk potpie
Stew Filling
1 1/2 lb beef, elk, or venison, trimmed and cut into small chunks
2 C low sodium beef stock
1 C red wine
1/4 C flour
4 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, finely chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 C hashbrown potatoes, shredded
2 bay leaves
1 tsp thyme
1-2 tsp kosher salt
1+ tsp pepper

Combine flour, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in a medium bowl and mix well.  Cut meat into bite-sized chunks and pat dry with a paper towel.  Add to bowl and toss with flour mixture until meat is lightly coated. Meanwhile in a stock pot or Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.  Once melted, add coated meat to the pan.  Cook until meat is just browned, approximately 3-4 minutes.  Transfer meat back into your bowl and set aside.  This will prevent the lean game meat from overcooking and becoming tough while you cook the vegetables.

Add the onions, celery and carrots to the pot.  If needed, add another pat of butter or a drizzle of olive oil to prevent scorching.  Once vegetables begin to soften, add garlic, bay leaves, and thyme.  Season lightly with salt and pepper. Let vegetables continue to cook for another 5 minutes, then add the red wine and balsamic vinegar. Cook for another 5 minutes, allowing wine to reduce slightly and be absorbed by vegetables.

Next, return the meat to the pot.  Add the hashbrowns and the beef stock.  Bring the temperature to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes.  Vegetables and meat should be cooked through and sauce should be thickened.  Remove from heat and allow filling to cool slightly while you prepare the pie crust.

Pie Crust
2 C flour
3/4 – 1 C shortening
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vinegar
1 C ice water (you may not use it all)
parchment paper
mini aluminum loaf tins

In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.  Separately, combine vinegar and ice water.  Cut the shortening into the dry mixture in small chunks using a pastry cutter or fork. Begin adding water to the dry mixture, 1-2 Tbsp at a time as you use the pastry cutter or your hands to work the shortening into the flour.  Continue adding water until all the flour is worked in and dough just holds together.

pie crust

Divide dough into 2 balls and place each ball between 2 sheets of parchment paper.  Roll out with a rolling pin until dough is flat and thin.  Press the bottom and top of a loaf tin into the dough like a cookie cutter to shape the crusts. Use a small knife to cut out the pieces, placing the small one in the bottom of each loaf tin.

Preheat oven to 350. Gently press the bottom crust of dough into the tin. Scoop a heaping ladle of stew filling into each loaf tin. Place top crust on top and gently crimp edges onto the loaf pan.

Bake for 30 minutes if serving immediately.  If you are freezing your pot pies, trim a layer of parchment paper to fit the top of the loaf pan.  Place on top of crust and wrap twice with heavy duty freezer foil.


Filed under Main Dish, Make Ahead Meal

Vegetable Lasagna with White Sauce

With a little time off over the holidays I made a few freezer friendly experimental meals, including this veggie heavy lasagna. I used my favorite veggies but you could really use whatever ones you like or have on hand. I also included bacon for the hubs but it would be equally delicious without any meat.

Now for the sauce. I’d long seen cauliflower as a “healthy substitute” in cheese sauces but was doubtful that it would stand up to the real deal. While it had a slightly different flavor, the sauce was surprisingly rich and luxurious with a serious cut to the cals by using only one cup of cheese to the typical four or five cups. By using sharp swiss and parmesan there was still plenty of cheese flavor…to the point where the hubs immediately said “Mmmm, this is good, what kind of cheese is this? Swiss?” and I replied with glee, “Yes…and cauliflower!” Even my 1 1/2 year old scarfed it down. Mwahahaha! Secret veggie win!


Vegetable Lasagna
makes 2 9×9 or 7×11 pans
1 pkg lasagna noodles
2 pkg portabella mushrooms, sliced
1 large bunch kale, chopped
1 butternut squash, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pkg thick cut bacon, chopped (optional)
1/2 C parmesan cheese, shredded
2 C mozzarella, shredded
olive oil
Cauliflower White Sauce (below)

Preheat oven to 375. Cook lasagna noodles according to box instructions and rinse with cool water once cooked so that they don’t stick together as badly. Meanwhile, add bacon to a large saute pan and cook for about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, squash and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes, adding a drizzle of olive oil if necessary to prevent vegetables from sticking to the pan. Once bacon, mushrooms and squash are mostly cooked add kale and continue sauteeing until kale wilts. Remove from heat and set aside.

Place 3 lasagna noodles in the base of each pan. Top with 1/4 of vegetable mixture and 1/4 of bacon, if using. Spoon several scoops of white sauce over the vegetables and sprinkle lightly with parmesan and mozzarella. You will need to visually divide the sauce and cheeses into sixths for the ensuing layers.

Repeat layers. Top with a final layer of noodles. Add a thin layer of sauce and a light sprinkle of each cheese.

Bake for 35 minutes or until cheese is a light golden brown.

Cauliflower White Sauce
1 head cauliflower, chopped
4 Tbsp butter
1/3 C flour
1 C half and half
2 C skim or 1% milk
1/2 C parmesan cheese, shredded
1/2 C swiss cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp dijon mustard
pinch nutmeg
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350. Chop cauliflower into small florets and place in small roasting pan with a drizzle of olive oil and 1/3 cup water. Season well with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes until cauliflower is soft. Remove from oven and let cool. Transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth.

Meanwhile in a large sauce pan, melt butter over medium heat and whisk in flour. Gradually whisk in half and half and milk. Stir in parmesan and swiss cheeses. Whisk in mustard and nutmeg. Fold in cauliflower puree and stir well to combine. Season with additional salt to taste.



Filed under Main Dish, Make Ahead Meal

Smoky White Bean Soup with Rosemary

I have a tendency to experiment with cooking more when the hubs is out of town. He’s not a picky eater by any means but when he sees “bean soup”, “kale salad” or “veggie pesto” on our menu board he tends to think the “healthy” stuff will leave him still hungry and feeling like a rabbit.

As far as veggie-based soups go, this one is pretty hearty and doesn’t even seem veggie-based thanks to the rich beans and smoky bacon. Plus it was easy to make. I’ll be resurrecting this again – whether the hubs is around or not!

white bean soup
Smoky White Bean Soup with Rosemary
5 slices smoked pepper bacon, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 15 oz cans cannellini beans
3 1/2 C low sodium chicken broth
1 C chopped kale
1 Tbsp sherry
1/3 C parmesan cheese, shredded
1 spring rosemary, chopped
kosher salt, to taste

Place chopped bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook for about 5 minutes until bacon begins to crisp and brown. Add in onion, celery and garlic. Drizzle in olive oil if extra fat is needed to prevent burning. Some browned bits on the bottom of your pan are ideal though! Let vegetables and bacon cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5-7 minutes.

Next, add 1/4 C of chicken broth to the pan and use the moisture to scrape and release browned bits into the liquid. This will add additional flavor to your base. Add in sherry, beans, remaining broth and rosemary. Let simmer over medium low for 10-15 minutes.

Use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender or food processor to puree soup until smooth. Mix in parmesan and chopped kale and stir. Season well with salt until flavors pop and let simmer until kale is cooked.

Serve with french bread or pretzel rolls.

white bean soup

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Filed under Main Dish, Make Ahead Meal, Quick & Easy

Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato & Fennel Soup

I have a serious thing for butternut squash. I would call it a problem if it weren’t for the fact that it’s a healthy obsession to have.  Last weekend I made this butternut squash soup that tastes so rich and satisfying that it sets a new standard for “health food”.

As a bonus, my one year old also gobbled it up and, besides the tedious vegetable chopping, the rest of the process is pretty hands-off – perfect for a weekend afternoon.

Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato & Fennel Soup
2 medium buttnernut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
2 small or 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 bulb fennel, chopped
3 cloves garlic
1/2 onion, chopped
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
4 C low sodium vegetable stock
2 Tbsp sherry
1/2 C half & half (optional)
2 sprigs thyme
kosher salt, to taste
cracked black pepper

Optional toppings:
dried cherries

Trim and chop squash, sweet potato, fennel and onion. Place vegetables, plus peeled garlic and thyme sprigs, on cookie sheets and toss with olive, salt and pepper until lightly and evenly coated. Roast vegetables at 400 for 40 minutes, removing part way through to flip for even browning.

Transfer half of roasted vegetables to a food processor or blender.  Begin pulsing the food processor and slowly incorporate two cups of vegetable stock, processing until mixture is smooth. Scrape into a Dutch oven or stock pot. Move the other half of vegetables into the food processor and repeat process of incorporating stock.  Add in sherry and puree until smooth.  Transfer second batch to the Dutch oven.

Heat puree over medium-low heat.  Season with salt to taste and stir in half and half if desired. Let soup simmer for at least 30 minutes.

Serve with pepitas, dried cherries and pancetta if desired.


Filed under Healthy, Kid Friendly, Main Dish, Make Ahead Meal