This is my go to emergency meal when it’s 5 o’clock and I have no plan for dinner! Simple flavorful and the girls will always eat it. You can also make this as a quick lunch!
I always use Annie’s brand boxed organic macaroni and cheese (we like the white cheddar). Other brands will of course work, that’s just what I keep on hand. I also use our Fresh Sausage, which is only seasoned with salt and pepper, so the flavor doesn’t clash with the cheese and it’s mild enough my picky toddler will eat it!
1 Box of Macaroni and Cheese
1 pack of fresh sausage links
1 cup frozen peas
Put a small pot of water on to boil for the mac n cheese. Add pasta when it boils.
Cook the sausages in a frying pan on medium low until fully cooked (you can cut one open to make sure there is no pink left) once they are fully cooked cut the sausage into small rounds and set aside.
Just before the pasta is done add the frozen peas to the water for the last few minutes to heat. Drain and add cheese based on package instructions.
Mix the sausage into the macaroni, cheese and peas
Serve and enjoy an easy night! (at least when it comes to dinner)
This is by far one of our favorite go to meals. The best part is it’s extremely flexible (like all my favorite meals). You can put the seasoned pulled pork on a salad, sprinkle on a batch of nachos, place in a fajita wrap, a larger burrito wrap or make into enchiladas. There are an endless number of topping varieties to choose from and best of all, each family members can build their meal differently to suit individual taste!
First you have to break down your shoulder roast into pulled pork. You’ll find a number of recipes online with complex ingredients. However, I only use salt and pepper when I’m making pulled pork. Since most shoulder roasts are large, at least 3-4lbs, they usually have more pork then you’ll need for one meal. By holding off seasoning the pork I can break the pulled pork into two batches and use half for tacos one night and the other half for a second recipe like pulled pork BBQ sandwiches. Without having complex seasoning getting in the way.
The most common way to break down a shoulder is slow cooking it in the oven. Season the pork with salt and pepper, cover with foil and cook at 300 degrees for 6hours until pork pulls apart easily with a fork.
You can also break it down in a slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper; put a ½ cup water in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 5-6 hours until pork pull apart easily with a fork.
The way I do it is in my Instant Pot, which I love. A defrosted 3lb pork shoulder will break down in the instant pot in 90minutes. I usually put a frozen 3lb shoulder roast in the instant pot for 120 minutes (I almost never remember to defrost the night before). I put ½ cup of water in the bottom and season the roast with salt and pepper, then let the instant pot do it’s magic. Add 15 minutes for every additional pound.
Once you have your pork broken down and pulled apart you’re ready to make your tacos!
The following spice amounts can easily be adjusted to taste depending on personal taste. Honestly I never measure out ingredients, I usually just shake the bottle until it feels right but the numbers below will work well to get you started. If you like your food spicy you can up the paprika and add some cayenne pepper. If you don’t love cumin reduce it to ½ teaspoon. You can also pick up a pre-mixed pack of taco seasoning from the store to throw in with the pork if you want a faster option. .
1-2lbs of pulled pork
1 tsp of paprika
1 tsp of cumin
1 tsp of chili powder
1 tsp brown sugar (optional but it helps bring out the spice)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
12 taco shells
2 cups grated cheese
The rest of these topping are optional, but this is what we usually have on our table:
2 cups shredded lettuce
1 diced tomatoes
8 oz salsa
8 oz plain yogurt or sour cream
1 cup guacamole
Place the portion of pulled pork you are using in a skillet with about ½ cup of the dripping to keep it moist. Add all your spices and simmer on medium low for 10-15 minutes.
Toast the taco shells in the oven at 350 for 10-15 minutes to make them crispy.
Serve buffet style. Load the shells with the pork and grated cheese, then placing the rest of your topping into the shell. My order of operations if you’re curious is as follows. Pulled pork, cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, hot sauce.
Note for babies:
if you have a little one or a picky eater heat up some refried beans (if they are too young to chew the pork) and try a broken open taco on their plate. Put a small pile of beans or pork, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and if you think they’ll try it salsa on their plate. It’ll be a mess but I promise they’ll enjoy it!
Meatloaf is one of my all time favorite foods! It is warm and comforting and you can mix a variety of different ingredients together, depending on what you have on hand, and still come out with a delicious dinner.
This is one of our favorite versions and my girls both love it, which is key when cooking for toddlers.
This is my first time actually writing up one of my recipes so bare with me. I tend to cook by feel, based on what I have available. So the following recipe and quantities can easily be modified to taste. I always save my bacon dripping to use in recipes like this but if you don’t have any on hand oil works just as well. Not a fan of thyme? Skip it! Don’t have spinach? Switch to kale or leave it out! A bottled BBQ sauce can easily be substituted for the one I make. My point is, have fun with it, and feel free to ask me any questions you can think of.
2 lbs ground pork
2 tbsp bacon grease (or cooking oil)
1 medium/small apple (grated or finely diced)
1 medium small onion (finely diced)
3 cloves garlic (minced)
½ cup spinach (chopped fine)
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp mustard
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1.5-2 cups panko breadcrumbs (or 2cups fresh breadcrumbs)
½ cup ketchup
½ cup brown sugar (alternately ½ cup white sugar and tsp of molasses)
½ onion (finely chopped by hand or blended in a food processor)
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp mustard (I use stone ground)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place ground pork in a large mixing bowel. Heat a large skillet to medium and add the bacon grease. Sauté the onion 2-3 minutes then add the apple. Sauté them together another 3-4 minute until the onion begins to look translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute or two. Add the spinach and sauté until the greens are wilted. Add the thyme, mustard salt and pepper. Last splash the apple cider vinegar into the pan to loosen any bits that may have stuck to the bottom and bring all the ingredients together.
Mix the sautéed ingredients into the ground pork. You can use a spoon to do this but I find mixing it all together with my hands is the best way to make sure all the ingredients really meld together. Next, add you eggs and breadcrumbs, and mix again by hand. Your meat should still be moist but hold together well when pressed. Choose a medium-size baking dish and mold the meat into a long loaf in the pan. Place in the preheated oven for about 50minutes.
While your loaf is baking mix all your sauce ingredients together in a small sauce pan and heat until the ingredients combine and the sauce gets a smooth glossy look. If you do not like the texture of the onion in your sauce you can strain it through a wire strainer after heating but this is completely optional.
When the 50minutes are up, remove the loaf and cover with your sauce. Place back in the oven for 10-15 minutes so the sauce can adhere to the loaf. Check the temperature in the center of the loaf to make sure it reaches 160degrees (pork chops and roasts are good at 145 degrees but ground pork should be taken to 160)
Slice and serve!
I hope this recipe works out for you all, I would love to hear any feedback you have!
i have gotten a lot of requests for recipe ideas, especially for less common cuts like Pork Jowl, and Country Style Spare Ribs. So I have decided to start posting some recipes that we use to help inspire others. Most of my recipes are simple comfort food which Has a number of possible variations. You will notice my recipes have a lot of "optional" ingredients. That is because I enjoy cooking in season as much as possible and like utilizing whatever is on hand in my recipes. so if you like what you see subscribe to the blog and keep coming back for more great ideas!
Mother of 2 beautiful girls! Our growing family is the largest drive we have to build a life filled with good food and a connection to the land.