Instant Pot Tacos

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You may noticed I’ve been on a taco kick lately. Youngest and I enjoy our tacos. Now that I’ve figured out the yummiest taco meat, I make it at least once a week.

During my weekly meal prep, I made extra of the taco meat and froze it in my Souper cubes. Yes, I got some of them and absolutely love them. This way the taco meat is ready to go if I want to eat nachos or just don’t feel like cooking.

What do I need for the recipe?

  • ground beef – I know ground beef prices are expensive. Sometimes the family packs are cheaper. Get one of those, double or triple the recipe, and then freeze for later.
  • taco seasoning – Homemade or store bought – My favorite is from a local place.
  • onion, optional – You could also add some diced up bell peppers in the taco meat.
  • salsa or fire roasted salsa style tomatoes – I found fire roasted salsa style tomatoes at my local grocery store. They add a certain flavor to the taco meat. If your store doesn’t have that type of tomatoes substitute salsa.
  • Tortillas – Flour, corn, or hard taco shells – It doesn’t matter.
  • Your favorite toppings: Cilantro, sour cream, lettuce, shredded cabbage, black beans or re-fried beans, jalapenos, tomato, cheese

Other uses for the taco meat

  • Nachos – The meat would be delicious on nachos. Yum!
  • Taco salad – Add some French, Catalina, or ranch dressing on top. Or you could skip the dressing and use salsa instead.
  • Taco fries – Doesn’t that sound delicious? Or is it just me?
  • Walking tacos – Fritos, taco meat, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes.

The Recipe

As always, click on the image for a printable version of the recipe.

Taco Bake (Gluten-Free)

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Youngest and I love eating tacos. This recipe is a combination of tacos and nachos in a casserole. YUM!

You can use up those crushed tortilla chips in your cupboard/pantry for this recipe.

What you need for the recipe:
  • Ground beef
  • Onion
  • Salsa
  • Taco seasoning
  • Tortilla chips
  • Shredded cheese – Mexican blend or cheddar – You can certainly shred your own.
  • Your favorite toppings: jalepenos, cheese, cilantro, sour cream, salsa, lettuce, and tomato
Variations:

Vegetarian option: Instead of ground beef, you can either use meatless ground beef crumbles or black/ pinto beans.

In step 4: You can also add cilantro lime rice or black beans as a layer.

Recipe

Click on the photo to go to a printable recipe card.

Notes:

  • You use half of the taco seasoning in the 2 steps.
  • The layers for the taco bake are ground beef mixture, cheese, and then tortilla chips. In that order
  • It says you can feed 6. Youngest and I only got 4 servings out of the meal.

Meal Planning – 5 Tips & Tricks

Before I begin, I should be transparent. I’m good at making meal plans but not always following through.

In my house, I get the question, “What are we having for dinner?” from the boys. Sometimes Hubby will also ask me. It’s good to have an idea of what you are cooking for dinner.

Meal planning may seem daunting. It doesn’t need to be.

  1. It doesn’t need to be perfect.
    I create plans that fall through ALL the time. There are days I get home from school where I feel exhausted. At those times, I know cooking a full dinner isn’t in the cards. That’s okay. You can certainly save your plan for the next week or the week afterwards.
  1. It may seem hard at first. That is okay.
    It will be hard at first. Here are some tips to help with that.
    • Create a list of your family’s favorite meals. Refer to that list. Update that list when you discover a new family favorite.
    • Create theme nights for each day of the week.
      • Ethnic night – Mexican/ Asian/ Italian, etc . . .
      • Sandwich or Pizza Night
      • Breakfast for Dinner
      • Soup Night (Salad Night during the summer)
      • Vegetarian Night
      • Family Favorite
      • New to Us
      • Family Dinner Night
      • Crockpot/Instant Pot Night
      • Once you create your theme nights, then it may get easier to plug in meals for that night.
    • Find favorite blogs to help you with inspiration.
    • What are activities going on that might require you to have an easier meal? Or that might be the night you eat out? You know your family’s situation and schedule. Plan accordingly.
    • Meal prep on the weekend or double up a meal during the week.
      • You should only do an hour of meal prepping on Sundays. I’m using Sundays as a base but you may meal prep another day of the week. Plan for only an hour.
      • Cut up veggies for the week.
      • If you are doing something that requires cooked ground beef, cook that up.
      • Put on some music, a book on tape, trashy tv show, or a Podcast to listen/watch during your meal prep. I tell my friends that I’m going to watch a trashy tv show. You don’t actually need to watch that.
      • Use your freezer. Certain items can be frozen, so that will help with your prep times.
      • Appliances will help you. I have an Instant Pot, Ninja Air Fryer, and a crockpot. Each of those can help with my meal prep. You don’t need those appliances. Take stock in what you have and use them.
  1. Don’t plan for ALL your meals at first.
    Yes, I said it. Don’t plan for all your meals at first. If all you can do is plan for your dinners, do that. At least you know what you are going to eat for dinner.
    You need to make the meal planning and prepping work for you.
  1. Create a rotating list of breakfast/ lunch items.
    Have a list of items that you like to eat for breakfast and lunch. Keep the ingredients for those items in your fridge/ freezer/ pantry. If you like breakfast sandwiches, spend some time making those up. Place them in the freezer for a future breakfast.
    If you have that list written down, then it makes breakfast and lunch time so much simplier.

    Since I’m a teacher, I need to have an idea of lunch items that can be eaten quickly between interruptions. That’s just a fact of life when I’m at work. So I’ve created a list of food that is easy for me to eat. I don’t need to create a meal plan for work days because I already know what I’m going to eat.
  1. You can plan to eat out.
    You don’t need to be a super person and cook ALL of your meals at home. There are times you can plan to eat out. Hubby and I like to go to local restaurants for dates. I can plan for those dinners or lunches.
    Last week, I put on the menu for us to eat breakfast for dinner. Then a friend asked me out to dinner. Since we were on break, I was able to changed the breakfast for dinner to lunchtime. We still followed the menu but just flipped some things around.

I hope these tips will help you plan your meals.

Happy eating,
Traci

Air Fryer Bacon (Gluten-free and easy)

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My mother-in-law got each family a Ninja Air Fryer for Christmas. Oh, my goodness is that appliance a dream. Oldest and I have put it through the paces in the last week. He has made French toast, French fries, and hamburgers in the fryer. I’ve made some sheet pan meals, bacon, and toast in it.

A goal of mine was to make perfect bacon in the air fryer. If you have an oven that has a convection setting, you can certainly use that feature.

You can certainly make a big batch of bacon as part of your meal prepping for the week.

What you need:
  • Pork Bacon – I’ve not attempted to use turkey bacon for this recipe.
  • Air Fryer
What you can use the bacon for:
  • BLTs
  • Sandwiches – Youngest and Hubby both have used the bacon for one of the meats on their sandwiches.
  • Just eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack.
  • Salads – BLT salad or Cobb salad

Recipe (Click on the photo for a printable version of the recipe card.)

Shelf-Stable Lunch Ideas

I’ve been going to a dietician for the past 6 months because I was having health issues. Even though my weight is stable, I’m losing fat percentage which is good. Yeah for progress!

When I met with her yesterday, she asked me what I needed help with and I told her shelf-stable lunch ideas so that I can keep those in my classroom. My life changed once again where I’m leaving for work 15 minutes earlier than normal. On days I’m running behind, I won’t have to worry about packing a lunch because I know I’ll have something already at work.

Here’s the formula for lunch:

Protein/ Healthy Fat + Carb/ Fruit + Veggies

Protein Sources:

  • Beef / Turkey Meat Sticks (EPIC, chomps, Thrive Market has a good turkey one.)
  • Peanut butter / Nut butter – Get squeezy packets if you don’t a whole entire jar in your workspace.
  • Trail Mix – Make your own, so you don’t have chocolate or other sweets in your mix.
  • Tuna / Salmon packets
  • Almonds
  • Roasted chickpeas
  • Jerky
  • Protein bars
  • Pumpkin Seeds

Healthy Fats

  • Peanut butter / Nut butter – Get squeezy packets if you don’t a whole entire jar in your workspace.
  • Trail Mix – Make your own, so you don’t have chocolate or other sweets in your mix.
  • Almonds or other nuts

Carbs

  • That’s It Bars – I tried the apple/cherry one yesterday. It’s not bad.
  • Fruit leather
  • Larabars
  • Kind bars
  • Squeezy applesauce / unsweetened applesauce cups – Keep a container of cinnamon in your workspace.
  • Crackers
  • Popcorn – I love the Safe & Fair chocolate drizzled kettle corn.
  • Rice rollers
  • Rice cakes
  • Fruit cups (juice – not heavy syrup)
  • Granola – Be careful that it’s not full of sugary goodness. Make your own.
  • Freeze dried fruit
  • 90 second rice packets

She also suggested I keep shelf-stable fruit and veggies in my classroom. Ideas are apples, oranges, mini peppers, and carrots.

If I have the basics in my room, I can just grab supplemental items in the morning. It makes it easier for me to get going in the morning.

Here are some of the basics I can grab in the morning.

  • Pb3 packets
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Hummus
  • Cheese Sticks
  • Yogurt

Here is a previous post about lunch ideas.

Happy eating,
Traci

Chicken Wings in the Air Fryer (GF, DF, W30)

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I love chicken wings. If you were to ask me what my comfort food is currently, I would tell you chicken wings without a doubt. Getting them at a restaurant is often expensive, so it’s more economical to make them at home coated with your favorite seasoning and covered with your favorite barbecue sauce.

My favorite seasoning is from a local shop. Rosebuds is located at the 2nd Street Market, a local farmer’s market/ artisan shop. My seasoning is the Campfire Rub which reminds me of cooking over an actual campfire. Yum!

I just get a bottle of honey barbecue sauce from Aldi. Youngest and I just like a basic barbecue sauce. I also like a Carolina type of barbecue sauce.

I’m not good at explaining how to cut up the chicken wings. I know I’m not the best at it. So I did what I do best, I googled how to cut up the chicken wings properly. Click here for the directions and then return to my blog for the recipe.


What to Serve with the chicken wings

Salad (greens, veggie or fruit, topping) with a dressing

Cooked frozen or canned veggies

Chips, French fries, or Tater Tots – Our favorite is the seasoned Tater Tots from Alexa foods.

Celery or carrots with ranch or bleu cheese – Classic choice

Applesauce

Macaroni and cheese


Similiar Recipes

BBQ ribs

Apricot BBQ wings

Ranch chicken legs


Chicken Wings

Stars of the recipe

  • 1 – 1 lb. chicken wings split
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. your favorite spice

Directions

  1. Preheat your Air Fryer to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine the split chicken wings, olive oil, and spices. In a sealed container or gallon sized bag.
  3. Shake to distribute the spices and olive oil onto the chicken wings.
  4. Put into the Air Fryer in a single layer.
  5. Cook for 15 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees.
  6. Enjoy with your favorite barbecue sauce.

Notes:

Here is the link to how to split your chicken wings.

Bramble Beans in the Instant Pot

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Jump to what to serve with the recipe
SIMILAR Recipes

Last week, I put bramble beans on our menu but didn’t have time to meal prep. So when it came time to cook the recipe, I had to change up how I was going to cook the meal. I decided to make it in my Instant Pot instead of the crockpot. It was easy to do.


So what do you serve with the bramble beans?

A simple side dish would be either a salad or frozen/ canned veggies warmed up.

Roasted veggies

Cornbread, biscuits, or rolls – Simple and delicious

Applesauce or baked apples


Similar Recipes

Sloppy Joes (Crockpot)

Sloppy Joes

Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes

Sloppy Joe French fries

Beenie Weenies


Bramble Beans

Stars of the recipe:

  • 2 – 15 oz. cans of pork and beans
  • 1 – 15 oz. can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 lb. hamburger, browned
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 c. ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp. mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp. brown sugar

Steps:

  1. Turn on the Instant Pot to sauté.
  2. Place the hamburger and diced onion in the Instant Pot. Cook until the onion is transparent and the hamburger is no longer pink.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients.
  4. Manual set the Instant Pot to 15 minutes. (Make sure you have the vent is closed.)
  5. Quick release the vent once it is cooked.
  6. Enjoy!

Note: You may need to add about a quarter cup of water since you are using the Instant Pot.

Road tripping with me

I love to go road tripping. I’ll find somewhere to visit with an idea of what I want to see. It may be one or two sites but then the most fun thing for me is to go off course. I enjoy exploring towns or areas safely.

It’s when I go off course that I find the most interesting places and make the best memories. Case in point: I decided to go down to Ripley, Ohio & Maysville, Kentucky Friday into Saturday. I wanted to see the Rankin House and go to the Kentucky Gateway Museum. Those were my main plans.

  1. We found the gorgeous murals in town. I love taking photos of murals.
  2. We ate a local restaurant. The chef had lived in Charleston, SC. Some of the food on the menu were rooted in Charleston cuisine.
  3. While we were at the museum, we found out they were playing a movie at the local theater they are trying to restore. Rosemary Clooney premiered the Stars are Singing in that theater. (1953) So we ended up there. They even gave us a free book.
  4. On Saturday, we had a great family style breakfast at the bed and breakfast where we stayed. An hour and a half of conversation with people we didn’t know.
  5. Afterwards we ended up in the Old Washington area of Maysville where Harriet Beecher Stowe came up with the idea for Uncle Tom’s Cabin.
  6. While there, we stopped at a local coffee shop which is one of my favorite things to do while visiting a new place.
  7. Then we went to find the oldest covered bridge in Kentucky which is now condemned. I did get a photo of it.
  8. We ended up at the Rankin House but then also decided to check out the John Parker House. Both were instrumental in the Underground Railroad.
  9. The last stop was going to Ulysses S. Grant’s Birthplace. Not in the plans but a good detour.

If you ever go road tripping with me, know I’ll have the main plans but we’ll find something unplanned to do. You never know the unplanned may be your best memory of the trip.

May you be blessed,
Traci

Weekly Menu Plan

Week of October 17, 2021

SUNDAY

MAIN DISH: Roast
SIDE DISHES: Roasted potatoes, brown sugar carrots

MONDAY

MAIN DISH: Meatloaf Sheet Pan
SIDE DISHES: Mac and cheese (regular and gluten free), green beans or brussel’s sprouts

TUESDAY

MAIN DISH: Taco skillet
SIDE DISHES: Street Corn Casserole, Salad

WEDNESDAY

MAIN DISH: Loaded Baked Potato Soup
SIDE DISHES: Salad

THURSDAY

MAIN DISH: Nachos with the leftover taco skillet

FRIDAY

MAIN DISH: Manly Men on their own – I’ve got a road trip with a friend, so they are on their own.

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