Ever just need an easy meal and wish you could run to fast food? Chipotle, anyone?
But we’re a make-from-scratch kind of site, being good stewards of our budget…yet who has the time to make it happen some weeks!
Like this one.
Can I just confess something? This has been quite the week…
We just got back from vacation last week, which – as you know – always means the next few days are spent catching up. Now add to that chaos the fact that we just moved four weeks ago.
*cue circus music*
But when we returned from vacation, our lives shifted into high gear. We had extended family in car accidents, doctor appointments, and other significant life events. One of the best ways I know how to serve family is with food. So over the last 24 hours, I’ve cooked 19 freezer dinners and 36 freezer lunches/breakfasts.
Now, lest you think I am Super Woman – meanwhile my family ate cold oatmeal for dinner last night. Sigh.
With all this crazy food-prep (and crazy life!), I find myself needing recipes that are quick, easy, yummy, and create more than one meal. Being allergy-friendly is a bonus. And better yet – a meal that is ridiculously easy to prepare but tastes like I spent hours in the kitchen.
My dear friend Wardee at Traditional Cooking School can do just about anything with her Instant Pot – cakes, bread, main dishes, veggies, even “stacking” multiple kinds of food at once! She runs the most incredible online cooking classes with a total of 11 different topics and usually 2 dozen classes per topic.
Check out the pressure cooking modules HERE – I guarantee you’ll be impressed. And if you tackle the other classes, like sourdough, cultured dairy, or einkorn baking (they’re all included in the same membership), you might see a teacher you recognize, cough, cough.
Fit Allergies and Special Diets by Making a Copycat of Your Favorite Fast Food Meal
Which is why I am over-the-moon giddy about my Allergy-Friendly Instant Pot or Slow Cooker Chipotle-Style Beef Barbacoa recipe.
My family LOVES Chipotle, but the meat is often too spicy for my kids. Making my own at home means I can control the heat while still enjoying the depth of flavor. I originally found this recipe on Food.com, but it called for a bunch of steps that dirtied a LOT of dishes – like using a blender, searing beef in a hot skillet, etc.
Sure, that can be delicious. But in my mind, “quick and easy” should also mean “virtually no clean up.”
So I experimented with this dish and found that mixing the spices in the blender and searing the beef in a hot pan first really didn’t add that much. And even better still — I tweaked the recipe to make a dry mix that I could store in a glass jar in my pantry and pull out whenever I wanted to make my dinner. Win-win!
This meal is also GAPS/Paleo-friendly — as well as gluten, egg, dairy, AND soy free. It doesn’t get better than that, friends.
So here’s my simplified recipe! Don’t forget to scroll past to see the freezer-meal instructions.
I always made this as a slow cooker recipe, but if you’ve followed my posts you know how much I love my Instant Pot! It’s easy to take your favorite slow cooker recipes and make them in your Instant Pot as I’ve done here – we included instructions for both.
- 1 Tbs. cumin (make it heaping if you like spicy)
- 2 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. chipotle dried spice
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1⁄2 tsp. ground cloves
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- 3 bay leaves
- For the slow cooker I like to use a 3-5 pound chuck roast
- For the instant pot I use 2-4 pounds Beef Stew Meat (or roast cut into 1-2" squares)
- In a large crockpot or your instant pot, combine wet and dry ingredients. Swirl with a spoon to combine.
- Scoop out 1 Tbs. of mixture and SET ASIDE in a jar in your refrigerator. (Don't do this if you have already added raw meat!!!)
- Add meat.
- For slow cooker - Cook on low 6-8 hours. For instant pot - Check the seal, secure the lid, close the sealing valve. Select MANUAL pressure for 30 minutes.
- For instant pot - Once the program is complete, allow the pressure to release naturally.
- When finished cooking, REMOVE BAY LEAF.
- Shred beef, incorporating the liquid (this is where your flavor is!).
- Spoon reserved mixture from fridge over the meat, which helps brighten the flavor.
- Serve with chips, lettuce, cheese, and your other favorite taco toppings. For a Paleo version - Serve with cauliflower rice, plantain chips, lettuce, avocado, and/or tomatoes.
Chipotle … Powder?
Finding the dry chipotle at your local grocery store may be a challenge. You’re looking for the plain spice, not a hodgepodge of blends. Consider these options on Amazon from McCormick or Byrne & Perry’s.
Hints for Making A Dry Mix
One of my best secrets in the kitchen is to make a dry season mix so that I don’t have to do any last-minute measuring when it comes time to assemble the meal. So the next time you’re making a dinner that involves a lot of spices, consider measuring out a few spares.
Just don’t forget to label your food when you’re done (especially if you are making a dry mix)!!!
Instructions for the Freezer Meal
After cooking and shredding the meat, divide the meat into appropriate meal sizes. I recommend planning on a 1/2 cup serving per person – you can go more or less depending on your family needs.
Toss into your favorite freezer container (I prefer plastic bags; don’t hate me) and freeze. When it comes time to eat: thaw, reheat, and serve!
That is why Katie partnered with Once a Month Meals to create a Real Food menu. With 5 recipes, each doubled, you’ll have 10 delicious dinners waiting for you in your freezer!
Find more tips and recipes for your Instant pot HERE!