SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

It’s an ongoing argument in my house: how to eat meat.  I can’t stand any pink while the Griz has the Woody Harrelson approach – wipe its hiney, etc.  In a restaurant or with store bought meat, it’s easily resolved.  However, most of the meat that comes in my house is game.

After a few years of hunting, Griz has come to my way of thinking, more bang for my buck at the processor with ground venison.  But we always end up with “cuts” as well – back strap, round steak, cutlets, etc.  To cook these cuts to make mama happy dries out this lean meat, leaving it more like jerky than the juicy steak my husband seeks.  But again, the first glimpse of pink and I’m done, son.

He refuses to budge on back strap, his favorite part of the deer.  It will always be “grilled” (um, barely seared!) medium rare.  And I’ll eat pb&j that night.

Cutlets we have found to be fabulous in a stew.  Otherwise, we really haven’t figured out a great option.

The round steaks, I googled and was frustrated with the results.  Even in a slow cooker, people report over drying.  The temp on most modern crock pots, even on the lowest setting, is too high.

Grrr.  Y’all know I love my crockpot.  Time to experiment.  This is how I did it:

A few packages of round steaks – not sure an exact amount, I just eyeball it.

Several splashes of Worcestershire

1 can cola

1 can Dr. Pepper

1 can beef consommé

A healthy sprinkle of Chicago steak seasoning

Add water till the pile of meat is covered

I set my crockpot on low for 8 hours and hoped for the best.

Results:  smelled like pot roast.  Tender, juicy, falling apart.  Monkey #1 and I barely had any because Grizzly and Monkey #2 devoured it. 

I’m trying it out again today.  Monkeys have karate and church, Grizzly has an 8-ball tournament, so dinner will probably be on the run.  This way, it’s ready when folks get hungry.  All I have to do now is fix some rice and brown gravy, cook up some broccoli, and call it a meal!

What cooking experiments have you tried lately? Any successes that should’ve been fails?

~ Katie

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In my house, you can pretty much count on a crockpot meal on Mondays. I have faculty meetings, Grizzly has pool, and Pioneer Woman’s husband joins us. Occasionally, when I can’t make up my mind, I text the Red Bull for input (chili!!!!), but that’s kind of rare.

Last week, when we learned the cold front was coming in, I ended up with pot roast stuck in my head.

By the time I went to the store, I felt poorly in more than one way. And for some reason, cow is expensive right now. I’m talking $13+ for a decent sized roast.

Or you can get a 6 pound pork roast for a little over $7.

I always crockpot pork roast with some barbecue sauce. Grizzly likes to put them on the grill. But I really wanted something different. Pinterest and Google both brought about some interesting finds. What I ended up with was combination of a few recipes.

SoBoMama’s Fall- Apart Pork Roast

  • 1 roast, thawed. (Mine actually contained a bone – and if you know me, you know I have bone issues!)
  • Injection kit (We always buy Tony Chachere’s garlic and butter or herb and butter, clean the “shot-sticker,” and re-use)
  • Salt and Pepper (no real measurement, just to taste)
  • 8 oz. Coca Cola
  • Butter (or margarine or whatever you use in your house)
  • A half cup of coffee
  • Worcestershire Sauce

At 4 A.M., when I arose to go back to the real world after Christmas Break, I retrieved the roast from the fridge and chunked (technical term!) it in the crockpot.  I sprinkled it with a little Worcestershire and then left it alone for a minute while I concocted my injection.  In a microwave-safe measuring cup (thank you, LilCajunChef!), I combined 1/2 stick of butter, a splash of Worcestershire, and a half cup of kind of strong coffee.  I microwaved the cup of stuff 1 minute (long enough to melt the butter) and whisked the mess out of it.  Then I pulled it up in my injector and injected the heck out of the roast in as many spots as I could.  I added eight ounces of Coca Cola, dashed it with salt  and pepper, turned the crockpot on low, put the lid on, and left it alone till I came home from work. At which point, it was totally juicy and falling apart.

Can I just say nobody starved Monday night?  The monkeys, Pioneer Woman, Grizzly, the Red Bull and I all had plenty to eat and there was enough left for pulled pork sandwiches Tuesday night.

You know I’m all about the freezer cooking, but I’m not sure how this would do prepped ahead like that.  It literally took all of 10 minutes to prepare from the start Monday morning.  If I were to freeze this, I would wait to inject, or maybe not even inject at all.  I think the coffee and Coca Cola and Worcestershire keep the roast plenty tender.  I didn’t even brown ahead of time.

With the roast, we had macaroni and cheese (boxed – ugh!) and baked beans.  And the Realest Chick I Know keeps fussing for the “recipe,” though there kind of isn’t one.  Go figure!

What’s your pork roast secret?

~ Katie

{November 16, 2013}   Fall Freezer Cooking Session

It has been so crazy in the House of Cheaptitude since school started back in early August.  We’ve dealt with work stress, school stress, Pioneer Woman coming back from Cuba (YAY!!!!), a death in the family, a major realignment in our social circle, and a lot of illness.  Sometimes, with so much going on, it feels like life is completely out of control.  And when life feels out of control, I lose focus.

Last week, I experienced a shift. To make a long story short, Grizz had to have his gall bladder out, and I spent three days at the hospital with him while trying to maintain the house, the monkeys, and prep for sub-of-the-day for my sweet 8th graders.  Somehow, this got me re-focused!  Go figure.  He was discharged on Friday and I spent Saturday shopping and playing in the kitchen.

Remember, when I do my groceries, I arm myself with my coupons and I hit the dollar stores along with the grocery store.

I spent a little more money than I typically would because I needed to re-stock so much, and I wasn’t being too picky about the sales.  Note – I am back to ten boxes of cereal in my pantry and paid less than $1.50 per box.  But I did have several ideas for my freezer in mind.  And I have 9 crockpot meals in my freezer.

I used several different websites to locate recipes, and modified them based on what I had on hand.  Some amazing sites I can suggest are Sidetracked Sarah (my personal favorite), Six Sisters’ Stuff (Real Chick SWEARS by their recipes), and Just A Pinch, just to name the main ones.

Unless otherwise instructed, I just dump everything in gallon-sized freezer bags and smoosh (technical term, Jack!) to mix well.  So this is what all I’ve ended up stocking now:

Potato Corn Chowder (I made 2 of these – been craving corn chowder lately)

  • 2 small bags of frozen corn
  • 1 can chicken broth
  • 1 can cream of potato soup
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1/2 bag of skillet potatoes (the little cubey ones)
  • cooked bacon – to taste

Most of my “canned” items came from the dollar stores.  I’m a total flop cooking bacon, so I put it on a rack in a pan and cooked in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes – perfectly perfect in every way!

Freezer Beef Stew

  • 1 package of beef stew seasoning ( store brand is fine)
  • 1 package dry onion soup mix
  • 2 cans cream of mushroom
  • 1 bag frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1/2 bag skillet potatoes
  • 1 pound beef stew meat (mine was pre-cut/packaged) – I’ve actually used both antelope and deer lately, but this package is full of store-bought beef
  • 1 cup of water

Some of the sites I viewed said to brown the meat first, but I didn’t bother.  8 hours in the crockpot will cook it!

Creamy Ranch Pork Chops

  • 1 package boneless pork chops
  • 1 package ranch dressing mix
  • 1-2 cans cream of potato or cream of celery

Crockpot Chili

  • 1 lb browned ground meat
  • 1 package chili seasoning
  • 1 big can tomato sauce
  • 1 small can rotel
  • 2 cans chili beans
  • 2 cans light red kidney beans

Taco Soup

  • 1 pound browned ground meat
  • 2 cans chili beans
  • 1 bag frozen corn
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 can rotel
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1 cup of water

I like to serve this with tortilla chips and lots of shredded cheese.

BBQ Chicken (for sandwiches)

  • 1 package boneless, skinless, chicken breast tenders
  • 1 bottle bbq sauce
  • water – I fill the bbq bottle with water, shake, etc.

After this is cooked, shred the chicken and serve on buns.  It’s excellent with baked beans and mashed potatoes.

Chicken & Rice Casserole

  • 1 package boneless, skinless, chicken breast tenders
  • 1 package frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 package frozen broccoli
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • minced garlic to taste

Notice I don’t include the rice in the freezer package.  I tried once and the rice got weird in my crockpot.  Honestly, give it a shot and see how it works for you.  I just cook the chicken concoction and add the rice at the end.

Tater Tot Casserole

  • 1 pound browned ground meat
  • 1 bag frozen green beans
  • 1 can cream of mushroom
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 chopped onion
  • salt & pepper to taste – I actually use garlic salt and pepper as I cook the meat.
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 1 bag tater tots – keep this separate from your freezer bag

When you get ready to cook this one, spray your crockpot with a no-stick spray.  Layer your tots on the bottom and then pour your concoction over the top.  I also add some more cheese.  I’ve subbed corn for the green beans before and tend to leave out the onion because of Grizz and the monkeys.

So 9 meals in the freezer and I was feeling productive and nested for a bit.  I also have a huge new stash of aluminum cans for projects….

And I’m totally excited today because my Aunt Sus messaged me her cookie clay recipe for salt dough ornaments. So much more fun than grading papers or cleaning the house!

What is your nesting routine as the temperatures drop?

~ Katie




et cetera
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