Happy September friends! On my last blog post I shared with you how every August I just can’t deal with cooking. Call it end of the hot summer season burn out… I don’t know but like clockwork every August it happens! The best strategy I’ve learned it to have a pile of easy no brainer recipes that can carry me through the slump. I recently shared my oh so easy spicy maple salmon recipe and now I’m sharing another oh so easy girl you can do this recipe with my slow cooker beef stroganoff. It has minimal prep work, you basically just throw everything in the slow cooker and then your free! Well, you’re free for about 6-8 hours anyway.
I love the complete easy laziness that slow cooker or crockpot meals have. I’m normally NOT a fan of any slow cooked recipe that calls for additional stove top cooking. When it comes to the slow cooker I want to be the laziest person possible! Having said that this recipe does call for additional stove top cooking. What?? I know, but hear me out, we’re just boiling the noodles, and it’s egg noodles, those babies cook fast! But if noodles aren’t your jam you can skip them altogether and serve with bread.
When I say this recipe is easy I mean it! I start with lean pre-chopped stew meat, a little seasoning, add sliced mushrooms, and a rough chopped onion. That’s it, easy peasy!
8 hours later…..
Now the fun starts, building the sauce! To thicken the sauce a bit I like to ladle out some liquid to a bowl and whisk in some cornstarch until smooth. With the heat still on the slow cooker I stir the cornstarch mixture back in and let the mixture thicken while I start the noodles.
Once the noodles are done right before serving we add sour cream and Dijon mustard to finish the delicious sauce.
Fact: anything with sour cream is incredibly delicious and this sauce certainly doesn’t disappoint. If you’re not a fan of Dijon don’t let that throw you off, it helps to emulsify the sauce and adds just a hint of tang. My kids aren’t mustard fans yet they never notice it. Shh!
1lbwhole mushrooms, rinsed and sliced in half (or use pre-sliced)
cooked egg noodles, for serving
chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
Place beef, onion, mushrooms, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper in a slow cooker.
Cover and cook on low 8 hours or high 6 hours, until meat is tender.
Ladle 1 cup of the liquid from the slow cooker into a medium size bowl. Add the cornstarch and whisk until smooth. With the heat still on pour the cornstarch mixture back in slow cooker and stir until combined.
Cook another 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened. While the sauce is thickening boil the egg noodles according to the package directions.
Turn the slow cooker off, or set it to warm and stir in the sour cream and Dijon mustard.
Serve over egg noodles and top with fresh parsley.
There you have it, a family friendly easy meal that takes very little time and effort. This meal is so hearty and satisfying but what I really like is how it doesn’t scream I’ve been cooked in the slow cooker. Whether you just can’t deal with cooking or your short on time this recipe is perfect!
Fall is coming, who else is bursting with excitement? The blog will be turning full on fall soon! Have a great week my pumpkins!
Every August like clockwork I get completely burned out with cooking. It’s always been a weird phenomenon with me and I honestly can’t explain it. Personally I think it’s just the end of the hot summer season that stops all my passion, I’m ready for fall food but the temps are still hot and I’m over it. Occasionally I’ll get the same feeling late winter but nothing like August, August is epic. Ok, so you’re wondering why I’m telling you this right? We all get bored at times in the kitchen and lack the will power. We still need to eat and we can’t eat every meal at a restaurant, so what do we do? Cook super easy recipes that require no effort, of course!
Here I am ready to share one of my favorite, easy, no brainer recipes…my spicy maple salmon recipe. It takes just 5 easy to find ingredients, marinates an hour, and cooks just minutes in the oven. Pair that with a simple green salad and you’re good to go!
Seriously, this could not be easier! I just throw maple syrup, spicy sriracha, a little garlic powder, and low sodium soy sauce in a bag. Toss in the with salmon, marinate an hour, cook, and boom done! It’s so easy even those who can’t deal with dinner can do this. It’s perfect for my August cooking burn out or just a quick weeknight meal.
We’ve used Frank’s buffalo sauce in place of the sriracha before with mediocre results… seriously don’t be afraid of the sriracha sauce, it adds a punch that nothing else can without being too spicy.
I don’t know about you but any time I put a marinade together in a bag it always falls over. I mean like always! It looks stable on the counter and as soon as I turn my back it falls and all the liquid spills out. So now without a doubt I always set my marinade bags in a bowl for stability. By the way if you’re out of resealable bags you can also marinate in a bowl, just make sure everything is evenly covered.
Toss in the marinade ingredients, add the salmon, then seal and shake. Place it back in the refrigerator for about an hour then boom you’re ready for the oven.
Just a few notes, I always use low sodium soy sauce. I’m a salty girl, I love salt… my last name is Salter after all, but I honestly can’t do full sodium soy sauce, it’s just too intense. I recommend you also use low sodium but that’s up to you. I also recommend you use skin on salmon, it can be frozen or fresh but having the skin on adds so much flavor and moisture. I never do skinless! Feel free to add a few sliced green onions if you have them on hand, it makes things fancy! You can find this amazingly easy recipe below but keep reading to find a few more of my recipe tips.
In a ziploc bag combine maple syrup, soy sauce, sriracha sauce, and garlic powder.
Add the salmon filets to the bag, close and shake to combine.
Place the salmon in the refrigerator and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 425° and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
Place the salmon on the pan skin side down and bake 7-9 minutes.
The first time you make this recipe you’ll definitely want to watch the cook time. Salmon is a bit like steak, some like it rare, others more done. You can also marinate it a bit longer but I’ve never gone more than 90 minutes. Sometimes I’ll cook a whole salmon and of course that takes a bit longer, a good 20-25 minutes. However I am cooking at a high altitude which means a longer cook time so keep an eye on it the first time for the best results.
Pair this spicy maple salmon with some rice and a simple arugula salad and you’re good to go! In the summer we make this salmon recipe all the time, along with my asian sesame salmon both are perfect satisfying meals. It’s delicious and healthy! Am I the only one who gets August cooking burn out? Please tell me no. Or maybe you have another month where you’re so over being in the kitchen? Do tell, I’d love to know. I do have another easy “I can’t stand to cook another meal ever again” recipe that I’ll be sharing soon. It’s rich and beefy and cooks in the slow cooker. Another perfect meal whether you’re just busy or you’re waiting on your cooking passion to come back.
Got any cooking tips or ideas for when you just can’t deal for whatever reason? Share them in the comments below. Happy end of summer!
Hurray! At last our media room is complete, and I am so excited to share the reveal with you! Remodeling this space during Covid was a challenge, and it really slowed our progress. We had to schedule wood delivery to our home because local wood supply stores were closed, and lots of items were on backorder for months, like our doors. It was a frustrating process, but hey we’re done!! I have lots of photos and so much to share about this space… so grab a drink, you’re going to be here a while!
We previously referred to this room as a basement, I think because our realtor did, but now we’ve renamed this space to the media room. The next photo is from the realtor website, and I remember looking at it being so confused what this space was. Having a junky garage space right off the front door with a bedroom and bathroom behind it is weird. Especially considering we have an attached garage and a larger separate garage on the lower level of our property.
Before I share the rest of the room how about some ugly before photos? Sorry, they’re a bit blurry… I didn’t check my camera settings.
Brian and I both get PTSD looking at these photos. Honestly. This gross space was our bedroom for about 2 months. I put down clean rugs and we had our mattress and boxspring on the floor while we remodeled the upstairs living room and our future master bedroom. The front door was in bad shape which meant a TON of bugs, it definitely traumatized me waking up with things crawling around me.
Once we moved into our upstairs bedroom we cleaned out this space and installed a new wood floor. I did most of the floor installation myself, it was a really satisfying project! The original wall and ceiling texture was an uneven DIY job so we had the ceiling retextured and centered the light. Then the room sat untouched for months until after the holidays. We knew this room would be a workhorse and the details needed a lot of intricate planning. We needed storage, an entry space, and coat closet, and we decided to move our washer and dryer down to this space as well. A lot had to go into this small closet, all while dealing with the clunky furnace.
We were really happy with our cedar tongue and groove ceiling upstairs and decided on the same wood for this room’s walls. Since it’s the first space people see, I wanted the room to feel warm and cozy and set the tone of the rest of the house. Our home was built to be fire resistant, with cement siding and using all metal beams to frame the house. The walls bend around the metal beams on this level, we can’t really do anything about that so we just had to work with it. Luckily the new wood walls help to camouflage it.
Oh how I hate odd placed windows! We’ve taken out windows before when they didn’t work with our space, but this one needs to stay for ventilation. I stared at this wall for months trying to decide what to do with the small offset window, I considered a gallery wall or a large bold piece of art. One day I decided to post on Houzz asking for advice on how to decorate around the window. Big mistake.
I asked about the wall and instead everyone just started tearing down the room. They hated my sofa, they said the room was too feminine, someone said my style of decor was all wrong, they hated my sofa pillows, the white baseboards and my favorite part… someone said I should decorate the room like a trading post and put fur on the walls. It was at this moment I realized that I decorate my home for ME and honestly don’t care if other people like it.
I decided on floating shelves and a bold lamp to draw the eye away from the window. I’m actually quite happy with how it turned out and now I hardly even notice the off-center window.
Now yes, the sofa is a little feminine for the room and unfortunately I didn’t think about the sofa buttons against the cedar wood knots. Yeah, it’s a little busy, but this sofa is bought and paid for so we’re just going to work with it! Haley has already asked for this sofa when she gets her own apartment in a few years so I’ll buy a sofa with cleaner lines at that time. In the meantime I think the large pillows and throw blanket help the sofa blend.
One day on Pinterest I ran across a photo of a wood stained room with white baseboards and trim and I fell in love. I know white trim with wooden walls isn’t for everyone but we both love the contrast. It pops!
For a brief moment… and I mean brief we considered building a laundry room in the back of our garage and Brian was considering having a desk somewhere in this room. Our garage is deep so there was plenty of room, but during the winter I realized I just couldn’t walk in and out of a dirty cold garage for laundry. So instead Brian built an office for himself in the garage and we squeezed the washer and dryer down here. The rolling cart is such a lifesaver for doing laundry and saves us so much space.
My favorite part of a room is always the little details. I’ve always had a thing for the Restoration Hardware chandelier lamps but they’re just so expensive! I managed to find a cheaper knock off at Overstock, I snagged a coupon and had some rewards to lower the cost. I love the feminine lamps against the masculine wood wall, it’s the exact effect I wanted.
A glass coffee table has always been my favorite trick to lighten up a room and make it feel bigger. They’re so easy to take care of and I never worry about spills, I just spray it down with windex and we’re done.
Details… just lots of little details everywhere that I love.
Finally the entryway! We managed to squeeze in a coat closet next to the utility closet. We chose a double rod to maximize space and went with an Elfa door rack. Elfa door racks always save the day! The baskets hold all our weather essentials and the gift wrap attachment holds our umbrellas and hiking poles perfectly!
More hooks, ya know I love them! Our entryway is small but it’s quite effective. The entry shelf and hooks help keep clutter down and our things organized.
The metal S was hanging outside of our last house and over the years it developed a unique rusty patina. It looks even better now!
I’ve always loved black and white photos and I think combined with the gallery frames it created a fantastic modern effect against the warm wood walls. I love these photos of my kids, they we’re running around having so much fun. I don’t frame a lot of serious photos, I’m drawn to the quirky ones because it feels more like a captured moment in time.
There you have it, our media room reveal. It serves as a great second living area for us. I am so happy this space is done! Our new back deck is also finished but I’m having the hardest time finding patio furniture. Ugh… everything I like said it will ship out in 13-17 weeks. So that’s holding me up a bit. I know how fun it can be to shop other people’s homes, so below I’ve linked everything below that I can find that is still for sale.
Any queso fans out there? Yeah… I thought so. Queso has always been our family’s biggest weakness. We just can’t say no to it. I mean who can resist melty gooey cheese over a crunchy salty tortilla chip? Over the years I’ve made tons of different queso recipes and I’ve always cringed at some of the ingredients that go in. Cream of mushroom soup? Yeah, once upon a time I was guilty of that, creamy yes, but it doesn’t belong in queso! I’ve always had issues with Velveeta as well… I’m sorry to all the Velveeta fans out there but unwrapping that orange gelatinous brick of manufactured cheese just grosses me out… I mean it doesn’t even require refrigeration!
With this slow cooker white queso dip we’re getting back to the basics with real cheese! It’s incredibly easy to make and I’m proud to say it’s our family’s new favorite queso recipe!
In this recipe we use pepper jack cheese, sharp white cheddar, and white American cheese. I know american cheese is processed too but we’re using a small amount and it’s not artificially colored, so I consider that an overall improvement.
Crazy fact, did you know all cheese is naturally white and it’s colored orange to be more aesthetically pleasing? We learned that while touring a cheese factory in Wisconsin years ago.
Along with the cubed cheese, we finish the recipe with a brick of cream cheese, garlic powder, milk, and mild verde salsa! Yeah baby! Herdez is our verde salsa of choice and the mild gives the perfect amount of heat.
Cream cheese will always be my guilty pleasure, I can eat it straight out of the wrapper! I prefer full fat because that’s how I roll, feel free to use 2%, just not fat free. Cook one hour on high or 2 hours on low. Whisk until smooth and then devour it!
4ozwhite American cheese (we used Kraft Deluxe Slices)
1/2cupmild salsa verde (we used Herdez)
1-2jalapeno peppers for garnish, chopped, with seeds removed
Add all the ingredients to a slow cooker except for the jalapeno garnish.
Cover and cook on low 2 hours, or high for 1 hour, until melted. Stir until smooth.
Serve with chips and jalapeno garnish.
We love how this queso tastes like real cheese. It’s smooth, creamy, and full of flavor but it still has the slightest bit of cheese grit… reminding us real cheese was used. Don’t skip on the jalapeño garnish either, once seeded you remove most of the heat and it adds a burst of fresh flavor.
I always make a double batch since we’re queso addicts here. You can refrigerate any leftovers, just microwave till hot, and add a little milk to thin it out if needed. Another favorite is serving this queso over grilled chicken or broccoli, it’s seriously delicious!
Nothing is more enjoyable to me than having a nice meal at a beautifully set table. These days it’s challenging to bring everyone together for a sit down meal, but I’ve noticed having a lovely tablescape encourages people to come together for meal times. It creates a beautiful, festive-like atmosphere, and it feels like a fun little private party at your table. I always love creating beautiful tablescapes any time of year and this cheerful summer tablescape is definitely a favorite.
Back on theme with my last hydrangea and rose blog post I’m sharing more of my favorite flowers for the table, but this time I’m adding lemons. We never have a shortage of lemons in our house, we use them for everything, food, drinks, even decorating.
I love the casual summer simplicity of skipping the placemats and other heavy linens and using rustic grapevine chargers instead for texture. I’m so bummed out these chargers from Ballard Designs already sold out, hopefully they’ll get restocked, and in the meantime I have linked some similar ones at the bottom of this post.
When it comes to dinner plates I usually stick with white and bring in color and patterns through my napkins, accent plates, and centerpieces. I’m always on the lookout for accent plates in different colors and patterns. I find them to be pretty affordable and always make the table pop. They make perfect appetizer, salad, and dessert plates too. These buffalo plaid accent plates are pretty amazing, and will work with so many seasons. I picked them up from Hobby Lobby on sale and have them linked below if you don’t have a store near you.
Cut hydrangeas can be tricky at times, often they can wilt the next day and it’s very frustrating. Removing the leaves can help the flowers stay hydrated longer but I prefer to keep the beautiful leaves. A favorite trick of mine is to cut the stem at a sharp angle and dip each end in alum. Alum is used for pickling and canning, and you can find at the grocery store in the spice section. It works beautifully to keep hydrangeas fresh longer and ideally you’ll want to mist the hydrangea with water a few times a day too. Hydrangeas are thirsty flowers!
For the lemon centerpiece I used israeli ruscus as a green filler and it’s commonly found in the floral section of grocery stores. Israeli ruscus is tough and does fine without much water, it’s been a few days and mine are still bright and perky. Just cut the stems down to the size you want and arrange them in the lemons.
The roses in the lemon centerpiece are a different story. Short term for several hours they’ll be fine without water, it you want your roses to last longer arranged with lemons consider floral tubes or placing them in shot glasses with water.
I love to dream up different colors and patterns depending on the time of year and enjoy taking inspiration from nature. The colors and textures are so bright and fresh for summer! While we don’t have sit down family meals every night, we do make it a point to do it as often as possible. It’s easy to create a simple tablescape that encourages people to gather around the table. Sometimes I think the prettier the table the better the food tastes! Feel inspired and bring your own creativity to the table!