Tag Archives: make ahead

Tomato-Basil Chicken Stew

After I posted about this on Facebook, I got several requests for the recipe, so here it is:

What I used:

  • 1.5 lbs. chicken breast (from Bethel Trails Farm, thawed)
  • 1 bag of (frozen) October beans that I got from the Farmer’s Market this fall (you could use the canned bean of your choice from the grocery)
  • 2 (28 oz. Mason) jars of whole tomatoes (with their juices), which I got from the Lazy Farmer at the Farmer’s Market this fall. You could use canned from the store.
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 2 1/2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 BIG handfuls of baby spinach (kale would work, too, I think)
  • 1 handful of chopped fresh basil
  • pinch or two of salt
  • a few shakes of black pepper
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes

tomato basil soup 2What I did:
I put the tomatoes in the crock pot first, and I smashed them up with my big wooden spoon. Then, I threw everything else but the spinach in the crockpot and gave it a quick stir. I threw the spinach in on top and set that baby on low for 6 hours.  6 hours in, I checked it, and it needed a little more time.   After another hour, it was good to go, so I stirred, shredded up the chicken, stored some more, and served with some shredded parmesan cheese.

Verdict:

This was REALLY easy.  And it was VERY yummy.  The size would be good for a family.  Trent didn’t eat any, so I ate it for dinner and then lunch a few times during the week.  I froze the rest.  I think this is a good freeze-for-later meal.

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Homemade Pizza Love

I am pizza lover. Pure and simple. I could probably survive on pizza alone and be completely happy. And I like all kinds of different pizzas. Unfortunately, ordering pizza is both expensive and (generally) unhealthy.

So since my 2014 commitment is to cook more, order out less, and eat healthier, I figured–after 2 months without it–that I needed to ry some homemade pizza.I could have gone all out and made on of those cauliflower crusts I’ve got save on Pinterest. But I didn’t. I bought crust.  In fact, I bought some thin & crispy personal-sized crusts because I was pretty sure Trent would want pepperoni and LOTS of cheese and have no interest in my planned veggie pizza. I may have bought the crust, but I did make the sauce myself instead of relying ons something in a jar.

I used this recipe. Here’s confession number 2: while I think it definitely would’ve been better in both taste and health to use real tomatoes, I did not do that this time (I plan to next time–maybe this summer when tomatoes are more in season)


Of course, sauce alone does not a pizza make! I decided my pizza would be veggies, specifically mushrooms, red onions, spinach, Kalamatta olives. I actually had a dream about making this pizza last weekend, which is what started this whole thing. So I basically followed my dream to make mine. 😉  First, I chopped up all my veggies (except the baby spinach leaves).  Then, I sautéed them in a pan with EVOO over medium heat until the spinach leaves wilted. I used feta cheese for mine because feta is one of the lower calories, healthier cheeses (so sayeth Google). Also, it’s just a yummy treat on pretty much everything.  I used a store-bought 3-cheese pizza blend for Trent’s pizza.  We actually got three meals out of this: 2 dinners and a lunch (3 total mini pizzas each!).  The first time I did Trent’s I put the meat under the cheese; he requested that I put the pepperoni slices on top of the cheese to see if it would make his pepperoni crunchier, which it did.  Overall, this was a hit–and something I’ll do again.

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Filed under In My Kitchen, Just For The Health of It

Trying Something New with Eggplant

Every now and again I decide to go all experimental in the kitchen and do one of those recipes that sounds interesting but like nothing I’d ever actually make. Also I just got a subscription to Eating Well magazine courtesy of an Amazon gift card someone gifted me.

Other fun facts that need to precede this post: I’m all bout one-dish meals. I think the crock-pot is an amazing and necessary tool. And I dig make-ahead meals because if I can make ’em ahead of my crazy-busy work week everything in the week will go just that much smoother (all of which you already know if you’ve read any of my cooking posts and/or ever had a conversation about cooking with me f2f).

That brings us to this dish: Eggplant and Chickpea Stew.

I read about this one, and it sounded cool, so I pinned it for later. Then, I was at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday, and I saw some eggplants for sale. I remembered that I’d pinned this, so I snatched up an eggplant (buy and eat local!). Of course, I didn’t exactly remember the recipe, and I didn’t bother pulling out my cool new smartphone to check it, so I got one eggplant when the recipe calls for two. Whatever. It’s something new…who knows if we’ll like it?? So I decided to just half the whole thing.cooking in September 024b

But halving the recipe was not my only modification.  I also remembered while at the grocery the next day that I needed chickpeas. I adore chickpeas, so I’m pretty use to grabbing a can or two for salads and stuff. Well. The recipe actually calls for dried chickpeas. No mind. It also tells you to soak them over night. Canned chickpeas are in some juice, so I figure that’s basically the same thing. Plus, it’s so much easier, right? Next up: mushrooms. My husband doesn’t like them. Won’t eat them. So naturally I took to Facebook to solicit feedback: “If you were going to make something that called for mushrooms, but your husband doesn’t eat them, what might *you* use instead?” I got LOTS of answers–everything from cheese to bacon to potatoes to “tiny cut up mushrooms and a good poker face” (possibly my favorite).

Probably the most helpful came from other people who cook far more than I do (one of whom is in culinary school). Jo K. said this:

 Mainly the mushrooms are to create umami, that smoky savory flavor. You could try roasted eggplant or garlic, maybe a little soy sauce–something like that might give the same effect on the flavor balance.

And Baillee W. offered this:

If ur going for an earthy flavor, u can use a splash Worcestershire sauce.

Well, this recipe already has roasted eggplant as a main ingredient, and it already has garlic, so I went with Baillee’s idea and subbed in Worcestershire sauce.

By this point, I was bound and determined to get this eggplant chickpea party started, so I started pulling other ingredients out of their places.  This brings me to my last modification: I used cinnamon powder, not a cinnamon stick because I wasn’t about to go out and buy some cinnamon sticks, and I don’t know who keeps those around the house (except maybe my MIL during applesauce-making season).

With all that said, here’s how it went:

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Working Woman Woes…and Casseroles

Voila! Baked Ravioli Casserole.

Voila! Baked Ravioli Casserole.

After work today, I dipped into the grocery quickly to pick up some frozen ravioli and some mozzarella cheese, and then I headed home. I got home about 7:00. I made myself a salad because I was starving; I fed the dogs because they were too. They went outside for a while. I finished loading the dishwasher with the coffee cups we’d left behind this morning and the tupperware I brought home from my work lunch; I ran the dishwasher. I emptied the dishwasher. I re-loaded the dishwasher.  I took out the trash and the recycling, took them to the road. I cleaned out leftovers in the fridge. I did 2.5 loads of laundry (there’s still some in the dryer). I moved around some furniture.  I played fetch with Penny.  I vacuumed. I answered 5-6 e-mails from students. I put in grades online in Blackboard. I read, reviewed, and submitted revisions for a report to Executive Staff.

And I made this Baked Ravioloi Casserole recipe I found on Pinterest.  As I mentioned, now that Trent and I are both working such long and odd hours, I’m trying to make at least one meal a week that can actually serve as multiple lunches/dinners. Casseroles are great for that (so are Crock Pot meals). We have several go-tos, but I was looking for something new, so of course, I went to Pinterest, browsed, and pinned a bunch of things to try.  This one was appealing because it sounded easy and good.

And it lived up to my expectations.  It took about ten minutes to put it all together, and then it cooked for a total of 45 minutes.  I’d highly recommend it.

Here’s how I did it and how it came out:

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Jalapeno Pimento Cheese

Enjoyed the finished product as a sandwich with a side salad.

Time to talk about food again. This weekend, amongst other things, I decided to make this jalapeno pimento cheese. I remember the first time I tried pimento cheese: not a fan. I also remember the first time I tried some really good homemade pimento cheese on the recommendation of several friends. It was a whole ‘nother experience. So I figured I’d give this one a shot–particularly because I was intrigued by the addition of the jalapenos. I am a definite jalapeno fan.

So I collected my ingredients:

  • 4 cups Mexican style shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup jalapeno slices (diced)
  • 4 oz jar of diced pimentos
  • 1 1/2 cups mayo
  • salt, pepper, and garlic salt.

And of course, I used my new (to me) KitchenAid mixer. Here’s how it went:

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Penne, Penne, Penne!

Put the whole mixture into a baking dish.

Penne Pasta Casserole

As I’ve said before, we’re fans of the casserole around here because I can cook one night but eat for several, which makes my life easier and me happier.  It’s so much easier to just pull one of the casseroles out of the fridge, throw a piece into a Tupperware container, and carry it to school in my lunch bag.

This penne pasta casserole is one I’ve been making for a few years. It’s super easy and yummy.  I recently made this one for our friends who have a new baby at home (same friends for whom we made these breakfast burritos) and then made one for us too.

What I Used:

  • 12 oz. uncooked penne
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lg. onion, chopped
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 jar pasta sauce of choice
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella

What I Did:

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Chili (not store-bought) in a Crockpot

At lunch on Sunday, Trent’s aunt revealed a big secret: the crock pot chili she served her daughter’s husband the first time he came to their home was store bought chili that she just put in a crockpot. Hilarious! This story was particularly funny to me because I have totally  never done anything something like that before!

I have been “making” this really awesome potato salad for years. It goes like this: I go to the Publix deli. They put the potato salad in a plastic container, which I pay for. I take it home. I dump the contents of the plastic container into a Pyrex dish (because everyone knows if it’s in Pyrex, it’s homemade). I hide the evidence of my crime plastic container at the bottom of the trash. Voila! Potato salad! I get compliments on it all the time.

But that’s not how I make chili. If you’ve read my blog entry Cinna-POW-der, you know we made chili Monday night (if you haven’t read it, you should because it’s ridiculous!).  I taught Trent my easy but totally yummy recipe:

How to do it:

  • 1 lb. ground beef (SN: Trent’s been getting the “pink sticker” special on ground beef lately–97% lean for less that $2.00/lb!)
  • 3 cups tomato juice
  • 1 onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 can whole tomatoes
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can Great Northern beans

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Kitchen Spotlight: Broccoli Super Salad

So, the other day I decided I was going to make this broccoli salad.

The problem is that I evidently wasn’t paying any attention when I started putting the ingredients together, and instead of just 1/4 cup of red onion, I put a whole red onion in.  Oops. I didn’t realize it until after I’d already mixed in other stuff, including the dressing. I couldn’t really take any out at that point.  So I just started adding other stuff to try to play down the onion and balance the flavors.

I had already decided to use grapes instead of raisins (I used green grapes rather than red because they were cheaper). But I added in even more grapes than I had planned on. I also added in 1 (15 oz.) can of chickpeas, several handfuls of shredded cheese, extra bacon, extra sunflower kernels, extra white vinegar, some extra sugar, and lemon juice.

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By my next taste test, it was vastly improved. And I’ve actually enjoyed it as a side to the pulled pork sandwiches we’ve been eating this week. I have decided to call it Broccoli Super Salad since it took way longer than it should have and includes so many extras. 🙂

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Kitchen Spotlight: Breakfast Burritos from Hell

One of our friends just gave birth to a beautiful little baby girl–their second. I’ve never given birth to a little human, but I always imagine that if I did, I would want people to feed me, water me, and in all ways possible make my life a little easier.  So I try to find ways to make life easier on the new moms in my life. So this most recent time, we gifted our friends a bunch of paper/plastic plates, spoons, forks, cups, etc. Because no new mom wants to be worried about doing the dishes. And we also opted to volunteer a few meals–because I’m pretty sure that even Super Mom doesn’t want to be slaving away in the kitchen when she’s balancing a newborn and a toddler.

Again–I don’t know–I’m just guessing.

So–I’m all about making food for people (this could be, in large part, because I equate all my feelings with food).

(Extra parenthetical: if I make food for you, you should feel LOVED)

So I was all prepared to make some casserole dishes that require the recipient to only throw the dish in the oven. Voila! Dinner. I had some stand-bys ready. I discussed these with my husband. One was Cornbread Chicken Pot Pie. It’s great. We made it. It was great.

Then, I said, “we should make a breakfast casserole because nobody wants to get up and make breakfast in the morning when they just had a baby and have maybe been up all night…blah, blah, blah.”

And then I got on Pinterest. And Husband says, “Let’s do these breakfast burritos!” And I’m all, “Yeah, ok.”

So he goes to the Evil Empire (aka Wal-Mart–a place at which I refuse to shop) and comes back with all the making for this breakfast burrito recipe.

And y’all. It took the 2 of us working non-stop together with two electric skillets, two giant skillets on the stove, the oven at 450…and every spare inch of counter top we have to pull this off–and it was still a big ole hot mess that I hope just tastes good (stay tuned). In short: someone on Pinterest said this was easy. And someone lied. This? Not easy.

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