What’s Cooking This Week

Spring might finally be starting to arrive here (well other than the snow that’s in the forecast for tomorrow), but it has me thinking about getting back to spending some time getting organized for the week: prepping some things to make for easier dinners and making sure the extra veggies we don’t use during the week don’t go to waste. So as today’s plans got rescheduled, I decided to have some fun in the kitchen. Honestly, I blame the productivity app on my phone that asked if I wanted to get more organized at dinner. Sometimes it’s like the thing watches what happens in our house.

Here’s what we ended up with. Not bad for a day’s work! I started with cooking some broccoli and sausage for a pasta dinner this week. I used two of my favorite kitchen gadgets: my air fryer to cook the broccoli in some olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes and oregano and my grill pan to put a nice grill on the hot sausage links. It will come together as I heat them in some sauce while cooking some pasta.

Then I cleaned off the grill pan to move on to chicken to make tacos this week (since I’ve got all the veggies coming from my weekly Misfits delivery to seal the deal). One of my pandemic finds was this amazing guide on making your own spice blends so I love this mix for any kind of tacos. I’ve learned to keep the chicken from drying out, once I get the grill marks on the chicken, I just add some water to the pan to keep it juicy while it’s finishing up.

Last up, looking at the weather for tomorrow and knowing we could spend a chunk of the afternoon outside, I wanted to have something warming and ready to go when we got home so I made a batch of white chicken chili. I love the flavors in this: roasted red and poblano peppers, cannelloni beans, cooked chicken and some cayenne pepper, cumin and chili powder for heat.

Of course, I was under the watchful eye of my dutiful kitchen assistant at all times (who may have been rewarded with a taste of the cooked chicken before it got into the spicy mix!) What are your favorite prep time shortcuts?

Eat well friends!

What’s Cooking This Week

It was a bit of a crazy week here. With Lent starting, the kitchen theme became Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday (I wish I could claim that I planned it that way, but alas it was pretty coincidental, yet delicious)

Our Tuesday meal was sheet pan porkchops, potatoes and green beans. You guessed it: the potatoes and green beans came from our weekly Misfits box. And I love sheet pan meals, especially when things are chaotic – you want a hearty meal everyone will enjoy, but you just don’t want to fuss around with a bunch of different dishes. This one is epically easy with a great ranch flavor. I use the Pioneer Woman’s recipe as a starting point. But a couple things I’ve learned while making this recipe: heat the oven to 425 degrees instead of the higher temp, depending on the cut of your potatoes (I love using fingerlings when I have them), give them a 10 minute start before adding the pork chops, and I find that the ranch dressing means you don’t have to add any extra salt. When I made it this week, we wanted a little more crunch on the potatoes but were afraid of drying out the pork chops, so I just tossed them in the air fryer for about 5 minutes while I was plating everything else!

Wednesday, I brought the world’s easiest tomato soup back into the rotation. (I don’t know why I only make it during Lent, but that seems to be how things go!) Start with half a cup of diced onion and carrots. Sautee them in a little olive oil till soft. Add one 28oz can of crushed tomatoes, two 5 ounce cans of tomato juice and heat to simmer. If you like your soup smooth, use an immersion blender to get things all nicely blended. Add your favorite spices – my go to’s are garlic powder, oregano, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add 1 – 2 cups of vegetable or chicken stock until the soup is the consistency you like (one cup will be on the thicker side, so I lean toward two). Simmer for about 15 minutes to let all the flavors combine and enjoy! If you’re feeling fancy, garnish with a little shredded parmesan and fresh basil.

As I’m thinking about planning this week’s menu, what was your kitchen success of the week?

Eat well!

Bacon, Cheddar and Potato Soup

We took a trip down to the Carolinas last week and just being in the sun, feeling the warmth and not having to bundle up in all the clothes I own to go outside has me longing for spring. Unfortunately, the weather when we returned home didn’t cooperate. So I went to one of our favorite comfort soups: bacon, cheddar and potato soup when then winds and snow picked up here. There are about a billion different recipes to make it, but this one is one of my favorites!

6 slices of bacon, diced (who am I kidding, there’s always more bacon than that)

1 cup each diced onion, celery, and carrots

6 medium russet potatoes, scrubbed and diced

1 carton chicken stock

2 cups shredded cheddar

1/2 to 1 cup milk or half and half (depending on how creamy you like your soup)

salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste

In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon until crispy. While the bacon is going, cook the potatoes in the microwave in salted water for about 15 to 20 minutes (I find this helps speed up the cooking time and I have a terrible time gauging how long it will take to cook potatoes in a soup).

Drain the bacon and reserve about a tablespoon of the drippings. Cook the onion, celery and carrot until they are softened in the drippings. Drain the potatoes and add them into the pot. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 15 minutes.

Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture to how you like it. We like everything pretty well blended. Others prefer a little texture. No immersion blender? You can pour the soup in a regular blender to complete the process. I’m an incredibly messy cook, so I try to avoid this whenever I can!

Once every thing is the consistency you like it, add the milk, season with salt, pepper & red pepper and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes. Add about half to 3/4 of the cheese, stirring until it melts. Finally, add in most of the cooked bacon (save a little for garnishing the top of each bowl).

Serve it up with some nice, crusty rolls that have been warmed in the oven. A nice tossed salad works well too. Garnish each bowl with a little shredded cheese and the bacon bits.

What’s you go-to soup to fight off the winter chill?

Fresh Vegetable Minestrone

It’s cold here in Upstate New York and nothing makes me happier that a hearty bowl of soup. And nothing seals the deal like a simple and tasty recipe! (Bonus: we’ll be talking all things puff pastry coming up!)

  • 1 box Hamburger Helper Cheesy Italian Shells
  • 1 carton low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 c water
  • 1 c diced carrots
  • 1 can Great Northern beans (drained & rinsed)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (plain, Italian-style, or fire roasted)
  • 1 zucchini cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/4 c shredded Parmesan
  • 1 tbsp fresh or dried basil

In a four quart Dutch oven, mix Hamburger Helper, chicken stock, water and carrots. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes

Add beans, tomatoes and zucchini. Cover and cook until the pasta and the veggies are tender.

Sprinkle with Parmesan and basil before serving.

* Interested in more heat? Add some red pepper flakes when you add the beans, tomatoes and zucchini