3 Things that Work in the Kitchen This Week – a couple of obsessions

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Simple soccer night dinner

When I say simple, I really mean it.  Some of us had packed sandwiches eaten in the car.  The others cleared out the leftovers.

I’m all for planned dinners and eating at home, but sometimes the simplest thing works best.

2.  Cooking (and photographing) 8 meals in one day

Saturday was a busy day of cooking.  I’m working on a new project for the site (I think you’re going to love it!) and I needed to shoot eight recipes, although I only got 5 done on Saturday.  It worked out great that the leftovers had gotten cleared out of the fridge a couple of days before when we had our simple dinner night.

Here’s one of the ingredient photos I took.  We’ve got some great meals to eat this week from all of that cooking.

Chicken Florentine Quesadilla ingr instagram

3. Listening to Hamilton while cooking

I’ve fallen into a deep, deep Hamilton obsession.  I have no reason for this.  A few weeks ago, I hadn’t even heard of Hamilton.  Then I heard some people talking about it.  I had to google to find out what it was.

Oh my!  Since then I’ve devoured everything I can find and the cast album has been on repeat on my Spotify account.  I have a friend who loves musical theater and I’ve been trying to talk her into sharing this obsession.  I think it’s working 😉

In case you wonder what I’m talking about or you want to fall deep in the Hamilton hole yourself, here are a few links:

Opening scene Grammy performance

The video below is a performance at the White House. The singing starts 9 minutes into the video, if you want to skip President Obama talking.

Another video performance at the White House, this time of the song “My Shot”.

A story on Hamilton by CBS Sunday Morning:

Here’s an interesting article on all the Biblical references in Hamilton. To be clear, this is not a show/album that you’d want to listen to with young kids. There is some language in some of the numbers and some adult themes.

Okay, I’m done now. I could go on, but I will spare you.

I’d love to know what you’re listening to in the kitchen this week (and what’s working for you).

 

When Things Don’t Go As Planned – Some Encouragement

When things don't go as planned

My goal with Eat at Home is to give simple, easy ways for families to have dinner together.  Family meals don’t need to be complicated.

But there are times in our lives when even the simplest of meals is a struggle.  If you find yourself feeling stretched-out and worn-out sometimes, this blog post is for you.   I wrote part of this for a blog post awhile back when I was struggling a lot with migraines.

There are seasons in life when focusing on meal planning and cooking (or anything beyond the bare basics) is not the right timing. 

Some seasons call for survival mode.

Here are some things that have gotten my family through survival mode seasons.  Maybe some of these ideas will help you too.

1.  Be kind with yourself.

It’s okay to cut things out of the calendar, pare down the housework to bare minimum, and have the easiest dinners ever.  

2.  Fall back to your easiest meals.

If you find something you or a family member can easily make and that is tolerated on a sick stomach, it’s okay to have it regularly.  There’s no prize for variety in this season.

3.  Don’t worry about big grocery trips.

I usually shop once a week and try to keep extra trips to a minimum.  During hard times, it can seem impossible to think through what we might need or want more than a couple days out.  Small trips to the store may be easier for a while.

4.  When you start to feel better…

~ Make a plan for simple meals.  The slow cooker is your friend, as it can be loaded in the morning when energy is higher.

~ Set backs happen.  Try not to get discouraged as you recover.  Focus on the progress you’re making.  If you need to grab food from a restaurant one night, it’s okay.

~ As your energy returns, try making something simple to stock the freezer.  You’ll feel good about accomplishing something and you’ll have something easy and homemade for later.  Try doubling a favorite casserole or soup recipe or make a big batch of homemade meatballs.

As moms, we can be so hard on ourselves.  It’s too easy to focus on what’s not working – the dinner that didn’t get fixed, dishes that didn’t get washed etc.  We get down on ourselves for those things.  We tend to think we should have it all together.

Let’s be kinder to ourselves, just as we would be kind to a friend going through the same thing.

3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – Some encouragement

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  More online grocery shopping

I hit up the Kroger online again.  The morning I picked up the groceries it was pouring down rain.  I felt terrible for the man who had to be out in it, loading groceries into cars, but I sure was happy not to have to get wet myself.

I may devote a whole post to online grocery ordering tips at some point.  Overall, it’s working great.  I did end up with the wrong amount of garlic this time.  I meant to order 1 bulb.  Instead I got a whole pound!  I won’t need garlic again for a while.

garlic pound

2.  Fridge menu

I used to stick my color-coded Weekly Meal Plan grocery list on the fridge, so we would know what we had for dinners.  Now that I’ve been online shopping, I’ve been printing the display menu instead.

fridge menu

The good thing about these (available for members of Weekly Meal Plans) is that they are editable PDFs.  So if I swap out a meal for something different, I can easily make that change on the printable.

I check off things as I make them and also add items I need to get on the next shopping trip.

3.  When things aren’t working

This weekly post is about things that do work in the kitchen, but in the past I’ve also shared things that haven’t worked.  And then there are a lot of times things don’t work and I don’t share it.  The kitchen is the center of the home and a lot of parenting goes on there.  Sometimes it’s just plain hard.

As moms, we can be so hard on ourselves.  It’s too easy to focus on what’s not working – the dinner that didn’t get fixed, dishes that didn’t get washed etc.  We get down on ourselves for those things.  We tend to think we should have it all together.

I’ve found some great encouragement in this video series.

We all need encouragement sometimes.  And let’s face it – we don’t always get that in our everyday lives.  Take a few minutes and watch this video series.  I found the videos to be really encouraging.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Quick and Easy Homemade Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce

Quick and Easy Homemade Italian Sausage Pasta Sauce

Spaghetti or pasta is a favorite weeknight go-to dinner for many families.  It is for us too.

I used to reach for a jar of prepared pasta sauce, but once I figured out that homemade pasta sauce didn’t have to take all day to make, I rarely grab the jar.

Instead, I use some version of this recipe.  It starts with a can of Red Gold Crushed Tomatoes.  Well, actually I started this version with the Italian sausage, but the crushed tomatoes are the main ingredient.

The sauce comes together in the time it takes to boil the water and cook the pasta.  It’s so easy!  Homemade is so much better than store-bought and it’s just about as easy as opening a jar.

Italian sausage and plenty of herbs spice up the good tomato flavor.  It’s fantastic over any type of pasta.

Here’s what you’ll need:   [Read more…]

3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – Clearing out Pantry and Freezer

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Skipping the big grocery shopping for the week.

This one is a blessing and a curse.  It worked, but it had its drawbacks.

I meant to order groceries from Kroger on Monday night, to be picked up on Tuesday.  Monday was crazy busy though, so I forgot all about the grocery order.

I also really wanted to clear out the pantry and freezer a bit, especially the freezer.  And we had several meals from the past few weeks of Meal Plans that we hadn’t gotten to.  So this week was dedicated to making those meals and using the meat stored in the freezer.

Meals we ate that were held over from previous Weekly Meal Plans:

2.  Warm comfort food

Thursday night we sat through one of the coldest soccer games I remember.  Thankfully, that was also the night we came home to the King Ranch Chicken over hot baked potatoes.  Perfect timing for that meal!

Usually by April I’m not making soup much anymore.  I love soup, but by this time of year we begin to transition to warm weather foods.  But as I write this post on Saturday morning, I have plans to turn two chicken breasts into soup for dinner.  I haven’t decided what recipe I’ll use yet, but it will probably be either:

Easy Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Curry Soup

Thai Chicken Curry Soup

Humble Chicken Soup

Humble Chicken Soup

3.  Finding a new breakfast

We tend to have the same thing for breakfast everyday.  It simplifies the morning  – no decisions, and you get quick at putting together the meal because you go through the same motions everyday.

Since the beginning of the year we’ve been starting with green smoothies and scrambled eggs with veggies.

eggs and veggies

Now we need to try something lower in cholesterol.  I’m thinking we’ll switch over to oatmeal, but I’m open to other ideas.

Do you have a favorite low-cholesterol, easy breakfast?

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Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken Sandwiches

Slow cooker cilantro lime chicken sandwiches

Slow cooker sandwiches are one of my favorite meals.  They work so well for several scenarios:

  • They can handle a long cook time.
  • They are perfect for feeding people in shifts.
  • The leftovers make great lunches or dinners.
  • Sandwiches don’t require complicated side dishes – also great for shift eating.

For these Cilantro Lime Chicken Sandwiches, I used a new Hidden Valley® Ranch Dressing flavor. Hidden Valley® has four new flavors :

  • Hidden Valley® Ranch Buffalo dressing
  • Hidden Valley® Ranch Honey BBQ dressing
  • Hidden Valley® Ranch Sriracha dressing
  • Hidden Valley® Ranch Cilantro Lime dressing

Any of the flavors will work in this recipe, but we really liked the taste of the Cilantro Lime dressing.  It added a brightness to the chicken with the fresh taste of cilantro and the citric splash of lime.

The dish starts with chicken and seasonings.  Creamy dressing is added near the end of cooking and served with the sandwiches too.

I picked up my ingredients from Walmart.  It’s so easy to run into Walmart and grab everything I need at once.  There’s a coupon for Hidden Valley® you can download here that will save you $0.75 on a 12oz or 16oz bottle.

In addition to the Hidden Valley® Ranch Cilantro Lime dressing, I used quite a few spices to season chicken tenders.

spices for cilantro lime chicken sandwiches

Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken Sandwiches

Serves: 8 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 - 2.5 lbs. boneless chicken or chicken tenders
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • ½ tsp. onion powder
  • ½ tsp. thyme
  • ½ - 1 cup Hidden Valley Ranch Cilantro Lime dressing
  • 8 sandwich buns
  • lettuce and tomato for serving, optional
Instructions
  1. Place chicken in slow cooker.
  2. Sprinkle spices over chicken, tossing to coat chicken with spices.
  3. Cook on high 5-6 hours or low 7-8 hours.
  4. Shred chicken.
  5. Stir dressing into chicken, using enough to make it as creamy as you'd like.
  6. Serve on sandwich buns, topped with lettuce and tomato if desired.


Cilantro Lime Chicken Sandwich

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf ofHidden Valley® Ranch. The opinions and text are all mine.

3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – Cleaning and more

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1. Clean oven door glass – even in between the glass

It’s embarrassing to admit, but the glass on my oven door was so grimy that you couldn’t even see through it.  It’s been that way since I roasted a chicken a long time ago.  The chicken splattered all over the oven and I never cleaned it.

So the other day when I saw something about cleaning the oven door glass with a magic eraser, I decided to give it a try.  It worked, but I had to use a razor blade in addition to the magic eraser.  It didn’t take very long to do – maybe 15 minutes.

oven door

But once we could see through the glass, we could also see between the glass.  There were a few old spills in there, and also a spider web! What in the world was that spider thinking!

I googled how to clean between the glass on an oven door and found that you can take the door apart.  That part was easy.  Cleaning it was easy.

Putting it all back together again – not so easy.

Jim fiddled with it for a while and finally got it fixed.  The whole thing looks so much better now.

2.  Making my daughter think I’m famous 😉

This is the conversation that happened when my youngest child texted to ask what was for dinner.  She didn’t know what Reuben Calzones were, so she googled it.

IMG_0515

Reuben Calzones were on our Weekly Meal Plan.  They were really good!

3.  Impromptu dinner for 8 after church

I had a feeling we’d end up with a crowd at our house after church, but we hadn’t talked about it so I didn’t make a plan.  After church I realized there would be eight of us.

I had cheese tortellini bought at Costco the day before.  I also had chicken breasts to throw on the grill.  My oldest daughter suggested we turn the pasta into pasta salad.  It didn’t take too long to pull together when we all worked together.  Jim grilled the chicken.  I made the pasta salad and my oldest baked cheddar muffins.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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Cheesy Corn and Potato Chowder with Bacon

Cheesy Corn Chowder with Bacon

This recipe came about by accident, but it was a happy accident.  I intended to make potato soup for dinner, but the bag of potatoes that I thought was mostly full was only about half way full.  I knew I needed to add something to the potatoes or we wouldn’t have enough soup.

Adding corn, cheese and bacon seemed like a good solution.  We loved the result!

I didn’t take an ingredient photo, but these are all very common ingredients.  The homemade soup is quick to make and perfect for a winter (or cool, spring) day.

Cheesy Corn and Potato Chowder with Bacon

Serves: 6-8 servings

Ingredients
  • 2 cups diced potatoes
  • 32 oz chicken broth
  • 3 Tbs. butter
  • 3 Tbs. flour
  • 2 cups milk, warmed
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 can cream corn
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
Instructions
  1. Cook potatoes in chicken broth in a large pot till potatoes are tender.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet melt the butter.
  3. Stir flour into butter and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Whisk milk into the skillet till smooth.
  5. Continue heating over medium heat till sauce begins to bubble and thicken.
  6. Remove sauce from heat and stir in cheese.
  7. Once potatoes are tender, add frozen and creamed corn to the soup pot.
  8. Stir in the cheese sauce.
  9. Season with salt and pepper.
  10. Heat over medium heat till soup is hot, being careful not to let it boil.
  11. Serve in bowls, topped with crumbled bacon.

 

3 Things That (Didn’t) Work in the Kitchen This Week

3 Things that work in the kitchen

Do you ever have one of those weeks where things just don’t go right?  Of course you do!  We all do sometimes.  Last week was my week.

1.  Clogged garbage disposal.

I could show a picture of this, but I’ll spare you.  I was ditching old leftovers the other day and tried to run some sliced beef down the garbage disposal.  I must have put it down too quickly and it plugged both sides of the sink.

Jim was out of town for a few days, so I couldn’t push the task off on him.  Instead I got on the phone with my dad and he talked me through taking the trap off underneath the sink and clearing out the clog.

I felt accomplished and gross!  But the sink and garbage disposal are working just fine now.

2.  Leaking dishwasher.

Black, gooey stuff started coming out from under the dishwasher the other day.  When we pulled the panel off the bottom of the dishwasher we found lots of water and mildew.  Apparently there’s been a leak for a while.  Again, I’ll spare you the photo.

We’ve run the dishwasher several times since noticing the problem and there’s been only two small drops of water from the front panel.  I had a repairman come and he wasn’t sure what caused the leak, since it isn’t leaking all the time.

I did a google search though and found that if there’s a crack in the spray arm (either top or bottom), it can cause water to spray directly at the door and leak.  I checked the spray arms and the top one is broken and missing a small piece.

I’m pretty sure I’ve solved the problem.  Now I just need to get the repair guy to order the parts, because I couldn’t find the bottom panel replacement online and it’s ruined from mildew.

3.  Ants

Those infernal, tiny ants are back now that the weather has warmed up.  This is a constant battle.  We’ve found that Terro Liquid Ant Bait works best.

Let the battle begin (again)!

What’s working (or not working) in your kitchen this week?

Shopping lists aren’t just for groceries – Spring Style Challenge

We’ve all got strengths and weaknesses.  I’m good at dinner, but I’m terrible with clothes.  I don’t know what things go together or what makes a good outfit.  And I hate, hate, hate to shop.

That’s why I really love doing Alison’s Style Challenges.  I started doing them a few years ago, when she offered her first Spring Challenge.

These challenges make the shopping so easy – you get a list of pieces to buy, kind of like a grocery list but for clothes.  The pieces become the “ingredients” that get mixed into outfits.  Each piece can be used multiple ways, just like a can of diced tomatoes can be used for an Italian meal, a Mexican dish or a pot of vegetable soup.

Shopping the closet (and the store):

[Read more…]

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