3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – Testing, testing…

1.  Recipe testing for the cookbook

I shared this in my email newsletter that went out over the weekend, but in case you missed it there I’m writing a cookbook.  A real, published by a real publisher, hold in your hands and sold in stores cookbook.  Writing a book is a long process.  In fact, I started work on the proposal last summer and the book won’t release until Fall 2018.

I can’t tell you too much about it yet, but I will say that all of you who read and comment here have definitely shaped this book.  It’s going to be a cookbook that is meant to be used, pulled out on your busiest nights to help you get dinner done.  My goal is to make it a problem-solver, a dinner helper loaded with new favorite go-to recipes that your family will love.

This weekend I tested five recipes.  I’ve scratched two of those, because they didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped.  The others were winners though!

2. Subtle hint to my family

I ordered this print from an artist on Etsy after seeing it on The Art of Simple the other day.  I’m hoping it will remind all of us to wash the dishes as we use them vs leaving a sink-full for someone else to do later.

We are still living without a dishwasher and have no plans to buy one anytime soon.

3.  Testing breakfast recipes

I’ve also been testing a few breakfast recipes for the new Eat at Home Breakfast Plans.  You asked and we’re working on them!  I’m hoping they’ll be ready very soon.  I will say, the recipes I’ve tested and tasted have been great!

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

Print Friendly

Instant Pot Chicken Fajitas (with a slow cooker option)

Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas has been one of my most popular recipes, both on the site and in my kitchen.  These Instant Pot Chicken Fajitas are destined to be just as popular.

They couldn’t be easier to make.  The Instant Pot version starts with still frozen chicken, adds onions and bell peppers along with a can of Red Gold Petite Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies.

The tomatoes provide not only the extra liquid needed to bring the pot to pressure, but also a fantastic flavor boost.  Canned tomatoes are one of the staples that I always keep on hand in the kitchen.  In fact, I have a whole drawer in the pantry dedicated to tomatoes.  And Red Gold is my favorite brand.

I admit that I’d never thought too much about the flavor difference of canned tomatoes until I visited Red Gold in Indiana and then did a taste test myself.  Red Gold actually tastes like tomatoes.  Really good, farm fresh tomatoes. In fact, Red Gold was recently named the best canned tomato by Epicurious.  The tomatoes are grown on family farms in the Midwest and the Red Gold company is family-owned.  Those things shine through in every aspect, including the flavor of the tomatoes.

We usually wrap the chicken fajita filling in soft taco shells, adding cheese, sour cream and other fixings.  But it also makes great nachos.  Or try serving it over rice.

Using the Instant Pot makes the whole process quick.  You can have the entire meal done in about 30 minutes and that includes putting the ingredients in the pot, allowing time for it to come to pressure and to cook.

Instant Pot Chicken Fajitas (with a slow cooker option)

Serves: 6-8 servings

  • 2 lbs. frozen, boneless chicken tenders
  • 3 Peppers (Green, Red, and Yellow), sliced
  • 1 Onion, sliced
  • 1 can Red Gold Petite Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies
  • 1 Package of Taco Seasoning
  • Flour or corn tortillas
  • Toppings – sour cream, cheese, guacamole, etc.
  1. Put frozen chicken tenders in pot.
  2. Add peppers and onions and pour tomatoes over the top.
  3. Sprinkle taco seasoning over everything.
  4. Seal the lid and set the cook time to 12 minutes. Do a quick pressure release.
  5. Serve in tortillas with toppings.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Red Gold, however all opions are my own.

Print Friendly

3 Things that Work in the Kitchen This Week plus Music I’ve been loving

1.  FB Live cooking a 15 Minute Meal

I did a FB live on Friday and made Pizza Quesadillas from this week’s Traditional Meal Plan.  I timed it and actually finished in just 9 minutes.  You can make dinner super quick!

I don’t know why my eyes are closed in the screen shot of this.


2.  Didn’t work – Breakfast Casserole in the Pressure Cooker

You don’t know till you try.  I thought it would be so great to make a quick breakfast casserole in the Instant Pot, except the pot never came to pressure.  Big fail.  But know I know.

You could put the casserole in a dish that fits inside the pot and add water around the outside of it, but I don’t think you would be able to make a very big casserole doing that.  At that point, I’d rather use the oven or slow cooker.

3.  Bread Machine

This hasn’t worked in the kitchen yet, but we ordered a bread machine.  We used to have one many, many years ago, but it broke so when we want bread we make it by hand.  The other day I was watching Laurie from Passionate Penny Pincher make her dinner on FB live and she was setting up her bread machine.  I said something about it and my 18 year old son heard me.

Somehow he’d never heard of a bread machine and as the person most likely to bake bread in this house, he was flabbergasted that this appliance exists.  He even offered to go halfsies with me on one, so we ordered this one from Amazon.  It comes tomorrow, hopefully in time to make a loaf of bread to go with dinner.

Music I’ve been loving

I’ve been listening to Ellie Holcomb’s new album called Red Sea Road.  It’s very good.  I listen on Spotify and have had the album on repeat all week.

What’s working in the kitchen for you?

This post contains affliate links.

Print Friendly

Instant Pot Beans for the Freezer

I’ve been making this recipe for years in the slow cooker.  It’s one of my favorites, because you get a lot of bang for your buck and for your time.  Using the Instant Pot makes it really easy too.  Not that the slow cooker is hard to use, but the Instant Pot (or any pressure cooker) makes it faster.

This recipe makes a lot and that’s a good thing!  Freeze the beans in 1-2 cup quantities, depending on your family size.  You can use them just like you would canned black beans.  A quick thaw int he microwave and they’re ready to be added to:

  • tacos
  • quesadillas
  • enchiladas
  • casseroles or soups
  • mash them to make “refried” beans

The kids love having these in the freezer for a quick snack or late meal.  Grab a tortilla, cheese and any other fixings you like and you have a healthy, quick meal.

Since I’ve made these a number of times, I’ve learned that you can substitute for the diced jalepeno.  I don’t always have a fresh pepper on hand, so I’ve used a can of diced green chilies or diced jalapeno instead.  Any of these options works fine.

Instant Pot Beans for the Freezer
  • 1 lb. dry pinto beans
  • 1 lb. dry black beans
  • 10 big cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 oz can diced green chilies or diced jalapeno
  • 1½ tsp. cumin
  • 2 Tbs. Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. black pepper
  • water - enough to cover the beans, but no higher than half way mark on pot
  1. Sort and rinse beans. Place in the instant pot.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to the pot.
  3. Set manual cook time for 25-30 minutes, depending on how soft you like the beans.
  4. Do a natural pressure release.
  5. Mash or keep them whole.
  6. Can be frozen for later use.



Print Friendly

3 Things That Work in the Kitchen Feb. 6

1.  Countertop Cooking Challenge starts today!

You know I love my slow cooker and I’m quickly falling in love with the Instant Pot too.  I’m so, so excited about the Countertop Cooking Challenge that officially starts today.  Laurie from Passionate Penny Pincher and I are going to be cooking through Eat at Home Weekly Meal Plans for the next four weeks.  We’re using the Slow Cooker plan.  She’s going to be doing Facebook live videos in the morning showing what’s going in her crockpot for the day.  I’ll be doing Facebook lives a few afternoons each week using the Instant Pot.

We’ve added Instant Pot/pressure cooker recipes to Weekly Meal Plans now and I think you’re going to love that option.

Please join us, no matter if you’re a Meal Plan Member or not.  You can use any recipes you like, we just want to encourage you to get dinner on the table as easily as possible this month.

If you would like to become a member, you can get a great discount by using the code EARLYBIRD at check out, now through Feb. 10.

2. Chicken for the Freezer using the Instant Pot

One of my biggest time saving tips in the kitchen is to cook chicken and freeze it so it’s ready for quick soups, casseroles and other dishes. The other day I used my Instant Pot to cook about four pounds of boneless chicken breasts. I set the cook time to 15 minutes, added 1 ½ cups of water and salt and pepper. The IP switched to the “keep warm” setting when it was done cooking, which meant I could pull the meat apart when I was ready.

You can also cook chicken in a slow cooker or the oven with the same results. No matter how you do it, it’s always a bonus to have the cooked chicken handy when you need it!

3.  My husband

While writing this post, I told Jim I needed a third thing that worked in the kitchen.  He said, “Me!”  And that’s true!  He does work in the kitchen.  He was washing dishes when he gave me that suggestion.

Since Valentine’s Day is getting closer and I am blessed with a wonderful husband who takes care of us in so many ways, including washing dishes I’ll sing his praises publicly 🙂

We’ve been married 29 years.  Not many people can say they made a decision when they were 20 years old that had a huge, positive impact on the rest of their life, but I can.  Many people thought I was too young to get married at 20.  They had a point – twenty is very young!  But marrying Jim turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.  The fact that he washes dishes is a nice bonus.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?


Print Friendly

Chicken Salad with Chick Peas – easy lunch or dinner

Hellmann’s Mayonnaise recently contacted me asking if I’d like to try their new Organic Mayonnaise.   I gave a quick yes!  Hellmann’s is my favorite mayo and this one is really good.

I decided to try it in a chicken salad.  This recipe is a little different than most chicken salads and it’s really good.  The dressing is creamy and flavorful, despite the simple ingredients.  Red onion lends a punch of flavor and cucumbers add crispness.  The chick peas and chicken are a surprisingly good combo.

For this recipe, I used chicken I’d cooked in the Instant Pot.  More on that another time, but I will say that’s a great way to cook a bunch of chicken.  I used part of the chicken for this recipe and froze enough for two more meals.

Here’s what you’ll need to make Chicken Salad with Chick Peas:

The ingredient list is very simple.  The salad comes together quickly and is very healthy too.  It would make a great packed lunch or easy dinner.

Chicken Salad with Chick Peas - easy lunch or dinner

Serves: 4 servings

  • 2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chick peas , rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup thinly sliced seedless cucumber
  • ⅓ cup Hellmann's® or Best Foods Organic Original Mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. dried mint
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves
  • crumbled feta, optional
  1. Combine chicken, chick peas, cucumber, feta, Hellmann's® Organic Original, mint, onion and lemon juice in large bowl.
  2. Serve over fresh spinach. Top with crumbled feta, if desired.

Hellmann’s Organic Mayonnaise is made with organic cage-free eggs, organic expeller-pressed oil, and no artificial flavors and preservatives.  Hellmann’s also has a certified vegan dressing and it’s delicious! It has the same rich, creamy taste, but it’s eggless, cholesterol free—with 10g of fat per serving- and made with non-GMO sourced ingredients.

You can find both Hellmann’s Organic and Hellmann’s Vegan by going to Target.  Use the Cartwheel app to save 20%.

Disclosure: I was compensated for my time in writing this post, however all opinions are my own.

Print Friendly

Join the Countertop Cooking Challenge – Grab your slow cooker and Instant Pot and join the fun!

Get your slow cooker ready!  Pull that new Instant Pot that you aren’t sure what to do with out of the box, because we’re going to be using both of these appliances this month!

I’m really excited to partner with Laurie from Passionate Penny Pincher to bring you Countertop Cooking Challenge.  Laurie and I are both going to be cooking from Eat at Home Meal Plans (you don’t have to be a member to follow along though).  The Countertop Cooking Challenge officially starts Feb. 6!

She’s going to be focusing on the slow cooker recipes and I’m going to be cooking Instant Pot recipes.  You can catch both of us cooking on Facebook Live videos.  Laurie will be on the Passionate Penny Pincher page and I’ll be on the Eat at Home page.  Be sure to go like both of our pages.

New this month, I’ve added Instant Pot recipes to all three meal plan types – Traditional, Slow Cooker and Whole Food.  I’m so excited about this addition to the plans.  Now you’ll find Instant Pot/Pressure Cooker recipe options for some of the recipes.  That gives members one more way to fit dinner into their days.

But even if you aren’t a meal plan member, you’ll want to join us in this challenge.  We’re going to making dinner simple and delicious using both the slow cooker and Instant Pot.  You’ll get new recipes and cooking tips and have your dinner done too!  (If you are interested in becoming a member, you can use the code EARLYBIRD at check out to get a discounted price.)

You’ll also want to sign up for the Countertop Cooking Challenge emails.  I’ll be sending out special deals, links to the FB live videos and other tips for you through email.

Sign Up Here:

I’m so excited to have you join us for this Countertop Cooking Challenge!

Print Friendly

3 Things That Work in the Kitchen – Plus what I’ve been watching

1.  One big bag of potatoes – Three different dishes

We’ve had a bout of stomach bug around here, so I’ve been keeping the food pretty mild.  Last Sunday we had baked potato bar for lunch.  I baked ten giant potatoes and then four of the people I thought would be here bailed on us.

That meant I had a bunch of potatoes left over.  So Tuesday night I turned them into Baked Potato Soup and Loaded Potato Skins.  I was hoping to freeze the potato skins for later, but the kids had friends over and I needed to stretch the soup a bit further.

2.  Microwave Homemade Chocolate Pudding

My friend Lynn posted this simple homemade Chocolate Pudding the other day and I knew I wanted to make it.  Oh my word! This recipe is amazing.  It’s easy, uses common ingredients and the flavor is so good.  It’s a perfect treat.  Click here to see the recipe on Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures.

3.  Detox Salad

After all the potato dishes this week, it felt good to fix a big bowl of veggies.  I love this Detox Salad.  It holds up great in the fridge, goes with nearly any kind of dinner and tastes great for lunch too.

What I’ve been watching:

Last weekend I went to see two different movies in the theater.  We don’t go to the movies very often, so it was really unusual to go twice in one weekend.

Hidden Figures – I saw this with Mia, our youngest daughter.  We both loved it!  I highly recommend seeing this one.  I’ve enjoyed listening to the soundtrack on Spotify too.

La La Land – I watched this for the second time last weekend.  It’s so much fun!  The soundtrack for this movie has seen a lot of play time on my Spotify account too.

White Collar – This TV show is streaming on Netflix.  It’s a light hearted heist/FBI/crime show.

What’s working in your kitchen this week and what have you been watching?

Print Friendly

3 Thing That Work in the Kitchen This Week – Fast and Easy plus new recipe ideas

1. Spaghetti Squash in the Instant Pot

The other night I made Italian Chicken and Tomatoes.  Instead of regular pasta, I made spaghetti squash.  Surprisingly everyone ate it and liked it.  I think they’ve finally figured out that the words just because the vegetable is called squash doesn’t mean it’s going to be “squishy”.

I cut it in half crosswise instead of lengthwise, sprinkled the inside with a bit of kosher salt and poured 1 1/2 cups of water in the bottom of the pot.  I set the cook time for 7 minutes.  It worked great, although next time I think I’ll try 6 minutes instead of seven.

2.  Quick Bean Quesadillas

The other night we needed a fast and easy meal (story of my life).  There were only three of us home and two of us were much later than expected so I’d abandoned my original planned dinner.  Instead I found a bag of Slow Cooker Beans for the Freezer and gave them a quick thaw in the microwave.

We made quesadillas by adding some shredded cheddar and salsa.  It was as easy as a grilled cheese sandwich, but even better.

3. Meals on my to-make list

I’ve been following Weekly Meal Plans lately and trying a lot of things in the Instant Pot too, but I found some notes I’d made for new meal ideas I want to make.  I’m adding the ingredients for these to my grocery list this week.

Pan Fried Chicken Topped with Tomato and Basil served with Skillet Greens and Roasted Parsnips – This may end up being a sheet pan dinner instead, we’ll see how it goes.

Lemon and Parsley Roast Chicken – I’m thinking sheet pan dinner for this one too, but it could turn into a different type of recipe.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

Print Friendly

How to do dinner (without hours of prep and planning, spending a fortune or staring down frozen chicken at the end of a long day)

I’m pretty sure we all know how to not do dinner.  We’ve lived all the scenarios of ways to make dinner difficult.

But what if you want to:

~walk in the door and have dinner on the table in 15 minutes

~use your brain space for things other than figuring out what’s for dinner or what to buy at the grocery

~make the slow cooker or Instant Pot do the work for you

~save money on your grocery bill and on be able to skip the drive-thru because you know you’ve got dinner at home

If all of that sounds good to you, then Eat at Home Meal Plans is the solution.

I’ve put together everything I’ve learned in making 10,000 dinners for my family into a system to make your life easier.  My goal is for you to be able to walk into your kitchen, know what’s for dinner and be able to have it on the table in short order.

To do that, I give you slow cooker recipes (Instant Pot recipes are coming starting in February), sheet pan dinners, 15 minutes meals and more.  Dinner has to fit your schedule if it’s going to work at all.

This is a great time to become a member of Weekly Meal Plans and make dinner simple at your house.

Click here to learn more about becoming a member of Eat at Home Meal Plans and join thousands of others in having doing dinner the easy way!




Print Friendly