3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – August 31

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

1.  Roasted Okra

Last week when I posted about roasted veggies, someone mentioned roasting okra.  I decided to give it a try, even though I was skeptical.

okra

The verdict – It’s pretty good!  I’d definitely make it again.  Even our youngest daughter liked it.  Roasting really does bring out the goodness in all kinds of veggies.

The photo isn’t great, but I snapped it with my cell phone and I’m sharing it here anyway.

Give me a list – what should I try roasting next?  Turnips? Rutabaga (never had it)?

2.  Home Seasoned Turkey Sausage – recipe coming soon

Homemade turkey sausage ingr

 

I used these simple ingredients to season plain, ground turkey and give it a sausage flair.  It was easy and full of flavor.  Then I turned them into grilled turkey sausage burgers.  So good!

3.  New podcast discovery

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I usually listen to podcasts when I’m driving, but sometimes it’s nice to listen while I’m cooking or cleaning up.  I recently discovered the Sorta Awesome podcast and it’s a lot of fun.  The episodes are chatty and friendly.  It’s a nice way to make doing dishes more enjoyable.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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3 Things Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – August 24

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

1.  Soccer field picnics

Tuesday night we traveled to Louisville for a soccer game.  One son plays and the other is an assistant coach.  The game started at 5:30 and we just barely made it in time.  We knew we’d be running late, because of the boys’ class schedules.  Then we hit traffic and got a call that another family had gotten a flat tire on their way to the game.  We were able to pick those boys up on the side of the road and get them to the game on time, while their parents fixed the tire.  Whew!

I often pack dinner for us on nights like this.  It beats running through the drive thru.  Our picnic this time was purchased at Costco, since I’d run in there for a few things earlier in the day.  We made turkey sandwiches on croissants and had potato salad and grapes.  It was simple, but it worked.

If you’d like more ideas for meals during sports season, check out this post I wrote a few months ago.

2.  Birthday cake

 

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It’s not pretty, but it is chocolate.  Making a pretty cake does not come easy to me.  Actually, it’s pretty rare that I make a cake that looks really good.  I don’t have the patience for it.

Thankfully, boys who are turning 17 don’t really care what the cake looks like.  Especially if you make the Cannoli Cake that was requested.  Four light yellow layers, spread with creamy cannoli filling studded with chocolate chips and covered with chocolate ganache will make almost anyone happy no matter what it looks like!

The recipe comes from The Cake Mix Doctor cookbook, which is one of my favorites.

3.  Slow Cooker Chicken Tacos – a million ways to make them

There’s a reason that chicken tacos in the crockpot are so popular.  You can throw any type of Mexican-like ingredient in the pot and end up with something delicious at the end of the day.  This time I used chicken tenders, corn, black beans, diced tomatoes seasoned for chili and taco seasoning.  I melted cream cheese at the end of the cooking time.  So easy and good!

What worked in your kitchen this week?

 

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – August 17

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

Is anyone else longing to get back into some kind of routine?  I love summer, with its laid back attitude, but by this time of year I’m usually ready to get back into a new groove.  Part of that for me involves getting back to a few blogging routines that I’ve let drop over the summer.

It’s been forever since I’ve written a 3 Things post.  I’ve been hard at work on some things on the backend of the blog (new email systems, launching the first Eat at Home Challenge, working on a Volume 2 of Slow Cooker Freezer Meals, improving the Weekly Meal Plan Member Page…)  I’ve vacationed and taken time to swing in the backyard.  Books have been read.  Migraines have been fought.

This past week, we helped my daughter and her husband pack up their apartment, put everything in storage to move to Bolivia for four months.  They arrived at their new home Sunday morning, safe but with wet luggage (the airline left it outside while waiting for a storm to clear).

Now it’s time for me to get back to some normal routines.  Here are three things that have worked in my kitchen this week.

1.  Roasted Chipotle Pork Chops with New Potatoes and Green Beans.

Chipotle pork chop sheet pan dinner

This meal was so easy to make!  It all roasted in the oven in about 30 minutes.  I’m planning to make it again and take more photos so I can do a post with a real recipe.

Here are the details:

~ I used thin cut boneless pork chops.  This allowed them to cook in the same amount of time as the veggies.

~ I used really small new potatoes that didn’t require any chopping.  That saved time.

~ The potatoes and green beans got tossed with olive oil, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  The pork chops were brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with chipotle seasoning blend.

~ The pan full of good stuff went into an oven heated to 425ish (I can’t remember the exact temp I used) for 30 minutes.

2.  Chicken Tortilla Soup in the Slow Cooker

I found a pack of chicken breasts in the freezer the other day and decided to use them for soup.  There were two large pieces with bones in the pack.  This is perfect for making a rich broth the easy way.  Start by putting the chicken on the bottom of the slow cooker.  Then add the other ingredients and cook.  Before serving remove the chicken from the crockpot and pull the meat from the bones, then stir the meat back into the pot.  This is the method I use for several soups, including White Chicken Chili, Chicken Cock a Leekie Soup, Thai Chicken Curry Soup and several others.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

I’d never tried this method of cooking the chicken right in the soup with Chicken Tortilla Soup though.  I put the chicken in the bottom of the crockpot and poured the chicken broth over the top, the same amount the recipe calls for.  After cooking that on high for five or six hours, I took the chicken out and pulled it from the bones.  Then I added the meat and the remaining ingredients to the slow cooker and let it cook an hour or so longer.  I also added a cup or so of water, to stretch the recipe and because the broth was rich enough to handle thinning it a bit.  It worked great!

3. Frozen Meatballs become Sweet and Sour Meatballs

One thing I did when I started feeling better after my stinky July, was to make a big batch of meatballs.  I love having meatballs in the freezer.  Sometimes I buy the pre-made kind and those are useful, but homemade is so much better.

Frozen meatballs can be used for all kinds of things – spaghetti, of course, but also this Sweet and Sour Meatball recipe.

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I used an onion and a green pepper instead of carrots this time.  If you’ve got meatballs cooked and frozen, this meal is as fast as making the rice.  It’s a big hit with my family too.

What worked in your kitchen this week?

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – May 18

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

1.  Sharing a meal with a family with a new baby

We’ve got lots of young families in our church, which means lots of new babies being born.  This week I took a meal to a family with a new baby boy.  I made Baked Chicken and Vegetables in the Slow Cooker, with a few alterations.  There was enough to share and still feed my family too.

Our church uses a cool website called, Take Them a Meal to organize meal sharing signups.  This makes the process so simple.  People can add what dish they are bringing so there aren’t so many repeats.

2.  When you run out of diced tomatoes…

…Try using stewed tomatoes instead.  I have a drawer in my pantry dedicated to tomato products.

pantry tomato products drawer

 

It’s usually stocked full like in the photo above.  A few weeks ago, it was so full I vowed not to buy anymore tomato items for a while.

So when I was making the Baked Chicken and Vegetables, I pulled open the drawer for a can of diced tomatoes and found that I’d used them all.  I substituted a can of stewed tomatoes and made a mental note to start buying diced tomatoes again.

3.  Crockpot liners and foil pans

I don’t use these often, but they are great when you cook on vacation.  We like “eating at home” on vacation.  And I don’t mind cooking on vacation.  But I do like making the cleanup easy.

Crockpot liners and foil pans do the trick.  They worked great for our trip to Asheville, NC last week.

What’s working for you in the kitchen this week?

 

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3 Things that Work in the Kitchen this Week – May 11

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

1.  Recipe Re-do

There are some recipes that call for store-bought ingredients that are hard to find.   Or maybe you’d like a homemade version instead.  One of those recipes is Creamy Jalepeno Chicken Tacos.  I love this slow cooker recipe, but when I shopped for the ingredients I couldn’t find the jalepeno cream cheese.

So I came up with an easy alternative.  I’ll share a full post soon, but basically it’s as easy as using a can of jalepeno pepper and plain cream cheese.  Simple.

Another recipe I’ve redone so the store-bought mix isn’t needed is Slow Cooker Korean Tacos, which is a take on Korean BBQ Haystacks.  The sauce tastes close to the same, but it’s homemade.

2.  15 Minute Chicken Jambalaya

I’m really excited about this recipe!  My family loved it and it’s so quick to make.

Quick and Easy Skillet Chicken Jambalaya

 

Look for the recipe on the blog on Wednesday!

3.  Vacation food – packing for a rental house

My family is headed to Asheville, NC later this week for a long weekend trip.  We’ve rented a house there instead of staying in a hotel.  We’ve found houses are the way to go for family trips.  You get more room to spread out, there are plenty of places to come together for games and visiting and you can save money of eating out.

I’ll be sharing our menu with you on Thursday.  We do hope to eat one meal at a restaurant in Asheville.  If you’ve got recommendations, let me know!

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – May 4

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

1.  Grilled Pork Tenderloin

I experimented the other day with grilling pork tenderloin.  I used this 7-6-5 method as a starting point and it turned out amazing!  I brined it as the recipe states, using sugar and kosher salt.  Then I sprinkled the meat heavily with McCormick’s Smokehouse Maple Seasoning.  That stuff is amazing!

It was the best meat I’ve ever grilled.  I didn’t take any photos, but I’ll make it again and share a real post with instructions.

2.  Roasted Vegetables

I’ve been on a roasting roll.  With the pork tenderloin, I made roasted potatoes and sugar snap peas.  I sprinkled both heavily with Montreal Steak Seasoning.  Roasting vegetables is such a fast way to have an amazing side dish.

Potatoes need longer to cook, so I put them in the oven first and added the peas after about 15 minutes.  That way both peas and potatoes finished roasting at the same time.

3.  Grilled Burgers

I’m determined to learn to make really great burgers on the grill this summer.  I have a bad habit of over cooking them and they aren’t very moist when that happens.

I found this McCormick sauce in the grocery on Saturday.  The weather was perfect for testing out a new burger grilling method.

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I mixed one packet of sauce into 2 lbs of ground beef.  The packet says to use 1 lb. of meat, but I stretched it.  Then we topped our burgers with balsamic caramelized onions and blue cheese.

They turned out a bit rarer than we would like, but oh my!  They tasted amazing!  This will make a frequent appearance at dinner all summer!

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

P.S.  The May Weekly Meal Plans are ready to print on the member page.  Here’s what one of our Weekly Meal Plan members said this week when she renewed her membership for a year. “I thought I’d try to save $50 and not re-enroll. But after a couple of weeks of that, I realized that Eat At Home is both a money-saver and a time-saver. So … I’m back. Thanks again for all the work you do! I’m so appreciative!”  Click here to find out more about becoming a member.

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – April 27

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

1.  Pineapple Crisp with Whipped Coconut Cream

I have had a dry spell in creating recipes lately.  And then there have been recipes that I made and the photos didn’t turn out, which is super frustrating.

But I did come up with a good one this weekend.  I can’t wait to share this recipe with you!

Pineapple Crisp with Whipped Coconut Cream

One good thing about this dessert is that it is fairly healthy, as dessert goes anyway.  There’s only 1/4 cup of maple syrup (or honey) in the crisp.  And the coconut creams is sweetened, but it is non-dairy, if that’s important to someone in your family.

2.  Soccer team party

Thursday night, Mia had another soccer game and one of the families invited everyone back to their house for a meal.  They served Southwest Chicken Pasta Salad (so good!) and the rest of us chipped in with dessert, cut fruit, drinks etc.

I loved that this busy family opened their home to all of us.  It was welcoming and relaxed and a great time to get to know each other better.  The girls ate, talked and laughed together on the deck and the parents visited around the kitchen table and spilled into the living room.  It made me realize that having people over doesn’t need to be complicated.

I’m encouraged to host more gatherings at our house.  Now to follow through with that idea…

3.  Question – Cooked beets at Costco???

While shopping at Costco the other day, I noticed packs of cooked, vacuum packed beets in the refrigerator section.  The label said something like, “ready for anything”.  That’s great, but my imagination isn’t that good!

How  would you use cooked, cold beets?  Warm them up for a side dish?  Add to a salad?  Do you like them? Inquiring minds want to know!

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – April 20

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

1.  Dinner to go

We had three soccer games this week, which threw a wrench in dinner plans.  I’m sharing a post tomorrow about how to alter your meal plans during sports season.

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One of our meals was egg salad.  We have plenty of eggs, thanks to Jim’s sister and her husband.  Well – thanks to their chickens, anyway!  I used part mayo and part Greek yogurt to make the egg salad, which turned out great.

2.  Costco

We live just 5 or so minutes from Costco.  The more I shop there, the more I love it.  Their produce is especially nice.  This week I bought oranges, spinach, patty pan squashes, green beans, and grape tomatoes.  The oranges and spinach get used in our morning green smoothies.  The tomatoes are fantastic eaten in a salad or roasted with other veggies.  I haven’t tried the squash yet, but I’m looking forward to roasting them alongside some pork chops.

3.  Orange Carrot Ginger Juice

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When Jim gave me the Vitamix for Christmas, I really wondered how much use it would get.  Answer – a lot!  We use it every morning for green smoothies.  And lately, I’ve been making orange, carrot, ginger juice in the afternoon.

A little apple or orange juice, 1 orange, 1 carrot, a piece of fresh ginger and some ice all go in the blender.  It tastes sunny and healthy.  The ginger gives it a little flavor kick that helps ward off the afternoon sleepy feeling.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – April 13

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

1.  Speed dinner

On Thursday evening, I hadn’t made a plan for our dinner, because I was still trying to figure out the plan for the evening.  I didn’t know who would be home, what time they’d be home or if I would be home.  We were juggling a late drama practice, a volleyball game that I’d only learned about the day before and a soccer practice.  It was all last minute when we decided which of those things we could make it to.

What ended up happening was I got home at 5:20 and had to leave again about 6:00.  I decided I had time to cook a quick dinner and eat it before we left.  We had Pressure Cooker Mac & Cheese (I delegated the cheese shredding to one of the kids), a quick chopped salad (chopped because it’s infinitely faster than tearing) and smoked sausage heated in the microwave.

It was much better than fast food.  I’m glad I did throw it together, because we ended up not getting home from the volleyball game until nearly 10pm.

2.  Kitchen pet peeve – revealed in a dream

File this one under “things that aren’t working”, “weird dreams”, and “things that don’t matter at all”.

I had a dream one night and the only part I remember is standing in the kitchen, pointing at the counter, saying, “And we always have all these twist ties and bread bag things all over the counter!”.

I didn’t remember the dream until the next morning when I was wiping down the counter.  There must have been 3 or 4 twist ties and plastic bread bag things on there.  And then I remembered the dream and realized that this is one of my pet peeves.  The funny thing is, I’d never really thought about it before.  It never consciously bothered me before I dreamed about it.

But now – oh my gosh!  Why do we have all these bread ties laying around?!?

Every day I clear several off the counter, but the next day there are more.  I think they are reproducing or something.  It’s crazy!

3.  Taco soup can be made from almost anything

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We love taco soup.  It’s perfect for clearing out the pantry.  You can use nearly any kind of meat – chicken, ground beef, sausage, leftover roast…

Use any type of beans, mixing and matching what you’ve got on hand.  Use canned corn, frozen corn or creamed corn.  Add canned or fresh tomatoes.  Season with a packet of taco seasoning, fajita seasoning or mix up your own homemade.

The possibilities are nearly endless.

The night we had taco soup, Isaac fried up some corn tortillas we needed to use up.  They were the perfect, crunchy compliment to the soup.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

P.S. One of our Weekly Meal Plan members share that she saves at least 2 hours each week by using the meal plans.  She also saves a minimum of $60 each week on food!  Find out how you can become a member by clicking here.

 

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – April 6

3 Things that work in the kitchen

 

So many of you mentioned these 3 Things posts as something you really enjoy about Eat at Home.  I was actually surprised how many times it was mentioned.  A lot of weeks I feel like I don’t have much to share here.  After all, sometimes the things that work are the same things that always work – the no-fail meals, the kitchen tools that come through time and time again.   I’m always looking for new tried and true solutions though, so I can see why others would be too.

You also said you like reading about the things that didn’t work.  You’re in luck, because I’ve got a story like that for you today!

1.  My so-so chicken recipe.

I’ve had a dry spell lately in creating new recipes.  It seems like I’ve cooked every possible quick and easy meal.  I’ve hit these creative droughts before and I know it’s temporary, but it’s also frustrating.

The other day I dug deep and came up with an idea for Asian Orange Chicken in the Slow Cooker served over rice and topped with Pineapple Salsa.  Sounds good, right?

I put boneless chicken breasts in the crockpot with orange juice, garlic, ginger and soy sauce.  It smelled great as it started to cook.

But when I served it, the flavor was missing.  It wasn’t bad, but it just tasted like chicken over rice. The pineapple salsa was great, but a little strange on the plain chicken and rice.  We ate it and debated whether it was blog worthy.  In the end, I decided no.  It sounded so promising, but it turned out to be a disappointment.

2.  Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowls

This one is a success!  It’s a recipe I created a while back for Savings Lifestyle.  But I’ve since speeded up the process, making it work great for weeknight dinner.  This meal gives lots of options for serving, lets everyone customize their dinner, works great when you’ve got people eating at different times of day and the leftovers hold up well for lunch the next day.  Perfect!  I’ll share this recipe with you soon.

3.  Finished dining room!

I shared a few weeks ago (months ago?) about our dining room re-do.  The goal was to put all the stuff behind doors so we didn’t have to look at it, but we wanted it handy to use.  We only use the room for dining every once in a while, but we use it for sewing, photography, and school work every day.

Here’s what it looked like when we started:IMG_5455

 

We’ve come a long way!  We started with the idea of just getting some new shelves.  In the end, we installed new laminate floors, painted everything white and used Ikea cabinets to create a large buffet area along one wall.  I’m really happy that it still looks and functions like a dining room.

dining room buffet from ikea cabinets

 

My dad helped us come up with the plan.  He also built and stained the countertop and installed the cabinets.  I love it!  Everything is behind doors.  The sewing machine, a new smaller ironing board, my tripod and photography lights, Mia’s fabric stash, our ugly homeschool books and more.  We even have a few empty shelves, thanks to some serious decluttering.

I still want to add some plants and curtains to this room.  And the opposite wall is blank and in need of something, but the room is functional and mostly finished.

I’m really happy with the plate wall too.  I’ll let you in on a little secret – those plates are all plastic, purchased at Target.  I hung them with Command velcro stickies.  It was so easy and cheap and I love the way it looks.

plate wall with plastic plates from target

 

I’m not great at taking photos of the house (and these are all cell phone photos), but these give a good idea of how it looks.  We also gave the living room a makeover.  We’ve never had furniture for this room, other than my desk and a bunch of bookshelves.  It’s like we added another room onto the house, because now we can really make use of it.

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It’s quirky and fun and light and bright.  From the rainbow bookshelf, to the gold arrows begging you to take a book and plop in a chair, to the gold antelope head that we named Clarence – I love it all!  (And I know the rug is too small according to “rug rules”, but I don’t care.)

Since I’m showing you all of this, I might as well throw in a photo of my work corner.  This is where the blog action takes place 😉

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It’s not much to look at in this photo, but it’s a very nice place to work and I’m loving having the glass white board to use.

This week I’ve got a Sheet Pan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables recipe to share along with a few results from the survey.

What’s working in your kitchen (or house) this week?

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