3 Things that Work in the Kitchen This Week – February 8

3 Things that work in the kitchen

We’ve been working behind the scenes over the weekend to move the site to a new server (again) in an effort to fix some issues we were having with the site going down.  In the process we lost a few posts and the February member page, but all of that has been restored now.  Whew!  The tech part of running a website can get sticky sometimes.

1.  Hooray for 15 minute meals!

Saturday night I did not feel like cooking, but we didn’t want to go out either.  Thankfully, the Whole Food Weekly Meal Plan I shopped with on Thursday had a simple 15 minute supper.  I pulled together Double Cheese Chicken Melts and sweet potato fries.  The chicken melts were supposed to be tuna, but my daughter has decided she doesn’t like tuna so I subbed chicken instead.

2.  Dinner for 9

Friday we had a volleyball tournament all day and my parents were coming in that night.  I knew I should have made a plan for dinner, but I hadn’t done it.  So Friday morning I was scrounging up ideas to feed nine people with something I could make quickly, in the crockpot with ingredients I had on hand.

Slow Cooker Spicy Chicken Soup to the rescue.

spicy chicken soup done

3.  No Super Bowl for us

We didn’t host a Super Bowl party or go to one.  We didn’t even watch it.  Instead, we rummaged for whatever we could find in the fridge and watched an old season of the Amazing Race on Amazon Prime.  Basically, it was a normal Sunday night for us and I enjoyed it!

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

 

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3 Things that Work in the Kitchen – February 1

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Pear Tart

Pear Tart with cream cheese frosting

This Pear Tart recipe has been on my site for quite a while now.  Kim, who writes some recipes for Eat at Home posted it.  I finally got around to trying it over the weekend.

Oh my!  This is a delicious recipe!  And it’s really easy too.  The pears I used were perfectly ripe, so I know that made it even better.  I mixed up a quick cream cheese frosting instead of buying it from the store.  I stirred together a couple tablespoons of softened butter, same amount of softened cream cheese, a cup or two of powdered sugar and a bit of milk.

I was also able to find Pillsbury crescent rolls in a sheet instead of the regular kind.  That meant I didn’t even have to press the seams together.  That can be so hard, you know 😉

2.  Homemade Pretzel Surprise

pretzels

When I got back from running a few errands and picking up my daughter from class the other day, the house smelled amazing.  My 17 year old son had decided to make homemade pretzels.  He’d just pulled them from the in oven as I walked in the door.  He even cleaned up the kitchen when he was done baking.  Also a nice surprise!

3.  The Slow Cooker

I talk about using slow cooker/crockpots a lot, but it’s just so easy.  I shopped with the slow cooker grocery list last week.  It’s such a good feeling to know you’ve got dinner done, no matter what else happens during the day.

We had Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwiches, Smokey Chipotle Chicken Tacos, soups and more – all from the slow cooker.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen – January 25

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Maple Balsamic Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Maple Balsamic Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

I came across a great sale on chicken thighs at the grocery the other day.  Eleven thighs in the pack for just $4.44!  I put part of them in the freezer and used part to make Maple Balsamic Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner.

Along with the chicken, I used butternut squash and brussels sprouts.  I’ll be sharing the recipe soon!

2.  Snow storm, grocery shopping and quick planning

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 10.51.09 AM

I shared this on Instagram on Thursday.  The weather reports were predicting a big snow storm for us on Friday (and they were right!).  Thursday is my regular shopping day, but I hit the store earlier than usual, armed with our Slow Cooker list.  I love, love, love being able to spend 2 minutes printing a list and knowing we’ll be covered for meals through the week.

I was also really glad I went to the grocery early, before it got busy.  By the time I finished my shopping around noon, things were starting to pick up and it was getting crazy in there.

3.  Sunday Snow Day Stew and Homemade Bread

I decided to make Pioneer Woman’s Sunday Stew recipe while the snow piled up outside.   It looked like perfect snow day food and it was.  Adding the ingredients for that meal to my printed grocery list only took a minute.

The stew is thick, beefy and served with mashed potatoes.  We also make a batch of Homemade Whole Wheat Bread.

One thing I noticed – Pioneer Woman’s stew beef was cut in much larger pieces than what we get in stores around here.  I wonder if the size of stew meat is a regional thing?

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If you’d like to skip the planning and still have organized meals that are quick and easy to make, check out our Weekly Meal Plans!

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

 

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

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Wood Butter

wood butter

Also called board butter or wooden spoon butter.  Whatever you call it, this stuff is great!

My cutting boards and wooden utensils have been so dried out, bleached and rough.  I finally broke down and bought this board butter from Amazon.  It makes a huge difference in the wood and worked on my bamboo cutting board and utensils too.

It smells like honey, because it’s made with beeswax and mineral oil.  My hands felt pretty nice after rubbing it into the boards and spoons.

2.  A really nice, new saucepan

3 quart pot

My old 3 quart Revere Ware saucepan had seen better days, to say the least.  It was no longer flat on the bottom and rocked on the burner.  I finally decided to replace it with something new.

A search on Amazon yielded this one from Cook’s Standard.  The great sale (Amazon pricing changes quick, so it may not still be on sale now), combined with the 5 star reviews convinced me to buy.

I can’t believe how much better this pot is than my old one!  The best thing is how easy it is to clean.  It wipes out nearly as easily as a non-stick surface.  I’m considering replacing some of my other pots and pans with this brand.

3.  Healthy Breakfast

I tend to eat the same thing for breakfast everyday.  I’ll switch things up every six months or so, but I like eating the same meal every morning for a few reasons.  It makes things really simple.  It’s easy to get in a routine of making breakfast quickly without having to think about things, when you make the same thing every day.

For over a year, breakfast has included a green smoothie.  A few weeks ago, we decided to switch from toast and bagels to eggs and vegetables.  Zucchini, red bell pepper, tomatoes and scrambled eggs go really well with the green smoothie.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen (plus a sale!)

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Jim and Mia did the grocery shopping after Christmas

A day or two after Christmas we realized that we’d eaten through all the leftovers and needed some food in the house.  I printed off a grocery list from Eat at Home Weekly Meal Plans and Jim and Mia went to the store for me while I caught up on things at home.  He even cooked one of the meals for dinner too!

This is a great time to buy Weekly Meal Plans, because we’ve got a sale going on through January 7.

Eat at Home Weekly Meal Plans on Sale 50% Off!

If you’d like to simplify your planning, shopping and cooking this year, Eat at Home Weekly Meal Plans are for you.  We do all the planning for you, plus give you an abundance of slow cooker and 15 minute meals so that you can easily fit dinner into your day.

Right now, through January 7 you can save 50% off of new monthly and 3 month membership plans.  Find out more here.  Sale is good for new memberships.

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2.  Pizza night is back!

During soccer season and the holidays we hadn’t made time for pizza night at all.  That changed the other day when we all gathered around for pizza making and silliness.

pizza night

I tell about how to make great homemade pizza in this post.  You can find my pizza dough recipe here and an easy pizza sauce recipe here.

3.  Spontaneous dinner for 8 in 30 minutes.

The other night we ended up having eight people at the house for dinner.  We’d already been to the grocery, so we had food but I’d been planning to make salmon and I only had enough of that for 4-5 people.

I decided to make Spicy Chicken Soup instead.  I made it on the stove and it only took about 30 minutes to pull the meal together.  I love recipes like this one, that use common ingredients.  It makes it easy to pull a quick meal together.

spicy chicken soup done

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – December 14

3 Things that work in the kitchen

You may have noticed some trouble trying to get pages to load on the site recently.  We’ve been working on some backend things on the site the last week or so.  We moved to a new server in an effort to fix a few things, but the site is still a bit slow and glitchy.  Hopefully, we’ll have it all smoothed out soon.

There’s so much to look forward to at this time of year, but I’ve been pretty focused on this Thursday.  That’s the day that our daughter and son-in-law get home from four months in Bolivia.  In just four days we can hug them and feed them and tell them we love them.  And call them George.  Here’s the explanation of the George thing, in case you’re like my kids and have no idea why I’d call them George.

1.  Popcorn Chicken Parmesan

Popcorn Chicken Parmesan - 15 Minute Meal

This 15 Minute Popcorn Chicken Parmesan was part of our Weekly Meal Plan recently.  I love this one!  Popcorn chicken never tasted so good.  It’s quick, but it tastes like you’ve gone all out.  I served a Caesar salad with it.  Delish!

2.  Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

One of my sons loves chocolate chip cookies and he loves to bake.  At least once a week, he makes a batch of Chocolate Chip cookies for us.  Recently he changed it up by making Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies.  Maybe one of these days we’ll get him to venture away from the chocolate chips, but I kind of doubt it.

3.  Candy Cane Desserts

This is candy cane season.  If you’re looking for ways to incorporate them into a dessert, here are three options for you.  These are all delicious!

Candy Cane Fudge

Candy Cane Fudge recipe

Candy Cane Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

candy cane chocolate crinkle cookies

Candy Cane Fudge Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

Candy Cane Ice Cream Sandwich Cake

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen – December 7

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Leftovers, quick meals, colds…

Not much went on in the kitchen this past week.  At least not much that is worth noting.

We ate leftovers for a good bit of the week.  I was slammed with a bad cold on Monday night.  Jim was out of town, the boys were working and Mia and I were coming back into town after a volleyball game.  By that point all I wanted was some soup and my pajamas and to be able to breath again.  We swung through Chick-fil-A for a bowl of soup to go.  The drive thru is not my favorite way to get dinner, but on that night, it was about all I was up for.

The rest of the meals for the week were:

  • Ham (leftover), scrambled eggs and biscuits
  • Ravioli with jarred sauce and Italian sausage that I browned and added to the sauce
  • Rotisserie chicken, pretzel rolls and salad from Costco
  • Something unknown that I have no memory of

This was not a stellar week of meals, but I’m back in a routine now.  I hit the grocery with the Traditional Weekly Meal Plan and I’m all set to do better this week.

2.  Simple Advent Wreath

advent wreath

I was inspired by the Sorta Awesome Podcast to try doing an Advent wreath and simple readings this year.  We’ve done this in the past, when the kids were young, but we’ve found it difficult to keep up every night.  And I can never remember where we’ve stashed the Advent wreath.

On Sorta Awesome Podcast Episode 36, Jerusalem Greer was the guest and she talked about doing Advent in a simple way.  She suggested making an Advent wreath by using something round, four candles, something living (like greenery, water or cranberries etc).    In the Sorta Awesome Hangout on Facebook, people started sharing photos of the Advent wreaths they put together and I realized that I could do this.

It doesn’t have to be complicated.

I spent about five minutes pulling this together last Sunday evening.  I used a glass cake plate, four partially burnt candles, some pink and purple ribbon and a few sprigs of rosemary.  In the spirit of simplicity, I did a google search for Advent readings that were short and only once a week.  I knew we wouldn’t be able to keep up with more than that.  Although, there’s no shame in starting and falling behind. It’s more important that we start than that we tick off every night on the calendar.

I found this Advent devotional on the Billy Graham site.  My intention is that we will light the candles and do the reading on Sunday evenings this month.

3.  December Scripture Writing Plan

december scripture writing plan

Earlier this week Mary Beth, our editor for Weekly Meal Plans, shared this on Facebook.  She didn’t know where it came from, but a few days later I saw on Instagram that Christy from Southern Plate had tracked down the source.  The plan came from the blog Sweet Blessings and I’m so grateful that she shared it.  I’m really enjoying copying the verses in my notebook each morning.  It doesn’t take long and it’s a good way to focus on Advent for a few minutes at the start of the day.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

 

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – November 30

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1. Easy, slow cooker caramelized onion gravy meatballs

I really meant to take photos of this meal, but we had it in the midst of painting the kitchen (see below).  I totally forgot to take pictures.  It was so good though, I promise to make it again and give it an actual blog post so it can be easily searched.

I used frozen meatballs that I had made a few weeks before.  I added them to the crockpot still frozen.  Over the top, I poured a jar of beef gravy and a packet of McCormick Grill Mates Sauce Mix-Ins.  I used the Sweet Mesquite & Caramelized Onion flavor.

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Oh my!  This was such a good combo!  We had it over instant mashed potatoes and it was a lovely lunch.  I know there wasn’t much homemade about it, but it was quick, easy and good.  Perfect for the midst of a big painting project.

2.  Newly painted kitchen (and family room)

We painted the family room walls and trim on Saturday before Thanksgiving.  It didn’t take as long as we’d thought, so I decided to go ahead and start painting the trim in the kitchen, even though we didn’t plan on painting the kitchen right then.  Once I saw how great the family room looked, I couldn’t wait.  We finished up the kitchen walls on Sunday afternoon.

I chose Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray for the walls.  I’m so happy with how it turned out!  Everything looks updated and clean.  There isn’t a lot of wall space in the kitchen, so I’m not sure you can tell much about the color from this photo.  I also kept thinking I would snap a picture when the kitchen was clean and clear of activity.  That never seems to happen though.  I took this one when we were prepping for family to come to dinner.

kitchen 1

3.  Rosemary tree

rosemary tree

Last year I almost bought a little rosemary tree like this, but I passed it up and kept wishing I’d made the purchase.  So the other day when I was passing through Lowe’s and saw a display of them, I put one in the cart right away.  It was only $10 or $12 and it smells amazing.  I love to brush my hand through it when I’m at the sink.  It was worth the small splurge.

What’s working in your kitchen this week?

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – November 23

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Another sheet pan dinner

sheet pan supper

I’ve been really loving sheet pan dinners.  If the meat is thawed out and I have some veggies to roast, this is the perfect meal.  It’s healthy and pretty quick too, especially if you use thin, boneless pork chops.

For this version I used a bag of mixed, frozen root veggies from Costco.  I wasn’t sure how that would turn out, but it worked great.  They held their shape and texture, despite being frozen.  Not quite as good as fresh, but so much quicker.  I added fresh brussels sprouts and a handful of fresh cranberries that were hanging out in the fridge.  Everything got seasoned with salt and pepper and the chops got a generous sprinkle of McCormick Montreal Steak Seasoning.  I love that stuff!

I roasted the frozen veggies and pork chops at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes before adding the brussels sprouts to the pan.  Then I gave it another 15-20 minutes of roasting time.

2.  Packaging matters

hoisin sauce

I usually buy hoisin sauce in a small jar, but the last time I was in the grocery they didn’t have any.  Instead I found it in a bottle.  This is the first time I’ve noticed hoisin in a bottle, but it’s changed the way I use the sauce.  I guess it’s because the bottle reminds me of a soy sauce bottle, but I find myself reaching for it often now.  I’ve added it to fried rice and used it for dipping sauce for potstickers.  I can see using it for meat marinades, topping hot sandwiches and more.

3.  After Thanksgiving family dinner menu

We are hosting Jim’s family on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  I’m really looking forward to it!  Everyone will be here, except our oldest daughter and her husband, but we are planning to skype them in from Bolivia.

I didn’t want to make a classic Thanksgiving dinner, since we all will have just had our fill of that.  Instead I decided on ham, scalloped potatoes, roasted veggies, warm homemade applesauce and rolls.  My youngest is also lobbying for Sweet Pea Casserole.  We’ll top it all off with Kentucky  Chocolate Nut Pie for the Derby.

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration with family and friends!

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3 Things That Work in the Kitchen This Week – November 16

3 Things that work in the kitchen

1.  Saving brain space

The other day I took one minute and printed off the Traditional Weekly Meal Plan for the week of November 16.  I took it to the grocery where I spent 45 minutes shopping for the ingredients.

That night we had 10 Minute French Dip sandwiches and salad.  The next day I put Chicken Enchilada Soup in the slow cooker and let it cook all day.  And I’m all set for the rest of the week too.

The best thing about all of this is it required no real thought or decision making on my part.  I just followed the plan.

If you’d like to save some brain space and get a great deal, click over to take advantage of the sale on Weekly Meal Plans.  Right now you can get a 12 month membership $10 off.  That comes out to just $4.17 per month.  So worth it for all the brain space saved!

Don’t wait though!  The sale ends tomorrow!

icons collage

2.  The solution to the winter tomato.

When I toured the Red Gold farms and canning facilities back in September, someone told me about how she uses canned diced tomatoes during the winter instead of fresh for things like salads and topping tacos.

We decided to try it the other day for tacos and it works great!  The tomatoes have a much better flavor than winter, grocery store tomatoes.  We didn’t use the whole can for the taco topping, so I saved the extra in the fridge and added them to the Chicken Enchilada Soup later in the week.  There’s always something to add diced tomatoes to.

3.  Favorite hot drinks.

Have you seen this article about how Norwegians not only survive winter, but actually enjoy it?  I’m determined to change my attitude regarding winter.  I’ve started lighting candles at night in the family room (I like the battery operated, flameless candles).  I’m focusing on enjoying the cozy feeling of being snuggled in the house with family, rather than dwelling on the fact that it gets dark so early.

Another thing to celebrate about winter is hot drinks.  A mug of something warm feels so comforting when it’s cold outside.

Here are a few of my favorite hot drinks, but I’d love to hear yours too!

  • Earl Gray tea with a splash of vanilla syrup – I’ve heard this called a London Fog
  • Constant Comment tea
  • Steamed Vanilla Milk – hot milk and vanilla syrup, whipped with a small blender (or steamed if you have a steamer)
  • Warm Caramel Apple Drink
  • Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
  • Blender latte – Strong coffee, any flavor of syrup and plenty of hot milk. Pour in to a blender and spin till frothy.

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

 

 

 

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