skinnytaste Week 2

This week I tried Cheesy Turkey Taco Chili Mac from skinnytaste. This came together fairly quickly in my Dutch oven. I liked how you use a cup of refried beans in the sauce – the texture and flavor were great. This dinner received high praise: Elliot actually ate it. John and I both like it enough to make again. The leftovers were great the next day, but went downhill quickly after that.

I was also feeling like soup this week, so I made some Chicken Tortilla Soup from the skinnytaste One And Done cookbook. This one was not as well received. The chicken was a little tough (my multicooker seems to cook hotter than an Instant Pot, so I am going to try adjusting cooking times). I am the only one who will eat this soup. Elliot made himself throw up to avoid taking a second bite. I would not recommend this soup.

I bought a multicooker after finding the Cooks Illustrated best buy on sale the day after Christmas. I’ve heard so many things about the Instant Pot I decided to give this multicooker thing a try. Four recipes in the only thing I think it is good for is making hard-boiled eggs that are easy to peel. If you have a multicooker/electronic pressure cooker recipe you love please send it my way. I have buyers remorse, and I would like that to change.

skinnytaste Week 1

This week I tried two new to us skinnytaste recipes. Most weeks it will be hard to try one new recipe, but I have two new cookbooks and it’s the first week of the year, so I’m all sorts of motivated.

The first recipe we tried was Giant Turkey Meatball Parmesan. This recipe is available on her website or her skinnytaste One & Done cookbook. This was a huge hit in our house. Everyone ate it, even Elliot. He rarely tries new food and often goes to bed hungry because he refuses to eat what we are having (we used to make him try everything, but stopped when he started making himself throw up when he didn’t want to try it). We will be making this one again, probably regularly.

The second recipe I tried was Cheesy Jalapeno Popper Stuffed Chicken. I wanted this to be as good as jalapeno poppers. It was not. That could be because I skipped the bacon. I never have poppers with bacon in them, so I thought it wasn’t necessary. I think it needed the saltiness of the bacon to cut through the cream cheese. If I make them again I’ll add the bacon.

This week I’m going to try one of her Instant Pot recipes. I haven’t decided which one yet. If you have any suggestions, please send them my way.

Souper Sunday

It was a beautiful weekend in Des Moines. It was sunny and in the low 70s. Perfect for playing outside. 20180908_1200113724318053747865800.jpgWe visited a park every day. This afternoon we went on a family bike ride to a park for a picnic and play time. Audrey was so excited she didn’t want to take off her helmet to eat. Elliot, meanwhile, refused to eat any food. He was not happy that we made him eat a few bites of chicken before he could run off to the playground.

Tonight, once the kids were tucked in, I got started on dinner for John and me – Pasta e Fagioli. I found the recipe in the latest issue of Cooks Country. Until I read the recipe the only think I knew about pasta fazool is that it was mentioned in the song That’s Amore. This soup is hearty and complex. John even liked it.

The soup is not pretty. I skipped the pancetta and chicken broth and used vegetable broth instead. I found that looking at knitting patterns while eating this soup was a perfect accompaniment. John preferred to pair the soup with buttered toast. To each their own.20180909_203136963013175523699679.jpg

I intended to have an ice cream sundae for dessert, as earlier in the day I made some of my Grandma Runchey’s hot fudge sauce. Sadly, I am too full from soup, so the ice cream will have to wait until tomorrow. 20180909_1443307785815614861291406.jpg

If you are craving a deep chocolate sauce on your ice cream I recommend this recipe. If you are looking for something chocolatey you can have a spoonful of when you have an intense craving for chocolate, I can also recommend this recipe. I use butter instead of oleo, because margarine isn’t my jam. 20180909_1443408989533592918399867.jpg

Well over 20 years ago my sister Mary-Claire gave me a cookbook with family recipes in it. She must have been in Jr. High at the time. I love that I get to see her writing when I make a recipe from the cookbook.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend. I hope your week is filled with delicious food and beautiful weather. Let’s make this week a good one.

Welcome to Souptember

Welcome to September. It doesn’t feel like fall yet, but after all of the running around we did this summer I’m ready to settle back into a routine. Being busy all summer and not wanting to cook in the heat has led to an unused kitchen and a vegetable deficient diet. I want to get back to cooking and eating healthy again. I’ve decided that September will be Souptember in our house. I’m committed to making soup at least once a week. I love soup. No one else in my family does. At the end of this month they will either be converted or I will have had soup for lunch every day. I’m OK with either outcome.

I made one of my favorite soups today: Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup. This spicy soup is filling and reheats well. It does not look pretty, but it tastes pretty great.20180902_1658435685430293364624463.jpg

The recipe is from Rachel Ray’s Veggie Meals. It takes less than a half hour to put together, which means I can throw it together even when I’m in a time crunch.

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup

1 T vegetable oil

1 T butter

1 chopped onion

1 can vegetable broth

1 can diced tomatoes (undrained)

1 can black beans

1 can pumpkin puree

1/2 c heavy cream (I use half and half)

1 1/2 t curry powder

2 t ground cumin

pinch of cayenne pepper

Melt butter into oil over medium heat. Sautee onion until soft. Add broth, black beans, tomatoes, and pumpkin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, add cream and spices. Simmer 5 minutes, or until you can convince your kids to come to the table.

I hope you had a Souper Sunday.

Peaches & Cream Oatmeal

Last weekend, over bland oatmeal at the hotel breakfast, Kathleen and I were waxing poetic about instant oatmeal packets. Sure, they are gluey and loaded with sugar, but in my memory they are amazing.

I wanted to make something that recreated that flavor, but with less sugar and more real food. So this morning I made easy peaches and cream oatmeal.

1 c water

1/2 c rolled oats

1/2 c frozen peach slices

1/4 t cinnamon

2 t brown sugar

1 T half and half or milk or milk substitute

Put water, oats, frozen peaches, and cinnamon in a pan and bring to a simmer. Once the peaches have softened a bit use kitchen shears to cut them into smaller pieces. I suppose you could take them out and do that with a knife, but I found it easier to cut them up in the pot as they simmered away. When the oatmeal is done (I think it is supposed to be 3 minutes, but I usually cook them until the eggs are done or the table is set and it turns out fine), stir in sugar and half and half. 20180821_1025038344897483415556342.jpg

These are as good as the oatmeal that I remember, and they contain a full serving of fruit. The sugar can be adjusted based on  your mood or the sweetness of the fruit you are using. I like that I always have these ingredients on hand, so I can whip it up whenever the mood strikes. I’ll be making it again soon, as Audrey is suddenly a big fan of oatmeal.20180821_102456(0)8158907589725980936.jpg

Dude Dinner

Once a month we have my friend Tim over for dinner. Tim is really easy to cook for. He doesn’t cook, so everything I make impresses him. He is recently divorced and his wife didn’t cook either. I once made crock pot white chicken chili for him and he was impressed (the hardest thing about making that dish is chopping the onion). I love that the bar is low.

Today I decided to really wow him. I made Cook’s Illustrated’s version of Juicy Lucys. A juicy lucy is a cheeseburger with the cheese on the inside. You bite into the burger and cheese oozes out. It’s delicious. It’s also something so bad for us that I only make it once or twice a summer.

At 5 o’clock, as I was getting the kids their dinner I realized I had been so excited about the burgers I didn’t think about the sides. I had nothing planned. I was worried I was going to have to pull a vegetable out of the freezer and pretend it worked with burgers.

Amazingly, my refrigerator provided me with two sides! I had a salad in a bag forgotten in a drawer that somehow wasn’t spoiled (I buy a bagged salad almost every week, I also throw out a spoiled bagged salad almost every week. Will I ever learn?). 20180719_191313421691303129252299.jpg

I decided to throw together some Baja bean and cilantro salad. I have been living off of this all summer. In a shocking turn of events I had cilantro in my produce drawer. I also had 1/4 of a red onion in my fridge, the perfect amount for the salad (also the first time I’ve ever used all of a leftover onion instead of throwing it away a week later). 20180719_1913166680663210320592023.jpg

This salad is easy to throw together, and a great side to bring to a pot luck. It couldn’t be easier to make:

1 can chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
1 can red beans (rinsed and drained)
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1/4 chopped red onion
2 T chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
1/4 c chopped cilantro
Mix that stuff all up. In a measuring cup mix together 1/3 c red wine vinegar and 3 T sugar. Pour it all over the salad. Put it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to meld.
It is good for a week.

The sides were well received by Tim and John, but if I was really being honest I think they would have been fine with a big burger and a few glasses of wine.

Do you ever get so excited about a main dish you forget about the rest of the dinner?