Crock Pot Whole Freaking Chicken


Just FOUR ingredients to make this delicious dinner!

Just FOUR ingredients to make this delicious dinner!

Hello from South Carolina! This is my first post since relocating to Hilton Head Island and I’m so glad to have my crock pot unpacked and start getting settled in. I don’t know about you, but after eating out for days on end, we start to miss our favorites dishes.

Nothing warms my heart more than hearing my kids ask me to make specific meals. Our first meals when my kitchen “re-opened”? My youngest asked for pasta carbonara (because it’s a good belief in life that bacon makes everything better!). My oldest asked for taco night; hard and soft tortillas are a requirement– it needs to be both or none at all.

But then I got to pick! I wanted something easy to make and easy to clean up. So of course I used my crock pot!

Edible Trivet

Use root vegetables to make an “edible trivet” in the crock pot.

This recipe seriously only has four ingredients. And after a day of low and slow cooking, you can serve a whole freaking chicken.  If you’d like to play with the flavors, try using different root vegetables as the “edible trivet” or rubbing the bird with different seasonings.  By perching the bird on top of the veggies, the meat won’t be soaking in liquid while it is cooking and the drippings with flavor the meat with all the delicious goodness.

Other recipes recommend rubbing the skin with oil or butter, like you would if you baked the chicken in the oven, but I disagree. The skin is not going to really crisp in the crock pot, so the added calories of the lube are really not necessary.

When you try this recipe at home, please post it to the Dinner Is A Crock Facebook page and let us know how you tweaked the recipe to make it your own!

Crock Pot Whole Freaking Chicken

Time: 6-8 hours

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 6

3-4 lb whole chicken, skin on, giblets removed

6 whole carrots, peeled

1 sweet onion, quartered

1 T Mrs. Dash salt-free seasoning mix

Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water and then pat dry with paper towels. Shake the Mrs. Dash seasonings on the outside of the chicken and also on the inside. Wash your hands. Arrange the carrots on the bottom of the crock pot like you are making an edible trivet. Then add the onions as additional perches. Place the bird on top of the vegetables and make sure the lid sits comfortably on top of the crock pot. If the lid doesn’t sit flat, adjust the veggies under the bird until it fits better. Be cautious as you reconfigure the lid and the contents so that you are not contaminating the handles with raw chicken juices. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove bird carefully and carve. The vegetables also make a delicious side dish!




Crock Pot Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers


Make your holiday table a little brighter with these beautiful stuffed bell peppers!

Make your holiday table a little brighter with these beautiful stuffed bell peppers!

My favorite season is sunshine. I don’t really care what month of the year it actually is… if the sun is beaming and I can feel the warmth on my face then it’s my favorite season, for sure.  Fall brings lots of sunshine– and rain– and over programming of school functions, sports, travels, holidays, and chaos. That’s why I desperately need that sunshine to keep me warm and happy! 🙂

Since days like today have a full agenda and to do list, I’m taking advantage of leftovers in my fridge and making an easy low-fat crock pot meal that we can all sit down to as soon as we get home from today’s events.  It’s tempting to drive through or order delivery when the day is so full already… but I’d rather have dinner ready in the crock pot and just get home, sit down, and eat. Sure, there are a few dishes to do after the kids go to bed, but it’s so much healthier and less crazy for me to plan ahead and just have it done and ready to go.

Crock Pot Stuffed PeppersWe ate stuffed peppers pretty often growing up. I like the simplicity of meat and veggies and it is a great way to use up leftover rice. I can also totally sneak in extra veggies because it’s really like a pretty pepper stuffed with a huge meatball! You can either cut the bell peppers in half or just cut the crown off and stuff them whole and standing up. I make that decision based on the shapes/sizes of the peppers and how they will fit best in my crock pot. If I use the whole pepper, I like to use this insta pot or one that is more vertical… but if I’m cutting them in half, then this is definitely the one to use.

My kids like the filling, but not the peppers, so when I make this at home I save half of the filling and bake it in a loaf pan instead of stuffing it into peppers for the crock pot. I don’t usually like to make two separate meals for dinner… but if I give them the stuffed peppers they just eat the middle out and leave the fleshy and bright veggie to throw out. That makes me sad! So I have compromised and bake it separate for them to eat.


Crock Pot Ground Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 5-6 hours

Serves: 6

6 medium bell peppers (red, yellow, orange, or green)

1 lb. ground turkey

2 c. cooked white rice

1 c. diced sweet onion

1/2 c. shredded carrot

1/2 c. canned corn kernels, drained

2 T. tomato paste

8 oz. can of tomato sauce

2 T. brown sugar

Cut the tops off of the peppers and pull out seeds and pithy parts. In a separate bowl, mix the meat and veggies. Form into balls and fill the peppers; the meat can be pressed in firmly. In another bowl, mix the tomato paste and sauce with the brown sugar, then pour the mixture over the tops of the peppers. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.




Crock Pot Tom Kha Soup


Crock Pot Tom Kha SoupA few years ago, I published this watered down version of my favorite Thai soup. I was just learning to experiment with Thai cooking and didn’t have access to the necessary ingredients for this recipe, so I made it with the closest things I could find.  That recipe was FINE. It satisfied my craving for this delicious chicken and coconut milk soup, but I recently decided that I wanted to up the ante and do it correctly, with the legit ingredients. I accepted my own challenge and I’m thrilled with the results. The old version tasted good, no doubt. But this recipe tastes AUTHENTIC.

Thai basil is not the same as regular basil- make sure you grab the correct ingredient!

Thai basil is not the same as regular basil- make sure you grab the correct ingredient!

I can’t really explain what makes this soup so good, other than it’s ingredients I don’t usually cook with at home. Please use fresh herbs, it makes all the difference. You can find fresh lemongrass and Thai basil at some grocery stores and at many international grocery markets. Thai basil is not the same as regular basil- make sure you grab the correct ingredient!

I am blessed to have an amazing neighbor that is gifted with a green thumb; she shares fresh herbs with me and I, in turn, share the foods with her. It’s a great exchange and I am grateful for her friendship. I am envious of her ability and patience to garden and someday, I’ll be motivated to do more than just putting fresh herbs into mason jars on my bay window!

Try this recipe and see how it compares to your favorite local Thai restaurant. You might figure out that eating at home is just as good, if not fresher and better!

Crock Pot Tom Kha Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 5 hours

Serves: 4

2 c. vegetable or chicken broth

1 13.5 oz can coconut milk

1 12″ stalk fresh lemongrass, greens removed; bruise the stalk and then cut into 3″ sections

1 2″ fresh ginger root, peeled and slice into 6 quarter-sized slices

1/2 lb fresh oyster mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks

1 T. fish sauce

1 t. sugar

1 T. fresh lime juice

1 t. Thai chili paste

1/4 c. fresh kaffir lime leaves

1/4 c. fresh Thai basil leaves

1/4 chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1 lime, cut into wedges

Put all ingredients except cilantro and lime wedges into crock pot and stir. Cook on low for 5 hours. Before serving, remove all kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil leaves, and lemongrass stalks (optional to remove ginger slices, too).  When serving, add chopped fresh cilantro leaves and lime wedge on top. Serve with bowl of white rice.




Crock Pot Winter Vegetable Soup


Crock Pot Winter Vegetable Soup is the comfort of home served in a cup.

Crock Pot Winter Vegetable Soup is the comfort of home served in a cup.

You’ll often hear me say that food isn’t just about sustenance, but also satisfaction. Entertainment. Emotion. Nutritionists focus on the content of food.  Dietician focus on the balance of food.  But when I sit down to eat– or more importantly– serve a meal to family and friends, it’s about the experience and the memories we create around the table. Your food will be through your system in less than 24 hours, but the feeling you had when eating it will last a lifetime.

That’s how I feel about this soup. It’s based on a recipe my mom used to make when I was a kid. We ate dinner as a family, almost every night. It’s just what we did. And we didn’t do it in front of a television or on the run, but it was quick and easy meals and meant to create an atmosphere for conversation.

Mom’s meals were much like this one– a basic recipe with few ingredients that when combined received minimal complaints! We called it winter vegetable soup because nothing really is fresh during an Ohio winter. She could keep all of these items on hand and whip this meal up in about half an hour. I prefer to cook it low and slow, of course, and add a few more seasonings. But overall, it’s the comfort of home in a cup.

Crock Pot Winter Vegetable Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 hours

Serves: 8

2 12 oz. packages frozen vegetables- broccoli, cauliflower and carrot combination

1 32 oz. box of vegetable broth

3 T. butter

1 t. minced garlic

1/2 cup crock pot caramelized onions (or substitute 1/2 sweet onion, diced)

1/2 t. each: dill weed, celery seed, basil, parsley, salt, black pepper (ALL DRIED SEASONINGS)

1/4 c. corn starch

3 cups cold milk (2% or whole is preferred)

Pour frozen vegetables into crock pot, followed by broth, butter, garlic, onions and seasonings. DO NOT ADD CORN STARCH OR MILK YET. Cook on high for four hours. In a separate bowl, dissolve corn starch into COLD milk and then add to crock pot. Cook on high for another hour. Soup will have thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste preference.

 




Dinner Is A Crock: The Kitchen Renovation


stove updateThank you for following my kitchen renovation, week by week! If you started following from the beginning, you might remember my boring almond and oak colored kitchen.  Actually, you probably don’t. I hid most of it from pictures and only showed you the edges of my Pfaltzgraff dishes.  So we gutted it. Like, down to the subfloor. And now we’ve spent the last three months rebuilding it into this beautiful, functional, spacious kitchen. Don’t be fooled… it’s the same square footage it was before, but the landscape is so much more welcoming and the storage is accessible and workable.

In WEEK ONE, we did demolition. It was like free therapy, we took our aggressions out on every wall. While it was intimidating to start, it was actually pretty easily and required a minimal amount of tools.

In WEEK TWO, we celebrated Thanksgiving by installing our hardwood floors. This was a fun challenge that required a little booze, a lot of manpower, and no guests for the holiday! And yes… I crock potted our Thanksgiving dinner.

Fridge areaWEEKS THREE AND FOUR were exciting because our cabinets arrived early. I was naive enough to think that meant that the kitchen would be done three weeks early. NOPE. That’s not how it really works.

I was also reminded how thankful I am that my boys are good eaters. This whole process included meticulous meal planning and a balance between crock pot cooking, fresh produce, and easy microwave foods. Not everything was healthy, but not every decision is life-changing… sometimes a meal just has to be filling and easy. Ramen noodles are still food, just ask any college student!

I would be happy to forget about WEEK FIVE. I shared with you my meals each night in hopes that we could all forget about that horrible incident with that undesirable creature.  Pretty sure I’m going to have nightmares again now, thanks to myself.

Bay windowA lot of progress happened quickly in WEEKS SIX THROUGH EIGHT, but then it came to a halt.  Cabinets were installed, electric was run, plumbing was prepped and then countertops were measured. And then because the quartz needed cut, we had to update and wait.

I tried to be patient, I really did. But caffeine sometimes prevents that virtue from shining! I was anxiously waiting for the install, and every day of waiting seemed like a thorn, but ultimately it really wasn’t an extended time at all.

WEEK NINE was the culmination of everything. Except for one day of snow that slowed our progress, this week was crazy! Electric. Plumbing. Tile. Countertops. HVAC. Paint. Amazon Prime delivery! Oh my! My dream kitchen became a reality. Like, legit reality. I can cook and clean and start creating again– new recipes, new posts, new video, and even new cooking classes (locally only, but please reach out if you are interested in having me as a guest speaker!).

Crock Pot CookingThanks so much for your support in this new adventure! Let me help you save time and cook slower.

 

 




Renovation, Week 9: The Finale


I am pleased to present the new Dinner Is A Crock kitchen! It’s been months of hard work, intense labor, and intricate planning, but I am thrilled to welcome you to my home and get back to creating new and exciting recipes to share.

Week NINE– let’s break it down and see how the transition unfolded…

Tuesday: Carolina Custom Surfaces did a beautiful job installing my new countertops on a very cold day. The guys were courteous and skilled. I love it when people show up to work but take a minute to just step back and admire the progress before they begin. This isn’t just an office, this is my home, too.  I appreciated that the guys asked me my opinion, like on faucet preferences, and even had great recommendations for counter cleaners (they totally recommended THIS and THIS to keep my quartz clean and pretty.)

Countertops

Even the sun wanted to catch a glimpse of my new countertops from Carolina Custom Surfaces!

My counters were installed perfectly, my house was kept clean, and my kitchen is one step closer to complete. They did such a good job that I’m starting to think about using Carolina Custom Surfaces to update the bathrooms and get a few custom cutting boards!  (TACOS FOR DINNER USING MY LAST BATCH OF FROZEN COOKED TACO MEAT)

 

Wednesday: My cabinet installer came by this morning to finish up some last little details. Any man that wants to bring me a crown is fine by me… even if it’s just the molding to go up against the ceiling. 🙂

This afternoon, the tile backsplash was installed under cabinets behind where the hood will go. The subway has never looked this good.

What a difference in the dimensions of the room with the refraction of sunlight from the tile and countertop! I feel shiny and pretty. (BOLOGNA SANDWICHES AND CROCK POT TOMATO SOUP FOR DINNER.)

 

Such a dreamy sight!

Such a dreamy sight!

Thursday: Today was all about regaining functionality. After nine weeks, I think I am most excited to have running water in the kitchen again! Yes, I realize that I had it in other places in the house, but I am so done with washing dishes in the basement bathroom! (SHOUT OUT TO MY HUBBY SINCE HE DID MOST OF THE DISHWASHING!!) My sink and dishwasher are up and running. And– so are my electrical outlets! I can plug it to a gazillion different places now, so you can anticipate seeing crockpots lining the kitchen at some point in the near future. Haha! (GRILLED CHICKEN AND KALE BURGERS AND FRESH ZUCCHINI TONIGHT…AND A FEW OTHER THINGS IN PREPARATION FOR THE SNOW TOMORROW!)

 

Friday: Oh snow, you ruined my perfect finale. But we made it so close! Kudos to Piedmont Natural Gas  for braving the roads and still coming to install my range today. I’m super impressed with your commitment to deliver and follow-through for your patient (and slightly crazy) customers. It’s in! I’m good! Just one more thing to go. (CROCK POT POTATO SOUP FOR DINNER AND A GARDEN SALAD. NOTHING TOO EXCITING.)

Shout out to Primo Water-- love that my family drinks and cooks with this clean and refreshing bottled water.

Shout out to Primo Water– love that my family drinks and cooks with this clean and refreshing bottled water.

I also want to give a shout to to Primo Water— I actually designed the cabinets around my refrigerator to house the bottom-loading water cooler. I love it for easy access to clean water! I use it for hot tea at least once a day. My boys go to it all day for cold water (or room temperature, depending what your teeth prefer!). I also feel good cooking with it. With all the crazy stories on the news right now about tainted water, I feel really good about getting big jugs of Primo for my family instead of tap water. (The bottles are easy to exchange at places like Harris Teeter, Kroger, Lowe’s Home Improvements, etc.)

 

Monday: (I’m playing Pomp and Circumstance music as I type this…) The hood has been installed and it’s like fireworks going off in here. Not like electric short-circuiting or anything like that, but like we’ve reached the culmination of this project and the applause is going wild. Unicorns are seen jumping in the backyard and leprechauns are scurrying around stocking my fridge. Ok… maybe not quite. But when my LG oven reaches full temperature, it does actually play a cute little ditty, so that will have to do for now. (DINNER TONIGHT: ROASTED CHICKEN AND ROASTED BRUSSEL SPROUTS! ROASTED, PEOPLE! LIKE, IN AN OVEN!!)

There are some small details to still finish (like painting the bay window), but overall, I could not be more thrilled with THIS:

 

Check out this beautiful panoramic of the new kitchen with all of the upgrades.

Thank you for staying with me on this adventure! I hope it’s helped provide some guidance and guilty pleasure of commiserating with me through these 10 weeks. I can’t wait to share new recipes with you very soon! #nokitchennoproblem… it’s time to save time and cook slower. Welcome to the new and improved Dinner Is A Crock!

 




Crock Pot Pulled Pork Tenderloin


Fall is almost here… Starbucks is already is serving up pumpkin spice lattes and football seasons have officially started, that means the weather should start to cool off, even here in the South, and the leaves should start to change.

Crock Pot Pulled Pork TenderloinI love making pulled pork, but everyone likes their BBQ sauce a little different, usually depending where you live. THIS ONE IS MY FAVORITE. Some like it sweet and smoky, some like it vinegar-based, and others (like my kids) just want to top every kind of meat with ketchup. Yes, that actually happens in my house, but at least they are eating protein, right?!

So this recipe is a great SIMPLE way to make pulled pork in the crock pot and then you can decorate it however the hell you want! It’s a great meal for football parties, tailgates, birthday parties, and all other fall festivities. Throw it in before you go pick that perfectly round pumpkin. Decorate your table with pretty leaves and then serve a bowl of this deliciousness for the table of fall fans to devour. I don’t care how you eat it, it’s easy to make and easy to eat. Isn’t that the point?!

You won’t believe that this is only three ingredients. Here’s the catch– not all crockpots cook at the same temperature, so watch the meat the first time you make this and don’t let it dry out. Your meat will release enough juices to let it cook low and slow without any excess. But if your cooker is too hot, it will scorch the meat and dry it out. Don’t do that. ONLY COOK THIS RECIPE ON LOW. LOW, I SAY!

Happy Fall. Yay Football! Pass that caffeinated cup of fake gourd goodness.

Crock Pot Pulled Pork Tenderloin

Serves 4-6

1.5 lb pork tenderloin (a little more or less is ok too)

1 large gala apple, sliced into 1/3 inch strips, skins left on

1/2 sweet onion, sliced the same thickness as the apples

After cooking for 6 hours on LOW, use two forks to easily shred the meat.

After cooking for 6 hours on LOW, use two forks to easily shred the meat.

Put all ingredients in crock pot. Cook on low for 6 hours. ONLY ON LOW. Then, using two forks, shred the meat in the crockpot and stir the apples and onions throughout. Top with your favorite BBQ sauce and serve on squishy white bread buns accompanied by bread and butter pickles or coleslaw.

 




Crock Pot Back To School Breakfasts


This dish is a perfect weekend breakfast!

This dish is an easy overnight breakfast for those early weekday mornings.

We are almost a month into school, some of you are just starting out post-Labor Day, and I’m pretty sure we can all agree that mornings are rough!  (BTW- If I have to see one more picture on social media of some super mom decorating chalkboard coated cookie sheets announcing the new grade and “what I want to be when I grow up”, I’m seriously going to get one of those old school bumper stickers that said “my kid beat up your honor student”.)

Sorry about that rant, I digress easily… back to the recipes! I celebrate my crock pot by cooking breakfast overnight so that in the morning, I can just scoop up a bowl of goodness or maybe throw it into a thermos for a hot lunch at school.  It’s even easier to manage that pouring a bowl of cereal and remembering to buy milk.

Here are a few ideas to try to alleviate the stress from your morning routine. Let’s not be ugly before coffee and the school bus arrive!

Crock Pot Cherry Pie Oatmeal

Crock Pot Purple Oatmeal

Crock Pot Fruity Oatmeal

Crock Pot Escalloped Apples

Crock Pot Grits

Crock Pot Blueberry Cobbler

Crock Pot Tapioca Pudding

What are your favorite ways to make it through the school morning routine??




Summer Series, Day Two: Crock Pot Steamed Summer Vegetables


Roll out of bed and out onto the hammock as the sun rises and crests over the ocean and dunes.

Roll out of bed and out onto the hammock as the sun rises and crests over the ocean and dunes.

The sun was beaming in the window when I finally opened my eyes this morning. I had to look around for a minute and remember there wasn’t school or camp or work or anything to rush off to this morning. Today’s to do list included the pool and the beach. I was pretty sure I could accomplish those tasks so I rolled back off to sleep as the sun soared into the sky and the light in the room subdued. Granted, it was only another hour or so before my kids were knocking at the door and ready for breakfast, but I awoke again with a great calm and a readiness for an adventure.

One thing doesn’t change no matter where I sleep– my desperate need for coffee in the morning. Lucky for me, Ooh La La‘s kitchen was totally equipped. Every appliance (COFFEE POT AND KEURIG!) needed was readily available and the cabinets were full of the comforts of home– not just dishes and cups, but tupperware, travel mugs, grill tools, fruit baskets. I was completely at home even though I was still uncaffeinated!

After an easy breakfast, I skipped off to the grocery store, categorized list in hand. Oh, you missed that in the last post? HERE YOU GO. But whoa— I must warn you… the grocery store was full of crazy people without a plan. It was like playing Supermarket Sweep but with a Hunger Games approach. Despite my greatest organization, it still took longer than anticipated to get through the store, but the good news is that everything I needed was in stock.  Since I brought all of my basics and non-perishables with me, I didn’t really need the aisles, just a lap around the perimeter of the store.

Crock Pot Steamed Vegetables are a great was to create a healthy and seasonal side dish.

Crock Pot Steamed Summer Vegetables are a great was to create a healthy and seasonal side dish.

While I know that I’ll be at the local Farmer’s Market on Tuesday, I still needed some produce today. We were planning on a BBQ tonight with hamburgers and hot dogs, so I decided that I would steam some veggies in the crock pot as my side. The good news was that the store also had great little packages of fresh herbs and I totally stocked up.

The groceries and prep work for dinner tonight took just over an hour and then it was off to the pool! The house seriously has it’s own swimming pool. I want to live here. Like, not just this week, but from here on out. The pool is just big enough for all the kids and grown ups to get in and play. The youngest played on the stairs mostly and the oldest kept trying to see if his cannonball could splash over the fence. Oh wait– you thought I meant my oldest kid? Nope, that was my husband trying to tsunami the pool!

Sand dunes in the Outer Banks help protect these narrow islands from harsh weather.

Sand dunes in the Outer Banks help protect these narrow islands from harsh weather.

After the pool and a light lunch we crossed over the sand dunes to the beach. There is something about the waves that is so cathartic. I feel such peace at the waves, listening to them crash and then pull everything negative away.  There is something that reaches my soul when I stand at the waves and realize I have to relinquish all control. I can’t make them stop. I can’t make them crash. I can’t protect my sand castle or demand that the water fill the mote. I can just breathe and trust that none of it is my handiwork and that the water will continue to rise and fall and I don’t have to do anything. Much like dinner tonight– there is nothing left to do but breathe and enjoy.

 

 

Crock Pot Steamed Summer Vegetables

Serves 6-8

4 zucchini, quartered lengthwise

1 lb asparagus, rinsed and woody ends removed

1 package button mushrooms (doesn’t matter what size package, they are mushrooms, they’ll fit!)

6-8 twigs of fresh thyme

3-4 twigs of fresh rosemary

1 c. water

Layer vegetables and fresh herbs in the crock pot so the flavors are infused throughout the dish.

Layer vegetables and fresh herbs in the crock pot so the flavors are infused throughout the dish.

Layer vegetables and herbs in the crockpot– I put in zucchini first, then 2-3 sprigs thyme; add asparagus and a couple sprigs of rosemary; then the mushrooms and the remaining seasonings. Pour in the cup of water around the edges so that the water covers the bottom of the crock pot. The vegetables will release enough additional liquid to continue the cooking process. Cook on low for 4 hours, then serve. You can remove the herbs or use them as garnish.

 

 

 




Cool Tools


I’ve been playing with a bunch of new kitchen tools and wanted to share them with you. PROS– they do exactly what I need them to accomplish. CONS– they really only do one trick each, so it’s annoying to try and store them all in an organized way. But seriously– I love kitchen gadgets! And if it’s something that makes what I do easier?! That’s a total win.

I’ve been particularly interested lately in cool tools that my kids can use, too. I worry that they are so spoiled by home-cooking that I have totally ruined them to someday become functional adults and helpful spouses. Maybe that’s a little extreme, but I want them to appreciate and enjoy what I cook for them and also be able to cook for themselves.

So here is a short list and some links for my favorite new purchases:

Pro-Apple Peeler. This gadget suctions to your countertop and easily swirls around pretty much any size apple. I’ve even used it for redskin potatoes! My kids can set it up and use it, no problem. They are funny– one kid likes apple skins and then other likes peeled apples– this machine deserves applause in our house.

 

The Hands-Free Baggie-Rack is pure genius. I don’t know about you, but I do most of my cooking by myself. When I want to bag up ingredients, especially soups, it is so hard! I like to freeze broth-based soups in plastic bags because I can fill the bag and lay it flat in the freezer; when they are frozen solid, I can stand them up like books on a bookshelf. I also use this when I make hard-boiled eggs. I like to peel all the eggs at once and then store them in a bag instead of a plastic container.

 

I use my Immersion Hand Blender at least a couple times a week. We use it for smoothies, creamy soups, mashed potatoes, pancakes and just about anything else that needs to be smooth. It is so much less cleanup than using a full blender or stand-up mixer. I want less fuss and more doing with pretty much anything I am using. Don’t you?!

 


I’ve posted a couple recipes recently that suggest using a rack, or trivet, in the crock pot to keep the meat elevated from the liquid. I used in my Crock Pot Pork and Prunes and I also use it when I roast a whole chicken!

 

Sometimes I like to read cookbooks for inspiration or to learn a new approach about putting foods together, so I have two recommendations for you. They are COMPLETE OPPOSITES, but both worthy reads.

I have been reading Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F*ck and literally cracking up laughing out loud. It is crass and mouthy and absolutely real life. The entire cookbook is meat-free (not my typical style) because they want to motivate cleaner eating and while you may be asking “hold the f*ck up, where the meat?” they assume that “the last thing anybody needs in another book coming out telling you how to cook meat. Clearly you got that sh*t on lock”.  This book is entertainment and amazing recipes and here’s the kicker– it teaches you HOW to cook, not just giving instructions and ingredients. You’ll find yourself not only reading it for fun, but learning that “eating real, healthy food” doesn’t need to be “a big f*cking deal”.

I’ve also been learning how to Eat Happy. This book is the recipe for a healthy life. It doesn’t have the glossy pictures that you might anticipate in a cookbook, but has great explanations and education about what we should eat and why. It does have a great section of 50+ recipes with new ideas like buckwheat crepes (yum!) and bison meatloaf.  The lessons in this book are helpful– I feel empowered to move away from any processed foods and pick foods based on their benefits, not just their taste.  As the author states, “unfortunately for your health, the actions that are best for corporate profitability are all too often the worst for your health”. I want to focus on keeping me, as in MY BODY, in business– it’s the best investment I can make.

 

So there you go– a few of my favorite things that I’ve added to my kitchen. I’m learning more and more everyday about what works, what doesn’t, and what helps me in the kitchen. Eating well and feeding others should be about food that tastes good, is good for you, and doesn’t destroy your kitchen in the process of making it! Get a few cool tools and get organized. Let’s go!