Hate to Cook?

I used to hate to cook, too. My “cooking” pretty much consisted of boxed mac and cheese, Hamburger Helper, and every once in a while, I’d try chili or soup. Enter Doctors Wellness Center and my nutritionist, Traci, as well as a new way of life.

The early days were especially tough. My pantry was bare – I was at the grocery store four or five times a week. My kitchen lacked even the most basic tools, no good pots, decent knives, handy little gadgets. It seems like every week I was making another major purchase for the kitchen. In addition to having all of that stacked against me, I just barely knew how to boil water, much less chop, cut, dice and puree.

Things are much better now; it’s amazing how far I’ve come. And as I’ve acquired the right tools, learned by doing and gotten some kitchen experience under my belt, I find that I don’t hate to cook anymore. (I don’t always have enough time to cook as much as I need to, but that’s another issue I’m working on!)

How I wish I had seen this post from Summer Tomato back then! It gives 10 reasons people hate to cook and what they can do about it. Check it out! Whether you hate to cook or just need some encouragement, this will be a great resource for you!

A New Recipe for the 4th

This morning is a “cool” 78-degrees, so I got up early and did my oven cooking before it got too hot. (I just don’t have it in me to cook when it’s 95 degrees!)

This morning, I tried a new “Meatless Monday” recipe: Wild Rice Black-Eyed Pea Patties. They are pretty good, and will be much better when I fix them up and add some good sides.

Next was an old favorite, Walnut Crusted Chicken. Made two batches: one for this week, one for the freezer.

Oven off, and now taking a break to watch the closing arguments for the Casey Anthony trial. In a bit, I’ll take on a few non-oven dishes!

 

Will Seriously Make My Life Easier

This afternoon, I finally organized my food storage cabinet!

Before

After

This will help me a lot in my quest to eat better. The big key to success for me is planning, which means cooking healthy food and packaging it conveniently. Being more organized can only help!

As you can see, there’s some new stuff in there: Rubbermaid Easy Find Lids. LOVE these, and after I got mine, they also came out with a glass version. I ordered two 5-piece sets from Amazon, but they also have them locally at Publix, Wal-Mart, etc.

I’m excited to start the week with this done! (It’s the little stuff, folks, the little stuff!)

Google in the Kitchen

Thank goodness for Google! Look at all I’ve learned from Google, just in the last few weeks! Almost as good as Gramma!

Bread Crumb Equivalents to Bread Slices

Can you freeze quiche?

Can you freeze quinoa?

Cut corn off the cob before or after cooking it?

How to Cube a Mango

How to “Grill” in the Oven

How to Peel a Mango

How to Roast Asparagus

How to Roast a Sweet Potato

 

 

I LOVE This Quiche!

I can’t quite call it my own, as this recipe includes bits and pieces from a bunch of recipes, but it is GOOD!

Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked (I use Minute Ready to Serve because it’s fully cooked)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 c mozzarella cheese, 2%

Sneaky Chef Make Ahead White Puree Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 small to medium zucchini, peeled and rough chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1-2 tablespoons water, if necessary

Filling Ingredients:

Crust Directions:

  1. Mix together cooked rice, egg and cheese.
  2. Spread evenly to cover 9-in baking pan/dish. Press down evenly.
  3. Bake rice crust at 350 F for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven.

Filling Directions:

  1. Mix together: eggs, milk, cheese, white puree, salt, pepper
  2. Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes, or until set.
  3. Remove from oven, and let sit ten minutes before slicing, if serving fresh; or wrap pie pan, label and freeze.
  4. Quiche can be served cold after thawing for a yummy hot weather treat; or heat the thawed quiche at 350 F for 20 minutes.

 

Sunday in the Kitchen

Finally, a relatively quiet Sunday – plenty of time to get some things done!

I start out by saying that I missed having Sunday as my one skip day at the gym! Thursday, I had a fasting blood test in the morning and a meeting at night, so I made that my skip day. I love having Sunday as a skip day as it allows me an entire day at the house. But, it got me out to run an errand or two before my exercise.

So, here’s just a sampling of what I did today:

  1. Made a double batch of Broccoli Quinoa Pilaf (added beans, too): one batch for the week, the other for the freezer.
  2. Cut and prepared a fresh pineapple.
  3. Made homemade whole grain pizza dough: froze half, made mini pizzas from the other half. Six pizza lunches in the freezer.
  4. Froze four meal size and six snack size taco soups for “emergencies,” such as don’t wanna cook, too late to cook or no time to pack lunch mornings.
  5. Cooked a brown rice crust quiche for dinner and the rest of the week.
  6. Peeled, cubed and roasted sweet potatoes to add to the frozen veggie mixes I bought. (When eaten with sweet potatoes, nearly any vegetable is more palatable.)
  7. Prepared the steamed veggies
  8. Put all of the flattened cardboard boxes stacked in the kitchen in my car for drop-off recycling center.
  9. Packed paper grocery bags in the car for Tuesday co-op pick up.
  10. Washed two loads of dishes so I can start the week with an empty sink and dishwasher! (Vital to my sanity!)

And these weren’t in the kitchen, but things that needed to be done:

  1. Washed a couple loads of clothes
  2. Cleaned a few things off of the porch. Our screened back porch is a little cluttered, and I want to clear it to use as a little getaway for my morning coffee.
  3. Weeded the rose garden and jotted a list for our fab yard man to tackle.
  4. Cleaned out the litter box (ugh!)
  5. Worked out.
  6. Changed my bed clothes.
  7. Fueled and washed the car.

I haven’t had this productive a Sunday in months, and it feels awesome! Ready for the week and upcoming long weekend!

This Weekend’s Recipes

The freezer was getting a little bare this week, so I stepped it up in the kitchen! Here are links to the recipes I used this weekend.

Barbell Burgers (A Sneaky Chef fave of mine. Cook and crumble one of these into a half-cup of brown rice – quick and easy meal!)

Brown Rice Pie Crust (used to make mini-quiches)

Zesty Black Bean Soup: (Sister said that this was her new favorite soup; it was quite good.)

All About Easy in the Kitchen: Two Fave Cleaning Products

I’m not trying to get ads on this blog, nor am I paid by these companies, but there are two products that I can’t live without in the kitchen: Cascade Complete and Dawn Power Dissolver.

Cascade Complete All-in-1 Action Pacs really get dishes clean, even when you wait a day or so before washing. I try to rinse the dishes before I put them in the dishwasher. But this morning, I added a coffee cup with lipstick around the topĀ  and when it came out, the lipstick was gone. I’ve never known any dishwasher product to do that, so I was impressed.

The real performer is Dawn Power Dissolver. Spray this on a messy pan or one with burnt-on food – which I experience a lot as someone new in the kitchen – let it do it’s thing for 15-30 minutes and voila – it wipes clean. I first purchased this about two years ago, and it was available at both Wal-Mart and Publix, but then it went away. I ordered 10 bottles online, and just ran out this week. I was THRILLED to see that it’s back at Wal-Mart, and today, bought the last seven bottles they had. It’s that good. I refuse to cook without having a good supply on hand.

 

Things I Have Learned

I’m still learning in the kitchen! Here are more things that I wish someone had told me:

  • If you hold an unlit match in your teeth when you chop an onion, your eyes won’t burn.
  • Meyer lemons are better than regular ones, and a million times better for juice than those plastic lemons in the produce section.
  • An immersion blender is a must for anyone who makes soup. Seriously awesome tool! Thanks again to Erin for this suggestion; it’s life-changing in the kitchen!
  • Recipes don’t always turn out well or look the same asthey do in the cookbook (or in my case, online)

Sunday in the Kitchen

Ahh, I’ve gotten to where I actually look forward to spending Sunday in the kitchen!

On tap for today?

  • Whole Wheat Pita Pizzas with Carrot Puree, Spinach and Roasted Broccoli (great for lunches, Meatless Monday)
  • Quinoa Turkey Meatloaf
  • Beet Chips (hope third try is a charm – gotta quit burning these!)
  • Crunchy Black Beans
  • Green Drink (make enough for the week on Sunday)
  • Kale Chips (they store well in a glass container in the ‘fridge)

Review to come on the meatloaf!