“Mom, I notice that you’ve been feeding us a lot from cans lately.”
Even in the midst of severe depression, I laughed out loud. She pegged me. It was sad, but true. And quite humorous, actually. Nearly every dinner I prepared for weeks on-end somehow originated from a can. Gross. But easy, especially when you don’t even have the energy to pull yourself out of bed.
Typically, when a person suffers from depression, one of the tell-tale signs is a loss of interest in the things she loves. And for me, one of those things is cooking. Thus, the Can-Feeding Epidemic of 2008. When I’m feeling normal, I absolutely love to cook. And some day when my kids stop being—well, KIDS—I will cook even more.
Maybe I’ll even do something fun with my cooking some day. Like be a personal chef or a nutrition consultant or something. Not a cooking show, though. Mainly, because if you’ve ever been in the kitchen with me, you know that I cannot cook and talk at the same time to save my life. Inevitably, I forget some vital aspect of the dish I’m preparing, and I need to start over or improvise for my mistakes. Plus my kitchen is always a mess. And my face is shiny on camera.
Crock Pot Chili—dump all the ingredients in the Crock Pot and forget about it until dinner time!
This recipe started as a basic chili recipe from my Crock Pot Cookbook. But I’ve made so many modifications to it, I think it’s safe to call it my own now. I don’t know if there’s a rule to that—the number of ingredients you must change to claim rights to creating a recipe. I mean, really, God can technically claim rights to ALL recipes, since He created food. And people. So let’s just say, I got this from God.
Ingredients: (I use as much organic as possible)
3 cans mixed beans (like pinto, kidney and black) or 3 cans of any kind of beans you prefer, drained and rinsed
2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes
1 box of ground beef substitute/meat crumbles (Don’t be afraid of this ingredient. It feels just like beef in the mouth, has almost no fat, no cholesterol and half the calories of ground beef. You won’t be able to tell it’s not meat, I promise.)
I can sweet yellow corn
I small can mild green chilies
1 green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 tbsp chili powder (or more for kick)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
Dump all ingredients in the crock pot and stir well. Cover and cook on LOW for 10 hours or HIGH for 6 hours. At the end of the cooking time, add water to achieve desired consistency. Add additional spices at this time, if necessary.
Delicious alone, or serve topped with shredded Mexican cheese, sour cream or crumbled saltine crackers.
Healthy and Delicious Italian Meatballs, With Marinara and Whole Wheat Spaghetti
My children LOVE pasta and want to eat it several times a week, so I need to think of creative ways to serve it, lest Jon and I go completely crazy. This was a last minute, wing-it sort of recipe yesterday. It went over so well, I had to hurry up and jot it down before I forgot what I put in there!
1 egg beaten
1 piece whole wheat bread, cut or torn into tiny pieces
About 3 tbsp milk
1 lb ground turkey
A handful of crushed potato chips (My mom used to put this in all her meat balls and meat loaves. It adds flavor, texture and moisture to the meat. It’s like a little cup of love.)
A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp dried basil
1 jar marinara sauce (or make your own) I like Newman’s Own.
1 box whole wheat thin spaghetti, cooked according to package directions.
Add milk to bread pieces and stir into beaten egg. In a large mixing bowl, add this mixture and all remaining ingredients (through basil) together. Squish with your hands until thoroughly blended.
With an ice cream scoop, measure out portions of meat mixture and form into balls with your hands. Place in a preheated skillet, which has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cook over medium heat, turning frequently with two forks, until the meatballs are browned on all sides, about 10 minutes (be careful, the meatballs are fragile until they are cooked).
Remove meatballs and all the juice and stir them into a simmering pot of marinara sauce. Cover and cook on low for another 15-20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked all the way through, stirring frequently.
Serve over whole wheat spaghetti, and top with additional grated parmesan. Add a fresh green salad on the side.
Amazingly Festive Chicken Salad
OK…this one is amazing. Thus, the name. I was first inspired to try my hand at chicken salad after trying Trader Joe’s recipe. I make a great imitation of that, by the way. Then, I recently came across Panera’s version. And again, I was inspired. Then I saw a recipe in Health magazine that used plain yogurt in place of some of the mayo…and I just almost peed my pants from excitement.
I volunteered to make chicken salad sandwiches for the teachers at my children’s school tomorrow, so I thought I would create a combo of the three and then add my own touches. The result is simply the best and prettiest chicken salad I’ve ever tasted…or seen.
Please note that I made enough of this for 25 people, so I had to try hard to reduce this recipe to a reasonable portion for you. In other words, it’s pretty safe to say, all measurements are approximate and can be modified to suit your taste. The “amazingly festive” element is in the combination of flavors. This would also be delicious with leftover turkey breast (Thanks to my friend John D. for that suggestion)
1 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper
2 large celery stalks, finely chopped
¼ of a medium-sized sweet onion, finely chopped
½ bag honey roasted, sliced almonds (oh my!)
½ bag sweetened, dried cranberries
1 ½ tbsp dill weed
1 tbsp dried parsley
½ cup plain yogurt
¼ cup mayo made with olive oil
Additional salt and pepper to taste
Cook chicken breasts either of these two ways or use leftover chicken:
1. In a baking dish, place frozen chicken breasts, cover with chicken stock and season liberally with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake for 1 hour in a preheated 350 degree oven.
2. In a crock pot, place frozen chicken breasts, cover with chicken stock and season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook on HIGH for four hours or until chicken pulls apart easily with a fork and is no longer pink.
Cool chicken and cut into cubes.
In a large mixing bowl, add all remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. (look how pretty!)
Serve over a bed of fresh lettuce OR on a whole grain bun OR with whole grain crackers. OR, just stick your fork in there and eat it straight from the mixing bowl.
For the teachers, I’m serving them on whole grain buns with a piece of crisp iceberg lettuce.
If you are looking for other recipes I’ve posted over the years, click here (there’s only six…don’t be scared).