Lately I’ve made some pretty drastic changes in my life. These changes have led to night school, so I’ve had a reconsider how I’m going about cooking. I love to cook, especially dinner. I don’t want to give that up. So, my solution is to become an expert on freezer meals and the slow cooker. You’ll see a change on here, just in that a lot of my recipes will now include freezing options or be crock pot dinners. Luckily, my boyfriend can put the meals in the oven while I’m at school, and I have a delicious dinner to come home to after school. I only have three nights of school each week, so I can make the freezer meals in advance, then not have to worry for the rest of the week. It’s a bit of a daunting task, but the time-saving factor is huge. Sure, I could buy a bunch of frozen dinners, but it’s just not the same as making your own food.
Today’s recipe is a slow cooker one. I love that I can set everything up in the morning, and it’s ready with little prep work. Most of them are hearty meals too- like this one. It comes from Today’s Mama and is so delicious!
- 2 cans diced tomatoes, with juice
- 1 cup onions, diced
- 1 cup carrots, finely chopped
- 1 cup celery, finely chopped
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 Tbs. dried basil
- 1 cup Parmesan
- 2 cups half and half, warmed
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup flour
Place tomatoes, diced onions, chopped carrots, chopped celery, chicken broth and basil in a crock pot. Cook on low 7-8 hours.
Thirty minutes before serving, melt butter in a sauce pan on low. Add flour and create your roux. Stir consistently 5-7 minutes, then add one cup of soup from crock pot. Stir until combined. Add two more cups, then stir again. Add back to crock pot.
Place warmed half and half, Parmesan, salt, pepper and additional basil (as much basil as you want.) Serve with warm French toast. Good, hearty food for your belly!
Freeze leftovers and use later!
When trying to figure out a meal for my recent book club meeting, I was faced with a problem. What on earth do you bring to a meeting where you’re discussing the memoir of a famed New York City chef, Garbrielle Hamilton entitled Blood, Bones and Butter? I finally decided that since the author greatly appreciated simplicity when it comes to food, and spent a good portion of the book in Italy, Caprese Salad was a good choice. I love the simply mix of tomato, mozzarella and basil, combined with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar topping.
Since the book was so heavily focused on food, I wanted my Caprese Salad to be a little different from the traditional. I turned to my trusted website, Pinterest, and found lots of different people doing the salad like this. It’s the perfect portion, and you get all the flavors easily into one bite!
We have a surplus of tomatoes from our garden, so I have been trying to find some creative uses for them outside of the traditional salad. They are so delicious, I want to eat all of them, but it’s hard to find a way to use one everyday- and this is with giving some away to anyone who expresses interest!
Of all the uses for tomatoes I’ve found, this is one of the best so far because it combines the tomatoes with my favorite veggie- avocado! The recipe was originally found at Apron Strings, where they were challenged to make a vegetarian meal. I love eating meatless meals, seafood and avocado, so how could I go wrong here?
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1 tsp. lime zest
- 2 tsp. spicy brown mustard
- 1 Tbs. cilantro, chopped finely
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 avocados
- 1 tomato
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 lb. shrimp
- 1 more Tbs. olive oil
- 1/2 Tbs. paprika
Combine dressing ingredients. Strain to remove lime zest. Chop avocados, tomato and green onions into bite sized pieces. Toss together. To get the shape, I put the salad in individual ramekins, then flipped onto the plate.
In a separate bowl, toss shrimp in olive oil. Coat with paprika. Grill in a skillet on medium until cooked.
As I said yesterday, I am very excited to try out some new recipes with my fresh tomatoes. My friends went out of town this weekend and left me some of their veggies they thought might go bad on their trip, including a delicious looking eggplant. I decided to try to make something that included both ingredients, and it’s a success! I originally found the recipe at Laylita and modified it slightly. Next time I make this will probably be for several people instead of on a lazy Sunday afternoon for myself! I think it would also be good with fresh mozzarella!
- 1 eggplant
- 2 tomatoes
- 2-3 Tbs. olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup Parmesan
- 4 Tbs. mayo
- 2 cloves garlic
- 3 fresh basil leaves, or 1-2 Tbs. dried basil
Slice eggplant and coat with olive oil. Add light salt and pepper to taste. Bake eggplant in oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes. Halfway through baking, flip. After eggplant is done, slice tomato and top each eggplant slice with tomato.
For the creamy topping, place garlic in a food processor. Add basil and continue to chop. I added a drop of olive oil so the fresh basil would chop into smaller pieces. Add mayo and Parmesan and continue to mix. Place a dollop of the mayo mixture on top of each eggplant/tomato stack. Top with more salt and pepper! Garnish with fresh basil leaves.
This salad is healthy, easy and delicious! I got this low-calorie salad from the butter-queen herself, Paula Deen. I made it last night with the Poppyseed Chicken, and it was so good together because it was very light, while the chicken was heavy with cream. I think this would be a great dish to serve a luncheon!
- 2 cucumbers, sliced (as pictured)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- a handful of sliced onion
- 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 Tbs. fresh parsley
- pinch of salt and pepper
Mix all ingredients together. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving.