Hi, my name is Gwen, and I’m addicted to avocado pudding.  Since making my first new breakfast on Friday, I have made the avocado pudding three more times.

Avocado pudding...with eggs!  (Sorry for the pic quality)

Like with eggs! (phone pic, sorry!)

If you’re wondering whether this is also Picky-Eater-Approved, I am happy to report that Mr. Little Fish really liked it!  He was skeptical of the avocado pudding by itself, saying only that it was “interesting,”  but when I topped it with the granola, he was kind of amazed at how well it all worked together and agreed with me that it was weirdly really good. (Sidebar: I also ended up making the polenta breakfast bake this week, but am underwhelmed with the results.  After browsing the comments, I see this was a common thing, so I will probably not be making this again, but I do feel good that I’ve made 3 out of the 5 new recipes I posted about last week.)

In other news, this week was my birthday week (yay me!).  That, coupled with a few really busy days at work, means that I have been slightly behind in this week’s Cooking Cure, which focuses on lunch (Days 6, 7, and 8‘s assignments here, which essentially ask you to repeat everything you did for breakfast week).  Lunch is probably one of the hardest meals of the day to master. It’s usually the main time of the day that you are away from home and thus actually have to, you know, plan.  Some weeks I’m more successful at this than others.  

My main secret to lunch? Dinner.  I am generally not a huge fan of making things I don’t immediately plan on eating.  In fact, it’s safe to say that Leftovers and I have had a pretty rocky relationship.  While Leftovers tried his hardest to woo me, I stubbornly refused to acknowledge his existence.  Rather than just letting him waste away in my fridge, I tried to match-make with friends and family, and it would let me off the hook temporarily, but eventually I’d find myself face to face with him again. And the more I cooked, the more my meetings with Leftovers were inevitable. Eventually I stopped resisting Leftovers, and we hit it off. One day, it clicked–I’d found The One (sorry Little Fish).  And I’ve embraced Leftovers ever since.  In fact, I plan around them.

Thus, my lunches last week included leftovers of cherry tomato gnocchi with spinach and bacon (recipe here!) and then four days of slow-cooker beef taco soup.  This week was only slightly different in that I’ve eaten my mother-in-law’s delicious Russian cabbage rolls the past three days.  In other words, my lunches, though tasty, don’t include much variety.  I compensate for the sameness of lunch by mixing up dinner, but I can’t pretend that some days I don’t just want anything other than the thing I’ve been eating for the last three days.

So coming up with my goals for lunch this week was pretty easy: add more variety.  One way I would like to do this is to include more salads.  I’ve always had good intentions about salads, but I never find them all that satisfying because cold food is, well, cold.  With summer coming up (maybe??!? finally??), I’m thinking that maybe I will actually appreciate the lightness and coldness of salads, so I thought it would be good to start finding some favorites now.

With that in mind, here are the five lunch recipes I would like to try this week:

1.  Reset Button Salad, probably adding apple for some sweetness.
2.  Carrot coconut soup because I think this would be good cold or warm, and I have some leftover homemade chicken broth I want to use up.  =)
3.  Roasted Eggplant salad.  A warm salad!  Best of both worlds??
4.  This Crunchy Cashew Thai Salad is calling my name, loudly.
5. Sriricha steak lettuce wraps because I’ve been on a Sriracha kick lately!

How is your Cooking Cure going?  Have you made anything new lately?

In a cooking rut?  Need inspiration to start cooking?  Not sure how to actually implement home cooking on a day-to-day basis?

Even the most well-intentioned of us hit a cooking wall every once in a while.  I know I do.  Lately, I’ve been eating out more because I’ve had a harder than usual time committing to cooking all the time.  After all, it takes time and planning and…time.  So, when TheKitchn, a blog I read on a daily basis, advertised a Cooking Cure program, I decided to sign up and share my experiences and adventures here with you all!  From their website:

This 4-week Cooking Cure is designed to get you cooking at home every day, starting with 5-minute baby steps and culminating in a week of 21 home-cooked meals. There will be plenty of flexibility for you to set your own goals and figure out what your breakfast, lunch, and dinner should be. Think of it as a guided Choose Your Own Adventure in cooking every day, your way, your style. We’ll provide 20 assignments, designed to break you out of your cooking rut and guide you into new meals and happier cooking every day.

Interested?  Sign up here and share your experiences with me!  Per this week’s “homework,” here is what I ate for breakfast this week:

Monday & Tuesday: Green smoothie consisting of pear, banana, fresh ginger, Greek yogurt, and romaine lettuce
Wednesday: Same as above but with 2 cups of spinach instead of romaine
Thursday: Vegan overnight oats  with chia seeds, rolled oats, banana, coconut milk, vanilla extract and topped with natural peanut butter and a few chocolate chips (this was delicious!)
Friday: homemade energy bar and a smoothie made with banana, uncooked rolled oats, cinnamon, vanilla, and coconut milk

Are you gonna do the Cure?  What did you have for breakfast this week?

Valentine’s Day Chicken Soup

So it’s probably a little bit of a stretch to call this spicy chicken soup Valentine’s Day chicken.  But, in my defense, the soup is red, so that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  Valentine’s Day is a weird day to me.  At first, I started to not like it because I hated the restaurant experience on the Day–the hiked up prices, the crowds, the usually-lower-quality food because it’s a prix fixed menu.  So I transitioned to doing things at home, which was more enjoyable but still came with a lot of stress.  But then I realized that I just don’t care much about it.  I particularly don’t care for the high expectations and pressure that come along with the holiday.  So when Mr. Little Fish and I first started dating, I told him that I didn’t want to celebrate, he said OK, somewhat skeptically, I repeated myself more emphatically, and then that was that.

Well, that was supposed to be that.  But then he bought me these flowers yesterday:

IMG_6920

If flowers didn’t just die a few days after you bought them, I would actually really enjoy getting flowers.  I’ve thought about getting potted flowers, but I have become aware of my lack of a green thumb.  We have one indoor rubber tree that has managed to survive, but other than that, I’ve killed every plant I’ve ever gotten.  So, when were in HEB last week, I wistfully remarked that I kinda wished flowers didn’t die so quickly because I would like to always have some in our house.  I usually think Mr. LF isn’t listening to my ramblings, but he always is, so he got me these flowers.  It was a lovely surprise to finish my work week with, despite the ubiquitous little heart in the middle of the bouquet.

Which unfortunately does not at all provide me with a segue to this soup, but, I’m gonna talk about it anyway.  A couple of weeks ago I wrote about a few recipes that were easy and fast to make to help ease the pain of making your own food during the week (see: here, here, and here), but that’s not the only way I make things easier for myself:  I also make soups.  HUGE batches of soup.  On Sunday afternoons when I have time to let the flavors simmer and meld together. Then, I have lunches for every day that week for me and dinners for every day for Little Fish.  Sometimes, because I need a little more variety than Little Fish does, I’ll end up making some quick dinners for myself during the week, but other times, I’ll have the soup for dinner too.

This particular soup is one of our favorites.  The recipe is originally from Allrecipes.com, which is a great site for crowd-sourcing your meals.  They have a star rating system and a TON of users, so it’s pretty much the Amazon of recipes.  I tweaked the recipe to make it a bit fresher:  using a whole chicken so we can get the tender dark meat and make our own stock, buying fresh pico de gallo at HEB instead of a jar of salsa, adding red pepper in for a less starchy veggie, and letting each person put as much sour cream as they want rather than mixing it into the entire soup.  Truly a great soup for these winter days (but probably not the ideal candidate for Valentine’s Day)!

Valentine’s Day Chicken Soup
Serves 12
IMG_6899

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, 4-5 pounds
2 stalks celery
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp onion powder
2.5 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 16-oz jar of chunky salsa (of fresh salsa from your local store)
2 (14.5 oz) cans peeled and diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can whole, peeled tomatoes
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
3 tbsp chili powder
2 (16 oz) cans chili or black beans, undrained
1 bean-can full of frozen corn kernels
Sour cream, to taste

Directions:

1. In a large pot over medium heat, bring the chicken, celery, salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried parsley, and onion powder to a boil.  Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to low/medium-low, and let it simmer, covered, for about an hour, until the meat is tender enough to be pulled apart with a fork.
IMG_6891
2.  About 50 minutes in, prep the veggies if you haven’t already, and open the cans.  Remove the chicken from the water and onto a plate, and turn the heat off on the leftover stock (you will use this stock in the recipe, and have enough leftover to freeze for chicken broth).
IMG_6892

Get another clean plate and then start to pull the meat off the chicken, making sure to shred it into bite-sized pieces.  Set aside.
3.  In another large pot, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent.
IMG_6893

Stir in the salsa, diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, frozen corn, beans, shredded chicken, and about 5 cups of broth, or however much liquid you desire/your pot can hold (ours was only able to have 4).  Simmer for 30 minutes.
IMG_6894
4.  While the soup is simmering, you can throw away the celery in the leftover stock, and pour it though a strainer to get the spices out.  Freeze the strained liquid and use whenever chicken broth/stock is called for in future recipes!

IMG_68965.  For those who are/can not eat dairy, you can eat the soup straight.  Otherwise, I highly recommend stirring in some sour cream into your bowl, as it makes it creamy and delicious!  Allow each person to get as big or small a dollop as they want, and top with avocado, cheese, and/or tortilla chips!

IMG_6899

 

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Valentine's Day Chicken Soup
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
NOTE: To make this recipe a better weeknight meal, I typically just buy a cooked rotisserie chicken from the store, and shred the chicken for the meat. If you go those route, omit the celery below, and ignore steps 1 and 2 in the directions. I like to start with step 3 (getting the veggies started), and then pull the chicken while it cooks, but it also works fine to pull the chicken entirely before starting the actual cooking.
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 1 whole chicken, 4-5 pounds
  • 2 stalks celery
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2.5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 16-oz jar of chunky salsa (of fresh salsa from your local store)
  • 2 (14.5 oz) cans peeled and diced tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 (16 oz) cans chili or black beans, undrained
  • 1 bean-can full of frozen corn kernels
  • Sour cream, to taste
Directions
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, bring the chicken, celery, salt, pepper, garlic powder, dried parsley, and onion powder to a boil. Once it starts to boil, reduce the heat to low/medium-low, and let it simmer, covered, for about an hour, until the meat is tender enough to be pulled apart with a fork.
  2. About 50 minutes in, prep the veggies if you haven't already, and open the cans. Remove the chicken from the water and onto a plate, and turn the heat off on the leftover stock (you will use this stock in the recipe, and have enough leftover to freeze for chicken broth). Get another clean plate and then start to pull the meat off the chicken, making sure to shred it into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
  3. In another large pot, cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Stir in the salsa, diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, chili powder, frozen corn, beans, shredded chicken, and about 5 cups of broth, or however much liquid you desire/your pot can hold (ours was only able to have 4). Simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. While the soup is simmering, you can throw away the celery in the leftover stock, and pour it though a strainer to get the spices out. Freeze the strained liquid and use whenever chicken broth/stock is called for in future recipes!
  5. For those who are/can not eat dairy, you can eat the soup straight. Otherwise, I highly recommend stirring in some sour cream into your bowl, as it makes it creamy and delicious! Allow each person to get as big or small a dollop as they want, and top with avocado, cheese, and/or tortilla chips!