November wasn’t the month I spent the most time in the kitchen, but I think we did pretty well eating real food and being somewhat well balanced during a busy time. I’m ever so grateful to have a beautifully prepared lunch at work daily. Never having to prep or clean up is so amazing. I don’t think I got to eat quite as many pumpkin things as I would have liked, but there’s still time. Thanksgiving was so tasty and again I’m grateful to just show up and enjoy.
My fav dinner was Chicken & Golden Mushroom Slow Cooker served with arugula and pasta. It was so flavorful and lighter than so many other crockpot dinners.
Finding chopped pancetta made me super jazzed. It was right there! Right next to the prosciutto. Who knew? I foresee it being very useful. Muhh-ha-ha. I paired it with pear for a perfect pizza. Ha! Ok. I’m done. Just make pear & pancetta pizza right away.
The Little One:
He’s such a happy dude right now. His current fav foods are meatballs, spaghetti, avocado, anything he can dip, and anything I’m eating for breakfast. Clementine season is always a good time of year in his life. We went out to dinner for Mexican and he loved it…he also enjoyed and devoured almost a whole bagel with cream cheese on a morning adventure. I can’t believe how much he’s talking now. A new fav word is: barking which comes out as “bawking”. He still loves “big truck”s. He’s gotten the hang of Please, but Thank You hasn’t stuck.
Year of the Pajamas! I’m rethinking this. I’m so sad for the year of the seasonal decor to be done…I might want to do it again!
do more dinner prep more in advance: ehh. This didn’t happen this month.
read more: I kept up with the bookclub! We read Girl on the Train
cook more fish: ehh. This didn’t happen this month.
focus on clothes that I really like: I tried Thread Up and it was a hit!
monthly grocery store ingredient: I found some frozen cavatelli pasta which was so great for a quick meal!
I’m back! I was just too crazy to blog during my busiest time at work. I’m proud to say it was a success and now I’m super ready to embrace the season! I made this Creamless Tomato Soup as a super quick lunch that I thought was especially nice after a filling holiday weekend. There isn’t any cream or bread to thicken this soup and the white beans add that element with the bonus of some protein. Now you just need a grilled cheese!
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1, 28 oz can Kitchen Ready tomatoes
1, 15 oz can white beans, rinsed
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup red wine, optional
Saute the garlic in a little olive oil in a heavy pot, over low heat for about 2-4 minutes.
Add in the tomato paste, kitchen ready tomatoes, white beans, and salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Blend either with an immersion blender, or carefully labeled into a blender or food processor.
Return to the pot and add in the oregano. Cook for another 5 minutes on low.
(Optional: add in some veggie stock or water if too thick.)
Serve and enjoy!
I think the herbs make this soup.
Salty pancetta and sweet pear plus melty cheese makes for such a wonderfully balanced pizza. That’s it. Pizza dough, cheese, pancetta, and pear. That’s it. So, basically dinner is brought to you by the letter P.
1 cup Pancetta
1 1/2 cup shredded Mozarella cheese
Preheat the oven and pizza stone (if using one) to 400 degrees.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the pancetta to crisp. Then drain.
Spread the dough out onto a pan, poke a few holes into the dough. Cook for 5-8 minutes to lightly browned.
In the same pan as the pancetta, saute the pear for about 5 minutes over low heat just to soften a little.
Then top the dough with cheese, pear, and pancetta.
Bake for 5-8 minutes more until the cheese melts.
The little one picked off all the pancetta, ate that first, then the pears, then was full. I loved the sweet and subtle pear with the very salty pancetta. I’d totally make this again. Seriously, these few ingredients are just born to go together.
Six years? Woah! Crazy. It always creeps up on me. Once again, I have no idea what is in store for me or the blog but I wanted to take a moment to thank the blogosphere, thank readers, and think about the year to come!
My fav photo of the year: Cherry Cheesecake Yogurt Parfaits
My fav burger of the year: The Ramen Burger!
Fav new kitchen item: The pressure cooker!
Fav Meal: Pad Thai made at home!
I loved a mini-challenge I self imposed for more creative breakfasts. If you pack lunch I’d challenge yourself to that!
How’d the goals go? They were good! I liked that they were pretty varied this year!
The Year of the: Seasonal Decor: this was such a great year of the…I might need to do it again!
do something a different way: always a good reminder.
drink more water: I could always keep this on the list. I’m not sure I quite got a perfect method for this.
make more interesting side dishes: I liked this since they’re often quicker than the main thing.
cook more soups & sauces: I didn’t make too many soups, but sauces was a good place to start.
watch more movies: this was a fun one! We get Netflix so I wanted to be sure to actually watch them.
make working out a higher priority: I ran a 5K! That was big for me!
And onto the next goals:
Year of the:….wait for it….Pajamas! I’m an adult and want legit pjs…not just pants and old event tee-shirts.
do more dinner prep more in advance
cook more fish
focus on clothes that I really like
monthly grocery store ingredient, recreated
My crockpot got more of a workout in a few days than it has in a while. Mr. J made a cashew chicken that was great, though needs a tweak for next time. Stay tuned. I saw a chicken and golden mushroom recipe and thought I could lighten it the tiniest bit without sacrificing anything. Here it is, I loved it! It was good as leftovers and the babe liked it a lot.
Have you used golden mushroom soup? It is more like a thicker broth than a cream of mushroom. It can be hard to find. Find some. Stock up. Freeze some and use it the next time you need veggie broth.
Lightened up & adapted from Slow-Cooker Golden Mushroom Chicken
1 pound baby portabella mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
6 chicken tenders
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup water
1 can golden mushroom soup
1/4 cup cream cheese with chives
1 packet Italian Dressing mix
fresh cracked pepper
1/2 pound spaghetti
2 cups baby arugula
In a large skillet over medium heat, add butter and mushrooms to cook for about 5 minutes. Stir well to golden brown and until the liquid all evaporates.
Cut the chicken into cubes.
In a large bowl, mix together the broth, water, golden mushroom soup, cream cheese, Italian Dressing, and cracked pepper.
Spray a slow cooker with non-stick spray then add in the chicken, the mushrooms, and the sauce.
Turn to low for 4-5 hours.
To serve, boil salted water for the pasta. Add the arugula into the crockpot and stir over low/warming for about 5 minutes to wilt.
Cook the pasta to al dente.
Serve the chicken, mushrooms, & sauce over the pasta. Enjoy!
The original had 2x as much soup, 4x as much creamed cheese, 3x as much chicken, and no greens. Mine still had plenty of flavor, creaminess, and tender chicken. The arugula is peppery and adds a nicer crunch than parsley would be.
Polenta is the ingredient I always forget will provide the variety to a weeknight meal we all need. Rice takes forever. Pasta seems overdone. Polenta? Yeah polenta cooks in just a few minutes. I like it soupy to be spoon-able. I used pre-cooked turkey meatballs, zucchini and a really quick sauce. Poof! Dinner!
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 zucchini, chopped
1 cup dried polenta
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup gruyere cheese, shredded or chopped
1/2 cup milk
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the zucchini and tomato paste to cook for about 4 minutes.
Add in the meatballs, 1 cup of the broth, and salt & pepper. Bring to a low boil and cook for about 8 minutes until broth reduces a bit.
In a medium pot, add the polenta, butter, 1 cup of broth, 1 cup water and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and stir in the milk and cheese.
Spoon polenta in to the bowls, then top with meatballs, zucchini, and the sauce.
Today’s panini was a fun quick dinner. I was inspired by Blunch who has a panini called “The Piglet” with black forest ham, smoked bacon, maple aioil, sliced tomato on multi grain. I went for the ham & maple aoli theme and panini-ified some soft rolls. Paninis are the best for dinner since they’re fast and can still be special. We had these with some tomato/cuke/feta salad.
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 soft rolls
4-5 slices of ham
1 cup shredded gruyere
2 cups arugula
Mix together the mayo, maple, and cinnamon.
Heat a panini press or grill pan to medium heat.
Assemble the sandwiches by spreading the maple aoli onto the bread generously, then layering the ham, cheese, and arugula.
Press or grill the sandwiches until the outside is crisp and the cheese melts.
Slice & enjoy!
The maple aoli is light but so good. I thought the cinnamon was key! The arugula is ideal because it is so peppery and holds up well to the sandwich getting cooked.