Quick Veggie Chilli, Sausage and Cornbread

This is a great meal to make on a cold day!

Start with the chili:
2 zucchini chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 white onion chopped
2 celery stalks
1 can Great Northern Beans
1 can Diced tomatoes (un-drained)

1. Saute onion and celery to soften a bit
2. Pile everything into a crock pot and cook on high for 2.5 hours (my crock pot runs hot, so I cooked on high for 1 hour and on low for the remainder)

I baked this according to this recipe: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/golden-sweet-cornbread/
It was super easy and my daughter loved helping. I didn’t even adjust it to high altitude, though that might make it a bit more moist (I got no complaints).

To Serve:
I served with Basil Chicken sausage which I par-boiled (boiled 10 min, grilled 20 min), but it would be quicker to use already baked sausage. Serve in the chilli or along the side!
I also topped the chili with a spoonful of sour cream and some shredded sharp cheddar cheese.

Guten Appetit!

Living Large in the Middle,



My Cooking Philosophy

I’m one of those who really enjoys cooking – It gives me the chance to create something without experimenting or needing to invent dishes.

If you talk to my husband, he’ll tell you it’s better to stay out of the kitchen if I’m in it. I think this is because this is my time to forget everything else and create. It’s a bit meditative for me, especially when you get into the rhythm required to make a meal come together at the right time. (I must admit – this is NOT always my forte).

I’ll share some of my quick and/or freezer meals which we pretty much live off of during the week. My focus is on not spending a ton of time in the kitchen so we can sit at the table and have a nice dinner before bed time – that timeline can shrink at an impressive rate!

The items are things I like to make just because or for special occasions and may take a bit more concentration and/or time.



Freezer Skills

Let’s be clear, I do not want to eat anything for an entire week – and that’s how I started freezing meals. Well, that and I wanted to eat during grad school.

I freeze my meals in two ways: Marathon or Banquet Baking.

Marathon is exactly what it sounds like, buy the ingredients, shoo the family out of the house for the day and begin. This requires a lot of cooling, pans and cleaning, but you get a lot by the end of the day. The 2 for 1 Casserole practice below will help your efforts last that much longer!

Banquet Baking, may sound overstated, but the idea is to cook more than you need. I’ll plan a casserole or dish that can be frozen for a meal during the week. Only, I’ll make enough for two nights.

2 for 1 Casseroles!
For Marathon Baking: Using a typical 9×11 dish, Line the dish with 2 pieces of heavy duty foil – splitting the dish in half and creating 2 sides, pour the ingredients in and bake accordingly. Note here: you could also use disposable pans. Cool to room temperature and pop in the fridge overnight. By morning, you can use the tin foil to wrap each half, stick them in a freezer bag, label and put away.

For Banquet Baking: Using a typical 9×11 dish, I line 1/2 with heavy duty foil, pour the ingredients in and bake accordingly. I serve the portion not in on the foiled side and let the rest cool. Cool to room temperature and pop in the fridge overnight. By morning, you can use the tin foil to wrap the half up, stick it in a freezer bag, label and put away.



Easy Mini Pain Au Chocolat

I made this for our book club after we read Barbara O’Neal’s: How to Bake a Perfect Life. I wanted to give at least on of the recipes a go and not being patient enough to let bread rise unless it’s in my bread maker, this was perfect. These are fast, easy and can be served as a dessert or breakfast pastry!

Easy Mini Pain Au Chocolat
2 pastry sheets (thawed)
Chocolate (chips, bars, etc)
1 egg
1 Tbsp water

1. Cut sheets into 12 squares each
2. Beat egg & water
3. Glaze top of pastry sheets
4. Roll chocolate (2 squares/few chips – what will fit) diagonally into squares (glaze will be inside)
5. Place seam down on cookie sheet (with parchment paper or lightly greased)
6. Brush top w/ remaining egg mixture
7. Bake at 400 degrees 15 min. or until golden brown
8. Let sit 5 min, serve warm



For more information/recipes on/from Barbara O’Neal, visit: http://www.barbaraoneal.com/

Turkey Pot Pie

I hosted my book club’s 4th anniversary meeting last night and knew I wanted to spend more time talking than in the kitchen. This pot pie is SOOO easy!

To add a homemade touch, I opted out of a second pie crust for the top and made a Biscuit Topper found in the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook of 1967 (my favorite).

*I didn’t have anything thawed, you can put it together frozen and keep in freezer. Just make the biscuit topper later. You can cook frozen. I’d bake for 20 min, add the topper and then bake an additional 20 min.

Turkey Pot Pie:
1/2 C Milk
1C Cubed Turkey/Chicken
1 9oz pkg frozen mixed veggies (thawed)
1 pie crust (thawed)
1 can crm of chicken soup (condensed)

1. Pour veggies and meat into pie crust
2. Mix soup & milk and pour over
3. Make biscuit topper (below)
4. Bake 10 min at 400 degrees
5. Add biscuit topper and bake an additional 20 min.

Biscuit Topper
1. Sift following together
1 C Flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1.5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2. Cut in 1/4 C butter until crumbly
3. mix 1/4 C milk and slightly beaten egg
4. add to mix and stir just to moisten




Basil Pesto Tilapia and Pasta

If you have a membership to Costco, get a box of frozen High Liner Seafood Basil Pesto Tilapia. It comes with multiple filets ready to bake.

For an easy meal, bake the fish for 10-13 minutes according to plan. Boil up some pasta and serve!

We like to mix it up!
Add Alfredo to the mix
Add veggies (frozen or freshly sauteed)
Mix up the noodles, we’ve used everything from spaghetti to multicolored pinwheels
For kids: shred the fish and mix in. Then add some Parmesan and serve!



Thank you Alice BBQ Chicken Sammies

My sister-in-law let me in on a secret for easy bbq sammies – I soon found this was not a secret, but just in case you too are not in the know – these are great!

You’ll need:
Chicken thighs: 6-8 (breasts are ok, but thighs shred better)
1 bottle bbq sauce

Throw the chicken (frozen or thawed) into the crock pot with the bottle of bbq sauce and cook on low (again my crock pot runs hot) for 3-4 hours. Don’t skimp on the bbq in the crock pot. It will keep your chicken moist.
Take the chicken out and shred with two forks.
Stir chicken into the sauce in the crock pot
Serve on hamburger buns with oven fries, salad or cole slaw!