Chop. Roast. Chop. Roast. Chop. Roast.

Winter White Velvet Soup
Quinoa burrito bowls
Corn, edamame and quinoa bowl
Chicken crockpot tacos (lunch freezer burritos)

Grocery Shopping list for this menu.

There is a lot of chopping and roasting this week but I promise it is worth it. We are making an amazing Winter White Velvet Soup. I had it at a friend’s dinner party a few weeks ago and had to have the recipe. Taking her lead, I made several tweaks to the original recipe and I think the changes really gave it a richer flavor.

But before we chop, put your chicken in the crockpot with a jar of your favorite salsa and 1-2 tablespoons of taco seasoning and turn it up to high heat. We make our own here in the test kitchen so give this recipe a try. You probably already have all of the spices in your cupboard.

ParsnipsParsnipsSo now let’s start on all of that chopping. Chop ALL of your vegetables … the onions, garlic, leeks, parsnips, potatoes, cauliflower, red peppers, cilantro and green onions. Be sure to dice some of the onions and red peppers and slice some of them. We need them both ways for two different recipes.

Roasted vegetablesOnce you have enough veggies chopped to fill your cookie sheet, start putting them in the oven coated in olive oil and roast them on 375 until soft and slightly browned. I would start with 20 minutes and keep an eye on them, adding more time as needed. (Watch the garlic! It will cook fast and you DON’T want that to burn.)

Winter White Velvet Soup

Winter White Velvet Soup

As they finish cooking, put them in a large bowl. Once they are all roasted, add feta, chicken broth, salt and pepper, and puree with an immersion blender or regular blender until smooth and velvety. If soup is too thick add a bit more chicken broth to thin.

In between batches of roasting vegetables, you can cook all of your quinoa and start mixing up ingredients for the corn, edamame and quinoa bowl.


Drain black beans and add to a bowl with chopped red peppers, corn, cilantro, green onions, garlic and edamame (this does not need to be pre-cooked unless you buy frozen ones in the pod). Add the quinoa when it finishes cooking.


Corn, edamame and quinoa bowl

Corn, edamame and quinoa bowl

Next prepare the vinaigrette by whisking together lemon juice, soy sauce, mustard and olive oil. Pour over quinoa mixture, stir and store in the fridge. This is served cold. (Note: I made this as a meal this week and it was fine for me but if you want to make it heartier you may want to add shredded chicken. Or it would also make an excellent side dish.)

Keep a cup of quinoa out for the lunch freezer burritos and store the remainder of it in a container in the fridge to use for your quinoa burrito bowls. (I must have been craving Mexican when I put this week’s menu together!)

Once your crockpot chicken is cooked, set aside some for the lunch freezer burritos and store the rest in a container in the fridge for your tacos and burrito bowls.

onions and peppers

lunch freezer burritos

lunch freezer burritos

Chicken crockpot tacos

Next sauté your remaining sliced peppers and onions.
Finally, let’s prepare your lunch freezer burritos. Lay out your tortilla and spoon a few tablespoons of quinoa, some crockpot chicken, some sauted peppers and onions and cheese in the middle of the shell. Fold the sides in, then roll into a burrito. Wrap each burrito in Press and Seal and store in a freezer bag. (You can reheat these for lunch in the microwave or oven.)


And that’s a wrap! Hey, I just made a pun!


** If you want, you can also prepare your taco and burrito bowl toppings so they are ready for the week.

1 Week 4 Easy Meals

Food PrepIt was a full house in the Test Kitchen this week! We had four moms prepping food for a total of 19 people. And can I tell you we did all of it for under $250!

Here at the Test Kitchen, I rarely prep alone, which gives us the opportunity to save money by buying in bulk at Costco or only buying one package of sage for four people to share instead of each of us buying a package of sage and it going bad before we use all of it (Not that that’s ever happened here 😉

Kitchen HelperWe also had a little helper in the kitchen this week, helping us open LOTS of cans (probably about 40! and yes, I recycle!), mincing garlic and mixing things up. She is a pro and we love having Lily helping out. Her mom said it also inspires her to be a little more adventurous in trying new things since she helped make them

Grocery Shopping list for this menu.

This week’s menu includes:

To start off, we put our chicken and spices for the Spicy Chicken Soup in the crockpot on high to cook while we prep. You can also do this the day before or overnight on low. (Note: This is a deviation to the original recipe but it makes my life easier. I also choose to use chicken stock instead of water and bouillon cubes. It’s just a personal choice.)

Canned Goods

Cans for days

Next, we opened ALL of our cans. We had a lot of canned goods this week and it just made it easier to have all of them open and easy to grab when we needed them.

The first recipe we tackled was the Turkey Chili. It is super easy and the only prep is browning the ground turkey. While the turkey was browning, we dumped all of the other ingredients into a freezer bag then added the turkey when it was finished. Then we sealed the bag, shook it up really good to mix all of the ingredients and put it in the fridge. This recipe reheats easily on the stovetop or the microwave (or if you are like my husband, he just eats it cold … ewh!)

The turkey chili also freezes well. I think recipes with ground turkey get a funky taste if they are in the fridge for more than about three days. So if you aren’t going to eat it until later in the week, you can freeze it now and pull it out to defrost the day before you plan to serve it.

Turkey Chili

Turkey Chili

For the turkey chili, we opted to make our own chili seasoning mix. You never know what ingredients are in those packets you buy at the store (again … ewh! Why do we need enriched wheat flour in our soup???). Plus you likely already have all of the ingredients you need in your spice cabinet. We used this recipe.

Next we whipped up the chicken apple farro – another super easy recipe. First we put the farro on to cook. Put your farro in a pot with enough water to cover it, plus a couple inches more. Bring it to a boil then reduce it to simmer for about 12-15 minutes. You want it to be a little al dente, not mushy.

IMG_2995 Chicken Apple Farro IMG_2968





While that was cooking, we chopped all of the vegetables – onions, apples and garlic – and put them in a frying pan with olive oil to brown. (Go ahead and chop your garlic and onions for the Spicy Chicken Soup at the same time and set aside.)

Apple SausageWhile those were sautéing, we cut the chicken apple sausage into slices. Once the vegetables were done, we added them to our storage container (Ziploc bag or a bowl) and put the sausage in the same pan to brown. Once that was browned, we added it to the vegetables. By then the farro was done, so we drained it and added it to the container as well. Sprinkle with a little cayenne, shake to mix and store in the refrigerator. I usually reheat this one in the microwave.

Chicken Apple Farro

Chicken Apple Farro








Next we tried something new – Maple Glazed Chicken. It sounds so delicious and is really pretty simple to make.

First add your chicken with olive oil to a frying pan over medium heat to brown on both sides. (We found that if your chicken breasts are thick you will want to slice them into thin cutlets to cook faster.)

Maple Apple Chicken

Maple Apple Chicken

While the chicken is browning, slice your apples and shallots. When the chicken is almost cooked through, add your apples, shallots and sage. When the chicken is finished, remove it from the pan and put it in a casserole dish.

While the apples, shallots and sage continue to cook, mix up the sauce – chicken broth, maple syrup and apple cider vinegar – then add it to the pan. Simmer over medium heat until the sauce starts to thicken, about 5 minutes, then pour everything over the chicken, cover the dish and store in the fridge. I would recommend reheating this dish in the oven on about 300 degrees and serving it within 2-3 days of preparing it.

Finally, we finished up with the spicy chicken soup. In a large soup pot, we sautéed the garlic and onions, then added all of the remaining ingredients, including the chicken from the crockpot, which should now be done cooking. The chicken should shred very easily. For the five cups of broth, we used the broth from the crockpot plus a couple of extra cans to get the full five cups.

Spicy Chicken Soup PrepSpicy Chicken Soup PrepSpicy Chicken Soup Prep






Let that simmer for 30 minutes while you clean up the kitchen and in our case, enjoy some great conversation and a cup of tea!

Spicy Chicken Soup

Spicy Chicken Soup

4 pots of soup!!

4 pots of soup!!





Let us know what you think of our recipes or recommend any recipes you think we should try.

Healthy Food Kick-off to 2015

The New Year has started as well as many New Years resolutions to lose weight, eat healthier, etc. So let help your kick your New Year off right with a few healthy recipes you can cook once and eat all week – saving you time AND calories!

For my regular followers, I apologize in my six-month absence. I won’t bore you with the details but will simply let you know that I had a lot going on with my family and career and I needed to step away for a while. Hopefully I’m back from good!

Now let’s get cooking! It’s cold here in Ohio, which makes me want to eat lots of soup, chili and stew. When I eat these foods, they not only comfort my soul but also make me feel like I’m making healthy choices. You can hide a lot of vegetables in soup! So to start the New Year off, I pulling out my soup pot and my crock-pot.

Grocery Shopping list for this menu.

This week’s menu includes three soups:

photo1 - Copy

Like every week, let’s start by chopping veggies. Dice three onions, mince seven cloves of garlic, dice two apples and peel and chop three carrots.

Next, add all of the ingredients for the White Bean Chicken Chili to your crock-pot. (I recommend using Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners. It will save you a lot of clean up later.) No need to cut up the chicken. Just add the whole chicken breasts. After cooking for so long, they will just fall apart. Cook on high for 6 hours or low for 10 hours.

Once it is finished, put it in large freezer bags. I like to divide mine into two bags – one for the refrigerator this week and the second one to freeze for another time.

Now let’s get started on the Tuscan Sausage Soup. Drizzle a large soup pot with EVOO and crumble your Italian sausage (or slice it if it’s precooked sausage) into the pot.

While that is cooking, cut up the remaining chicken for the Chicken Apple Chili.

Once the sausage is browned, add the carrots, onion and garlic. Sauté until tender and starting to turn a bit golden, about seven minutes.

Add the chicken broth, tomatoes, beans, pasta and basil. (Note: This recipe makes A LOT so if you want to freeze half of it, don’t add the pasta here. Wait to add the pasta until you reheat it.)

Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce to a simmer. Cover the pot and continue cooking until pasta becomes a bit tender, about 7 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until just wilted. Let it cool then store in a freezer bag or airtight container.

If you have two soup pots, you can start the Chicken Apple Chili at the same time as the Tuscan Sausage Soup.

Drizzle EVOO in your soup pot, and then add chicken, chili powder, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes or until cooked through, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In the same pot, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the apples and onion and cook, stirring, until softened – about 6 minutes. Add to bowl with chicken.

In the same pot, melt the butter over med-low heat. Whisk in flour for about a minute; then, whisk in the chicken broth and milk, until thickened – about 3 to 4 minutes.

Next stir in the apples, chicken, and beans. Bring to a simmer, then stir in cheese and cook until the cheese has melted.

Let it cool then store in a freezer bag or airtight container.

I hope your New Year starts off happy and healthy. I will meet you back in the kitchen in two weeks. Be sure to check out my recipe page for more delicious and healthy recipes.

FOOD PREP MENU – April 23, 2014


Monday – Chicken Power Bowl
Tuesday – Coconut Chicken Strips with Apricot Sauce and Quinoa with Sweet Potato and Green Beans
Wednesday –  Asian Lettuce Wraps
Thursday – Asian Salmon
Friday – Quinoa Taco Bake

Grocery Shopping list for this menu.

Let’s get two meals out of the way super quick so we can feel very accomplished. It’s the little things that keep me going.

Get one of your storage bags and write Coconut Chicken on it. Then add your flour and unsweetened coconut. Done! Not really but almost … now you need to cut your chicken breasts into strips and put those in another storage bag and put them in the refrigerator. Now you really are done with the Coconut Chicken until you are ready to cook it.

Next let’s prep the Asian Salmon. (This is probably our FAVORITE recipe at Food Prep Headquarters!) Grate all of your ginger. You are going to need it for two recipes. Then get another storage bag and measure out the olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, ginger and garlic. Seal it and put it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to prepare it.

Two recipes out of the way … feels pretty good doesn’t it??

Now let’s peel and chop our sweet potatoes and get them in the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 while you prep. Once you’ve chopped them, put them in a storage bag and drizzle with olive oil and shake. Then pour on a foil-covered baking sheet. Put them in the oven for 20-30 minutes. At the same time, put 5-6 eggs in the oven to make hard-baked eggs for your Power Bowl. Click here for Alton Brown’s Hard-Baked Eggs. (I will never hard boil eggs again! Also I bake mine right on the rack not in muffin tins.)

Let’s also put our quinoa and rice on the stove top to cook.

Now that we have all of that happening, let’s spend some time chopping. Chop all of your onions, garlic, jalapenos, peppers, scallions and water chestnuts. Also drain and rinse your black beans and garbanzo beans.

You may have to stop periodically to take things out of the oven or off of the stove as they finish.

Let’s start with the Asian lettuce wraps. I took a few liberties with this recipe. For one it called for ground chicken not ground chicken breast. I used ground chicken breast and it turned out fine. The recipe also calls for microwaving the chicken until it’s no longer pink. Well, that didn’t happen either. I just went ahead and cooked it through in a skillet. Again it turned out fine.

In a large skillet, cook your ground chicken through making sure it crumbles. Once it is cooked, line a bowl with paper towels and transfer it to the bowl to drain. Then in a storage bag, add your chicken, bell pepper, onion, garlic, hoisin sauce, ginger, salt and pepper. In a separate smaller bag, add your water chestnuts and rice. Put both bags in the refrigerator and we are finished with meal #3.

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Asian Lettuce Wraps

Now let’s pop our garbanzo beans in the oven to bake while we work on our next recipe. Put your garbanzo beans in a storage bag with a drizzle of olive oil and mix to coat, then pour them out onto a foil covered baking sheet and season with salt. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes until crispy.

While that is baking, let’s make the quinoa taco bake. Follow the recipe directions through assembly, then cover with foil and store in the refrigerator until the day you want to serve it, and then bake it.

 Roasted Red Peppers

Fire Roasted Red Peppers

Next let’s put our chicken breasts on to cook in a large skillet on the stove. Add a little olive oil to the pan and season them with salt and pepper. Brown each side and cook through. Once it is finished, slice it and store it in the refrigerator.

While that is cooking, you can toss together your Sweet Potato and Green Bean Quinoa. In a storage container, mix your quinoa, baked sweet potato cubes, chopped green beans, dried cranberries, walnuts, onion and salt & pepper then drizzle with olive and store in the refrigerator.

And finally let’s make the dressing for our Power Bowls. Combine the juice of two lemons, 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons of honey, 1 clove of minced garlic and salt and pepper. Shake or whisk and store in the refrigerator. All the ingredients for the Power Bowl are ready and can be combined when you are ready to serve it.

Chicken Power Bowl

Chicken Power Bowl

DONE! Five delicious meals to last you for an entire week and probably plenty of leftovers for lunch too.

Please give us your feedback on how food prep is going for your family. What works? What doesn’t? What are your favorite meals? Have you found any great time-saving tricks?

FOOD PREP Menu – April 9, 2014

Monday – Southwestern Turkey & Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Tuesday – Quinoa Burrito Bowls
Wednesday – Farro Risotto with Bacon, Parm and Brussel Sprouts
Thursday – Kale and Quinoa Salad with Pumpkin Sage Dressing
Friday – Chicken Parm Meatball Subs

Grocery Shopping list for this menu.

There was a slight hint of Spring in the air this week so you might notice my menu reflecting the change in seasons. I’ve added a couple of lighter items to the menu this week.

And thanks to, I’m very excited to try a couple of new dishes this week. I stumbled across her when I was looking for a copycat Kale & Quinoa Salad recipe for a salad I had at a local gastropub, The Crest, that was to die for. I never did find the perfect recipe so I made my own with inspirations from several I found online.

Let’s start by putting our chicken in the crockpot. Put however many chicken breasts you need for your family size in the crockpot, cover with water or chicken broth and cook on high for 3 hours.

Next let’s pop our brussel sprouts and butternut squash in the oven to roast. Preheat your oven to 350. Then cube your butternut squash (or if you’re like me, I buy mine cubed. Some things are just worth an extra $1!) and slice your brussel sprouts.

Brussel Sprouts

Cleaning Brussel Sprouts

Put the squash in a storage bag, drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil in the bag, seal it and shake to coat. Then pour it on a cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil. In the same storage bag, add your brussel sprouts, drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil, seal it and shake it to coat too. Pour it on another cookie sheet covered in aluminum foil.

Place both pans in the oven. Cook your brussel sprouts for about 20-30 minutes until browned. Cook your butternut squash for about 40 minutes until soft.

While those are roasting, put all of your quinoa on the stove to cook — 3 cups of quinoa and 6 cups of water for about 15 minutes.

Now let’s get chopping. Chop your onion, shallots and jalapenos, mince your garlic and zest your lemon.

Chopped Veggies

Chopped Veggies

When your quinoa is finished, divide it our into three dishes — 1/2 cup for stuffed peppers, 1 cup for kale salad and 1.5 cups for burrito bowls (you can put this one in the refrigerator).

Let’s start on the stuffed peppers. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan. When hot, add corn kernels and saute for about 3 minutes until just tender. Add the onions, garlic and jalapenos and cook until the onions soften and the garlic becomes fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add the ground turkey and cook until browned. Then add black beans (drained and rinsed), cooked quinoa, fire roasted tomatoes, oregano, chili powder, cumin and cayenne. (Note: After seeing the price of Mexican chili powder, I quickly googled a recipe for it while standing in the grocery, realized I had all of the ingredients and just whipped up my own.

Once it is all mixed together, take it off the heat and put it in a storage container and place in the refrigerator. All you will need to do when you are ready to eat it is cut your peppers in half, add the stuffing and bake.

Stuffing the Peppers

Stuffing the Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers

By now your roasted veggies should be ready. You can set them aside to cool until we need them.

Now mix your quinoa, kale and butternut squash in a storage container and put it in the refrigerator. I thought my kale pieces were too big so I took a pair of kitchen shears to them and chopped them down to be super small. In another smaller storage container, measure out 1/3 cup each of pumpkin seeds, chopped pecans and craisins. You can add these to the salad on the day you are going to eat it. I keep them separate so the pecans and seeds don’t get soft.

Kale & Quinoa Salad

Kale & Quinoa Salad

To make your dressing, add all of the ingredients to a bowl and mix with an immersion blender. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can mix it in a regular blender. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Next up, the chicken parm meatballs. First toast your bread and make your bread crumbs in a food processor. Then in a large bowl, mix all of your ingredients, shape them into balls (about the size of a golf ball) and place them a few inches apart on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. When your chicken meatballs are done, take them out of the oven to cool then put them in a freezer bag and freeze them for later in the week.

While those are baking, let’s make our farro risotto. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan. Add shallots and saute for about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute.

Stir in the farro until its well-coated with olive oil. Be careful not to let the shallots and garlic burn. Reduce the heat to low and add the white wine. Cook until liquid is completely absorbed.

Once the wine is absorbed, add one cup of chicken broth to the pan, until the farro is just covered. Cook at a simmer until absorbed, stirring periodically. Repeat this process by adding 1/2 cup at a time until farro is al dente.

Next stir in the roasted brussel sprouts and prosciutto (or in my case, turkey bacon that I’ve already cooked in the microwave until just done, not crisp.)

Remove from heat and pour into a large storage container, add one tablespoon of olive oil, lemon zest and 1/4 cup of Parmesan. Mix together, cover and place in the refrigerator.

We are almost done! Now it’s time to check your chicken. It should be fully cooked and ready to be shredded. Shred the chicken and put it in a storage container until you are ready to make your quinoa burrito bowls.

Food Prep to eat healthy and quickly all week!

chicken piccata
spicy chicken tortilla soup
quinoa burrito bowls
buffalo chicken chili
mini apple rosemary turkey meatloaves

Grocery Shopping list for this menu.

It’s freezing in central Ohio and there is more than a foot of snow on the ground, so I’ve been turning to my comfort foods and hearty chili and soups a lot lately. They are also great recipes to double and freeze half for later — double the food, half the time is a big bonus in my book! 

This week includes homework. Before you start prepping food, you need to pre-cook 6 chicken breasts in the crockpot with:
  • 32oz chicken broth/stock
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/2 t ground pepper
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 t onion powder

Once cooked, shred two pieces and set aside for the quinoa burrito bowls and save the remainder of the chicken and broth for prep day. I usually do this in the morning before church then prep in the afternoon.

We are starting food prep with lots of chopping this week. Almost all of our recipes call for onions and garlic, as well as apples, carrots and celery, so start by chopping all of these and put them in bowls by recipe, ie. put the carrots, celery, onion and garlic for the Buffalo Chicken Chili in one bowl and the onions and apples for the turkey meatloaves in another.
Food preparation

Chopped Vegetables

Now that all of that is done, drizzle EVOO in your soup pot and add ground chicken. Once that is cooked, add in your bowl of chopped veggies, bay leaf, paprika, salt and pepper and cook 7-8 minutes until soft. Next add your chicken stock and tomatoes. Cook for another 8-10 minutes.

While the chili is finishing up, line your muffin pans with foil cups. Then get a large mixing bowl and mix together all of the ingredients for your mini turkey meatloaves. Fill each muffin up, then cover with foil and write the directions on the foil with a marker — 425 for 20-25 minutes.

Mini Turkey Meatloaf Prep

Now your chili should be done. Take it off the heat and pour in large freezer bags. Depending on the size of your family and when you want to eat it, you can freeze half and put the other half in the refrigerator after it’s cooled. Wash your soup pan.
Buffalo Chicken Chili

Spicy Chicken Soup

Next up in the Spicy Chicken Tortilla Soup. Start by adding your onion and garlic to your soup pan with a swirl of EVOO. Once that starts to get slightly browned, stir in salsa, diced tomatoes, whole tomatoes, tomato soup, chili powder, corn, chili beans, sour cream and the broth and shredded chicken from the crockpot. Simmer 30 minutes.

While that is simmering, in another pot, make your quinoa – one cup of quinoa and two cups of water for 15 minutes.

While the quinoa and soup are cooking, now we will prep for the chicken piccata. Take out your chicken breasts and pound them out pretty flat. Put a piece of Press & Seal between each piece and place in the freezer bag then refrigerate or freeze depending on when during the week you plan to serve this meal. In another storage bag, add flour, salt and pepper. You will use this to coat the chicken when you are ready to cook it. In a small baggie, mix the chicken stock, lemon juice, lemon zest and garlic. Refrigerate. Once the chicken is cooked, you will pour this in the pan to make the sauce.
Chicken Picatta
By now the quinoa and soup should be done. Put the quinoa in a storage container in the refrigerator. For the soup, you can do the same as the chili.
Cooked Quinoa

Cooked Quinoa

My recommendation on any dish with cooked chicken is to eat it within 2-3 days or freeze it. If it sits in the refrigerator any longer, it starts to taste gamey.

Congratulations! You just completed your food prep and you have five delicious meals ready to eat this week, giving you much more time in the evenings. Comment below and let me know what you think!
Chicken Picatta

Chicken Picatta