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.