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Monday, November 9, 2009

Meals for Days

I hope you like leftovers, because these recipes will definitely deliver! My life right now is too hectic to plan and cook a different meal every night. Ok, Ok, you got me. Its not really too hectic, but I just don't have the energy and would much rather spend spend some quality time with Clint and Amelia. We had started getting into a rut of ordering in too many nights of the week, and I had to find a solution to break that habit. My wallet and my waist were not happy with me. Now, of course, the night I decide to try and come up with something, is a night when my pantry seems bare because I haven't been to the grocery store in about 2 weeks. (!!!!) I had cans of beans and tomatoes galore, so I envisioned a taco soup of sorts. Everyone likes taco soup, right?

Taco Soup For Days

1 lb extra lean ground beef or lean ground turkey
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can corn, rinsed and drained
1 can mexican green chilies (There are 2 sizes of cans. I use the larger one)
1 can mexican style tomatoes
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 packet ranch seasoning
1 packet taco seasoning
1 box low sodium chicken stock

Preheat slow cooker on high. Brown ground meat and onion in skillet until meat is cooked through. Drain. Pour ground meat mixture and the rest of the ingredients into slow cooker, except for the stock. Stir and add enough stock to give you the soup consistency you like. I like my soups not so soupy, so I add maybe 3/4 of the box. Cover and walk away. Enjoy the time you don't have to spend cooking dinner. This soup gets better the longer it simmers, but if you can't wait any longer, (like Clint) it will be ready as soon as it is heated through.

I serve this with a big dollop of fat free sour cream and graham cracker cornbread. The slight sweetness of the cornbread is a perfect compliment to the zesty soup. Feel free to experiment with different beans and different types of tomatoes. I change the recipe every time I make it based on what I have. This recipe is simply a delicious starting point.

Graham Cracker Cornbread

1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 egg
skim milk - enough to make a thick but pour-able batter. Mine is a little thicker than pancake batter.

Mix all together and pour into a muffin pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake on 350 for 12-15 minutes.

This next little gem is one part comfort food and one part good for you food. Once again, I had a hodge podge of ingredients that needed to get used. I knew I had chicken and several cans of fat free condensed soups. I could almost taste Granny's chicken and rice casserole baking in my oven, but I did not want the fat that comes with it. A whole stick of butter? No, thanks! I also wanted to make something that Amelia would eat happily and I desperately had to find a way to sneak a good dose of vegetables in. She suddenly has started turning away from veggies and I'm trying anything to coax her back into eating them. I had a plan and I started mixing....

Baking Mommy's Chicken and Rice Veggie Casserole (for days)

3 chicken breasts, cubed into bite size pieces
1 cup Uncle Ben's instant brown rice
1 can fat free condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can fat free condensed cream of celery soup
1 can fat free condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 bag frozen broccoli
1 bag frozen corn
1 bag frozen green peas
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
2 oz (appx) 2% Velveeta cubed (can be omitted)
1/4 to 1/2 cup skim milk
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl, adding milk last. Start by adding 1/4 cup of the milk. If mixture seems a little dry, add another 1/4 cup. Pour into a 9 x 13 casserole dish that you've sprayed with cooking spray. Bake 40 minutes until bubbly and chicken is cooked through and rice is tender.

I served this with fresh asparagus. I trim the ends, spray with cooking spray and sprinkle slightly with salt. Depending on the thickness of the spears, I cook anywhere from 8 to 12 minutes. A salad would have also been a nice addition, if I had had lettuce!

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