Sunday, November 4, 2012

Cooking to Combat the Blues

A few things before I jump into the recipes:
  1. Last week was a bad, bad week, the kind you want to erase from the history of your life.
  2. I do not particularly enjoy cooking.
  3. I've decided I need to start limiting my intake of sodium.    
  4. I hate it when we Fall Back and the days become so dark and short. I need sunlight!
So, with those points in your mind, let me proceed...
Last night the time changed, and while most people are super excited about the prospect of gaining an extra hour of sleep, I always dread the time change because I personally would rather lose an hour of sleep and continue having long sunny days! Every year I go through what I call my "Hibernation Period". This morning I woke up already blue from the lingering effects of my awful last week and with the knowledge that the day would be so short. But as I was drinking my coffee, I decided that I would not allow myself to succumb to the winter blues! (Sometimes you just have to chant in your head "I will be happy, I will be happy, I will be happy" until you actually start to feel that way.) Therefore, I went from window to window opening all the blinds letting in as much light as possible, turned on my Sunday Mix and peered at the contents of my fridge. That's when I realized I had the ingredients to make not one but TWO fabulous meals that would most likely last me all week. Hooray! With a renewed sense of purpose I began to create the recipes. 
Now, last week when I was grocery shopping, I really didn't have any specific recipes in mind so I just threw a bunch of ingredients that looked enticing into the basket thinking I could figure out what to do with them later. And as I pulled everything out onto the counter, I knew a recipe wasn't really needed, I could just throw everything in and it would be tasty! That's the way I like to cook. I may be a planner in other areas of my life, but when it comes to cooking, I just can't be bothered to plan it all out!
First, I put together what I will call...
Chicken Curry and Vegetables
6 frozen chicken breast tenderloins
1 can lite coconut milk
1 can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 12oz. bag vegetable medley
1/2 of a yellow onion, chopped into large chunks
1 heaping tsp. curry powder (or add to taste)

I threw all the ingredients into the Crock Pot, turned it on High and went on to recipe #2.

Beef with Broccoli Soup
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 of a yellow onion, chopped into large chunks
6 new potatoes
about half of an 8 oz bag of Tyson Grilled & Ready Steak Strips (you could definitely use the whole bag, but I only had half left, or skip this entirely)
1 12oz bag of Broccoli & Cauliflower (you could chop your own but I got these bags BOGO!)
1 32oz box of reduced sodium beef broth
3 cups water

First, I sauteed the minced garlic with the onions in a little drizzle of olive oil.

Then I chopped the new potatoes in half. You could chop them into smaller pieces, but I do not like to chop! Plus, when they are cooked you can easily cut them up smaller with your spoon!

Add those to the pot, then add the beef broth and water. Finally, dump in the vegetables and give everything a stir.

It should look something like this:

Simmer at a soft boil for about 30 mintues. (You can let it simmer on low for as long as you want to let the flavors marry)
Finally at the end, I topped my individual bowl with a tiny dash of salt and pepper (see #3 above) and some bean sprouts. 
They give the soup a nice little crunch! 
(I will also add some of these to my Chicken Curry when that is ready!)

And here is the final result!

You can also add rice to the curry, but it tastes great without rice too!

I divided these up into one serving containers and put them in the fridge so that during the week I can just grab them and go! And since I am sure to be suffering from Seasonal Affected Disorder in the week ahead (NO! "I will be happy, I will be happy, I will be happy!"), those ready made meals are sure to come in handy!
Let me know if you try the recipes and how you like them!
Now, the sun has mostly gone and the day is growing dark, so I'm off to light some candles and eat some soup!

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