Tuesday, July 20, 2010

slow cooker minestrone soup

I realize this hot soup is NOT the most weather appropriate dish BUT our A/C is fully functional again AND I needed a delicious but filling 'set it and forget it" meal today so slow cooker minestrone it was!

We love summer!  Pool parties at the Sheridan household are standard.  Arrive when you can and leave when you must.  However, my heart goes out to my hard working husband who leaves for work at 6:30am and returns home almost 12 hours later to find a backyard littered with popsicle sticks, empty juice boxes, collapsed beach chairs and soggy towels.  I feel so guilty watching him organize the chaos, still in his tie, as his OCD prevents him from disregarding the mess and leaving it for me to deal with the following morning.  There was a time before I had mastered the art of 'prepping ahead and dining in', when he would come in after cleaning up our mess and wonder if I had a plan for dinner.  Cranky, water logged children were screaming and whining, the house was a disaster and I, standing there, unevenly suntanned, dripping pool water on the kitchen floor, had no plan at all.

Not today!  I loaded my slow cooker with the ingredients for this super healthy, filling soup before I went to bed last night and took a couple of minutes to toss some ingredients in my bread machine for french bread this morning.  The kids were still cranky and the yard was still a disaster but at least dinner was on the table after he tidied up and walked the dog.  I'm a lucky girl....I know.

slow cooker minestrone

3 cartons chicken broth ( I use Natures Promise organic)
2 (14 1/2 – ounce) cans no salt added petite cut diced tomatoes
2-3 handfuls of organic baby spinach

1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
4 medium carrots, chopped
1-2  zucchini, quartered and sliced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 T dried Italian seasoning*
1 T basil*
1 bay leaf (optional)
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 t salt
½-1 cup cup uncooked small whole wheat shell or elbow pasta
1 (15.5 – ounce) can organic cannelloni beans, rinsed and drained 

*In the summer I use fresh herbs.  1/4 cup chopped parsley, 10 basil leaves and 1 T chopped oregano.  If you don't have fresh available, just use dried!)

1.  Combine all ingredients in slow cooker except for pasta and beans .
2.  Cover and cook on LOW for 5 ½ hours (You can cook longer if you need to.  I cooked it for 9 hours on low today.)
3.  During the last 30 minutes add pasta and beans.  Stir a couple of times and serve hot.  I like mine with parmesan cheese and hot pepper.

Monday, July 19, 2010


We eat lots of soup in our house.  I think it's an easy way to serve a well-balanced, filling prep ahead meal.  With our A/C being on the fritz last week, there was no way I was turning on the stove and stirring a big pot of soup.  I hadn't made this gazpacho recipe in quite a while because I wasn't sure it would appeal to the masses.  I was pleasantly surprised when it was a huge hit with my youngest two girls!  If your kids like salsa, they will love this cold soup!

This dish is a great way to make use of the fresh vegetables available this time of year at your local farmers market or backyard garden!  It's a simple, healthy, prep ahead dish!



  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 T cilantro
  • 10 basil leaves, torn
  • 1/4 cup  fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Roughly chop all vegetables and place in food processor. Add remaining ingredients to the food processor*.
  2.  Blend until well-combined but still slightly chunky. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.  The longer it sits, the better it tastes!

*Be careful not to fill your food processor with too many ingredients!  You will end up with gazpacho on your ceiling, on your microwave, in the napkin holder and dripping down the cabinets.  I blended mine in 2 batches (and then cleaned up the tomato explosion).  :)

Thursday, July 15, 2010

blueberry loaf

It's blueberry season!  This is probably one of the last weekends to get out there and do some picking!  We went a few weeks ago and made this blueberry loaf for desert that night.
In our household this loaf is more of a desert but it could easily be served for breakfast.   Even if you're not a baker, you can swing this recipe.  Just look at the steps!  It takes about 10 minutes to mix up the batter AND it makes your house smell fantastic!

I like to double the recipe, slice it after it cools, individually wrap the slices and freeze them in a ziploc bag to pack for to-go snacks.  If I am not feeling that ambitious, I just skip the slicing and wrapping and freeze the whole loaf.

Blueberry Loaf

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 t good quality vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 t baking powder
1 cup blueberries

2 t sugar
1 t cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan.
2. Cream butter and sugar.  Add in eggs, vanilla and milk.
3. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl.  Add wet to dry until just combined.
4.  Fold in blueberries.
5.  Pour in loaf pan and sprinkle cinnamon and sugar on top.
6.  Bake for 50-55 minutes.

Prep-ahead:  Double the recipe and freeze a loaf to enjoy on another day!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

chicken tabbouleh salad

recipe adapted from Ina Garten

Our a/c is broken and just the thought of cooking makes me hot.  This summer salad is very refreshing! It is filling enough to serve as a meal and requires only a little chopping and boiling water.  I like to prepare it on Sunday and serve it for lunch during the week.  The longer it sits the better it tastes.


  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup bulgur wheat (available in a box in the organic/natural food section at your market).
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 whole cooked rotisserie chicken, cut up (bought already made from the market)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch minced scallions, white and green parts 
  • 1 cup chopped fresh mint leaves (2 bunches) (optional)*
  • 1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (1 bunch)
  • 1  cucumber, cut up
  • 1-2 pints halved cherry tomatoes


In a heat-proof bowl, pour the boiling water over the bulgur wheat. Add the lemon juice, 1/4 cup olive oil, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt. Stir. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the bulgur to stand at room temperature for about 1 hour.
Cut the chicken up into medium dice and add to the tabbouleh. Add the scallions, mint, parsley, cucumber, tomatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Season, to taste, and serve or chill and serve cold later.  Tastes even better the next day.
*I'm not a huge fan of mint so I either omit it or only add about a tablespoon.

Monday, July 12, 2010

slow cooker beef burritos

We recently spent a week in Lake George with my husband's family and had these yummy burritos one night.  Our car was fully packed with duffel bags, floaties, beach chairs, toys and at the very bottom of the pile was my slow cooker!  

We have a couple of vacations planned this summer and in my opinion, it is so much easier to dine in.  We're not completely opposed to dining out with our three little ones but showing up at a restaurant for an early dinner with a gaggle of raucous though well-dressed nursery-school children is an unpredictable experience.  One we like to skip while vacationing. SO...we planned our prep ahead meals and were able to enjoy the beach and pool into the later hours of the afternoon!

Slow Cooker Beef Burritos 

2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons paprika
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
Black pepper to taste
Salt to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste
1 (3-4 pound) beef roast cut in half
1 large red onion
½-1cup cup water or beef broth

1.  In a bowl, combine the seasonings* and mix well.
2.  Slice onion into rings and place on the bottom of the slow cooker.
3.  Pour the ½ cup of water or broth on top of the onions.
4.  Place both halves of the roast in the slow cooker and cover all sides the spice mixture.
5.  Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8-10. 
6.  Using 2 forks, shred the beef.
7..  Serve with large flour tortillas and any topping you choose. We add black beans, salsa, cheese and rice on top of the shredded beef and roll it all up in our tortilla!

*If you don't have all of those herbs/ spices on hand substitute them all for one packet of taco seasoning.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

mary's baked eggs

Another great easy recipe from the Tigelaar household!  This dish is great if you are feeding a crowd but easy enough to make for just a few people.  You can make it the night before and let it sit in the fridge but it really takes no time at all to prepare.  I often just take 5 minutes and throw it together in the morning!

Baked Eggs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Melt 1/2 T butter per egg in a baking dish.
Put 2 eggs per person on top of the melted butter.
Sprinkle chopped green onions on top of the eggs (about 1/2 T per egg).
Sprinkle with cheddar cheese (as much or as little as you like!  We like lots!!!)
Bake for 30 minutes