Tag Archives: skinnytaste

What. The. Squash.

Ladies and gentlemen, I have an announcement:

Squash is the worst

Let me clarify… PREPARING Squash is the worst.

I was coming off of my Crockpot Taco Chicken Chili high and was thinking I was invincible. The poo. I could dominate and regulate any recipe I so desired. Because I could cook.

And then I read this recipe for Butternut Squash and Spinach Lasagna Rolls and I thought this would be the perfect simple dinner for a good after work meal.

Let me just tell you. That was cute. That idea you could just whip up some squash, boil noodles, make the insides and then ‘toss’ it all together. Oh, and did I mention? This is the first time I attempted to make anything lasagna. So yeah, using the word ‘underestimated’ – that’s an understatement. I was out of my league in a big way.

Let me just walk you through what really happened:

  1. I had approximately one hour before The Boy came over for dinner and the roommate would get home. I ran to the grocery store. Got the ingredients. Ran home. Took the squash out of the bag and then went to dice it… and it was hard. And there was a skin. Sigh.
  2. I called my BFF Niki (Young Life Leader, Amazing Person, Knower of ALL THINGS Crafty and Domestic) and asked her what you do with a squash. She laughed after asking if I had not already cooked it to make it tender (no? you have to do that?) and then told me to get a potato peeler out.
  3. I start peeling (potato peeler style) the squash and am also trying to thaw the spinach and grab the other one million ingredients I would need, while starting a LARGE pot full of water to boil on the stove (for the massive noodles).
  4. I throw the noodles in the pot. They don’t fit right (because, why would they). So… I just jam part of them in. While throwing my diced squash (WAIT there’s also seeds inside this squash? Seriously squash?! ::shakes fist::) in another pot to boil until tender (read: for one hundred minutes).
  5. I’m feeling defeated, and we’re on step two of like twenty, so I grab a wine glass, open a bottle, pour myself a glass and snack on some sesame seed sticks.

Which, is exactly how The Boy found me. Shoulders hunched, wine in hand, sheer terror in my eyes.

Luckily, The Boy is not only experienced in all things kitchen, but also has seemingly endless calming capabilities and enough patience to power the world. God bless him.

So, The Boy takes over, I’m running here and there to piece this part and that together… and he’s just moving on forward. He’s laughing through my kitchen storage, trying to find an inch of space on the counter and after he gets everything under control (read: puts me back on the right track), he goes on his merry way organizing all of the misplaced things in the kitchen.

Sigh.

Funny side tangent that has nearly nothing to do with this story but just sets the scene of night in a major way: My house is OLD AND COLD. And the fridge is in this very cold sun room off the kitchen (it’d be too easy to have the fridge in the kitchen). One morning, I had the genius idea to put up a curtain in the door way to stop the artic breeze from rolling in from the sunroom to the rest of the house. Which, I still provide is the smartest thing I’ve thought of this winter. It’s made a HUGE difference. However, somewhere in the midst of all of this scurry in the kitchen, I run into the sunroom for something out of the fridge, trip over the curtain, rip it from the wall and fall basically all the way to the ground tangled in the curtain. Which, should surprise exactly no one that has ever walked anywhere near me, or has had the responsibility of catching me as I fall (I’m looking at you Orlowski). But really surprised The Boy. Who laughed. And compared me to his mother. Which, I’m taking as a compliment. But you know, I would fall and destroy something as I’m also trying to look like a domestic goddess to my suitor and already failing at that miserably. When these moments happen, you know, the ones where things just aren’t going your way… and then you trip and fall. These are the moments I just laugh to myself and feel certain that God has an amazing sense of humor. And good news: The Boy witnesses all of this insanity and mess and disorganization and still thinks I’m great. Thank God.

Anywho, after this long process, the meal finally goes into the oven. I start prepping the salads. I make the garlic bread. And the lasagna rolls come out of the oven as my roommate walks in the door to eat with us. Everything is perfect. It looks incredible on the plate.

Beautiful. JUST like the photo online. Betsy for the win.

Beautiful. JUST like the photo online. Betsy for the win.

And it tastes like nothing. Nada.

It’s just not awesome. Not even close to awesome. Some might not even call it good. Most would call it bland. You’re eating squash with fat free cheese a noodle and some spinach. I wanted to scrape off the squash and cover it with butter and brown sugar. That’s all I could think.

I had photos of every step of the process, I had notes for things you’d need to know when making it… but I didn’t want to share any single one of them with you, because it’s really just not worth your time to make.

How sad is that?

Lessons learned:

  1. Not all recipes are equal.
  2. Squash requires time and effort.
  3. Long noodles for lasagna need a large pan. And guess what, just sticking one end in… that’s not the solution because it means half of your noodles are cooked entirely differently than the other half.
  4. Even with not-so-great meals, The Boy will take two helpings just to make you feel better about your life.
  5. When something’s not great the first time, the leftovers are miserable.
  6. Grocery shop on the weekend. For goodness sake Betsy, aint nobody got time to go to the store and make a two hour meal on a weeknight.
  7. You should never attempt a new cooking endeavor without a bottle of wine nearby. You know, just in case.
  8. There’s always humor in the kitchen. Mistakes will be made, things will go south, you will inevitably have forgotten at least one ingredient… but hey, that’s just funny.

One year later… I’m getting better. I have some great safe meals under my belt that I could pull out at any point… and I’m not afraid to try new things.

And I’m always, always ready to laugh. Thank God for that.

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The. Best. Recipe. Of. All. Times.

Everyone.

I have found… MY MOST FAVORITE RECIPE OF ALL TIMES!!! Or, more accurately, I feel like maybe I should call it “my most favorite FALL recipe of all times” as it’s warm and delicious and makes your house smell like happiness. But if it was a hot summer day and you have no air conditioning… it would be just more hot. You’d be hot. It’d make your house hot. Hot. Hot. Hot.

But that’s neither here nor there… because it’s getting cold and FALL HAS ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRIVED! It’s true. The Pumpkin Spice Latte told me so.

And you guys… This. Is. So. Amazingly. Easy.

Here’s what I’ve learned… there’s nothing like throwing some stuff in a crock pot and coming home later to a perfectly prepared meal with no work to do before being able to consume it.

This whole adventure started because I’d been craving soup (because that’s just what happens to me when winter is coming) and decided to go on the hunt for a soup recipe. First stop, the lovely SkinnyTaste blog. Why? Because this lady is not only genius, but loves the crockpot. And I love her for that. And after a few clicks, I found it. I knew exactly what I wanted to make.

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili.

I mean, doesn’t that just sound like a cozy meal? Answer: Yes.

There’s 10 servings. Which means, you can eat it night one when you come home from work and then 9 days straight… OR you can place it in ziplock bags and throw it in the freezer to take out and easily throw it in the microwave at a later date. Or heck, you could probably make it for a group… but I just didn’t think ahead like that. And after tasting it, I was reluctant to share. It was that good.

Enough talking Betsy – get to the goods.

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 16-oz can black beans (I made the executive decision to drain them)
  • 1 16-oz can kidney beans (I made the executive decision to drain them)
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce
  • 10 oz package frozen corn kernels
  • 2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 24 oz (3-4) boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • chili peppers, chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
Combine beans, onion, chili peppers, corn, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder and taco seasoning in a slow cooker.

No big deal. Just threw a whole bunch of stuff into a crock pot and stirred it. Done.

No big deal. Just threw a whole bunch of stuff into a crock pot and stirred it. Done.

Place chicken on top and cover.

Seriously. You just set it on top. No cutting. No dicing. Yeah, you want to try this right now don't you?!

Seriously. You just set it on top. No cutting. No dicing. Yeah, you want to try this right now don’t you?!

Cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 6 hours.

You come back... to this. Perfectly cooked, absolutely delish chicken.

You come back… to this. Perfectly cooked, absolutely delish chicken.

Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred.

It just fell apart. Easily. With two forks. Perfectly. Cooked. Tender. Chicken.

It just fell apart. Easily. With two forks. Perfectly. Cooked. Tender. Chicken.

Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in  (I’m going to be perfectly honest here… I shred it. And then put it directly into my stomach. Ain’t nobody got patience to WAIT AROUND FOR FUN when the meal is ready… Just sayin’). 

If you're wondering if this is the point where I just dipped a cracker into the crock pot... you know... to just sample it... then you'd be wondering correctly...

If you’re wondering if this is the point where I just dipped a cracker into the crock pot… you know… to just sample it… then you’d be wondering correctly…

Top with fresh cilantro (Um… yeah… I skipped that). Also try it with low fat cheese and sour cream (Or high fat cheese. Or no cheese. Whatever strikes your fancy).

And are you ready to see the final product?!

Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum. Best meal I've ever made.

Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuum. Best meal I’ve ever made.

I just put some on a plate. Added a little sour cream. A dabble of cheese and then scooped it up with crackers. She suggests rice or noodles as other alternatives (as in – put some rice at the bottom of the bowl and throw chili over it).

I will give you one quick PSA. I KNEW that when you opened cans you were supposed to be careful of the jagged edge. But this time, I really learned my lesson (scroll quick if blood makes you queasy!).

Ouch. Plain and simple.

Ouch. Plain and simple.

Here’s the trouble with hurting yourself in the kitchen. You’re working with food and suddenly you’re bleeding everywhere. It’s just a messy scenario. So don’t do it. Go ahead and just be careful with freshly opened cans and save yourself the frantic search for the Disney Princess bandaids. You’re welcome in advance!

It has honestly been my kitchen favorite and I can tell you right now, I’ll be using this often this winter. Group dinner? Check. Feeling cold because my windows leak cold air like it’s their job? Done. Feeling lazy and don’t want to make dinner every night for the week? Pray answered!

Got any great crock pot recipes I need to try on another cold day? I think this crock pot and I are going to have a very very happy fall together!

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