Posts Tagged ‘quick and easy recipes’

My mom used to make this soup for Christmas Eve dinner. It seems like it was something she did every single year of my childhood, and a few years beyond that. So even now that I’ve adapted the recipe and eat it throughout the year, the scent and the flavors still carry a frisson of Christmas.

It’s such a good soup. It’s hearty. It’s adaptable. It’s forgiving. The leftovers are great. And it’s EASY.

Mulligatawny 3

The original recipe comes from Joy of Cooking, which, as you can see from the cover, is a much-loved cookbook in our house.

Mulligatawny 1

My husband and I have tweaked it a bit, over the years, to our liking. I have recently discovered that it works well in the crockpot, but it is also very easy to make on the stove.

Mulligatawny 2

Mulligatawny Soup (adapted from Joy of Cooking)

Servings: 6-8, depending on what you consider a serving


4 stalks of celery, diced

2 large carrots, diced

1 cup diced onion

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

3 Tbsp flour

1 1/2 Tbsp curry powder

2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

8 cups low-sodium chicken stock

2 bay leaves

1/4 to 1 cup uncooked or 1/2 to 2 cups cooked long-grain rice, depending on whether you want a more brothy soup or a more stewy soup

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp dried thyme

1 cup milk, warmed

1/2 cup diced green apple (optional)

Mulligatawny 4


Crockpot Version

  1. In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt butter and vegetable oil together.
  2. Add onion, celery, and carrot; sauté lightly until onion is translucent and veggies are slightly softened.
  3. Add flour and curry to the veggies; stir and cook until fragrant, about one minute.
  4. Spray insert of slow cooker with cooking spray.
  5. Add cooked veggies, raw chicken breasts, stock, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and thyme; stir.
  6. Add uncooked rice.
  7. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours. (Check temperature of chicken before eating.)
  8. Before serving, warm the milk and add it to the slow cooker. Add optional diced apples at this point as well.
  9. Remove chicken and shred; return to pot.
  10. Remove bay leaves.
  11. Add salt and pepper to taste.


Stovetop Version

Note: Ingredients are the same, except the rice and chicken should already be cooked.

  1. In a large stockpot on medium heat, melt butter and vegetable oil together.
  2. Add onion, celery, and carrot; sauté lightly until onion is translucent and veggies are slightly softened.
  3. Add flour and curry to the veggies; stir and cook until fragrant, about one minute.
  4. Add stock, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and thyme; stir.
  5. Bring to a boil; simmer for 15 minutes.
  6. Add shredded cooked chicken, cooked rice, and optional diced apples.
  7. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. Immediately before serving, add warmed milk.
  9. Add salt and pepper to taste.



  1. This is a very forgiving and adaptable recipe. You can add more or less chicken, more or less rice, more or less milk. Sometimes I have left out the milk altogether.
  2. You can substitute half and half, heavy cream, or coconut milk for the milk.
  3. You can add a squeeze of lemon to the soup before serving, for a little brightness.
  4. It is very simple to cut this recipe in half, but the leftovers freeze well.
  5. I do not think the apples add anything to the recipe, but my husband likes them.



Mulligatawny 5

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We have been fooling around with Carla’s after-school schedule a bit. I am a little apprehensive about it, because I worry it might be Too Much. But we survived the fall, when she had soccer two days a week in addition to three other weekly activities, so I hope we can get through it.

She has now has an after school activity on Monday, back-to-back activities on Wednesday (apprehensive moan…), an activity on Thursday, and an activity one Saturday a month. I have been trying to get Carla to take an active role in not just choosing her activities, but in thinking through whether she will have enough bandwidth to see them through. For instance, we have been talking at Great Length about the back-to-back Wednesday things. The first activity is year-round. The second is intermittent, for I think six weeks at a time. We did them both for a while in the fall, and it was SUPER HARD. But it may have been harder on me, because I am the one who has to actually get us to each activity on time. And because the Wednesday activities require driving on the freeway, which I hate. Towards the end of the six-week activity, I think I was finally getting the hang of it, so I am hopeful that I can apply those lessons to this next session. Carla was at first worried she would be too tired to undertake the second activity, but we did a “test run” this week, after her first activity resumed, and she decided that she still had enough energy to go through with the second activity. And it’s something she loves and it’s only for six weeks, which I think we can handle. (I hope.)

But this is all to say that I now need TWO nights of Very Easy meals. I am thinking that I need to have one crockpot meal each week, for Wednesday or Thursday (which is the night we have a late-ish activity) and then the other night we will eat leftovers or microwave meals. Yes, I said microwave meals. I have been buying the occasional Lean Cuisine and it is the epitome of convenience. (My favorite Lean Cuisine is the Santa Fe-Style Rice and Beans. Yes, eating it is often an exercise in Bean Hide and Seek, but it is still quite tasty when covered with enough Cholula.)

This week’s meal plan feels odd to me because there’s only ONE new recipe on the list (and no tacos!!!!!). But I am trying to remember that I have LOTS of old favorites and that new doesn’t necessarily equal better or even good.

Dinners for the Week of January 14-20


  • Crockpot Mulligatawny Soup


  • Leftover Soup or Microwave Meals


  • Date Night



  • Broccoli Beef (with plenty of bell peppers for me, because I don’t eat the beef)




What are you eating this week, Internet?

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We are all sick. My poor husband has gone back to work and Carla and I are draping ourselves pathetically across various pieces of furniture. I have given up trying to ban Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse from our home, and it plays endlessly in the background, rotting my child’s brain and fueling my nightmares.

I have managed to drag myself off the couch long enough to write 80% of the thank-you notes for our Christmas gifts. Carla needs to write three separate thank-yous to her teachers, who got her a book for Christmas, one to her babysitter for an unexpected gift of Play-Doh, and one to her grandparents for whom thank-you notes are Super Important. (I have taken their Supreme Importance to heart, as you see, writing them from my deathbed and all when I haven’t even been able to make Carla a breakfast heartier than “dry Wheat Chex in a bowl.”) She is signing the other cards, which I think is plenty. Getting her to write all the notes she needs to will be… a lengthy process. Please fill in the ellipsis with your own of all the other words I considered and rejected.

Even before this illness – which began Sunday as a scratchy throat and has snowballed to its present state of misery – felled us, my plans for dinners this week were… relaxed. It’s hard to get back into the dinner swing, post elaborate holiday meal planning. Plus, I am back on the calorie counting wagon, which makes me feel spiteful about dinners anyway.

Here we go. Perhaps in a few days I will feel well enough to plan meals for an entire week.

Dinners for the Partial Week of January 2 – January 7

Note: I am making this tonight because it is so easy. Nearly no effort, which is the most I can muster right about now. My husband and I pair this with basmati rice  (which I made last night) and caramelized onions (also a low effort item), and he also adds sundried tomatoes and feta cheese to his plate. Nothing green with this meal, but you could add a quick side salad if you were so inclined.

Note: I think this was on my meal schedule a couple of weeks ago and we ended up not eating it. Such flexibility is the benefit of having lots of chicken breasts in the freezer.

  • Mulligatawny Soup

Note: WordPress spell check is claiming that “soup” is not a word. It is, right? A word? And a food? Have I stumbled into some weird delirium? In any event, this mixture of meat and broth and other things is another super easy meal. Although I don’t think I have any pre-cooked shredded chicken in the freezer, which means I need to roast some before I make this. The recipe we use is adapted from Joy of Cooking, and it requires sauteeing mire poix (which I have pre-portioned in the freezer; you can buy mire poix from Trader Joe’s and just portion it out into freezer bags, or you can do a big batch on a day when you have time) with a couple tablespoons of flour and curry powder, adding chicken stock, shredded chicken, some thyme, salt, pepper, and bay leaves, and rice, and then cooking for awhile. You can add warm milk at the end if you so choose. Very simple but hearty and delicious.

That’s it. On Saturday, we’re going out to dinner with friends. Sunday, we may have some friends over – if that happens it will be last minute and very casual and I am trying VERY HARD not to freak out about that, because I am neither a last minute nor a casual kind of person. Monday… well, we’ll figure it out when it gets here I guess.

What are you eating this first week of 2019?

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Internet, I am so sick of all food and have no idea what to cook and yet I STILL feel obligated to feed my family.

Yes, I have been here before. But this rut ravine crevasse feels especially deep and wide and insurmountable.

Let’s list all the things that are contributing to these dark feelings:

  1. My grill is broken, so none of my summery “throw some meat and veg on the grill” options are available to me
  2. My in-laws are here, which means I feel (self-applied, only) extra pressure to cook Things That Are Special
  3. I have still not gotten accustomed to our summer schedule, so I feel off-kilter in general
  4. It’s hot and I don’t have any extra energy for cooking
  5. I used up every last store of Cooking Enthusiasm in June, when I baked two cakes and countless cupcakes and hosted my in-laws for multiple Special Meals

First, I tried to make meal planning more interesting by adding two or three Brand New Recipes to the weekly list of dinners. But that requires research and energy, and I am fresh out of both. Okay, I am not “fresh out” of research. I am fresh out of PATIENCE for research. DESIRE to research. And patience and desire for this line of sentencing.

Next, we have been eating lot of meals outside the home, which takes all the planning and cooking weight off of me. But eating out all the time is expensive and time consuming. And I tend not to make the healthiest choices when I go out to eat (if I’m going to spend money on a meal, it better be tasty and fancier than a SALAD is my line of thinking).

Finally, I have turned to cooking super easy things, like Crockpot BBQ Pork or Tacos or Burritos. But my husband is growing weary of all of those things, and they aren’t really the lightest fare, either. I love to eat foods that are smothered in cheese and sour cream, but there’s only so much of that you can eat before you start to feel like YOU are smothered in cheese and sour cream.

How in the world do you climb out of such a deep and overwhelming food chasm?

Probably what I need most is some fresh ideas. Which is difficult to ask for because a) I have a HUGE list of recipes I haven’t tried and b) I am super picky and so 90% of recipes people suggest never sound that great. Really makes you want to help me, doesn’t it?

What are your go-to meals, when you want something easy and delicious? Bonus points if you would serve it to guests.

(Where does this come from, this need to do Something Special for guests? If a food is good enough to serve to my family, why doesn’t that make it good enough to serve to other people? And yet there are MANY things that my husband and I eat all the time – and LOVE! – that I have never thought twice about serving to others. Some of them are pretty spicy, so maybe that’s part of it… we like a spice level that wouldn’t be comfortable to many other people. Some of them seem… plain, I guess? Like the Crockpot BBQ Pork, which is just a pork tenderloin and an onion dumped into the crock pot with some BBQ sauce [and sriracha]. I usually eat it with a baked potato and some green beans. I LOVE it. But I wouldn’t consider serving it to friends because… I don’t know! It seems too homely somehow? It seems like a B-Team Meal, and when you have people over, it seems like you should be serving them only A-Team foods? It’s too easy to make, and you should put in Real Effort when you entertain? I have no idea. Is this Foods-Suitable-for-Guests thing unique to me and my husband?)

In exchange, I will give you my FAVORITE recipe of late. It is so good. So good that I refrain from making it too often, lest I get sick of it.

(And I cook the chicken in the oven – 425F for about 20 minutes or until the chicken is 165F – so it doesn’t matter that our grill is broken.)

It’s called Honey Chipotle Chicken Bowls from How Sweet Eats but I think of it as a big, delicious salad. I use lots of mixed greens for the base, and I cut some fresh corn and bell peppers and carrots and avocado and add those to the salad. And then I top everything with a mixture of the lime dressing the recipe recommends and a generous drizzle of the cooked marinade from the chicken.  I was really suspicious of putting quinoa on a salad, but it adds a very pleasant texture that I love. We served this to my in-laws recently, and they loved it.

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