Introducing…Cooking Together

I recently read a post on a blog (and I can’t seem to remember where at the moment, but I promise I’ll find it and add in a link) that talked about choosing a recipe each week to cook with a friend, perhaps one you don’t get to see often, and then compare notes on it. I thought it would be so much fun to do this both as a way to try new recipes and get new ideas in the kitchen, and as a way to connect with friends. I asked my good friend from college, Kim, if she would be interested in giving it a go with me.

How it works: One of us picks a recipe each week. This can be one that’s tried and true, or a new one we’ve seen somewhere and have been wanting to try. We both cook it at some point during the week and then compare notes. Easy and fun!

So, to kick it off this first week, we tried a recipe from Kitchen Stewardship.

Slow Cooker Lentil and Brown Rice Casserole

Ingredients:

3/4 cup dry lentils
1/2 cup brown rice
1 c. water
2 1/2 –3 cups homemade chicken stock
1 cup tomato sauce or 1 can tomato paste (if using sauce, use 2 1/2 c. chicken broth)
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup of chopped green or red pepper
1 grated or finely chopped carrot
2 c. cooked, shredded chicken
optional: other vegetables like spinach, broccoli
3 teaspoons Italian seasoning or taco seasoning
2 cloves crushed garlic
1/2 tsp salt
Dash pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese ( I prefer sharp cheddar, but Mexican blend with the taco seasoning or mozzarella with the Italian is also great)

Method:

Combine rice, lentils, and water in the slow cooker following this rice soaking method. Allow to soak overnight with the machine turned off. Add all the other ingredients and mix everything together in the slow cooker except for cheese. Set slow cooker to high for four hours or low for 8 hours, adding cheese about a half hour from the end of the time.

Serve with salsa for the Mexican version, and optional spaghetti sauce with the Italian is great.

My Slow Cooker ready to go.

 

Notes on this week’s recipe:

Ease of preparation:
Krissa: I love crock pot recipes because when dinner time rolls around it’s all ready to go. This one wasn’t as easy as some, where you just dump a bunch of items in together, because of the chopping of several of the items. But I still much prefer doing the prep earlier in the day and not having to worry about it in the late afternoon when kids are starting to get out of control.
Kim: I didn’t read the recipe well before the day I made it (other than to get the ingredients of which I still forgot a couple!).  So I didn’t soak the rice and lentils.  I also thought there was a lot of chopping prep for a crock pot recipe, but I won’t complain because I prefer fresh ingredients and also don’t mind chopping early if I can just sit down to dinner later!
Overall Opinion:
Krissa: Overall, we liked this. Not loved it. But enjoyed it. It was a little mushier than I had envisioned…maybe it cooked for too long. I did the 8 hrs. on low option, but actually ended up shaving an hour or two off at the end.
Kim: From the smell coming from the crockpot, this made me very hungry!  But upon eating it, I thought it was just okay.  It definitely had a mushy texture and I didn’t like that.  My lentils were a little under cooked.  I had it on high for 5-6 hours.
Kid friendly?
Krissa: Charlotte actually ate this with us, which is a big step for her, as she usually sticks to mac and cheese, PB&J, etc. She did pretty good with it.
Kim: I thought it was kid friendly, easy to eat with a spoon, pretty mild flavors and easy to chew.  Our girls always have what we’re having and usually have good appetites.  They didn’t dislike it, but there were no  “Mom, I love this” comments either.
Husband’s thoughts:
Krissa: He would be happy to have it again, but I don’t think he wants to put it on the weekly rotation–maybe monthly.
Kim: My husband thought it was just okay.  He would have also eaten it with tortilla chips if we had any.  I don’t think he would be sad if we didn’t have it again.
Would you have it again?
Krissa: Yes.
Kim: Probably not…like I said, it wasn’t bad, just not great!
Did you omit/add anything?
Krissa: Chicken. We just did the veggies, but I’m sure chicken would be a welcome addition. I added zucchini, which I thought was really good.
Kim: We also left out the chicken and the carrot…forgot them at the grocery store  And the salt.  Used tomato soup instead of tomato sauce.
How did you serve it?
Krissa: We did the Mexican version. Topped with cheese, sour cream, and salsa. Rick also had his with tortilla chips…he always likes a little crunch.
Kim: We also did the Mexican version with sour cream salsa, cheese, and avacado… and a salad on the side.
Changes for next time:
Krissa: I might try cooking it for less time, and would like to try it with the chicken.
Kim: Add the chicken and eat it over tortilla chips with taco salad over the top (use it as kind of as the meat base).
Additional Comments:
Krissa: I like that this dish is pretty much all stuff you could have on hand and throw together. I also like that you can really add whatever veggies you have on hand. Like I said before, I thought it was kind of mushy, but maybe that’s what it was supposed to be like.
Kim: I did like that I had most of the ingredients already in the house.  But it was mushy and was just missing something!

The Plan:

I’ll post our upcoming recipe each week, and if anyone wants to join in, please feel free! If you do try one of the recipes, please use the contact form below and let me know your thoughts. Or, if you have a recipe you’d like us to try, let me know as well. I’m looking for easy, healthy, and delicious!

So, for next week…Kim got this recipe from a friend, who won 1st place at a soup contest with it.

Tortilla Soup

1lb cooked chicken (salted and peppered to taste)
2 cans of chicken broth
2 cans of diced tomatoes
1 can of diced green chilis
1/2 cup of green taco sauce.

Put it all in a pot and simmer for 30 minutes. Top with jack cheese, avocados and tortilla chips.

Join us and let me know how it goes!

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