Learning to NOT Make Dinner from a Box

Over the last year and a half, we have fallen into this terrible habit of cooking something out of a box with directions and everything preserved in small packages. For example: the first full year that we lived together in our own apartment (when Khloe was thankfully still young enough to be eating baby food) we cooked and ate every version of Hamburger Helper and Chicken Helper available. Oh, and spaghetti. We ate A LOT of spaghetti. I am not putting down Hamburger Helper or spaghetti meals, obviously we aren’t the only family to purchase them or the companies would have already went under. Ha! BUT I was so tired of feeling like we always ate the same things, and never anything truly healthy. FYI: browned hamburger meat and packages full of preservatives are not much more healthy than fast food in my opinion but what can I say, we were young and broke and this was a new experience for us.

Now I do want to make this clear, this is not a rant about eating truly wholesome, pesticide-free, antibiotic-free, whatever-else-you-want-to-claim-is-dangerous-free foods, etc. This is just my adventure in attempting to provide our family with varieties, albeit sometimes more healthy, and definitely a more flavorful menu.

**Corn Chowder  This inspiration came from Myra over at http://www.myblessedlife.net She is always cooking up something amazing and I definitely have acknowledged my lack of baking/cooking expertise since following her blog. Haha! This just sounded good from the recipe, but turned out amazing!! And the man of the house was happy it was a soup recipe that actually called for meat and “substance” as he called it. (: http://myblessedlife.net/2013/02/corn-chowder.html

**Easy Crock Pot Potato Soup This recipe actually came from a close friend of mine. She is a busy mom with 4 kids (two sets of twins!) who works a full time job outside of the home, so I think she knew I would love any recipe with the word EASY in the title. I had to try it out when she recommended it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 30 oz. bag of frozen, shredded hash browns
  • 3 14 oz. cans of chicken broth
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 8 oz. package cream cheese
  • bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, green onion, sour cream for garnish

Directions: Combine everything (except cream cheese) in your crock pot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. About one hour before serving, add cream cheese and cook until thoroughly melted.

Side Note: From experience, definitely make sure ALL of the cream cheese is completely melted. We’ve made this a few times now and definitely have made one set that didn’t get melted completely……

**Taco Soup This also came from Myra at My Blessed Life. I cooked this earlier in the week.. it was great! I will add:  we crushed small round tortilla chips and placed them in the bowl before adding the soup. http://myblessedlife.net/2012/01/taco-soup.html

**Tomato Pie I came across this on a random blog stroll. And guess who the guest post was from? I’ll let you click and find out! (She is a kitchen genius. Pretty sure I should just print every recipe she’s posted and be set for months. LOL!) This was SO good. I had my reservations, but it turned out absolutely amazing. Even the man of the house was very skeptical and then admitted he really like it. This is one of the simplest recipes for an easy meal. Please check it out if you have time!  http://goodcheapeats.com/2010/05/tomato-pie-guest-post/

**Chicken Bacon Club Sandwiches How funny that I actually found this recipe in a Wal-Mart sale paper. They always have a few recipes listed and advertise the ingredients needed, all available at Wal-Mart, of course. This was SO, SO easy and more tasty than our usual chicken sandwich meals. We added some oven baked fries and called it a day.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Cup Hidden Valley Smoked Bacon Ranch Sandwich Spread & Dip, divided
  • 2 cups cooked chicken
  • 8 slices of sandwich bread, toasted
  • 4 leaves lettuce
  • 1 large tomato, sliced

Directions:

  • Stir chicken and sandwich spread together.
  • Spread 1/2 chicken mixture on 4 slices of toast.
  • Top with lettuce, tomato and remaining toast to create sandwiches.

**Cream of Tomato Soup and 3 Cheese Grilled Cheese This was actually the first recipe I started with on my drive to make more things homemade. I really loved the way it turned out. I will say, I accidentally added too much garlic and had to compensate with extra puree tomatoes and milk to even out the flavor. When we first tried it it was STRONG. Hey, living and learning. This was such a wholesome meal with the three cheese grilled cheese sandwich, made on cheese bread by the way!! Oh my goodness it was so amazing combined with the soup. It was like having a Panera Bread meal at home. (:

http://www.ohsweetbasil.com/2013/02/cream-of-tomato-soup-and-grilled-cheese.html

I’m not even sure how I came across her website or the recipe now, but I will tell you that I am subscribed via email and definitely looking forward to receiving more of the recipes on her page. Go check out Oh Sweet Basil and see what yummy recipes you come across.

Are you a natural in the kitchen, or are you like me and need a little nudge in the right direction every now and then? I’m hoping all of this practice can uncover some long lost skills I just had yet to discover. Ha!

I now realize that we have eaten a lot of soup lately. What can I say, it has been so cold out, I think it fit the occasion (;

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