what's for dinner

The #1 Secret to Easy Family Dinners—and Why Slow is the New Quick

Crockpot chicken~ super simple, super easy, and seriously yummy.
Crockpot chicken~ super simple, super easy, and seriously yummy.

If you’ve got low thyroid, you know there’s just not a whole bunch

of energy leftover—especially toward the end of a long day.

Often, the last thing that you want to do is cook dinner.

You know the drill.

Everyone is hungry.

Your house is a mess.

Kids are climbing up your legs.

Don’t you wish you had a kitchen helper?

Likely, you do, lurking somewhere in a cabinet: a slow cooker, or crockpot. To me, using a crockpot is almost like having dinner out, but you’re eating in the comfort of your own home. You know the ingredients are good and the flavors are going to be just how you like them. But you barely had to lift a finger.

Here’s my “little secret” when it comes to the crockpot: Don’t bother with special “slow cooker” recipes; use it as the world’s easiest way to cook your protein.

For me, it’s usually beef, bison, chicken, or turkey. Yes, it’s that simple!

Then, I use the meat in any which way I like. I can make tacos, Indian curry, Thai stir-fry, or plain old roast chicken, just by placing my meat and a few simple spices into my trusty crocker.

Here is one of my family’s all-time favorites. Honestly, it can’t get any easier. To sweeten the crock just a bit, it’s a two-for-one deal: Roast the chicken on day one, and make a no-work bone broth on day two.

Now it’s your turn. Do you love your crockpot, or is she just sitting there in the back of your cabinet? I’d LOVE to learn about your favorite crockpot recipes. Leave a comment below and while you’re at it, tell us a little story about how you manage to feed your family well with all the hustle and bustle of life.

~ Kristin

Thai Curry Lentils

Two unexpected events happened for me this week.

First, my husband graced me with a “spa” weekend.

Now I said, “unexpected”. So no, I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t book a two-hour massage or get a facial, but I did get loads of downtime. He happily whisked the kids away and I found myself home- alone, for hours!

Second, because of unexpected event #1, I had the chance to dream up my family’s latest favorite lentil recipe.

A few weeks ago we had an amazing dinner over at a friend’s house. She happens to be Thai, so my kiddos had the chance to try the “real” thing. Guess what? They loved it.

So, I got to thinking. I could take these same flavors and use it on some of our old favorites and see what happens.

This past weekend was my chance. I had all the ingredients on hand and no one was calling for momma. I’m calling this fun little dish a winner since my little girl went for thirds and her younger brother finished two whole bowls.

We served our Thai Curried Lentils over a bowl full of garlic greens, but I bet it would be delicious over sweet potato dimes or even a steamy bowl of rice. The only trick in making this dish absolutely perfect, is to think ahead and soak the lentils. No need to soak overnight, even 6 hours for lentils is just right.

~ Kristin

Can it really be this easy?

I totally get it. You’re tired and busy and there’s oh-so-much-to-do. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, and it’s even easier to drop some of our self-care tricks when life is full swing.

It’s been a really busy time for me and my sweet family. We had a little girl turn into a big girl of 8 and our “dude” is now sporting 4 years. There was Valentine’s in the middle there, and of course we’ve had a few winter sniffles and tired days on our side too. Life gets busy. It’s real and it happens. But it doesn’t have to get in our way, does it?

I’m all for cooking up a storm. I kind of like it. But I’m also a major fan of having just a few “go-to’” meals that are super easy to whip out for when the going get’s tough.

When my life gets all crazy, I lean on my sidekick in the kitchen, my crockpot. I admit I own three of these gems in different sizes. One for grains (when I eat ’em), one for soups (when I make ‘em), and one for just about everything.

The last one is my red one and she is my favorite. She’s a pretty simple gal. She’s got a high, low, and warm switch that’s all. She’s nothing fancy, but she’s a good size, and she cooks a killer chicken.

Seriously, it’s a no fail dinner every single time. My kids love it, my husband begs for more, can it really be this easy? Yes!

P1020263
P1020263

Here’s how the recipe goes. You’ll need 4 ingredients total; one whole chicken, salt and pepper, and poultry seasoning (or your favorite blend). Yep, that’s it. It’s almost embarrassing to admit how easy this can be.

Next, I rinse off the chicken and place the backbone down inside the crock. Then, I rub the seasonings on. And last, I turn my red girl on high. And I let her do her thing for 6-8 hours. No micromanaging, no fussing, I just let her cook away on the counter. I turn her off when I see the meat pulling away from the bone just a bit, and that’s just about it. Easy right?

Now how do I make this a meal? If I’m in a serious time crunch, I serve my roast chicken with a side salad. If I happened to look ahead just a little bit, I’ll throw a few potatoes in the oven and serve them baked with butter. Super simple, super easy, and seriously yummy.

Want to up it one more notch? After dinner, I’ll strip all the chicken from the bones. Fill my crock back up with water and turn her on high again. Sometimes I add onions and carrots and celery- and sometimes I don’t have the time. I’ll have her cook again, while I’m sleeping and in the morning I’ll wake up to a crock full of chicken stock that I can use in soups or add to greens. All I have to do is strain and store. Seriously, that’s easy!

Now it's your turn. I want to know, what's your favorite crockpot recipe? Leave a comment and tell me how you manage feeding your family well with all the hustle and bustle of life.

~ Kristin

What's for dinner?

I am downright giddy.

Remember my friend, Chef Annie Volk? She’s back and she’s ready to celebrate with me. I told her that I’m pretty darn psyched about all that's percolating in my practice and I asked her to come up with a special recipe. Something that will nourish your soul and make your toes tingle even though the holidays are “over”.

It happens doesn’t it? We put so much energy into the holidays being perfect and then, the ball sort-of drops when it’s all over. So this little number is a bit of inspiration and fresh air for you, your family and your friends. It's a simple recipe to anchor your meal. It's got a little bit of sweet and a lot of savory (...just how I like it).

In the comment section, let's tell Annie what you're really hungry for. Are you craving a special dessert or do you need a simple fish recipe? She's right here to help, just let her know what you need.

CranPorkMeatballs
CranPorkMeatballs

Now, Here's Chef Annie:

This is a fun recipe. The flavor combination of celery, onions, sage, thyme and sweet cranberries kind of remind me of traditional thanksgiving stuffing. I often make this recipe in my holiday cooking classes for those of us who don't/can't/won't eat bread.

I like to pair this dish (like most of my meals) with a lemon, salt and oil massaged kale salad or with a citrus mashed sweet potato.

~ Kristin