My husband is a wonderful man. He is hilarious, kind, and has a quiet determination that begs to be boasted, but never is. And the man loves to eat. He is incredibly in shape, and likes his food to be on the healthier side, but he can devour a pizza or donuts with the best of them. We are people who enjoy our meals, and try to share as many as we can, with each other. Because of his job, we only get to share meals together about half of the month, while the other half we eat separately. For me, I typically turned to quick meals, easy, and delicious. Typically I’d pick up a frozen California Pizza Kitchen Pizza, or make a poached egg on toast, a tuna salad on a crepe, or order my favorite hearty club sandwich from the barbecue place down the street. His meals consisted mostly of protein bars, eggs, rotisserie chicken, and frozen veggies. every. day. Needless to say, he was getting a bit tired of the redundancy and I needed less pizza (rather, my jeans needed less pizza). So we came up with a plan to make meal times better for the both of us. Healthier alternatives, that are still delicious, and easy to be transported to work.
An added bonus to making our meals is that I have to actually make them. To be honest, I missed cooking so much I couldn’t stand it. I love the the creativity cooking demands, and often adapt recipes that I use to fit them to our tastes. Each recipe is a new challenge, a new adventure. Cooking, baking and providing food is ingrained in my personality, and nothing makes me happier than feeding people I love. And let’s be honest, when someone loves the food you create, it’s kind of a nice feeling.
Our meal planning list so far consists of old favorites and new adventures, like chicken pot pie with sweet potatoes, maple pork tenderloin with roasted vegetables, and ratatouille. Hearty chili, Sunday roasts, stews, and chicken orzo soup, a favorite. Spicy chicken taco salad on the go, shepherd’s pie, and his favorite, minestrone.
Minestrone is a beautiful soup, chock full of vegetables and Italian flavor. My recipe is very loosely adapted from Jamie Oliver’s minestrone recipe, and it was my first time making it. I added in chicken, because my husband is a meat lover, and added red kidney beans for added protein and to make the soup a bit more filling. I also used chicken broth instead of vegetable broth, and used ditalini pasta, which is a wonderful pasta when added to soups, the perfect size for spoons. This soup is a hearty, flavorful, tomato-y soup, wonderful for fall and perfect with a piece of crusty bread along side it. We made a huge pot of it, splitting it between the two of use for meals for the next two days. It’s delicious, filling, and beautiful to look at it.
Minestrone with Chicken
Pour one good glug of olive oil into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 3 cloves of garlic, 1/2 chopped onion, 2-3 small zucchini, 2 chopped carrots and 2 celery stalks to the pan and cook for about 15 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. While veggies are cooking, boil 4 chicken breasts until cooked through and shred with two forks. Add veggies and chicken to large dutch oven or stockpot, along with 4 cups of chicken broth, 1 can of no salt added diced tomatoes, 1 can of crushed tomatoes, and 2 cans of red kidney beans. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 30 minutes. Add 1 cup of ditalini pasta to the soup, and let cook for another ten minutes until pasta is cooked through.
**Feel free to add or omit vegetables–I opted to omit potatoes and green beans from my recipe but will probably add some kale or spinach next time– and to add chicken broth as needed if you like a soupier texture. Ours came to be more of a stew-like soup or chili, which we prefer to soups.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll post a recipe every week of some of the meals I have been making, in an effort to keep track of our favorites, discuss the not so favorites. I hope you enjoy them! I would love to hear what your favorite recipes are. Feel free to link up in the comments, and I’ll be sure to check them out.