Tag: cooking

Supermarket Meal Kit #2

I tried the Stouffer’s Roasted Tuscan Style Chicken meal kit a few weeks ago. I was pleased with its easy preparation and good taste. This week I tried another one from Stouffer’s — Braised Pork.

Front and back of meal kit box
Front and back meal kit box

The meal’s four components (pork, potatoes, broccoli, and sauce) came frozen and packed in plastic.

Frozen pork and sauce in bags
Frozen broccoli and potatoes in plastic

Step 1:

Thaw sauce in its bag in boiled water.

Saucepan and frozen sauce in bag

Step 2:

Heat some oil in a skillet and cook the potatoes.

Potatoes cooking in skillet

Step 3:

Heat more oil and cook the pork.

Pork cooking in skillet

Step 2.5:

Microwave the brocolli in the plastic while the other stuff is cooking.

Illustration of microwave and photo of broccoli in bag

The whole thing takes about 25 minutes (like it says on the box). The instructions say bto mix the pork with the sauce and serve the potatoes and broccoli on the side. I mixed it all together. There was enough sauce for everything.

Completed meal. in skillet
The finished meal!

The pork tasted great! The veggies weren’t spectacular, but still good. I liked this meal better than the Tuscan Chicken.

One of these days I’ll talk myself into trying one of the meal kit services like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron. I’ll keep your informed.


First Instant Pot Experience

People have been raving about the modern day pressure cooker/multi-cooker. I jumped onto bandwagon and got one for Christmas. This is the cooker with the brand name Instant Pot.

Instant Pot
Instant Pot


My Instant Pot came with a cookbook, but all of the recipes require a lot of ingredients. I searched the internet for Instant Pot recipes with 10 ingredients or less and found this one for Black Bean Soup.

This recipe called for: dried black beans, a small red onion, 3 garlic cloves, a red pepper, vegetable broth, and a few other ingredients.

I decided to watch a video to learn how to chop an onion properly.

I also wanted to get better at handling garlic.

I was surprised to find out I only needed half a bunch of cilantro and only the stems. Now I have a bunch of cilantro leaves that I will end up throwing away. I appreciate the fact that meal kit vendors send you just the amount of herbs and spices you need.

Cilantro stems and leaves
Cilantro stems and leftover leaves

I used the pot’s saute mode to cook the onions, garlic, stems, and red pepper. That step was nice and easy.

A steamy saute.

Then came the beans, broth, spices, and some extra water. Total cooking time was 30 minutes. Once the soup was done I used my Ninja to blend it. I should probably buy an immersion blender to do this task in the future.

I was happy with the soup’s flavor, but I should have added more water. The soup was more like a paste.

The important thing is that learned how to use my new Instant Pot! The best part of the experience was not having to use a skillet to do the sauteing. Oh, the wonders of modern technology.

Supermarket Meal Kit

I’ve been intrigued by the meal kit services that cropped up a few years ago. I want to try them, but I’m a little scared for some reason. Also, they’re not cheap.

When I saw this Stouffer’s family meal kit in Kroger’s frozen food section, I decided it would be worth a try.

The box contains packaged chicken pieces, broccoli, a rice and quinoa mixture, and some sauce. You start by boiling water in a pan. You’ll use the hot water to melt the frozen sauce.

Illustration of saucepan

While the water is boiling you heat some oil in a skillet to cook the chicken.

Illustration of skillet

You’ll heat the quinoa mix and broccoli on a plate in the microwave while the other stuff is cooking.

Illustration of microwave oven

Put the chicken, the sauce, and the broccoli together and serve the quinoa on the side.

Plated meal


  • Easy to prepare
  • Not too pricey
  • Tasty
  • Healthy
  • Would be good to cook for a small dinner party

I’m glad I tried this meal kit and I will definitely buy it again. I imagine the offerings from Blue Apron and the like are more flavorful since they included herbs, spices, and other fancy food elements. But if you don’t want to spend the extra money, and do a little more work, this kit might be the next best thing.

Nutrition information
Find nutrition info here


I’ve got vegetables lined up for this week.

I roasted frozen broccoli and a medley of broccoli, green beans, carrots, yellow peppers, wax beans & red peppers (frozen) from Sam’s Club.

I used my FoodSaver FreshSaver handheld vacuum sealer to package them for the freezer.

FoodSaver vacuum sealerFoodSaver bags

Here they are:

Vacuum sealed vegetables

For the moment, I’m very pleased with myself.

Casserole Experiment

We bought a 6-pack of Amy’s canned soups at Sam’s Club a while back because I was going to start eating more soup. It seems that on the days I remembered we had the soup, I wasn’t in the mood for it.

Yesterday I had the thought that I could use one of the soups to make some sort of casserole.

I tried it today

Can of Amy's lentil vegetable soup
Canned soup

I mixed the soup with three eggs and little plain soy milk. I added some shredded parmesan and cheddar, and a little frozen chopped kale.

I sprayed an 8 inch round baking pan with cooking spray, poured in the mixture, and baked it at 425 for 25 minutes.

Casserole in round baking pan
It looks edible.

The Verdict

Casserole serving on plate
It didn’t slice nicely.

This casserole is not great.not It tastes a lot like the lentil soup it’s made with. Apparently, the reason I haven’t been eating this soup is that I don’t like it.

I’m calling this one a failure.



After trying for years to convince my husband that we needed a side-by-side refrigerator, we got one! It arrived yesterday and just fits where the old one was. If it were any wider, we would have had to send it back. I believe this fridge will change my life. Does that sound like an exaggeration? Sure, it’s a bold statement to make, but having more space for fresh and prepared foods will make it easier for me to eat healthfully and lose that 20 or so pounds I’ve gained over the past couple of years.

I made a tomato sauce today loosely based on a recipe in The Vegetarian’s Bible: 350 Quick, Practical, and Nutritious Recipes, by Inga-Britta Sundqvist. Cooking is so much more fun when your kitchen is somewhat usable. My space is far from perfect, but the new refrigerator has already made a difference.

I roasted broccoli and prepared some frozen tortellini to serve with the sauce. Here’s tomorrow’s lunch and probably dinner.  I might add some blackened salmon to the evening meal.

White side-by-side refrigerator.
My beautiful side-by-side refrigerator.

Tomato sauce with onions, garlic, carrots, and misc. spices.
Tomato sauce with onions, garlic, carrots, and misc. spices.


Roasted broccoli, tortellini, and tomato sauce for lunch.
Roasted broccoli, tortellini, and tomato sauce for lunch.





Work work and food

I worked a fair amount of hours last week. I finished a blog post about personal digital archiving and started one on digital painting. I go to work with the mindset that I am a writer. Then I sit down and write. The topics I write about require some research, and I feel a little guilty when I’m searching the Web and not writing, but that’s part of the process.

This week, I want to finish the latest blog post. I also want to learn something that I can make a video tutorial about.   Those are my work goals.

In my personal life, I want to write more in my real paper notebook. I think this will help to alleviate my depression and anxiety. I recently read yet another article about how journaling is a good way to deal with depression. I’ve got stuff I need to say that I don’t want to share with the world.

Another personal goal is about food. I have to improve my diet. I eat vegetables most days, but I’m not getting anywhere near the recommended five per day. I think that I have to eat well so that MS doesn’t get the better of me. There are recipes I want to try, but the idea of going to the grocery store and getting the ingredients stops me. I considered trying Blue Apron, but it’s too expensive for my budget. What I think I can do is work with the food I have at home. That seems reasonable.

Illustration-Carrot, Broccoli, Red Pepper


Not So Simple

I talked a big game when I was in the hospital about cooking health meals for myself. So far, I have not done this. I have been eating good things, but I’m relying mostly on frozen vegetables that are already seasoned. The current excuse I’m using is that I’m taking a class and keeping up the readings requires a lot of time. My other excuse was that I had to go to physical therapy two times a week. Physical therapy is over, so I’m down one excuse. I said I was going to organize the kitchen. That has not happened. We are looking into getting a new refrigerator. I think that will help. 

I am doing good in some areas. I’ve been going to the Y consistently, and I’be been increasing the number of sets I do on my leg strengthening exercises. I want to increase the endurance of my calf muscles, so getting more time on the treadmill is a must. I recently learned that people with MS can increase their endurance by taking breaks between bouts of exercise. I did 25 minutes on the treadmill and 5 on the bike today. I’m pretty tired. Maybe I’ll try 10 minutes four times tomorrow with some stretching in-between. That might work.

My anxiety comes and goes. I think a lot of it has to do with this class I’m taking. Sometimes depression overtakes the anxiety. This is preferable. 

It seems that things are not so simple. You know,  I bet they actually are and I just can’t or won’t see it that way.


I’m looking at the crowded kitchen counter. The get-well flowers my dear friends sent are slowly fading. The yellow tulips have closed.  The purple ones that might be lilies are past their prime, but their color remains. I should capture this color combination for a palette.  I hate to throw them away, but I have to. The metal vase they are in is nice, but we don’t really have room for such decorative objects so it will probably go to Goodwill.

 Flowers in metal vase. 
Two toasters sit to the left of the stove. No one uses the toaster oven but I can’t bring myself to part with it. The two-slice toaster does all of our toasting. We should ditch the toaster oven. It wastes space.

A George Foreman grille is to the right of the stove next to the coffee maker. Both of these stay. The spice rack is next in line. There are many jars of spices in the cabinet, so the spice rack is also wasting precious counter space. It should go.

The microwave is a must. 

There’s a nice pantry in the kitchen. It’s disorganized and almost dog treat dominated. I want to take some cans to the food bank, but I never get around to it. We could eat some of the food. Canned items aren’t so bad if you rinse the sodium away. We must take inventory and determine what’s good and bad.

The dish cabinets need a purge. The refrigerator needs a purge, and it needs to be a new side by side model. This refrigerator is not configured in the way I need it to be.

 Open. refridgerator 
Food preparation is going to be a major part of my life as someone with MS. I’m going to keep myself nourished with healthy food. I will cook like I’ve always wanted to cook. Thus, the kitchen has to be as workable as it can be. It’s just not a great kitchen, but it’s the one one I have.

My whole world must be re-configured if I’m going to live a good life with this condition I’ve been granted.

I’m up for the challenge! Check out the info I’m collecting about food in Pearltrees.