So you know how it is when you need something done around the house. You ask those people who always know this kind of stuff. Who the best furnace-repair outfit is. Which doctor really listens. Which sheets last the longest.
Well, our house needed to be repainted, so I asked a guy who’s done some book photography for us for a suggestion. He knows what’s going on, plus he’s got a great eye.
He told me who he’d recommend, and I lined up an appointment for the painter to drop by.
The painter and I did all of our business—talking about house colors and the crews’ work schedule—and just as we were winding up, the guy paused and asked, “So what cookbook are you working on now?”
I had no idea he had any clue about my work (and this passion I have). I filled him in a little, and then he said, “Well, we’ve cooked tons of meals from your Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook! Beginning when our kids were in elementary school, and then as they got older, once a week or so, my wife or I would bring the Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook to the dinner table. And when we had finished eating, one of us would read recipes to the kids, asking them to pick several recipes that sounded good to them.
“It was a fun way to have them think about how food actually gets to the table. And because they helped to choose what we would have for dinner, they were more enthusiastic eaters.
“They also learned how to read recipes and imagine their outcome. Isn’t that what good cooks can do so well?!”
So if you’re stuck about what to cook, or in a rut, you might want to try Peter’s trick. He was grinning the whole time he was telling me about how his family made their suppertimes a joint adventure.
And I’m thinking about how I stood on my doorstep one morning and was handed a simple but good idea about how we everyday cooks can get a little lift, while at the same time have our kids join our effort to eat supper together as families. Sweet.
Here’s a recipe from Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly Revised and Updated which my friend Pam says she makes for her daughter’s hockey team every time they come for supper. They love it and won’t let her make anything else!
If you’re worried that your slow cooker might overcook the chicken, try inserting a meat thermometer into the hole in the lid of your slow cooker (unfortunately not all slow cookers have this option, but many do). When the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees, the soup is ready and you can turn off your slow cooker.
Make sure to write down in your cookbook the amount of time it took to fully cook the chicken. Then you won’t need to bother with the meat thermometer the next time.
So try this soup on your kids, and then start reading them recipes so they can help choose their next dinners.
Chicken Tortilla Soup
Fix-It and Forget-It Lightly Revised and Updated, pg. 197
Makes 8 servings
Prep. Time: 5-10 minutes
Cooking Time: 8 hours
Ideal slow-cooker size: 4- to 5-qt.
4 uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
2 15-oz. cans black beans, undrained
2 15-oz. cans low-sodium Mexican stewed tomatoes, or Rotel tomatoes
1 cup low-sodium salsa (mild, medium, or hot, whichever you prefer)
4-oz. can chopped green chilies,undrained
14½-oz. can low-sodium tomato sauce
baked tortilla chips
2 cups grated fat-free cheese
1. Combine all ingredients except chips and cheese in slow cooker.
2. Cover. Cook on Low 8 hours, or just until chicken is cooked through but isn’t dry.
3. Just before serving, remove chicken breasts and slice into bite-sized pieces. Stir into soup.
4. To serve, put a handful of tortilla chips in each individual soup bowl. Ladle soup over chips. Top with shredded cheese of your choice.
330 calories (20 calories from fat), 2.5g total fat (0g saturated, 0g trans), 35mg cholesterol, 1760mg sodium, 55g total carbohydrate (10g fiber, 15g sugar), 28g protein, 10%DV vitamin A, 15%DV vitamin C, 10%DV calcium, 10%DV iron