Prep Cook

I had an epiphany this morning.  I often lament to myself.. why can’t i just cook enough for 1 meal for 2 people?  More often than not, we end up with way too many leftovers.. and it sometimes goes to waste and gets freezer burnt before I find it again.

I’ve never been that mom with 13 hungry kids around the table like Ma Kettle, so I don’t have that excuse.  So what is it?ma-and-pa-22222

A recipe for Tomato Mushroom Barley soup came into my email yesterday from Kraft.   (click on the above link to check out their recipe) so I thought I’d try it out, I was craving a good hearty Fall soup, even though it still thinks it’s July here in Southern Ontario.

(below photo from Kraft What’s Cooking)

Kraft soup

In typical Amy fashion.. I quickly scanned the recipe, and totally ignored the amounts.  I washed, peeled and cut up a 2 lb bag of organic heirloom carrots.

img_6742 Recipe called for 1 carrot.  ONE?  Who peels and chops one carrot?

I did the same with a full head of celery

img_6743  (recipe called for 2 stalks) an onion, and a few garlic cloves.

This is the celery and carrots together

img_6746While I was shopping for a few of the ingredients I didn’t have in the house – (barley, mushrooms, carrots, celery) I thought to myself.. I should make something nice for Guillermo for supper while i’m making the soup.. i’ll be cutting, cooking and cleaning anyway.. might as well fill up the stove.

So I picked up boneless skinless chicken breasts, and pulled out some rice and mushroom soup from the pantry.  One of his favourite comfort foods is a mushroom fried rice.  I did a few variations last winter/spring that I blogged about here.


Basically it’s this.. heat oil in pan, soften garlic, onion, carrots, celery.. set aside.


cook a meat (ground chicken/turkey/beef.. or in yesterday’s case.. chopped boneless chicken breast) Add your spice in with the meat.. S&P, Greek seasoning, Mrs. Dash.. whatever you like…

fry mushrooms separately & set aside..
while all this is happening cook rice (we like Lundburg Wild Blend Brown rice – takes 45 min so start it early!)  When there’s about 10 min left of the rice to cook, I put it in the fry pan with it’s liquid , top with a can of mushroom soup (we use low sodium organic)  add in some fresh veg (like beans, snap peas, broccoli) and continue to cook everything together.  img_6752

I just realized I completely forgot to take a pic of the plated food.. I served it with the crockpot applesauce I made last week.  Here’s a pic of the stove instead with the Soup cooking, the rice in the back, and the fry pan full of chicken, not that you can tell under the steamed up glass lids.   Have i mentioned that I LOVE my new gas stove???

So back to the SOUP… As I mentioned.. i cut up ALL THE VEG.. way more than the soup called for.. so I fried up half of it in the fry pan, and then again only used 1/2 in the rice dinner..the rest of the cooked Carrot/Celery/Onion/Garlic I spread out on parchment paper and froze to bag for future meals/soup.  For those that wonder.. Most often (unless it’s had raw meat in it) I re-use my ziploc freezer bags as many times as I can.. washing, hang to dry and re-use.


1/2 of the cut up raw veg went in the soup pot.. cooked in Kraft Sundried Tomato & Oregano dressing instead of your standard EVOO, again starting first with the onion & garlic til translucent, then adding in the carrot & celery.  Next, according to the recipe, you’re supposed to add the mushrooms, tomato and water.. but I had used all the mushrooms up in the dinner pan, while at the same time, cooked way too much chicken for the dinner.. so I swapped in chicken instead, changing it from a Vegan soup to a more hearty one.

Recipe called for 2 cups of water, but since I had put in at least double the veg, img_6745I doubled the water, 1.5 times the diced tomato, and added a can of tomato paste as well for more flavour, and did 1 -1/4 times the barley. (the poor original recipe is now completely out the window)   You would THINK that since I didn’t double the barley while doubling the water.. it should have been runny.. but NO.. it was as thick as stew.  And like the mom who cuts her kid’s bangs on a bad angle and has to keep recutting.. i kept adding to the soup.  Instead of a nice little batch to serve 2 people.. i had enough for the whole Kettle family.   My last addition was a tetra of no sodium Chicken broth to thin it out and add some more flavour.. and still it was thick.   (below some of the leftovers.)img_6756

So back to my epiphany this morning.. why do i cook for an army when we’re a house of 2?   I blame my high school years when I worked as a prep cook at a local restaurant.  I was cutting veg, cracking pails full of eggs and chopping pallets of lettuce daily.  I guess that stuck with me..

I never learned good knife skills then, and wish I had.. I think I’d like to take a course sometime on knife skills, and get a really good set.  Another retirement goal. 🙂

Today is rainy and yucky outside (warm and sticky like July), so my next goal is to make something with some of last week’s frozen apples, and maybe a cornbread to go with yesterday’s soup.  Heading to the freezer now, and digging out some apples!


Cheers to Fall and all it’s yummy flavours! 

Published by billandamyskitchen

Bill (Guillermo 'cause he likes pretending he knows Spanish) and I (Amy) have been married since Sept 2005. We live in Southern Ontario, Canada - Niagara Peninsula in fact, smack dab between 2 of the Great Lakes. We love God, our family, our church family, and making each other laugh. (ergo the profile pic, he decided to make our photographer laugh by throwing a leg up on me just before the shutter clicked, which made ME laugh) When we married, I told Bill: "I don't know how to cook" but he had faith in me. So 15 years later, I'm still learning, and having fun. I've never (in my whole life) cooked a whole bird, chicken, turkey or otherwise. I've never roasted a beef, other than in a crockpot on low for 8 hrs. I like trying to find healthy & easy recipes and then I rarely follow them. I don't enjoy recipes that take hours or intricate steps. I have a special fondness for the Podleski sisters, writers/creators of the Looney Spoons, Crazy Plates and Yum/Yummer cookbooks. In 2018 we suddenly decided to rip our small house apart from stem to stern, moving out for 4.5 months while the house was demolished inside and out, and then rebuilt with an addition. If you go back in the archives to July-Dec 2018 you can follow that story. It's made our house open and so much more conducive to entertaining, small groups and large. It's given us the kitchen I've dreamed of to create and learn in. We feel incredibly blessed to be able to write about our journey, our faith in God and some fun recipes along the way. Thanks for joining us.

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