Home Assignment 1

My husband and one of my daughters love to cook so I  really don’t do much cooking. However, my daughter is leaving home in the fall so I think it might be a good idea to learn to cook a few healthy meals.

Our pantry is well stocked so I could probably make pretty much anything but I decided to start with something easy. My daughter loves Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything so I decided to make pancakes from a recipe in that book.

I started by doing what Bill told us to do in class the first week. I gathered all the ingredient and put them in small bowls in the order that they were needed in the recipe. IMG_1389

This worked well except I did have a lot of dishes to wash when I was done. I was doing pretty good until I read “separate the eggs”.  IMG_1390

This was kind of difficult but I’m sure I will get better at this with practice! I did a pretty good job beating the egg whites with an electric hand mixer!IMG_1392

My daughter loves to go to local farms and pick strawberries, blueberries, raspberries apples do I added some of her frozen blueberries to the batter.  IMG_1393The pancakes actually turned out pretty good. I might like cooking! I look forward to week two’s assignment.IMG_1397

Chicken Veggie Rice Stirfry

For my second recipe, I made a turkey/rice/veggie stir-fry using 99% lean ground turkey and every vegetable I could find in my fridge.  I found the recipe online.

Overall, I think it turned out well and I would make this again.  It is a very versatile dish that would be easy to substitute ingredients and use whatever you have on hand.  This would be a good go to dish anytime you’re looking to clean out your fridge.  For my vegetables, I used red peppers, carrots, mushrooms, celery, broccoli, and shallots.

I added some red pepper flakes to the ground turkey, as the recipe seemed like it was going to be a little bland, particularly because I was using such lean ground turkey.  I also added soy sauce and sriracha to give more of a fried rice flavor.  Because I used 90 second microwave brown rice, I’m not sure that the last step of adding the chicken broth and simmering was necessary.

The other mistake I made was not incorporating the fennel seeds while browning the ground turkey.  I forgot to add them and ended up adding them close to the end.  This made the fennel taste a little too pronounced.  I would probably reduce the amount of fennel seeds the next time around.



    • 1 lb ground turkey
    • 1 teaspoon fennel seed (optional)
    • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
    • 1 cup regular long grain rice
    • 1 stalk celery, diced
    • 1 green pepper, diced
    • 2 small carrots, diced
    • 1 small onion, diced
    • 1 (13 3/4 ounce) cans chicken broth
    • vegetable oil cooking spray


  1. Sprinkle the seasoned salt and (if using) fennel seed over the ground turkey. Mix well.
  2. Spray large skillet with vegetable spray and place turkey mixture in pan. Over medium-high heat cook and stir Turkey until browned; drain well. While the Turkey is draining add the vegetables to the hot pan and saute for about 5 minutes. Add the Turkey back into the pan and mix. Sprinkle rice over mixture and pour in Chicken broth. When broth comes to a boil reduce heat, cover and simmer for approx 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally until liquid is absorbed. When the rice is cooked if there is still too much liquid in the pan remove cover, increase the heat and continue cooking until all liquid is absorbed.

My pantry

I live in an old St. Paul home.  Not much for cupboard/pantry space, so unfortunately my back stairwell becomes the pantry overflow.  It is what it is in all its glory!


Home Assignment #1 (Recipe 2)

For my second recipe, I used the same vegetables I used in my last recipe to make tacos.  I enjoyed being able to use the same ingredients for the next recipe rather than letting the produce go bad.


  • Ground beef
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Taco seasoning (pre-made or homemade)
  • Water
  • Onion
  • Sweet peppers
  • Shredded cheese
  • Salsa verde

Step 1: Cut up all of the vegetables. (only vegetables going in ground beef are pictured)


Step 2:Brown the beef

Step 3: Add garlic and cook until golden brown


Step 4: Add onions and mushrooms


Step 5: Add taco seasoning and water (per package instructions)

Step 6: Put out toppings and let the taco construction begin!

Notes: The whole reason I decided to cook this meal was so that I could use the frozen corn I had, but I completely forgot about it.  It was still a good opportunity to use the other vegetables I still had so I’d call it a win.

Home Assignment 1

  • How does meal planning generally work for you?  Do you have a routine or strategy, or is it spontaneous?  Without judgment, talk about what works, and what doesn’t work about it. 

I don’t have much of a routine for meal planning. I don’t usually cook, my go-to foods are some sliced vegetables (I’m obsessed with tomatoes – LOVE the heirloom ones, and I like green onions a lot too) with feta cheese (preferably imported from Greece and made from sheep milk – the feta from regular grocery stores is usually garbage), and bread (but not the artificial thing that tastes like plastic and lasts for months without going bad, the fresh one that’s usually called “artisanal” and costs twice more 😐 . Raised in Eastern Europe, I grew up eating bread all the time, so I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to bread eating). Salmon with bread and butter or heating chicken sausage is also the extent of my ‘cooking’ a lot of the time.

I’m fine with my standard diet, but I’d like to branch out and start adding some more recipes to my repertoire. I cook sometimes, but not very often, and when I do I need to plan it because very seldom I’d find all the ingredients lying around in my pantry, especially fresh vegetables.

  • How does your pantry inventory look?  Do you think you have what you need to prepare food the way you want? What do you still need?  What do you have that isn’t necessary?

My pantry is well stocked in terms of spices, oil and vinegar, as well as some frozen veggies in the freezer, tomato paste, pasta, dried beans and lentils. Fresh veggies on the other hand not so much. But I don’t think the inventory in my pantry is as much of an issue for me as finding the time to actually cook. I find that cooking usually takes at least an hour no matter how simple the recipe is, and sometimes I’d rather spend that time differently.


Recipe 1: Polenta with feta cheese and sour cream

Boiled water, added a teaspoon of salt and  gradually added polenta flour while stirring to avoid lumps until desired thickness was reached.  Sided with feta cheese (cottage cheese could work too) and yoghurt or sour cream. (Ate this pretty often when growing up in Romania).


Recipe 2: Green Pea Stew

Sauted some onion in sunflower oil until glassy-looking. Added frozen peas, then covered with hot water. Added some carrots. When peas got softer, added some tomato paste and let simmer for a few more minutes. Added salt to taste, dill, parsley, pepper, thyme and bay leaves.

The State of Our Kitchen

We don’t really go grocery shopping. We dread battling other people for room in the grocery isle and at the checkout. We discovered Instacart about 6 months ago and quickly realized how much time is wasted getting groceries. You can shop at Cub, Target, Whole Foods, Lunds, even the liquor store. Check it out: Instacart, I think this link gives you $10 off the first order. We also shop for our Filipino foods at Phil-Oriental in Saint Paul. Sometimes we will go to Chicago on the weekend and shop at Seafood City in Skokie  and eat at JollyBee.

First, let’s discuss what is in the top pantry. These are all various condiments and ingredients for homemade nachos… we have this every Friday night while watching Bill Maher on HBO. #Resist 😉


This next pantry holds our spices and random cooking ingredients.


In the freezer we like to keep a stock of breads, meats, chocolate, and Arby’s fries.


In the fridge we keep lots of Almond Milk, Baileys Creamer, salsa for the nachos, various condiments, leftovers to be eaten at work the next day, and diet soda. In the crisper we keep all the vegetables.



Egg Omelette

This is a pretty easy recipe we made.

Ingredients: 4 raw eggs, 1/2 bell pepper medium size diced, 1 medium sized de-seeded and diced, 1 small onion diced, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper, 1 teaspoon of cooking oil, and 4 pieces of garlic cloves minced.


Mix all ingredients except onion and garlic.


Add some cooking oil into a pan, heat the pan, and saute the onion and garlic until you see the garlic golden brown.

Add the rest of the ingredients into the pan and cook into an omelette until the outside is brown.