This time of year is hard for me.  It's so cold and I find it down-right depressing.  I really should take a cruise every time this year to somewhere wonderfully warm.  Unfortunately, I've never been on a cruise.  Some times, we're able to take a vacation around this time of year but it isn't happening THIS year. 

Recently, I've discovered my love for a few old favorites.  First, cooking.  Second, quilting.  My life has changed dramatically since I've quit my job away from home.  One thing I definitely have more of, is TIME.  I do have plenty to do but my time is certainly more flexible.  I struggle with the fact that there are no deadlines or anything to meet.  I try to schedule my time up but it is still a challenge for me. 

Anyway, I totally got out of the habit of cooking while Colin was in school.  I really do enjoy cooking and I suppose I had forgotten how much I really do enjoy it.  I've started on Weight Watchers and last week I decided I'd try a few of their low-point dinner recipes.  I also love to cook in my crock-pot because I love how easy it is and how the aromas fill the kitchen (and the rest of the house).  Here are some of the recipes that I've tried lately. 

Three Bean and Pork Slow Cooker Chili

PointsPlusTM value | 6
Servings | 10
Preparation Time | 35 min
Cooking Time | 480 min
Level of Difficulty | Easy
1 medium onion(s), chopped
2 clove(s) garlic clove(s), minced
1 cup(s) carrot(s), chopped
1 Tbsp chili powder, medium-hot
1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1 small jalapeno pepper(s), seeded, chopped (don't touch seeds with bare hands) or 1 canned chipotle pepper in adobo, chopped
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
2 pound(s) lean pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and cut into 1-inch chunks
15 oz canned black beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz canned pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup(s) canned tomato puree
29 oz canned diced tomatoes, with green pepper, celery and onion, undrained
6 oz canned tomato paste

Combine onion, garlic, carrots, chili powder, oregano, jalapeno, salt and pepper in a 5-quart (or larger) slow cooker; stir. Add remaining ingredients; stir again.
Cover and cook on HIGH setting for 6 to 8 hours. Yields about 1 cup per serving.

South African Corn and Tomato Soup

PointsPlus™ Value: 5
Servings: 8
Preparation Time: 10 min
Cooking Time: 32 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy

1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 cup(s) Onion(s), uncooked, chopped
2 tsp Kosher salt, divided
2 large Tomatoes, fresh, beefsteak, ripe, cored, coarsely chopped
3 cup(s) Corn, frozen, kernels cut off cob, unprepared, or fresh corn kernels from 4 cobs
14¾ oz Corn, white, canned, cream style
12 oz Milk, evaporated, fat free
3 cup(s) Chicken broth, canned
¼ tsp Pepper, black
½ cup(s) Basil, fresh, fresh, cut into ribbons*

1. In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Add onions and 1 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until onions are extremely soft, about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in tomatoes; cook for 5 minutes more.
3. Add both types of corn, milk, broth, remaining teaspoon salt and pepper; simmer for 15 minutes so flavors can combine. Top each serving with basil. Yields about 1 1/4 cups soup and 1 tablespoon basil per serving.

My mom and I decided we needed to make a few quilts lately too and I figured that was something that would help fill up my time.  I love tying and quilting quilts.  The rest of it isn't my favorite, but I love to work on a quilt up in frames.  I think I'll get started on one that really needs to be quilted because I've only ever done one of those in my life.  I loved it thought and I know that I'll enjoy doing it again. 

I've found a little happiness in cooking and quilting lately and it's helpful in enduring this long winter.


The Halladays said…
That's one lucky kid that gets the strawberry shortcake quilt ;)

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