Ingredient: thyme

Ham and Bean Soup

bean soup

Those who know me, know I have two great loves, fitness and cooking. I’d spend my days working out and cooking if I could. I love cooking for my family, but I also love cooking for friends. I think there is no better way to say I love you then with a warm meal made with love. My mother in law lives alone and eats out way more often then I think she should. Therefore, whenever I have a chance I like to cook her up a good meal that will last throughout the week. It makes me feel good to know that she is eating healthful for the week. And the best part, she loves my cooking so she’s always excited to get a home cooked meal from me.

Knowing that my husband was going over to her house to take down her Christmas lights, I got up early to make her a nice ham and bean soup with Banana Bread on the side. I had a ham hock in my freezer from Christmas and always make banana bread when my bananas go bad. I don’t believe in wasting anything! So today I’m spreading the love and health at the same time because we all know someone that could use a hot meal made with love!

Crock Pot (Road Kill) Chicken

crock pot chicken

If you were to ask me what my favorite smallĀ  appliance is, I’d have to say a crock pot. In fact, I’veĀ  had my crock pot for almost 21 year (got it as a wedding present) and it has been used and abused and is still the best thing I own. Stained and splattered with a funky old “country” design that matches nothing I now own, I love it and use it all winter long.

With long work hours and endless obligations, there is nothing better than coming home to a house bursting with the smell of food that has been cooking all day long. It’s like a friendly welcome home from a good friend. While I have some of my tried and true crock pot favorites, I’m always looking for new recipes.

Because I’m a fugal cook, I base a lot of my menu on what is on sale to get my “biggest bang for my buck.” And since I’m a protein “junkie,” I’m especially excited when I find chicken and other lean meats on sale. When it comes to chicken, breast are my favorite due to their leanness and simplicity (no cutting etc.) However, I will not turn my nose up to a whole chicken if the price is right. I recently found beautiful whole chickens for .79 cents a pound so of course threw one in my basket.

The problem with whole chickens is if you roast them in the oven, a lot goes to waste unless you plan on using the carcass for soup (If you have that kind of time, power to you!) It is just so hard to get all that yummy meat off the bones. When you place a whole chicken in a crock pot, nothing goes to waste! Plus, it is moist (unlike the oven often) and falls off the bones so nothing goes to waste. My husband calls it “Road Kill” Chicken because when you take it out of the crock pot it collapses into a pile because it’s so moist.