Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On Tomatoes and Multitasking

Back to school too often for me means a return to multi-tasking... and I think we all know that multitasking is the fastest way to get nothing done.

Can I get an "Amen"!?

So on a Wednesday just a few weeks ago, one that fell after a holiday weekend, after I spent the majority of my day doing what felt like nothing but still left me spent, I shouldn't be surprised to find myself standing in the kitchen at 3:30 with no idea what to make for dinner. Too hot to fire up the oven, too late to really plan for anything.

Then the doorbell rang. On my front stoop there was a package, but no delivery truck in sight. Where, praytell, did this package come from? When I opened it and found a bounty of tomato goodness from Red Gold, I realized it was nothing short of divine intervention. Dinner? Pfft. I got this.

Making something for dinner from virtually nothing makes me feel like a rock star. It impresses my kids and it puts dinner on the table. it makes my husband think I actually put some thought into it! On that night, I perused my tomatoes and raided the pantry to come up with quesadillas.

Super-simple and delicious, quesadillas are a meal that my family loves. We each add what we want to round out the meal and it's fast and warm. The basic recipe is at left—this is a great recipe to reinvent your leftovers, so if you have something else that would work better (maybe leftover taco meat or shrimp or—dare I say—bacon), throw it in the mix. I've tried to bake them but these come out much better in a skillet. Serve with salsa and chips, guacamole and shredded lettuce, maybe some sour cream and black olives and bask in the knowledge that you served a quick, home-cooked dinner.

Protip: When adding tomatoes to a quesadilla mix, it's important to drain them first and then let the mixture set for a short time before cooking, to save your quesadillas from becoming a soggy mess!


Earlier this month, I made a decision that I was going to be really real, blogging about things that are really important to me using a hashtag. In this case, the keyword (or words, if you will) of what's important to me is home cooking. It's important to me to make dinner and for the four of us to sit down around the table when we can.

Maybe in a past life I was a June Cleaver clone, or maybe it's my desire to live in Pleasantville and make sure everyone is always happy all the time, or maybe it's my ferocious need to do ALL THE THINGS! and be Wonder Woman.

Maybe it's just fills my need to be the mother in my family, doing some of those stereotypical mom-related chores. Mostly, #inmylife, there is time for dinner and a need for making it without losing my damn mind.

Crock Pots!

The saving grace of busy, multi-tasking moms, the humble Crock Pot is a savior of busy weeknight cooking. Along with a collection of tomatoes, Red Gold sent me a collection of Crock-Pot recipes to try out (Why Crock-Pot, you might ask? More on that in a second). I tried out the Rustic Italian Chicken, adjusted a little for my family's taste, recipe here:

Rustic Italian Chicken (adapted from Red Gold Tomatoes recipe)

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 onion, sliced
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
4 cloves minced garlic
2 T Italian seasoning
1 can (14.5 oz) Red Gold Diced Tomatoes with garlic & olive oil
1 can (15 oz) Red Gold Crushed Tomatoes

Before cooking...
Spray inside of Crock-Pot with cooking spray. Place chicken (trimmed of fat as much as possible) in Crock-Pot and add remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours and try not to obsess over the incredible smells coming from your kitchen.

Just before serving, I thickened the sauce by boiling a little with a tablespoon of corn starch because we like a thicker sauce. Serve over pasta and top with grated Parmesan cheese.

... after cooking
The chicken stayed tender and delicious and did not dry out as chicken sometimes will when cooked low and slow. Everyone's eyes lit up when this hit the table, because it was *that* good. Hearty and delicious, perfect for a chilly day (even a chilly late-summer day like we had).

The original recipe called for carrots instead of onion, but our family prefers onion. Next time, I might add a bit more pepper and maybe some crushed red pepper to amp up the spicy.

Now, back to Crock-Pots! Starting today, Red Gold is giving away two branded Crock-Pots each day on Facebook. "Like" them on Facebook and fill out an entry form every day for your chance to win.

Thanks to Red Gold for sending me a bounty of tomato goodness, and good luck to you in winning a Crock-Pot of your very own! Meanwhile, if you have a great Crock-Pot recipe or quick weeknight dinner recipe to share, I totally want in on that.

I was sent a package of tomatoes and recipes by Red Gold for possible review on this blog. The tomatoes and giveaway belong to them; the opinions are my own because I don't sell my opinion. All words and photos are mine.


  1. These look so yummy. I'm a sucker for any and all Crock-Pot recipes. I wish slow cooker recipes photographed better, haha!

    I am really into quick weeknight dinners, so I shared one of my favorites using this delicious Stonewall Kitchen sauce on Monday:!

    1. Thank you for sharing! I need to have more nights where we all say "ooh!" over what I make instead of me saying "eek!" because I don't know what to make. :)
      And yes—great for cooking, not so great for photographing!

  2. Very nice recipe! I am with you, I find myself often in the kitchen even later than 3:30 having realized I haven't laid anything out, or even thought about what to cook! Love love love when I come up with something creative from almost nothing!

  3. How could I forget about my crock pot?? You're right - NOW's the time to get reacquainted!