SkinnyTaste: The Oxymoron That Transformed My Dinner Game

I was first introduced to the Skinnytaste cookbooks by Gina Homolka in February of 2018. John and I were wandering around a Barnes & Noble store, not looking for anything in particular. I hate to admit that it’s actually he who gets the credit for randomly pulling the SkinnyTaste “Fast and Slow” cookbook from its display. We started flipping through the colorful, crisp pages showcasing several vibrant photos of delectable dishes with names we’d never heard of before. The book included a combination of recipes that were quick-and-easy paired with ones meant for a slow-cooker, hence its name. I had recently received a Crock-Pot® for Christmas a couple months prior, so we decided to make the purchase and try some of the recipes out even though cookbooks were not something we typically stuck on our shelves.

Boy oh boy did that purchase end up being completely worth it!

Prior to my discovery of Skinnytaste recipes, I must confess that my dinner game was rather weak. I have a hard time recollecting what I used to whip up for dinner on the norm. Part of the reason is that we used to eat out far more frequently than we do now — another advantage that came from Skinnytaste. The other part is that my recipe repertoire was abismal.

Here are some of my signature dinner dishes that I do recall often making B.S. (“Before Skinnytaste”):

  • Shepherd’s Pie (Bottom Layer: Ground Turkey or Beef sautéed with Onions, Garlic, and Chantal’s special seasonings; Middle Layer: Cream of Corn; Top Layer: Mashed Potatoes; Baked in the oven at 350 until bubbling)
  • Mom’s Fried Rice (made with Chinese Sausage, Egg, Peas, Onions, Garlic)
  • Poor Woman’s Jambalaya (see recipe below)

Poor Woman’s Jambalaya

I came up with this recipe while I was living in my first Los Angeles apartment in 2011. To paint a picture of how we were living at the time…our bed was an air mattress, our TV stand was a cardboard box, and our living room was empty except for a legless computer chair we had found on the street.

Ingredients:

  • One Can Campbell’s Tomato Bisque (prepared per instructions)
  • One Can Bush’s Vegetarian or Traditional Baked Beans
  • One Can Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles
  • One Package Uncle Ben’s Spanish-Style Ready Rice
  • One Link Hillshire Farms Spicy Keilbasa sausage, sliced
  • Optional Toppings: Sour Cream, Shredded Cheese, Cheddar Goldfish

Directions:

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, combine the bisque, beans, tomatoes, rice, and sausage slowly in that order
  2. Lower heat and bring to a simmer until flavors meld together, about 15-20 minutes
  3. Top with wtf you want and enjoy!

Now, that B.S. is behind me, [almost] every week is filled with a wide variety of delicious dinners cooked at home. I start by selecting a couple Skinnytaste recipes to make for the week — depending on the number of servings, this is usually plenty to get my table of two through the workweek. (We still cheat on weekends and eat out.) Next, I create my grocery list based on the ingredients needed, duh. Before the weekend is over, I make sure to prep my meals (or cook them altogether if it’s a soup or fridge/freezer-friendly dish), which mostly consists of chopping all the veggies etc. ahead of time. This step is crucial in making weekday cooking a breeze. I find that if I don’t take the time to prep my meal ingredients during the weekend, then I’m doomed for dinners during the week, due to my post-work laziness.

The Rating System

The first recipes I tried from the Fast and Slow cookbook were the “Pollo in Potacchio,” “Chana Masala” with basmati rice, and the “Spiralized Lemon Basil Zucchini Mason Jar Salads.” The recipes were easy to follow, delicious, nutritious, and I immediately wanted to try more of the recipes. I decided to rate the recipes on a 5-star system to track which ones I had tried and to remember the ones to come back to later.

5 Stars = Delicious, loved it! Will have to make again!
4 Stars = Tasty! Would make it again.
3 Stars = Tasty. Probably won’t make it again though.
2 Stars = Won’t make this again.
1 Star = Have not had to use this rating yet 🙂

Around the same time I started using the Skinnytaste Fast and Slow cookbook, I had also just gotten into Dot-Journaling (stay tuned for my upcoming post, “What the F*ck’s a Dot Journal?!”). As a lover of lists (and HR Professional), I was naturally compelled to document my rating for each recipe I tried. Voila, my first Skinnytaste dot journal list and my current one:

5-Star Skinnytaste Recipes

From “Skinnytaste Fast and Slow”

  • Pressure Cooker Chicken Soup for My Soul (page 44)
  • Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls (page 93)
  • Slow Cooker Banh Mi Rice Bowls (page 94)
  • Cold Peanut-Sesame Chicken and Spiralized Cucumber Noodle Salad (page 101)
  • Zoodles with Shrimp and Feta (page 105)
  • Cauliflower-Potato Tacos with Lime-Cilantro Chutney (page 135)
  • Grilled Greek Chicken Tostadas (page 127)
  • Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala (page 161)
  • Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps (age 172)
  • Greek Panzanella Salad (page 233)
  • Baked Pears with Greens, Blue Cheese, and Pecans (page 234)

From “Skinnytaste One and Done”

I got this cookbook in September of 2018 shortly after getting by Insta-Pot and it’s my favorite of the Skinnytaste cookbook series thus far. I just love the concept of having each chapter of recipes dedicated to one kitchen appliance/tool — Skillet, Sheet Pan/Baking Dish, Pressure Cooker, Air Fryer (this cookbook made me want to get one of these), Dutch Oven (and also one of these), Slow Cooker, and Grill/Grillpan.

  • Shortcut Vietnamese Chicken Pho (page 131)
  • Spicy Fried Chicken Sandwiches (page 175)
  • Lemon Parmesan Shrimp with Broccoli and Cauliflower (page 114)
  • Caldo de Papa (Potato and Short Rib Soup) (page 148) — this recipe has actually become my favorite soup of all time! The garlicky-cilantro broth is to die for…unless you’re one of those weirdos that hates cilantro at no fault of your own.
  • Quickest Gnocchi Bolognese (page 147)
  • Pot-in-Pot Puerto Rican Rice and Beans (page 166)
  • Creamy Slow Cooker Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes (page 273)
  • Dad’s Czech Meat Patties with Potatoes and Cucumber Salad  (page 101)
  • Curry-Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas with Mint-Cilantro Chutney (page 117)

From “The Skinnytaste Cookbook”

…The original Skinnytaste Cookbook, released in 2014, and third one that I added to my personal library in February 2019.

  • Slow-Cooker Santa Fe Chicken (page 73)
  • Spinach Falafel Lettuce Wraps (page 258)
  • Too-Good-to-Be-True Baked Potato Soup (page 58)
  • Bangin’ Good Shrimp (page 116)
  • Slow-Cooker Jerk Chicken Tacos with Caribbean Salsa (page 155)
  • Teriyaki-Glazed Grilled Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa (page 198)
  • Buffalo Chicken Melts (page 79)
  • Almost Sinful Maple-Raisin Bread Pudding (page 301)

From “THE Skinnytaste Air Fryer Cookbook”

Okay, so I only have one 5-star recipe listed below, but that’s because it was while working on this blog post that I stubbed upon this particular volume of Skinnytaste without having had a clue about it. Needless to say, I was pretty pumped about it and ordered it right away. I look forward to coming across more 5-star recipes within this cookbook.

  • Blackened Salmon with Cucumber-Avocado Salsa (page 111)

The Insta-Story Archives

Somewhere along the way of falling in love with these recipes, I started posting a photo to my Instagram story each time I cooked a different Skinnytaste recipe. So far, I have tried over 75 Skinnytaste recipes. Here are some highlights…

You can follow me @c_nug to see all my Skinnytaste highlights, updated regularly with each new Skinnytaste recipe that I try.

Thank you, Gina, for transforming my dinner game!

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