A therapist friend once told me, “Our brains can’t process two things at once. If our hands are occupied – knitting a scarf, coloring or drawing, cooking a new recipe, decorating cookies, building a birdhouse – we aren’t able to worry at the same time.”

I spend lots of time in the kitchen these days. Experimenting with those ingredients I have on hand, baking so the house smells “happy,” cleaning up after three meals a day. And trying to keep my worries in check.

Sweet Potato Hash

Lamb sweet potato chili with fresh herbs and tomatoes, onion, garlic on wooden table

Sweet Potato Hash has become a favorite in our home. This recipe, from Alex at The Defined Dish, calls for simple ingredients and is a hearty, healthy, comfort meal. Just what many of us need in today’s world.

Ingredients for 4 servings:

2 tablespoons avocado oil (or olive, vegetable oil)

1 large sweet potato, diced

1 teaspoon kosher salt (or regular salt)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 of a medium onion

1 pound ground meat (turkey, beef, chicken, pork)

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 avocado, sliced

4 fried eggs or eggs any style

Instructions:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the diced sweet potato, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Cook, tossing every 2–3 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and lightly browned on the edges, 7–9 minutes. Transfer cooked potatoes to a plate and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium and, in the skillet, add the onion, meat, the remaining salt and pepper, cumin, and garlic powder. Cook, breaking up the meat with the back of a spoon, until the meat is cooked through (no longer pink), about 5 minutes. Drain off excess fat, if necessary.

Add sweet potatoes back into the skillet and gently toss until well combined and heated back through, 3 more minutes.

To serve, spoon the meat and sweet potato hash across a plate. Top with avocado and egg.

Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

bowl of chicken noodle soup shot top down on wooden table top

I discovered the following recipe from Corey at Family Fresh Meals years ago. The recipe makes a large batch of soup – enough for lunches all week long during this shut-in time.

Ingredients for 8 servings:

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts

2 cups carrots, peeled and chopped

1 medium onion, diced

3 stalks celery, chopped

3–4 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 bay leaf

6 cups chicken broth

1 cup water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

3 cups uncooked wide egg noodles

3 tablespoons chopped parsley, optional

Instructions:

In a 6-quart crockpot, add in whole chicken breasts, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, olive oil, thyme, and bay leaf. Next add chicken broth, water, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook on low heat for 6–7 hours.

Remove cooked chicken breasts and shred into bite-sized pieces. Place chicken back in the crockpot. Add in egg noodles and parsley.

Increase temperature to high; cover and cook 15 minutes longer, until noodles are tender.

Lemon and Kale Spaghetti 

Amanda Frederickson once had the enviable job of working in the Williams-Sonoma test kitchens. Now a mom of two, she develops recipes, writes cookbooks, and styles food for photographs. My husband and I made this Lemon and Kale Spaghetti last week, and we will definitely prepare this dish again!

Ingredients for 4 servings: 

1 pound spaghetti (we used much less)

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 bunch or package of kale, ribs removed and coarsely chopped (we used 1 package)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup lemon juice

2 teaspoons lemon zest

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup breadcrumbs

red pepper flakes

salt

Instructions: 

Cook spaghetti according to package instruction. Reserve 1 cup pasta water before straining. Set cooked pasta and reserved water aside. In a large sauté pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the kale and a pinch of salt and cook until wilted. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and minced garlic. Cook for about 20 seconds, or until garlic is cooked. Add lemon juice and lemon zest and cook for about 30 seconds. Add in butter and cook until butter is melted. 

Add cooked pasta and toss well, adding reserved pasta water as needed to create a sauce. Add cheese, breadcrumbs, wilted kale, remaining olive oil, pinch of red pepper flakes and a large pinch of salt.

Here’s what my plate looks like!

Happy cooking!

What do you do to keep your hands busy? Do creative activities keep you from worrying? Are you spending a lot of time in the kitchen these days? Do you have simple recipes to share? Please use the comment box below and join the conversation!

Let's Have a Conversation!