What’s Cooking at the TLLC?

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The Transitional Living and Learning Center (TLLC) was designed to help young adults learn and practice new skills and apply them in the real world.  In our Slow Cooker Group, our Case Manager, Ashley Taylor, has been working with clients to learn and apply life skills and lessons through the joys of cooking.  Just look at some of the exciting things that have happened in this new group.


It is getting hot in Florida – that means its grilling time by the pool. TLLC students practiced previously learned skills with the grill to create Seared Steak and Bacon Pan Sauce with Tomato-Olive Salad.  Our first TLLC student worked with Ashley during his first months of programming to grow Basil herbs and was finally able to use it in his cooking. TLLC rates this meal a 10/10 for sure!

At the TLLC, we want students to utilize executive functioning skills, understand costs, and efficiently plan meals that are healthy and nutritious. Taking a hands-on approach is one of the best ways to do this. Recently, a student asked to learn how to utilize an outdoor grill. First, his case manager helped him understand proper grill safety and then assisted him in preparing steak, steamed asparagus, and squash.  The group was excited to relax by the pool and enjoy their creation as they took pride in the newly gained skills.

Try it Out Cooking Tips

  • Preheat your grill 15 to 25 minutes before you start cooking to make sure it reaches the right temperature (and to kill any bacteria). Your grill should be 400-450°F for high, 350-400°F for medium-high, 300-350°F for medium and 250-300°F for low heat. A properly heated grill sears foods on contact, keeps the insides moist, and helps prevent sticking. While searing doesn’t “seal in” the juices (contrary to popular belief), it does create improved flavors through caramelization.
  • Did you know if you place Green Onions/scallions in a vase of water, it’ll regrow itself and then you can use it multiple times instead of buying a new one? You’ll see regrowth within 3 hours!

6 Week Slow Cooker Series

It is often difficult to manage adulthood, a social life, education, and other life challenges, making a work-life balance essential. At the Transitional Living and Learning Center, we work with students to organize and prioritize their time. Ashley works with students to learn how to prepare healthy meals when juggling all of life’s responsibilities.  Students are currently participating in a 6-week Slow Cooker meal program to help maintain a healthy diet while working towards their goals. Recently, the group created Maple Mustard Pork with Quinoa Rich Blend and Vegetables.

Making a healthy meal on a budget can be difficult. During Part 2 of our Slow Cooker series, we worked with students to use the common ingredients that most people have in their homes to create something tasty. TLLC students created Pork Tenderloin with Honey Balsamic Glaze with a side of Jasmine Rice, a quick meal that took 10 minutes to prep and about 2 hours to cook. This is a neat little way to create a nice meal for multiple people and have time to finish your tasks for the day.Try it Out Cooking Tips

Part 3 of our series brought us a Greek-inspired meal with Kalamata Chicken with Orzo. Our students were quite surprised at how little prep time was needed to create this beautiful and tasty dish. As Aristotle said, “Quality is not an act, it is a habit”.  That quote holds true as our goal is to help students develop skills that will last a lifetime. Students learn important meal prep, safety techniques, and how to properly handle and store meat and chicken. 

Try it Out Cooking Tips

  • To prevent butter from over-browning in your pan, add a little bit of lemon juice.
  • Anchor your cutting board to the counter with a damp paper towel to keep things steady and safe.
  • Did you know you can easily reduce the time it takes to ripen bananas by simply bringing them a little closer to other fruit? It’s true, many ripening fruits produce hydrocarbon gas ethylene as they ripen, which speeds up the process. If you place bananas next to apples, pears or hard avocados, they will ripen much quicker. Give it a try!
  • When using a slow cooker, placing it on high for one hour is about equal to cooking on the low setting for two hours.

Sweet & Spicy Meatballs with White Rice

At the TLLC, we like to branch out and try new things, so that’s just what we did. Students made Sweet Heat Meatballs with a side of rice – a tasty treat that was within budget, easy to make, and delicious.

Try it Out Cooking Tips

  • Season every step of the cooking process to prevent over-salting at the end. But if you do add too much salt, throw a quartered potato in to tone down the flavor and absorb some of the excess.

The Transitional Living and Learning Center plays a key role in guiding students toward more independent and productive living, while at the same time building coping skills necessary to handle adversity and life stressors that are sure to occur. Our goal is to build skills and patterns of successful, healthy living that are transferable to any setting, anywhere.  In doing so, our students will experience the freedom and confidence to become self-sufficient and productive in whatever they pursue post TLLC.

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