Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Freezer Turkey, Provolone and Pesto-Mayo Panini

I recently spent a few days with Jessie, my very best friend in the world, who happens to work at our church's cafe. While I was there, she made me a few sandwiches that blew my mind. She made me an Italian sandwich that had salami, ham and pepperoni on a hoagie with pesto-mayo and balsamic drizzle. She also made me a turkey sandwich that inspired today's recipe.

I love sandwiches, and I also love soup. I tend to make soup for dinner at least once a week, and sometimes I want something more substantial to go with the soup besides salad or a roll. So as I was writing out my family's menu for the next two weeks, I remembered the delicious sandwiches Jessie made. The wheels in my head began turning and I decided to experiment with a panini that could be cooked from a frozen state. I came up with this simple but delicious combination! I wanted to use a smaller sandwich roll, and the organic par-baked ciabatta rolls from Trader Joes are absolutely perfect! The pesto-mayo is what really makes this sandwich stand out. It gives an ordinary sandwich a bright kick and tons of flavor.

If you've been around the blog for awhile, you know that I love make ahead foods. Not that sandwiches are time consuming or hard to make, but it just makes an entire soup/sandwich meal come together with that much more ease. You can also choose not to bake these, just put them into the refrigerator overnight before you want to eat them. They should be defrosted and ready for lunchtime the next day.

These sandwiches come together really quickly, and it's awesome to have such delicious morsels hanging out in your freezer waiting to accompany a delicious soup or they can save the day when you don't have anything planned for lunch!

Freezer Turkey, Provolone and Pesto-Mayo Panini

6 ciabatta rolls sliced in half (I used the organic par-baked ciabatta from Trader Joes)
3 slices Provolone cheese sliced in quarters
12 slices turkey
3T Mayo
3T Pesto

If using par-baked ciabatta, follow instructions on packaging for par-baking.

While rolls are baking, mix the mayo and pesto together in a small bowl and set aside.

Once rolls are cooked and cooled, spread pesto-mayo on both sides of the roll.

Add a slice of cheese on each piece of bread, then add two pieces of turkey to the sandwich.

Wrap the finished sandwiches in foil and store in a gallon sized ziplock in the freezer.

When ready to eat: Preheat oven to 400 degrees and bake for about 30 minutes or until heated through and cheese has melted. Enjoy immediately!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Meatless Monday: Yam and Spinach Bites

Ever since I wrote up the recipe for my Broccoli Potato Bites, I've been wanting to try a version with yams and a leafy green of some kind. The recipe for the Broccoli Potato Bites is also the third most popular recipe on my blog, so I figured quite a few of you enjoyed it as well. What really got me motivated to experiment was that my daughter seems to have fallen into a rut of what she will and will not eat. She's not into eating meat, unless it's chicken nuggets, hot dogs or a cheeseburger. And she can't have peanut butter until she's two, so lunch time around here has been repetitive and boring. My daughter loves yams, and since the broccoli potato bites kinda look like chicken nuggets, I thought we'd give this new recipe a go!

I made a few changes and adjustments to make this recipe work. The yam mixture turned out to be more liquidy, so instead of coating the bites with breadcrumbs, I added them to the mixture making this even easier assemble! I also sprinkled the Parmesan on top of each bite, giving it a little crunch and saltiness.

My daughter and I both loved these! I ate four of them by myself. These also look very much like chicken nuggets, so getting your kids to try them shouldn't be too hard because they look somewhat familiar. I hope you and your family will enjoy these as much as we do!

Yam and Spinach Bites

1 Lb yams
6 cups spinach, swiss chard, kale, etc. chopped fine
2 T butter or oil
1/2 c medium onion finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup shredded cheese, I used Fontina
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup Panko or Breadcrumbs
2 T Grated Parmesan

1. Scrub your yams, poke with a fork and microwave for about four minutes until cooked through.

2. While potatoes are cooking, chop onion and garlic, then saute in a small pan with butter or oil over medium low heat for 5 minutes or until translucent. Add your greens of choice, saute for a minute then turn the heat off and put the lid on. Let sit for two minutes until greens are wilted. *If using kale, saute for a few more minutes, and you'll probably have to let it steam for a few minutes with the heat on.

3. Once yams are done scoop the flesh from them skin and add to the mixing bowl with greens, onions and garlic. Add beaten egg, cheese, salt and panko/breadcrumbs then mix with hand mixer (or stand mixer, potato masher, fork, etc) until well blended.

4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray a sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray. Wet your hands, and take a scoop of the yam mixture (golf ball sized) and roll into a ball, then flatten and place on the cookie sheet. Repeat until you're all out of potato mixture. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until brown and crispy. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Roasted Garlic Chicken Pesto Pizza

If you were to tell my husband he could only eat one thing for the rest of his life, he would choose pizza. I'm not making this up, I literally just asked him even though I already knew the answer. It would be either pizza or tacos. Let me just be clear though, he has a very refined palate and loves everything I make. I even got him to like Brussels sprouts (the one food he told me he hated). Anyway, I say all of this to tell you that I try to make pizza at least once a week at home. We all love pizza around here, our toddler included.

Sometimes you just wanna branch out and try something new, especially when you make something so often. So when I saw this Roasted Garlic Pesto Pizza on Pinterest (surprise!), and realized I had everything on hand for it, I got really excited! Now, since you have to roast a head of garlic for this little baby, it's not something you can whip up last minute. Unless you have roasted garlic on hand 24/7 (which isn't actually a bad idea), you're gonna have to plan ahead a little bit. But that's ok, because it will allow you time to make your own dough!

This pizza has a ton of flavor! I used an entire head of roasted garlic, but next time I'm gonna use two :) I just love roasted garlic! I also added some sun dried tomatoes and chopped green onion, it just seem fitting and they ended up being perfect additions. I can't wait to make this again, I hope you'll give it a try too it's a gourmet new twist on plain ole' pizza.

Roasted Garlic Chicken Pesto Pizza Adapted from Sugar Cooking
1 pizza crust
1/2 cup prepared pesto (store bough or homemade)
1 bulb of garlic
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked
Mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

To roast the garlic: Peel away the outer layers of the garlic bulb skin, leaving the skins of the individual cloves intact. Using a knife, cut off 1/4 to a 1/2 inch of the top of cloves, exposing the individual cloves of garlic. Place the garlic heads in a baking pan; muffin pans work well for this purpose. Drizzle a couple teaspoons of olive oil over each head, using your fingers to make sure the garlic head is well coated. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 400°F for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves feel soft when pressed. Remove garlic gloves and smash with a fork.

Spread roasted garlic over pizza dough. Do this to taste. I used almost the whole (small) bulb, but I LOVE roasted garlic.

Spread the pesto on the pizza.

Add the sliced, cooked chicken.

Sprinkle with mozzarella.

Top with fresh grated Parmesan.

Bake on preheated pizza stone for 8 - 12 minutes

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dinner Rolls & Cinnamon Rolls in the Bread Maker (Freezable!) and Cinnabon Cream Cheese Frosting

I first made these bad boys for Thanksgiving this year. For the first time in my life, Thanksgiving wouldn't be at my parent's house. They moved to Spokane last Summer, and going over the mountain passes at that time of year can be tricky. So, for my husband, my daughter and I, it was Thanksgiving on our own. Because I am who I am, I wanted to make everything from scratch, even the little things like dinner rolls. As usual, I went off to Pinterest for inspiration and found the perfect recipe! Perfect? Yes, perfect and I'll tell you why... This recipe will not only make delicious dinner rolls, but it also makes cinnamon rolls!!!!!! That's right, cinnamon rolls. I love cinnamon rolls, but I'd never made them from scratch before. So like I said, perfect recipe because it will make awesome rolls for dinner, but it will also take care of breakfast! And if you've ever had to make Thanksgiving dinner, you know that you don't want to spend time making breakfast morning of.

This recipe really is easy too. The bread machine does all of the work for you in terms of rising and kneading. All you have to do is shape your rolls. Oh, I forgot to mention... This recipe is freezable! Yes, that's right, you follow the recipe all the way to shaping your rolls, then you freeze! How cool is it to have homemade cinnamon rolls hiding in the freezer? You leave them out on the counter overnight, then bake in the morning!!!!!! That just makes me really happy. There's also a recipe for making orange rolls, which my husband loves. 

So, were the cinnamon rolls and the dinner rolls good, you ask? Heck yes they were! The cinnamon rolls were some of the best I've ever had, and the frosting was perfect! Sorry, I don't like glazed cinnamon rolls. And if you're going to take the time to frost them, I think it should be with a cream cheese frosting. Just a personal preference! The dinner rolls were fluffy, buttery and perfect. I love this recipe, and love that it does double duty!

If you haven't tackled homemade dinner rolls or cinnamon rolls, this is a perfect way to start. And since this makes a ton of rolls, you can have some stashed in your freezer for a rainy day!

Cinnabon Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

1 8-ounce package of cream cheese
1 c. of butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. lemon juice
3 c. of confectioner's sugar
1 tsp. whole milk
1/4 tsp. salt

Remove cream cheese from package and place in a bowl. Allow cream cheese to soften for about 15 minutes outside the refrigerator.

Measure out butter into a measuring cup and allow to soften for 5 minutes.

Combine cream cheese and butter in a large bowl with a mixer until the ingredients combine and start to cream.

Slowly add in the confectioner's sugar and beat until smooth and frosty.

Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon of whole milk into the mixing bowl.

Mix in the remaining ingredients until all ingredients are fully incorporated.

Shannon’s Best Ever Rolls and Cinnamon Rolls, from Lucy Jane's Best

Basic Roll Recipe

1 2/3 cups Water
2 Tablespoons Butter
4 2/3 cups Flour
2/3 cup Sugar
2 teaspoon salt
1 rounded Tablespoon yeast
In the chamber of a bread maker add all ingredients except the yeast.  Stir around to blend sugar into mixture.  Add yeast.

Set bread maker to “dough” setting… wait for cycle to finish (should take about an hour and a half)

When cycle is complete, turn out dough onto a board sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, and shape to desired type of roll.

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon mixture:

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1T cinnamon
2T flour
Mix the above ingredients in a bowl

In a separate bowl melt 6 Tablespoons of butter

Divide dough into 2 even sections.  Roll out one section(using Pam) into a rectangle.  Brush with butter.  Sprinkle with ¼ cup cinnamon mixture.  Roll up and cut into rolls.  (Should make about 9 pieces)  Repeat with second section of dough (So entire batch makes 18 rolls)
*At this point dough can be frozen or baked.  See baking instructions.

Dinner Rolls

Divide dough into 3 equals parts.  Roll into circles and cut into 8 crescent shaped pieces.  Roll into crescents.  *At this point dough can be frozen or baked.  See baking instructions.

Orange rolls

Follow basic roll recipe, except add the zest of one orange to the dough ingredients.

Then divide dough into 2 equal parts.  Roll into rectangles, and cut into 12 strips, vertically. Tie strips into knots, tucking ends under to form rosettes.  *At this point dough can be frozen or baked.  See baking instructions.

Glaze for Orange Rolls

1 stick butter, melted

8 cups powdered sugar

orange juice to desired consistency

* These glazes can be poured into plastic bags (in 1 cup portions)and frozen with the rolls, then left on the counter to defrost while the rolls are baking.  Then just snip a corner off the plastic bag and pipe onto rolls.

Baking Instructions for Rolls:

Place rolls onto a jelly roll pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.  Allow rolls to rise for a couple of hours or longer, covered by a dish towel until the desired volume is achieved.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned.

If you have chosen to premake the rolls and freeze them, there are 2 baking methods:

Quick Method

Remove rolls from freezer & place in a 9×13 pan that has been sprayed with a non-stick spray (Pam.)
Leave on counter to rise for 1 hour.
Leave bag of glaze on the counter to thaw.
After an hour, place the rolls in a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Remove rolls from oven and reset temperature to 375 degrees.
When oven reaches 375, put rolls back in and bake for
12 minutes for dinner rolls or orange rolls
15-18 minutes for cinnamon rolls until tops are golden brown.

For rolls with glaze (orange) snip the bottom corner off the glaze bag, and pipe glaze onto warm rolls

Overnight Method (this is what I prefer):

Remove rolls from freezer & place in a 9×13 pan that has been sprayed with a non-stick spray (Pam.)
Leave on counter to rise overnight.
Leave bag of glaze on the counter to thaw.
Bake rolls at  375 degrees for
12 minutes for dinner rolls or orange rolls
15-18 minutes for cinnamon rolls until tops are golden brown. When they're mostly cooled down, top with cream cheese frosting.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Meatless Monday: Freezer Egg and Black Bean Breakfast Burritos

I don't know about you, but I need protein at breakfast. For the last few weeks, I've been making myself a breakfast burrito almost every morning. I realized though that I was spending about 20 minutes each day just making a burrito. So I decided to make up a big batch to freeze so I could have breakfast in seconds, helping speed my morning along. I have seen a ton of recipes for breakfast burritos on Pinterest, but I wanted to do a meatless version and add some veggies and some black beans to mine for extra protein and fiber.

These babies are packed with eggs, black beans, onion, spinach, cheese, sour cream and salsa and they are oh-so satisfying! You could add any veggies you like, next time I might add some zucchini. Did you know zucchini goes really well with eggs? One of my favorite omelettes is mushrooms, shallots and zucchini. I digress. I have to say, I really love these guys! They pair wonderfully with a fruit smoothie. Did I mention there's 13 grams of protein in each one? And they're only 300 calories with the ingredients I used? Well there you go, good stuff right there!

So if you're looking to shake up your breakfast routine, you like make-ahead foods, and you want a hearty and satisfying breakfast, well then give these babies a try!

Freezer Egg and Black Bean Breakfast Burritos

3 cups cooked hash browns
1/2 large red onion, diced
1c black beans (or bean of your choice)
2c chopped spinach (or kale, chard, etc)
5 eggs
2T milk
6oz shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
12 whole wheat tortillas (taco size)
Sour cream (optional)
Salsa (optional)

In a non-stick frying pan heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and beans and cook until onions are tender, seasoning with salt and pepper. Add spinach to the pan and saute for a few seconds while it begins to wilt. Mix eggs and milk then add to the pan and cook until they're done.

Heat tortillas slightly so they're pliable. Working with four at a time, spread a few teaspoons of sour cream over the middle of the tortilla, then add hash browns, egg mixture, cheese and a few teaspoons of salsa. Wrap tortilla into a burrito, then wrap in plastic wrap, sealing tight. Store in the freezer in a gallon sized ziplock bag.

To heat: Unwrap and discard the plastic wrap from the burrito.Wrap the burrito in a paper towel. Microwave for 1 minute, flip over and microwave for another 1 minute or until heated through. This worked perfectly in my microwave, yours might be different so you may have to experiment with heating times.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Olive Garden Pasta E Fagioli

This is the first soup I ever had at the Olive Garden. You know how when you order an entree you get unlimited soup or salad and breadsticks? Well, I'm a sucker for their salad so I never order soup. But I did have the soup, salad and breadsticks for lunch one day and the waitress described Pasta E Fagioli as Italian Chili, so I decided to give it a try!

It was wonderful! Slightly spicy, packed with meat, vegetables and tons of flavor. With the ground beef and beans, it's certainly reminiscent of chili, but it's markedly Italian. We love this soup at our house, and it's great for a Fall evening. You can also freeze this. I would stop after the third step of adding everything to the pot (excluding the noodles). After you defrost and are ready to serve, add the pasta and simmer 45 minutes.

My apologies for the lack of pictures... We had this for dinner, then I took the rest of it to a Mama and Baby get together and it was gone before I had a chance to remember a picture. Sorry guys! Anyway, if you like this soup from the Olive Garden, or you are a chili fan I recommend trying this recipe, because you'll love it!

Olive Garden Pasta E Fagioli from cdkitchen.com

1 1/2 teaspoons oil
1 lb ground beef
7 ounces carrots, slivered
6 ounces onions, chopped
7 ounces celery, diced
24 ounces diced canned tomatoes
1 cup red kidney beans
1 cup white kidney beans
44 ounces beef stock
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1 1/4 teaspoons pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
3/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
24 ounces spaghetti sauce
4 ounces dry pasta shell macaroni

Sauté beef in oil in large 10 quart pot until beef starts to brown.

Add onions, carrots, celery and tomatoes and simmer for about 10 minute.

Drain and rinse beans and add to pot. Also add beef stock, oregano, pepper, Tabasco, spaghetti sauce and noodles .

Simmer until celery and carrots are tender, about 45 minute.

NOTES : Makes over a gallon of soup! Just cut the recipe down for smaller batches.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Olive Garden Chicken Marsala with Roasted Potatoes

I don't know if you're like me, but I have a really hard time not ordering pasta when I go to the Olive Garden. However, one night a few years ago when my husband took me out I ordered the Chicken Marsala with Tuscan Potatoes and Peppers. I can't remember what made me want to order it, I'd never had Chicken Marsala, let alone tasted Marsala wine! But I'll tell you what, it's one of my very favorite chicken recipes! The chicken tender and smothered in a slightly sweet but savory sauce with sauteed mushrooms. YUM! What helps make it even more delicious, are the Roasted Potatoes and Peppers it's served with. They are perfectly crispy on the outside, but soft and velvety on the inside. I don't know how they do it, I've never been able to make potatoes like that!

This is a great recipe for many reasons, but the chicken only takes a few minutes to throw together making it great for a weeknight, but fancy enough for company. I had the chicken cooked before the potatoes were done, so this is literally a 30 minute meal! I'm so excited too because these roasted potatoes (I decided to leave out the bell peppers this time) DO taste like the OG version! Also, my daughter who doesn't really like potatoes of any kind, not only gobbled these down, but she asked for more! The chicken is also delicious and very similar to the OG version.

So if you're looking for a new dish to cook at home that doesn't take much fuss, give this a try!

Olive Garden Chicken Marsala from cdkitchen.com

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves pounded 1/4" thick
1/4 cup Wondra flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon oregano
4 tablespoons oil
4 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup Marsala wine

Combine flour, salt, pepper and oregano and blend well. Heat the oil and butter in a skillet until bubbling lightly. Dredge the chicken in the flour and shake off the excess. Cook the chicken on medium heat for about 2 minutes on the first side, until lightly brown. As you turn the breasts to the second side to cook, add the mushrooms around the chicken pieces. Cook about 2 more minutes, until lightly browned on the second side. Stir the mushrooms. When the second side is lightly browned, add the wine around the pieces, cover the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Olive Garden Oven Roasted Potatoes from Recipe Lion

2 medium baking potatoes
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium green pepper
1 medium red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh garlic, minced
4 teaspoons fresh parsley, chopped
2-4 tablespoons Romano cheese grated
pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Peel potatoes and dice into1/2-inch pieces. Core and seed peppers and dice into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.

Mix olive oil, rosemary, salt, garlic and pepper in a bowl.

In a small baking pan, toss potatoes and peppers with the oil and herb mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Sprinkle potatoes with parsley and Romano cheese.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana and the Famous Olive Garden Salad Dressing

I love duplicating favorite restaurant recipes at home. I get such a satisfaction of knowing I made something that tastes so similar to the original (and sometimes even better), costs less and that I can control the ingredients. The Olive Garden has been one of my favorite restaurants, but the last few times we've gone it just wasn't as good as I remembered it to be, and it seems to get more and more expensive every time we go. I don't know if my tastes have changed or what, but it's been disappointing to say the least. Another reason I like to make copycat recipes at home... I know it's good every time, so I'm sharing two of my faves with you today!

Zuppa Toscana is one of my favorite soups (especially in the Fall), but the first time I ever had it was not at the Olive Garden. My sister in law Jacque LOVES this soup, and she's been making it for years. See, my husband and his brother Nate are/were both in the Army, and for a few years Nate and Jacque were stationed in Germany. Since there were no Olive Garden restaurants in Germany, Jacque found this recipe online because she was constantly finding herself "hungry for it".

In 2007 when my husband deployed for 15 months, Nate and Jacque got stationed at Ft. Lewis where we were. They ended up moving into the same apartment complex we lived in, and were literally across the parking lot from us. Since my husband was gone, we ended up hanging out almost everyday after I'd get off of work. We'd have dinner together and just chill. One night Jacque made Zuppa Toscana. She suggested seasoning my bowl of soup with Old Bay seasoning. Let me just tell you, I fell in love with Zuppa Toscana, and the Old Bay is a must! I have a hard time eating this soup without it now! Which means I almost never order it at the OG.

Now, who doesn't love the never-ending salad from the Olive Garden? I know I do, so I was excited to find this copycat salad dressing recipe. It's actually the second recipe I tried for an OG copy cat. The first one wasn't even close. I have no idea what the original author was thinking in saying it was remotely close to the OG original! However this recipe is wonderful! I was a bit bummed that the recipe called for a packet of salad dressing, but nevertheless, it's very very close to the Olive Garden dressing!

The Zuppa Toscana is very, very close to the Olive Garden version. I like it just as much, if not more! It's great served with a nice salad and breadsticks! Just like the Olive Garden, duh ;)

Olive Garden Copycat Zuppa Toscana from Food.com

1 lb Italian sausage (I like mild sausage)
2 large russet baking potatoes, sliced in half, and then in 1/4 inch slices
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 cup bacon bit, optional (I usually omit)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups kale or 2 cups swiss chard, chopped
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
4 cups water
1 cup heavy whipping cream (I've used whole milk or half and half with great results)

Chop or slice uncooked sausage into small pieces.

Brown sausage in your soup pot.

Add chicken broth and water to pot and stir.

Place onions, potatoes, and garlic in pot.

Cook on medium heat until potatoes are done.

Add sausage and bacon.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer for another 10 minutes.

Turn to low heat.

Add kale and cream.

Heat through and serve.

Olive Garden Salad Dressing from The Country Cook

1 packet Good Seasonings Italian Dressing
(Ingredients needed to make dressing; oil, water, vinegar)
½ tsp. dried Italian Seasoning
½ tsp. table salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. sugar
¼ tsp. garlic powder
½ tbsp. mayonnaise (no Miracle Whip, please)
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbs. white vinegar
1 ½ tbsp. water

Prepare Good Seasonings Italian Seasonings Dressing as it states on back of packet.

The packet makes just a small bit of dressing.

 Once prepared, pour dressing in a medium bowl, then add additional ingredients
listed above (starting with the dried Italian Seasoning).

Using a whisk, mix all ingredients until mixed thoroughly combined and pour it into a container with a lid.
Mason jars also work well for this.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Garlicky Kale

Kale, another food I was late in the game to trying. I was very skeptical the first time I tried it. I don't care for cooked spinach, so I figured I was in for something similar. That wasn't the case at all, it was delicious! Kale can hold up to cooking very well, so this is a great green vegetable for a first timer who is afraid of a slimy/limp mess. Kale is so so good for you too, it's packed with vitamin k, vitamin a, vitamin c, calcium, fiber and manganese.

This is a great and simple recipe, and takes less than five minutes. It goes well with a number of different entrees, from pasta, to steak, chicken, fish or baked potatoes. I like my kale with a little bite to it still, not completely limp. So if you want yours to cook a little more, then saute for another few minutes before you put the lid on. 

Garlicky Sauteed Kale
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (or minced)
2T Salted Butter
6 cups Kale
Salt and Pepper
In a large pan over medium-low heat, saute the garlic in butter until it's tender. Add kale and saute for about two minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat, cover with lid and let sit for another two minutes. Toss and serve

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Freezer Turkey Cheeseburgers

I love the ease of having meals already assembled in my freezer. I especially love recipes like this that take mere minutes to throw together and have immense amounts of flavor! I saw this recipe a couple of months ago when I was bulking up my freezer recipe repitoire. I liked the idea of having some ready burger patties for a quick and easy weeknight meal. This recipe especially caught my eye because there was shredded cheese mixed in with the turkey as well as shredded zucchini! I love adding veggies wherever I can.

Let me just tell you: These.Were.Amazing. They are juicy, cheesey, and packed full of flavor. My husband and I loved these, and we've decided we'll always have a stash of these in the freezer. My sometimes choosey toddler also loved these. She ate about half of my burger! We grilled ours, but they'd be amazing broiled as well.

My apologies as to not having a picture of a final product. They smelled so good, I forgot to take an "after" picture! But take my word for it, you want to make these!

Freezer Turkey Cheeseburgers from Mom on a Mission

2 pounds ground turkey
2 medium size zucchini, trimmed and grated (about 2 cups)
3 cups of shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar)
1/2 tsp of salt
1 tsp of onion powder
1 tsp. basil
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal or whole wheat bread crumbs (I used panko)

In a large bowl, combine zucchini, salt, onion powder, basil, pepper and meal or crumbs.

Add cheese and turkey and mix well.

Form into patties, each about 4 inches-width of the palm of your hand.

Freeze each patty between sheets of foil or wax paper.

Label and date quart size bags.

Place 4-5 patties in each bag at an angle.


Thaw 24 hours. Place burger on a broiler pan covered with foil for easier cleanup.

Slit the foil so the juices drip below.

Broil 8-10 minutes. Carefully flip burgers and continue to broil an additional 5-7 minutes or until burgers register 165 on an instant thermometer.

Or grill on medium high heat.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Meatless Monday: Cheesy Potato Leek Soup

I'm introducing you to one of my very favorite Fall soups. I found it in a Family Circle magainze I purchased a few years back, and it just sounded comforting and perfect for a crisp Fall night. And you know what? It absolutely is! It's creamy and packed full of flavor! Each ingredient stands on it's own. The leek, onion, potatoes, nutmeg and cayenne are all there and the flavors compliment each other perfectly.

This soup is also really easy to throw together, you sweat the onions and leeks together, then throw everything else in the pot and let it simmer, then puree when finished. Easy peasy! If you want to have a perfect, meatless, Fall meal, this is a winner!

Cheesy Potato Leek Soup from Family Circle

2  tablespoons unsalted butter
2  large leeks (about 1 pound), white and part of green sliced
1  small onion, chopped
1-1/2  pounds all-purpose potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2  chicken bouillon cubes (4 grams each), such as Maggi brand
1/4  teaspoon salt
1/8  teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8  teaspoon cayenne pepper
1  cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Chives, for garnish (optional)

In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add leek and onion. Cook, covered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add potatoes, bouillon, salt, nutmeg, cayenne pepper and 6 cups water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, covered, for 35 minutes or until potatoes are very tender.

Carefully puree mixture in batches and return to saucepan. Gently reheat and add cheese, stirring until melted

Garnish with chives, if desired, and serve.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Baguette in Less Than an Hour

I found this recipe on Pinterest (surprise!), and decided to make it to accompany Crock Pot French Onion Soup, since I needed a french bread for the cheesy bread topping. I was skeptical to say the least because every other french bread/baguette recipe I've seen is super complicated and involved, and requires bake-ware and gadgets I don't want to invest in. This recipe however, is easy. Like from start to finish you're done in less than an hour. It also doesn't require any crazy equipment and I personally always have the ingredients on hand.

I'll tell you I was pleasantly surprised at how amazing this bread is. I'm eating some warm right out of the oven (slathered in butter of course) as I type this, and it's nothing short of amazing. It's fluffy and soft, just like the baguettes you get from the bakery. This opens up limitless possibilities... You could probably make them into smaller baguettes for hoagie type sandwiches. And if you somehow have any left after a few days and it starts to go stale, you can cut it into cubes, toss with melted butter and bake for homemade croutons!

I'm just so happy that this recipe worked out! Sometimes you just want a nice bread to accompany your dinner, but you don't want to run out to the store. Or if you're like me, and plan your menu for a couple of weeks at a time, it doesn't work to buy bakery fresh bread if you're not planning on eating it that day.

One thing to mention, if you don't have a silpat make sure you spray your cookie sheet with cooking spray. I missed that step, and my bread stuck to the cookie sheet. Completely my fault. It came loose, I just had to pry at it with a metal spatula. I also forget to add the cookie sheet with water to the bottom of the oven rack when I baked mine (where the heck is my brain at today?). I don't think my bread suffered, but next time I make this I will follow that step. I somehow completely missed it this time.

In the future, I'm going to experiment with using whole wheat flour in this recipe. We'll see what happens, but if I have good results I'll share that recipe with you too! In the meantime, try this recipe! It's the easiest and most delicious baguette recipe I've come across, and who doesn't like fresh out of the oven bread?

Baguette from Frosted Bake Shop

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 Tbs. (2 packages) dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
3 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp. salt

In a small bowl mix the warm water with the yeast and sugar. Let it sit for about 5 minutes – foam should form on the top.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour and salt. Gradually add the yeast mixture. Mix until the dough becomes a smooth ball and knead for 5 minutes. (I use my Kitchen Aid with the dough hook)

Cut in half and then shape into 2 baguettes. To make them smooth and pretty, roll each half of dough into rectangle and roll up lengthwise. Pinch the edges to seal and place on lightly greased cookie sheet (or silpat) with seam down. Cover and let it rise for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. With a very sharp knife (I like to use a serrated blade) gently make a slash down the length of each baguette. This will give it that authentic look.

Pour water in a cookie sheet and place it on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake the bread for 15 minutes. Half way through, brush the bread with melted butter. **I tried it with olive oil too… it was less crispy and salty. We liked the butter a lot more!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Perfect Brown Rice Everytime

Brown rice is not something I grew up with. Even now, when I have the choice at an Asian restaurant I still lean toward ordering white rice. But when we're at home, I prefer to serve my family the more nutritious brown rice. The only problem is getting it cooked right. More often than not, it's not cooked all the way through, or it doesn't taste good. AT ALL. Thankfully there's Pinterest, where I came across this recipe for perfect brown rice every time. And I'll tell you what, it's the truth! I've made my brown rice this way at least a dozen times and it comes out perfect EVERY TIME. It's not mush, it's not unpleasantly chewy nor is it crunchy because it's not cooked all the way.

So if you're a brown rice hater or you don't make perfect brown rice, give this recipe a try. It'll change your life, in terms of brown rice that is ;)

Perfect Brown Rice Every Time from Skinnytaste

1 cup natural brown rice (I used long grain)
8 cups cold water
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Rinse the rice with cold water for 30 seconds. Bring the water and salt to a boil over high heat in a large heavy pot with a tight fitting lid.

When the water is boiling add the rice, stir and partially cover (don't cover completely or it will spill over) and cook on medium-high heat for 30 minutes.

Drain the rice in strainer, then quickly return to the pot and cover tightly for 20 minutes so the steam finishes cooking the rice. Uncover the rice and fluff with a fork.

Makes about 3 1/2 cups. Different rice varieties may yield different amounts.
Adapted from Saveur

Monday, October 1, 2012

Meatless Monday: French Onion Soup in the Crock Pot

French Onion Soup, that's another food I wasn't introduced to until later in my life. I can't recal the first time I had it, but I very much enjoy it now. Back before we moved, I used to frequent Panera Bread, and 99% of the time I would order French Onion Soup. There's just something about the rich tasting broth, with the sweet onions, crispy bread/croutons and ooey gooey melty cheese on top. It's decadent and comforting.

For some reason, I've always been too intimidated to make French Onion Soup at home, maybe it has something to do with caramelizing the onions for like an hour on low heat. I hate cooking things on low heat... I don't know why, I just do. Anyway, you can imagine my utter excitement and delight when I came across this recipe that uses the crock pot. Instead of babysitting the caramelized onions at the stove, you cook the onions on high in the crock pot and stir a few times for an hour. Then, like basically every other crock pot recipe out there, you add in the rest of your ingredients and forget about it. Another thing I liked about this recipe is the addition of balsamic vinegar while caramelizing the onions, and instead of adding wine to the caramelized onions, you add dark beer. YUM.

This recipe was really easy, but you do need to remember to allot yourself an hour or so to let your onions caramelize. For me, my onions didn't actually caramelize. It seemed like there was a lot of liquid in the pot for that to happen. So my onions sweat instead of caramelize. Another idea for soup topping is using day old (or toasted) bread cubes, like croutons instead of a slice of bread over the top. It's a little easier to eat, and you have more bread to go around.

The verdict? My husband said this is the best French Onion Soup he's ever had, and my sometimes picky toddler ate it too. For me, it was good, but it didn't have all of the "fireworks" I was looking for. So I shall continue on in my quest to make a delicious French Onion Soup, and it may require me babysitting caramelizing onions. I've come to terms with that, and I feel good about it. But, for an easy first-timer recipe, it was great! Besides, how can you go wrong with yummy bread and ooey gooey cheese?!

Crock-pot French Onion Soup from How Sweet Eats

[adapted from Tyler Florence]

makes a giant pot, about 8-10 servings

4 medium sweet onions, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, minced

4 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (I used my favorite Colvatia)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons flour

8 ounces of beer, the darker the better

64 ounces of low-sodium beef stock

2 tablespoons fresh thyme, I used about 2t dried

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

French bread - Check back tomorrow for the easy recipe I used!

gruyere cheese

Set your crock pot on high, then add onions, garlic, brown sugar, butter, salt and balsamic and mix until combined. Cover and let cook for 60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are a bit caramely and brown on the edges. Add in flour, then stir thoroughly and let sit for 5 minutes. Add in beer, beef stock, thyme, and pepper, then turn heat down to low, cover and cook for 6-8 hours.

Before serving, cut french bread or baguette into slices. Fill soup bowls to the top, then cover with slice of bread and a slice of cheese. Set under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly and golden brown. Be careful when serving as bowls will be hot!

Note: I used a very low-sodium beef stock, so depending on the stock you use, add additional salt for flavor if desired.