Monday, December 15, 2014

Sausage With White Beans & Tomatoes

This recipe is one of my favorite go-to's when I'm short on time, patience, and groceries.  It uses pantry staples, and comes together in a pinch.  And the whole family loves it, so it's a win-win for everyone!  I adapted this recipe from Bon Apetit - their version looks just as simple, so you can try either one.


Sausage With White Beans & Tomatoes
4 garlic cloves chopped
6 Italian sausages (I use spicy but you can use sweet as well) - casings removed
1 can white kidney beans
1 can chopped tomatoes (or crushed, or whole - but you will have to break them up as you cook)
2 fresh sage sprigs
1 c water
Any other seasonings you like - I add some onion powder, garlic powder, pinch of cayenne, seasoning salt, black pepper

Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; saute until, about 2 minutes. Add sausages; sauté until browned and crumbled up, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice (do not drain) and sage. Simmer 5 minutes. Add beans and 1 cup water. Cover and simmer until sausages are cooked through, about 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer until sauce thickens, if desired. Season as preferred (see above for suggestions).

Delicious!  I have served this over rice, or along side a salad or even with some crusty bread to soak up the juices.  Your choice, anything goes!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Easy Taco Pie

This was by far the easiest, most kid-friendly recipe I have ever made.  It was a huge hit all around and will become a fun weeknight meal when I don't really feel like cooking.  After making this, I started thinking about all of the adaptations that can be done.  The possibilities are endless!  I'll be sure to start experimenting, and posting my ideas.

This recipe was adapted from Pillsbury's version, although their recipe looks great as well.  Mine is a little simpler though and quicker to pull together.


Easy Taco Pie
1 can of Pillsbury Crescent rolls
2 lbs ground beef
taco seasoning packet (or make your own - get the best recipe ever here!!) 
1 container of sour cream
2 c shredded cheese (anything goes; I use mozzarella & cheddar together, or a monterey jack)
1 bag crushed tortilla chips
Toppings - chopped lettuce, chopped tomatoes, salsa, etc

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray.  Spread out the can of crescent rolls on the bottom of the pan (don't separate them) and bake for 10 minutes.  Brown up your ground beef and add taco seasoning as well as anything else you might like (I added garlic salt, seasoning salt, and some cayenne to kick up the spice).  remove crust from oven and spread beef over top.  Spread sour cream on top, then shredded cheese, then chips.  Bake for about 10 minutes, or until cheese has melted.  Serve with optional toppings.

Yum yum yum...

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Absolute Best Carrot Cake - I Kid You Not

I've been known to exaggerate a bit.  I've been labelled as a bit of a drama queen at times.  It's ok, I own it.  But let me tell you, when I say this is the BEST carrot cake recipe EVER I'm telling the truth.

This cake came about over a challenge.  My hubby mentioned that no one bakes a better carrot cake than his aunt.  This statement set the wheels in motion...and on the weekend I participated in a  "carrot cake-off".  Of course, I was the only physical contender, but the man of the house judged my cake based on what he was used to eating from his dear aunt.

I don't think I have to say it, but I will anyways.  I won!  And I did it with this recipe.  Honestly - the best. cake. ever.  Like EVER!!!!


The BEST Carrot Cake EVER
1 1/3 c veg oil
1 c sugar
1 c brown sugar
6 eggs
1 T vanilla extract
3 1/4 c flour
1 T cinnamon
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 lb grated carrots
Cream Cheese Frosting:
3 (8 oz.) bricks cream cheese, room temperature
1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 T vanilla extract
6 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two 9" round pans with Pam.  Mix the first 3 ingredients in a large bowl until smooth. Add in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, and mix until smooth.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining dry ingredients until combined. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just combined. Fold in the carrots. Pour the batter into prepared pans and bake 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Once the cakes are cool, level them off with a large knife or cake leveler.  To make the frosting, beat together the first three ingredients until smooth.  Slowly add in the powdered sugar and beat until combined.  Than, frost your cake, eat it, and love it!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Jam Muffins

I had a container of yogurt in the fridge that was only going to good for a couple of days, so I needed to use it asap.  I made an adaptation of a classic yogurt cake, and turned them into jam muffins.  I always prefer making muffins over a cake because they are so much more portable and easy for the kids to grab.

These muffins are not overly sweet, they have the added punch of protein, and they are so moist.  They are quick to come together, and a favorite of the family's, so I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

Yogurt Jam Muffins
1 c butter
1 1/2 c white sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
3 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 c plain yogurt (or more as needed if batter is too dry)
jam - whatever flavor you would like!

Preheat oven to 350.  Cream together the first 3 ingredients.  Add eggs and combine.  In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients.  Add the dry ingredients and yogurt alternately to the butter mixture, mixing after each addition.  To assemble, line a muffin container with muffin cups.  Put about a tablespoon of batter in the bottom of each cup.  Add a teaspoon of jam on top, than top with another tablespoon of batter.  This recipe makes about 20 muffins.  Bake for 30 minutes, and eat!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Make Ahead Chicken Parm Meatball Casserole

I love make ahead meals!  On nights when I actually have some time to cook, I usually make what we are eating that evening, as well as an extra meal to freeze for another night.  Alternatively, I make a meal and double the recipe so that I can freeze the extra portion for later.  There is nothing better than coming home from work on a busy evening, and pulling a fully cooked (yet home made) meal out of your freezer.  Ah, the sweet things in life...

This recipe was an adaptation of Betty Crocker's, but as always, either one will work.  It has all the flavors and goodness of chicken parmesan, without the hassle.  It uses very few ingredients, and comes together quickly, and even better - freezes beautifully!  It's kid & budget friendly, so it's a keeper in my books, enjoy!

Chicken Parm Meatball Casserole
2lb ground chicken
1 c bread crumbs
1 c panko
2 eggs
any other seasonings you enjoy - I added garlic powder, seasoning salt, black pepper, pinch of cayenne
1 box uncooked penne
1 can tomato sauce
4 c shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 450.  In a large pot of salted water, cook pasta as per directions on box, ending the cooking time early by one minute.  Drain & set aside.  Meanwhile combine the first 4 ingredients plus your preferred seasonings in a large bowl and mix by hand.  Form 1" meatballs and place on cookie sheet lined with parchment (for easy clean up).  Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes. If you are eating this the same day, lower your oven temp to 350 at this point, otherwise turn the oven off. Once pasta is cooked, mix with tomato sauce in a large bowl.  Add in cooked meatballs and toss to combine.  In a 9x13 baking dish, spread half of the pasta/meatball mixture.  Spread half of the cheese on top.  Add the remaining mixture, and then remaining cheese.  If you are eating the same day, place in the 350 oven for about 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and bubbly.  If you are freezing for another day, allow the casserole to cool down completely before wrapping in plastic and then foil.  On the day you would like to eat it, take it out of the freezer and allow it to defrost to room temp.  Put in a 350 oven uncovered for 20 minutes.

Serve this with a quick salad - either a garden or caesar, and voila!  Dinner in a pinch!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Greek Lamb Chops With Kale

I had a major craving for lamb last night.  And kale was on sale at Loblaws (.97 cents for a huge bushel!!) so it seemed like the perfect fit for dinner.  Up until this evening, I hadn't found a way to prepare kale that I actually enjoyed.  I know that it's a nutritional powerhouse yadi yadi ya and I know we should be eating more of it, but there was something about the gritty consistency that I just couldn't handle.

Well clearly I was doing something wrong because tonight's dinner was fantastic.  I don't have an exact recipe for the lamb since I just eyeball the seasonings but I'll do my best to explain.  The kale is an adaptation of Bobby Flay's sauteed kale.  Enjoy!

Greek Lamb Chops with Kale
8 lamb chops
1/4 c EVOO
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 T chopped fresh parsley & thyme (or 2 tsp dried of each)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt & pepper
1 bunch of kale, stems removed & coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic sliced
1 red onion chopped
1/2 c chicken stock (or veg)
2 T vinegar - the original recipe calls for red wine vinegar, but I used a spicy vinegar from the Dominican.  To replicate this, you can use red wine vinegar and a pinch of cayenne or red pepper flakes.

 For the lamb, throw the chops in a resealable bag and add the next 6 ingredients.  Ensure the lamb is fully coated, and allow to marinate for 2 hours - overnight.  When ready to cook, remove from the fridge and bring to room temp.  Broil them for about 8 minutes in your oven (at 450).  For the kale, add EVOO to a pan over medium heat.  Add garlic & red onion and saute for a couple of minutes, until fragrant.  Add stock and then kale.  Toss to coat.  Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, then uncover and add vinegar, salt & pepper to taste.  Toss and continue to steam until kale is cooked, about another 2-3 minutes.

Serve your lamb alongside the kale and lick your lips when done, yum!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Salmon With Spicy Coconut Sauce

If you have been reading my blog for a while, or if you know me, you know that I'm not a fan of salmon.  For some reason it's the only fish I just can't stand.

When I saw this recipe in Oprah's magazine, I thought I would give it a try.  I like coconut, and I like spicy, and I thought that maybe the sauce would mask the salmon enough for me to love it.  Unfortunately I was wrong, but my family loved it so I thought I would still post the recipe for you (weird) salmon-lovers out there.

Salmon With Spicy Coconut Sauce
1 T veg oil
4 6oz salmon fillets
salt & pepper 
1 red onion thinly sliced
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 can coconut milk
1 T lemon juice
1 roasted red pepper, sliced
1 head bok choy, chopped
fresh basil

In skillet over medium-high, heat oil.  Season salmon with salt & pepper and cook 2 minutes per side.  Transfer to a plate.  Cook onion with a pinch of salt & cayenne, stirring, until golden, 6 minutes.  Add milk & lemon juice and simmer, stirring, 10 minutes.  Add next 2 ingredients and simmer 1 minute.  Return salmon to pan and simmer 2 minutes.  Season to taste and garnish with basil.

Monday, October 27, 2014

BBQ Chicken With Succotash

This was a great kid-friendly meal and was pretty quick to prepare.  I made a couple of tweaks to the side dish since succotash is a fairly forgiving recipe. 

Succotash is simply a side dish consisting mainly of corn and lima beans.  It came about during the Great Depression when there were very little resources, and corn & lima beans happened to be cheaper vegetables then most.  There are so many variations out there, and it's hard to find one made exactly like another.  So have fun with it and add whatever suits you!  My changes are below in brackets.

Thank you, as always, to the Food Network!

BBQ Chicken With Succotash

4 skin on bone in chicken breasts( I used thighs)
Salt & pepper
½ c apple cider
¼ c ketchup
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T + 1 tsp Dijon
3 T butter
1 bunch scallions (white and green parts separated)
1 red pepper chopped
1 10oz package frozen corn
1 10oz package frozen baby lima beans (I used edamame)
(I also added chopped bacon - delicious!)

Preheat oven to 425.  Season chicken with salt & pepper and place on foil-lined baking sheet.  Roast until golden and crisp, 30 minutes.  Meanwhile make bbq sauce – combine next 3 ingredients + 1 Tbsp Dijon in small saucepan.  Bring to simmer over medium and cook until slightly thickened, 15 minutes.  Melt butter in skillet over medium.  Add scallion whites, red pepper, and ½ tsp salt & some grinds of pepper.  Cook, stirring, until veggies soften slightly, 5 minutes.  Add ¼ c water, corn, lima beans, and remaining Dijon.  Bring to a simmer and continue cooking until veggies are tender, 10 minutes.  Stir in the scallion greens.  Turn on broiler.  Brush chicken with bbq sauce and broil until it’s thick and bubbling, 3 minutes.  Serve with succotash.

Per serving (of 4 - original recipe):
550 calories
20g fat
857mg sodium
45g carbs
8g fiber
48g protein


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Shrimp and Kale Pitas

I have a confession.  I've been on a serious kale kick lately.  I can't seem to get enough of it.  In fairness, I'm new to the whole kale-bandwagon, so I probably have a lot of catching up to do.  It's possible that serving this to my family as often as I have been will result in an adamant 'no thank you' at some point, but I'll ride this one out as long as I can. 

Kale really is a nutrition powerhouse.  It's very high in beta carotene, vitamin K, vitamin C, and calcium.  It's high in fiber and protein, and can aid in lowering cholesterol.  It has been shown to lower your risk of cancer, and has over 45 flavanoids.  Why wouldn't I want to force this down my loved ones throats lovingly provide this to my family every single day??

Needless to say, this is a great recipe (aren't all of my recipes great?).  We had a ton of leftover kale already mixed with the dressing, but we ate it as a side dish all week.  That's another great thing about this leafy green - it doesn't get soggy!  That's right folks, you can soak this in your favorite dressing and keep it in the fridge all week!  No words.

Thank you Food Network!

Shrimp And Kale Pitas
½ c plain low-fat yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove, finely grated
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 small bunch of kale, stems removed and leaves thinly sliced
¾ lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
½ small red onion thinly sliced
4 pieces pita bread, halved

Preheat broiler.  Whisk yogurt with 2 ½ T EVOO the lemon juice, garlic, ¼ tsp salt and the cayenne in a large bowl.  Add kale and toss to coat.  Set aside at room temp while you prepare the shrimp.  Toss shrimp with remaining EVOO on a baking sheet.  Broil 4-5 minutes; let cool slightly.  Add shrimp, chickpeas, tomatoes and red onion to the bowl with kale; toss to coat.  Stack the pitas on a plate and warm in a microwave for 30 seconds.  Fill with shrimp mixture.

Per serving (of 4):
554 calories
15g fat
72g carbs
9g fiber
35g protein

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Turkey Spinach Korma

Thanks to my latest wagjag grocery splurge, I have quite a bit of extra lean ground turkey on hand.  I normally use it for my egg-white muffins ( a variation of my mini frittatas but I use egg whites, lean ground meat, and whatever veggies I can find) since I eat these as an afternoon snack daily. Today though, I was on the lookout for a healthy dinner to use some of it up.  Something easy that I could add to the menu rotation.  I do believe I found a winner with this recipe.  It's quick to put together, kid-friendly, healthy, and was a hit with the family, so it's a winner in my books.  Thanks Food Network for another great weeknight meal!

Turkey Spinach Korma
1 large onion chopped
1 2” piece ginger peeled & chopped
3 cloves garlic
1 T curry powder
¾ c plain low-fat yogurt plus more for serving
2 T veg oil
1 lb 99% lean ground turkey
1 10oz pkg chopped frozen spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
¼ c fresh cilantro chopped plus more for topping
3 c cooked brown rice for serving

Puree half of the onion, 2 T water, the ginger, garlic, curry powder and ½ tsp salt in the food processor until almost smooth.  Set aside.  Mix yogurt with ¼ c water, set aside.  Heat veg oil in large skillet over high heat.  Add remaining onion & cook 3 minutes.  Add turkey and cook until lightly browned, 3 minutes.  Add onion-spice mixture and cook until dry, 4 minutes.  Reduce heat to low and stir in spinach and yogurt mixture.  Cook until warmed through, 3 minutes.  Stir in cilantro and ¼ tsp salt.  Serve over rice with more yogurt and top with cilantro.

Per serving (4):
453 calories
11g fat
55g carbs
6g fiber
38g protein

Monday, September 29, 2014

Saltfish & Butter Beans With Boiled Dumpling

This was my attempt at a Jamaican meal - mainly to please my dear hubby, but also because I had gotten an amazing deal on salt fish (salted cod) so I was looking for a way to use it.

Surprisingly, this came out very well.  Everyone was quite impressed (and I was quite shocked) especially considering this was my first time cooking a meal like this.  The salt fish wasn't too salty, the seasoning was perfect, even the dumplings came out the right consistency.

My stomach is grumbling just typing this out - I wish there had been more leftovers!

Saltfish & Butter Beans
1/4 lb saltfish
3 medium plum tomatoes
1 medium onion
1 scotch bonnet pepper
2 scallions
1 small sweet pepper
3 T Vegetable Oil
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 sprig thyme
1 can lima beans

Boil saltfish in 4 cups water for 30 minutes or soak overnight, flake in small pieces and remove all bones.  Chop tomatoes, onion, scotch bonnet pepper, sweet pepper,  and scallion.  Heat oil in a frying pan, saute seasonings and vegetables for about 1 minute then add the flaked saltfish, baked beans and black pepper.  Stir well and cook for 1 minute more.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Balsamic & Prosciutto Figs

I love figs.  It's almost that time of year where you can find them fresh everywhere, so I thought I would post my go-to summer appetizer.  This one is great for anything from a backyard bbq to a romantic meal for two.

Thanks to Chatelaine for a quick and easy, yet elegant and delicious recipe.

Balsamic & Prosciutto Figs
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T honey
16 small fresh figs
3 T goat cheese
4 prosciutto slices each cut in 4 pieces

Bring vinegar & honey to boil in small saucepan.  Cook until syrupy, 4 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  Trim stems off figs.  Quarter figs, cutting ¾’s of the way down.  Stuff each fig with ½ tsp cheese, piece of prosciutto, and drizzle with ½ tsp syrup.