Monday, December 28, 2009

Sloppy Turkey Joes

This recipe is fun, delicious and great to make if you have kids! I made this so much the first time I got the recipe that I kind of wore it out at my house! It's that good. This is a meal you can feel good about. It uses fresh ingredients and the sauce is from scratch - none of that Manwich stuff! Yuck! This will be a family favorite for sure!

My notes: Hence, the title, this is a ground turkey recipe. I suppose you could make it with ground beef, but why? The turkey is so much better for you and I can't even tell the difference between the two when I cook anymore. The recipe is from Rachael Ray and it's written for a kid to cook with their parents, so just keep that in mind! It also includes Cheese fries and veggie sticks. I usually serve it with some frozen fries or chips. Enjoy!

Sloppy Turkey Joes (from

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
1 package, 1 1/3 pounds, ground turkey breast or lean ground turkey
1/2 red onion
1/2 red bell pepper
1 tablespoon grill seasoning blend (recommended: McCormick Montreal Grill Seasoning or Mrs. Dash seasoning for poultry)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup tomato sauce,( 8- ounce) can
4 crusty sandwich rolls, split

Have a GH (grown helper) place a big skillet over medium high heat for you. Use some kitchen scissors to cut the turkey package open. Add some extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan in a nice, slow stream. Have the GH add the ground turkey to the pan, in case it spatters. Break the turkey up with a big wooden spoon as it starts to cook. If anyone touches the raw turkey, they should go wash their hands.

If you are a really good chopper, using a small, sharp knife chop up some red onion. Remember when you are chopping to keep the fingers that are not holding the knife all tucked in and curled under. Have a GH help you. You need half a red onion chopped up small. Pull the seeds and white membrane and the top out of a half red bell pepper and chop that up small too. Add the veggies to the cooking meat and stir it all together.

Next, mix in a small bowl: grill seasoning blend, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and the tomato sauce. This will make your special sauce. When all the ingredients are combined, pour the sauce evenly over the meat and stir everything together really well. Turn the heat down to simmer and cook the sloppy mixture for 10 minutes. Blow on a spoonful until cool and taste it to see if you need to adjust the seasoning.

Have the GH help you serve. Place a bun bottom on a plate. Use a big ice cream scoop to get a pile of sloppy meat onto the bun. Put bun top in place and serve with french fries or chips.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Creamy Tomato Soup

The weather where I live is pretty hot all year-round so when we get even a touch of cool, dry air, we pull out the "winter" clothes, open all the windows and break out our favorite soup recipes. I mean, soup just doesn't taste the same when it's 90 degrees out. I made this soup on one of those rare cool days and we practically licked our bowls clean. In fact, I wish I had made more to freeze because we've had about 5 cool days in a row and it's been marvelous! Next time. This soup is just the right amount of tangy and creamy and not too acidic. You'll love it!

My notes: As I said before, I wish I had made more if this, so I would double the recipe and freeze the left-overs. The recipe will feed a family of 4, though. I had to puree the soup in a few batches because it was so hot, so I equally added the cream cheese with each batch, a little at a time, and it worked out well. I didn't have fresh basil, so I used a few teaspoons of dried basil and it was great. I would definitely serve this with a fancy grilled cheese panini! Or, use it as an appetizer to your meal! Either way, this is a winner.

Creamy Tomato Soup (from

1 T real butter
1 C chopped onion
¾ C shredded carrot
1 T minced garlic
1 tea sugar
¼ tea pepper
¼ tea salt
4 Fresh Basil leaves plus some for garnish (or substitute 1-2 t dried basil, see note below)
1/2 C sliced sun-dried tomatos, packed in oil with herbs
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14oz) can chicken broth
3 oz 1/3 less fat cream cheese

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onion, shredded carrot, and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring frequently.
2. Add sugar, pepper, and salt and cook 2 more minutes. Then add sun-dried tomatoes, diced tomatoes, and 4 basil leaves.If you're substituting dried basil, the rule of thumb is 1/3 part dried herb = 1 part fresh so for this recipe you can eyeball it, but I'm guessing you'd want to add about 1-2 t dried basil
3. Stir to combine and finally add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat, and simmer 30-40 minutes.
4. Remove from heat. Place soup in blender (do this in 2 batches if necessary). Add cream cheese. Remove center piece of blender lid to allow steam to escape, but place a paper towel over opening in blender lid to avoid splatters. Process for a couple of minutes until very smooth.
5. Divide soup among bowls and garnish each serving with a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan cheese and a basil leaf.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Panko-Crusted Chicken with Mustard-Maple Pan Sauce

Sounds fancy but it's so easy! This is definitely a crowd-pleaser and you will want to make it again and again. I got this recipe from Enjoy!

My notes: You can find Panko breadcrumbs in Publix near the other breadcrumbs. If you can't find them, ask - you definitely can't subsitute with regular ones! This recipe makes a lot of sauce so I double the chicken. I cut the breasts in half to make smaller pieces and pounded them very thin. I think I had 8 altogether. I also added a little more syrup than the recipe called for because when I tested the sauce it was a little more mustardy than sweet. Just adjust if necessary. This is an amazing meal! You could serve it with roasted potatoes and vegetables and a small salad.

Panko-Crusted Chicken with Mustard-Maple Pan Sauce (from

2 8-ounce skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut crosswise in half
1 large egg
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coarse-grained mustard
1 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter

Using meat mallet or rolling pin, pound chicken in resealable plastic bag to 1/3-to 1/2-inch thickness. Whisk egg, parsley, and 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard in large bowl. Place chicken in egg mixture; turn to coat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Dip each chicken piece in panko; turn to coat. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook until brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, whisk broth, syrup, coarse-grained mustard, and remaining 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard in glass measuring cup.

Transfer chicken to plates. Add broth mixture to skillet; boil until reduced to 3/4 cup, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add butter; whisk until melted. Spoon sauce alongside chicken.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Asian Chicken with Pasta

This recipe is sort of my own concoction but it turned out pretty well! I got the general idea for it from this blog. I think I will make that exact recipe at some point but last night I really wanted something hot so I changed it up a bit.

Asian Chicken with Pasta

1-2 cups ditalini or orzo pasta (use however much you want...I used 2 cups)
2 cups cooked chicken (I used half the meat from a rotisserie chicken that I had shredded and frozen earlier)
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 a large or 1 medium onion, chopped
8 oz edamame or sugar snap peas (you can throw them in frozen)
4 tablespoons canola oil
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon grated or minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup peanuts or almonds

First, boil some water for the pasta and cook till al dente. Rinse and set aside. Meanwhile, chop the onion, pepper and sautee it in a skillet in a little bit of oil till softened. Add in the chicken to heat up (if you're using raw chicken, cook that first, then add the onion & pepper). In a small bowl combine the oil, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes. Pour into skillet and cook for about 3-5 minutes. Add in edamame and peanuts or almonds and cook till edamame is no longer frozen. Serve! You can also sprinkle some nuts on top. Enjoy!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pineapple & Green Chile Pork Tacos

I just made this awesome recipe yesterday for dinner. I love using the Crock Pot as often as possible. The meat is always cooked perfectly, falls apart and just melts in your mouth. It's amazing. Both the hubby and I gobbled it up. I know it sounds weird but trust me, try it! I've never had pork in a taco but it kind of makes me think of fish tacos - something I've never had but want to try. I'm SO glad I did and you will be too!

My notes: Regarding the choice of meat: when I made this, I used pork ribs I had in the freezer that I wanted to get rid of. Next time, I will probably just use a boneless pork butt (the "butt" is actually the shoulder, not the "butt"! Don't know why it's called that.) roast - it's cheap and not such a hassle to de-bone. You can find tomatillo salsa on the same aisle as all the Mexican/Spanish food in your grocery store. I served it with taco shells, mexican rice (one of those Knorr (formerly Lipton) packets), cheese and sour cream. I wish I had fresh tomatoes but maybe next time. This makes so much pork so you can make a whole other meal with it the next day! Enjoy!

Pineapple & Green Chile Pork Tacos (from

3 lb. boneless pork roast
1 (20 ounce can) crushed pineapple with juices
1 (16 ounce) jar tomatillo salsa (green salsa or salsa verde)
2 (4 ounce) cans green chiles, undrained
2/3 cup brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in the crock pot and cook on high for four hours or on low for 6 to eight hours. Shred pork, season to taste with salt and pepper. In a colander, drain juices from crock pot. Mix shredded pork with pineapple/salsa mixture that remains in colander and serve in tortillas with desired accompaniments. It also works great to serve as a quesadilla.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Chicken Parmigiana Quesadillas with Cheesy Marinara Rice

My friend Carla and I found this recipe about 2 years ago. It comes from Publix Apron's Meals and it couldn't be easier. Plus it's delicious and if you're in a hurry, it takes probably 15-20 minutes to make! This is a great meal to make if you have kids because the chicken is actually breaded chicken nuggets and what kid doesn't like chicken nuggets?! You could puree or shred some zucchini and hide it in there for added nutrition or add some chopped peppers! These are a hit as a week night dinner or as hors d'oeurves. The cheesy rice is a great addition. I use it all the time to complement other dishes too. Tip: Heat up the extra marinara sauce to dip your quesadillas in! Enjoy!

My notes: I use my favorite jarred marinara sauce (I like Bertolli or Prego, personally). I have a small George Foreman grill that I use to make these but if you don't have one, just use a wide skillet and flip once after the first side is browned & the cheese is melted. For the rice, I use Uncle Ben's 90 second microwaveable rice - it's called Cheesy Rice, I think. That is what you want for this! Again, I just use the same jarred sauce for this that I used for the quesadillas. I've used fresh & pre-minced garlic - it doesn't matter. I don't have a garlic press so I grate it into the rice or just use the pre-minced - it isn't as strong as raw garlic anyway.

Chicken Parmigiana Quesadillas (rice recipe below)

10 ounces frozen breaded chicken tenders or strips
8 medium-size flour tortillas
cooking spray
1 cup shredded Italian-blend cheese, divided
1 1/2 cups tomato pasta sauce with olives, divided (I just used my favorite jarred sauce - I hate olives)

Preheat two-sided tabletop grill. Place chicken tenders on plate (may be paper). Microwave on HIGH 3-5 minutes or until heated. Cut chicken into bite-size pieces. Lightly coat one side of the tortillas with cooking spray. Arrange 4 of the tortillas on clean work surface (sprayed side down). Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the cheese over each tortilla, then one-fourth of the chicken. Spoon one-fourth of the marinara sauce over the chicken; then sprinkle with 2 more tablespoons of the cheese. Cover each with remaining tortillas (sprayed side out).

Place one or two quesadillas on grill (depending on size of grill). Cook 4-5 minutes or until golden. Let stand 2-3 minutes before cutting. Cook remaining quesadillas. Cut each quesadilla into wedges and serve.Note: Quesadillas may be cooked in large sauté pan preheated on medium. Double cooking time, turning once.

Cheesy Marinara Rice

1 (8.5-ounce) pouch pre-cooked rice with cheese
1 cup tomato pasta sauce with olives
3 fresh garlic cloves
4-5 sprigs fresh Italian parsley (rinsed)

Combine rice and pasta sauce in small saucepan on medium. Crush garlic, using garlic press, into rice. Use knife to remove garlic from bottom of press. Chop parsley finely (1 tablespoon); stir into rice. Cook 2-4 more minutes, stirring occasionally, or until thoroughly heated. Reduce heat to warm; cover until ready to serve.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tortellini Sausage Soup

I just made this tonight for dinner and my hubby and I both loved it! It was easy to make, healthy and delicious! I just found this recipe from Our Best Bites and I'm so glad I did. I've included a picture so you can see what the end result looks like.

My notes: I just made a couple changes to the original recipe. I don't have a garlic press so instead of mincing the garlic myself, I grated it into the pot using my box grater. Also, I used 1 medium zucchini instead of two. I shredded both up and thought it looked like a ton of zucchini so I used about half and I think it was perfect. Other than that, I followed it exactly. Enjoy!

Tortellini Sausage Soup (from

3 links Italian sausage
4 cloves pressed garlic
1 onion, diced
½ c. water
2 cans chicken broth
½ c. apple cider (don't leave this out! I did once and it wasn't the same...)
1 16-oz. can diced tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1 c. sliced carrots
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 medium zucchini, grated (great way to use your food processor if you have one)
8-10 oz. package cheese tortellini (check the freezer section of your grocery store; if you can find it there, it will almost always be way cheaper than fresh tortellini. Also, Barilla makes a great dry cheese tortellini)
2 Tbsp. dried parsley (yes, that's two tablespoons)
If you're using link sausage, remove the casings and crumble into a large soup pot. To remove the casings, you can use a sharp knife to cut a slit down one side of the sausage and then peel back the casing. Begin cooking sausage over medium heat, stirring frequently. If your sausage is pretty fatty, you'll want to drain it when it's about halfway cooked.

Meanwhile, chop onions and garlic and add to the sausage. Continue cooking until onions are translucent and your sausage is cooked. Your house will smell heavenly.Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, juice, water, chicken broth, carrots, oregano, and basil. Cover and simmer for 1/2 hour. Add parsley and zucchini and simmer for another 15 minutes or so.Add the tortellini and cook until tender, and then serve with bread and freshly-grated Parmesan.

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

Need a dish to bring to a party? This is a great appetizer! It couldn't be easier! There are many recipes floating around for Sweet & Sour Meatballs but this is my favorite and when I bring this anywhere - baby shower, pot luck, Super Bowl party, etc. there are NO meatballs left! So don't expect any left-overs! This is sweet and tangy and I dare you to just eat one! :)

Sweet & Sour Meatballs

1 bag Armour brand frozen meatballs (usually come with 32 meatballs in a bag - make sure they are "caramel coated")
2 12oz jars of grape jelly
2 12 oz jars of chili sauce (not to be confused with cocktail sauce which looks exactly the same but tastes totally different so pay attention!)

I cook this in the crock pot for about 4 hours and it turns out great. Just empty the jelly and chili sauce in your crock pot and whisk to combine. It will be lumpy but the jelly will melt and the sauce becomes smooth as it cooks. Pour in the bag of meatballs and stir to get them all coated. Put the lid on, cook for 4 hours and serve! This is a hit at any event!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Chicken Marsala

If you want to impress your in-laws or your husband's boss (or your boss!), this is the meal for you. I made this for my in-laws when I first got married and my father-in-law probably would've eaten the entire dish! I also make this for my Grandpa a lot, it's one of his favorites. This is so delicious - it will definitely become one of your favorite meals.

My notes: When I make this for my husband, I don't use mushrooms because neither one of us care for's a texture thing. I love the taste they bring to dishes but I can't eat them. However, when I make this for other people I add them and they're a hit. You should be able to find marsala cooking wine in any grocery store. I don't use real marsala wine, even though all the Food Network chefs say you should use real wine instead of cooking wine, but sorry, no one in my house is going to drink marsala wine. Go cheap and buy the cooking wine, it's delicious. I use dried parsley instead of fresh.

Chicken Marsala (from

Serves 4
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 5 ounces each), butterflied
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 ounces white button mushrooms, sliced
2 cups sweet Marsala wine
1 clove garlic, finely minced
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (of 1 lemon)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a large shallow dish; set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Dredge chicken in seasoned flour, tapping off excess; set aside. Add oil to skillet. When oil is shimmering, add chicken, and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Turn over, and cook 3 minutes more. Remove chicken to a plate; set aside and keep warm.

Heat 2 tablespoons butter in same skillet. Add mushrooms, and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden brown and all the released liquid has evaporated, 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove skillet from heat, and add wine. Return skillet to heat, scraping up any brown bits with a wooden spoon. Add garlic, lemon juice, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and parsley. Cook for 2 minutes until reduced and slightly thickened. Taste and adjust for seasoning. Pour sauce over chicken and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately.