Tag Archives: recipe

Busy Busy Weekend

13 Nov

We have a lot of crazy busy weekends around my house with tons of family and friend’s birthdays, baby showers, errands, holidays, weddings, work obligations, etc. This weekend seemed pretty tame going into it, we had the opportunity to be invited to the YWCA Annual Gala at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Friday night and I had a hair appointment. Not too crazy for a three day weekend. Somehow between Thursday night and Friday afternoon my weekend blew up and became jam packed, but we made the most of our time and was able to get everything done.
On Thursday night I offered to watch my niece so my sister and brother in law could celebrate their anniversary this weekend. On Friday morning I got a text that my friend was in labor (two weeks early) and she had her baby that afternoon. On Friday afternoon one of my grad school girlfriends let me know she was coming out and wanted to get lunch. Suddenly things got a little more complicated!
On Friday we got all dressed up and took a little drive to Beverly Hills to attend the YWCA of Greater Los Angeles’ Annual Gala which my husband’s firm had purchased a table. I was able to learn more about the wonderful mission of this organization (empowering women and eliminating racism) and the great works that they are doing to achieve their mission in the Los Angeles community.
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On Saturday I had a hair appointment jammed into a bunch of errands, seeing my friend’s brand new baby Layla, and having a sleepover with my niece. We dropped Madeline off with my mom so we could go visit new baby Layla in the hospital, after we stopped to get the new parents some treats from my very favorite Italian delicatessen Cavaretta’s to get cannoli’s, sprinkle cookies, cream stuffed butter cookies, etc for them. We got to visit with the precious new miss for a while and the very tired new parents who were holding it together quite well. We picked up Madeline and my niece, watched Tangled, made homemade pizza, and had ice cream sundaes.

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On Sunday once the sleepover was over, we rushed around to get some errands done so I could get out to lunch with Madeline and my friend and Dan could go see his grandfather. All while trying to get home in time to make sides for the brisket that Dan was smoking and get ready for the week.

I barely left 30 minutes of time to make lunch on Saturday before dashing off to continue my scheduled activities. I definitely wanted to get a homemade meal on the table for my husband and myself to avoid the default of fast food. I had some salmon in the fridge and decided to throw together one of the quickest things I could think of: Salmon with sauteed veggies over ramen noodles. I wanted to make something light but tasty and this fit the bill.
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Ingredients:
1 Salmon filet
dash salt
dash freshly ground black pepper
dash garlic powder
1 lemon
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 yellow onion sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper sliced thinly
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons soysauce
2 packets of top ramen (uncooked, unbroken)
1 cup shredded carrots

Directions: 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Place salmon filet skin side down, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and lightly with garlic powder. Squeeze lemon juice over salmon and place in the oven for 12-15 minutes until salmon is cooked through. Slice salmon into individual servings.
In a small sauce pan heat vegetable oil over high heat and saute vegetables for about 4 minutes, add garlic and soy sauce. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Vegetables should be just tender but with some bite.
In a large pot bring a couple cups of water to a boil, when salmon and vegetables are cooked add the ramen noodles without breaking (do not add seasoning packet) boil for 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain noodles and serve meal by layering noodles, veggies, and then salmon. Serve with additional soy sauce, if desired.

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What I Love Now

28 Oct

I love roasting vegetables, I don’t know how I ate veggies before discovering this amazing form of cooking- o wait, I avoided stand alone vegetables back then. If it wasn’t mixed in with something else or a green bean I was like not into it (think valley-girl speak). Well ever since roasting vegetables rocked my world I have been regularly enjoying a bounty of delicious and nutritious vegetables. This is the perfect time of year to enjoy seasonal favorites roasted, carrots, butternut squash, pumpkin, Brussels sprouts,  etc the possibilities are endless!

I personally used to hate carrots until I started roasting them and now they are one of my go-to sides. Carrots have a ton of vitamin A which is great for sight. Brussels sprout? Yea, I avoided that like the plague until about a year ago because frankly, I thought they were weird and smelled a little funny. NO, its not true, they are delicious and crazy nutritious. Brussels sprouts have chemicals called indole-3-carbinol which may help to prevent cancerous cell growth. I will literally eat these leftover roasted sprouts all by themselves, even cold right out of the fridge. Butternut squash is so amazing when it’s roasted, it is definitely my favorite way to cook it. Butternut squash is insanely difficult to cut up (so purchasing chopped and prepared fresh packages is great) but they contain a ton of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, and potassium.

Roasting vegetables couldn’t be easier also, see below for my tips.

Carrots

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For carrots, I either trim them and then cut them into planks like you can see above or I will halve them and make them into chunks about 2 1/2 inches long. I try to lie them flat in the baking dish so that everyone will cook evenly. I usually toss them with a drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of salt and pepper, place them in a preheated over at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until softened and in some places browned.

Brussels sprouts
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For Brussels Sprouts I like to trim their ‘stem’, remove any unsightly or yellowed leaves, then cut them in half and rinse them using a colander. I toss them with salt and pepper and olive oil as well and try to have them all in a single layer. I place them in a preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes as well, they should be tender (you can stick a fork in it) and browned where the olive oil coated them.

Butternut squash
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For butternut squash I peeled the skin off, then chopped the squash into smaller even pieces. tossed with salt, pepper, a dash of nutmeg, and olive oil. Roasted them in a preheated 400 degree oven for 35-40 minutes until tender (check by sticking a fork in it).

Roasting is easy since you literally just cut things up and put it in the oven, no occasional stirring or keeping your eye on it which frees you up for other cooking tasks. Hopefully you will start loving roasted veggies and up your intake of these valuable nutrients.

Making The Most Of It

24 Oct

As the holidays approach I have been paying a little more attention to how much I’m spending and on what. One area that I know we have an issue with over spending is definitely on food. I’ve been making an effort to be smarter about menu planning over the weekend as well as making dinners that will stretch into two nights or I can take leftovers for lunch the next day.
While I was making my delicious lasagna soup I realized that my package of Italian turkey sausage was going to make much more than I needed, but I didn’t know how long I could store it before it would go bad. I decided to brown it up (breaking it up with a spoon) in a small frying pan with just olive oil over medium heat. I also only had four more lasagna noodles left in my package after I was done with the soup and felt silly about storing just a couple so I boiled them according to the package. I had extra mozzarella cheese from the soup, extra ‘everything’ veggie pasta sauce (which I always do because I have a difficult time figuring out portions for only two people). I happened to have ricotta cheese which I had planned to use in another recipe later but I only needed a little. I checked out Pinterest for the layering and storage and decided that it would be quite delish to make lasagna roll ups for a later date. It was so easy, allowed me to use the leftover ingredients I had from my original meal, and make a great pop-in-the-oven meal for another day.

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Lasagna Roll Ups
Ingredients:
4 Lasagna noodles cooked per package instructions
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup Italian turkey sausage casings removed, crumbled and cooked
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup tomato pasta sauce
Directions:
Take this noodle by noodle. Place noodle on a surface that it can lie flat.

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Spoon and spread ricotta evenly over noodle.

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Spoon sausage crumbles even over ricotta.

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Sprinkle shredded mozzarella over meat and cheese.

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Spoon pasta sauce over cheese and meat.

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Roll noodle and stuffing up ‘jelly roll’ style.

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Repeat with all other noodles.

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Top all with sauce and more mozzarella cheese.

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I decided to freeze mine for later but you can either heat these in the microwave for a minute on high or in the oven at 350 for 5-10 minutes until cheese is melted and the rolls are heated through. If frozen, they should be fully defrosted before reheating.
I like roll ups because you can make less than a full pan if you desire and even though you use your hands it’s less messy than a traditional lasagna.

Soup, It’s What The Doctor Called For

21 Oct

I haven’t been feeling very well in the past couple days (ahem Jessica who got me sick at work), so it was the perfect time to have Soup Week. Since I plan to make soup all week (different & new varieties) I dubbed it Soup Week to make it exciting – like Shark Week! lol. Are you excited yet? I am! Although my husband likes soups, I love them and I tend to want to make soup (homemade, of course) for dinner often. I had already decided before I was under the weather that I wanted to have Soup Week so I found three new recipes for soups that I have never made before, Pasta Fagioli, Broccoli Cheese Soup, and Chicken Enchilada Soup, and I plan to also make one of my favorite soups that I haven’t made in a while: Lasagna Soup. Is your mouth watering yet?? Mine certainly is.

I decided to start with the Fagioli and of course had to riff on the recipe that I found on the Frugal Living Now blog. This was exactly what I needed to make me feel so much better and was much less calories than a traditional ‘comfort food’ i.e. mac n cheese, mashed potatoes, etc. It was light yet filling and very tasty! It was so easy to make, the most intensive thing I had to do was literally collect all the ingredients. You could probably let it simmer for only 30 minutes if pressed for time and I bet it would be just as wonderful.

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Meaty Pasta Fagioli

Ingredients:
1 medium onion
1 lb ground beef
1 tbsp olive oil
2 carrots chopped
1 can white beans, great northern, or kidney- drained & rinsed (I used white beans)
1 can petite diced tomatoes and juice
32 oz chicken stock
2 cloves garlic crushed
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
Fresh parsley
Parmesan cheese

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Directions:
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, add onions and sauté about 2 minutes. Add ground beef, break up meat with a spoon, brown meat thoroughly. Add carrots, rinsed beans, tomatoes, garlic, chicken stock, tomato paste and stir to combine. Add red pepper flakes, thyme, oregano, rosemary, and bay leaf. Reduce soup to simmer and cook for 1 hour. Check flavoring and add salt and pepper as necessary. Add elbow macaroni and cook for an additional ten minutes. Add parsley and Parmesan and serve.
Makes 6 servings.

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I loved how fragrant my kitchen was with robust herbs and garlic. The second my husband came home from work the very first words were “something smells so good!”.

This soup is super simple to make and fantastic, I hope you love it! Now I am definitely looking forward to the rest of Soup Week and trying all these new recipes!

BBQ Turkey Meatloaf

16 Oct

So here’s the deal, meat loaf can be kinda gross. I was never a fan, like at all, when I was growing up. It just seemed like a mutant blob of blah. However, I can say that today I feel differently because of my BBQ Turkey Meatloaf. It’s super tasty, flavorful, tender, and saves easily for left overs- what’s not to like?
This recipe came about actually after an epic fail of trying to make a more traditional beef meatloaf. I won’t go into what exactly happened but I believe the words: cardboard and bland may have been thrown around and I do recall my husband politely choking it down. I don’t usually take epic failures lying down. I just had to redeem myself! And I did just that with this recipe.

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BBQ Turkey Meatloaf
Ingredients:
1 lb ground turkey meat
1 teaspoon meat magic seasoning (chef Paul Prudhomme)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 egg lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups BBQ sauce
1 clove garlic crushed
1/2 medium yellow onion finely chopped
1 carrot finely chopped
1 medium zucchini finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups plain bread crumbs

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Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix BBQ sauce, meat magic seasoning, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic and egg in a medium bowl. In a sauce pan heat olive oil over medium and heat, sauté vegetables with salt and pepper until tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a couple minutes. Add vegetables to wet mix and combine. Place ground turkey in a large bowl and pour wet mix over meat, add bread crumbs and mix with your hands. Separate into four equal sections and shape into oblong ovals on a non stick sprayed glass baking dish(es), not touching. Top all loaves with additional BBQ sauce. Bake for 30 minutes, add more BBQ sauce to the top of loaves, continue to bake for another 10 minutes or until cooked through.

I decided to make mine with my very favorite new mashed potato recipe by the Pioneer Woman- I honestly cannot get enough, and frankly what’s better with meatloaf than mashed potatoes?!

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I love this meatloaf because it’s so full of flavor, it’s moist, and frankly delicious!

The Dreamiest Rice Pudding

30 Sep

First, welcome October, I didn’t see you sneaking up on me… where did September go?? I love how everyone is stepping it up on the fall front, from decorating to baking to checking out the local farm’s Harvest Festival, which opened last weekend. I just wish it was slightly cooler out, it’s a tad too warm for my taste midday but the evenings are definitely starting to get chilly and that leads me to want more cozy dinners and treats.

I happen to be a big fan of comfort food, if you couldn’t tell. When you are in the mood for a sweet treat on a chilly evening (or pretty much any time) one of the most delightful desserts in my opinion is Dreamy Creamy Rice Pudding. This recipe is slightly adapted from my mom’s recipe, I added heavy cream to the recipe to make it that much more amazing.
In my last post I mentioned some of the things I do to help me get home cooked dinners on the table after work midweek. I used another to help me make The Pioneer Woman’s Spicy Stewed Beef with Creamy Cheddar Grits by cooking the beef (which takes 3 hours to prepare) on Sunday afternoon (yesterday) and storing in the fridge overnight and then reheating it on the stove top while I was making the grits.

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It was really tasty, I love the grits especially. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, that Pioneer Woman, she really knows what’s up! I could only hope to be as clever and creative as her one day.
After a delicious dinner I was in a mood for dessert, the possibilities were nearly endless. I considered chocolate chip cookies, bundt cake, brownies, etc but the only option that sounded truly amazing was rice pudding. I love rice pudding with it’s gentle sweetness and creaminess that cannot be beat. I like this particular recipe because it doesn’t involve multiple pots and baking dishes like most, it’s relatively quick, and requires few ingredients. This dessert is wonderful chilled or served warm, it just feels like home.

Dreamy Creamy Rice Pudding
3-4 servings
Ingredients:
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup medium grain white rice
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ground cinnamon for dusting

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Directions:

 Add milk, rice, sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt to a 3-quart saucepan.
 Over medium low heat, heat milk mixture until tiny bubbles  form around the edge, stirring mixture frequently (about 5 minutes).
 Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 40 minutes or until rice is very tender, stirring occasionally. (about every 10 minutes). Do not leave unattended, this can and will boil over and make a huge mess on your stove top if left unattended. If you see it bubbling up and starting to try to escape the pot remove the lid and stir. When done the rice should be tender, it should be thickened and not overly liquidy.
Transfer to a bowl, dust with ground cinnamon. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes and serve warm.

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This is like a hug in a bowl, I love it and I hope you do too!

Working It Out Work With Weeknight Dinners

28 Sep

Most mornings at work my coworkers and I discuss our previous evening’s activities, sometime they went to yoga, sometimes they have grad school classes, sometimes they have activities with their kids, and sometimes the evening consists of a dinner success or epic failure. Most of my coworkers are surprised by the meals that I make mid week and feel like they don’t have time to put things like that together. Granted there are times that I make the decision to eat later just so I can make something extra special (like earlier this week with my Savory Braised Beef Short Ribs) or I may bake late into the evening so that Madeline can have muffins in the morning or I can bring something sweet to Treat Friday (the best day of the week) at work, but most of the time I try to make dinner as quickly as possible.

Here are some things that help to make making dinner easier but still delicious, nutritious, and simple.

As Sandra Lee (from Sandra’s Money Saving Meals & Semi-Homemade Cooking With Sandra Lee) always says: take a little help from the store. I did this last night by roasting some asparagus with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper, at 400 degrees for 25 minutes, making a package of Alessi’s Portobello Mushroom Risotto (once boiling takes 21 minutes), and sauteing shrimp in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper (approximately 6-8 minutes). The whole meal was done in about 30 minutes and it was delicious. It made the perfect amount for just my husband and I.

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Other ways to get help from the store is to use rotisserie chicken, I often get these to use in Chicken Tortilla Soup, by skipping the cooking of the chicken it cuts the prep time down significantly. I will use the chicken for salads, white chicken chili (pictured), in pasta or just by itself with a couple sides (i.e. roasted vegetables, rice, sauteed spinach, Nana’s homemade stuffing, etc).

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I made this chili with rotisserie chicken chopped up, 1 can of chili beans, 1 can of white beans, 1 can of rotel diced tomatoes and green chilies, 1/2 cup frozen corn, cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and topped it with lots of shredded cheddar cheese.

Another way help that I get from the store is always buying shredded cheese, when I am making anything from my favorite enchilada stacks to lasagna and homemade pizza- it helps to save time by not having to shred and shred (or clean your food processor, which for me is a huge chore). I know it may be a little more expensive to buy the shredded stuff but if when I am weighing my time versus a couple cents to a dollar, I’m going to go with saving time.

Stocking my pantry with things like canned beans for the many chili’s I make, dry pasta which holds up forever and cooks quickly, chicken, beef, and vegetable stocks for soups, white and brown rice, different kinds of canned tomatoes (whole, diced, paste, sauce, with herbs, with chilies) etc. help when you are out of ideas but need to produce some sort of dinner. Keeping key items on hand in the fridge like a jar of crushed garlic, onions, soy sauce, different kinds of shredded cheese, eggs, hot sauce, and frozen items like raw deveined shrimp, frozen corn, frozen turkey meatballs, frozen mixed veggies, etc. really help in a pinch.

Other things that help make week night dinners a success are: planning the meals you want to make over the weekend and shopping for all ingredients you need (so as not to be caught without a key item in the 11th hour), reading recipes thoroughly to know all the steps and be prepared to multitask when necessary. I usually take all the ingredients and bakeware/cookware out prior to beginning so that I’m not running back and forth in my kitchen the whole time to get things I need. I was also taught to clean up as I go so I usually try to put mixing bowls or ingredients I’m done with away in between steps, that way I’m not facing a seemingly insurmountable mess once dinner hits the table.
These are some of the things that I do to be able to put down the takeout menu and instead use my creativity to come up with delicious and quick midweek dinners that make my family happy.