Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Easy Weeknight Dinner- Skillet Lasagna

One of the many perks of being a stay at home mom is the luxury of getting in a bit of the Today show (either before Logan wakes up or during his am nap) and last week (or a few weeks ago, not sure.....shocked, I'm not)
I happened to catch the cooking/Today's Kitchen segment where Christopher Kimball was making a lasagna dish all in one skillet. Totally intrigued.
It was so easy I was able to pretty much remember it (with a few minor ad-libs) and found a blogger who made a version of it so I could add it to my "Dinner Time" Pinboard- since lately I (along with quite a few of my friends) am totally using Pinterest to meal-plan every week!

The original recipe is courtesy of Cooks Illustrated HERE
The "What's Cookin Chicago" blog version HERE
and my version,

28oz can diced tomatoes
1 yellow onion, chopped
4-6 cloves of garlic- coarsely chopped
red pepper flakes
1 pound fresh Italian sausage (or Italian turkey sausage), remove from casing and crumble up- OR, EVEN BETTER, buy round Italian sausage that has not been "sausage'd" into casing at all- some markets will have this, ask your butcher too!! 
10 dry curly edged lasagna noodles, broken into 2 inch pieces
8oz  tomato sauce
a few handfuls shredded mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese
about a cup of ricotta cheese
Water, olive oil, salt & pepper
chopped fresh basil for garnish/serving, optional

Pour diced tomatoes with their juices into 4 cup liquid measuring cup. Add water until mixture measures 4cups; set aside.

In a large skillet that has a lid, add 1-2 T of olive oil over medium heat, let it heat up for a few minutes. Add onion and a pinch of salt and cook about 5 minutes. Add garlic, chili pepper flakes, basil & oregano (I eyeballed it- a couple big pinches of the basil/oregano a small pinch of chili flakes)
Add sausage meat (removed from casing for easier breaking up) & cook until meat is cooked through all the way.

Scatter pasta over meat but do not stir. Pour diced tomatoes with juices and tomato sauce over pasta. Cover and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat and stir in cheeses. Season with salt and pepper. Dot with heaping tablespoons ricotta, cover, and let stand off heat for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil Parmesan.
serve with a big yummy salad like THIS ONE

Monday, February 27, 2012

First Crock Pot Pin- Gyros!!

This was a great find!
Thanks to Rainy Day Gal I found A Year of Slow Cooking and can't wait to give so many of those great recipes a try!
I loooooove gyros, so this was a perfect first crock-pot-pinterest find to make

You can find the recipe on the links above- it was DELICIOUS! I used Trader Joe's Tzatziki dip, non-fat feta cheese & flat bread and made a quick side salad to go with it.

Side Salad-
red onion
balsamic vinegar
Chop- toss- EASY.

Check out my slow-cooker-recipe collection on Pinterest, growing daily- by clicking HERE

Friday, February 24, 2012

Easy Weeknight Dinner- Taco Casserole

Easy weeknight dinners are awesome, so is anything that gives you more personal time to spend with your family (or with yourself!!)
I'm also a HUGE fan of dinners that last more than just one night. This is one of those, easy and leftover-delicious. I made this on a Sunday then Monday when we got home from a long day just a little reheating and dinner was ready!!

Brown 1 lb ground beef or turkey in a skillet over medium-high heat
Season with taco seasoning- you can use a packet from the store or make your own!! (click HERE for lots of great make your own seasoning recipes),
I also added a few dashes of hot sauce- when meat is cooked all the way, remove from heat and let cool a bit.
Spray a casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray
I used soft taco sized corn tortillas (the corningwear is about an inch bigger than the tortilla all the way around- which works)
Put a tortilla in the corning wear
Then sprinkle on a thin layer of shred cheese, spoon on 1/3 of the meat, add some drained, rinsed canned black beans, a little handful of chopped tomato and spoon some chunky salsa over that- then more cheese.
New tortilla, repeat- cheese, meat, beans, onions, salsa, cheese- tortilla
Repeat layers
Tortilla on top
Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.
Serve w sour cream and avocado n hot sauce.

This also makes a great freezer meal- right before the "bake at 350" step you can cover the casserole dish in freezer Press n' Seal, then add the lid and freeze- just add 10-15 minutes to the cooking time when cooking from frozen- and for goodness sake, remember to remove the press n seal before you put the frozen dish in the oven! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Crock Pot Asian-Inspired Beef Tacos/Pitas

I'm TRYING to do at least one crock-pot recipe every week, mostly to expand my crock pot horizons and save a TON of time making dinner for more than one night while I spend the day playing and hanging out with my little guy & weenie dogs!
A friend at my husbands office was recently intrigued and had ordered a brand new crock pot so I sent him the link to A Year of Slow Cooking and he decided to try the Slow Cooker Shredded Korean Beef Tacos for his Superbowl gathering & said they came out GREAT!!
I couldn't wait to give them a try!! Click the link above for the recipe and ingredients- the only think I changed was MARINATING the beef, which I think is key if you have time- and per my husband- poke holes in the beef and insert garlic slivers everywhere- then mix the rest of the ingredients and let the whole thing marinate in the fridge at least an hour, more if you can spare the time.
I also scooped out the ginger, onion, jalapeno, garlic etc with a slotted spoon and puree'd it for a little kick-y sauce.

The first night we had soft tacos on corn tortillas

The second night stuffed em in a pita

The third night Nate FRIED the tortillas and made taco shells

My coleslaw was pretty much the same as on the link above-
I mixed 1 T soy sauce and 2 T rice vinegar in a bowl I added a few SMALL squeezes of Siracha- a little goes a long way you can always add more so add a wee bit and taste...whisk it all together.
Take a few handfuls of the shredded cabbage/slaw mix and in a gallon storage slowly add a bit at a time of the vinegar mix and toss with the slaw till coated.
Shake in some toasted sesame seeds, toss again- serve with tacos.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Green Smoothies by Sweet Life Kitchen

I thought I should start a post where I can add all the different smoothie mixes- for ease and reference!
As I post new mixtures- I'll upload the link and pic to THIS post so you can always come back to this one post for ideas~

The basic formula we use for our everyday breakfast is a quart-sized freezer bag full of fruits & veggies- plus 1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt, 1 cup cold water and two big handfuls greens (spinach, chard, kale....)

Green Smoothie 4

More green-ness! Added broccoli to the mix this week- and thanks to a fabulous Facebooker suggestion- I used frozen broccoli in the  fruit & veg bags.
We also got a GIANT bag of frozen fruit ala Costco to see how we liked that- and convenience wise it works brilliantly- it's 6lbs of strawberries, mango, papaya and pineapple- so the smoothies are super SMOOTH!

Here is what I put in each quart size freezer bag::
1 zucchini chopped
1 handful chopped frozen broccoli
1 small banana chopped
1 (more like 1 1/2) big handful of the frozen fruit mix
1 small handful/ sprinkle of blueberries

What I added to the blender each morning
1 freezer bag of fruit & veg (above)
1 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1 cup cold water
2 big handfuls of spinach

Makes 2 14oz smoothies

Monday, February 13, 2012

Lemon chicken- bad photo. GOOD chicken.

This was a use-what-we-got week night dinner. Easy, yummy and a bad photo to boot because I was in a hurry to eat & get baby boy in the bath!

Here's how I threw it all together- in a flash...
What you need:
1 T butter
1T olive oil
2 chicken breasts, chopped
1/4 onion chopped
1-2 T capers
1 lemon
1T flour
Salt pepp

Add butter n olive oil to pan add chicken, onion, salt peppr cook 8 min, until chicken is completely cooked through. Remove chicken & onions from pan, set aside leave liquid in skillet
Add juice of 1 lemon, the flour and whisk constantly on med-low heat until it thickens, then add the chicken & onions and capers to the pan- cook an additional 5 or so minutes on low to get it all saucy- serve with rice or cous cous and some veggies!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Farm Box Soup Noodles

Thanks to Living Social and my friend Erin, I signed up for monthly delivery from Farm Fresh to You. Logan is starting "people food" this month and I thought it would be so amazing to have farm fresh organic produce for him to eat, add the delivered-to-your-door element and I was head over heels!

Our first delivery came on Feb 3 and there was SO much produce I was stunned- you really get a TON for your money from these peeps!
Nate and I decided to play Farm Box Iron Chef and see how many items we could use in one meal for dinner.
We also noted, neither of us had really had chard before...I've had it once, maybe twice, but never bought it and never cooked with it myself.

What else do we have in the casa to work with?

1 container of Trader Joe's Chicken Broth
1 package of Chow Mein Noodles
Hard boiled eggs
garlic, butter, olive oil, salt n pepper

What we used from the farm box:
1 bunch of leeks (rinsed WELL and chopped)
2 purple top turnips, chopped
4 red potatoes, chopped
1/2 a bunch of chard, chopped
1 head of broccoli chopped

What we did with it:

In a large pot add 1 T butter (we use yogurt butter) 1 T olive oil over medium heat.
Add the leeks & garlic- saute til fragrant, about 2-5 minutes
Add the chicken broth 1/8 tsp (a couple little squeezes) siracha, salt n pepper and bring to a boil- reduce to a simmer add the potatoes & turnips- cover and simmer 15-20 minutes
meanwhile cook noodles according to package directions- but take them off the heat and drain them a few minutes early so they are a little aldente- you want  them to finish cooking in the broth and absorb the soupy goodness.
Add the broccoli, chard and noodles to the simmering pot and simmer another 5 minutes or so until potatoes and turnips are soft and noodles are fully cooked.
Chop a hard boiled egg and serve the noodles with veggies and broth with the egg on top!!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Parm Pop

My husband always tells me I am "over informed" to a fault- you know, how the internet can be your best friend and worst enemy all at once. For instance- I haven't eaten chicken in a month because I read some horrible article, I know, I'm crazy- and I LOVE chicken!! What the heck!?!
I try to focus these bouts of "TMI" by only freaking myself out by things I can DO something about- while I was pregnant with Logan I read about the BAGS that microwave popcorn come in are woven out of pure sin or something like that. Of course I saw somebody bust out paper-bag popcorn that very same week via PINTEREST so I pinned it and we've been brown-baggin' it ever since!
Cheaper, easy as can be and less "sin" or whatever the stupid bag was made of.

I do have to say my microwave has a "popcorn" button that may be a sensor setting- so you may have to experiment with timing- I just press the same button I did when we were makin' the other stuff.

This weekend we got Horrible Bosses in our Netflix- so made some Parmesan cheese popcorn to go with it!

1 brown lunch bag
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
about 1-2 T butter or olive oil- you can use either- we used olive oil this time
Parmesan cheese (dry, crumbly- ala Trader Joe's in this case)

add the kernels to the bag with about 1 T of oil or butter (I eyeball this, we use Brummel & Brown yogurt butter so it's soft- and it's like 2 tip-of-the-butter-knife dollops- with the olive oil I just drizzle some in- toss the kernels around a bit to coat)
Fold the bag closed
I think you cook it for the same as a normal sized bag of microwave popcorn- try a little less you can always add a few 20-30 second increments till you get the timing- better to under pop than burn it!
Once popped, put it in a large bowl add a big pinch of salt and few small spoonfuls of parm & toss- you can also add a small bit of melted butter or olive oil at this point too.
Perfect date night at home~

Monday, February 6, 2012

Green Smoothie 3

Ahhh, yes- time to get even more veggie with it! Add some zucchini!! A "Naomi" smoothie, we'll call it!!

This weeks green machine came out a little muddy because I added black berries- this was funny to me because for the past few weeks my husband's boss has been grossed out by his every-day-slime-colored-breakfast habit- when I saw this one take a turn for the "browner" I laughed thinking what would be made of this!

This weeks mix:
1/2 zuchinni
1 banana
1 handful frozen pineapple
1 handful frozen mango chunks
1 handful black berries
BIG handful spinach
handful chopped kale- spine/stem removed
8oz cold filtered water
8oz non-fat plain Greek yogurt

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Great balls of....OAT BALLS!

A friend of mine made these not too long ago and I'd been dying to try em ever since!
Now I've made them twice and added my own tweaks to the recipe. These are easy, delicious and a total must-have in the fridge at all times!! Especially if you have kiddos around, I wish I'd been making and stocking up on these when we first brought Logan home....they are a good eat-with-one-hand food!

I also make a LARGE batch so feel free to half this if you want to just give it a try~

2 cups rolled oats
1 cup crunchy peanut butter* (see note on PB if you want my two cents...)
2/3 cup honey
1 1/2 cup flaked coconut
3/4 cup ground flaxseed
1 cup dried fruit (I favor cherries or blueberries so far- if you're using anything larger chop it up first)
(optional): 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Put it all in a large bowl- mix with sturdy wooden spoon until well combined- refrigerate 1 hour (or more)
Roll into balls
Store in sealed container in fridge for up to 2 weeks

*note on peanut butter- there should only be TWO ingredients in peanut butter:
Peanuts and salt
or just peanuts
It's worth the time and effort to "stir" and refrigerate the good stuff- an easy way to nix some preservatives and such from your food!!