Stuffed Peppers – Turkey-Quinoa… in a Crockpot – yikes!

Okay, I admit it.  Never had, nor never wanted a crockpot.  I love to cook, so I never saw the point.  Given that, we got one this year and I did make a delicious Chicken Chili Verde.  Although that worked well for that purpose, I still couldn’t think of any reason to use, or want to use, a crockpot.  As my dad and I talk about food and cooking most every time we talk, he told me he had just made stuffed peppers in a crockpot.  (That surprised me because I never knew the crockpot to be his go-to cooking method.) . I guess I was hungry when we talked because that sounded so good to me, and I knew I’d make enough for a few to go into my freezer pantry.   Today being Father’s Day, though my father is 3,000 miles away, was the day I put crockpot stuffed peppers to the test!  Results:  AWESOME!

3.5 hours on high in the crockpot, then 20 minutes in the oven at 400F (I couldn’t help myself because to me it’s all about the golden color and added texture/taste.) . Here you have it, healthy, delicious, nutritious Turkey, Quinoa, Spinach, Feta, Crimini Mushroom, and Diced Tomato stuffed peppers!

(I had enough extra stuffing left for about 4 more peppers, so I made those directly in the oven.  Same result, but with 2+ hours with lots of checking, covering/uncovering, removing liquid, etc.)

Still not a crockpot convert, but it will be my go to cooking method the next time I’m craving stuffed peppers!  (Stuffed peppers allow you the freedom to put whatever you want in them, so get creative and have fun.  If you want more information about these peppers, let me know.)

Buon appetito!

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Ready for the week ahead – and beyond!

Another fun day in the kitchen getting ready for the week ahead, putting a twist on an old favorite and sharing a nutritious breakfast cookie that’s perfect for those days you’re running out the door!

You know I’m a big fan of the versatile breaded chicken tender, so today I thought about preparing eggplant in the same way to make Eggplant Parmesan.  The original recipe shared back in 2011 starts by lightly frying the eggplant slices on the stovetop before assembling.  Today I decided to start with breaded eggplant slices that I baked in the oven before putting the layers together.  I even made some more of my favorite chicken tenders while I was at it!

Picture of breaded eggplant slices

Breaded Eggplant Slices

Picture of breaded baked chicken tenders

Breaded Chicken Tenders

 

 

 

 

As I was in and out of the refrigerator, I remembered I had some fresh basil that I bought last week to make the Basil & Goat Cheese Chicken Breasts, so in staying true to form with ‘never throwing anything away,’ in the food processor went the basil leaves and PRESTO, out come a few small containers of PESTO!

Picture of 3 small containers of basil pesto

Basil Pesto

 

 

 

 

Finally, I made another double batch of these delicious and nutritious Peanut Butter Power Cookies.  I found this recipe last August when I was looking for an ‘on the go’ breakfast treat to share as we headed out on a small group trip, and these have been a staple in our house from then on.  A double batch makes about 30 cookies, so I store them in the freezer and they are ready anytime.  I grab a couple to eat in the early morning hours on my way to the gym – feeling good about it all the way there!

Picture of Peanut Butter Power Cookies

Peanut Butter Power Cookies

 

Ready for the week ahead – and I hope you are, too!  Buon Appetito!


8 Home-Cooked Meals for under $20?? No Problem – I’ve got you covered!

As I’ve shared many times before, I spend a few hours in the kitchen every weekend and we’ve got fresh and delicious home-cooked meals throughout the week ahead – and beyond!  Today’s adventure in the kitchen (and this blog post) isn’t about a new recipe I’ve been waiting to try, but all about my regular routine of ensuring I can always answer the question, “What’s for Dinner?” (and lunch, too, for that matter!)

So what does 8 meals for under $20 look like?

Chicken Salad Roasted Chicken goat-cheese-basil-chicken

 

 

 

 

I reserved 4 of the chicken breasts to prepare the Goat Cheese-Basil Chicken that will go in the freezer for easy weeknight meals (2 [2 serving] meals) that can be on the table in 45 minutes.  Then I roasted the remaining 2 chicken breasts with all the dark meat pieces.  The roasted breast meat (and a few of the thighs) were used to make the Chicken Salad (Quart size container – Easily 4-5 servings), and the rest of the dark meat pieces to be served alongside a salad, rice or potato, for another 2 [2 serving] meals.  (I saved the back bones to make chicken stock, too!)

Although I’ve shared each of these food prep ideas before, I thought it worth another post to remind everyone that fresh and delicious home-cooked are always within reach – at a fraction of the cost of going out or stopping at the drive-thru window on your way home from work.

I’m reminded about what I wrote in the “About Joe” section of this blog nearly 7 years ago, and it’s still true today.  Here’s an excerpt from that section:

I’ll write about shopping smart and turning leftovers into delightful new creations.  I’ll share ideas on dishes that can be made ahead and placed in the freezer to ensure a hot healthy meal after a long day at work.

I believe everyone can enjoy home-cooked meals at a fraction of the cost of going out – and feel good about what you’re doing for yourself and others in the process!  Food is a great way to share a part of yourself – and it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive.

Thanks for joining me on my adventures in the kitchen, and I hope you’re inspired to try some of the recipes and prep-ahead ideas to reduce stress, eat fresh, and enjoy great food together!

Buon appetito!

 

 

 

 


Homemade Cavatelli!

Last day of winter break before going back to work tomorrow, so what better way to spend part of it than making homemade fresh pasta, Cavatelli to be exact!  My absolute favorite!   It’s very similar to a (potato) gnocchi, but made with ricotta cheese, and instead of little dumplings, the dough is rolled into little shells.  I posted this very easy (3 ingredients) recipe  a while back, and today’s updated post shows the same pasta made with my very vintage hand-crank Cavatelli machine.  The previous post, Sunday Cooking, shows a picture of hand-rolled pasta shells.  A little more free-form than these more uniform shells, but either way, they’re great!  (If you do get your hands on a machine, it’s even more important to have very dry and well-floured dough so it doesn’t get stuck in the machine!  Thanks, Dad, for that in-the-moment advice!)  It’s a good idea to lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan to freeze so they don’t stick together when put in a freezer bag for storage.  Take them right from the freezer into a pot of boiling salted water for 4-6 minutes.  They’ll float to the top when ready!  Buon Appetito!

Picture of fresh pastaCavatelli

Picture of vintage pasta makerCavatelli Machine


Apples into Applesauce!

You’ve heard of turning lemons into lemonade, well here’s a quick and easy way of turning apples into applesauce!  Every have apples sitting on the counter long beyond their ‘shelf life’?  Or apples that were pushed to the back of the refrigerator and forgotten?  What did you do?  Compost?  Trash? STOP!  Turn your old (or new) apples into homemade delicious applesauce!  It’s as easy as 1) Peel and chop apples, 2) Place in small sauce pan on stove top with a little water (1/4 cup?) and a dash or two or cinnamon, 3) Boil/simmer until tender.  At that point, I use a potato masher to turn them into a chunky applesauce.  (You can keep cooking and blend cooked apples to get more of a pureed consistency, but when it comes to homemade, I like the chunky style.)  Enjoy!Chopped Apples

Picture of pan on stove with chopped apples and cinnamon

Chopped Apples/Cinnamon

Picture of homemade chunky apple sauce

Homemade Apple Sauce

 

 


Carnitas Hash!

Leftover pork roast from Easter?  Chopped up and waiting patiently in the freezer for an encore performance?  Today’s your day!  Carnitas Hash.

Picture of hash made from pork, potatoes, and spinach topped with fried eggs

Carnitas Hash and over-easy eggs!

What I love about making hash is that whatever you have on hand makes a great addition to your creation.  Today – leftover shredded/chopped pork (about 1.5 cups??), thinly sliced red  potatoes, and some frozen spinach!  I started with 3 medium red-skin potatoes.  Washed, dried, and cut into semi-thin half rounds.  Into a hot skillet with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Toss periodically to cook evenly.  When the potatoes start to brown on the edges, add in about 1/2 shallot finely chopped.  Cook for a few more minutes, tossing as the cooking continues, then add in the pre-cooked pork and about a cup of defrosted/drained frozen spinach.  Continue tossing, adding a drizzle more of olive oil as you go, continuing to sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper – all until your crispy delicious creation is to your liking!   You’ll notice no exact directions here – just add ingredients proportionally to your liking, and the key (to me) is tossing over med/high heat until everything is golden brown and you can’t wait any longer to eat it!  (I also add a few generous dashes of #respectthepepper for some added heat!)  Top with a couple of eggs of your choice – and you’ve got breakfast, brunch, or an anytime go-to delicious meal!  Enjoy.


Simple, Delicious, Roasted Chicken Salad

After all the years I’ve been making Roasted Chicken Salad, I realized it’s never made an official appearance on this blog.  I’ll share the way I go about making it, but it’s up to you how you’ll make it your own.  It’s really as easy as 1, 2, 3:

Picture of oven roasted chicken breasts

1.  Roasted Chicken Breasts

Picture of Chopped Carrots, Celery, Walnuts, and Dried Cranberries

2. Chopped Carrots, Celery, Walnuts, and Dried Cranberries

Picture of Chicken Salad with Crackers

3. Chicken Salad – Ready to Eat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I started with 4 bone-in/skin on chicken breasts.  (You could use boneless/skinless, too, but I like the flavor from the bone and skin during roasting.)  Drizzle each with olive oil and sprinkle with salt/pepper.  Roast in a 400F oven for about 50-60 minutes.  You’ll know they’re ready when they’re golden brown and the internal temperature is at 160F.  Let cool, then remove meat from the skin/bone and chop into small size dice.  Set aside in large bowl (for mixing.)

Chop about 1/2 cup (2 stalks) celery, 1/2 cup (2-3 small) carrots, and a handful each of walnuts and dried cranberries.  Add to the chopped chicken.

Mix chicken and ‘chopped goodness’ with about 1 cup mayo (or combo of 1/2 cup mayo and 1/2 cup non-fat plain greek yogurt,) about 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, and about 1/4 tsp. kosher salt.  (Since the chicken breasts were seasoned with salt/pepper, you’ll want to add additional to your taste.)

That’s it!  Simple and Delicious.  Eat with your favorite crackers, on your favorite bread as a sandwich, or put a scoop on top of a salad.  Now matter how you enjoy it – you’ll be making it again and again!  Enjoy!