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!


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!


Garden Goodness – Fresh Roasted Tomato Sauce

Nothing says summer like fresh veggies from the garden!  When the abundance of cherry/grape tomatoes is too much to eat now or even give away, why not make this quick and easy (1, 2, 3) fresh roasted tomato sauce?  You can enjoy some of it over your favorite pasta today – and freeze in small containers to enjoy when you’re yearning for a taste of summer!

  1. Wash and dry (remove stems) cherry/grape tomatoes
  2. Toss with olive oil, kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper on a sheet pan – roast at 400F for 30-40 minutes until the tomatoes start to caramelize and the juices escape onto the pan.  Cool slightly after removing from oven.
  3. Blend in food processor, little by little, along with a couple of garlic cloves, a handful of Italian parsley, a few tablespoons of olive oil, and more kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.

That’s it!  Enjoy over your favorite pasta and bite into summer goodness!

Truly is as easy as 1, 2, 3 – and 4 – Buon Appetito!

Bowl of Fresh Picked Heirloom Tomatoes

Fresh Picked Heirloom (Cherry) Tomatoes

Sheet Pan of Roasted Heirloom Tomatoes

Roasted Heirloom (Cherry) Tomatoes

Picture of Roasted Heirloom (Cherry) Tomato Sauce

Roasted Heirloom (Cherry) Tomato Sauce

Picture of spaghetti with fresh roasted tomato sauce

Voila!


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

 

 


Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Easy, Delicious, and Nutritious!

It’s Sunday again, and for those of you who have been following this blog for a while, you know I usually invest a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon in the kitchen so I’m sure to have delicious and nutritious lunches and dinners throughout the week ahead.  One item I typically pick up at the store each week is a tub of hummus to have with any variety of raw vegetables, pita chips, or pretzels.  As I was reaching for it at the store this morning, I remembered that I used to make it myself many years ago, so I turned to the canned food aisle and picked up a coupe of cans of Garbanzo beans, instead!

Roasted_Red_Pepper_HummusMaking your own hummus couldn’t be easier.  Open and drain the Garbanzo beans and empty into a food processor.  Smash 1-2 cloves of garlic and throw that in, along with the juice of 1/2 lemon, about 3 TBSP Tahini (or peanut butter works perfectly well) and a pinch of salt.  To make the Red Pepper part of the hummus today, I added about 1 roasted red pepper (that you’ll find in a jar by the oils, mayo, and mustard section in your grocery store) and a pinch of salt.  (I also added in a couple of dashes of Aleppo pepper flakes for a little bite!) As the food process is doing its magic, drizzle in extra virgin olive oil until the hummus becomes a consistency you desire.  Not too runny, not too thick!  Perfect to stick to the veggies, chips, or pretzels.  Have fun with this recipe.  The basic ingredient is the Garbanzo beans, some garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil.  The rest is up to you!


Spaghetti Squash – Twice Baked!!!

Until recently, I had never eaten spaghetti squash, let alone cook with it.  I recently shared an appetizer of Spaghetti Squash Parmesan with my friend Sylvia and I was hooked!  Check out my take on this easy, delicious, and nutritious (I’m sure) recipe:

Twice_Baked_Spaghetti_Squash

Twice_Baked_Spaghetti_Squash

Wash and cut (lengthwise) one spaghetti squash. With a tablespoon, scoop out and discard seeds and stringy interior from center of squash.  Lightly coat cut surface and interior with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper.  Place cut side down on parchment lined sheet pan and bake for 45 minutes to one hour at 375F.  You’ll know it’s ready when a knife can be easily inserted into the center of the squash.  Let cool for 10-15 minutes until you can comfortably handle the squash.  Using the tines of a fork, scrape along the interior (down to the skin) of the squash, peeling away ‘spaghetti-like’ strands of squash.  Remove to a bowl and toss with the red sauce of your choice and 2-3 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.  Once squash is well coated with sauce, scoop back into the squash shells, top with Mozzarella cheese, return to parchment lined baking sheet – and continue baking at 375F for another 10-15 minutes (until cheese is melted.)

Let stand to cool for a few minutes – and enjoy!  Pair with a mixed salad, crusty Italian bread, and a glass of red wine!  Delicioso!


Pork ‘n Pudding …. Christmas Dinner!

Delicious Christmas dinner of Prosciutto Wrapped Pork Tenderloin, alongside Spinach-Ricotta Noodle Pudding – thanks, Ina Garten, for both of these recipes from her new cookbook, Make It Ahead!

Pork 'n Pudding

Pork ‘n Pudding

Pork Tenderloin is the most convenient and delicious meat entree that is very versatile – and ready in a matter of minutes.  (Check out my previous post, ‘Family Favorite Pork Tenderloin’, for another of my go-to dinner recipes.)

You can do an Internet search to find a video link to Ina preparing this pork recipe on the Today Show.

 

The pudding, Spinach-Ricotta Noodle Pudding, will become a holiday (Christmas) tradition in our house for years to come.  It’s not something I’d make every day (because of the cream, butter, cheese, etc.,) but for that special holiday meal, it’s well worth this time and (a few extra) calories!

Spinach_Ricotta_Noodle_Pudding

Spinach_Ricotta_Noodle_Pudding

Since Ina’s latest cookbook is so new, this recipe isn’t published online, yet, but you can find it in her new book or check out any other number of recipe versions online.  Like most of the dishes I prepare, I get ideas and inspiration from reading recipes – then move on to making it your own!

As we wrap up 2014, I’m wishing each of you a healthy, happy, nutritious, and delicious year ahead in 2015!  Thanks for following this food adventure along side of me, and I’ll look forward to sharing delectable delights in the year ahead!