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!


Economical, Flexible, Delicious!

Cooking on a regular basis doesn’t mean you have to come up with something new and different each and every time.  What it does mean is that you and your family will have healthy home-prepared meals at a fraction of the cost of going out – even fast food!  As part of this weekend’s ‘Sunday Fun-day in the Kitchen’, here’s a tray of breaded chicken cutlets (that have made an appearance on this blog before) that was the result of 3 large boneless chicken breasts for $5.18!!  Imagine the possibilities:  Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Sandwiches, Sliced Chicken atop a Green Salad, or any other way you can imagine eating crispy delicious oven-baked breaded chicken cutlets! – And what a bargain!!

Platter of Breaded Chicken Cutlets

Breaded Chicken Cutlets

Using a sharp knife, filet the boneless chicken breast to about 1/4″ thick, then cut into 4-5 cutlet size pieces.

Kosher Salt and Black Pepper both sides of each piece, dredge in flour, dip in beaten egg, then coat with seasoned bread crumb mixture.  Place on a prepared (cooking spray) baking sheet pan, drizzle olive oil between and around the pieces, then bake for about 15 minutes on each side to a crispy golden brown.  (You should shake the pan about half way through the cooking on each side to ensure the cutlets don’t stick to the pan.  Add more olive oil as needed.)  Once cooked, move cutlets to rest on a plate – then enjoy!  These store really well in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.  Now you know what’s for dinner!


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!


Summer (Salad) Supper!

In the mood for a light, yet filling, nutritious, and delicious summer supper?  Here’s an idea that can be on the table in no time if you have Ina’s Warm French Lentils ready in the freezer.  (If not, you can find heat and serve lentils at your neighborhood Trader Joe’s.)

Summer Salad

Warm French Lentil Salad

I tossed the mixed greens with a light lemon vinaigrette dressing, topped by a couple spoonfuls of warm lentils.  Added some tomatoes, olives, avocado, and bleu cheese – and supper is on the table.  (Walk away feeling satisfied, not stuffed, with room for a little something sweet!)

Here’s an excerpt from my post on December 25, 2013 (Christmas Eve Dinner) with Ina’s recipe for Warm French Lentils:

Saute a couple carrots (1/2-inch chopped)  and one chopped leek (white and light green parts) in olive oil for about 5 minutes.  Add one chopped garlic clove and saute for an additional minute.  Set aside.  Bring 4 cups water to a boil with 1 cup dry lentils, 1 turnip (cut in half) and one whole (peeled) onion stuck with 6 cloves.  Once boiling, add the carrots and leeks, reduce heat, and simmer about 20 minutes until lentils are tender.  Discard turnip and onion, strain lentil mixture, and toss in a bowl with 1 tsp. unsalted butter.  In a separate bowl, make a Dijon vinaigrette.  (1/4 cup olive oil, 2 TBPS red wine vinegar, 4 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1 TBSP kosher salt, and 1 tsp. black pepper.  Add warm lentils to vinaigrette, toss, and let stand for about 15 minutes.  Ready to enjoy!