Saturday, December 27, 2014

Chocolate PB Banana Smoothie

This smoothie will keep you full for hours. You can modify to what you have on hand, but the full deal is really dynamite.

You can make smoothie packs for the freezer with either zip top bags or these reusable containers I found on amazon. Im all about cutting down on plastic in my life, but these are cheap, washable, and stack. I let them thaw on the counter for 20 minutes just to make it easier to blend. I add everything but the liquid to the packs. I put in all the ingredients but the greens and then pack the greens to the top

Soaking the oats are really important. One, they help you digest the oats better and get more nutrients from them. And two, it helps the blender break them down better. This is really important if you don't have a high end blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec.

To soak oats, take 1 part dry rolled/old fashioned oats and 1 part filtered water. Add a splash of lemon juice or apple cider vinegar and cover. Let sit overnight. No need to drain. When I make the smoothies in advance in the freezer, I just make a large amount. If you want to make the smoothie one day at a time, just get in the habit of taking 60 seconds to do this the night before. The oats are really important in this to help keep you full. For one smoothie, I soak 1/4 cup oats and get roughly 1/2 cup once it soaks.

I get a large bag of ground flax seed from Costco and keep it in my freezer to keep it from going rancid. I would suggest doing the same or buying flax seed and a cheap coffee grinder and grinding it yourself if you want. Chia seeds would also work (but they are super not fun to clean out of the blender, in my opinion.

I use dark chocolate almond milk for the liquid. Its fast and is just sweet enough to make the smoothie perfect. However, if you are preferring a more "whole food" approach, I have also used plain almond milk or full fat organic milk with a tbsp cocoa powder and some sweetener. Honey, maple syrup, or dates.

For the greens, I generally use baby spinach, kale, or baby kale. I have also used the super greens blend at Costco. I generally can easily pack 2 cups of spinach into the smoothie, but generally use a little less kale because I find it a tad stronger.

Ok, enough talk.

Chocolate PB Banana Smoothie


1 cup dark chocolate almond milk
1-2 cups greens, such as kale, spinach, chard, collards
1 banana
1 tbsp ground flax seed
1 tbsp peanut butter
1/2 cup soaked oats

Put the ingredients in the blender in the order listed. I start with just a little ice and add until I get the consistency I want. The level of ice I use depends on what ingredients are already frozen.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pasta with Broccolini and Sausage

I came across a similar recipe on Pinterest, but it was very poorly written and the instructions were awful. So since I had to wing it so much and I tweaked to my own tastes, I didn't feel bad reblogging it as my own.

Broccolini is a wonderful thing. My dear husband hates broccoli. Despises it. So I have avoided broccolini as well, assuming it would be the same deal. Well, one day I decided to give it a try, and alas, he liked it! The broccoli flavor is there, but subdued. It almost has an asparagus taste. A great green and now a favorite.

This pasta dish is delicious. I really recommend using the orecchiette pasta if possible, but any short pasta will work. I finally found a package of orecchiette at Trader Joes, so that is what I used. I love it because the sausage and cheese really gets inside the divots and makes for a delicious bite.

If you use the orecchiette, a couple tips. Its a starchier pasta, which is great for using the pasta water to help create a creamy sauce. But along with that perk, comes an annoyance of REALLY wanting to stick together. So, make sure you use a LARGE pot with a LOT of salty water. Make sure its at a RAPID boil, and make sure to stir VIGOROUSLY for 1 minute after you add the pasta. I don't mean to yell at you, but pasta that gets stuck inside itself and doesn't fully cook as a result makes me gag.

Pasta with Broccolini and Sausage 


3 tbsp olive oil
2 bunches broccolini, 1 inch trimmed off the ends and larger pieces sliced in half the long way.
1 lb sweet italian sausage (casings removed if applicable)
1 package short pasta, preferably orecchiette
6 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced.
6 sun dried tomatoes, patted dry (if in oil) and sliced thin
salt and pepper
1 tbsp fresh basil (optional)
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup shredded parmesan

Bring one large pot full of water to a boil. Add a good amount of salt (like salty ocean water, is how it should be)

Add the broccolini and boil for 2-3 minutes, Use tongs to remove them and plunge in ice water for 2-3 minutes.

Return water to a rapid boil and cook pasta as directed on package. RESERVE 3/4 cup pasta water (put the measuring cup in the strainer to remind yourself)

Meanwhile, add 3 tbsp olive oil to a large skillet on medium heat. Add and crumble the sausage. Cook until browned, stirring often. Use a slotted spoon to remove sausage. Turn to low

Add sliced garlic to pan with juices. (can add another tbsp olive oil if needed). Cook until golden brown. Take care not to burn. Add broccolini, sausage, sun dried tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Once heated through, add pasta and pasta water. Toss well and check seasonings.

 Serve with shredded parm

Monday, August 25, 2014

Bacon, Kale, and Pepperjack Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Tenderloin was on sale this week here at our store. Normally those packages come with 2 tenderloins and 1 is usually plenty to feed my family of 4, with a bit of leftovers even. So I froze one and decided to butterfly and stuff one. I had some kale and pepperjack in my fridge I needed to use up and I decided that bacon would compliment those flavors nicely.

Stuffing the pork loin sounds more complicated than it is. Don't be discouraged. Just set aside 30 minutes to prep earlier in the day (or the night before) and you can throw this into the oven later that night.

If you don't have food twine, you can use toothpicks. Just soak in hot water for 20 minutes (while you prep)

Bacon, Kale, and Pepperjack Stuffed Pork Tenderloin


1 pork tenderloin (I bought a 2.5 pound package and there were 2. You can freeze one or double the other ingredients)
4-5 slices bacon
2ish cups kale, curly or straight, stems removed and chopped. (I had the bagged, chopped, washed kale from the store by the lettuces)
1 tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar (or even lemon juice)
3-4 oz pepperjack cheese, cubed, sliced, or shredded (I got cubes from Target.)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp parsley
3/4 tsp salt
black pepper

Butterfly the pork tenderloin. Here are some visuals.

Preheat the oven to 350

Cut the bacon into 1/2 inch strips and cook in a medium pan on medium heat. Cook until crisp, 5-8 minutes, stirring often. Use a slotted spoon and remove bacon.

Add kale to the pan with bacon juice. Stir 2-3 minutes, until wilted. Lightly salt and pepper and splash with vinegar or lemon juice. Let cool a bit.

Put a line of cheese down the middle of the pork. Distribute the bacon evenly, and top with the kale.

Slide pieces of twine under the pork loin at 2-3 nice intervals. Fold the pork over so it overlaps slightly and tie tight with the twine. Repeat for all. Roll pork over so seam is on the bottom.

Mix garlic, onion, parsley, salt, and pepper together and sprinkle over the pork.

Cook for 40-50 minutes, until 145 internal temperature. Let rest 5 minutes before removing twine at cutting.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Restaurant Style Sweet and Sour Chicken

So sweet and sour chicken is my husbands absolute favorite chinese food meal He loves it and its the dish that he orders to judge the quality of any chinese food joint. There is this place back home in Lincoln Nebraska that is the best chinese food we both have ever had. And every new place we try is measured against them. Well, my husband said this meal brought him back to Fortune Palace and he wants me to make it once a month.

I found the premise for this recipe on AllRecipes. But I made so many changes that I felt I had to blog it .
This recipe isn't difficult, but it does take a little bit of time. I would recommend setting aside about a hour to really complete it.

You could easily substitute the veggies for a bag of stir fry mix to cut down on some prep time. Just steam or cook as directed on the bag

You could easily do this with chunks of pork as well.

I suggest having a cooking rack over a baking sheet and keeping it in a 200 degree oven to place the chicken that has been fried so it stays warm and crisp. You can also put the veggies on a tray on the bottom to keep it warm as well.

Alternatively, you could fry this up earlier in the day (nap time, anyone?) and reheat on a rack over a cookie sheet at 350 for 15 minutes. They reheat very well. You can freeze any extras and do the same. The leftover chicken also makes EXCELLENT chicken nuggets for kids. Delish.

I suggest serving this with rice cooked in chicken broth. You could do some fried rice if you are feeling extra ambitious! 

I preferred to not use food coloring to give the sauce its signature orange pink look. It does result in a odd opaque white look, which may not be for everyone. Feel free to add a couple drops of orange food coloring if you desire. I might invest in some natural dyes or even try a slight pinch of turmeric. I actually think that would work very well. Not too much though.

I would add the sauce to each serving as its dished up so the chicken stays crisp. Also, you don't want to have the "eye is bigger than the stomach" syndrome and have a bunch of soggy leftovers.

With all that being said, lets begin. I really suggest reading the recipe in full before hand to get the steps in mind. Its a lot of steps, but its simple. And the results are worth it.

Restaurant Style Sweet and Sour Chicken


For the veggies:
2 green bell peppers, diced into 1 inch squares
1 large onion, diced into 1 inch squares
2 carrots, peeled and cut into very thin rings
1 head broccoli, cut into small florets (optional. We had it to use up)

For the sauce:
1 20 oz can pineapple chunks and juice (remove chunks and set aside)
1/2 cup white vinegar
2/3 cup white sugar
1 3/4 cup water, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
food coloring (if desired)

For the chicken:
4 chicken breasts
salt and pepper
garlic powder
onion powder

2 1/4 cups self rising flour (or add 1 tbsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt to 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour)
2 tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp oil (of choice. coconut, olive, canola/veg)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups chicken broth (You can use water if you want. I think the broth added something)

Enough to put 1 inch of oil in your pan. Use a smaller pan if needed, and do in batches. I used a jar of coconut oil. Maybe 14 oz or so? You can use peanut if you want, or even vegetable oil if you must (I'm not a fan, personally.) You can use coconut oil several times over if you strain it.

Cut the chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Pat dry and lay on  a platter. Salt and pepper liberally and then sprinkle with garlic and onion powder. Rub it around and make sure its well coated. Let sit on the counter for 20-30 minutes to take the chill off and let the flavor meld.

For the veggies, steam in a pot for maybe 5 minutes, until softened. If you don't have a steamer insert, you can lightly boil, or even sauté for a few minutes. Keep warm in 200 degree oven while frying.

I would start the rice at this point if you are boiling up some rice.

In a saucepan over medium, stir together the pineapple juice, vinegar, sugar, and 1 1/2 cup water. Heat until boiling. While heating, whisk together the 1/4 cup water and 1/4 cup cornstarch (and food coloring, if desired). Once boiling, turn off heat and add in the cornstarch mixture. Stir well until it thickens (it was very quick for me). Keep warm.

Start the oil in a frying pan on one notch above medium heat until it reaches 350-360 degrees or so. No thermometer? Use a wooden spoon.

While the oil is heating, whisk together the dry ingredients for the batter. Add the oil, egg, and water/broth. Mix, but don't over mix, until combined and like a thick pancake batter.

Add the chicken to that bowl and coat stir until well coated.

Carefully add bits of chicken to the pan. Don't over crowd the pan or do too many at once. This will be several batches. Cook a few minutes and flip with tongs. They cook fast, but it doesn't hurt to sacrifice one nugget to make sure the chicken is getting done in the middle, just to be safe. Put the cooked chicken on a rack in the oven to keep warm while you finish the rest.

To serve, dish up the rice, veggies, some of the reserved pineapple and chicken. Drizzle the sauce generously over it all and enjoy the amazing meal you pulled off.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Crock Pot Chicken and Broccoli Over Rice

I found myself with a limited grocery budget, a need to get creative with some pantry staples, and a desire to not heat up the kitchen. This was the result. With some frozen stock (or cans of cream of chicken/mushroom if you prefer), some frozen chicken and broccoli, and some rice, you are there.

Crock Pot Chicken and Broccoli Over Rice

3 chicken breasts (I had bone in and just saved the bone for stock later)
1 can of cream of mushroom (I LOVE this brand when I can't make my own)
1 can  cream of chicken (I always make my own, but you can use the above brand as well. Or Campbell's, of course.
1 pound (give or take) frozen broccoli(toss it in the fridge while the crockpot is going, if you remember)
3/4 cup sour cream or plain greek yogurt

2 cups dried rice
3 cups chicken broth
1 tsp salt

Throw the chicken in the crock pot with the creams of soups. Cook on high 4 hours or low 6. If going for "low", and you have the time, put on high for 30ish minutes and turn to low. Just gets things going faster.

Once the time has past, remove the chicken to a plate. Cut/break the chicken into a few smaller pieces and let cool for for a few minutes until you can handle it. Turn crock pot on high and add the broccoli and sour cream/yogurt. Cover. Shred chicken and add back to crock pot. Cook for about 30 minutes, or until warmed through. Should be good by the time the rice is done

Cook rice in rice cooker or on stove per cooking instructions (Yes, I add less liquid. Its my preference. Do what you want there)

Dish up some rice and top with chicken and broccoli mixture. You could always sprinkle on some cheddar cheese if you desire.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Sausage, Peppers, and Onions Over Rice

Pretty much anything with bell peppers and onions makes me happy. Such a delicious combo and I just think about it for days before and after I make it. Yes, I am a foodie freak. I can't help it.

This is a pretty simple recipe, and can be tweaked a few different ways depending on your tastes or what you have on hand. I have made this with kielbasa, Target chicken sausage with garlic and spinach (a fav around here) and with Aidells sweet italian chicken sausage. Really, any precooked sausage would work here. Go with what speaks to you. Or is on sale.

You could make this over quinoa instead of rice if you prefer.

I strongly recommend making the rice/quinoa with broth. It really adds flavor and nutrients for minimal effort. If you aren't making it yourself yet, you should try. Pretty easy and incredibly frugal.

I can make this meal with 1 package of sausage and 2 bell peppers and a onion. And it makes JUST enough for 1 meal for my family of 4. So I double it, so we can have seconds and some leftovers. This recipe is for my doubled version. It reheats well.

Feel free to morph this to your own tastes. Add basil if you want, or italian seasoning. Mince some garlic, or add some tomato paste. Whatever flies up your skirt, or compliments the sausage you have.

Sausage, Peppers, and Onions Over Rice

2 packages cooked sausage of choice, sliced into 1-1.5 inch rounds
4-5 bell peppers (whatever colors you want) sliced thinly
2 onions, sliced thinly
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp worchestershire
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
a few shakes hot sauce
salt and pepper
1.5 cups chicken stock
parmesan for topping, if desired

2.5 cups rice
3.75 cups broth (I prefer a ratio of 1:1.5 rice:liquid, but if you prefer 1:2, by all means, add more broth)
2 tsp salt (less if you use salted bought broth)

Cook in rice cooker or per bag instructions (I never make on the stove, so your guess is as good as mine, honestly)

Get your rice started.

While its cooking, heat a large skillet over medium. Add the butter and sausage. Cook until sausage is warmed up and butter is flavored. Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate.

Add the peppers and onions to the butter and cook until softened. About 10 minutes. Add the sausage, worchestershire, balsamic, hot sauce, and stock. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more sauces if you desire. Simmer on med low until rice is done.

Dish up a bowl of rice and top with peppers and veggies and spoon sauce over rice.

Monday, April 28, 2014

One Pot Lasagna

This is a great weeknight dish with a lot of flavor and comfort. Enjoy!

One Pot Lasagna


1 lb sweet italian sausage, crumbled (taken out of casings, if applicable)
1 small onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp italian seasonings (or a bit of onion and garlic powder, dried basil, parsley, oregano)
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1.5-2 cups broth (beef or chicken)
1 8oz package no boil lasagna noodles, broken up.
1.5 cup ricotta cheese

In a large skillet over medium, brown the sausage until cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the liquid.

Add onion and cook a couple minutes. Add bell peppers and seasonings. Cook 5 minutes or so.

Add the sausage back along with the crushed tomatoes. Add the noodles and stir around. Add enough broth to just cover the noodles. Simmer 10 minutes or so, until noodles are done. Add more broth if needed.

Check seasonings (salt) and serve with a few dollops of ricotta

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sun Dried Tomato and Spinach Turkey Meatballs

I came across a similar recipe to this and have made it enough times I have tweaked it to become my own. They are DELICIOUS. Fast. You could very easily double or quadruple this recipe and freeze it. They are healthy with the turkey, and pair easily with a marinara, alfredo, vodka, or red bell pepper sauce over pasta. Or however else you eat desire to eat meatballs.

You could use other ground meats, or eliminate the spinach if you desire.

Sun Dried Tomato and Spinach Turkey Meatballs


1/4 cup plain breadcrumbs (I use panko)
1/2 cup grated or shredded parmesan/asiago/romano or any combo thereof.
1 egg
4 sun dried tomatoes in oil, patted dry and diced.
1 tbsp sun dried tomato oil
1/2 cup frozen spinach (maybe 1/3rd of a package? I eyeballed it, sorry) thawed, drained, and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp dried minced onions
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp milk
1 tbsp fresh chopped or 1 tsp dried basil and/or parsley, if desired
3/4 lb ground turkey

Preheat oven to 350

Set the turkey aside and mix all the other ingredients well. Mix the turkey in with your hands and form into approximately 20 walnut sized meatballs. Place on a baking dish and cook 25-28 minutes, turning halfway.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Monterey Chicken

I have seen this meal pop up in conversation several times, so I decided to look it up and make it. Super easy pantry meal, super yummy, and very simple.

Monterey Chicken


4 chicken breasts
1 cup BBQ sauce (I have used home made or Sweet Baby Rays)
1 can rotel, drained (save the liquid)
1 tbsp dijon
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar or colby jack cheese
4 slices crisp bacon, crumbed
3 green onions, sliced


Take turns placing a breast in a freezer bag and hammer it out so its all the same thickness. It doesn't have to be super thin and flat, but just flatted the thickest parts so they are even with the rest and will cook evenly. I use a rolling pin.

If the bag is still usable, place all the chicken breasts in the bag and add 1/2 cup of the BBQ sauce, the rotel liquid, the dijon, and the worcestershire sauce. Seal with the air removed and smush around to evenly coat. Let marinade 1 hour at least, or overnight if possible. No more than 24 hours

Preheat oven to 375. Place chicken in a baking pan and cover with foil. Cook 30-40 minutes, until done.

Meanwhile in a small bowl, mix the remaining BBQ sauce and rotel pieces together. Top chicken with rotel mixture and cheese. Put back in oven for a couple minutes until melted. Top with bacon and green onions

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Spinach and Artichoke Pizza

Husb and I were wanting to spice up our homemade pizza night and decided to go with a nod to spinach and artichoke dip. This turned out just as delicious as it sounds.  This time we took advantage of the grocery store bagged dough.

Spinach and Artichoke Pizza


1 pizza dough, par baked until just starting to lightly brown
olive oil
1 5- 6oz package of fresh baby spinach
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion or large shallot, fine diced
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
3 oz cream cheese
4 oz mozzarella pearls (or fresh mozzarella cut into small cubes)

Preheat oven to 425.

Heat up a large skillet over medium. Pour enough olive oil to coat the bottom and add the onion and garlic. Saute 2-3 minutes until softened and fragrant. Add the spinach and artichokes and stir to coat in the oil. Cook until wilted, stirring often, 3-4 minutes.

Drizzle par baked crust with olive oil and spread the spinach and artichoke mixture on the top. Pinch off pieces of cream cheese and distribute evenly along with the mozzarella cheese.

Place on a pizza stone or baking sheet and cook around 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Breakfast Casserole

This is a great meal for a breakfast for dinner night, or for a special weekend breakfast. We had this Christmas morning along with cinnamon rolls.

If you have baked potatoes for one meal, make a couple extra to use later in this. Makes this meal a snap. Even if you have to start the potatoes, its still a breeze. Just wash, dry, poke, rub with oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake directly on the rack at 375 for around 45 minutes.

Any potato will work, but golds are especially good due to the thin skin and firm texture.

Breakfast Casserole


3 cooked potatoes, cubed
1-2 bell peppers, diced
1 can diced green chilis
2 green onions, sliced
1/2 lb breakfast sausage (cooked, drained) or cubed ham
1.5 cups shredded cheese (whatever you want. Cheddar, colby, pepperjack)
8 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
few shakes hot sauce
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 350

Layer the ingredients in a 9x13 pan. Potatoes, bell peppers, chilis, green onions, crumbled sausage, cheese.

Beat the milk, eggs, hot sauce, and S&P in a bowl and pour on top

Cook for 45-50 minutes, or until set.