Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Greek Turkey Meatballs

Sometimes I'll cook something for dinner thinking it was the best thing I've ever eaten, and then the subsequent blog post will get a normal amount of traffic.  And then other times I'll cook something that was just pretty good or kind of boring and it will be crazy popular

These Greek Meatballs are one my most popular posts.  They've been pinned on Pinterest, linked to many times, and viewed more than most other recipes I've posted.  So I decided to bust them out again in case you missed them the first time.  This time I made them into a sandwich with some pita. Yum.

Greek Turkey Meatballs

1 pound ground lean, all white meat, turkey
1 10 oz box frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
1 whole egg
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Add ground turkey, spinach, garlic, feta, egg, oregano, salt and pepper to large bowl and mix well. Make small meatballs by either rolling in your hands or using a ice cream scoop (I used the small ice cream scoop I use for cookies).
Place meatballs on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Turn the meatballs over and return to oven for 10 more minutes.
I served them with grilled pita bread and tzatziki sauce. 

Tzatziki Sauce

1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 small cucumber, peeled and grated on a microplane
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
juice of one lemon
2 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane
fresh mint, to taste
fresh dill, if you like dill. I do not. If you know about my pickle aversion, you don't need to ask why I hate dill.

Grate cucumber and allow to set in a paper towel over a bowl for 30 minutes to an hour to allow the water to drain.  Mix cucumber with yogurt, lemon, garlic, salt and pepper, and herbs. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fresh Cranberry Apple Salad

Sick of leftovers yet?  How about a salad to get all that gravy out of your system? :)  This salad is so festive with the red and's time to deck the halls! I think I'm the only person in the entire country who doesn't have a tree up yet...

Cranberry Apple Salad
serves 6-8

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped (I use a food processor)
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
2 large Granny Smith apples, chopped
1/4 cup sliced green onions
romaine lettuce or spinach mix

In a small bowl, combine cranberries and sugar.  Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.  You can just do this in the morning before serving the salad.  In a medium bowl, mix lime juice and mustard.  Add oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly.  Marinate nuts, apples, and onions in dressing 1-4 hours. 

To serve (the really pretty way), line a large bowl with greens.   Spoon apple mixture over the leaves.  Make a well in the middle of the apple mixture and spoon in cranberry mixture.  OR you can just mix everything together (like I did).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving Rolls

Here are the rolls my mom made for Thanksgiving.  They are really yeast-y and soft.  Love them! And they way they are rolled up is so pretty.

I've never been able to make bread at all, but my mom said these are easy. I don't know about that..the recipe is really long and also includes a video (all signs of a difficult recipe).  Maybe someday I'll try to make them.  Someday when I get a little more patience...But you should bake them for Thanksgiving; they'll be worth it.  You still have time and I'll bet you have all the ingredients in your pantry!

Homemade Thanksgiving Rolls (from here)

2 cups warm water
2/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk
2 Tablespoons dry yeast (2 packages)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter or shortening
1 egg
5-5 1/2 cups all purpose flour (bread flour can be used)
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the water and the milk powder and stir so the milk dissolves.
Add the yeast to this mixture then the sugar, salt, butter, egg and 2 cups of the flour. Mix on low speed of mixer until ingredients are wet, then turn to medium speed and mix for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add 2 more cups of flour then mix on low speed until the ingredients are wet, then turn mixer on medium speed and mix for 2 minutes. The dough will be getting stiff and you may need to remove the bowl from the mixer and mix in the remaining flour by hand.
Add approximately 1/2 cup of flour and mix again. (This can be done by hand or mixer). The dough should be soft, not overly sticky, and not stiff. (It is not necessary to use the entire amount of flour). The less flour you use, the softer the dough will be. Scrape the dough off the sides of the bowl and pour approximately on tablespoon of vegetable oil all around the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough over in the bowl so it is covered with the oil. (This helps prevent the dough from drying out.) Cover with plastic and allow to rise in a warm place until double in size.
Sprinkle a cutting board or counter with flour and put the dough on the flour. You can roll these into crescent rolls or do it the traditional Lion House way. Here is a video showing how to roll them the Lion House way. Roll into a rectangle. You want to cut the rectangle into smaller rectangles that are 2"X4" (a little smaller than a dollar bill). Then you roll them (or flip them like in the video) and place them on a greased (or parchment lined) baking pans. 
Let rise in a warm place until the rolls are double in size (approx. 1-1 1/2 hours). Bake in a 375-degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until they are browned to your satisfaction. Brush with melted butter while hot. Yields 2 to 2 1/2 dozen rolls.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sweet Potato Casserole

Thanksgiving comes once a year, you know.  Since we will be traveling on Thursday, ours came early this year.  Every family has dishes that are specific to them, be it dressing (that's what we call stuffing in the South, y'all, and we don't stuff it), cranberry sauce, or sweet potatoes.  My mom always cooks Thanksgiving, and she made this sweet potato casserole this year that was so good.  So if you're up for trying a new recipe this year, make this one!

"Another thing about Thanksgiving that is cool?  It's the only time you eat marshmallows at dinner!"-Alpha, age 8

Sweet Potato Casserole (this is a straight up Southern Living recipe)

4 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups cornflakes cereal, crushed
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Bake sweet potatoes at 400° for about 1 hour or until tender. Let cool to touch; peel and mash sweet potatoes.
Beat mashed sweet potatoes, sugar, and next 5 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Spoon potato mixture into a greased 11- x 7-inch baking dish.
Combine cornflakes cereal and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle over casserole in rows 2 inches apart.
Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes. Sprinkle alternate rows with marshmallows; bake 10 additional minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ravioli with Sauteed Brussels Sprouts and Golden Raisins

This is the best left-overs meal I think I've ever made! I was trying to use up some stuff in the fridge and based the recipe on this Caramelized Brussels Sprouts recipe (which I thought was a little too sweet, by the way).

Ravioli with Sauteed Brussels Sprouts and Golden Raisins
serves 4-5

1 package refrigerated cheese ravioli
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup golden raisins
salt and pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Cook ravioli according to package directions. Meanwhile, cook garlic in olive oil for a few seconds and then add the Brussels sprouts.  Saute for 5-7 minutes, or until tender.  Add pecans and raisins and stir.  Toast the pecans in the pan for a minute or so. Take the pan off the heat, add the vinegar, stir, and toss with ravioli.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


1 1/2 tablespoons butter melted, plus softened butter for greasing pans
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk

Generously grease popover pan (use a muffin tin if you aren't as fancy as Ina and Jeffrey, that's what I did) with softened butter. You'll need enough pans to make 12 popovers. Place the pans in the oven for exactly 2 minutes to preheat. Meanwhile, add the flour, salt, eggs, milk, and melted butter to the blender and blend until smooth. The batter will be thin. Fill the popover pans less than half full and bake for exactly 30 minutes. Do not peek.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Parmesan Baked Eggs

I got a treat this morning when my friend brought over a dozen fresh eggs laid by their chickens.  We've had fresh eggs before, but never from a chicken-friend.  Ha!  Here is a pic from this summer of my baby with our friend Henry, and Nugget, his chicken.  Is that not the cutest name for a chicken?  And look at that adorable red chicken house!

Parmesan Baked Eggs

12 eggs
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (freshly grated really does make a difference)
pinch of dried rosemary for each ramekin
pinch of fresh thyme for each ramekin
4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
6 ramekins

Heat oven to 400.  Spray 6 ramekins with nonstick spray.  Crack two eggs into a small bowl, and then  pour the two eggs into a ramekin and repeat until all 6 ramekins have eggs.  Add bacon, Parmesan cheese, herbs, salt, and pepper to each ramekin.  Add a dash of heavy cream to each one, too. 

Bake the eggs for 15 minutes or until the eggs have achieved desired doneness: less time for runny yolks, more time for firm yolks. Remember that shallow ramekins will cook faster than deeper ones and that they will continue to cook as they cool.   Note: you can easily remove the eggs from the ramekins to serve them to kids; the ramekins are too hot for them to touch.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Baked Pesto Chicken

I'm sure all you Martha types out there made homemade pesto with the end of season basil plants in your garden.  And that pesto will make this recipe just wonderful! But for those of us who quit watering around mid August, you can get a quality pesto in the refrigerated section of a good grocery store or Sams Club (those jarred ones at the grocery store by the spaghetti sauce? Well, don't buy them). 

This chicken was a real hit with the whole family!  And we all love roasted broccoli.  I added a little rice (about 1/4 cup per serving) when I realized all the yummy pesto sauce the chicken had made while cooking.   A big hunk of garlic bread would be awesome, too, but I've gotta wear a swimsuit next week so I'm steering clear of garlic bread right now....

Baked Pesto Chicken (another Pinterest recipe find)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup basil pesto
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese (I used fresh mozzarella because it melts so well)

Preheat oven to 375; Cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces strips.

Spray a 9x12 casserole dish with non-stick spray, then spread 1/4 cup basil pesto over the bottom of the dish. Lay chicken strips over the pesto, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then spread 1/4 cup more basil pesto over the chicken.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes, until chicken is firm and cooked through.

Remove foil and sprinkle chicken with 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese. Put dish back into the oven without foil and cook 5 minutes more, just until cheese is melted. After 5 minutes, turn on the broiler and cook until cheese is lightly browned.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

This is such an interesting change from my usual brussels sprouts recipe.  Served with a little quinoa and my old standby, Simple Salmon, it was a quick and healthy meal.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts from Eat, Live, Run

12-14 large brussels sprouts
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
pinch sea salt
1 1/2  tbsp brown sugar (I thought this was a tad too much sugar; I'd decrease to 1 tbsp)
1/4 cup roughly chopped pecans, toasted

Slice each brussels sprout very thin until you have a mound of brussels sprout ribbons. Heat the olive oil over medium high in a large skillet and saute the garlic for 30 seconds. Add the brussels sprouts and continue sauteing for another 4-5 minutes, until tender and a little browned. Add the sea salt and brown sugar and toss together. Finish by adding the toasted nuts.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Salted Caramel Pecan Tart

I love this tart as an alternative to traditional pecan pie.  And if you bake it in a pretty tart pan, it looks beautiful, too.

Salted Caramel Pecan Tart

3 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup butter, cubed
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup honey
2/3 cup butter
3 tablespoons whipping cream
1 teaspoon fleur de sel or coarse salt 

In a food processor, pulse 3/4 cup butter, flour, and powdered sugar until it resembles coarse meal.  Pat mixture evenly into a lightly greased 11 inch tart pan with removable bottom.

Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack 15 minutes or until completely cool.

Bring brown sugar, honey, 2/3 cup butter, and whipping cream to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in pecans, and spoon hot filling into prepared crust.

Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Cool on a wire rack until completely cool.  Sprinkle with coarse salt.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cranberry Salsa

It's no secret in my family that I don't like cranberry sauce.  Even homemade cranberry sauce is yuck to me.  It's so gelatinous. And that stuff from the can? Ugh, can't even think about it! Gross.  But this Cranberry Salsa is sensational!

I've actually given this as a hostess gift by putting it in a mason jar with a pretty ribbon.  And you could serve it poured over a block of cream cheese for a party.  Or call it Razorback Cranberry Salsa and serve it at your tailgate tomorrow (like I'm going to do!)  Fresh cranberries are only in stores until December, so hurry and make this salsa now!

Cranberry Salsa

12 oz fresh cranberries
large bunch fresh cilantro
5-6 large green onions, cut into 3 inch pieces
juice of 2 fresh limes
1/2-3/4 cup sugar

Add cranberries, lime juice, cilantro, green onions, and 1/2 cup sugar to the food processor and pulse until combined.  Taste salsa, and add more sugar and salt if necessary.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Green Chile Enchiladas

My friend, said that if she were on death row (I wonder what got here there??), these enchiladas might be her last meal.  Yep, they are good.  But I'd say they are a little too healthy to be my LAST meal....I'd probably choose something with way more cheese and fat.  Anyway, this is a great recipe for the leftover Slow Cooker Black Beans from last night.  The kids had just beans and a cheese quesadilla instead, because I wasn't sure they'd go for the salsa verde (you know they immediately start making gagging noises at the sight of something green these days).

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas (from here)

2 large sweet potatoes
2 cups leftover Slow Cooker Black Beans
1 cup diced green chilies (2 small cans)
About 2 cups salsa verde
8 oz. Monterrey jack cheese, shredded
10 flour tortillas
Salt and pepper
Sour cream, one lime, and fresh cilantro, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Peel and dice the sweet potato. Place in a pot and cover with water; add a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook until tender, around 12 to 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked sweet potato, black beans, diced green chilies, salt and pepper. Mix to combine.
In a large baking dish, spread 1 cup of the salsa verde.  Fill each tortilla with a scoop of the filling, add a handful of cheese, and roll it up. Place the enchilada seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat for the remaining tortillas. When all enchiladas are in the dish, top with the remaining cup of salsa verde and the remaining cheese.

Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Serve, garnished with sour cream (mixed with the juice of a lime to loosen it) and chopped cilantro.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Slow Cooker Black Beans with Cilantro Lime Rice

I love a slow cooker recipe that doesn't require much prep or pre-cooking.  And how can you beat a dinner that ends up costing less than $5 to feed a family of 5 (with leftovers!)?  Beans are where it's at, folks. 

I found this recipe here, but I changed a bunch of stuff.  Here's my recipe:

Slow Cooker Black Beans

1 pound dry black beans
4 cups beef stock, plus water to cover beans
1/2 an onion whole, so you can remove it later (I used leftover red onion from yesterday)
1/2 red bell pepper, whole with seeds removed (also from yesterday)
3 large cloves garlic, whole
1 can tomato paste
1 tablespoon white vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and pepper

Rinse beans and check for rocks.  Cover beans with water and soak overnight.  In the morning, rinse the beans and place in the slow cooker.  Cover with beef stock/water and add the onion, garlic cloves, red bell pepper, and a large pinch of salt and pepper.  Cook for 6-8 hours on low in the slow cooker.  About an hour before serving, add the tomato paste, vinegar, brown sugar, red pepper, and cumin.  Stir and then taste for salt and add more if necessary.  Cook for another hour on low.  Remove onion, garlic, and red pepper.  Serve over cilantro lime rice.

Cilantro Lime Rice (2 half cup servings)
1 cup prepared rice, white or brown
juice of one lime
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cilantro

Prepare rice (I like to use the Uncle Ben's Ready Rice that heats in 90 seconds for this; it's just rice no extra spices).  Mix with cilantro, lime, and salt.  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Greek Salad with Chicken

This is a quick one.  It's also super healthy and yummy.  The kids made gagging noises at the thought of salad with feta in it.  I don't like fake (or real for that matter) vomit noises at the table (or anywhere else!),  but I was too exhausted to acknowledge said noises, so they just ate chicken.  John and I loved this salad. 


1/3 cup red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
6 cups chopped romaine lettuce
white meat of rotisserie chicken, shredded
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
1/2 large seedless/hothouse cucumber, chopped
1/4 large red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Whisk vinegar, oil, oregano, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add lettuce, chicken, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, red pepper, and feta; toss to coat.

Monday, November 7, 2011

French Onion Soup

French onion soup is really simple to make, but it has to cook for a long time.  You can try the slow cooker French Onion Soup recipe that's going around Pinterest, but I can't image it would have the same flavor.  You have to caramelize the onions to get the flavor of French Onion Soup and it just takes an hour or so on top of the stove, no getting around it. 

But.....I ran out of time and I had to pick up the kids and take them hither and yon, knowing I wouldn't return home until after our usual dinner time.  So I used my slow cooker for the final cooking!  If I had been home, I would have just followed the recipe, but this worked great because I could just let it go on low for a few hours.  And I remembered to use the slow cooker liner so there was no extra clean up involved.  When I got home, I just popped the soup under the broiler with the bread and cheese and it was done in a few minutes.

This soup is seriously delicious.  Seriously.

French Onion Soup (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

5 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (4 or 5 onions)
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus additional to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
8 cups beef stock
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper
french bread
swiss cheese, grated

Melt the butter and oil together in the bottom of a Dutch oven over moderately low heat. Add the onions, toss to coat them in oil and cover the pot. Reduce the heat low and let them slowly steep for 15 minutes. They don’t need your attention; now would be a good time to touch up your eye makeup that you cried off during the onion chopping process!

After 15 minutes, uncover the pot, raise the heat slightly and stir in the salt and sugar. Cook onions, stirring frequently, for 45 minutes until they have turned an even, deep golden brown. Don’t skimp on this step, as it will build the complex and intense flavor base that will carry the rest of the soup.

After the onions are fully caramelized, sprinkle them with flour and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the wine in full, then stock, a little at a time, stirring between additions. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add bay leaf.  Bring to a simmer and simmer partially covered for 30 to 40 more minutes.
****At this point, I instead transferred the soup to a crock pot and cooked it for a few hours on low.

To serve: cut french bread to fit broiler-safe bowls.  Broil bread on high for less than a minute, until browned on one side.  Put browned side down on top of each soup bowl and top with grated cheese (as much as you want).  Put bowls on a cookie sheet and broil soups until bubbly and golden.  

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Flank Steak with Cilantro Chimichurri

Chimichurri is kind of like pesto with different herbs.  I've had it in restaurants and it's made with parsley (I think), but since we like cilantro so much, we thought this one was great.  Use half the sauce for a marinade for the steak, and reserve about a tablespoon per serving to spoon on top of the meat after it's cooked.

Cilantro Chimichurri 
a large bunch of cilantro, about 1 1/2 cups packed
 3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flake, optional
1/2 jalapeno pepper, membranes and seeds removed
kosher salt

Combine cilantro, garlic, vinegar, oregano, cumin, jalapeno, and red pepper flakes in a food processor. Pulse until fine.
Turn food processor on and stream in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

For the flank steak:  marinade meat for an hour or longer, up to overnight, in the chimichurri (reserve about a 1/4 of a cup for serving).  Grill steak on the highest heat for about 4-6 minutes per side, depending on the thickness of the meat.   Flank steak should only be cooked to medium, but medium rare is better.  Slice the steak against the grain after letting it rest for 5 minutes.  Spoon the reserved chimichurri over the top of the steak.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Baked Meatballs

This is a lighted up version of my favorite spaghetti and meatballs recipe from Barefoot Contessa.  I used extra lean beef (no veal or pork) and baked them instead of frying.  And instead of regular spaghetti, I used the high protein farfalle (less messy for the kids to eat that way).  Also, even though her sauce is fabulous, I use jarred marinara to make dinner faster.  Just look at the labels and find one that only has a few ingredients (I like Rao's): tomatoes, olive oil, onions, basil, salt, garlic, pepper, oregano. 

 Baked Meatballs
1 pound extra lean ground beef
1/2 cup dry seasoned bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 egg, beaten

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and combine very lightly with a fork. Using a small ice cream scoop, lightly form the mixture into meatballs. Bake at 400 on a greased cookie sheet for 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, heat marinara on the stove.  Add the almost completely cooked meatballs and simmer on low for 10 minutes (or longer) while the pasta is cooking. Serve with extra parm and fresh basil.