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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Taco Sloppy Joes


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1 lb. ground turkey breast
  • 1 15-oz. can tomato sauce {just the plain stuff}
  • 1/2 cup water (I used 3/4 cup; gave it less of a kick for the kids.)
  • 1 small can mild diced green chiles
  • 1/4 cup {which is 1 packet} mild taco seasoning (Or use homemade!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin (I did not add cumin, as my homemade taco seasoning already had cumin.)
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 6-8 soft hamburger buns
  • any desired toppings: grated cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, guacamole, onions, sour cream, salsa, etc.


  1. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. 
  2. Sauté onion for 3-4 minutes or until they start to soften. Add in garlic and turkey. Break apart turkey as it browns. 
  3. Once turkey is cooked through, stir in tomato sauce, water, green chiles, taco seasoning, cumin, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer. Cook half covered for 10 minutes. 
  4. Stir in beans and cook another 2-3 minutes until heated through. 
  5. Spoon mixture onto warm hamburger buns and top with any desired toppings. Serve immediately.
(I also made an easy avocado yogurt sauce to put on top!  Add 1/2 cup plain yogurt and half an avocado to food processor.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Blend to desired consistency. This cream made enough for about 4 sandwiches, so double these ingredients if you are making all 8 sandwiches!)  


One Skillet Sausage White Bean Gnocchi

  • Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 package (12 ounces) chicken sausage, cut into coins (I only used 3 of the 4 links, and I quartered the "coins" to make it kid-friendly.) 
  • 1/4 cup water or chicken broth (I suggest 1/2 cup and I would definitely use broth.  I felt like the end result was a tad dry.)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika, optional
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 can (15 ounces) white kidney or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) Italian diced tomatoes (Be sure to get the Italian flavored tomatoes!)
  • 1 package (16 ounces) gnocchi
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (4-5 ounces) fresh spinach (I chopped mine.)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Optional: fresh parsley

  1. Move a rack in your oven to the upper third of the oven and then preheat to 425 F.
  2. In a large oven-safe skillet (I use a 12-inch cast iron skillet), over medium-high heat, pour in the olive oil. (I used garlic infused.)
  3. Add in the chopped onion and stir until the onion is transparent -- about 4 minutes. Add in the garlic and stir for another 30 seconds.
  4. Add the "coined" sausage to the skillet. Cook over high heat until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes.
  5. Add in the water or broth, undrained Italian diced tomatoes, oregano, parsley, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper, rinsed and drained white beans, and uncooked gnocchi. Stir until everything is well combined. Gently stir in the spinach and make sure it's covered with liquid.
  6. Top with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese (don't stir) and place in the oven.
  7. Bake for 17-22 minutes. If desired, turn on the broiler and then broil for another 2-3 minutes for a delicious crispy gnocchi.
  8. Remove from the heat, and top with some chopped fresh parsley if desired. Enjoy immediately.


Sunday, September 18, 2016

Chocolate Chip Banana Monkey Bread

Watch the video before you make this, as it gives a super clear visual on how to make this delicious little dessert.  It doesn't look very pretty in the picture, but it's real yummy!

3 bananas, (1 banana cut into coins, 2 bananas cut into half-coins) 
1 cup dark chocolate chips
3 cans biscuit dough 
1 cup sugar 
3 teaspoons cinnamon
2 sticks butter 
1/2 cup brown sugar
Banana Coins 
Dark chocolate chips


1. Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2. Cut 2 bananas into coins and again in half and set aside.
3. In a bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon and set aside.
4. Cut each biscuit round in half and flatten into rounds. 
5. Stuff each round with one piece of the halved banana coins and two chocolate chips. 
6. Close the round together by pinching at the seam and roll into a ball in your hands.
7. Place the balls in the cinnamon sugar mix and gently toss to coat.
8. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and brown sugar until one, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
9. Grease a bundt pan and line the bottom with whole banana coins.
10. Layer half of the balls in the pan and pour half of the glaze on top.
11. Sprinkle a handful of chocolate chips over top.
12. Repeat steps 10 and 11.
13. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the crust is a deep dark brown on top. (if the top is browning too much, you can cover it with aluminum foil.) (I definitely had to foil the top.)
14. Remove from oven and allow it to cool or about 15-30 minutes before turning it over onto a plate.
15. Enjoy!


Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer


  • 1.5 cups heavy cream, half-and-half, or whole milk*
  • 2 Tablespoons pumpkin puree
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice**
  • 1 - 2 cinnamon sticks


  1. In small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together heavy cream, pumpkin, maple syrup, and pumpkin pie spice. Add cinnamon sticks and increase heat to medium-high. Bring to boil, whisking occasionally, for 1 minute, then remove from heat and let creamer cool in pan 5 minutes before using in your coffee. Add sugar to your coffee if you take it that way. You can also add whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon too.
  2. Store leftovers in refrigerator for up to 1 week. Shake well before using.

Side Notes:
  1. For a dairy-free version, try coconut, cashew, or almond milk.*
  2. I like a lot of spice, so I add close to 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Taste and add however much you like. You can make your own 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice by blending a pinch each of ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground cloves, and ground allspice.**


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Foil Dinner! Salsa Verde Chicken, Rice, and Veggies


1 cup instant white rice (I used instant brown rice.  If you don't find a package that says "instant," it's the same as "90-second" rice.) This is the rice I used.  You can find it at Target!
1 and 1/2 cup water 
2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 7 ounces EACH) 
1/2 teaspoon each: cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper 
1 teaspoon chili powder 
1/8 teaspoon paprika, optional 
1 ounce full fat cream cheese 
6 tablespoons salsa verde 
1/2 cup corn (I used frozen.)
1/2 cup black beans (About half of a regular can.)
1/2 cup Pepperjack cheese (For the wuss that doesn't like a bit of heat, get Monterey Jack instead!)
Optional: roasted green chiles, avocado, lime, cilantro, sour cream, red bell pepper 


1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. 

2. With cooking spray, generously spray 2 large sheets of heavy duty tinfoil. 

3. This step is so important!! Evenly pound chicken to 1/2 inch thickness. 

4. In a medium bowl, combine the instant rice and water and let stand for 5 minutes. 

5. In a small bowl, toss together all of the seasonings: cumin, garlic powder, salt, pepper, chili powder, and paprika. Press (not sprinkle) each chicken breast evenly in the seasonings (both sides). 

6. Drain the water from the rice, and divide the rice evenly among the 2 foil packets. 

7. Place the seasoned chicken on top. 

8. Slice the cream cheese into 4 equal pieces and place 2 pieces on top of each chicken breast. 

9. Pour 3 tablespoons of salsa verde on top of each chicken breast. 

10. Put 1/4 cup corn and 1/4 cup black beans next to each chicken breast. If desired, add a few pieces of thinly sliced red pepper to each packet. 

11. Seal the packet like a purse (not too needs room to expand) and make sure it is 100% sealed. 

12. Bake for 30­-50 minutes** or until the chicken is completely cooked through (registers 165 degrees F). 

13. Open the top of the "purse" and mix everything around in your foil pack.  top each with Pepperjack (or Monterey Jack) cheese. (I put mine back into the oven for a couple of minutes (keeping foil open) so the cheese melted.)

14. Add other optional toppings as desired. 

**The size of your chicken and the heat of your oven makes it impossible to give an exact time it should be done. Be prepared to be flexible on timing;it could be anywhere from 30-­50 minutes depending on the heat of your oven and size of your chicken. The best recommendation is to make sure that your chicken is pounded to 1/2 inch thick and as close to 7 ounces as possible. In my oven with a 7-ounce chicken breast, it was completely cooked through at 37 minutes.  (My situation was a bit different than the original blogger.  I did TWO layers of foil for each piece of chicken because I was nervous that my foil wasn't heavy duty, so I think that made my chicken take a bit longer to cook.  Mine took about 47 minutes.)  Below are some additional tips to help with the meal:

✔ Make sure the foil is completely 100% sealed shut. This will not only keep juices from seeping out (juices that you need for things to cook evenly) and making a mess all over your pan, but it also keeps the chicken ultra moist. Without a tight seal your chicken will likely taste dry. Seal these tightly!
(If you need a quick foil purse "how-to," I've attached a YouTube video.  Just make sure you put the goods inside after the first step (fold foil in half.)  Once all the ingredients are in, then fold your sides to seal.)

✔ When baking, place an extra piece of foil on the sheet pan before placing the chicken foil "purses" on top of that pan. The pan just ensures that you won’t get any mess in your oven *just in case* something does seep out. 

✔  Before putting ANYTHING in the foil, grease the foil super, super, well with nonstick spray. You do not want the rice to stick to the bottom!

✔ After pulling these out of the oven, make sure to give all the ingredients a good mix to get those delicious juices that have seeped below. You’ll also notice the cream cheese hasn’t quite melted so just spread that around with your fork and it will meld nicely with the chicken.

✔ Use heavy duty foil.

✔ Adjust your oven rack to the middle of your oven.

✔ TOPPINGS: these are key! This meal is pretty good as is, but it is spectacular with the “toppings.” The most important topping that is totally not optional is the cheese! Tons of melty Pepperjack cheese over this dish is insanely delicious. The other toppings are optional and since this is supposed to be an easy foil dinner, don’t worry too much about them. That said, they do give the dish some extra “wow factor” and don’t take too long. Our favorite additions: cilantro, fresh lime, sliced avocado, and sour cream. YUM.  Also some extra salsa verde if you are really feeling that!


Tortellini Mac & Cheese

By no means does this recipe classify as a "gourmet meal," but from start to finish, it took me 8 minutes to make. kids ate it right up!  
**I halved this recipe because it was just for the little ones, and it was plenty!  
See my notes below for additions and substitutions.

2 packages (9 oz. each) fresh tortellini (I used cheese and spinach.  The original recipe used chicken and prosciutto.  Feel free to use any flavor of pasta you like.  Ravioli works too!)
1 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1.5 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1/4 teaspoon pepper
6 oz. sharp white cheddar cheese, grated 
(I bought a small rotisserie and chopped up a scant 1/2 cup of chicken)
(If the pasta you choose doesn't have meat, feel free to add crumbled bacon!)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add tortellini (or ravioli) and cook for 8 minutes, adding frozen peas for the last 3 minutes.  Drain.

Meanwhile, in a medium pot, melt butter.  Sprinkle with flour and cook, whisking for 2 minutes.  While whisking, add milk.  Stir in minced onion and pepper.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; simmer 3 minutes.  

Remove from heat and whisk in shredded cheese.  Stir pasta and peas into cheese sauce (and rotisserie chicken if you're using!) and stir.  Season to taste. (I needed a pinch of salt.)

(The cheese begins to "settle" as time passes, so serve immediately!)

Family Circle Magazine, October 2016

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Southwestern Chopped Chicken Salad


  • 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce (I used three heads.)
  • 6 cups cubed cooked chicken  (I used a small rotisserie chicken.)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups corn (I used frozen corn and thawed it.)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups black beans (One can.)
  • 2 tomatoes, diced (I used a half container of grape tomatoes and quartered them.)
  • 1 avocado, diced (I used two.)
  • 1/2 red onion, diced (I used four green onions, thinly sliced, for a milder onion taste.)
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup crushed tortilla chips
  • handful chopped cilantro
  • Dressing
    • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used nonfat.)
    • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 teaspoons honey
    • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
    • juice of 1 lime
    • 1/2 jalapeño, finely diced
    • 2 heaping teaspoons taco seasoning (I use mild)
    • salt, to taste and if needed


    1. Whisk the dressing ingredients together, except for the salt. Taste, then add salt to your preference.  (I threw all the ingredients in the food processor/blender.  I preferred not to have diced jalapeño and garlic in the dressing for people to bite!)
    2. Add all of the salad ingredients to a large bowl. (If you're not serving it right away, add the tortilla chips right before serving. They'll stay crunchy that way.)
    3. Spoon dressing over salad, then give everything a big toss to combine. Serve cold.