Sunday, May 11, 2014

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins

 
Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Muffins
 
Happy Mother's Day!  I made myself a little treat...


 
I keep buying bananas and letting them get over-ripe. Last week, I threw someway. Doh!
 
Today I whipped up some muffins to use up some ripe bananas and the muffins are tasty treats!  Seems like a lot of banana bread recipes call for three bananas but this recipe only calls for two bananas, so this recipe's a good alternative in case you just have two bananas.
 
 
I made just slight changes to the recipe.  I tossed in a big handful of chopped walnuts (a little over 1/2 cup) and some mini-chocolate chips (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup).  I tossed the chocolate chips and walnuts with a little flour before adding them to the batter. I've heard doing so keeps these ingredients from  dropping to the bottom of the muffins.  Seems like the trick worked.  The recipe also calls for dipping the baked muffins in melted butter and then cinnamon sugar but I skipped this part.  The recipe calls for baking the muffins at 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  I checked my muffins at 15 minutes and they were raw inside.  I baked them for about 18 minutes and they were done inside but really brown on the outside. Next time I'll bake my muffins at 350 for about 20 minutes. 
 
Breakfasts and/or snacks for the week!
Good stuff!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Queso-Taco Pasta Bake

Queso-Taco Pasta Bake

Betty Crocker and Old El Paso Brands team up in this dish:

I have been getting emails from www.bettycrocker.com
So many tempting and great looking recipes I'd like to try.

Two recipes caught my eye this past week.  This dish, Queso-Taco Pasta Bake, was dinner for me and my husband tonight.  It will also be my work week lunches. This dish is delicious.  I am really glad I tried this recipe.  This recipe calls for a pouch of Old El Paso Roasted Tomato Mexican Cooking Sauce.  I had never noticed this product on the store shelves before. I was not sure if my store would carry it or not so I decided to try this recipe if I could find the product.  I found it a City Market (Kroger). 




Here's the LINK for this recipe:  http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/queso-taco-pasta-bake/aba62f48-59bb-44d9-af75-1e16a9b9103f

I followed the recipe almost exactly. Crazy, right?.  The only change I made was that I used 8 ounces of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese in the cheese sauce instead of just 6 ounces as called for.  For the salsa, I used "medium" salsa.  The recipe is basically a fancy macaroni and cheese recipe. You start with butter and flour to make a roux and then add in chicken broth. Then you melt in some cheddar cheese and the simmering sauce.  The pasta is cooked separately.  Then ground beef, onion, cumin, and salsa are cooked separately. You combine all these ingredients and then bake it in the oven with a little more cheese on top.  This recipe calls for cumin, which is one of my all time favorite flavors.  Good stuff!


  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Crock Pot Three Bean Turkey Chili (AKA: Gringo's Lament)

So I went for a walk with the puppies, Sandy and Brutus. My friend Tracy brought her pug named Belle and her Boston Terrier named Leila. We bumped into another dog walking buddy named Ron and his dog Tango. We are quite a crew and every gets along well. Knowing that Tracy doesn't like to eat pork or lots of red meat, I decided to tell her and Ron about my new chili recipe which includes ground turkey (instead of beef or pork). I told her and Ron about the recipe and the ingredients(I don't think the dogs were listening) and they both agreed it sounded pretty good. Tracy asked me what I was calling the recipe...?

"Ummmm, Crock Pot Three Bean Chili with Turkey?" I said rather unimaginitively.

Ron chuckled and said,"You ought to call it 'Gringo's Lament'?" Ron has a Masters Degree in Library Science. He's smart. I think he was making a witty, clever remark, but it kind of flew over my head. Does this mean a white person may regret eating this chili? If so, maybe I should NOT call my chili recipe Gringo's Lament.  I need to get out my dictionary.

Whatever the case may be, this chili is really good. It just has a bit of heat, kind of at the end. This is just like the Crock Pot Three Bean Chili with Pork recipe I posted a few weeks back only I used cooked, ground turkey instead. I think I might like it better with the ground turkey. This week my husband suggested I use the ground turkey and he asked for a double batch. Since my Crock Pot could not hold a double batch, I cooked one batch in the Crock Pot and one batch on the stove top in my Dutch Oven (with the lid on). The stove top version cooks for a shorter period (simmer for about an hour) and turns out thicker since more liquid is able to evaporate on the stove top. We decided we prefer this recipe in the Crock Pot a bit better.

CROCK POT 3-BEAN CHILI WITH TURKEY

INGREDIENTS

1 to 1 1/2 pounds ground turkey, cooked/crumbled/drained
1 1/2 cups beer (12 ounces) - I used Coors Lite
1 can fire roasted tomatoes (14.5 ounce)
1 can Rotel Original diced tomatoes with green chiles (10 ounce)
1 diced yellow onion
1 diced red bell pepper
1 can pinto beans, rinsed/drained (15 ounce)
1 can black beans, rinsed/drained (15 ounce)
1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed/drained (15 ounce)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon each ground coriander, garlic powder, and dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Throw all ingredients in crock pot (slow cooker). Give it a good stir. Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours.  If desired, garnish with shredded sharp cheddar cheese or your favorite  chili toppings. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Make Ahead Pizza Casserole


Make Ahead Pizza Casserole

I don't make a lot of make-ahead casserole dishes but this one looked good. I am so glad I tried it.  It was so simple to throw together on Saturday and so nice to have dinner nearly on the table when I got home from work on Sunday.  I just asked my husband to preheat the oven, stir the casserole, and pop it in the oven about an hour before I got home from work.  This dish is VERY similar to the Skillet Lasagna I've made dozens of times, but of course the casserole is baked in the oven.  As we had this for dinner, I was thinking of ways this might be made a little more healthful.  Whole grain pasta and turkey Italian sausage perhaps.  One could also add diced bell peppers when cooking up the sausage.  Just like pizza, you can add or subtract ingredients based upon our preferences.  I would have loved olives in this casserole but family doesn't like them.  Bummer.

I found this recipe on the Better Crocker Website:
http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/make-ahead-pizza-casserole

Ingredients

1 lb mild Italian pork sausage (I used 1.25 lb. Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausage)
2 cups water (I added an extra 1/8 cup water since my pizza sauce jar was only 14 ounces)
1 can (15 oz) pizza sauce (I used Di Napoli Classico Traditional Pizza Sauce, 14 oz.)
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with sweet onion, undrained (I used fire roasted diced tomatoes)
4 cups uncooked rotini pasta (10 oz)
1 can (2 1/4 oz) sliced ripe olives, drained (I left this out but it would be great in this dish!)
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella or pizza cheese blend (6 oz)
(I added a bit of garlic powder, crushed red pepper flakes, and dried Italian herbs, too!)

1. In 10-inch skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until no longer pink; drain.

2. In ungreased 13x9-inch (3-quart) glass baking dish, mix water, pizza sauce and tomatoes. Stir in cooked sausage, uncooked pasta and olives (pasta should be completely covered with sauce). Cover tightly with foil; refrigerate at least 8 hours or overnight.

3. When ready to bake, heat oven to 350°F. Stir casserole; cover with foil and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until bubbly.

4. Uncover baking dish; stir mixture. Sprinkle with cheese; bake uncovered 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.

Makes 6 servings (1 1/3 cups each)


This sauce was a good choice.  Good stuff!


Leftovers for work.  Love that!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Green Smoothie #1


An after picture of my "green smoothie"!  I must have been hungry!!!

I've been wanting to make a green smoothie for a really, REALLY long time.  I saw a "green smoothie chart" on Facebook the other day and looked at all the varieties.

When I was at the grocery store, I bought a small tub of organic spinach and some bananas.  I had some frozen mixed berries at home in the freezer. Today I made a green smoothie.  I tried it and it need a bit of sweetness to bring the flavors together. I added about a teaspoon of honey (from the bear shaped honey bottle because honey from bear shaped honey bottles TASTES much better... trust me, it's a scientifically proven fact).

Verdict... pretty darn good.  The seeds in the mixed berries is always a draw back but I am excited to try more green smoothies.  I think my tub of spinach should make a total of four smoothies.

Green Smoothie #1

1 very ripe banana
1 cup Simple Truth Organic baby spinach (1 to 1 1/4 ounces) from 5 ounce tub
1/2 cup water
1 cup (5 ounces) Simple Truth Organic Berry Medley (frozen) from 10 ounce bag
1 teaspoon honey

Blend like crazy in a blender, add a straw, slurp and enjoy!

Serves 1

My green smoothie was not "green" but I sure feel energized from starting my day with fruits and vegetables!

Here's the chart I found on Facebook. I am not sure to whom I should give credit?  Maybe you'll decide to give green smoothies a try?!

Crock Pot 3-Bean Chili with Pork


I found this picture on the Internet... sorry, chili all gone. No photo. 

Picture a steaming bowl of hearty chili with some sharp grated cheese on top.   Got it? Okay. 

I made a version of this a Crock Pot 3-Beah Chili awhile back. I would have sworn I wrote it down but I was wrong.  It was back to the drawing board this time around and it turned out good… maybe even better than the original version.  Hubby smelled it brewing in the kitchen and said he wanted to give it a try.  He was suspicious of the little cubes of meat in the chili and, not being a fan of chicken very much, he inquired, “Uhhh, is this chicken?” 

Nope.  It’s pork.

I made a pork loin roast in the crock pot a few weeks ago and the roast was too big for the recipe. I cut about a third of the roast off and froze it in the freezer.  When I was getting ready to make this pot of chili, I let the roast thaw in the refrigerator for a day or so.  When I went to use the roast, it was still partially frozen… which actually made it very easy to cut up into cubes.   I cut the roast into ¾ inch slabs, then ¾ inch slices, and then ¾ inch cubes.  Cutting the bits of roast so small resulted in the chili being ready in about  4 or 4 ½ hours.

CROCK POT 3-BEAN CHILI WITH PORK

INGREDIENTS

1 to 1 1/2 pounds uncooked pork loin roast, cut into bite sized cubes (about 3/4 inch)
1 1/2 cups beer (12 ounces) - I used Coors Lite
1 can fire roasted tomatoes (14.5 ounce)
1 can Rotel Original diced tomatoes with green chiles (10 ounce)
1 diced yellow onion
1 diced red bell pepper
1 can pinto beans, rinsed/drained (15 ounce)
1 can black beans, rinsed/drained (15 ounce)
1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed/drained (15 ounce)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon each ground coriander, garlic powder, and dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Throw all ingredients in crock pot (slow cooker). Give it a good stir. Cook on low for 4 to 4 ½ hours.  If desired, garnish with shredded sharp cheddar cheese or your favorite  chili toppings. Enjoy!

 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Little Ravioli Soup



 
I took this picture to help me remember what I put in this soup. Missing from the picture is a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes and the spices I added the soup.
 

I found this package of Buitoni brand "Three Cheese Ravioletti" (9 ounce package) on clearance months ago.  I bought two and threw them in the freezer.  If you can't find these little ravioli, I am sure regular sized ravioli would be tasty in the soup.  The little ravioli are just nice in soup since they are bite-sized.  And also, the little ravioli are cute and it's a scientifically proven fact that cute food tastes better. 
 
Trust me!
 

Little Ravioli Soup

1 package (9 ounce size) Buitoni Three Chesse Ravioletti (Parmesan, Romano, and Ricotta cheeses)
1 to 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound Italian sausage (I used 3 links Johnsonville Sweet Italian sausage, casings removed)
1 bell pepper, diced (I used an orange one)
1 medium sized yellow onion, diced
1 can (14 ounce size) fire roasted diced tomatoes (may substitute diced tomatoes)
1 1/2 cups prepared, jarred tomato spaghetti sauce (I used Barilla Tomato & Basil sauce)
3 cups chicken broth (I used Organic Simple Truth brand from Kroger)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon  crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

Prepare ravioletti (or ravioli) according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the sausage, cook and crumble until no pink remains.  Add in the diced bell pepper and onion. Cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes.  Add in the remaining ingredients (except the ravioletti or ravioli), bring to a boil, cover with a lid, and reduce to simmer.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 minutes.  Taste for seasoning. Add salt if desired.  I did not add any salt to this soup.

Add a little of the cooked ravioletti (or ravioli) to a soup bowl and ladle in hot soup. Enjoy!

Note:  I like to leave the ravioli and soup separate and just add a little bit of ravioli to each bowl of soup.  If you leave the ravioli in the soup and store it in the refrigerator, the pasta will continue to absorb more and more of the liquid from the soup and it alters the texture of the soup and  pasta... and not in a good way.  If you are feeding a large crowd and don't anticipate there being leftovers, feel free to add the cooked pasta to the soup.