It’s the dreaded time of year where I make an effort to eat healthier with the hopes I can fit into the same shorts I was wearing last year. Don’t get me wrong, I love spring and summer, it is just such a disappointment when you go to put on your super cute shorts and they just don’t quite fit like they did the last summer. Blah.
This year I am determined to get better at cooking healthier meals that I, as well as my family, want to eat. I find that I frequently get into salad ruts. I am trying to get it out of my head that you can eat more than salads and still eat healthy and satisfying meals. So one thing I have been doing is substituting lean ground turkey and chicken for beef in more recipes. I made this Cincinnati chili with ground turkey and it turned out amazing. My husband and son didn’t even know it wasn’t beef. Point for mom!
The meat is cooked in so many spices that no one would know it wasn’t beef unless you told them. I love that this recipe is super flavorful and also satisfying and that it makes the whole kitchen smell amazing! Plus the leftovers for the next two days made awesome lunches at less than 450 calories a pop. #winning
Note: I am not from Cincinnati, nor have I ever had authentic Cincinnati chili. I know there are individuals who are very particular about their Cincinnati chili and how it is prepared. I am not claiming this as “authentic” Cincinnati chili, I am just claiming this to be a damn good recipe.
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb ground turkey
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped (divided)
15 oz can diced tomatoes
15 oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 c water
cheddar cheese, shredded
- In a large pot heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Place the ground turkey in the pot and cook for about 8–10 minutes making sure to break up the chunks with a spatula.
- Add in most of the chopped onion and cook for 3–4 minutes. (Note: Save a couple tablespoons of the onion for garnish.)
- Once the onion has had a chance to cook add in the tomatoes, beans, Worcestershire sauce, red wine vinegar, chili powder, unsweetened cocoa powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and water.
- Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer.
- Partially cover the pot and simmer for 45 minutes making sure to stir occasionally.
- Add water as needed to keep the mixture “saucy.”
- Serve the sauce over cooked noodles and garnish with shredded cheddar and some chopped onions.
Tomatillos are one of those things that I am just figuring out what to do with. I remember as a kid peeling the husks off them all summer long since my mom grew them in her garden but all I remember her really making was her tomatillo salsa.
Every once in awhile I end up with a small bag of them from a friend or our produce delivery. Never enough to actually make a whole batch of salsa with. But now I can say I have two recipes that use tomatillos. One is my green chicken chili, which I promise to post soon, and the other is this incredible Creamy Tomatillo Chicken recipe.
If you can prepare the sauce the night before it is perfect for a busy workday. Just come home, take the marinated chicken out of the bag, and bake. After marinating for that long you are sure to get a super juicy and flavorful chicken breast. The ranch gives it a nice refreshing quality while the cilantro and lime give it a little zip! While I served this with rice which was awesome, I really want to try the chicken chopped up over some greens with corn, black beans, and some red bell pepper. The sauce would make for an amazing dressing over a little southwest salad!
1 c mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 package dry ranch dressing mix
2 1/2 tsp garlic
1 c cilantro leaves
4 tomatillos, husked and chopped
1 tsp lime juice
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
Extra cilantro leaves
- Add into a blender the mayonnaise, buttermilk, ranch dressing mix, garlic, cilantro, tomatillos, and lime juice.
Blend until well combined and transfer about half of the mix to a one-gallon Ziploc Bag.
- Add the chicken to the bag and seal tightly.
- Store the chicken in the fridge and marinade anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.
- Transfer the remaining marinade in a small bowl, cover, and place in the fridge until ready to serve.
- When ready to begin cooking preheat the oven to 375º and transfer the chicken breasts to a baking dish.
- Dispose of the leftover marinade.
- Bake the chicken for 20–25 minutes or until cooked completely through.
- Transfer the cooked chicken to the plate and poor the additional sauce over the top.
- Garnish with a lime wedge and some fresh cilantro leaves.
Recipe adapted from Creme de la Crumb.
Some of you may remember from my Lamburger post quite some time ago about my dad living next to a sheep farm. (If not, go check it out, seriously amazing recipe and a fun little story.)
Well as a house-warming gift my incredible dad and stepmom gave us an ice chest full of all sorts of wonderful cuts of lamb and even some pork! That is probably the best and most practical housewarming gift you could give a person right? Okay, maybe the best housewarming gift you could give a foodie. Daddy knows me all too well. Thankfully there was lots of ground lamb in the mix so I have been able to make this awesome dish a couple of times recently.
The lamb meatballs have a super unique flavor with the chopped up bits of apricot which keeps them super moist. I serve them over a bed of couscous with a little Athens salad made up of cucumber, tomatoes, and red onion. I love how light and refreshing the entire meal is! Seriously a fave recipe of mine and it just looks so darn pretty on the plate! Plus this recipe takes less than 25 minutes to make. #winning
1 lb ground lamb
1/3 c dried apricots, chopped
1/2 tsp coriander
1 small red onion, half finely chopped and half thinly sliced
kosher salt and pepper
1 cup couscous
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp lemon juice
2 tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cucumber, sliced
1/2 feta, crumbled
- Turn the oven on to broil.
- In a bowl combine the ground lamb, apricots, coriander, the finely chopped red onion, salt, and pepper and mix until well combined,
- Form the meat into 1 1/4″ balls and place them in a baking dish.
- Place the dish in the oven on the middle rack and cook for 8–10 minutes.
- While the lamb meatballs are cooking, prepare the couscous per package instructions.
- In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and some salt and pepper.
- Once the meatballs are couscous are done it’s time to plate.
- Place a nice size scoop of the couscous in the center of the plate and top with 3–5 meatballs.
- Place the sliced tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion on the plate next to the couscous.
- Drizzle the lemon olive oil dressing over everything on the plate and then finish off with the crumbled feta cheese.
- Dinner is ready to serve!
Recipe adapted from Real Simple.
One of my favorite pizzas has got to be the BBQ Chicken pizza from California Pizza Kitchen. I know I know it is totally not traditional pizza. I guess I just like how light it is and that it is completely different. They have this perfectly thin crust, light on the cheese, and then you get a flavor packed punch from all the BBQ sauce and then the unexpected cilantro. Somehow it just works!
I decided to try and duplicate this recipe but opted for calzones just for something different. They were awesome! And best of all the recipe made more than enough for the three of us so I was able to freeze them and had another nights worth of dinner for later that month.
This recipe was incredibly easy to make and I even brought my little guy in the kitchen to assist. He had a blast helping to assemble them! I don’t think this recipe took us more than 40 minutes. I spent about 20 minutes prepping and putting them together and another 20 to bake them. While they are baking throw together a quick salad and dinner is done!
Note: If you plan on freezing some, be sure to freeze them uncooked. I place the uncooked calzones on a wax paper lined baking sheet and put them in the freezer. Once they are frozen solid I place them in an airtight Ziploc bag. This keeps them from sticking together. When you are ready to enjoy them just place them on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake at 375º for about 20–25 minutes.
1 can refrigerated pizza dough (I like Pillsbury)
1 c bbq sauce
1 rotisserie chicken shredded
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 c mozzarella, shredded
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
- Preheat oven to 375º.
- Cut your pizza dough into 6–8 pieces.
- Lightly flour a cutting board and roll a piece of the dough out into a nice even circle. You want to get it pretty thin.
- Add a spoonful of the BBQ sauce to the rolled out dough and evenly spread it around using the back of a spoon. (Avoid the edges so that the dough will stick to itself when you go to close them up.)
- Add a nice little pile of the chicken to the center of the rolled out dough and top with a few slices of the red onion, a sprinkling of the cheese, and a couple pinches of the cilantro. (Make sure none of the filling is near the edges.)
- Carefully fold the calzone in half and go around the outside edge rolling it up tightly so none of the toppings come out when baking.
- Place the assembled calzone on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
- Continue assembling the rest of the calzones and placing them on the baking sheets. (Note that you will probably need two sheets to hold all of them.)
- Once they are all assembled and loaded up on the baking sheet, bake them for 15–20 minutes or until the crust is a nice golden brown.
- Remove the sheet from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
- Optional: Serve with an extra side of BBQ sauce or ranch if you’d like.
If you like this unique pizza recipe then you should give this one a try too!
Shrimp and Pesto Pizza
I am a sucker for tacos! I love tacos. Doesn’t matter what you fill them with, it is all good in my book. If there is meat and some sort of fresh produce in the tortilla you really can’t go wrong.
These are some of my favorite tacos during the summer because they are relatively easy to make and they are so light and refreshing! The tangy citrus slaw goes great with the spicy chipotle cream. I have made these when having company over for dinner and served them with my cilantro lime rice and some black beans for an awesome dinner. Cinco de Mayo is just around the corner so be sure to mark this recipe and give them a try. And for the ultimate meal, don’t forget the mango margaritas!
Note: The shrimp can be cooked in a skillet or over the grille. It is personal preference. If you decide to grille just skewer the shrimp on a kabob and cook for 3–5 minutes at 400º.
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp lime juice
1/2 c tequila (I prefer white)
2 tbsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
2 lb shrimps, peeled and deveined
1/4 c lime juice
1/4 c orange juice
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp dijon mustard
4 c red cabbage, chopped
salt and pepper
CHIPOTLE CREAM INGREDIENTS
1 c sour cream
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
10–12 corn tortillas (I am a huge fan of white corn)
- Place the shrimp in a large bowl whisk together the kosher salt, honey, lime juice, tequila, garlic, cumin, chili and powder.
- Once the marinade is well mixed add the shrimp and toss to coat.
- Place the bowl of shrimp in the fridge to marinade for 30 minutes.
- While the shrimp is marinating prepare the coleslaw by whisking together the lime juice, orange juice, olive oil, and mustard.
- Add the red cabbage to the dressing and mix until well coasted.
- Season the coleslaw with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place the coleslaw in the fridge.
- While you are waiting on the shrimp to finish marinating prepare the chipotle cream sauce by placing the sour cream and chipotle peppers into a blender and blend until you have a nice creamy sauce with no chunks. (If you like your food more on the spicy side taste the sauce and add more peppers accordingly.)
- After the shrimp is done marinating, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add the shrimp and all the marinade from the bowl to the hot skillet and cook for 3–5 minutes stirring occasionally until all the shrimp are opaque all the way through and are pink/orange in color.
- Warm the corn tortillas either one by one in hot skillet or all at once in the microwave.
- To assemble the tacos place a scoop of the coleslaw and 3–5 shrimp (depends on size) in each tortilla.
- Top each taco with some of the diced avocado.
- Finish off each taco by drizzling some of the chipotle cream over the top and topping of with a little of the fresh chopped cilantro.
- Serve with a lime wedge and enjoy! Tacos up!
Looking for more recipes like this? Maybe you will love these!
Crock-Pot Shredded Beef Tacos
Shrimp Enchiladas with Jalapeño Cream Sauce
Over the summer the wonderful people at Del Real sent me a massive party box of all sorts of wonderful goodies to try out. One of the items was a package of seasoned shredded beef (carne deshebrada). As soon as I saw it I thought to myself, “wow, having cooked and seasoned meat all ready to go would make enchiladas a total breeze!”
I decided to try and simplify the usually overly complex enchilada process. The name of this recipe describes it to a “t.” I am a huge fan of enchiladas. I make them fairly regularly but when I do the kitchen ends up in total disarray because of all the work that goes into them. This recipe uses only 5 ingredients but makes enough food to feed a small army.
Note: This recipe makes about 12 enchiladas. Since there are only 2 1/2 people in our household I cooked 4 that night and then put the rest into two 8” x 8” foil containers and froze them. That is 3 nights worth of dinner for about $5 a meal. Who can beat that? Cheap and easy. That is my style.
32 oz package Del Read Shredded Beef
12 soft taco sized flour tortillas
2 (28 oz) can Las Palmas Enchilada Sauce (red or green)
4 c jack cheese, shredded
1 c black olives, sliced
- Heat the meat per package instructions.
- Preheat oven to 425º.
- After the meat is done cooking transfer it to a large bowl and toss with 1 1/2 cups of the enchilada sauce.
- Spray your baking dish(es) with a non stick spray or lightly grease.
- Pour enough enchilada sauce in the bottom of your baking dish(es) to cover the bottom.
- On a large cutting board, lay a tortilla out flat and add a scoop full of meat and sprinkle with cheese and a few of the sliced olives.
- Roll up the enchilada and place seam side down in your “sauced up” bake dish and repeat until you are out of ingredients.
- Pour the remaining sauce over the tops of the enchiladas.
- Sprinkle with remaining cheese and olives.
- Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove foil and finish off in the oven for another 10–15 minutes or until the cheese is nice and melted and just starting to brown.
- Allow the enchiladas to cool for 5 minutes before serving.
- Top with sour cream or guacamole if desired.
A huge thank you to Del Real for giving me the opportunity to try out several of your products. I love them all! You guys rock!
Looking for a family friendly recipe that both you and the kids will enjoy? Then search no more! Don’t have kids, no worries. Everyone loves these regardless of age! My 4 year old loves helping to crush all the saltine crackers. I just put them in a zip loc bag and he goes to town with his toy hammer. (Cooking is a family affair in our house.) These big ol’ bbq meatballs are huge on flavor and so easy to put together. The brown sugar in the sauce helps to glaze the balls giving them a nice even coating of the sweet and tangy sauce. Yummy! These are the perfect comfort food as the weather cools off. I served these as a main dish but I could totally see making these smaller and serving them up as a party appetizer. Hope you enjoy these sticky saucy balls as much as I do!
Note: The sauce for these balls ends up being super sticky so I HIGHLY recommend lining your cooking sheets with parchment paper to help with cleanup. Otherwise you are going to have a super sticky glaze all over your baking sheets, which will not be very easy to clean up. If you do not have parchment paper then I recommend spraying your cookie sheets with a nice coating of cooking spray.
2 lb ground beef
small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 sleeves saltine crackers, crushed
3 tbsp honey mustard
3/4 c ketchup, divided
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
3/4 c bbq sauce
3/4 c brown sugar
- Preheat your oven to 400º.
- In a large bowl combine the ground beef, onions, crushed crackers, eggs, salt, pepper, honey mustard, 1/2 cup of the ketchup, and the Worcestershire sauce.
- Using your hands combine all the ingredients until well blended.
- Grab a handful of the meat mixture and roll into 2″ balls.
- Place the balls on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (see above note) and repeat until you are out of the meat mixture.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
- While the meatballs are baking mix together the remaining 1/4 cup of ketchup, bbq sauce, and the brown sugar.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven after 20 minutes and top each ball with a spoonful of the sauce.
- Place the meatballs back in the oven for another 10 minutes to allow the sauce to melt and coat the balls.
- Remove from oven and serve.
Something about cooler weather makes me crave comfort food. I just love a good hearty meal on a cool night. My chicken breasts with mushroom and onion Dijon sauce is one of those delicious and soul warming meals. This is a sophisticated recipe that is just absolutely wonderful. The sauce is rich and creamy and really allows the flavors of the fresh herbs to come out and complement the zestiness of the mustard. With the holiday season approaching and people getting together this is the perfect dish to prepare for a small group. This recipe comes together relatively easy and you are sure to impress your guests with your culinary abilities.
Note: If you are feeding more than four people consider butterflying the breasts or even getting thin breast cutlets at the store. If you use a thinner breast you will need to adjust the cooking times for the chicken slightly to avoid overcooking.
1/4 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 c white mushrooms, sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp whole grain mustard
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 c white wine
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 c chicken broth
1/4 c heavy cream
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
- In a large Ziploc bag mix together the flour, salt, and pepper.
- Add the chicken to the bag and toss to coat.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Remove the chicken from the bag and shake off excess flour before placing in the pan.
- Cook the chicken for 4–6 minutes per side and transfer to a platter.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes making sure to stir a few times.
- Add the sliced red onions and rosemary to the pan and continue to cook for 3–4 minutes.
- Mix in the mustards and wine and gently scrape the bottom of the pan making sure to get everything well incorporated.
- Add in the parsley, broth, cream, and butter and mix to combine.
Place the chicken back into the pan and spoon the sauce over the top.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and cook at a simmer until the chicken is cooked through.
- Transfer the chicken breast to a plate and spoon sauce over the top.
- Sprinkle with a little chopped parsley garnish for some added color.
Recipe adapted from A Family Feast.
To brine or not to brine? That is the ongoing question I have people ask me about cooking a turkey. Well here is your answer, I am a briner. I have prepared turkeys both brined and not. While I am no professional chef I would consider my self very versed in eating. I personally think brined turkeys come out with more flavor and are more moist than that of a turkey that is not brined. Some of you may be asking, “what the heck is brining?”
Brining is the process of soaking your turkey in a salt (and sometimes herb) infused bath for several hours prior to cooking. I find that your bird will be more evenly flavored and it will also be the moistest bird you ever have.
I make an awesome citrus herb rub (see recipe below) for my turkey. It is flavor packed and will make all your dinner guests ohhhh and ahhhh. The orange zest is not overpowering at all. It actually is a really nice complement to all the other flavors of a thanksgiving dinner. Trust me. I know how to make a delicious turkey.
Notes: Do not brine your turkey if it is self basting, pre seasoned, or kosher. If you do not have a pan that is large enough you may use an oversized bowl, ice chest, or even a baking bag tied off. The key is that the bird is completely submerged.
1 c kosher salt
2 c sugar
1 c apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp sage
2 tbsp thyme
2 tbsp rosemary
1 tbsp pepper
STEPS FOR BRINING
- Find a large pot that will hold your turkey making sure you have at least an inch or two of room at the top.
- Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in your pot.
- Add the salt and sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
- Remove the pan from heat and add in 8 cups of cold water, apple cider vinegar, sage, thyme, rosemary, and pepper.
- Place the pot in your sink (this will help in case any liquid overflows).
- Remove all of the giblets and neck from your turkey and gently lower it into the pot.
- Cover the pot with a lid or saran wrap.
- Place the pot in the fridge and marinade for 12–16 hours.
- Rinse the turkey and pat dry.
3 tbsp garlic, minced
2 c Italian parsley leaves, chopped
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp chili powder
2 oranges, zested and quartered
1 c butter, softened
1 brined turkey
STEPS FOR TURKEY
- Preheat oven to 325º.
- In a small bowl combine the garlic, parsley, kosher salt, pepper, chili powder, orange zest, and butter and mix until well combined.
- Starting from the neck of the turkey, carefully separate the skin from the breast meat with your fingers.
- Push about half of the herbed butter mixture under the skin and spread it out evenly. (Don’t be afraid really get it all over in there! The butter will melt and all those yummy flavors will just seep into the meat.)
- Use the other half of the mixture to evenly cover the top and sides of the turkey.
- Place the orange quarters inside the turkey’s cavity.
- Place the seasoned turkey in a roasting pan and loosely cover with foil.
- Roast the turkey for 20–23 minutes per pound and baste every 45 minutes. (Note: If you are running out of juices in the pan just add some chicken broth or cubes of butter.)
- Remove the foil for the last 45 minutes of cooking.
- When the temperature in the meatiest part of the turkey reaches 165º remove it from oven and allow it to rest for 25–30 minutes.
- Carve and gobble up.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!
Is your mouth watering just looking at this picture. Okay good. That means you are still alive. I am a sucker for beef with any kind of blue cheese. A filet with a blue cheese crust, I’m all over it. A burger with blue cheese crumbles, yes please. Just something about those flavors together is so perfect. When I saw this recipe I knew I had to try it. This sandwich is beyond decadent. The little bit or horseradish mixed in with mayo gives it a nice little bite and all the cheese melted over the tender beef. OMG! So good! And guess what? It is easy to boot! You cook the meat in a crock-pot allowing all those flavors to soak in and then all you have to do when you are ready to get your grub on is assemble them. Perfect lunch or dinner for these Sunday football games.
Note: I made these as meal sized sandwiches but they were super rich. If you are someone who really just wants rich food in a smaller quantity or want to feed more than four people, then consider making these as sliders. This recipe will make about a dozen sliders if you use small dinner rolls.
2 lb beef chuck roast
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp celery seed
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 bay leaf
1/4 c soy sauce
4 large sandwich rolls
1 c mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 oz blue cheese crumbles
1/4 c mayonnaise
2 tsp prepared horseradish
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 c butter
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp poppy seeds
1/2 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp dehydrated onion
- Place your roast in a crock-pot that has been sprayed with a non-stick spray. (This helps with cleanup.)
- Sprinkle with the sugar, thyme, celery seed, and garlic.
- Add the bay leaf and soy sauce to the crock-pot.
- Cook for 4–5 hours on high of 7–8 hours on low.
- Remove the meat from the crock-pot and shred using 2 forks making sure to pull out any fatty bits.
- Add the prepared meat back to the crock-pot and keep on low heat.
- Preheat oven to 375º.
- Cut your dinner rolls in half and lay the bottoms on a baking sheet.
- Using tongs grab a heap of the shredded meat and squeeze out all the excess juices and place on each bun bottom.
- Sprinkle each meat pile with a bit of the shredded mozzarella and blue cheese crumbles.
- Combine the mayonnaise with the horseradish and spread on the underside of each bun top.
- Place the lids on the sandwiches.
- Melt the butter in a small bowl and mix in the Worcestershire sauce, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, and onion.
- Brush the butter mixture evenly over the tops of the sandwiches.
- Cover the baking sheet with foil and bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- Chow down!
Recipe adapted from Heather Likes Food.