Archive | August, 2012

Turkey Avocado Wraps

31 Aug

Turkey Avocado Wraps
These turkey avocado wraps, also known as my new favorite lunch, are the best! Noah is so incredibly busy so I am always looking for quick and easy lunches to throw together that are still relatively healthy. The salt and crunchiness of the bacon is soo good with the creamy guacamole. And who doesn’t love turkey and cheese? These are just perfect in my book!
Turkey Avocado Wraps
Turkey Avocado Wraps

1 whole wheat tortilla
3 slices deli turkey
1 slice of bacon, cooked crisp
1 slice cheddar cheese
3 Tbsp. guacamole

Spread guacamole over tortilla then layer with turkey, bacon and cheese. Roll up and slice in half.

Chicken Bratwurst and Veggie Kabobs

29 Aug

First, I have to start by saying happy 31st anniversary to my amazing parents! You both inspire me and I pray that Joel and I will be as happy as you two when we’ve been married for 31 years! I love you so much and hope that you have a wonderful anniversary!

Onto the kabobs! We are trying to get all the grilling in we can before the days of summer are long gone. And they will be soon around here.
Chicken Bratwurst Kabobs
I love kabobs but the problem I always encounter is that everything has a different cook time. Because of this, I don’t make them very often which is really too bad since it’s a full meal on a stick….no worrying about side dishes. So, to combat this problem I parboiled and blanched the longer cooking items so that they could all be threaded together on the skewers and I wouldn’t have to worry about undercooking the chicken or burning the veggies. Plus, I was able to put them all together while Noah napped and just throw them in the fridge. Then when dinner rolled around I simply grabbed them out of the fridge, preheated the grill and we had dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes. Gotta love that on a weeknight!
Chicken Bratwurst Kabobs
The combinations are endless when it comes to these kabobs. A more traditional take would be to swap out the potatoes, broccoli and zucchini with peppers and onions. Go with whatever your family enjoys!

Chicken Bratwurst and Veggie Kabobs

5 chicken bratwurst (approx. 19 oz.)
2 medium russet potatoes, diced into 1-inch chunks
1 cup broccoli florets
2-3 small zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
2-3 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Wooden skewers, soaked for 30 minutes

1. Parboil potatoes for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, boil the brats until they are cooked through, about 8 minutes. When potatoes have 1 minute left, add the broccoli. Drain. Toss all the veggies in olive oil.

2. Remove brats and allow to cool enough to handle. Cut into 1-inch chunks. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

3. Thread brats alternatively with veggies. Grill 3 minutes per side, seasoning with salt and pepper.

Crockpot Ravioli Lasagna

27 Aug

Crock Pot Ravioli Lasagna

Now that school is back in session, I’m sure everyone is looking for quick and easy weeknight meals that the kiddos will love. And I have a new one to share that will be an instant hit.

Growing up, our traditional 1st day of school meal was always lasagna. Back then, I didn’t realize how much work it takes to put together a lasagna. I know once Noah starts school I will continue the tradition but on busy days when we are really craving lasagna, this is definitely what I will turn too.

I have seen lots of crock pot lasagnas but they still used the traditional lasagna noodles and involve cooking the meat and more ingredients than I wanted to bother with for a crock pot meal. So I thought I would try throwing some ground beef ravioli in the crockpot with sauce, ricotta and mozzarella to see what happened.

It turned out incredibly similar to a real deal lasagna leaving us all pleasantly surprised. Serve with a tossed or caesar salad and bread to complete the meal.

Crockpot Ravioli Lasagna

29 oz. frozen ground beef or sausage ravioli
1 jar spaghetti sauce
8 oz. ricotta cheese
8 oz. mozzarella, shredded

1. Spray crockpot with nonstick cooking spray. Spoon a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of the crockpot. Layer half of the frozen ravioli on top then dollop half of the ricotta on top, followed by half of the sauce and half of the mozzarella.

2. Repeat layers. Cook on low for 3-4 hours (mine was perfect after 3 hours).

Catalina Taco Salad

24 Aug

Catalina Taco Salad
Ever since I was a child I have loved Catalina dressing. Like a dip my chicken nuggets in Catalina while other normal kids dipped in ketchup kind of love. I even liked to drizzle a little on my cottage cheese. Strange, I know. I still love it today, but just on my salad (although I may just have to try the cottage cheese thing again).
Catalina Taco Salad
So when I saw this salad I knew I had to try it. The salt and crunch of the fritos is a nice contrast to the rest of the salad. And the warm ground beef makes it extra yummy and filling.

Catalina Taco Salad
recipe slightly adapted from Jennifer Cooks

8 cups torn romaine lettuce or lettuce blend
1 ½ pounds ground beef
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed & drained thoroughly
1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained thoroughly
1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
1 bunch green onions, sliced
1/2 English cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced into half moons
1 (14 ounce) bag Fritos corn chips
1 (24 ounce) bottle Catalina salad dressing

1. In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain.  Set aside and cool slightly while preparing other ingredients.

2. In a very large serving bowl, combine lettuce, grated cheese, beans, tomatoes, olives, and onions.  Toss gently to blend.

3. Just before serving, add cooked ground beef and corn chips; toss gently to combine with salad ingredients.  Begin drizzling salad dressing over salad mixture and lightly toss salad until the desired amount of dressing is used.

Cuban Grilled Salmon

22 Aug

Cuban Grilled Salmon
We are still dreaming of our Florida vacation and that delicious Cuban food we devoured so I wanted to make something reminiscent of our trip. This Cuban-Style Salmon (chicken for me) was just what we needed. The flavors were bright due to the lemon {or lime} and cilantro. Plus, it was super easy to throw together on a busy weeknight.

I served it with brown rice and black beans and it was totally delish!
Cuban Grilled Salmon
Cuban-Style Grilled Salmon
recipe from Food Network

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 2 lemons or limes
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 large shallots, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
4 6-ounce center-cut salmon fillets, skin removed

1. Preheat a grill to medium high. In a large bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons olive oil, the juice of 1 lemon, the garlic, shallots, cumin, cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt and half of the cilantro. Add the salmon and turn to coat. Let marinate 15 minutes at room temperature.

2. Brush the grill with vegetable oil. Grill the salmon, round side down, until marked on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Turn and continue grilling until marked on the other side and cooked through, 2 to 3 more minutes. Divide the salmon among plates.

Steak Bites

20 Aug

Steak Bites

So, remember the perfect baked potato from a couple weeks ago? Well, I thought I would share the perfect main dish to pair with those fluffy, crispy potatoes….steak bites! This recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman and if you don’t know of her, you must check out her blog and Food Network show immediately. Whenever I am craving a down home dish or something indulgent, she always comes to mind!

These steak bites are incredibly easy to whip up and only require 4 ingredients (and that’s including salt and pepper). Cooking the steak at a high temperature sears the outside and leaves the inside nice and juicy. The butter browns a bit while the steak is cooking, lending a rich, nutty flavor to the finished product.

You can’ really ask for more than that in a steak, can you?

Steak Bites
recipe from Pioneer Woman

1 lb. sirloin steak (without Much Gristle) Or Pre-cut Beef Tips
Kosher salt to taste
Fresh ground black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp.  butter

1. Trim off the large obvious piece of fat that runs along the side of the meat. Next, cut strips less than 1-inch wide. Rotate the meat and cut into small bite-sized pieces. If you see any more large chunks of fat, gristle or long silvery membrane, cut them off.

2. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Toss the meat around a bit to thoroughly coat with the seasonings.

3. Next, turn on your ventilation fan overhead. Heat the skillet over medium high to high heat. As the pan heats, add about 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet. Allow the butter to melt, then brown, before you add the meat.

4. Place some of the meat in the pan in a single layer. It should sizzle loudly when it hits the pan – if it doesn’t, the pan isn’t hot enough. Don’t stir or disrupt the meat for 30-45 seconds. You want it to sizzle and brown on one side. Scoop as many steak bites as you can with your spatula and flip them over. Repeat until all the meat is turned. Cook for an additional 30 to 45 seconds—just long enough to sear the outside of the meat but NOT cook the inside.

5. Remove the meat to a clean plate. Add a little more butter to the pan and repeat the cooking process with the next batch just as before. Lastly, when all the meat is nicely browned and removed to the plate, pour all that browned/blackened butter all over the meat. And enjoy!

Chicken Enchilada Salad

17 Aug

Chicken Enchilada Salad
Remember the enchilada sauce from Wednesday? I told you I would be bringing you a unique meal idea to use the sauce with and this is it! I have been eating a lot of salads this summer and this recipe was at the top of my list to try. I changed up the ingredients a bit to suit our taste and add even more variety and texture throughout the salad. I totally have a thing for black beans and corn together so I had to add those to the lineup.
Chicken Enchilada Salad
This salad has creaminess from the avocado and black beans, crunch from the tortilla strips and corn and spice from the enchilada sauce. The chicken (which you could replace with ground beef if you prefer) completes the salad and keeps you full for much longer.
Chicken Enchilada Salad
As you can see, I had my little sous chef helping. He also loves corn and black beans so he kept sneaking those cute little hands in the bowls.

Chicken Enchilada Salad
recipe adapted from Fresh Express

1 head iceburg lettuce, washed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cucumber, cut into small cubes
1 avocado, diced
1 basket cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup mixed yellow and white cheese, grated
2 green onions, sliced thinly
2 chicken breasts, cooked and hand-shredded
1/2 cup enchilada sauce
Tortilla strips, cripsy onions or crispy jalapenos, to taste
Your favorite creamy Ranch or Buttermilk dressingChicken Enchilada Salad

1. In separate bowl, toss chicken with enchilada sauce. Set aside for 10 minutes.

2. Place lettuce into large salad bowl. Add in tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, green onions and toss together.

3. Place mixed salad onto 4 individual plates.

4. Top the salad with the enchilada chicken and sprinkle 1/4 cup cheese on top of each salad.

5. Drizzle on your favorite creamy dressing.

Enchilada Sauce

15 Aug

Enchilada Sauce
I have always loved cooking but after starting this blog, a new fire was lit within and it has become a true passion for me. Because of this, I aim to make as much as I can homemade. This meant that the previous canned enchilada sauce that would grace my pantry was no more. And I have found that many of these canned convenience ingredients are so simple to make homemade, leaving me wondering what took me so long to give them a try.

This recipe is incredibly simple and takes very little time to whip up. It yields a very flavorful and rich sauce that tastes a lot like that of a favorite Mexican restuarant of ours. I know the addition of cocoa powder may seem odd but that is what gives the sauce a depth of flavor. Just trust me!

Another thing that I love about this recipe is that it freezes really well and the sauce recipe makes quite a bit so I divide the leftovers into freezer bags once cooled and store them for later use. Make sure to stay tuned for a summer supper using this delicious sauce!

Enchilada Sauce
recipe from

3 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon oregano
3 cups water
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce

1. Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl.

2. Stirring constantly, slowly add enough of the water to make a thin paste.

3. Pour into pan and add rest of water.

4. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens.

5. Stir in tomato sauce.

6. Use in your favorite enchilada recipe. The amounts on the ingredients are very flexible. For instance, if you are feeding kids who do not like”spicy”, halve the chili powder and double the tomato sauce. Experiment to suit your taste, but don’t leave out the cocoa.

The Perfect Baked Potato!

13 Aug

We had a crazy and super fun weekend. Saturday started by meeting a friends’ sweet new baby! She is such a doll and we were so happy to get in some cuddle time! After our visit, we headed about an hour and a half out of town to go to an indoor water park for a belated birthday celebration for Noah. We had been talking about it all week and he was so incredibly excited. Every day before nap time it was all “water slide, bucket splash, slides weeee, tube.” Just a bit pumped, right? Needless to say, we had a great time splashing, slipping and sliding! We stayed there that night then headed home on Sunday. We also switched cell providers and I finally moved out of the darkness and got a smart phone! Whoo-hoo!
Perfect Baked Potato
Onto the food!

I don’t know about you but I absolutely love a baked potato….especially when it’s topped with butter, cheese and bacon. It really is the perfect companion to a juicy grilled steak. I have the perfect way to bake up a steak house worthy baked potato at home.

The key to the perfect baked potato is for the inside to be tender and fluffy while the skin is seasoned and crispy. Making sure the potato is dry then rubbing it with oil will ensure a crispy outside. Taking the time to bake it at a somewhat low temperature for about an hour will produce the perfect texture.

Pair this perfect baked potato with marinated steak for a steak house dinner on the cheap!

The Perfect Baked Potato

1 large Russet Potato
1-2 Tbsp. olive oil (depending on size of potato)
1 tsp. kosher salt
Preferred toppings

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Scrub potato well then dry. Poke holes in the potato with a fork to allow any steam to vent.

2. Rub clean, dry potato with olive oil then sprinkle with kosher salt. Place directly on oven rack and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the skin is crispy and the flesh is soft.

Homemade Pickles {Claussen Copycat}

10 Aug

Homemade Pickles
Pickles are among one of my favorite foods in the whole world (maybe only behind fried chicken and macaroni and cheese). And Claussen pickles are number one for me. They are so crisp and sour and garlicky and just delicious! I have tried many different recipes and have never been happy with the results…until now!
Homemade Pickles
The recipe was incredibly easy to throw together with the amazing cucumbers I picked up at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market. And they only took a few days to process so that made them all the better. They are super sour, a bit salty and really crunchy. They are the perfect little snack or accompaniment to a sandwich.

Copycat Claussen Pickles
recipe from Foodie with Family

35 to 40 small to medium pickling cucumbers
1 gallon cold water
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons mixed pickling spices
2/3 cup canning or kosher salt (Do NOT use iodized salt)
4 cloves garlic or more, to taste
4 fresh dill heads or 4 tablespoons dried dill seed (not dill weed)

1. Wash cucumbers but do not scrub them.

2. Trim 1/8-inch from the blossom end of each cucumber and slice in half lengthwise or into quarters, depending on how large your cucumbers are and how big you want them to be when they’re done. I left the super tiny ones whole.

3. In a gallon jar (or large, wide-mouth, food-safe container) layer the dill heads or seed, garlic cloves and sliced cucumbers.

4. In a separate pitcher or bowl, stir together the remaining ingredients until the salt is dissolved.

5. Pour the brine over the cucumbers, taking care to make sure all of them are fully submerged. If needed, place a plate or mug or other non-reactive heavy item on the cucumbers to weigh them down and keep them under the brine!

6. Cover lightly with a lid just perched on top or secure a piece of cheesecloth over the jar with a rubber band to keep fruit flies away.

7. Leave out of direct sunlight on the counter for two to four days*, or until the cucumbers taste like pickles throughout.

8. Fix your lid onto your jar or container and chill. These can be stored in the refrigerator for up to six months provided you keep them covered with brine.

*If at any point in the proceedings “fuzz” or “foam” develops on top of the brine, use a spoon to remove it. If there is “fuzz” attached to any of the cucumbers, remove the ones affected and be sure the others are still fully submerged.

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