Thursday, February 26, 2015

Mexican Pizza

If you've ever had a Mexican Pizza from Taco Bell and LOVED it, you're gonna want to try this recipe. It's a compilation of several recipes I found on Pinterest. I'll have to figure out which ones I used and link them back here so that you can see the "original" recipes. :) 

Better than Taco Bell Mexican Pizza

8 taco sized flour tortillas
Pam cooking spray or canola oil
1 14oz can refried beans
1 lb ground beef
1/2 pkg taco seasoning (or homemade)
Taco Bell mild sauce (or any strength you prefer.. I found it in a bottle at Walmart)
picante sauce or salsa
2 c shredded cheddar cheese (more or less)
1 chopped tomato
1 chopped green onion

Heat oven to 400* and line a baking sheet with foil. Use a fork to poke a few holes in each tortilla so that they don't puff up too much while baking. Lightly spray (or brush) tortillas with Pam or oil and bake (only two at a time fit on my sheet) 6 minutes per side, until golden brown and crunchy. If they puff up just smash them down with a spatula. Set aside to cool and repeat with other tortillas.

Brown ground beef, drain, and season with taco seasoning and a little water. You could also follow the instructions on the taco seasoning package but I don't bother with that. Set aside and keep warm.

Warm refried beans so that they spread easily. Spread a big spoonful of beans on one tortilla, scoop 1/4 of the meat on top and spread it out too. Next, top it with another baked tortilla. Gently press it down. 

Spread a big tablespoon of picante sauce on the top tortilla, pour on some Taco Bell sauce and spread it out to the edge. Toss on some diced tomato. Top with a big handful of shredded cheddar cheese and a little chopped green onion.

Heat under the broiler to melt the cheese, cut into fourths, and ENJOY! This recipe makes 4 Mexican Pizzas. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Kung Pao Shrimp (or Chicken)

I went to dinner at PF Chang's with a group of girlfriends last weekend. Two friends ordered Kung Pao dishes. I tried a bite of both dishes and now I am in love with the chili, garlic flavor of Kung Pao! Not only do I have a new favorite dish to eat THERE, I have a new favorite recipe to fix at home. Give it a try:

1/2 c soy sauce
4 T water
1/2 t hot chili sesame oil (or regular sesame oil)
1 t balsamic vinegar
2 t brown sugar
1 t cornstarch

1 1/2 lb medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, rinsed and drained
            (or chicken breast cut into small chunks, seasoned with salt & pepper)
1/2 c cornstarch

6 T coconut oil
2-3 t ground fresh chili paste (found at asian market) or Sriracha
1/3 c onion, large diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
handful of dry roasted peanuts
2-3 green onions, chopped

Steamed rice for serving

Combine first six ingredients in a small bowl, whisk and set aside. This is the slurry that will make the sauce.

Combine coconut oil (warm it up to liquify if needed) and chili paste in a small bowl and set aside.

Place shrimp (or chicken) in a large ziplock bag with 1/2 c cornstarch, toss to coat and shake off excess in a mesh strainer. You want a light coating of cornstarch on the shrimp (or chicken) to give it a little bit of crunch after frying.

Warm 2 T of coconut chili oil in a large skillet, over medium heat. Toss in half of the shrimp and fry lightly until pink.. just a couple of minutes. Spoon out onto a plate and keep warm while you fry the other half in another 2 T of chili oil. If you're using chicken just make sure it's cooked through but not overcooked (that makes sense, right?), also in two batches. You don't want to crowd the skillet :)

After all meat is fried and set aside, add the last 2 T of chili oil to the skillet (you don't need to rinse the skillet). Sauté the onions and garlic for a few minutes, until soft. Pour in the slurry. Cooking about 10-15 minutes, stirring often, until it's thickened and glossy. 

When you're ready to serve, toss in shrimp (or chicken), peanuts and green onions and stir to coat. Serve immediately atop steamed rice. Serves 4. Enjoy!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers

This recipe is a combination of several that I've used over the years. This version has no meat or dairy so it qualifies as Vegan and is compliant with the Daniel Fast. You could add ground beef or grilled chicken and top them with shredded cheese to satisfy the meat eaters in your family!

4 large bell peppers (any color) 
2 T olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 handfuls fresh spinach, roughly chopped
1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles (10oz), drained
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 c cooked brown rice (I used boil-in-bag)
1 t chili powder
1 t cumin
1/2 t sea salt
black pepper to taste
1 cup vegetable broth
chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

Heat oven to 350. Prepare bell peppers by cutting in half, top to bottom and scooping out white membrane and seeds. In a large pot of boiling water, cook halved peppers 3-4 minutes until a little tender. Drain and set aside to cool.

To make the filling, sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat about 10 minutes. Add minced garlic and fresh spinach and sauté another minute or two. Remove from heat and stir in drained tomatoes, rinsed black beans, cooked brown rice and all of the seasonings. Stir to combine. 

Stuff the pepper halves with the filling and place in 9x13 baking dish. It's ok if they overflow a little bit! Gently pour the vegetable broth in the bottom of the pan and cover tightly with foil. Bake 20-30 minutes until heated through. Garnish with chopped, fresh cilantro. Serves 4. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pizza Burgers with Homemade Pizza Sauce

We love pizza. We love burgers. We love pizza burgers! I saw the original recipe on and tweaked it a little bit. If you don't like this version you can try Ree's <3

1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground italian sausage
1 t italian seasoning 
one package of sliced pepperoni (you won't use it all.. or you shouldn't)
12 slices mozzarella cheese
6 ciabatta rolls
6 T butter, softened
garlic salt to taste
*sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms (if you like these things) & sliced ripe olives
homemade pizza sauce (recipe below.. make your pizza sauce beforehand so it has time to sit and cool a bit.)

Homemade Pizza Sauce 

2 T olive oil
4-5 cloves of fresh garlic, minced (no jarred stuff)
28oz crushed tomatoes in puree
1 T freeze dried basil
1/2 t oregano
1/4 t salt

Heat oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Sauté garlic for about a minute then pour in tomatoes and seasonings. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. I like to let it sit so the flavors combine!

*Slice and sauté your veggies ahead of time too so they're ready for assembly.

Pizza Burgers

Combine ground beef, italian sausage and italian seasoning. Mash it all together and mix it up with your hands. Form into 6 patties. Heat large skillet or griddle to medium and cook patties until they are cooked through, probably 10-12 minutes (no pink allowed since there's sausage involved!). Flip them several times but don't smash them down too much while cooking. Once they're fully cooked, top each patty with 5-6 slices of pepperoni (or more) and two slices of cheese and let it melt a little on the griddle.

Turn oven to broil. Split each ciabatta roll and smear with butter (you can use more or less butter) and sprinkle with season salt. Toast it under the broiler until golden brown.

Assemble burgers like this: bottom bun, a spoonful of sauce, a burger patty, any toppings you like, another spoonful of sauce, top bun. Devour.

Makes 6 burgers. Enjoy! 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Beef Ravioli with Mushroom Cream Sauce

Cooler weather is coming soon! Fall is my favorite time of year. As soon as the temperatures drop I start cooking "comfort" food (and put away the swimsuits). This ravioli recipe is easy enough for a weeknight dinner but fancy enough to serve to guests. Plus, it's great reheated.. if there's any leftover ;)

1 package (25oz) frozen *beef ravioli
4 T butter
1 package (8oz) fresh mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1/2 c onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 c chicken broth
3 T cream cheese
1 c half & half
salt & pepper to taste
3 T fresh basil, minced
1/2 c fresh parmesan cheese, grated

Cook the ravioli according to the package directions, drain, and rinse. That will keep it from sticking together. Set aside.

Melt 2 T butter in a deep skillet and sauté mushrooms over medium heat, until caramelized. You want them to let out most of their moisture. Once they're nice and golden, add in the other 2 T of butter and the onion. Sauté 2-3 minutes then add in the garlic and sauté another minute or so. 

Pour in the chicken broth, stir and let simmer about 10 minutes to reduce down. Then, stir in cream cheese and let it melt. Next, pour in the half & half and simmer to reduce, about 5 minutes. Stir in fresh basil and parmesan, season with salt & pepper to taste. Add cooked ravioli to the sauce and stir gently to combine. You can serve it immediately or let it sit a while on low. The sauce will thicken as it stands. Serves 4 amply. Enjoy!

*You could use any ravioli you prefer. Next time I might try chicken and spinach! 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Whole Wheat Lasagna

More comfort food! Here's a healthier version of lasagna that tastes totally unhealthy :)

First, make the turkey spaghetti sauce. It's much healthier than jarred or canned sauce. This recipe makes twelve cups so you can freeze the leftovers for another lasagna or serve it over whole wheat pasta:

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Turkey

2 lb ground turkey

2 T olive oil
1 c onion
3 oz baby carrots
3-4 cloves garlic
28oz diced tomatoes
29oz tomato sauce
12oz tomato paste
2 c water
3 t fresh basil (or the stuff in the tube)
2 t dried parsley
1 t kosher salt
1/4 t crushed red pepper
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 c red wine

Process onion, carrots and garlic in food processor until finely chopped. (I do this to "hide" veggies for the family I cook for. The kids love spaghetti and don't know it's full of the good stuff!) Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat and cook ground turkey, drain, return to pot and add veggies. Cook an additional 3-4 minutes until tender. Add all tomatoes, water, spices and stir well. Bring to boil and reduce heat to low. Add in wine. Simmer on low 1-2 hours (or longer) stirring occasionally so it doesn't burn! Makes 12 - one cup servings.  Serve over whole wheat pasta or use in lasagna. 

Whole Wheat Lasagna with Turkey

4 cups Spaghetti Sauce with turkey
6 whole wheat lasagna noodles, cooked per package directions
1 1/2 cups 2% cottage cheese
8 slices part skim mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Here are the layers:
Scoop one cup of sauce into an 8x8 baking dish. 
Layer 3 noodles (trim off 1/3 of noodles to save for another layer) on top of sauce. 
Top with 1/2 c of cottage cheese and spread evenly. 
Top with another cup of sauce,
Then 4 slices of cheese to cover. 
Layer 3 more trimmed noodles, 
Then 1/2 c cottage cheese,
Then another cup of sauce (no mozzarella on this layer). 
Use the 6 trimmed pieces of noodle to make the last layer. 
Top with 1/2 c cottage cheese, one cup of sauce and 4 slices of mozzarella. 

Cover tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 10-15 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before cutting into 4 servings. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Salmon Patties

It's always fun to update a "comfort food" classic to a "clean eating" recipe. I grew up eating salmon patties and they definitely remind me of my childhood. I made a few small changes to my mom's classic recipe:

1 15oz can of red or pink salmon
1/2 c whole wheat bread crumbs
2 eggs
1/4 c minced red onion
1 t parsley
1 t lemon juice
1/4 t Old Bay Seasoning
Coconut oil (optional)

Drain salmon and reserve the broth. You can leave the skin and bones in the meat if you want (it's perfectly edible) but I like to remove as much skin as I can and at least remove the larger round bones. Flake salmon with fork in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add bread crumbs (I made my own in the mini food processor from one slice of whole wheat bread), eggs, onion, lemon juice and Old Bay. Mix ingredients well. Form into 1/4 cup patties. If they won't hold together and are a little crumbly, add in a little bit of the reserved broth. Heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle to medium heat. I used a tiny bit of coconut oil to "fry" them but it's not necessary. Fry about 3-4 minutes per side or until browned. Makes 8 cakes (four servings) Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Chips

This is the ultimate "clean eating" recipe.. ONE ingredient! (Which technically disqualifies it as a "recipe") Ha! You could sprinkle them with a little bit of kosher salt or cinnamon before cooking, but they honestly don't need any seasoning. Drew, Brett, Reese and I all love them plain and they go quick when I make them.. daily.

Take a few medium sized sweet potatoes and wash and dry them. Leave the skins on and use a mandolin slicer to slice 1/16" thickness. I used the glass rotating plate that's in the microwave as a cooking surface (so you might want to wash that too before you cook on it). Lay slices on plate, touching is ok but not overlapping, and cook on high power for 5 minutes. They will start to turn a little brown, which is fine, but watch to make sure they don't burn. Flip over after 5 minutes and cook 1 more minute. *I used a little "trial and error" to get my cooking time and all microwaves are different so just keep and eye on them while cooking. If they come out too chewy then cook them a little longer. Remove to cooling rack and let them get crispy! One sweet potato makes about 75 chips. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Roasted Cod with Edamame

Here's another "clean eating" recipe to try. It's really easy and has a lot of fresh flavors. You could substitute any firm, white fish for the cod like halibut or mahi mahi. You could also use lima beans or white kidney beans!

4 4oz cod filets
2 c frozen edamame (whole soybeans)
4 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper to taste
dried parsley
crushed red pepper
4 t olive oil, divided
8 T white wine, divided
fresh squeezed lemon juice (optional)

Heat oven to 375. Lay out 4 pieces of foil (about 15" long) and place 1/2 c of edamame on each piece. Add 1 t garlic to each pile, salt and pepper and 1 t olive oil. Toss to combine. Lay one piece of cod on each pile of edamame, season with parsley, more salt, and crushed red pepper. Dribble 2 T white wine over each filet of cod. Fold foil into a packet, bringing long edges together first and fold down twice, then bring up short sides folding two or three times, sealing all sides to keep steam in while baking. Place packets on cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. To serve, open packets and pour contents into serving bowls, squeeze fresh lemon on top if you like. Serves 4. Enjoy!

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Everyone has a favorite recipe for Spaghetti & Meatballs. Here's mine:

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

2 T olive oil
1 c onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 28oz cans crushed tomatoes in puree
2 c beef broth
3 t fresh or freeze dried basil
2 t dried parsley
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t black pepper

Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat and add onions and garlic. Cook 3-4 minutes until tender. Add all tomatoes, broth, spices and stir well. Bring to boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer on low 1-2 hours (or longer) stirring occasionally so it doesn't burn! Makes about 10 one cup servings. It freezes well too!

Beef Meatballs

1 lb lean ground beef
1 egg
2 T milk
1/4 c bread crumbs (I use one slice of whole wheat, processed into crumbs)
1/4 cup onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t kosher salt
1/4 t pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients (except the beef) and mix well. Add in beef and mix with fork or your hands. Make 20 meatballs (I use a small cookie scoop so they're about 1 1/2" each). Bake 20 minutes. Add to sauce, after it's ready, and keep warm. Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bubble Up Enchiladas

Ah, Pinterest. How I love thee. I re-pinned this recipe from my sister's "Food Glorious Food" board and we all love it! The original post came from a Weight Watchers board but I found it on: It's a little different flavor and texture than your standard beef enchiladas. The biscuits cook through and taste like little mexican dumplings. Yum!

1 lb ground beef
2-3 T taco seasoning (make your own:
1 10oz can enchilada sauce (mild or hot)
1 small can tomato sauce
1 can biscuits (I used Great Value 10 ct. Texas style buttermilk)
1 c shredded cheddar (shred your own it melts better!)
sour cream, black olives, cilantro, etc. for garnish

Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a large deep skillet, brown ground beef and drain. Return beef to pan and stir in taco seasoning, enchilada sauce and tomato sauce. Cut each piece of biscuit dough into 4 pieces and gently fold into meat sauce. Pour into a greased 9X13 pan (don't use a smaller, deeper pan because the biscuits won't cook through.. I learned this the hard way). Bake 25 minutes then top with shredded cheddar and bake an additional 10 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Top with any garnish you like. Serves 6 (at least) Enjoy!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chicken Parmigiana

This meal is a crowd pleaser! I found the original recipe on years ago and have adjusted the portions to feed 2 people (plus leftovers). This is definitely one of Drew's most requested dinners.

6 chicken breast tenderloins, pounded flat
1/2 c flour
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 c olive oil
2 T butter
1/2 c onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c red wine
28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 T sugar
1 T dried parsley
1 c freshly grated Parmesan cheese (buy the chunk and grate it yourself!)
1/2 pound thin spaghetti, cooked

Heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Mix flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl and dredge chicken pieces. When skillet is hot, fry three pieces of chicken at a time until golden, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove chicken from skillet and keep warm.

Without cleaning skillet, add onions and garlic and stir gently for 2 minutes. Add wine, scraping any brown bits from pan, and cook down to reduce wine by half (about 3 minutes). Add crushed tomatoes, stir well, add sugar, and salt to taste. Simmer for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, boil your pasta and drain just before serving. Once sauce is ready, stir in parsley.

Lay chicken breasts on top of sauce and top with grated cheese. Put the lid on the skillet and simmer on low until chicken is heated and cheese is melted. 

Place cooked noodles on a plate and cover with sauce. Place chicken on top and serve. Serves 2-3. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Whole Hog Potato Salad

If you've never had potato salad from Whole Hog Cafe then you are really missing out! It is the best potato salad I've ever eaten. It's not mustard based but rather Ranch based. Who doesn't love Ranch? I found this recipe years ago and have made a few modifications over time. Hope you like it as much as we do!

2 lbs red or gold potatoes
1 cup mayo (not Miracle Whip)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 t garlic powder
1/2 t black pepper
1 T Hidden Valley Ranch mix (powder)
1/2 t dried parsley
1/2 t kosher salt
2 t sugar
splash of vinegar
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/2 cup crumbled bacon (packaged is fine)

Bake potatoes at 350 degrees for about an hour or until tender. Cool slightly and cut into chunks. Meanwhile combine mayo, sour cream, spices, vinegar, onion and bacon in a large bowl. Mix well then gently fold in potato chunks. Cover and refrigerate. The longer it sits the better it tastes. Serves 6-8 Enjoy!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Spaghetti al Tonno e Limone

This recipe is from my friend Ashley who lived and studied in Italy. She shared it with me a few years ago and it quickly became one of my favorite summer dishes. I love to use the fresh basil and tomatoes that I grow in my container garden. Don't let the "tuna" scare you away, it is divine!

2 T olive oil
1 small white onion, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes (or a medium fresh tomato, seeded and diced)
1 can tuna packed in olive oil
handful toasted pine nuts
1/3 pound thin spaghetti
2 lemons
handful fresh basil

Caramelize onion in olive oil over medium low heat, stirring occasionally. This can be a time consuming process.. about 20-30 minutes. Add sliced garlic and tomatoes to brown at the end of the caramelization process. Meanwhile cook the spaghetti and leave it in the water (don't drain). Turn the heat on the onions and garlic down and add toasted pine nuts and salt to taste. Then add the tuna (don't drain olive oil- it belongs in the sauce!) to the pan to warm- it's fine if it browns a bit, just don't burn the garlic. When the pasta is cooked, add it to the pan and squeeze the juice of 1-2 lemons over the pasta. Then, add basil and stir well. The sauce should be light, but definitely there, so that the pasta is pretty wet. If the pasta seems dry, add a little bit of the pasta cooking water. Taste and salt some more if necessary. Grate fresh parmigiano-reggiano over the top. This is a great summer dish. It may take you a few times to decide what flavors are the best to emphasize. Serves two, amply. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Asian Pork Tenderloin

I found the original recipe for this Asian Pork Tenderloin on Pinterest and was directed to For the Love of Cooking. I love her site! The recipe has become one of my go-to meals for pork. I serve it over fried rice with steamed veggies. 

2/3 c low sodium soy sauce (the regular stuff is WAY too salty for this marinade)
1/4 c sesame oil
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T brown sugar
1 T fresh ginger, minced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lb pork tenderloin
green onions for garnish

Combine the first six ingredients and pour over pork tenderloin in a gallon size baggie. Marinate overnight in the refrigerator, turning a couple of times. 

Heat oven to 425 degrees and spray a baking pan and/or skillet with non-stick spray. Heat skillet to medium high heat. Remove pork from marinade and discard (or transfer marinade to a small saucepan and bring it to a boil and use it as a sauce.. I skipped this step). Sear pork on all sides for a total of about 5 minutes. Place skillet in oven (or transfer seared pork to baking pan if your skillet isn't oven-safe) and bake for 15 minutes. Allow to rest 10 minutes before slicing into medallions. Garnish with chopped green onions. Serves four. Enjoy!