Turkey Sausage Skillet 

I love easy, one skillet meals. I mean, who doesn’t?  I adapted this recipe from one that I found in a magazine ad for Hillshire Farm Smoked Sausage. I substituted Butterball Everyday Smoked Dinner Sausage to lighten it up and also reduced the amount of oil and cheese in the original recipe. I also used brown rice to up the fiber content a bit.

This is a quick dinner perfect for a busy week night. To further reduce the time, you could chop your veggies the night before so that they are ready to toss in the pan.

I used PF Chang’s frozen brown rice because that’s what I had on hand. You can use any instant rice or cooked rice but the key is that the rice needs to be cooked. There is not enough liquid or time involved in this dish to use uncooked.

I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Easy Turkey Sausage Skillet

1 pkg. Butterball Everyday Smoked Dinner Sausage, sliced thin

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 large red bell pepper, sliced thin

1 small yellow onion, sliced thin

1 pkg. frozen broccoli (mine was 12 oz)

½ cup water or chicken broth

½ cup tomato sauce

2 cups COOKED rice

¼ cup finely shredded cheddar or cheese of choice

 

Heat oil and garlic in skillet. Add in sausage and cook until browned, stirring occasionally so that it browns evenly. Then add veggies, water, and sauce and simmer for 10 minutes until veggies are tender and liquid is mostly absorbed. Stir in your prepared rice and sprinkle on top with cheese.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Notes: I added in a sprinkle of Cajun seasoning as well. You can also skip the cheese completely if you would like.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili with Fresh Guacamole

This is a guest post from my friend Candace. She really should have her own blog as her love of food and puns is both intense and entertaining.

 Every now and then, Minda– my friend and our wonderful host – hounds me to do a guest post for her blog. By hounds me, of course, I mean that she invites me to do a guest post, I enthusiastically agree, then she wonders what the *bleep* happened to that post I said I’d write. She’ll remind me at least once a year, to no avail.

Clearly, she’s the best, and a far more reliable, talented, and entertaining blogger than I’ll ever be. Minda’s Note: Blush You know this; it’s why you’re here, after all. Still, if I don’t pony up with a post soon, she’s going to stop asking – or worse, stop inviting me on the bi-weekly, day-saving coffee run. The horror!!

Several weeks ago, Minda posted a recipe featuring bulgur, which she made during our Cooking Club. While she was experimenting with exotic –albeit earthy-sounding– grains, I was cooking up an inspired new chili combo – sweet potato and black bean. I love sweet potato; I love chili; and I really, really love black beans. I particularly love it when chili doesn’t require meat ingredients. I had found my match made in culinary heaven.

I have now made Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili twice, and I will definitely be cooking it again soon. I changed the original recipe slightly by adding some dark chocolate, something I’ve always wanted to do because, well: It. Just. Seems. So. Haute. And it gave the flavor even more depth and brought out the sweetness of the potatoes and generally perfectly complemented the seasoning.

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I wish my instincts always worked out so well.

A hearty thank you to our University’s wellness program leadership for introducing me to this hearty dish.

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Ingredients
1 medium yellow or white onion, diced
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 16-ounce jar chunky salsa
1 15-ounce can black beans, slightly drained
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups water
1 TBSP chili powder
2 tsp grated dark chocolate
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp chipotle powder
1 TBSP cooking oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions
In a large pot over medium heat, sweat onions in oil. Season with salt and pepper. Stir and continue cooking until translucent.
Add sweet potatoes, chocolate, and spices; cook for three minutes.
Pour in salsa, water, and vegetable stock.
Bring mixture to a low boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer. Add black beans.
Cover and cook 20-30 minutes, until sweet potatoes are fork tender and soup has thickened.*

Top with guacamole (optional). BONUS RECIPE below.

*Note: I haven’t been very successful yet getting my soup to thicken, which has prompted me to consider a thickening agent. I will report back after my next attempt. Minda’s Note: Try mashing some of the beans with a fork before adding them to the chili. The released starch will thicken it a bit. You could also give it a quick hit with an immersion blender. 

BONUS RECIPE

When I was a kid, I hated guacamole. In fact, I hated anything to do with that weird, wrinkly blackish-green fruit thing, the avocado. But I was wrong, as kids sometimes are.

Now I know the bliss that is a cool, creamy avocado served with, let’s see, almost anything. Guacamole is just about the easiest thing to make, and I like mine so much that I’ll never buy the pre-made stuff again. I don’t like to brag, but I’ve kind of made a name for myself.

My tombstone will read:
Beloved wife and step-mother.
Epic maker of guacamole.

So I’m confident that if you love guac, you’ll love this recipe. Best of all, it’s super simple, proving once again that basic recipes are the best. But first, a couple of notes about this recipe. I choose avocados that give slightly when you press on the (still weird and wrinkly and blackish green) skin. After you cut your avocados in half and remove the pit, a large spoon is great for shelling the fruit right out of the peel. Likewise, I use a small spoon for seeding my pepper.

About those peppers. After handling a serrano pepper, make sure you wash your hands well. With soap. Twice. And don’t, like, touch your face for the rest of the night. ESPECIALLY NOT YOUR EYES. Seriously.

Or, I suppose you can use a milder pepper, if you prefer.

Guacamole (Avocado’s Favorite Recipe)
2 ripe avocados, cubed
½ onion, diced
1 serrano pepper, seeded and minced
2-3 Campari tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 lime
½ TBSP dried cilantro, or 1 TBSP chopped fresh cilantro
Salt & Pepper, to taste

Combine avocado, diced onion, minced pepper, cilantro, and tomato. Squeeze juice from one lime over guacamole and season with salt and pepper. Using a large fork, mash until you’ve reached desired texture. For even creamier guac, you can throw in a tablespoon of sour cream.

Minda, I hope I’ve done your blog justice. You set the bar pretty high. Notice, I refrained from using even a single pun more than three puns. So, if you’ll have me back, consider this a commitment to guest blog the Grinch cookie recipe this Christmas. You know, the one you’ve been asking me to do for two years?

Minda’s Note: Well done! 

Honey Roasted Roasted Brussels Sprouts

If there is a list somewhere of the most hated and feared vegetables, I would venture to say that the Brussels sprout is on the list. And in my opinion, it’s very undeserved. I didn’t grow up eating Brussels sprouts; in fact, it was only a few years ago that I event tried them. Shortly after that fateful first meeting, I introduced them to my parents who liked them as well. Now, they have become an occasional side dish at my annual Christmas dinner.

My go-to method of preparing them was to simply toss them in some olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast them. I think any veggie is tasty fixed like that. But when I saw this recipe on Money Saving Mom, I knew I had to try it. The dried cranberries give a festive look that is perfect for your holiday meal or any meal of the year.

I prepared this dish this year at my Christmas dinner and it was the first time that a couple of family members had tried Brussels sprouts. And guess what? They asked for the recipe. Yep, they are that good.

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Honey Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1 lb. Brussels Spouts, trimmed, cut in half and washed
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. honey
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sliced almonds
Preheat oven to 350.

Put the Brussels sprouts in a bowl. Pour the oil over and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat and season.

Put a single layer on a cookie sheet, cut side down. Roast for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees — until tender and edges are starting to brown.

Take cookie sheet out of the oven and drizzle  sprouts with honey and sprinkle with cranberries and almonds. Return to oven and bake for another 5 minutes — or until warmed through.

Serves 4 to 6.

Pear and Goat Cheese Salad

Goat cheese, y’all.

It’s good. I was skeptical, I admit. I decided to try it earlier this year and kind of fell in love with it. I’m not sure where I came up with this salad combination but I love it.

LOVE IT.

It’s a simple recipe that you can adjust to suit yourself so I won’t rattle on and on.

Pear and Goat Cheese Salad

3 to 4 cups of your favorite salad greens-I like a 50/50 Spinach/Spring Mix
1/4 cup of goat cheese crumbles
1/2 pear, chopped or sliced
1 tablespoon of glazed walnut pieces
1 tablespoon of dried cranberries
2 tablespoons of vinegarette of choice-I like Newman’s Own Balsalmic

That’s it folks. Toss it all together. It’s sweet. It’s crunchy. It’s creamy. It’s tart.

It’s my favorite salad.

Go. Fix one.

Can You Stay For Dinner’s Fool Proof Turkey Meatloaf

I haven’t been this excited about a meatloaf since…well, ever.

Meatloaf is a food that I can never make as good as my mom despite having helped her make dozens of meatloaves over the years.

I stumbled upon this recipe on the site Can You Stay For Dinner, a lovely food blog that I enjoy reading. This meatloaf was a little different because 1) It’s made with turkey and 2) It gets its flavors from a variety of seasonings rather than chopped onions and peppers like a traditional meatloaf. I decided to try it since it would be different enough from traditional meatloaf for me not to compare it to Mom’s and it seemed mild and tender enough for my baby boy and his four teeth to enjoy.

In a word, this meatloaf is awesome! Very flavorful and not the least bit dry (which is always a concern of mine with ground turkey). Baby boy loved it, too. I think the next time, I will form it into meatballs. It was also delicious cold the next day.

The only change that I made to the original recipe was to decrease the thyme to a half teaspoon based on a reader’s comment.

Can You Stay For Dinner’s Fool Proof Turkey MeatloafIMG_2767

1 pound extra-lean ground turkey breast (93% lean)*

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons ketchup

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon)

1 large egg

1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the turkey, ¼ cup of ketchup, and all remaining ingredients and mix well with your hands. (Remove your rings, don’t be a Paula). Transfer mixture to a sprayed baking dish (I used a loaf pan) and form it into a loaf shape. Spread the remaining 2 tablespoons of ketchup over the top and sides of the loaf. Bake for 40 minutes.

Tips and Notes:

*For reasons unknown, it seems you can only find ground turkey in a 1.25 pound package in these parts. That’s what I used and it was all good.
** Although the original recipe states to serve immediately, I find that meatloaf needs about 10 minutes or so to rest and pull itself together.
***Since the baking time is so short, you could totally mix this up ahead of time. I did. I let the meat mixture hang out in the fridge, set it out while the oven heated, then transferred it to the loaf pan. DO NOT put a cold, glass baking dish in a hot oven. Trust me on this one.

Spicy Chicken Pasta

I found this recipe several years ago on a Weight Watchers message board. It contains more processed items than I normally prefer to use but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I modified the original recipe a bit and swapped Velveeta Light for reduced fat Cheddar Jack and omitted an extra step of warming the dish through in the oven. Instead, I combined it all in a skillet and warmed through on the stovetop.

This dish reheats well and leftovers make a great lunch. I made this recently and nary a bite went to waste!

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Spicy Chicken Pasta

8 oz uncooked spaghetti or linguine, broken
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 tsp canola oil
4 oz reduced fat Cheddar Jack cheese
1 can Rotel tomatoes
10 oz can of chicken
1 can reduced fat, reduced sodium Cream of Mushroom soup

Cook pasta according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, sauté onion in oil in a large skillet until tender. Add the chicken, and the can of Rotel with juice. Cook until tomato juice cooks down a bit. Add can of soup and mix well. Once mixture is hot and bubbly, add in cheese and stir well to melt the cheese.

Drain the pasta, reserving a cup of the cooking liquid. Add the drained pasta to the chicken mixture. Combine. If the mixture seems too dry, (you want it creamy like an Alfredo sauce) add in some of your reserved cooking liquid, one tablespoon at a time until you get the consistency you want.

Macaroni Casserole

If you had asked my 5 year old self what her favorite food was, she probably would have responded “macaroni”. I loved macaroni as a kid. My favorite was macaroni in tomato juice. My mom always canned her own tomato juice so it was very fresh tasting even in the depth of winter. Sometimes, if she had some extra hamburger on hand, she would make me chili macs which was essentially macaroni, tomato juice, hamburger and chili powder. I loved it.

I hadn’t thought of chili mac in years until I saw this recipe from Skinnytaste. (Skinnytaste is one of my favorite websites, by the way.) I initially planned to prepare her casserole as written but the more I thought about it, the more I thought about chili mac and decided to go my own direction with this recipe. Hers is a more Italian take so do check hers out if you like Italian food. I was very intrigued by the cooking technique here. You add the macaroni in uncooked and it cooks in the oven. I was a little doubtful but it turned out wonderfully cooked.

This is a very healthy dish with lean ground turkey, whole wheat macaroni and lots of veggies. It’s the kind of food I hope to prepare for my little boy, wholesome and comforting with some veggies snuck in for good measure. To tell the truth, it’s not always easy for me to eat vegetables so I appreciate dishes like this where I don’t really have to think about the veggies within.

I cut the recipe in half since this is not something that my husband would eat-he doesn’t like macaroni, how did we end up married? This reheats well, I ate it for my lunch for several days. It’s definitely one that I’d make again. The recipe below is for a full recipe which makes 8 servings.

Chili Mac Casserole
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1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 medium red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced carrots
1 Rotel Mild tomatoes with peppers, drained
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 tbsp chili powder (more or less to taste)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp Kosher salt
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese (I used Sargento reduced fat Cheddar Jack)
8 oz uncooked whole wheat elbows

Directions:

In a large deep non-stick skillet, brown the ground turkey over high heat until done. Set aside.

Add olive oil to the skillet, reduce heat to medium and add the onion, red pepper, celery and carrots; sauté the veggies until soft, about 6 minutes.

Return the turkey to the skillet with the veggies along with the remaining ingredients except for the macaroni and cheese.

Bring to a boil and then lower heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes. Heat oven to 350°F.
Spoon just enough of the turkey/veggie mixture to cover the bottom of a 9×13 pan. Sprinkle the uncooked pasta on top of the turkey/veggie mixture. Spoon remaining sauce mixture evenly over the top and sprinkle with cheese
Cover with foil and bake 50-55 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes.

Divide into 8 servings.