Roasted Beets

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I’m going to be honest, I’ve never eaten a beet that didn’t come out of a can.  Isn’t that terrible?  I had no idea what I was missing.  Beets are amazing!

I’ve never cooked beets before, but when I went to a local vegetable farm in my neighborhood and saw these beautiful babies and I just had to have them.

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Here’s what the true color of the beet looks like after you peel off the outer skin.  Isn’t that beautiful?

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And, they’re even more beautiful on the inside.  Those rings give the beets such a unique look.  After cutting these up, I’m glad that I wore an apron!  I can see why beets were used to dye fabric.

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After seeing the red mess, I decided the cleanest way to toss these in oil, salt and pepper was in a plastic big.

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After they’re well coated, toss them on a sheet pan and bake them until tender.

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I don’t know what happens to vegetables when they are roasted in the oven, but something amazing takes place in there.  These beets come out moist, tender and packed full of  concentrated sweet beet flavor.

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So, the next time you come across some beets that call out to you, please pick them up and treat yourself to fresh roasted beets that will change the way you think about this simple vegetable.

Roasted Beets

6 large beets

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Peel and cut beets into one-inch pieces.  Place cut beets into a plastic bag and add the oil, salt and pepper.  Toss in the bag until beets are well-coated.  Spread out onto a sheet pan and bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.

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Meatball Marinara Sub

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My family likes to go to a popular sub sandwich shop for lunch on the weekends.  For as long as we have been going to this home of the $5 foot long, my daughter only orders the meatball sub.  With all the different options of sandwich fillings, I cannot get her to try anything else but that.  So, that’s what gave me the idea to make them myself.  My daughter did say that mine tastes better……….smart girl!


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Start with the combo of beef and pork.

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This is the best way I’ve found to make uniform meatballs.  My secret weapon is the ice cream scoop.  I use it for ice cream, cookie batter and of course meatballs.


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Roll each meatball  into little balls.

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Baking makes for a little healthier meatballs and it’s a lot faster than cooking on the stove top.  Really, it’s because I’m just too lazy to stand at the stove and turn each of these little meatballs.

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When they come out of the oven, place them into a pan with marinara sauce.  Of course you can use these with spaghetti, but my daughter insisted on meatball subs this night.

Meatball Marinara Sub

Meatballs

1 ½ pounds ground beef (80/20)

1 ½ pounds ground pork

2 eggs, beaten

¼ cup milk

½ cup breadcrumbs

1 tsp garlic salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp dried basil

¼ tsp paprika

Sandwich

1 jar marinara sauce

Bread rolls

2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and mix until well incorporated.  Scoop with ice cream scoop onto baking pan.  Roll between your hands to make them into a ball.  Drizzle some olive oil over each meatball.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes.

Place the meatballs into a pan and pour in your favorite jar pasta sauce until sauce is warmed through and the meatballs soak in the sauce.  Slice and toast the rolls in the oven until a little crisp.  Fill each roll with meatballs and sauce on top, then sprinkle on some mozzarella cheese.

Makes 35 large meatballs.

Eggs in a Mug

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I am so excited to share this new breakfast idea I recently discovered.  It has revolutionized my morning routine of feeding my kids a good hot breakfast before school.  Did you know you can make scrambled eggs in a mug?  In a microwave?  In  two and a half minutes?  I LOVE IT!

No more having to crack eggs in a separate bowl, then scramble them in a pan with oil and a spatula, then serve them on a separate plate!  The mug is the bowl, pan and plate all in one!!  Have I used enough exclamation points to let you know that I’m super excited about his one?!!!!!!  I think so.

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Start by scrambling two eggs in a coffee mug, with some milk, salt and pepper.

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Add in some shredded cheese.  Any kind you like.

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Tear up some bread into small pieces.  I used 1/4 of a bagel here.

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Then tear up some deli meat.  Yes, I used my bare hands.  I don’t have time for a cutting board and knife!  Stir everything up and pop it in the microwave.

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Look at that lovely goodness peeking out to say, “Hello, I’m ready to be your healthy and hot breakfast!”

Remember, you can change out the kinds of cheese, meat or bread you want.  Heck, you can even add in some veggies like spinach and tomatoes if you like.  Just think of what you like in your omelette and you can use it.

This is so easy, my kids can do it themselves.  That would really free up your morning routine!

 

Eggs in a Mug

2 eggs

4 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons shredded cheese

Salt

Pepper

1 slice ham

½ slice of bread

 

Break the eggs into a mug and scramble with a fork.  Add in the milk, cheese, salt and pepper and beat it to incorporate.  Rip pieces of the ham and bread into the mug and combine with the fork.  Microwave on high for about 2 ½ to 3 minutes.

Panko Crusted Tilapia

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If you are running low on time to make dinner, make fish!  My easy way of crusting tilapia is super fast and simple.  The fish cooks in about 15 minutes and is fancy enough to serve company too.  I served it here with sauteed green beans and orzo with parmesan cheese and olive oil.

The tilapia is flaky and light and it’s paired perfectly with  crunchy Japanese bread crumbs, called panko.

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Tilapia is one of my favorite fish to serve my family.  Mostly because it is so easy to cook and is mild-tasting.  Tilapia will pretty much taste like whatever you flavor it with.  Where I live, it’s difficult to get fish fresh, so I buy my fish frozen.  I buy it individually vacuum-sealed and they defrost easily and are ready to cook.

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Instead of doing to classic 3-step dredge of flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs, I go straight to the breadcrumbs.   First, I pour about 2 cups of panko into a bowl and shake some lemon pepper seasoning and garlic salt into it.  I then melt some butter and brush it on each of the fillets.

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Then, I sprinkle the panko onto the fish and press down gently with the palm of my hand to make sure the breadcrumbs stick to the fish.   The butter gives the fish richness and the panko does not overwhelm the delicate flesh of the fish.  Perfect for a weeknight meal or a weekend dinner with company.

Panko Crusted Tilapia

4 tilapia fillets

2 cups panko breadcrumbs

1 tsp lemon pepper

1 tsp garlic salt

2 Tb butter, melted

Lay fish on shallow baking sheet pan and pat dry with a paper towel.  Brush the melted butter evenly on the fillets.  Add the panko, lemon pepper and garlic salt in a bowl and toss to combine.  Spread the panko evenly on all four pieces of tilapia and press down gently with the palm of your hand, making sure the breadcrumbs stick on well.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until done.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Apple and Bacon

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I know that I’ve already posted a brussed sprout recipe, but this one is soooooo much better.  This is the more mature, gourmet version of the simple roasted brussel sprout.  Basically, it was just too good to not post again.  I hope you think so too!

 

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The brussel sprout has got to be the coolest looking vegetable ever!  Doesn’t this remind you of some kind of Dr. Seuss creation?  Well, I think they’re pretty neat looking, but even better tasting, if you know how to treat them right.

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The cleaned sprouts are cut and waiting next to its friend, the green apple, both ready to be transformed into something wonderful!!

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You will be amazed at how the brussel sprout is transformed into a glorious creamy and crunchy mouthful.  The apples add sweetness to balance the bitterness of the sprout.  The bacon of course gives the salty smokiness that we all love.  This is definitely a marriage made in brussel sprout heaven!!

 

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Apple and Bacon

3 pounds brussel sprouts

1 apple, diced

4 strips bacon, diced

3 tablespoons good olive oil

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F

Start by cutting each brussel sprout off the stalk or trimming the ends if you buy them off the stalk.  Give them a good wash, peeling off any outer leaves that don’t look so great.  Cut them in half and place onto a large cookie sheet.  Then dice up your choice of apple and add to the sheet pan.  It could be green or red.  Also dice up the bacon into half inch strips.

Next, sprinkle olive oil, salt and pepper on the veggie and fruit.  Carefully, lay the pieces of diced bacon on top then roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes on the top rack of your oven until the sprouts are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.  Be sure to toss a few times during cooking.

Crock Pot Turkey Chili

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Looking at this bowl of chili automatically gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling on the inside.  And, that’s exactly what I need when the weather gets cold.

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Now that the weather here in Southern California is resembling a bit of autumn, it makes me think of cold-weather foods.  One of my favorites is chili.  Since our family is also trying to eat healthier, ground turkey is our favorite substitute for ground beef.

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Brown the ground turkey with some canola oil.

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Here are the aromatics that give the chili its robust flavor.  Dice up the garlic, onion and green bell pepper.

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Then, saute the vegetables until they are soft.  Throw the turkey and vegetables into the crock pot with all the remaining ingredients and allow it to cook for 8 hours on low.

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This rich turkey chili takes very little time to make and packs a great punch of flavor from healthy ingredients.   Cooking this in your crock pot for 8 hours will fill your house with amazing smells, you may not be able to wait the whole 8 hours.  If that’s the case, you can also cook the chili on high for 4 hours.   However long you decide to cook this chili, you will be happy with what you get.

Crock Pot Turkey Chili

2 pounds ground turkey

1 medium onion, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 tsp cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon chili powder

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 (14.5 ounce) can beef broth

1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (7 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers

1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans

Optional toppings:

1 cup sour cream

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Diced green onions

Brown the ground turkey in a pan, then place the meat into a crock pot.  In the same pan, saute onion, bell pepper and garlic, add to the crock pot.  Add all the remaining ingredients (except the kidney beans) to the crock pot.  Set on low and allow to cook for up to 8 hours.  Add kidney beans about one hour before eating.

FRESH Egg Salad Sandwich

There is no sandwich more pure than a simple egg salad.   The only thing that could make this sandwich better is fresh home grown eggs.

And that’s exactly what I used!

My daughter and son love to check for eggs every morning.  It’s become a morning routine and finding the eggs in the chicken coop’s nesting boxes never gets old.

Here is Ribbon, our Rhode Island Red chicken and she belongs to my daughter.  My son’s is the Ameraucana and her name is Chocolate.  Ribbon lays the brown eggs and Chocolate lays green eggs.

Here’s what they looked like when we first brought them home.  Aren’t they the cutest things you’ve ever seen?

 

We’re able to get about a dozen eggs a week from our chickens.  They’re such hard workers aren’t they?  I love pets that earn their keep!

 

I learned about the difficulty of peeling fresh boiled eggs the hard way.  With eggs that are just a day or two old, the membrane beneath the shell sticks tightly to the shell making peeling the egg almost impossible.  But, I must say it was totally worth the trouble.  I’m glad I boiled extra eggs because I did lose a lot of egg during the peeling process.

 

 

 

This had the be the most heavenly egg salad sandwich I’ve ever eaten.  I made it really simple so I could taste the purity of the fresh eggs.  I only used mayo, mustard, and dill, and salt and pepper of course.

 

Fresh Egg Salad Sandwich

2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped

1-2 Tbsp mayonnaise (to taste)

1 tsp dijon mustard

½ tsp dried dill

Salt and pepper (to taste)

2 slices wheat bread

 

To make hard boiled eggs, place a few eggs in a saucepan and add enough water to cover the eggs.  Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil. As soon as the water begins to boil, remove the pan from heat and let it sit, covered, for 12 minutes. Drain the water from the pan, add cold water to cool the eggs, let sit a couple minutes longer.

Mash up the chopped egg a bit with a fork. Mix together the chopped hard-boiled egg, mayonnaise, and dill. Sprinkle with salt and pepper  to taste. Mix with a spoon.

Spread the egg mixture on top of one slice of bread, put another slice of bread on top.

Baked Turkey Meatballs

In our house, we are trying to eat healthier, so we’ve replaced ground beef with ground turkey altogether.   Switching to turkey did not leave us missing beef at all.  These meatballs were tender and moist with tons of flavor.  I definitely felt like I could eat more just because it was turkey.

And, they passed the kids test with flying colors.

Here is my flavor-filled turkey meatball mixture.  Using this scooper really saves me time and makes sure they are all the same size and cook evenly.

After scooping them, I still have to roll them between my hands to get them round.

My kids comes in handy for this task too.  They may as well put all those years of playing with play-doh to work, right?!

Because these meatballs are baked, that adds an extra health benefit from shallow frying with oil.

Look at that juicy white meat!  Just delectable.

The night I made these, I used them with spaghetti.  They would also be great in a meatball sandwich.  If you made them smaller, they could be a tasty appetizer with teriyaki  or sweet and sour sauce.  Be creative!  I know you can.

Baked Turkey Meatballs

2 20 oz pkgs Italian Seasoned Ground Turkey

2 eggs, beaten

¼ cup milk

½ cup breadcrumbs

1 tsp garlic salt

½ tsp pepper

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp dried basil

¼ tsp paprika

Combine all ingredients into a large bowl and mix until well incorporated.  Scoop with ice cream scoop onto baking pan.  Roll between your hands to make them into a ball.  Drizzle some olive oil over each meatball.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes.  Enjoy in your favorite spaghetti sauce or as a meatball sandwich.

Makes 35 large meatballs.

Cowboy Cookies

I know that these cookies look like they’re for kids because of the bright colorful M&Ms.  Well forget the kids, the adults love this cookie too!  They are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside, my favorite.  The candy shell also gives it a nice crunch and the oats give it a great chewy texture.

I adapted this from a cookie jar mix recipe.  It is a beautiful  way to give a gift and even better because they taste amazing!!

Cowboy Cookies

Adapted from Bakerella

 

1/2 cup softened butter  (1 stick)

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup white sugar

1 1/3 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup cooking oats

3/4 cup M&Ms

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

In a stand mixer with paddle attachment, blend the butter until soft.  Add egg and vanilla, then the sugars and blend well.  Next pour in the rest of the dry ingredients and blend until everything is incorporated well.  Use a #30 scoop or roll the cookie dough into 2 inch balls.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10-13 minutes.

Yields about 24 cookies.

Chocolate Eclair Dessert

This has got to be one of the easiest yet most divine desserts I’ve ever made.  It hits all the notes of sweet, creamy, crunchy and chocolate-y.  The best part about it is there’s no cooking involved.  It’s just really easy to assemble, but you certainly don’t have to tell your friends or family that.

Start by making the vanilla pudding from a box.  Whisk until thick and creamy.

Fold in the store-bought whipped topping.

Butter a pan and puzzle piece together some graham crackers.

Layer the pudding mixture and crackers, using an off set spatula to smooth everything out.  Lick fingers as needed.

Melt together bittersweet chocolate, heavy cream and butter.  What’s bad about that?

Nothing!

After three layers of graham crackers, pour on the chocolate ganache.  It should be thin enough to pour and cover the whole pan easily.

Here’s the beautiful layered shot.  Sprinkle some toffee bits for crunch and it’s ready for the fridge.

After a few hours or overnight in the fridge, what you’ll get is a decadent dessert that pleases adults and children alike.  The graham crackers turn soft and creamy.  The vanilla pudding mixture is just sweet enough to balance the bitterness of the chocolate.  And then the toffee chips on top give it just the right amount of crunchy texture.

This turned out to be one of my favorite new desserts of the summer.  Mostly because it did not require turning on the oven, but even more so because of the taste, yummers!

Chocolate Éclair Dessert

Cake:

1 (1-pound) box graham crackers

2 (3 1/4-ounce) boxes instant French vanilla pudding

3 1/2 cups milk

1 (8-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed

Toffee bits

 

Ganache:

1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons butter

 

Butter the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan. Line the pan with whole graham crackers. In a bowl, mix pudding with milk; beat at medium speed for 2 minutes. Fold in whipped topping. Pour half the pudding mixture over graham crackers. Place another layer of whole graham crackers on top of pudding layer. Pour over remaining half of pudding mixture and cover with another layer of graham crackers.

For ganache, combine ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for 1 minute and stir.  Continue in 30 second intervals and stir until melted and glossy.  Pour ganache over the cake  and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.