Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kitchen Sink Turkey Burger

What a sad little picture. Little burger goobers and parmesan cheese goobers on the plate. At least I remembered to take a picture this time... While this picture was being taken, my children were being neglected. Three tiny little mouths, waiting to be fed, JUST so I could take this picture. You are welcome.

I am starting to break out the "summer" cooking. In my house, during the summer time, we eat a lot less (it's too hot!). We live off of our garden, fresh fruit, and we cook on the grill a lot.

Turkey Burgers. Hello!! A home cooks best friend. These are perfect, because they are a blank canvas and can be changed up and made to be "different" and taste different. Thai style, with a nice crunchy slaw on the top, Greek style with some yummy feta inside, spicy, curry...I could seriously make turkey burgers every day for a month and have a million different kinds, and they would all be unique.

I had the greatest plans to make Thai style burgers tonight. Unfortunately, I spent the majority of the afternoon crammed into an Elementary School auditorium/lunchroom. It was hot, claustraphobic, and smelled like lunch ladies. Regardless, I was grateful to be there, because my oldest son was receiving an award in the awards assembly.

As an aside, WHY, oh WHY, do they feel the need to fill the time at the assemblies? They had the little school choir do a song. Um. It turned into a 45 minute montage of EVERY.SINGLE. Disney song ever made. I tried my hardest to keep my eye rolling to a minimum, and to clap and laugh at the witty choir bantor (Bonjour Belle! How is your family?), unfortunately I think people might have noticed my annoyance. I know for a fact that I was sitting next to the families of the poor kids, and they probably hate me. Why do I know that? Because, that's how I do things. I am a "foot-in-mouth" type of person. If I make fun of someone (which I NEVER do), surely the persons mom, friend, babysitter, dry cleaner will hear me, and not only hear me, but happen to be on the phone with said person. It's how I roll.

So, if you are reading this: It wasn't your kids fault they had to drag the torture for 45 of the longest minutes of my life. I was trying to entertain a curious 4-year-old and a very tired 9-month old RIGHT in the middle of nap time. Mkay? (Just for the record, although it may not seem so right now, I am love fine arts! I think that schools need more fine arts. Just not at awards assemblies in lunch rooms.)

Wow. Anyway, of course, then I had to run to 10 million stores to get things for the big school project (due tomorrow), and nurse a baby, and pre-treat stains before they set. You know how it goes.

So...I ended up winging it. Something simpler. And so, the kitchen sink burger was born.

Kitchen Sink Turkey Burgers
  • 1 lb. ground turkey (ground turkey breast is the healthiest option!)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 or 3 smallish handfuls of panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 finely diced red pepper
  • 2-3 T. Shirley J all-purpose seasoning
  • salt, pepper and grill seasoning (I used a steak seasoning)
  • parsley
  1. Combine everything in a large bowl. Mix together until just combined, DON'T overmix! Form into patties and set aside.

  2. I made these on a skillet, because we haven't broken the grill in yet this year. I think it needs gas, and probably a good cleaning. Spray the skillet with non-stick spray. Cook the patties over med to med-high heat. Cook until done---it took me about 5-7 minutes a side. Don't over cook or they will be dry!

Fake-Frites (aka: Pomme Frites)

  • baking potatoes
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • seasonings
  • fresh herbs
  • Parmesan cheese
  1. I made these very similarly to the way I made roast potatoes. I sliced my potatoes into wedges (you can do thin strips, like fries, or wedges). Make sure they are scrubbed clean and completely dry.
  2. Coat with olive oil, salt, pepper, seasonings and garlic. Mix together so everything is coated well.
  3. Cook in a 450 degree oven for about 25 minutes. As soon as you take them out of the oven toss with fresh herbs and freshly grated Parm cheese

*These are based [loosely] on some awesome pomme frites I had on vacation last year.

Serve the burgers with your choice of toppings. I usually use toppings that go with the burger (ie: if I make pesto burgers, I top with a fresh tomato Italian salsa mix). However, these are great with just plain toppings: tomatoes, lettuce, onions, whatever you've got!

Things I used today:

ground turkey
Shirley J all-purpose seasoning
panko bread crumbs
a strong hate for Disney medleys (45 minutes?!)

Easy Hummus

I LOVE hummus.

No, I REALLY love hummus. I could seriously eat it every single day. I eat it with veggies (my favorite way to eat it), pita chips (pita pockets that I cut, and roast in the oven), crackers, a spoon...

I don't ever buy hummus in the store. I used to, until I realized how much I love it, and how easy it is to make at home! It is so versatile, you can make different kinds of hummus so easily.

I don't always have tahini on hand. It's a bit pricey, and not something I can splurge on very often. Instead, I've found ways to make do without it.

Here is a VERY basic hummus recipe. This can be adapted several ways, you can sundried tomatoes, olives...anything you want!

Easy Hummus
  • 1-2 large cloves garlic
  • 1 can garbanzo beans (chick peas)
  • 3 T. sour cream
  • 3 T. lemon juice - I prefer fresh, but bottle is okay if that is all you have
  • salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil (eyeball the amount you will need)
  1. Mince garlic in the food processor. Add garbanzo beas (drained), sour cream, lemon juice, salt and cumin in with the garlic. Process until almost smooth.
  2. With the machine still running, gradually pour in the olive oil. Continue adding oil until mixture is smooth. (You might not need the whole 1/4 cup!)

Serve with warm homemade pita chips, fresh veggies, crackers, on bagels, on sandwiches, with pretzels (that's how Camden likes hummus), in pita sandwiches...

*This can be covered and stored in the fridge for a few days.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Pizza Rolls

Time for another Friday night, pizza night installment! This time, it's pizza rolls!

The idea is basic, easy and fun. My kids LOVE these! Especially since my 6 year-old and 4 year-old think they have "whipping cream" on top. (The middle of them somtimes rises a bit, making it look like a whip cream swirl.) Who am I to crush their little dreams? Whipping cream pizza rolls they will have!

*These can be made using a basic pizza crust/bread dough, OR you can follow the directions for the Wicked Foccacia Bread and have a more flavorful crust/dough. Um, yum.

Pizza Rolls
  • pizza dough
  • cheese
  • toppings
  • shirley J pizza & pasta seasoning /  or your own pizza sauce
  • tomato paste
  • water
  1. Roll the dough out into a rectangle (like you are making sweet rolls). Sprinkle cheese (don't go overboard on the cheese! Otherwise you'll have a big, greasy, mess!) over the top of the dough. I usually use shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Next, cover with any topping you like. You can do half of the dough in some toppings and half in another if you prefer. Do NOT add the sauce to the pizza rolls!
  2. Roll up lengthwise, so you will have one big long roll. Try to seal the end as best you can. Using a knife, cut into about 1" pieces. Place on a greased cookie sheet, or a preheated pizza stone. Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
  3. Serve with pizza sauce to dip! To make the pizza sauce, mix 2 T. pizza & pasta seasoning, 1 can tomato paste (I think they are 6 or 8 oz.) and then one can full of water.
These also freeze well. Put in a freezer bag, and then remove as many as you need. Wrap in a paper towel and microwave for about 1 minute. Perfect for kids lunches or a quick dinner.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

I realize that I've now totally overused the word "creamy"...creamy tomato soup and now this! I just can't think of any other appropriate adjective. Until then, forgive my redundancy!

I tend to think of soups and stews as winter dishes, but I think this dish can ride the fine line and be served anytime. It's very comforting, and it is way better than your average chicken noodle soup. Besides, it snowed here for the past 3 days (what a great spring break my kids had), so I had an excuse to make it!

This recipe is based on one that I got from my older sister. I tweaked it a bit, and made it work for us a little better. Here is the end result!

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

  • Chicken breasts (I only used 3), or a whole chicken
  • water
  • celery leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt
  • 2 c. diced carrots
  • 1 c. diced celery
  • 2 T. fresh parsley (or use dried parsley)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • pepper
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 c. Shirley J cream sauce
  • 2 tsp. Shirley J chicken bouillon
  • Noodles (You can make your own, or buy the "homemade" kind at the grocery store. Found near the pasta, usually in a bag.)

  1. Place your chicken breasts (or whole chicken) in a large stockpot. You can use more if you'd like, but this is a great way to "stretch" chicken. Since it will be shredded and mixed in, I don't think you need a ton. Chop up the celery leaves from one whole head of celery. (Usually towards the center of the celery, near the inside.) Add bay leaf, parsley, Italian seasoning, chicken bouillon, salt and pepper. Add enough water to cover the top of the chicken breasts---about 1" above. Boil until chicken is done.
  2. Remove chicken and let cool. If a lot of the stock/water has evaporated, you can add canned chicken broth to bring the liquid level back up. Remove and discard bay leaf. Add carrots, onion and celery to chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Add noodles and cook until ALMOST done.
  3. Meanwhile, take the chicken off the bones (if using a whole chicken), or shred chicken breasts.
  4. Once the noodles are almost done, add the 2 c. of Shirley J cream sauce. Slowly stir into the soup, and cook until thick. You can add more, or less, depending on your desired consistancy. Sometimes I will also add a bit of cornstarch in 1/2 cup of the cream base.
  5. Stir the chicken back into the soup. Cook for about 2 minutes more, or until heated through.

This can be made thick and served over mashed potatoes (SO good!), or made more thin, and served as a soup (as shown).

Things I used today:

Shirley J cream sauce

Shirley J concentrated chicken bouillon

Friday, April 17, 2009

Coming soon...

I've got some fab stuff in the works, but it'll have to wait. It's the last day of Spring Break, and I'm up to my ears in stir crazy kids.

I think a foot of snow over "Spring" break is a bit much, methinks.

Send help!!

Meanwhile, think of creamy chicken noodle soup served over mashed potatoes...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The day the music died.

My poor little mixer died a slow, painful death this morning. I was in the middle of making some homemade wheat rolls (to accompany creamy chicken noodle soup) for dinner tonight, when she went up in flames.

No, seriously. FLAMES. SMOKE. The horror!! Even worse, I'm making dinner to take to my sister-in-law tonight (she had a sweet little bambino on Tuesday). I've got the soup under control, but I'm going to have to *gasp* BUY the rolls at a bakery.

I'm such a bad example.

I got my Kitchen Aid mixer for my wedding almost 10 years ago. It's been a long, fun road, but I think she's officially gone. I'm going to try to get it fixed. But, seriously FIRE. Can you fix something that was on fire? As in, flames, burning, heat.
Almost worse than the pain of losing one of my favorite kitchen appliances (and most used!), is seeing the cost of buying a new one!
(Is it true that you can live with only one kidney?? Just curious.)

Lettuce Wraps.

I would have a picture of this for you, if I hadn't been making this dinner while holding Zoe in my beco. I can multi-task, but I draw the line there!!

If I could eat my weight in anything, it might be these.

I LOVE these lettuce wraps. I love everything about them, their flavor, versatility, ease and the fact that it's different. It isn't spaghetti, tacos and your every day, run-of-the-mill dinner.

The "base" of this dinner can be used in many applications. If you don't want to make them into lettuce wraps, I won't judge you. You can put it in a Thai style salad, wrap them in a whole wheat tortilla (since I'm not judging, I won't even care if it isn't whole wheat), serve it over brown rice... My favorite is in lettuce wraps, but we've done them just about every way!

PF Who? Lettuce Wraps

  • 1 lb. ground turkey (you can use tofu too, so yummy!)
  • 2 T. grated fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp dry ginger (I usually use a little more)
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 can water chestnuts, chopped (trust me!)
  • red bell pepper, chopped
  • yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cups coleslaw mix (I find the broccoli slaw mix in a bag at the grocery store)
  • shredded carrots (you can go easy and buy the "matchstix" carrots in a bag)
  • cilantro for garnish (if you are feeling fancy)

I want to bathe in this sauce:

  • 4 tsp. sesame oil
  • 8 T. soy sauce
  • 4 T. lime juice (fresh is best, but I won't judge you if you use the bottled stuff)
  • 4 T. honey
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (more or less depending on the heat you want)

(This is double the normal recipe, I make a bit more, so we have extra to serve over the top of each lettuce wrap. If you don't want to do that, then halve the recipe. Or, make it all, and bring the other half to me. I'll dab it behind my ears. It's that good!)

  1. In a large skillet brown the turkey until it is no longer pink. Add ginger, garlic, onion, pepper, water chestnuts, slaw mix (I add the whole bag) and carrots (eyeball the amount of carrots you want). Stir fry the mix until the vegetables are wilted. Add the sauce, stirring constantly to blend all of the ingredients. I let it boil for a minute or so, so the sauce gets thick and coats all of the vegetables.
  2. Serve warm, scoop into lettuce cups, and top with the sauce.

*Don't omit the waterchestnuts, even if you think you don't like them, or they are weird. They give a great crunch, and really make this dish.

This is a GREAT way to sneak in TONS of veggies!

Things I used today:

Ground turkey

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Creamy Tomato Soup

I know what you are thinking...

And you couldn't be more wrong! My creamy, flavorful soup will make you think that canned tomato soup is good for Andy Warhol, and not much else!!

This is a super yummy, kid friendly, healthy soup! This is a recipe I have made for a while, but I altered it to use some Shirley J products.

Creamy Tomato Soup
-28 oz. can diced tomatoes (you could use any kind, actually)
-diced onion
-3 cloves garlic
-Shirley J cream sauce / or cream
-Shirley J pizza & pasta seasoning / or basil
-kosher salt

In a large skillet, saute the onion and garlic in about 2 T olive oil. No need to get fancy with your dicing of the onion. A rough chop is fine, since we will puree this soup at the end. Saute until the onion is soft and translucent.

Drain your tomatoes, and pour into the skillet with the onion and garlic. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat for 10 minutes.

Pour the mixture into your blender. Add 4-5 tsp. Shirley J pizza & pasta seasoning [or 4 tsp. dried basil, or a bunch of fresh basil] 5-6 T. Shirley J cream sauce [or a few Tablespoons of cream], and a generous amount of kosher salt. Puree until desired conistancy is reached.

Be sure to taste as you go. You made need more cream sauce, or seasonings. I find that I have to taste and add salt---something about the canned tomatoes that requires salt!

Serve with toasted garlicy baguette slices, toasted cheese sandwiches (that's what my dudes love with it), or as an appetizer.

*Cream can be used in place of Shirley J cream sauce, and basil can be used in place of Shirley J pizza & pasta seasoning.

My little dudes love this! It's a great way to sneak lots of tomatoes into them without a fight!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Peanut Butter Frosting

The recipe for my super yummy peanut butter frosting has been requested by several people! (Okay, 3, but the word "several" makes me sound so totally popular!) This is the frosting that I used on my PB Oatmeal cookies, using the "basic" cookie mix from Dunford.

Truth be told, you can spread this frosting on dry leather, and it'll make it taste good! I use this recipe, and/or variations of it for a lot of different cookies. Here is the PB version.

Anna's PB Frosting
-1/2 c. softened butter/margarine
-smooth PB (you can alter depending on how much PB you like. I'd start with 1/2 to 3/4 c.)
-4 c. powdered sugar (you might need to add more or less depeding on the texture you are going for)
-1/3 c. milk (for a richer frosting you can always sub canned milk)

Cream together the butter and peanut butter until it is combined and creamy. Add in the remaining ingredients. Sometimes I add a splash of vanilla as well.

You now have my permission to cover everything you make in PB frosting.

*Also, please feel free to use/post any of my recipes, but if they are MY recipes, please give me credit! Please and thank you!

Things I used today:
peanut butter!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Wicked Focaccia Bread

Oh baby!

Once again, it's Friday night, which means pizza night. I promise, I won't beat the pizza thing to death. This time, it's a pizza side dish. Although, in my humble opinion, this steals the show!

Wicked Focaccia bread! (Working title, anyway!)

I'm telling you, I have an unnatural love for the Shirley J pizza & pasta seasoning. In name it sounds very limited, but I'm telling you, this stuff is SO versatile. It's keeping me from sleep, because I'm thinking about it so much. Even my husband doesn't do that to me! (Love you, babe!)

What'd I do?


I used the Shirley J honey white dough mix. Put my mix, 2 T yeast, and 2 1/4 cup water into the mixer. Mixed for 15 minutes, let the dough rest for 15 minutes.

Again, this makes quite a bit of dough (enough for 3 loaves of bread, 3-4 pizzas, tons of rolls...), so be prepared! However, I think that's great. I can use some for my pizza, some for my Wicked Focaccia bread, and maybe throw a loaf of bread or a batch of rolls in the oven too.

I took about a 1/3 of the dough and mixed in about 1 1/2-2 T of the pizza & pasta seasoning. You can add more if you like, I didn't really measure, I just went with how the dough looked. Once it is all incorporated (no need to be dainty, if you can't get it mixed by hand, put it back in your mixer. Thank heavens for the mixer!) When it was all incorporated, I rolled it out into the size of a half-cookie sheet. (I have these super awesome pans that are 1/2 the size of a cookie sheet. My MIL gave them to me when I got married and I love them. You have no idea, it doesn't take much to excite me!)

Once it's in the pan, cover it with a dish towel, and set it in a warm-ish place. I set mine on top of my preheated oven. Let it rise/rest for about 15 minutes. At this point, use your fingers to squish the dough down. Poke finger tip holes all around the dough. It serves several purposes, but mostly, it just makes it look cool and it's fun to do!

Coat the top with olive oil and smoosh it all around so it's all covered. Now, cover it up with the toppings of your choice. The one pictured is a basic cheese focaccia. Once I put the olive oil on, I sprinkled a bit more of the pizza & pasta spice over the top, and then I threw on some Parmesan cheese (please, for the love of all that is holy and tastes good, use the real kind, not the powdery kind in the green tube, yuck!) and some shredded mozzarella cheese. You can add slices of tomatoes (yum!), garlic, anything your little heart desires.

Bake in a 400 degress oven for about 15 minutes. Or, if you are like me, for exactly 16 minutes.

You can serve as is, but if you'd REALLY like to make it wicked, make the "dip". I based it on an appetizer that I've had at CPK before. The love for tomatoes runs deep in this house. Especially when they are fresh from our vine, and grown from our own blood, sweat and tears. Unfortunately, it'll be a few months before we can harvest any of those goodies, so I used *gasp* canned tomatoes for this.

And guess what? It turned out awesome! This recipe is a cinch and I can almost guarantee that you have all these ingredients on hand. If you don't, you should.
1 can of diced tomatoes (14 oz)
olive oil
Shirley J pizza & pasta seasoning

-Drain your tomatoes as much as you can. Otherwise this will be really soupy. Empty the tomatoes into a small bowl, add 1 big clove (or 2 small cloves) of crushed garlic, about 1 1/2 teaspoons (again, I didn't measure, I went by taste) of the pizza seasonings. Mix everything together, and then add your olive oil. One of these days I'll be a good little recipe writer and measure everything exactly, until then my best guesses will have to do. Add about 4-6 T of olive oil. You'll want it to look a little more "loose" at this point. Not liquid, but breaking down a little bit. Mix it all up, and taste it. You might need some salt & pepper, but I didn't. The pizza seasoning had enough flavor for me.

Use the bread to soak up the yummy, wet goodness of the sauce. I like to smear a bunch of it right on top of the bread. But, I have organizational issues, and I like everything nice and neat. So, don't listen to me.

Now, go try it and tell me what you think. In a short time, these mixes (the Dunford "add water/yeast" mixes) will be available for sale. Then, my friends, you won't have to be scared of making your own doughs, breads, crusts, focaccias anymore! You can do this while checking homework and playing hide-and-seek.
*This recipe can easily be made using a homemade bread dough. I make it both ways, with great success!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

BBQ Chicken Salad

This probably wouldn't get me very far on Chopped (a show that the little dudes and I love to watch together!), but salads are a staple in my house. Healthy, fast, and versatile.

This falls in my easy dinner catagory. A dinner for nights when I'm helping with homework, being a star wars (or, star bors, as it's known in our house)villain, nursing a baby, and keeping said baby from pulling the lamp off the shelf. So, pretty much, a dinner for every single night.

I used Shirley J BBQ seasoning mix. Mix the dry mix with water and vinegar for an instant BBQ sauce. It is great for marinades, rubs, dipping, you name it. This little tub packs a punch of great flavor (and smell!).

I cooked the chicken, with the BBQ seasoning, in my crock pot on low for 4 hours. That was the most time consuming part of this dish!

For the salad:
-chopped iceburg lettuce (any kind will do, this is what I had in my fridge)
-1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
-frozen corn, thawed (fresh is awesome in the summer!)
-jicama (my BFF)
-boiled egg (Every.single.meal. will include boiled eggs until the 10 million we colored the other night are gone!)
-shredded mozzarella cheese

I wish I would have had tomato and avocado. Unfortunately, the tomatoes at the store were horrible! Zoe (the baby who is always nursing!) likes avocados too, so they don't last long around my house!

I mixed the salad together tossed with a little salad dressing and topped with a sliced BBQ breast, drizzled a little more of the BBQ sauce on top and finished it off with some tortilla strips! (I cut up some corn tortillas, and broiled them in the oven until they were crispy, and threw some kosher salt on to finish them off.)

The leftover BBQ chicken will be put to work again tomorrow night on a BBQ chicken pizza. Stay tuned, because I've got some killer foccacia bread to accompany it.

Things I used today:
Shirley J BBQ seasoning
jicama - That big scary thing you've seen at the grocery store. Buy it, eat it, love it. You can thank me later.
crock pot - Duh.

Butterfly Pasta

Eek. Forgot to take a picture, sorry!!

This is a pasta based on another dish I make, "Butterfly Chicken". I made this up the other night, on a whim, and it turned out great. It was a quick dish to make, so it's great for those nights where you don't have time to fuss over dinner. Try it and let me know what you think!!

You will need:
chicken breasts
a whole lemon
chicken broth
cream, Shirley J cream sauce base, fat free half & half, or evaporated milk
Parmesan cheese
whole wheat pasta

-Make your chicken breasts how ever you prefer. Grill, bake, broil, pan sear, flour and saute in olive's up to you! This dish is good with whole chicken breasts, or you can dice them up into pieces---also a great way to stretch your dollar!

(If you pan sear your chicken breasts, use the same pan, without cleaning it out, for this next step. )

-Slice your mushrooms and toss them in a skillet with a little oil--if you used a skillet for your chicken, use what is leftover, plus the brown goodies on the bottom of the pan. Stir and cook your mushrooms for a minute. Squeeze a whole lemon over the mushrooms and continue to stir.

-Next, add about 1 cup of chicken broth to the pan. A little more, a little less, it's up to you. I never measure anything when I'm cooking, so I'm no help! Do what looks right. Continue to cook for a bit until it starts to combine. Slowly add in 1/2 c. cream (or Shirley J cream sauce) to the pan. Combine and cook until slightly thickened. It won't be super thick, just a nice light sauce.

-At this point, taste your sauce. Salt & pepper according to taste.

If you diced your chicken, you can add it into the sauce. If not, serve over whole wheat pasta and chicken breast. Sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese (not the Parmesan dust in the green can, the real stuff!).


***Shirley J, fat free half & half or evaporated milk are both great substitutes for cream.
***Also, adding frozen peas to the sauce/gravy once it is cooked would be great too! I didn't, because I live in a family of pea haters. I have to enjoy them all by my lonesome.

Things I used today:
Shirley J cream sauce base

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Much Ado

I am forever spending time trying, changing, writing and looking for new recipes to cook for my family.

I've decided to start a blog strictly for baking, cooking, creating and trying new things. I consider myself a pretty decent cook, but sometimes even I can get the fire alarm going.

Keep posted for recipes, reviews, products I love (and hate!), and how I keep my kids eating fun and healthy food! (I might even post one or two of my famous cookie recipes!)