Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Hello OKK Readers,
I want to personally thank each of you for reading my posts each Sunday and want to let you know that I have enjoyed all of your feedback.  I love food and love food blogs.  If you have a food blog that I don’t know about, please leave a comment and I will check it out.  You can continue to follow my easy-to-make, family-friendly recipes at my own personal blog Meals For Real.
-April



Grilled Sweet Potatoes from Food Network Magazine
Recipe by Bobby Flay
3 sweet potatoes, unpeeled
Kosher salt
2 tsps finely grated lime zest
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup canola oil
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

Directions: Parcook the potatoes. Place in a pot of water and boil until fork-tender; let cool. Slice each potato lengthwise into eighths.

Preheat a grill to medium or place a cast-iron grill pan over medium heat. Mix 1 Tbsp salt, the lime zest and cayenne pepper in a small bowl.

Brush the potato wedges with the oil and season wtih salt and pepper. Grill until golden brown on all sides (including the skin) and just cooked through, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer to a platter; immediately season with the salt mixture and sprinkle with cilantro.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Rinse off the sweet potatoes.

Put them in a pan to boil until they are fork-tender.  
While the potatoes were boiling, measure out the salt, lime zest and cayenne pepper and mixed them up.  Then, set it aside.

Chop and mince about 1/4 cup of fresh cilantro and set it aside.  

  
Put some canola oil in a pan.  When the sweet potatoes are fork-tender, lay them out on a cutting board until they cool.  Cut them in to wedges.  

Toss the potato wedges in the canola oil.  Salt and pepper.  

Put them on the grill.  Turn them every couple of minutes until all sides are grilled.  

#9 Once finished, pull them from the grill and sprinkle the salt mixture over the top.  Top with the cilantro.  

Here’s what you’ll end up with:

These potatoes are fantastic!  They have the smokiness of the grill but the freshness of the cilantro.  These two added with that fantastic salt, lime zest and cayenne mixture made me want to eat the whole stinkin’ platter myself.

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Taco Twist Soup

 
Taco Twist Soup adapted from Everyday Light Meals
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 cups reduced-sodium beef broth or
  vegetable broth
1 can (15oz) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14.5oz) diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups picante sauce
1 small green pepper, chopped
1 cup uncooked spiral pasta
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
3 Tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream

Directions: In a large saucepan, saute onion and garlic in oil until tender.  Add the broth, beans, tomatoes, picante sauce, pasta, green pepper and seasonings.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until pasta is tender, stirring occasionally.  Serve with cheese and sour cream.

Nutrition Facts:
Cal 216
Fat 5g (2g sat fat)
Cholesterol 12mg
Sodium 1,052mg
Carb 33g
Fiber 6g
Progtein 10g

Diabetic Exchanges:   2 vegetables, 1 1/2 starch, 1 lean meat, 1/2 fat

Modifications:
-I added 1lb 93/7 ground beef (nutrition facts do not depict the ground beef)

Brown the ground beef.
Saute the onion, pepper, and garlic.
Add the beef broth.
Add the diced tomatoes and black beans.
Add the picante sauce, pasta, and seasonings.

Add the ground beef.  Simmer until the pasta is tender.
Here’s what you’ll end up with:
This soup had a good flavor to it.  It is a fantastic meal for when you don’t have a lot of time.  This recipe is also very versatile.  You could add diced chilies, chicken instead of ground beef, jalapenos, corn, tortilla chips, etc.  Literally, the possibilities are endless.
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MARVELOUS MINI-MEATLOAVES

I found tonight’s main dish on a blog, Gourmet Meals for Less, and I knew that Scott liked meatloaf so I thought I would give it a try. 

Marvelous Mini Meatloaves
makes 12 meatloaves

l pound extra-lean ground beef (1.69)
1 pkg. (6 oz.) Chicken flavored stuffing mix (use the cheapest you can find)
1 cup water

and choose from your favorite of the following combinations:

1 teaspoon italian seasoning, spaghetti sauce, shredded mozzarella
2 teaspoon chili powder, chunky salsa, mexi-cheese
1 teaspoon garlic powder, bbq sauce, cheddar cheese

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°. 
  • Mix meat, stuffing mix, water and preferred seasoning until well blended.  
  • Press into 12 muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray. 
  • Make indentation in center of each with back of spoon; fill each evenly with spoonful of preferred sauce.
  • Bake 30-40 min. or until meatloaves are done (160°F). 
  • Top each meatloaf with sprinkle of cheese; bake 5 min. or until melted. 
  • Let stand 10 min.

Make Ahead and Freeze:  Bake meatloaves as directed. Remove from muffin cups; cool completely. Place in single layer on baking sheet; freeze 1 hour. Transfer to airtight container. Store in freezer up to 1 month. Thaw in refrigerator, and then reheat in 375°F-oven 20 min. or until heated through.

Here’s what you’ll need: 
(we went with the Italian Seasoning, spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese)
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  
  • Put the hamburger meat in a bowl and add the stuffing.
  • Add 7-8 good dashes of Italian seasoning and 1 cup of water.  Mix together. 
  • Spray a muffin pan with Pam and then stuff each pan with the meat.

  • Push a little hole in the middle of each. 
  • Scoop in 1 Tbsp of spaghetti sauce in each (if you are making the Italian-style).
  • Bake for 40 minutes.

  • Once the meat is cooked through, pull out and add cheese to the top.  Put back in for 5-6 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Here’s what you’ll end up with:

This is the type of meal, too, in which if some of the people in your family like Mexican and some like Italian then it would be easy to make 6 of each.  Plus, I love how the recipe tells you how to make ahead and freeze, too.

If I could have changed one thing, I think next time I won’t get a chicken flavored stuffing.  I think, instead, I would look to see what other varieties there were.  For me, there was still just a hint of the taste of stuffing instead of traditional crumbled up crackers or I guess you could even use just bread crumbs as a binding.
Either way, we will definitely be having this meal again!

Hope you enjoy!
April

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Baked Potato Soup

Baked Potato Soup Recipe

8 slices Smithfield Naturally Hickory Smoked Bacon
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
5 potatoes, baked, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
2 cups half & half
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup sour cream
Salt & pepper to taste (optional)
Directions:  In a Dutch oven cook bacon until crisp; remove and crumble, reserve drippings.
Cook onion in bacon drippings until tender; stir in flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add chicken broth; cook, stirring constantly until thickened and bubbly. Put in the diced potatoes, parsley, bacon and half & half; cook for 10 minutes. Stir in cheese and sour cream. Garnish with cheese, bacon and sour cream.
Modifications:
-I used turkey bacon instead of pork bacon. Because turkey bacon doesn’t have as much fat, I put some olive oil in so that the bacon would get crisp.
-I added some artificial bacon bits.
-I added some minced garlic.
Here’s how I did it:
#1 I peeled, washed and cut up about 6 potatoes (sorry for the shadowy picture).

Here’s what I started with:

  • Cook bacon in a dutch oven along with some olive oil.
  • Peel and dice up an onion.
  • While the bacon cooks, pour 2cups of half and half.
  • Once the bacon is crispy, pull it off and throw the onions in the same pot to cook for about 1 minute.

  • Measure out1/2 cup of all-purpose flour and pour it in with the onions. Add a little more olive oil.

  • After the onions and flour cook for about 1 minute, slowly stir in 2 cans of chicken broth. The recipe called for 3 cans but 2 worked just fine.

  • Let it thicken up.
  • While the stock thickens, chop up the bacon.

  • After it thickens, put in the potatoes, parsley, bacon and half & half.

I noticed that it didn’t seem like a lot of bacon so I put about 1 T of artificial bacon bits in the pot, too.

The recipe said to let all of the above cook for 10 minutes but I didn’t think that it was enough time because the potatoes were still hard. I let it go for about 15-17 minutes and then I added 1/2 cup of light sour cream and 1 cup of sharp cheddar cheese.

Here’s what you’ll end up with:

Review:I only have one word to describe this soup–DELICIOUS! This soup only took about 40 minutes with prep and cooking time. It had great flavor and I love the fact that cheese was actually added to the soup and not just an after-thought as a topping.

I don’t know if you can tell or not in the pics but I left pretty big pieces of bacon and it added great texture. I wish that I would have cooked up a couple of more pieces and then saved some to put on top, too.

If you like potato soup, this is for you!!

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Stuffed Pepper Soup

Stuffed Pepper Soup adapted by SkinnyTaste
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 lb 95% lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup finely diced onion
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cans (14.5 oz each) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 3/4 cups tomato sauce
2 cups reduced sodium, fat-free chicken broth
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
salt and fresh pepper to taste

Directions:  In a large pot or dutch oven, brown ground meat on high heat and season with salt. Drain fat if any, reduce heat to medium-low, then add peppers, onions and garlic. Cook about 5 minutes on low heat.

Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken broth, marjoram and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Serve about 1 1/3 cups of soup in each bowl and top with 1/2 cup cooked brown rice.

Here’s what you will need:

Chop the garlic, peppers, and onion.

Brown the beef in a Dutch oven. 

Once browned, add the peppers, onions, and garlic.

Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and herbs.
Cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes. 
Prepare rice according to package directions.

Top soup with rice.
Here’s what you’ll end up with:

This soup was a big hit in my house tonight.  We love stuffed green peppers (recipe) so I thought that this would be a hit and I was right.  All 3 of the kids ate it! (score!!)

The mixture of the 2 different peppers gave it a little variety in both color and taste. 

I used the Uncle Ben’s 90 second microwaveable brown rice (a favorite of mine) and 1 package ended up being enough for all of us.  You could also use either bulgur or even quinoa.

Hope you enjoy!

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Chicken and Bean Chili

I’m sorry that this is late.  It has been a CRAZY week.  Here’s what my family is enjoying today on a cold, rainy (getting ready to snow) Sunday.
Chicken and Bean Chili adapted from Meatless Monday
1 pound ground chicken
1 large onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 can black beans, drained
1 can navy beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, drained
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1 16-oz can diced tomatoes
2 8-oz can tomato sauce or 1 16oz can
1-2 cups water
1 small can (4 oz) green chiles
1-2 tablespoon chili powder
1-2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon basil
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup dry red wine (optional)

Directions:  Saute onion, garlic, and bell pepper in olive oil until soft. Add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
Serve with shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream if desired.
Here’s what you’ll need:
And these.  (forgot them in the 1st picture)
  • Chop up the onion and garlic.
  • Put the ground chicken in a Dutch oven to brown.  Throw the onions and garlic in with the chicken.
  • Drain and rinse the beans.
  • Add the beans to the pot. 
  • Add the can of diced chilies. 
  • Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. 
  • Add the seasonings.  
  • Simmer and serve.
I originally found this recipe as part of Meatless Monday.  I had some ground chicken that needed to be used so I decided to add it.
The addition of the can of green chilies definitely added an extra texture and flavor.  For even more peppers you could always add a diced jalapeno or green pepper.

Season to taste.  I just kind of kept adding until I got the flavor that I liked.
Hope you enjoy!
April
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BUFFALO CHICKEN STUFFED SHELLS

Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Shells Adapted from Sugar Crafter
1 package 12 oz. jumbo shells
13 oz. cooked and shredded chicken breast
3/4 cup hot sauce, I used Franks
3 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded, part skim
3 oz. parmesan cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, part skim
1 (8 oz) pkg. cream cheese, light
1/2 cup ranch dressing, light

Directions:  Prepare pasta shells as directed on package. Mix all the ingredients except for the shells in a large bowl. Stuff each shell with as much filling as it will hold. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place in a dish sprayed with cooking spray. I put these in a 9 x 13 and an 8 x 8 casserole. Top with green onions if desired.

Modifications:
-I used Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce
-I added extra chicken and cheese on top of the shells.

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • Put the chicken in water to cook.  Also, cook the shells according to the package directions.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix together the wing sauce, cream cheese, ricotta, and cheeses.
  • Take the chicken out and shred it.  Add it to the wing sauce mixture.

  • Drain the shells and place them in a greased baking dish.
  • Spoon the mixture into the shells.
  • Into the oven for about 10-15 minutes (that’s my pizza stone underneath the dish)  
I decided to add a bit more chicken and cheese to the top of the shells.
Here’s what you’ll end up with:

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SKILLET BEEF STEW ~ SIMPLY DELICIOUS SUNDAY

Skillet Beef Stew adapted from Shine
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons dried thyme or oregano, crushed
6 medium carrots, peeled and quartered
4 stalks celery, cut in 2-inch lengths
2 medium onions, cut in 1/2-inch slices
6 cups lower-sodium beef broth
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 recipe Potato Mashers

Directions: 

  1. In 12-inch skillet brown beef in hot oil over medium-high heat with thyme and 1.4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Remove, set aside. Add carrots, celery, and onions to skillet, cook and stir 5 minutes. Return beef to skillet. In bowl whisk together broth and flour; add to skillet. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 45 minutes. Uncover; simmer 10 minutes or until meat is tender. Serve with potatoes. Makes 8 servings.
  2. Potato Mashers: In microwave-safe bowl, microcook 8 Yukon gold potatoes (23.4 lb.), half at a time, on high (100 percent power) 8 minutes, covering bowl with vented microwave-safe plastic wrap. Mash potatoes with 1 cup milk, 1.2 teaspoon salt, and 1.2 teaspoon black pepper.

Modifications:
-I didn’t use mashed potatoes.  I just peeled and cut up some baby red potatoes and threw them in.
-Scott isn’t a fan of celery so I didn’t add it.

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • Put the stew meat into some olive oil to brown.
  • Season the meat with salt and pepper.  Add some dried parsley to the meat, about 1/4 of a palm full.  
  • Once the meat is browned, pull it out and throw in some carrots and 2 cut up onions.
  • Put meat back in with the onions and carrots. 
  • In a separate bowl, put a handful of whole wheat flour into a bowl with a can of beef broth.  Whisk it together and then put it in the skillet.  I added another can and a half of beef broth, covered the stew, and let it simmer for about 45 minutes.
Here’s what you’ll end up with:
This stew was awesome!  This is a very easy, stick-to-your-ribs, comforting, cold weather meal.  The prep time took less than 10 minutes and the rest was just letting it “stew” together. 
Using the beef broth added a lot of flavor but be sure not to re-salt it.  Try to choose a low-sodium beef broth as this could be too salty for some people.
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CHICKEN PARMESAN BURGERS ~ SIMPLY DELICIOUS SUNDAY

Chicken Parmesan Burgers from Cooking Light
10 1/2 inch sliced  French bread
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons minced fresh basil, plus 12 large basil leaves
3/4 cup marinara sauce
12 ounces ground chicken
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon grated onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 slices mozzarella cheese

  • Blend diced bread and Parmesan cheese in food processor to fine crumbs. Place in pie plate and add 2 tablespoons basil.
  • Mix marinara and 2 tablespoons basil in small saucepan. Transfer 1 1/2 tablespoons sauce in a large bowl. Add chicken, 1/2 tablespoons oil, onion, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle with pepper; blend. Shape into 4 patties; coat with crumbs. Heat sauce over low heat.
  • Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook patties till bottoms are crusty, about 4 minutes. Turn patties over; add slice of mozzarella to each. Cook 3 minutes. Cover and cook 1 more minute or until cheese melts and patties are done.
  • Serve with basil and marinara sauce on toasted French bread.

Modifications:
I was a little confused with this recipe.  The ingredients didn’t say anything about diced bread and I really didn’t want to pull out a food processor so I just used Italian bread crumbs to use as a binding.

Here’s what I started with:

Here’s how I did it:
#1 I grated some onion into 1lb of ground chicken.  #2 I chopped up some fresh basil.   
#3 I poured some bread crumbs into the mixture as a binder.
#4 I poured some marinara sauce in a pan and let it heat up a bit.
#5 I added the Parmesan cheese and a little bit of the sauce to the chicken and then mixed it up.
#6 I scored the chicken into 4 parts and formed them into patties.
#7 I sliced up some French bread and threw it into a 375 degree oven to toast.
#8 I cooked the burgers in a wrought iron skillet with some olive oil.

#9 Once they were cooked, I put some mozzarella cheese on them to melt.
#10 Once the cheese melted, I put the burgers on the French bread with some of the marinara sauce and a couple of basil leaves.
The Finished Product:
If you have ever worked with ground chicken in a burger you know that it is kind of difficult.  They are so soft and fall apart easily.  I think I should have added just a bit more Parmesan cheese or bread crumbs.  These were delicious, though, and reminded us of meatball sandwiches.
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PECAN STUFFED BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Pecan-Stuffed Butternut Squash
2 medium butternut squash (about 3 pounds each)
3/4 teaspoon salt
Pepper, optional
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans

  • Cut each squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds.  Place squash cut side down in two 13x9inch dishes; add 1/2 inch water.  Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
  • Turn squash over; sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired.  In a small bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Stir in pecans.  spoon into squash cavities.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes longer or until filling is lightly browned and squash is tender.

Modifications:
-I divided the recipe in half.

Here’s what you’ll need:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Cut the squash length-wise and then scoop it out.
  • Fill the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with 1/2 inch of water and lay the squash, cut side down, into the dish.
  • Bake or 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  • While the squash is baking, mix together the cream cheese, butter and brown sugar. 
  • Throw in the pecans and mix it together.
  • After about 45 minutes to an hour, pull the squash out and turn it over.  Spoon in the cream cheese mixture.
  • Put it back into the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes.
Here’s what you’ll end up with:
Our Thoughts:
We have developed a love for acorn squash.  Normally I just cut it up and make it into “fries” almost by just roasting the squash but this had a great flavor, too, and the cream cheese filling added a little extra sweetness.
This is a fantastic comfort-food dish.  While little effort went into making this dish, it still took almost an hour and a half from start to finish.
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