Category Archives: Quick and Easy

Sweet Potato Pizza Crust

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve been around.  I’ll keep posting some, but definitely sporadically – not because I’m out of recipes, but just because I’m busy.

Whenever I’m serving sweet potatoes with a meal, I like to cook up extra and have them on hand for recipes like this one.  The sweet potatoes I used for this tonight had been grilled and then frozen.  So, as long as they are soft, it really doesn’t matter how you prepare them. This crust comes together really easily.  Just throw all the ingredients into the food processor and process until smooth.  I use the dough blade and function on my processor for this.  If you don’t have a food processor, a mixer will do just as well (or even a potato masher and then a spoon, but this won’t be quite as smooth). Your dough will be thin and spreadable – more like cornbread batter than a traditional dough.

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Be sure you use parchment paper or grease your pan really well.  I was fresh out of parchment tonight.  Use a spatula to smooth your pizza dough into an even layer on the pan.

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Bake at 400* until the edges are brown and the crust is set.  It took 20 minutes in my oven.

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Top as desired and pop it back in the oven to melt the cheese! I used barbeque sauce, seasoned hamburger and sharp cheddar tonight!

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Slice, serve and smile 🙂

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Recipe

2 1/4 cup cubed sweet potato, cooked until soft

1 egg

1/2 cup quinoa flour (or oat flour)

1 Tbsp coconut flour (or 2 Tbsp almond flour)

1 1/2 tsp oil

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400*.  Grease pizza pan liberally or line with parchment paper.

Place all ingredients in bowl of food processor and process until smooth. Spread dough onto prepared pizza pan and bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are brown and the crust is set.

Remove crust from oven, top as desired and cook until cheese is melted.

 

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Grilled Italian Chicken and Potatoes

This is one of my very favorite summer dinners. It’s so simple that I won’t even really call it a recipe (or write on below for that matter), but it is too good to not share for anyone who might not have thought about it. 

To create this meal, you need three ingredients: chicken, potatoes, zesty Italian dressing. That’s it. 

Wash your potatoes well and slice into 1/4″ slabs. Place chicken in one bowl and potato slabs in a separate bowl. Cover each case bowl with zesty Italian dressing. Let marinate for at least a half hour. Grill. The potato slabs take about 20 minutes. Cook time on the chicken will vary depending on what cut of chicken you use. I use boneless, skinless breast filets and they cook in slightly less time than the potatoes. 

Add a side salad or some fresh veggies and you’ve got a delicious, healthy and super simple meal!

  

Rainbow Chard with Italian Sausage

I have never bought any kind of chard in my life.  So, when I got a bunch of beautiful rainbow chard in my Bountiful Basket, I had to do a little research.  I’d seen it used on cooking shows before.  And everything I read said that you could use it pretty much anywhere you would use kale.  I knew that I wanted to use those beautifully colored stalks.  I decided the best use would be to pair it with a protein and make it a main dish.  I make a soup with Italian sausage and kale, so I figured that would be a good bet.  I started chopping stuff up, tossed it in the skillet and what came out was delicious.  I served it with butter and garlic whole wheat spaghetti.  My 3 year old called it leaves and worms and gobbled it up.  My 6 year old had seconds (and maybe thirds).  In my book, that’s a major win.  I diced a couple of small red potatoes in this recipe.  Honestly, this would be just as good (and maybe even better) without them, but I had some I needed to use.

Start by browning a pound of Italian sausage in a hot skillet.  I use mild Italian sausage because my kids prefer it.  This dish would be great with either mild or hot.  I don’t use any oil in the skillet.  The sausage cooks out enough oil for the entire dish.  Don’t be afraid to let it get nice and brown.  Crumble it into the hot pan and walk away for a minute or two.  If you stir it around too much, your sausage will be all grey and, honestly, missing a flavor that only a good browning can give. I tried to take a picture of this, but all of the shots I took were too close up and looked decidedly unappealing.

When the sausage is nice and brown, add onion, garlic, bell pepper and potatoes (if you’re using them) and sautee until onions are translucent and potatoes start to soften.  Use a little white wine or chicken stock (or even water) to deglaze the pan.  Once you’ve loosened all the little brown bits off the bottom of the pan, add the chard to the top of the pan, cover with a lid and reduce heat to low.  Let this cook with the lid on for about 5 minutes.  Remove lid and stir. Season with a dash or two of nutmeg and some salt and pepper to taste before serving.

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Recipe:

1 pound Italian sausage

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small onion, diced

1 small bell pepper, seeded and diced

2 small red potatoes, diced (optional)

1/4 cup chicken stock or white wine

1 bunch rainbow chard, chopped

dash nutmeg

salt and pepper to taste

Place a large, heavy bottomed skillet over high heat.  Crumble Italian sausage into skillet and brown, stirring occasionally.  When sausage is brown, add garlic, onion, bell pepper and red potato.  Saute over high heat until onion is translucent and potatoes are almost cooked through.  Deglaze pan with stock or wine, stirring to release brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add chopped chard on top of meat mixture, cover with lid, reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove lit, stir, season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.

More Than Microwaving – Turkey ala King with Dressing Muffins

I bet you thought I had disappeared.  Not really.  I did, however, prepare a full Thanksgiving dinner for my daughter’s class, start (and finish) my Christmas shopping and spend a full week at my parents’ mountain home sans internet.  I’m back home now, and things are crazy.  The peace of the holiday season won’t hit here until the morning of December 26.  I’ll be sharing lots of recipes for goodies as I make them, but I’ll be sure to include some dinners too.

Maybe you’re already done with turkey leftovers, maybe you’re not.  If you fall into the earlier category, you can make this with chicken just as easily.  If you fall into the latter category, this is a good way to use up the last of several different things.  I use leftover turkey, gravy, vegetables, mashed potatoes and stuffing to make this meal.

Start by dicing up any leftover turkey you have. Heat up a skillet and add diced turkey, gravy and vegetables.  You should probably drain the vegetables or it will thin your gravy out.  If you need additional liquid, go ahead and use the liquid from the veggies, you may just have to thicken it with a little flour and butter.  I used peas and carrots because they are what I had. Almost any vegetable will work well in this recipe.

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Let this simmer.  In the meantime, take your leftover dressing and add two eggs to it.  Mix everything together well.  It should make a tight dough.  I used cornbread dressing with sausage and apples, but it should work with any dressing.

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Scoop a generous portion of drDSCN1633

Scoop a generous portion of dressing and press into muffin cups. I used 4 cups of dressing and 2 eggs and made 8 muffins.

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Bake these at 350* for 20-30 minutes or until tops are golden brown and crispy.

Just before your muffins are done, reheat your mashed potatoes.  You may need to add a little butter or milk to get them the right consistency.  Just be sure you add liquid slowly since they will loosen a bit when they are warm.

Serve a scoop of mashed potatoes, top with the turkey vegetable gravy and put a muffin on the side.  Hearty and simple.

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Recipe:

Turkey ala King:

2 cups diced turkey

1 cup peas

1 cup diced carrots

2 cups gravy

4 cups mashed potatoes

Combine turkey, peas, carrots and gravy in a large skillet.  Simmer over medium heat until everything is warmed through.

Reheat mashed potatoes, adding more milk or butter if necessary.

Serve turkey and vegetable gravy over mashed potatoes.

Dressing Muffins:

4 cups dressing

2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350*. Grease muffin tin.

Mix together dressing and eggs until completely combined.  You should get a stiff dough.  Scoop dough into greased muffin tin.  Bake 20-30 minutes or until golden brown and crispy.

Citrus Salmon

Remember my recipe for delicious, healthy and beautiful lentils with butternut squash and kale? Turns out I’m not the only person who thinks kale and butternut squash are a fantastic fall combination.  The Pioneer Woman herself posted a recipe for butternut squash and kale today.  My mom always said great minds think alike!  That, however, is not the point of this post.  The point of this post is to share with you the recipe for the salmon I served with that dish.  Simple, refreshing, flavorful and healthy.  This is one of my go to proteins – especially on nights when I just don’t really want to cook.

If you don’t mind the skin on your salmon, leave it on.  If you can buy skinless filets, do that.  My grocery store only sells fresh filets with the skin on, so I’ve got to skin mine.  I also check for and pull any pinbones. I don’t want my babies, or my husband, choking.  Then, I just toss the little liquid soaking thing from the tray and put my fish back in that tray to marinate.  Zest a lime and an orange and then squeeze the juice from half of each over the salmon filets.  Let marinate for no more than 30 minutes.

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Season one side with Cajun seasoning (I like Tony Chachere’s) and place seasoned side down in a hot non-stick skillet. Sprinkle unseasoned side with some more Cajun seasoning. Cook for 3-5 minutes until nice and brown. Flip and cook until desired doneness. My husband freaks out if I cook this anything less than well done.  Shame, really.

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Serve with practically any side.  My favorites are a big leafy green salad or some roasted asparagus or, of course, my lentils with butternut squash and kale.

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Recipe:

4 salmon filets

1 teaspoon lime zest

1-2 Tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon orange zest

2-3 Tablespoons orange juice

1/2-1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning

oil

Remove skin and pinbones from salmon filets.  Mix together lime zest, lime juice, orange zest and orange juice.  Pour over salmon filets.

While salmon marinates, heat oil in a large non-stick skillet.

When oil is hot, season one side of salmon with Cajun seasoning.  Place seasoned side down in hot skillet and season other side.  Cook 3-4 minutes until browned.  Flip and cook to desired doneness.

Taco Soup

The weather has been getting progressively cooler here.  And that means soup season is upon us.  Also, somehow, my schedule seems to be filling up, which means that I use my crock pot more often.  This recipe is adapted from my grandma’s taco soup.  It’s easy, feeds a crowd inexpensively, and just plain tastes good.  If chicken isn’t your thing, feel free to use hamburger.  No crock pot? You can easily make this recipe on the stove top, but in that case I’d definitely used canned beans instead of dry.

To start, add a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes and a can of corn kernels into your crock.

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Then add dry or canned pinto beans and chicken breasts (I used whole, frozen).  Also stir in a package of low sodium taco seasoning (or a tablespoon of your favorite homemade taco seasoning) and enough water to cover everything well.  Turn your crock pot on low and walk away for 6-8 hours.  Just before serving, remove the chicken and shred or dice it.  Put it back in the soup, give it a stir and serve with crushed tortilla chips and shredded cheese.  Yes, it really is that simple and so delicious.

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Recipe:

1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes

1 can whole kernel corn

1 cup dried pinto beans (or one can pinto beans)

1 package low-sodium taco seasoning

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

water to cover

tortilla chips for serving

shredded cheese for serving

Place first 5 ingredients in a crock pot.  Stir.  Add enough water to cover.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high 4-6 hours.

Before serving, remove chicken from crock pot and dice or shred.  Return to crock.  Stir.

Serve with crumbled tortilla chips and shredded cheese.

Pan Fried Potatoes

Sometimes you just want something simple and comforting.  Something that reminds you of eating with family.  Something that tastes good, but screams homemade, unrefined.  That’s how I feel about fried potatoes.  Truth is, I make good French fries.  I peel the potatoes.  Cut them into thin, almost even fries by hand.  I rinse them in cold water.  I blanch them in hot oil.  I fry them a second time in hotter oil so they are golden and super crispy on the outside and tender and fluffy on the outside.  But, sometimes I just crave these much simpler pan fried potatoes – and my family loves them just as much (or maybe even more) than my time and labor intensive fries.

Start by washing your potatoes really good.  I use a scrub brush.  Then, cut them in half long ways.  Cut those halves into 1/8-1/4″ thick half rounds.

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Place a heavy skillet over medium low heat and add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.  When the oil is hot, add a tablespoon of butter just for flavor.  When it melts and gets foamy, the pan is ready for your potatoes.  If you’ve got bacon grease hanging out somewhere, feel free to fry up your potatoes in it.

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Add your potatoes to the skillet.  You’ll notice I over crowded my skillet.  The food police may come kill me, but I hate washing dishes.  Would these cook more quickly and be more evenly crispy if I’d used a couple different skillets or fried in batches – sure.  And I MIGHT have done that if I was cooking for company.  I wasn’t though, and I want you all to realize that you don’t have to make food that looks perfect and follows every rule for it to taste fantastic.  Cover them up and cook them for about 10 minutes.  You should be able to see that the centers are still raw and the edges are starting to cook.  Season, stir and cover again.

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When the centers are almost totally done, take the lid off and turn the heat up to crisp the outsides.  Taste for seasoning and serve. It’s important to taste.  Start with the lowest seasoning measurement and add a little at a time until they taste just right for you.  Also, if you’d prefer fresh, diced onion over the onion powder, go for it.  These are equally delicious either way.

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I could eat these straight from the skillet, but I have to admit, I do like them on the plate with some ketchup.

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Recipe:

3-4 medium sized potatoes

3-4 Tablespoons oil

1 Tablespoon butter

1-2 teaspoons salt

1/2-1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2-1 teaspoon black pepper

Wash potatoes well.  Slice in half lengthwise and then slice halves into 1/8-1/4″ slices.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium low heat.  When oil is hot, add butter.  Butter will melt and foam.  Add potatoes.  Cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Season with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.  Cover and cook until potatoes are tender.

Remove lid and turn heat up.  Cook until potatoes are brown and crispy.  Taste for seasoning adding more if necessary.

More Than Microwaving – Taco Cupcakes

Yeah, I said it.  Taco Cupcakes.  They only resemble a cupcake in shape and size, so don’t gross yourself out thinking about sugary sweet tacos with frosting (ick!).My kids LOVE these.  First, they’re called cupcakes.  Second, they’re just the right size for little hands.  Third, you don’t have to worry about the shells snapping in half or having your filling leak out the back.  Also, they travel well in lunch boxes.  Sometimes, I mix up fresh taco filling just for these, but more often I use whatever taco filling we have left and make these for lunch.

Spray your muffin pan if it’s not the silicone variety.   Press a won ton wrapper into each hole.  Spoon a spoonful of refried beans onto the won ton.

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Top beans with cheese and a second won ton skin.  Top that won ton skin with taco meat (I used leftover chicken) and more cheese.  You’ll see some in the picture with only one layer.  My picky kiddo doesn’t like cheese on his meat.  Those are his.  Just won ton skin, beans and taco meat.

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Pop these in a 350* oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.  Let them cool for a couple of minutes before serving.

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Recipe:

12 won ton skins

1/2 cup refried beans

1/2 cup shredded cheese

1 cup taco meat

Preheat oven to 350*.  Spray muffin pan with cooking spray.  Line 6 muffin cups with a won ton skin.  Place a heaping tablespoon of refried beans on top of each won ton skin.  Top beans with half the cheese.  Place a second won ton skin in each muffin cup and press down gently to spread beans and cheese evenly over the bottom of the muffin cup.  Top this second skin with taco meat (about 2 Tablespoons).  Top meat with remaining cheese.  Bake at 350* for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is melted and won ton edges are brown and crispy.  Let stand for 2-3 minutes before serving.

Smoothie Pops

It doesn’t matter if it has been hours since our last meal or minutes, it seems my kids are always hungry.  And, especially in the desert heat, their favorite snacks are the frozen kind.  As a mom, I want them to make better choices.  But, I can only offer fruit or carrots or cheese sticks so many times before they refuse to compromise.  Sometimes I can get away with frozen grapes, but even that is iffy.  These smoothie pops, however, are usually fool proof.  And, since there is no added sugar and a ton of protein and calcium, I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty about letting my kids eat them.  They are super easy to whip up and the flavor combinations are pretty much endless.  For this particular batch, I used raspberry yogurt and mixed berries.  Just use whatever fruit you have on hand and your favorite flavor of yogurt.  I’m pretty sure my next batch will use coconut yogurt and diced peaches.  Just stir together the yogurt and almond milk (you could use regular milk or coconut milk or soy milk or whatever ‘milk’, but almond milk is low calorie and high calcium, so that’s what I use).  Place your fruit in the bottom of your popsicle molds (or small paper cups), pour the yogurt mixture over it, place the sticks and pop them in the freezer for a few hours.  Voila! Happy kids and guilt free mom!

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Recipe:

1 5.3 ounce container greek yogurt, any flavor

1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk*

8 Tablespoons fruit

Stir together yogurt and almond milk.  Place 1 Tablespoon of fruit into each of 8 popsicle molds (or small paper cups).  Pour yogurt mixture over fruit, making each popsicle as even in size as possible.  Place sticks into mold and freeze for 4-6 hours minimum.  To remove from mold, run a little water over the outside of mold until popsicle can be easily removed from mold.

*Any dairy or non-dairy milk can be substituted for the almond milk.

Smoked Sausage Hash

The last few days have been unusually busy and exhausting.  Even with no Friday night practice or Saturday game this weekend, I came to tonight feeling drained.  Dinner had to be filling and simple.  And, for my sanity, it had to be something no one would complain about.  This recipe fits the bill.  There are seldom any leftovers, but when there are, they make a great breakfast – just cook up an egg to your preference and voila!  Or, you could toss in some green chile, scrambled egg and cheese and roll it all up in a tortilla (which is what my husband prefers).  Anyway, for dinner, start by cubing up a large sweet potato (you could use two or three smaller ones, but I hate peeling the dang things). Then toss them into a hot skillet with some butter.

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Turn the heat down to medium low or low (depending on how hot your burner is).  Lid them and let them cook for a few minutes until they start to get  brown.  Stir them around and add 1/4-1/2 cup water to the pan and lid it again.  When the water cooks off and the potatoes are mostly tender, add the sausage (which you can cut up before you start cooking or while the potatoes are cooking).My usual grocery store has stopped carrying full sized links of the smoked sausage brand I like best.  Thankfully they still carry it in bratwurst-size links and they work just fine for this recipe.

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Season with salt, pepper, onion powder and chile powder.  Cook until the sausage starts to brown and the potatoes are completely tender.

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Before anyone asks, yes, those are canned green beans on the plate.  Yes, I ate them AND served them to my family.  No, I am not ashamed.  They’re convenient, quick and reminiscent of my childhood.  Of course, they taste distinctly better if you add a little bacon grease, grated garlic (on my microplane so it is superfine) and black pepper to the pan and let it get toasty before you add the green beans.  Which just happens to be exactly what I did.

Recipe:

1 large or 2-3 small sweet potatoes

14-16 oz of your favorite smoked sausage

2 Tablespoons butter

1/2 cup water

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon chile powder

Peel sweet potato and dice into 1/4″ cubes.  Split sausage down the middle and cut into half moon shapes.

Heat non-stick skillet and butter over medium heat until hot.  Add sweet potatoes, reduce heat and cover.  Cook for 4-5 minutes or until potatoes start to brown.  Stir, add water and replace lid.  Cook until all water is gone and potatoes are mostly tender (5-10 minutes).  Remove lid.  Add sausage, salt, pepper, onion powder and chile.  Continue cooking over medium low heat until sausage is brown and potatoes are tender.