Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Zesty Sloppy Joes

A zesty, saucy version of this delicious sandwich!  Adapted from the Pioneer Woman

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Tabasco sauce (I prefer Marie Sharp's Fiery Hot)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
Serve with: 
Sandwich Rolls, buttered and toasted
1/2 - 1 cup old cheddar, shredded 

Brown ground beef and drain.  Add in onion, green pepper and garlic.

Stir in seasonings and remaining ingredients.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes, or add to a crockpot on low for 2 hours.

Serve on a toasted, buttered sandwich rolls with cheese.  I broiled my cheese on, so you can't see it very well, but it adds a delicious saltiness to the sweet and zesty joes.


And if you happen to have leftovers, try plating them up on top of restaurant style tortilla chips, topped with cheddar and pickled jalepeƱos ... mmmm mmmm good!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pasta e Fagioli

Day two of my pantry clean out!! Yes ... that was a couple days ago, but I've only now had the time to post it.  It's amazing how good it feels to empty shelves.  Even though it's challenging, I estimate we'll probably save around $400 in the next three weeks.  Isn't that CRAZY??!!

Well, there's nothing that warms the soul like a delicious bowl of hearty soup on a chilly day!  As fall approaches, I can't wait to put my slow cooker to use!  This simple soup, while I'm sure it's not authentically Italian, was a real winner in our house - Morgan even asked to take it in her lunch (THAT is amazing)!

3 pieces turkey bacon, diced
1-2 lbs extra lean ground beef
1 white onion, chopped
2 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped or a handful of matchstick cut carrots
6 cups halved, skinned Roma tomatoes or 2-28 oz cans whole tomatoes with liquid
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried fennel
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 bay leaf
2 all natural beef bouillon cubes
2-3 cups water
1 clove garlic
1 can red beans, drained and rinsed
8 oz. any small pasta, cooked according to al dente directions and drained - I used Farfalline
2 tbsp fresh parsley

Garnish with:  shredded Parmesan and more fresh parsley 
Serve with warm buttered toasts

Add the first 5 ingredients to a skillet and brown.  If you have a Versaware Crockpot, you can use your crock for this step. (Here's a somewhat cheesy video showing how the Versaware works - I really LOVE mine!)

Once the meat is browned and veggies are tender, drain liquid and place in the slow cooker.  Spoon spices into a mortar and pedestal, and grind a couple times to release the flavour and break up the fennel.  If you don't have one of these, just chop with your chef's knife a few times. 

Add in tomatoes, spices, bouillon cubes, bay leaf, garlic clove and red beans.  Cook on low 6-8 hours.

Right before serving, add in cooked pasta and fresh parsley.

Garnish with cheese and additional parsley and serve with delicious, warm buttered toasts.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mozzarella Stuffed Sausage Burgers with Garlic Mashed Fauxtatoes

We're a few weeks away from Canadian Thanksgiving, the first Monday in October. Being American, I'm so used to all the excitement and tradition that surrounds Thanksgiving in the US, but here it's different - very laid back, celebrating the end of harvest and all the bounty God's given through the year.

God has without a doubt abundantly provided for us. We have SO much ... but our budget is tighter now that I'm only freelancing, so I'm always looking for ways we can save.

Of course groceries are a big part of our spending - it's significantly more to purchase basic food items on this side of the border. I collect as things go on sale, and every other week we make our US Sam's Club / Target / Meijer trip to stock up on cheese, meat, baking and cooking supplies, etc.
But this week, as I began to plan our meals, I took a good look around. My cupboards, freezer and pantry are bursting with miscellaneous eats.

So ... I decided to challenge myself to empty the cupboards and use only what I have on hand for the next three weeks (until Canadian Thanksgiving weekend).

It will take some creativity, but as I took inventory, I was shocked at how many very substantial meals I had completely overlooked! I have enough for 20 meals - not including leftovers!!! So, tonight is the first night of the challenge. I had purchased, vacuum sealed and froze Italian sausage sometime back and I had few leftover burger buns ... so I created these juicy and delicious Mozzarella Stuffed Sausage Burgers with Garlic Mashed Fauxtatoes!

I'm really looking forward to cleaning out and truly appreciating each item in my cupboard - a great reminder of all God has given us ... and how important it is to not waste these blessings. I will still have the quick trips to the store for my smoothie ingredients and fresh fruit/veggies for lunches, and I'm sure it will be tempting ... but I know we can do it. :)


1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 lb. Italian Sausage (I removed the casings before freezing)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Chili sauce for basting
4-6 buns

1 head cauliflower
4 triangles of Laughing Cow Cheese
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan
2 small cloves of roasted garlic (see here how to easily roast garlic)
3 tbsp butter
A pinch of chicken bouillon or salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat you BBQ to medium. Divide the sausage into 4-6 parts. Make a thin, flat patty with your hands ... Not too thin, but thick enough to hold together. Take a finger pinch of cheese and place in the middle. Fold all sides of the sausage party in to cover the cheese, forming a ball with the cheese safely hidden on the inside - you don't want leaks. ;) Flatten and shape the ball into a patty. You should have 4-6 patties. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill, basting with the chili sauce, on medium heat until the patties are cooked through.  Garnish like you would a burger ... I garnished with fresh tomatoes, red onion and baby kale because it's what I had on hand.

A few minutes before the sausage burgers are done, steam the cauliflower until it falls apart. The BEST way I've found is with Glad Microwave Steamer Bags.

My cauliflower was from a local farm, so it was pretty big - it took me two bags to steam it all! :) (Gotta love that delish Ontario produce!!). Place all fauxtato ingredients in the food processor and mix until creamy. Garnish with chives, if you have them on hand.

This burger ROCKED.  We loved them!!  The fauxtatoes were good ... but we did end up giving them a little sprinkle of extra cheese ... "everything's better with cheese". :)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Parmesan Caesar Potato Salad

When I was young my family owned Walker Food Company, which made and distributed a large variety of cold salads to supermarkets and restaurants - and one of their specialties: Potato Salad. My grandpa sold the company in the mid-80s, but his recipes have continued as a tradition in our family. I love that history!! But ... I'm just not a fan of potato salad. I've tried all kinds with no luck ... until I decided to try it "Caesar" style.  And while it's not a typical potato salad, the creamy, tangy texture is a real crowd pleaser!  I often double the recipe because it's even better the next day ...

Parmesan Caesar Potato Salad
  • 4lbs New Potatoes , boiled and quartered (we prefer the tri-colour since they each bring a different texture)*
  • 6 slices turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled*
  • 1/2 bunch green onion, chopped
  • Shaved Parmesan*
      Lite Caesar Dressing:
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup lite real mayonnaise
  • 1 heaping tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce (Lea & Perrins is the best)
  • 1/3-1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup olive oil 

In a food processor, mix together all dressing ingredients except the olive oil, until well combined.  With the food processor still running, slowly pour in the olive oil to emulsify.  (Once you taste this, you'll never want to buy store-bought Caesar dressing again!!)

When the potatoes have cooled a bit, mix everything together in a giant bowl and serve room temperature or chilled.

I turned by back for one second ... and when I turned around - full cheeks and a guilty look.  Daddy joined in until I chased them away ... :)



Here is a delicious pot of Ontario tri-colour potatoes. 
The flavour really isn't that different, but the texture is.

Turkey bacon cooks up super quick, without 
getting chewy and leather-like, on a griddle.

Using a high quality Parmesan makes all the difference.  
It's really easy to shave if you use a veggie peeler ... 
even easier if you veggie peeler is horizontal.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Green Smoothie, Anyone?

Happy Labour Day!  And what a beautiful day it is in Southwestern Ontario!  Oh the memories this weekend brings to me ... of school, and new beginnings, of the lake and family.  But one Labour Day weekend ten years ago was a little different - I was in recovery from having my gallbladder removed (aka - "digestive suicide"). THAT was no fun, especially when trying to care for my 6 week old baby girl.  Rewind 6 years - when I was 17, I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) with Constipation.  TMI.  BUT, I wanted to share because I know there are others out there that struggle with these same digestive issues.

With IBS and no gallbladder, it's a very painful combination.  I don't have a whole lot of options in a medical sense except for taking prescriptions and fibre supplements (that don't work) the rest of my life.  That's not good enough for me though ... and 3 years ago, after so much struggle, I discovered the Vitamix.

It has been the one and only thing that's brought true, lasting relief.  Green Smoothies!!  I started by reading these two books ... and began researching:

I learned so much about how food really does control our health.  As long as I have a smoothie or two a day, my body functions so well!! I know it's scary because ... it's green.  But I promise you if you like tropical drinks, you'll love it!  Even Morgan and Matt love it!

The health side of things is very interesting.  You need a high powered blender, like the Vitamix or the Blendtec ... or the consistency will be chunky.  They pulverize the fruit and veggies (stems and seeds and all) and break down the cell walls releasing optimum nutrients.  It's raw, fresh and delicious.  It's a huge boost of energy from the first sip.

The most important thing when starting smoothies is knowing which fruit and veggie combinations taste good together.  In my experience most green food tastes good mixed together; purples, blues and reds taste good mixed together; orange food taste good mixed together ... but inner-mixing - yuck.  Pineapple and bananas are neutral and go with any smoothie colour. 

All that being said, today I thought I'd share my favourite go-to Green Smoothie recipe.  It's super yummy and fresh!  When you drink it, you taste the tartness of the kiwi and the apple ... and the sweetness of the banana and the pineapple.  Everything else is hidden nutrition! :)

Wendy's Green Smoothie

A few slices of fresh Pineapple
Handful of Green Grapes
Handful of Baby Spinach or Kale
Green Apple, cut in half and quartered
Avocado, skinned and pit removed or a handful of raw Almonds
2 Kiwi, skinned
Handful of Ice and a cup or so of Filtered Water

Blend on high power 60 seconds or so until smooth.

Store in an airtight mason jar in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.  Shake well before drinking, as natural separation between liquid and pulp does occur.

You can throw in some flax seed or chia seed as well, if you have it on hand.

You can even turn this into smoothie popsicles!  MMMM!!