Turkey & Black Bean Burgers with Avocado-Corn Salsa

I was looking for a good, quick dinner idea one night and remembered I had this recipe on file for a black bean cake. What I ended up with is a little more of a burger because I added ground turkey meat, but add some of that salsa and you’re gonna love it with or without the meat. Also, I should mention that the original recipe called for shredded pepper jack cheese (1 1/2 cups) to be mixed into the black bean mixture, which I didn’t do, but that sounds like an awesome addition!

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Turkey & Black Bean Burgers

1 lb ground turkey (or chicken or beef)

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained

2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1 T taco seasoning mix

1/2 cup Panko

1 large egg, slightly beaten

Salt & Pepper, to taste

1. Combine all ingredients using hands and form into patties.

2. Heat a little bit of oil in a skillet over medium high heat.

3. Gently place patties into hot skillet. They will be fragile. Allow to sear on one side so they will flip easily.

4. Cook through.

5. Serve with salsa.

Avocado – Corn Salsa

avocado, skinned and diced

1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed

1 tomato, diced

1 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped fine

lime juice

salt & pepper

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Slow Cooker Chicken Parmigiana Sandwiches

I’ve been working nights so slow cooker suppers have been a life saver when it comes to making sure my boys get a good meal. Needless to say I’ve been scouring the net for new crock pot ideas. I came across this idea and fell in love with it. Anything I can throw into the slow cooker and know that the boys are going to like it, works for me. All they had to do was assemble their sandwiches when they were ready to eat.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Parmigiana Sandwiches

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 cans (15 oz. ea.) tomato sauce

1 can  (15 oz.) diced tomatoes with juice

12 oz. tomato paste

2 cups sweet, yellow onion, finely diced

1 T (or 2 cloves) garlic, minced

1/2 tsp dried parsley

1/2 tsp oregano

2 bay leaves

4 T fresh basil, chopped fine, or 1 tsp dried

salt & pepper, to taste

sliced or shredded mozzarella cheese

grated Parmesan cheese

6 hard rolls

1. Start slow cooker on low heat and spray with cooking spray. Place chicken inside.

2. Mix together tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, paste, garlic, onions, and herbs. Stir until well combined. Pour over chicken and turn to coat.

3. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low 6 hours.

4. Shred the chicken using two forks. Replace back into slow cooker and stir everything well.

5. Slice hard rolls and lightly toast, if desired. *They’re awesome with a little bit of butter. Use tongs or slotted spoon to portion out the chicken onto the rolls, tapping off excess sauce. Top with cheeses.

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Spanish Style Red Snapper

This fish dish (aha, that rhymed) was such a hit right off the bat that none of us can wait until I make it again. Even Number Two had two servings! Similar to a Veracruz-Style fish but without any jalapenos or raisins, but you could easily add what flavorings you think you’d like. I wasn’t too keen on the raisins, but if I’d had any pepper I probably would have added them. Either way, this came out awesome.

redsnapper

Spanish Style Red Snapper

4 lbs red snapper fillets

1/4 cup EVOO

1/4 cup onion, finely chopped

2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced

1 (15 oz) can of diced tomatoes

1/3 cup chicken broth, divided

1/4 cup sliced green olives, pitted

2 T drained capers

1 tsp oregano

2 bay leaves

1. Preheat oven to 425*. Grease baking dish and pour 1/3 cup of chicken broth into the bottom. Arrange fish in pan (skin side down) and set aside.

2. Drain tomatoes but reserve the juice. Using a masher or fork, crush tomatoes to a coarse puree (is ok if it’s still a little chunky). Drain again and reserve all the juices together.

3. Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and stir for a minute. Add garlic and stir another 30 seconds. Add tomato puree, bay leaves, oregano, and reserved juice. Combine and cook for a few minutes.

4. Add broth, capers and olives. Salt & pepper to taste. Cook a few more minutes until thickened or mixture is heated through.

5. Spoon over fish and bake for about 18 minutes, or until fish is just opaque in the center.

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Caprese Style Quinoa Bake

This was soooooo yummy.  Hubby and I like to eat meatless so this was actually great by itself for a meal, but it makes an awesome side dish as well for those who want a more rounded-out dinner.  The boys liked it, too, though they aren’t crazy about chunks of tomato.  A regular caprese uses fresh, delicious mozzarella, so by all means use it if you’ve got it.  However, I didn’t have any so I used goat cheese instead.  It was awesome!  This dish came out tasting like warm, comforting, creamy tomato soup with some chew.  Delicious.

caprese quinoa

Caprese Style Quinoa Bake

3 cups cooked quinoa

1 cup pasta sauce

2 T tomato paste

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

1 cup Mozzarella (or 4 oz. goat cheese)

2/3 cup grape tomatoes, halved*

1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons

salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Cook the quinoa- 1 cup quinoa + 2 cups chicken broth.

2. In a saucepan heat up the pasta sauce and tomato paste. Once warm, stir in the cream, parmesan, salt & pepper, half the tomatoes, half the basil, and half the mozzarella or goat cheese. Stir until heated through and everything is melted and smooth. *I didn’t have grape tomatoes so I diced up a large one.

3. Spray a baking dish (I used a 4×7 but you can go up to an 8×8 or 9×9). Pour in quinoa mixture and top with remaining tomato and mozz/goat cheese.

4. Bake for 15 minutes, then broil for an additional 2 or 3, until cheese is gold and bubbly.

5. Remove from oven and top with the remaining basil ribbons.  Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

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Skillet Ratatouille and Chicken

Back in late July-early August when we were on our family vacation on the Crystal Coast, we stayed in a friend’s condo complete with deck-side pool and an awesome view of the ocean. I love this particular beach because it was where I met Hubby over 17 years ago. We could even see the pier where we first met from our location just a quarter of a mile away down the beach. Even better was that both the boys wanted to see where their parents first met.

While we were there we ate some great food, including local seafood (boy, have we missed that since moving off the island!) and other wonderfully prepared culinary delights at a few of the local hotspots. But there were times that I cooked, too. I kept it simple for the most part; tacos and pasta, baked herbed chicken, roasted veggies, salads, etc.

At one point as Number Two and I were wandering around the grocery store trying to decide what to make, he suggested Ratatouille. I was a little surprised at first because I’m not so sure he realized what he was asking for. So I told him. And he still seemed totally up for it. So I was like, heck yeah! But alas, there were no yellow squash in stock and I really wasn’t feeling particularly creative, so needless to say we had to pass on the ratatouille.

Since then I have come across this awesome recipe for a one-skillet meal incorporating ratatouille. How can this go wrong? I am so excited to share this with you guys because I do love me some Ratatouille. Click the link for my previous post on Millefeuille Ratatouille, which is the layered kind seen in Disney’s movie Ratatouille. This recipe was adapted from Rachael Ray.

skillet ratatouiile

Skillet Ratatouille and Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 T EVOO

1 small eggplant

1 yellow bell pepper

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

2 small zucchini

1 large yellow squash

4 medium tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup red wine

1 cup chicken broth

2 T butter

1/3 cup chopped parsley

salt & pepper

Parmesan cheese, for serving

1. Prep your veggies. Peel eggplant and cut into 34-inch pieces. De-stem and seed the bell pepper, cutting it into 1/2-inch pieces.  Trim the zucchini and squash, quartering it lengthwise and again crosswise in 1/2-inch thick pieces.

2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat large skillet over medium heat and add 1 T of EVOO. Cook the chicken about 10 minutes, turning over once, and remove from skillet.

3. Deglaze the pan with the wine. Let it simmer a few minutes. Add the butter and broth and simmer a few minutes more. Set aside.

4. Put in some EVOO and add the eggplant to the skillet and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Ladle in some of the wine/broth as needed. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

5. Add the remaining  EVOO and cook the bell pepper and onion, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add in the zucchini and squash, season with salt and pepper, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes; Stirring often. Ladle in wine/broth as needed. Season with salt & pepper.

6. Add the tomatoes and reserved eggplant, then the chicken and remaining wine/broth. Cover and bring to a brisk simmer.

7. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, partially covered, until the vegetables are very soft and the meat pulls apart easily using two forks; 30 minutes.

8. Serve over rice or noodles with grated cheese.

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Tuscan Pasta with Tomato-Basil Cream

This is one of those quick week night meals that tastes like you’ve put a bit more effort into it than you really did. If you’re crunched for time and want a hearty, quality meal, then keep this one on file. All you need are some basic staple ingredients in your freezer/pantry and you can make this in no time.

tuscan pasta

Tuscan Pasta with Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce

1 (20 oz) pkg refrigerated or frozen *cheese ravioli

1 (15 oz) jar sun-dried tomato alfredo sauce

2 T white wine

1 can diced tomatoes, drained

2 tsp basil**

Parmesan cheese

Empty the sauce into a saucepan and use the wine to collect the rest of the sauce in the jar by covering the top and shaking.

Add in the drained tomatoes (or 2 fresh ones, diced) and the basil. **If you have fresh it’ll be about 1/2 cup. Also if you don’t like basil as much as I do and are using dried, you may want to start of with less than 2 tsp, but really, who doesn’t love basil??

Allow all of this to simmer for a bit, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Cook your pasta according to directions. *I bet mushroom ravioli would be divine in this! 🙂

Drain the ravioli from the pasta water and fold the tuscan sauce into the pasta. Plate it up and sprinkle some Parmesan cheese and extra basil on top.

Enjoy!

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Mexican Bruschetta

Ya’ll know me 🙂 I love bruschetta and I love Mexican food, so what could possibly be better than this?? Nothing. Well, ok maybe not NOTHING but still….it’s pretty darn fantabulous and I think you’ll agree.

mexi-bruschetta

Mexican Bruschetta

2 avocados, diced

1 medium tomato, diced

1/3 cup finely diced onion (I used yellow and red)

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/3 cup feta cheese, diced

2 T EVOO

2 T lime juice

salt & pepper

Baguette or other hearty bread

Gently combine ingredients in a bowl (so that the avocado doesn’t get smushed) and taste to see if any seasonings need to be added.

Slice the bread and grill or lightly toast. *I very lightly butter the bread, especially the edges before toasting. It makes it sooooo good! Top bread with bruschetta and enjoy!

This is a meal. I won’t kid you. Unless you’ve got people to help you eat it (which would make it an awesome appetizer) then you may have to resign yourself to eating the entire bowl. I know, it’s like twisting a rubber arm. First of all, avocado doesn’t keep so well unless you can cover it that allows for no air at all. What you would do is use plain old saran wrap but push it down snugly on top of the avocado mixture before storing in the refrigerator. It should keep at least until the next day- unless you go in for a late night snack, of course.

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Tomato Cucumber Bread Salad

I love a good bread salad. It is so easy to bump it up to a one-dish meal by adding some grilled chicken or tuna. Bread salads can have whatever you desire in them but they typically include tomato and cucumber as a base. This particular one was made up of what I had available in the house and it made a great side to my Grilled Marinated Salmon. The great thing about using grilled bread in place of croutons is that they absorb the juices of the salad without getting all mushy.

bread salad

Tomato Cucumber Bread Salad

1 cucumber, cut*

3 tomatoes, cut*

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

1 cup fresh basil leaves, cut

1 baguette or ciabatta roll

EVOO and Balsamic Vinegar

salt and pepper

Extra Salad Ingredients you may like: red onion, sliced; black olives

1. Preheat grill to medium heat and split roll in half. Drizzle cut sides with EVOO and grill cut side down, covered, until crispy (about 5 minutes). Cut bread into 1-inch pieces and set aside.

2. Cut cucumber and tomatoes. *Slice into thick 1/2 inch slices and then cut into fourths, creating large 1-inch pieces.

3. Place cucumber, tomato, garbanzo, feta, and basil (and any other ingredients you choose) into a large bowl and toss with about 3 T EVOO and 1-2 T balsamic vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste.

4. Fold in the bread pieces and serve.

4. Enjoy!

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Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini with Ragu

I’ve noticed a few Facebook and Pinterest re-posts going around for something very similar to this. It seems to happen occasionally that I’ll put something on my menu plan and several weeks later when I’m finally getting to it it’s already hit the blog circuit. Does this mean I have awesome food instincts??

Yeah…unlikely, I know.

Well, whatever it is, I can’t be too far off the foodie path, I just wish sometimes that I had something with a little “wow” factor. Hopefully this will make someone happy, as it did me. I found this recipe through TLC’s Take Home Chef, but I had to adapt it quite a bit as I’ve noticed that chef Curtis Stone likes to really stretch his culinary skills and I’m just a bit of an underachiever most days 🙂

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Cheesy Stuffed Zucchini with Ragu

1 T EVOO

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes

1/2 cup red wine

1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce

2 tsp thyme

1 bay leaf

1 tsp basil

salt & pepper

extra zucchini, chopped*

3 zucchini

3/4 cup ricotta cheese

3/4 cup grated or shredded mozzarella

1/2 grated Parmesan cheese

pepper

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1. To get the ragu started it’s best if you have about an hour. First saute the onions in the EVOO, then add it to the diced tomatoes, extra zucchini, and the wine, with 1 tsp thyme and the bay leaf, over medium-high heat and reduce it by a third. Sauce will be thickened. (20-30 minutes)

2. Meanwhile, cut the zucchini in half lengthwise and spoon out the seeds. If the zucchini are still a bit hard inside just run a sharp knife down each side and score it a little. This will help when scooping out the seeds. *Also, if your zucchini are different lengths, you can cut them all the same and chop up the excess for the ragu, other wise I highly recommend you chopping up a fourth, smaller, zucchini to add to the sauce. It’s just a tomato sauce without it, and while it’s still good, the zucchini really adds something to it.

3. Combine the tomato sauce to your ragu along with the remaining tsp of thyme and the basil. Salt and pepper to taste and allow to simmer, stirring often, for another 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 350*. Combine the three cheeses together in a small bowl using a fork. Season  with pepper, and mound the cut-side of the zucchini with the cheese mixture.

5. Lightly spray a 7 x 11 baking dish. Spoon the ragu into the bottom of the dish and place the stuffed zucchini on top. Bake for 20 minutes. Then broil for an additional 10 minutes. Zucchini will be tender but if you prefer them more cooked through try pre-cooking them a bit before assembly or leaving it in the oven at 250* for an extra 15-20 minutes.

I served this over Parmesan Couscous and it was amazing. A very satisfying vegetarian and, if you serve it with rice, a gluten-free meal.

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Spinach Tomato Feta Frittata

I love frittatas because you can put just about anything into one and have a great meal. It’s also a really handy idea to keep in mind for those nights when you don’t have something else planned or ready to go (such as thawed meat, etc), or if you have leftovers, or if you want to go vegetarian. Of course, you can easily add a meat to your frittata as well.

Since the kids don’t really like a lot of different veggies, I made two individual frittatas for me and hubby using small 24-oz corningware dishes.

Spinach Tomato Feta Frittata

4 eggs

1/8 cup milk*

Chopped spinach (about 1/4 of a block)

1 large Roma tomato, diced

2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400* and spray your baking dish(es) liberally with cooking spray.

2. Whip up the eggs and add the milk. (*You could also use heavy cream or even 1/2 & 1/2- just something to get those eggs frothy.) Add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Dice tomatoes, chop the spinach, and crumbled the feta, dividing the ingredients between the two dishes.

4. Portion the eggs between the two dishes and bake, uncovered, until centers are firmly set and top is slightly browned. Should only take about 15 – 20 minutes, just keep your eye on it.