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Category Archives: Cooking

As much as I love summer, I kind of hate dealing with what to have for dinner every night. Most days, it’s just too damn hot to get the oven going. I could probably live on salad during the summer months, but The BF wouldn’t appreciate it.

The good news is that we have a crock pot. I rely pretty heavily on ours, but especially during summer months when I’m not about to sweat it out over a hot stove. There are tons of websites dedicated to crock pot cooking and make ahead freezer meals (something I really want to try!), but if you’re like me that might be a bit too much planning. I like to fly by the seat of my pants. I like to go with the flow! I like to throw a bunch of stuff in there and cross my fingers!

True story.

So anyway, I know this will sound weird. Brats are for cookouts. They go with sauerkraut, not tomato sauce. I know, but just trust me. The brats cook in the sauce all day and they’re so tender that they are better than meatballs. You may never go back to squishing through ground meat to make balls when you find out how good this is.

Turkey brat spaghetti

6 turkey brats
1-2 cans of your favorite spaghetti sauce
Dry spaghetti
Optional
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 small onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic
1 green pepper, quartered
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

So you can make this as simple as pouring the sauce into the crock pot, adding the brats, and letting it cook on high for about four hours before turning it to low until the brats are cooked through.

If you want to snazz it up a bit, toss the optional veggies in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast on a parchment lined baking sheet at 400° for 15-20 minutes or until you get some char. Toss them in a food processor after they’ve cooled a bit and pulse until a chunky mixture forms. Add that to the crock pot with your canned sauce and brats. Delicious!

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I used macaroni noodles because they’re easier for my boy to eat, but you can use whatever pasta you like… just boil it according to package directions and drown it in sauce and meat. And cheese, duh.

Serve with a salad and garlic bread. Make sandwiches or pizza with the leftovers. Go ahead and call me a genius. Just chew that bite up first, ok? It’s not polite to talk with your mouth full.


You guys. This is the simplest, easiest thing I will probably ever write about. It has one ingredient.

That’s right. One.

Of course, you could make it more complicated, but it isn’t necessary. And you can really use any variety of peanut your little heart desires ( just know that any kind with a really hard coating might dull your processor blades).

Are you ready? Here goes!

Honey roasted peanut butter

1 can honey roasted peanuts

Empty contents of the can into your food processor. Put the lid on and press the button.

Yep, that’s it. You could pulse it a few times at first to get things started, but then just turn it on and let it go until it’s the consistency you want. It might kind of ball up and bounce around for a second, but don’t be scared! Just leave it running and it will smooth out pretty quickly.

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From peanuts to toddler lunch in less than five minutes.

As I mentioned above, you could easily use different kind of peanuts (or any other nut, I suppose) and add ingredients to customize it. I think a touch of maple syrup or maple cream would be a delicious addition to some lightly salted peanuts, and I plan to try that next.

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I like to store mine in an airtight container in the fridge… It generally gets inhaled pretty quickly by my “peeutt budder” loving toddler, so I can’t say how long it lasts.

So, go make some peanut butter!


It seems like every post I write lately (few and far between as they are) begins with an apology and a line about how busy I’ve been… So I’ll spare you the broken record this time.

Instead, I’ll just get to the good stuff…The meat of the post, if you will.

Get it? MEAT? And we’re talking about meatballs?

Ok. Well I thougt it was funny, but I’ve been awake since five a.m.

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Back to the meatballs…

These really aren’t much different from regular meatballs, but I feel like they’re better for me than regular ol’ meatballs that are made with red meat.

I served these over pasta and this easy avocado sauce (next time, I’ll only use 1/2 of a lemon, though), but they are also good in soups and with tomato or alfredo sauce.

Turkey meatballs

1 pound ground turkey

1 large egg

1/2 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1/2 cup grated parmesan

2 cloves garlic, minced

About a palm full of minced onion (feel free to use less)

A palm full of Italian seasoning

Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 400° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add all ingredients to a large bowl. Using your hands, squish and squeeze until it’s all combined. Roll into balls (mine were about golfball size) and place them on the parchment, making sure they aren’t touching. Pop them into the oven for about 30 minutes, or until your quick read thermometer says 165° when poked into the center of your thickest meatball.

If your toddler has hidden your thermometer, just cut the biggest one open. If you don’t see any pink, you’re good!

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My kid loves these meatballs, and I think I actually prefer them over a more traditional recipe using red meat.

If you have leftovers, just toss them in a zipper freezer bag and freeze them. That makes dinner even easier!


I’ve been clear on my stance on raisins… If you’re new around here, let me catch you up: I hate them. The taste is foul, they stick in your teeth, and they look like rabbit turds. I can’t really think of a single redeeming factor.

My child, however, loves the nasty little things… Give him a little box and he will gladly cram them into his mouth as if they were something actually delicious. He goes through phases… Sometimes he’ll only ask for raisins a couple of times a day, and others he’s a broken record.

“Rasins? Rasins, mama? MAMA. RASINS. I hab it, the rasins? Pease?”

So it was one of those days… And I was trying to get some work done so I didn’t leap up the second he asked for them, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. I found him sitting on the kitchen floor with a bowl full of raisins in front of him, happily stuffing his face.
“Hey, buddy…where’s the box?”

He beamed with pride and said, “I frow it away!”

Rather than find a container for the remaining raisins, I decided to make some bread. Oddly enough, I actually do like cinnamon raisin bread, and I figured I had everything to make it. When it was time for O’s lunch, I took a break from my audio files and gathered the necessary ingredients. Once he was safely contained settled in his high chair, I got to work.

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Cinnamon Raisin Quick Bread

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup canola oil

2 large eggs

1 cup milk (I used 2%)

1 cup unsweetened almond milk (this was just an attempt to use up some almond milk that wasn’t my usual brand…feel free to use 2 cups of regular milk.)

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cinnamon  (or to taste, however you like your cinnamon/sugar mixture)

Preheat your oven to 350° and spray two loaf pans with Baker’s Joy.

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients (except 1/2 cup of sugar and cinnamon). Add oil, milk, and eggs (I like to measure out the milk, crack the eggs into it, and whisk it all together, but you do you) and stir until all is combined. Add raisins and stir again.

In a seperate bowl, mix cinnamon and sugar.

Scoop a little batter into each loaf pan, then sprinkle some of the cinnamon sugar on top. Keep alternating layers of batter and sugar until batter is gone. Make sure to get equal amounts into the loaf pans. Using a knife, swirl the batter and sugar together. Bake for 60 – 70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack before serving.

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So yes, the term “quick bread” is relative here since it takes a while to bake, but it’s worth it. I didn’t get much almond flavor, and I was sad about that, but the brand of almond milk I got sucked. Seriously, it was like water. Lesson learned!

I have accidentally eaten three pieces already, so I should warn you that it’s pretty irresistible.

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Deadlines are making me CRAZY right now. I’m in the middle of one huge ongoing project that has me basically putting in full-time hours. On top of that, I have an article due this weekend that I’m struggling with.

I’m not complaining… After all, freelancing tends to be pretty feast or famine. Sometimes I feel like I can’t seem to scare up any work, but others (like now) I almost end up with more than I can manage. I’m happy to have the work, believe me.

Being this busy makes it pretty tempting to let myself survive on coffee all day, because it’s much easier to pour a cup and get back to work. Since I’ve been going to the gym every morning, though,  I have actually cut back on my coffee consumption and started doing crazy things like eating real food during the day. Imagine that.

I’m also much more aware of the type of food I’m eating. I find that I actually crave healthier foods and I’m thinking of food more as fuel for my body instead of just what will taste good. Of course, whatever I eat (especially during the day) needs to come together quickly, and it’s even better if I can prep it ahead of time.

I think I found the perfect lunch.

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This doesn’t look like much, but it was quick, delicious, and filling without making me feel sluggish. It would be an excellent way to use any leftover brown rice.

I tried a different method when frying my egg, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back… I did end up flipping my egg to cook on the other side briefly, because I have nightmares about undercooked egg whites. Not really. Well, maybe.

This really isn’t even a recipe…more like instructions for assembly. It’s just that easy.

Brown rice with avocado and crispy egg
1/3 cup uncooked quick-cook brown rice

1/3 cup water

Olive oil

1 egg

1/2 of an acocado

Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

Prepare rice according to packace directions. While rice is cooking, cut the avocado in half. Cut one half into slices, and save the remaining half for later.

Fry the egg according to the instructions here. I gently patted mine with a paper towel after frying to get rid of any excess oil.

When your egg is done, spoon the rice into a bowl, top with avocado slices, then with your egg. Sprinkle parm on top, then crack some pepper over everything. You can add salt if you like, but I didn’t think it was necessary.

Hot sauce might be a good addition, but I practically inhaled this. I only remembered the hot sauce as I was rinsing my bowl.

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It was so good that I am actually looking forward to eating this again tomorrow. I won’t lie, I considered having it again for dinner.

What is your favorite quickie lunch?


I woke up yesterday morning, before the sun, before anyone else in my house, and left for the gym. I do this every morning so it’s not remarkable. Since I started this in the winter, it also isn’t remarkable that my car was covered in a layer of ice that took forever to scrape off.

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I’m not usually one to publicly bitch and moan about weather that is still pretty typical for our area (we’ve had snow on Easter before),  but if I’m being totally honest…I’m over it. I’m tired of being cold. I don’t want to wear a thousand layers whenever I leave the house. I’m not asking for much… just, maybe 65° and sunny?

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Ok, I’d take this, too.

One thing I’m really missing right now is fresh produce. I want to go to the Farmer’s Market and pick out some nice tomatoes and sweet corn, local honey, strawberries…

You get the point.

So a few days ago, Kroger had some rather pretty grape tomatoes on sale. I managed to find a couple of decent cucumbers, and for once the baby dill looked fresh and not sad and wilty.

I had some chicken cutlets that I planned to roll around a filling of spinach and feta cheese, so why not make a Greek-ish salad to go with them?

This salad, and maybe the whole dinner, was just what I needed to perk up a little. I suggest picking up some naan or pita bread to go with it, because you’ll need something to sop up the extra dressing.

Greek style cucumber and tomato salad

1 container grape tomatoes, halved

2 cucumbers, cut into bite-sized chunks

About 1/4 of a small onion, cut into thin slivers

About a handful of pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped

1 container crumbled feta cheese

Dressing:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

3-4 sprigs fresh dill, washed and minced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons Greek seasoning

1 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Salt and pepper

Toss the tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, olives, and feta into a bowl with a tightly fitting lid.

Whisk dressing ingredients until combined, then pour over salad. Make sure the lid is good and secure, then give it all a good shake to combine and let it rest in the fridge for a few hours. I put mine together while O ate breakfast, so it got to marinate all day before we devoured it.

Taste it before serving and add whatever seasoning it needs. I ended up adding a bit more Greek seasoning, but be careful. The feta is pretty salty, so don’t go overboard.

I served this along with my spinach and feta stuffed chicken cutlets and some lemon dill roasted potatoes.

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Excuse the poorly-lit picture, but I had to hurry because two starving guys were about to descend upon the dinner I had so artfully crafted. I knew if I waited there wouldn’t be much left. Surprisingly, O ate every bite on his plate, held it up and said, “more, pease?”

I gladly piled more on, and told him I was happy to see him eating so well.

“I happy, mama! It soooo dood!”

And then he shoveled his second helping in like he hadn’t eaten in a week.

That kid got a scoop of ice cream topped with a crumbled Oreo and chocolate syrup after dinner. Of course, he ate all of that, too.

Hell, I was so excited that he ate so much that if he’d asked for a pony I would have gone looking for one.

Stay tuned…I’ll post the recipes for the chicken and potatoes soon!


Oh, hey guys! Remember me?

To say I’ve been busy would be an understatement. I’ve been going to the gym regularly, I accepted a couple of new freelance gigs, and I’ve been crocheting and cooking like crazy.

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You want to make this roast, by the way. I adapted this recipe to work for a roast in the crock pot. It was delicious.

I also baked this sweet little smash cake for a sweet little girl’s one year pictures.

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That would be a white cake (that I threw sprinkles into at the last minute for fun) with chocolate and pink buttercream.

I have also been on a major hummus kick lately. I made a batch last week that was, quite literally, a bunch of stuff thrown into my food processor. It was good, but I really wanted some roasted garlic in there.

Today, after feeding my little stinker breakfast (that he decided not to touch), we made a quick trip to the grocery store for hummus fixins. As soon as we got home, I popped the garlic into the oven to roast. O “cooked” while I crocheted, and after about an hour the garlic was ready to go.

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Making your own hummus is so simple and easy, I don’t know why everyone isn’t doing it. Aside from roasting the garlic, it took about five minutes to make mine and it tastes so much better than store bought!

Rosemary and roasted garlic hummus
1 16 ounce can chick peas, rinsed and drained

A couple of sprigs fresh rosemary

1 head of roasted garlic (follow the easy instructions here)**

Juice of 1/2 of a lemon

Olive oil

Cumin

Salt and pepper

Add chick peas, roasted garlic, rosemary leaves (removed from the stem), lemon juice, and about a teaspoon each of cumin, salt, and pepper to your food processor. Start with about a tablespoon each of olive oil and water, pop the top on that puppy, and turn it on. Let it go for a while, and once everything starts to look nice and pulverized, stop and scrape the sides of the bowl down. Check the texture and taste, then add whatever it needs. If it feels dry, add in a bit more water and olive oil. You can also throw in whatever spices or herbs you want.

Keep blending and checking until you have the texture you like. Spoon it into an airtight container and drizzle a bit more olive oil on top.

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If you can keep from eating all of it in one sitting, I’ll be impressed. I forced myself to put it in the fridge after shoveling half of it in my face.

**This may sound like a lot of garlic to you…And it probably is. I just really, really love the stuff. Feel free to back it down a bit. Whatever you don’t out in the hummus can be spread onto bread or mixed into mashed potatoes, soup, etc…


I’ve been trying to come up with healthy breakfast ideas for O lately that can be made ahead. He’s been eating a ton of oatmeal lately (both the refrigerator kind and quickly-cooked that morning), and there’s always some sort of fruit involved. For a few days he had whole-wheat waffles with peanut butter and maple syrup, but then the toaster tried to kill me.

Seriously, flames shot out of the bottom. That’ll wake you up.

I bought some barley for the cauliflower salad I made to go with my beer chicken, and I thought it would make a nice breakfast for O. Barley is full of good things like fiber (not that my kid really needs more fiber…) and whatnot.

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The only problem is that it takes about 40 minutes to cook and we just don’t have that kind of time in the morning.

Oh, hello there crock pot.

Yes, my favorite kitchen item (besides my 8 inch chef knife) can also do breakfast duty. 

This is seriously the easiest thing in the world, and it’s entirely customizable. You can stir in peanut butter or maple syrup, nuts, granola, dried fruit, fresh fruit, chia seeds, almond milk… Whatever makes your heart sing!

Overnight breakfast barley

1 cup pearl barley, rinsed
4 1/2 cups water
Optional:
Honey
Frozen berries
Sliced almonds
Cinnamon
Milk

Before you go to bed, use a mesh strainer to rinse barley, then dump it in the crock pot. Add water, give it a stir, and set it on low. I got mine started around 11:00, and I woke up around 7:30. I’d say at least 6 hours should do it.

That’s it!

To serve, I threw some frozen berries in a bowl, spooned the barley on top, and then stirred in some sliced almonds, honey, cinnamon, and a little milk.

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The frozen berries cooled the hot barley, and the heat from the barley thawed the berries. It was a delicious breakfast that was really simple and healthy.

I spooned the leftover barley into an air tight container and put it in the fridge, but you could easily freeze it in individual servings.

What are your favorite healthy breakfast ideas?


I don’t generally cook with beer or wine… I suppose I worry that the alcohol won’t totally cook out, and the one time I decided to get wild and add some Guinness to my beef stew it ended up bitter. That was a sad day.

I keep hearing about this magical beer chicken, though. The most simple recipes call for little more than chicken and beer, but some call for herbs and spices. You apparently end up with super moist and flavorful chicken, just for pouring a beer in the pot.

And maybe pour one out for your homies.

…What? I don’t know…

Coincidentally, I happened to see Guinness Blonde at the store recently. I love Guinness, and I wanted to try this new, lighter version…I can’t remember the last time I actually purchased beer, let alone drink one, so I’d been hoping to see it in a 40 ounce bottle. Of course I’d need a brown paper bag with it because I’m super classy…Ok, really I wanted to find a 40 because I couldn’t justify spending the eleven freaking dollars for a sixer of beer just so I could drink one. You know what? I’m getting way off topic. Back to the chicken.

(I did end up buying a six pack of the Guinness Blonde, but from a liquor store for eight bucks.)

You. Guys.

Not only is this the best chicken ever, but it was insanely easy. I did toss a few extra ingredients in there, but nothing wild or hard to prep. You should totally put this on your meal plan soon, if you’re the type to be that organized.

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Crockpot Beer Chicken

3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 12 ounce bottle Guinness Blonde  (or your favorite beer)

About 1/2 of a medium yellow onion, roughly chopped

2 stalks celery, sliced

3 garlic cloves

About a cup of chicken broth

Baby carrots

3 or 4 small to medium potatoes, cut into chunks

Salt and pepper

Trim any excess fat from your chicken, then place it in the bottom of your crock pot along with the onions and garlic cloves. Pour in beer, crack some pepper over everything and sprinkle in a little salt. Put the lid on and let it cook on high for about four-ish hours.

After four hours, add the chicken broth (I dissolved chicken bouillon in a cup of hot water), celery, carrots, and potatoes. Turn the crock pot to low and let it go for at least another three hours.

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Serve this chicken with this delightful warm cauliflower and herbed barley salad from Bon Appétit, and maybe a hunk of warm, crusty, French bread to soak up the juices.

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This made a really satisfying meal, and the leftovers make excellent sandwiches. I think I’ve managed to finally conquer my fear of cooking with beer…Now I may be adding it to everything!


I have been trying  (and largely failing) to stay away from red meat lately… I think eating it in large quantities is probably bad for you no matter what, but I’ve been told (by a doctor from The Doctors) that it’s thought to be a contributing factor in fibroid development.

I’m not trying to go through that mess again.

The problem is, I kind of love red meat. Last week we had chili and Salisbury steaks…Cow and more cow. I decided Friday night would be a good night for chicken…but The BF sent me a text early that afternoon suggesting we go out for Chinese. I ate beef and broccoli in garlic sauce. Mooooooo

Saturday night I finally made some chicken and man am I glad I did. This was delicious and pretty easy, even with a toddler literally sitting on my feet while I cooked.

I’m not saying I want to give up beef (right now I so badly want a giant, juicy cheeseburger), but I will gladly eat more chicken if I can drown it in a delightful lemon cream sauce…

Yes, I realize that cream isn’t exactly health food. Baby steps, people.

Chicken with lemon cream sauce

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 4)

Greek seasoning

1 cup flour

Two tablespoons butter, divided

Cooking oil (I use canola)

1 cup mushrooms (or more if you love mushrooms), roughly chopped

About 1/2 of a medium onion, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup heavy cream

Juice of one lemon

A big handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Parmesan cheese, grated

Pepper, to taste

To begin, heat a little oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, and add 1 tablespoon of butter. Sprinkle Greek seasoning over both sides of chicken, then dredge it in flour. Give it a shake, then arrange the chicken in your hot pan and cook for about 6 minutes on each side (or until your meat thermometer reads at least 165°). Remove chicken to a baking sheet, cover with foil, and place it in a warm oven (I stuck it in while my oven preheated to 375° for the garlic knots) while you make the sauce.

Turn the heat down to medium and drop your remaining tablespoon of butter into the pan. When it’s melted, add onion and mushrooms. Give it about 5-10 minutes, then add the garlic. After about 5 minutes, deglaze the pan with chicken stock and stir. Let that bubble and reduce by about half. Pour in half of your lemon juice and the cream, let it come to a bubble, then add the chicken back to the pan. Toss in some parsley and fresh-cracked pepper and turn the heat down a bit so the sauce thickens. Before serving, taste the sauce and add more lemon if necessary.

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I served mine over spaghetti, but you could use rice or even spaghetti squash. Sprinkle some grated parmesan over it, throw in a salad and some garlic bread, and you have a delicious (and cow-free!) dinner that even your toddler will love. 



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