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!
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
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 small onion, quartered
4 cloves garlic
1 green pepper, quartered
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!
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.
Well, here I go jumping on the Matcha bandwagon. If you aren’t familiar, it’s basically green tea powder. I’ve been reading about the health benefits lately, and it sounds like it’s pretty great…If all of the claims are accurate.
So it’s supposed to be super great for you, but how does it taste?
KissMe Organics was kind enough to send me a bag of their organic Matcha green tea powder so I could try it out. I felt like a kid at Christmas when the package appeared in my mailbox (ok, I feel that way every time I get a package). Since it was a little late in the day I decided to wait to try it, but I couldn’t stand just staring at the pouch on my counter. I decided to compromise and make chia pudding.
Matcha chia pudding
3 tablespoons Organic Chia Seeds
1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder
1 cup almond milk (original or unsweetened)
1 tablespoon real maple syrup or honey (optional, to taste)
Fresh or frozen mixed berries
Measure the chia seeds into a bowl with a tight-fitting lid and set aside. Add almond milk, syrup, and matcha powder to the bowl of your food processor (or your blender, if you have one) and blend until all is combined. Pour over chia seeds and give it a stir, then cover it and stick it in the fridge. After a couple of hours, give the pudding a good stir to bust up any clumps, then leave it in the fridge overnight. When you’re ready to eat, garnish with berries and almond slivers.
I don’t know what I expected it to taste like, but holy green tea, Batman. If you love green tea, you’ll really love this stuff. It had a slight earthy flavor, and it went well with the berries and almond milk. I really liked it, and I can’t wait to try a latte.
If you’re a purist and you just want to brew a cup of tea, follow these directions, courtesy of Bon Appetit. If you’re wondering where to get a fancy little bamboo whisk, I found a reasonably priced set on Amazon that should do the job quite well.
As far as all of the health claims go…I can’t really say if I think they’re all accurate since I’ve only ingested a teaspoon of the stuff. I’m going to try really hard to sneak it into my daily diet and see if it lives up to all of the hype. It shouldn’t be hard, since the daily effective dose (according to the package) is only one teaspoon, and you can make tons of things with this stuff. KissMe Organics includes a free recipe book in your purchase, and I think a batch of matcha cookies are in order.
So far, this gets a thumbs up from me…Stay tuned to hear more about my adventures with matcha!
**This post contains affiliate links**
***KissMe Organics sent me a bag of matcha at no charge to me in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.***
My mom used to make the best key lime pie… It was the perfect combination of sweet and tart, with a beautiful, fluffy, toasted meringue on top.
Good lawd, I miss that pie.
She hasn’t made it in ages…She did make me a key lime pie for my birthday a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t the pie. It was still delicious, but with no meringue it just wasn’t the same.
So recently I was wishing for something a little sweet, but a little tart, and I had key lime on the brain after having a key lime truffle from our new candy store.
The problem was, I wanted something super easy that didn’t involve seperating eggs. I wanted a decent, but lazy, approximation of key lime pie.
I found it while aimlessly scrolling through Pinterest one day. The recipe was from Weight Watchers, I think, and it was a bunch of fat-free this and sugar-free that. Yuck.
I made my own version, and it turned out really well. It took me no time to put together, and cleanup was minimal.
Look, it isn’t real key lime pie, but it works in a pinch.
Cheater Key Lime Pie
1 box lime gelatin
1/4 cup boiling water
2 single-serve containers key lime Greek yogurt
1 8 ounce package Cool Whip
1 graham cracker pie crust
Dissolve gelatin in boiling water and let cool a bit. Stir in yogurt, then Cool Whip. Pour into pie crust, cover, and refrigerate until ready to eat. I think mine was in the fridge for a couple of hours and it was pretty good, but it was even better when I cut into it this morning to get a picture. I know because I, uh, accidentally got some on my finger and I had to taste it.
The sacrifices I make, people.
This might be the perfect summer treat. Sweet, but not heavy…I’m already thinking of ways to fancy it up so I don’t feel like such a slouch next time I make it.
Now I think I’ll go accidentally eat the rest of that slice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
1/2 of an acocado
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.
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?