Sloppy Joe Casserole

14224875_10210064300222148_8223023443454088625_n

If you look at my pinterest search history you will find that 90% of my recipe search terms are “casserole.” I love the convenience of throwing a bunch of tasty things into a baking dish and letting magic happen in the oven. This recipe is especially wonderful as it takes the flavor of a Sloppy Joe and maximizes it with a cornbread base. Talk about savory sweet, this dish is packed with flavor! I chop up a bunch of extra vegetables to add a bit of crunch (and nutrients too I guess) and it is a slam dunk. I adapted this recipe from http://www.bunsinmyoven.com

Serves:  10    Calories: 462.4 per serving     Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8.5 oz) box of cornbread mix
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup of milk, I used 2%
  • 1 egg
  • 1 (14 3/4 oz) can of cream corn
  • 2 (16 oz) cans of sloppy joe sauce
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease a 9×13 baking dish
  2. Mix together the cornbread mix, 1/2 cup of the cheddar cheese, milk, egg, and cream corn.
  3. Pour this mixture into your baking dish and bake for about 15 minutes.
  4. While cornbread is baking melt the butter in a large pan.
  5. Sauté the onion and peppers for 3 minutes
  6. Add the ground beef and cook until it is no longer pink.
  7. Drain the fat from the pan. This is important because you don’t want this mixture to be too liquid-y.
  8. Add all but 1/2 cup of the sloppy joe sauce to the beef mixture and stir it all in.
  9. By now your cornbread should be done baking. Check for readiness with a toothpick (basically stab the cornbread with a toothpick once and if it comes out clean the bread is done).
  10. Puncture the cornbread with a fork to create little holes. Spread 1/2 cup of the sloppy joe sauce over the cornbread.
  11. Pour the beef mixture over the cornbread and spread evenly. Top with the rest of the cheddar cheese and return the baking dish to the oven for 15 minutes.
  12. Remove from the oven, let cool for a minute or two, top with green onions and serve.
  13. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe adapted from http://www.bunsinmyoven.com

Taco Stuffed Zucchini Boats

13522073_10209472252501325_1961467521649253846_n

I have seen these recipes floating around on pintrest for a while but I’ve been too skeptical to give them a try. Our neighbors, Ryan and Laura, are fellow foodies and we often share samples of what we are cooking. They gave us a sample of their zucchini boats a few weeks ago and it totally fueled this recipe. I was blown away by the flavor and heartiness of their boats. A bit later I bucked up and gave this taco variation a try. This is a safe place to start in the world of zucchini boats because you can add toppings and customize it to your tastes. We floated some Ghost Scream Hot Sauce (a gift from Ryan) that really kicked these babies up a notch. The recipe in general isn’t overwhelmingly “squash-y.” Instead it is a fresh addition to the classic taco flavor. I’m very excited to experiment with these and am looking to try out a sausage or lentil zucchini boat recipe in the near future. Massive thanks to Ryan and Laura for giving me the confidence to try this recipe! I also want to note that this recipe is adapted from http://www.willcookforsmiles.com

Makes: 8 boats     Calories: 350     Time: 5o minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 Large Zucchini
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 large jalapeno, chopped (if you like it hot include the seeds)
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 packet of reduced sodium taco seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • (optional toppings we used) rotel tomatoes, hot sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise. To keep stability of the zucchini boat on your baking pan cut a little sliver out of the green flesh on the bottom side so that the zucchini will lay flat. With a spoon scoop out the seeded middle part. Set the boats aside.
  3. In a large pan heat oil and saute the onion, tomato and jalapeno for about a minute
  4. Add the ground beef and crumble as you cook. When it is about half way done add the taco seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste
  5. Stuff each zucchini boat with this beef mixture and place them on a greased baking pan. Bake for about 25 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and top with pepper jack cheese. Continue to bake them until cheese is melted.
  7. Remove from the oven once more and top with your favorite toppings.
  8. Serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Original recipe adapted from http://www.willcookforsmiles.com

Inside Out Cabbage Roll Soup – Crockpot

13428614_10209360466026733_3104987209208825944_n

I’m late to the “get bikini ready” party. It is the end of June and I’m just now starting to worry about eating healthier, exercising more and ultimately looking decent this summer. Better late than never I always say! I was unsure of this soup at first because I am not a huge fan of cabbage unless it is in colcannon on St. Patrick’s Day. However I needed something to start me off right and everyone raves over cabbage soup. I have to say this recipe took me by surprise. It had a great flavor that was not overpowered by the cabbage. Also, my apartment did not stink as the cabbage cooked either which was a fear of mine. I was pleased with how easy and tasty this recipe ended up being. We had many meals, lunches and dinners, out of one batch. This recipe will make it into our soup rotation for sure! The original recipe can be found at http://www.sugarfreemom.com, but I did modify the ingredients a bit. I halved the amount of ground beef and upped the amount of veggies.

Serves: 9-12     Calories: about 290 per serving    Time: 3.5 hours on high or 6.5 hours on low

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 shallots, chopped
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 16 oz jar of your favorite marinara sauce
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, riced
  • 8 cups of beef broth
  • 1 large head of cabbage

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil over high heat and sauté until soft.
  2. Add the ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Add the garlic for 30 seconds or until fragrant
  3. Add the seasonings, cauliflower and marinara sauce to the beef and mix until combined.
  4. Add beef broth, cabbage, and beef mixture to your crockpot. Stir until combined
  5. Cover and cook for 3 hours on high or 6 hours on low.
  6. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Original recipe adapted from http://www.sugarfreemom.com

Thai Basil Beef “Fake-Out-Take-Out”

11888016_10207161477453393_1262160461549669789_n

It only took one bite to know that this recipe would become a regular in my kitchen. Traditionally Thai dishes don’t use ground beef but since I have two very busy little boys I needed to make it easy and affordable. Ground beef or beef strips, this recipe is a show stopper. The flavor is savory, spicy, and sweet. I think the fresh basil is really the highlight here. It adds a crisp fresh element that really blew us away. We spooned the beef over a mound of brown rice that added a nice chewy texture. We declared that from now on we will be doubling this recipe because two dinners just isn’t enough!

Serves: 5     Calories: 423 per serving (includes 1 cup brown rice)     Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil, I used Canola
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 4 teaspoons brown sugar (light or dark)
  • 4 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
  • 1-2 cups basil, I used 1.5 cups of basil from my garden
  • Brown rice, cooked (optional)

Directions:

  1. If you’re serving with rice start cooking your rice now.
  2. Crush garlic with the flat blade of a knife. If you have a mortar and pestle you can use them to make a paste with the crushed garlic, pepper flakes and salt. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle continue using the flat blade of a knife and crush together the garlic, pepper flakes and salt to make a garlic-y paste. Once you’ve made the paste let it sit for a minute or two to allow the flavors to meld together.
  3. Heat oil in a large pan and cook the garlic paste with shallot for a minute over medium heat.
  4. Add the beef and continue to cook until just browned, approximately 6 minutes
  5. Stir in your bell peppers. I like to leave my bell peppers still a little crunchy so I immediately moved onto the next step. If you like your bell pepper more soft allow them to cook for a minute or two before moving onto the next step.
  6. Add the soy sauce and brown sugar. Cook for a minute or two longer
  7. Add the basil and cook until just wilted, about a minute.
  8. Spoon beef over a bed of rice or other steamed veggies. OR eat it straight out of the pan, I will not confirm nor deny that I was tempted..
  9. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Recipe is adapted from http://www.littlespicejar.com which is an adorable food blog with many many more delicious recipes!

Spinach Meatballs with Sun-dried Tomato and Spinach Orzo – ★★★★★

1970951_10205600543951031_8676735917190554793_nSun-dried tomatoes are to me like candy is to my 4-year-old. I can snack on these tangy sweet nuggets all day. That said, I get excited when I can add them to my recipes. Think jimmies on your ice cream… Yep, pretty much the same thing in my book. The orzo could really stand on its own as a meal but since we are trying to pack in the protein I threw in the meatballs for good measure. The meatballs were an absolute treat. They seemed to have much more substance than any other meatball I’ve made before. To explain how good they are my picky 4-year-old even ate 3 of them on his own. This recipe will make it into my normal rotation for sure. One thing I would like to note is that I used a rice cooker to make the orzo. It is extremely easy to make in the rice cooker but as not everyone has the appliance I will provide two sets of directions for the orzo. Perry gave 5 stars and this is why:

“Kelsey is putting a lot of effort into rounding out the nutrition in our dinners. At first I was concerned because I am a carnivore and she wanted to gorge on veggies. Thankfully meat can also be good for you too. This recipe however threw me for a curve. There are so many flavors and textures that make it an absolute pleasure to eat. The orzo is soft and tangy while the meatballs are savory and fulfilling. I had no guilt eating this dinner. 5 stars!”

Serves: 5     Calories in Meatballs: 294 per serving     Calories in Orzo: 102 per serving  

Time for Meatballs: 1hr 30 mins     Time for Orzo: 15-20 minutes

Ingredients for Meatballs:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 (10 oz) package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup italian breadcrumbs, I used whole wheat
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Ingredients for Orzo:

  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 cup sun-dried tomatoes, more or less depending on your taste.
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 8 basil leaves, chopped

Directions for Meatballs:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. In a large bowl mix all ingredients together until combined
  3. Form into small/medium-sized meatballs and line them in a greased baking dish
  4. Bake for 45-50 minutes until cooked through.
  5. Serve with sun-dried tomato and spinach orzo.
  6. Enjoy!

Directions for Orzo in Rice Cooker:

  1. Place all ingredients in your rice cooker
  2. Secure the lid and press cook. This will cook for 10-15 minutes
  3.  When the cooker switches to warm, stir the orzo and let rest for 5 mins before serving.
  4. Serve with meatballs and enjoy!

Directions for Orzo Stovetop: 

  1. Combine orzo and chicken broth in a small/medium saucepan. Bring to a boil
  2. Once boiling reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook covered for 15-20 minutes until orzo is tender.
  3. Fluff with a fork and add tomatoes, spinach, and basil.
  4. Cover once more and cook on low heat until spinach starts to wilt and tomatoes are warm through.
  5. Serve with meatballs and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

*Original meatball recipe adapted from http://www.food.com

*Original orzo recipe adapted from “Rice Cooker Creations with Debra Manning” (p.75)

Salisbury Meatballs – ★★★★★

1655988_10202861169595570_4429871651001961506_n

I have not been motivated to try new recipes these past few weeks, but when I clicked through my “recipes to try” board on pintrest.com I quickly re-ignited that flame. This recipe originally comes from Ree at http://www.thepioneerlady.com , and it is absolutely delicious and very easy to pull together. I would recommend making this on a weeknight because the left overs are just as tasty if not more. I did cut the ingredients in half because there were only 2 of us enjoying this meal, so if you’re cooking for a crowd jet over to thepioneerlady.com and see the ingredients Ree has listed to serve 12. Perry gave this recipe 5 stars and this is why:

“My first impression of this recipe was how savory the meatballs were. The flavor was so true to salisbury steak that I was blown away. I also found myself sneaking into the kitchen for extra spoonfuls of the gravy which was really rich and delicious covering the noodles. I’m giving this one five stars and hoping Kelsey puts this on the regular rotation.”

Serves: 5   Calories: 535.4 per serving with egg noodles   Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/4 + 1/8 cups breadcrumbs
  • 1/8 cup spicy brown mustard
  • 1/8 cup ketchup
  • 1 crumbled beef bouillon cube
  • 1/2 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 whole medium onion, halved and sliced
  • 1-1/4 cups Beef Broth
  • 1/2 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 tablespoons cornstarch, mixed with a bit of beef broth to make a paste
  • 1 package of egg noodles, cooked and drained
  • fresh parsley, minced

Directions:

  1. Combine the first eight ingredients in a large mixing bowl to make the meatballs. Roll into medium sized balls and place on a plate.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and melt the 2 tbsp of butter. When completely melted add meatballs to pan and gently roll them around to brown, and set on a clean plate. Do this in batches if you need to. I needed to do two batches as my pan wouldn’t accommodate all the meatballs at once.
  3. Once all meatballs are browned, add the sliced onions to the same skillet and cook until browned (approximately 4 minutes).
  4. Now would be a great time to start boiling water for your egg noodles.
  5. While onions are browning, combine the cornstarch and a bit of the beef broth. Stir well as to break up all the chunks of cornstarch. Set aside
  6. Once onions are done add the beef broth (without cornstarch), additional worcestershire  sauce, ketchup and mustard. Stir this all together to scrape any bits off the bottom of the skillet and bring to a boil. Once boiling stir in the cornstarch mixture and add the meatballs. Reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and let cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Serve meatballs over egg noodles sprinkled with fresh parsley and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

**Original recipe can be found at http://www.thepioneerwoman.com 

CrockPot Cheesy Burger Soup – ★★★★★

10600654_10204694956151902_6409786156168847597_n

It’s that lovely time of year when pintrest is FILLED with seasonal soup/stew recipes. I came across this fantastic recipe from http://www.familyfreshmeals.com and knew it would be my first soup of the season. Seriously, who wouldn’t love a cheeseburger inspired soup? My family loved it and I am certain we will be making it a few more times before winter is over. The flavor was described as “creamy cheeseburger.” Everyone had seconds and we still have left overs for lunch. Perry gave 5 stars and here is why:

This soup can only be improved upon with a hot roll accompaniment. The flavor was excellent with a silky broth and hearty meat/veggies. I like that Kels cooked the bacon separately and added it as a garnish because it added a nice crunch. I don’t enjoy soggy bacon, no matter how much flavor it is supposed to add. I think next time I will suggest warm bread and a bleu cheese crumble topping. Five stars for this soup!”  

NOTE: Since we’ve moved back to Pennsylvania I have the added adventure of trying to tailor my recipes to fit my parents’ dietary needs. My dad is diabetic which is why you will now see Carb values, and my mom is doing weight watchers which is why you will now see the PointsPlus values. I hope these extra calculations I’m providing will help not only my parents but also anyone else who clicks on this blog with dietary needs. That being said, I am aware this is a “high carb”/”high points” recipe. Please, please, please change ingredients as you see fit. Substitute turkey for beef, turkey bacon for regular bacon, low fat cheese for shredded cheese, etc… I am making it as close to the original for the first time to gauge taste so in the future I can substitute things and see what I can change without sacrificing too much flavor. 

Serves: 8+  Calories: 448 per serving  Carbs: 39.5g per serving  WW PointsPlus Value: 13 points per serving

Prep Time: 30 min  Cook time: 7 hr (low)  Total Time: 7hr 30m

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup onions, diced
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup of celery, chopped
  • 1 cup of carrots, sliced
  • 2 cups of white potatoes, cubed
  • 8 oz of cream cheese, cubed
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp back pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 package of bacon, cooked and crumbled to garnish (reserving a little bit of the grease to stir in for flavor)

Directions:

  1. Sautee onions over medium high heat. Before they start to become translucent add your ground beef and cook until the meat is no longer pink in the middle.
  2. Add the onion/beef mixture to your crockpot along with the diced tomatoes, chicken broth, celery, carrots, potatoes, cream cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, basil, and parsley. Stir to mix the ingredients in together.
  3. Cook on low for 7 hours
  4. Before cooking time is up, fry up the bacon reserving a bit of the grease. Also, mix together the milk and flour until there are no lumps in the mixture. Add the bacon grease, flour/milk mixture, and shredded cheese.
  5. Continue to cook until the cheese is melted
  6. Spoon a healthy serving into bowls, garnish with bacon and anything else you would garnish your burger with
  7. Enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

**Original recipe found at http://www.familyfreshmeals.com