Tex Mex Potato Chowder

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To celebrate the start of “-ber month season,” I bring you this wonderfully hearty potato chowder recipe. This has became a fall time favorite as it is easy to throw together on busy school nights, and it is packed with flavor that lasts a couple of meals. This recipe is great as is, but I think that there are so many things you can add to customize the taste. The next time I make this I may add some jalapenos or maybe a serrano to heat things up.  I bet a topping of queso fresco and/or seasoned tortilla strips would set this chowder off as well. I’ve also considered adding extra broth and thickening it up with some Masa flour to enhance the dish with a “tortilla-esque” flavor. The possibilities are endless. I was inspired to give this dish a try by Aunt Bee’s Recipes which is a great recipe blog that I recommend checking out. Aunt Bee’s recipe (found through the above link) offers a slow cooker version of this recipe. If you are interested in making this in a slow cooker her recipe is the way to go. Keep in mind that her ingredients and directions will be slightly different from mine.

TIME: approx. 45 minutes

SERVES: 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 5 gloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 packet of taco seasoning (I used reduced sodium)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 (10oz) can of rotel tomatoes, drained
  • 1 (15.25oz) can of corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15.25oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (28oz) bag of potatoes O’Brien, frozen not thawed
  • 2 (32 oz) cartons of chicken broth
  • 3 cups of milk
  • 8 oz bar of cream cheese, softened/room temperature
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro, reserve a few sprigs to top when you dish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large pot heat oil over medium flame. Add the chopped onion, salt and pepper. Saute for about 3 minutes. Add the ground beef and minced garlic. Cook until beef is no longer pink. Drain any excess grease.
  2. Stir in taco seasoning, cumin, and chili powder until the beef mixture is well coated. Next, add rotel tomatoes, black beans, corn, potatoes, chicken broth and milk.
  3. Bring to a boil then reduce heat.
  4. Simmer while covered for 20 minutes.
  5. Stir in softened cream cheese and fresh cilantro.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Dish topping with the reserved cilantro and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

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Sriracha Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry

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My husband and I will soon be entering a transition period in which our “home roles” reverse. I will be launching a career and he will be staying home with our kids more frequently to accommodate my work schedule. This means that I will be letting him take the reigns in the kitchen a little more often. This is a beautiful thing and is one of the reasons why I started this blog. I wanted a place where all of our favorite recipes could live and be accessed from anywhere by anyone. I will admit that I am a little concerned about this transition as my dearest husband has trouble making mac-n-cheese from a box with clearly listed instructions… That said, I took on the hunt for this recipe as a challenge to find a dish similar to the meals my husband makes when he has to cook. There are a few things he can whip up for dinner really well and his go-to dish is ground beef tacos. This recipe is as easy as ground beef tacos, takes about the same amount of time, and the flavor is phenomenal. I am confident that my husband can pull this recipe off. This recipe was adapted from a fabulous recipe blog called Budget Bytes. I highly recommend Budget Bytes to everyone as the dishes look delicious and the author, Beth, breaks everything down financially for people like me who like to eat under budget.

Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp sriracha sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1bsp canola oil (or whatever unflavored oil you like to use to brown/cook your meat)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 5 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 small head of green cabbage, sliced into strips
  • 1 lb bag of carrots, peeled and sliced with a potato peeler
  • 1 bunch of green onions, rinsed and sliced
  • 5 oz can of water chestnuts, drained and diced
  • extra sriracha to top the dish (optional)
  • Rice noodles to top the dish (optional)

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha and brown sugar. Mix until combined and set aside.
  2. Heat canola oil over a medium flame and add the ground beef. Once the beef is mostly cooked add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook until fragrant.
  3. Add in the reserved sauce you made in the first step along with the sliced cabbage and carrots. Toss this mixture together and cook until the cabbage is tender crisp.
  4. Add the green onions and water chestnuts. Cook until the water chestnuts are just heated through. You don’t want to cook it too long or the green onions and water chestnuts will begin to loose their crunch.
  5. Plate the stir fry and add your optional toppings. We used crunchy rice noodles and a drizzling of extra sriracha.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

*Photo is an original belonging to me

 

Sloppy Joe Casserole

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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

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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

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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”

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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.

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 Stove top: 

  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)