Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Slow-cooked Sweet & Spicy Sloppy Joes

The sloppy joe has been a staple of the budget-conscious family for years, but if you're from a family that grew up with this in regular rotation at the dinner table - have you even thought of making sloppy joes since? It's time for Sloppy Joe to grow up, get a job, enhance his resume. It's time for an adult sloppy joe - a sloppy joe with sweet, savory, and spicy flavors that a sophisticated palate can appreciate. Do not be overwhelmed by the list of ingredients for the sauce, it will be well worth the flavors you'll get from this grown-up 'joe - and keep in mind it will give you a lot of HEAT hidden beneath it's sweet bbq sauce taste.

I love to hide veggies in recipes where they easily go undetected. I've snuck more than 3 cups of veggies into this recipe by using my mini food processor to make them the same size and texture as the ground beef. Covered in this recipe's sweet & spicy sauce, hungry eaters will be none the wiser.

I typically make a lot of sloppy joe and then freeze portions for nights I don't feel like cooking or nights I'm not home so Mr. B. has something to eat. This recipe makes a lot of sloppy joes. Please feel free to cut down this recipe to a half or a third, if you don't have room in the freezer and are only cooking for a few.

Can we just take a moment to remember this amazing sketch from SNL featuring Chris Farley and Adam Sandler? Sloppy, sloppy joes...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Sweet & Simple: Strawberry Ice Cream Cakes

Dessert is as simple as scooping out some vanilla ice cream and convincing your guests they're eating gourmet food. Strawberries, vanilla ice cream, and dessert shells make for an affordable, delicious, and light tasting dessert. This recipe would work well with almost any berry or a mix of berries.

The sponge cake dessert shells used in this recipe are usually found in your grocery store's produce section (check near the berries). Six dessert shells ran me about 2.29 (or about 38 cents a shell). If you make this recipe in the springtime, strawberries are usually on sale - I bought them for buy one get one free and ended up paying $4 for 2 lbs of strawberries (you only need 1 lb). Finally, vanilla ice cream will cost you roughly $4-$5 and you'll have plenty leftover for late night snacks. Overall, you're looking at $1.48 for each yummy serving.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Spaghetti & Meatballs and garlic toast

The other night, I revisited a classic: spaghetti & meatballs. Spaghetti & meatballs is actually one of my favorite comfort foods, there's nothing like a big fork-ful of pasta and a carmelized meatball. I try to make this a bit healthier with the use of lean ground turkey and whole wheat spaghetti. Many "light" recipes call for only using the egg white instead of the whole egg. If you want to watch your fat and cholesterol, you may, but I hate being wasteful (and I have nothing against the egg yolk). Rolling into about 2 inch meatballs, you will yield approximately 18 meatballs that will fit nicely into a 12 inch cast iron skillet. The whole meal should feed about 4 hungry people, or if you serve with a caesar salad (which I originally intended to but filled up a bit too much on spaghetti and garlic bread), you can stretch it to feed 6.

This meatball recipe could be matched with either a white, due to its herb-y nature, or red. Avoid Chardonnays, as they do not like to be paired with tomatoes, and match up with acidic red such as Malbec or Sangiovese.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Mexican Chipotle & Beef Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers were one of my favorite meals as a kid. However, it is time to kick up the traditional stuffed peppers recipe a notch with a spicy tomato sauce using chipotle and adobo sauce. This recipe is super easy and super yummy. It can also easily be adjusted to be healthier, using ground turkey, brown rice, and less cheese (but I can't say no to cheese). This recipe would be great to have for a Cinco De Mayo dinner or party and would make a great alternative to tacos or another stand-by Mexican dish.

The bell peppers should be large and round, as they will be the container for beef, rice, and chipotle goodness. The average person will eat 1-2 pepper halves. This recipe makes 8 pepper halves. Enjoy the few ingredients this recipe requires and the money it will save you! We enjoyed this recipe with a bottle of corona and a lime wedge.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Asian Shrimp & Noodle Salad

Continuing with my salad theme, here's a great, healthy, Asian-inspired salad. This recipe is taken from Kraft and enhanced with changing up some ingredients and adding shrimp. I only had 1 lb of shrimp on hand, but using 2 lbs would provide even more of the yummy little morsels. Leave out the shrimp, and you have a great vegetarian dish. I've posted this recipe previously, but I didn't have pictures at this time so I'm giving it a revival.

Wine? Make it light and crisp. Riesling, Soave, or Sauvignon Blanc.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Broccoli Salad

You won't have any problem eating your fruit & vegetables when it comes to this broccoli salad. The ingredients will cost you less than $11, and if you opt for pre-packaged real crumbled bacon, you won't have to cook a thing! Plus, you'll have grapes left over to snack on for the next week. This recipe will make about 9 cups of broccoli salad, costing you barely over a dollar per serving. However, if you're my husband, this salad won't last more than 2 days in the house. So bring on the picnic, and prepare to love eating your broccoli.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Summer time is approaching, which means picnic, pot-lucks, cook-outs, and bikini season. Don't just go to the grocery store and pick up a pound of pasta or macaroni salad when you can make it at home and know exactly what ingredients are going into the salad and what fat and calories you are keeping out. By mixing distinct flavors of Italy and Greece, you'll have a delicious, fresh tasting Mediterranean pasta salad that's quick, easy, budget-friendly and healthy.

Pepperoncini peppers add a little kick here and there, so add more if you like a little extra spicy-ness and tangy-ness or a little less if that's not for your palate. I am not a fan of olives, but if you are, they would make a great addition to the Mediterranean flavors of this pasta salad. This recipe yields about 9 cups of pasta salad

Sunday, May 8, 2011

White flatbread pizza

Naan bread, olive oil, ricotta, mozzarella, basil, garlic powder. Can you handle this 15 minute recipe? I think so. Forget waiting 45 minutes for a $15 dollar pizza when you can get a personal pizza at home in less than 15 minutes with simple ingredients you can get at any grocery store.

My idea for this recipe was originally from an issue of Wegman's magazine (Wegman's is an awesome Northeast grocery store) and ever since trying their naan pizza recipes, I've been hooked on my own version of white naan pizza. See more naan pizza recipes from Wegman's here.

Naan is a South Asian flatbread that is commonly seen in Indian and Pakistani restaurants in the US. And of course, it's complete natural for us (Americans) to take a century old recipe from ancient civilizations, cover it in cheese and salt and call it a pizza. Mmmmm, pizza.

You can find Naan bread at most grocery stores now, pre-packaged and ready to use in a number of recipes. I bought Tandoori Naan, and I particularly like the garlic flavor for this recipe (it also comes in original and whole grain). Find out if this is available at your local grocery store. The size of the naan is perfect for a personal pizza, so take this in consideration for serving sizes if you plan on making only this flatbread recipe with no sides.

This mild, garlicky, and herb-y white pizza will pair well with almost any white wine from Champagne to Sauvignon Blanc, so I won't even name grapes - just pick up a bottle of your favorite white. If you prefer red, I almost always opt for an Italian Sangiovese or Chianti when eating mozzarella and ricotta cheese.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chipotle & Lime Braised Beef Fajitas

I love fajitas, but have never been brave enough to try to recreate them myself (the whole here they come on a giant sizzling plate dripping in juicy-ness thing can be a little intimidating, right?). The typical cut of beef used for steak fajitas is flank steak or skirt steak,. But if you're a woman who knows very little about cuts of steak like me, you might pick up the wrong cut of beef at the grocery store because it was stocked on the wrong shelf... so here I am with 2 lbs of boneless beef chuck steak. Two completely different parts of the cow. The challenge with boneless beef chuck steak is its from the shoulder of the cow and is tough and needs to be marinated and slow cooked to break down the connective tissue. This recipe requires marinating and slow cooking (braising) the steak in a dutch oven so it's fall apart by the time dinner comes around.

The marinade recipe is essentially taken from this Tyler Florence fajita recipe. I added some jalapeƱos and exchanged the freshly juiced orange for 1/4 cup of Simply Orange juice, maybe a little extra garlic as well (I can never get enough). I also trade his immersion blender for a mini food processor. This marinade comes out a beautiful bright orange with flecks of red and green. If you do buy flank steak or skirt steak (like I originally intended to), I would follow Tyler's recipe for how to grill it. I can't wait to use this marinade for chicken and shrimp fajitas as well, so yummy!

There are some delicious red Spanish wines that you can pair with this meal. Though fajitas are not a Spanish meal, but more-so Mexican (maybe even more-so Tex-Mex cuisine), you can still try to make it seem more authentic with some spicy Spanish red wines, such as Rioja (a blend of several grapes from Spain or if you can find a bottle of Grenache (called Garnarcha in Spain). For your non-wine drinking friends (first, consider getting new friends), set out a bucket of Coronas and limes or make up your own Sangria to sweeten a bottle of wine up with fruit and brandy. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

I'm not even sure if this recipe needs a foreword. Let's just say, these cookies will not last long around the house, at work, or with whatever group of people you decide to grace with their deliciousness. Just make sure there's enough milk in the fridge.

(I'm in love, and you will be too.)
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