Monday, August 31, 2015

Andrew's Joe

My son Andrew LOVES sloppy joes.  We learned that he couldn't get enough of them while on vacation. My dad thought it would be a great meal through the week for lunch; no one anticipated Andrew eating so much.  My dad used canned sloppy joe products to make them.

I wanted to take advantage of Andrew's love of a food, but make it healthier for our family.  You may or may not choose to add the beans to your sloppy joes; we are trying to increase fiber and protein in our diets so this is an easy way for me to do so.

While the kids will eat the meal on whole grain buns each night, John and I prefer to switch it up. Last night, we ate our leftovers over baked zucchini.  You could enjoy it over quinoa, pasta, or on lettuce leaves. 

Imagine black beans and tomato sauce
  • Onion, chopped
  • Bell pepper, chopped (I used red so it blended in more)
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed (optional)
  • 1 T olive oil or cooking spray
  • salt
  • tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 t hot pepper sauce
  • 2 t maple syrup 

  1. Heat oil in large skillet.  Add onion and bell pepper. Cook 4 minutes. Add garlic. Stir and cook an additional minute.  Set aside mixture in bowl.
  2. Brown turkey in the same skillet.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add mixture back to skillet, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pepper sauce, and syrup. Mix well. Reduce heat. Allow to thicken over medium-low heat for 15 minutes.

TIME: 25 minutes
SOURCE: Adapted from Fixate

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fresh Fridge Pickles

I like cucumbers.  My daughter LOVES them.  My husband won't touch them.  My son can't even stand to be in the same room as them.  Very rarely does a food cause such a divide in our house.

We've had a decent amount of cucumbers come our way this summer, and with only two of us eating them, I was definitely tiring of the chopped-on-salad variety and ready for something new.  This easy pickle recipe almost seemed too good to be true.  With so few ingredients, there was certainly no harm in trying.  I absolutely loved them, and so did my neighbors who helped taste test with me. They were so good that I made a second batch.

Note: This recipe uses and yields 2 quart-sized mason jars.  I halved the recipe based on the number of cucumbers I had.

  • 8-10 pickling cucumbers or 5-6 regular cucumbers
  • 6 cloves of garlic, cut in half
  • 2 cups seasoned rice vinegar*
  • large bunch of fresh dill, washed.
  1. Wash and trim ends off cucumbers and cut into ⅛ inch slices.
  2. Put garlic slices in each mason jar and fill halfway up with cucumbers.
  3. Stuff a large handful of dill into jars.
  4. Add the rest of the cucumber and pour 1 cup of seasoned rice vinegar into each jar.
  5. Tightly put the lid on the jar and shake 2-3 times to blend the flavors.
  6. Place in fridge for 1 hour, shake again. The salt in the seasoned rice vinegar with draw out the cucumber juice so the jar will be full of liquid in a few hours. After about 2-3 hours, they taste pretty good, however they are far superior if left overnight.
*Please note: Seasoned Rice vinegar has both salt and sugar in it. If you prefer a more savory taste, use white vinegar instead and add 2 teaspoons of kosher or sea salt to each jar.

We may have eaten a few before this picture was taken...oops.

Difficulty: easy
Time: 10 minutes prep, 3+ hours resting time

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Breakfast Cookies

These cookies are awesome.  I first tried these cookies at work when I was having a rough day; my coworker told me to take two since they were small.  They appeared again at an end of year breakfast.  I will admit to actually putting a few leftovers in a baggie for my husband to try (the breakfast cookies were so good that I broke my rule about taking items from the staff room).  John loved them.  So I begged for the recipe, which I lost-twice.  After finally finding the recipe again, I made the cookies to rave reviews from the entire family.

These cookies have been great in lots of different situations for my family; they have worked perfectly for everyone. My husband and I are runners;two of these cookies are great as we head out on our long runs.  Then, I  made them for new neighbors as they were unloading their U-Haul.
Just yesterday, I made them for my friend who is always shuttling her boys to practices and games.

Everyone has enjoyed them. 

While I'd love to say that I can eat breakfast at home with my kids each morning, it is too hard given our early departure time. These cookies are easy to grab and go as well as being filling as we head to a packed day of school and work.

  • 1 cup coconut oil, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t pure almond extract
  • 1 t pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 T cinnamon
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup Craisins
  • 1 cup flaked baking coconut
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup flax seed
  • 1 T chia seeds


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. In mixing bowl, cream together oil and sugars.   Add eggs and extracts; beat well.
  3. Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and oats. Mix.
  4. Fold in remaining ingredients and stir until blended.
  5. Drop by tablespoon onto cookie sheets. Bake for 14-16 minutes. 

DIFFICULTY: Medium..mostly because there are a lot of ingredients.  I often make two batches, one to eat and one to freeze. 
TIME: 15 minute prep; 15 minute baking time
SOURCE: I adapted this recipe from my friend; my changes were to make the recipe more clean. 

NOTE: If you don't have coconut oil, you can use 2 sticks of butter.  Also, you could exchange the honey for 1/2 cup sugar.  

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Kale and Fontina Panini

When my family first started getting the bulk of our fresh veggies through a CSA, we had to open our minds and taste buds to some new flavors.  Kale - hailed as a super food - was one that I really wanted to like but had a hard time in doing so.  I tried it many different ways - kale chips, in smoothies, in combination with other greens, and more - but the first recipe that I tried that I absolutely loved that had kale in it was this one.  Honestly, you could use just about any cheese that you have, but we really enjoyed the not-so-cheap fontina as a special treat.

  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 cups chopped kale
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 8-10 slices country bread (1/4 inch thick), preferably whole wheat
  • 1 cup fontina or Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 1-2 medium tomatoes
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 5-7 minutes.  Add vinegar and cook until almost evaporated, about 1 minute.  Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  
  2. Add kale, water and salt (the pan will be full).  Stir, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the kale is wilted and the water has evaporated, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  3. To prepare panini: Preheat panini maker to high.  Coat one side of each slice of bread with cooking spray.  With the sprayed side down, spread the kale mixture on 4 slices of bread (about 1/2 cup per sandwich).  Top each with 1/4 cup cheese and 2 slices of tomato.  Top with the remaining bread, sprayed-side up.  Press in the panini maker until crispy, 3-5 minutes.
Note: If you do not have a panini maker, make these sandwiches in a skillet.  Place a medium pan on top of them and add four 15 oz cans to the pan to weigh it down.  Cook 2-3 minutes per side.

Difficulty: medium
Time:  ~40 minutes
Source: magazine May/June 2014