Another Post About Tomatoes

It’s October, which means that fall is in the air!  The bad news?  The weather just can’t seem to make up its mind.  Last Friday I wore shorts; today I was in my peacoat, scarf, and boots!  The good news?  Our favorite fall dishes are back!

I am usually not a coffee person, but since I was up at the inhumane time of 7:45 this morning, I splurged on a little fall bliss: Salted Caramel Mocha from Starbucks.  I felt uber hipster with my Starbucks cup, but at least I wasn’t tweeting about it on an iPhone (I am a proud Android owner, thank you very much).

Aside from the drinks and apple everything,  some of my favorite fall flavors are yummy, warm soups that are perfect for those brisk fall evenings.  A few days ago, I tested out a new tomato soup recipe, and I am absolutely in love.  It is delicious and hearty, and it won 3rd place at my last NU Eats club meeting!

Mmmm Tomato Soup

Ingredients:
3 really, really big tomatoes (or a few more smaller ones)
1 onion
6 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 fresh basil leaves
Salt and Pepper
Shredded mozzarella cheese and garlic bread (optional)

Prep:
1.  Preheat oven to 350.  Line jelly-roll pan with foil.
2. Cut tomatoes into small wedges (if you’re using large tomatoes, about 8-10 wedges per tomato).  Remove as much of the seedy part as you can.  Spread evenly onto pan.
3.  Cut onion into wedges and place on pan between tomatoes.  Peel garlic and tuck away into tomatoes (so it doesn’t burn!).  Sprinkle with olive oil; salt and pepper generously.  Roast in oven for around 60 minutes or until tomatoes and onions are justtttt starting to get a little golden on the edges.
4.  When the veggies have about 5-10 minutes left in the oven, heat broth in a large pot and add tomato paste.  Stir until dissolved.  When the veggies come out of the oven, add to pot with basil leaves.  Simmer for about 10 minutes.

5.  Put everything into a food processor or blender and puree until smooth (or as smooth as you like it).  Return to pot.  Stir in heavy cream.   Simmer for another 10 minutes or so.
6.  Remove any remaining chunks.   Serve with shredded cheese and garlic bread.

Happy Eating!

Veggie Turkey Burgers

A few months ago, I claimed that the cheeseburger I had at Husk in Charleston was the best burger I had ever had.

I might have found a replacement.

I’ve finally moved into my new dorm, and with it comes a whole new set of responsibilities, including feeding myself on a regular basis.  My roommate, Rebecca, had her mom staying with us for a few days, and she made us some delicious meals while she was here.  However, she’s back in Cincinnati now, which means we have to fend for ourselves.

After exhausting all of my go-to options (Garlic Pasta, Enchilada Soup, Hot Pockets) I decided to try something new from a recipe I found on Foodily.  I changed the recipe around a little to suit my tastes and make do with what I have, but you can find the original recipe here.

Ingredients: 

1/2 lb ground turkey (If your grocery store only sells it buy the pound, chop it in half while still frozen and save the rest for taco night!)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 onion, chopped into small pieces
1 4 or 4.5 oz can chopped green chilies
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
Potato Rolls
Philadelphia Garden Vegetable Cream Cheese Spread

 Preparation: 

1.  Combine thawed ground turkey, cilantro, onion, green chilies, and spices in medium bowl (use your hands… it’s okay to get a little dirty!)

2. Coat medium-sized fry pan lightly with vegetable spray

3. Form into patties and cook over medium-high heat until cooked through (mine were about 4 minutes on each side, and I cooked 3 at a time)

4.  Spread Cream Cheese on bun, add patties and enjoy!

Yield: about 6 patties

My favorite part about these burgers is that they are so juicy and delicious.  I don’t have access to a grill, but cooking them in the pan worked just fine, and the addition of the creamy Philadelphia was the perfect match.  I didn’t add any additional veggies on top as I usually do with burgers (lettuce, tomato, pickles, etc) since the patties themselves are already stuffed full.

The best part about these is that I ate one for lunch, and froze the rest after I cooked them.  Since meat can’t be re-frozen after it’s already been thawed, you have to cook the burgers before you can put them back into the freezer, but once they’ve been cooked, a couple of Ziplock baggies with the date on them do the trick.  Basically, you’ve just made yourself five additional meals!

But buying groceries is expensive, they say.  No way!  Here’s a breakdown of price to prove to you that you’re better off making these burgers for yourself than buying that McDonald’s Happy Meal:

Can of Chilies: $1.29
LB Ground Turkey: $5.29/2 = $2.15
Yellow Onion: $1.05
Cilantro Flat: $1.29/2 (I only used half) = $0.65
Hamburger Rolls $1.99
Miscellaneous spices and cream cheese: $0.00 (I already had these around the apartment)
Total Cost: $7.13
Cost Per Burger: $1.19

 

Chicken Veggie Wraps

My chicken veggie wrap before I wrapped it up

Lately, I have been super into The Laughing Cow Cream Cheese Wedges.  I never really liked the regular cheese wedges (my Mom swears by them though), but I love, love, love the Garden Vegetable cream cheese flavor.  The other night, I used it to enhance the frozen taquitos I cooked for dinner, and they tasted great!  Today, I used one for my dinner.  I love that you know exactly how much you’re getting and that they have great flavor with less fat than regular cream cheese.

Image from thelaughingcow.com

 

So now you’re dying to know how I made these deliciously simple chicken veggie wraps, right?  They were so easy and easily one of the best wraps I’ve ever had!

Ingredients:

8-10 bite sized pieces of chicken, uncooked – I like to use the Tyson grilled strips that come already cut and cooked, but you can use cut up pieces of frozen chicken breast
1/2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced green pepper
1 wedge Laughing Cow Garden Vegetable Cream Cheese Spread
2 tortillas
Seasonings for chicken – I used onion powder, garlic powder, and basil

Preparation:

1. Coat bottom of small fry pan with a very thin layer of oil.  Cook chicken mostly through and season as desired.
2.  Add veggies and cook until chicken is completely cooked through (mine took about 3 more minutes after I added the veggies)
3.  Heat tortillas in microwave for about 20 seconds, until soft and warm
4.  Divide 1 wedge of Laughing Cow cheese in half and spread down the middle of each tortilla
5.  Add chicken and veggies, wrap up, and enjoy!

This was the perfect quick dinner after a long day of work and provided a healthy serving of dairy, veggies, and protein without a heavy carb load.  I would even try it with a whole wheat tortilla or pita next time!

Hope you enjoy!  Happy Eating!

 

When You Just Have to “Wing it”

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Our favorite Pasta Roni variety!

I have two very, very picky little brothers.  Well, little is relative: one is fifteen and taller than me, the other is eight and almost as tall as me.  Picky is no exaggeration, though; these boys will not eat ANYTHING, especially the older one (the kid won’t eat pizza or hamburgers, for starters).

We are home alone a lot in the summer, since my parents work, so we often have to fend for ourselves for lunch.  When I don’t feel like trying very hard, or paying to take them out to lunch, there’s one trick I’ve found to be a popular favorite and it only takes about five minutes to make.  It comes in very handy when all you can hear is a whiny chorus of “I’m hungryyyyyy.”

Ever heard of Pasta Roni?  My brothers absolutely love the stuff, and it comes in really handy when we don’t have the time or ingredients for homemade creamy pasta.  It doesn’t taste half bad, and the Angel Hair varieties only take 4-5 minutes to cook.  We like the Pasta with Herbs and Parmesan Cheese varieties, and all you have to do is follow the directions right on the box – just add butter, milk, and water.

For those quick lunches, I like to cook 2 boxes of Pasta Roni and grill up some Tyson frozen chicken (not the breaded strips kind, the grilled chicken breast kind).  I cook both, spicing the chicken with a bit of garlic powder, salt, pepper, and whatever else is sitting in the front of the spice cabinet.  When they’re done cooking, I just cut the chicken up into bite size pieces and mix it into the pasta.

This isn’t a truly homemade lunch, but the boys love it and it is super quick to make.  And since you can get boxes of Pasta Roni on sale for $1 each or less, it’s a pretty good bang for your buck.

I prefer to make my own homemade creamy pasta sauce, but this works well for two picky boys who look at anything unfamiliar like it’s alive and going to crawl off of the plate at any moment.

No Fuss Pudding Pie

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Me on my seventh birthday with my mom’s homemade Pudding Pie. It was my special request!

Everyone in my family has a sweet tooth, and we have been experimenting with different desserts since as far back as I can remember.  There is one dessert, however, that we continue to make for every occasion.  It is a family classic and crowd favorite, and it is so incredibly easy (aside from a bit of math involved) and absolutely delicious.

Ingredients:
1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust (we like the Keebler brand)
1 8oz container of Cool Whip
2 packages Jell-o Instant Chocolate Pudding Mix
2 cups of milk

Preparation:

1. Combine milk and pudding mix in medium bowl powder disappears completely.  The resulting mixture will be thicker than regular pudding.

2. Divide in thirds and layer 2/3 of the mixture into the graham cracker crust.

3. Divide Cool Whip in thirds and add 1/3 of Cool Whip to remaining 1/3 of chocolate pudding.  Mix until combined completely; this mixture should be light brown and somewhat fluffy.

4.  Add Cool Whip/Pudding mixture as the second layer in the pie crust.

5.  Spread remaining Cool Whip as the third layer of the crust.  Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.  The longer it sits, the more the crust will absorb some of the moisture and be less likely to crumble when serving.

6. Bring to parties and hear your friends and family admire the delicious chocolate pie that you *slaved over* for years to come 😉

Microwave Hash Brown Casserole

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This was the first time I cooked this dish – for a dorm friendly food contest. It won 2nd place!

Today, I have been making a lot of preparations for my return to school in August.  I submitted my early move-in request, signed up to volunteer for freshman move-in and work the Strong Women Strong Girls table at the Activity Fair, and sent my RSVP to the Service Learning Partnership Orientation for the class I will be TAing in the fall (I like to do it all!).

Doing all this college-y stuff has inspired me to share a college girl friendly recipe for the day.  I love this recipe because it’s easy, inexpensive, and it can be cooked in the microwave! (Good news for anyone living in a traditional dorm).  I made it quite a few times during my freshman year, and even submitted it in a contest where it won 2nd place!

So here it is, Microwave Hash Brown Casserole!

Ingredients:
2 cups frozen tater tots
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup each chopped bell pepper and onion
1/2 medium sized ham steak, diced
1/3 cup grated cheddar cheese (or your favorite grated blend – I like the Kraft Four Cheese Mexican!)
Salt and pepper

Preparation: 

(Quick note: I like to make this dish in a round Pyrex glass bowl.  The four cup one is the perfect size and it transitions easily from microwave to refrigerator if there are leftovers.)

1.  Start with your tater tots in a medium sized microwavable dish.  Add chicken broth and microwave on high for five minutes.
2.  Remove from microwave and stir together until broth disappears completely and the tater tots lose their individual form.  Add onion and pepper; stir together and microwave on high for another five minutes.
3. Remove and add ham.  Lightly salt and pepper, and stir again.  Layer cheese on top of the dish; you can add more or less than the suggested amount to taste.  Microwave for 2-3 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
4.  Give it one more good stir, and serve.

This works as a great dinner for 1 or 2 people to share, or a side dish for 3-4 people (I like to omit the ham if I’m cooking it as a side).  Also tastes great with bacon bits!

Another quick note: measurements are not super important for this recipe.  I pretty much eyeball everything, and just cut up whatever pepper and onion I happen to have on hand at the time.  As long as your tater tot to broth ratio is good, you will have a perfect, dorm friendly microwave casserole!

Happy Eating!