Cheeseburger Taco

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We all know tacos are made with ground beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese, salsa, and maybe some sour cream on top, right? Well, apparently there is a taco revolution going on, and the traditional taco has been reinvented for breakfast, lunch, and … Continue reading

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10 Recipes for Cinco De Mayo

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I can’t believe May is here already! I’m so ready for the warm, sunny weather this month brings. And since Cinco De Mayo is almost here, I’ve been seeing lots of fiesta-ish recipes all over the place! I thought I’d do … Continue reading

Sweet Italian Sausage and Pepper Pizza

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Last week I made a “New Tra-Dish” Recipe with Ragù® Old World Style® Traditional Pasta Sauce, called Fiesta Chili Mac. This week, I’m sharing my second “New Tra-Dish” tradish_logo_300x300Recipe–Sweet Italian Sausage and Pepper Pizza! I put my own spin on a Ragù recipe called Sausage & Peppers by making it into a pizza–two pizzas, in fact! In addition to the yummy sweet Italian sausage, bell peppers, and Ragù® Old World Style® Traditional Pasta Sauce, I added some chopped onion, Mozzarella Cheese, and used Italian bread shells for the crusts to keep the recipe quick and easy.

You’ll end up with two thick and gooey pizzas, oozing with lots of sauce and cheese. Because they’re so saucy and cheesy, they can be a little on the messy side when eating…so be sure to serve with lots of napkins! :)

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SWEET ITALIAN SAUSAGE AND PEPPER PIZZA by NancyCreative, adapted from Ragù Sausage & Peppers

Makes 2 (12″) pizzas, 6-8 servings each

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 (19-ounce) package sweet Italian Sausage
  • 2 bell peppers-1 red, 1 green (or use 2 green or 2 red), chopped
  • 1 small to medium-size onion, chopped
  • 1 jar (1 lb. 8 oz.) Ragù® Old World Style® Traditional Pasta Sauce
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded Mozzarella Cheese, divided
  • 2 (14-ounce) packages 12-inch Italian bread shells

Heat olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat (if oil is splattering too much, turn heat down a little lower) and cook sausage, turning occasionally, about 5 to 7 minutes; remove sausage from pan, let cool slightly and cut into thin slices (about 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick)–it’s easier to cut the sausage into slices after it has cooked a little. Sausage slices will still be pink in center, so return to skillet and cook a few minutes more, until sausage is fully cooked. Remove sausage slices from skillet and drain on paper towel.

With oil still in skillet, add chopped bell peppers and onion into it and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in pasta sauce and cook another 3 to 5 minutes, until everything is heated through.

Preheat oven to 375˚F.

Place Italian bread shells on pizza pans, pizza stones, or 1 very large baking sheet and top each with half of the pasta sauce/veggie mixture, spreading evenly over surfaces (keep sauce about 1″ from the edges of the bread shells so it won’t drip off while it’s baking). Top the sauce evenly with 1 1/2 cups of Mozzarella cheese on each pizza. Then arrange half of the sausage slices evenly over the cheese on each pizza, pressing slices slightly into the cheese and sauce toppings.

Bake pizzas at 375˚F for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool a few minutes, then cut with a pizza cutter and serve.

Note: the package directions on the Italian bread shells say to bake at 450˚F, but I baked these pizzas at a lower temp, 375˚F, so my sausage slices wouldn’t get too overly cooked.

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Your pizzas will look like the one on the left going into the oven, and the one on the right coming out of the oven…all nice and cheesy!

I love the slices of Sweet Italian Sausage in this pizza–it tastes so good with the rich, tomato flavor of the sauce and all that mozzarella cheese! It’s not surprising that the sauce has such a great tomato flavor–each jar of Ragù® Old World Style® Traditional Sauce is made with 11 juicy tomatoes making it its richest, thickest recipe!

You can find other great quick and easy recipes at Ragù and also at Facebook.com/RaguSauce. And visit http://www.RaguSweeps.com to enter the Ragù Better and Better Sweepstakes for a chance to win great Authentic Italian themed prizes and a grand prize trip to Venice for a family of four! No Purchase Necessary. Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.) 18 years and older. ends 5/6/14). To enter and for Official Rules, including odds, alternate method of entry, and prize descriptions, visit http://www.RaguSweeps.com. Void where prohibited.

This post was sponsored by Ragù and Yummly, but the opinions expressed are mine.

Fiesta Chili Mac

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One of the things I enjoy most about cooking and baking is taking a recipe and “making it my own.” And that’s exactly what I was asked to do with a few recipes from Ragù! It was fun creating this tradish_logo_300x300“New Tra-Dish” Fiesta Chili Mac using Ragù® Old World Style® Traditional Pasta Sauce. Each jar of this pasta sauce is made with 11 juicy tomatoes, making it Ragù’s richest, thickest recipe.

I decided to put my own spin on Ragù’s Family Favorite Chili Mac–which you’ll find it on their site, along with other great tasting, quick and easy recipes. I decided to do a Fiesta-flavored version of it, adding in some onion and green bell pepper to the ground beef when it was almost done cooking. Then I mixed some cheddar cheese in with the meat mixture, pasta sauce, and macaroni to make it nice and cheesy. And of course you need Fiesta toppings, so I used a little more cheese, sour cream, green onion, and tomato to top this dish. I also used chopped fresh cilantro as a garnish, which is optional. Chopped or sliced black olives would be another great topping, also optional.

This turned out to be a very yummy and filling dish! It’s very cheesy, with lots of rich tomato taste from the Ragù pasta sauce. I really liked the addition of the extra veggies and toppings, too. If you like these Fiesta flavors, then I’m sure you and your family will really enjoy this!

FIESTA CHILI MAC by NancyCreative, adapted from Ragù’s Family Favorite Chili Mac

Makes 6 to 8 servings in a 9″ deep dish microwave-safe pie plate (or you can use an 8×8″ or 9×9″ square microwave-safe baking dish)

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 jar (1 lb. 8 oz.) Ragù® Old World Style® Traditional Pasta Sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1/3 cup sour cream, plus a dollop for the top
  • 2 green onion stems, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped tomato
  • Optional: 2 to 3 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, 2 Tablespoons chopped or sliced black olives

Grease or spray a 9″ deep dish microwave-safe pie plate (or similar-sized microwave-safe baking dish, like a square 8×8″ or 9×9″ dish); set aside. Note: It helps if you have all your veggies chopped before you begin cooking! You can cook your macaroni beforehand too, or  cook it while your ground beef is cooking.

Cook ground beef in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until almost done. Add chopped onion and green bell pepper and cook a few minutes longer until they are slightly tender and ground beef is done.

Stir in pasta sauce and chili powder. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover skillet, and simmer 10 minutes.

Stir in cooked macaroni , blending ingredients well, then add in 1 cup of the shredded cheddar cheese, blending cheese evenly into the mixture.

Spoon this mixture into your greased 9″ deep dish pie plate (or similar-size baking dish), mounding up mixture toward the center (if you use an 8×8″ or 9×9″ baking dish, the mixture will be more level). Sprinkle another 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese evenly over the mixture (leave the other 1/2 cup cheese for the garnish). It will look like this in a pie plate–quite a hefty mound!

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Microwave on HIGH for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until the cheese on top is thoroughly melted.

Remove from microwave and top center area of pie with the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, 1/3 cup sour cream, chopped green onion, chopped cilantro (optional), chopped tomato, and chopped or sliced olives (optional). Add an extra dollop of sour cream in the center, then serve. Note: You’ll want to add your toppings quickly so you can serve this dish while it’s nice and hot!

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When serving, if you’ve used a pie plate, you can cut “slices” as if you were cutting a pie, but as you can see, the “slices” probably won’t hold their shape on your plates–since it tastes so good though, I don’t think anyone will mind! :) If you make this in a square baking dish, you can cut into squares and serve or just spoon out with a large serving spoon.

You can find more quick and easy recipe ideas from Ragù at Facebook.com/RaguSauce. And visit http://www.RaguSweeps.com to enter the Ragù Better and Better Sweepstakes for a chance to win great Authentic Italian themed prizes and a grand prize trip to Venice for a family of four! No Purchase Necessary. Legal residents of the 50 United States (D.C.) 18 years and older. ends 5/6/14). To enter and for Official Rules, including odds, alternate method of entry, and prize descriptions, visit http://www.RaguSweeps.com. Void where prohibited.

This post was sponsored by Ragù and Yummly, but the opinions expressed are mine.

Linked to Foodie Friday.

Pepperoni Pizza Pasta Casserole

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We’ve been having some super-cold weather these past few days, along with lots of snow and ice, so it seemed like a great time to make a good hot casserole! I thought I’d try a Pizza Spaghetti Casserole recipe I found at MyRecipes, but instead of using pork sausage in this, I used extra pepperoni and cheese so it would taste more like a pepperoni cheese pizza, which is my favorite kind. You can use turkey pepperoni in this if you like. I used a little more sauce, too, and I thought it was pretty tasty–a very good comfort food dish when it’s cold and yucky outside!

PEPPERONI PIZZA PASTA CASSEROLE by NancyCreative, adapted from MyRecipes

Makes a 9 x 13″ pan

  • 1 (12-ounce) package uncooked pasta (you can use spaghetti or your favorite pasta noodles)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (24-ounce) jar pasta sauce, plus another 1/2 jar (12-ounces) of sauce (a total of 36 ounces)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 (8-ounce) package shredded Mozzarella cheese
  • 1 (4 or 5-ounce) package pepperoni slices
  • 1 (8-ounce) package shredded Italian cheese blend

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Lightly grease a 9 x 13″ baking pan or dish.

Cook pasta with 1/2 teaspoon salt according to package directions. Drain pasta well and put in a large bowl. Add in the 24-ounce jar of pasta sauce (save the other half jar of sauce for later) and grated Parmesan cheese, and toss ingredients together until all the pasta is coated with sauce and Parmesan cheese. Spread pasta/sauce mixture evenly into your baking pan or dish.

Sprinkle the shredded Mozzarella cheese evenly over the pasta mixture, then spread half of the pepperoni slices over the cheese. Drizzle the half jar of sauce (12 ounces, or 1 1/2 cups) evenly over the pepperoni, then top with the shredded Italian cheese blend. Arrange remaining pepperoni slices evenly over cheese. Place a sheet of aluminum foil lightly over the pan.

Bake at 350˚F for 30 minutes; remove foil, then bake another 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and just beginning to brown.

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Casseroles are great during the cold weather months! What’s your favorite casserole dish?

Mushroom-Smothered Burgers

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I’m not a big beef eater, but when I saw this recipe I had to try it! I found it at Campbell’s Kitchen, and it sounded good, quick, and easy. I love mushrooms and the words Mushroom-Smothered sure caught my attention! :) When I do cook with beef, I like to use lean beef that is free of hormones and antibiotics. This recipe is all made in a skillet, so no baking is involved. With the creamy mushroom gravy, the taste of these burgers remind me of meatballs stroganoff.

You definitely need to use a large skillet, because these are big burgers! The recipe says to use a 10″ skillet, but if you have a 12″ size, I’d use that–my burgers were pretty crowded in the 10″ skillet (maybe it’s because I used very lean beef and they didn’t shrink as much when cooking). Also, be sure to use a non-stick skillet because, with the add-ins, the burgers will stick badly to a regular skillet (I learned this from experience! :) ).

I added extra onion, used olive oil instead of vegetable oil, and used a little less water in the gravy mixture so my gravy would be a little thicker. It’s a good recipe to keep in mind when you need to make a simple, tasty dinner!

MUSHROOM-SMOTHERED BURGERS, adapted from Campbell’s Kitchen

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup, divided
  • 1 pound ground beef (or substitute ground turkey)
  • 1/3 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces sliced mushrooms (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 to 4 Tablespoons water (use less water for a thicker gravy)

Thoroughly mix 1/4 cup of the soup, beef, bread crumbs, Italian Seasoning, onion, and egg in a large bowl. Season with black pepper. Shape the beef mixture firmly into 4 (1/2-inch thick) burgers.

Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the burgers and cook until well-browned on both sides. Remove burgers from skillet.

Reduce heat to medium and heat the oil in the skillet. Add mushrooms and cook for 2 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally.

Stir the remaining soup, Worcestershire sauce, and water in the skillet and heat to a boil. Return the burgers to the skillet. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until burgers are cooked through. Spoon mushroom mixture over burgers before serving.

Easy dinner recipes like this sure come in handy! What’s your favorite quick and easy way of serving beef?

Extremely Cheesy Veggie Pasta

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This pasta dish was kind of an experiment. I had some extra rotini pasta and wanted to make a casserole with it…something cheesy, but with some veggies in it, too. I also like crumbly toppings. So I tried combining all of that into this Extremely Cheesy Veggie Pasta! This works great as a main dish or side dish for lunch or dinner. And your kids may actually eat this, since all that cheese somewhat disguises the veggies!

I used thawed frozen veggies in this but you could also used canned. And I’m sure fresh veggies would work great, too–just blanch or steam them so they’re a little tender before mixing them in with the other ingredients. The Bread Crumb Topping makes a lot of topping, so if you just want a light sprinkle of it to top of your casserole, you can halve the topping recipe.

EXTREMELY CHEESY VEGGIE PASTA by NancyCreative

Makes a 9 x 9″ pan; about 5 to 6 servings

  • 2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 8 ounces dry rotini pasta, cooked and drained
  • 2 cups of your favorite frozen vegetables, thawed and drained well (I used a broccoli, cauliflower, green been, carrot blend)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Chicken soup
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese (you’ll also need an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup to top the pasta)
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (you’ll also need an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup to top the pasta)

EXTRA CHEESE TOPPING

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

BREAD CRUMB TOPPING (halve the amount if you don’t want a lot of topping)

  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Grease or spray a 9 x 9″ baking dish.

In large bowl, combine melted butter, onion and garlic powders, and Italian Seasoning; blend well. Add in the cooked and drained pasta and thawed vegetables, and toss them in the melted butter/seasoning mixture until pasta and veggies are coated.

In a medium bowl, mix together milk and condensed soup (undiluted), blending well.  Add in the Cheddar cheese and Parmesan cheese, blending well. Blend this soup/cheese mixture into the pasta and veggie mixture, and blend everything together well. Then spread into the prepared 9 x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle Cheddar and Parmesan cheeses evenly over top of pasta.

In small bowl, combine the ingredients for the bread crumb topping–melted butter, bread crumbs, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Sprinkle evenly over the pasta and cheeses.

Bake at 400˚F for 20 minutes (crumbs will be browned). Remove from oven and serve.

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Some of the crumbs brown quite a bit, but that’s OK-if you want to keep them from browning that much, cover with foil the last 5 minutes of baking.

Are you a fan of cheese and pasta? What’s your favorite summer pasta dish?

Kris’ Sausage Potato Bake

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One day at work, Matt was telling me about a great dinner his wife Kris had made. He described all the good, healthy things that were in this dish…red potatoes, sweet potatoes, bell pepper, onion, turkey sausage…it really sounded good! He and Kris gave me the recipe, and it took me awhile to get around to making it, but I loved it! In this Sausage Potato Bake, all the ingredients are coated in a seasoned chicken broth-olive oil mixture and baked until everything is tender. It’s soooo good, and it’s great for lunch or dinner. It’s a perfect way to use some of your garden veggies, too, this summer!

KRIS’ SAUSAGE POTATO BAKE

Makes about 6 servings

  • 1 (14-ounce) package Turkey Smoked Sausage
  • 4 cups red new potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 cups peeled small sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 red bell pepper (or yellow or orange bell pepper), cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion, cut into thin slices or 1-inch chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoons olive oil (I used 2 Tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400˚F. Cut sausage into 1/4-inch slices.

In a very large bowl, combine sausage, potatoes, bell peppers, onion, and garlic.

ncSausPotBk2In small bowl, mix chicken broth, olive oil, and seasonings; pour over sausage/vegetable mixture and toss everything to coat. Put this mixture in a 9×13″ or 12×8″ baking dish.

Bake at 400˚F for 35 to 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Let cool a few minutes (your baking dish or pan will be very hot), then serve.

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I love all the different veggies in this, and the smoked Turkey Sausage is really good, too! This is the kind of dish you can enjoy year-round, and it’s so easy to make! Thanks for sharing your recipe, Kris!

What kinds of meals have you been making with your garden vegetables?

Stuffed Cheeseburgers

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Father’s Day just seems like a good day to post a burger recipe, since lots of dads love grilling burgers in the summer months! This Stuffed Cheeseburger is healthier logothan most because it’s made with Laura’s Lean Beef, which is low in fat and cholesterol, and free of hormones and antibiotics. It’s available at most Wal-Mart Supercenters, Super Target, Krogers, Safeway, and other national grocery chains.

I received some complimentary beef to make this recipe from Laura’s Lean Beef, and I thought they were great-tasting burgers! I liked the freshness and quality of the Laura’s Lean Beef brand, so I would definitely cook with this beef again. For this burger recipe, fresh parsley and minced onion are mixed into the ground beef and they’re stuffed with reduced fat Monterey Jack cheese. The original recipe says to serve the burgers on a slice of reduced-calorie oatmeal bread, which is a great idea, but I decided to use hard rolls as my burger buns. I also added a little extra minced onion. The next time you’re in the mood for a burger, keep this recipe in mind!

STUFFED CHEESEBURGERS adapted from Laura’s Lean Beef

Makes 4 burgers

  • 1 pound Laura’s Lean Beef (96% Lean Ground Sirloin)
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup finely minced onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 ounces reduced fat Monterey Jack cheese, cut into 4 even 1/2-ounce pieces
  • 4 slices reduced calorie oatmeal bread (or 4 of your favorite burger buns)
  • 4 large tomato slices (1 large tomato should be enough)
  • 4 lettuce leaves
  • Optional: mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, pickles

Mix beef with onion and parsley and divide beef into 4 equal portions. Divide each individual portion in half, so you have 8 equal portions.

Flatten 4 portions into rounds. Place a 1/2-ounce piece of cheese on top of each round. Flatten the remaining 4 portions of beef into rounds, place on top of cheese, and then seal the edges of the rounds together, sealing the cheese in (be sure to seal the edges well, or the cheese may ooze out when the burger is cooking).

Grill (covered with grill lid) at 400-450˚F for about 5-7 minutes on each side, or to desired degree of doneness (you can also cook these in a frying pan on your stove if you don’t have a grill.)

To serve, place each burger on top of a slice of bread–or on the bottom bun, if you’re using buns. Top each burger with lettuce and sliced tomatoes (and mayo, ketchup, mustard, and pickles, if desired). If using a bun, cover with the top bun and serve immediately.

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Note: If you make this cheeseburger served on one slice of reduced-calorie bread and just top with a lettuce leaf and tomato slice, it just comes to about 244 calories, which isn’t bad for a cheeseburger!

Do you grill often, and did you happen to grill any burgers today for Father’s Day?

Linked to Inspire Me Monday.

Black Bean, Sweet Corn and Feta Tacos from Mary McCartney’s FOOD

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food-marymccartneyOne of the reasons I was interested in reviewing FOOD: Vegetarian Home Cooking is because I’ve gradually been eating less meat and more veggies, but it can be challenging to make interesting veggie meals. I’ve never actually been a big meat-eater, but I do crave a juicy burger now and then! I may crave one less frequently now though, because there are so many great veggie recipes to try in this book! If you are wanting to eat less meat and find delicious ways to make fresh and simple vegetarian meals, you may want to check this book out, too.

Author Mary McCartney, an acclaimed photographer, grew up on vegetarian cooking and remembers many happy times in the kitchen with her mother, Linda McCartney“During those times,” she writes, “I soaked up her knowledge, and gained an understanding of how certain extra-simple ingredients or cooking techniques could transform an ordinary dish into something special.”  There are many gorgeous color photos throughout the book, taken by Mary, and even a few old family photos at the beginning that include her mother and her father Paul.

There are a wide range of great-sounding recipes, with chapters on…

  • Breakfast and Brunch
  • Snacks and Sandwiches
  • Soups, Salads, and Starters
  • Mains
  • Basics and Sides
  • Desserts and Baking

I thought the Deep-Filled Omelette, Lip-Smacking Minestrone, Asparagus Summer Tart, Mac and Cheese with Crispy Topping, Linda’s Lemon Drizzle Cake, and Peaches and Cream Pavlova sounded especially good. But I couldn’t resist trying the Black Bean, Sweet Corn and Feta Tacos first, because it was such a unique recipe! I’m so glad I did, because I thought they were great–I love all these flavors together. They are a little messy to eat, like most tacos are, but you can always wrap the ingredients up in a soft taco or tortilla shell if you prefer. Here’s the recipe…

BLACK BEAN, SWEET CORN AND FETA TACOS from Food: Vegetarian Home Cooking

I’ve always loved tacos but this is a little deviation from how I usually make them, to include the corn. My mum loved Mexican food and she also loved corn, eating it from the cob when it was in season. I think it adds a lovely, crunchy texture to this particular taco combination. The added bonus is that these are quick and easy to make. –Mary McCartney

Serves 2 (2 tacos per person)

  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable or light olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 15-ounce can black beans
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 slices pickled jalapeno (from a jar), chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes, or 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh red chili
  • pinch sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 ounces sweet corn, cut (1 large cob fresh, frozen, or canned)
  • 4 taco shells
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • juice of 1 lime

Preheat the oven to 350˚F.

Heat the oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat and saute the chopped onion for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse the black beans in a sieve, and then stir them into the onion in the pan. Add the garlic, jalapeno or chili, the sea salt, and the cumin, and heat for 5 minutes until cooked through.

To cook the corn (if fresh), place it in a small saucepan with boiling water and simmer for a couple of minutes until hot; drain.

In the meantime, wrap the taco shells in aluminum foil and put them in the oven for 5 –10 minutes to heat up.

When the taco shells are warm, remove them from the oven, then divide the bean mix evenly between the 4 tacos, top with the cooked corn and, finally, sprinkle the crumbled feta over the top. Finish off with a little squeeze of lime juice, and serve hot.

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Are you more of a veggie-eater than a meat-eater? What types of veggie meals do you like to make?

Caprese Tart

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If you like Caprese Salad or Margherita Pizza, you’ll want to try this tart! It has sliced mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil in it–yum! This summer, I’ve been wanting to make some sort of a tomato tart and I came up with the idea of making a Caprese Tart! If tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella are so good in a salad or on pizza, they’d probably be good in a tart, too, I reasoned. And you never know until you try. I have some basil growing in a pot and also had some garden-fresh tomatoes (from Mark and Marijo–thank you!) , so I bought a block of mozzarella cheese and was all set to try this out!

I thought it turned out really yummy and it’s very easy to make–I used a pre-made refrigerated pie crust, but you can use your favorite homemade pie crust recipe if you prefer. I also used a little Parmesan cheese in this, to give it a little extra cheesy zing. If you’re looking for ways to use the tomatoes from your garden, you just may want to try this Caprese Tart out!

CAPRESE TART by NancyCreative

  • 1 ready-to-use refrigerated pie crust (1/2 of a 15-ounce package), or make your favorite homemade piecrust
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded Mozzarella chesse
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium tomatoes, seeded and thinly sliced (NOTE: to easily seed a tomato, just slice off the stem end and gently squeeze the tomato over a bowl–the seeds will come right out!)
  • 1/4 cup well-packed fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • Parchment paper
  • Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and lightly coat parchment paper with cooking spray.

Toss the shredded Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses together in a small bowl so they’re blended well. Unroll pie crust on parchment-lined baking sheet and top crust with half of the cheese blend  (1 cup), leaving a 1 1/2-inch border at the edge. Arrange tomato slices in a circular pattern over the cheese (you may need to overlap some of the slices a little). Sprinkle half of the chopped fresh basil over the tomatoes, then drizzle with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil.

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Spread the rest of the cheese (another cup) over the tomatoes and basil, then sprinkle the remaining basil on top of the cheese and drizzle another Tablespoon of olive oil over that.

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Fold pie crust edges up and over the filling, pleating and pinching dough slightly as you go. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and crust is lightly browned. It should come out looking like this…

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Remove from oven and let tart cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting into wedges, then serve.

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I  love to make things with basil and tomatoes, especially in the summer! Do you have a favorite tomato and basil recipe?

Burrito in a Cup from CATCH!

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If you’ve seen the popular reality show Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel, you’re probably familiar with Travis Lofland, one of the adventurous crew members who travels the Bering Sea on an Alaskan King Crabbing boat. Lofland also has a passion for cooking and has recently come out with a new cookbook called CATCH!: Dangerous Tales and Manly Recipes from the Bering Sea. I received a review copy from the publisher and found quite a variety of recipes as I looked through the book. The book is divided into nine chapters that include recipes for soups, salads, sandwiches, appetizers, entrees, sides, desserts, and more. In addition to seafood recipes, there are also recipes that include beef, chicken, and veggies, so there’s quite a selection to choose from including…

  • Rockin’ Red Pepper Crab Bisque with Cilantro Sour Cream
  • Sure to impress Avocado Brie Melt
  • Mango, Papaya, and Brie Quesadilla
  • Grilled King Crab Pizza
  • Blackened Fish Tacos
  • Slap a Smile on Your Face Ahi Sandwich
  • Captain’s Cornbread
  • High Seas Stroganoff
  • Reckless Red Salmon
  • Slimy Limey Coconut Sundae
  • Seafoam Peanut Butter Pie

This would be a great gift for Dads (Father’s Day is coming up!), or any other guys you know who love to cook.

I decided to try out a really tasty and very easy recipe, the Burrito in a Cup. You just can’t go wrong with something like this…it’s quick, doesn’t involve any cooking because you’re using leftovers, and extremely easy to put together. Keep this in mind for a simple summer meal!

BURRITO IN A CUP from CATCH!

Makes 6 servings

Travis: “This recipe came from Doug Stanley, a producer from the show and a former river guide in the Grand Canyon. He was telling me how he used to layer all the fixin’s for a burrito in paper cups so he wouldn’t have to deal with a tortilla with gloved hands…I tried it, and he was right.”

  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans of black beans
  • leftover taco meat
  • shredded cheese
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  1. In each of six paper cups, start with a layer of black beans.
  2. Next layer with meat, cheese, and salsa.
  3. Top with sour cream and a little more cheese for garnish.

Well, you can’t find a recipe much easier than that! The recipe says to make it in six paper cups, but I decided to be eco-friendly and make it in six 6-ounce canning jars which worked out great! I put 1/3 cup black beans in the bottom of each jar, then layered 1/4 cup taco meat (you could substitute chopped cooked chicken or chopped avocados for a veggie version), then 1/4 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese, then 2 Tablespoons of salsa, and a dollop (about 1 Tablespoon) of sour cream. And then sprinkled a little more cheese on top. So yummy and easy!

Greek-Style Turkey Burgers and Tomato-Feta Salad with Olives

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Not long ago, I made a seasoned turkey burger for the first time, and I really liked it! A little later, I came across several different Greek-style turkey burger recipes. Since I love most Greek food, I definitely wanted to try this idea out! I created my own recipe, inspired by the other recipes I had found. These turkey burgers are yummy and healthy. Chopped black olives, feta cheese, and some herbs and spices are mixed in with the ground turkey, adding to the juiciness and savory flavor of these burgers. They taste great topped with Tzatziki (which I made about a week ago as a veggie dip), red onion slices, and tomato slices. You can also top the burger with mayo instead of Tzatziki.

They’re easy to make, and you can make the Tzatziki ahead of time, even the day before, to save time. I also served the burgers with a simple Tomato-Feta Salad, and that recipe is included below.

GREEK-STYLE TURKEY BURGERS by NancyCreative

Makes 4-6 burgers

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup chopped black olives
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • dash of black pepper
  • Tzatziki (or mayo), tomato slices, red onion slices, and lettuce, if desired, for toppings

If you want to top the burgers with Tzatziki, make it before preparing the burgers so the flavors in the Tzatziki can blend together…get the recipe here. Or use mayonnaise as a topping instead of Tzatziki.

Combine all ingredients above in a large bowl. Blend them together well (using your hands is easiest) and form into four patties, a little more than 1 inch thick. These make four big patties, so if you want smaller ones, divide the mixture into 5 or 6 patties.

Grill burgers in a non-stick or oiled pan or rack (the cheese will make the burgers stick to your cooking surface, so be sure to oil your surface). Grill until burgers are desired doneness–depending on the size of your burgers, grilling time will be about 8-12 minutes.

Serve on whole wheat rolls or buns and top with Tzatziki (or mayo), tomato slices, and red onion slices. Add some lettuce too, if you want. Or serve the burgers in a pita pocket with Tzatziki, tomatoes, onions, and lettuce. One recipe suggested using Tahini instead of Tzatziki, and I think that would be a good topping on these burgers, too.

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TOMATO-FETA SALAD WITH OLIVES by NancyCreative (pictured in large photo at the beginning of this post)

Makes 1 serving; multiply recipe by number of servings needed

  • 1 medium to large-sized tomato, sliced
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped black olives
  • 1-2 Tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
  • dash of Balsamic vinegar

Arrange tomato slices on plate and sprinkle with olives and crumbled feta cheese. Add a dash or two of Balsamic vinegar. That’s it! It’s a super-easy, delicious tomato salad! If you don’t like Balsamic vinegar, you can drizzle some lemon juice or olive oil (or both) over the tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese.

Enjoy these turkey burgers! Do you like Greek food, too? What’s your favorite Greek dish?

Trieste’s Seasoned Turkey Burger and Homemade Cajun Spice Blend

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The other week, as we were heating up our lunches in the little kitchen area at work, Trieste told me about a really good turkey burger she had made. I had never made a turkey burger myself…I’m not sure why–I guess I just think of beef when it comes to burgers, and never thought about trying a turkey burger. But when Trieste told me what was in the recipe, I had a hunch I would like it. So I made a note to buy some ground turkey on my next trip to the grocery store and made this burger a few days ago. And I did like it…very much! It’s mildly seasoned with Cajun spice blend and has finely diced onion, bell pepper, and some fresh cilantro mixed in with the ground turkey, which give the burger a great flavor! I added some chopped green chiles, which you can’t really taste, but I think it added a little to the juiciness of the burger. If you don’t care for ground turkey, I think this recipe would also work great with ground beef, although I haven’t actually tried that yet.

The recipe makes one burger, which is handy if you are just cooking for one or two…you don’t have to make a big batch of burgers! If you do need to make more, just multiply the recipe by the number of burgers you are wanting to make. If you don’t happen to have Cajun spice blend on hand, I’m also including a recipe for one you can make yourself!

TRIESTE’S SEASONED TURKEY BURGER (makes 1 burger)

  • 4 ounces ground turkey
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Cajun spice blend, divided
  • 1/8 cup finely diced bell pepper
  • 1/8 cup finely diced onion
  • 1 teaspoon finely diced green chiles, canned or fresh, optional (if using fresh, remove seeds)
  • 1 Tablespoon finely diced fresh cilantro
  • cooking spray or a little olive oil
  • whole wheat burger bun or roll
  • some thinly–sliced onion, grilled, to top burger (optional)

You can cook this burger in a frying pan on the stovetop, or you can make it in the oven in an oven-proof skillet or baking pan. Or, you could probably grill it if you have one of those small countertop indoor electric kitchen grills.

If making this in your oven, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and place a medium-size oven-proof skillet or baking pan in the oven (I used a cast iron skillet).

Place the ground turkey in a small mixing bowl and add the salt and pepper with 1/2 teaspoon of the Cajun spice blend. Using a fork, blend the seasonings and the ground turkey well. Add the second 1/2 teaspoon of Cajun spice blend, the bell pepper, onion, green chiles (if desired), and cilantro; blend all ingredients well.

Form a patty with this mixture (this makes a thick, good-sized patty–mine was about 3/4 inch thick). Spray your skillet or pan lightly with oil (or coat lightly with some olive oil, which is what I did). Add the burger to the skillet or pan. If frying this on your stovetop, cook burger until done, turning several times to cook evenly. If making this in your oven, place skillet with burger in oven and cook for about 5 minutes on one side, then turn burger over and cook 5 minutes more, or until done. NOTE: my burger was not quite done after the 10 minutes in the oven; instead of keeping it in the oven longer, I just decided to take it out of the oven and fry it on the stovetop a little while longer until it was done. I added some onion slices to the pan, too, so I could top the burger with grilled onion.

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I decided to use a whole wheat roll instead of a burger bun, and I put some mayo, lettuce (I used arugula) and a tomato slice on the top half of the roll. I topped the burger with my grilled onions. It was delicious! :) Put whatever you like best on your burger. And if you want to be extra healthy, serve it with some apple wedges instead of potatoes!

Here’s a recipe for Cajun Spice Blend if you want to try making your own…

CAJUN SPICE BLEND (from Allrecipes)

  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional–this will make the blend hotter!)

Stir together all ingredients until well blended. Store in an airtight container. Makes 1/4 cup.

Sonoma Pasta Salad from The New Sonoma Cookbook

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When I heard The New Sonoma Cookbook (Sterling Publishers) would be published this month, I was looking forward to the opportunity to review it. The cookbook was said to have “more than 200 new ways to celebrate the wholesome, sun-drenched flavors of Northern California, all while slimming down and boosting energy.”  That sounded really good to me!

Author Dr. Connie Guttersen, RD, PhD, a nutrition instructor at the world-famous Culinary Institute of America, offers a wide range of healthy good-for-you recipes in this cookbook. And many look very easy to prepare. Everything from breakfast and lunch items to dinner and dessert…even some recipes for the holidays! There are also helpful cooking tips at the beginning of the book, along with a checklist of items to include in your pantry.

Some of the recipes I want to try from The New Sonoma Cookbook include the Tomato and Basil Frittata, Crustless Feta and Cheddar Quiche, Tuscan Tomato and Bread Soup, Curried Chicken Wrap, Thai Roast Beef Lettuce Rolls, Pan-Seared Salmon, Spice-Roasted Almonds, Mini Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecakes, and Ricotta Mousse with Berries…just to name a few! :)

The Sonoma Pasta Salad also sounded great and that’s what I decided to make first. It has lots of colorful veggies mixed with healthy multigrain pasta and a dash of balsamic vinegar for a slightly-sweet, slightly-tart flavor. And it’s topped with some chunks of fresh mozzarella cheese…yum! I hope you get a chance to try this because it’s very tasty! It doesn’t take long to make, either…about 35 minutes from start to finish. This recipe makes 4 servings.

SONOMA PASTA SALAD from The New Sonoma Cookbook

  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 12 ounces fresh green beans or 3 cups frozen whole green beans
  • 8 ounces dried multigrain penne (such as Barilla Plus)
  • 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 large red and/or yellow bell peppers, seeded and cut into bite-size strips
  • 1 Tablespoon bottled minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices (or you can use julienne cut sun-dried tomatoes, which is what I used–and since I love sun-dried tomatoes, I actually doubled the amount and used 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, flat-leaf parsley, and/or oregano, chopped
  • 3 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cut up
  • Fresh basil leaves (optional)

1. If using fresh green beans: Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add 1 Tablespoon salt; then add fresh green beans. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain beans; place immediately in ice water to stop the cooking process. Once cool, drain well and set aside.

2. In a large Dutch oven, combine 2 quarts water and 1 Tablespoon kosher salt; bring to boiling. Add pasta. Cook according to pasta package directions, adding frozen green beans (if using) for the last 2 minutes of cooking time. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water.

3. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pepper strips; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; cook for 30 seconds more. Add dried tomatoes, basil, and the drained green beans and pasta. Cook, tossing frequently, until heated through. Stir in balsamic vinegar and enough of the reserved pasta liquid to moisten pasta to desired consistency (I only added about a Tablespoon). Season to taste with additional kosher salt and black pepper. Top with cheese. If desired, garnish with fresh basil.

Variations:

  • Use leftover cooked green beans or broccoli.
  • Replace green beans with spinach.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Sterling Publishers.

This is a great dish for lunch or dinner…or make it for dinner and have leftovers for lunch! :)