Monday, March 19, 2018

Smash Burger

Smash Burger Salad: Spinach, Cucumber, and Goat Cheese with Chicken

Smash Burger is a chain restaurant founded in Denver, Colorado, in 2007.  We don't have a Smash Burger in our small town (Canon City) but we've been to several Smash Burger restaurants around Colorado and we really like their food.

My husband and I ended up at Smash Burger the other day (our big day out for our 27th wedding anniversary!).  I knew right away what I wanted to order... a salad.  I like the salads I've had at Smash Burger and this was the second time I had this particular salad.  You can add a protein to your salad (ie. a burger patty or thinly sliced grilled chicken... I had the chicken).  I liked the salad so much that I decided to make this salad at home.  The combination of ingredients is really good.  Basically, the salad is a spinach salad with finely diced tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, goat cheese, balsamic vinaigrette, a few slices of white onion, and some seeds and dried cranberries.

These are the salads I had last week.  I used grape tomatoes and did not cut them up so that the salads would stay fresh and not get soggy after being in the refrigerator for a few days.  I worried that if I added a lot of moist ingredients to the tubs, then the spinach would wilt. I used prewashed spinach so the leaves were nice and dry.  In a dry skillet, I toasted up some raw sunflower seeds.  When they were cooled, I added in some flax seeds and dried cranberries.

The salad was good with smoked salmon.

The salad was good with meatloaf.

The salad was so good that I made it again this week.

This time I used a 16 ounce container of baby spinach, two big English cucumbers, a 16 ounce tub of Constellation tomatoes, goat cheese, and homemade balsamic vinaigrette.  A pound of spinach was enough to make 10 big salads.  In a dry skillet, I toasted raw finely sliced almonds and raw sunflower seeds and then added in flax seeds when the almonds and sunflower seeds were cooled.  I love the addition of the finely sliced almonds.  I've been leaving the onions out of my salads because I feel onions get kind of funny in the refrigerator.  The recipe I am using for balsamic vinaigrette can be found HERE.

I really love this combination of ingredients in a salad and there's not a lot of labor involved.  I hope you give it a try!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Turkey and Broccoli Skillet

Turkey and Broccoli Slaw Skillet

A gal I know mentioned a meal she made up; she basically cooked up a pound of ground meat (turkey/chicken/beef... whatever you prefer or have on hand) and added in a bag of broccoli slaw. If you are not familiar with broccoli slaw, it's a packaged salad which is made up of shredded broccoli stems/stalks and carrots.  The gal I know did not mention adding any seasoning to her dish; she just portioned out into four or five servings and then would eat it for a healthy meal.  It sounded great but I wanted to doctor it up a bit. I remembered a recipe I had tried a long while ago.  It was Teriyaki Chicken and Veggie Lettuce Wraps (see it HERE).  I remembered that the sauce was rather healthy, easy, and tasty, and I thought it would go good with ground turkey and broccoli.  I gave it a try last week and I loved it!  The only think I'll do differently next time is not cook the vegetables quite as long. I think it would have been better if the veggies were not as soft as I cooked them.  I added some additional vegetables (onion, red bell pepper, mushroom, and garlic) and they were great additions. I think you could add in other vegetables as well based upon what you may have. I think celery would be great, as would canned water chestnuts.  I opted to add in come crushed red pepper flakes but I also think fresh ginger would be really good.  I am sure I will continue to experiment with this recipe.

You will find broccoli slaw in the produce section of your grocery store in the refrigerated area with other packaged salads and greens.  At my Kroger store, I found broccoli slaw in bags and in clear plastic containers.  I opted for a 12 ounce package but you could add in more broccoli slaw if desired.

Turkey and Broccoli Slaw Skillet
Ingredients 1/4 cup tamari (or soy sauce)
1/4 cup cold water
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 pound ground lean turkey (may also use chicken or beef)
12 ounce package of broccoli slaw
1/2 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced 
1 cup white button mushrooms, thinly sliced (more if desired)
2 to 3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced

Crunchy Topping (optional):  
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds


In a small bowl, combine the tamari (or soy sauce), water, honey, cornstarch, and pepper flakes (if using).  Stir with a fork or whisk to combine; set aside.

In a small dry skillet, over medium heat, combine the sliced almonds and the sesame seeds. Cook, stirring frequently, until the almonds begin to brown slightly. This should take just a few minutes; watch it carefully so that the almonds/sesame seeds do not burn.

In a large skillet, over medium to medium high heat, cook/brown/crumble the ground turkey until no pink remains.  Add in the vegetables all at once and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 to 5 minutes (you want the vegetables to still be slightly crunchy, not mushy).  Make a well in the center of the skillet, pushing the vegetables and turkey to the sides of the pan.  Add in the sauce all at once.  The sauce should thicken rather quickly. When it begins to thicken, toss all the vegetables and turkey around in the pan to coat them with the sauce.  

Serve turkey and vegetable mixture over hot cooked quinoa, brown rice, or white rice.  Top each serving with the crunchy topping and a few sprinkles of tamari (or soy sauce).

Makes 4 to 5 servings.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Turkey Tacos

Turkey Tacos

I could eat tacos several times each week and I would never grow tired of them.  For years, I have made tacos with ground beef.  Sometimes I've bought raw ground turkey which is already seasoned with taco spices (Jennie-O brand) and, to be perfectly honest, the flavor and texture is kind of weird.  This week I made tacos with ground turkey and made up a homemade taco seasoning blend and my husband and I both liked it.  In fact, we liked it so much we made tacos twice this week.

The homemade taco seasoning blend I found is just a mixture of dried herbs and spices that you likely have in your cupboard.  The recipe below is enough to season three pounds of ground beef, turkey, or chicken.  You just use 1 1/2 tablespoons of the spice mixture in one pound of ground protein.  Very easy.

Here is the recipe link:


2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt (I used kosher salt)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients.  Use 1 1/2 tablespoons in one pound of ground turkey, chicken, or beef.  If desired, add in a few tablespoons of water to help incorporate/distribute the seasonings throughout the cooked meat.  Makes enough for 3 pounds of ground turkey, chicken, or beef.  Store leftover seasoning blend in an airtight container.

I also had a taco salad with some of the leftovers. I added some canned black beans and some jarred salsa to some left over turkey and it was a great meal.  I use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream.  Delicious!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Slow Cooker Machaca

Our local Mexican restaurant, El Alazan, has a delicious breakfast burrito.  Inside the flour tortilla, you will find fried potatoes, melted cheese, sautéed jalapenos and onions, scrambled eggs, and tender shredded beef.  The burrito is smothered with spicy green chili.  We just had brunch there this morning.  The shredded beef is called "Machaca".  I looked it up on the internet and it sounds like a traditional dish made from dried beef.  To me, our restaurant version seemed like a slow cooked chuck roast in a flavorful sauce. I tried to make Machaca at home. It was not the same as the restaurant Machaca, but we liked it a lot.  We enjoyed the shredded beef in a variety of preparations:  burritos, tacos, and quesadillas.

Slow Cooker Machaca
2.5 to 3 pounds boneless beef short ribs (chuck or pot roast would also work)
1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles (hot, original, or mild/whatever you prefer))
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 sweet onion, large dice
1/2 bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange), large dice

Trim any excess fat from the beef short ribs (or beef roast).  Place the meat in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Sprinkle the spices over the top of the meat.  Add in the onion and peppers and pour the can of Rotel over it all.  Cover the slow cooker with the lid and cook on low for about 5 to 6 hours or until the beef shreds easily.  Carefully shred the beef in the slow cooker with two forks or remove it from the slow cooker and shred the beef with two forks on a cutting board.  Return the shredded meat to the slow cooker and stir well to coat the beef with the vegetables and the juices.

You can use the shredded beef in burritos, tacos, quesadillas... whatever you like. Above and below you can see a quesadilla made with two flour tortillas, pepper jack cheese, and shredded beef.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Salad

Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Salad

I tried a new recipe the other day and I just love it.  The recipe is from a great blog called Ambitious Kitchen.  I made the dish vegan by using water in place of broth; of course you could use vegetable broth in this recipe if you like.  I really made no other changes to this recipe.  Here is the recipe link if you'd like to give this recipe a try. I know I'll be making this again.  I have been eating the leftovers cold. Yum!

Ambitious Kitchen recipe link is HERE.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Ravioli Lasagna Mash Up

Ravioli Lasagna Mash Up

This recipe is basically a marriage of two rich and delicious classic Italian dishes; ravioli and lasagna.  How can you go wrong.  I like this dish because it's a bit less work than traditional homemade lasagna.  Another benefit we found is that we find this dish reheats better than lasagna.  There are a number of recipes out there for "Ravioli Lasagna"; I read several and did my own thing.  I decided to use a combination of lean ground turkey and rich Italian sausage.  Since ground turkey is not as flavorful, I added a lot of herbs and spices to the turkey.  I also added a lot of herbs and spices to the creamy ricotta mixture.  This is a flexible recipe. You can leave out the Italian sausage, you can leave out the onion, you can leave out the crushed red pepper flakes.  Of course, feel free to use your favorite jarred tomato sauce.  I would like this with a spinach and cheese ravioli.  You could leave out the ground turkey and Italian sausage and use a meat filled ravioli or leave out the meat all together for a vegetarian dish.  Make it your own and enjoy!

Here is how I made my version of Ravioli Lasagna.



Meat Sauce:

1 pound lean ground turkey (I use Jennie-O brand)
1/3 to 1/2 pound ground hot Italian sausage (I use Johnsonville brand which is made from pork)
1/2 of a medium sized sweet onion, small dice
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
several grinds of black pepper
24 ounce jar marinara (I use Barilla brand "Tomato & Basil)

Ricotta Mixture:

15 ounce tub of part skim ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
pinch of salt
several grinds of black pepper

1 1/2 pounds mini-frozen cheese ravioli (I used Kroger brand); DO NOT THAW
3/4 to 1 cup grated mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spray a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray; set aside.

In a large skillet, cook and crumble the ground Italian sausage, until no pink remains.  Drain well on paper towels to wick away grease. Set aside.

Carefully clean out the skillet with a paper towel to remove excess grease.  Return the skillet to the stove top and add in the ground turkey, diced onion, and the spices called for in the "Meat Sauce".  Cook and crumble the mixture, stirring and chopping, until no pink remains.  Add in the sauce.  Add about 2 tablespoons of water to the pasta jar, replace the lid, and shake to get the sauce off the inside of the jar.  Add the watery sauce mixture into the meat sauce.  Cook over medium heat for a few minutes to warm through.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the ingredients listed under "Ricotta Mixture". Stir well with a fork to combine.

Next, assemble the dish:  Spoon about 1/3 or less of the Meat Sauce into the bottom of the prepared pan; spread around.  Top with 1/2 of the frozen ravioli in a single layer, 1/2 of the Ricotta Mixture, and 1/3 of the sauce.  Repeat the layers (1/2 the frozen ravioli, 1/2 the Ricotta Mixture, 1/3 the Meat Sauce).  Spread the sauce around to cover the ravioli.  Sprinkle top with grated mozzarella cheese. 

Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven (350 degrees F) for 40 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and carefully remove the foil.  Continue to bake in the oven for 10 additional minutes. 


Above: Before popping into the oven.
Below:  Most of the ingredients all assembled (onion and parmesan cheese not pictured... whoops!)


Thursday, December 7, 2017

Vanilla Chai Chia Granola

Vanilla Chai Chia Granola

I tried a new granola recipe yesterday.  I like it. I think the pecans give the granola a different texture than some of my homemade granolas.  This is adapted from a blog called "Real Food Dietitians".  You can see their website HERE. If you sign up for their notifications from their blog, they send nice "e-booklets" with great recipes.  I've received a nice collection of soup recipes from them for example.  This granola recipe came in an "e-booklet" called "Healthy Holiday Treats: Featuring Ten Giftable Treat Recipes".  The recipe I called for "Made in Nature" brand dried plums.  I omitted the plums.  I added in chia seeds and sesame seeds and used honey in place of the recommended brown rice syrup or maple syrup.  The honey in my cupboard had changed in texture; it was becoming grainy with sugar crystals and very difficult to pour.  This recipe was a great use for my honey since the honey and coconut oil and spices are all simmered a bit together before adding it all to the oat mixture.

Above you can see my breakfast.  I had cottage cheese, unsweetened apple sauce, ground cinnamon, and some granola. Good breakfast and so easy first thing in the morning.

Below... granola toasting away in the oven. Boy, my house sure smelled great yesterday!

Vanilla Chia Chia Granola
Adapted from "Real Food Dietitians"

3 cups old fashioned/rolled oats (gluten free if desired)
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 cup sliced or slivered almonds
1 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1⁄2 cup honey (may substitute brown rice syrup or maple syrup)
2 to 3 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ginger
1⁄2 tsp. cloves
1⁄2 tsp. cardamom
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 325 ̊F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl combine the oats, coconut flakes, almonds, pecans, sesame seeds, and chia seeds. Set aside.
3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine honey, coconut oil and spices.
Stir continuously and heat just until warm. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
4. Add the honey mixture to the oat mixture and stir until evenly coated. Transfer
to sheet pan.
5. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring halfway through baking time.
6. Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature before packaging up.  Store in an airtight container.