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Potato, Onion & Spinach Hash

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This is something I threw together to use up a few things before they went bad, and ended up with a plate of magics. Weeks later, we are still eating this once or twice a week and is one of Joshua’s favorite meals.  I’ve never been very much of a potato person, but man, you can’t hardly beat crispy seasoned potatoes dipped in runny egg yolk.

Potato, Onion & Spinach Hash

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1 medium potato
2 thick slices of sweet onion
1/2 cup fresh spinach
Extra-virgin olive oil
Garlic salt & pepper to taste

Pierce the potato through the middle with a knife and microwave for 3 minutes, or until tender all the way through. Meanwhile, dice the onion. Once the potato is cooked, put a skillet on medium-high heat, and cut the potato into small cubes, removing the peel if you wish. Once the skillet is hot, add a generous swirl of olive oil to the pan, along with the potato and onion. Stir to coat with the oil, then sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook without stirring until golden brown on one side, then stir, trying to turn over as many of the pieces as possible. Allow to sit again until golden brown, then add the fresh spinach and cook for a few more minutes, until wilted and soft. Serve hot with eggs, or as a side dish.

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Italian Goulash

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I love Mom’s Goulash, and mostly refuse to make any other recipe.  But this one reminded me of my early cooking attempts, and I’m glad I decided to try it.  Before I knew how to make goulash, I used a jar of pasta sauce with the macaroni, and cooked some onion and green pepper in with the hamburger and stirred it all together.  It was good, but not really goulash at all.  Maybe it’s the stewed tomatoes, or the consistency (see bottom photo for a truer representation), but this one seems more goulash-y, and also much, much better.  The Italian sausage gives it another depth of flavor along with the homemade sauce.  Really good stuff.  Maybe not better than Mom’s, but still very good.

Italian Goulash

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1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 (20 oz / 1 ¼ lb) package sweet Italian turkey sausage
1 large onion, diced
1 (14.5 oz) can roasted diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 oz) can whole stewed tomatoes, cut up or mashed
1 (29 oz) can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
Tomato juice for leftovers (optional)

In a large pot/stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Brown the meat and onions together until cooked through. Add the diced tomatoes, stewed tomatoes, tomato sauce, soy sauce, basil, oregano, and garlic. Stir together and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Stir in the uncooked macaroni, recover, and simmer for another 20 minutes. Let stand for 5-10 minutes and serve.  The noodles will absorb the sauce over time, so if you have leftovers, it’s best to add a little tomato juice to them before reheating.

Veronica’s note: Your finished goulash will not be swimming in sauce like mine is in the picture.  I made it late the night before, and all the pictures looked like this:

So I added tomato juice (Mom’s trick) to some leftovers the next day and photographed them in natural light for a better photo.  So just combine the pretty clear & bright picture with the consistency of the above photo and you’ll get an idea of what your finished goulash will look like. :)

Recipe source: adapted from The Avid Appetite

Healthier Lasagna Soup

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If you haven’t seen recipes for lasagna soup all over the web for the last couple years, then you don’t follow as many blogs as I do-lol!  It is everywhere.  It’s taking over the blogging world.  If it wasn’t so delicious, it might scare me a little, but now that I’ve made it I totally get it.

Everyone has their own variation and I just took the one from Suzie’s blog and made it a little healthier.  I have to tell you that Biz is actually the reason I finally made this soup because I think she’s made it (and raved about it) 55.7 times since Suzie posted it and I just couldn’t resist any longer.

So glad I gave in–this soup is completely frabrilis!  I mean hello, lasagna in soup form?  Frabrilosity! 

P.S. A lot of things went wrong with my pictures and I do not care to explain the unattractive, cold plops of cheese and how thick this is because you would scoff at me and I’m not in the mood for your scoffing beyond the scoffing you’re doing at my cheese plops.  :D  Just follow my directions and you will have frabrilis soup that looks as delicious as it tastes.

Healthier Lasagna Soup

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2 teaspoons olive oil
1 (19.5 oz) package lean sweet Italian turkey sausage
1 cup chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28 oz.) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
6 cups chicken stock
8 oz. broken up whole wheat lasagna noodles or other pasta of choice
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the cheesy goodness:
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese or ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Remove sausage from casings and add to skillet along with the onions and cook, breaking up into bite-size pieces, for 5-10 minutes, until meat is cooked through. Add garlic, basil, oregano and red pepper flakes. Cook for 1 minute.

Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown color.

Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves and chicken stock. Stir to combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add uncooked pasta and cook until al dente. Don’t over cook or let soup simmer too long, as the pasta will get mushy and absorb all the broth.*

While pasta is cooking, prepare the cheesy goodness by combining the cottage cheese or ricotta and Parmesan together in a small bowl. To serve, place a dollop of the cheesy goodness in each soup bowl, sprinkle some of the mozzarella on top and ladle the hot soup over the cheese.

*Note: If you are anticipating leftovers, it’s best to cook the noodles separately and add them to the bowl along with the soup, then store them separately, drizzled with olive oil so they don’t stick together.  They will become mushy if stored in the broth.

Recipe source: slightly adapted from Two Dogs in the Kitchen.

Shredded Chicken with Noodles

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I made this two years ago, it’s about time I shared it!  This is basically chicken noodle soup but with sauce instead of broth. As I’m all about chicken noodle soup, especially with homemade egg noodles, I love it with or without the broth (forget that my “sauce” looks more like broth, I obviously messed up by not thickening it enough, but you’re not going to, right?), and this is one of those hot comforting meals that seem essential during cold winter months.

In other news, today is the last day to enter my Tropical Traditions Gold Label Coconut Oil giveaway, and I also posted my announcement about February’s Sweetest Swap a lot later in the day than usual (after staying up until 6 AM on Monday so I could get all the details worked out and schedule the blog, I forgot to schedule it! Of course.) , so if you missed it, please check that out as well.  Now let’s scare the chill out of our bones with some savory chicken and noodles shall we?  And if you’d like to make your egg noodles from scratch, it couldn’t be easier, you can snag my recipe here.

Shredded Chicken with Noodles

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1 whole cut up fryer chicken
2 whole carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
½ whole medium onion, diced
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoons turmeric
¼ teaspoons white pepper (more to taste) (I used black)
¼ teaspoons ground thyme
2 teaspoons parsley flakes
16 ounces, weight frozen “homemade” Egg Noodles or same amount dried large egg noodles
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1. Cover chicken in 4 quarts water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Remove chicken from pot with a slotted spoon. With two forks, remove as much meat from the bones as you can, slightly shredding meat in the process. Return bones to broth and simmer on low, covered, for 45 minutes.
3. Remove bones from broth with a slotted spoon, making sure to get any small bones that might have detached. Add the carrots and celery and onions to the pot, followed by the herbs and spices. Stir to combine and simmer for ten minutes to meld flavors.
4. Increase heat and add egg noodles and chicken. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Mix flour and a little water. Stir until smooth. Pour into soup, stir to combine, and simmer for another 5 minutes, or until broth thickens a bit. Test and adjust seasonings as needed.
Recipe Source: The Pioneer Woman via Framed Cooks

Taco Chili

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Usually on the rare occasion I ask Dennis if he will make something while I’m at work, I get the irritated face.  The “I hate to cook why must you torture me?” face.  The “wouldn’t you rather me rather scrub the toilet and clean the sink drain out by hand instead?” face.  Cooking just isn’t his thing.  It stresses him out.

But chili is another story.  It’s what he lived on as a bachelor and may be the only thing that he really likes to cook.  I handed him the recipe for this with instructions for adapting it to what we had, preparing myself for the sound of grinding teeth (worst sound ever!), but there was no teeth grinding and he didn’t even frown a little.  He actually seemed excited.  It was like I’d been speaking a foreign language all these years and I finally communicated something he understood.  Even better, he reported that he “really enjoyed” making it.  I think his enjoyment translated into the final product because this chili is incredible!  It’s very simple, but oh so good, and if you top it with sour cream and cheese and scoop it up with tortilla chips, you get the total deluxe taco effect. :)

Taco Chili

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1 lb. ground beef
1 envelope taco seasoning (or 2 1/2 tablespoons homemade taco seasoning)
1 (16 oz) can black beans, drained
1 (16 oz) can kidney beans, drained
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
10 oz package frozen corn kernels (Dennis used fire-roasted frozen corn)
1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Optional toppings: Additional cilantro, shredded cheese, chopped tomatoes, chopped scallions, sour cream, crushed tortilla chips, etc.

Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat; drain.  Combine with remaining ingredients in a large pot  and stir together.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until you can stand it no longer.  (Dennis simmered his for one hour.)  Serve hot with optional toppings.

Veronicas note: There’s no need to remove the seeds from the jalapeno, unless you are very sensitive.  Dennis left half the seeds in and this was a mild chili.

Recipe source: adapted from The Comfort of Cooking

Banana Pepper Roast

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Our friends Joe and Marissa (of the “good peas” fame) invited us to lunch after church one day a million years ago, and she served a roast along with many delightful sides.  I only took a small portion of the roast ,being much more interested in the salad, her mashed potato casserole, and butternut squash bread, but once I took a bite, I was going back for more.  I’m not much of a meat eater, so when I found her roast irresistible, I asked her what her secret was.

“Banana Peppers.”

“Banana peppers?” I repeated, surprised.  “What else did you use?”

“That’s it.  I just poured a jar of banana peppers over the roast in the crockpot.  The acid from the brine really helps tenderize the meat.”

This was so simple, I had to try it at home.  I’m just surprised it took me so long!  But I’ve made it twice in the past month, to make up for lost time. :)

I adore the salty, piquant flavor the banana peppers & juice impart to the beef, and it really is melt-in-your mouth tender after roasting all day in the slow cooker.  And talk about easy!  Although Teri taught me to sear the outside  of a roast before sticking it in the crockpot, I didn’t even do that. Easy peasy & delicious…squeezy?

I know this combo sounds a bit odd, but you’ve got to try it to believe it!  It goes really well with mashed potatoes topped with a pat of butter and garlic salt, as I discovered after taking this picture. :)

Banana Pepper Roast

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1 (3-5 lb) beef roast
1 (16 oz) jar mild banana pepper rings

Place roast in a crock pot and pour the jar of banana peppers, juice and all, over the top. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until tender.

Cranberry Chicken

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Before I get to today’s post, I want to do a quick update for The Postcard Project.  People have started signing up but I want to encourage everyone that is participating to add your name to the list. Many have told me they are sending mail but aren’t on the list yet.  The list is where I’ll be drawing from for the prizes!  Oh, did I forget to mention there are prizes at stake?  My blue ribbon chocolate chip cookies, to be exact!  I’ll be drawing at random from those signed up each Friday this month (winners will be announced each Saturday), then at the end of the month I’ll award a batch to the person who sent the most mail.  So you have a chance to win whether you’re sending 1 letter or 100!  Every letter makes a difference, especially to the person who receives it.  This project will never take over the focus of my blog, but I do intend for it to be ongoing.  I’ve already started on my own goal and it has been so fun writing to people I rarely correspond with.  I can’t wait to share some of the funny cards I got with you guys.  In the meantime, I give you Cranberry Chicken! :)

*****

Pinterest.  Have you heard of it?  Bloggers have been annoying me with their urgings to get on there for months and I fought it hard, not wanting yet another reason for internet addiction in my life.  Even when I was getting 15,000 views a day on my blog (which is not the norm, I can tell you) because of people “pinning” my cupcake bites on Pinterest, I did not sign up.  I was steadfast and strong in my resolve.  But then a personal friend sent me an invitation to join, telling me I “had to do it” and I guess she was right because I did it, despite myself.  It was almost like some evil force in the universe overcame me and made me forget all my reasons for not wanting to.  An evil force named Tracy.  Oh yeah, girlfriend, I just called you out! :)

So, what does this have to do with cranberry chicken, you might ask?  Well, if it weren’t for Pinterest, I would never have made this cranberry chicken!  I bookmarked it ages ago and forgot about it because I never go back to look at things I’ve bookmarked.  But when I signed up with Pinterest, I decided to use it instead of bookmarking things and I transferred all my favorites into boards on Pinterest.  This chicken was one of the first things I transferred and I could barely remember marking it.  And I made it the same week!

I don’t know if this is how everyone uses Pinterest, but I “pin” things, mostly recipes, that I want to try in the future and it is so much more useful to me than bookmarks.  I can categorize things and then I see a visual picture to remind me of what I wanted to do and when I click the picture, it brings me to the web page I got it from.  It’s very handy, but it is also addicting because I can spend an hour looking at everyone else’s pins and repinning them to my own boards for future reference.  Handy and evil!

OK, so let’s talk chicken.  This recipe is another super-simple one with just a few ingredients and fantastic flavor.  It doesn’t have an overwhelming cranberry flavor, in fact the only cranberry taste comes from the whole cranberries themselves because the sauce has onion and Catalina dressing in it to make a flavor all of its own.  It’s a little sweet, a little tangy, and a lot delicious.  Dennis and I both give it two thumbs up!

Cranberry Chicken

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1 (8 oz) bottle Catalina or French Dressing
1 (1 oz) envelope dry onion soup mix
1 (15 oz) can whole-berry cranberry sauce
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken pieces (breast halves and/or thighs)

Preheat oven to 350. Spray a large casserole dish with oil and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the dressing, soup mix, and cranberry sauce and whisk together until blended. Pour enough of the sauce in the dish to make a thin layer, then place the chicken in a single layer on top. Pour the remaining sauce over the top, making sure all the chicken is well-coated. Bake, uncovered, for 1- 1 1/2 hours.  Serve over rice, ladling extra sauce over the top.

Recipe source: Very Culinary

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