Category: Product Review


I bought a jar of sauce at Aldi and it sounded like it would pair well with meatballs.   It did!  Plus I tried a new method of making baked potatoes making this a stress free night.

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Regular readers of my blog know I often prepare, bake, and then freeze meatballs ahead.  I prepared these the same night I cooked burgers.  My meat mixture included pesto, bacon jam, sweet pickle relish, an egg, and seasoned breadcrumbs.   The meatballs were baked at 375 for 40 minutes and then I poured the sauce over them and refrigerated them.

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Unfortunately, I forgot to make my baked potatoes in the crockpot, so I tried a new method.

I put olive oil and salt in a bowl and rolled  the washed and dried potatoes (sweet and russet) in it.  I placed them on a sheet pan lined with foil and poked them with a fork.

They took 45 minutes all told at 425F.  I put the meatballs in for the last 20 minutes.

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I am crazy about Asian food.  Last night we had Korean Barbecue Chicken and a Rice Melange.  It was delish!

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3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts marinated in Korean BBQ sauce

Sauce:

1 C. soy sauce

3/4 c. brown sugar

2 Tbsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 tsp. each ginger and sesame oil

1 Tbsp. each water and corn starch (in a slurry to thicken)

Bring to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add slurry and turn down to low.  Slowly simmer till it thickens.  Pour over chicken in 13 x 9 baking dish sprayed with coconut oil.  (I have bought a bottled Korean BBQ Sauce (Kalbi Bulgogi) from a company called Ajumma Republic and it is really good).  You can marinade the chicken overnight or even freeze it in the sauce for future use.  Once defrosted, bake for 35-40 minutes.  Chop into bite-size pieces with kitchen shears, stir around in sauce, and bake for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Rice Melange:

1 box Near East rosemary garlic brown rice and quinoa (I have found that one packet of seasoning from these boxed rice mixes goes a long way, so no additional seasoning was added to the rice)

1 c. Lundberg Wild Blend Rice

1 c. brown rice

3 c. broth (I used unsalted chicken)

2 1/2 c. water

3 Tbsp. butter

Place in rice cooker.  The rice cooker knows its done when it runs out of liquid, so unplug and remove from heat as soon as the rice cooker clicks over to warm.  Add into the cooked veggies to serve.

Veggies for Rice Melange:

Heat oil of choice in large pot with a little butter.

Saute veggies of choice over low heat.  I used what I had on hand:

1 bag riced cauliflower

1 carrot, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 yellow squash, diced finely.

1 can Cannelloni beans, low sodium

1 tsp. seasoning blend of choice.  I used an Asian inspired one to stay on theme.

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After about 25-30 minutes over low heat, add in one can of beans.  I added Cannelloni because they are our favorite and I always have them on hand.  This way, anyone wanting to stay vegetarian (if you use veggie broth instead of chicken) can eat the rice melange.

 

My sister, who has been eating gluten free for five years, was here for a visit.  What better reason to try out a gluten free banana bread mix I’ve been eyeing at Lucky’s?

King Arthur Gluten Free Banana Bread mix is amazing!  Below is how I modified the directions on the box to make it my own.  We enjoyed warm, delicious banana bread that we couldn’t believe was gluten free!

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1 box King Arthur gluten free banana bread mix

3 eggs

1 c. milk

1/2 c. melted butter

2 mashed bananas

1/2 c. chopped cashews

Mix eggs, milk and melted butter and add into mix until well blended.  Add in mashed bananas and nuts.

Bake at 350F for 50-55 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

We all love empanadas at our house.  With my new no nightshade diet, I decided to search for sauces that are safe.  Korean BBQ Sauce from Ajumma Republic fits the bill.  Soy sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, ginger, pear, pineapple, sesame oil, and sesame seeds, all adding up to yum!

empanadas

1 lb. ground meat

1 lb. hot sausage, casing removed

1 large sweet onion, chopped

2 Tbsp. oil (I used avocado/sunflower blend)

2-3 Tbsp. Korean BBQ sauce

2 Packages frozen empanada dough (large size) – this thaws at room temperature in about an hour.  We prefer El Sembrador brand, but any will do

1 egg for egg wash

Brown meat and onion in oil.  Break up into small pieces.  Add BBQ sauce and simmer 5 minutes.

Thicken with a little bread crumbs.  I used about 3 Tbsp.

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Spray two large cookie sheets with coconut oil.  Assemble empanadas right on the sheet pans.  Place 2 heaping Tbsp. of filling on dough.  Wet edges with water to seal.  Press with a fork.  Brush with beaten egg.NOTE:

It will take about 30 minutes to assemble 20 of these.

Bake 10 minutes, switch racks.  Bake 10 minutes more.  They are ready when they are golden.

The filling gets really hot, so let them sit about 5 minutes before serving, and be careful not to burn your mouth!

I am avoiding nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, white potatoes) as part of a diet geared toward reducing inflammation and pain from my psoriatic arthritis.  I know that I should also limit dairy, gluten, and processed foods, but I’ve had such great results already, I know nightshades are the real enemy.  Besides, I love chicken apple sausage and thought I’d see if it has an impact.  It  has only been a little over a week, and already I know without a doubt that the nightshades are no longer for me.  My pain decreased almost immediately, even though the information on pain management websites indicated it could take a while.  I used to take ibuprofen every day and night to manage my pain.  Since starting this experiment a little over a week ago, I have only taken it twice.  Both times  I had “cheated” and had tomato.  Absolutely not worth it.  I’m sold on eliminating nightshades.  An added bonus is that my psoriasis outbreak is going away.  On top of that, I feel more energetic and younger!  Tonight’s dinner was delicious, albeit a bit sweet from the sausage.  Adding hot sauce, pepper flakes, or cheese would likely take it to another level, but the kids liked it sweet!

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3 packages al fresco chicken apple sausage

1 large sweet onion, chopped

2 small zucchini, cubed

2 small yelow squash, cubed

3 Tbsp. oil

2 Tbsp. sherry

3 Tbsp. pesto sauce

1 can garbanzo beans, drained

1/4 c. seasoned breadcrumbs

2 boxes orzo, cooked according to directions

  1. Cut up sausage and veggies.  Toss with oil and cook over medium low heat, stirring regularly in large skillet until vegetables are softened and beginning to caramelize.  Meanwhile, cook the orzo and drain.
  2. Add in sherry and pesto.  Simmer 5-10 minutes.
  3. Add in breadcrumbs to thicken sauce, if needed.  Simmer another 5 minutes.
  4.   Toss with orzo and serve immediately.  Top with a little parsley or basil for color, if desired.

The variations of this are endless.  Any vegetables or beans you like.  Different sausages.  Tofu or Tempeh in place of the sausage.  Cut up boneless chicken.  Yum.

 

I can’t remember the last time we had acorn squash.  It was on sale the other day, and I decided to give it a try.  I simply roasted it in the oven with a little oil, salt, and pepper (ceramic dishes are reportedly better than metal).  We loved it so much, the kids want to have some for Thanksgiving.  I will try mashing it with some garlic.  It’s so sweet, even though many of the recipes I found called for adding sugar, it doesn’t need it one bit!  I can’t wait to try it lots of different ways.  My new favorite squash!  It reminded us of sweet potatoes, but creamy and nutty.  Really yummy!

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10 boneless skinless chicken thighs

1/2 c. sesame ginger dressing (I used Olde Cape Cod – makes a wicked marinade alone)

1/2 c. kimchi (I used wildbrine – I love this stuff)

1 large acorn squash

Oil for tossing acorn squash (I used grapeseed sunflower blend)

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine dressing and kimchi, and marinade chicken thighs at least 30 minutes (mine marinated overnight)

Cut acorn squash into wedges or slices and toss with oil, salt and pepper.

Place chicken in 13 x 9 baking dish.

Place squash in 13 x 9 baking dish.

Bake at 375F for 45 minutes.

I made some Minute multi-grain medley on the stovetop while the chicken and squash cooked in the oven.

 

Tonight’s dinner was a hit.  Easy as can be too.  Using the sauce the chicken was cooked in to flavor the rice noodles and spinach was yummy, and the addition of Kimchi gave it a nice kick!  I can’t wait to try variations on this – adding in green onions and other veggies.  This would be good with shrimp or tofu too.  There are as many possibilities as there are Asian sauces!  Topping it with a soft yolk egg would be good too!

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8 boneless skinless chicken thighs (marinated in Asian sauce – I used McCormick Sesame Chicken Skillet Stir Fry Sauce)

2 packs Thai Kitchen thin rice noodles – we love these and will buy them again!

1 bag fresh spinach

Kimchi for topping – we love Wild Brine brand!

Bake chicken at 350F for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make rice noodles according to package directions, adding in spinach with noodles.

Cut chicken into bite size pieces and toss with cooked noodles and spinach.

Top with Kimchi.

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I confess!  In the interest of saving money, I’ve been shopping at Lucky’s and other stores promising good quality organic boneless chicken at lower prices than Fresh Market.  This Little Big Meal offer called out to me, so I decided to splurge.  Guess what?  There really is a difference in the taste and texture.  I will start shopping the Tuesday sale again religiously in the interest of better tasting chicken!  This meal was super easy.  The website said to fry the chicken up in a skillet with a little oil.  Besides the fact that the thought of standing over a hot stove frying chicken didn’t appeal to me, it also sounded a bit greasy.  I opted for a baked method and the results were amazing.  I am on board every time they run this Little Big Meal deal.

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1 Little Big Meal – which includes:

4 large butterflied chicken breasts with light breading

1 jar sauce (the LBM deal was for a brand called Lucini, but they were out – I chose Cucina Artica fresh spinach cooking sauce – very good straight from the jar, but I always taste and doctor it up)

1 pack Fresh Market shredded Mozzarella cheese

My add ins:  sherry, butter, and jarred pesto sauce for sauce, bread, butter, oil, and pesto sauce mix for the garlic bread, and shredded 6 Italian cheese for on top.

1 box DeCecco pasta (I chose cavatappi)  FYI DeCecco won the blind taste test on America’s Test Kitchen as best tasting pasta.

1 package chop salad (again they were out of what it was supposed to be, so I got baby lettuce to make myself lunches for salad this week)

I also made some garlic bread from wonderful sourdough rolls I picked up at their bakery.

  1.  Line baking sheet with foil and brush with oil (I use a grapeseed sunflower blend).
  2. Place chicken pieces on sheet and drizzle with oil.  By the way, the picture is 1/2 of one of the chicken pieces, so it’s a lot of chicken.
  3. Bake at 400 F, setting the timer for 10 minutes to rotate pan and check for even cooking.
  4. Meanwhile, boil water for pasta and heat sauce in pan.  I doctored the sauce with a couple splashes of sherry.
  5. Chicken will be golden around the edges after about 25-30 minutes total cooking time.  Remove from oven and spoon sauce over the pieces, reserving the remaining sauce to mix with the cooked pasta.  After adding the pasta to the sauce, I added in 2 Tbsp. butter and 2 Tbsp. pesto.
  6. Top chicken pieces with shredded cheese.  I had a little 6 cheese Italian on hand, so I used that and some of the Mozzarella.
  7. Return to oven and allow cheese to melt.
  8. For the garlic bread, I mixed melted butter, oil, and Knorr creamy pesto mix and dipped the pieces of bread in it, and baked them first on the lower rack, and then switching out with the chicken towards the end.

The Little Big Meal sells for $20.00 and is supposed to feed four.  We have some leftovers, so the kids are happy!  It’s a lot of food.  I also opted not to make a salad to go with, opting to use it for my lunches instead.  I did purchase the rolls to make the garlic bread for an additional $4.00 investment in the meal.

All in all a success and a great reminder of why the Fresh Market chicken is worth spending a little more!

 

 

I’m so glad my kids have decided to like quiche again.  So simple to make.  I can make it the night before and everyone helps themselves in the morning at their own pace.  Fresh broccoli for one.  Onions and peppers for the other.  I’m still loving the Immaculate brand pie crusts!  So much better than mine.

1 package broccoli florets

2 Tbsp. oil (I used sunflower grapeseed blend from Lucky’s)

1 Tbsp. mixed seasoning of choice (I used barbecue seasoning)

1 large sweet onion, diced

1/2 each yellow, red, and orange bell peppers, diced

1 Tbsp oil

Salt and pepper

1 box Immaculate pie crusts (2 crusts)

12 eggs

1/2 C. milk (I used unsweetened almond coconut)

2 C. shredded cheese

Goat cheese, crumbled

Bake the pie crust at 400 F until golden (about 10 minutes).  Set aside to cool.  Reduce oven heat to 325 F.

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Toss broccoli, oil, and seasoning.

Spread on large baking sheet lined with oil.

Toss onions and peppers with oil and salt in same bowl broccoli was in.  No sense wasting dishes.

Spread next to broccoli.

Bake at 400F until slightly charred (about 10-15 minutes)

Place broccoli in one crust and onions and peppers in the other.

Whisk eggs and milk together.

Sprinkle the broccoli with one cup of the shredded cheese and half of the goat cheese.  Do likewise with the onions and peppers.

Pour equal amounts of the egg mixture into each.

Bake at 325 for 50 minutes until knife in the center comes out clean.

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2 lb. fresh chicken apple sausage

1 bag Dole chop salad (save the dressing and toppings for another time)

1 large sweet onion, chopped

2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil

1 can garbanzo or other white bean

1 1/2 c. quinoa

1 c. Thai ginger chicken broth

2 c. water

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in large dutch oven.
  2. Cut sausage into small pieces and place in hot oil.
  3. Meanwhile, put quinoa, broth, and water into rice cooker and cook.
  4. Stir sausage around until golden, and add in chop salad and onion.
  5. Cook about 5-10 minutes more.
  6. Add in garbanzo beans.
  7. Simmer until quinoa is done.
  8. Stir quinoa into sausage and veggies.
  9. Serve topped with Kimchi.

We tried Wildbrine Korean Kimchi for the first time and loved it.  Spicy and delicious!

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