Bird’s Nest Fern

Bird’s Nest Fern

I bought this adorable little Bird’s Nest Fern (Asplenium Nidus) at Meijer for $6. I’ve seen them here and there but never really paid much attention to them, but this one caught my eye in its little terra cotta pot. I thought its color was beautiful, its shape was so interesting, and it would brighten a room no matter where I placed it. So, I decided to put it in the kitchen to add a little homeyness.

I really didn’t know anything about these plants, but I noticed when its potting soil became extremely dry it would lose all of its color suddenly. Pretty handy watering reminder! Here are a few things I’ve found about this plant:

Light: Bird’s Nest Ferns do best in medium indirect sunlight, but will also tolerate low indirect light.

Water: These ferns should be watered every 1-2 weeks. Avoid watering in the center of the fern, but instead water around the base of the fern. Let the soil dry out about halfway down before watering.

Humidity: Bird’s Nest Ferns can tolerate a typical home’s humidity, but come from a tropical environment, so they prefer high humidity.

Size: In a home environment, Bird’s Nest Ferns can grow to approximately 2 feet in size.

If you ever come across a Bird’s Nest Fern, pick it up! You’ll be surprised how easy these little guys are to care for and what a statement they are. No one ever believes that mine is real – they’re that distinct!

Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs and Fall Vegetables

Sheet Pan Chicken Thighs and Fall Vegetables

I have no idea why, but I always forget about sheet pan meals. They’re delicious, healthy, and you can use whatever vegetables and seasonings you happen to have on hand. Today is the first day of fall, sooooo time for fall foods! This recipe is great because you can customize it however you like with whatever vegetables you happen to have on hand. Some great vegetables to use are squashes, brussel sprouts, or even cauliflower or broccoli. You could even use chicken breast or legs instead of thighs. I prefer the chicken thighs because they seem to come out crispy on the outside, but not too dry on the inside. I adapted this recipe from one I found from Flavour and Savour.

Ingredients

  • 8 skin on, bone in chicken thighs (any number will do!)
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into approx. 1 inch pieces
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into approx. 1 inch pieces
  • small golden potatoes (any amount is fine, whatever you prefer)
  • 2 medium shallots, sliced
  • 1 honeycrisp, gala, or other sweet apple, sliced with peel on
  • 1 Tbsp thyme
  • 1 Tbsp rosemary
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

Marinade

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried red pepper flakes
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Add chicken thighs to a plastic Ziploc bag. Whisk all marinade ingredients together in a small bowl and pour the marinade into the Ziploc bag with the chicken thighs. Seal the bag and allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator while preparing the vegetables.
  3. Cut all of the vegetables and fruit into uniform size pieces.
  4. Spray a sheet pan with cooking spray. Add all vegetables and fruit to the sheet pan.
  5. Place marinated chicken thighs on top of the vegetables and fruit and pour any extra marinade over the chicken.
  6. Bake in the oven 35-45 minutes or until the chicken reaches a temperature of 165 degrees F. If you prefer even crispier chicken, place the pan under the broiler for a few minutes after the chicken thighs have fully cooked.

Easy Ranch Ground Turkey Tacos

Easy Ranch Ground Turkey Tacos

Taco Tuesday is a weekly occurrence, so there needs to be some variety, right? Sure… variety is the spice of life (yes, pun intended). With grocery costs skyrocketing lately I grabbed the alternative to ground beef for our Taco night staple-turkey! It’s more cost effective, tastes great, and I’m sure our arteries will thank us later. This recipe isn’t short on flavor, but is lighter on fat! Customize these tacos however you’d like! I’ll make a list of what we usually top ours with, but get creative! There are also links to Copycat Chipotle guacamole and corn salsa, homemade white queso, and Copycat Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeno dip. I know you could drink that stuff with a straw… we all could…

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs ground turkey (or 1 lb if this recipe is only for a few people or you don’t like leftovers)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning (or make your own using this recipe!)
  • 1 packet ranch seasoning
  • taco shells or tortillas

Toppings

  • taco sauce
  • shredded cheese of choice
  • cilantro, finely chopped
  • black olives, sliced
  • sour cream
  • salsa
  • shredded lettuce
  • diced tomato
  • corn salsa (check out my Copycat Chipotle recipe here!)
  • guacamole (more copycat recipes-check out my Chipotle version here!)
  • queso (here’s a stovetop version)
  • creamy jalapeno dip (of course I had to use a Chuy’s Copycat version!)

Directions

  1. Prepare all toppings. Chop all the things!
  2. Brown the ground turkey on medium high until thoroughly cooked.
  3. Add one packet of taco seasoning and one packet of ranch seasoning if using 2 lbs of ground turkey. If only using 1 lb of ground turkey use 1/2 packet of each type of seasoning.
  4. Pile on the toppings! Enjoy!
Alocasia Polly – Why are you dropping your leaves?!

Alocasia Polly – Why are you dropping your leaves?!

Alright, this post isn’t ENTIRELY about alocasia pollys losing leaves, but more about their general care and things I find fascinating about them. I bought my alocasia polly from Amazon… yes, Amazon! The convenience always gets me and the price was fair for the convenience ($18.99 for a 4″ pot and $31.99 for a 6″ pot). I’ve purchased several plants from the Rooted company on Amazon and the plants have always arrived in excellent condition and have thrived since they arrived carefully packaged on my doorstep. In fact, most of them have had new leaf shoots or leaves ready to unfurl when they’ve arrived.

Ok, anyways… back to alocasia polly care. Since I’ve never had an alocasia polly, I had to do a little research. They can trick you into thinking they’re dying, but I promise they’re not! Here are a few care tips and some things you might find fascinating about your alocasia polly:

Water

These guys are a little strange when it comes to water. They store all of their water in their large stem or base. This means you should only water your alocasia polly when it is completely dry. They store all of their water in their stem and use the water from their stem, so they don’t like to have constantly moist soil. Water them when they’re completely dry only, usually every two weeks.

Unfurling Alocasia Polly Leaf

Light

Alocasia polly leaves tend to burn, so they don’t care for bright, direct light. While they love being in a well lit room, they thrive out of direct light. If your alocasia polly’s leaves are starting to become crispy, it might be in too much direct light.

Unfurling Leaves

Alocasia polly’s leaves unfurl similar to a monstera. It’s one of the reasons I LOVE this plant! I love watching them sprout new leaves and unfurl.

Dropping Leaves

Alocasia polly don’t have many leaves at one time. If your alocasia polly begins dropping leaves, don’t panic! It could be growing a new leaf or it could be going into its dormant winter stage.

Dormancy

Alocasia polly go dormant in the winter. Some alocasia pollys lose all of their leaves in the winter months. Water them less than you typically would and don’t feed them with fertilizer as much.

I’ve learned so much about alocasia polly and it’s definitely one of my new favorite plants. Remember-indirect light, water only when its soil is COMPLETELY dry, and it’s not dead, it’s just dormant! If you want to learn a little more about this variety, check out some more info from Plant Care for Beginners!

Easy Copycat Chipotle Corn Salsa

Easy Copycat Chipotle Corn Salsa

I’m copying all the things lately and there has been no shortage of Chipotle duplications in this house. Corn salsa is one of those sides that’s a hit with kids and adults in our house. You can keep it sweet or turn up the heat and make it a little spicy. Either way, it pairs great with some copycat Chipotle Guacamole, stovetop queso, or Copycat Chuy’s Creamy Jalapeno dip, so check out those recipes while you’re at it!

Ingredients

  • 1 can sweet corn, drained well
  • 1/4 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 Tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 jalapeno, finely diced (more or less to taste)
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients and refrigerate for at least an hour to help flavors combine.
  2. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!
The Easy Going Monstera

The Easy Going Monstera

Happy Monstera Monday! I’ve always loved monsteras, but figured they had to be extremely difficult to care for because of their size and beautiful split leaves. Man, was I wrong! When monsteras became the “it” plant everyone had to have, I figured I’d wait to see what the hype was about. Now that they’re EVERYWHERE, I’ve added two to my indoor jungle and they have not disappointed! I’ll give a brief history of my monsteras and if you really couldn’t care less about my plants, but want some care info and fun facts about monsteras, scroll on down to the care section.

When Target rolled out their Hilton Carter live plant collection I couldn’t wait to see what plants they would be carrying, but I knew they would have monsteras. I mean, come on… it’s Target! They have all the trendy things… heck, they MAKE all the things trendy! Well, thanks to work and kids and cooking and cleaning and you know, all the things, it took me forever to even get to our Target to see what they had in stock. Of course, by the time I was able to run into the store they only had one pathetic, broken monstera left. In hindsight, I should’ve scooped that one up while I had the chance.

Fast forward a week or so and I took a quick trip to Home Depot to pick something up. Since I can’t pass up a good plant, I always browse their little corner plant section-by the way… never pass up their indoor plant section! They have all the trendy plants for a great price! Anyways… sitting there right in the middle was one lonely monstera. He was little, but he was perfect! Since I bought him he’s been repotted and aside from a bit of overwatering while in his tiny pot, he’s thriving and getting new leaves!

I had to run to another local Target for something our Target didn’t have and they FINALLY restocked their live plants. I grabbed that monstera and put it in my cart so fast! This one has done so well and loves its sunny spot at the end of our bed. At this point I don’t even know how many new leaves “Monty” has at this point. Oh yeah… that’s his name… Monty the Monstera. By the way, the small one is now named Monty Jr. We get mad creative with names in this house, folks (that was sarcasm if you didn’t catch it… subtle…). Now that you’ve been introduced to the Montys, I’ll add some information that I’ve found very helpful.

Monstera Care

Monsteras are rather forgiving plants. Light, water, pot size, and soil type don’t need to all be perfect for them to thrive.

Light: They love light, so find them a sunny spot.

Yellow leaves due to overwatering

Water: Water them when approximately the first 2 inches of soil is dry. Make sure not to over water them or their leaves might yellow on the edges. Make sure their pot has drainage holes to make sure they drain properly.

Pot Size: They don’t seem to become root bound very easily. They don’t need to have a huge pot to be happy, but if you see roots coming out of the drainage holes, repot that sucker! Their leaves and stems seem so large that sometimes it seems like they need much larger pots than they actually do.

Moss pole to support monstera leaves

Climbing: Monsteras naturally find things to climb in the jungle. If your monstera starts to lean or flatten out, you may need to find something to support it or allow it to climb. Amazon has great moss poles that are cheap, sturdy, and do the trick.

Dripping: Sometimes monstera leaves drip. No, your monstera isn’t crying-it is getting rid of excess water or moisture.

Unfurling monstera leaf

Unfurling Leaves: I had NO idea how monstera leaves grew. It’s the craziest looking thing I’ve ever seen! They appear as a shoot and unfurl over a few days. When you see new shoots, be patient! It takes several days for them to unfurl, then they’ll be a light green color for some time.

Aerial roots: This one is bizarre… roots that aren’t, well, in the dirt. There will be roots that don’t root into the dirt, but kind of hang in the air. This is for stabilization and these roots reach for water in the jungle. You can stick these roots back into the dirt or leave the be. Either way will be fine for your monstera. If you plan to propagate your monstera, these aerial roots are great! I’ll create a new post on that sometime soon!

Monstera aerial root

Happy #monsteramonday!

Easy London Fog Latte

Easy London Fog Latte

I love Earl Grey tea, lavender, and lattes. Put them together and… HEAVEN in a cup. I’ve been desperately searching for a recipe to make one of these bad boys at home for some time and I finally found one. This recipe is pretty flexible (especially if you have a Keurig K-Cafe or another machine that makes lattes and cappuccinos fairly easily). This recipe is also excellent over ice. Froth the milk while it’s cold and serve over ice to enjoy a great summer beverage. This recipe was adapted from a recipe from Oh, How Civilized.

Ingredients

  • 8-10 oz Earl Grey tea, brewed to package instructions (I use Twinings k-cups in my Keurig, but any brewed Earl Grey will work great!)
  • 3/4 cup milk (I use 2%, but any non-sweetened variety of milk will work well)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp culinary grade dried lavender, additional for garnish (I buy mine on Amazon)
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Brew Earl Grey tea to package instructions over a tea strainer with the desired amount of dried lavender. 8-10 oz seem to work great for this recipe.
  2. Once tea and lavender have steeped at least 5 minutes, remove the tea strainer containing the dried lavender and discard.
  3. Stir brown sugar and vanilla extract into the lavender tea until well blended.
  4. Steam or heat milk. Use a milk frother, french press, or any other chosen method to steam and froth the milk. If you have a K-Cafe like I do, fill the frothing cup to “Cappuccino” and use the cappuccino setting.
  5. Pour steamed milk into the tea mixture and spoon the frothed milk onto the top of the tea. Sprinkle with lavender garnish.
  6. Pip, pip! Cheerio! Lift your pinky, pretend you’re a Brit, and enjoy!
The Best (and Easiest!) Chicken Parmesan and Baked Spaghetti

The Best (and Easiest!) Chicken Parmesan and Baked Spaghetti

“Chicken Parm, you taste so gooooooood!” Yes, I know you just sang that in your head in Peyton Manning’s voice. I love chicken parmesan and somehow always feel like it has to be this complex, multi-step process to actually make it at home. I have good news… IT DOESN’T NEED TO BE! The most complicated part of this recipe is boiling the spaghetti, so you’ve got this! This recipe was adapted from a recipe I found from The Lazy Dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (1 box) thin spaghetti noodles
  • 2 (24 oz) jars of marinara or pasta sauce (I prefer tomato basil for extra flavor, but any variety will do!)
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan (shredded will also work)
  • 8 frozen chicken patties
  • seasoning to taste (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9″x13″ baking dish.
  2. Cook and drain spaghetti noodles according to package directions. Mix with 3/4 of the tomato sauce (1 1/2 jars) and 2 cups of shredded mozzarella. Add salt, pepper, or Italian seasoning if desired (optional).
  3. Add the pasta, sauce, and cheese mixture to the casserole dish and top with 8 frozen chicken patties.
  1. Top the chicken with the remaining sauce and spread it evenly to cover all of the contents of the casserole dish. Evenly sprinkle the top with 1 cup (or more) of shredded mozzarella and 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese.
  1. Bake on the center rack for 30 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown and the chicken is thoroughly heated and cooked.
Roasted Beets with Citrus

Roasted Beets with Citrus

img_6410Beets are probably one of my favorite vegetables, but for some reason I’ve never actually purchased fresh beets.  I always heat them up out of a can, which I guess is ok, but of course like every other recipe post, Misfits Market changed that!  This week there were two giant golden beets in my box.  Finally, the search was on for a great beet recipe.

I found what seemed like the perfect recipe from Love & Lemons.  I altered the recipe a bit based on what I had in the kitchen, but it’s probably one of my favorite side dishes now.  If you prefer your beets warm, you could even just roast the beets according to the first few steps of the directions and call it a day.  They’re delicious simply roasted, even before marinating!

Ingredients

  • 6 to 8 small or medium red or yellow beets (I used the 2 large golden beets I had and they worked out great with this recipe!)
  • Extra-virgin olive oilfor drizzling
  • 1 large navel orange
  • balsamic vinegarfor drizzling
  • Juice of ½ lemonor to taste
  • Handful of watercress leaves, arugula or microgreens, or other leafy vegetable of choice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Flaky sea saltoptional

Optional Toppings

  • Goat or feta cheese
  • Chopped walnuts or pistachios

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Place each beet on a piece of foil and drizzle generously with olive oil and pinches of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Wrap the beets in the foil and roast on a baking sheet for 35 to 60 minutes, or until soft and fork-tender. The time will depend on the size and freshness of the beets. Remove the beets from the oven, remove the foil, and set aside to cool. When they are cool to the touch, peel the skins. I like to hold them under running water and slide the skins off with my hands.
  3. Use a citrus peeler to peel long strips around the orange, avoiding the white pith. Grated zest would work here also. Slice ¾ of the orange into segments and reserve the remaining ¼ wedge for squeezing.
  4. Slice the beets into 1” wedges or chunks and place them in a bowl. If you’re using red and yellow beets, place each color into separate bowls so the red beets don’t stain the yellow beets.
  5. Drizzle with olive oil and sherry vinegar, then add the lemon juice, orange juice squeezed from the remaining wedge, and a few pinches of salt and pepper and toss. Chill until ready to serve.
  6. Taste before serving and season with more salt (flaky sea salt, if using) and pepper or more vinegar (for more tang), orange, or lemon juice, as desired.
  7. Serve on a platter with the orange segments, watercress, and citrus curls.
Better Than McDonald’s Egg McMuffins (Freezer Friendly!)

Better Than McDonald’s Egg McMuffins (Freezer Friendly!)

img_4764Breakfast foods are some of my favorite foods… biscuits and gravy, eggs and bacon, and of course… breakfast sandwiches!  I’ve made breakfast sandwiches at home for years, usually one at a time, but that became a pain when kids came along (ain’t nobody got time for that!).  Since then I’ve perfected my breakfast sandwich game big time.  I hope this saves you time AND money at the drive-thru!  The best part about making these is the kids LOVE them!  They’re so easy to freeze and thaw in the microwave and come out perfect every time.

I use a whoopie pie  or muffin top pan (you can find them on Amazon!) for perfect eggs.  You can also use a cupcake or muffin pan, but they don’t turn out as evenly done.  Ramekins also work, but I find that they’re a little more of a pain since they’re not confined to a single pan.

Ingredients

  • 12 English Muffins
  • 12 eggs
  • 12 slices White American cheese (or any other cheese that you prefer-Gouda is excellent on these sandwiches!)
  • 12 slices of bacon (usually about a pound turns out just right), 12 sausage patties, or 12 slices of ham (Canadian bacon)
  • salt
  • pepper

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Prepare bacon or other desired meat.
  3. Spray the whoopie pie or muffin pan with nonstick spray.  Crack an egg into each cup.  Gently break the yolk of each egg to allow for even cooking.  Add salt and pepper to each egg to taste.  Cook in the oven 10 – 15 minutes or until yolks are cooked through.
  4. While the eggs are cooking, separate all of the English muffins and place on a working surface like a pan or covered counter top.  Place a slice of cheese on the bottom half of each muffin.  Fold the corners in so no cheese will melt outside the muffin.
  5. Once eggs are thoroughly cooked, place an egg on each slice of cheese.  Top with bacon or meat of choice and add the top bun.
  6. Allow the sandwiches to cool completely and add to a Ziploc bag.  Place all sandwiches in a large freezer bag and place in the freezer.img_5384
  7. To thaw the sandwiches, wrap the sandwich in a paper towel and heat in the microwave for 3 minutes and 45 seconds on 50% power, turning the sandwich over every minute.
  8. Now, wave goodbye to the drive-thru line!

Mustard-Maple Roasted Salmon

Mustard-Maple Roasted Salmon

img_4660I love the versatility of salmon. It can be savory, it can be a little sweet, and you can pair it with so many sides. I love this recipe because it has a hint of sweetness from maple syrup, but dijon mustard gives it a lot of flavor. This is hands down my favorite salmon recipe for a busy night! I usually have all of the ingredients on hand and I actually prefer dried cilantro in this recipe to fresh.

This recipe is adapted from a recipe I found a long time ago from Food Network.

 

Ingredients img_4656

  • Salmon fillets (any amount will do-this recipe stretches far for a large amount and is also great for a thick coating on a small amount)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped cilantro (fresh is great, but I use dried cilantro all the time to avoid a grocery trip only for cilantro!)
  • 1 Tbsp light mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp pure maple syrup

img_4657Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up later.
  2. Mix the mustard, 1 Tbsp of the cilantro (save the rest for garnish), mayonnaise, and maple syrup in a bowl.
  3. Place salmon fillets in the baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Spread the mustard mixture evenly over each fillet and bake until cooked through. For larger, thicker fillets, start with 10-15 minutes and bake longer in 5 minute increments until cooked through.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of cilantro and serve.
Easy Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

Easy Crockpot Chicken Noodle Soup

img_3438

I’ve made this a few times this winter since the cold and flu season hit us HARD this year.  I figure it might be a good comfort food for everyone right now, so here’s my adjusted recipe from Family Fresh Meals.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (I use frozen since it’s usually what I have on hand)
  • 2 cups carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced (I use frozen chopped onion-no smelly chopping!)
  • 3 stalks celery chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic minced
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 7 cups chicken broth
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups (or more… we love noodles… I use more!) wide egg noodles, cooked per package directions
  • 3 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Directions

  1. In a 6 quart crockpot add in whole chicken breasts, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, olive oil, thyme and bay leaf.
  2. Next, add in chicken broth and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Cover and cook on low heat 6 – 7 hours or high heat for 3 1/2 hours.
  4. Cook egg noodles per package directions.  I usually cook an entire package of noodles and save the remaining noodles for another dish the next night.  Two meals out of one?  Yes, please!
  5. Remove cooked chicken breasts and cut into bite sized pieces. Place chicken back in to the crockpot and add in egg noodles and parsley.
  6. Enjoy!
Crock Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

Crock Pot Corned Beef and Cabbage

St. Patrick’s Day is coming, so it’s time for a great corned beef recipe.  This one is so easy it’s insane.  Seriously.  It is full of flavor, you have all of the sides in the same slow cooker (potatoes, carrots, onion, and cabbage), and it’s a must have for St. Patrick’s Day.  I adapted my recipe from a recipe from foodiecrush.com.  Check out the original here!  There is even an Instant Pot option included at foodiecrush.com.  I tend to fill my Crock Pot to the brim, so I’m not even attempting the Instant Pot option, but if you’re cooking a smaller amount, it might be worth a shot!

Ingredients

  • 3 carrots peeled and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow onion peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 pound small potatoes halved
  • 1 corned beef brisket about 3 pounds, plus pickling spice packet or 1 tablespoon pickling spice
  • 16 oz beef broth
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1/2 head Savoy cabbage cut into 1 1/2-inch wedges
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3-4 tablespoons prepared horseradish to taste

Directions

  1. In a 5-to-6-quart slow cooker, place the carrots, onion and potatoes. Place corned beef, fat side up, on top of the vegetables and sprinkle with pickling spice. Pour the beef broth over the vegetables and brisket. Sprinkle with the sprigs of fresh thyme. Cover and cook on high until corned beef is tender, 5-6 hours, or 10-12 hours on low.
  2. Arrange cabbage over corned beef, cover, and continue cooking until cabbage is tender, 45 min to 1 hour (or 1 1/2 to 2 hours on low). Thinly slice the corned beef against the grain and serve with the vegetables and cooking liquid with the horseradish sauce.

Corned beef is something I only tend to cook in March since that’s when it’s available in most stores, so I always forget what cut is the best to use in the slow cooker.  The Point Cut tends to be fattier, more full of flavor, and juicier to cook while the Flat Cut is a leaner cut of beef.  Head on over to foodiecrush.com For a better description of how to choose the best cut for your taste and how to prepare the corned beef before cooking in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana

Slow Cooker Zuppa Toscana

More soup for the cold winter months!  This Olive Garden copycat soup is hearty and can stand on its own as a meal.  It has it all-meat, potatoes, kale… shhhhh… hang with me, kale haters!  I promise you’ll love it.  I adapted my recipe from the Crock Pot Zuppa Toscana recipe at Homemade Hooplah.  My version has cut some corners to save time.  Last time I made this recipe I forgot to brown the sausage with garlic and onion, so I added it to the crock pot instead and it still turned out great!

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground Italian sausage
  • 1 tbsp garlic, minced
  • 1 cup frozen diced onion
  • 1 package Ore Ida diced hashbrown potatoes or 4 russet potatoes, diced (I sometimes use a combination of both as I love to leave the skin on red potatoes if I use them in this soup)
  • 1 pinch salt to taste
  • 1 pinch black pepper to taste
  • 4 cup chicken broth (32 oz)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bunch kale stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese (for topping)

Directions

  1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown and crumble hot Italian sausage, about 5-8 minutes. Add onion and garlic and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes or until some of the onion begins to turn opaque (no need to cook onion completely at this point). Drain grease from skillet.
  2. In a 6 quart crock pot (or bigger), add cooked sausage & veggies plus the diced potato. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Pour chicken broth on top. There should be enough broth to cover the tops of the potatoes; if there isn’t, add up to 2 cups water so potatoes are covered.

  3. Gently stir ingredients, cover crock pot, and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
  4. Remove lid from crock pot and add kale and heavy whipping cream, then stir to combine.
  5. Cover crock pot and cook on HIGH for another 30 minutes.
  6. Serve zuppa toscana immediately with shredded parmesan cheese as garnish.

Simple enough!  I usually brown the sausage, onion, and garlic and dice the potatoes and store in water in the fridge the night before to make for a dump and go meal in the morning.  It’s chilly outside-hibernate and enjoy!

Easy Slow-Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup

Easy Slow-Cooker Cheesy Potato Soup

You can’t get any easier than this recipe.  You don’t even have to chop potatoes… or onion!  What makes this recipe so great is the leftovers may just taste even better than the first time.  Oh, and it has bacon… who doesn’t like bacon???  I modified Betty Crocker‘s recipe to create this simple set-it-and-forget-it soup recipe.  Check out the original here!

 

Ingredients

  • 1 bag (32 oz) frozen southern-style diced hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 1/2 cup frozen chopped onion (from 12-oz bag), thawed
  • 1 medium stalk celery, diced (1/2 cup)
  • 1 carton (32-oz) chicken broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 bag (8 oz) shredded American-Cheddar cheese blend (2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled bacon (more or less according to taste)
  • 4 medium green onions, sliced (1/4 cup)

Directions

  1. In slow cooker, mix potatoes, onion, celery, broth and water.

  2. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 6 to 8 hours.
  3. In small bowl, mix flour into milk; stir into potato mixture. Increase heat setting to High. Cover; cook 20 to 30 minutes or until mixture thickens. Stir in cheese until melted. Garnish individual servings with bacon and green onions. Sprinkle with pepper if desired.

This is a recipe I typically make when I don’t know what to make or when I have nothing in the house to put together for a meal.  I don’t typically keep celery on hand, so if I happen to not have any on hand, I simply omit it.  I also don’t typically have an American-Cheddar blend cheese in the fridge, so I use whatever we happen to have.  Colby-Jack and mild Cheddar have been favorites of mine in this recipe.  I also omit green onion if I don’t have it.

Wait for a crisp, fall day and fill up on this one!

Balsamic, Garlic, and Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Balsamic, Garlic, and Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I love brussels sprouts, but I needed a new way to cook them. I was stuck in a rut of boiling them with butter and salt. The old stand-by is fine, but I needed more flavor and this recipe delivered! It’s a little misleading, since a cast iron skillet is used to first sauté or brown the brussels sprouts, then they’re roasted later, but I promise it’s worth the effort! I have adapted this recipe from one I found from NY Times Cooking.

Ingredients

  • 1 pint brussels sprouts (approximately 1 lb)
  • 4-6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (this will vary as you sauté the brussels sprouts-enough to coat the bottom of the cast iron skillet should be sufficient)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (or desired amount to taste)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Trim the bottom of the brussels sprouts and cut each sprout in half lengthwise and remove any outer pieces that may be old or have fallen off.
  1. Add a small amount of olive oil to the bottom of a cast iron skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add sprouts in a single layer in the pan cut side down. Add garlic and salt and pepper to taste. If the oil is absorbed during cooking, add more oil to the pain. Cook until the sprouts become a golden brown on the bottom.
  2. Place the pan in the oven and bake 10-20 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to avoid burning. Bake until the sprouts are fork tender and browned to your liking.
  3. Remove the pan from the oven and add balsamic vinegar and stir the sprouts well. Sprinkle the desired amount of parmesan cheese on top of the sprouts. Place the pan back into the oven for 5 minutes or until the parmesan is slightly melted.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven and stir the sprout and parmesan cheese mixture well. Serve immediately.
Easy Overnight Oats

Easy Overnight Oats

I’ve never been a huge fan of sweet breakfast foods. I’m more of a bacon and egg or omelet person, but… here I am. Eating overnight oats ever. dang. morning. For real, though. I love that I can put a bunch in the fridge then customize them every morning however I’d like with nuts, chocolate chips, fruit, anything really (now don’t get crazy… I love cheese as much as the next person, but don’t be putting any in your oatmeal, people…). I think I love overnight oats more than typical oats because they don’t seem to turn to mush like normal oatmeal does. They still have a firmness to them and you can flavor them with sounds good when you roll out of bed in the morning. You can also eat them cold or nuke them for 45 seconds to a minute if you’re not feeling the cold variety.

I adapted this recipe from one I came across from Eating Bird Food. My version isn’t altered much, just makes them a little more simple.

I also found some awesome overnight oat jars that seal and are water tight and dishwasher safe. They’re great to prepare several at a time and keep in the fridge for when they’re needed. Amazon, never fails!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use 2%, but any unsweetened milk works great!)
  • 1/4 cup lowfat plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp honey (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder (optional… if you’re feeling chocolatey)

Toppings (Optional)

  • nuts (pecans, walnuts, almond slivers… any kind will do!)
  • peanut/nut butter (almond butter works great!)
  • fruit (bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries are all great options)
  • chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients except toppings well. Store in refrigerator overnight for up to 5 days. The longer the oats sit in the refrigerator, the softer they’ll become.
  2. Add desired toppings when serving.
  3. Enjoy!