food · through my camera lens

Cheeseburger “TOTchos”

I always menu plan the night before I go to the grocery store. I really don’t know how people shop without menu planning!

Well this week, we had one night that was unplanned. We just could not come up with something to have as one of our weekend meals. I looked when I went to the grocery store and we looked again yesterday when we were at Costco for something to get for dinner. We did buy pork chops and ground turkey. But, I just did not feel like pork chops tonight. So… I started to think and think  of something to make. I ended up making a recipe off the seat of my pants.

In the past I’ve made “TOTchos”, but I always made them Tex-Mex. I didn’t want that. I have been on an anit-taco meat kick lately. But the concept of TOTchos sounded like a perfect meal for tonight. So I created Cheeseburger TOTchos. (it tastes better than it photographs! )

Cheeseburger TOTchos

  • -ground turkey (or any ground meat you like)
  • -small onion-minced
  •  1/4 c. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbsp steak sauce
  •  3 Tbsp ketchup
  • 2 Tbsp Steak seasoning (I use McCormick Montreal Blend)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (or whatever cheese you like on your burgers)
  • -tater tots
  • -EVOO
  • -S&P
  1. Preheat oven and bake tater tots according to the package
  2. In a large cast iron pan (or frying pan of your choice) sauce the onions (seasoned with S&P) in some EVOO
  3. When the onions begin to brown add in ground turkey and cook it while breaking it down into chunks
  4. Add Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce, steak seasoning, and ketchup to the meat and continue to stir
  5. I popped this into my second oven at 350 to continue to cook, but you can do it all on the stove top.
  6. When the tots are done, season the tots with S&P
  7. Put the cheese on top of the meat mixture
  8. Put the tots on top of the cheese and pop back in the oven for 3-5 min to melt the cheese

Serve with your favorite tot and burger toppings. I used ketchup, mustard and pickle slices, Colby used ketchup, Blake and Richard didn’t t add anything to theirs.

This was really good. Richard felt it needed a bit more seasoning. I think the tots needed to cook a bit more so they were super crisp. I think the next time I’ll cook them for the longer time on the bag instead of the shorter. I will certainly make it again.

 

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food · through my camera lens

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

So, yesterday when I walked in the house, I decided that I wanted to bake. It wasn’t because I’d had a tough day or anything it just was a need to bake. (granted the world imploded after the kids got home.)

I decided that since I had homemade applesauce from the weekend that I’d use it to make applesauce muffins. I found a recipe for healthy applesauce oat muffins on Tastes Better from Scratch, and decided to alter it.

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Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins

  • 1 cup applesauce (I used homemade)
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 Tablespoons butter , melted 
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Microplane a few swipes of nutmeg

 

  1. Preheat oven to 375. line muffin pan with liner or spray with pam
  2. Stir together wet ingredients in one bowl (applesauce, milk, egg, butter and sugar)
  3. Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, wheat germ, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg
  4. Stir wet mixture into dry mixture until just mixed (do not over mix)
  5. scoop into muffin liners
  6. bake 15-20 min or until a toothpick comes out clear
  7. cool completely
food · reviews · through my camera lens

chicken salsa

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Chicken salsa is a recipe I created years ago. It started as a quick recipe of just chopping chicken up, popping it into a skillet. After the chicken cooks a bit, I would add in salsa and let it finish cooking. Then I would put it on top of couscous and top it with cheese.

Over time I’ve made this in the crock pot or even in the pressure cooker.  With both of these cooking methods I would just cut the chicken into bite size pieces and put the salsa in to start. When you do it in the pressure cooker, it makes it more like shredded chicken which is perfect for nachos!

Well, since we have been working on adding more veggies into our meals I decided to revamp salsa chicken.

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Salsa chicken

  • 1 package of chicken thighs
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cubanelle peppers
  • 3/4 stocks of celery
  • salsa
  • cumin
  • paprika
  • chili powder
  • S&P
  1. put pressure cooker on high
  2. trim up chicken thighs, add to crock pot
  3. dice up onion, peppers and celery, add to crock pot
  4. add spices to your taste preferences
  5. add 1/2 jar of salsa
  6. put the lid on and cook for 3-4 hour on high

I served it over farro as well as couscous to serve this over. Colby added cheddar cheese to his chicken salsa. We ate the WHOLE crock pot worth of chicken salsa. We did have farro and couscous leftovers, but I’ll take that. I enjoyed the increase of veggies and felt it added to the taste as well as the health levels.

 

food · reviews · through my camera lens

Mixed Berry Sauce

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Colby had requested pancake for dinner tonight. So we had pancakes and bacon for dinner. While I do get one cheat day/meal a week I decided I wanted to have a slightly healthy addition to our pancakes.

While Richard made the bacon, I whipped up our favorite homemade pancakes. Here is the link to the pancake mix we use.

I also made a batch of mixed berry sauce. I have frozen mixed berries for my smoothies, this bag was strawberry, blueberry and raspberry,

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I used the berries as a topping on my pancakes as well as topping a dish of vanilla yogurt. Since I did not add any sugar to this mixture the sweetness totally came from the berries.

Mix Berry Sauce

  • 2 c. mixed berries
  • 1 lemon
  1. put berries into the sauce pan over high
  2. zest and juice the lemon adding both to the pan
  3. once it comes to a boil, reduce the head to low and let the mixture simmer
  4. stir to assist in the breaking down of the berries
  5. remove from the heat and let cool
  6. serve over pancakes, yogurt, ice cream… whatever you want/need a berry sauce

This batch had a strong raspberry flavor, but it was very tasty. I am planning to make a batch of just strawberry, and then experiment with a peach sauce since I have frozen peaches too. I really liked this over the yogurt and the fact that I can control the amount and quality of berries added to my yogurt!

 

food · reviews

Lemon or Lime cookies

So Richard had a bbq to go to after work today, I decided to bake cookies for him to take. Shocked? Yeah I’m sure his co-workers won’t be shocked either. Oh well, at least I’m predictable in a tasty way?

So I was originally going to make a make your own oreo recipe, but decided I didn’t want to deal with rolling out and cutting cookies. I had gone to the grocery store and picked up some lemons and limes. I decided to make lemon and/or lime cookies. I went searching on the web and stumbled across a recipe for Lemon Chewy Crisps.

Lemon or Lime Chewy Crisps Cookies (adapted from allrecipes)

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • zest of a lemon (or two limes)
  • juice of a lemon (or two limes)
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  1. preheat oven to 350
  2. cream butter and sugar
  3. incorporate egg, zest, juice, vanilla, baking powder and baking soda until blended
  4. add flour until just mixed
  5. scoop onto cookie sheet
  6. bake 10-12 min until edges start to brown
  7. let cool 1 min on sheet then remove to cooling rack

I made one batch of lemon and one batch of lime. I got about 22 cookies in each batch. While the color of the cookies were pretty much the same (oops guess I should have added a drop or two of food coloring), that is where the sameness ended. The lemon (right picture) ones didn’t spread much at all and ended up with a crinkled top. The lime (right picture) ones spread out more and had a smooth top. The lemon flavor was barely there just a hint of lemon to be found. The lime ones had a much stronger flavor.

I said to Richard “Now I need to go get an orange and try it with orange.”

I may try them again, we will see. I might have to search for a different recipe. I wanted something more crispy and these were certainly a chewy cookie.

 

food · reviews · through my camera lens

Chicken thighs with sweet potatoes and apples

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I had chicken thighs and sweet potatoes to have for dinner last night. Originally I was going to grill them both, but then it decided to pour when I would have to heat the grill and get things started.

This prompted me to switch gears.  Ok… turn on the oven!

This was a toss together meal, so that means I don’t have any exact measurements, but hey winging it is not a bad thing!

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Chicken Thighs with sweet potatoes and apples

  • chicken thighs- trim off the fat
  • 2 apples sliced
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes sliced
  • cinnamon
  •  nutmeg
  • cumin
  • S & P
  • EVOO
  1. preheat oven to 400
  2. pour a bit of EVOO on a sheet pan
  3. placed sliced sweet potatoes and apples on the cookie sheet
  4. sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper over the whole layer
  5. placed cleaned chicken on top of sweet potatoes and apples
  6. sprinkle cumin, salt and pepper over chicken
  7. top with aluminium foil and bake for 15 min
  8. remove foil, increase oven temp to 425 and cook for an additional 10-15 min or until chicken is cooked thoroughly

I did enjoy this a lot. I probably put more EVOO than needed. Next time, I may just spray the cookie sheet with cooking spray instead of pouring the EVOO on it. It didn’t taste greasy, but there was just a lot of grease/oil on the bottom of the pan when it was all said and done.

The boys both enjoyed the chicken and ate 2 or 3 thighs each. They were not fans of the apples or sweet potatoes, but that didn’t shock me since they don’t really like cooked veggies at all.

Richard did not like the apples but did enjoy the sweet potato and chicken.

I found that if you got a bite with a bit of everything it tasted really good. Next time, I will make it with just the sweet potatoes and skip the apples. But it was a tasty and healthy meal!

book · family · food · reviews · through my camera lens

P B & J sandwich cookies

cookies

If you follow my blog on Facebook, or follow me on Instagram (@teacherturnedmommy), then you know I baked cookies yesterday!

I have been reading the Hanna Swensen Mystery series by Joanne Fluke. AJ at A Petite Slice of Life, mentioned that she not only had read these books, but made many of the recipes in the books. That was incentive enough to test one out myself.

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I just finished reading Blueberry Muffin Murder and one of the recipes in that book was  Peanut Butter Melts. One of the suggestions she made was turning them into peanut butter jelly sandwich cookies. Well…. as it turns out Richard, Colby and I had just talked about pb & J cookies this past week. When we were in Amish country we purchased 4 jars of jelly. Colby has been working on polishing off the strawberry jelly and loving it with peanut butter.

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Sooooo the baker in me decided to use another jar of jelly to make pb & j cookies.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Cookies -adapted from Peanut Butter melts by Joanne Fluke

  • 1 cup melted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2.5 cups flour
  • jar of jelly (I used raspberry)
  1. Preheat oven to  375
  2. Melt butter in microwave add both sugars and vanilla mix well
  3. Add baking soda, baking powder and salt. mix until incorporated
  4. Add peanut butter to the mixture
  5. Add in eggs one at a time
  6. Add flour and mix until all ingredients are fully incorporated
  7. Use small cookie scoop to dish out the dough, put onto cookie sheet leaving space between balls. press balls flatter with the tines of a fork in a crisscross pattern
  8. Bake at 375 for 6-8 min (if making bigger cookies bake 8-10 min) cookies should just start to golden on the bottoms.
  9. cool 2 min on sheet and then move to cooling rack
  10. when fully cooled spread jelly on the bottom of one pb cookie, top with another cookie to make sandwiches.
  11. I then put all the cookie sandwiches in the fridge to finish cooling and let the jelly set up

P1000282Colby loved these cookies. He had one last night and then quickly packed another to have at camp today for snack. He really wanted to pack 2 cookies but since he was having a PB&J sandwich for lunch I didn’t think he needed two cookies. I”m sure he will have one as a snack when he gets back from camp today.

Richard said they had a really good peanut butter flavor and liked them. He took a tin of them into work today to share with his co-workers.

I would tell you my opinion, but I haven’t had any yet. I’m using my will power! As I’ve mentioned I’m trying to eat healthier, working out and following a specific program. I do get a cheat day and plan on having that this weekend, so trust me I’ll have one then!

 

food · through my camera lens

Grandma’s Shortbread Cookies– Fantastic Bake Along

I have seen AJ at A Petite Slice of Life participate int he Fantastic Bake Along, on It’s a T-Sweet Day. for so many months. This time I decided to join in the fun!

They post a recipe for everyone to follow. You bake the recipe during the week and then post your results on your own blog on Saturday. It’s that easy.

This month’s recipe was Grandma’s Shortbread Cookies. This recipe had 4 ingredients… seemed fool proof to me… yeah I should have know that wasn’t the case, but hey whatever.

So I started baking.

Grandma’s Shortbread Cookies

  • 1/2 c corn starch
  • 1/2 c powdered sugar
  • 1 c AP flour
  • 3/4 c. softened butter
  1. sift corn starch, flour and sugar
  2. mix in butter with a wooden spoon until blended into a soft dough
  3. form into the shape you want
  4. bake 300 for 15-20 min until the edges start to brown
  5. cool on a wire rack

I decided to add a tsp of cinnamon to give them a bit more flavor. I also rolled the cookies in cinnamon sugar

When I mixed my dough it didn’t form anything…. it was a flaky powder mess. I ended up adding another 1/4 cup of butter and then it finally came together. I don’t know what happened it seemed as if there was WAY too much dry to the butter ratio.

So I tossed the dough into the fridge for 15 min and then I was able to manipulate it enough to create cookies.

I made one batch as rolled cookies and a smaller batch of slice and bake style.

The first batch was not even close to browning at the 15 min mark. They also had spread out too much. I should have started by adding a tablespoon of butter at a time to see if I could bring the dough together instead of just jumping into adding the extra 1/4 cup.

 

The cookies spread sooo much. Then the strange thing was they were a crumbly mess and were falling apart when I tried to take them off the silpat. I guess this attempt was a flop for me… oh well I tried!

I hope everyone else had better luck than me. Please go check out the other bloggers who tried out this recipe!

 

food · through my camera lens

chocolate and peanut butter chip cookies

IMG_20180628_134437.jpgYesterday we had a rainy day so I decided it was a good day to make cookies. I decided to make chocolate chip cookies. I have found a new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe from my Duff Bakes cookbook. This is the chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe, he as a crispy one too, but I don’t like that one… sorry Duff!

This time I decided to switch it up a bit and add in peanut butter chips.

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Chocolate Chip/Peanut Butter Chip cookies (adapted from Duff Goldman’s Fat and Chewy Chocolate chip cookies)

  • 2 1/4 c. AP Flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 c. butter softened
  • 3/4 c. brown sugar
  • 3/4 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 c. dark chocolate chips
  • 1 c. pb chips
  1. preheat oven to 375
  2. cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy
  3. add in eggs and vanilla
  4. add flour, baking soda and salt
  5. stir in chips (pb and chocolate)
  6. scoop onto ungreased cookie sheets (I used my silpats)
  7. bake cookies for 8-12 min depending on how gooey you want the centers to be
  8. cool for 5 min on sheet then transfer to cooling racksIMG_20180627_183953_742.jpg

These cookies are soooooo yummy. The center is soft and with the perfect level of chew.  The cookie base itself is super buttery and there is just the right level of salt. The combination of the chocolate and peanut butter is balanced and adds a great sweetness. As you can see, Colby tried them too and he also loved them. Blake doesn’t like pb chips, but he has had this when I made it with just chocolate chips and liked it.  Hmmm I think next time I’ll do chocolate chips, pretzels and butterscotch chips. Ummm yummy!

family · food · through my camera lens · Uncategorized

Meatballs and weekday sauce

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When I was growing up, it seemed like a majority of the friends my brother and I had were Italian. We on the other hand do not have a drop of Italian blood in us. But that never stopped us from enjoying Italian foods! I love anything in red sauce, who doesn’t? I would be very happy if you gave me a bowl of red sauce and a loaf of Italian bread… yum!

Well last night we decided to have meatballs. We had purchased a french baguette at the store on Monday and we didn’t want it to go stale before it was consumed. Blake told me over the weekend he wanted to help with the cooking this week, so I had shown him Alton Brown’s Chicken Parmesan Balls recipe. We decided this would be the meatballs we make this time around. I typically make the meatballs from this recipe anytime I make meatballs. P1080320

The boys decided they would both help make dinner. Blake helped make the meatballs. He measured and mixed and then formed the meatballs while I cooked them in the cast iron skillet. Colby made the sauce almost completely on his own.

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Chicken Turkey Parm Balls

  • 3 oz panko bread crumbs
  • 4 oz parm cheese (I used a combination of parm and asiago since I didn’t have enough parm)
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning mix (dried herbs not salad dressing)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 oz of fresh mozzarella
  • weekday spaghetti sauce (see below)
  • Heat oven to 400
  1. mix 1/2 oz of panko and 1 oz parm cheese in a small bowl and set aside
  2. combine chicken, egg, 1 Tbsp oil, bread crumbs, parm cheese, basil, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and salt in a large bowl. (use your hands it’s your best kitchen tool!)
  3. use cookie scoop to create equal size balls
  4. heat 1 Tbps oil in pan.
  5. brown balls in the pan, work in batches and do not over crowd the pan. remove to paper towel lined pan/plate as you go.
  6. put balls into baking dish and cover with weekday sauce. sprinkle on reserved panko and cheese. top with fresh motzarella
  7. bake for 10 min or until the cheese is melted.
  8. serve however you want (in a roll, on pasta, just on a plate, eat it right out the pan…?)

Weeknight sauce

  • EVOO
  • 6 cloves of garlic – crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning (herbs not salad dressing mix)
  • 28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes
  1. heat oil in the pan (enough to coat the bottom of the pan
  2. add crushed garlic
  3. add remaining herbs
  4. heat until the garlic is starting to brown around the edges, making sure to continue to break up garlic if you didn’t chop it up
  5. add in the whole can of tomatoes
  6. let cook 5 min or so then begin breaking up the tomatoes (Colby used the wooden spoon then I used a potato masher) to the consistency you like your sauce

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This was really good. The boys did find the sauce a bit spicy. I think next time I’ll use 1/2 or 1/4 tsp of the red pepper flakes. I enjoyed the texture, taste and mouthfeel of these meatballs. I would make them bigger next time if I was making them for the subs. I tend to choose to make my meatballs smaller so I know they cook through and they also do not need as much binder then. I will certainly be making both the meatballs and sauce again since everyone enjoyed them.