Tag Archives: dinner

Happy Daylight Savings Day!

Happy Daylight Savings Day! And good morning to those of you with small children.

Please know that Swiss Mountain Dogs with a precise feeding schedule share your child’s excitement for the 6:00 hour. May you be blessed with a short nap at some point today.

So how many Elsa’s did you count on Friday? I was going to attempt the Elsa-spotting drinking game but then I remembered I wasn’t in college and had to go back to work for the rest of the day. Regardless I had a count of 8.

8 Elsas. If that sounds low to you it’s because it is. My sister said Jake had 5 Elsas in his class alone. I even bought enough candy for 250 Elsas, but apparently living behind a gate and between two family-friendly streets only gets you a handful of trick-or-treaters. Either that or the cold really did bother them anyway.

I guess a low of 65 will do that to Floridians.

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Disclaimer: When the home team is playing far worse than the Bears in an off-year, no one will heckle you for your last-minute Halloween costume.

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But as Cubs fans say, there’s always next year. And next year when that little 4-year -old Luigi walks right past and tells us he’s already had enough candy for this year, I will chase him down, shove a king-size Snickers in his tiny plastic pumpkin and tell him there’s no such thing as too much Halloween candy. Never give up kid. Never give up.

But I digress.

It did cool down ever so slightly this week so I decided to try out a new chili recipe. I was getting a few complaints from a certain someone who will now be my certain someone from this day forward that my go-to chili recipe didn’t have any meat in it so I experimented a little for this one. Fortunately it worked.

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I sort of loosely based it off of this recipe from Taste of Home but I’ve found that with chili you have a little more wiggle room on ingredients so don’t be afraid to try something new.

Pumpkin Steak Chili

 

  • 2 center-cut high-quality sirloins, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can great northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • chili sauce (garlic chili sauce and cholula)
  • 1 large can crushed tomatoes 
  • 1 C canned pumpkin
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 2 tsp chili powder

In a dutch oven, saute onions until transparent. Add chopped steak and cook until browned. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Add spices and chili sauce to taste and water to thin. Simmer for at least an hour. Add a bay leaf to bring up the flavor.

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Enjoy!

 

 

Squash Season

One thing I love about fall is the pretty little gourds that fill the farmer’s markets on Saturday mornings. About as diverse as the people who shop for them, I’ve always had an affinity for collecting the weird-looking ones each season. The gourds, not the weird people. Not that there’s anything wrong with weird people. I don’t think you should make it your mission to collect them though.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I actually started cooking with these gourds. Growing up I was familiar with seeing things like summer squash and zucchini in dishes, but I never knew other types of squash could be so tasty.

Since I’m all about doing things fall even though it’s still 96 degrees outside this year, I decided to roast up a spaghetti squash the other night for dinner. I know what you’re thinking, no way is that going to take the place of the traditional pasta I know and love. And you would be right. The flavor is sweeter, the texture a little more, dare I say it, moist, and it’s a vegetable for goodness sake.

But isn’t it kind of cool that the weird-looking gourd you usually use to decorate your table each fall turns into these lookalike spaghetti noodles once it’s cooked? And that you can go for seconds or thirds without any guilt?

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Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 2 TBL olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 shallots, sliced
  • 1 C fresh tomato puree or paste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3-4 white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 C fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Slice squash in half and scoop out and discard seeds. Drizzle olive oil on the flesh sides of the squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place flesh-side down on a foil-lined roasting pan. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until top of squash is soft to the touch.

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In a dutch oven, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Saute shallots until clear. Add garlic, mushrooms and chopped tomatoes. Add tomato paste and a little water if needed. Season with red wine vinegar, oregano, salt and pepper. Let simmer until sauce thickens.

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Scrape flesh of squash into bowl. Add sauce just before serving.

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It’s vegetarian, whole30 approved, healthy, and it tastes good. Can’t beat those odds.

 

Honey Cornbread Muffins

I learned an important lesson this week while making cornbread muffins.

Don’t over-think things. Simple is best.

Who says the best lessons aren’t learned while baking anyways?

A few weeks ago I made a cornbread crumb cake that was delicious albeit a little time-consuming.

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And yesterday I cooked up a batch of vegetarian chili and was looking for a quick corn muffin recipe to go along with it. Let’s avoid getting into the details as to why I felt the need to make chili when it was 96 degrees outside and focus on the fact I discovered a quick and simple corn muffin recipe in the process, shall we?

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I scanned several recipes, knowing I didn’t want to mess with anything vegan, jalapeno or healthy on this particular day when I settled on this one. Wouldn’t you know it turned out way better than my other more complicated attempts and it took half the time.

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Honey Cornbread Muffins

-adapted from The Neely’s via Food Network. Makes 6 muffins. Double recipe for 12. 

  • 1/2 C cornmeal
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1/2 TBL baking powder
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 stick butter, melted
  • 2 TBL cup honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

In a liquid measure, whisk melted butter, egg, milk and honey.

Add wet ingredients into wet and stir until just combined.

Fill silicone baking cups or paper-lined tins 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Serve with butter or extra honey.

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Enjoy!

 

Summer Corn Chowder

Happy Back to School Day to all the parents out there! All too often we celebrate the fresh starts, new classes and that whole importance of educating our youth when in reality we should be celebrating the fact you just survived three months of 24-hour parenting without the assistance of teachers. So let’s take a moment to pat you on the back for making it through. And another one for the kind teachers who are going to take over from here for you.

I remember my first day of sixth grade like it was yesterday. We had just moved to a new neighborhood and not only was I starting a new school, but I was starting public school for the first time after attending a Montessori school since I was two. I was nervous, but I had a great set of friends and a brand new coordinating Limited Too top and shorts to wear with my Birkenstocks so there wasn’t much that could cramp my style. We snapped first day photos that wouldn’t be developed for weeks, took turns guessing who would be in our homeroom and waited for the bus to show up.

The bus never came.

My first day of sixth grade didn’t happen because some high-schooler slashed the bus tires of nearly the entire fleet. So we settled for an extra day of summer break and a few quotes in the local newspaper. Perks of having a former reporter in the family I suppose.

This recipe has little to do with Back to School time but it would be a good one to add to your rotation as a quick go-to dinner. It doesn’t require the time a lot of soups take and it’s light enough to enjoy even in the summer heat. I used shrimp in this version, but you could add crab or remove the seafood altogether if you have a picky eater in the family.

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Shrimp and Corn Chowder
-adapted from Cooking Light

  • 4 slices Canadian bacon, diced
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1 TBL thyme
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 C flour
  • 2 1/2 C low-fat milk
  • 1 1/4 C unsalted chicken stock
  • 1 tsp Penzeys Forward seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1/2 pound uncooked fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 (12-ounce) package frozen sweet corn

In a small prep bowl, set aside two tablespoons of chopped green onions.

In a dutch oven, cook Canadian bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove and place on paper towel to absorb extra grease.

Add green onions, thyme and garlic to pan and saute for 2-3 minutes. Spoon flour over onion mixture.

Add milk and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for another 5 minutes or so.

Add seasoning, salt and red and black pepper.

Add 3/4 of the corn and half Canadian bacon pieces to the broth. Cook until corn is heated through. Using an immersion blender, cream corn and bacon to thicken chowder. Once pureed, add remaining corn and shrimp. Cook for another 5 minutes or until shrimp is done.

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Garnish chowder with remaining bacon and green onions.

summer_corn_chowder_three

 

Enjoy!

Panzanella Salad

Considering I’m a true adult now and all, I figured I should start expanding my salad repertoire and get a little fancier.

Just kidding. I just had some rock hard bread that I didn’t want to go to waste.

Truth is I love carbs as much as the next runner gearing up for a big race, but when it comes to my salad, I’d rather have a side of bread to accompany it than to have it mixed in. But this. This crunchy, grainy goodness is worth a try.

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Panzanella Salad

  • 1 C mixed greens (arugula, spinach, etc)
  • 2 C cubed day old bread (I used half of a loaf of Trader Joe’s multigrain ciabatta)
  • 1 large tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 C cucumber, sliced
  • 10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 TBL feta cheese
  • 2 TBL thinly sliced red onion

Vinaigrette

  • 1 tsp spicy brown mustard
  • 2 TBL champagne or cider vinegar
  • 1 clove fresh garlic, minced (can sub garlic powder)
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

In a large bowl, combine mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, red onion, basil and feta. Set aside.

In a skillet or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add bread cubes and toss until crispy and brown.

Whisk vinaigrette in a small bowl.

Toss all ingredients together and let sit for 10 minutes or so to let flavors combine.

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A great lunch for a warm summer day. Enjoy!

Currently I’m…

In the middle of a full-on middle school crush with The Mindy Project. It’s been about 4 years since I had sophisticated TV equipment so I’m on technology overload as of late. How did I go so long without this show in my life and why can’t all OB/GYNs be that funny?

Finding it hard to concentrate on much else besides my trip to Chicago this weekend. Don’t get me wrong Florida is sunshine and blazing hot temps and all but I can’t wait to get back to the city and catch up with my friends and celebrate their offspring. After this past winter, I feel like I’m entitled to enjoying above freezing temps with the people I suffered alongside.

wind chill chicago, polar vortex, nbc chicago

 

Wondering how my dog is more proficient in yoga poses than I am. Here I am practicing three times a week in a studio and all I have to do is pull out the vacuum for him to do a perfect downward dog. I’m going to see if my teacher will let us try out the “twisted swissy” next class.

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Really starting to feel my age. According to this Health survey, my true age is only 25.6, but if you ask my joints, I’m feeling a wee bit older than that. It seems fitting though, to start a glucosamine supplement just a week before your 30th birthday, doesn’t it?

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Really wishing I wouldn’t have thrown away the rest of Matt’s birthday cake last week.

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Willing to grill just about anything if it means avoiding using my stove these days. Last night we did an entire meal on the grill and I’m not upset about it. Not one bit. We even swapped out a salad for grilled romaine just to keep it simple. Just kidding, we did it because I was too lazy to chop up the other ingredients.

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Grilled Shrimp with Chimichurri

  • 1 C parsley, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 C cilantro, rinsed and patted dry
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4-1/2 C olive oil (I kept mine more acidic than oily)
  • 4 TBL fresh lemon juice
  • 2 TBL red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 TBL water (if needed)

Place all ingredients except oil and water into a food processor. Add oil slowly until it reaches pesto consistency. Since we were originally planning on using this as a steak marinade, I made it lighter on the oil. Good news, it’s great on shrimp too.

Peel and devein uncooked shrimp and place on a metal skewer. Heat grill to medium. Baste chimichurri on shrimp towards the end of the cooking process.

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We got two uses out of this batch. The first night for shrimp and whitefish tostadas and the second for skirt steak and shrimp the next night.

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And in celebrating for Matt’s trip to Mexico we washed them down with a two-ingredient margarita I hacked up just before we sat down. Still on that lazy cooking kick if you can’t tell.

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Two-ingredient Margarita

  • La Croix Lime
  • Tequila
  • Fresh Lime juice
  • Honey or agave
  • Salt

OK so I lied about the two ingredient part but in reality you can just make this with tequila and La Croix. The fresh lime juice and sweetener just helps it taste a little more traditional. The key here is using a good tequila. The stuff so good it doesn’t even taste like tequila, tequila.

I get bored talking to myself all the time. What are you currently into?

Have a great day!

Summer meal planning

Oh hey there. Me again.

I’ve been meaning to share our meal plan this week with you but apparently I can only get my stuff together to make one of them happen at a time. Now don’t assume I’m a super planner who writes down her weekday meals every Sunday or anything. I want to be that girl I really do, but in reality I’m more of an I saw this recipe in Cooking Light and we should try it tonight type of girl. To make things a little more complicated, I’ve also been known to avoid running to the store last-minute for things that a recipe calls for. If I can substitute or wing it and avoid the trip, I will. Even if the grocery store is 2 minutes away.

But enough about my grocery issues. Here’s what our meal plan looked like this week:

Monday-Black Bean Burgers with a Kale and Kiwi salad
Tuesday-Sun-dried tomato chicken tenders and heirloom tomato salad
Wednesday-Crock-pot Pulled Pork and peach relish
Thursday-Sweet & Sour Chicken and Broccoli
Friday-BLT pizza and spinach salad (actual- fresh oysters and lobster bake at our local seafood spot)

So let’s talk about Monday’s Black Bean Burgers today. These are rich enough in flavor that even a beef lover can enjoy them. And I say that because I like beef but I really like these burgers too.

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Black Bean Burgers

  • 1 15 oz can unsalted black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 C onion, chopped
  • 1/4 C spinach (I was out of cilantro)
  • 1 TBL garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 C panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg

In a large mixing bowl, mash black beans with a fork. Add onion, spinach, garlic, soy sauce, salt, pepper and breadcrumbs. Make a small hole in mixture for egg. Whip egg and blend it into bean mixture.

Divide into 4-5 patties and grill for 4-6 minutes on each side on medium heat or until crispy. Note: these can fall apart easily so be careful if you are using a grill or cook on a pan in the oven at 425 degrees for 8-11 minutes.

Sriracha Aioli

  • 1/4 C light mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp sriracha hot chili sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh lime juice

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Serve on whole wheat hamburger buns and garnish with a dollop of sriracha aioli and a kale salad with kiwi, blueberries and a white balsamic vinaigrette.

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Buffalo Turkey Flatbread

I don’t like to toot my own horn but over the years I’ve learned to make a pretty mean turkey burger.

Toot. Toot.

And so on my weekly (ok maybe more than weekly) Target trip I bought a pound of ground turkey with plans of making burgers.

But then I saw this recipe from Little Leopard Book using Turkey in a way I had never tried before and thought.

I have turkey. 

I like hot sauce. 

And so our turkey burgers turned in to turkey flatbreads and the rest is history. I think I may just start mixing buffalo sauce with all of my dishes because well, I like hot sauce. You should too. All too often everything buffalo is with chicken. Using turkey gives you a richer flavor and is a nice change of pace.

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Buffalo Turkey Flatbread

  • 1 TBL olive oil
  • 1/2 C chopped onion
  • 1/2 C chopped celery
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 C Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce
  • 2-3 TBL light blue cheese dressing
  • 2 pieces Naan or other flatbread
  • blue cheese crumbles
  • parsley or cilantro

In a dutch oven, heat olive oil.

Add celery and onion and cook for until onions are no longer opaque. Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes.

Add ground turkey. Cook until turkey is no longer pink. Add buffalo sauce.

Reduce heat and simmer.

While sauce is simmering, heat grill to medium.

Cook one side of naan pieces until browned.

Depending on the size of your flatbread, lightly dress the grilled side of naan with blue cheese dressing. Add turkey mixture on top of dressing. Add a few blue cheese crumbles then return the flatbread to the grill. Cook until cheese is bubbly and bottom crispy.

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Garnish with parsley or cilantro, slice and serve it up with your favorite summer beer!

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Thanks to Little Leopard Book for the inspiration. Otherwise we would have been stuck with turkey burgers again. Not that there’s anything wrong with my turkey burgers.

Enjoy!

Hearty Winter Hash

Believe it or not I’ve actually been cooking lately. I tried to give up on winter meals a few weeks ago but the weather gods had other ideas. We’re back below zero this week so I’m back on the sweet potato and hearty greens train.

I’m a sucker for a Cooking Light recipe. I bring my magazine to the gym and drool over the recipes while I do my cardio, cornering the pages of the ones I want to try. Pretty sure the only pages unfolded are the ads by the time I’m done but whatever.

I came across this recipe in my recent issue and spent the remainder of the day thinking about poached eggs.

Man, I haven’t had eggs in a long time. 

I could go for an omelette right about now. 

I bet I could soft-cook an egg in my cast iron skillet.

Man, I haven’t used my cast iron skillet in a while.

(don’t fall off treadmill)

I’m totally making this for dinner tonight.

And so I did.

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Sweet Potato and Kale Hash 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 C sliced red onion
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme (I used a herb mix and some oregano)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed and peeled
  • 1/4 C water 
  • 1 C Kale, chopped
  • 1 C fresh spinach
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 eggs
  • hot sauce (optional)

In a dutch oven, saute onion in olive oil until browned and caramelized. Add spices and garlic. Cook for 1 minute.

Add 1/4 cup of water to pan and potatoes. Cover and cook until tender.

Add greens, salt and pepper and cover until wilted. Keep warm.

In a skillet, add water until 2/3 full and then bring to a boil. Add vinegar. Crack egg softly into pan and cook for 3 minutes or until yolk is soft. Remove carefully and place on top of plated hash.

Top with hot sauce of your choice.

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Enjoy!

Summer Spaghetti

I told you I would share a recipe with you in my IKEA post earlier this week as proof that I actually do cook real meals every once in a while. It’s true. I’ve been slacking on my recipe posts the past few months. You probably think all I do is run and spend time with my dog, which is true. I just haven’t had the motivation lately to cook. I blame the fact that my AC was on the fritz for the last 6 days so the thought of turning on any sort of appliance that would radiate heat scared me. But then that would only have me covered for 6 days of not cooking and we all know it’s been far longer than that.

Am I the only one out there who completely loses their motivation for cooking once the summer comes around? In case I am, I’ve come up with a short list of reasons why cooking in the summer is more difficult than other seasons:

  1. You spend less time inside. Less time inside means less time staring at your fridge, browsing recipes on your iPad or drooling over Giada’s latest arugula pesto, ricotta and smoked mozzarella pizza.
  2. Patios. I have an overwhelming love for al fresco dining. And while I do have a small balcony with a table set for two, the idea of sitting outside on a patio somewhere in the city, people watching and enjoying a nice meal just makes me happy. I love me some summer in the city.
  3. The days are longer. Longer days equal more time spent doing things other than cooking. Longer runs, longer walks with the dog. Did I mention that I haven’t been doing much other than those two things lately?
  4. I’m a little over halfway through marathon training. See #3.
  5. Warmer temps. I can put warmer temps on my list because we are finally back up in the 80’s after several weeks of record low temps here in Chicago. As the weather warms, I’m less likely to cook a complicated recipe or turn on my oven. My go-to summer meal? Salads. Every kind of salad. And if I’m feeling really crazy I mix it up with some cold quinoa salads. Everybody’s doing it.
  6. We grill everything. Fruit, pizza, fruit pizza. And while I do still consider grilling a form of cooking, it doesn’t exactly lead to a backlog of recipes to share with all of you.
  7. Most of my recipes are baked goods. I bake less in the summer. ‘Nuff said.

And so you have it. My justification for my lack of recipe posts this summer. I considered what kind of transition I could use to justify why after all of these reasons, I decided to make a hearty yet light summer spaghetti with meat sauce this weekend inside an AC-less condo, but there really isn’t one. My boyfriend said spaghetti with meat sauce sounded good in the midst of assembling my new living room furniture. And when it comes to manual labor, I’m happy to provide a meal as payment.

will assemble furniture for food sign

To make the pasta a little lighter, I made my own sauce from scratch and incorporated some fresh veggies. I also substituted turkey for beef and served it with a light and summery salad. Bear with me on the recipe. I made it up as I went along.

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Summer spaghetti with meat sauce

  • 1/2-3/4 lb extra lean ground turkey
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (+ 1/2 C water to thin)
  • 1-2 shallots, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp seasoning (I use this)
  • 1/2 C zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 C carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 C chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1-2 TBL red wine vinegar (sub 1/2 C white wine)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 TBL brown sugar
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp each of oregano, parsley and thyme

Heat dutch oven over medium-high heat. Drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil into pan. Cook turkey until brown. Add garlic and onion and seasoning. Add carrots and zucchini and saute for 1 minute. Pour in crushed tomatoes, red wine vinegar, tomato paste and water. Add bay leaves and herbs and simmer for at least an hour. Add salt, pepper and brown sugar to taste. I’m sure I’m missing a few ingredients, but that’s the fun in cooking. You get to make things up as you go along and hope that they turn out tasty.

While sauce is finishing, cook 1 package whole wheat spaghetti and prepare salad.

summer arugula salad with balsalmic and parmesan
Summer arugula salad with balsamic and parmesan

  • Arugula and mixed greens
  • 1/4 C cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • 1/4 C cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4 C mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 C avocado, sliced
  • 3 TBL balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • honey
  • salt and pepper
  • shaved parmesan

To make dressing, combine balsamic, mustard, honey and salt and pepper. Dress just before serving.

summer arugula salad with balsalmic and parmesan

Once pasta is cooked, top with sauce and garnish with freshly shaved parmesan. Note: this recipe makes a lot of sauce. You can freeze the extra or serve it over spaghetti squash or other veggies later in the week.

whole wheat spaghetti vegetables turkey meat sauce simply social blogI hope you enjoy are able to get out and enjoy some al fresco dining this weekend. Whether it’s outside at a state fair or on a patio in the city, be sure to get out an enjoy the weather. And people watching. As for me, I am beyond excited to spend the weekend in Nashville with some of my best friends. Seriously though.

Hopefully I’ll have a nice recap for you early next week of all of the food, fun and music. Have a great weekend!