Sweet Potato-Spicy Turkey Sausage Soup With Kale

5 02 2014

The sweetness of the sweet potato really pairs well with the spicy sausage in this tasty fall/winter soup. Kale also enhances the flavor, while bumping up its nutritional value. Try making your own sausage with ground turkey – see This Girl’s tip below for a homemade sausage seasoning.

Sweet Potato-Spicy Turkey Sausage Soup With Kale

Sweet Potato-Spicy Turkey Sausage Soup With Kale

The following serves 4 (adapted from Everyday Food):

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced large
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb sweet or spicy Italian turkey sausage (I made my own spicy sausage seasoning to use with ground turkey, see below for recipe. You could also buy bulk sausage.)
  • 2 sweet potatoes (a little over a pound), peeled and diced medium
  • 6 cups reduced-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 4 cups roughly chopped kale
  • Grated parmesan for serving

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add turkey sausage and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 6 minutes.

Add sweet potatoes and broth, bring to a boil, continue to boil for 5 minutes. Reduce to simmer, add greens, and cook another 4 minutes. Taste and season with salt if needed. Serve with parmesan.

This Girl’s Tip: Spicy Italian sausage seasoning (adapted from Tasty Kitchen): When my family makes our own dried sausage we usually just use a spice blend of salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper – but because I’m not using pork, I thought I needed some additional flavor to make the turkey taste more like sausage. So I adapted a blend I found from Tasty Kitchen, along with my family’s, and it worked great. 

Make this seasoning in advance; mix all ingredients together and store in an air-tight container. When you need sausage, mix 2-3 Tbsp of the seasoning with 1 lb ground turkey, chicken or pork. If you have time, mix the meat with the seasoning a day or two in advance and store covered in the fridge so the flavors can blend into the meat.

  • 3 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp dried Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tbsp ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 Tbsp fennel seeds or ground fennel
  • 4 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne

Roasted Veggie Naan Pizza with Lemon-Ricotta Sauce

27 01 2014

Who says pizza isn’t healthy?! This meatless pizza is scrumptious and good for you thanks to the whole grain naan and lots of veggies. To make this super easy on a weeknight, roast your veggies over the weekend so all you have to do is whip up your sauce, build your pizza and bake. See This Girl’s tip below.

Roasted Veggie Naan Pizza with Lemon-Ricotta Sauce

Roasted Veggie Naan Pizza with Lemon-Ricotta Sauce

The following makes 2 individual pizzas (compliments of This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 3/4 cup part-skim Ricotta
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 package whole grain Naan (2 flat breads)
  • Roasted veggies, whatever combo you like – I used zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper and red onion
  • 1/2 cup sharp provolone cheese, shredded
  • Baby arugula
  • Fresh parsley

This Girl’s tip: Roast veggies in advance to save yourself time the night you want to make your pizzas. Cut veggies (like zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper and red onion) in 3/4-inch thick slices, toss with olive oil, salt, garlic and a dried herb like rosemary. Roast in a 400 degree oven on a baking sheet, tossing occasionally, for 25-30 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven, cool and store in covered tupperware in the fridge. One extra time-saving thought – I like to roast more veggies than I would use just on the pizza alone, so I have a quick side dish ready to go for another meal during the week.

The night you want to make your pizza, preheat oven to 475.

Stir ricotta, lemon zest, 2 Tbsp olive oil and salt to taste in a bowl.

I like to bake these on a pizza stone, but a baking sheet would work too. Assemble your pizzas on a pizza stone or baking sheet by spreading the ricotta mixture on the flat breads, followed by roasted veggies and cheese (divide ingredients among the two).

Bake until the crust is golden brown; 10 – 15 minutes and cheese is melted and bubbly.

While the pizzas bake, toss some arugula with a little lemon juice, olive oil and salt to taste.

Serve pizza garnished with parsley, alongside the dressed arugula.

Meatball, Kale and Tortellini Soup With Homemade Veggie Stock

22 01 2014

I love the depth of flavor, and spirit that comes from a homemade stock. What’s even better is turning on the crockpot in the morning and coming home to it at night, having done minimal prep! See my tip below on making homemade veggie stock, perfect for this healthy and hearty soup featuring turkey meatballs, kale and whole wheat tortellini. 🙂

Meatball, Kale and Tortellini Soup With Homemade Veggie Stock

Meatball, Kale and Tortellini Soup With Homemade Veggie Stock

The following serves 4-6 (compliments of Food Network Magazine and This Girl’s Gotta Eat):

  • 1 lb ground turkey breast
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 whole carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • Dry white wine
  • 7 – 8 cups homemade veggie stock (boxed would work too)
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (9 oz) package refrigerated whole wheat cheese tortellini
  • Half a head of kale, chopped

This Girl’s Homemade Veggie Stock Tip: I’ve shared this before, but to easily make your own vegetable stock, save the trimmed ends of veggies (ends of onions, used lemon, leafy tips of celery, asparagus ends, kale stems, cauliflower/broccoli stalks, etc) in a gallon-size Zip lock bag in the freezer. Once you have a full bag, add all the frozen veggies to a crockpot. Cover veggies with water, add a few garlic cloves and whatever herbs you have on hand like bay leaves, thyme, parsley, basil, etc. Turn on low when you leave the house for work, and when you come home, strain the veggies and you have homemade stock! So easy and so much healthier than anything you’ll get in a box!

Combine the turkey, parmesan, 2 Tbsp parsley, egg, 1 clove garlic minced, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste in a medium bowl; mix well with your hands until just combined. Form into 1-inch-meatballs and set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning, until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. The goal here is to get a little sear on the meatballs so they set enough to hold up in the soup. You’re also building flavor in the pan for the base of the soup. Remove seared meatballs to a plate with a paper towel.

Add the carrots, celery and the rest of the garlic to the dutch oven, cook until just softened, 5 minutes. Season with salt to taste and deglaze the pan with a little white wine, scrapping up the brown bits on the bottom. Next, add the stock and the tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Return the meatballs to the dutch oven and simmer until cooked through and float to the top, 3 minutes. Stir in the kale, then add the tortellini and cook until they float to the top, about 3 – 4 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide among bowls and garnish with the rest of the parsley and some parmesan cheese.

Peanut Butter “Ice Cream” Made From Bananas

10 10 2013

This is a recipe for ice cream made solely from bananas. And, it’s amazing! I don’t know where to source the idea for this because the concept is all over Pinterest, and where I got the original idea. But I do share a little more detail about how I made this than what I was able to find in other recipes. I honestly didn’t believe the consistency would really be like ice cream, but I had to try it out. I stand mistaken. It truly is JUST like ice cream! I cannot wait to try all sorts of different flavors with this technique….I feel like a kid in a candy store, minus the guilt and sugar high of course 🙂 YIPPEE!!!!

Peanut Butter "Ice Cream" Made From Bananas

Peanut Butter “Ice Cream” Made From Bananas

The following makes 1-2 servings:

  • 2 ripe bananas, sliced and frozen
  • 1 Tbsp natural, creamy peanut butter

Slice ripe bananas and lay in a single layer in the freezer to freeze. I recommend at least freezing overnight.

Using a food processor, blend the frozen banana slices. At first it will blend into little clumps. Don’t give up though, just keep processing, scraping down the sides of the food processor with a small spatula and processing again. Repeat these steps until the frozen bananas begin to get smooth. At this point add the peanut butter and continue to process and scraping down the sides until it reaches an “ice cream-like” consistency (as shown above).

I recommend making this ice cream to order and serving immediately, as I’m not sure what the consistency would be like the next day.

I’m already excited about the endless flavor combinations I’d like to try out! Up next I think I’ll try a Tbsp of pumpkin puree rather than the peanut butter along with pumpkin pie spice. YUM!

Homemade Veggie Stock Soup With Chicken And Orzo

5 12 2012

If you’re anything like me when you’re sick, you probably crave your Mama or Grandmama’s homemade soup! Unfortunately for me, my Mama lives in another state, so any homemade soup offering This Girl comfort has to come out of my own kitchen! No problem, I came up with some simple tips to help me whip up a batch of delicious homemade soup, even when I’m the one who’s sick!

Homemade Veggie Stock Soup With Chicken And Orzo

Homemade Veggie Stock Soup With Chicken And Orzo

The following makes a large pot of soup (compliments of This Girl):

  • Veggies such as broccoli stalks, celery tips and ends, asparagus ends, onion quarters, carrots, peppers, etc….
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves
  • Herbs, such as rosemary, parsley, chives, etc
  • Water
  • Chicken, a few boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • Olive oil
  • Italian seasoning
  • 1 and 1/2 cups dry whole wheat orzo
  • Grated parmesan cheese

I can’t remember where I picked this tip up, but awhile ago I started saving the ends of veggies that I would otherwise have thrown out. For example, broccoli stalks, celery tips, asparagus ends, etc. When I trim these types of veggies for other recipes, I store the ends in the freezer until I have enough veggies saved to make broth. You can also freeze veggies for this use that you haven’t had a chance to cook and might be turning bad quickly. You’ll need enough veggies to fill your crockpot.

On the day you’re ready to make the broth, add the frozen veggies to a large crockpot and cover completely with water. Add a few cloves of peeled garlic and whatever herbs you have on hand or like – such as rosemary, parsley, basil, chives, etc. Turn the crockpot on low before you leave for work and the broth will cook itself while you’re gone.

When you come home from work, cube up some chicken breasts (at least 3 large breasts), toss with some olive oil and seasonings – use whatever you have like Italian seasoning or at least salt and pepper. Saute in a large skillet over medium-high heat until the chicken pieces start to brown.

Meanwhile, use a spider (or small strainer) to scoop out the veggies from the crockpot. At this point you have homemade veggie stock! Discard everything but the onions. Chop the onions up and put them back in the broth. Chop up a few fresh large carrots and celery stalks and add those to the broth as well. When the chicken is slightly browned, remove the pieces from the skillet and add to the broth in the crockpot. Season with salt, stir and cover, continuing to cook on low for another hour or so.

While the soup finishes cooking, cook the orzo according to package directions. Drain the orzo, add a scoop of it to a large bowl and then top with soup. Serve soup with cheese.

Deconstructed Pork/Veggie Kabobs with Brown Rice Pilaf

15 03 2012

My grocery store recently had a BOGO on pork, and I wasn’t passing up free meat! Buying pork in bulk though can get a little overwhelming when you’re generally only cooking for two on a regular basis. When I got home, I split the pork loin chops up into meal portions and stored in zip lock freezer bags, this way it’ll be easier to thaw for individual dinners. Of course making 5 or 6 pork chop meals within a short period of time can get boring, so I cubed a few of the chops up to make deconstructed kabobs (not on the skewers) and served along with a brown rice pilaf.

Deconstructed Pork/Veggie Kabobs with Brown Rice Pilaf

The following serves 2:

  • 3-4 pork loin chops, cut into cubes
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into large chunks  (same size as pork cubes)
  • 1 small red onion, cut into large chunks (same size as pork cubes and pepper chunks)
  • Citrus-Herb Seasoning Salt (see my post from 1/23/12)
  • Olive oil
  • Brown rice (I used 1 and 1/2 cups dry rice and 1 and 1/2 cups chicken stock in place of water for 2 servings)
  • Half of a medium size yellow onion, diced
  • Minced garlic
  • Dried rosemary
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the pork with a little olive oil and sprinkle with the citrus-herb seasoning (you only need a little seasoning, it goes a long way). Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, toss the red pepper and onion cubes in a bowl with olive oil and a little of the citrus-herb seasoning and set aside.

While the pork is roasting, start the rice by sauteing the onion in a little olive oil over medium heat. Add a pinch of dried rosemary, a pinch of red pepper flakes and a bay leaf and saute until onions are soft. Add some minced garlic and cook for another minute. Add the rice and toast it for a few minutes to bring out it’s nutty flavor. Once the rice is toasted, following the cooking instructions.

After the pork has been roasting for about 10 minutes, turn it over and then add the pepper and onion cubes to the baking sheet and roast together for another 15 minutes.

Finish the rice when the pork and veggies are just about done. Toss the cooked rice with about a Tbsp of butter, juice of about a quarter of a lemon and fresh parsley.

Remove the pork and veggies from the oven and divide among plates along with the rice. Finish the pork and veggies with a little olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice.

Salmon and Spinach in Parchment Pouches

11 03 2012

This is such a simple and delicious supper, and will forever be in my go-to arsenal; especially during the spring and summer when we’re craving freshness!

Sealing ingredients in a parchment pouch traps moisture and flavor….and unwrapping to find a delicious meal inside is just fun! This would be an easy dinner party main dish because you can assemble the pouches ahead of time and serving is simple when everyone gets their own pouch.

Salmon and Spinach in Parchment Pouches Before

Salmon and Spinach in Parchment Pouches After

The following serves 2 (Compliments of Everyday Food):

  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • 1/2 Tbsp grated orange zest (I didn’t measure, just used the zest of 1 orange)
  • 1 medium-large orange peeled and cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds (use same orange that you zested)
  • 2 skinless salmon fillets
  • About 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 shallot thinly sliced
  • Course salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Splash of dry white wine

Preheat oven to 400. Whisk olive oil, orange zest and ginger in a small bowl. This was my trick, the recipe originally called for a 1-inch piece of ginger, cut into thin strips and then layering all the ingredients in the pouches….I thought the thick marinade/glaze was easier and would provide more flavor. If you want to gild the lily like I did, add a splash of dry white wine to the marinade too!

Divide spinach among two, 16-inch long pieces of parchment paper. Top with orange slices, salmon and shallots. Next brush the marinade equally over both fillets and season with salt and pepper.

Bring long ends of paper together and fold down 3 times to make a seam. Tuck ends underneath to secure.

Place packets on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until packets are puffed and salmon is cooked through, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer packets to plates, pull open and serve immediately.

Last Night’s Leftover Ingredients = Today’s Lunch: Provolone & Prosciutto Grilled Cheese With Arugula Salad

5 02 2012

I never leave food behind; I always enjoy leftovers for lunch or use them to create a new dinner; turning those leftover ingredients into thoughtful and creative dishes! For a quick lunch today, I used leftover ingredients from last night’s delicious dinner: Provolone and prosciutto grilled cheese with a simple arugula salad.

Provolone & Prosciutto Grilled Cheese With Arugula Salad

Provolone and prosciutto grilled cheese:

  • 2 slices of Italian bread
  • 2 slices of provolone cheese
  • 1 slice of prosciutto
  • Butter or olive oil garlic spread

Spread slices of bread with butter or an olive oil garlic spread (I get this in the deli of my grocery store for quick garlic bread and grilled cheese recipes). On the inside of a slice of buttered bread, layer one slice of cheese, the slice of prosciutto, next add the other slice of cheese and top with the other piece of buttered bread. Saute in a small skillet over medium-low heat until toasty brown on one side. Flip, pressing down to help the ingredients stick together, and continue toasting until the second side is brown.

Arugula and spring mix salad:

  • Handful of arugula and handful of baby spring mix salad
  • Good sprinkle of garlic powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Good drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Drizzle of red wine vinegar

Mix all ingredients together and taste – adjust the oil and vinegar to your liking. I have a heavy hand when it comes to the vinegar 🙂

Citrus-Herb Seasoning Salt

23 01 2012

This easy seasoning salt from Everyday Food is a good staple to keep on hand…a great blend of bold spices adds quick flavor to dinner and snacks. I made a double batch and gifted half to a friend (I made sure to attach a card with the quick ideas for use as part of the gift too)!

Citrus-Herb Seasoning Salt

The following makes 1 cup:

  • 3/4 cup coarse salt (like Kosher)
  • 2 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 tsp dried rosemary
  • 3 tsp dried thyme
  • 3 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp red-pepper flakes

Combine all of the above ingredients and store in an airtight jar or container for up to 3 months.

A few quick ideas for use:

  • Rub onto chicken, pork, or fish before baking.
  • Toss with warm roasted nuts as a snack.
  • Sprinkle over balsamic vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil to make a dipping sauce for bread.
  • Use as a topping for popcorn.
  • Combine with cream cheese and Greek yogurt and serve as a dip with pita wedges or crackers.

Homemade Croutons

18 01 2012

For a girl who loves her fresh Italian bread, even I end up with some stale slices in the fridge. Here’s a great homemade crouton recipe from Guy Fieri to help use up that stale bread. Don’t stress about the ingredients, follow the technique and use what you have on hand…it’ll be better than store-bought any day!

Homemade Croutons

The following makes 4 cups:

  • 1/2 tsp salt, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp garlic paste, (2 cloves garlic smashed with the flat side of a knife and a sprinkle of salt, to make paste)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups cubed stale Italian bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients, except the bread, until well combined. Adjust the seasoning, if needed.

Add in the bread and mix well with your hands, tossing to coat all sides of cubes. Pour out onto a baking sheet and spread evenly. Bake in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, turning after 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container.