Saturday, August 29, 2015

Justin's kind of salad!

   I don't think there are a lot of dishes I make that my husband doesn't like. He is game for anything and will try any food I cook (as long as it doesn't contain liver), but once in a while I make a dish that he is super impressed with and wants to eat all the time. He is not really a "veggie person", so you can imagine how surprised I was when he fell in love with a salad! Obviously, not just a regular lettuce-tomatoes kind of salad, but a burger salad! Still healthy and nutritious as any salad would be, but with an amazing burger taste! What was even more surprising is that Christopher got really hooked on pickles (one of the salad ingredients), or as he would say "pee-oh" (it took me a while to figure out that pee-oh was a pickle) and that's all he wanted to eat for dinner that night. Like mother, like son... his Polish side is definitely getting stronger and stronger!
I used ground turkey, only because we prefer it over the beef, but you are more than welcome to use any kind of ground meat you like!


* 2 lb ground turkey
* 1 tbsp burger seasoning (I used Weber Gourmet Burger Seasoning)
* 1 tsp olive oil
* romain lettuce, shredded
* hamburger pickles, slices
* white onion, sliced or shaved
* cherry tomatoes, halved
* turkey bacon
* thousand island dressing


You may notice that I didn't really list the amounts of some of the ingredients. It's because it's really up to you how much you add to your salad - some like more pickles, some like more onions and some like more tomatoes. Customize it to your liking.

1.  Place turkey bacon on the baking sheet and broil in the oven until crispy and browned (turning once).

2. In a non-stick pan, heat the olive oil and cook the meat with burger seasoning for 10 minutes. Set aside.

3. Assemble your salad: lettuce, meat, tomatoes, pickles, onions,  bacon and dressing... add as much or as little of each ingredient as you like.

   Everything I love in a good burger: delicious meat, pickles, crispy onions... I mean I love every single ingredient of this salad. It works so well together and you can't stop eating it. If you are not a fan of bacon, or don't have it in your fridge, you can skip it - it will still be delicious!


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Changing things up.

   We love spaghetti! No, seriously... we probably eat it every other week! So to keep it interesting I always keep changing things up - different types of meat, different types of pasta, different types of seasoning, or just some extra ingredients. This time I made zucchini-tomato sauce with ground chicken. Light, healthy, delicious... and if paired with the right pasta, absolutely guilt free! Extra bonus - hidden veggies, just in case my boys wouldn't want to eat any! I shredded the zucchini, so they had absolutely no idea what they are eating and how healthy it is (just in case they didn't feel like eating "healthy"). Here is the recipe:


* 1 lb ground chicken
* 1 large zucchini, finely shredded
* 1 24oz can crushed tomatoes
* 1 large onion, chopped
* 2 tbsp ketchup
* 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
* 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
* 1 tbs dry oregano
* 1 tbsp olive oil
* salt and pepper


1. In a large sauce pan, heat the olive oil and saute onions with a little bit of salt for 5 minutes.

2. Add ground chicken and cook for 5-7 minutes until no longer pink.

3. Add shredded zucchini, crushed tomatoes, ketchup, dry oregano, season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes stirring from time to time. Add fresh basil and parsley, and serve with pasta.

   Fresh basil and parsley really elevates this dish! Justin's first question was: what did you add to the sauce, zucchini? So that was it for "hiding" the veggies, but he cleaned his plate anyways, so the plan worked!


Saturday, August 15, 2015

Almost traditional!

   Here is another post about the dish that I love to eat, but somehow never made it myself before! Chicken Marsala... delicious Italian dish featuring one of my favorite ingredients - mushrooms! I was craving Italian food for a while, so when we invited our friends for dinner the other day, I knew I would be making something Italian (and it just happens that my friend loves Italian food as well). I kind of wanted to stick to the traditional recipe and not change it too much, but I had to make one small adjustment... I didn't dredge the chicken breast in flour. Why add extra carbs and also, Christopher is not a fan of breaded meat, so I didn't want to risk him not wanting to eat it. Well, it turned out that he preferred mushrooms over the meat anyways, so I would probably get away with it! Maybe next time!
Here is the recipe:


* 4 thin chicken breasts
* 16oz crimini mushroom, sliced
* 1 medium onion, finely chopped
* 1 cup Marsala wine (dry)
* 1 cup chicken stock
* 3 tbsp butter
* 2 tbsp olive oil
* 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
* salt and pepper 


1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter and sear the meat for 5 minutes on each side until golden brown. Remove from the pan and set aside.

2. Add onions  and mushrooms to the remaining oil and butter in the pan, season with salt and pepper and saute for 6-7 minutes until all the moisture evaporates.

3. Add Marsala wine to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes to cook out all the alcohol. Add chicken stock and simmer for 5-6 minutes to reduce the sauce.

4. Returned chicken breast to the pan, cover it with the sauce and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Add fresh parsley, season with salt and pepper if necessary and it's ready to serve. 

   Such a simple, but flavorful dish! Marsala wine gives it a little bit of a tang, mushrooms give it some comfort (at least to me) and earthiness... I could probably just drink the sauce by a glass, no kidding! Christopher was at the same page, because he skipped the meat all together and just ate mushrooms and the sauce... like mother like son!


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Busy weekend fix.

   It's one of those weekends when we might have overcommited to things! We have quite few activities planned and it looks like the entire weekend we will be "on the go", with just a little bit time to sit down and eat lunch or dinner.  That's why I had to come up with a dish that won't require a lot of time commitment...either preparing or serving. I thought fast, easy and delicious tuna salad would be a perfect solution! You make a big bowl of it, you keep it in the fridge and it's ready to be served whenever you are ready to eat! Great dish for a busy weekend.


* 2 12oz cans of tuna in water
* 6 eggs, cooked and chopped
* red pepper, finely chopped
* 3 celery sticks, finely chopped
* 1 cup sweet relish
* 1 cup mayo
* 1 tbs mustard
* 1 cup chopped parsley


1. Drain the tuna.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix until everything is evenly distributed.

3. Refrigerate! The end!

   I think it is the easiest and fastest recipe I've ever posted. I actually had to try really hard to come up with three steps rather than just one! This salad is amazing, it doesn't need any extra seasoning, it just comes out right after you combine everything. How easy is that? You can eat it on a sandwich, or on a cracker or just by itself. You could even use it as a veggie dip (which I do all the time).


Saturday, August 1, 2015

Cheese of cake

   Cheesecake is probably one of my favorite desserts. Rich, creamy and indulgent, how can you not like it? But for somebody who loves cheesecake so much, I have a dark secret - I NEVER made one by myself! Can you believe that? I mean, never until now! I always thought that it was tricky, required some supernatural powers and took hours! Well, it does take some time, not the prep or cook time, but rather a "cooling time", but other than that it is super easy! I can not believe I was so scared to make it. As a proof, here is the recipe:


* 24oz cream cheese (3 bricks), room temp.
* 1 cup sugar
* 1 lemon, juice and zest
* 2 tsp vanilla extract
* 2 eggs, room temp.
* 5-6 tbsp strawberry preserve, recipe can be found here
* 10 graham crackers
* 5 tbsp melted butter


1. Break the graham crackers into a food processor and process until they form fine crumbs. Drizzle in melted butter and pulse until the crumbs are evenly moistened.

2. Press the crust into the foil-lined 8x8 pan and bake at 350F for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool while making the filling.

3. Decrease the oven temperature to 325F.

4. In a standing mixer, beat the softened cream cheese, slowly add sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, lemon zest and lemon juice. Beat everything for 2-3 minutes until smooth and fluffy.

4. Pour cheese mix onto the cooled crust, randomly distribute the strawberry preserve on the top and using a knife swirl the preserve to create a "marble pattern".

5. Bake at 325F for 45-50 minutes. Gently remove the cake from the oven (it will still be "jiggly" and wet, but it's OK), let it cool completely and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before cutting into it.

   Doesn't it look pretty? And it tastes pretty good as well! Perfect balance of sweet with some salty and acidic notes. Lemon juice and zest is really a key here, it just makes it so fresh and vibrant. You could use any kind of fruit preserve, or you could just skip it all together, I'm sure it would be delicious no matter what!