Monday, June 27, 2011

this week's craving: picnics!

It's finally picnic weather, and This Week's Cravings is celebrating!  Whenever I go on a picnic, I rely on this favorite recipe - it's easy to assemble the night before and absolutely delicious!

marinated turkey wraps

Ready for a wrap session?  Nope, that's not a typo you see...I really do mean wrap.

You see, I'm not a fan of sandwiches.  Sure, the occasional Subway sandwich fits the bill when you need something fast, but I really dislike homemade sandwiches.  Maybe it's because I'm inept at making them.  Maybe it's because I don't have a full on veggie bar like Subway does.  I don't know.  I'm just not a fan.

But wraps?  That's a different story!  You don't have to stick to deli lunch can put all kinds of fun things in those.  I even find that it's okay to make and assemble wraps in advance - let's the flavors mingle, you know?  Here's one of my favorites...

For this wrap, I made a delicious marinated turkey breast in the slow cooker.  It's so easy, and you have delicious, tender meat for several meals.    You need a 2 1/2 - 3 pound boneless turkey breast and then the marinade ingredients - zest and juice from one lemon, dried rosemary, dried oregano, Dijon mustard, dry white wine, minced garlic, and pepper.

The night before you want to eat this, put the turkey in a glass dish with a lid.

Mix the marinade ingredients together (only takes a minute!) and pour over the top.  Put the lid on and refrigerate overnight.

A note on the marinade - I zest an entire lemon and use all of its juice.  If you aren't so into the citrus flavor, though, feel free to go a bit light (maybe use half a lemon).  That part is flexible.

The previous picture was taken after a night of marinating.  Yum, right?  Okay, haha, I's still raw.  But here's where the cooking part comes in.  Dump it all in your slow cooker, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  That's it!  And invite company over while it's cooking...your house will smell delightful. :-)

A bonus - after marinating all night, the turkey skin may just slide right off...mine did!

So that's the meat.  But wraps are more than meat...they have lots of goodness in them.  And my favorite thing to add to these particular wraps are sauteed onions (and sometimes peppers).

For two wraps, I chop up a half onion (and, when I have them, peppers).

Saute the onion (and maybe peppers) in a skillet with about a teaspoon of olive oil, lots of oregano (don't be shy with it), and pepper to taste.

You have complete freedom to assemble your wraps however you like.  Here's how I do it:

Mash up a ripe avocado and spread a quarter of it on a softened tortilla.

Top with about 3 ounces of shredded turkey.

Top with half of your cooked onions (and possibly peppers!).

And finally sprinkle a bit of Parmesan on (if you's not necessary, but it adds a nice touch).  At this point my husband also likes to add BBQ sauce or's up to you!

Roll (or wrap) it up, and you are ready for dinner.

Total prep time for the meat : about 5 minutes, not counting the overnight marinade.  Total prep time for the onions: about 5 minutes.  Total time it takes to assemble the wrap: about 2 minutes.  Total minutes of enjoyment: endless.

Can a sandwich be this cool?  I don't think so!

Marinated Turkey Wraps

2 1/2 lb. boneless turkey breast
zest and juice from one lemon
1 t. dried rosemary
1 t. dried oregano
2 T. dijon mustard
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 t. minced garlic
pepper to taste

Place turkey in glass bowl, skin side down.  Mix remaining ingredients and pour over turkey.  Refrigerate overnight.  Cook in slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours.

To make wrap: spread on softened tortilla 1/4 of an avocado (mashed), 3 oz. turkey, 1/4 of an onion (sauteed with oregano and pepper), and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Can also add salsa or BBQ sauce. 


Friday, June 24, 2011

lentil chili

This recipe is delicious and was the perfect dinner to warm us up on the rainy weekend we just had.  It was a fast fix, but it smelled amazing while cooking!  I love that it's healthy and full of fiber, something I'm convinced Cookie Bandit needs more of in his diet.

Would I normally put lentils in chili?  No, of course not.  But this recipe is definitely worth it!  I love the idea of guilt-free chili!  Excuse me while I go eat a bowl...

Lentil Chili
adapted from Taste of Home's Light and Tasty 2003
1 lb. ground meat
6 cups chicken broth
2 cups lentils
15 oz. tomato sauce
14.5 oz. diced tomatoes, undrained
1 onion, chopped
1 T. chili powder
1 t. cumin
1/4 t. pepper

Brown meat in a large stockpot; drain.  Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes or until lentils are tender.  Serves 8.

Nutrition (using ground turkey and low-sodium broth): 278 cal, 5g fat, 1g saturated fat, 45mg cholesterol, 918mg sodium, 35g carbs, 12g fiber, 25g protein.

Monday, June 13, 2011

3-2-1 salsa

Father's Day is coming up, and in honor of our dad's This Week's Cravings is featuring their favorite foods! 

I thought long and hard about what to post.  My dad loves to eat just about anything but black-eye-peas and spinach, so I have plenty of foods to choose from!  I considered going to the grocery store and taking a picture of a can of Dr. Pepper and a bag of Doritos.  Then, I called my mom and asked her what his favorite food was.  Even though he was standing right next to her, she decided to answer for him (that's the way our family works).  She thought the Dr. Pepper and Doritos was dead on...or ribs...or tacos...or pecan pie.

Did we ask my dad?  Nope. :)

I think I know him well enough, though, to know that he would love what I'm going to post today.  In honor of his love of Doritos, I'm sharing a salsa recipe that Cookie Bandit and I whipped up the other day.  It's made from all fresh ingredients, and it's nice and chunky (just the way Dad likes it).  And even though it's got a touch of sweetness, it's hot, hot, hot (at least I think so...Cookie Bandit thinks I'm over exaggerating, as usual).

We call it 3-2-1 salsa because it contains the following...3 habaneros, 2 jalapenos, and 1 green pepper.  It's a recipe for success.  This recipe is meant to be canned (although you could whip up the whole batch for a large gathering).  If you are unfamiliar with canning, check out my tutorial here.  It's super fun and a great way to store all of the fresh summer veggies growing in your garden.

3-2-1 Salsa
1 1/2 cups finely diced onion
1 T. minced garlic
1 cup apple cider vinegar
10 cups coarsely chopped, seeded, and cored Roma tomatoes (about 25 tomatoes)
1 bell pepper, finely chopped
2 jalapenos, finely chopped
3 habaneros, finely chopped
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely packed
1 T. oregano
1 T. sugar
1 T. Tabasco
2 t. cumin
1 1/2 t. salt

In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine onions, garlic, and vinegar.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat and boil gently for 2 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes and peppers.  Return to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients and return to a full boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring occasionally, just until the peppers are tender (3-5 minutes).  Remove from heat.  Fill 8-9 jars (8 oz each), leaving 1/2 inch headspace.  Process in a hot water bath for 15 minutes.

Dad's Favorites!

Let's celebrate our dads!!!  What is your dad's favorite food?  Link it up here!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

asparagus guacamole

If you thought Monday's recipe was weird, check out this one...

It's guacamole...made with asparagus!  Not a single avocado in the dish!

I know, I know, I'm strange.  I put avocado in my chocolate pie and then leave it out of my guacamole.  I'm considering therapy soon.

Until then, though, let me just say that this recipe is worth a try.  The texture is obviously a bit different because it lacks the creamy thickness of avocados.  However, the taste is phenomenal!  Slap some on your taco or burrito for that guacamole taste.  The benefits - only 42 calories and 2g fat per 1/3 cup!  It's also a great way to sneak some veggies into your family's diet.

You start by cooking up some asparagus in a saucepan.

Then, after it's nice and tender, you blend it together with onion and garlic.

Meanwhile, mix tomato, lemon juice, mayo, and spices in a small bowl.

Add the asparagus mixture and stir together!  It makes a great dip for chips or veggies...and for all of you asparagus haters out there, it tastes nothing like it!

Asparagus Guacamole
from Taste of Home's Light and Tasty 2002
1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into pieces
1/3 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup chopped, seeded tomato
2 T. reduced-fat mayo
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. salt
3/4 t. minced fresh cilantro
1/4 t. chili powder
6 drops hot pepper sauce

Place 1/2 inch of water and asparagus in a saucepan; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until tender.  Drain; place asparagus in a blender or food processor.  Add onion and garlic; cover and process until smooth.

In a bowl, combine tomato, mayonnaise, lemon juice, salt, cilantro, chili powder, and hot pepper sauce.  Stir in the asparagus mixture until blended.  Refrigerate leftovers, stirring before serving.  Serves 6.

Nutrition: 42 calories, 2g fat, 0g saturated fat, 2mg cholesterol, 240mg sodium, 5g carbs, 1g fiber, 3g protein.

Monday, June 6, 2011

chocolate avocado pie

This week, we're going to have a theme...expect the unexpected.

Take this pie.  It's beautiful, right?  A graham cracker crust filled with luscious, silky chocolate and topped with whip's rich, decadent, and positively sinful tasting.

The unexpected?  It's made with avocado!

It's true!  Recently, I got the opportunity to sample hand-grown California avocados when a box just showed up on my doorstep.

When I opened the box, I found five beautiful avocados.

And then I cut them open...yum!  Look at how beautiful they are!

In my mind, these avocados were too special to stick in a sandwich or toss on a salad.  As much as I love guacamole, I wanted to do something just a bit different.  So, I put them in a blender with a bit of cream cheese, sugar, and cocoa powder.  The result was amazing!

I took this pie to a potluck last weekend and enjoyed looking at people's faces as they ate it.  Everyone woman ate three went gaga over it...and nobody guessed the main ingredient!  It doesn't taste like avocados or cream cheese...just some of the richest chocolate you've ever had.  It actually went faster than the cheesecake, and that's saying something!

Make this for a party and enjoy watching people's reactions.  Then come back here and tell me about it!  Hope you love it!!!

Chocolate Avocado Pie
3 1/2 large or 4 average-sized avocados
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
graham cracker crust
Cool Whip topping

Blend together the avocados, cream cheese, cocoa powder, and sugar.  Press into graham cracker crust and top with Cool Whip.  Refrigerate before serving.

Disclosure statement: I received these California grown avocados free as part of a promotion with Foodbuzz.  The opinions and recipe are my own! 

I linked this up with Mommy's Kitchen's potluck Sunday!

Favorite Summer Recipes

What summer favorites are you cooking up?  Link them up here!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

rainy day

It's June 4, and we're having typical northern California weather - rainy, wet, cold, and grey.  Okay, it's not typical.  In fact, yesterday it made me downright depressed.  When am I supposed to get my tan??? 

I decided that if it was going to rain, I was going to make some rainy day foods.  What's better than listening to the pitter-patter on the roof while you've got a delicious pot roast cooking in the slow cooker?  It's delicious and low-fuss, which means I can spend my day making cookies, scrapbooking, cross stitching, and watching movies instead of worrying about dinner.

I went to the grocery store last night to buy all of the ingredients so that I could get up early and put everything in the slow cooker.  When I woke up this morning, I laid in bed thinking how wonderful my pot roast was going to be.  Then it hit me...I bought all of the ingredients except the roast!  Haha!

One more trip to the grocery store later, I've got my roast, it's in the slow cooker, and I'm enjoying my lazy rainy day.  If you are having "typical" (at least this year) northern California weather, consider making yourself one.  It's one of the first recipes I posted on this site (passed down from my mom) and will always be one of my favorites.  Here's the original post...

simply delicious pot roast

 There are lots of recipes out there for pot roast.  I've tried many of them.  And yet...I keep coming back to this one.  For one, it's my mother's recipe.  But there's other appeals as well - it's got only 5 ingredients, takes less than five minutes to prepare, goes in a slow cooker, and tastes so amazing that my husband put the barbecue sauce back in the refrigerator without ever having to use it.  For him to choose no barbecue sauce...well, let me just tell you, it had better be good meat.

First, you spray the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray...get it nice and coated.

Then add a lean cut of roast beef, first making a cut in the thickest part of the meat.  The size of beef you choose will depend on the size of your slow cooker - obviously, you want it to fit inside.  I generally choose anything inexpensive that has "loin" in its name.  Those work really well for pot roasts.

Add 1/4 cup water... envelope of onion soup mix... onion, cut into large chunks...

...and a can of cream of mushroom soup.

A note about the cream of mushroom soup - if you are going dairy free (or just don't have a can of soup lying around), do what I did.  Make your own!  I found a great recipe for "cream-of-something soup" on Tasty Kitchen.  For this pot roast, I used beef broth and didn't add any mushrooms at only took me 3 minutes, and it worked great! 

At this point, put the lid on and set your slow cooker to high.  After one hour, switch the setting to low and cook for an additional 7 hours (so 8 hours of total cooking time).  When you open the lid for dinner, here's what you'll see:

Hmmmmm....that is one tasty gravy!

Okay, I are probably wondering where all the veggies are.  Don't most pot roasts have veggies?  If you feel the need to put carrots and potatoes in the crock pot with the meat, go right ahead.  Just make sure you put them underneath the meat (carrots on the bottom).  I don't do it because my slow cooker isn't all that big and because I like keeping the meat separate - that way I can use it for sandwiches later on.

I did, however, roast some veggies in the oven for this particular meal.  I mixed some carrots and potatoes in a bowl with a smidgen of olive oil and a few shakes of herbs.

I spread these on a lined cookie sheet and baked at 350 degrees, stirring every so often to keep them from sticking.

And so there you have it.  Tonight's dinner.  And it was soooo easy!

Don't won't need the barbecue sauce.

Simply Delicious Pot Roast

Lean cut of beef (anything that has "loin" in its name is generally a good bet)
1/4 cup water
1 envelope onion soup mix
1 onion, cut in large chunks
1 can cream of mushroom soup

Spray crock pot with cooking spray.  Make a cut in the thickest part of the meat and place it in the crock pot.  Add the rest of the ingredients in the order listed.  Cook on high for one hour.  Cook on low for an additional seven hours.
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