The good old Turkey Sandwich

Let’s just say I’m a bit of a sucker for a good sandwich. Lunch is my absolute favorite meal of the day, and a good sandwich is my number one pick.  I am VERY particular with my sandwiches, my go-to sandwich contains Turkey, Mustard, Tomatoes, and sweet peppers. But non of that slimy,  deli turkey that is made of and loaded with who knows what…. Nope. I grew up eating freshly roasted turkey from a turkey farm that was near my house. Because of this, I cannot stand the idea of ever buying that slimy stuff. So how do I enjoy a good turkey sandwich? I roast my own turkey!

This past weekend we had some special visitors and I knew I needed to have some tasty lunch options on hand. So I went out in search of some turkey breast, though I couldn’t bring myself to buy an expensive turkey breast, so I sought out the next best option. I found some Turkey Tenderloins that were on special and set to roast them in the oven.

I placed some water in an 8×8 dish and placed the turkey tenderloins inside coating them with Penzey’s Sandwich sprinkle seasoning. I roasted them at 450 for about 20-30 minutes until the turkey was cooked through and registering at 165 degrees. I placed the turkey on a large cutting board and let it sit until I could handle it. I then took a very sharp knife and sliced it thinly and stored it in a container in the fridge until it was needed for lunches on Saturday. I have to say this was delicious and it was way cheaper to roast these tenderloins than it would have been to buy a 1lb or more of lunch meat and way better for you!

I also picked up some other good sandwich makings to add to the turkey. I have been craving avocado for a good while now, and finally found some that were decently priced, so I decided to treat our guests to avocados and tomatoes. I may have found my new favorite sandwich!

Freshly roasted turkey, Dijon mustard, avocado, tomato, and provolone cheese. YUM!

 

And speaking of turkey, the husband got our very own turkey on Monday! He went out in the woods just before the storm hit and got our turkey of the season! Unfortunately I do not have any pictures, though I’m sure you didn’t want to see the gruesome process. Our goal was to butcher it as fast as possible, because we weren’t sure if we were going to lose power from hurricane Sandy and we wanted to get it in the freezer and very frozen ASAP. But I am excited that we will have another turkey to eat through all year round and make stock from! I am also excited to share with you the delicious recipes I will be making with it!

What is your favorite sandwich?

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It’s Pizza time!

Pizza is something that happens VERY often in our house, almost once a week in fact. It happens to be Andrew’s favorite food and it also happens to be my fuel of choice the night before a long run, since there is some marathon training going on over here pizza is happening often. Though pizza is also something that both I and my husband are very particular about. I think we have finally gotten it all down, from the dough to the toppings.

Here are the methods we use to achieve our perfect pizza!

You have got to use bread flour, it is the best way to achieve that chewy inside.

Ever since we got a bread machine, making pizza dough has been the easiest thing ever! We used to have to make the dough a day ahead because we had to do all the kneading and rising ourselves. But now, we just put all the ingredients in before work, set the timer, and let it do its thing and you have fresh pizza dough waiting for you to put on a pan and top with your favorite toppings!

Place your pizza stone in the oven at 500 degrees to make it super hot! Then put some parchment paper down and spread out your pizza dough (we support it with a pizza pan, which you could also cook it on if you don’t have a stone). I added some Italian herbs to this dough which is why it looks like it has black flecks of stuff in it. Next we spread the sauce (we use regular tomato sauce), and a sprinkling of flour, so that the sauce adheres to the crust and doesn’t slide off and make a huge mess.

Next, we top the pizza. Our pizzas are pretty funny looking… Andrew loves meat pizzas and loads of cheese, I like veggies on my pizza and light cheese. So we compromise and make our own sections. He gets a much larger section because he happily eats it leftover for lunches. I generally eat my one or two pieces or so and I’m pizza’d out until the next pizza night.

On my side, which I think is the best combinations is some light mozzarella cheese topped with sauteed spinach, mushrooms, and garlic with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. I also enjoy fresh tomatoes and roasted chicken as toppings from time to time. One day I’ll get him to eat more interesting pizzas, until then this is our ideal pizza night 🙂

We have two recipes that we use, the one Andrew has perfected (thin crispy, and perfect!) and then one that I make from time to time which is SUPER thick and bready with a light crust. That is the recipe you see here, if you’re more of a thin and crispy pizza fan, stay tuned.. pizza night will come again soon!

Thick Pizza Crust

1 1/8 cups warm water ( 100-105 degrees)

3 tsp active dry yeast

2 TB Honey

2 TB Olive Oil

1 tsp salt

3 1/4 cups bread flour

3/4 cups AP flour (I use white -wheat flour)

Optional herb addition to crust (basil, oregano, garlic)

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a bread machine, and set to dough/pizza. Remove from machine and refrigerate in a bowl with a splash of olive oil when finished.

OR

In a large bowl combine water, yeast, honey, and olive oil. Mix and let sit until slightly foamy (about 10 minutes). Add flours , salt, and any herbs (optional) to the wet mixture and mix until combined. Using your hands is the best method to get everything together. Add additional flour (if too wet) or olive oil (if too sticky) if needed. Knead dough on a floured surface for several minutes. Rub a bowl with olive oil and place dough in a ball into the bowl. Cover with a towel and place in a warm place to rise (about 1 1/2 hours). Take out of the bowl and punch down, place back in the bowl in a warm place and let rise 10 min. Remove and roll out on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper.

THEN

Remove and roll out on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Smooth and shape into your desired pizza shape. Top with sauce, a sprinkling of flour, cheese and/or other toppings and bake for 15-20 minutes or desired crispiness is achieved.

Tuscan Bean Soup

Come fall and winter time I eat a lot of soup. Not only is it warm, filling, and delicious it is super easy to make.  When I make soup I usually make a large pot, so we can have it for lunches and at least one dinner per week if not more. My soups are generally loaded with veggies and proteins. As much as I love the traditional soups, I like my soups to be filling AND wholesome.

I had all day long yesterday to think about this soup while I was at work and set to making it the second I walked in the door. When going into making this soup, I knew I had turkey stew meat from the turkey that Andrew got last fall that I wanted to use before he drags home another one hopefully next week. Other than that this soup was a blank slate. I looked at what we had in the pantry, fridge, and freezer and just started dumping leftovers and bits of things that were needing to be used. I also looked at a few soup recipes online and found a Tuscan Bean Soup that I desired to replicate, but made several swaps with things I had on hand. Instead of Cannellini beans I used Kidney beans, instead of butternut squash I used lentils, instead of fresh Kale I used canned turnip greens. This resulted in a broth-y soup with beans, lentils, veggies, potatoes, and turkey.  This would be excellent meat-less as well! I served it for lunch topped with Parmesan cheese and a whole grain roll on the side. Delicious!

 

Tuscan Bean Soup

1 lb roasted chicken or turkey

3 medium potatoes, diced

1 can greens or handful of fresh greens (spinach or turnip greens)

2 cans kidney beans

1 cup lentils

1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves

Olive Oil

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

5 cups chicken broth

2 cups water

Salt and pepper to taste

Rosemary, basil, and oregano to taste

Parmesan cheese, for topping

Directions: Saute onions, garlic, and carrots until caremelized. Add all solid ingredients, then add broth, water, and herbs. Let cook until potatoes are cooked and meat is tender.

Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Truth is.. I don’t like oatmeal all that much. It is something I have to be in the mood for, and really I just keep it on hand for when I start craving oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. However, when I saw this oatmeal I knew I had to try it.  I am so glad that I did! It seriously puts typical oatmeal to shame, it tastes like dessert. In fact, I have eaten it for breakfast AND for dessert today.

We had loads of oats in the house, and neither of us were getting around to making oatmeal in the morning for breakfast, so I figured I would whip up a batch of baked oatmeal that we could take out of the fridge in the morning to heat up and top as we like. I found a recipe for Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal on Budget Bytes blog and I figured I would give it a shot. I am so glad that I did. This oatmeal was perfect for breakfast with plain greek yogurt and a dribble of maple syrup, it was also awesome for dessert with Caramel swirl ice cream and whipped cream. DO it… NOW.

Pumpkin Pie Baked Oatmeal

1 can (16oz) pumpkin puree

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2 eggs

1.5 cups milk

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pumpkin spice

2.5 cups dry oats

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Mix all ingredients together, adding oats last. Spray an 8×8 pan with non-stick cooking spray. Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes and then bake for 15 more minutes uncovered.

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes

 

That right there is my all time favorite breakfast! Whole Wheat Blueberry pancakes, bananas, peanut butter, cinnamon, and maple syrup (the real stuff)!

I have always loved pancakes, they were my go to “breakfast treat” I would hands down always choose pancakes when we went out to eat or would make a special breakfast at home. They are even a comfort food to me, and I often crave plain pancakes when I am sick. But when I’m healthy I say load em up with the blueberries, apples, or any other sort of yummy fruit! But these suckers right here, they are my go-to, my all time favorite pancakes EVER!

Andrew started making these pancakes for me a few years back, little did he know it would become a request from me again and again. We even freeze blueberries in the summer, so that we can have enough to make these year round! We make a large batch on our griddle and then I typically freeze the ones we don’t eat, so that I can just grab them out of the freezer and pop them in the toaster for a delicious breakfast anytime. It works well for me 🙂

 

 

Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes

Adapted from this recipe

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 egg

1 cup milk (plus about 2TBS, add until it is not super gloppy)

2 TBS sugar

1 cup blueberries

Directions:

Add all ingredients together in a mixing bowl (adding the blueberries last), and mix together but do not over mix or you may have blue batter! Add more milk if necessary. The batter should pour out into a smooth circle onto the griddle or into a pan (heated to medium).  If it stays in a large lump, add a bit more milk but be careful because a little milk goes a long way! As bubbles start to form the pancakes are ready for flipping. Cook both sides evenly. Whole wheat pancakes are a bit more dense than regular pancakes so it may take longer.

Spaghetti Squash

I seriously loved spaghetti squash as a kid. I remember my mom making it for us a couple of times a year, I always looked forward to it and longed for it when she didn’t make it for awhile. My mom made it as a side dish with butter and brown sugar and it was like dessert for dinner, I loved it. I don’t recall eating it much as I got older, but I re-discovered it a few years ago and tried to make it myself. It was just as good as I remembered it! It was recently that I realized some people actually put tomato sauce on it and eat it just like spaghetti, crazy right?

While I don’t necessarily consider it a trade off for real pasta nor would I ever try to “trick” anyone into eating it and thinking that it was real pasta, I did decide that I needed to try it for myself. It is honestly a great alternative for those who can’t eat gluten or for those who are watching their calories, or just want to try something new!

I decided to take a different route than just dumping tomato sauce on top of it. I wanted it to be a pretty dish and with lots of flavor. This did not disappoint! You could really add any type of vegetables to it, but I have to say this was the perfect combination and it was gone very quickly.

If you live with someone who can be a bit of a picky eater at times, or rather a bit close minded at times, you can do what I did and cook the squash a head of time. I cooked the squash last night and stored it in a container in the fridge plain. I then took out a portion for Andrew and added the butter and brown sugar and made it just the way he liked it, and then I took out my portion and made it a little different. It was also the quickest dinner ever once I had the squash already cooked. Perfect to make on busy nights or after a late work night. Cook the squash on the weekend and then throw this meal together in literally 2 minutes.

Cooking Spaghetti Squash

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Slice the squash in half, scoop out the seeds. Place insides down on a lined baking sheet. Place in oven for 45-60 minutes or until soft.

Once the squash is soft, let cool. The with a fork scoop out the insides into a container, or bowl if you are serving it right away.The squash should come out relatively easily and in long stringy strands just like spaghetti.

Store for later use or use promptly. It should look like the picture below.

 

Spaghetti Squash with Spinach

Desired amount of spaghetti squash, cooked

1 handful of spinach

black olives

Feta Cheese

Olive oil

Pepper

Adobo Seasoning

Tarragon

Directions:

Place spaghetti squash in a bowl, place the bowl in the microwave. While the spaghetti sqaush is heating up place olive oil and spinach in a skillet heated to medium. Cook until the spinach is wilted (1 minute). Slice olives in half and add to pan with spinach. Take squash out of the microwave once it is cooked through, add a little bit of olive oil and the spinach/olive mixture. Stir. Sprinkle feta cheese and herbs on top. ENJOY!

Old Fashioned Cornbread and Chili

I have had some ground venison thawing in the fridge the past few days and I was really unsure what I wanted to do with it. I decided that its fate was chili. I haven’t made chili yet this season, and that needed to change. I love chili and often make big batches of it during the colder months to use for quick dinners and warm lunches. I decided that since things were going to get a little busy later this week it would be nice to have on hand for dinners. I also love the fresh ingredients that go in to chili, the beans, veggies, and proteins. It is nutrition in a bowl!

No chili that I make is the same, I have a general blue print recipe but honestly I just throw things in to a pot. I generally use a combination of fresh and canned ingredients. Generally, I use canned beans, tomatoes, and a pre-made chili seasoning. But then I typically use home-made chicken stock, fresh herbs, and frozen corn (which we freeze large amounts of in the summer).

Sometimes it turns out better than others, today’s batch was excellent! Sometimes it is spicy, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it is soupy, sometimes it is more chunky. Sometimes it is made with turkey, sometimes it is made with venison. Sometimes I serve it with nacho chips, sometimes I serve it with cornbread. Tonight was a cornbread night.

This was the first time actually making the cornbread though. Usually the mix is so cheap I opt for making a boxed mix of cornbread. Tonight, I actually had corn meal in the house and decided that the recipe was certainly easy enough, why not give it a try. Let’s just say I am never going back to the boxed mix, this cornbread was the perfect mix of crispy on the outside, crumbly, and moist. It was incredible, we both had several pieces! Let’s just say this whole dinner just tasted fantastic!

 

Chili

1 lb Ground meat

1 onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

3 TBS tomato paste

1 packet chili seasoning

1/2 jar roasted peppers (or  1 can Rotel) (or 1 fresh sweet pepper, cut in strips and sauteed)

1 can kidney beans

1 can black beans

1 can corn (or about 1 1/2 ears)

1 can diced tomatoes

2-3 cups chicken or beef stock (depends on meat you are using)

Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

Oregano

Basil

Chili Pepper (for extra spice)

Directions: 

In a large stock pot brown meat, in a smaller pan saute onion, garlic, and peppers (if using fresh) in olive oil. Once meat is browned add onion mixture to large pot. Then add all other ingredients into the large pot, stir. Let cook on low-medium until all flavors have blended (1 hour) add extra seasoning as desired.

 

Cornbread

1 cup cornmeal

1 cup flour (I used white-wheat)

1/2 cup sugar

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

2/3 cup milk

1/2 cup oil

Directions:

Preheat oven 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Grease an 8in loaf pan or muffin tins with non-stick spray. Place batter in desired pan form. Cook for 20-25min

Putting it all together

So what did I do with all those leftovers from yesterday?

 

I simply recreated them for lunch! This would be an excellent breakfast as well, but since I ate breakfast on the run and had arrived back home at 11am famished, I decided to throw together a sort of brunch. I added a few new ingredients like sauteed spinach, eggs, and cheese. These are things that I always have on hand, spinach and eggs are a weekly purchase at the grocery store for this family!


I poured some egg substitute into a pan and scrambled it, while in another small pan I sauteed spinach in olive oil. Once the spinach was wilted I added a sliced up beet.  When the eggs were just about cooked through I added the spinach and beets. I quickly added a piece of provolone cheese  to melt on top. While the cheese was melting I cut up a few potatoes from last nights dinner and threw them in the pan with some fresh ground pepper  and let them get a little crispy.

Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner this is an excellent meal! And just so you know, beets and provolone cheese is an excellent combination, just try it!

Do you like breakfast for dinner (or lunch)?

Venison Roast

Last fall my husband decided that he wanted to start hunting… No one really knows where it came from, but I have to say  I can’t complain. The meals that we have been able to have from the Turkey and the Deer that he got last year have been incredible! I have learned how to cook a lot of new things because of this and while I’m not a huge meat fan or red meat fan, I do like to eat venison especially when it is from 3 miles away. Talk about local food. We are down to the last few bits of venison from last hunting season and as he gears up for the upcoming season it is my job to make sure we have room in the freezer for whatever it is that he may be bringing home in the next month or two.

One of the last few pieces of meat that we had left was a roast. I am really not a huge fan of roasts or any sort of slow cooked meal. For some reason I just don’t like the flavor and I typically prefer a more “fresh” taste to my meals. However, I certainly make my Husband eat enough of my healthy food and experiments so I decided tonight would be the night to indulge his preferred “meat and potatoes” diet.

This is the first time I have ever cooked a roast, of any kind. Over the last year I have gotten used to cooking plenty of venison, but the roast was a new one for me. I placed it in a baking dish with some low sodium beef broth and onions. Then flavored it with salt, pepper, and rosemary.

I also decided to add some potatoes and carrots to have on the side. Potatoes were a great deal at the store this past week, so I figured I mind as well start using the large bag of potatoes sitting in the corner of our kitchen. The carrots were another thing I threw in for the husband.. he likes cooked carrots. I on the other hand have a great dislike for cooked carrots and even the smell of them is enough to make me gag. But I can’t ever get enough of raw carrots, explain that one to me.

All in all it was a pretty good meal, the red wine may have helped, and I had a happy man and I can’t ask for much more than that 🙂

I had green beans with my portion for some veggies.

 

Roast Venison

1 Venison roast

1/2 onion, chopped

1 container lower sodium beef broth

3 potatoes, quartered

Olive oil

Dried Rosemary

Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven 400 degrees. Rub the roast with olive oil, place in an 8×8 baking dish. Salt, Pepper, and rub with Rosemary. Pour broth into the pan to fill the bottom and sprinkle onion around the roast. Place in oven for 30 min, turn oven back to 300 for 50 more min. Place potatoes in the same or a separate dish with some beef broth, salt, and pepper. I put them in a separate pan because I did not want to crowd the meat, but you could cook them together.

Beets

I seem to be on a huge fall vegetable kick, which is no surprise since it is the middle of fall and I always like to try and eat as much in season as possible. About a week ago I was given some beets by my mom who had a bunch left over and didn’t have a use for them. Honestly, they sat in my fridge for a week and I just kept staring at them and having no idea what so ever to do with them. I have never cooked with beets before. I was a beet newbie. While I’ve enjoyed them plenty of times in restaurants or when my grandmother would make her traditional beet eggs, as she did just about every time we would visit. I had never once cooked them or used them on my own.

Source

Other than removing the greens and knowing that I could use them in soups or sauteed on the stove like spinach I had no idea where to start. I did a little google-ing and found various methods to prepare them (roasting, boiling) , so I decided to just call my mom and see what she did with them. Roasting… that is what I came up with, it seems like a lot of roasting has been going on here.  I have to say this was SUPER easy and I will never be afraid of beets staring out of my refrigerator at me.

I trimmed the stems off of the beets and rubbed each one with some olive oil and wrapped them in some foil. I set the oven to 400 degrees and let them roast for about 45 minute, or until I could stick a fork into them. Be careful when you do that, because they like to spit out purple. Once they were done I let them cool until they were still warm, but cool enough to handle and I used a paring knife to peel them. My hands got a little messy but it cleaned right off with some soap and water, no worries. I then stored them in a ziploc baggy in the fridge until I wanted to use them, which was today for lunch in a wonderful salad (pictured below).

Beet Salad

Romaine lettuce

Beets, sliced

Carrots, chopped (or any other root veggie you might have on hand)

Roasted pumpkin seeds

Feta Cheese

Balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme

So now you don’t have to be afraid of beets either, enjoy!