Baked Ratatouille

I have a confession to make – I love Disney movies. I remember going to the Disney summer film festivals each summer as a child. Every week there was a couple of shorts and then a feature-length movie. It was one of my favorite summer memories.My kids loved Disney when they were old enough to watch their first movie, Beauty and the Beast. It’s our all-time favorite, but there have been others that are near the top of the list; like Ratatouille. I think I fell in love with this one because of my love of cooking and my dream to visit France. So when I saw this pin for the BuzzFeed Goodful recipe of Baked Ratatouille, inspired by Marie at Feeling Foodish, it made me think of the way that the rat-chef, Remy, took the traditional vegetable stew and transformed it into haute cuisine.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but this little clip will let you see the dish that I’m referring to – and go watch the movie!

So in an attempt to recreate the dish that piqued my curiosity since it became a movie icon, here is the Pintesting of Baked Ratatouille.

The Pintesting:

There are three main steps to making this dish; the sauce, the veggies, and the herb seasoning.

1. The Sauce:

The sauce starts with fresh aromatics. I found it cheaper to get a potted basil plant at the grocery store than to buy a small packet of basil leaves in the herb section. Not only does the basil stay fresh longer, but it lasts longer and looks so pretty on my kitchen counter.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Sautee the onions and peppers in extra virgin olive oil.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

When they start to soften add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Minced garlic burns rather quickly, so I wait a bit before adding it.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Add the crushed tomatoes. By the way, this would be great over pasta.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Add the basil and take it off the heat.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

2. The Vegetables:

Now for the veggies. Try to find similarly sized vegetables. This is one of the first times I’ve ever cooked eggplant, and I should have chosen more wisely. You’ll find out why in a moment.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Slice the vegetables thinly. I used a mandoline (seen above) for the yellow squash and zucchini, but the eggplant was too wide and the tomatoes didn’t slice well so I used a knife on them.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille - Veggies

As you can see, the eggplant was MUCH larger than the rest of the veggies. Not one to give up, I knew there had to be a way to make this work.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

I used double everything other than the eggplant, and it seemed to fit well. Voilà!

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Layer the veggies in a pattern.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Continue this all the way around the pan making concentric rings. I ended up cutting the eggplant in order to make it fit in the center ring.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

3. The Herb Seasoning:

This calls for fresh herbs; thyme, basil, and parsley. The store didn’t have fresh parsley so I used dried.

NOTE:  When substituting dried herbs for fresh, remember that they are more potent when they’re dried. You usually need about 3 times the amount of fresh herbs as you would dried herbs. In this case, 2 Tablespoons of fresh parsley would be about 2 teaspoons of dried parsley.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Mix the herb seasoning. It smells incredible!

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Brush it on the arranged vegetables.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

See how pretty that looks!

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Bake it covered for 40 minutes in a 375-degree pre-heated oven. Remove the cover and bake another 20 minutes.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Give it just a minute to cool and then dig in. We had eaten lunch not too long beforehand, so this was a separate vegetable course. It smelled and tasted so good that I had two small “just-to-taste” servings while my HH had three.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

We ate the leftovers the next day with some oven-baked fish – so delicious! The flavors have longer to get to know each other and play more nicely together; similarly to how lasagna or chili tastes better the next day.

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

Fin (The End):

The number of vegetables called for in the recipe was nearly double of what would fit into the pan. We didn’t complain since most of the prep work was done and I just made another batch. If eating veggies the same way too many days in a row sounds boring, I found some ways to do a ratatouille makeover. Check here and here for inspiration.

A French foodie friend told me that the ratatouille on the movie is not really ratatouille, which is a simple vegetable stew. So I searched for the Ratatouille version of ratatouille and found that it’s actually called Confit Byaldi. In the image below, the Disney Pixar version of the dish is shown at the top with a real version shown beneath (one being mine).

Pintesting Baked Ratatouille

I want to leave you with some inspiration; a quote from the illustrious Chef Gusteau, “Anyone can cook but only the fearless can be great.” Be fearless. Be Great. Try this recipe.

Anyone Can Cook

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.0 Pins

Pintesting Seal 4 Pins

Accuracy:  The dish turned out looking like the recipe picture and tasted delicious, but the number of vegetables was nearly double of what the pan could hold and that’s a lot of extra veggies. Also, the recipe didn’t specify the kind of eggplant to use in order to get similar-sized slices for uniformity. For these reasons, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Difficulty:  This recipe requires a lot of prep work for all three parts. If you don’t have a mandoline and need to slice all of the vegetables with a knife, it will take a bit of time, too. You will use the chop, slice, and chiffonade knife techniques; not hard, but not easy enough for kids. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  There are about 15 minutes of prep work to get all the veggies done, plus about 15 minutes to cook the sauce and an hour of baking time. That’s an hour and a half. Don’t get me wrong – it’s absolutely worth the time and you can make extra to freeze or you can get it layered early in the day and cook it for supper, but it’s not going to be a 30-minute meal.  3 Pins

Rated 3 Pins

Cost:  If you have a garden and need to use up a bumper crop of vegetables, then this is a cheap dish to make. However, if you need to hit the grocery store for everything it could get costly depending on what’s in season and on sale. Since produce prices fluctuate substantially by regions and seasons, I’m not going to give a specific price, but I will give this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality:  If you have or know kids (little or big ones) who don’t care for vegetables, this might be one way to get them to eat them. First, it’s delicious. Second, it’s from a movie. Let the Disney magic work in your favor here. That the flavor is even better if you have leftovers is a big plus. I also love that leftovers can be transformed into everything from quiche, omelets, sauces, quesadillas, soups, and so much more. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Honey Balsamic Chicken

It’s the new year and I have resolved to eat healthy – again – for about the 100th year in a row. Anyone else with me on this? Granted, I don’t eat terribly but I’m not as consistent as I’d like to be. But some meals make eating a healthy diet much easier. For example, I saw a video for Honey Balsamic Chicken on Facebook and a couple of days later this pin for the recipe by TipHero (inspired by Chungah of Damn Delicious) popped up on my Pinterest feed, too. They do seem to copy her recipes quite a bit, so if you’re not following Damn Delicious yet you just might want to.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

I really like the idea of a whole meal made on one sheet pan in the oven. (Hooray for fewer dishes!) I also like that the recipes used a variety of vegetables.

It’s worth noting that there were a few slight differences in the two recipes.

  1. The TipHero recipe uses green beans while the Damn Delicious recipe uses asparagus. We love asparagus in our home, so that’s what we went with.
  2. The honey balsamic marinade recipes had a few differences. TipHero’s used thyme, rosemary, and chili flakes while the Damn Delicious recipe used Dijon mustard, oregano, and basil.
  3. Chungah’s recipe also took less time to make – a big plus in my book.
  4. The TipHero recipe pours the marinade over the chicken and veggies prior to roasting; Damn Delicious didn’t. I went with TipHero on this step. More flavor is more better. (I beg forgiveness from the grammar police for that.)

The Pintesting:

I didn’t get a photo of all of the ingredients this time. What can I say? I was hungry. Fortunately, there aren’t a lot of ingredients.

The first thing that I did was to make the marinade. I used a short-cut here and just dumped all of the marinade ingredients into the bag that the chicken came in and squished it until it was mixed, tossing the chicken in the marinade at the same time. Since my chicken breasts were still somewhat frozen I thought I’d let it defrost and soak up the flavor all at once. Also, since it’s just my HH and me I only used one whole chicken breast (two halves). This worked for us since the chicken breasts are very large and we like lots of veggies.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

While the chicken defrosted, I lined the pan with parchment and prepped the vegetables.

Quarter the potatoes then add the tomatoes. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and season with salt and pepper.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

Put the chicken on the pan and drizzle the remaining marinade on the veggies.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

Roast for about 20 minutes then add the asparagus (I drizzled the asparagus with a little more extra virgin olive oil), then roast it for another 10 minutes. This was my timing compromise between the two recipes.

You don’t want to eat undercooked chicken! When in doubt check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. For chicken, this should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

Done! Your dinner is done and the only dirty dishes are one pan, one cutting board, and one knife. Join me in the happy dance?

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

The chicken was juicy and flavorful. The tangy-sweet acidity of the tomatoes, starchy creaminess of the potatoes, and the bright crispy asparagus complimented each other, and the marinade brought it all home. YUM!

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

And now I have to say this. WINNER! WINNER! CHICKEN DINNER!

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.85 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  This recipe was as simple as the TipHero video showed it to be even though I followed Chungah’s recipe. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  This recipe was very simple – perfect for novice cooks. The prep work was minimal and the marinade made everything taste wonderful. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time:  The active time to prep and cook the recipe was 40 minutes. The chicken requires time to marinade (30 minutes to overnight). I did this ahead of time and let it marinade all afternoon. While it isn’t active cooking time, it’s still necessary to make the recipe turn out so I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost:  The cute little potatoes and grape tomatoes were both buy-one-get-one-free at the store when I got them. (I love shopping sales!) The total cost of all the main ingredients (not deducting for the sales) was $12.00. Even though we used only 2 chicken breast halves, we had 4 meals making this $3.00/serving. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  This is the kind of home cooking I could eat every week. It was simple, delicious, and planning ahead with the marinade made quick work of the cooking. Perfect for busy weeknights! You could experiment with using different kinds of vegetables such as green beans, carrots, Brussels sprouts, or whatever your family likes. You can also switch up the marinades – try the TipHero version for a more traditional herbed chicken flavor. This will be a regular in our menu rotation. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

The simple recipe of True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy is pretty standard fare in Ireland and the U.K; it’s classic comfort food. My local Fresh Market had a variety of sausages on sale recently; including Irish Bangers. My HH had never heard of them and asked what they were like, so we picked up a couple and decided to try the famous dish.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

After searching several recipes on Pinterest and pinning a few, I saw this pin that claimed to be the True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy recipe which was submitted by wsf” on All Recipes. Since I’ve never tried Bangers & Mash before, I wanted to try the “True” real deal recipe. Bia Maith is Irish for Good Food; let’s get on with the Pintesting.

The Pintesting:

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

The ingredients list wasn’t too long and most of it was already in my kitchen.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

This all started because I saw the bangers sausage on sale at The Fresh Market. If you’re lucky enough to find Irish bangers then use them. If you can’t, you can substitute any milder pork sausage.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

Cook the bangers, turning them until they’re browned on all sides.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

Boil potatoes for the mash.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

Make the mash (mashed potatoes). A unique ingredient was dry mustard for the mashed potatoes. I’ve never used it that way before, but the mash was delicious.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

The recipe called for two large onions. I don’t know about you, but that’s a LOT of onions in my book. They filled up the whole skillet pan. The next time I make this I’ll use one large or two medium onions.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

Once the onions are sweated and just browned add the beef broth…

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

…and the wine. Let it reduce for a while.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

According to the recipe submitter, wsf, “Please note that this is a very thin gravy, as is traditional. It will still be very liquidy.” He was right.

Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

After simmering for 12 minutes the gravy smelled great but was much thinner than my usual gravy. Pintesting True Bangers and Mash with Onion Gravy

If “wsf” wouldn’t have mentioned how thin the gravy was, I’d have thought that I’d done something wrong. The flavor was wonderful, though. I thought the banger sausages were mild but flavorful and were complimented by the flavors of the onions, beef broth, and wine. The mashed potatoes were fluffy, creamy, and just what I needed to soak up the gravy.

Pintesting Variation #2:

My HH and I decided to get our Irish on before the sale was over and made a second variation just to test a different gravy. I searched several other recipes and found  “Onion Gravy for British Bangers and Mash,” also from All Recipes (Lupin Pooter).  This recipe called for chicken broth rather than beef broth, dijon mustard instead of dry mustard, added Worcestershire sauce, and used a roux as a thickener. Not wanting to risk another thin gravy, I skipped the wine and added 3 cubes of beef bouillon to the chicken broth to add richness instead. THIS is the gravy we were looking for. When we make this again, and we absolutely will, we’ll use the “True Bangers and Mash” recipe with the “Onion Gravy for British Bangers and Mash” (plus the beef bullion) for the gravy.

Sláinte!

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.3 Pins

4 Pins Overall

Accuracy:  The recipe gave the warning that the gravy would be thin (aka runny), but the gravy in the photo looked a bit thicker than mine turned out. I checked with some Irish friends who’ve had real and proper Irish Bangers. They said that the gravy should be thicker rather than thinner. “It should flow like lava as you pour it over the food.”  I omitted the red wine to make the recipe thicker but, I was told, it’s traditional to the gravy. The next time I try this I’ll add the red wine and use a cornstarch slurry to thicken up the gravy. Due to the questionable thinness of the gravy, this gets 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Difficulty:  There’s a reason Bangers and Mash is common fare in the U.K. Brown the sausage, make the gravy, and serve with mashed potatoes. It reminds me of  Salisbury Steak, but with Irish sausage – simpler since you don’t have to make the patties. There is a bit of chopping with the potatoes and onions, and the boiling, browning, and reducing takes a wee bit of cooking. Therefore this gets 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  Dinner took roughly an hour from start to finish with either recipe. The second gravy took a little less time because of the roux. An hour for dinner isn’t bad, but I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost:  The Irish banger sausages were the most expensive part of the meal(s), and you can see that 2 sausages were $2.81. The wine was the second most costly ingredient, but you don’t have to use an expensive wine. This transforms simple ingredients into a hearty and tasty meal with leftovers at a cost of ~$3.00 per serving. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  This was a simple yet flavorful meal that would go well with peas or other veggies. If you have kids you can either omit the wine from the sauce or let it simmer long enough to cook the alcohol off. It’s the kind of hearty home-style cooking that makes me think of pubs, pints, fireplaces, and family. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

If you’re a foodie or have watched TV in the last decade, then you’ve likely heard Gordon Ramsay yelling at the contestants on his reality show, Hell’s Kitchen.  After watching for many years and seasons, one thing that I learned is that you can’t be considered a serious cook unless you can make an excellent Risotto and Beef Wellington. Eating at 5-star restaurants is a bit out of my normal budget, so the opportunity to try Beef Wellington in a restaurant is rather slim. Fortunately, the ingredients aren’t overly expensive, nor are the techniques difficult. (Thank you, YouTube!) So in order to up my culinary game and finally try some fine dining, a few years ago I decided to conquer both of these dishes; risotto for my birthday and the wellington for Valentine’s Day. But that was the OLD Beef Wellington – the NEW dish is Salmon Wellington.

In an effort to eat healthier, we are trying to have fish and seafood a couple of times a week. Not only is it healthy, but also delicious with so many varieties from which to choose: grilled shrimp on a salad, oven roasted Italian herbed white fish, pan seared scallops, fried catfish, parmesan crusted tilapia with lemon and caper sauce (post to come), and now… *drumroll, please* …Salmon Wellington.

Yes, it deserves a drumroll.

This pin by BuzzFeed Tasty has been all over Pinterest and I’ve seen the video on Facebook and Twitter. With this much notoriety, and because it just looks delicious, and because we love salmon, and because I had almost all of the ingredients on hand, I had to try this. Plus doesn’t puff pastry make everyday food look elegant? Let’s begin the fancy food Pintesting!

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

The Pintesting:

The ingredients list was surprisingly small and simple compared to beef wellington. There is no Foie Gras or duxelles in this recipe.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Saute the aromatics and then wilt the spinach.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Add the breadcrumbs, seasonings, and cheeses.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Stir to mix well. Set the spinach mixture to the side.

NOTE: It’s a lot easier if you add the cream cheese first to let it get a bit melty before adding the rest. You can see that mine is a bit clumpy. This didn’t seem to affect the taste, but it will look a lot nicer.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

The recipe doesn’t specify whether to get the salmon with or without the skin. Mine had skin so I trimmed it since I don’t want to eat it hiding under puff pastry. I recommend asking your butcher/fishmonger for salmon without the skin if you want to avoid this step.

Season with salt and pepper, then lay the salmon in the center of the puff pastry.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Top the salmon with the spinach mixture. I went back and forth between spooning it on and shaping it on top with my hands. Once it’s all on, fold the puff pastry over in thirds to cover and seal everything.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Place the filled pastry onto a parchment lined baking sheet seam  side down, tucking in the seams, and then give it a good egg wash.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Use a sharp knife to make a crosshatch pattern on the top of the pastry, then give it a final egg wash.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Bake it in a preheated oven until your house smells incredible and you’re drooling.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

DON’T cut right into this immediately. You’ll want to give it at least 5 minutes to rest in order to keep the pastry from smooshing under the knife and the filling from oozing all over the cutting board or plate.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Slice it in half to make two impressive and generous servings. (See? No smooshing or oozing.)

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

Plate it. Serve it. Become a superhero – or a supper-hero. There is a serious amount of wow factor with this dish, so enjoy. You deserve it.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

“This is the best thing you’ve ever made!” said my HH as he quickly tucked in for the next bite. “I could eat this every day!”

Wow! I was expecting a positive response, but the best thing ever?! There you have it. Please excuse me. I’m going to go straighten my cape, gloat in my glory, and see if Gordon Ramsey wants to work in my kitchen.

Pintesting Salmon Wellington

The Pintesting Results:

OVERALL RATING:  4.7 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  The end result was precisely what the recipe, pictures, and video promised. The puff pastry crust was light and flakey. The salmon was cooked to perfection; juicy but done. The spinach mixture gave a nice brightness to balance the whole dish. I also want to point out that 2 servings are extremely generous – neither of us could finish our portion, which just meant that we got to enjoy the leftovers for lunch the next day. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: The recipe was easy to follow, and the video made it even easier. Although not mentioned, you would definitely want to remove the skin from the salmon. And while none of the steps are difficult, it does take a few steps to put this together. Due to these factors, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time: Although there are a few steps to this recipe, it took 40 minutes from start to finish. This included the 20 minutes of baking time and all of my picture taking. Since 30 minutes is considered a standard for a quick meal and this was only 10 minutes longer for such elegance, I’m giving this 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost: I was surprised at how low-cost this dish is! The salmon is the most expensive component, but it’s usually on sale at one of our local grocers. My fillet was too large for the puff pastry, so I had to cut it in half which made it an even better deal. The puff pastry can be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores, and you get 2 sheets for less than $4. The rest of the ingredients are common to most kitchens and I had them all on hand. The final cost per serving comes to $2.50 if you make 4 servings (like we did) or $5.00 if you make 2 servings. Either way, that’s a fantastic price for a high-end restaurant quality dish. But since the salmon and puff pastry aren’t common to most kitchens, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality:  The best thing about this dish (aside from the great flavor, the loving accolades, and the surprising ease of preparation) is that it works just as well for a quick weeknight supper as it does for an impressive special meal. After all, who doesn’t want to be a supper-hero?  5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

 

 

 

One Pan Mexican Quinoa

There seems to be a new obsession with short food videos on social media, especially Facebook. Videos made by Tasty, Buzzfeed, and Tip Hero are bringing food porn to a whole new level.

We like and share them thinking, “What a great idea. I need to try this,” but rarely follow through and make it.

Then I saw this pin for  One Pan Mexican Quinoa also make it onto my Pinterest feed, and I knew it was time to put it to the test. Here’s the video.

This recipe video is by Tip Hero, but they gave the inspiration credit to Chungah of Damn Delicious. I’ve tested her Egg Salad BLTA Sandwich and Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli and both got great results. This made me more confident in the probability of success.

The Pintesting:

The ingredients are straight forward and easy to find.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Sauté the aromatics, then add the beans, corn, and tomatoes.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Then add the quinoa, seasonings, and broth.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Cover and cook for 20 minutes and it’s done.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

This was going to be served with diced avocado as the recipe suggested, but the one we got was over-ripe so we had to throw it out. Here’s how it looked without any toppings.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

This has a bonus of being super healthy without trying hard. Don’t be scared to try it even though it’s vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free. It’s also versatile. You can change or add more veggies, switch the broths, play with toppings; make it your own.

***UPDATE 08/17/2016***  I’ve had several questions about quinoa from those who aren’t familiar with this ancient grain. Marry Spencer of Health & Fitness Shop has a great article, 7 Health Benefits of Quinoa, that answers many of the questions. For example; it’s high in fiber, nutrient rich, great for gluten intolerance, helps with weight loss and diabetes, and more. In other words, it’s packed with all kinds of goodness.

The Results:

OVERALL RESULTS: 4.85 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  This recipe was as delicious, easy, and fast as the video showed. 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  This is an easy recipe with little cutting/chopping. Using canned beans and veggies really simplified things. However, using jalapenos or other hot peppers requires caution as the juices can cause burning to your skin or eyes. Many sources say to always wear rubber gloves when seeding and chopping hot peppers. Because of this, I’m giving it 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  This took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. It required minimal prep work, and most of the time was just for simmering. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost:  Most of the ingredients are less than a dollar. At $9.50 for 30-oz, the quinoa was the most expensive ingredient, but I only needed 3 out of 29 quarter-cup servings, and that’s less than a dollar for the quinoa. Total cost was less than $2/serving. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  When I served this, HH ate two bites and gave it a thumbs up. He ate two more bites and gave it two thumbs up. This is fast, easy, healthy and delicious. It’s a perfect dinner for busy weeknights. 5 PinsPintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Easy Cheeseburger Sliders

The other day was National Hamburger Day. Who comes up with these “holidays”? Well, thank you to whomever, because even though I’m not a huge carnivore, I LOVE a good burger.

Burgers are like pizza in that there are so many different ways to approach them: big and juicy, stuffed with fillings, thin with a quick sear, to tiny little sliders. I used to love getting the sliders in the cute little boxes. Does anyone else remember these?

White Castle Burgers

When I saw this pin for Easy Cheeseburger Sliders by Kristina Vanni, I was all in! These use King’s Hawaiian rolls and a really different method for cooking. I went straight to the store to pick up the ingredients, and got cooking.

Pintesting Easy Cheeseburger Sliders - ORIGINAL PIN

The recipe calls for 2 lbs of  hamburger. Because it’s just my Handsome Hubby and me, we didn’t need to make 2 pounds worth of sliders, so we halved the recipe with some help from Taste of Home website, and from the kitchn website for what size pan to use. Did you know that half of a 9×13 pan is an 8×8? I love learning new things!

Pintesting Easy Cheeseburger Sliders

Mix the ground meat, bread crumbs, onion, and salt in a bowl.

Pintesting Easy Cheeseburger Sliders

Put the mixture in a pan, press it nice and flat, then poke it with holes with a fork.

Pintesting Easy Cheeseburger Sliders

Bake it (SO much easier than grilling or pan frying a bunch of burgers). Look at that shrinkage!
Pintesting Easy Cheeseburger Sliders

Cover it with cheese and pop it back into the oven for a couple more minutes.

Pintesting Easy Cheeseburger Sliders

The big square cheeseburger patty came out of the pan easily, and I cut it into 9 squares to fit the buns.

Pintesting Easy Cheeseburger Sliders

Here you have the final results. Yes, I made 9 sliders. Yes, there are only 8 in the picture. My HH snatched one before I could stop him. He says that they smelled too good to wait.
Pintesting Easy Cheeseburger Sliders

Overall Results: 4.85 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  These cheeseburger sliders were very easy to make, as the title says. They produced a lot of delicious, juicy burger without having to flip a bunch of minis a bunch of times. I would pick these over their fast-food version any day. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  The recipe title didn’t lie. By baking the meat mixture in a pan, you let the oven do the work. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time:  This one was a tough call. If you were making a regular burger vs. a slider, it takes about 5-10 minutes depending on how you like your burger cooked. These took 30 minutes of cooking time. That’s not a long time to cook supper, but it is longer than traditional burger cooking methods. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost:  These are an inexpensive way to feed a crowd, or to make ahead as for freezing. (Cheeseburger sliders ready to heat and eat? Yes please!) My local Fresh Market has ground chuck on sale every Tuesday for $2.99/lb. If you look at the ingredients picture, you’ll notice that the package of meat was $3.06. Add the cost of the rest of the ingredients, and that’s about 50 cents per slider. I was full at 2 sliders; HH was full at 3. The extra 4 sliders made both of our lunches – much better than fast-food. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  If you need to feed a crowd, then these are absolutely the way to go. They were simple, juicy, flavorful, and I didn’t feel guilty about throwing away a bunch of cute cardboard boxes. Since the oven does the cooking, you don’t have to stand and flip anything. These are absolutely going into my recipe box! 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops

Sometimes Pinspiration strikes at the most random times; for example, while walking through the grocery store at 5:15 pm while you have no idea what you’re going to make for supper. There were these beautiful thick boneless pork chops on sale. When I say thick, I mean about 2 inches thick – perfect for splitting and stuffing.

Pintesting - Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops - THICK Pork Chops

After a quick search on my cell phone, I found this pin for Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops by Mary Kay of Homemade Cravings. Our family loves Mediterranean flavors, we had most of the ingredients, and it appeared simple and healthy, so this seemed like a great choice.

Pintesting - Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops - Original Pin

 

The are only 6 ingredients. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup chopped spinach, but doesn’t specify fresh or frozen. I had frozen chopped spinach on hand, so that’s what I used. It also calls for 4 pork chops, but since it’s just the HH and me we used two and saved the extra stuffing to use in omelettes. Also, the recipe called for pork chops with the bone in. I think these work well with or without the bone.

Pintesting - Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops - Ingredients

 

You really want to use thick chops for this recipe. You can see that they’re thicker than my 1/2 cup measuring cup.

Pintesting - Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops - THICK Chops

Mix the spinach, feta, and sundried tomatoes in a bowl.

Pintesting - Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops - Filling

 

Season with salt and pepper

Pintesting - Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops - Filling Mixed

Cut a slit in the pork chops, season with salt and pepper, and stuff them.

Pintesting - Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops - Chops stuffed

The recipe says to soak toothpicks and secure the chops, then grill them. Our grill happened to be out of gas, so we chose to bake them standing up like they’re pictured.

Pintesting - Spinach, Feta and Sundried Tomato Stuffed Pork Chops - Supper

As you can see, this worked very well. The meat was moist and flavorful, and the stuffing was delicious. I served these with couscous and broccoli. I’d like to try them grilled the next time we make them just to see if it adds another level of flavor.

Overall results:  4.7 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  As I hoped, this was a simple yet delicious entree. The pork chops were juicy, and the flavors of the stuffing really made a delicious combination. It executed just as the recipe said. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: You get a lot of taste for as simple as this recipe is. Mix a few ingredients, season, slice, stuff, and grill (or bake). You want to use caution when cutting the chop so that you don’t go all the way through, but i didn’t feel that was increasing the difficulty level. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time: This would be perfect for a 30-minute-meal if you’re grilling. Since I baked them, it took a bit longer – about 45 minutes. Still, that isn’t very long for supper. The rest of the meal came together while they were in the oven. As a bonus, the extra stuffing ingredients make a fantastic omelette filling, so that cuts down on breakfast time the next day. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost: I was fortunate to get the thick boneless pork chops on sale – BECAUSE they were on sale. I also lucked out because I had bought sundried tomatoes on a buy one get one free sale, too. I don’t know that every kitchen normally stocks feta and sundried tomatoes, so I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Practicality: The simplicity, fast preparation, and delicious flavors of this were wonderful. The HH really enjoyed it and said he’d like to have it again. I also love that, in our case, we could use the filling as a way to get extra veggies and pump up the flavor of breakfast, too.  5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

 

Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

I love our neighborhood Chinese take out place for a quick dinner that doesn’t make me feel completely guilty for not cooking. One of our family favorites is Beef and Broccoli. It’s got broccoli, therefore it must be healthy.

Sure, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

When I saw this pin by Damn Delicious for Beef and Broccoli in the slow cooker my first reaction was skeptical at best. Beef and Broccoli is a stir fry… but then I read Chung-Ah’s post and recipe in detail and it sounded extremely plausible. Why not? Definitely worth giving a test. To the wok crock pot!

Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli - Original Pin

The Pintesting:

The ingredients were easy to find at my local grocer. (There’s also brown sugar that didn’t make it into the picture, but did make it into the dish.)

Pintesting Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

Trim and thinly slice the meat, and put in the crock pot.

NOTE: The recipe called for 2 lbs of chuck roast. By the time I trimmed it to my liking, I had 1 1/2 pounds left. There was still a LOT of meat.

Pintesting Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

Make the sauce together.

Pintesting Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

Toss the meat with sauce and cook for 90 minutes. Crock pot cooking usually takes a minimum of 4-6 hours and up to 10-12 hours, depending on the recipe. I was a little concerned that this wouldn’t be long enough, but…

Pintesting Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

This is what the meat looked like after cooking for 90 minutes. Oh, and I forgot to mention how amazing the sauce smelled.

Pintesting Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

Add the broccoli and cornstarch slurry (to thicken the sauce).

Pintesting Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

Cook for another 30 minutes.

Pintesting Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

Serve w/ rice – OMG!!!

My handsome husband said that this was better than the take-out place, and that’s saying a lot. The meat was unbelievably tender and flavorful and the sauce was perfect. The broccoli was fully cooked but not mushy. We both also like that we knew exactly what is in our food – no mystery ingredients.

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Rating: 4.55 Pins

Pintesting Seal 5 Pins

Accuracy: This recipe really captures the flavor of take-out Beef and Broccoli made at home. Using the slow cooker was a brilliant idea on Chung-Ah’s part. The beef was very tender, but not to the point of shredding, the sauce was fantastic, and the broccoli was completely done without being mush. (I don’t like mushy veggies.) 5 PinsRated 5 Pins

Difficulty: The hardest part of this recipe was trimming the roast. I have a tendency to go a bit overboard with that, and since the cooking time (2 hours total) isn’t the normal 6-8 hours in a slow cooker, I didn’t want to have hunks of fat or stringy meat. You don’t have to go to the same lengths of trimming – Chung-Ah didn’t mention it in her recipe. The rest was super simple; whisk together the sauce, toss in the broccoli and cornstarch slurry. Easy Peasy. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Time: Because this is a slow cooker recipe, I look at it with a bit of a curve. The prep time was roughly 10-15 minutes – mostly because of my obsessive trimming of the roast. Still, not bad. Since the crock pot did the rest without my assistance (just the add-ins after 90 minutes), this gets 4 Pins.

Rated 4 Pins

Cost: The Roast was the most expensive part of the meal, but I was fortunate to get it on sale for about $7. The broccoli was also on sale. I did have to purchase a lot of the sauce ingredients for the 1st time, but even so this will make a LOT of Beef and Broccoli before you run out. The total cost was less than two orders of take-out, it makes 4 servings, and you’ll be able to re-use lots of the ingredients. But because most kitchens might not have the sauce ingredients as a staple, I’m giving this 3 Pins.

Rated 3 Pins

Practicality: If you need a quick fix for Beef and Broccoli take-out, hit up your local restaurant. If you want amazing flavor and are willing to wait 2 hours with minimal work, then this is a great way to go. I like that I know what’s in it, how it makes the house smell amazing, and the “yum” noises of approval. It’s a great recipe to throw into the crock pot before soccer or piano or shopping. I also like that my kitchen isn’t covered in splattered grease from stir frying. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

Does anyone else have a busy life? Dumbest. Question. Ever. Trying to balance all of life’s aspects requires about 32 hours a day, but we only get 24. That’s why I LOVE crock pot cooking. It’s a HUGE time saver! Simply dump (or carefully layer) the ingredients into the magical appliance, turn it on, and walk away. Hours later I come home to a house that smells amazing and dinner (or supper, depending on where you are in the world) is DONE! I have some family favorite recipes but am always on the lookout for something new. I found such a recipe while perusing through Pinterest and spotted this pin for Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken from Tammilee’s Tips. Three ingredients that look like a cross between BBQ Chicken in texture and Buffalo Chicken in taste.

THREE INGREDIENTS – I’m in! Let’s try this.

The Pintesting:

http://www.tammileetips.com/2013/01/crock-pot-spicy-buffalo-ranch-chicken/

So here are the ingredients; chicken, buffalo sauce, and ranch mix.

Pintesting Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

Dump everything into the crock pot.

Pintesting Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

Turn it on low, then walk away. For those who have an aversion to leaving a kitchen appliance on all day – especially if you’re not home to watch it (yes, I know you’re out there and it’s okay), just put the crock pot on your stove top. I have a friend who just couldn’t leave a crock pot on her counter to cook while she was gone to work. When I suggested this, it made everything okay and she started making crock pot meals 3-4 times a week. Don’t ask or question, just do it.

After you get home (6-8 hours later), it will look like this.

Pintesting Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

Shred the chicken. I used the two carving forks that came with my knife set because of their long handles which allowed me to shred it in the crock pot without getting my hands too close to the food or the hot sides.

Pintesting Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

There, the chicken is DONE! Since this is buffalo chicken, I wanted a side that would balance the spiciness. What could be better than the traditional carrots and celery with ranch? How about a coleslaw salad with lots of carrots and celery and a ranch-slaw dressing? YES! So here’s my non-recipe recipe.

Pintesting Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

One bag of coleslaw, about half of a bag of shredded carrots, and 3-4 stalks of celery chopped small.

Pintesting Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

For the dressing, I used equal parts of coleslaw dressing and ranch dressing.

Pintesting Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

Toss it all together and serve. That’s 5 minutes for a super yummy salad!

Pintesting Crock Pot Spicy Buffalo Ranch Chicken

We’re trying to lose some weight in my family, so when I asked if the chicken should be served with or without the buns, the unanimous response was without. Here’s our supper, and I have to say it was amazing! Tons of flavor with a nice balance between the coolness of the slaw and the heat from the chicken. It makes a lot, so it’s perfect for sharing. The next time I make this, I will try making buffalo tacos with the combo. Now, for the Pintesting results.

 

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.85 Pins

Pintesting Seal 5 Pins

Accuracy:  This captured the fun of Buffalo Wings, but in a form that’s easy to cook and serve without the messy fingers and moist towelettes. My husband and I don’t like lots of heat, so we used the regular buffalo sauce rather than the extra hot. I’d try mild if I could find it. If it’s still too much for your heat index, then try substituting a little barbecue sauce or add a bit of brown sugar. Even though it was spicier than just about anything we usually cook, we couldn’t stop eating – it was that good. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Difficulty:  Three ingredients, dump, walk away, shred, eat, good. Folks, it doesn’t get much easier than that. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Time:  I struggled with this because on the one hand, the prep was almost nonexistent. I literally dumped the bag of frozen chicken breasts into the crock pot, poured the bottle of buffalo sauce on top, then sprinkled the ranch mix. Two minutes tops. Once I got home, it took about 3 minutes to open the lid and shred the chicken. That’s 5 minutes, which would normally get 5 Pins. On the other hand, I feel like I have to account for the 8 hours of cook time while I was at work, which would normally get about 2-3 Pins if you were actively cooking for that length of time. I decided to go between the two, and look at it similarly to required chilling time. It’s necessary, but you’re not doing anything so I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Rated 4 Pins

Cost:  The chicken breasts were about $6.50 for the bag and by far the most expensive ingredient. Total cost was about $10.00. But since this makes a lot of food, and will serve a family of 4 with plenty of leftovers, I’m giving it 5 Pins.

Rated 5 Pins

Practicality:  Any crock pot meal is very practical for busy weekdays. The lack of chopping or other prep work makes this recipe even easier to throw together. It would also be PERFECT for a Super Bowl party. This would be great for any kind of party! 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins

Meatball Bubble Biscuits

This is the second of two Pin Tests that I made one evening for supper. I thought it would be great to be able to do a two-for-one meal. The theory was a good one, but not everything turned out exactly as I had hoped. The first post (voted first by my readers) was for Baked Parmesan Tomatoes. You can read about the results by clicking the link.

THIS post is for a recipe with one of the most fun food names I’ve heard in a long time – Meatball Bubble Biscuits. Say that five times fast. Meatball Bubble Biscuits… Meatball Bubble Biscuits… Meatbub Bubba Biscuits… (I bet you’ve got a grin on!)

I love to laugh. Ages ago, when my girls were little, I did home childcare. Kids come up with some of the funniest things without trying. I have 15 years worth of funny daycare stories about nearly a hundred children I loved as my own. One of my little 5-year old guys was sitting at the kitchen counter after morning kindergarten.  The other kids were down for naps already and were talking while he was having lunch. He told me something that I can’t remember, but my response was, “are you serious?” He replied, with a perfectly straight face, “yes, I’m very serious”. I said, “Oh, well I’m serious, too”, with an equally straight face. With a perfect poker face he said, “we are very serious”. This “serious” banter went on back and forth for several minutes before we looked into each others eyes and started laughing and laughing.

So other than the recipe having a funny name, what does that have to do with the story? Not a blessed thing. But I think the kids would have liked a food called Meatball Bubble Biscuits. So glad that I saw this pin from Kathie, of the blog Kathie Cooks.

http://kathiecooks.blogspot.com/2010/08/meatball-bubble-biscuits.html

http://kathiecooks.blogspot.com/2010/08/meatball-bubble-biscuits.html

Let the Pin Test begin! There aren’t a lot of ingredients, and all are easy to find. The only flaky-style biscuits I could find were the Grands variety, so that’s what I went with.

Meatball Biscuit Ingredients

I cut the meatballs and string cheese, and split the biscuits in half.

Ready to assemble

Each biscuit got one half meatball and a piece of mozzarella,

Layer ingredients

then was wrapped up in the biscuit dough. I pinched to seal the dough, then rolled each one to make a bit more round.

Wrap them up

Put them all in a round cake pan. No need to grease the pan.

In the pan

Sprinkle the lot with the seasonings and Parmesan. I went light with the Parmesan after what happened to the Parmesan Baked Tomatoes, and decided to sprinkle more as they came out of the oven.

Seasoned and in the oven

Kathie says to bake for 18-20 minutes, so I went with the lowest time.

Bake

And this is what you get. You can see the extra Parmesan that got sprinkled as soon as these beauties came out of the oven.

Baked golden

I served them with spaghetti and meatballs, extra spaghetti sauce for dipping, and the Baked Parmesan Tomatoes. Yes, everything is sprinkled with Parmesan – I mean, it’s cheese! Doesn’t cheese make almost everything better?

Dinner Served

Overall Rating: 5 Pins

5 Pins Overall - LARGE

Accuracy: The recipe was simple and the results were just like Kathie’s picture. The garlic and Italian seasoning gave a nice flavor to what would have been plain dough. I might try brushing the tops with some melted butter next time – just to see what happens. The meatballs were thoroughly cooked and the mozzarella was melted. 5 pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Difficulty: This was easy – perfect to let the kids help assemble. 5 pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Time: It took about 5-10 minutes to assemble these, and roughly 20 baking time (or less). At just over half an hour, 5 pins.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Cost: The meatballs were on sale for $3.95, which was the most expensive ingredient. I had the seasonings on hand, but those can be gotten very inexpensively. 5 pins.

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Practicality: This recipe would be nice as an appetizer or as part of the main meal. It’s kid friendly, but also delicious to adults. My husband thought they were the best part of the meal. 5 pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL