August 18, 2014

Seaside Sunrise

by Shannon

I spent all of last week in Chicago and, despite battling an allergic eye infection that forced me to wear my glasses all week, I used the opportunity to rest, relax, and read. I took long walks along the water and spent the warm (and warm-ish) days at the beach on the lake. I slept in a lot which was different from my last trip to Chicago in May where I was awoken every morning at 6am by a happy dog named Abigail eager to go outside. Watching the sun come up over Lake Michigan is enchanting and I was able to get up early enough once last week to catch it. The way the sun glistens over the water, making the lake look silver and glossy, is a sight that I never tire of. This Seaside Sunrise seems appropriate.

Pineapple, orange-mango, and cranberry juices are mixed with passion fruit rum, a little grenadine (which I left out) and topped with sparkling wine and fruit slices. Any of your favorite rum could be added here but the flavor of the passion fruit combined with the different fruit juices really makes this a perfect little summer cocktail. Whether you are seaside or landlocked, make a batch of this and enjoy our last days of summer.

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Combine pineapple juice, mango-orange juice, passion fruit rum, cranberry juice, and grenadine in a large pitcher.

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Pour into ice-filled glasses, and top with sparkling wine, if desired.

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Garnish, if desired.

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Additions: None

Omissions:

  • Grenadine

Substitutions: None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Coastal Living magazine

August 4, 2014

Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers

by Shannon

I’m in a fruit and veggies state of mind (sorry I just saw Billy Joel in concert over the weekend). I used to be diligent about going to the local produce stand (which isn’t all that close to me) each weekend and stocking up on fresh fruits and veggies. Up until this past weekend, I don’t think I’ve been there all year. Pathetic. And then when I go to my sad grocery store, I complain each and every time because the produce section is inevitably out of something I specifically went there to get and I wonder why I didn’t go the extra few miles to the produce stand. The peppers in these Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers were one such missing item from my grocery store after having seen bags of them for weeks. Then poof! They were gone.  Along with the purple cauliflower and the bags of cherries the store had advertised as being a special price in their circular. But I had my heart set on making these little snacks so I hopped in Zelda (my car) and drove to another grocery store farther away which I knew had a better produce department. The store stinks (literally, P.U.) …but the produce is good. And I walked away, satisfied, with a huge bag of these baby bells.

Baby bell peppers are blistered in a skillet before being halved and stuffed with a mixture of cooked ground meat (I used turkey but the recipe calls for pork), poblano pepper, onion, garlic, spices, fresh cilantro and Muenster cheese. After a quick trip to the oven, the cheese melts and these guys are ready to go. Sure, stuffing the peppers is the most time consuming part but when it’s all said and done, these peppers are the perfect one or two bites. The poblano gives a subtle kick and the ancho and chile powders add a punch of flavor. Make these as an appetizer or as a unique little lunch. People will walk by and wonder what colorful lunch you are having.

If you like these, definitely try Sausage-and-Feta Cheese-Stuffed Peppers.

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Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the baby bell peppers in a single layer and cook, turning, until the skins blister and start browning, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

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Add the onion, poblano, garlic, cumin, oregano, ancho and chipotle chile powders and 1 teaspoon salt to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until the onion and poblano are tender, about 8 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high and add the turkey. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink and thoroughly cooked. Remove from the heat; let cool.

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Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Make a slit in each baby bell pepper with a paring knife, cutting from stem to tip. Crumble the meat mixture into small bits, then stir in the cilantro and cheese. Stuff 2 to 3 teaspoons of the meat mixture into each pepper using your fingers or a small spoon; transfer to a baking sheet.

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Bake until the peppers are hot and the cheese melts, about 10 minutes. Season with salt.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:

  • Ground turkey

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Food Network magazine

July 29, 2014

Turkey Sausage and Spinach Lasagna

by Shannon

I don’t know what has happened to me but I think I’ve turned into a little girl again getting all giddy every time Frozen comes on television. The past couple of weekends, I’ve been getting ready to cook some food and scroll through the tv stations for background noise only to find Frozen on one of the cable channels. When I see it’s on, I can’t help but turn it on. And yes, I sing at the top of my lungs. Frozen has become one of those movies I turn on whenever it’s on. I’m even pretty darn close to downloading it. I mean, I have a niece who turns six on Friday so I should at least download it so I have it available for her to watch when she visits, right? It only seems like the right thing to do. Anyway, one dish I made while belting out Let It Go was this Turkey Sausage and Spinach Lasagna.

Hot turkey sausage, fresh spinach, shallots and garlic are the basis of this lasagna which is layered with no-boil lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese, and a béchamel white sauce. Topped with mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, this tomato-less lasagna is creamy, a little spicy, and a lot flavorful. It makes six servings so this is a great meal for a family or easy to portion control for lunches or dinner leftovers. Maybe you won’t feel like making lasagna during the summer but after watching Frozen for the umpteenth time, I felt like having a warm meal. Do you want to build a snowman?

If you like this, check out Turkey Lasagna.

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Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, milk, stock, oil and bay leaf in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring with a whisk. Cook 8 minutes or until thick and bubbly, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in salt and pepper. Spread 1 cup milk mixture in bottom of an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

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Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons water and spinach to pan; cook 2 minutes or until spinach wilts. Drain spinach, pressing until barely moist. Increase heat to medium-high. Remove casings from sausage. Add sausage to pan; cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Remove sausage from pan. Add shallots and garlic to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in remaining milk mixture, spinach, and cooked sausage. Remove pan from heat.

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Arrange 2 noodles over milk mixture in baking dish; top with 1/2 cup ricotta and one-third spinach mixture. Repeat layers twice. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes. Remove foil.

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Preheat broiler to high. Broil 4 minutes or until cheese is golden brown.

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Let stand 10 minutes.

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Additions:  None

Omissions:  None

Substitutions:  None

Overall Rating: Love It

Source: Cooking Light magazine

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