Try it, you might like it!

Archive for the category “Easy Meals”

Fall/Winter Sweet Potato, Kale & Quinoa

Once upon a time I bought kale to be healthy. Then I realized I found kale scary. So, I decided to pair it with delicious spicy sausage & cook it with beer to make it less scary. And this was a success, especially considering it only takes like 20 minutes to make.

What you need:

  • 1 or 2 sweet potatoes
  • Dark or pumpkin beer (I used a leftover post-halloween pumpkin beer, but I bet a gingerbread ale, any old porter or really any wintery ale would do)
  • Kale (mmm vitamin A and fiber)
  • Spicy (chicken, vegan, whatever ) sausage
  • Garlic & Onions (always)
  • Soy sauce, cayenne, nutmeg (all optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Quinoa
  • 3 tea bags (optional, but I did Orange Pekoe quinoa with this and it was tasty)


Step 1: Chop stuffs

Chop up your sausage into bite size pieces. After washing your knife& cutting board (gotta be careful about cross contamination!), dice ½ an onion, chop your (peeled) sweet potato into 1” chunks, and cut your washed kale into strips.

If you’ve made any type of greens before (like the lovely rainbow chard, or collards etc.) it’s pretty much the same deal. Except with kale the stem doesn’t continue through the leaf as much, so just snap off the stemy ends and slice up the leafy parts. An FYI, you will need a lot of greens for each serving (remember they cook down A LOT) so don’t be shy about the kale.

Step 2: Make quinoa

Here is where I followed a similar method to the ginger tea soba noodles and put on the water for the quinoa (follow instructions on the box, I always use to much water and mess it up so here is one place I condone measuring). Steep 3 tea bags in the hot (it doesn’t need to be fully boiling) water for 3 to 5 minutes before putting in the quinoa. Then cook quinoa as directed (I sound like an Rx commercial).

Step 3: Potatoes and Beer

Add in your sweet potato chunks to the pan with a touch of olive oil. Then immediately poor into the pan about 1/3 of a bottle (my math tells me this would be 4 ounces which is about ½ a cup).

Cover with a lid, stirring the potatoes around every couple minutes. If the beer evaporates completely from the pan but your potatoes aren’t softened yet (which is the sign they’re done), add a bit more, remember we’re being creative here!

The idea is that the flavors from the beer cook into the potatoes as it cooks down. When the potatoes are nearly tender enough that you’d like to eat one (about 7 or 8 minutes depending on the size of your potato chunks), move to the next step.

Step 4: Sauté sausage, onions & garlic

Throw the chopped up sausage, onions and a teaspoon (1 clove is enough) of minced garlic with another  dash of olive oil. Cook on medium heat until the onions soften. Most times the sausage is precooked so that matters a lot less. If yours isn’t, make sure that gets cooked all the way through. If it’s precooked this part really takes like 3 minutes.

Step 5: Kale

Now, on top of all the potatoes, sautéed onions and sausage, start to throw in the kale. You may need to do this in stages to get it all in the pan, and if it starts to stick at all, sprinkle just one more dash of olive oil in (it’s good for you, quit fretting about it).

When your kale is all wilted, you’re good to go. Remove from heat, and scrape the bottom as you toss everything around. You want that good flavor from the seared sausage and beer cooked sweet potatoes.

Step 6: Get it together

By now hopefully your quinoa is all cooked, so scoop that on a plate/in a bowl. Spoon on top some potato, sausage, kale, onion mixture. Here you can add a sprinkle of soy sauce if you want to add some salty Asian kick to the deal or a dash of cayenne or splash of nutmeg. It’s all optional.

Enjoy your healthy meal & hearty meal! This was a great dinner and great left over lunch, especially for the effort which is super low. For some reason I didn’t take a picture of it all together (SORRY!) but you get the idea. Try it, you really might like it. I know I was surprised it turned out so yummy.


BBQ Pulled Pork Dip

Ok ok, this is not AT ALL in line with my ‘let’s try new healthy things!’ adventure. But I had to make something for the debate party we were going to, and I’d just made some pulled pork (the boyfriend is always craving bbq pulled pork sandwiches, and I’m sick of going to BBQ restaurants weekly). So I thought… what can I make with BBQ pulled pork as an appetizer? And SHOCKINGLY the internet was not that helpful. There are a few dips out there, or sliders… but honestly, nothing that impressed me. So I made one up. And it was a huge hit! Good for tailgating, parties and all splurge eating events… 

Things you need:

  • pork roast (and crock pot to cook it in preferably)
  • sweet liquid of any kind for cooking pork
  • bbq sauce
  • onions
  • 3 jalapenos (optional, but recommended)
  • coleslaw (pre-made, or fixings for it)
  • shredded cheese (any kind really)
  • cream cheese
  • sour cream or plain greek yogurt
  • Something sturdy to dip with… we used fritos scoops to much success. (probably too dense for regular tortilla chips… maybe crackers though would work too)

Step 1: Make pulled pork. Get out that trusty crock pot again, and line the bottom with onions. Then lay a boneless pork roast on top of the onions (or not on top, not a huge deal really). If you’re feeling especially southern, pour a can of coke, or root beer or doctor pepper on top. If you’re not feeling that silly (or you’re anti-American), you can use any sweet liquid. I went with apple cider (and added a few apple slices for good measure), but you can also use 1/2 a cup of brown sugar or honey and water or broth… seriously, anything. Just make sure the liquid goes up at least half way up the roast.  Now turn on the crock pot to low and go to work, or go to bed. You can also put in some fresh black pepper and a little salt if you want… spices are always free form.

Step 2: Cook for 6-9 hours. (yup, that’s it)

Step 3: Remove the roast at the end of cooking and let it cool enough that you can shred it up. I use the 2 forks methods, or just my fingers. Whatever you prefer.

Step 4: Freeze about 1/2 of that shredded pork for later. You won’t need a whole pork roast for dip unless you have VERY hungry friends. Tear or chop up the remaining pork into smaller bits and poor on some bbq sauce (amount is up to you— we like it saucy)

Step 5: Alright, now it’s coleslaw time. You can use any coleslaw recipe you like. I usually a basic one like this one from Taste of Home and doctor it up. However, for this endeavor I was uncharacteristically lazy and bought the packaged Dole ‘coleslaw in a bag’ stuff and added some fresh cilantro and a little garlic salt. I know… I go against my own rules sometimes, but we were in a hurry. It did the job pretty well actually.

Step 6: In a bowl, blend together at least a block of cream cheese (more if you’re cream cheese obsessed like myself) and a few dollops of sour cream or greek yogurt. Feel free to heat this up a little if the cream cheese won’t stir. If you’re feeling sneaky, add some spices in here like celery salt, cayenne, minced onion etc. Totally optional and keeps it from being boring if you make it again.

Step 7: De-seed and dice up those jalapenos. Keep them small. Of course these are optional, but you don’t get too much kick really as they’re deseeded and you need a little bite to balance the sweet bbq sauce.

Step 8: FINALLY – layer! Set the oven to 400 or so. Then layer a 9×13 pan… Cream cheese blend on the bottom, then bbq pulled pork layer, then jalapenos, then shredded cheese (I used nearly 2 full cups… whoops). Ok, put this in the oven for like 15 minutes.

Step 9: Pull out the pan and let it sit for like 10 minutes. We just wanted to melt up the cheeses. Then layer the coleslaw on top. You can eat immediately, or over the next while at room temperature. You can’t reheat it with the coleslaw on there (gross), but it’s good at room temperature so no worries.

Enjoy with fritos or another dipping instrument, and let me know if you like it/what you’d adjust!

Also, what other uses do you have for left over BBQ  pork or chicken? Or perhaps a healthier version? Share in the comments!

Greens Make the Best Quick Meals

Over the weekend my friend Ami and I made our way out to Larriland Farm for their Pick Your Own style of fun. This time of year of course apples come to mind, and we did pick many of those… Matsus, and Braeburns, and Magnolia Golds and Ida Reds…. all yummy and good for eating or cooking/baking. I can even stack some of them in my window sill with joy 🙂

Anyway, the cool thing about this place was that not only did they have multiple varieties of apples and a pumpkin patch but they also have pick-your-own a lot of other things, like spinach and tomatoes and beets and swiss chard (next spring & summer I will be doing this drive a few times for really fresh pick-my-own veggies). So I decided to get some lovely rainbow chard. But then I had to figure out how to cook said chard. My friend Jessi gave me a recipe, but it would have meant I had to go to the store and buy fresh ginger which was too much work for me at that moment. SO… here’s what we threw together for dinner.

  • Herb and panko crusted chicken breast (split one between two of us)
  • Garlicy swiss chard with almonds and goat cheese crumbles
  • “Baked” potatoes in the microwave because it’s easy and we had some soon-to-be-trash-not-food potatoes

Ok, so chicken first because I don’t do anything special with that. I just washed and patted dry a chicken breast and then rubbed rosemary, thyme and paprika on it, and then pressed on some panko crumbs (we were out of eggs so no dip… ended up fine). I seared both sides in the cast iron and a little olive oil and some onion chunks, then put the lid on for 20 minutes – perfect. The panko crumbs got a tid bit burned, but so it goes. Still tasted yummy to us.

More interestingly and lovelier… swiss chard!

Step 1: First, chop up the chard (even the stems – they’re good too!)

Step 2: Throw the stemmier pieces in a skillet with a few teaspoons of oil (more than just to prevent sticking) and a some minced garlic (we use the jar kind that’s pre-minced and packed in oil, but if you’re a purist, 2 or 3 cloves through a garlic press). Let that all saute for a few minutes to soften up the stems a bit.

Step 3: Then add in the leafy bits. You may have to do this in stages, as greens take up a lot of space raw and wilt down to nearly nothing by the end. You can throw some onions in there too if you have some around/left over (as we always do). AND toss in some almonds. We just happened to have some raw almond slices from something I made awhile ago, and I figured they’d go well in here. They did.

Step 4: So let that cook down a little bit, push it around the pan, you know. It’s super easy. Seriously when people say ‘I can’t even cook spaghetti’  that means nothing. Pasta timing is WAY more complicated than making greens. See? So easy and steamy and pretty!

Step 5: Ok then when you have about 2 minutes until you want to eat and the chicken is done and the greens are wilty and bright green (like above) put the potatoes in the microwave. Small ones really only take 2 minutes (it’s like magic).

Step 6: AND PLATE! When plating the lovely swiss chard, sprinkle on a little black pepper, a tiny sprinkle of ground cayenne and crumble some goat cheese on top, not too much. This adds a kick and a little creamy bit in every bite and adds some depth to the garlicy greens flavor. I’m a HUGE goat cheese fan though, so if you’re not, well… you’re wrong and you should try it anyway.

Tada, 20 minute meal (give or take) and pretty darn good for you too. I took the leftover greens to lunch the next day with some rice and black beans and left over pico de gallo from the pumpkin chicken southwestern soup and it was divine too.

Enjoy – and let me know how you like to cook swiss chard (or any favorite green)!

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