Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Farmer Direct Co-op, however all opinions, content and enthusiasm are my own.
Spiralizing zucchini is trend that will never grow old, but every now and then I like to turn the tide and unleash deliciously stuffed zucchini boats for dinner. I’m not talking about the old-school stuffed squash my mama used to make with our backyard garden bumper crop, it might have been a bit mushy, bland, and hard to swallow (sorry mom). Instead, my recipe for Carnitas & Street Corn Stuffed Zucchini Boats with “Ole Frijoles” Pinto Bean Sauce is totally crave-worthy and turns supper-time with spicy south-of-the-border fiesta.
With pre-shredded pork roast and pinto beans cooked overnight, this family favorite recipe can be made in just 30 minutes – making it perfect for a busy weeknight meal. It can also be prepped the night before and popped in the oven 20 minutes before dinner. I’ve used pinto beans from Farmer Direct Co-op and, at the end of this post, you can grab the zucchini recipe and also enter to win a giveaway prize pack that includes an assortment of their top-selling organic, non-GMO and fair-trade products packaged in 1lb. bags.
Who doesn’t love a chicken tender?! I used to pretend I was making them “for the kids” all while plotting how delicious they were going to be on my salad or dipped into something fabulous. But, chicken tenders, fingers, nuggets or whatever ya want to call them are usually over-breaded and fried in yucky fats when eaten out — and not much better for you when baked from those bags from the freezer section.
My recipe for Baked Turmeric Almond Chicken Tenders uses fresh chicken breast coated in almond meal for satisfying crunch! The golden color comes from turmeric, a spice beloved not just for it’s hue but also amazing health benefits — I’ve blogged about that a million times. By using almond meal (along with coconut flour for the pre-egg dusting), I’ve kept this recipe gluten-free and paleo-friendly! Read on to get the recipe! Continue reading →
The care and feeding of house guests over the holidays can be stressful. As a clutter bug and mama of three messy boys, I can almost guarantee that you’ll never see the disaster that lies outside the frames of my blog and Instagram photos. But my in-person family and friends will, err, notice, so I’ll usually cancel a run or trip to the gym to get the house tidy — and that can feel like quite a workout in itself! And, while I love to cook, I’m used to feeding 4 or 5 at a time– not 15 people plus! Cooking bacon or sausage for an army in the morning is one of my pet peeves. It’s messy, time-consuming and I’m usually stuck in the kitchen and missing out on all the Christmas morning fun around the tree! To solve this breakfast prep problem, I came up with Sheet Pan Maple Beef Sausage – I was super excited to share it with my breakfast-obsessed friends at BeefLovingTexan.com It’s basically one HUGE sausage patty cooked all at once in the oven – no flipping, splattering or batch cooking. Plus, my always-starving teen boys and teen nephews can’t come by to “sample” it all away before serving time! When ready to serve, simply slice into bars or wedges, it couldn’t be any easier!
Everyone who eats my sheet pan sausage always raves and mentions how much better homemade sausage tastes – they are always pleasantly surprise to discover it’s made with lean beef – not fattier pork. The secret to making lean ground beef taste like breakfast sausage is all in the spices and flavorings. This beef sausage uses ingredients like paprika, cayenne and real maple syrup for a mildly spicy-sweet flavor.
So, should you feel guilty about indulging in this sausage for a holiday brunch or even “brinner”? NO! There are 24 servings per batch, with each piece containing approximately 100 calories and 12 grams of protein. In addition to protein, lean beef is also a great source of iron, zinc and other essential nutrients. For optimal protein intake (25 – 30 grams per meal) have a couple slices, or pair a slice with an egg scramble.
Prefer a breakfast sandwich? After sausage is cooked, use a biscuit cutter to make a round shape and use a halved buttermilk biscuit to bookend! The leftover bits from cutting circles can be crumbled up to use in soups, quesadillas, salads and more.
Do you have a traditional dish for breakfast or brunch? Are you a sausage or bacon person? Are you tidy or messy, a hoarder or minimalist when it comes to keeping house? Please share in the comments – XOXO, Jennifer
Sheet Pan Maple Beef Sausage
Feed your hungry holiday crowd a special breakfast or brunch -- this easy beef sausage bakes in the oven and is low mess, low stress and very delicious!
Place ground beef in large bowl and gently work in syrup with hands. In small bowl, toss together onion, garlic, sage, thyme, syrup, brown sugar, paprika, allspice, cayenne, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over beef and work spices in with hands, taking care not to over handle beef (creates toughness).
Line rimmed baking sheet (approx. size 13” x 18”) with foil and gently press in meat mixture to reach corner to corner, maintaining an even thickness.
Place pan on center rack of oven and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160F degrees with instant-read meat thermometer.
Carefully remove pan and drain off any excess liquid. Let rest for 5 minutes.
For wedges, cut into 12 equal-sized rectangles (3 columns, 4 rows) and then cut each rectangle on the diagonal. Or, use biscuit cutter to make rounds and then crumble up remnants for use later.or wedges, cut into 12 equal-sized rectangles (3 columns, 4 rows) and then cut each rectangle on the diagonal. Or, use biscuit cutter to make rounds and then crumble up remnants for use later.
Brighten up any winter snack situation with these Vibrant Greek Yogurt Dips colorized with some of Mother Nature’s most vivid ingredients including beet powder, turmeric powder and matcha tea. No need to go all fake and freaky to create edible rainbow colors for your holiday appetizers and other fun recipes throughout the year. These natural ingredients are superfoods (typically found on the health food, spice and tea aisles) and not only pump up the pigment, but boost nutrition as well!
While there are lots of additional benefits, beet root powder boosts nitric oxide in your blood (helping circulation, blood pressure and stamina), ground turmeric is a spice that can help to reduce inflammation and lessen the perception of pain, and matcha tea is known to boost the metabolism, calm the mind and help protect against certain cancers.
The other beauty of these three Vibrant Greek Yogurt Dips is how easy they are to make – I originally created the recipes for Litehouse Foods using first their Homestyle Ranch Dip, then later the OPAdipity Greek Yogurt Dips and finally with Greek yogurt from scratch. Using prepared dips (found in the refrigerated section of your produce department) is an “almost homemade” shortcut perfect when you need to pull together a party ASAP or at the 11th hour realize you didn’t bring a dish for the office shindig. I feel more than comfortable using the Litehouse Foods brand because they are VERY mindful to keep their products as fresh and preservative as possible.
But, knowing these dips aren’t easy for some of you to find (and that many prefer scratch recipes), I’ve written out the full preparation of the recipes (and then noted how to swap in the prepared dressings if that’s the route you choose). The base recipe is the same for all three dips, simply mix in 2 tablespoons of the chosen “superfood” ingredient and add extra garnish on top as desired!
These dips also take sandwiches, wraps, side dishes and steamed veggies to the next level with just a drizzle or dollop! Enjoy and Happy Holidays to Hue!
If you need a visual on the beet powder, ground turmeric and matcha — here are the products I used:
Beet, Turmeric & Matcha Greek Yogurt dips
The base recipe is the same for all three dips, simply mix in 2 tablespoons of the chosen "superfood" ingredient and add extra garnish on top as desired!
White bread ain’t got nothing, not one single thing on my Nutty Purple Sweet Potato Flatbread. That is, unless you actually like gummy simple carbs and are willing to put your bod through the resulting blood sugar surge/crash and gathering of gluten all from eating one puny slice.
This kinda weird, but decidedly delicious flatbread has none of that nonsense. Featuring Stokes Purple®, a special type of California-grown, non-GMO sweet potato with purple skin and vibrant purple flesh that get even brighter when cooked, this bread alternative is nothing to “loaf” about – flat is where it’s at! #PurplePowerToThePeople
The texture of a Stokes Purple® is a little drier and denser than a traditional sweet potato, rendering it perfect for a substitute flour filler in my grain-free, gluten-free flatbread recipe. Purple sweet potatoes offer similar nutritional benefits of regular orange sweet potatoes in the fact that they are both healthy source of complex carbs with a low GI impact, are full of dietary fiber and many essential vitamins and minerals. The Stokes Purple® also has anthocyanins, a plant flavonoid that not only gives the potatoes their distinctive purple hue, but also have been linked to a host of health benefits including reductions in certain cancers, lowering of bad cholesterol, improvements in vision, liver and heart health, and have also been linked to boosts in cognition.
So back to the sweet potato flatbread details, the recipe also features almond meal, and coarsely chopped pumpkin and sunflower seeds. There are a couple eggs in the recipe, but otherwise it’s dairy-free and suitable for a vegetarian or gluten-free diet. If you have an allergy to nuts, sub out the almond meal for an equivalent amount of oat-flour to keep it nut-free.
Eat this gluten-free flatbread warm out of the oven, spread with a little honey butter – it’s like eating a sweet potato in portable, easy-to-pick-up format. But, a little more interesting and flavorful than that “sweet potato toast” trend on Pinterest. You can also use two slices to bookend your favorite sandwich fillings – since I made these right after the holidays, my gluten-free sandwich is layered with leftovers including turkey, cranberry relish and spinach!
Heat oven to 400F degrees.
In small food processor, coarsely chop sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Add to small bowl, along with other dry ingredients including almond flour, salt, pepper, chili powder and garlic powder.
In small blender, add milk, eggs and 1 cup of pre-cooked sweet potato mash and process until smooth. Stir in remaining cooked sweet potatoes with spatula, adding a splash more milk if needed, but consistency should remain fairly thick.
Scrape this wet mixture into bowl with dry ingredients and mix with spatula until well combined.
Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and spread batter from end to end, corner to corner, keeping even thickness. Sprinkle with additional pumpkin and sunflower seeds, if desired.
Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until edges and top are turning lightly golden brown. Remove from oven to cool on wire rack.
Cut into pieces and serve warm or at room temperature. Save leftovers in zip-top bag in refrigerator – reheat in microwave or toaster oven before serving.
Well, first of all, happy Mardi Gras – Laissez les bons temps rouler! This day of eating, drinking and overindulging that can take quite a toll so, I’m sharing a healthy salad to help keep you fit and fierce for Fat Tuesday . . . or get you back on track later in the week!
You’re going to love my Spicy Creole Shrimp Salad with French Quarter Croutons, it’s like a healthier version of a Po’ Boy sandwich that exploded with loads of lettuces and farm-fresh veggies. Instead of getting fried in oh-my-gawd grease, the succulent shrimp in this quick and easy recipe get a toss in Creole Seasoning before being lightly sautéed in heart-healthy olive oil.
Forget about bland Creole seasoning from grocery store spice aisle, kick up the taste and cut down on costs by making a big batch at home – in addition, making it from scratch lets you say au revoir to weird chemicals and preservatives and control the amount of heat. Often referred to as Cajun spice, this blend of peppers, paprika, thyme, oregano, garlic and onion powders creates the base of bold flavor on practically everything in my shrimp recipe – BAM!
I also use Instantly Fresh Herbs in my Creole Spice Mix, a generous recipe that makes plenty for the salad, dressing and croutons – store leftovers in an airtight jar for up to a year. Use this Creole Spice Mix in soups and gumbos, rub into catfish and tuna, mix into meatballs, and even sprinkle on grilled fruit – this Cajun food seasoning is crazy-good!
The dressing isn’t loaded in fat either; I used the deliciously creamy Greek yogurt-based Ranch and jazzed it up a bit with Creole spices.
To make Creole Spice Mix, place ingredients in small jar with lid. Stir or shake to combine. May be stored in pantry out of direct sunlight for up to one year. Makes approximately ½ cup.
To make shrimp, heat olive oil and Worcestershire sauce in large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat thawed shrimp dry and toss with Creole Spice Mix. Place in hot skillet and sauté for approximately 2 minutes, or until heated through (take care not to over-heat since shrimp are precooked). Remove shrimp from heat to a plate while finishing remainder of dish.
To prepare salad, top lettuce with cabbage, radish and tomatoes on a large platter or individual bowls. For dressing stir, Creole Spice Mix in dressing until incorporated – use more or less depending on preference for spiciness.
For croutons, slice 8-inch length of baguette in half lengthwise. Next, slice each half in half at a long diagonal; place on baking sheet. Brush cut side of bread with olive oil and sprinkle with cheese and Creole Spice Mix. Set under broiler for 60 seconds (keep a vigilant eye) or until top beginning to bubble and brown.
To serve, place shrimp on prepared salad and add one big crouton per person; pass with dressing.
I enjoyed a one-of-a-kind, sorta-strange experience as only Austin can host at the Taco Takedown that was held this past weekend near the be-hip-or-go-home scene at SXSW (South by Southwest). I’ve been in quite a few cook-offs including the iconic Pillsbury Bake Off in Vegas with $1 Million prize (obviously I didn’t win), the Crisco Cook Off in Nashville as part of the Country Music Festival, and even many times in my home-town Hatch Green Chile Cook Off where I hold bragging rights as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winner.
The right to battle it off as a finalist in most of these showdowns required each recipe to make it through some sort of qualifying round, being made and examined in a test kitchen by professional chefs and pre-judged on factors like presentation, fit within a certain category, creativity, convenience, taste and so on. Typically, pages of rules, do’s and don’ts, and lists of disqualifications were also involved. However, not at the Taco Takedown – basically all the info I was given was just show up with your best taco. So, of course I started over analyzing and guessing at the non-existent details. And, in the end I decided to fly by the seat of my pants. I wondered what kind of taco would win – surely in Austin, a freaky taco would beat a traditional taco any day.
My Beefy Man Hunk Taco Model
That’s why I wrapped all my loves, as strange as the combo might sound, in one tortilla – viola, a Beef Brisket Taco with Spicy Watermelon BBQ Sauce (and Pickled Rind Relish) recipe was born. Well, I guessed wrong because a Crispy Chicken with Avocado Taco dished up by Evin at Food Good, Laundry Bad took top honors. As partial as I was to my wacky yet wonderful watermelon beef taco, I have to admit, the winner was really, super-ultra-deluxe good – and it was fried, how could I compete with that?! But, I got to go home with the beefy man-hunk taco model — so, really, I was the WINNER!
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of meaty beef, and summer-sweet watermelon and a surprise of spiciness, these are a few of my favorite things (is there a song here . . )? I knew these flavors would mingle together for a memorable taco –as they did. I didn’t want to smoke the brisket, so I had four massive slow-cookers breaking down the beef into the perfect tenderness for fork shredding. But, holy-moly, it took a long time to shred 27 pounds of brisket! The BBQ sauce was a not-too-vinegary, not-to-tomatoey sauce sweetened with watermelon just and spiced up with Sriracha. Probably the most unique thing going on was the pickled watermelon rind that was diced up in the salsa. A true southerner uses ALL parts of the watermelon. And, of course, I topped it all off with some salty, crumbly queso fresco cheese.
Use this Spicy Watermelon Barbecue Sauce on beef — but also on chicken, baked beans, fish, sausage, pork and more. I’ve also used it as a salad dressing!
Because you’re probably not cooking for a 250 person crowd, I’ve scaled down the recipe for you to feed about 8 and maybe some leftovers!
Add ingredients for brisket into 6 - 8 quart capacity slow cooker. Cook on low setting for 10 hours. Remove brisket from cooking juices and strain out onions and peppers. Chop of onions and peppers, set aside. Cut excess fat of brisket and use fork or fingers to shred beef. Stir back in onions and peppers.
For Spicy Watermelon BBQ Sauce:
Prepare BBQ sauce by adding all ingredients together in medium sauce pan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat and reduce to low. Simmer for 20 minutes. Pour desired amount over beef, remainder may be stored in the refrigerator for a week. Makes about 2 cups.
For Picked Rind Relish:
To make relish, toss together all ingredients in medium bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.
To serve, place sauced, shredded brisket in tortilla. Top with relish and queso fresco.
It’s Waffle Wednesday — I just couldn’t wait for our weekend brunch. You’re not going to believe how crusty, crunch and crave-worthy these Green Chile Cornbread Waffles are. The cornmeal and cheese creates an extra crispy outer texture, yet they are still delicate and tender inside. The green chiles add a mild twang, yet not too spicy for the kids. I’d be very happy eating these waffles alone – but when I tried a drizzle of honey on top, the sweet-savory combo was a must-do-this again experience.
Of course, you can top these Green Chile Cornbread Waffles with anything that you like! For my friends at the Texas Beef Council, I created a southwestern-inspired sloppy job topping – ooh boy, with crispy nooks and crannies, these waffles become the perfect vehicle for delivering a hearty meal with out sogginess. Check out the full recipe here —- > BeefLovingTexans.com.
An egg, anyway you’d like, also makes the perfect topping along with a little salsa! These savory waffles heat up really nicely in the toaster and you can make a big batch to stash in the freezer. Enjoy!
Note: I use fire-roasted Hatch green chiles that I stock up when in season (August) and store in my freezer. I also use the Hatch Green Chile Store as a shopping resource to satisfy my love for these amazing peppers. In a pinch, canned diced green chiles will also work . . . or even jalapenos if you’d like a little more heat.