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Minestrone Soup

16 Jun

Hello, friends! Is it finally summer where you are? We got a glimpse of it over the weekend, but now we’re back to temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s. I think the crazy temperature changes is what is making me feel awful– stuffy nose and a cough. Yuck. So I made some soup to make me feel better. It’s not really the time of year for soup, but sometimes you just have make it.
Minestrone is one of those great soups that is delicious, vegetarian and packed full of nutrition. I personally love the stuff and could eat the entire pot. Its warm, satisfying and one bowl will fill you up! I put dark kidney beans, garbanzo beans and whole wheat pasta for added protein and onions, celery, carrots, tomatoes and cabbage for vitamins and minerals. Overall, its a pretty healthy meal! If you don’t like certain vegetables in here, then you can omit them or substitute them for other ones. For example, if you don’t like cabbage then substitute it for zucchini. Zucchini is a pretty traditional ingredient for Minestrone–I didn’t have any on hand but feel free to add it in. Like lots of other dishes, the longer it cooks the better it tastes. I’d recommend lightly simmering this soup for as long as you can and then 10 minutes before serving, put in the pasta to cook OR just cook it separately and serve it along side. Top the whole dish with some parmesan cheese and crusty bread and thats dinner!

Minestrone Soup
yield: 6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, washed and chopped
4 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes (I use Knorr)
1-15 oz. can Dark Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained
1-15 oz. can Garbanzo Beans, rinsed and drained
1-15 oz. can tomato sauce
1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano or marjoram
lots of salt and pepper
1/2 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
1/4 lb. whole wheat pasta
parmesan cheese
1 loaf crusty good quality bread

In large pot, sauté onions, carrots and celery in butter and oil over medium heat for 7-10 minutes. Stir in water, bouillon, beans, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, spices and cabbage. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer at least 20 minutes. 10 minutes before serving, pour in pasta to cook or boil it separately. Serve with parmesan cheese and good quality crusty bread.


Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad

11 Jun
Originally, I was going to post a different recipe today but then I made this for dinner last night and changed my mind because it was too good not to share! Caesar Salad is my husband’s favorite salad and I figured as long as I kept the same flavors there, then the pasta salad version would be just as good, plus I wanted to make it more filling and more satisfying as a dinner. Well, everything came together perfectly and we both loved it. The flavor of everything in this complete meal was just awesome! The bacon really took it over the top for me and the extra squirts of lemon juice made the parsley and tomatoes pop as well as adding a little extra zing which I love. Final Results: I loved it and my husband loved it and we are glad there are plenty of leftovers in the fridge! (So excited for lunch!) 
This meal is pretty similar to a Chicken Caesar Salad, except it’s made with pasta and a lot less lettuce. I also added in tomatoes and parsley for extra nutrients and color. This pasta salad would be great without the chicken (if you want) and perfect for a potluck or BBQ. I took a few shortcuts by buying pre grated parmesan cheese and a roasted whole chicken because I was running out of time last night to get dinner on the table. You can roast or grill the chicken yourself to save yourself some money, but I have to say, I love those roasted chickens! They are so convenient! Also, you can also substitute all the pasta for a head of romaine lettuce and once everything is tossed, eat as is or get some tortillas and turn them into chicken caesar salad wraps! TO DIE FOR!  I made my own caesar dressing (recipe below), but you can use your favorite store bought one-just make sure to add in a little lemon juice because it makes a huge difference. AND, in the photo above, you can see that I toasted some french bread and spread it with garlic basil butter! Never done that before but oh my good gravy! So good. That recipe is below as well. Happy Weekend Friends!

Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad
yield: 6 servings
3/4 lb. pasta, cooked to al dente (I used farfalle)
2 tomatoes, chopped
8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped
2 cups cubed chicken-roasted or grilled
1 1/2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
3/4 cup good quality caesar dressing + a few squirts lemon juice (or recipe below)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
lemon wedges for an extra zing
Toss all ingredients together in large bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with lemon wedges. 
Recipe TIPS:
-If you are going to make this meal in advance, toss everything together leaving the lettuce out until you are ready to serve. The lettuce will wilt if you toss it with dressing!
Caesar Salad Dressing
3/4 cup good quality mayonnaise
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 lemon juiced
Whisk all ingredients together and toss with pasta salad or caesar salad. Store in refrigerator until ready to use.
Garlic Basil Butter
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
Mix all ingredients together and let sit 10-20 minutes before using. Spread on warm, freshly toasted french bread.

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

29 May

GUESS WHAT? I was bored with the old website, so I quickly put together a NEW AND IMPROVED site during my daughters nap time yesterday! I tried to make it more user friendly and more functional. I have a more obvious search bar and labels column to search through the site for effectively. Also, you still can become a follower and even see what I’m up to day to day on twitter! You can be as involved as you want. I appreciate every comment, every follower and every tweet! If you’re interested, you can check out the golokitchen store and see some kitchen items that I can’t live without! And with that, here’s what I have to say about today’s recipe!

Well, here’s another video for you guys, as per request! Please excuse the ‘um’s’! I was a little nervous (and I clearly hadn’t looked in the mirror before filming, but thats a whole other story…) Oh well! Its all about the food anyways, right? RIGHT?!?!

Anyways, I wanted to do a more summery recipe because its Memorial Day weekend and most of you will probably be outside grilling up your steaks and eating lots of fresh fruit…..
or something like that. As for me and my gang, we are still stuck inside because of this awful weather! Boo to the rain. Well, at least my garden seems to be thriving! I am pretty excited for all my tomatoes and peppers and green beans and everything else to grow and ripen so I can eat it all! But, don’t get me wrong- I’m still unimpressed with this weather. I’m supposed to run 12 miles tomorrow! TWELVE! Most likely in this cold rainy weather. I’ll let you know how that goes…..

So all that weather banter was supposed to lead me to why I made these sweet and sour meatballs tonight- they are stick to your ribs good eats and are ready to eat in 30 minutes or less! So easy a monkey could make ’em! I didn’t have breadcrumbs on hand so I did without, but I did write them into the recipe because I usually do add them in. The first time I made these for Gordon, we had already been married a year and a half. I don’t know why I didn’t ever make them before then….hmm….anyways in a nutshell he basically said ‘why have you neglected to make these for me until NOW?’ meaning: ‘these are so good how could you have forgotten about them?’ My response was: “I don’t know…I just did” (I was pregnant at the time and blame it on that–did you know that a woman’s brain SHRINKS in size 3-5% during pregnancy? I just read that today. Shocker!) I am all over the map tonight. Sorry folks. I digress.

Back to these cute little meatballs–they are so good! Like I said in the video, its the sauce that makes these little babies great. My mom used to make these in a crock pot and take them to parties as an appetizer! All you need are toothpicks! Also, she’s used this sauce to coat chicken wings in which is also equally delicious. Try it sometime! Just FYI, I’ve tweaked my mom’s recipe a touch to make it better according to my palate and I hope you all will do the same! If you don’t like something in a recipe, change it! Don’t be a wimp! Ok, after that pep talk, get ready for a fun few minutes of cooking in your kitchen! Hope you like video #2!

Sweet and Sour Meatballs
yield:15 small meatballs; enough for 2 or 3

for the meatballs-
1/2 lb. ground beef (80/20)
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
1/3-1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil

for the sauce-
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

In deep skillet, heat oil. In large bowl, mix together ingredients for meatballs. Scoop into small meat balls and roll in between palms to form. Fry little meatballs until browned. In bowl or measuring cup, mix together all ingredients for sweet and sour sauce. Pour sauce into hot pan to cover cooked meatballs. Cover and simmer on low heat for at least 15-20 minutes. Serve over hot with rice or cooked barley if you’re feeling extra healthy and adventurous. Barley has more fiber and protein and rice! Give it a whirl!

Garlic Bread & Spaghetti Pizza

20 May

Oh my good gravy I have created a big delicious monster of a meal for you today! I know what you’re thinking : “Really?! Spaghetti on a pizza?! Are you kidding me?” No, I am definitely not kidding you. I was thinking that we all love garlic bread with our spaghetti so why not just skip a middle step and combine the two?! I know that this is like carb city on a plate, but once in a while you’ve got to indulge. My little family has been sick and it was rainy outside so I wanted something deliciously warm and filling. Plus our bodies are currently fighting off some viruses so we need all the extra calories we can get…….at least thats what we tell ourselves………….anyways………….about this pizza……….
Its pizza dough covered in melted butter and garlic salt and then topped with a healthy mountain of tomato sauce covered spaghetti and lots of mozzarella for good measure! Are you salivating yet? You just think about the combination in your mouth for a second while I continue–
I made everything from scratch because I had the time but if you’re in a pinch, pick up some prepared dough from the market along with some Bolognese or marinara and some pre-shredded mozzarella. That will cut your prep work in half at least!
Also, as some of you may know, I really like to hide vegetables in my spaghetti sauce and drain my ground beef to decrease the fat and increase the nutrients. Spaghetti sauce is the best place to sneak in some grated carrot, zucchini or any other vegetables you happen to have in your fridge. I also like to use low sodium V8 in place of just plain tomato sauce to increase the servings of vegetables. I tell you, these little changes make the world of difference!
Oh, did I mention its a buttery garlicy bread like crust topped with spaghetti and cheese? This meal is as kid friendly as it gets! Pizza AND spaghetti in one! Incredible! And you don’t have to feel so bad about serving this to your kids either, especially if you were sneaky and added in some extra vegetables!
Anyways, this should definitely make your dinner menu in the near future because yes, it really is that good!
Love you all like carbs,
Garlic Bread & Spaghetti Pizza
1 lb. pizza dough (my recipe is found below)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tablespoon garlic salt
2 1/2 cups prepared marinara or bolgonese (make sure its a good one!)
1/2 lb. spaghetti or spaghettini, cooked to al dente
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
parsley for garnish
extra marinara for dipping those crusts
Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Spray pizza pan with non-stick cooking spray. Spread pizza dough out to be 16-18” across. Place on prepared pizza pan. Brush crust with half melted butter and all the garlic salt, concentrating on the edges. Bake crust for 8 minutes. Mix cooked spaghetti with 2 cups of prepared sauce. Once crust comes out of the oven, brush edges with remaining melted butter. Top with coated spaghetti and spoon on remaining 1/2 cup of sauce to keep pasta moist. Top with grated cheese and bake 2-3 minutes more until cheese has completely melted. Remove from oven and cool 5-10 minutes. Top with parsley if desired. Cut into pieces and enjoy!
Recipe TIPS:
-My pizza dough recipe is pretty easy! In large bowl, combine 1 cup hot water with 2 1/4 teaspoons quick rising yeast (1 packet) and 1 teaspoon sugar or honey. Proof yeast 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 1/2 teaspoons salt and 2 1/2-3 cups all purpose flour (start with 2 cups and work your way up). Knead dough 5 minutes. It should be slightly sticky and smooth. Coat in olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot in your kitchen and let dough rise 1-1 1/2 hours until doubled in size. Use as desired.

My FAVORITE Sandwich

16 May

So, here I am in my new apartment with some very unripe hard avocados and all I want to do is make (and eat) this sandwich. I was reminded of it as I was looking through some pictures from my guacamole post. I made this fabulous sandwich with some remaining guac and it was absolutely delicious. Basically, its a california club but better because its full of garlicy guacamole! That plus bacon, turkey, mayo and tomatoes and voila! Pure bliss in my mouth. I really really like food. I know its a problem…..and I know I say this about every recipe I make, BUT…..gomakethisrightnow!!!!!! You will thank me!

You’re welcome, America.( and Canada 🙂 )
My super awesome totally stellarly delicious California Club Sandwich
(sorry guys, not much of a recipe!)
2 pieces of good quality bread
bacon and lots of it
tomato slices
deli turkey slices
cheese is optional
Build a sandwich using the ingredients above. Easy, right pumpkin?!

Creamed Tomato Bisque

8 Apr

Ok, friends…..I don’t have a lot of time, but I needed to share with you a great recipe that I stole/borrowed from my Mom’s recipe box a few years back. I have no idea where she got it….all I know is that it is easy and GOO-OOD. So, if you are reading my humble blog and you realize that this is in fact your recipe, let me know and I will give you all the credit!

Anyways, I promise you will like this creamy dreamy tomato soup. Typically I don’t like tomato soup because its plain and boring. But THIS stuff……..oh my goodness gracious……this is anything but plain and boring. Its fabulous. I want to bathe in it thats how good it is. Seriously delicious. I’ve made this only a few times because it is pretty sinful and doesn’t get along too well with my online calorie counter, but its well worth it. Eat this with a little grilled cheese sandwich and you’re in heaven. You’re welcome in advance!
Creamed Tomato Bisque
yield: 4 big servings
1/4 lb. butter
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/3 cup flour
1-28 oz. can diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
4 cups chicken broth
In large pot, melt butter over medium low heat. Stir in celery, onion and carrot and sauté until veggies are soft, 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and stir until well incorporated. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and cover and simmer 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Puree soup with an immersion blender or a regular blender (but be really careful! Its HOT STUFF!) until smooth. Pour blended soup back into soup pot.
LAST STEP!!–Stir in 2 cups half & half with 1/2 teaspoon curry powder. DO NOT boil once this has been added! Serve hot!
Recipe TIPS:
You could use whole milk, but after the 1/4 lb. of butter, why would you choose the ‘lighter’ option?!

Chicken Paprikash

11 Mar

To me, this is heaven on a plate. Chicken Paprikash is a Hungarian dish that my mom made a lot when I was a kid. I am part Hungarian, part German and part Romanian, so we ate a lot of ethnic food in my house….probably because it was better for us and it was a heck of a lot cheaper than eating out! I come from a large family and we usually only ate out maybe twice a year if we were lucky. Let me tell you why this is amazing to me: we practically ate home cooked meals every day-meaning my Mom cooked dinner every evening! Nothing processed, nothing pre-done. Incredible! And she had 6 kids no less! I have 1 and its tough!

Anyways, this dish is like a Hungarian version of chicken cacciatore……sort of. Its a tangy tomato sauce with onions, peppers, mushrooms and chicken overtop rice, pasta or nookedly–small homemade dumplings. I used bone-in chicken thighs and removed the skin and any excess fat to make it a little more figure friendly. Thats how my mom did it, so thats how I do it. Thats probably the hardest and most time consuming part of the recipe…..and skinning chicken really isn’t difficult AT ALL. You’ll have to chop some veggies and do some stirring, but other then that its easy breezy! I like to use a pretty deep skillet (like this) but a pot will work well, too! Try something new and interesting today!
Chicken Paprikash
Yield: 4 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 1/2 tablespoons paprika (not smoked, not spicy…just the plain stuff)
1-1 1/2 lbs chicken thighs, skinned (4-6 pieces)
1-14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes (I used organic)
1/4 cup water
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh diced tomatoes (preferably sweet ones–I used cherry tomatoes)
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
lots of salt
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 cup sour cream (I used light)
1. In deep skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat. Add in onion and sautee 2 minutes.
2. Stir in paprika and cook 2 more minutes ensuring it doesn’t burn! Careful!
3. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken pieces into pan to brown each side (about 3 minutes per side)
4. Add in fresh and canned tomatoes, green peppers, salt and pepper. Lightly simmer (covered) over medium-low heat for 45 minutes to 1 hour stirring and turning chicken occasionally.
5. In the last 15 minutes of cooking add in mushrooms.
6. In small bowl, stir sour cream and flour together until smooth. In the last 5-10 minutes of cooking, remove chicken and stir in sour cream mixture to thicken sauce. Stir chicken back in to reheat. Once thoroughly heated through, serve hot over rice, pasta or nookedly.
Recipe TIPS
-Once you add your paprika into the cooking onions, watch it carefully! It can burn easily!
-If you don’t have canned tomatoes but you have fresh (or vice versa) you can easily substitute them for each other.
– This recipe needs lots of salt. Keep salting as you go, little by little. Before you serve it, do a taste test just to make sure its still good. After the sour cream is added, it tends to need a little more salt and pepper.