I grew up loving all the “meal helper” products that were first introduced in the 70’s. If you’re old enough to remember the introduction of Hamburger Helper, you may recall how ‘innovative’ it seemed back then. But after college when I was responsible for making my own meals, I realized that some of the “cheesy powders” and other pre-mixed ingredients probably weren’t the healthiest things to eat – especially because I couldn’t tell what was really in them.
But it wasn’t just the taste of Hamburger Helper that I loved, it was also the convenience of cooking everything in one skillet. After learning how to cook with whole or less-processed ingredients, I started to create my own homemade version of a “helper” dish which has become my go-to main dish to make any day of the week. It’s hearty, satisfying and filled with ingredients that everybody in the family loves – even my nieces and nephews!
I submitted this recipe in the Outlook.com Healthy Recipe Challengeearlier this fall and was excited when it was selected as one of the five finalists. While it didn’t win the recipe challenge (turkey nachos reigned supreme!), it is a recipe that is so versatile. I can make a large batch on Sunday and have enough for Sunday dinner and four more lunches/dinners throughout the week. It also freezes well for when you need to dive into the freezer to save dinner.
In a large skillet, begin to brown the ground turkey on medium-high. Pour in the broth and, using a cooking spoon or spatula, start to break up the meat. Add in the onion, basil and oregano. Stir regularly until the skillet starts to boil.
Then add in the edamame and brown rice. Stir until well mixed, making sure there is still enough broth to cover the ingredients. If necessary, turn down the heat to allow for the dish to simmer on the stove’s burner. Typically, it should take about 15 minutes or so for the rice and edamame to properly cook and absorb the broth. Stir regularly to ensure even cooking.
Watch the level of broth in the skillet. As soon as it almost disappears, remove the skillet from the burner and stir in the cream of mushroom soup until well blended.
For as much as I like to bake sweet treats, I often find the challenge of savory baked goods to be more rewarding. Perhaps it’s because when spices are on the center stage in a recipe there can be so many more possibilities to explore with a flavor profile.
When it comes to condiments or spices (and minerals in the case of salt!), I am a purist at heart. I don’t have ketchup in my home, and the only time I recall happily eating ketchup is on a Burger King Whopper. [The sugar in the ketchup is a nice balance to the pickle.] But in my pantry, you’ll easily find about five varieties of mustard and a number of different barbecue sauces. And – of course – freshly ground black pepper is a constant favorite as a cook and an eater!
I am a long-time fan of using sea salt and kosher salt in recipes, so when I heard about the SaltWorks Fall Recipe Contest I decided to give it a shot. I dusted off six years of recipes from the Baked Chicago blog and found a bacon popover recipe I created about one year ago in which black pepper was the lead ingredient. So I re-envisioned the recipe with smoked salt as the main ingredient to compliment the smokiness of the bacon. And as any good popover recipe does, it also has lots of butter. The result is this recipe for Bonfire® Bacon Popovers, which placed as a runner up in the SaltWorks recipe contest. The coolest thing about being a runner up is the prize: a bamboo salt sampler case filled with 24 artisan salts. I can’t wait to experiment with the Hiwa Kai – Hawaiian Black Lava Salt; maybe I’ll need to schedule a working vacay to Hawaii to do some “research.” That’s the ticket!
Preheat your oven to 425° F. Generously butter a popover pan (or standard muffin tin with 12 cups), and set aside.
Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan and let cool. Coarsely chop the bacon into small bacon bits and set aside.
Whisk together the flour, Bonfire® Extra Bold Smoked Sea Salt and black pepper in a medium bowl. In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together until well blended. Gently whisk in the flour mixture, followed by 3 tablespoons of melted butter. Gently fold in the crispy, chopped bacon. Do not overmix.
Pour batter into the prepared popover pan, filling about 3/4 full and dividing equally. Bake the popovers for 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. The popovers should be crispy around the edges. Using a spatula, remove popovers from the pan and serve immediately.
Preheat your oven to 350F degrees. Coat a 6-cup Bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray.
Combine flours, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Whisk to mix well. Combine butter and brown sugar in large bowl and beat at medium speed until mixed well. Beat in pumpkin and egg. Reduce to low speed and beat in flour mixture. Beat in buttermilk and 2 teaspoons vanilla, just until moistened. Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool the cake in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan and cool completely on wire rack.
Melt the bittersweet chocolate slowly in a microwave-safe bowl. Add the juice, a teaspoon at a time, while mixing well with a whisk. Drizzle over the cooled cake.
You might ask, “Why is there a cover of Louisiana Cookin’ magazine with the pop culture heroes from Duck Dynasty in this post?” Well, the latest issue of Louisiana Cookin’ features an exclusive Duck Dynasty down-home holiday menu with some of the favorite dishes of the Duck Dynasty family. And I have to admit I’m curious to try their recipes for Root Beer Red-Eye Gravy and a spicy Skillet Cornbread with bacon….but that’s not why I included the cover.
Sweet Potato-Bacon Biscuits Win Grand Prize
The reason I included the cover is that the very next featured spread in the November/December issue of Louisiana Cookin’ announces the winners of the 2013 Sweet Rewards Recipe Contest, sponsored by the Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission. I am excited to finally be able to share the (very surprising) news that my recipe for Sweet Potato-Bacon Biscuits won the grand prize! I was flabbergasted when I got the call, and humbly honored to receive this recognition. I had hoped that maybe the recipe could win ‘best in category’ for a side dish. I couldn’t even dream that it would be deemed good enough to win the grand prize.
Preheat your oven to 450F degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, brown sugar, salt, cream of tartar and cayenne pepper. Using a pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in Cheddar cheese and bacon. Make a well in the center of flour mixture.
In small bowl, whisk together milk and sweet potato. Add sweet potato mixture to flour mixture. Using a fork, stir just until combined. Turn dough out onto a well-floured surface. Knead gently 12 times. Roll dough to a 3/4-inch-thick rectangle. Cut into 8 rectangular pieces.
On the prepared baking sheet, place biscuits 1 inch apart. Bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Serve warm.
This recipe won grand prize in the 2013 Louisiana Sweet Potato Commission's Sweet Rewards Recipe Contest and appeared in the November/December 2013 issue of Louisiana Cookin' magazine.
This slow cooker lasagna recipe is perfect for large family gatherings or Super Bowl viewing parties. Recently I killed my Cuisinart slow cooker when I mistakenly turned on the HIGH setting with no food in it. Just as I was prepared to cook, I heard a big crack and the removable ceramic container split in half. I researched replacement containers but realized that my slow cooker (purchased in 1999 or 2000) was so old that you couldn’t get parts any more. So I upgraded to a digital Cuisinart slow cooker with built-in steamer and brown/saute functions.
I rarely make lasagna because it seems like a huge amount of work for one person – and then I have it for leftovers for weeks and get bored. But this slow cooker lasagna recipe intrigued me because it appeared to really simplify the cooking process. Overall, I was pleased with how it turned out – though I still had tons of leftovers. But this time, I put most of them in labeled freezer containers and stored in the deep freeze for the next time I get a craving.
Lightly coat the inside of a 4-quart (or larger) slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray. [I am also a fan of the new slow cooker liners, because they really save on clean up time.]
In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat until brown. Break up the meat as it cooks. Stir in the marinara sauce and diced tomatoes. Remove from heat.
Place about 1/2 cup of the meat / marinara mixture in the bottom of the slow cooker (this will allow the bottom layer of noodles to properly cook). Layer 4 of the noodles on top of the meat mixture. Top with 1/3 of the ricotta cheese, then 1/3 of the remaining meat / marinara mixture, and about 1/3 of the shredded cheese. That’s NOODLES – RICOTTA – MEAT/MARINARA – SHREDDED CHEESE. Repeat the layers two more times starting with the noodles.
Cover and cook on high-heat setting for up to 3 hours. Let stand, uncovered, for about 15 minutes before serving.
Serve individual portions sprinkled with fresh Parmesan or shredded Italian cheese bend. Freeze any slow cooker lasagna leftovers for up to 3 months in an airtight container.
additional shredded Italian or Parmesan cheese for garnish
Lightly coat the inside of a 4-quart (or larger) slow cooker with
non-stick cooking spray.
In a large skillet, cook the sausage over medium-high heat until brown. Break up the meat as it cooks. Stir in the marinara sauce and chopped Italian tomatoes. Remove from heat.
Place about 1/2 cup of the meat / marinara mixture in the bottom of the slow cooker (this will allow the bottom layer of noodles to properly cook).
Layer 4 of the noodles on top of the meat mixture. Top with 1/3 of the ricotta cheese, then 1/3 of the remaining meat / marinara mixture, and about 1/3 of the shredded cheese. That's noodles, ricotta, meat/marinara/shredded cheese.
Repeat the layers two more times starting with the noodles.
Cover and cook on high-heat setting for up to 3 hours.
Let stand, uncovered, for about 15 minutes before serving.
Serve individual portions sprinkled with fresh Parmesan or shredded Italian cheese blend. Freeze any slow cooker lasagna leftovers for up to 3 months in an airtight container.
As a kid growing up in the 70’s, I remember begging my mom to make Jello® pudding…all the time. We were more likely to have Jello® gelatin (pudding’s less attractive sibling) for dessert, but that didn’t stop me from asking for butterscotch pudding (my favorite flavor then). Now as a grown up, I can have pudding whenever I want. That’s one of the rights given to Americans in the constitution, right!?! Be prepared, because when you make this warm brownie pudding cups recipe for family or friends, they’re going to start begging you to make it again and again. And how can you blame them?
[March 16, 2013 Update: This recipe was recognized as the winner of the Editor’s Choice Award in SplashPad Mobile’s 2013 “Stick a fork in it” recipe contest. Thank you, judges!]
Preheat your oven to 350° F. Spray five 8-ounce ramekins with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Place a large baking pan half full of water in the oven to get warm.
In a medium heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stir the semisweet chocolate and butter until almost melted and smooth. Remove from heat and let cool, stirring occasionally.
In a medium bowl, sift together twice the flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.
In a separate medium bowl, beat the eggs and vanilla until light and foamy. Add in sugar and beat until fluffy. Stir in the chocolate mixture, and then fold in dry ingredients.
Pour the batter evenly among the prepared ramekins, filling each nearly to the rim. Place the ramekins in the baking pan. The water should come halfway up the sides of ramekins.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the brownie pudding cups have risen to just above the rim and the tops are cracked. They should be firm to the touch. Let them cool for 5 minutes, and then dust with confectioners’ sugar. Serve the brownie pudding cups warm.