Thursday, October 31, 2013

October with Ore-Ida

We love french fries in our house, but for whatever reason I rarely ever think about picking them up when I'm at the grocery store.  Maybe it's because unconsciously I know that if I buy them and bring them into the house, they will be eaten?  And really, looking at the nutritional information for the new Ore-Ida Olive Oil and Sea Salt Country Style French Fries (which we LOVED), they are not bad at all when it comes to calories, meaning I'm going to have to remember to buy these more often!

This month we were fortunate to work with Ore-Ida and so I gave their new Olive Oil and Sea Salt Country Style French Fries a try, pairing them with a roast and vegetables that I had thrown into the crock-pot earlier in the day.

All I can say is WOW!  They were so nice and crunchy, there was no 'frozen french fry' taste to them, and they were not overly salted (despite a review on the Ore-Ida website that says otherwise).  With a little of the homemade gravy poured over them, they were a wonderful accompaniment to our dinner and better yet, they took no time at all!

And then there are the holidays and the requisite Cheesy Hash Brown Potato Casserole.  This is something I make every Christmas, and usually only at Christmas because its so good and so rich that it's a treat for our family.  Well it wasn't Christmas, but this month I made a batch of the Cheesy Hash Brown Potato Casserole using Ore-Ida's hash brown potatoes and I paired it with a roasted lemon chicken and some fresh broccoli (which didn't make the picture below).

I made the recipe as is, except for substituting the corn flakes for the new Nabisco Premium Rosemary and Olive Oil Saltine Crackers (which btw, were yummy!).  You definitely need a crunch factor on the cheesy potatoes to offset the creamy and cheesiness of the dish, but oh they are so good!  

And for our last Ore-Ida dish this month, I paired it with Johnsonville Breakfast Sausage to make a quick and tasty Muffin Cup!  With a bottom crust of Ore-Ida Hash Browns, some cheese and some sausage that I had browned and sprinkled in each muffin tin, along with some eggs that had been beaten and poured over each cup and baked, this made for a quick breakfast.

I made about a dozen of these cups and what wasn't eaten for breakfast was easily stored in an airtight container and reheated in the microwave the next morning.

Definitely make sure you are using a non-stick muffin cups though!  I used some cooking spray thinking this would be enough to prevent the cups from sticking and I was dead wrong :(  They were more difficult to remove from the tins (and not nearly as pretty), but they were still yummy all the same.

These muffin cups are really versatile as well.  You can use up any leftover veggies you may have laying around in the refrigerator as well as any sort of cheese.  I used shredded cheddar in these, but I'm thinking the next time I make these I'm going to try shredded parmesan cheese and perhaps some spinach and artichoke hearts.

For more recipes like these, visit AllRecipes!!!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Italian Sausage

When I was growing up my mother would make spaghetti about once a week.  It was always a production, and not in a good way. Dad would never eat it, he didn't like noodles (why I'm not sure), and my younger brother (who always seemed to get his way) never wanted mushrooms in the sauce and I disliked onions.  Needless to say, when mom made sauce it contained no mushrooms and I would be left to pick out the onions while dad fired up a steak on the grill.  It's amazing what I remember of my childhood.  There are many memories of meal times in our house.  The cereal for dinner and making my brother laugh until he spewed cheerios all across the dinner table.  Dropping the hot pizza, right out of the oven, onto the floor, cheesy side down.  Whenever I think about them, they bring a smile to my face despite that my dad is no longer with us.

This leads me to tonight's dinner, Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Italian Sausage.  Like I said, the only pasta we ever ate growing up was spaghetti but despite my sheltered Italian food background, I've made up for it since!  I actually have my friend Angie to thank for introducing me to the world that is gnocchi.  I'd never tried it before and she let me sneak a fork full off of her plate and it was just so darn good!  We always have gnocchi in the house now, ready to drop at a moments notice.

Tonight, thanks to our awesome sponsor, Johnsonville we made a delicious dinner that took very little time to throw together, which is always a bonus in our house!  I browned Johnsonville's Sweet Italian Sausage, boiled a package of mini gnocchi and sauteed up some miscellaneous veggies I had in the fridge.  The recipe called for red peppers and snap peas but I used spinach, mushrooms and a handful of sun-dried tomatoes.  Tossed them with some store bought pesto and light cream, and combined everything for a really pretty (I love the colors once plated) dinner.

The only complaint I got from my teenage son was that there wasn't any left!  Thanks Johnsonville for the opportunity to try something new, your Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Italian Sausage was a hit!


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Johnsonville Italian Wedding Soup

Soup is a staple in our house, we could eat it all the time, as long as it's not from a can.  It's a great way to use leftovers (like the last little bit of various frozen veggies you may have in the freezer - that's our house), and it's pretty hard to screw up.

Italian Wedding Soup is one soup that I've never made before so I was excited to see a recipe for it from Johnsonville on AllRecipes.   I followed the recipe as directed, my only change was that I used ditalini instead of orzo since that was the only small pasta I had on hand.  I used Johnsonville's Pork and Chicken Mild Italian Sausage, which contains 50% less fat and just removed the casing to make the mini meatballs.  The meatballs turned out great, they were flavorful and held together really well in the soup.

The soup didn't call for any salt, but I felt like it really needed a little.  I'm guessing that because I used the Johnsonville 50% less fat sausage that the broth didn't turn out quite as seasoned as I would have liked.  And because I like lemon in pretty much everything, I added just a touch of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a little shredded parmesan which pushed this soup right over the top for me.  

It's been raining here in western Maryland for 6 days now.  It's grey and drizzling today (again), and its damp.  The perfect day for a warm bowl of Johnsonville's Italian Wedding Soup and a few slices of some warm buttered bread.  Hopefully, when I get home today there's a little soup left for me!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Good Ol' Sloppy Joes, it's what's for dinner!

I've never been a fan of the canned sloppy joe sauce. I don't like the metallic canned taste or the green and red peppers, and growing up my mom always made homemade sloppy joes, so canned sauce is out of the question in our house.

Recently at work, one of my foodie co-workers and my official taste-tester, Paula, said she was craving sloppy joe's. I had been thinking about them too, so I volunteered to make a batch and bring them in when we were scheduled to work next, just a few days later.  After we sorted out who was going to bring what for our 'unofficial' dinner, I headed to AllRecipes to look for a recipe that would work. 

I found a recipe that got a lot of 5-star reviews and rather than using peppers, it called for celery.  I used the basis of this recipe and made some slight changes to suit my tastes, and what I ended up with, was absolutely delicious!

 I took over four pounds of this with me to work, leaving it on warm in the crock-pot and everyone at work who ate it, raved about it.  I brought what was left over home, which wasn't much, and both the hubby and son asked me to make it again just a few days later.

It's slightly sweet while still being tomato based and the celery added a nice crunch component to the mixture, without adding any additional flavor.

This Sloppy Joe is definitely a keeper and will be making more appearances in our house in the next few weeks!  Another beef recipe, it's what's for dinner!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Goya - Three Bean Salad

So my 2nd Goya recipe this month was Goya's Three Bean Salad.  I wanted to make something that everyone in the house, including my son the vegetarian could eat, so this was on the menu today!

It was easy to put together, it took no time at all, and everyone in the house really enjoyed it. 

The only issue I had, if you can even call it that, was that I wasn't able to find the Goya Salad & Vegetable Seasoning at my local grocery store.  They had several varieties of these seasoning packets, so I tried the Cilantro & Tomato packets as a substitute, and it seemed to do the trick!

Goya's Three Bean Salad is definitely a keeper!  If  you are looking for a great summer side dish, give this one a shot, you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Goya Roast Adobo Pork Loin

I have to admit, I've never used any Goya products until today, and going forward I can't wait to try their other products!

This month we were lucky enough to have Goya as one of our sponsors.  We had a list of 21 different recipes to choose from, and our assignment this month, if we chose to accept it, was to make 3 different Goya dishes. 

I made my first recipe tonight, Goya's Roast Adobo Pork Loin and it was wonderful and so easy to prepare that it will be on the dinner rotation in our house again.  With some garlic, oven-roasted red potatoes (just picked up today from our local Mennonite farm) and some fresh bi-color sweet corn (off the cob), mixed with some butter, cayenne, cilantro and lime juice, we had a delicious and easy meal for dinner.

Our local grocery stores carry a lot of the Goya products, and again, I've never used them until today.  I can't wait to give some others a try and start experimenting! 

To find this recipe, or other Goya recipes, check out

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Beef. It's What's For Dinner

This month I was selected to participate in the "Beef.  It's What's For Dinner" program with Allrecipes. I was looking forward to this sponsor because we do cook beef at least once a week in our home, but it's usually the regular standby's, so I was eager to experiment with some new recipes.

During the week, our schedules are a bit erratic.  Between evening classes and work, and just life in general, it's not always possible for me to make an elaborate dinner for the family.  Because of that, I made the Grilled Steak and Fresh Mozzarella Flatbread for dinner last night, and we were not disappointed!

The steaks were perfectly seasoned with just a rub of lemon-pepper seasoning and then I seared them on both sides for about 2 minutes per side.  The steaks weren't overly thick, so it took no time at all to grill them to medium, with just a little pink in the middle.  The combination of the spinach, fresh mozzarella and balsamic vinegar added a nice sweetness to the flatbread while offsetting the rub on the steak.  The next time I make these (and there will be a next time), the only change I will make is that I'm going to grill the naan bread a bit longer to get it a bit crispier.

We've always heard that you should eat red meat in moderation but I was suprised to discover that all lean cuts of beef contain less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fats and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol for each 3 1/2 oz. cooked serving.  Did you know that some lean cuts of beef are as lean as a 3 oz. skinless chicken thigh?  

We eat a lot of chicken in our house but I'm going to try to incorporate some leaner cuts of beef into our meals.  Check out the Beef. It's Whats For Dinner website for more nutritional information.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Jell-O Patriotic Mini Fruit Tarts

Looking for a quick and easy summertime dessert that you can whip up in 20 minutes or less?  The Jell-O Patriotic Mini Fruit Tarts should be your go to recipe!  I cheated a little, (shhh don't tell).  Rather than use the refridgerated pie crust, I used mini phyllo cups that I found in the frozen dessert section of our local grocery store.  I liked the phyllo cups because it kept the dessert nice and light and they turned out as the perfect bite sized treat after dinner.

I used fresh fruit that I had here at home, which were kiwi and blackberries, but I also made some tarts with diced up fresh local peaches as well (not shown).  You can easily swap out most fresh fruit for this recipe as well, just use what you have on hand for a light sweet treat!