February 2012 Potluck - "Man"luck

>> Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Our theme this was month was the "man"luck - meaning we didn't care what you brought but the guy had to do the cooking!  I expected loads of meat, so I was very pleasantly surprised with the assortment of offerings that the guys whipped up.  I'm pretty sure that this theme will become an annual tradition!

 Cory's Beef Kebabs

Clint's Pico de Gallo 

Casey's Grandmother's Potato Salad 

 Stacy's Sesame Orange Kale Salad

Taylor's Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips 

 Craig's Mac and Cheese

 Cameron's Feast of Grilled Meats - Chicken, Ribs, Bacon Wrapped Venison and Bacon Wrapped Shrimp

 Clint's Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey's Buttercream Icing - this month's winning dish!

Andrew's Chocolate Pretzel Ice Cream (add about 1 c broken pretzel pieces in the last 5 minutes)

And now from the food and onto the peeps!
 Jennie, Taylor and Amanda chatting it up

 Andrew, Cory and Clint having some guy talk

 Erin, Candace, Robyn and Meagan trying to make it look like we're just there to pose for a picture but really we were there to chow down on the chips and salsa

 Lora and Jenni

 Craigles and Clinty

 Jennie and Robyn

 Candace, Erin and Lora

 The dudes hanging out by the grill (I have no idea why my husband is making that face)

 The chef with his grilled feast o' meats!

 Ah, showing some bro love!

 Erin chowing down on some of the badass ribs

 Candace was trying to look good while eating ribs

 Whoa, hold the presses!  LB is eating meat off a bone!!!

 The birthday boy

 The birthday girl

 Robyn and C-Ray

Time to choose the games for the evening's entertainment

 Isn't my husband cute!

 Cameron, Clint, Jennie, Stacy and Amanda - AKA Team Chairs (plus Meagan and Taylor)

Craig took his job of buzzing very seriously!

 Casey's turn

Craig, Candace, Cory, Robyn (AKA Team Couch - plus Erin, Andrew, Lora and Casey)

Clint's Pico de Gallo
3 cans Rotel (your preference)
1/2 - 3/4 cup cilantro
1/3 cup onion
2 T garlic, minced
1/8 t red pepper flakes
3 dashes chili powder
generous 1/4 t cumin
1/2 t salt
1/2 T lime juice (I used one whole lime)
1/8 t Tabasco sauce (more if you want some heat)
splash of white wine vinegar

Put all ingredients in blender and blend on low (time will depend on desired consistency).

If you like it hotter, add a jalapeno or serrano pepper

Casey's Grandmother's Potato Salad
- red new potatoes (leave skin on)
- cover with cold water and bring to a boil; boil at medium heat until potatoes are easy to cut with a knife (about 30 minutes)
- drain and cool to room temperature
- add cut celery
- add 1/2-1 sweet onion, chopped
- add Hellman's mayo (the real, original formula - not "lite" or some "salad dressing") one tablespoon at a time
- add following items and gently mix: green olives with pimentos; hard boiled eggs; salt; pepper; paprika

Stacy's Orange Sesame Kale Salad
Wash one bunch of kale and strip leaves off of stems.  Dry and cut into bite-size pieces.
Whisk together:
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 T sugar
2 T soy sauce or Tamari
1 T sesame oil
Pour dressing over kale and toss in:
2 T toasted almonds
1/4 cup pepitas
1/2 apple, diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
crystallized ginger, optional

Taylor's Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Parsnips
4-5 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into strips
2-3 parsnips, peeled and cut into strips

Coat veggies in olive oil, sea salt, pepper and Tony Chacere's seasoning.
Bake in oven at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes.  Five minutes before they're done, squeeze fresh lime juice and drizzle agave maple syrup on top.  Bake 5 more minutes.  Remove from oven, cool slightly and drizzle a bit more maple agave to sweeten.

Cameron's Feast of Grilled Meats
for the shrimp:
buy only gulf shrimp (farm raised taste different)
peel and devein shrimp
place shrimp in bowl with hickory flavored BBQ sauce
wrap in bacon, optional
grill until firm (for more flavor, grill over mesquite)

for the venison:
slice venison backstrap into 1/2-inch thick pieces (cutting against the grain)
place in bowl and add moderate amount of your choice of seasoning (salt, pepper, season all or Tony Chacere's)
wrap in bacon
grill until medium-rare to medium (for more flavor, grill over mesquite)


Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Not too long ago, I read that brussels sprouts were the most hated vegetable, but I swear, if you follow this recipe, they may just become your favorite!  These were so delicious that I opted to have another helping of them instead of eating dessert.  That says a whole heck of a lot!  The recipe says that it feeds four as a side dish...but last night it only fed two since Andrew and I just kept nibbling on them. You should have seen the horrified look on Andrew's face when he realized that I had finished them all off.  You'll just have to trust me, but I have never seen him look so upset over a vegetable.  And I can't remember ever being so excited over a vegetable!

The rather mellow flavored brussels sprouts are crisp-tender and meld perfectly with the sweet brown sugar and the crunchy toasted nuts.  I didn't make any major changes to the recipe and it was a perfect, and healthy, side dish that I will add into my regular rotation.  Although, I do think adding a little bacon or pancetta might be nice too...

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
recipe from Eat, Live, Run

12-14 brussels sprouts
1 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 pinches of kosher salt
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

Slice each brussels sprouts into thin ribbons.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and saute garlic for about 30-45 seconds, or until it becomes fragrant.  Add the brussels sprouts and continue sauteing them for another 5 or so minutes, until bright green and crisp-tender.  Add salt and brown sugar and stir to combine.  Finish by sprinkling the nuts over top.  Give it all a good stir and it's ready to serve.


Freezer Friendly Breakfast Tacos

>> Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Since so many things have dairy in them, it's a lot harder to eat on the fly.  As a result, I've started making more quick-fix meals ahead of time and freezing them to have on hand when we need a fast meal.  This breakfast taco recipe is fabulous and flavorful!  The recipe takes about 30-45 minutes to make, but you get 20 tacos out of it and have all the breakfast cooking finished for the week.   I also love that Finley will get some vegetables in before lunchtime.  For all the cheese-lovers out there, feel free to sprinkle on some cheese; however, these tacos are so tasty that you really won't miss the cheese at all!

Dairy-Free Freezer Friendly Breakfast Tacos
adapted from Hot Coupon World

2 tablespoons vegan butter (or regular butter)
1/2 lb bacon, cut into small pieces
1 lb breakfast sausage
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 lb frozen hash brown potatoes
12 eggs
salt and pepper, to taste
20 flour tortillas
plastic wrap or aluminum foil

In a large (I used my 14-inch skillet) over medium heat, melt butter.  Add in bacon and cook for a few minutes, or until bacon is starting to crisp up.  Add sausage, onion, bell pepper, and potatoes.  Cook, stirring often, until sausage is browned and veggies are tender.

Crack eggs into a bowl and scramble with a fork.  Pour eggs into skillet with meats and veggies.  Stir often and cook until eggs are set.  Remove pan from heat and let cool.

Spread tortillas out on work surface.  Top each tortilla with a generous spoonful of egg mixture.  Roll tortilla up and wrap individually in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.  Place tacos in large ziplock bags in the freezer.

To reheat, unwrap tacos and place seam side down on paper towel.  Microwave for 1 minute, turn over and microwave an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until heated through.


Weekly Meal Plan and an Update

>> Monday, February 27, 2012

If you read this blog with any regularity, you've probably noticed that my daughter, Finley, is sick a lot.  Usually it's a cold that leads to ear infections.  Big boo!  At the end of December, we had an appointment with her ENT doctor and it was recommended that Finley have another set of ear tubes.  Well I happened to mention Fin's nearly constant ear infections on Facebook and one of my sorority sisters mentioned that Finley could have a dairy allergy.  Say, what?  I did a little research online and found that Finley had almost every single respiratory symptom listed!  We took Finley off dairy the very next day and she has become a whole new kid!  Her nose stopped running (seriously, I have not wiped her nose in 10 days!!!) for the first time ever, she's stopped sneezing and coughing, she's sleeping longer, and she's eating more.  

The past two weeks have been eye-opening for me.  I had no idea that dairy products were in so many things that I use everyday.  Syrup, pancake mix, cake mixes, nonstick spray, goldfish crackers, most store-bought breads, many jarred spaghetti sauces, etc.  My grocery store trips take almost twice as long because I have to read the labels on every single item I put in my cart.  But it's all a small price to pay to have a healthy child!  Finley is going to have allergy testing conducted this week to confirm that she has a dairy allergy and to see if she's allergic to anything else.

So...that means that the focus of this cooking blog will be shifting a little (or a lot!) - away from butter, cream, milk, cheese and most pre-made ingredients, and towards all things dairy-free.  Of course, I'll still post a recipe every now and then that has some dairy in it.

Here is this week's menu:

Wonton Soup with Mushrooms and Bok Choy; Egg Rolls

Spinach Stuffed Shells; Roasted Broccoli


Chicken Gnocchi Soup

>> Friday, February 17, 2012

I found this recipe via Pinterest (no surprise there!) and I thought it looked like a great, almost Italian alternative to the traditional chicken noodle soup.  I am so glad we tried it because it was a big winner!  As soon as we sat down to eat, the talking completely ceased because we were too busy shoveling this soup into our mouths as quickly as possible.  Even sweet two year old Finley loved it and commented how "yummy" it was.  After dinner, Andrew suggested that we should bring the leftovers to friends who had a new baby last week.  I have to be honest though, I really don't want to give the leftovers to someone because I want to eat them all!

The broth has a great flavor from the veggies and simple herbs.  The soup is hearty enough (thanks to the gnocchi) without being heavy.  I felt like there were enough vegetables in the soup that I didn't need to make an additional vegetable side dish.  I love one dish meals!  I served the soup with a loaf of crusty garlic bread, and it was a wonderfully simple meal that I can't wait to have again soon.

Chicken Gnocchi Soup
as seen on Our Little Family, recipe adapted from All Recipes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small white onion, chopped
3 carrots, sliced
3 celery ribs, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1 rotisserie chicken, meat removed and chopped (or 2 cooked and chopped chicken breasts)
5 cups chicken broth
1 16-oz package mini potato gnocchi (I used potato and spinach gnocchi)
1 6-oz bag baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream, half and half or fat free half and half
kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Cook onion, carrots and celery in the oil until onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in garlic, parsley and basil, and cook until fragrant, stirring often, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Stir in chicken and broth; bring to a simmer.

Add gnocchi into the simmering soup and cook until they begin to float, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in spinach and cook until wilted, about 3 more minutes.

Stir cream into soup and lower heat to medium-low.  Taste soup and season with salt and pepper.  You can eat the soup immediately to let it cook awhile longer.  I let mine cook about 30 more minutes because Andrew was running late.


Party Sandwiches

>> Thursday, February 16, 2012

These sandwiches are a fabulous mix of sweet and savory and just so darn tasty.  I love these sandwiches, which helps explains why I ate them three nights in a row for dinner last week :-)  The sweet butter rolls combine deliciously with the salty deli meats and melted cheese-y goodness, but what really puts it all over the top is the tangy onion-mustard sauce.  The combination really is fantastic!  But you have to watch out because it can be hard to stop eating these!  They have become a party staple at our house for good reason - the sandwiches come together really quickly and the topping is so flavorful that you don't have to mess with needing to offer mayonnaise or mustard.

Party Sandwiches
adapted from All Recipes

2 packages Hawaiian sweet dinner rolls (24 rolls total)
1/2 lb turkey meat, thinly sliced
1/2 lb ham, thinly sliced
1/3 lb Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1-2 tablespoons onion, minced
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon herbs of choice (poppy seeds, fennel seeds, sesame seeds, caraway seeds, etc.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cover a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.  Place rolls on baking sheet.  Being careful not to separate the individual rolls, use a serrated knife to split rolls in half lengthwise.  On the bottom of the rolls, top with turkey, ham and cheese.  Cover sandwiches with the tops of the rolls.

In a small dish, melt butter in microwave.  Stir in mustard, onion and Worcestershire sauce.  Brush sauce over top of rolls.  Sprinkle with herbs.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the rolls are lightly browned and the cheese has melted.  Carefully cut the rolls into individual sandwiches and transfer to a platter.


Cowboy Quesdillas

>> Wednesday, February 15, 2012

These quesadillas are a refreshing change of pace from the traditional quesadillas.  I love the addition of BBQ sauce to kick up the flavor a notch and they are a perfect dinner when you're running short on time or you need to feed a crowd.  To simplify things, I baked my quesadillas in the oven because I've learned from past experience that it's really not enjoyable to stand over a stove for 15-20 minutes flipping one quesadilla after another.  While the tortillas don't get as browned in the oven as they do on the stove, they do get just as crunchy - and that's the important thing!  The filling for these is very hearty, so you really don't need to add the chicken (unless you have a carnivore in the family that must be fed).

You'll notice that this recipe makes 10 quesadillas, so unless you want to feed a lot, you'll probably want to half the recipe.  But the quesadillas do reheat well in the toaster or oven, so I've been serving them for lunch for the past few days.

Cowboy Quesadillas
recipe adapted from Our Best Bites

for the quesadillas:
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed well
1 15-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed well
1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 large or 2 small chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
4 cups Mexican shredded cheese blend
20 tortillas

for the sauce:
2/3 cup fat free ranch dressing
1/3 cup BBQ sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Put foil or parchment paper on two large cookie/baking sheets.  Arrange 10 tortillas on the two baking sheets, trying to overlap the tortillas as little as possible.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine black beans, pinto beans, corn, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, chicken and BBQ sauce.  Mix well.

Sprinkle a little cheese on the top of each of the tortillas on the baking sheets.  Evenly divide the filling between the 10 tortillas and top each with more cheese.  Cover them with the remaining 10 tortillas.  Bake quesadillas for about 15-20 minutes, or until the tortillas are toasty and the filling is hot throughout.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the ranch dressing and BBQ sauce.

Cut tortillas in half or quarters.  Serve hot with the BBQ-ranch sauce.


Weekly Meal Plan

>> Sunday, February 12, 2012

This Week's Menu:

Boilermaker Chili; Cornbread

Chicken Gnocchi Soup; Crusty Bread

Spicy Stewed Beef with Grits; Green Salad

Cowboy Quesadillas; Sliced Avocado

Bourbon Glazed Pork Chops; Stuffed Tomatoes; Parsleyed New Potatoes

Last Week's Reviews:

Having to review the previous week's meals forces me to hold myself accountable.  I totally fell off the wagon last week and didn't stick to the menu very well at all; therefore, I'm afraid my reviews aren't going to be of much help.

1.) Leftovers from the Super Bowl - we actually ate this two nights in a row!

2.) Thai Chicken Pizza - we didn't eat this one, but I plan on putting it on the menu again soon.

3.) Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken - nope, didn't make this one either...

4.) Seared Scallops with Cauliflower and Corn Puree and Pancetta - we made this one and it was good (although I'm not a big seafood fan) so I'll post it later this week

5.) Honey Butter Pork Tenderloin - I made this recipe but we didn't eat it.  The honey in the sauce completely burned, leaving the outside of the pork charred while the inside wasn't cooked through.  This was probably user error rather than a flawed recipe though since the recipe had good reviews.  I also made loaded mashed potatoes to go with the pork that we didn't eat either.  They tasted great...until Finley poured about 1/2 bottle of soy sauce on them.  This was the night we opted to eat Super Bowl leftovers for a second time.


Pretty Please

>> Wednesday, February 8, 2012

If you like my cooking blog (or even if you don't!), please check out my new blog: Erin's Home Sweet Home Improvement.  After basically slow flipping our house, I decided to create a design blog to chronicle all of my home projects.  If you like what you see, feel free to follow me!

Thanks in advance!


Pretzel Scotch Cookies

I spied these on Pinterest and they called my name - sweet and savory all rolled into one little golden cookie. Delicious! These cookies are an exercise in self-control and delayed gratification though. You have to make the dough and then refrigerate it for at least 8 hours before baking them. You have been warned.

Here are just a few things that set this cookie apart and really make it an awesome recipe. The majority of cookies that I make call for softened butter, but this jewel of a recipe calls for browned butter. The browned butter adds a wonderful, nutty flavor to the cookie. By using bread flour rather than all-purpose (though I'm sure you could substitute it in a pinch), the cookie has a much finer crumb. And lastly, the salty pretzels add a great crunch - leave the pretzels in fairly large chunks so that you can fully appreciate the awesomeness of the pretzel.

Take it from me, make these cookies - you won't be disappointed!

Pretzel Scotch Cookies
recipe from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine, recipe adapted from Alton Brown

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 8 slices
2 1/4 cup bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup pretzels, broken into pieces
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

Melt butter in a heavy-bottomed skillet over low heat.  Once melted, increase heat to medium and continue cooking until butter turns a golden brown and develops a nutty aroma.  While it's cooking, it will foam up.  When the foam dissipates, watch it closely because it can turn from browned to burned very quickly.  Remove from heat and set aside to cool, about 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt and baking soda.  Set aside.

Pour the cooled butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add both sugars and beat on medium speed for 2-3 minutes.  Add the egg and egg yolk and beat to combine.  Add the milk and vanilla and beat on medium speed for another 2-3 minutes.  Slowly add the flour mixture, beating on low speed between each addition.  Once all the dry ingredients have been added, beat on medium speed until well combined.  Using a spatula, fold in pretzels, butterscotch chips and chocolate chips.  Cover and refrigerate the bowl for at least 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or spray with nonstick spray.

For each cookie, scoop out a heaping tablespoon-sized piece of dough and roll into a ball.  Place on lined sheets, leaving a 1-inch space between each cookie.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.  Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool for 10 minutes before removing them to a rack to finish cooling.


Cran-Orange Bliss Bars

>> Monday, February 6, 2012

Every week I like to make something sweet to have around the house for when I get the munchies (which is quite often unfortunately).  To me, there is nothing more unsatisfying than having a craving that can't be fulfilled.  Usually I make something chocolate-y, but last week I went in a different direction and whipped up these Cran-Orange Bliss Bars.

Lord have mercy, these were so good and such a nice change of pace from usual chocolate fix!  The blondie layer is dense and chewy with a subtle orange flavor.  The frosting never fully hardens so that it stays nice and creamy and the cream cheese keeps it from being too sweet.  Plus since these bars have oranges and cranberries in them, they can kind of count as being healthy, right?  They were great with a strong cup of coffee in the morning too :-)

Cran-Orange Bliss Bars
adapted from Recipe Girl, as seen on The Girl Who Ate Everything

for the bars:
3/4 cup salted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
zest of 2 oranges
3/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries
6 oz white chocolate chips

for the frosting:
1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened
2-3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
juice of 1 orange
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a 9-x-13-inch baking pan with nonstick spray.

In a medium bowl, melt butter in microwave; stir in brown sugars.  Let cool to room temperature.  Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and vanilla together and add in butter mixture.  In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and orange zest.  Gradually add dry mixture to wet mixture until just combined.  Fold in cranberries and white chocolate chips.  (Batter will be thick.)

Spread blondie mixture into prepared baking dish. Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Cool completely before frosting.

To prepare the frosting, use an electric mixer to combine cream cheese, 2 cups powdered sugar and orange juice.  Continue to add more powdered sugar to achieve your desired consistency.  Spread frosting over cooled blondies and sprinkle with dried cranberries.  Store in the refrigerator and cut into bars.


Weekly Meal Plan

This Week's Meal Plan:

1.) Leftovers from the Super Bowl  (just keeping it real, peeps!)

2.) Thai Chicken Pizza; Green Salad

3.) Slow Cooker Honey Sesame Chicken; Brown Rice; Edamame

4.) Seared Scallops with Cauliflower and Corn Puree and Pancetta

5.) Honey Butter Pork Tenderloin; Twice Baked Potatoes; Roasted Asparagus

Last Week's Reviews:

1.) Spaghetti Carbonara - always a hit in our house!  It's an easy meal that can be on the table in under 30 minutes.  My only con about this dish is that it isn't healthy at all.

2.) Lasagna Soup - I was surprised at how good this one was!  Click on the link for the full review.

3.) Crescent Roll Casserole - I changed this one up a lot to create Cheesy Bacon Ranch Crescent Casserole and oh. my. lord. it was so good!  It was cheesy and rich, but I used all low-fat ingredients to try and keep it as healthy as possible.  Yum!

4.) Asian Marinated Steaks - This recipe just kept being pushed back and I never got around to making it.  I threw the meat in the freezer so maybe it will show up again on the menu in a week or two.

5.) Pork Mole Enchiladas - To make it easier on myself, I didn't make the mole from scratch and just bought a jar of it from the store.  Not good!  I threw it out and made my own red enchilada sauce.  Overall the meal was okay but nothing great, so the recipe won't be making it onto the blog.


Super Bowl Munchies

>> Friday, February 3, 2012

Want to know why I love the Super Bowl?  Because it's not fancy.  I get to make some good, ole unhealthy, non-gourmet food and not feel bad about it.  I haven't exactly decided what will be on my final menu, but here are my top contenders:


Lasagna Soup

>> Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I made this for dinner last night and was really looking forward to it.  Yesterday ended up being such a dreary day with overcast skies and a misty rain, so it was perfect soup weather.  This soup had all the goodness of lasagna, but with a much faster prep and cook time!  The broth was so wonderfully flavorful that I ended up not even needing to add any salt to it.  Even though the cooking time is rather short, the soup tastes like you've been simmering it all day.

If you're not feeding a crowd, then you'll probably have a lot of leftovers, which is why you don't want to add the noodles to the soup.  The noodles will continue to soak up the broth and retain a mushy texture.  I only cooked 4 oz of noodles and made a half recipe of the cheese mixture (rather than the full amounts that the recipe calls for) because I anticipated we'd have leftovers.  I froze the soup leftovers to eat at a later time, at which point I'll mix up additional cheesy goodness and cook more noodles.

Lasagna Soup
adapted from A Farmgirl's Dabbles

for the soup:
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 lb Italian seasoned ground turkey
12 white onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4-8 oz fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
2 14-oz fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
2 cup fresh spinach, roughly chopped
8 oz. fusilli pasta
salt and pepper, to taste

for the cheesy goodness:
8 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
2 pinches ground nutmeg
salt and pepper, to taste

for garnish:
8-10 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated or shredded

In a large pot over medium heat, add olive oil.  Once oil is heated, add turkey, onions and mushrooms and cook until turkey is browned.  Add oregano, fennel, rosemary, red pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds to one minute.  Add one can of diced tomatoes.  Using an immersion blender (or food processor or stand blender), puree the second can of tomatoes.  Stir into the soup.  Add chicken broth and spinach.  Simmer, covered, for 20 - 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a separate pot, cook noodles according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix well.

To serve, place a generous dollop of the cheese mixture in the bottom of each bowl.  Top with a scoop of noodles and pour soup over noodles.  Sprinkle with parmesan and chopped basil.


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