Flank Steak-Topped Oven Fries


If there’s one self-admitted food weakness that the hubs has, it’s fries. There’s a restaurant here in town that serves a humoungous bowl of Honey Truffle Fries, and when we’re talking about going out for supper, there are a lot of nights where we don’t get past the discussion of those fries. At least they don’t know our names there… yet 🙂

I saw this Buzzfeed recipe on my Facebook feed, and I knew it was something that we needed to make soon.  It worked out as a great weekend dinner for us (particularly after our 12 mile hike this weekend!), but I could easily see this adapting into something that appears in our house more often once football starts back up!


The potatoes are cut, mixed with spices and oil, and then baked. With the oven temperature as hot as it was, I didn’t find that I needed to use a wire rack to elevate the fries. Laying them directly on the pan worked great, although I did line my pan with foil. I actually didn’t even turn the fries during the bake time. They did ‘stick’ a little to the pan, so it might be a good idea to turn them with a spatula halfway through.

The flank steak that we picked up was a thicker cut than I’ve used with flank steak in the past, and I definitely needed longer cooking times to cook it to our desired doneness. As written in the Buzzfeed article, it was definitely rare. If you prefer, I think the steak would be great grilled!



(Printable Recipe)

Flank Steak-Topped Oven Fries
Adapted from Buzzfeed

For the fries:
2 russet potatoes
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. paprika

For the steak:
1/2-lb flank steak
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. oregano
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 to 1 Tbsp. olive oil for cooking the steak

1/2 to 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
Plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
2 roma tomatoes, diced
2 Tbsp. cilantro, minced
Cojita cheese (Can sub queso blanco or feta)
1 avocado (mashed with pepper, garlic salt, cumin, and lime juice) or prepared guacamole

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking pan with aluminum foil.

Place the flank steak and ingredients from the salt through the lime juice into a ziplock bag. Marinate for 20 minutes.

Rinse the potatoes and dry them well. Slice lengthwise into 4-5 slices, and then cut into fries that are 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Place the potatoes into a large bowl. Add the olive oil and spices and mix until the potatoes are evenly coated. Line the potatoes, in two rows, onto the baking pan so that no pieces are overlapping. Bake for 30-35 minutes until crispy and golden brown. You may want to flip the pieces halfway through the bake time. After the fries are complete, switch the oven to low broil.

Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and cook the steak until desired doneness in the skillet. Alternatively, you can also grill the steak. Once done, remove from the pan and set aside and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Cube the pieces of steak. Pile the fries back into the skillet and top with the shredded cheese and then the steak pieces. Broil 3-4 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Top with Greek yogurt, guacamole, diced tomatoes, cilantro, and Cojita cheese.

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie


Sweet potatoes seem to be a devisive ingredient. It seems you either love them or hate them. Maybe it’s the marshmallow-loaded Thanksgiving side dish that gives them a bad day? (But let’s be honest. I LOVE that too… in its own right). Thankfully here, the hubbs and I are both on board with sweet potatoes, especially roasted. I think I could eat those for dinner alone!

So, as you can see, the topping of this Sheperd’s Pie from Cookin’ Canuck definitely got my attention. One thing I tend not to do with either normal potatoes or sweet potatoes at home is make mashed potatoes. I don’t really have a good reason why. I guess somehow in my mind I made it out to be a complicated process, but honestly, it’s probably faster than many other methods of cooking them.


At work, I’ve shifted over to 10-hr days. On one hand, I’m loving the extra day off, but as the primary cook in the house, I’ve been looking for ways to make dinner a little easier on the hubbs. Especially in the winter where its not quite as easy for him to just grill everynight. Putting this dish together was an easy process, and it allowed for me to do all the assembly (up to the final bake) the day before. For a busy night or a spouse roommate who doesn’t like to cook as much, all they have to do is bake it!

And, on top of easy… it was delicious. I think the hubbs ate half the pan 🙂


I will say, I did use the bison meat, but didn’t read the package well enough, so I only made the pie with 12oz of meat. If you can’t find bison or would prefer beef, I’m reasonably certain this could be made with ground beef as well. It seems that anywhere from 3/4 to 1-1/2 lbs of meat would work, just dependent on how much food you’d like and ease for package sizes, etc.

(Printable Recipe)

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
Adapted from Cookin’ Canuck


For the sweet potato topping:
1-1/4 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into ~1/2-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

For the filling:
2 tsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3/4 to 1-1/2 lbs. ground bison or ground beef
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried crushed rosemary
1 cup beef broth
1 cup frozen peas

For the sweet potatoes:
Place the cubed sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the water and leave the sweet potatoes in the pan. Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk, salt and pepper.

For the filling:
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the onions and cook until they start to turn translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the meat, crumble while cooking, until cooked through. Add the tomato paste, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the broth and frozen peas. Simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5-10 minutes.

Add the meat mixture to a baking dish. I used a 1-1/2 qt dish. A square pan would also likely work, although a 8×8 pan will be full. Cover with the mashed sweet potaotes ensuring all edges are covered. At this time, the dish can be refrigerated to bake (wouldn’t leave it more than 1-2 days) or baked immediately at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Barbacoa Beef (Chipotle Copycat)

barbacoa beef in a bowl2

Back when my husband and I were undergrads, we actually had a pretty standard date night. Chipotle burritos + Cold Stone as dessert. Guess I was a relatively cheap date?!? How I was able to ingest that much food at one time, I am not sure. Oh to be young and on a sports team again! 🙂

These days, we still occasionally end up at Chipotle, although I’ve switched my preference to the burrito bowls (more room for toppings!). The thing that has not changed is my love for the barbacoa beef. It is SO GOOD! A couple of weeks ago, my husband was in charge of groceries for the week and came across a recipe from the Food Network that claimed to be a copycat of Chipotle’s barbacoa.  I have not done a side-by-side comparison with Chipotle’s barbacoa, but I can tell you that this recipe is awesome.

The recipe is your basic crockpot recipe and could not be easier. You brown the meat on each side and throw it in the crockpot with some Southwestern seasonings. I promise your house will smell incredible while this is cooking. One note about the chipotle peppers. I find that the heat level of the dish can get out of hand rather quickly with chipotle peppers. If you know you’re not in it for spice, you may want to add fewer peppers. Taking out the seeds also helps. Shred the meat once it is cooked, and you’re ready for dinner. I served ours like my favorite chipotle order – burrito bowl style with brown cilantro lime rice, black beans, sauteed veggies (to the crisp-tender stage), a bit of cheese, and some plain Greek yogurt. I had to take the pictures before I loaded on all my toppings because after I got everything in the bowl,  you couldn’t really see the meat. 🙂 That said, a burrito bowl is just our method, and this meat could be used in a million ways! Tacos, enchiladas, tostadas, burritos. Don’t even get me started on possible toppings. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Barbacoa Beef (Chipotle Copycat)
Adapted from The Food Network

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp. lime juice
3-4 chipotle peppers in adobo
4-5 garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp. cumin
2 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. canola oil
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 bay leaves
4-5 lbs. chuck roast

To make the adobo sauce, combine the vinegar, lime juice, chipotle chiles, garlic cumin, oregano, black pepper, salt, and cloves in a blender on high speed until smooth. Set aside.

Warm the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Trim any large pieces of fat from the roast. Cut the roast into 4-6 large pieces. Brown the meat on each side and place in the crockpot. Pour the adobo sauce over the meat. Add the chicken broth and bay leaves. Cook on high for 6 hours or all day on low. The meat will fall apart when cooked through.

When the meat is finished cooking, shred with two forks. Return the meat to the adobo sauce remaining in the crockpot. Serve or use as desired.

Smoked Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs (Subs)

mozzarella stuffed meatball with dripping cheeseThe weather here has been rainy and dreary all weekend, and it has quickly thrown me back into winter comfort food mode. The temps haven’t even been that cool, but the rain completely drains me of any energy. Aren’t rainy days suppose to be for sleeping in, cuddling up with a good book, and maybe wandering in to the kitchen to bake?

The weirdest thing about this is how do you develop a craving for something you’ve never really (at least memorably) eaten? Truthfully, it has been a couple weeks since we made these meatballs. They came about a couple weeks ago during our freezing spell here as a direct result of a meatball craving on my part. Huh? In fact, I can’t really remember a time where I have actually had meatballs. Growing up, we occasionally had meatloaf, but I never remember mom making meatballs. Nonetheless, meatballs it was. Meatball subs in fact. I suppose the recipe is actually pretty timely considering there may be a big game coming up this weekend. I can promise you none of that was planned in advance. Maybe my unconscious is trying to tell me something?

mozzarella stuffed meatballs in pan

The recipe I used is from Kelly Craves but was originally adapted from a Giada de Laurentiis recipe. I followed Kelly’s adaptions pretty closely, although I made a few substitutions based on what was available in my kitchen  – mostly whole wheat Panko bread crumbs + Italian seasoning rather than Italian-style bread crumbs. As I referenced above, I served the meatballs over rolls with extra marinara and some additional shredded mozzarella cheese. Of note, I felt that the baking time needed to be a little bit longer than the 15 minutes called for in the recipe. I used the full 2-lbs of meat called for in the recipe, but I also ended up with 25 meatballs rather than 18. I baked mine for 18 minutes, and a few of them had just a touch of pink in the middle. It is hard to use a thermometer in these due to the cheese, so use your best judgement in baking them.

Baking time aside, we really enjoyed these both on the subs and alone with marinara for lunches. Given the opportunity, I am sure they would also make a great hot appetizer served with toothpicks for any appetizer-appropriate sporting events. 🙂 If it says anything about the recipe, my husband asked which recipe I was working on while I was composing this post. His response, “Man. Those were good.” Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Smoked Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs (Subs)
Adapted from Kelly Craves, originally from Giada de Laurentiis

1 small onion, chopped finely or grated
1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup whole wheat Panko bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. plus 1/3 cup marinara sauce (use your favorite)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
2 lbs. lean ground beef (we used 93/7)
fresh smoked mozzarella cheese, cubed into 1/2-inch cubes
olive oil, if desired
whole wheat hoagie bun
extra marinara
shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

To prepare the onion, it can be grated or added to the bowl of a food processor until chopped very finely. Mix the onion, parsley, Parmesan cheese, bread crumbs, Italian seasoning, egg, 2 tablespoons marinara, garlic, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Add the ground beef and mix with your hands until the mixture is completely uniform. Shape the meat mixture into meatballs (mine were about the size of a standard ice cream scoop). Flatten each slightly. Add the mozzarella cube and re-form the meat around the piece of cheese.

Add the remaining 1/3 cup of marinara in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish. Place the meatballs inside. Drizzle the meatballs with olive oil at this point if desired. Bake the meatballs for 15-20 minutes or until the meat is browned and cooked through. While the meatballs are cooking, warm the extra marinara on the stove top.

Turn the oven to low broil. Split the buns if necessary, cutting only part of the way through the bread (like a hot dog bun). Add 3-4 meatballs to each bun. Top with extra marinara and shredded mozzarella cheese. Place under the broiler for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches

french dip alone

I have been hearing about this recipe for months from my parents. Both of them. They make this with some regularity. Frequently enough that when I called for the recipe, my dad had it memorized. Not that it is too complicated, but still. My parents are not the only ones. I know I have seen recipes similar to this floating around on different blogs as well. Truthfully, I have no real reason to be so late to the french dip party. This is an easy recipe concept that requires almost no active time in the kitchen. Attractive? I think so. The biggest reason we had not made this sooner is probably just the lack of a beef roast (or any roast) in my freezer.

french dip plated closer side view

As I eluded to above, this recipe is as easy as they come. Prepping the crockpot is what I like to call a “dump and cook job.” There is a little more involved at the end, as the meat needs to be shredded/cut thinly, but even with that, this easily falls into a weeknight capable recipe. My parents like to use their bread-machine to make a fresh loaf of bread for the sandwiches, and I am sure that would be amazing. My only tip would be if you have a little extra time, making these ahead of time would allow you to skim some of the fat off the au jus after it cooled. The meat and remaining au jus could easily be rewarmed in the crockpot. Nonetheless, I did not do that when we made these, and we ate them just fine. 🙂

These were definitely a hit at our house. Guess a gal really ought to learn to listen to both of her parents? Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Crockpot French Dip Sandwiches
Adapted from allrecipes.com

3-4 lb. rump or other beef roast
1 (10.5 oz) can beef broth
1 (10.5 oz) can condensed French onion soup
1 (12 oz) can full-bodied beer
1/2 to 1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
French rolls
provolone cheese

Trim any excess fat from the roast. Place in the crockpot. Pour the beef broth, french onion soup, and beer over the roast. Add the garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce. Cook on low for about 7 to 8 hours, or until the beef shreds easily. Shred or thinly slice the beef as desired. Place the meat back in the crockpot with the cooking liquid and heat through.

Turn the oven to broil. Split the rolls and add meat as desired. Top with sliced provolone cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese is just melted, about 1-2 minutes. Serve with the cooking liquid as au jus.

Crockpot Beef and Two Bean Chili

meat and bean chili close

Happy 2013 everyone! Hope your holiday season was everything you wanted it to be. I didn’t make a resolution. In fact, I never have, but I’m hoping to make 2013 a great year on this blog. For one, I want to conquer that “To Make” list 🙂

I know that January often brings resolutions to eat better and improve one’s health. Well, lucky for you healthy doesn’t have to equal boring baked chicken + a side of broccoli every night. Beef and bean chili. Not quite the recipe that you’d think of if you are trying to eat healthier, but think about it. Beans, lean protein, tomato products. The base ingredients for chili can be just as healthy as that chicken. In fact, this one clocks in at under 400 calories a serving (**will vary based on ingredients used).

meat and bean chili in the crockpot

meat and bean chili

The recipe for this chili comes from Jenna from Eat, Live, Run, although the recipe is posted here on pbs.org. As she states, this is a traditional chili recipe in every sense. Thick and loaded with meat and beans in every bite. I made a few changes to her recipe to make it a bit healthier including using lean ground sirloin, swapping some homemade black beans in for some of the chili beans, adding a green bell pepper for additional produce, and definitely leaving out the mushrooms (although that wasn’t really for health reasons). The black beans are actually also Jenna’s recipe, and I would encourage you to do this if you’re trying to eat healthier. You can use these in so many things from adding them to soups, to tacos, to just over rice with salsa and plain Greek yogurt (in place of sour cream).

So how was the chili? Great! The story behind this chili is actually a little funny. We had a 12-day long food sharing session at work around the holidays. I noticed one of our pharmacy residents was signed up for the weekend, so I sent him a message to see if he wanted any help. Turns out someone else had signed him up, and he didn’t even know he was up to bring something. I decided to help him out telling him I’d make chili if he brought toppings 🙂 The chili went over really well, and I definitely brought home an empty crockpot. I actually had to make it again so my husband could have some. Not that I minded. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Crockpot Beef and Two Bean Chili
Adapted from PBS Food

1 (16 oz) can chili (pinto) beans in mild sauce
3 cups prepared black beans (or 2 cans black beans with onions and peppers)
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chiles
1 lb. lean ground sirloin (93/7)
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup brewed coffee
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1-1/2 tsp. salt
pinch of cayenne pepper

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Saute the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and bell pepper and saute for about 1 minute more. Add the ground beef and cook the mixture until the meat is cooked through.

Add the ground beef mixture to the bowl of a crockpot. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. The chili is best cooked on low for 8-10 hours, although it can be cooked on high for 4-6 hours if needed. Remove the bay leaf prior to serving. Serve topped with desired toppings (shredded cheese, crackers, plain Greek yogurt).

Philly Cheesesteak

philly cheesestake2

One of the eating options at our undergraduate college was set-up fast-food style. It wasn’t a big name restaurant that you see at some of the big student unions, but a smaller operation ran by the same people that ran the cafeteria. You would walk up and literally write your name and order on a little slip of paper and hand it to whomever was cooking. They had you standard fast-food fare – burgers, chicken strips, mini pizzas, and Philly cheesesteaks. Those cheesesteaks were SO good. Horrible for you, I know, because they would drip grease, but how much do you care about that at 19?

To make a long story short, I haven’t had a Philly Cheesesteak in a long time because I know that it is definitely more of a splurge. You can imagine that I was really excited to find a makeover recipe in the March issue of Cooking Light!

philly cheesesteak meat options
philly cheesesteak

As I mentioned, it has been awhile since I’ve had a “real” cheesesteak, but these were pretty good in my book. The recipe came together really well. I did not include the mushrooms as they are not my cup of tea. My only note would be to be sure to make the cheese sauce just before you are ready to eat. I made mine too early, and ended up needing to reheat it. This did not go well as the sauce got really thick, but could be fixed easily enough. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Philly Cheesesteak
Adapted from Cooking Light March 2012

1 (12 oz) flank steak, trimmed 
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1-1/2 cups thinly sliced green bell pepper
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup 1% low-fat milk
1 ounce provolone cheese, torn into small pieces
2 Tbsp. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
4 (3-inch) hoagie rolls, toasted  

Place beef in the freezer for 15 minutes. Cut beef across the grain into thin slices. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. 

Heat a large nonstick skillet over 2 minutes or until beef just loses its pink color, stirring constantly (mine took about 3-4 minutes). Remove beef from pan. Add remaining 1 teaspoon of oil to the pan. Add onion; saute 3 minutes. Add bell pepper, and garlic; saute until softened, about 6 minutes. Return beef to pan; saute 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat. Stir in Worcestershire and soy sauce; keep warm.

Hollow out top and bottom halves of bread, leaving a 1/2-inch thick shell. Divide the beef mixture evenly amongst the bottom halves of the hoagies.  

Just before ready to eat, place flour in a small saucepan; gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook 1 minute or until just slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Drizzle sauce evenly over beef mixture; replace top halves.


runza cut open

Anyone else know what a runza is? If you aren’t from the Midwest (Nebraska-Kansas-Iowa), you may not, but if you’ve ever had one (either homemade or from the restaurant), I’m sure you’ll understand that these are amongst the things that I miss from back home! 

Runzas have been on my list of things to make since we’ve been married. It took me almost 5 years to tackle them, largely because I thought they would be a big production. I guess moving away from easy access to them must have been the push I needed, and it turns out they really were not that hard to make 🙂   

runzas filling

So I haven’t answered the question yet… What is a runza? It is ground beef, onions, cabbage and seasoning wrapped up in homemade bread that comes from a German heritage. There are several variations you can make including adding cheddar cheese inside the dough and a swiss-mushroom combination that was a favorite with my parents. Nonetheless, for my first attempt, I went with the simpliest version shown below. I used red cabbage because that is what I had leftover from another recipe, but they are traditionally made with green cabbage. I guess the biggest question is how did they taste? Spot on. Exactly like the runzas I remember. Now that I know they are this easy, I have a feeling we’ll be having runzas more often. Enjoy

(Printable Recipe)

Adapted from The Test Nest

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
4-1/2 tsp. yeast (2 pkg)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 lb.93% lean ground beef
1/2 head green cabbage, shredded
1 large onion, chopped
1 beef bouillon cube, crushed
salt and pepper to taste
ketchup, for serving 

For the dough, measure the white whole wheat flour and 3/4 cup all-purpose flour into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix in the sugar, salt, and yeast with a spoon. Heat water, milk, and butter in the microwave until just warm and pour over flour mixture. Add the eggs. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds and on high for 3 minutes. Add remaining flour in 1/2 cup increments. You may need to add additional flour if the dough feels really wet. Four cups was perfect for me, but we live in the desert. If extra flour is needed, add 1/4 cup at a time (I made these again when it was more humid, and I definitely needed more than 4 cups of flour. Use what feels right). Change to the hook attachment and knead on low using the mixer until the dough is smooth.

Cover the dough and let rise for 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the ground beef, onion, and cabbage together until the ground beef is cooked through and the onion and cabbage have softened. Stir in the crushed beef bouillon and add salt and pepper to taste. 

Divide the dough into about 10 approximately equal balls. Flatten into a disk and distribute the filling mixture between the pieces of dough. Fold in the ends of the dough and roll up tortilla style, pinching the dough together at the seam. Place seam-side down on a baking dish and allow to rest for 15-30 minutes. 

While the runzas are resting, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the runzas for approximately 15 minutes, or until the dough turns golden brown on top. Serve with ketchup. Runzas freeze well to make great meals for busy nights!

Cheeseburger Salad

cheeseburger salad

By far, the most popular day at our work cafeteria is taco Thursdays. They make both normal tacos and taco salads served in those big, fried taco bowls. I typically bring my lunch to work, so I have yet to participate in taco Thursdays. Nevertheless, if you would sit outside the cafeteria, I would bet almost every single person walking out of that cafeteria has one of those big bowls. While those taco salads may be delicious, part of the reason that I have not yet indulged is just that. With all the meat (which I doubt is lean), cheese, and the fried bowl, I’m sure those salads are far from health food. 

From tacos to cheeseburgers, doesn’t seem like too far of a leap up the “healthy meter” but hear me out. Lean ground beef, lettuce, tomatoes, whole wheat homemade croutons with no heavy dressing. May be a little higher in sodium due to the condiments and pickles, but not so bad after all. 

cheeseburger salad with homemade crutons

This salad is actually adapted from recipe that I saw on Ree’s site The Pioneer Woman. In the two weeks since I first noticed the recipe online, we have already made it twice. The second time requested specifically by my husband. It is that good. Almost better when I reassembled the leftovers for my Thursday cheeseburger salad lunch 🙂 Enough said. Enjoy!

cheeseburger salad further out

(Printable Recipe)

Cheeseburger Salad
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

2 large whole wheat rolls, cut into 1-inch pieces
Butter-flavored non-stick spray
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. parsley flakes
1 lb. lean ground beef (93 or 96%)
3 Tbsp. ketchup
1/2 tsp. yellow mustard
1-1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. barbecue sauce
1 head Romaine lettuce, washed and torn
1/4 – 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2-3 Roma tomatoes, diced
4 whole dill pickles, cubed
1/2 red onion, sliced

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spray the pieces of bread with the non-stick spray and toss. Sprinkle with the garlic salt and parsley and mix. Spread the cubes on a cookie sheet in a single layer and bake for 15 minutes. Stir and bake for 15 more minutes or until brown and crispy.

Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat. When cooked through, drain any fat from the pan. Add ketchup, mustards, and barbecue sauce and stir to combine. Keep warm.

To assemble each salad, divide the lettuce between plates. Layer on the meat, onions, tomatoes, pickles, cheese, and croutons. Serve immediately. The salad can be saved for lunch by storing the vegetables, croutons, and meat separately. Warm the meat up in the microwave just before eating, then assemble the ingredients.

Sweet Potato Foil Packet Tacos

Ever have those random ingredients hanging around your kitchen. I seemed to end up with several types of random ingredients after all the different meals we made over the holidays – a half box of cornflakes here, half block of fontina cheese there, frozen roasted veggies, and a random (and HUGE) extra sweet potato. 

Thankfully, I discovered a use for my rogue sweet potato while perusing Pinterest one day. Enter these taco packets by Natalie from Perry’s Plate. Cubed sweet potatoes and some of your typical taco toppings are loaded up and baked right in a foil packet. They earn bonus points right away there – almost no clean up!

As for how they turned out, I’ll just say my husband beat me out for taking the leftovers for lunch 🙂 Enjoy!  

(Printable Recipe)

Sweet Potato Foil Packet Tacos
From Perry’s Plate

1/2 lb. ground beef or turkey
2-3 Tbsp. taco seasoning
1/2 cup (4oz) tomato sauce
1 can (14oz)  black, pinto, or kidney beans
2-3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 cups total)
2 Tbsp. butter
1-1/2 cups fresh spinach, torn
1-1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (I used Monterey Jack)
sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole for garnish
6, 12-inch long pieces of aluminum foil

Brown the ground meat in a skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in taco seasoning, tomato sauce, and beans. Set aside.

To assemble the packets, spray the foil with non-stick spray. Place 1 cup of sweet potato cubes in the center of each piece. Top with a small piece of butter (1 teaspoon) and a pinch or two of salt. Sprinkle some torn spinach over the sweet potatoes, followed by about 1/3 cup of taco meat and a sprinkle of cheese. Fold the sides in, then bring the top and bottom ends of the foil together in the center and fold, sealing the packet. 

Repeat with the remaining ingredients, placing the packets on a rimmed cookie sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the sweet potatoes are tender. Serve with sour cream, salsa, and/or guacamole.