Happy National Apple Day! I got back from a two-week east coast trip this week and it’s been a whirlwind getting back into a regular routine. Organizing my planner last night, I realized that I have only two free weekends as of right now through the end of the year. Goodbye sleeping in, productive hours of writing, movie nights, delightful Sunday night dinners, and freedom. The last few months of the year are always the craziest as many of you can probably relate to as well. I can’t help but love them anyway. The 31 Nights of Halloween is on the TV every night like clockwork lately...I’m regretting that Sweeney Todd movie night. I just bought a bunch of pumpkins for the front porch too. ..Read More
Last week, I introduced the Slow Cooker Series with New Leaf Wellness. Kelly generously provided me with her e-Book Bundle and I've had the pleasure of cooking through all four cookbooks plus a few of her favorite recipes. Last week I talked more about the freezer meal planning process and how it works. I've meal planned for a while but never with freezer meals so it was a slightly new thing for me, one that I am thoroughly enjoying. Now, I'll dive into each cookbook individually so you can get a taste of what to expect.
What I personally love about freezer meal planning is that 5 days takes about 2 hours to prep and the day of is as simple as dumping the bag into the slow cooker. All the hard work is done so weeknights are easy. This week's recipe is my personal favorite out of the five I'll be sharing: Taco Chili with Cornbread Topping. I could have eaten this for days and I can say without a doubt in my mind that I will be making it again. I was a bit skeptical about the cornbread topping but it turned out fantastic. I've made a Taco Cornbread Skillet in the past but this was much easier since I barely had to do any work.
The recipe comes from the CROCK'D cookbook full or slow cooker freezer meals. The e-book includes nutritional information for every recipe, photos, tips for prepping freezer meals, safety and ingredient information, label and prep instructions, thawing and cooking tips and more. After the recipes and nutritional information, you'll also find five grocery lists. One is a master list that includes ingredients for all 28 recipes included in the e-book and the other four include ingredients for a week's worth of meals (the 28 meals are divided into 4 weeks). As if that wasn't enough, there are also freezer labels for each of the 28 meals that include ingredients and cooking instructions as well as a plain labels for your own freezer meal creations and personal notes.
TACO CHILI WITH CORNBREAD TOPPING from CROCK'D: Slow Cooker Freezer Meals
1 lb. 85% Lean Ground Beef
1 small Yellow Onion, peeled and chopped (1 cup)
1 medium-sized Green Bell Pepper, chopped
1 cup Frozen Corn
1 tsp. Honey
15 oz. can of Tomato Sauce
1 tbsp. Chili Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/2 tsp. Ground Cumin
1/2 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
1/2 tsp. Paprika
1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp. Onion Powder
4 oz. Cheddar Cheese, shredded (about 1 cup) *Not needed until the day of cooking
1 box of JIFFY Corn Muffin Mix + any ingredients necessary to make muffins *Not needed until the day of cooking
1. Label freezer bag.
2. Add all ingredients to your freezer bag (except for cheddar cheese and corn muffin mix)
3. Remove as much air from the freezer bag as possible, seal, and lay flat in your freezer.
1. The night before cooking, move frozen bag to your refrigerator to thaw.
2. The morning of cooking, pour contents of freezer bag into your slow cooker and cook on "low" setting for 6-8 hours.
3. Break apart beef and mix all ingredients.
4. Top with shredded cheese and assembled corn muffin mix.
5. Add lid and cook on "high" setting for 60 minutes or until cornbread topping is cooked through.
This will be the only full recipe and instructions I share from the five meals in this series BUT, do not fret! Kelly is giving away her e-Book Bundle to one lucky reader so you can make all five of these meals plus the 70+ more on your own. The giveaway will be open now through Friday, August 12th at 11:59pm CST. See below for what's included in the bundle and enter below!
FREEZER eCOOKBOOK BUNDLE INCLUDES:
70+ easy recipes that you can freeze without any cooking ahead time
Nutritional info for all recipes
Organized, Printable grocery lists
Freezer meal labels
A list of Kelly's 7 favorite recipes in the eCookbooks with a grocery list and freezer labels
20+ pages of expert advice for prep, packaging and cooking
- 15-Minute Freezer Recipes eCookbook
- CROCK'D Slow Cooker Freezer Meals eCookbook
- No-Cook Freezer Meals eCookbook (which includes printable freezer meal labels)
- Crockpot Chicken Freezer Meals eCookbook
ENTER BELOW AND GET MEAL PLANNING TODAY!
January 14, 2015 I embarked on a journey to cook through The Tucci Cookbook by Stanley Tucci. There has been blood, tears, screaming, but most of all an overwhelming sense of success. I fell in love with cooking my junior year of high school. Food had always been a part of my life growing up with a strong Italian influence. Some of my fondest memories are intertwined with scents like gravy cooking on the stove and pizza on Christmas Eve. However, it was Rachael Ray every day at 2pm that I would run home from school to watch. I started cooking dinner for my family, using almost all Rachael Ray recipes and began to get comfortable with ingredients. I guess you could say that if it weren't for her, I would have never had such an appreciation for being in the kitchen.
In college and afterward, I was never able to get comfortable cooking for one. I had a blast experimenting like crazy but I always found myself making way too much food for only me. I guess you can take the girl out of the giant Italian family but you can't take the giant Italian family out of the girl. Moving back home, I was rewarded with the opportunity to cook for several people again. I received The Tucci Cookbook for Christmas in 2014 along with several other cookbooks and decided that I would make my way through each recipe. I wanted to get into the nitty gritty of Italian cooking and push myself outside of my comfort zone. I honestly believe that the journey, no matter how frustrating at times, has made me a better cook. With that said, here are a few of my favorite menus and dishes throughout the series:
Ponticello's Orange Cookies: These were delicious. Simple, buttery and perfect paired with chocolate. The orange can easily be swapped out with other flavors or left out completely for a simple cookie.
Week 26: Summer Vegetable Soup, Spareribs and Fresh Tomato Salad. This menu screamed summer and was so flavorful. The soup was delicious and filling, the spareribs tender and also packed with flavor and the tomato salad was great as a bruschetta. The spareribs had an Asian flare that was amazing.
Week 27: Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Arugula and Tomatoes, Egg Tart with Spinach and Potatoes and Kate's Banana Bread. I don't even know where to start with this one. The pasta salad I ate for days without even being hungry it was so good. The egg tart was such an accomplishment for me and the first time I used a cast-iron skillet. The banana bread has an unusual ingredient that makes it out of this world. This is the perfect brunch right here. This is probably my favorite meal from the series overall.
Pasta Casserole & Arugula with Prosciutto, Pears and Parmesan: These two dishes were part of Week 34. The salad was refreshing and bright. I loved the prosciutto. It's one of my favorite Italian meats. The Pasta Casserole was pheomenal. The flavors were so beautiful. Creaminess, brightness, fresh from the vegetables. So much cheese! I was eating this hot and cold for days without a complaint.
Warm Individual Chocolate Souffle: This could pass as either my favorite dessert or favorite accomplishment. It was rich, almost too much so. It paired perfect with vanilla ice cream. I stored these individually in the freezer and warmed them in the oven for a few minutes when I was craving a bite.
Basil Pesto: This was potentially my favorite sauce in the cookbook. I love pesto so much and this recipe just made it impossible for that to ever change.
Mamma's Little Fritters: I think we'll make the souffle my favorite accomplishment because these fritters were my favorite dessert. Similar to beignets, they're basically just fried dough. Nothing more perfect was ever created. I could eat these for days!
Rosemary Foccacia: This bread was unforgettable. Not only was it simple to whip up, it was delicious. If I had the patience to bake, I'd make it every weekend.
Did you have a favorite meal, dish or dessert from Cooking With Stanley? Have you ever cooked through a cookbook before?
We are in the prime of apple season. What better time to celebrate National Apple Day? To celebrate, we have a delicious recipe that you'll want to make triple batches of: Cinnamon Apple Bread with a Brown Butter Glaze. This recipe is packed with fresh apples and plenty of cinnamon. Everyone will be asking for anonther piece before they're even done with their first.
Using fresh apples gives this bread extra moisture so that it never dries out. I also subbed the oil for applesauce to cut calories which also enhances the sweetness of the apples. This bread is so good that it honestly doesn't need the brown butter glaze but it definitely doesn't hurt.
This would also be good with pears. If, for some reason, apples aren't your thing, pears would be a good substitution, cranberries, or simply no fruit at all. You can just keep this a simple cinnamon bread recipe. This recipe gave me a loaf of bread and six jumbo muffins with enough glaze for the bread and two muffins.
A tip for the glaze, it will take about 10-15 minutes for the butter to brown. You want to keep it moving so it doens't burn. There's a big difference between burnt butter and browned butter. The melted butter will deepen in color getting golden brown. It will give off a sweet, nutty scent as well which is a big clue to knowing it's almost ready.
- 1 2/3 cup Sugar
- 2/3 cup Applesauce
- 1/2 cup Milk
- 2 teaspoons Vanilla
- 4 large Eggs
- 3 cups Apples, chopped (about 3 total)
- 3 cups Flour
- 2 teaspoons Baking Soda
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- 2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon Allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
- 1 stick Unsalted Butter
- 1 cup Powdered Sugar
- 4 tablespoons Milk
- 1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
This week's Cooking With Stanley has comfort food written all over it. From classic breadsticks to stuffed pizza and polenta, you basically have my childhood in a post. Whether you want to make each of these separate or all-together, they're all super delicious and you'll be wanting seconds before you know it.
Tomato Sauce with Mushrooms served on Polenta
Where to begin. Let me start by saying the Stuffed Pizza and Breadsticks take an entire Sunday afternoon to make. This food may look amazing but it's not for the lack of time and effort put it, that's for sure. The Stuffed Pizza dough needs to rise for two hours, then bake for another hour and set for thirty minutes. The breadsticks are a little less time consuming with only needing to rise for an hour and bake for about 15-20 minutes. On the bright side, you have lots of time in between labor intensive work to clean things up and do some other stuff but the labor and the time is exhausting.
I love that the Breadsticks have a hint of rosemary in them. It gives them a nice additional flavor that you really can't beat. The Stuffed Pizza is probably different than what you're thinking of. Instead of tomato sauce, cheese and your choice of toppings, Stanley's Stuffed Pizza recipe uses ricotta cheese, pecorino romano cheese, cubed mozzarella cheese and diced ham. Not the typical pizza most people are used to, including my family. Everyone was expecting the red sauce, cheese and sausage. Surprise! Regardless of expectations, everyone loved this pizza. Even the pickiest of eaters had seconds. Also, this pizza can feed an army. It's so thick and practically doubles in size when baked. We only used half of the pizza for 6 people and a few of them had seconds. It's going to be dinner tonight for leftovers.
The Tomato Sauce with Mushrooms served on Polenta has been one of my personal favorites from this cookbook. Polenta has been one of my favorite foods since I can remember. The first time I remember eating Polenta was when my Noni made it for her mother, my Grandma Yolie, when I was really little. She made it simple with just a little bit of marinara and parmesan. It was love at first bite. Now I eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner sometimes the same way as I grew up with, others with whatever I have in the fridge to experiment with. The Tomato Sauce with Mushrooms was light and packed with flavor. It's super easy and affordable to make as well so if you're on a tight budget and looking for something comforting yet nutritious to eat, this is a great recipe. The polenta looks a little dark because I used veggie stock to make it for extra flavor instead of water.
Now that the weather is starting to get cooler more often, comfort foods are becoming much more popular. I don't know about you but nothing beats a cool fall day and a comforting bowl of your childhood favorite meal. What's your favorite comfort food?
This week's menu for Cooking With Stanley is another tasty brunch. These are by far my favorite meals to cook. Everyone loves brunch and frankly, some of my favorite food is eaten for the first meal of the day. This particular menu has a fun mixture of dishes that range from traditional to more on the cultural side. I have no idea how they do brunch in Italy but I have a feeling there is some kind of pasta involved. Inspired by this notion, I decided to include a light, summery pasta in the brunch menu.
Starter: Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Arugula and Tomatoes
Main: Egg Tart with Spinach and Potatoes
Side: Kate's Banana Bread
The Mediterranean Pasta Salad with Arugula and Tomatoes was a great dish for a summer morning. It's light, delicate and has bright flavors. The sweetness from the tomato and spiciness of the arugula mix perfectly and the olive oil really brings it all together. There is a bit of lemon juice mixed in as well which gave the pasta a bright flavor that's just out of this world. This is meant to be served at room temperature or even cold so it would make a great option for a picnic or pot luck. No one will be able to resist this light pasta. The Egg Tart with Spinach and Potatoes was much easier to make compared to the Eggs with Peppers. I didn't have to flip any eggs this time. Instead, when you start cooking the egg mixture, everything is together and you lightly scramble the eggs before tossing it in the oven to finish cooking. It made the whole process so much easier and less stressful without having to flip liquid. For sweetness, I baked a banana bread recipe from Stanley's wife, Kate. Kate passed away a few years ago and this recipe provides fond memories for his family. I can see why because it's fantastic. The recipe calls for Grape-Nuts cereal which I found odd at first but it works. I still believe that my grandmother's banana bread is the best but this one definitely takes a close second. That's all she wrote! What do you think of this week's menu for Cooking With Stanley? Are you a fan of brunch?
Remember I mentioned there would be a one week reprieve from fish? Well, this is it. For Cooking With Stanley this week, I have a delicious brunch I made for Father's Day. This, of course, can be made any weekend, or even day of the week. And if you learn from my mistakes, it will be super easy. Despite my minor screw ups, everyone loved this meal.
Main: Eggs with Peppers
Side: Breakfast Sausages (store-bought)
Side: Walnut Bread Sweet: Cinnamon Sugar Muffins by Center Cut Cook
As you can see, Cooking With Stanley had a few outsiders this week. I wanted to have a well-rounded brunch and not just eggs and toast so I added a few things in. Starting with the main, the Eggs with Peppers is a frittata. This was the first time I made a frittata. I've never attempted them for two reasons. 1) I don't have a cast iron skillet to pop in the oven. 2) I am too afraid to flip them on the stove. The frittata I made fed 5 people. I used a total of 10 eggs and the largest pan in my kitchen. I tried flipping the whole thing a million times in ten different ways. I tried using the largest spatula, tried using two spatulas, tried folding it. I even debated taking another pan, setting it on top and then flipping them to get the eggs on the new pan. I decided that would have made a mess. So how was I going to get this thing flipped to finish cooking? I cut it in half and flipped each side separately. You laugh but it worked. It was going to get cut in half eventually anyway. I just think it's ridiculous it took me that long to figure out a solution. Minus a few burned bits, it turned out pretty well! It didn't look very good but presentation only goes so far...right? The night before, I whipped up some walnut bread. I thought this was going to be more like a sweet bread like banana bread or something but it was actually just a normal bread made with whole wheat flour and walnuts. I'm pretty proud of this bread because it was the first one I officially made 100% by myself. No one helped me with the yeast, no one helped me knead it. I did all the work and it turned out pretty well. It's fabulous with jam spread over it. You can take this recipe and make it your own too. Instead of walnuts, you can make it a tomato and olive bread, add in some dried fruits. Whatever floats your boat. You can't have brunch without some kind of meat. Right? I picked up some breakfast sausages from the store to round the meal out a bit more. We had regular ones and chicken apple sausages. They were amazing. I think my papa was originally turned off by the chicken apple sausages but he loved them. I also whipped up some muffins that morning. Me and my grandparents are the only ones who eat anything with nuts so I wanted to have a bread option for my aunt and mom as well. The Cinnamon Sugar Muffin recipe I've had for a while from Center Cut Cook sounded like the perfect option. We all had one. Instead of dipping the muffins in melted butter than a cinnamon sugar mix, I mixed the butter, cinnamon and sugar together. It was a total accident but it worked out perfectly. They were to die for. So what do you think of the latest Cooking With Stanley? Let me know if you try those muffins. They're so good! Get ready for two more weeks of fish, another reprieve and then three final weeks of fish. We'll be done for a while then. I can't wait to get back to hearty pastas and to try some other meats.
Before you go, I have a promo code for Windy City Smokeout July 10-12 in Chicago. Enter LWASOC at checkout to get a 3-day pass for only $60 until tonight at 11:59pm CST. Don't miss out! That's a steal.