Food and Recipes

Turkey Tacos with Corn & Black Bean Salsa on Butter Lettuce Wraps

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Like most busy moms I know, crockpot wonders are a life- saver and casseroles are a time-saving comfort delight. But in my kitchen, no quick and easy meal measures up to a Tex-Mex spread. Yes, Tex-Mex is quick (almost as quick as an Ohio summer) and easy (if you’re a beginner home cook) – and no – it does not have to involve heavy queso or guacamole (if you’re trying to keep it healthy). But that doesn’t mean this recipe skimps on flavor either.

Since I prefer lighter meal options during our brief encounter with the warmer weather, I decided to switch things up a bit. I chose ground turkey instead of beef – lean and heart healthy. And beautiful butter lettuce leaves instead of traditional flour or corn tortillas. Butter lettuce is crisp, sweet and ever so slightly turns up on the ends, which makes them the perfect taco vehicle. But first – it all begins with the perfect taco seasoning.

Now, I will have you know – I do not use store-bought taco seasoning – NEVER! It’s against my religion. MSG, sodium, preservatives…Oh, my! Thankfully, there is an easy solution to this – and it’s found right in your spice cupboard.

That’s right -all the seasonings you need for your tacos are probably already in your kitchen. To make it super easy, I make a larger portion of the spice mixture. That way, I have it on hand whenever I need it.

Let’s talk salsa… I’m a total chips and salsa girl, which is why I LOVE this recipe – perfect pair with your favorite tortilla chips, but also a tasty complement to my turkey tacos! This will be your go-to dish for picnics, pot lucks, and weeknights!

But the best news…this meal comes together in less than 30 minutes! Can I get an Amen?!?!

Taco Seasoning:

10 Tbs. Cumin

4 Tbs. Chili Powder

2 Tbs. Paprika

2 Tbs. Garlic Powder

2 Tbs. Onion Powder

1 Tb. Salt

1/2 Tb. Pepper

Mix it up and save in a small mason jar or Ziplock bag labeled “The Good Stuff.”

Corn and Black Bean Salsa:

1 Package of Steam Fresh Corn

1/2 Red Onion, Diced

1 Can Black Beans, Drained and Rinsed

3-4 Stem Tomatoes, Diced

1/3 Cup Cilantro, chopped

Juice of 2 Limes

Salt and Pepper, to Taste

Place onion, tomatoes, black beans, and cilantro into a large bowl. Prepare corn according to box directions and add the corn to the bowl. While the corn is still hot, add the juice of 2 limes and season with salt and pepper. Stir mixture and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or over night.

Turkey Tacos:

1 Tb. Olive Oil

1 Lb. Ground Turkey

Head of Butter Lettuce, Leaves Separated

1/8 Cup of Taco Seasoning

Corn and Black Bean Salsa

Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add turkey meat and seasoning. Brown the turkey, while breaking up the meat and stirring the seasoning throughout. Cook until no longer pink. Spoon turkey onto an opened butter lettuce leaf. Top with the corn and black bean salsa.

Tip: Do not over-stuff the lettuce wraps. If you want a fuller wrap, double up on the lettuce leaves for extra support.

No muss. No fuss. No guilt. These turkey tacos are the perfect summer Tex-Mex marvel!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food and Recipes

Better Than Olive Garden Fettuccine Alfredo

fettuccine alfredo

I adore pasta- it’s a love affair that began from the time I was old enough for table food. Being just north of 29 years old now, I have reluctantly tried to cut back on the simple starches in my diet, but sometimes a girl just needs her fill of carbs, ya know? So what it’s been only two days… let’s not worry about technicalities.  Throughout my culinary adventures, I have experimented with several possibilities or shall I say, pastabilities, of creating new dishes of all sorts. But as interesting and exciting as new recipes can be, I find myself always going back to the basics.

While plain pasta is perfectly acceptable in my book, there is one ingredient that is the undisputed pasta counterpart. (You can safely guess where I’m going with this)…cheese.  Of course, traditional macaroni and cheese is an obvious go-to for potlucks and busy weeknights,  but if you really want to knock the socks off your family or guests and elevate your expectations of homemade pasta-cheese pairings, try your hand at Fettuccine Alfredo. It’s a fancier version of mac n’ cheese. If mac n’ cheese is the t-shirt and jeans of pasta, think of Fettuccine Alfredo as the little black dress. Not over the top- just simple. classic. perfect.

I will disclose, however, that this is not a diet-friendly recipe by any stretch of the imagination. But that’s why it is soooo rich and satisfying! You can add grilled chicken, if it makes you feel better, but it stands on its own just fine. Heavy cream. Butter. Parmesan. All the necessities for a deliciously creamy sauce. But two ingredients transform this simple sauce into a blissful bite that will leave your friends and family asking, “hmm…what is that?” For a bright, citrusy burst of flavor- fresh lemon- both the juice and the zest.  The other star ingredient…nutmeg. It’s not much more than a pinch, but it’s a pinch of awesome! And nutmeg is the surprising warm and earthy spice that separates this sauce from all those other guys.

Better Than Olive Garden Fettuccine Alfredo

16 oz. Fettuccine

2 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream

Juice and Zest from Two Lemons

1 Stick Butter

2 Cups Grated Parmesan

1/4 Teaspoon  Nutmeg

Salt & Pepper, to Taste

Sprinkle of Freshly Chopped Parsley (optional)

Cook pasta in salted, boiling water, according to package directions. Zest both lemons and set zest aside. In a large skillet, stir two cups of cream and lemon juice until combined.  Add the butter- cook and stir over medium heat just until the butter melts, about 3 minutes.  Remove sauce from the heat. Drain the pasta, add to the cream sauce and toss. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy cream and parmesan to the mixture. Add the lemon zest, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Return to low heat and toss until thickened, about 1 minute.  Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh parsley and more parmesan- because why not?

Whether it’s for a special occasion or a lazy, late-Friday night indulgence on the couch, Fettuccine Alfredo is your main cheese. ( Get it? Cheese- instead of squeeze)…sorry, I just can’t seem to pass up on an opportunity to insert a corny pun! Enjoy!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food and Recipes

Saturday Morning French Toast

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Jesse and I lived in this cozy townhouse after we just got married. Being newly weds and experiencing the exciting freedom of our first home together, I can recall so many sweet memories. My first try at French toast was not one of them.   In spite of stemming from a line of wonderful cooks, I had yet to get my feet wet in the kitchen and discover my passion for cooking.

In fact, had it not been for Panera and Chipotle, I’m certain we may have not lived to see our second anniversary.  One Saturday morning, I felt  homesick for some homemade breakfast. Even though my mom always prepared dinner growing up, my dad often made breakfast for us on the weekends. Other than making eggs sunny side up, also affectionately known as “dippy eggs,” my hands down favorite has always been French toast.

Along with paying my first rent payment, this was one of those profound adult moments where I realized that I was moved out and married. The spatula had been passed to me. The fate of breakfast dippy eggs and French toast was now in my hands. Although I had never previously tried to make French toast, I was familiar with the basics.  My first attempt at French toast was…let’s just say… almost editable. If you’ve ever wondered by any stretch of the imagination that French toast could resemble bricks, I’m here to tell you it’s possible.

Thankfully (for the sake of my family) despite this beginner culinary failure, a new found interest sparked within me. And my journey to becoming the home cook I aspired to be began…with burnt French toast, but nonetheless.  This recipe has been experimented and perfected over the course of almost 10 years. No offense, Dad, but I am confident to say this is THE BEST French toast recipe. It blows restaurant’s French toast out of the water.

The number one secret to my famous Saturday morning French toast is the bread. You could find a simple Texas toast or choose a traditional challah bread, but do yourself a favor and pick up a loaf of bread from Menches Brothers. Trust me, this is a good decision. You want a bread that is thick and sturdy to absorb the liquid gold it will inevitably be submersed in.

You could use the rookie approach by simply using milk and eggs for your French toast batter.  But with a few more decadent ingredients, French toast practically transforms into dessert. I have to remind myself that I’m actually eating breakfast. I feel as though I’m getting away with something. With vanilla, honey and cinnamon, you just might find yourself in a French toast coma all day. Pair with a light berry fruit salad (eases the sugary guilt some).

Saturday Morning French Toast

1 Loaf of Menches Brother’s Bread

6 eggs

2 Cups Half & Half

1 Tablespoon Cinnamon

1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

3 Tablespoons Honey

8 Tablespoons Butter

How to Make:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add half and half, cinnamon, vanilla, salt and honey. Whisk together thoroughly.  Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Dredge a piece of bread in the cream mixture and allow to sit for 15 seconds per side. Melt a tablespoon of butter in the skillet and place one slice of bread down, cooking one at a time. Cook the first side for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown. Flip French toast and cook other side for 5-7 minutes, or until golden brown.  Place browned French toast pieces onto a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes to allow the inside to cook through. Serve with warm maple syrup and a generous sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar.

French toast so good, you just might make it a week day staple too! Enjoy your Saturday y’all!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

 

 

Food and Recipes

Head Over Heels Chicken Over Biscuits

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They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. This theory was proven true with this all-time comfort classic! It’s the recipe that won the affection of my husband (aside from my whit and charm, of course). It was love at first bite! He was head over heels…for me and this dish! It was the first meal I ever made for him and it is still a cherished family fav. Think of an open-faced chicken pot pie. Chicken.  Simple veggies. A rich, creamy sauce. And flaky buttermilk biscuits. It’s food for the soul.

This was a staple for me growing up. It’s one of those beloved recipes that never gets old and will always have a coveted spot in the family cookbook. Since I believe good things ought to be shared, I’m letting you in on the family secret! It’s just too wonderful to keep to myself! Helpful hint: sweat pants recommended, but not required.

The ingredients are probably right in your kitchen already…

For the Biscuits

4 Cups All-Purpose Flour

1/3 Cup Cold Butter, Cubed

1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt

1 1/4 Cups Buttermilk

2 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda

1 1/2 Teaspoons Baking Powder

1/3 Cup Shortening

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Stir together. Add the shortening and cold butter cubes. Using a pastry blender, cut the shortening and butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Pour in the buttermilk and mix gently with a fork until combined. The biscuit dough will be sticky. Lightly flour a clean surface. Turn dough out of the bowl and roll 1/2 in. thick. Cut rounds with a biscuit cutter and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 11-14 minutes until golden brown.

For the Chicken, Veggies & Sauce

5 Tablespoons Butter

1 Pound Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into 1-Inch Pieces

1 Red Pepper, Diced

1 Yellow Onion, Diced

3 Cloves Garlic, Minced

1/2 Cup Frozen Peas

5 Tablespoons Flour

1 1/2 Cups Chicken Stock

1/2 Cup Heavy Cream

Salt & Pepper, to Taste

Heat butter in a large skillet. Place chicken in the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken from the skillet. Shred chicken, leaving some pieces thick. Add red pepper and onion (seasoning with every step) and sauté until tender, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add chicken back into the pan. Add frozen peas.  Sprinkle flour, stir and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the chicken stock and stir until combined. Allow sauce to thicken, about 3 minutes. Add heavy cream and stir. Season with more salt and pepper.  You may add some chicken bouillon for more chicken flavor and color. Slice the biscuits in half. Pour a generous amount of chicken and veggies over the biscuits.

Get the family excited about dinner tonight with this delicious one-of-a -kind comfort classic!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

Budgeting, Food and Recipes

The BEST Starbucks Copycat Recipes!

copycat-recipes

In a budget blog I recently wrote, I suggested cutting back on the extras to put some more cash in your pocket. But I have to admit, that in many cases throughout my blogging chronicles, I am either speaking from experience or preaching to the choir- the choir being myself, in this case. As a frequent drive-througher ( yes, I just made up the word “througher”) at my local Starbucks, I came to terms with my love affair for Chai Tea Lattes. And knew very well that spending a shameful amount of money each month on a drink- no matter how perfectly prepared it was with its irresistible cinnamon- spice flavor and foam- is not being the best steward with our resources.

But it was too much to let it go altogether. And yet, still too expensive to continue purchasing. It all seemed too unfair. To top it off, the chai withdrawal brought out a rather tired, pathetic side of me I had yet to experience. Pretty sure my family felt the tension too. I knew things couldn’t go on like this, so I decided to embark on a little journey. A journey I like to call “Search for The Chai Tea Recipe Holy Grail.” Along the way,  I was also pleasantly surprised at how many copycat Starbucks recipes existed in the world- and with ingredients I already had on hand! It was a miracle! An answer to prayer!

With these easy recipes, you are no longer left to choose between depriving yourself of enjoying your favorite caffeinated indulgence or saving…you can have both! And it’s nothing short of amazing!  Homemade Starbucks saves an average of $125/ month (and your sanity)…so these recipes are extra sweet!

  1. Chai Tea Latte The song ” You Are So Beautiful” comes to mind. As well as images of rainbows, sunshine, and all things perfectly made. It happens to be my personal favorite and the unmatched champion of anything served in a mug.

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2. Salted Caramel Mocha Salted. Caramel. Mocha. Three amazing words that together, make one amazingly tasty cup of coffee.  It’s the stuff dreams are made of!

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3.  Peppermint Mocha Ahhh! Chocolate and peppermint are a match made in heaven in this scrumptious peppermint mocha recipe!

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4. Pumpkin Spice Latte Enjoy your favorite flavor of fall anytime of the year! It’s a sip of spicy-sweetness that is the very definition of delicious!

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5. Hot Chocolate A rich, decadent indulgence of one of life’s greatest simple pleasures: chocolate. Hot chocolate is the perfect pairing to a warm blanket, slippers, and your cozy PJ’s.

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6.  Vanilla Spice Latte Vanilla. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?  Seriously, there are no words! I simply adore anything vanilla and this is no exception…it’s only exceptional!

 

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7. Iced Cinnamon Dolce Latte Never has ice been so happy. Something warm-tasting, yet refreshing. This beverage exceeds the expectations of both!

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Enjoy these favorites in the comfort and convenience of your own home. Knock the socks off of your husband, friends, and even yourself with these taste-worthy recipes, without breaking the bank!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

Food and Recipes

Roasted Vegetable Medley

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Getting your family to eat healthy seems like quite the impossible feat. Most kids have two food groups: Mac N’ Cheese and Chicken Nuggets (this is not an exaggeration)! We were very intentional about our kids eating well, so they were pretty accustomed early on to enjoy bold flavors like garlic and spices, as well as incorporating fruits and vegetables as part of the daily snack and meal staples.

This year, Jesse and I decided to tighten up on food choices even more. Ridding our home of GMO’s and going organic- the Farmer’s Market has been a God-send with the cost of eating well! It’s sad, really, that in order to feed our family food that is simple and pure, we have to pay an arm and a leg! But I suppose I would rather pay a higher grocery bill than doctor visits!

This recipe is the perfect way to get your kids (and even a stingy hubby as well) to eat their vegetables without bribing or using force. It is also the best sidekick to a delicious grilled steak or chicken… don’t believe grilling season is only reserved for summer-  no one should confine themselves to those rules! And with modern kitchen conveniences, you can grill anytime!

These vegetables offer so much variety and bring color to any plate. Plus, it’s easy to switch it up! That’s what I love about cooking- versatility- it allows us to substitute other ingredients if we don’t prefer some or just simply want to work with what’s in the fridge. I love adding Yukon Gold potatoes to this dish to make it more hearty, but you can easily do without and substitute with butternut squash. Be creative! The garden’s the limit!

Roasted Vegetable Medley

2 Large Yukon Gold Potatoes, Cut into Small Wedges

2 Red Peppers, Cut into 1- inch Pieces

1 Yam, Cut into Small Wedges

1 Red Onion, Cut into Small Wedges

1 Zucchini Squash, Cut into Wedges

1 Yellow Squash, Cut into Wedges

1/2 Pint Button Mushrooms, Cut in Half

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

2 Teaspoons Dried Rosemary

1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme

Salt & Pepper, to taste

Directions

Preheat Oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In large bowl, combine all vegetables. In a small bowl, whisk oil, vinegar and seasonings.  Pour over veggies and toss to coat.  Transfer veggies to sheet pan and roast in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until tender and edges are browned.

Who said eating your veggies has to be boring? With an easy, scrumptious recipe like this, you might find the chicken just gets in the way! Enjoy!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker

Food and Recipes

BBQ Chicken Pizza with Caramelized Onions

BBQ Chicken Pizza.png

Figuring out what to feed our hungry, but picky eaters often presents a challenge and unwanted stress.  When the family looks to you, fellow mom, to answer this all important daily question, they anticipate something that will bring a smile to their face. While  you only  anticipate something that doesn’t resemble chicken nuggets in the shape of a dinosaur. And perhaps you’ve already become tired of the winter rotations of soups and stews. What to make to please everyone?

It’s the normal daily dilemma many of us face.  While this meal requires some minor advanced planning, it is easy to whip up and just as easily devoured.  With some help from our kitchen counterpart- the crockpot- and a crust dreams are made of, this pizza delivers on the promise to be as good as it sounds.

What’s not to love about pizza? I love experimenting with pizza because they are so versatile. Seriously, this isn’t college- if you haven’t broadened your horizons of “homemade” pizza beyond one that comes from a box in your freezer and contains a processed cheese-stuffed crust, then I highly question many other decisions you’ve made in your life.

First, let’s get to the bottom of this- and by bottom, I mean the crust. I personally love a crust that is thick and chewy, with a little crunchy finish from a sprinkle of cornmeal. Now, to save more time, you could always opt for a store-bought crust. But honestly, I’ve been disappointed by so many that I made the profound decision to walk away and I never looked back. My all-time favorite recipe for a perfect pizza crust is from none other than Sally’s Baking Addiction. Prepare to be amazed! I’m just saying.

When making this recipe, I knew I wanted to keep things simple. Of course all BBQ chicken pizzas have two things in common: chicken and BBQ sauce. As far as the supporting ingredients, I chose traditional mozzarella cheese (a safe pizza choice). But I didn’t want a run-of-the-mill BBQ chicken pizza. So then I decided to bring in the big guns. The show stopper. The unmatched vegetable of all things good- onions. But not just any onions- we’re talking caramelized onions… Oh, yea. This ingredient tends to intimidate people, but it’s actually pretty elementary to prepare. And here’s how:How to Caramelize Onions. This knowledge just might change your life. You’re welcome.

Ingredients 

1 Prepared Pizza Crust, according to directions

1 lb. Split Chicken Breasts (bone in, skin on)

3/4 Cup Water

Salt & Pepper

16 oz. Good BBQ Sauce

1 Large White Onion, Caramelized

2 Cups Fresh Mozzarella, Grated

1/4 Cup Cilantro, Roughly Chopped

Directions

Place room temperature chicken breasts in crockpot. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add 3/4 cup of water. Cook on low for 6 hours. Allow chicken to cool, pull off skin, remove bones, and shred to desired thickness.  Add 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce to shredded chicken. Smother the remaining sauce on the pizza crust. Top with 1 cup of cheese, shredded chicken, and  caramelized onions. Add remaining cup of cheese on top. Finish baking according to pizza crust directions.  Remove from the oven and finish off with the  chopped cilantro.

From my humble kitchen to yours…enjoy!

God’s Blessings,

The Humble Homemaker