Dough made in the bread machine with Italian herbs? Can you imagine the aroma that fills the house? For the toppings, we started with sweet Italian sausage pinched out of the casings and browned in a skillet with a little olive oil.
The dough from the bread machine looks speckled with the Italian herbs. Mike spun it out like back in his Pizza Hut days and stretched it out to the edges of the pizza pan.
Add your favorite toppings. There’s really no right or wrong here; just try and stick with a theme if you want to make sure the flavors will go together or try to replicate an old favorite. For example, cheeseburger–what do you like on your cheeseburger? Put it on the dough! *Meats, unless precooked, need browned beforehand. You’re really just cooking the dough in the oven. Anything else as toppings need to be safe eaten uncooked or without further cooking. Don’t forget your sauce: red, white, pesto, olive oil would work, too!
We topped it with marinara sauce, Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, and of course, mozzarella cheese!
In the oven at 375°F for 20 minutes-ish. You really have to check on it after ten minutes depending on what you packed on it and how thick your crust is. Watch the crust for a golden brown, and the cheese in the center should be melted. Voilà! You’re a cook!
Mixing favorite veggies in an attempt to make a one-pot dinner resulting in our new favorite lasagna; although, I have to wonder if the new marinara sauce is to blame.
8 0z Lasagna (half a box) noodles
One eggplant, 3/4 skin removed (potato peeler works nicely) and cubed
8 oz sliced mushrooms
Handful (about 4 oz) of spinach, roughly chopped
One jar (40 oz) of Victoria White Linen Marinara Sauce
One shallot, chopped
4 cups mozzarella cheese, divided
8 oz cottage cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
Leftover chopped tomatoes (about 7 oz canned)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Layer in Crock-Pot on High for 3 ½ hours.
I began with browning the ground turkey in olive oil on medium-high heat with salt and pepper 1/4-½ teaspoon of each. After draining the excess fat, add chopped shallots to the pan, stir in. Add eggplant, salt and pepper (1/4-½ teaspoon). Sauté until the eggplant is translucent.
Coat inside of Crock-Pot with cooking spray. Add ingredients from pan to pot.
Oops, forgot to sauté the mushrooms! Into the pan they go with a little olive oil and salt and pepper until translucent!
I almost forgot garlic, too! Right on top of the cooked mix worked out perfectly. (photo below)
Minced garlic, then chopped tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms, and marinara sauce. Generally when you do lasagna, you layer it three times, but I was running out of time. I needed to get the cooking time going on the Crock-Pot for this meal to be ready for dinner. I did two layers with the mushrooms and tomatoes only in the bottom layer and spinach only in the top layer.
The first layer is always sauce, so since I had half of the meat and veggies already in the pot, I added the tomatoes and half of the sauce over it. Then all of the mushrooms, a layer of pasta, 4 oz cottage cheese, 2 c mozzarella, ½ c Parmesan. Repeat meat mixture, sauce, add spinach, continue with remaining cheese. Cover and cook.
The result? It was that melt-in-your-mouth goodness that you get from fresh, savory ingredients. I don’t know how to describe it exactly, but it was like comfort food…and fusion…delicious!
In an effort to change things up a little, I made mahi instead of chicken; instead of rice, I made quinoa. I thought I’d try to cheat with quinoa, and cook it on the rice cooker. It worked! So easy, so delicious!
Three frozen fillets into the pot with salt and pepper (half a teaspoon or so of each). Fresh mushrooms on top.
Add some olive oil and red pepper flakes (about a teaspoon per fillet).
I waited until the last hour to add the spinach. It wilts quickly and will continue to wilt from the steam and heat if you don’t plate it once the dish is done.
Oh yes! Perfectly cooked mahi every time! Do you see how the fish flakes (I used a fork to break a piece in half)?
Quinoa in the rice cooker? It came out perfectly! It may not have much flavor unless you use some kind of stock. I always have Better Than Bouillon in my fridge, so in it went. Two parts liquid per part quinoa. For rice, I always make three cups dry to four cups water (I’ve been doing that since I was 10 years old, so…).
I was surprised with how flavorful this meal was with so little seasoning.
Traditionally made with lamb meat and a mashed potato crust, I will be using ground turkey for Shepherd’s Pie. Since it’s called Cottage Pie if you use beef, maybe we should rename it to whatever protects the turkeys. Pen Pie. Not so appetizing. Remember the story that ends with a blackbird pie? Can we find something that hints at the ingredients? Free-range pie? Ha ha. Playing with collective nouns, Rafter Pie. I like it. Enough of that, let’s get to the food!
Here again, we start with the culinary trinity. Carrots, celery, and I’ve replaced onions with shallots. Add potatoes which would be the “crust” if you cooked this in an oven.
I’ve added the ingredients I would use to make a cream of mushroom soup. Butter, mushrooms, dried thyme, flour, garlic, salt and pepper, chicken bouillon, and water.
Add the rest of the ingredients for Shepherd’s Pie; green beans and ground turkey.
In the pot:
1 pound ground turkey, browned in skillet with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper, garlic powder (½–1 teaspoon each, depending on your taste)
1 shallot, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
6 red potatoes, chopped
8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
10 oz frozen green beans
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chicken bouillon (1 teaspoon Better than Bouillon, plus one cup water used here)
4 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper, about ½ teaspoon each used for the veggie layer as well as the meat layer
Stir together. Cook on High for 4 hours. Top with crumbled, crispy, butter crackers or pretzel crackers.
This reminded me of a caprese salad with the fresh mozzarella, basil, and marinara; yet it was very Chicken Parmesan with the roasted chicken, crispy, buttery sweet rolls, melty mozzarella, Parmesan, and marinara. My tastebuds teetered with the flavors but were very much pleased. The fresh ingredients lent to the overall sandwich having a very mild flavor, very appropriate for kids, but with the garlic giving it a kick (you could just pour the garlic mix over half of the rolls but be sure to brush all of them with butter). This definitely satiates a craving for Italian food. We will be making this again!
There was video where I saw these recipes (link at bottom). One of the ones on the video was for a classic cheeseburger. Right away, I already knew I would be substituting ground turkey for ground beef, but I also thought about what we like on our burgers. When I get a gourmet burger at restaurant, I hope they have something new and innovative for me to taste and eventually attempt at home. For example, Broderick’s has a burger they add mac ‘n cheese to called the Gold Rush. It seems simple enough, but there’s also bacon and garlic aioli added it…flavor explosion in your mouth!
Trying to tune it down a little, though, keeping the calories down but not just having the old lettuce and tomato, I figured mushrooms and what goes great with mushrooms—Swiss cheese. I added chopped shallots for another layer of flavor. It kinda went along the lines of a cheesesteak (if you’ve ever added mushrooms to your cheesesteak). Well, in Las Vegas anyway, there was a Philly cheesesteak shop called Pop’s that served cheesesteaks with whatever veggies you wanted on them; peppers, onions, mushrooms, other. I just remember the meat being so tender whereas previously, I had been turned off by cheesesteaks, the meat being too chewy or having to much fat chunks. Pop’s was the only place I would eat cheesesteaks. I digress.
For Mushroom Swiss
8 oz sliced mushrooms, one chopped shallots
One pound ground turkey shaped to match sweet bread package, bake 350°F for 20 minutes, drain
Assemble burgers, ending with 4 tablespoons melted butter drizzled over top.
More cheese next time or add an aioli! The turkey meat dried out slightly from going back into the oven, but the bread, butter, shallot, mushroom, swiss combo was delicious!
First, potato salad can be so addicting—the tangy mayonnaise whether that’s the result of the mustard or a favorite vinegar; tender potatoes, wholesome eggs, or just the creamy way it all commiserates. There are so many variations and yet, anyone can recognize it. It’s a common barbecue accompaniment and potluck favorite.
I was going to make mashed potatoes which traditionally flank the meatloaf, but since I have red potatoes which are not generally used for mashing, I decided to make a batch of the forever craved pomme de terre salad. It’s been too long.
I literally threw all this together so that I could work on this post. I’m eager to see the results.
So here we have:
5 large red potatoes, chopped (or 4 medium or 6 small…)
2 teaspoons of dried chopped onions (or a chopped shallot)
1 teaspoon of dill weed/dried dill
½ teaspoon or so each of salt and pepper
Later, I’ll add:
1 to 1 ½ cups of mayonnaise
1 tablespoon of yellow mustard
3 to 6 boiled eggs, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
It’s better once it’s been chilled, but I’m serving this with the meatloaf as soon as it’s done.
I know eggs can be done in the Crock-Pot, I just am not sure how long they will take and what temperature is ideal. We’ll see. They are in with the potatoes on Low for 5 hours.
Here is how it turned out! The eggs cooked through. Without water, they did have some browning, but it’s a good alternative to cooking them separately in a pot on the stove.
Next, meatloaf is another one of those recipes you have to play with to get your favorite. I’ve been making meatloaf for so long, I don’t use a recipe and since it’s not a “baked good”, you really can’t mess it up. I think this time, I used 1 1/4 lb of ground turkey, 1/4 cup of Worcestershire Sauce, 2 tablespoons of ketchup, ½ tablespoon of yellow mustard, one egg, a package of crackers, crumbled…oh crap! I forgot the salt and pepper! Be right back!
Coat the pot with cooking spray and roll out the loaf into the pot. Usually, recipes say to “shape into loaf” but I think rolling it out of the bowl into the pot does a pretty good job of that itself! Cover, cook on Low for 5 hours.
I’m so excited to be able to make these two recipes side by side. They will be done at the same time, too. The more I use the Crock-Pot, the more I feel like everyone should have more than one. It’s just too easy. We are all busy and this leaves virtually no excuse not to cook at home. You not only save money but know exactly what is going into your food.
I literally did forget the salt and pepper and just added it (about ½ teaspoon each)! You can’t mess meatloaf up, unless you forget the salt and pepper. Luckily, until it’s done, it’s not too late, so I just put the S&P on top!
It really came out perfectly. I could have even gone heavier on the seasoning; but altogether, the meatloaf, potato salad, and mushroom gravy were a hit! Mushroom gravy, yes. I decided while all this was cooking that I was going to make Mushroom Gravy (scroll down for recipe) from scratch to tie this all together and make sure it was a savory meal.
Finally, gravy not only adds moisture to your dish but a heartiness that you can sometimes only get from mom’s cooking. The nice thing about gravy is that you can customize it to your dish. Chicken, beef, and mushroom gravy all have a same name base whereas brown gravy is non-specific in the type of food it uses for flavor. Using gravy to compliment your dish gives better dimension to the flavor of the food.
How much food do you plan on covering with gravy? I have found that gravy packets that you buy at the store only prepare one cup of gravy which is never enough for anyone but yourself. One cup per adult is more sufficient and making it from scratch avoids the added sodium that you find in most grocery store packets.
To make four cups of gravy (plenty to cover this meatloaf), I used:
4 cups of water
4 teaspoons of Better Than Bouillon chicken base
4 tablespoons of butter
1/4 cup flour
16 oz of mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper to taste (about ½ teaspoon each)
Melt butter in pan on medium-high. Add mushrooms, salt and pepper. Cook until liquid evaporates (may take up to 20 minutes), stirring occasionally. Coat with flour. Stir until flour is no longer dry. Add broth whisking until boils. Reduce heat, simmer until thickened, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
We love mushrooms, so I used a lot, but they do cook down a little. I’ve made gravy before adding flour to cold water, dissolving it, and then adding it to the pot. This way, you begin similar to making a roux with butter and then flour. I was a little nervous watching this amount of cooked mushrooms roll around in dry, uncooked flour.
Adding the flour to the mushrooms gave me a lot of anxiety thinking if it didn’t turn out, I would have to toss this whole batch and start over, but it came out okay.
Can’t get easier than this! Pizza is most kid’s favorite food at some point in their lives. This recipe lets you prep the ingredients and then throw everything in the pot to wait for your hungry family…and their friends! It’s filling and serves a crowd, so whether your teens are having a sleepover, you have date night and are getting dinner ready for the kids and sitter, or you’re going out of town and need something to last the family several days while you’re gone, this is a quick and satisfying meal you can customize.
I thought this recipe would be an easy alternative to rolling out pizza dough. It is. You can use whatever pasta you prefer. The meat and veggies are absolutely replaceable. Pick your favorites, get the ingredients for the sauce together, and stir it all into the pot. I would recommend that you cook anything that is fresh and cook it together to give a better flavor to the finished food.
There is some cooking involved prior to adding everything to the pot (you have to at least cook any raw meat), but once it’s done, you can leave it. The aroma will lure the kids, spouse, neighbor’s kids, etc., and it serves so many. A batch of this for us lasts in the freezer for months. Even after it’s done cooking, and we’ve had our fill, it doesn’t look like we were able to put a dent in it at all; the leftovers go into storage containers (which I’ve run out of with this and put servings into storage bags to lie flat in the freezer. Freezes quickly, defrost quickly)!
The photo collages depict two separate times I’ve made this recipe, one just cooking the meat and the other cooking the meat and veggies first. Sautéing veggies for Italian foods just gives more dimension to the flavor, in my opinion, and you have to cook the meat anyways, so just add the veggies to the pan after the cooked meat with a little olive oil; it will absorb some of the meat yumminess and help deglaze the pan=more flavor and less scrubbing/clean-up!
1 ½ lb ground turkey
1 lb pork sausage
4 jars (14 oz) of pizza sauce
2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese
2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
8 oz fresh mushrooms
6 oz pepperoni
½ c chopped shallot
½ c chopped red bell pepper
clove of garlic, minced
1 lb pasta, cooked and drained
Tablespoon fennel seed
1/4 each teaspoon salt and pepper
Brown ground turkey and pork in skillet, drain. Add to pot. Heat veggies in skillet with about 2 tablespoons olive oil and about 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper until veggies are transparent. Mix all ingredients except pasta into pot. Cook on Low 3 ½ hours or High 2 hours. Add pasta, cook on High 15-20 minutes.
The jars of Alfredo sauce you can buy nowadays, have some weird ingredients (like rennet which are enzymes from other mammals’ stomachs or maybe that’s in jarred pesto) I would rather not put in my body on a regular basis, and as good and as often as you’ll want to eat this, you won’t want that jar stuff at all!
This is homemade, from scratch Alfredo sauce! It’s perfectly creamy and smooth, goes wonderfully with the tender mushrooms and chicken out of the Crock-Pot, and is sure to be a kid-favorite (maybe not your three-year-old…just hide the mushrooms)!
I used half and half in place of whole milk here. We always have soy milk which I probably would have used except that I had some half and half leftover from another recipe. Oftentimes, I’m in a whirlwind of ingredients in the kitchen finding substitutes for recipes that I forget even the proportions, whether or not I cut the recipe in half, if I substitute dried herbs for fresh ones, or what I used when I make a sauce from scratch instead of one prepared/store-bought; but that’s the whole point of this blog!
You don’t have to have every single ingredient ever created in your kitchen to make a healthy meal. Keep your basics stocked, build you spice and herb collection, and have fun creating. Food made “with love” is always mindful of the family and what the family enjoys eating, and we all make mistakes here and there, but then you’ll know what ingredients are essential for the flavor you intend. Just remember to take notes!
Fettuccine Alfredo is actually pretty basic. Baked chicken, salt and pepper. Cream-based sauce with your favorite Italian cheeses, a little seasoning. Trial and error will get you to your personal favorite. Just make sure to always season your chicken and veggies. The butter and cream cheese make this recipe especially creamy and kid drool-worthy!
I may have split this recipe in half the first time I made it to try it so if it didn’t work out, I wasn’t wasting so much. I’ve tried many a times to make a low-fat Alfredo sauce, and it’s difficult. You really have to use whole milk or fatter or else the sauce will curdle and you’ll have to start over. There’s a lot of milk fat in this sauce, but it’s oh so scrumptious!
“1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips
2 packages (8 oz each) cremini mushrooms, cut into thirds
½ teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, cut into cubes
1 ½ cups grated Parmesan Cheese, plus additional for garnish
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, cut into cubes
1 package (1 pound) uncooked fettuccine
Chopped fresh basil (optional) I used dried basil since it was in the winter. 1. Coat inside of Crock-Pot with cooking spray. Arrange chicken in a single layer in bottom of the pot. Top with mushrooms. Sprinkle salt, pepper and garlic powder over mushrooms.
2. Cook and stir cream cheese, Parmesan cheese, milk and butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until smooth and heated through. Pour over mushrooms and chicken mixture, pushing down any that float to surface. Cover; cook on LOW 4 to 5 hours or on HIGH 2 to 2 ½ hours.
3. Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Drain. Add fettuccine to Alfredo sauce and toss gently to combine. Garnish with basil.”
Chicken and Mushroom Fettuccine Alfredo, Crock-Pot Slow Cooker Recipes (binder), p. 206, Publications International, Ltd., Lincolnwood, 2013.
I have to make this once a week now! I came across this recipe on social media. Someone reposted this short video showing how easy it was, but using only pepperoni. It looked so good and so easy to make and something the kids would eat, so I had to try it. It was easy…and we had to add mushrooms, of course!
Photo by M. Sandoval
We put a cup in the center of the baking dish hoping it would cook more evenly (since the bundt pan is still in Vegas). I ended up having to cut sections and rotating them to the edge of the dish and baking for an additional 10 minutes because the center never cooked through. The result was just delicious; the biscuits were crispy on the outside, soft inside. It was full of flavor, just the right seasoning even without the Parmesan cheese topping. So addicting. Biscuits are just sinful! I like to change up the toppings every time I make this, but it generally includes mushrooms. Try it out and tell me how it goes for you.