One-Pot Pizza Pasta Bake

I may not be a parent yet, but I am a teacher, so back-to-school in our house is a zero-to-sixty time of year with school days, school nights, and marching season! The concept of the one-pot meal is one that, as a busy teacher and lazy pan washer, I absolutely adore. They’re very user-friendly, especially for the multi-tasker. You fix the meal, cover the pot, and go do something else while dinner cooks…in my case, it’s usually laundry or a cleaning chore of some sort.

I came across a round-up of 15 Best Back-To-School Recipes over at Damn Delicious. If you haven’t come across this blog yet, click to it! It’s full of amazing recipes that are easy to cook and true to the blog title. This pasta bake caught my eye and I knew I had to try it. Including prep time it took about 30 minutes. I adapted it based upon the meat and vegetables that I had on hand.

One-Pot Pizza Pasta Bake

adapted from Damn Delicious

  •  1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz ground turkey
  • 1 medium zucchini; peeled, sliced and quartered
  • 4 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup pepperoni, divided – slice regular-sized pepperoni into quarters, or use the mini ones
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp oregano, divided
  • 1 tsp dried basil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder, divided
  • 8 oz dry rotini pasta
  • sat & pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the ground turkey and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes; break it up as you go so it gets nice and crumbly. Add the zucchini, mushrooms, and half of the oregano, basil and garlic powder. Cook for two minutes until the zucchini starts to get some color. Add half of pepperoni and cook until heated through.
  3. Preheat the oven to broil.
  4. To the skillet add the tomato sauce, pasta, and the rest of the oregano, basil and garlic powder. Pour in 1 1/2 cups water and season with salt and pepper; stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil; then cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese, remaining pepperoni, and parsley on top. Place into the heated oven and cook until the cheese has melted and browns a little (about 2 minutes). Serve immediately!

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This was a hit in our house and my husband said it was ‘really good’, too – so I call that an absolute win. This may sound kind of weird – but this tasted a lot like Hamburger Helper but without all the weird additives in it. It look about as long to prepare, included vegetables and was, well, real food. This dish was good on it’s own, but can be served with a green salad if you want, too. You can also customize the vegetables you use,  especially if you like several toppings on your pizza. You can also adapt this to be meatless but omitting the pepperoni and turkey, and adding more veggies.

It’s a basic dish that’s packed with flavor – and only uses one pot. What’s not to love? Enjoy 🙂

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Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

Chicken parmesan has been one of my most favorite foods for as long as I can remember. Serve it with a salad, some spaghetti, and maybe some garlic bread or breadsticks…yum. Then again, I’m also Italian. How could I not like this dish? 😉 It’s another one of those comfort foods that I hold near and dear to my heart. And, with the weather as cold as it’s been (I saw -26 on my thermometer on the way to work. WTF), you all know that I just can’t get enough of comfort food.

But, I’m away from my home anywhere from 8 to 15 hours a day – depending on what band event is going on – and sadly, I don’t have as much time as I’d like to really put some love into weeknight cooking.

That’s where this recipe comes in. It’s one where you can make it ahead of time on a lazy Sunday, or mix up in 10 minutes.  You can fix it, and forget about it for a little while – but still tastes good (unlike some of the meals that my crockpot has been overcooking lately). I believe it put it all together, threw it in the oven, and worked on laundry and grading for a while.

Chicken Parmesan Meatloaf

adapted from What’s Cookin’ Chicago?

  • 1 lb ground chicken (ground turkey is okay, too)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp minced onion (the dried kind)
  • salt & pepper (just a dash of each)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • pasta sauce
  • shredded Italian cheese blend (mozzarella is okay as well)
  • minced/dried parsley
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Lightly grease loaf pan with cooking spray & set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the meat, egg, breadcrumbs, spices (except the parsley), and Parmesan cheese. Mix until combined.
  3. Place the mixture into the greased loaf pan & press down to make a loaf. Top the meatloaf with pasta sauce.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and top with the Italian blend cheese and parsley; put back into the oven and bake until the cheese is nice and bubbly.

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I paired this with a green salad and some spaghetti, mixed up with some garlic scape pesto we had in the freezer – which, may I add, froze really well and was so wonderful to thaw and use in the dead of winter. Our house smelled amazing as this was cooking.bNext time I’m going to make a few batches of this and freeze it, so we have some quick meals for busy nights. Since I have that lovely deep freezer, I have plenty of room! 🙂 The instructions for baking from frozen should be on the original post.

Enjoy! Stay warm!

Polenta Tamale Pie & The Freezer

For the past month or so, I’ve had this tube of polenta sitting in my pantry. I like polenta a lot – and have seen quite a few recipes that include it – but just never got around to it. I really liked the idea of using it with a Mexican-flavored dish, so off to the internet I went.

I came back with polenta tamale pie. Mike is a huge fan of tamales, so I figured this would be a great dish to try. There are so many recipes out there for this, so I ended up reading through a few and just going for it, so to speak – the two links I’ve linked to gave me the best directions based on what I had sitting in my pantry & freezer.

Polenta Tamale Pie

Inspired by Bon Appetit & Eat, Live, Run

  • 1 tube polenta – sliced into 1/4″-thick rounds
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2/3 lb ground beef
  • 1 can refried beans with green chiles
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • a dash of cayenne pepper
  • salsa
  • 4 oz shredded Mexican-blend or sharp cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
  2. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion; cook for a few minutes until the onions start to get a little soft.
  3. Add the garlic and the ground beef at the same time – keep an eye on the garlic so that it doesn’t burn. Once the ground beef has been cooked through, turn off the heat and drain the mixture in a colander in the sink.
  4. In a bowl, mix the ground beef with the refried beans. Add the spcies and salsa, and mix to combine.
  5. In a baking dish, layer about half of the polenta rounds to cover the bottom. Then pour your beef & bean mixture on top of that. Lay the second half of the polenta rounds over the mixture, and cover with cheese.
  6. Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the cover, and bake for 15 more minutes (a total of 30 minutes total). Serve with sour cream and cilantro, and a side of yellow rice, if desired.

Sadly, I don’t have a picture of my tamale pie, because my husband someone had dug right into the pie before I could snap a picture…and this is one of those dishes that doesn’t look very appetizing once someone has started digging into it. But, you’re going to have to trust me on this one. It’s delicious!

You can easily, easily make this a vegetarian (or maybe even vegan if you omit the cheese?) dish by making your mixture with corn, tomatoes, and pinto or black beans, instead of ground beef and refried beans. More than likely, this is what I’m going to do next time I make this dish. You really wouldn’t “miss” the meat, persay. You could even do ground turkey instead of beef, to lighten it up – I used beef because I have some in my freezer, and wanted to use some up before transferring it to the new chest freezer!!!

I’ve had my chest freezer for 24 hours and I’m already in love. The freezer in our kitchen refrigerator is terrible – it defrosts ice cubes – and the freezer in the garage is even worse, especially with the frigid weather we’ve been having. It was an affordable necessity. I also purchased a small FoodSaver to see if that will help me freeze extra meat and vegetables better, especially when CSA season starts and I want to preserve vegetables. So far, the 2 lbs of ground beef I vacuum-packed & froze have held up well. I’m sold 😉

So, in a nutshell, that’s what’s been up over here in my kitchen. Tamale pie, and a new freezer. All while it’s freezing cold outside.

Turkey Pumpkin Chili

Alright, here we go. Highs in the 50s and chilly nights. A head cold. I cannot leave my house in the morning without a jacket (or else I’ll freeze during marching band rehearsal). Summer is over…

…but on the bright side, it’s time once again for soup, stews & chili. Yum.

Oh, and football on Sundays 🙂 I love my Cleveland Browns, but that’s a post for another day…

I came across this recipe over at In Her Chucks. It’s a great blog – I really enjoy reading it (hint: check it out!). This dish is a great meal for a chili fall evening; I especially am glad that it uses bell peppers. That is one thing I have a lot of right now…green bell peppers! Which, truthfully, I’m not a fan of on their own. But, I will eat them in chili. I promise.

And yes, it involves using pumpkin in another way other than bakery, pie, and lattes 😉

Turkey Pumpkin Chili – adapted from In Her Chucks

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers (of your choice), chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
  • about 1 lb of pumpkin or squash; pureed or smooshed up pretty well
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 can red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the aromatics and peppers, stirring often until they are cooked.
  2. Add the turkey & cook until brown.
  3. Add the tomatoes, pumpkin/squash, water, and spices. Bring to a boil
  4. Reduce heat to low and add the kidney beans. Cover & simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Serve like any other chili – in our house, that means with crackers, cheddar cheese, raw onion or scallions, and spaghetti!

If you don’t have canned or fresh pumpkin laying around, you can use a winter squash or maybe even butternut squash. I though this would be a good way, though, to use pumpkin that may have arrived in your CSA, or that you simply see at the store next time you go grocery shopping. It’s not too hard to make your own pumpkin puree, so I’ve found! I’ll be using this technique to attack the winter squash & pumpkins that are looking decorative in my dining room since I’m out of pantry space.

Happy Fall, everyone! 🙂

Turkey Burgers with Lemon-Honey Mustard

With marching band season upon us, I’m starting to get a tad busier in the evenings, as I’m still holding my part-time job at the bakery as well. My wonderful husband volunteered to cook dinner one evening last week, which was a wonderful treat and a nice respite from my usual antics in the kitchen.

He decided to whip up some turkey burgers, and did some research on his own – and ended up making his own adapted version of Bobby Flay’s turkey burgers, made with a lemon-honey mustard. I’m not a fan of honey mustard normally, but the homemade version he made was simply awesome.

Turkey Burgers with Lemon-Honey Mustard – adapted from Bobby Flay

The Burgers:

  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 log goat cheese, sliced into 8 pieces
  • 4 sesame seed hamburger buns, split and lightly grilled

The Mustard:

  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  1. Fire up the grill.
  2. In a bowl, combine ingredients to make the lemon-hone y mustard. Whisk together and chill.
  3. Separate the ground turkey into four patties. Sprinkle the burgers on both sides with salt and pepper. Grill until cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
  4. During the last minutes of cooking, add 2 slices of goat cheese to each burger. Place each half on the buns as well, to toast them. Close the grill and let the cheese melt a bit, about 1 minute or so.
  5. Remove everything from the grill & assemble the burgers. Place the burgers on the buns, and top with some of the lemon-honey mustard.

These were amazing! I was impressed with the fact that there was little seasoning in the burgers, but tons of flavor overall. Goat cheese is a unique topping for turkey burgers; I’ve had them topped with Laughing Cow cheese before (a great Weight Watchers adaptation), but goat cheese is much more savory, as you can expect. Mike served these with corn on the cob, grilled in foil with olive oil & salt. It was a great combination. The lemon-honey mustard recipe leaves a significant amount of leftovers, so my husband put the rest into a plastic container. We’ve used it over the past week as a dip for pretzels.

As I said before, these burgers were absolutely amazing. I’m hoping that Mike makes them again soon. While a night off from cooking is great, these burgers were even greater. No picture, due to the fact that these were quickly devoured! 🙂