Monday, February 23, 2015

Cheeseburger Soup

Perfect Pairing:  Mix ‘n Chop

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Here in Chicago we are still smack dab in the middle of winter.  We are to the point where it is no longer charming in any way.  The snow is dirty, the cars are salty(as is my coat and, inevitably, my dark jeans), the potholes are growing, and everyone is just super ready to see some green grass and birds.  I guess if you want to see a silver lining it would be that it is still soup season!  It is a very thin silver lining.

Soup is one of my favorite winter foods because it always seems to get better leftover and it is so simple.  I think I have made a batch of soup almost every Sunday in 2015 so it can be enjoyed all week long. 

My mom first had a version  of this Cheeseburger Soup earlier this year made by a friend and she asked for the recipe.  She has probably made it 4 times since then and it quickly became a family favorite.  I made a few variations from the original recipe to lighten it up just a bit.

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It is just really darn good soup.  Kind of a nice change from your standard chili or noodle soup.  I feel like I should maybe apologize for using processed cheese.  It is not very "foodie" of me.  So, sorry about that.  All things in moderation?

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I have a lot of tools in my kitchen and some are probably (definitely) superfluous but one I really love is the Mix ‘n Chop from Pampered Chef.  It is the perfect tool for breaking up ground meat.  I’m a big fan.  If you want to purchase one here is a link to my favorite Pampered Chef consultant, Julie.





Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Brussels Sprout and Pear Salad with Bacon and Candied Pistachios

 Perfect Pairing:  Sheller

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I just got back from an absolutely amazing vacation in Cabo with my family and fiance.  It was pretty much perfection.  Here is the obligatory photo dump to prove it!

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So now it is back to reality, which means guacamole is not served at every meal and mojitos (no sugar) are not offered at 4 PM for BOGO Happy Hour.  Sigh.

The best part about a spinach salad is obviously the bacon dressing.  I really love the Pioneer Woman’s spinach salad recipe.  She cooks the red onions and mushrooms in a little bacon grease instead of adding them raw.  That is a game changer.
This Brussels Sprout Salad takes its cue from the Spinach Salad since it is tossed with a warm bacon dressing. 

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Then the whole thing is topped with crumbled bacon, pears, and candied pistachios.  How about a close-up?

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This salad is all about contrast…. Crunchy bacon with soft pears, salty bacon with sweet candied nuts, warm bacon dressing with cold shredded Brussels sprouts.  Hmmm, sounds like this salad is all about the bacon. 

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Waaay back at the start of the blog I posted an Asian Inspired Brussels Sprout Salad that was a copycat recipe.  I was trying to recreate a salad I had at a fabulous restaurant in Chicago called Sunda.  That recipe called for quickly stir frying half of the veggies.  If you are not into raw Brussels you could also try that method using some of the leftover bacon grease.  I am sure it wouldn’t suck.

You will need about a half cup of shelled pistachios for this recipe.  I recommend getting a sheller.  No, this is not something you buy at Williams Sonoma or Sur La Table.  Mine was my grandma.


One year ago on Perfecting the Pairing: Lemon Cream Pasta

Two years ago on Perfecting the Pairing: Slow Cooker Lemon and Garlic Chicken

Three years ago on Perfecting the Pairing: Ham, Cheese, and Asparagus Croissants  & Cherry Cheesecake (Perfect for Valentine's Day!)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Creole Jicama Hash with a Sunny Side Up Egg

Perfect Pairing:  Box shredder

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I am so excited about this dish!  It will come as no surprise that since I have a big day (MY WEDDING!!!!!) coming up soon I am doing my best to eat healthy, workout, and tone up.  I am always searching for healthy recipes that are still delicious.  I have a fiancé to feed!

I love jicama but had only eaten it as a raw crudite, how it is served here.  In this breakfast (or any other meal) the jicama is shredded and cooked like a hash with onion and creole seasoning.  A simple box shredder is the perfect tool here.  No need to drag out the food processor. Just watch your fingers.


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Jicama has a slightly sweet flavor which is great in this, especially if you balance it with a hefty pinch of salt.  

Top it all off with a sprinkle of green onions, sriracha, and an egg.  I like (love) a runny egg, but cook according to your preference.  


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It is such a satisfying meal.  If you are familiar with the diet that uses “points” this is only 3 points!!!  You can’t beat that.  It is also paleo friendly for my paleo friends out there!  


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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Salmon Burgers with Dill Yogurt Sauce

Perfect Pairing: Broiler Pan
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These salmon burgers were a fun switch from regular hamburgers or a simple salmon fillet.  Fresh salmon is combined with fresh dill, horseradish, lemon zest, and shallot to form a super tasty burger.  Then it is topped with a light sauce made from fat free Greek yogurt, fresh dill and a touch of honey.


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These are so simple to make, you basically throw everything into the food processor and then the oven.  I would try to get salmon without the skin.  I didn’t do this and removing the skin was the most time consuming part of the meal prep.


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Most ovens come with broiler pans but I think they are pretty underused.  I know I rarely use mine!  I dusted it off for this recipe and it was perfect.  If you don’t have a broiler pan you could use a cooling rack placed over a baking sheet.


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These were perfect with slices of crunchy cucumber and crisp lettuce.  I served mine with oven-roasted broccoli and sweet potato fries.  It was a delicious and healthy meal.  




Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Roasted Caprese Salad

Perfect Pairing:  Off-season tomatoes


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While I love cold-weather comfort food sometimes I crave something fresh that reminds me of warmer days. Especially with the negative temperatures and dreary, dirty snow outside.

The perfect summer dish is a caprese salad made with garden-grown tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and sweet basil.  Now we are stuck with hothouse tomatoes that barely resemble the summer varieties that you could eat like an apple.   Roasting mediocre tomatoes brings out their natural sweetness and concentrates all of the good tomato flavor. 


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I used a variety of grape and Campari tomatoes, but use whatever you have on hand or what is on sale.  


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After roasting they are topped with shards of fresh mozzarella, julienned basil, and a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar.  

Park yourself under a heat lamp, pour a glass of sauvignon blanc, turn on some Bob Marley and it is practically summer.


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Sunday, January 4, 2015

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole

Perfect Pairing: New Year’s Resolution Diet


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I hope you all had a fantastic holiday season!  Mine was absolutely wonderful.  It was my first Christmas with my fiancé and his family, so that made it extra special.  


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We loved spending time with all of our adorable nieces and nephews.  They make Christmas so fun!


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We also had lots of good food!  No surprise there.  One of our family traditions is a meal of homemade chicken and noodles (my dad and I make the noodles) over mashed potatoes.  Starch on starch.  Then a dessert of cookies.  Why not?  Every meal on Christmas break seems to have dessert.

I always look forward to getting back into my healthy routine after the new year.  This year it is especially important since I have a wedding to prepare for!  Yikes!

Each year I post a healthy New Year’s resolution recipe.  




This year it is a delicious Spaghetti Squash Pizza Casserole.  I adore spaghetti squash.  It is such a great pasta alternative that is full of fiber and nutrients.  Here it is combined with my favorite pizza toppings, sausage (I used turkey), green pepper, onion, and mushrooms.  


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Use your favorite spaghetti sauce.  I like Mario Batali’s spicy arrabbiata sauce.


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I baked mine in two dishes so I could put one directly in the freezer for a healthy meal that is ready to go when I am short on time.


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You can feel so good about this dish.  Health food.

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