Beef Bourguignon

Something about the cold weather makes me crave this dish.  It's hearty and homey, and there is usually enough left over for the next night!  My boyfriend's mom gave me this recipe because it's one of his favorite dishes.  We both make a healthier version, so there is no bacon involved.

Most people make this in a dutch oven, but I prepare everything in a skillet and then transfer the ingredients to a crockpot.  It takes a little preparation but once you throw it in the crockpot, your work is done! I serve it over egg noodles, but you can eat it alone or with crusty bread.  (Quick Tip...If you are boiling pasta, place a wooden spoon over the top of the pot (pictured below).  This will prevent the water from bubbling over.)

The first and last photos are courtesy of happywhennothungry.com.  Ours got gobbled up too fast and I couldn't get a photo in time!

Beef Bourguignon
Recipe by halftomatohalfpotato


2-3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds of beef stewing roast (i used sirloin roast)
salt & pepper
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3 inch pieces
2 celery stalks, cut into 3 inch pieces
15 pearl onions, fresh or frozen
1package fresh mushrooms (12 oz)
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
2 Tablespoons flour
2 cups of red wine (i used burgundy, but any will do)
3 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon herbs de provence (in a jar, find in the spice aisle)
1-2 cups beef broth

-Cut the roast into 2 inch chunks and season with salt and pepper
-Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high/high heat
-Add beef to skillet in small batches, sear the meat on all sides (about 3-5 minutes)
-Once all meat is seared, remove from skillet and place in crockpot
-In same skillet, brown carrots, celery, onions, and mushrooms (about 3-5 minutes)
-Remove vegetables from skillet and place in crockpot
-In same skillet, add flour and stir into the pan drippings
-Whisk in red wine, tomato paste, and beef broth
-Transfer to crockpot and pour over meat and veggies
-Add garlic and herbs de provence
-Stir together and cover
-Cook on low for 6-8 hours
-Serve over egg noodles and sprinkle with parsley (optional)


Baked Greek Style Chicken w/Spinach and Feta

YUM!  YUM!  YUM!  This is my new favorite recipe!  I found it in Rachael Ray's magazine a while back, and finally tried it.  It's so good on it's own...you don't need a side dish because the spinach is already inside!

I made a few tweaks to the original recipe.  In the original, the breadcrumbs are sautéed in butter, but I decided to substitute a small amt of olive oil instead.  The breading didn't stick completely but crisped up nicely, without all the butter and fat.

I used garlic salt instead of regular salt.  This is a matter of preference...you may want to wait til the end to salt the dish, due to the saltiness of the feta cheese. 

I baked it for about 45 minutes instead of the 20 minutes it called for, because my chicken was pretty thick. It was well worth the wait.  Enjoy!

Baked Greek Style Chicken w/Spinach and Feta
Recipe adopted by Rachael Ray Magazine
Photos by halftomatohalfpotato
Serves 4

2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped (i grate mine with a hand grater, works great!)
1-10 oz box organic chopped spinach, thawed (i wrap mine in a towel and squeeze out the liquid)
salt & pepper
garlic salt (i like Lawry's)
Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste (jarred nutmeg is fine too)
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/2 cup crumbled greek feta cheese

-Preheat oven to 425ºF
-Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil over medium heat
-Add the onion and 3/4 of the garlic and cook until softened
-Transfer to a bowl to cool, then add spinach to it.  Season with salt, pepper, & nutmeg
-Heat remaining olive oil, add the panko, oregano & remaining garlic
-Toss and remove from heat
-Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray
-Split each chicken breast across (not the whole way through), open like a book & place in baking dish
-Season split chicken breasts with garlic salt & pepper
-Stuff with spinach mixture and feta, letting the stuffing overflow at the edges
-Top with panko mixture
-Bake about 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through

onion and grated garlic



Cinnamon/Sugar Banana Bread

Hello!  Happy Monday!  Over the weekend, I made 4 loaves of banana bread!  After making cookies for the holiday, I got the urge to start baking more.  Real baking...not boxed mix baking (I am a master at brownies!)

I was only planning on making one or two loaves but halfway through measuring things out, I realized the recipe was for 4 loaves...so I just rolled with it!  I figured I could either freeze them or give them to friends and family.  I have to say they turned out pretty well for a rookie baker!

The cinnamon in this recipe makes it so tasty!  It also includes sour cream, which sounds weird but it makes the bread melt in your mouth.  Walnuts are optional but I like the texture they provide so I used them; roughly chopped.  The recipe called for an hour baking time at 300ºF, but I would suggest to cook it at 350ºF for an hour or until a toothpick (inserted in the center of the bread) comes out clean.


Banana Bread
Recipe adopted by all recipes
Photos by halftomatohalfpotato
Yields 4 loaves

1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup butter
3 cups white sugar
3 eggs
6 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking soda
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

-Preheat oven to 350ºF.
-Grease four 7x3 inch loaf pans
-In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup white sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Dust pans lightly with
 cinnamon and sugar mixture.
-In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and 3 cups sugar. 
-Mix in eggs, mashed bananas, sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon. 
-Mix in salt, baking soda and flour. Stir in nuts. Divide into prepared pans.
-Bake for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


American Steak Stir-Fry

Red meat is a rarity in this house but I had a request for steak.  Since my grill was out of commission (see previous post), I had to think of something else to make.  I decided on a stir-fry but wanted to try something different than the usual Asian flavors.  A little Montreal Steak seasoning and Worcestershire sauce and voila!  A tasty dinner is born!

American Steak Stir-Fry
Recipe and Photos by halftomatohalfpotato

4 strip steaks (or top sirloin), trimmed, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 green pepper, sliced into strips
1 small/medium onion, cut into wedges
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
4 Tablespoons Olive oil (or vegetable oil), divided
Montreal Steak seasoning, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste

-Season the steak slices with Montreal Steak seasoning and garlic powder, set aside
-In a large skillet, heat 2 Tablespoons oil over medium-high to high heat
-Add peppers and onion and stir-fry for about 2 minutes, or until tender
-Remove peppers and onion from skillet and set aside, keep warm
-Heat another 1-2 Tablespoons oil over medium-high to high heat
-Add the steak, let it sear completely on one side before turning over/stirring
-Cook about 1-2 minutes
-Add peppers and onions back into the skillet with the meat
-Add Worcestershire sauce and stir
-Cook another 30 seconds, remove from heat and serve

NOTE: this is also delicious served over rice



Turkey Burgers with Cilantro Basil Sauce

This was the first time I ever tried making this recipe and it was a success!  Next time I make this dish, I want to try it over rice.  I used extra cilantro for the burgers because it tastes so fresh.  For the sauce, I substituted lemon juice for the white vinegar because I didn't have any.  If you find yourself in a pinch and need to find a substitution, http://www.joyofbaking.com/IngredientSubstitution.html is a great website.

I started these on my grill but of course it ran out of gas halfway through the cooking time (ha), so I finished them on a grill pan.

Turkey Burgers with Cilantro Basil Sauce
Recipe adopted from mycolumbianrecipes
Pictures by halftomatohalfpotato

4-8 patties (depending on thickness)

1 lb ground turkey (i used ground turkey breast)
1/2 cup bread crumbs (i use panko)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 egg
Salt and ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup chopped onion

- In a large bowl, combine the turkey, bread crumbs, cilantro, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, egg and the
  onion. Using your hands, mix together the ingredients until evenly distributed
-Divide the mixture into equal portions and form each into a patty
-Heat grill or grill pan
-Cook the patties, turning once, until opaque throughout, about 8 minutes per side, depending on
-Serve the patties with the cilantro-basil sauce on the side


2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoon white vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove
Salt & pepper to taste

-Blend all ingredients together in food processor or blender until desired consistency.



Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas

Even though I'm not a vegetarian, last night I decided on a meat free dish (mainly because I wanted to use what I had on hand).

I don't eat a lot of red meat, but I love chicken and fish.  Growing up, my Dad used to buy our meat from a farmer friend, where the animals were grass fed/pastured.  That's not an option for everyone but when you're grocery shopping, always look for lean, hormone & antibiotic free meats.  It's important to know where the meat came from and how it was raised.  If you're not sure, you can always talk to the butcher.

These quesadillas are healthy, easy to make, AND super tasty!  I normally use whole wheat tortillas, but this time I used flour tortillas instead. You could add chicken or beef to these, but they are filling enough without the meat.

Top them with salsa, guacamole, or whatever your little heart desires!  I love sour cream but my waistline doesn't...my secret weapon is plain, non-fat greek yogurt.  It's taste and consistency is almost identical to sour cream, but is MUCH healthier (and packed with protein)!

Black Bean and Corn Quesadillas
Recipe & Photos by halftomatohalfpotato

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 (15.5 ounce) can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 (10 ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup salsa
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (add more if you like it spicy)
8 (8 inch) whole wheat tortillas (you can also use flour)
1.5 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided (preferably reduced fat)

-Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat
-Stir in onion and cook until softened, about 2 minutes
-Stir in beans and corn
-Add salsa, cilantro, & pepper flakes; mix well.  Cook until heated through, about 3 minutes
-In a large skillet over medium high heat, place a tortilla and sprinkle evenly with cheese, then top with
 some of the bean/corn mixture.  Place another tortilla on top, cook until golden, then flip and cook on the
 other side.  Repeat with remaining tortillas and filling.  Cut cooked tortillas into wedges and serve.



A New Year...A New Challenge

Hello and Happy New Year!

Over the past few years I have been cooking up a storm!  Some dishes turned out great...some, not so great! I decided to start this blog to keep track of some of my favorite recipes and also mark my progress, so thank you for following along!  In addition, my goals are to try new creations and to work on beautifying my presentation and picture taking skills!

I love the idea of a home cooked meal because you are controlling exactly what you put into your body.  I like to use healthy, fresh ingredients that result in a simple, but tasty dish.

This is pretty much my first week back to eating normally after the wonderful, but no so healthy holidays.  For dinner, I decided to use what I had on hand (which is what I always try to do, so nothing gets wasted).  I had chicken breasts, tomatoes, mushrooms and basil.  I made a light chicken dish that I usually serve over angel hair, but it's also good sans pasta (if you're watching your carb intake).  My cousin showed me how to make this tomatoey dish when we were in Italy a few years ago and I thought it was fitting, being that this is my first post :)

Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes & Mushrooms
Recipe & Photo by halftomatohalfpotato

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 large tomatoes, diced (i like fresh, but can use canned)
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil 
5 cloves of garlic (can use more or less), minced
10 fresh basil leaves
garlic salt (i like lawry's)

-Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat
-Add garlic and sauté until softened (not browned)
-Add tomatoes and mushrooms, stir everything together
-Season chicken with garlic salt and pepper
-Add chicken to skillet, raise to medium high heat
-Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, then flip chicken and stir sauce
-Add basil and cook for another 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through
-Remove from pan, coat chicken with sauce and serve

This can be served over angel hair or linguini.