Tag Archives: Cheese

Turkey Burger and Sweet Potato Fries


I know that there is no way to have a post today that is anywhere near as pretty or as exciting as Saturday’s Orange Tian from The Daring Baker’s Challenge, so I will not even try!

I will, however, make many friends and neighbors (and hopefully others!) happy by posting an incredibly delicious recipe for something simple and healthy that can be whipped up in almost no time for dinner!

I will tell you (and you certainly may already know this)…I am not a turkey burger girl! Where’s the beef? That’s what I want to know! I think ground turkey is a total bore (even in chili). I have tried and tried to make it tasty, but I am always less than impressed. My take on food is, if it’s not worth the calories, then I am not eating it! That is generally how I feel about the gobbler burger!

I decided to take a peek on line (because I know there are so many wonderful cooks out there that post recipes), to see if I had missed something. I did find a recipe from The Neelys (Food Network) that uses Pepper Jack Cheese in the middle of the turkey burgers. Maybe now we were talking!

I know that they used some onion and garlic in the ground turkey, so I did that. Then I added some of our leftover Country Bob’s Regular All Purpose Sauce. I knew I wanted to try it in ground meat and I will tell you…it was the absolute best turkey burger I have ever had. It was moist and delicious. I must admit, that sauce is really yummy and I am so excited that I was sent a few bottles to test it out!

If you do not have or cannot find the sauce, you should try a barbecue sauce that you like (with some hot and sweet) or A-1 sauce and add some heat (maybe a pinch of red pepper flakes). The incredible flavors were achieved with the addition of that one ingredient. It also created the moistness in the burger. Be sure to cook these burgers inside and not on the grill. They will stay together better if they are sautéed in a pan. They will also be juicier. (I highlighted this because I have had some readers ask about cooking the burgers on an outdoor grill. I advise that you cook them inside in a pan. They will not be moist and sometimes fall apart when cooked outdoors. They are sooo much better when browned in a little olive oil!).)

In addition to the burger, I oven roasted some sweet potato fries. Oh, my gosh! I sprinkled them with Za’atar, which is Middle Eastern spice that is normally used to top pita bread (or it can be used in various dishes). Forget the pita and top these fries! This was such an incredible, simple dinner! It was low-fat and healthy. I even used 80 calorie whole wheat buns from Sara Lee. Shocking, I know!

Turkey Burgers
Makes 3

20 oz. ground turkey (white and dark meat)
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (a bit more than a pinch!)
1/4 cup Country Bob’s Regular All Purpose Sauce (substitute your favorite barbecue sauce or A-1)
Slices of Pepper Jack Cheese
Additional sauce, warmed to top cooked burger
Olive oil

Mix first 5 ingredients together in a large bowl. Shape ground turkey into 6 thin patties. Fold cheese slices into small squares (I used 1/2 slice per burger) or cut slices from a block of cheese. Place in the middle of the burgers. Top with another patty. Be sure there is enough room all around the sides to seal the burger well (you do not want all the tasty cheese oozing out while it cooks!). Repeat this 2 more times to make 3 burgers.

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat (preferably a griddle pan, if you have one). Brown burgers on one side (about 5 minutes). Flip the burgers and brown on the other side (another 4-5 minutes). Check to be sure the turkey is cooked.

Place cooked burgers on a bun and top with warm Country Bob’s Sauce (or substitute), lettuce and any other burger condiment you like. That’s it! It is soooo good!

Sweet Potato Fries
Serves 2-3

2 large sweet potatoes
2 Tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Za’atar seasoning

Preheat oven to 425 degree. Wash and scrub sweet potatoes. Cut into large slices (do not make them too thin or they will burn). They should be the size of homestyle potatoes. Toss them with the olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Place on a nonstick baking sheet.

Cook them in the oven for 15 minutes and then flip over. They should be crispy and brown in about another 10-15 minutes. Remove from the sheet and sprinkle generously with Za’atar seasoning.

This is the perfect quick and easy dinner that still has tons of awesome flavors! I have finally found something to make me want to eat turkey in a burger and not just have sliced turkey breast meat for Thanksgiving! 🙂



Filed under Cheese, Country Bob's, Entrees, Healthy, Low-fat, Recipes, Sweet Potato Fries, Turkey Burgers, Za'atar

Cincinnati Chili – Mine finally tastes like Skyline Chili!!

I have been making chili FOREVER! I am sure most of us have and I am certain that we would all say that we make the best chili or that we have some super top secret chili recipe from Uncle Whoever that we will never give up! Well, it seemed that Skyline Chili wasn’t giving it up either for awhile because until a week ago I could not seem to get it right!

I, frankly, had never heard of this Skyline Chili stuff until I married my hubby. He lived in Kentucky many years ago and first had this type of chili in Louisville. Apparently, it is now served in its home city of Cincinnati, Ohio as well as Indiana, Kentucky and even Florida (of all places!). My chili was more of what I would consider “normal” chili. It has the beans mixed in with the usual ingredients (onions, green peppers, tomatoes, chili powder, etc.) and this Cincinnati chili is just made with meat! It is also served over spaghetti! Now who does that? I had never heard of such a thing!

There are also several brands of Cincinnati style chili with Skyline Chili perhaps being the most recognizable name. Gold Star would be the next competitor with Empress and Dixie bringing up the rear! I went online and found out that all of these brands of Cincinnati chili have their own locations, several sell their chili, spices, T-shirts and even golf balls on their websites!

All of these brands of chili are available in the can (oh, yuck!) and are primarily sold in the same states where they have their restaurants. Skyline Chili is also available in your grocer’s freezer (even here in Atlanta), so that is what my husband has been eating for years when he needed a fix!

I guess there has been some huge rivalry between these chili makers (especially the top two – Skyline and Gold Star). There are also myriads of recipes floating around and lots of discussions about what exactly goes into this chili to make it taste so different. Well, I will tell you that I have probably tried 5 recipes since this quest began and as of last week, the adventure is over! I have done it! I finally found a recipe that tastes just like the stuff my hubby had in Indiana years ago and has craved from the frozen foods department since then.

So, this is how I spent a day in the mountains with 10 degree temps, 50 mile an hour howling winds and one foot of icy snow! I made chili! This recipe I used (with great success, I might add :)) was adapted from About .com. I made some changes based on what I read in comments online and how things were progressing while it cooked.

I read many discussions about how to fix the beef prior to mixing it with the spices. One was to put the ground beef in a food processor first to chop the meat finer (I am not so sure if that worked or not, but I tried it). The other key to making this is to boil the beef first. It sounds gross and does not make for pretty pictures, so you won’t be seeing those here, but it works! You need to really work the meat to get it into the teeniest pieces possible! That is part of the difference of this chili.

I would say the real secret is in the addition of cocoa and cinnamon and the large amount of spices you add. The chili tasted really hot at first, but as it cooked, the flavors mellowed and created that just right blend of spices that makes Cincinnati chili so different!

I used an equal amount of ground round and ground chuck. That way I had good flavor from the chuck, but did not have to worry so much about the fat (since we wanted to eat it right away!). I will say, however, that as with many dishes (especially chili) it was WAY better day 2 and day 3. We could not stop eating it!

One more thing about this chili…it is talked about in a way that reminds me of eating hash browns at Waffle House! Here are the ways you can fix it!

The Cincinnati “Skyline” Chili Ordering Code:

1-way: just the chili
2-way: chili served over spaghetti
3-way: chili, spaghetti, and grated Cheddar cheese
4-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese, and onions
5-way: chili, spaghetti, cheese, onions, and beans
All “ways” are served with oyster crackers (we skipped the crackers!).

Our new personal favorite would be the cheese coney! This would include the hot dog with chili, cheese, diced onions and mustard. We left off the onions and mustard (did not want to mess up the yummy chili flavor!).

By the way, I cooked my chili for about 8 hours (low and slow!). The original recipe calls for simmering for 3 hours. Just trust me on this one and start it in the morning and let it cook ALL day. Better yet, cook it the day before and serve it the next day! No more frozen chili for us! 😉

Cincinnati Chili

* 1 quart cold water
* 2 lbs ground beef (I used 1 lb. each of ground round and ground chuck).
* 2 cups crushed tomato
* 2 yellow onions, diced
* 4 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
* 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
* 1/4 cup chili powder
* 1 tsp cayenne
* 1 tsp ground cumin
* 2 tbsp cider vinegar
* 1 whole bay leaf
* 1/4 tsp ground cloves
* 1 tsp cinnamon
* 1 1/2 tsp salt (I used Kosher)


1. Put your ground beef in a food processor and pulse several times. Add beef and water to a 4-quart pot. Bring to a simmer while stirring until the ground beef is in very small pieces. Simmer for 30 minutes and add all the rest of the ingredients.

2. Simmer on low, uncovered, for 3 hours (longer is better, all day is best!). Add water as needed if the chili becomes to thick (I did need to do this several times, especially because I cooked mine all day).

3. Refrigerated the chili overnight, and the next day remove the layer of fat from top before reheating and serving (I really did not have any major fat to skim and I served it the same day).

I so hate to say this, but it really is “Yum-O”! 😉


Filed under Beans, Beef, Cheese, Cincinnati Chili, Entrees, Hot dogs, Recipes, Spaghetti

Rustic Acorn Squash Lasagna with Browned Butter Sauce

This recipe is my second entry in the Foodista Best of the Food Blogs Cookbook contest. The other one is my Meyer Lemon Sorbet. As Donkey says in the movie Shrek, “Pick me!”, if you are so inclined. Thanks!

You may have already noticed that I love squash. It is the perfect comfort food and is synonymous with Fall and Winter. I am a huge fan of butternut squash lasagna, however, it is a very rich dish that is sometimes a bit too sweet. It also makes enough for 8 to 10 people and there are only 2 of us.

I decided to create a lasagna that I could make in small portions that would also be elegant to serve for a dinner party should I want to make it in larger amounts. This also would avoid the problem of leftovers that are not always so good with butternut squash lasagna.

This is a beautiful and yes, rich dish, however, the portion is a nice size. I made the dish using Barilla’s no boil lasagna noodles which makes a square portion approximately 3 1/2 x 4 inches. You could, of course, make your own pasta, however, these are easier and are delicious in the dish.

Since there are a number of steps involved, my suggestion would be to make the fillings ahead, soak the noodles and then make the béchamel. Once you have assembled the lasagna and your dish is baking, gather the ingredients to make the butter sauce. You can then top the lasagna with the butter sauce, freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano and serve it for a romantic dinner for 2 or a dinner party for 6. I have made the recipe so that it should be easy to cut the ingredients in half (to serve 2) or add extra servings, as needed.

By the way, this dish has the major thumbs up and the ultimate hubby stamp of approval. That is generally the highest compliment (because he is incredibly picky!), so I hope you will enjoy this as much as he does!

Rustic Acorn Squash Lasagna with Browned Butter Sauce

Serves 4

Acorn Squash Filling
2 whole small acorn squash
2 Tbsp. melted butter
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds. Turn halves upside down in a baking dish. pour in about 1 inch of water. Bake until flesh is cooked through, about 30-35 minutes. Turn right side up and cool enough to handle. Scoop out cooked flesh, put in a bowl and mix with rest of ingredients. Set aside.

Ricotta Cheese Filling
2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese (Calabro is my first choice. It is the best I have found.)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Reggiano
1/4 cup freshly grated Asiago cheese
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. sea salt (or to taste depending on your cheeses)

Mix all the ingredients together and set aside. Refrigerate if necessary.

1 small garlic clove, minced
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
5 Tbsp. flour
5 cups whole milk
1 fresh Bay leaf
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/8 tsp. white pepper

Melt butter over low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add flour and cook, whisking, for 3 minutes. Slowly add milk in a stream, whisking constantly. Add bay leaf and bring to a simmer over low heat. Cook, whisking frequently for about 5 minutes until thickened and reduced. Add salt and pepper. Discard bay leaf. Remove from heat and place in a bowl large enough to dip lasagna sheets. Cover with plastic until ready to use.

8 Barilla no boil lasagna noodles

Place noodles in a Pyrex dish. Boil water and pour over noodles to cover. Be sure to separate them gently so they do not stick together. Let sit about 5 minutes until pliable. Remove and place on kitchen towel until ready to use. Cover.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease a baking dish with butter that is large enough to hold assembled lasagna. Cut noodles in half. Dip noodle halves in béchamel (be sure to coat completely). Place in baking dish and top each with about 2 1/2 to 3 Tbsp. ricotta mixture. (Do not spread out completely as mixture will spread during baking.) Repeat with another noodle half, dipping in béchamel. Place on top of cheese and then spread with about 2 1/2 – 3 Tbsp. squash mixture. Dip another noodle half in béchamel, place on top of squash and top with another 2 1/2 – 3 Tbsp. ricotta. Finish lasagna with one more noodle half dipped in béchamel. You can use a bit more of the fillings, but it will weigh down the noodles. (There will be a little bit of the fillings leftover if you use 2 1/2 Tbsp per layer.)

Cover dish with aluminum foil (be sure dish is deep enough so the foil does not hit the top of the lasagna). Bake 20 minutes until heated through. Let this rest while you make the browned butter sauce. * A little of the cheese will spread out from the lasagna, but just scoop up the cheesy goodness along with the lasagna before serving!

Browned Butter Sauce
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter
12 sage leaves, chopped
Additional Parmesan Reggiano for serving

Melt butter in a pan on low heat. Add sage and stir and cook until butter is almost brown. Pour over lasagna and serve with grated Parmesan Reggiano.

Buon Appetito!


Filed under Acorn Squash, Bechamel, Cheese, Entrees, Italian, Lasagna, Pasta, Recipes, Vegetables

Baked Potato and Parsnip Puree

I am going to tell you right off that this dish is not hubby approved! My husband absolutely cannot stand parsnips, but that has not stood in my way on many an occasion to still cook up a few of these little guys and add them to soups and stocks or smashed potatoes. I actually really enjoy the sweetness that parsnips add. I do imagine that you either love or hate them, so if you do not like parsnips, you probably will not even be reading this blog!

Strange thing is that my 20-year-old son (who by the way never liked much of anything until recently, unless of course, it was in a restaurant) ate 2 heaping piles of this stuff with my short ribs and loved every bite! Go figure! He actually complimented the dish. Shocking! So, I had one fan and one begging for just the potatoes!

I originally tracked down this recipe on the Food Network site, but have made so many changes, I will just tell you what I do and you can mix it up any way you like. The original recipe called for WAY too much butter and heavy cream and we all know that is not in the food eating adjustment in January while trying to stay on a so-called “diet”. Dessert is another matter, but I am not wasting calories and fat on veggies. Besides, this is very tasty with far less fat in it.

If you want the dish to taste more like potatoes, change the proportions. Anything will work. It is just smashed veggies! The only picture I took was before we baked the dish. Things were crazy right before dinner, so I did not get to snap a photo. Just be sure to brown the top under the broiler before serving.

Baked Potato and Parsnip Puree
Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes and parsnips (I used about 1/2 and 1/2)
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp. butter
1/3 to 1/2 cup no-fat half and half
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, grated
Paprika (optional)

Preheat to 375 degrees. Wash and peel the veggies. Cut potatoes into quarters and parsnips into halves. Place in a pot of water with bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Cook approximately 15-20 minutes until tender. Using a mixer, beat together and add butter, half and half and salt and pepper to taste. You may want to add more butter or half and half. That’s up to you, but this is what I do.

Place mixture in a small, buttered casserole dish. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Bake about 20 minutes, until heated through. Place under a broil for a few seconds until top is browned.

This is a great dish to make ahead and then pop in the oven before dinner. Serve it to all of those folks that love parsnips. Or as my husband says – serve it to guests if you want an early night! 😉 It really is very tasty (regardless of what he thinks) and 20-year-old son approved!


Filed under Cheese, Parsnips, Potatoes, Recipes, Vegetables

Baked Cheese in Pastry Appetizer

I am about to share a really guarded recipe that I have had for about 30 years! I cannot tell you where I got it or what the appetizer is really called. But since I need to call it something I will just say Baked Cheese in Pastry Appetizer.

This is an appetizer that I have made countless times over the years for a night just like last night. We were having a few neighbors over last evening. It was somewhat of a last minute shindig. Since I was hosting and cleaning up for company, I needed a few quickie appetizers to throw together in a hurry. I had picked up a few cheater frozen appetizers at Trader Joe’s (that incidentally are quite good), but being the author of a food blog I could not really serve those now could I?

So, this is when this great appetizer comes into play! Every time I have made this people want to know what is in it and want the recipe! They always ask (as our foodie friend did last night) if I made the pastry? What else is in it besides what I told them? It tastes and looks far more complicated to make than it is and isn’t that what you want to serve your guests???

No one will ever know unless you tell them or they are reading this blog! So here it goes…..

Baked Cheese in Pastry Appetizer

1 8 oz. package cream cheese (I use Philly because it’s the best and I am from there! By the way – do not use low-fat!)
1 small container crescent rolls (4 pack)
Dill weed (just the dried stuff) – Use enough to fully cover the top of the cream cheese, approximately 1 tsp.
1 egg, beaten with a few drops of water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay the crescent roll dough out on a lightly floured surface. Pinch seams together to make one solid piece of dough. Put the cream cheese on top. Sprinkle with dill weed to taste. (I went a little light on the stuff last night not knowing people’s preference in the dill department. I usually cover the cream cheese pretty thoroughly).

Turn the cream cheese over so that the side with the dill weed is face down. Seal up all the seams of the dough and turn it right side up. Put in a Pam coated baking dish.

Brush with beaten egg. If you are feeling fancy, cut out an additional piece of dough to decorate the top (like I did). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve with crackers (I like to serve it with Pepperidge Farm whole wheat crackers).


You will have an elegant and delicious appetizer that will impress your guests! The cream cheese tastes as though it has been mixed with other ingredients after it bakes in this crust and almost has a whipped consistency. The crescent dough surprisingly has a real pastry taste and texture. Best of all, it really is quite attractive! I must say it is a pretty nifty recipe with so little effort involved. We all need a few things like this in our recipe files to fall back on when we are hosting guests last minute and pressed for time. Enjoy!

Baked Cream Cheese Appetizer on Foodista


Filed under Appetizers, Cheese, Recipes

The Last Supper (well, not exactly…)

This will be my last “heavy food” post for awhile (I think so, anyway). I had to post it since dinner was really good. We called this meal my husband’s “last supper” because he is really going to be changing everything he eats for the new year and this certainly did not fit into that new lifestyle plan! We had this a few nights ago and are already craving something just like it again!

What better dish could a good Italian boy have for a “last supper” than Chicken Parm??? It was pretty awesome, if I say so myself! I have made this dish many times before (that would be why we are in the position we are in to change how we eat). However, I decided to also take a peek at a new Italian cookbook I received from My Aunt Fran and Uncle Joe (good Philly folks) to see how Chicken Parmigiana was prepared in it. Aunt Fran is friends with the author, Mary Falbo, who has put together a collection of her mother’s old world Italian recipes. The cookbook is Giovanna’s Legacy and the recipes look fabulous. I will be working on making them “healthy” in the New Year! Anyway, it seems that Giovanna and I are on the same page as far as cooking this dish.

So, I prepared the chicken as I normally would have, except I added the flour step prior to the breadcrumbs (Giovanna’s suggestion). I think it did add a little more crispiness to the chicken. Since I do not add much butter/olive oil to the pan (that’s part of my constant diet), I generally do not get a really crispy crust. That is okay because the chicken gets covered up with sauce anyway. I also normally put the chicken in the oven with the tomato sauce and bake it with both the mozzarella and parmesan reggiano cheeses. Giovanna suggested doing the parmesan first and then the mozzarella, so I did that. I needed to put the broiler on just for a few seconds to get the mozzarella cheese to melt and brown just a little bit to finish the dish.

Since I was writing blogs all day and doing other things around the house, I cheated and used another bottle of Del Grosso’s sauce. (It was 8:30 pm by the time we ate dinner!) This time we tried the tomato and basil (gosh, it is so good…why make sauce??). Even I said that I have not had Chicken Parmigiana this good in a restaurant! Yum, what a great last supper!

I served it with a side a spaghetti (of course) and a really nice salad with mixed lettuces, olives, mushrooms and avocados (that is what was in the fridge and cupboard). We always use a great olive oil (the one we had that night is direct from our trip to Tuscany) and a good, or great if you can afford it, balsamic vinegar.

Since this dinner would be for my hubby, here is his quote on our outstanding wine we had that evening. “Chicken Parmigiana requires a wine of substance. One might assume a Chianti Classico would be appropriate to serve with this dish, however, an Italian Super Tuscan (Sangiovese, Cabernet and Cab Franc) possesses the depth of flavor to complement Chicken Parmigiana. Therefore, I chose a bottle of Tignanello. It has a wonderful bouquet of leather (like a horse saddle), tobacco, dark fruits, black currant, and a slight sign of olives. The wine showed gorgeous dark fruits on the palate, plums, cherries and berries with a touch of vanilla to balance out fruitiness. We shared a bottle of the 1998 vintage. This wine has reached its peak and should be used within the next few years. If this is a last supper drink, we can only hope to have more last suppers.” This would be a direct quote from my hubby the wine expert!

Here is the recipe with some additions by Giovanna:

Chicken Parmigiana
Serves 2-3

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Flour (optional)
2 eggs, beaten
Italian breadcrumbs
Olive oil
Unsalted butter (optional)
Marinara or Tomato Basil sauce (homemade or cheat)
Mozzarella cheese, sliced or shredded
Parmigiana Reggiano (a really good one)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pound your chicken breasts until they are flattened into cutlets. Dip cutlets into flour that has been seasoned well with salt and pepper (you can skip this step if you like). Dip chicken into beaten egg and then breadcrumbs. Pour enough olive oil in the pan to have a coat the bottom of the skillet. (I use a mixture of half butter and half olive oil. Be careful not to burn the butter if you use both since it burns at a lower temperature). Cooking over medium heat, brown on one side of the chicken (about 5-6 minutes) and then turn and brown on the other side.

Spray a large casserole dish with Pam or lightly oil it. Put the chicken breasts in the dish and cover the breasts with the sauce (I just use enough to cover the chicken, otherwise, I think it gets too mushy). You can either grate some parmesan reggiano over the sauce and bake the chicken for about 20 minutes until it is done, adding the mozzarella about 5 minutes before the chicken is cooked (Giovanna’s suggestion). Or you can put mozzarella cheese and then the parmesan reggiano on top of the cutlets and bake 20-25 minutes until cooked through. Either way will work.

I have also been known to add sauteed mushrooms which makes for an even heartier dish. I would have thrown them in had there been some in the fridge.

To finish off this gluttonous supper, we just happened to have an extra creme brulee lying around, so we had a few bites of that along with a few bites from a slice of flourless chocolate cake from foodie neighbor friends (it was so good!). That would be the end of the big food for awhile and we enjoyed every bite and every sip of wine.


Filed under Cheese, Chicken, Creme Brulee, Desserts, Italian, Pasta, Recipes