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I'm a runner with a baking habit.  I'm constantly on the lookout for awesome desserts, freezer friendly recipes to pack in the lunchbox, and quick dinner ideas.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Chili Mac

Today's post comes to you from vacation land.  From an oceanfront condo with a fully equipped kitchen.

When my special someone and I started taking family vacations last year, we spent a bit of time researching vacation meals.  Time and again chili mac came up as a suggestion.  Don't get me wrong, I love nothing more than to come home on a cold winter's night and cuddle up with a bowl of chili, but couldn't picture it as the ideal beach treat in August.  This is the story of how I learned differently.

Meal planning got pushed to the back burner, because we had a more immediate challenge to overcome.  The drive to the beach is a long one, and the passengers in the car ranged in age from single digits to adulthood.  How on earth were we going to stay entertained?  The solution was found and we headed to the beach.  We arrived a bit past dinnertime and headed for the grocery store to pick up necessary supplies.  Tired and starving, we wracked our brains trying to figure out what to have for dinner.  Chili mac it was. We grabbed a few cans and a pound of meat and headed to the condo to cook.  20 minutes later we were sitting on our balcony in the ocean breeze with steaming bowls of deliciousness in front of us.  So cheap, so easy, no wonder it's such a beloved vacation meal. 

Yield: 8 servings
(Chili recipe adapted from Rachel Ray)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ small onion
  • 1 pound lean ground beef (I used 96% lean)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chili powder
  • Additional hot sauce to taste
  • 2 cups stock
  • 15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 15 oz can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz macaroni


Our vacation meal strategy is to bring non perishables from home.  We check into our room, bring everything in from the car, and then immediately hit up the grocery store for everything else.


Chop the onion and garlic (courtesy of our condo, the world's dullest knife).  Open the tomato and bean cans.  Set the tomatoes aside.  Drain and rinse the beans.
Sautee the onion in the olive oil for a few minutes
Add the beef and sprinkle with salt
Crumble the beef and cook until no longer pink
Meanwhile, start the macaroni
Add the garlic
Now it's time for chili powder.  The largest measuring spoon I could find was a teaspoon, so I added three heaping teaspoons.
Stir to combine
Add the tomatoes
And the broth
Stir together and let it simmer for about 10 minutes
Bring in the beans
Drain the macaroni and stir it in
Ladle into bowls.  Add the toppings of your choice, which for me is a healthy dose of hot sauce, a sprinkle of cheese, and a dollop of sour cream.
If you have leftovers, there will be one more required step.  The macaroni will suck up all of the liquid from the broth.  Add a splash of water to replace the liquid, and then reheat.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Cheddar Bacon Ranch Chicken Burgers

My special someone and I have a designated weeknight set aside for date night.  The first item on the agenda is always a home cooked meal.  What do I make?  Well, Shepherd's Pie, Burritos, Penne alla VodkaGeneral Tso's Chicken, and Chicken Marsala are a few of the frequent hitters.  The rest of the time I turn to the internet in search of new dinners.  As with all first time recipes, some are hits, some are misses.  And some just knock it out of the park. 

I made a few changes.  The original recipe used a combination of bread crumbs and panko, which seemed a little fussy for my purposes.  It also had bacon in the burgers, but I chose to just add bacon as a topping.  Speaking of toppings, the final change is that the original had more ranch dressing as a topping.  The first night that I made this, I didn't have any ranch, so I used mayo instead and never looked back.  So without further ado, here is our newest favorite dinner.

(Adapted from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life)
Yield: 4 servings

For the burgers:
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • ¾ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • ⅓ cup chopped onion
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1 clove garlic (or 1 teaspoon dried garlic)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 tablespoon dry Ranch dressing mix
For serving:
  • Buns
  • Cheddar cheese slices
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Mayo
Combine the panko, seasoned salt, basil, and oregano.

Mix in the onion and garlic.

Next up, the chicken.

 Combine everything by hand.

Form into four patties.  We cooked up two and froze two.

Now cook them.  Option 1: medium high skillet, about 4 minutes per side.  Option 2: ask your special someone to throw them on the grill.  End game for both methods: internal temperature of 160° F

Meanwhile, build up the toppings.

Add cheese during the last minutes of cooking.

Remove burgers from skillet/grill.

Add burgers to buns

Add fries and eat.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Deviled Eggs

Picture the scene.  It's Memorial Day and I'm planning to make guac for a party.  Head into the grocery store and find nothing but rock hard avocados.  It's time for Plan B. Ok, what can I whip up that will be just as popular as guac?  Aha, deviled eggs.  Brilliant.  Look up a few recipes on my phone, come up with the consensus on an ingredient list, and head home.  And then I remember that as much as I love eating them, I hate making deviled eggs.  I always get the timing wrong on boiling them, ending up either too hard or too soft.  And I have bad luck with peeling them, scared for life by the time I made a batch of 18 and spent hours picking off shells piece by piece.  I knew that I needed to find a rock solid recipe to back up my endeavors.

Luckily I had recently picked up a copy of Chrissy Tiegen's Cravings, for what I assumed would be pure food porn purposes.  The recipe for Secretly Spicy Deviled Eggs caught my eye.  I knew that my intended audience wouldn't go for spicy, secret or otherwise, so the Sriracha and jalapenos were omitted, leaving the classic deviled eggs that I was looking for.   I followed the directions to the letter and came away with a perfect batch of deviled eggs.

(Adapted from Chrissy Teigen's Cravings)
  • one dozen large or jumbo eggs
  • Salt for boiling
  • ½ cup mayo
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon pickle relish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • paprika for garnish (optional)

Begin by placing six eggs in a pot and filing with enough water to cover the eggs by at least an inch.  I made a dozen eggs in two pots.

Add a tablespoon of salt, heat to high, and cover.

Let the pots come to a boil, then turn off the heat and let sit for 9 minutes (I had jumbo sized eggs, and the yolks were a little underdone, though not fatal to the recipe.  After further experiments, I determined that 11 minutes was a solid cooking time for jumbo eggs).

In the meantime, fill a bowl with ice and water.

 Measure out the mayo, mustard, and pickle relish.

Remove the eggs from the pans and place into the ice bath and let them chill for five minutes.

Now the hard part.  I rinsed each egg after peeling to make sure that no shell fragments remained.

Slice the eggs in half and slip out the yolks.

Mix the yolks with the mayo, mustard, relish, and a dash of salt and pepper. 

Fill the eggs using the method of your choice - star tip if you're feeling fancy, plain ol' spoon if you're not.

Sprinkle lightly with paprika and party on.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Sweet Potato Hash

I have sweet potato guilt.  I know they are off the charts healthy, they are beautiful, they are delicious, they are easy to prepare...but in spite of good intentions, they rarely make it onto my shopping list.  I spent months dreaming up a super veggie breakfast. 

Like all of my go-to weekday breakfasts, this can be made ahead of time, with leftovers kept either in the fridge or freezer.   It's filling enough to last through the long hours between my morning workout and lunch.  Lots of color (orange potatoes, purple onion and green peppers), lots of protein (veggie sausage and eggs), and lots of taste from all of the above.

Yield: 3-4 servings
  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • ½ cup red onion
  • 1 green pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon cumin
  • ½ tablespoon paprika
  • a few leaves fresh sage, or 1 teaspoon dried 
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 sausage patties
  • eggs for serving


Peel the sweet potatoes

Slice n'dice

Chop the green pepper

And the onion

And the garlic

If you have some, run out into the garden a grab a few leaves of sage.

Microwave the potatoes for a few minutes.  I used the potato setting for six minutes.

Heat the olive oil to medium and add the onion, green pepper, and a little salt.  Cook for a few minutes to soften.

Add the sweet potatoes with a little more salt and cook for 10 minutes covered, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the cumin and paprika.  Cook for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are fully softened.

Prepare the sausage.  I used Morningstar Farms because I was looking for a lighter touch, but wouldn't be opposed to using the real thing.

Dice the sausage

Chop the sage.

Stir everything in.

Top with eggs and serve.