Monday, April 17, 2017

Spicy Sausage and Sweet Potato Hash

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My family has always LOVED a good breakfast potato hash!  I mean, what's not to love with onions, potatoes, sausage and good seasonings for breakfast, right?!  But we all know that white potatoes are not the healthiest for us... so I decided to make a spicy version of a healthier sweet potato hash that would be somewhere between familiar, exotic, and WOW!  Sweet potatoes rank #1 on the chart of healthy veggies.  They are a complex carbohydrate that won't spike your blood sugar and they are loaded with antioxidants.  As a bonus, this is Paleo friendly... if you're into that sort of thing.

menumusings.comThis hash is super easy to throw together in the morning and is just perfect for those leftover roasted sweet potatoes you have in the fridge from last night's dinner.  Use your favorite sausage or turkey sausage and "bam," breakfast is made!  - and don't most of us have a great little black iron skillet in the bottom of a drawer somewhere that needs some love?


Ingredients:  (for 2 servings)
This is sort of a throw-it-all-in-there recipe.  Not an exact measurement recipe.  So you'll have to forgive the lack of specific measurements.  Have more peeps... use more stuff.
  • Half link of andouille sausage
  • handful of chopped onions 
  • Water as needed (maybe 1/2 cup)
  • Leftover roasted sweet potato slices (about 1 cup or so)
  • 1 tsp Sambal Oelek (spicy Thai chili paste)
  • 1 or 2 large eggs
  • Fresh parsley, rough chopped
  • crushed red pepper flakes

Step-by-step photos:
There really is no trick to making a hash.  So I'm going to "pretend" I did something spectacular here. Pull out your (fully cooked) meat of choice.  I used a jalapeño green onion flavored andouille sausage.  Chorizo would work great.  If you don't have a black iron skillet, use something heavy so you can get some good color on all of this.

I'm not going to add ANY extra oil in this recipe.  Stick with me here.  Cook the sausage until it's on it's way to getting brown, but not dry.  Just a little color.  
about 6" of smoked sausage
Add in a good handful of chopped onions.  I always keep a bag of chopped onions in the freezer for fast meal prep.  As an additional perk, the frozen onions break down faster than the fresh ones.  
~ 1/3 cup onion
Since I'm not adding any oil to sauté the onions, I'm going to deglaze the pan with a couple ounces of water.  As the water cooks out, I kept adding a couple ounces at a time until my onions were nice and soft and translucent.
Add water to the pan to help the onions cook without having to add oil
When the onions are mostly cooked, add in about 1 - 1 1/2 cup leftover roasted sweet potatoes. (These were straight from the fridge and had been roasted with EVOO, salt and pepper.)  If you need to use raw potatoes, you could peel, cut, and microwave them until fairly tender. before adding them. *Don't forget to adjust the seasonings.
leftover roasted sweet potatoes, seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.
To get this spicy party started (on top of my jalapeño sausage),  I'm going to add 1 tsp of the Thai chili paste Sambal Oelek.  You can add a different hot sauce if you'd prefer, but I like the flavors and acidity in this one a great deal.  Look for it in the Asian isle of your supermarket.  
1 tsp Sambal Oelek
When things are pretty much all cooked and seasoned to my liking, I'm going to add the finishing touches.  First, make a hole (or two) in the hash, and break your egg(s) right into the skillet very gently being careful not to break the yolk.  
1 or 2 large eggs cooking right in the middle of the hash
While we wait for the egg white(s) to set, sprinkle the top of the hash with some fresh parsley and crushed red pepper flakes.  Turn off the heat when the egg white is set and the yolk is still soft and runny.  The richness of the yolk complements the starchy potatoes and the spicy sausage.  The fresh herbs bring a bright, fresh element to the dish. *Of course, if you'd like yours cooked longer, by all means, go ahead.
fresh parsley to garnish
Now go out and have breakfast on the back porch and watch the world wake up.  With this hearty and healthy breakfast, you will be ready to go out and conquer whatever the day will bring!

I hope you've enjoyed this awesome (and healthy) breakfast recipe!  Scroll all the way down for the written method.

Here are some bonus recipes for you:
Hoisin Beef with Rice Noodles - picky teenager approved!  Do a fun "toppings" bar and let them add their own.
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One Pot Skillet Lasagna - because there's nothing better than an easy and delicious one-dish meals on busy work nights!

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Beefy Crunch Wrap Supremes - move over Taco Bell.  These are super simple to make at YOUR OWN house!  Watch the teenagers pile in!
menumusing.com
BLT Buffalo Chicken Wrap - Make good use of those leftover chicken tenders that your kiddos tend to have.  LOL
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Tiramisu - have dessert, too!  (But this one comes with portion control.  Thank goodness.)
menumusings.com

Written Method
  • There really is no trick to making a hash.  So I'm going to "pretend" I did something spectacular here. Pull out your meat of choice.  I used a jalapeño green onion flavored andouille sausage.  Chorizo would work great.  If you don't have a black iron skillet, use something heavy so you can get some good color on all of this.
  • I'm not going to add ANY extra oil in this recipe.  Cook the sausage until it's on it's way to getting brown, but not dry.  Just a little color.  
  • Add in a good handful of chopped onions.  I always keep a bag of chopped onions in the freezer for fast meal prep.  As an additional perk, the frozen onions break down faster than the fresh ones.  
  • Since I'm not adding any oil to sauté the onions, I'm going to deglaze the pan with a couple ounces of water.  As the water cooks out, I kept adding a couple ounces at a time until my onions were nice and soft and translucent.
  • When the onions are mostly cooked, add in about 1 - 1 1/2 cup leftover roasted sweet potatoes. (These were straight from the fridge and had been roasted with EVOO, salt and pepper.)  If you need to use raw potatoes, you could peel, cut, and microwave them until fairly tender. before adding them. *Don't forget to adjust the seasonings.
  • To get this spicy party started, add 1 tsp of the Thai chili paste Sambal Oelek.  You can add a different hot sauce if you'd prefer, but I like the flavors and acidity in this one a great deal. 
  • When things are pretty much all cooked and seasoned to my liking, I'm going to add the finishing touches.  First, make a hole (or two) in the hash, and break your egg(s) right into the skillet very gently being careful not to break the yolk.  
  • While we wait for the egg white(s) to set, sprinkle the top of the hash with some fresh parsley and crushed red pepper flakes.  Turn off the heat when the egg white is set and the yolk is still soft and runny.  The richness of the yolk complements the starchy potatoes and the spicy sausage.
  • Now go out and have breakfast on the back porch and watch the world wake up.  With this hearty and healthy breakfast, you will be ready to go out and conquer whatever the day will bring!  

Saturday, April 15, 2017

5-Ingredient Berry Crisp Dump Cake

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So yes, there are absolutely a ton of ways to make make cobblers, crisps, buckles, Brown Betty's and the like.  Maybe they've been so popular for a gazillion years because they are super comforting, super versatile, require few ingredients, and above all, super easy!  I mean let's face it, if you can just dump a few pantry ingredients together and throw the dish in the oven while dinner is being made and have something that warms everyone's hearts like this... then what's not to love?
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This recipe is no exception.  You can use the frozen fruit of your choice to whip up something so homey and comforting that even the most novice of cooks will appear to be a seasoned baker.  This berry crisp dump cake is just perfect for times when you have unexpected guests, occasions when you need to bring a dish over for someone, or just a super easy weeknight dessert for the people you cherish the most - your family. 


Ingredients:  
  • Nonstick cooking spray for casserole dish
  • 24 oz frozen mixed berries
    • or fruit of your choice
  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 cup (16 Tbsp) melted butter 
  • 1/3 cup rolled or quick oats
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans


Step-by-Step Photos:
This takes such little time to prep that you should go ahead and preheat the oven immediately to 350F.  

Begin by spraying a 9"x13" casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.  
9"x13" casserole dish.  Nonstick cooking spray.
Dump in your frozen berries of choice.
24oz frozen berries or fruit of your choice

Evenly distribute the contents of 1 box of yellow cake mix over the top of the berries.
1 box yellow cake mix
In a small bowl, mix together 1/3 cup rolled oats and 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans.
1/3 cup rolled or quick oats

1/3 cup chopped pecans 
Add the oat/nut mixture to the top of the cake mix.
Oats/nuts
Top the oat/nut mixture with 1 cup melted butter, distributed evenly.
1 cup (16 Tbsp) melted butter
Now our little crisp is ready to pop into our preheated 350F oven until the filling is firm and the topping is golden brown and delicious!  Depending on your oven, this may take anywhere from about 55 min - 70 min or so. 
Berry crisp dump cake after baking
After removing the crisp from the oven, allow it to sit about five minutes or so while you find something lovely to serve it with - like vanilla ice cream, or whipped topping.  :)

I personally think this is a dessert best served warm.  Mmmm.
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5-Ingredient Berry Crisp Dump Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream
I hope you've enjoyed this super easy and delicious recipe!  Scroll down for the written directions and some more great recipes.  

Here are some bonus recipes:
Easy Cajun Chicken Pasta Bake - Great for a crowd (or a house full of teenagers and their friends).  Good way to stretch your budget!
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Easy Cajun Chicken Pasta Bake
Crawfish Fritters with Spicy Remoulade Sauce - Fun little pub-style appetizer for your gathering of friends that will be snapped up in a flash!
menumusings.com
Crawfish Fritters with Spicy Remoulade Sauce
Creole Red Snapper - Moist, flavorful, and super easy for your favorite catch of the day!  (Grouper or halibut would be great options for this as well.)
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Creole Red Snapper
Brady's Brussels Sprouts Hash - A fantastic and flavorful sauté of Brussels Sprouts as a new side dish you'll fall in love with!
menumusings.com
Brady's Brussels Sprouts Hash
Spicy Fried Cauliflower Bites - These spicy little nuggets will make you forget you're eating veggies!
menumusings.com
Spicy Fried Cauliflower Bites
Written Method:
menumusings.com
  • Preheat the oven to 350F.  
  • Spray a 9"x13" casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray.  
  • Dump in your frozen berries of choice.
  • Evenly distribute the contents of 1 box of yellow cake mix over the top of the berries.
  • In a small bowl, mix together 1/3 cup rolled oats and 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans.
  • Add the oat/nut mixture to the top of the cake mix.
  • Top the oat/nut mixture with 1 cup melted butter, distributed evenly.
  • Bake at 350F until the filling is firm and the topping is golden brown and delicious!  Depending on your oven, this may take anywhere from about 55 min - 70 min or so. 
  • After removing the crisp from the oven, allow it to sit about five minutes or so while you find something lovely to serve it with - like vanilla ice cream, or whipped topping.  :) 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Skinny Buffalo Chicken Salad

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I have ALWAYS been a huge fan of a great entree salad.  As far back as I can remember, my mother always made the best salads.  She would pile up the best mix of stuff imaginable.  Now here we are with spring and summer looming, which is when everyone seems to really be on the salad train. Salads are an excellent way to get in extra veggies, mix and match textures, and try some of your favorite flavors in new combinations - like this recipe! If you are a fan of buffalo chicken wings but are looking for a healthier lunch or dinner, keep reading! 

Who doesn't love that tangy heat of the buffalo sauce paired with the cool, creamy ranch and blue cheese dips and the crunchy sides that are served along with this super popular appetizer?!  Well you can have all of those awesome flavors right here in this great salad.  I know so many people who are doing their best to cook clean, using fresh, unprocessed ingredients.  So I kept that in mind with this recipe makeover.  I've used no/low/reduced fat options, Greek yogurt, lean protein, took out the fried component of the traditional buffalo chicken, and piled up the fresh veggies! 


Ingredients: (2 salads)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 individually packaged chicken breasts
    • about the size and thickness of your palm
  • Kosher salt
  • Restaurant style black pepper
  • Spanish style paprika 
  • Cooking spray
  • Buffalo sauce
    • I used Moore's (use your favorite kind)
  • Romaine lettuce mix
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut thin on bias
  • 1 celery stalk, cleaned and cut thin on bias
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and cut into matchsticks
  • 1/3 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half 
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat blue cheese crumbles 
Dressing
  • 6 oz container fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup 2 % milk (or whatever you have on hand)
  • 2 Tbsp Hidden Valley Ranch mix packet
    • if you prefer to not use a mix, you could sub juice of a lemon and a bunch of herbs - chives, parsley, dill, etc., plus salt and pepper. 
Step-by-Step:
Tip -  If you are doing your meal prep for the week, you can totally do all these components ahead of time and store them separately for a salad that comes together as quickly as it takes you to grab each component out of the containers!  You will be the brown bag lunch envy of the office!

Let's get that onion caramelizing first.  It takes the longest.  We won't need or use it all, but the rest of it can be saved in the fridge for another meal.  The sweetness of the caramelized onions work so well to balance the tanginess and the heat of the buffalo sauce!  Peel and slice a yellow onion into thin rings and cook over low-medium low with 1 Tbsp butter until very soft and caramelized and sweet.  I used a non-stick pan for this.
1 medium onion + 1 Tbsp butter

While the onions are cooking, lets get our chicken breasts seasoned and ready to cook.  I used these individually packaged, antibiotic free chicken breasts.  They tend to be a more reasonable size than the gargantuan sized (almost turkey sized) breasts that come in some packs, and therefore a normal serving each.    Pick your seasonings, but I dried them off on paper towels, then seasoned with kosher salt, black pepper, and spanish style paprika.  
kosher salt + black pepper + spanish style paprika

Then I turned the chicken over, cut them into bite sized pieces and seasoned the other side.  I'm not frying or using more fat to cook them in, so I want them to be flavorful.
season side #2
Let's check those onions.  After they are done, we can just remove them to bowl, wipe out the pan and use it to cook the chicken.  (If you are on a severely carbohydrate restricted diet, you may choose to omit the onions and carrots from this recipe.)
Here are our caramelized onions
Before we get to the chicken (which will cook super quickly), let's make this dressing.  

Dressing - 
Let's start with a base of 6 oz plain Greek yogurt.  It's fat free - that's a plus.  It also has twice the amount of protein of American yogurt - double plus!  
6 oz carton of fat free, plain Greek yogurt
I'll add a 1/2 cup of milk.  We have 2% reduced fat milk in the fridge.  Use what you have or prefer.  I used milk to thin it out.  
1/2 cup 2% reduced fat milk
Now to season up our dressing, I'm going to add 2 Tbsp of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix (from a packet).  If you prefer to not use this, you could add in some finely chopped herbs (like parsley, dill and chives... and salt/pepper) and perhaps the juice of a lemon.   I was going for convenience here - and I happen to enjoy the flavor of the mix.

*As always, my recipes are a reflection of what I have cooked. Please use them as a concept.  If you would like to use something you prefer or something that fits your lifestyle, preference, or diet better, please do so.  
2 Tbsp ranch dressing mix

Okay folks, I think it's time to cook our chicken pieces now.  Don't blink!  Over medium to medium-high heat, spray the same pan that you used for the onions with some cooking spray and "pan grill" the chicken on both sides until just done.  These will cook very quickly, so please watch and don't overcook them and allow them to dry out.  
Add cooking spray to nonstick pan over medium to medium-high heat

Add seasoned chicken pieces to hot pan
Once you have the chicken in the pan, start heating about a cup or so of the buffalo sauce in a small saucepan of low heat.
Heat buffalo sauce over low heat
 Careful! The chicken pieces are just about ready!  
These cook in only a few minutes!
Once the chicken are just cooked through, add them to the warm buffalo sauce, toss to coat them in the sauce, and turn off the heat.
buffalo sauce + cooked chicken pieces

coated chicken in the buffalo sauce
While the chicken is hanging out in the warm buffalo sauce, let's build the salad.  There is NO "down" time in the recipe.  Not a speck of time where you are just standing there waiting to do something.  That's how fast this goes.  

I used a romaine mix, then added all the things I enjoy with buffalo wings - crunchy carrots (sliced very thin), celery (very thin), cucumbers (matchsticks), the buffalo chicken pieces, sweet baby grape tomatoes cut in half, crumbled low fat blue cheese, some of those sweet caramelized onions, then drizzled some of our dressing over the top!  

This salad is SWEET - SOUR - SPICY - TANGY - CRUNCHY - SMOOTH - HOT and COOL!
........and SKINNY!  😄



Written Method:
  • Peel and slice a yellow onion into thin rings and cook over low-medium low with 1 Tbsp butter until very soft and caramelized and sweet.  I used a non-stick pan for this.
  • While the onions are cooking, get the chicken breasts seasoned and ready to cook with kosher salt, black pepper, and spanish style paprika.  
  • Turn the chicken over, cut them into bite sized pieces and season the other side.
  • Let's check those onions.  After they are done remove them to bowl, wipe out the pan and use it to cook the chicken.  
  • Before we get to the chicken, let's make this dressing.  

Dressing - 
  • Let's start with a base of 6 oz plain Greek yogurt.  
  • Add a 1/2 cup of milk.  
  • Add 2 Tbsp of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix (from a packet).  If you prefer to not use this, you could add in some finely chopped herbs (like parsley, dill and chives... and salt/pepper) and perhaps the juice of a lemon.  
Chicken - 

  • It's time to cook our chicken pieces now.  Over medium to medium-high heat, spray the same pan that you used for the onions with some cooking spray and "pan grill" the chicken on both sides until just done.  These will cook very quickly, so please watch and don't overcook them and allow them to dry out.  
  • Once you have the chicken in the pan, start heating about a cup or so of the buffalo sauce in a small saucepan of low heat.
  • Once the chicken are just cooked through, add them to the warm buffalo sauce, toss to coat them in the sauce, and turn off the heat.
  • While the chicken is hanging out in the warm buffalo sauce, let's build the salad.  
  • I used a romaine mix, then added all the things I enjoy with buffalo wings - crunchy carrots (sliced very thin), celery (very thin), cucumbers (matchsticks), the buffalo chicken pieces, sweet baby grape tomatoes cut in half, crumbled low fat blue cheese, some of those sweet caramelized onions, then drizzled some of our dressing over the top!  

This salad is SWEET - SOUR - SPICY - TANGY - CRUNCHY - SMOOTH - HOT & COOL!
........and SKINNY!  😄

Bonus Recipes
As always, here are some Bonus Recipes I hope you might enjoy.  
BLT Buffalo Chicken Wrap
A brown bag lunch wrap version of this salad.  Perfect for picnics and hiking and your kids leftover chicken strips.  (Does that sound familiar?)

A Indonesian inspired favorite of my teens and their friends!

When you need something to bring to the party... but don't expect to bring anything home!

Because we ALL have a black iron skillet.  And this is a FABULOUS use it!  Even better, pick up some dough on the way home from your local pizza joint which makes it even faster.

Make extra of these if you expect to get any if you have teenagers in the house! Perfect for the grilling and outdoor season ahead of us.


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