flip it, change it … rearrange it.

I caved. I put up all of my Halloween decorations. Plus fall decorations (minus a few Turkey’s; one holiday at a time THANK YOU).  The last Halloween I decorated for was 3 years ago, in 2012 we had our wedding and then moved, again in 2013 we were packing to move into our new house… so yeah. With that being said some of the items have seen better days, candles melted, things were beyond squished, and I couldn’t figure out a few other things, lol! So I guess when things are looking a little sad it’s time to find new decorations to replace them.  It’s good to update what you already own, kind of like food…

Look at what you’re eating and see if there’s a way to revamp it; cut out food that doesn’t look fresh, bring in colorful veggies, or buy 1 beginner cookbook and make a promise to try a few new recipes. Trying something new for the first time can be scary but the outcome becomes better and better each time, you have to start somewhere.

That was my experiment for the last few days, I took known favorites and did something new with them.

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We often have fish and pork chops so those were at the top of my list to have a make over.  For the fish I used a lemon vinaigrette recipe but changed one of the sides by using cabbage instead of radicchio. I wasn’t sure how it’d turn out but it was sooooo good! The sauce was so flavorful; it made the cabbage/bean side edible (we know those 2 items have ZERO flavor). The fish was lightly coated in flour and quickly pan cooked to create a slight crust then I finished it in the oven at a low temp. for maybe 15 minutes. We needed a starch and I had a bag of baby red potatoes, whipped up an easy version of rusty mashed potatoes. I quartered the potatoes, placed them in a bowl filled with water (covering the potatoes), and microwaved them for 15 minutes while the fish baked.  I then gave them a rough mash, added garlic powder and cheese, done! Oh, also milk and sour cream to help with the mashing.

On to the pork chops where I used a Trisha Yearwood recipe. The cut of chops were awful and made it quite difficult to make them pretty. I didn’t have thick chops but usually with the thin cut I can put “stuffing” in the middle and wrap the meat around, securing with a tooth pick.  This meat was paper thin and tearing from every way possible.  I made it work somehow and it turned out okay. I didn’t have any sides in mind so I scanned my pantry and grabbed hese tomato-basil noodles, given to us from a friend (the house we watched over), then over to my fridge which had leftover veggies.

Classic ingredients made over; it was rough trying something new but in the end I’m glad that I did because next time I know what to do and not to do – you learn each time you cook!

I made a special breakfast on Sunday … my husband surprised me with breakfast last weekend at a yummy cafe so I surprised him this past weekend. I’ve made a frittata once before and we loved it so here’s another one! I used the foundation of one that the Pioneer Woman cooked, changing some ingredients.  Really though, you can use whatever you want in one of these! I used: canned/pre diced potatoes (this is a Sunday morning we’re talking about, ain’t no one got time for dicing!), canned mushrooms (read previous statement about dicing), onions (I cut those myself, thank you), and red peppers (from a jar too). I added cheese, LOTS OF CHEESE – parm & cheddar. I had to up the cooking time to 45 minutes, the eggs were not setting like I had hoped, no biggie though.

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I guess this could be one of our favorite dishes too, spaghetti and meatballs. I took my world famous meatball recipe (as in, famous in this house) and added shredded parm cheese … soooo good.  Just remember that with parm cheese you don’t have to add a lot of salty, it’s a very salty cheese.

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THESE WERE FUN! Spaghetti squash burrito bowls. AWESOME-SAUCE!  The blog post where I got the recipe from was lacking some instructions but I figured it all out.  Bake the squash ‘meat’ side down on a lined baking sheet – 425 for 45 minutes, the ‘meat’ will scoop right out, no effort needed. Use whatever veggies you might order at say, Chipotle or Freebirds, and boom, done! I used canned corn, canned black beans, 2 green bell peppers, 1 red bell pepper, 1/2 red onion diced, cilantro, fajita seasoning, cheese, sour cream, and salsa.  Layer everything like a lasagna in the squash shell: cheese, veggies, squash, cheese, veggies, squash, more cheese, salsa & sour cream. We each went back for 2 helpings – it didn’t leave us feeling gross but we were definitely full. I’d suggest 1 squash per person, you serve the burrito bowl in one of the halves. This recipe is staying in rotation. LOVE!

Go find “old” recipes and brainstorm how you can make them over. Add a new sauce or try to make a meat dish into a vegetarian dish (swap a steak for shrimp), even if it’s 1 ingredient that you change (I added parm cheese to my meatballs, they tasted new to us!) it can make a big difference. Don’t be afraid to change up your routine.

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Go ahead, eat with your eyes today!

 

I’m just throwing pictures at you today … enjoy this buffet for your eyes!

 

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Here’s a perfect party food.  I made this as a snack while my husband and I watched the Penguins during their (miserable) playoff run. It’s a really easy Trisha Yearwood recipe that I remembered seeing on her show.  We used the pulled out bread center to then dip with, chips and veggies (carrot & celery sticks) were options as well.  Here’s a hint for buying 6 oz of corned beef – head to your deli counter and ask them to slice thicker pieces and you can dice them up at home.  Pretty fancy looking, right? Make this and it’ll be a show stopper at your next gathering! Or make it for yourself and your husband … who says you have to share 😉

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These next two recipes are courtesy of Ree Drummond, surprise surprise!!! She’s always in our weekly menu.  First up is a pepperoni pizza burger … how fun is that?! I figured this would be the perfect dish to make plenty of, so my husband would have leftovers while I went out of town for the weekend. I made 5 patties (I used a full pound of the ground Italian sausage); they are yummy reheated … I had the last one yesterday 🙂 Love having leftovers of my creations! It’s a one pot meal, hello! I mean, you mix the meat and whatnot but everything is cooked in 1 pot! It will get smoky cooking the burgers on the stove so throw that fan on & open a nearby window if possible.  My healthy swaps: ground turkey and sandwich thins.  No excuses that you can’t do a “grill out” if the hubby isn’t home; whip this dinner up on the stove and have an indoor BBQ.

Second in line is a simple foil pasta dish. I thought it was weird but went with it anyway. Follow the directions and TIGHTLY wrap that foil package or the shrimp WILL NOT finish cooking.  Trust me. I experienced this firsthand with my husband’s dinner. I made mine first – which turned out perfectly. When he came home I threw his foil bundle in the oven however I clearly didn’t pay attention when I wrapped up the pasta, there was a hole at the top which let the steam out … the shrimp were partially cooked 😦 We threw it in the microwave – IN A BOWL – NOT IN THE FOIL!!! The shrimp finished cooking just fine then.

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FISH STICKS! HOME MADE! I can’t believe that when I put this on my menu board my husband literally thought I was buying frozen Gorton’s Fishermen … WHAT?! I got so mad! Seriously, all of my cooking adventures and he thought I was buying frozen nastiness.  ROAR! He also kept calling them an inappropriate name; I won’t write it.  There was a dipping sauce included in the recipe and it was GROSS – Giada, what were you thinking? Were your taste buds not working when you made it?  Ok so I bought 2 BEAUTIFUL-FRESH salmon filets, my husband pulled the skin away, cut each in half, then length wise to create “sticks”. The breading was crunchy and the parm cheese had that nice salty flavor. Usually cheese and seafood don’t go together but this one worked (unlike the sauce, ha!). Oh fortunately I had some pesto (also needed for the veggie bake) in the fridge and that was a great choice to dip the fish sticks in.

Onto the veggie bake that you see … courtesy of Instagram! YES! A fellow military spouse posted a chicken casserole she made topping the chicken with artichoke hearts, fire roasted tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, onions, and mushrooms. I drizzled pesto over the top, tossed the veggies, and put it in the oven maybe 20-30 minutes BEFORE the fish sticks; I used the same temp to make planning easier. Total cheat: I bought all canned/jarred items for this veggie bake. Sorry but not sorry, ha! I will try this again and absolutely make it with chicken breasts, maybe even on the grill. Yummmm imagine those flavors!

 

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Last but not least, straight up simple salmon filets in a yummy brown sugar/honey/mustard glaze – thank you Bobby Flay.  Halved potatoes so they cook faster … add a salad – DONE!

 

Bon Appétit!!!