a balanced plate with room for dessert

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Beef & Ricotta Meatballs

Nothing quite beats a good plate of spaghetti and meatballs. I have been looking for ways to use up the cans of marinara I have in my pantry. You see, last summer our garden did really well. However, we planted mostly tomatoes. This meant that at the end of summer we had roughly a bajillion tomatoes in our garden. And as much as I love tomatoes, there was no way we could eat all of them. I decided to make salsa and marinara with the tomatoes. In hindsight, I wish I had canned whole tomatoes, because now I have a lot of marinara and salsa to use up.

So, this summer we plan to plant even more tomatoes. And I promise to be much smarter about how I go about canning them!!

I saw this recipe on Prevention RD and was intrigued – I’ve never put ricotta into my meatballs before. Since I’m always looking for new things to cook up, I decided to give it a try. The result? Absolutely delish. They were wonderful and tender and best of all, I was able to use up a jar of marinara 🙂

beef & ricotta meatballs

Beef & Ricotta Meatballs
from The Lemon Bowl via Prevention RD

1 pound ground sirloin (90% lean)
2/3 cup low-fat ricotta
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 egg whites, whisked
1 garlic clove, grated
1/4 cup parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and set aside. 
  2. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients, being careful not to over-mix.
  3. Using a small cooking scoop, scoop out meat mixture and shape into balls. Place in an even layer on the  baking sheet.
  4. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until browned.
  5. Serve with pasta and sauce of choice.

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Korean Steak & Mushroom Tacos with Kimchi

korean steak & mushroom tacos with kimchi |

Have you ever eaten something so good that you wanted nothing more than to eat it alone?

Not because you didn’t want people to distract you from the deliciousness, but because you were ashamed at the rate in which you were shoveling the food into your mouth.

No? Well, that happens to me once in a while. Most recently with these tacos. These tacos were a-ma-zing. One of my favorite ways to get kimchi into my mouth, I think. These tacos were so good that I couldn’t decide if one was enough. If I only had one that meant I would have more leftovers for future meals. But… one just wasn’t enough. And if I ate only one that meant I might have to share the leftovers with Mike. Hmm…

I mean, seriously. These tacos are the perfect balance of sweet, savory and crunchy. And they were super easy to cook.

korean steak & mushroom tacos with kimchi |

Korean Steak & Mushroom Tacos with Kimchi
adapted from Eating Well

1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons mirin
2 tablespoons gochujang
5 cloves garlic, minced
1.25 pounds skirt steak, trimmed
1 teaspoon canola oil
8 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stems removed
8 flour tortillas
1 cup kimchi, roughly chopped
2 large carrots, shredded
4 scallions, thinly sliced

  1. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. 
  2. Combine soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, mirin, gochujang, and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Cover and keep warm.
  3. Add oil to heated pan and cook steak until browned and desired level of doneness is reached (I cooked about 3 minutes on each side). Remove from pan and set on cutting board to rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, add mushrooms to skillet and cook until heated through and slightly soft, about 1 – 2 minutes on each side. Remove mushrooms from skillet and slice. Slice steak across the grain. Add steak and mushrooms to sauce and stir to combine.
  5. To assemble tacos, divide and steak and mushrooms among the tortillas. Top with chopped kimchi, shredded carrots, and scallions.

Ok, now get off your computer/iPad/phone and go to the grocery store and pick up the ingredients you need to make this. Then, kick everyone out of your house and eat in silence and with reckless abandon.

I swear I’m not an animal…

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Meatballs in Creamy Dill Sauce

My work hours are still really unpredictable. Because of this, I like to find foods that I can make in big batches and freeze. I rely on meals like this to get me through super busy weeks. I ended up making a double batch of the meatballs and freezing half of them for later. I mean, let’s be real – this dish is super easy to make after the meatballs are cooked and it sure beats a bowl of mac & cheese or ramen for dinner!

After I typed up this post I went digging through the freezer to find the rest of the meatballs… there were none. I guess I cooked them up already. Sad, sad day. Guess I’ll be making some mac & cheese 😉

meatballs in creamy dill sauce

Meatballs in Creamy Dill Sauce

for the meatballs:
1 pound lean ground beef
1 slice of day-old whole wheat bread, processed into crumbs (or 1/3 cup whole wheat bread crumbs)
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper
1 egg

for the sauce:
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tablespoon flour
2 cups beef broth
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

cooked egg noodles or other pasta of your choice for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. 
  2. Combine beef, bread crumbs, skim milk, salt, pepper and egg in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Roll into 1″ balls and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes or until browned and no longer pink in the middle.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent and slightly browned. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Stir in beef broth, mushrooms, and meatballs. Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce reduced and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
  4. Remove sauce from heat and stir in Greek yogurt and dill until well combined.
  5. Serve meatballs and sauce over egg noodles. Serve immediately.

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Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

sweet potato shepherd's pie

Shepherd’s pie is one of my favorite foods. Sweet potatoes? Not so much. I like the color, but that’s pretty much it. I do, however, love regular ol’ mashed potatoes chock full of butter, salt, and pepper. As much as I love indulging, not every meal can be an indulgence. There’s only so much exercise I can fit into a day after all!

So I took the classic shepherd’s pie recipe and trimmed it down to something a bit lighter, yet every bit as fulfilling. And surprisingly, I actually liked the sweet potatoes on top! So, give this dish a try for St. Paddy’s Day instead of the traditional shepherd’s pie!

sweet potato shepherd's pie

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
inspired by Alton Brown’s recipe on Food Network

3 pounds sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup skim milk

2 pounds lean ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Peel and cut sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch pieces and place into a large pot. Cover with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, or until fork-tender. Drain and return to pot. Add in butter, salt, pepper and milk and mash until smooth.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add in ground beef and cook until no longer pink. Remove to a separate bowl and set aside. To the same skillet, add in onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in flour until well distributed. Stir in tomato paste, broth, and Worcestershire sauce. Add beef back to skillet. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in peas, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Continue cooking for another 3 minutes.
  4. Spread beef and vegetable mixture into an 13×9 casserole dish. Top with mashed sweet potatoes. Spread potatoes out to edge of dish with a spatula. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until potatoes are lightly browned and filling is bubbling.
  5. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.


Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce

Mike has been an absolute lifesaver on Mondays and Wednesdays. Why? Because he cooks, folks. He cooks and it’s dang tasty. These two days are go go go for me. I’m in rotation from 8 – 4:30, go for a run, and then go to Pilates Reformer. I don’t get home until close to 8 on Mondays and Wednesdays and it’s so nice to come home to a delicious meal.

I don’t always know when I’ll need him to make a meal, so I try to menu plan easier dishes. This particular stew came from Food & Wine’s 2008 annual cookbook. I’m trying to get a good mix of internet and cookbook recipes into our meals just to mix it up a bit. After all, I do have a lot of cookbooks and I should probably use them instead of letting them collect dust on my bookshelf.

This particular dish was phenomenal. I loved the tanginess of the red wine in it. I honestly could have eaten the entire pot.. don’t judge me – running makes me hungry! I’ll probably try making it in the slow cooker next to make it even easier.

Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce
slightly adapted from Food and Wine Annual Cookbook 2008

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 pounds lean beef chuck roast, visible fat trimmed, roast cut into 8 pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon flour
1 bottle dry red wine
2 bay leaves
1 thyme sprig
1 5-ounce piece of pancetta
2 1/4 cups water
20 pearl onions, peeled
15 cremini mushrooms, wiped clean
15 baby carrots
Dash of sugar
Chopped fresh leaf parsley, for garnish

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large cast-iron pot over moderate heat, belt butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Arrange the pieces of beef in a single layer in the pot and season with salt and pepper. Cook beef over high heat for about 8 minutes, turning to brown pieces on all sides.
  2. Stir in onions and garlic. Reduce heat to moderate and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the flour, stirring well so it doesn’t form lumps, then stir in the red wine. Add bay leaves, thyme sprig, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Stir well and cover the pot.
  3. Transfer the pot to the oven and braise for about 1 1/2 hours until the meat is soft and tender and liquid is reduced to a thick sauce.
  4. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, cover the pancetta with 2 cups of the water and bring to a boil over high heat. Simmer over moderate heat for about 30 minutes and then drain. Cut pancetta into 1/2 inch slices, then cut the slices into 1-inch wide strips.
  5. Combine the pearl onions, mushrooms, baby carrots and pancetta strips in a skillet with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/4 cup of water and a good dash of sugar, salt, and ground pepper. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, over moderate heat for 15 minutes, until most of the water has cooked off. Uncover and cook over high heat, sauteing the vegetables until well browned all over, about 4 minutes.
  6. Stir some of the vegetables and pancetta into the stew and sprinkle the rest on top. Discard bay leaves and thyme sprig before serving. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.



French Dip Sandwiches

When life gives you a humongous roast, you might as well use it took cook up something delicious!

Slow cooker meals are my saving grace right now. The dietetic internship has been keeping me busy busy busy. I rarely have the energy to cook after a long day of school/work and then a workout. But slow cookers? I can prep the stuff the night before and shove it into the fridge and then have Mike start cooking it at around noon. I’m really digging this system, and it’s so convenient!

I skipped the soy sauce in the recipe below (didn’t have any… no idea how that happened!) and just tossed in about 4 sliced mushrooms instead for the umami that soy sauce lends. It turned out great and the sodium levels were cut even more!

French Dip Sandwiches
makes 7 sandwiches 

1 medium yellow onion
3/4 cup low sodium beef broth
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/4 pound chuck roast, trimmed
salt and pepper to taste
7 sandwich rolls
7 slices provolone or Swiss cheese

  1. Slice onions into 1/4″ rings and place in the bottom of the slow cooker. Add broth, soy sauce, water, Worcestershire sauce and garlic.
  2. Salt and pepper all sides of the roast and place on top of the onions. Cook on low for 6 – 7 hours or until beef is fall-apart tender.
  3. Transfer roast to a cutting board and shred with two forksReturn roast to crock pot.
  4. Toast bread in oven until just browned. Remove tops of bread and set aside. Scoop beef onto sandwich bottoms and top with a slice of cheese. Heat in oven until cheese is just melted. Top with sandwich tops and serve with small bowls of jus.
recipe from stick a fork in it


Oklahoma Chili

My college roommate kindly shared her recipe for beanless chili with me. I am a huge chili fan, but I love mine with lots and lots o’ beans. I decided to do something different and decided to make it without the beans for once.

I love the simplicity of this recipe. My all-time favorite chili recipe has almost 30 ingredients in it. This has just 13. It involves little prep work and the results are so dang tasty.

I like my chili with elbow macaroni, shredded cheddar cheese, onions, and some hot sauce.

Oklahoma Chili

3 pounds lean ground beef
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 large can V8
6 tablespoons chili powder
3 teaspoons salt
10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon red pepper
3 tablespoons  paprika
3 tablespoons flour
6 tablespoons cornmeal
1 cup water

  1. In a large pot, brown ground beef in olive oil. Season the beef with salt and pepper, to taste.
  2. Add V8 to pot and simmer for 2 hours.
  3. Add chili powder, salt, garlic, cumin, oregano, sugar, red pepper flakes, and paprika. Simmer for 30 more minutes.
  4. Whisk flour and corn meal together with water and add to chili. Cook for 5 minutes.