Monday, May 20, 2013

Smoky Sweet Potato Burgers, Corn Cakes, & Avocado Salsa!

I haven't had a lot of free time for blogging, so I've been staying in touch through Instragram.  :)  There's just something about the end of the school-year that zaps my energy and eats up all of my spare time.  (Something like benchmarks, testing, grading, report cards, and end of the year shenanigans.)   Plus, I'm TRYING my hardest to carve out enough time to work on an upcoming workshop.  So, it's been a challenge not to fall into a boxed meal kind of pattern lately.  Although Hamburger Helper is quick and easy... nothing beats homemade meals.  Since I AM pretty busy right now with my paper mountain, I am trying to keep my hubby well-fed so he knows I still love him!  :)  These are two meals that have recently piqued the interest of several of my Instagram followers, so I wanted to quickly share them.

The first meal is a Smoky Sweet Potato Burger with Roasted Garlic Cream and Avocado.  Friends, this was sensational.  It's several of my favorite foods combined into one glorious dream... on a bun.  Mr. Wonderful loved it too.  I served it with Roasted Corn with a Basil-shallot Vinaigrette


I made the second Instragrammed meal last night:  Cheesy Corn Cakes {minus the spicy salsa}.  We love spicy food, but I had been chomping at the bits to try another avocado salsa recipe.  It was heavenly.  Just heavenly.  


Do you want to know what makes me excited?!  I'm starting to find healthier recipes that taste like flavor bombs.  :)  Plus, they are perfect summer meals wrapped in a pretty little package!  

 photo hewwo-signature.png

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

More Than Salad: Lazy Teacher's Edition!

As a teacher, I bring home a lot of extra work at the end of each day, but that doesn't mean that I live on bread alone.  I LOVE to cook!  I try to schedule at least one "official" big girl meal a week while I'm working, and I cook multi-step meals on the weekend too.  Most nights, I try to keep it simple with one dish meals or meals that take about 30 minutes from start to finish.  Tonight, I made a more complex meal, and although I am exhausted from a long day, I am so glad that I did!  It's a recipe from Kayotic Kitchen that's called "More Than Salad", and that's exactly what it is!  It is a complete meal... and completely full of calories to boot! Ha!  {If you're looking for a healthy salad, this is not it!  However, if you love a meal with layers of complex flavors, this may be just what you're looking for!} 

Let's take a little peek at our cast of characters.  Don't be scared!  It looks like a lot, but it's totally manageable!  I pinky promise!!!!



More Than Salad 

What You'll Need:

Salad:  

Chopped Romaine

3 oz. bacon
1/2 red onion {I used a Vidalia since my red onion went south, and I already had it on hand!}
2 avocados
12 cherry tomatoes
1 ball mozzarella

Croutons:

1 Ciabatta {preferably stale}
2 garlic cloves
3 sun-dried tomatoes {on oil}
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
4 Tbsp. EVOO

Dressing:

4 Tbsp.  Hellmann's {cannot be substituted}
2 Tbsp. sour cream  {I LOVE Daisy's!}
1/2 garlic clove
freshly cracked black pepper
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
Fresh chives
Parmesan cheese


The Lazy Teacher's Approach to Cooking:  
Line a cookie sheet with foil, then place bacon onto the sheet.  Slide the bacon into a cold oven, and heat to 400 degrees.  Cook for approximately 20 minutes.  I cooked mine a little longer to get that perfect color and texture!  :)  If you hate frying bacon as much as I do, then you will love baking your bacon as much as I do!  I was really worried about splatter, but it was just fine!  :)  I just turned the bacon half-way through.  {The original recipe source recommends using a grill grate over the cookie sheet, but I still consider myself kind-of-a-newlywed after nearly three years, so I don't have one yet!  Confession time!  Luckily, this worked out just swell!}

While the bacon is cooking, combine the oil, garlic, Cayenne pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, black pepper,  basil and salt in a food processor.  Pulse until you have a reddish pesto.  :)  Are you salivating yet?!  
Then, cube the ciabatta, and set it aside in a large bowl.  



Pour the flavored oil over the bread and mix well!  Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty!  You want to evenly coat the bread!  


Once you finish this step, the bacon should be done!  Remove the bacon, and set it aside on paper plates with paper towels to soak up the extra grease.  Meanwhile, use the rest of the drippings to coat the bread cubes!  {Are you beginning to see why this is salad should come with a warning label?!}  Cook at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until sufficiently crispy!  I sprinkled mine with sea salt before baking, and friends, let me tell you.  I may never buy bagged croutons ever again!  I DIE!!!!
Now, while the croutons are baking, mix up your dressing!  Try to resist swiping the bowl with your fingers after mixing... I dare you!  I may have eaten a spoonful, and that may be counterproductive to my spring fitness plan.  Seriously, the setback was worth it!!!  Totally worth it!
Mix the Hellman's with the sour cream.  {I personally love Daisy's, and it's the only sour cream I buy.  I guess you can say I'm picky about my sour creams!}  Grate the garlic, or use garlic from a jar if you're like me and value your time!  It is just as good, in my opinion!  I LOVE garlic, so I used just a tad less than one Tablespoon! { Heck to the yes!}  Add the cracked pepper... no salt!  Mix in some rice vinegar and onion powder, and stir to combine!  Add parmesan to taste!  I added about 1/4 cup.  As the finishing touch, throw in some chives.  I used freeze dried chives because I am cheap, and I already had them in my cabinet!  


At this point, the croutons should be sufficiently crispy!  Check on them to see if they need any additional time!  Begin to chop the tomatoes, onion, and avocados!  Then, wash and dry your lettuce!  {Yes, I use bagged lettuce!  I know... I am taking a pretty gourmet meal... and I am making it a little bit sad!  I am all about efficiency, people!  I couldn't find butter lettuce, and I have never heard of Lollo Rosso before in my entire life!  I may need a tutorial from my brother-in-law!  He's an amazing chef!  I always feel like a wannabe around him!  Ha!}  
Now, are you ready for this?!  This is the part where you combine all of the ingredients for a glorious, calorie-laden, full-flavor symphony on your tongue!  This meal will definitely be making another appearance at the homestead... but maybe not too often.  Otherwise, I might have to go shopping for a whole new wardrobe!  #noselfcontrol  #icouldeatthiseveryday
As my good friend Toby Keith would say, "Mmmmm, gotta getcha some, gotta getcha some, gotta getcha some.  Mmmm, gotta getcha some... salad! Bon apetite!