Get Off The Couch and Cook

Get Off The Couch and Cook -

Broccoli Salad

broccolisaladtitleEven in the winter, I crave cold, crispy, crunchy foods and after the heavier foods from the multiple holiday dinners I ate over the past week, this salad was definitely needed!  The lovely thing about this is that it can be made ahead of time so it’s one last thing to worry about come dinner time.  It also holds up beautifully for leftover lunches.

Plus, you know, bacon.  It has delicious, delicious bacon.

Speaking of bacon, our friends are having a bacon-themed New Year’s party and I have about 37 bacon dishes that I plan on bringing over for the party.  Okay, maybe not quite 37 but darn close!  Hmm… maybe next week should be Bacon Week?

Anyway, I’ve had a number of different versions of this, usually with sugar, raisins and cheese as well as the bacon, broccoli and mayo but I really wanted to find a version that was a tad healthier and tasted just as good.

Elise Bauer’s recipe did not disappoint. I also loved that she blanched the broccoli first.  Like her, I am not a fan of raw broccoli though I do like the flavor, just not the texture.  You have to be careful, though, to not keep the broccoli in the hot water for too long or you will cook it.  It’s also important to cool it down as quickly as possible.  If you like your broccoli completely raw, though, you can skip the blanching step which will save a bit of time as well.

When mixing the dressing, which is just a combination of mayo, honey, and vinegar, here’s a little trick:

broccolisalad1Coat the measuring cup with a light smear of the mayo before measuring the honey!  Not only does it keep the honey from sticking to the measuring cup, but it also doesn’t add another flavor to your dressing like spraying the cup with nonstick cooking spray does.

broccolisalad2See how nicely that poured out?

Once you have all your ingredients ready to go…

broccolisalad3… just mix them all together…

broccolisalad4… voilà!  Broccoli salad that actually borders on healthy 🙂  Even using real mayonnaise like I do, there is still less than half the RDA limit on fat per day.  I believe in eating the good stuff but do so in moderation.  Which is why I don’t eat things like this all day, every day.

broccolisalad5Though I easily could because this is full of nommy goodness!

Broccoli Salad
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 8 servings
  • 5-6 c broccoli florets (~1½ lbs)
  • ½ c slivered almonds (2 oz)
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 3 stalks celery, cleaned and sliced into ¼" pieces
  • 1 c frozen peas, no need to thaw
  • 1 c mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ c honey
  1. Bring large pot of water to a boil. Working in batches, cook broccoli for no more than 2 minutes. Drain and immediately put into a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Let cool and drain well.
  2. Combine broccoli, almonds, bacon, celery, and peas in large serving bowl. In separate bowl, whisk together mayo, vinegar and honey. Add dressing to salad and toss to mix well. Chill thoroughly before serving.
I like to refrigerate mine upside down. That way, when I flip it to serve, the top is not dry and it's easier to stir.

Recipe adapted slight from

Nutrition information calculated at SparkPeople
Nutrition Information
Servings: 1 cup Calories: 325 Fat: 26g Saturated fat: 4.1g Unsaturated fat: 4.6g Carbohydrates: 17.7g Sugar: 9.9g Sodium: 300mg Fiber: 4.5g Protein: 8g Cholesterol: 15.1mg


Chorizo Pizza

chorizopizzatitleWith the holidays winding down, one of the last things I really want to think about is cooking so I definitely go back to the quick and easy meals with pizza being a popular choice on that list..  I didn’t want just the usual pizza this time, though, so I broke out one of the chorizos I made a while back and came up with this Mexican-inspired pizza.

This pizza incorporates a number of recipes I’ve shared with you before: chorizo, salsa, and pizza crust.  During the resting periods of the crust, I cooked up the chorizo and mixed it with the salsa.  After the crust was partially baked, I topped it with the chorizo-salsa mixture, some black beans, corn, Cheddar, and Monterey jack cheeses.

See how good it looked after it was baked?

chorizopizzanakedThen I topped it with shredded lettuce and tomato and cut into pieces.  I had to have sour cream on mine, of course!

chorizopizzabittenThis came out SO much better than I was imagining.  Normally I would have made “refried” beans for this but using the black beans turned out to be a good choice.  The corn was an after-thought and a good one at that!

Chorizo Pizza
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 4 servings
  • 2¼ tsp active dry yeast (or ¼ oz packet)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 c warm water (hot water directly from tap)
  • 2½ c bread flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 Tbsp cornmeal
  • 1 lb chorizo sausage
  • 2 c salsa
  • 15 oz can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed well
  • ¼ c corn kernels, thawed if frozen
  • 8 oz shredded Cheddar cheese (2 cups)
  • 8 oz shredded Monterey Jack cheese (2 cups)
  • Shredded lettuce
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • Sour cream, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in hot water, stirring gently to break up any clumps. Let stand until creamy and almost doubled, about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, add the chorizo to the hot pan and cook, stirring until cooked most of the way through, about 5 minutes. Stir in the salsa and remove from the heat.
  4. With a large spoon, stir flour, salt and oil into the yeast mixture. Use hands to mix well. Form into a ball and let it rest for about 5 minutes.
  5. Lightly grease 2 large baking sheets with cooking spray and sprinkle lightly with the cornmeal.
  6. Press dough to shape on the pan, making it as even and thin as possible. (You can also roll it out on a floured surface first and then transfer it to the baking sheet.) Bake both baking sheets on separate racks in the oven for 4 minutes then switch pans on the rack. Back 4 more min or until just starting to brown.
  7. While the crust is baking, shred your cheese, if not already shred.
  8. Remove the partially baked crusts from the oven. Let it rest while chopping the tomato.
  9. Spread half the chorizo-salsa mix on each pizza. Sprinkle the beans and corn evenly on both pizzas. Top each with half of each cheese.
  10. Finish baking 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden, switching the pans on the racks about halfway through.
  11. Top with the shredded lettuce and tomatoes before cutting. Serve with sour cream.


Look at how perfect my crust turned out!  It was thin and crispy yet you could pick the piece up with all the toppings on it.




Holiday Gift: Sausage Seasoning Mixes

Now that Yule and Christmas have passed, I can share with you one of the gifts I made for friends and family: sausage seasoning mixes!

spicemixgiftpicsI got the jars from Uline and included instructions on the backs of the jars as well as a small recipe booklet with the recipes to make more sausage as well as one cooking idea for each sausage type.  You can find the chorizo and sweet Italian sausage recipes on this blog already but check back soon for the breakfast sausage!

This is the first time I have given a food gift so I was a little nervous, but people seemed to really like it. 🙂

Was Santa good to you this year?




Chicken Sliders

chickenslidertitleWith Christmas almost here, there is a bustle of activity around here so I certainly want easy meals.  One favorite easy weeknight dinner in our household are these chicken sliders.  All it takes is some chicken breast cut into pieces which are then seasoned and pan-seared and served on slider-sized buns with your favorite sammich fixins.  And because these are done in a nonstick skillet with just a light spray of non-stick cooking spray, they healthy not bad for you, too.  Even with the slice of bacon and half slice of cheese that I like on my own.

Like the rest of the internet, I love bacon.  A lot.  In fact, the theme of the New Year’s Eve party we are going to next week is bacon!  So I’ll probably have a few bacon-related recipes to share in a couple of weeks.

chickensliderFrom the bottom up here, we have bun, shredded lettuce, tomato slice, chicken, half slice of cheddar broken in half, BBQ sauce, slice of bacon broken in half, and top bun.  These add up to 5 or 6 bites of lots of flavor.  And for those with heftier appetites like we have at my house, we usually have 2 plus our sides.

Chicken Sliders
Recipe type: Sandwich
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 6 sandwiches
Quick and easy, these little sandwiches are a comfort food that are actually good for you!
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast cut in half horizontally and then into 3 pieces vertically for a total of 6 thin slices
  • Garlic powder, to taste
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • 6 slider-sized buns
  • Toppings of your choice: cooked bacon, Cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, BBQ sauce, mayo, etc.
  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. While heating, sprinkle one side of the chicken pieces liberally with garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  2. Spray the skillet lightly with cook spray then arrange the chicken seasoned side down in the skillet. Season the tops with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Cook for about 5-7 minutes or until the edges are white and the bottom is golden brown. Flip and cook 4-5 minutes more or until the cooked through the center. Juices will run clear when poked with a knife.
  3. Serve on buns with your favorite sandwich toppings.
You can also tell doneness by lightly pressing on the chicken pieces. Put your middle finger and thumb together on one hand then press the fleshy part of your hand by your thumb. That's roughly the texture of chicken that has been cooked through without being overdone. Be careful to not overcook them or they will be tough.


Lasagna with Sausage

lasagnasausage1Lasagna is one of those meals that I think anybody can make well.  It’s a good dish for a crowd that is easy, can be made ahead of time, and can make even the most novice of cooks look good.  And yes… this is another recipe using my favorite sweet Italian sausage. 🙂  There was a reason I made the recipe for it one of my very first ones.

For my lasagna, I also make my own ricotta cheese.  Whhhaaaaaa?  You can do that?  Absolutely and it is REALLY easy.  It’s about half the price (or less) to make your own and I think it has a cleaner flavor than store-bought ricotta.  I even have friends who swear they despise the stuff but like the homemade version.  If you want to know how to make it, follow this link for the method I use but please note that for mine, I do not use the salt or cream.  I also double the recipe when making lasagna.

lasagnasausage4One tip I’ve figured out for making a really good lasagna is cooking the noodles for 2 minutes less than the time on the package and then spread your noodles on either a couple of baking racks or paper towels to dry but not stick together.  By under-cooking the noodles before baking them in the lasagna, you won’t end up with mushy pasta.  And letting them dry first keeps your lasagna from getting watery.

lasagnasausage2Good heavens… this picture is making me hungry… too bad the leftovers are already gone. 🙂

Lasagna with Sausage
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Makes: 13"x9" pan
This is my lasagna. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
  • 13 - 16 oz box whole wheat lasagna (NOT the no-cook kind)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced or 1 Tbsp jarred minced garlic
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning, divided
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ⅛ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 12 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 3 c ricotta
  • 8 oz mozzarella, shredded (2 cups)
  • ¼ c freshly grated Parmesan
  • Dried basil, optional
  • Cooking spray
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Heat olive oil in med saucepan over med-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the crushed tomatoes, parsley, oregano, 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning, sugar, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Stir to mix well. Heat to a hard simmer, stirring occasionally, then turn down to low.
  3. Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package direction for 2 minutes less than the minimum time on the package. Drain and spread them out on a couple of baking racks or paper towels to dry until needed.
  4. Meanwhile, cook Italian sausage in a large nonstick skillet until crumbled and mostly cooked through, 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up any large chunks.
  5. Add the mushrooms to the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and soft, about 5 -7 minutes. Stir the sauce into the sausage-mushroom mixture and keep heat on low.
  6. Mix 1 Tbsp oregano into the ricotta and set aside.
  7. Spray 13x9 pan with cooking spray. Spread about ½ cup of the meat sauce along bottom. Layer 4 noodles along bottom, overlapping slightly. if your noodles are not long enough to reach end-to-end, trim a 5th noodle to fit across the end. Spread half of the meat sauce on top of the noodles, spreading to reach the corners of the pan. Top with ⅓ of the shredded mozzarella then ½ of the ricotta. Add another layer of 4-5 noodles, the remaining meat sauce, ⅓ of the mozzarella and the remaining ricotta. Add a final layer of 4-5 noodles. Top with the remaining mozzarella, the Parmesan and a sprinkle of dried basil.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let rest 10-15 minutes before slicing.
You can also make this a couple of days ahead and store covered in the fridge. Just preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 5-10 minutes longer.


How do you make your lasagna?


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