Leftovers? There’s a solution.

Lately, I have been making a conscientious effort to limit eating out at restaurants and to start eating healthy. Even though, I have a busy schedule and a tight budget, there is no doubt that I have found ways to eat great food that is healthy and budget friendly.

Last week, I made an awesome stuffed peppers dish that used lean ground beef, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. The meat had an amazing flavor, and since there was more meat than peppers, enter leftovers. As I was racking my mind on what I would do to utilize the meat, one recipe came into mind: Sloppy Joes.

With the leftover meat, I added some Elmer’s “It be bad” barbecue sauce. Tribe guy’s Mom brought me a bottle of this sauce during Easter, and it was awesome, since it added a sweet and spicy kick.

Overall, I thought this is one way to create a new spin on leftovers.

Stuffed Peppers

4 Red or Green Bell Peppers
1 lb. Lean Ground Beef
1 can of diced tomatoes with onion and garlic
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 pkg. of instant cooked rice (like Uncle Ben’s microwaveable rice)
1 tbsp. Smoked Paprika
1 tsp. Cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the top off the peppers and remove the seeds, discard.

In a skillet, heat 1 tbsp. Olive oil with minced onion and garlic. After the onions and garlic begin to soften, add ground beef. Season with salt, pepper, cumin, and smoked paprika. Once the meat is brown, add tomatoes and rice.

In a 13 x 9 baking dish, make sure that the peppers are facing up and fill with meat filling. Top each filled pepper with a slice of smoked mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.

When finished, remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes, serve immediately.

Sloppy Joes

With leftover ground meat mixture, warm it in skillet. Once meat is reheated, add 1/2 – 3/4 C. Barbecue sauce of your choice. Heat until bubbling. Serve with sandwich buns or Texas Toast.


Deadliest Catch Night: Pizza and Good Wine

Tonight was one of the most saddest episodes of The Deadliest Catch as Captain Phil Harris died.  While the episode made me cry, I decided to host a party featuring some yummy food.  No, it was not seafood that was the star of the show (that was last night’s dish and the featured star of a post for the weekend), but it was freshly made pizza with some awesome ingredients.  This pizza was made with three different kinds of cheeses (mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan reggiano), two different meats (sopressata and bresiola), marinated artichoke hearts, sun dried tomatoes, and fresh sweet basil.

Alongside of the pizza, a friend brought a bottle of Summerfield Merlot (California) and my boyfriend brought two bottles of Rogue Northwestern Ale. While I did not particularly care for the bitterness of the ale, I did enjoy the Merlot (even though, my boyfriend also brought a bottle of Fabbioli Cellars (Va.) Chambourcin).  The Merlot was very smooth tasting and complemented the pizza with its sweet, jammy hints.  With hints of black currant and raspberry, this Merlot also worked with the chocolate we had for dessert.

While this was an emotional episode of The Deadliest Catch, the pizza received rave reviews.  My boyfriend even mentioned that it was better than the two area pizza joints nearby.

Krystle’s “Kitchen Sink” Pizza

1 package of prepared pizza dough (you can find this dough at Wegmans or any speciality grocer)

1/2 c. pizza sauce (I used marinara with burgundy wine)

2 c. mozzarella-provolone cheese blend (you can buy this pre-shredded at a grocer)

1 c. parmesan-reggiano cheese

4 tbsp. sweet basil, chopped finely

1/2 c. marinated artichoke hearts, chopped

1/4 c. sun dried tomatoes, chopped

1/4 c. sopressata, chopped

1/4 c. bresiola, chopped

Preheat the oven, according to package directions.  Grease pizza pan with non-stick cooking spray or extra virgin olive oil. Spread the dough to fit the pan and pour on the sauce (spreading evenly).

Then, layer in this order:





sun dried tomatoes



Bake for the amount of time on the package directions.  I cooked the pizza for 18 minutes.  After pizza is done, remove from oven and cool for five minutes before slicing.

Serves 8.

Additional wine recommendations with the “Kitchen Sink” pizza:

Fabbioli Cellars (Va.) Chambourcin

Barboursville (Va.) Merlot

First Colony (Va.) Cabernet Franc

Columbia Crest (Wash.) Cab Sauv./Merlot blend

Yellow Tail (Australia) Merlot

Barefoot (Calif.) Cabernet Sauvignon

Lazy Evenings

Normally, I make a conscientious attempt to cook, but lately, traveling for work and other events has kept me out of the kitchen.  However, I do have to say there are a few things that I have fell in love with in the kitchen lately.  One is Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pancake mix.  It’s good stuff and a life saver for those lazy weekend mornings, when you want a home cooked breakfast or for a quick dinner.

Another thing is my hopeless addiction to the George Foreman Grill.  I love grilling.  The taste of charcoal marks on chicken or cedar plank salmon on the grill always reminds me of summer.  Since I have to wait for cedar plank salmon, I keep the summer tradition going with marinated chicken on the indoor grill.  So, I am sharing my favorite recipe for marinated chicken and it just requires a bottle of vinaigrette.

Marinated Chicken Breasts with Polenta

1 tube of Italian Herb Polenta (sliced and fried in olive oil)

1 package of chicken tenderloins (boneless, skinless and thawed)

1 bottle of  Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette or Greek Vinaigrette

In a glass dish, place chicken tenderloins then cover with vinaigrette.  Let chicken set for a couple of hours to develop a great flavor (as soon as I woke up this morning, I did this and let the flavor soak in while at work) in the fridge.

Once flavor develops and seeps into the chicken, place on the hot indoor grill.  Grill until light goes off.  Then, place chicken tenderloins over 2-3 polenta slices.

It was quite yummy and a healthy departure from the fattening pasta I had planned to fix.

Stay tuned for some holiday cooking starting this weekend.  I should have some good baked goodies planned.

Cooking Hiatus and New Recipes

I would like to apologize to you about recent cooking hiatus. I have not been on this site lately, due to work commitments, but I will have more recipes this weekend. Keep on the lookout for a fabulous Chocolate Truffles recipe, a chicken and apple casserole dish that will make your mouth water, and lastly, a tribute to my favorite city in America, New York, with my Caprese Pasta dish.

However, I will share my famous hot chocolate recipe, since the weather is starting to get chilly.

Krystle’s Hot Chocolate

1 c. Fat-free Milk
1 tsp. Extract (Pick a flavor. I generally use Pure Almond or Vanilla Extract.)
1/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. secret weapon (You can use cinnamon, but it will not have the Krystle effect. Secret Weapon is a spice blend that you use when making Pumpkin Pie.)
2 tbsp. Hershey’s Cocoa (While you can use regular Hershey’s, I highly recommend the Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa…which is ten times better.)

In a small saucepan, whisk together the milk, sugar, extract and secret weapon (cinnamon). Cook on medium heat, then when it is starting to steam, add one tbsp of cocoa, then whisk to combine, then add the last tbsp. of cocoa, then whisk to combine. Pour into mug. Now, if you want it to be super glamorous, add some homemade whipped cream.

Whipped Cream
Heavy Whipping Cream
1 tsp. extract (again, I would strongly advise Pure Vanilla or Almond Extract)
1 tbsp. sugar

Beat all three ingredients until stiff peaks form in the cream.

Butternut Apple Soup

As someone who is beginning to embrace a vegetarian diet, I am beginning to find a special joy in cooking various vegetable dishes.  Whether it is my Caprese Pasta dish or a good Panzanella salad featuring kalamata olives, it is quite an interesting adventure cooking with certain vegetables.

Since last weekend was cold, rainy, and dreary, I had a soup craving.  I poured through various websites in search of a perfect soup that incorporated butternut squash and apples, since Trader Joe’s discontinued their butternut apple soup that I loved so much.   First, I wanted something simple, and allowed for some slight modifications (like adding my special secret weapon that I use in mostly every dessert dish). 

The recipe I stumbled across came from Food Network, and while it was quite tasty, I found the recipe to be slightly messy. It was messy due to the fact that I do not have a food processor, so I improvised and used a blender instead. Another downside is that your kitchen and surrounding rooms will smell like curry. Since curry powder is a big ingredient in this recipe, it is my suggestion to light some candles (Yankee candles are the best. A personal favorite for the kitchen is Macintosh or Home Sweet Home.)

Overall, I rate this 5.5 out of 10. Next time, I am using my secret weapon spice in place of curry. It was a tad spicy for my liking.

Butternut Apple Soup

2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 c. chopped onions
2 tbsp. curry powder
2 large butternut squash (peeled, cut in half, removed the seeds, and chunked)
4 Macintosh Apples (peeled, cored, quartered, and chunked)
2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 c. water
2 c. apple cider

Warm the butter, olive oil, onions, and curry powder in a large stockpot uncovered over low heat for 15-20 mins. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot.

Add the peeled, cubed squash and apples, along with salt, pepper, 2 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 30-40 mins., until the squash and apples are very soft. Puree the soup in a food processor. Pour the soup back into the pot, and add the apple cider to make the soup the right consistency. Serve hot.

Semi-Homemade Treats

This weekend was fairly busy, but I did spend a good deal of time in the kitchen.  On Friday night, I had a craving for apple pie.  Since my kitchen has been under some slight renovations, I decided not to make the homemade pie crust and opted for the refrigerated Pillsbury pie crusts.   Pillsbury pie crusts taste like they are the closest thing to homemade, and they are great when you are short on time.  However, this was not your typical apple pie recipe, as it incorporated caramel (think…caramel apples), and a homemade apple pie filling.  Overall, this recipe works a lot better if you melt the caramels for the pie.

Caramel Apple Pie

1 package Pillsbury Pie Crusts

6 Jonathan (or another apple suitable for baking) apples

1 package of Kraft Caramel Bits (they are ready for melting, so no need to unwrap each caramel)

3 tbsp. Cinnamon

1/2 cup of Sugar
First, peel and core the apples.  Then, slice the apples.  In a bowl, mix the apples with cinnamon and sugar.  Also, add a sprinkle of flour to help with the thickening of the apple filling.

In a pie pan, roll out one of the pie crusts.  Spread a nice layer of caramel on the pie crust.  Then add the apples to the crust and pour some more caramel on top of the apples.  Place the other pie crust on top of the apples, crimp the edges of the crust with a fork, and cut a slit on the top of the pie.  Bake according to pie crust directions (450 degrees for 40-45 minutes).
Serve warm with additional melted caramel.

Today, I was pretty busy prepping food for this coming week.  This is to help curb eating out and focusing on eating healthy.  However, I wanted to make some goodies for my colleagues tomorrow, so I fixed my infamous Candy Bar Brownies.  These brownies are so easy to make, as they involve a brownie mix and two Symphony bars (you want the ones with Almonds and Toffee).

Candy Bar Brownies

2 Symphony Bars with Almonds and Toffee

1 box of Brownies (Chewy Fudge)

Fix brownie mix according to package directions.   In a 8 x 8 pan, spread half of the brownie mixture.  Then place two unwrapped Symphony bars on top of the brownie mixture, and on top, layer the remaining brownie mixture.

Bake the brownies according to package directions.  They are so good and rich.  People won’t even know they were made with a brownie mix. 🙂