When trying to think up a recipe to go along with a Cabernet Sauvignon, I thought up a creative ravioli recipe. I’ve tried ravioli before making them using wanton wrappers. So, after I designed the recipe, I entered it into the Tyler Florence Wines Ultimate Food & Wine Experience. Tyler Florence Ultimate Food & Wine Experience

Now, that it has been entered, I need YOUR VOTE!! Please vote for my Italian Ravioli with Pesto. The Recipe is listed there, and I have listed it here as well. Such a fantastic dish to be served with a great wine like Tyler Florence Wines’ Cabernet SauvignonCabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2008

So, PLEASE VOTE for my tasty Italian Ravioli with Pesto. Go to site by clicking on photo above and VOTE! It’s on page 2 of the Cabernet Sauvignon Tab! Thanks for Your Support!!

 Italian Ravioli with Pesto

Serves: 4 – 6 servings (30 wontons)

Prep Time: 35 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour



6 ounces jarred sun-dried tomatoes, drained

2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms

6 ounces white button mushrooms, chopped

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 garlic cloves

3 Tablespoons chopped walnuts

2 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons tomato paste

1/3 cup canned Italian seasoned crushed tomatoes

2/3 cup olive oil

1/2 cup grated Parmesan and Romano cheese

couple pinches both salt and ground black pepper

Wonton Ingredients:

1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, drained and diced

1/2 cup ricotta cheese

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves

1/2 pound sliced Italian Bresaola, sliced into thin 1-inch strips

1 pound package round wonton wrappers (60 wonton wrappers)

1 egg plus 1 Tablespoon water, whisked for egg wash


Create pesto. Place sun-dried tomatoes and dried mushrooms in a bowl and cover with warm water for 15 minutes, or until tender. Remove sun-dried tomatoes and mushrooms from water and place in a food processor or blender. Add basil, parsley, garlic, nuts and onions; process until well blended. Add vinegar, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes and process. Stir in olive oil and grated cheese. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to serve.

Create wontons.In a large saute pan bring heavily salted water to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly to a gentle boil.

Assemble the ravioli: Put a wonton wrapper on a clean dry working surface and brush the entire wrapper with egg wash. (Keep the remaining wonton wrappers covered while working to prevent them from drying out.) In a medium bowl, mix peppers, ricotta, garlic, and basil together. Put a few pieces of beef in the center of each wrapper then add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of ricotta mixture on top. Gently stretch another wonton over top to cover, connecting the edges of the wrappers, press to secure. Gently lift, cup hands over filling to release any air inside, pinch around the rim to secure and put on a plate or large flat dish. Repeat with remaining wontons.

Cook the wontons: Gently put a batch of wontons in the boiling water, turn over half way through cooking and remove after about 5 minutes. Repeat for all wontons.

Serve warm ravioli equally in bowls with pesto sauce spooned over wontons. (Pesto can be warmed in microwave or on stove top for a few minutes if desired.)

Posted in Appetizers, Beef, Contest, Italian Cuisine, Meats, Mushrooms, Ravioli, Tomatoes, Walnuts | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cookies Good Enough for Santa!

Dear Santa,

I have been a very good girl this year. I have made many blog entries and have created some great recipes this year. I’ve also won a few contests as well.

So, if you don’t mind Santa, I really wouldn’t mind a nice shiny stand mixer, preferably a KitchenAid 5-Quart Artisan Stand Mixer in Empire Red. And Santa, since you are so busy and the elves are too. I was thinking that all I need to do is be the first-prize winner in the Epicurious’ Santa’s Plate Cookie Contest . This way, you don’t have to lug that heavy thing all the way to North Carolina. Epicurious and friends can just ship that bad boy to my house where I can create some stupendous creations for you next Christmas!! 

The whoopie pies I created this weekend and entered in the contest are terrific and I think I could win that mixer!! So, Mr. Claus, I will have these out for you Christmas Eve and hope you like them. 

You will be totally plump and happy with these cookies! I think the reindeer will even like the crumbles that are left behind, if there are any. 

I created Red Velvet Whoopie Pies with Peppermint-Buttercream Filling. redvcookies1Santa, I will be sure to include the recipe below for others to try. Mainly, because I’m such a good girl to share these wonderful cookies with everyone! 

Take care Santa and Please, Please, Santa, make sure you take it easy AFTER Christmas. I do worry about you each and every year. Say Hello to the Elves for me!! 


Red Velvet Whoopie Pies with Peppermint-Buttercream FillingRVwhoopie1

Yields: 25 to 30 sandwich cookies

prep time: 40 minutes

cook time: 10 minutes

total time: 50 minutes



2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

2 cups sugar

4 eggs

1/4 cup plain or vanilla soy milk

2 Tablespoons red food coloring

1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

5 cups confectioner’s sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons, or more peppermint or peppermint mocha flavored coffee creamer

1 cup crushed peppermint candies or candy canes (optional)


Preheat oven to 375ºF.

In a medium bowl, mix together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In a separate medium bowl and with an electric hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time. Beat in milk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla. Once combined, add wet ingredients to dry. Mix until thoroughly combined.

Using parchment paper-lined cookie sheets and working in batches, drop batter using an ice cream scoop forming 2-inch round circles.

Bake for 10 minutes, until baked through. Cool slightly then remove to a wire rack. Cool completely.

Create filling. In a large bowl, cream butter until light and fluffy using an electric hand mixer. Beat in confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and enough creamer to achieve desired consistency.

Assemble pies: When cookies have cooled completely, Spread the filling between 2 cooled cookies and roll the edges in crushed peppermint, if desired. Serve.

Tip: Prepared sandwich cookies can be refrigerated for storage. Cookies, separate from filling can be stored in a plastic resealable bag at room temperature. Filling stored covered in refrigerator

Posted in cakes, Cheese, Contest, Cookies, cream cheese, Desserts, Pastries/Breads/Muffins, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Decorated Cake Balls

I baked all weekend for cooking/recipe contests. All were hits with the neighbors! I try to share my creations. Mainly, because “Mr. Special” and I can’t eat it all!! And some of the creations don’t freeze well.

I’ve always wanted to create cake balls and when I was thinking of an entry for the Sara Lee Share the Sweetness Recipe Contest and I couldn’t resist the temptation. The images of luscious creations using Sara Lee Pound Cake was simply too yummy to pass up!cakeball1aI created a recipe, Decorated White Chocolate-Covered Cake Balls (below).  I used red food coloring, that unfortunately created a pink decoration, but still looked cute. I would have used green if I had known the food coloring would only turn pink. So I wrote the recipe to include either color of food coloring. The best thing is that it is up to the creator of these to decorate what ever they would like!!

These are great for the kids to help decorate if you don’t mind some silly decorations. If these are for a more formal affair, you may want to handle the decorating yourself and give the kids only a few of their own to try.

Here are photos with instructions. The entire recipe follows. Enjoy!

Using a food processor, crumble pound cake;cakeball2a add to a large bowl. cakeball3aMix with frosting.cakeball4a

Pat a ½ teaspoon or more of flour between hands over sink so excess falls off. Roll pound cake mixture into quarter size balls cakeball5acakeball6aand lay on a cookie sheet. cakeball7aWork in batches and patting hands with flour several times while rolling balls. Chill in refrigerator at least for 2 hours.

Working in batches, melt chocolate in microwave per instructions on package until liquid consistency; about 2 minutes per batch. cakeball8a

cakeball14a cakeball15aRemove cake balls from refrigerator and roll cake balls in chocolatecakeball11a and lay on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. cakeball12a(Tip: a fork works well when rolling balls and placing on to cookie sheets.) Return to refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Mix vanilla frosting with food coloring in a small bowl. cakeball9acakeball10aFill a pastry decorating bag with frosting mixture. (This recipe used a #2 tip and created a bow decoration on each pastry.) Remove chocolate covered balls from refrigeratorcakeball13a and decorate using decorating tips on end of pastry bag. cakeball16aReturn balls to refrigerator for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes. Serve.

Decorated White Chocolate-Covered Cake Ballsdecoratedcakeball1

Yields: 50 – 55 cake balls

Prep time: 5 hours 30 minutes (includes 5 hours of refrigeration time)

Cook time: 6 minutes

Total time: 5 hours and 36 minutes


16 ounce family size container Sara Lee® pound cake, defrosted

16 ounce can cream cheese frosting

1/3 cup, or more flour for rolling dough

3-6 ounce packages white chocolate squares

16 ounce can vanilla frosting

60 to 65 drops red or green food coloring


Using a food processor, crumble pound cake; add to a large bowl. Mix with frosting.

Pat a ½ teaspoon or more of flour between hands over sink so excess falls off. Roll pound cake mixture into quarter size balls and lay on a cookie sheet. Work in batches and patting hands with flour several times while rolling balls. Chill in refrigerator at least for 2 hours.

Working in batches, melt chocolate in microwave per instructions on package until liquid consistency; about 2 minutes per batch. Remove cake balls from refrigerator and roll cake balls in chocolate and lay on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. (Tip: a fork works well when rolling balls and placing on to cookie sheets.) Return to refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Mix vanilla frosting with food coloring in a small bowl. Fill a pastry decorating bag with frosting mixture. (This recipe used a #2 tip and created a bow decoration on each pastry.) Remove chocolate covered balls from refrigerator and decorate using decorating tips on end of pastry bag. Return balls to refrigerator for at least 2 hours and 30 minutes. Serve.

NOTE: This is a nice party favor to make ahead a day or two prior to serving; refrigerate until serving time.

Posted in cakes, Contest, Desserts, Pastries/Breads/Muffins | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Wealth of Tomatoes, AGAIN!!

You may remember that I won 2 years in a row (2009 and 2010) in Dei Fratelli’s  Ripened Recipe Contest. Where there are 10 winners who win a year’s supply of Dei Fratelli tomato products. Well, one of my recipes won again!! Woohoo!! And, I’m so glad because I love receiving those boxes of Dei Fratelli products. My family loves them too. I’ve been known to come over to my mom’s house and leave a box with her. It really does make it easier to come up with new and exciting recipes when there’s plenty of Dei Fratelli tomato products in the pantry!





My recipe that won this year is the Zucchini, Carrot and Roasted Red Pepper TartIMAG0289a


You can find the recipe at the Dei Fratelli website. Simply click here.  Enjoy!

Posted in carrots, cheddar, Cheese, Contest, Havarti, Italian Cuisine, Monterey Jack, Mozzarella, Pizza, Sauces, tarts, Tomatoes, Vegetables, Zucchini | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Unique Tart Worthy of a Crowd

I created a new dessert for my  Thanksgiving gathering. Since it was such a hit – I entered it in the Imperial Sugar Company’s Homemade Holidays Recipe Contest. Instead of a pumpkin pie – I had cans of yams or sweet potatoes and decided to create a dish with them. I had some old-fashioned molasses cookies on hand and thought they would help very nicely in the crust.  Sometimes, what you may have on hand in your pantry can help a dish become something unique. cookies1a

I recently purchased my first tart pan with removable bottom. I’ve always used a pie plate and just simply added less contents to become  a thin tart. This tart pan made it so much easier. Especially when it came time to cool the tart afterwards.tartpan1

The neat step to this tart is holding some of the cream cheese mixture aside and using dollops of this mixture on the top of the tart and using a knife, creating a unique design; a marbling affect. I had seen this before in a cookbook but have never created a recipe using this technique.creamcheese1


You can create your own designs using this technique. I may try this on another tart that I have in mind for the future. This tart is definitely crowd worthy!! Hope your family’s Thanksgiving was a good one!! Enjoy!

Sweet Potato and Cream Cheese Tarttartfinish1

Yields 10 servings

Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 31 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 11 minutes

1/3 cup quick-cooking oats, ground
1 cup old fashioned molasses cookie crumbs (about 6 large cookies)
3 Tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Cream Cheese Filling:
2 containers (8 oz each) reduced-fat cream cheese
1/3 cup Imperial Sugar® extra fine granulated pure cane sugar
2 Tablespoons light vanilla-flavored soy milk
1 egg
1 Tablespoon flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Sweet Potato Filling:
15 ounce canned yams/sweet potatoes in syrup, drained and mashed
1/3 cup packed Imperial Sugar® brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tub low-fat whipped topping, for serving


Heat oven to 375°F. Spray 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom with cooking spray. In small bowl, mix crust ingredients. Press in bottom and up side of pan. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until set; set aside.

In large bowl, beat cream cheese filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Reserve 2/3 cup cream cheese filling; set aside.

In small bowl, mix sweet potato filling ingredients. Add to remaining cream cheese filling; mix well. Spoon into crust. Spoon dollops of reserved cream cheese filling randomly over sweet potato filling. Swirl with knife to marble mixtures. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until set. Cool 10 minutes. Remove side of pan. Serve warm, or cool 1 hour and refrigerate until serving time.

Posted in Cheese, Contest, cream cheese, Desserts, Sweet Potatoes, tarts, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A “flowering” Thanksgiving

I haven’t cooked with cauliflower that much before. Only when a few florets are included along with broccoli and perhaps some carrots in a dish. But not as a main ingredient in a dish. Since “Mr. Special” and I were hosting my mom and my brother’s family for Thanksgiving this year, I wanted to create a couple of dishes that I haven’t fixed before. I also bought a gift for myself. I should say for “Mr. Special” since he’ll be eating what I fix when I use it. I bought a nice slow cooker.  I wanted to create a slow cooked dish as well. So, I guess this Thanksgiving meal was a “flowering” meal since I used cauliflower in 2 new dishes. I have noted the recipes that inspired mine.   Enjoy!

Cauliflower Gratin

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Inspired by recipe at:

Makes 6 servings

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 36 minutes

Total time: 56 minutes


1 to 2 heads cauliflower, chopped into florets
6 tablespoons butter, divided
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups low-fat milk
1 cup grated low-fat Vermont sharp white cheddar cheese

1 cup plus 2 teaspoons shredded parmesan cheese, divided

1 teaspoon nutmeg, divided

3 green onions, sliced

sea salt to taste

ground black pepper to taste

½ cup plain bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large pot of salted water, boil and blanch cauliflower until cooked, but still crunchy, about 3 or 4 minutes. Shock in an ice-water bath to stop the cooking. Strain to remove all liquid. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat and add flour. Cook, stirring frequently, until the flour is nicely toasted and bubbling, about 3 minutes. Slowly add cold milk, whisking to incorporate. The sauce should not be too thick, add more milk if necessary. Add ½ teaspoon nutmeg and cheddar cheese and 1 cup parmesan cheese and stir until melted and combined. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon nutmeg evenly over dish. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add cauliflower and green onions to a 3-quart gratin dish. Pour sauce mixture evenly over dish. Melt remaining butter in microwave using a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle bread crumbs then remaining cheese and melted butter evenly over dish. Place a baking sheet under the baking dish to catch any spills.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until bubbling and nicely browned on top.

This may be made ahead of time, then reheat and serve.

Slow Cooked Green Beans with Cauliflower and Green Onions

Serves 8 to 10

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 2 hours

Total time: 2 hours and 10 minutes

Items: 6-quart slow cooker/crock pot


4-15oz. cans green beans (including juice)

½ head cauliflower, chopped into florets

4 green onions, sliced

½ medium bell pepper, chopped

1 slice cooked ham, chopped

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon garlic powder  OR  ¼ teaspoon minced garlic

¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1½ cups water


Add ingredients to a 6-quart slow cooker. Set appliance on high setting for 2 to 2 1/2 hours OR on low setting for 5 hours; or until cauliflower is cooked through but not mushy.

With slotted spoon, scoop cooked ingredients on to plates or bowls. Serve.

Posted in Beans, casserole, cauliflower, cheddar, Ham, onion, Pork, Sauces, Side Dish, Slow Cooker, Uncategorized, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not So Scary, But Tasty, Filled-Cupcakes

This past weekend was my fix “Halloween Cupcakes Weekend” it also ended up being “Sprain Your Back Weekend”. Who would have thought I would have sprained my back by just simply making cupcakes? Unbelievable! Well, I’m almost 100% better now after doing a little whining. It’s my party and I’ll whine if I want to…teehee. “Mr. Special” took care of me and that makes it all good. 

Getting back to the nature of this blog entry, when I was thinking of Halloween cupcakes, I wanted to create something I’ve not baked before. I’m not much of a baker anyway, so this may not be something new to you, but for me; it was a new experience. Coring out cupcakes and filling with frosting. I chose to use a couple of new items I’ve not seen before on the shelves. One was Duncan Hines Frosting Creations Starter and frosting flavor packet. I chose the caramel frosting packet to create a caramel-flavored center for my chocolate chip cupcakes. I created the chocolate chip cupcakes by using Hershey’s semi-sweet chocolates along with Pillsbury Traditional Yellow cake mix. This created 24 cupcakes. Once the cupcakes baked and cooled, then I filled with the caramel frosting in the centers.

I gave “Mr. Special” a choice of vanilla or chocolate frosting for the cupcakes’ outer layer. He chose chocolate. And I chose Duncan Hines Creamy Home-Style frosting.He said it was mainly due to the cupcakes being made for kids to eat…yeah, I’m sure that’s what his thought was. I’m sure it wasn’t the thought of how that rich milk chocolate frosting would go well with the richness of the caramel center. Well, whatever his thought was, it was a good one. These are very easy to make AND really tasty!! I decorated these with candy corn and orange, black and white sprinkles. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!

Next I’m making red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese centers. Yummo!

Posted in cakes, Cheese, cream cheese, cupcakes, Desserts, Snacks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What’s Gobble Gobble in Spanish? Turkey Tacos!!

I don’t speak Spanish, but I sure speak “Taco!”

I took some browned, lean ground turkey and mixed that with sauteed onions, bell pepper and a packet of low-sodium taco mix. An easy way to get all of those nice spices included in the dish.

I also used some Dei Fratelli products. So, in doing so, I thought…I’ll enter this in their Ripened recipe contest this year. I was a winner in 2009 and 2010. Hope to be a winner this year too!! I thoroughly enjoyed receiving products each month. Thinking up new recipes as well as incorporating their products into my old recipes.

And now that I have a new kitchen to cook in, I’m exstatic!! (pics are coming soon)

 “Mr. Special” always likes for me to get excited about cooking!! Plus, he likes eating healthy. This recipe ended up being gluten-free since I used whole grain corn taco shells.

After a few bites, I knew this was a great recipe to enter into the Dei Fratelli Ripened Recipe Contest 2012. Hope your family enjoys as much as we did!

Crowd Pleasing SpiceyTurkey Tacos (Gluten-Free)

Serves 4

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 16 minutes

Total time: 31 minutes


1 pound lean ground turkey

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup diced onion

1/3 cup diced red bell pepper

1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

3Tablespoons Dei Fratelli Tomato Puree

1 packet gluten-free, low-sodium taco seasoning mix, mild

water (per seasoning packet instructions)

8 whole grain, gluten-free corn taco shells

2 chopped Roma tomatoes

1 ½ cups chopped romaine lettuce

½ cup shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese

½ cup Dei Fratelli Original Salsa, Medium

½ cup sour cream (optional)


In a large saucepan coated with non-stick cooking spray, brown turkey along with garlic powder and pepper on medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until turkey is no longer pink. Saute onion, bell pepper and oil on medium heat in a smaller saucepan until vegetables are soft (about 5 minutes). Mix onion, bell pepper, tomato puree, seasoning packet and amount of water (about ¾ cup) as stated on seasoning packet in with turkey; Saute for about 3 minutes, or until thickened.

Heat taco shells in microwave per package instructions. Plate 2 shells with spoonfuls of turkey mixture and tomatoes layered along with some of the lettuce and a spoonful or more of cheese, salsa and sour cream (if desired). Repeat with remaining taco shells. Serve. Enjoy!

Posted in cheddar, Cheese, Meats, Monterey Jack, onion, Poultry, Spanish/Mexican Cuisine, Tacos, Turkey, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Building Another Better Burger

The Sutter Home® Build a Better Burger Recipe Contest has come and gone.

Thank goodness I noticed the deadline soon enough to enter this year. I am usually on top of the dates of the contests I enter every year, but I haven’t been as available as I used to be with my contest entries.

I knew I wanted to create a turkey burger, since I had created a really simple turkey burger the week before that got rave reviews from “Mr. Special”. (He does like most things I fix!! I think I’ll keep him!)

Now I just had to think up the plan for the ingredients for the turkey burger and any toppings I wanted to add. I had never cooked with the Sutter Home® White Merlot  but I had tasted the sweet wine before. I had a good feeling that with a turkey burger and being an inside ingredient this wine would be a great addition to the recipe. I grabbed a bottle. As for the remaining portion, I didn’t mind drinking after I created my entry.

So, I got lost in the super market once again. (I always advise this of anyone, no matter if you’re thinking up a new recipe or not. We get into a habit of simply looking at our must haves on a list.) I love looking for ingredients I’ve never used before and thinking up ways to incorporate them into a new recipe. At my local market, they have numerous types of samples throughout the market to try while shopping. On this day, one of which was an edamame (baby soybean) hummus. This is one that I know will be buying often. I could tell by how many times I was in the aisle where the sample was located. YUMM!  So, needless to say, a couple of packages went flying into the cart and in to the new recipe floating around in my head.

This could make a great spread for the burger.

I noticed some graffiti eggplants.  I had never used these in any recipe, so I decided to try them. I bought one feeling like only one would probably be enough to cut thin slices, bake with spices and olive oil coated on them. I also noticed Anaheim peppers. Just one flew into the cart and I am thankful it did.

The flavor was light enough and was a little different from the bell pepper that usually makes it to the ingredient list.

I looked on my list for other groceries I wanted to pick up on my adventure and I noticed turkey bacon. Boy, do I love turkey bacon and so glad that I do seeing as I’ve been watching my cholesterol level for a couple months now and doing pretty good, I might add. So, I then decided turkey bacon would be a great addition along with the graffiti eggplant slices to top the turkey burger. This would also add to the healthy aspect of the burger.

I wanted to stuff the inside of the burger with cheese. I pushed the cart to the cheese section of the store and noticed a few types and picked up Havarti and Jarlsberg. I felt that Havarti although a good melting cheese would be a good one to use, but wasn’t feeling that it was strong flavored enough to make an impact on the burger. But, it was worth a try and I know “Mr. Special” wouldn’t mind trying another one of my “not good enough for a contest entry” recipes. I grabbed the Jarlsberg (an aged Swiss cheese) that has a little bit of a “bite” and tangy flavor and felt it may be a good one to add.

Once I got home and put everything together, the Jarlsberg won out for the center cheese. I had fun tasting both.  I made the burger with Radicchio but changed to Bibb lettuce on the contest entry.

Here’s the recipe I entered into the contest. It was very YUMMY!! Enjoy!

Cheese-Stuffed Double Turkey and Graffiti Eggplant Burgers

Grilled on an open flame, this cheese-stuffed turkey burger is very flavorful. Even though a healthy choice, that’s the last thing on the mind of the person eating this burger.

The bold flavors of onion, garlic, pepper and basil along with the savoriness of Jarlsberg cheese envelope the palate. Jarlsberg, a bold, aged Swiss cheese along with Sutter Home’s White Merlot gives this turkey burger uniqueness and character. Layered on a whole wheat bun along with turkey bacon, marinated graffiti eggplant slices and topped with a tangy, spicy soy hummus displays more character to this tasty, lean turkey burger.

No matter the occasion, whether it casual or formal, this burger is a memorable addition to any table.

Yields: 6 burgers

Prep time: 1 hour         Cook time: 28 minutes

Total time: 1 Hour and 28 Minutes (includes 30 minutes marinating time)


3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons Sutter Home White Merlot wine (divided)

1/2 small sweet onion, finely chopped (divided)

4 garlic cloves, minced (divided)

3 teaspoons sea salt (divided)

3 teaspoons black pepper (divided)

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 graffiti eggplant

2 pounds lean ground turkey

½ cup quick cooking oats (not instant)

1 Anaheim pepper, minced (seeds removed)

2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil

2 large egg whites

4 to 5 ounces low fat Jarlsberg cheese, sliced into thin slices

6 to 9 slices turkey bacon

1 head bibb lettuce

1-10 ounce package edamame hummus (with roasted red peppers and toasted sesame)

6 whole wheat or whole grain hamburger buns


Create marinade for eggplant. In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup wine, 2 tablespoons onion, 1 teaspoon garlic, 1/2 teaspoon both salt and pepper. Add 1/2 cup olive oil and mix thoroughly. Peel eggplants lengthwise; leaving stripes of skin on sides. Slice into thin slices. Place eggplant in a large bowl, and pour marinade over eggplant. Evenly coat all pieces on both sides. Let sit about 15 minutes or longer, mixing it up occasionally.

While eggplant is marinating, prepare burgers. In a large bowl combine turkey, Anaheim pepper, basil, egg whites, oats and remaining wine, onion, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and place in refrigerator for 15 minutes.

Spray grates of grill with non-stick cooking spray. Prepare grill on medium-high heat.

Start creating a burger patty with a handful of turkey mixture. Once formed for a small burger, place 4 to 5 slices of cheese in center; overlapping and concentrating in center of burger. Take another handful of turkey mixture and place over top of cheese. Press around to seal and form into a 1-inch thick burger. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper on both sides. Repeat with remaining burgers. Grill burgers for 10 to 12 minutes or until turkey is no longer pink in the center, turning once or twice until fully cooked. While burgers cook, lay strips of bacon directly on grill grates. Flip every 3 or 4 minutes for 10 to 12 minutes.

 Place eggplant slices on hot grill grates, discard marinade. Cook until charred and softened, turning occasionally, about 6 to 8 minutes. Set aside cooked eggplant slices on a plate.

 Toast inside sides of hamburger buns on grill for 2 to 3 minutes just until lightly toasted. Remove from grill and place a bottom bun on a plate, lay slices of lettuce then stack a burger patty, 2 to 3 half slices of bacon and lay on top of burger patty, then 3 to 5 slices of eggplant on top. On the inside of a top bun spread a tablespoon or more of hummus. Place on top of burger. Repeat with remaining ingredients, creating 6 burgers. Serve warm.

Posted in Cheese, Havarti, Jarlsberg, Meats, Poultry, Sandwiches, Sauces, Turkey, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Easy Dish Using Quinoa Pasta

I had tried quinoa pasta last year and wanted to introduce it to “Mr. Special”.  I like that quinoa pasta, unlike other types of pasta, has zero cholesterol, very low sodium and low fat. And for a lot of people, it is gluten-free.

I decided to also use a brand of chicken sausage that I had not used yet. We love chicken sausage. Great flavor and better for you than pork sausage.

Since Johnsonville has always been a great brand of pork sausage that I have enjoyed and I discovered that they were now putting out a chicken sausage. And an Italian 3-Cheese chicken sausage! I had to try it and add it in a new quick and easy recipe.

“Mr. Special” wanted seconds, so I knew he liked this dish. The chicken sausage was moist and juicy and filled with cheese and bold flavors. Very nice addition to the dish. Here’s the recipe. Hope your family enjoys this quick and easy recipe that’s healthier than the ordinary sausage and pasta meal.

Italian Chicken Sausage Topped Quinoa Pasta

 Prep time:  15 minutes

Cook time:  15 minutes

Total time:  30 minutes

 Serves 2


2 chicken sausage links, cooked per package instructions (this recipe used Johnsonville 3 Cheese Italian Style with cheese, red bell peppers and garlic)

1 Tbsp. EVOO

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup pre-sliced button mushrooms

1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1 – 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes seasoned with basil, garlic and oregano

4 ounces quinoa pasta

dashes grated parmesan cheese


Prepare chicken sausage links per package instructions (about 8 minutes). Let sit covered.

While sausage cooks, heat oil over medium-high heat In a medium stock pot. Add onion and saute for 3 or 4 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic powder. Saute for another 3 or 4 minutes. Add tomatoes and cover. Turn heat down to medium-low and simmer for at least 8 minutes; stir occasionally.

While sauce cooks, prepare quinoa pasta per package instructions until al dente (about 7 minutes). Drain.

Plate mounds of quinoa pasta between 2 plates and divide sauce evenly and pour on top of pasta.

Slice warm sausage on diagonal and place sausage pieces over pasta and sauce on each plate (1 link per person.).

Sprinkle dish with parmesan cheese to taste. Serve warm. Enjoy!

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