Turkey Chili Casserole: A Superbowl Fav!

This recipe was the easiest thing I have ever made and the perfect combination of salty and sweet!  Lance and I have been frequenting Trader Joe’s lately, and we sampled some Turkey Chili Casserole and had to make it.

  1. Four cans Trader Joe’s Turkey Chili (or about 8 cups of chili of any variety).
  2. 12 oz Mexican Blend shredded cheese
  3. Trader Joe’s Cornbread Mix (or any cornbread mix)

For the cornbread mix I needed:

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Pour 8 cups of chili into the bottom of a 9×11 pan. In a large mixing bowl, put all the ingredients together for the cornbread mix, then pour it on top of the chili.  Sprinkle the entire package of cheese on top of the cornbread mixture.  Put in the oven at 375 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until it appears golden-brown.


Mediterranean for Dinner: 5lb Chicken and Falafel recipe

In my family we tell this story:

Many moons ago 😉 my great grand father moved from Greece to the states to create a better life for his family.  Upon arrival he dredged through registration at Ellis Island.  Approaching his turn he -like many others – had his name Americanized.   “It’s too long!”  “American’s can not pronounce this!”

Whoever is telling the story at the time generally makes up the ORIGINAL Greek family name.   Though our story all ends the same.

On that day they told my family, their new name is “Marris“.

Eventually like all men his age he joined the armed forces.   They say there must have been a typo upon registering and again his name was changed.  Morris.   (The story always goes … “He just assumed those dang lazy Americans were just changing his name once again).

Now what is true is I have family members that go by Marris and family members that go by Morris.

I do not know how much of that story holds true after generations and variations of re-telling.  I do know that I love it!  It creates a sense of family history and pride.  My father passed while I was young, and so there is little background that gets to us of his side of the family.

My siblings and I have been proud to say there is some Greek.  Somewhere in there.


(Looking at my brothers, you would not second guess it!)


And so – I like to try my hand at Mediterranean fairs every blue moon.  Although this meal is not necessarily traditionally Greek … it is loaded with lemon and oregano – and that IS very Greek.


Here is what is for Dinner:  Marinated Chicken Thighs, Tomato and Cucumber Salad, Falafel with Tzatziki.

For this post I will give a quick synopsis of the chicken, salad, and tzatziki … the recipe will be for the falafel.  This was new to me.  Something to try.  It is on the lighter side of fried and heck … who doesn’t love falafel!?  It was easy as well.


WARNING:  Dough must rest for an hour!  (I hate when I only figure that out halfway through buying ingredients because I did not read far enough).


This made about 8-10 2″ Falafel



  • 1.5 Cups chopped Onion
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1.5 Cups cooked Chick Peas
  • 1 Cup lightly packed Parsley Leaves
  • 3/4 Cup lightly packed Cilantro Leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Avocado Oil (or any high heat point oil for sauteing)

The Steps:

Add Onions and Garlic to food processor: Pulse until MincedSet aside.


Add Chick Peas, Parsley, Cilantro, Salt, Chili Powder, and Cumin to food processor: Pulse until Rough Blend.



Add Onion Mixture and Baking Powder and a 1/4 Cup flour:  Pulse until mixture begins to take a shape.

NOTE:  Do not over pulse.  Your Dough will turn to a paste.   You can still make the falafel despite, but the texture will be less favorable.

At this point I removed my Dough from the food processor and moved to the bowl.  I added and slowly folded more Flour (1/4 cup at a time)until my mixture was less sticky.


As you can see – my trial did get slightly pasty

Cover with plastic.  Set in refrigerator for one hour.

After one hour, heat your oil choice over Medium heat. Enough oil to cover the pan! Be generous here.


Very affordable at Costco : much healthier than vegetable or canola oils.

I used my hands to ball about 3 tablespoons of mixture.  Drop in oil.  Pat down to a shape you enjoy. Fry 3 minutes per side.


Set on towel lined cooling rack.  Salt immediately.


That’s it!  So simple, so tasty!  Something different from our normal weeknight dinner.

The Rest:

Marinate Chicken thighs over night:  Lemon Juice, Extra Virgina Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, 1 clove Garlic, tablespoon oregano.  I also added 2 tablespoons of a Cajun seasoning.    Fry for 5 minutes a side (avocado oil) under a 5lb weight !  Then bake for another 20 – 30 Minutes until temps reach 160.


We did not have a brick – so we had to get creative!


hot hot hot! (talkin ’bout that man!)


Salad – Cube cucumber, tomato, slice onion.  Add Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Lemon Juice, Oregano, White Vinegar, and Agave.  Salt and Pepper.  Toss. Let set for one hour.

Tzatziki – 1 cup Greek yogurt, 1 clove garlic.  Clean cucumber (peel and remove seeds), Grate Cucumber, Squeeze out water with cheese cloth.  Salt, pepper, lemon juice.  Stir.


A meal fit for a Grecian Princess !

Please comment if you need further details on any recipe! ENJOY!

Caprese Pasta Dinner

Michael had an employee only work dinner planned this week.  When I pouted, ‘What shall I have?”  He suggested I have something that he would not generally eat.   The light bulb lite for both of us, and together we said : “Pasta!”  Ahhh how I love the magical outcome of combining eggs and flour.  Its filling, satisfying, and can fit any season!

Michael, read somewhere that most humans are likely gluten intolerant.  He also said pasta is POINTLESS!?  I know, now you are wondering what I see in the man.  If it were not for his strict and dull palate I would (and I did) carry 15#’s more than I do now.  So fine, I do not order or prepare it often.  Not a terrible thing for my bodies sake.  And now …. Oh it is such a glorious event to have a bowl of starchy, warm, and perfectly salted farfalle pasta (also known as the friendly ‘bow-tie’ pasta) !

So I went to the store, grinning, and whistling while I picked up a bag for $1.50!  I had all the other ingredients at home.  I have known for a week exactly how I will prepare my special pasta meal for one.

Caprese is one of my favorite dishes.  As it is for most people.  The light and salty fresh mozzarella, with a sweet tomato, and licorice essence of fresh basil paired together becomes the perfect flavor combination.  The ingredients are pure, simple, and can be served alone or made into a million variations; flat bread, salad, pasta, bruschetta, and on and on.

I almost always have basil, garlic, and tomatoes on hand.  I also pick up (domestic) fresh mozzarella every so often from the Pittsburgh Strip District.  I happened to have a half # on hand as well (which cost about $4.50- a steal!)

The best part is, this is incredibly simple.  The most prep is in chopping a tomato – and hey, that’s fun!


Here is what you need:

– 1# Farfalle pasta (or any type of pasta’y pasta that you love!), cooked ‘el dente’

-1 small crate of San Marzano Tomatoes (Again, use whatever your preference may be.  I love Roma’s and Campari’s for this dish as well), chopped (1/4″ size)

-5 large leaves of fresh basil, chiffonade (roll all leaves together, and slice into thin strands)

-1/2 # fresh mozzarella, cubed in the same size of the tomatoes

-3 cloves of garlic, minced (or use your lovely garlic press)

– 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Coarse Sea Salt and Ground Pepper to taste 



Here is what you need to do with it: 

Prepare the ingredients as stated above.

– First cook the pasta.  For 1# of pasta, bring about 5 quarts of water to a rolling boil.  Before adding the pasta to the water add a generous pinch of salt (more like TWO) to the water.   Add the pasta, cover, and cook until the water nearly boils over (or DOES boil over, like in my case).  Now remove the lid, stir occasionally, and cook for another 8 minutes.   Then Drain.

– When your pasta has about 5 minutes left to cook, heat a table spoon of Olive Oil at medium high heat in a saute pan.  After the heat picks up, just a minute or so, add garlic and saute for 2 minutes.

Join your tomatoes with the garlic, plus salt and pepper.  Saute at Medium heat until pasta is complete.  You want the tomatoes to release a good bit of water, but you do not want them to cook down completely.  This liquid is now pre-flavored and will pull the starches from the pasta to create a light garlicy gravy.  

-Once you have drained the pasta, return the pasta to the pot (over NO heat).   Add the garlic tomatoes, olive oil, basil, salt, and pepper.  Toss.

– I wait until the pasta is slightly cooled before I add the mozzarella, and again toss.  I do not want the pasta and cheese to melt and hold on to each other.

Stir, Serve, Enjoy !




This is quick, easy, and delicious.  It is reasonable in price (this recipe feeds about 2 people for $10).   If you have to do pasta, this is light and does not add other processed ingredients.   It also brings in fresh memories of summer, while keeping you warm on a cold winter night.    Also, you can serve this hot OR cold.  In fact you can serve it hot for dinner … and add the left overs to your lunch as a side of pasta salad (at which time I might dress with some balsamic vinegar) .How can you beat it!?

Every Minute (and Every Meal) Counts

HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON!  My head is spinning with excitement and activity.  There is so much to do!  Put up the tree and DIY the mantel, buy and wrap gifts, bake cookies for cookie exchange, finish major pain-in-the-behind renovation before inviting everyone you know to your house!  Lately I feel like I can not keep up with myself.  One day that feeling is a welcome rush!  The next day that feeling is daunting and overwhelming.  So that brings me to admitting that my biweekly-workout-routine-update is quickly becoming a New Years Resolution.  I am ashamed to say it- but I can find no other way to complete my to-do list.  With parties to attend and our 2nd annual NYE party to plan we are forced to spend week night evenings finishing our foyer renovation.

Outside of activity (and luckily bad puppy Ella has made it out of another week alive, which means I a least still have our daily walks) the other way to maintain your weight – holiday season or not- is meal prep.   This is actually a part of the week I look forward to.  We try the best we can to eat well during the week, this way we can splurge more over the weekend and at all the fun filled parties with delicious snacks and cocktails.

Sunday morning is for breakfast and rest, followed by chores, and hopefully only a few errands.   We get to the things we have been putting off all week: cleaning the yard, and the dog, hanging the wreath, and hanging the laundry.   This week we painted our soon to be hung molding and began prepping the stair case for stain.   As our work starts slowing, along with our energy I will transition to the kitchen.  Starting with dinner on Sunday, here is what a week of meals can look like in our home (and another recipe to add to your shopping list for next week)!


Mornings in our home are slow to start.  We like to share a big breakfast and this is Michael’ s area of expertise.  We often default to eggs, bacon, and home fries nearly every week.  More often than not if there is a second meal it will be a quick take-out option; for instance this week we hit up pita pit for a veggie packed recharge lunch.  When it is time for dinner we go one of two ways.  Either fresh fish that we picked up from the market that day or the day before.  We have to shop about every other week, so we like to get the sale fish and have it before freezing.  If it is not a shopping week we may do something like this:

Throw a full chicken in the roaster.   We will cube potatoes and chop onions and put them in the pan under the seasoned chicken so they can soak up the flavor.   Then we will steam a veg to eat along with the roasted chicken (likely broccoli, carrots, or green beans).  After our belly’s are full we will pull the meat from the bones, boil the bones for another home-made stock, and combine the stock, meat, and veggies for soup for the week.  Chicken soup was last week, my favorite Potato&Leek soup this week!  Now we have 4-5 days of lunches for the both of us.  Pack up a leafy green side salad (cut and washed on Sunday and stored in a gallon zip lock) or a banana and apple for extra substance and mid-day healthy sugar pick me up.

Then I make an egg bake for our breakfast.  We bake whatever ingredients we have around in a couple of pie dishes and cut it into wedges.  There is 3-4 morning breakfasts ready to go for each of us.  Here is my favorite:

  • Slice a delicatessen squash and remove the innards (this squash is fantastic because the edible skin leaves minimal prep),  brush with a mixture of even parts: melted butter, honey, and Sriracha hot sauce.  Bake for 40 minutes on 400.
  • Slice pre-made/pre-cooked chicken maple sausage.
  • Saute one chopped medium yellow onion, two cloves garlic, and a bunch of cleaned and prepped kale. Again I use the ninja for the onions and garlic.
  • Throw the ingredients in a pie dish (likely two) and pour over previously whisked scrambled eggs (dash of milk, salt, and pepper).
  • Toss in some Parmesan cheese.  Bake until brown.
Breakfast: Spinach and Mozzarella Egg Bake - Cooking Spray, Olive Oil, Spinach, Low-Fat Mozzarella, Green Onions, Eggs, Spike Seasoning, Salt, & Pepper. #25, #3 looks good also

Now we are armed with a healthy (full of protein and iron) and tasty breakfast and lunch to last us all week long.


The rest of the week we pull a frozen protein from the freezer every night.  Here is what last week looked like:

Monday: pan seared perch (which often sells for $8 a #!), steamed carrots, brown rice.

Tuesday: Seasoned beef roast, baked sweet pots, and some of that pre washed salad made on Sunday.

Wednesday:  Ground Turkey mixed with fennel, sage, white onion, garlic, and an apple- stuffed and baked in an acorn squash. This is my favorite fall meal!

Thursday: Blackened and grilled chicken breast, again atop the salad already made.

Friday: Take out time!  Hummus and shwarma while we decorate our first Christmas tree together 🙂  If you are short on soup by Friday, there are often left-over’s in the fridge by this time. 

Saturday:  A full day full of errands and a friends birthday dinner left us eating out all day!  Otherwise Saturday is a good left-overs day.

So easy, yummy, and kind of healthy!  Thats a week in the eating life of an unmotivated/pretend/wanna-be healthy girl! I hope this meal inspires your week of good eats for tiny seats!  Enjoy the holidays- and GOOD LUCK!