A Healthy, yet Comforting, Family Meal

Nutrition & Good Eats

You know those days when the only dinner that really sounds good is a comfort meal? Something warm, and hearty, and just feels like home. Growing up I hated meatloaf, but it was a common “comfort” food in our house. As my cooking has evolved, I’ve adapted to find ways that I actually enjoy meatloaf. The secret is, no bread, no large and soggy loaf, and add veggies when at all possible.

Last night the kids and I stayed at my father-in-law’s since my husband was on call and I decided I should invite Grandma and Grandpa over as well so we could all share a meal together and they could play with the great grandkids. Grandma and Grandpa also make for extra hands so that Mama has a better chance of preparing dinner without too many interuptions.

Anyways, the dinner menu looked as such:

Bacon wrapped mini meatloaves, greenbeans and onions, mashed potatoes, and homemade elk and onion gravy. Our side salads would be spinach, strawberries, cranberries and a tiny sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.

From just the name, you might think bacon wrapped meat loaf doesn’t sound healthy, am I right?

Here’s my recipe, it’s a bit different from your typical meatloaf. Remember, it has to be in order for me to like it.

(The recipe was doubled last night since we had a total of six adults and two kids eating)

1 package organic, ground turkey

1 package ground elk burger

1 large carrot grated

2 eggs

A combination of spices

Uncured, nitrate/nitrite free turkey bacon

And that’s it. Hand mix that all together, form into large patties, wrap with the turkey bacon, and set onto a foiled cookie sheet (or use a broiler pan) and bake at 425 degrees. Depending on the size of the patties, cook for about 15 minutes, flip over and cook another 15. If you want to add a lititle crisp to the edges, broil the last couple minutes.

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Now, for the sides.

Who doesn’t love green beans cooked with onions?! I had some freshly frozen green beans that needed to be used, so I sauted a full yellow onion and a little garlic until tender and beginning to turn translucent, and added the green beans. Seasoned only with a little garlic powder and black pepper, I put a lid on these guys and let them cook a little while.

The potatoes can be where healthy turns to unhealthy, so whenever we have potatoes it’s more about portion control for me than anything. Simple mashed potatoes, a little butter a little milk, and salt and pepper. (I like to leave the skin on my potatoes if they are red or yukon gold)

The gravy base was leftover from a roast we just made a couple days ago so the flavor was full and spectacular. Full of onions and garlic already, all I had to do was thicken it. I didn’t have any organic corn starch here at my father-in-law’s so I used a pack of organic brown gravy mix.

And there you have it, a comfort meal for a family event that won’t leave you over full and feeling guilty about over eating. Unless of course to go for seconds, but that would be your fault, not mine. 🙂

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Zouppa My Way

Nutrition & Good Eats

zouppa

Zouppa.

You know, the Italian sausage, kale soup you can find at Olive Garden and other Italian restaurants? The one that is savory and warm and fitting for a rainy day? Well, we’ve been experiencing our fair share (and then some) of rainy days here on the southern Oregon coast, so this soup sounded particularly good yesterday.

After posting a preview into my dinner plans yesterday, I had a handful of people asking about how I made my version of this soup.

So here it is, Zouppa, my way!

Bear with me, I don’t follow recipes or directions well, so if you’re looking for precise measurements, you should find another recipe.

I begin by deciding on organic, clean ingredients. 

You will need:

  1. a large yellow onion
  2. 2-3 garlic cloves
  3. a package of uncured bacon (I chose turkey bacon this time because it’s what I had in my freezer)
  4. two packages of Italian, chicken sausage links (I prefer links over ground meat)
  5. a package of frozen, whole green beans
  6. about 6-8 red potatoes, depending on size (diced into about 1 inch cubes)
  7. a bunch of kale (don’t purchase pre-cut because the stems are woody and hard to pick out. You can break the leaves off the stems yourself when you buy a bunch)
  8. home canned chicken broth (or an organic free-range version…2-3 cartons)
  9. 1/2 and 1/2 (I prefer half and half over full, heavy cream)

First, chop up both the bacon and the sausage into little bite-size piece. Dice up the onion and mince the garlic. Throw those all into a big soup pan. Lid them, and let them simmer and begin to mesh together.

Once the base of the soup starts smelling delicious, and before you overcook the onion and garlic, add the broth. At this point, I bring the soup the a boil. (If you’re in a hurry, from here you can continue to finish the soup, or you can chose to let the soup simmer instead of boil and let the spices come together a little longer.)

Add the potatoes and green beans.

After the potatoes have softened, but not completely fallen apart, add the kale.

Allow your soup to stop boiling before you add the half and half. You don’t want your milk products to curdle, so this step in important. However, I have had this happen, and I will tell you from experience, the soup still tasted great! The looks of it wasn’t as pleasing though.

I don’t add many spices because the Italian sausage and bacon bring a lot of flavor, however I do add cracked pepper.

And viola! You may serve your soup!

If you’d like, top with a light shaving of hard parmesan cheese and dig in!

I think what I love about this soup most, besides how easy it is, is having it for lunch the next day. ALWAYS make an extra large batch because it heats up well.

(Below are the two meat products I used, but there are many other brands I would trust as well. We have tried this recipe with our homemade elk Italian sausage, and though I love our homemade sausage, it wasn’t my favorite in this soup.)

sausageturkey bacon