Kitchen Concoctions

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Roasted Celery Soup

Even though spring has officially sprung, for most of the country winter is still in the air! This Roasted Celery Soup is the perfect soup to transition from winter into spring or on a rainy March afternoon! 

I hate wasting food. Like it literally makes my stomach churn if I have to throw away food. I guess it comes from growing up on a tight budget, with a large family and having just enough; and knowing that many others have to get by with very little or not at all and being taught to be grateful for what I have. Or maybe it comes from the fact that I have been blessed with the knowledge of what good food can do for my body and the appreciation of the hard work it takes for food to get from the farm or ranch to the hands that prepare it. Thus I cannot stand letting anything go to waste.

Unfortunately, being a recipe developer, food blogger and cooking instructor my fridge and pantry often has random ingredients shoved in various drawers and compartments.

I realize this is a blessing and an opportunity I am sincerely grateful for, and therefore I do everything in my power not to let anything get wasted. Often this means giving food away or being very creative with leftovers (take these Yellow Squash Dog Biscuits).

Today's recipe was created, when for some reason I had an enormous amount of celery shoved in my produce bin. I honestly don't know how it happened but it was way more celery than I knew I could consume as ants on a log or with appropriate amounts of ranch dressing.

So... I searched high and low for the best recipes using the most amount of celery and this soup was high on the list. Luckily, not only did it call for large amounts of celery it was delicious too (so never fear you celery haters)! It is thick and creamy, yet light, with a lovely caramelized flavor, from carefully roasting all those veggies. And while this soup is perfect for using up lingering vegetables, and even though soup season is ending fast, for me this was the perfect soup to welcome spring on a dreary and rainy spring day.

One Year Ago: Frozen Pink Lemonade Smoothie
Two Years Ago: Grapefruit Margarita
Three Years Ago: Secret Sirloin Steak
Four Years Ago: Gingered Beef Stir-Fry Recipe
Five Years Ago: Guinness Shepherds Pie
Six Years Ago: Butterscotch Sweet Potato Cookie Sandwiches

Roasted Celery Soup
Printable Version 
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 60 minutes Serves: 4-6

Caramelized vegetables, pureed into a thick and creamy spring soup. 

8-10 large celery stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, cut into 2-inch pieces
½ bulb fresh fennel, cut into 2-inch pieces
4 large whole garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt and pepper, or to taste
3 medium-large Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1½-inch pieces
6 cups vegetable broth
½ cup heavy cream or half and half (omit for lactose free/vegan)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon dried dill weed
½ teaspoon celery salt
Celery leaves and fennel fronds, optional for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with foil.

Place celery, onion, fennel and garlic in a large bowl. Drizzle vegetable pieces with oil and season with salt and black pepper; toss to coat. Divide oil covered vegetables between foil lined baking sheets and spread into an even layer. Roast in a 400 degree F oven for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the edges of the vegetables begin to brown.

Meanwhile, bring the potatoes and vegetable broth to a boil in a large stock pot. Boil potatoes for 10 to 12 minutes or until potatoes are tender and can be easily pierced with a fork. When the vegetables have finished roasting add them to the potatoes and broth and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove pot from heat and and cool slightly.

Working in batches, carefully puree soup in a blender. Return soup to the same pot and stir in cream, lemon juice, dried dill weed and celery salt. Bring soup to a simmer and season to taste with additional salt and black pepper, if needed.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls and garnish with celery leaves and fennel fronds

Serving Suggestions: Since this soup is a nice starter or light lunch, try pairing it with this Strawberry Spinach Salad or as a started with this Pan Seared Salmon with Garlic Butter Sauce.

Adapted from Food52

Other recipes you might enjoy:
Vegetable Barley Soup with Chicken Sausage Meatballs
Winter Squash Soup with Gruyère Herb Croutons
Slow Cooker Black-Eyed Pea Soup
Lentil Bean Soup
Green Gruel with Eyeballs (a.k.a Broccoli Cheese Soup with Hard Boiled Eggs)

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Dishin' It Up! - 7 Favorite Teen Dramas

It has been quite a long time since I have done a “Dishin' It Up” post and I have been itchin' to get back at it for quite sometime. If fact, I had planned on bringing this series back at the beginning of 2015, as a weekly blog feature, instead of a monthly feature like I did in the past, and well nearly four months into the new year is better than nothin'... right?!?!

Anyways, for all you new readers and fans, who haven't been with me since the beginning, the “Dishin' It Up!” series is where I share my monthly favorites, what I have been up to, where I have been eating, etc. I always shared this post one day at the end of the month, as sort of a monthly recap, but towards the end of last year, when I decided I wanted 2015 to be a year focused on being more connected, that I would do these posts on a regular, weekly bases, as a way for you readers and myself to get more connected! You know since these posts could be more personal or totally random.
Like today, lets talk about the “teen dramas” that changed my life. Um... bold statement?? I think not!

Beverly Hills, 90210- So when 90210 first premiered I was still a young tween in elementary school. However, this did not stop me from watching it. In fact, I first discovered 90210 because one of the daughters of one of the teachers at the day care we went to at the time would bring episodes recorded on VHS to watch at the day care during the summer... so all of us kids then watched it as well as part of that day's movie time (I know... that day care was a total winner... and that was a horrible sentence.). And even though I was still too young to understand really what was going on until the last few seasons, I learned what it meant to be a cool kid... wear all those cute 90's clothes (back when leggin's with stirrups were totally rad) and watch what all the older cool kids were watching.

Saved By the Bell- Another 90's “teen” sitcom that totally shaped my life. I mean really who didn't learn from Jessie and A.C. Slater's on again off again relationship how to handle real life dating and that having a pet name like “Mama” is a true sign of love. And learned from Jessie to not take on more than you can handle. Oh and don;'t get me started on how I totally had hair envy of preppy Kelly Kapowski. And speaking of VHS... well I am guilty of asking my Dad to make sure and record every,single,episode including the special when they went to Hawaii that I watched until the tape broke. I even followed the gang off to college, but by the time Saved by the Bell: The New Class premiered I had moved on to bigger and better teen dramas. By the way I am completely head over hills about the Jimmy Fallon Saved by the Bell reunion episode he aired recently and have watched it no lie, like 10 times.

Dawson's Creek- Was one of the few “teen dramas” that I actually watched, get this, when I was actually a teen. Yup this show premiered when I was in high school and vividly remember watching it with my friends, gushing over Joey and Pacey and Jen and Dawson's complicated relationship. This is also the only teen drama I have watched repeatedly since it landed on Netflix, I guess trying to subconsciously relive my teen years without the actual real life drama.

Gilmore Girls- Oh.This.Show! I love it for so many reasons (and am totally re-watching it on Netflix as we speak). I was always super envious of the relationship Rory had with her Mom (not that my Mom and I had a bad relationship when I was a teen/early 20's, but it was certainly not like these two... and yes I know it is fiction and all...but). Oh and Melissa McCarthy as Sookie??!!?? Seriously loved her in this role and totally blame this show as part of the reason I dream of owning a little B&B one day. Oh and Stars Hollow is like the perfect most adorable town. Yes. I repeat, I do know it is fiction....

One Tree Hill- I was no longer a teen when this show came out but I became pretty obsessed with it for several years in college, carefully planning my schedule to be at home to watch it each week. Then Haley and Lucas started being in the “in crowd” and so did I and I stopped watching it (always having more important plans). Then as luck would have it Netflix added it to it's line up and you betcha I immediately binge watched it so I could finally see who everyone finally ended up with.

The O.C.- Was another college favorite! I will always have happy memories about having weekly O.C. watching parties (full of dozens of taquitos with ranch dressing and ice cream) with my college roommates and friends, dying over all the complicated relationships and seemingly glamorous life in Orange County (I see a running theme for teen dramas... do you??) and starting our own Chrismukkah celebrations.

Friday Night Lights- And last but not least Friday Night Lights. I didn't know about FNL until way late in the game, I mean I did know about it because it was filmed in Austin and I had a few friends who were extras, but I never watched when it was on air. Then later, when it was off air and there was still a ton of hype, especially here in the blogosphere, then I knew I had to watch. And I loved it! Ok, I know I have said I loved all of these shows but I really LOVED FNL. It really was like my high school (I did happen to go to high school in Texas... and football really was that important) AND did I mention it was filmed in Austin, like was filmed right where I used to live when I lived there (I can't tell you how many times I paused the show screaming at Eric to show him various landmarks/places we know all too well). Let me tell you that was a sad, sad day when I realized the show was filmed right where I lived at the time I lived there and I didn't even know or care. Whomp.

So there we have it. I'm bringin' back “Dishin' It Up” with my favorite teen dramas! LOL! What is your favorite teen drama... from WAY back when or from the present?

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links which helps support Kitchen Concoctions from a small commission earned from your purchases, however, this post in not sponsored in any way. All thoughts and opinions are purely my own. Thank you for helping support Kitchen Concoctions!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Pepperoni Pizza Snack Mix and Basketball Madness Date Night

 Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BigGameSnacks #CollectiveBias #CRUNCHD #ad 

Looking for a fun way to celebrate the basketball mania?? Check out my cute, yet manly basketball themed date night and recipe for Pepperoni Pizza Snack Mix, the perfect snack for big game watching! 

I've mentioned it several times that if I were to choose a word or theme to be my focus word for 2015 that “connect” would be it. After spending several months at the end of last year in a bit of chaos, I declared this was the year to reconnect with my friends and family.

In an effort to “connect” more, I decided that Eric and I should go on more dates. Not that we don't do things all the time and spend time together, but I wanted to actually put some thought and effort into our date nights. You know, like actually planning something to do and creatively asking Eric out on a date, like we did 9 years ago!

Inspired by all the basketball hype going on this time of year, I came up with a fun, inexpensive “Basketball Madness” date night!

For us this date night was completely “out of the box” because we are not HUGE sports fanatics. Yeah sure, we keep up with everything enough to carry on conversations and enjoy going to sporting events a few times a year, but other than that, sports normally aren't our thing. That's why I thought it would be fun to come up with this date night.

To get things started I created this basketball themed gift basket and used this as the invite. In my gift basket I included a the official invite (that you can download here), basketball, water bottles (that if you have time, you can replace the original label with basketball paper labels, using basketball scrapbook paper or stationary), mini toy basketballs, whistles, and a few snacks, including a homemade Pepperoni Pizza Snack Mix and the new Cheez-It Crunch'd in cheddar and hot and spicy. 

For the actual date, I had planned for us to take the basketball from the gift basket and head over to our local city park and use the basketball courts there to play a rousing game of H-O-R-S-E (remember we aren't that sporty, lol!). I also packed a picnic lunch (sandwiches, cookies, carrot sticks and hummus, the Pepperoni Pizza Snack Mix and Cheez-It Crunch'd) for us to enjoy after our game. While we ate lunch we filled out our “Basketball Madness Date Night Brackets” for things to do after playing some basketball and eating our picnic. To do this we each had a side of the bracket and filled it out with things we would want to do (ice cream, movies, bike ride, etc.) and then narrowed down our choices as we further filled out the bracket. In the end, we each got to do something “extra” at the end of the date. Or if you are super competitive, you could fill out you brackets before playing a game of H-O-R-S-E and then the winner's activity could be the prize at the end.

A few other ideas for a basketball themed date could be actually watching some of the basketball games happening right now at home on TV, going to a basketball game (for a local college, professional or high school team, if capable), watching basketball themed movies, making basketball themed snacks (like the recipe I am sharing below) or treats like basketball cookies, etc.

Another twist would be to make this a couple's date, and inviting another couple (or two) to join the fun and to play a more “official” game of basketball. Just don't forget to drop a basketball gift basket on their front porch!

I am happy to report that our date was a huge hit. I had a ball (HA! Pun totally intended!) planning and thinking of every detail and Eric was totally surprised and had a ton of fun! Winning!

Now about this snack mix. Most of the time when various sports seasons roll around, I get more excited for everyone else who is a fan and all their hype and all the snacks than anything else. Since sports watching (and date night) wouldn't be complete without some good snacks I whipped up this Pepperoni Pizza Snack Mix, full of all those tasty pizza flavors we love! This snack mix is super easy to put together, and luckily I was able to get everything I needed to make it, when I picked up all my supplies for the basketball gift basket at Walmart.

Since I am totally digging this themed date, I am wondering how you would change it up? What snack's would you share, what activities would you add to your brackets, etc.? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below!

Pepperoni Pizza Snack Mix
Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 5 minutes

A tasty party snack mix loaded with all the flavors of a pepperoni pizza!

4 cups corn or rice cereal
4 cups Sunshine® Cheez-It® Mozzerella
3 cups Sunshine® Cheez-It® Grooves White Cheddar
3 cups pretzel twists
1 cup mini pepperoni
½ cup butter
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons dry spaghetti sauce seasoning mix

Stir together cereal, crackers, pretzels and pepperoni large microwavable bowl.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave butter uncovered on High for about 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in cheese and seasonings. Pour butter and seasoning mixture over cracker mixture; stir until evenly coated.

Microwave cracker mixture uncovered on High for 3 minutes, stirring after each minute. Spread snack mix onto a waxed paper lined baking sheet to cool. Serve immediately, topped with additional grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Store leftovers in airtight container.

Be sure and grab the new Cheez-It Crunch'd and Grooves at your local Walmart! Then visit the Snackable Moments Site for more information about these tasty new Cheez-It flavors, including recipe and basketball themed entertaining ideas. You can then follow Cheez-It on Facebook and Twitter! Also be sure and check out the Most Valuable Cheese Contest where you can vote for your favorite Cheez-It flavors and varieties and play games for a chance to win $10,000! But hurry, the contest is only running from February-April 2015! 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Kitchen Adventures: The Maverick Inn (Alpine, Texas)

Kitchen Adventures... when life takes me outside the kitchen!  Today's kitchen adventure is from our trip to far west Texas earlier this year and recaps our stay at the The Maverick Inn

When I first started blogging I knew that I mainly wanted this to be a food and recipe blog. Food is my life. It is my passion. But I have other things I am passionate about as well (travel, crafts, reading, just to name a few) and I knew that I wanted to also incorporate many if these things into my blog as well.

In the early days of the blog I really didn't know how to do this. As I have continued to blog and gain confidence in blogging, I have decided to just go with it. Take this Kitchen Adventure series. When I first started blogging I only shared “Foodie Field Trips,” food related travel, but of course not all my travel centers around food. I debated back and forth about whether or not to share other travel tips and adventures... things to do, places to stay, where to eat... as I wondered if you all would be interested. But you know what changed my mind, was when a fellow blogger recommended a place to stay when planning a recent vacation. And the place was awesome (sharing it soon!) and since that was so helpful for me, that I decided that maybe, just maybe, sharing some of our adventures (or misadventures as we like to call them) might inspire you or help you as you plan your next vacation. 

So this brings us to our first hotel review. If I am being honest, I have always loved staying nice, fun, local hotels when we traveled but was always worried about them being too expensive and not in our budget. However, with a little bit research, finding local hotels, that are affordable, is completely doable!

When planning our trip out west earlier this year, I knew I really wanted to make sure we stayed in a few cool, local places. The Maverick Inn, located in Alpine, Texas totally represents the motto of west Texas life! The Maverick Inn was simple and decorated in nice cowboy/western flair without being obnoxious. Not only do the rooms/entire inn have a cute western feel, the rooms were clean and comfortable and the staff were extremely nice and went above and beyond. Our travel plans changed slightly and I had to actually change the night of our reservation and they happily accommodated us, last minute, with no issues. Then when we checked in, I was under the impression that all the rooms had small kitchens, however, while they all have mini fridges, not all have 'full' kitchens. But the staff allowed us to look at several rooms and chose the room we wanted, a larger room with a “kitchen” for no extra charge!

A few things to keep in mind when booking, there is no room service/hotel restaurant and they do have limited hours for check-in (see their website). They do offer a complementary breakfast buffet, but it is pretty basic (fruit, cold cereal, bagels, yogurt, hard boiled eggs, etc.), so plan accordingly. Overall I would definitely stay here again if traveling back that way!

For more information about staying at The Maverick Inn, see below: 

Additional Information:
Address: 1200 E. Holland Ave. Alpine, Texas 79830
Phone number: (432) 837-0628

You can also follow The Maverick Inn online here:

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Chipotle Cherry Coke Glazed Cocktail Meatballs

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FinalFourPack #CollectiveBias Coca-Cola is a corporate champion of the NCAA. #ad 

These sweet and spicy Chipotle Cherry Coke Glazed Cocktail Meatballs are perfect for watching sports with friends or even a as a quick weeknight meal. 

Let's talk sports! This is kind of a comical statement in our house because we really aren't sports people. Sure we enjoy going to a handful of sporting events a year and can follow along enough to carry on a conversations with the general population, but we are definitely not sports fanatics.

With that said, we eagerly anticipate all the big sporting events every year. We enjoy the opportunity to get together with friends and family, and get excited to watch and eagerly cheer!

This is no exception when March rolls around. We enthusiastically fill out our “brackets” not necessarily based on the team's scoring history or beloved point guard, but based on the teams' mascot, or the school colors, or the city and/or state the school is from, or if ever at any point of my life I ever had a friend or acquaintance go to that school. I know so technical, but hey, in all these years it has served me well! LOL!

In addition to carefully and meticulously filling out our brackets during the month of March, we love watching a few of the games, and we like bonding with friends over some delicious game day eats! 

Ahh... yes you knew it was coming! I, of course, had to take all this sports talk and bring it right back to food! I mean this is a food blog... right?!? So of course!

Recently, while in the midst of bracket forms and cuddly, I mean fierce, mascots; I saw this special display of Coca-Cola NCAA® Final Four Packs (available at Walmart). Not only would these Coca-Cola NCAA® Final Four Packs (available at Walmart), in Vanilla Coke, Cherry Coke and Coke Zero, be fun and festive for serving at NCAA® March Madness party, I knew I had to use them to come up with a special NCAA® March Madness party recipe!

While a lot of people have their favorite party recipes, especially for watching sports, my favorite are those glazed cocktail meatballs, despite them lacking any photogenic ability, lol! I have several versions cocktail meatballs here on Kitchen Concoctions, since they are always a hit at parties, but this one just might be my favorite!

If you are making these for a crowd, you could certainly double the glaze and use store bought frozen meatballs, but let me tell you, it just won't be the same. The spices in these homemade meatballs, paired with the sweet, spicy and smokey glaze make for perfect, dare I say it, winning meatballs!

So here's to everyone who is watching, that their special team (however it was decided) wins!

I've shared my NCAA® March Madness traditions with you and I'd love to hear about yours! Share your scientific way for filling out your brackets, your favorite game day recipe or traditions in the comments below!

Chipotle Cherry Coke Glazed Cocktail Meatballs 
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 30 minutes (stove-top) 4-5 hours (crock-pot) Serves: 4-6 (main dish) 8-10 (appetizer) 

Spicy homemade meatballs with a sweet and spicy chipotle cherry Coke glaze. 

1 pound ground beef
1 egg, whisked
¼ cup bread crumbs 
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 teaspoon beef seasoning
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil

Chipotle Cherry Coke Glaze:
1 (12- ounce) can Cherry Coke
1 (18- ounce) jar cherry preserves
1-2 tablespoons chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper, or to taste

In a large bowl combine all ingredients for meatballs, except for canola oil. Mix meatball mixture until well combined. Using a cookie scoop or tablespoon, shape ground meat mixture into meatballs. Place formed meatballs on a baking sheet or plate and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches, brown meatballs, cooking for 2-3 minutes on each side. Remove cooked meatballs from pan and drain on a paper towel lined plate. Repeat with remaining meatballs until all are meatballs are cooked.

While meatballs are cooking, prepare Chipotle Cherry Coke Glaze by whisking all ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.

After browning all meatballs, place meatballs in a large pot. Cover with prepared Chipotle Cherry Coke Glaze. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through and sauce is thickened.

Serve immediately with cocktail toothpicks, as meatball sliders or over rice for a main meal! 

Crock-pot version: Prepare meatballs and sauce as directed. Once meatballs are browned, place in a large crock-pot. Cover with prepared Chipotle Cherry Coke Glaze. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 6-7 hours.

For more tasty recipes and fun ideas using Coca-Cola follow Coca-Cola and Coke Zero here:

Twitter: Coca-Cola and Coke Zero
Pinterest: Coca-Cola and Coke Zero
Instagram: Coca-Cola and Coke Zero
Facebook: Coca-Cola and Coke Zero

Oh! And don't forget to check out the National Coke Zero Final Four Selfie contest! Upload a selfie with a Coca-Cola product on the site below, and be entered to win 2016 NCAA Final Four tickets! Afterwards, you can go on the site to find your selfie and see all of the others! Coca Cola #FinalFourPack Walmart Sweepstakes - $1,000 in Prizing

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Pepperoni Pita Pockets

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PepItUp #CollectiveBias #ad 

Tired of plain old sandwiches for lunch? Put a little pep into your daily lunch time routine with some fun pepperoni recipe ideas, like my easy, healthy and tasty Pepperoni Pita Pockets. 

Many years ago, I needed a break from the food and beverage industry. I had worked for years, working away every holiday and all my nights and weekends doing catering. Don't get me wrong, I loved what I did and learned so much. I loved meeting new people and being a part of their special celebration, but after many years, I was tired and had lost my oomph.

I decided I needed a “normal” job and went to work for a financial company. Sure I had my nights and weekends back... and got every federal holiday off, but that job just was not me. I mean all I did was crunch numbers and turn those numbers into spread sheets It was so boring and my creative spirit was being crushed (on a side note, that was one of the reasons I started this blog was to fulfill that creative side and get back into my passion of food).

What got me through the day, besides listening to hours and hours of music, was my lunch break. I giddily looked forward to my lunch hour every day and as soon as the clock turned 1:00 pm I grabbed my things and ran out the door.

Yeah, sure I could have hung around and visited with my co-workers in the company break room, but I much preferred a little peace and quite and time all to myself. Luckily, my office was within walking distance of a city park, so that is where I would spend most of my lunch breaks during those two long years. Or at least on the days when it wasn't like a million degrees in the summer or on the off chance that it might actually be freezing in the winter.

This daily time spent at the park was not just time for me to eat my lunch; it was time for me to get out and walk around, read a book (seriously I was reading books all the time when I worked there) and clear my head.

Since I always spent my lunch breaks at the park (and because I was on a tight budget and couldn't afford to eat out), I usually brought my lunch every day. Since the typical sandwich got boring fast (I wanted lunch to be something great I could look forward to every single day) I quickly came up with different lunch box items. This consisted of cold leftovers, salads in a jar and bento boxes way before they were popular, English muffins spread with peanut butter and pitas stuffed with anything I could find.


These Pepperoni Pita Pockets are so simple and were one of my favorite lunches then and now. It is a great way to use up leftover ingredients you have lying around, especially Hormel Pepperoni which I always have lingering in the pantry from family pizza night. When making these ahead for lunch, I always leave the dressing off and just drizzle a little on right before serving. However, if you were going to serve them immediately or wanted to make them for a lunch meeting with friends, you could always toss all the filling ingredients with the dressing before hand and then stuff it all in the pita. Seriously whatever floats your boat! 

What are your favorite things to pack in your lunch box and eat for lunch? 

Pepperoni Pita Pockets
by Heather H. of Kitchen Concoctions:
Printable Version
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes Serves: 1-2

An easy and healthy twist on the traditional pepperoni pizza, these pita pockets are perfect for lunch! 

2 pita pockets
6 ounces baby spinach
¼ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup peeled and chopped cucumber
¼ cup cubed mozzarella cheese
¼ cup Hormel Pepperoni Minis
2-3 tablespoons sun-dried tomato vinaigrette

Carefully split open the pita pockets. Divide all remaining ingredients, except vinaigrette, evenly between the two pitas, stuffing as much that will fit inside each pita. Serve drizzled with sun-dried tomato vinaigrette.

Note: Pitas can be made ahead of time,wrapped and refrigerated.

Looking for more ideas to use up leftover pepperoni? Visit Hormel online, like Hormel on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Crispy Fish Tacos with Apple Pear Slaw

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #SamsClubSeafood #CollectiveBias #ad 

These Crispy Fish Tacos with Apple Pear Slaw only call for a handful of ingredients and come together in less than 30 minutes! Whip them up for a quick and easy meal during lent or any weeknight during the year!

When I was a kid I loved going to the grocery store with my Mom. Every Saturday morning like clockwork, my Mom piled us in the mini van and drove us to the local store. We would go aisle by aisle looking at all the products and getting everything we needed, filling our buggy to the brim.

After hours and hours in the store, my Mom would then carefully push the cart to the register and we would always help unload all of our items. I loved going to the store with my Mom because while for my Mom, I'm sure grocery shopping was a chore, for me, a small child at the time, I thought going to the store was glorious! I loved looking at all the colorful items, helping make the selection, riding in the buggy, getting to taste all the samples and of course that special time I got to spend with my Mom!

As I got older, I continued to enjoy going to the store with my Mom, but around the age of nine or ten, going to the store had a whole new meaning for me. You see that is when I started to get interested in cooking. At that point I had been baking with my Mom for years and due to her crazy work schedule at the time and me being the oldest of four kids and extremely mature for my age, I took on cooking dinner for the family one or two nights a week.

I loved this “grown up” responsibility and loved that I was in control of the dinner plans. I loved getting in the kitchen and the challenge of finding new, easy to prepare recipes that all my picky siblings would eat. I enjoyed going to the store and selecting all the ingredients to then get home and use to make my special meals.

Of course at that time in my life, many of these recipe ideas came from from the package of some ingredient, from coupon inserts, or from those recipe cards those ladies passed out with the samples at the grocery store! Oh how you should have seen my collection of carefully organized recipe cards and clippings!

Recently, when on our monthly trip to Sam's Club, I was reminded of these favorite days from my childhood. While walking around grabbing our goods, I saw all the demo ladies passing out bite sized samples of various treats. Today's recipe is inspired by some recent demos for premium seafood at Sam's Club and those simpler meals I created in my early days of cooking. The meals my picky siblings still love and only have time to make!

We love tacos in our house (then and now)! Not only are tacos some of our favorite foods, they are so quick and easy to whip up! These Crispy Fish Tacos with Apple Pear Slaw are absolutely perfect for Taco Tuesday or any night of the week because they come together in less than 30 minutes, only use a handful of ingredients (things I was able to purchase at Sam's) and dare I say it, cost less than $10 to feed a family of four! I'd say that's a winner, winner, taco dinner!

Crispy Fish Tacos with Apple Pear Slaw
Printable Version
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes Serves: 4

Crispy fish tacos topped with a quick, easy refreshing apple pear slaw. 

4 Daily Chef™ Breaded Flounder Fillets
1 Bartlett pear, diced
1 Granny Smith apple, diced
1 jalapeno (seeds and membrane removed), diced (optional)
1 (10.5-ounce) package chopped salad/coleslaw mix (with shredded cabbage, carrots, etc.)
¼ cup Virginia Brand® Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette
½ teaspoon each salt and black pepper, or to taste

For serving:
8 (6-inch) white corn tortillas
3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 green onion, diced
1 lime, sliced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.

Place frozen flounder fillets on top of the wire rack. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until fillets are warm and crispy.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir together chopped pears, apples, jalapeno (if using), coleslaw mix and dressing. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Set aside.

To warm tortillas, place tortillas one or two at a time in a large skillet over medium heat and cook for about 30 seconds on each side. Alternatively, tortillas can be warmed by placing the tortillas one at a time directly over a gas flame for 5-10 seconds per side.

To assemble tacos, cut each cooked fish fillet in half. Place half a fish fillet on top of a warmed tortilla. Top fish with a generous amount of prepared slaw. Garnish with fresh cilantro, green onion and fresh lime juice, if desired.

Inspired by Sam's Club 

Love sample days at Sam's Club as much as we do? Visit your local Sam’s Club over the next few weeks (specifically on March 19 and 20 to sample the Daily Chef™ Breaded Flounder Fillets and Virginia Brand® Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette) and sample some of the delicious high-quality seafood they have to offer. The demo times vary depending on the club, but most demos should occur between 11am and 4pm, just look for the demo carts around the store. And be sure to check these premium seafood offers. Click here for an official participating store list.

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