Recipe Round-Up: Take Out, Fake Outs

Happy Friday! Weekends are for eating out right? At our house lately, almost every day of the week is for eating out. Not good! The good news is that there are tons of restaurant copycat recipes online that taste just like the real thing that are so much better for you (and cheaper) then eating out all the time! Here are some of my favorites that we’ve tried and loved at our house. In no particular order….

1. If you know me, you know I LOVE cream cheese puffs from LeeAnn Chin. Unfortunately, you can’t find LeeAnn Chin’s outside of the Midwest and other wontons just don’t do it for me. However, I made this easy recipe from Pioneer Woman and got my cream cheese puff fix that tastes just like the real deal from my girl LeeAnn.

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2. Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup – with no “cream of crap” condensed soups!

3. PF Chang’s Lettuce Wraps Knock Off – healthy and super delicious! Ryan likes to top these with additional peanut sauce, but I don’t think it’s necessary. Use ground chicken or turkey to keep it lean.

4. Homemade Burrito Bowls – I might have shared this recipe before but it’s worth sharing again! The cilantro lime rice in this recipe is a dead ringer for the Chipotle version.

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5. Another Panera knock-off! This time for the Asian Sesame Chicken Salad that I can’t get enough of.

BONUS – freezer take out, fake outs that our family loves! Both from Trader Joe’s, both are cheap and not loaded in calories! When I worked in an office, I would often take potstickers for lunch. They are so easy to make in the microwave and a serving size is 6 or 7 which is a filling lunch!

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There are so many other Take Out Fake Out recipes that I’ve pinned that I need to try – I’ll let you know if I find any other winners! Have a great weekend!

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It’s the Holiday Season

Over the river and through the woods, to Alabama we go! We are currently en route to spend the long holiday weekend with Ryan’s family and I am so thankful to be able to spend Thanksgiving with a house full of people. We are about 2 hours into our drive and I’ve already eaten McDonalds, took a nap and we’ve started listening to the book Unbroken. (I accidentally slept through the first hour of the book much to Ryan’s dismay.)

It really started to feel like the holidays this morning while I watched the Today Show and baked 6 pies.

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In case you still need to make your pies for tomorrow, here are the recipes I used: Apple, Pecan, and Pumpkin. Fingers crossed they turned out okay!

Whatever you make, whatever you do tomorrow I hope you have a wonderful holiday with people you are thankful for. I know I have a lot to be thankful for this year.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

What to Watch This Weekend

Happy Friday! In case you are looking for some entertainment this weekend, I wanted to tell you about a really amazing documentary we watched last night. It’s called Alive Inside (click here to see the trailer) and it exposes the power that music has with dementia patients. Incredibly touching, thought-provoking, and sweet – and it’s streaming on Netflix! Makes you want to get out and start volunteering, or at least hug your grandparent!

And if you need something warm and comforting to eat while you watch, let me recommend this Pepperjack Potato Soup from Iowa Girl Eats. It’s got a little kick from the pepperjack cheese, but it is so so good. We were all licking our bowls last night and proclaimed this recipe to be “McCleary Approved”.

Have a great weekend!

Easter Pinspiration

We interrupt this weekend of packing and yard work to bring you some of my favorite Easter pins! Is it bad that I keep forgetting that tomorrow is Easter? While we aren’t really doing much to celebrate the holiday this year, you will be happy to know that we do have brunch reservations at The Pearl tomorrow, which I heard is amazing!  I know this post is probably a little late, but maybe you have some last minute decorating or baking to do! I’m saving these for next year when we have a house that we can fully go all-out for Easter. Enjoy and Happy Easter!

I am FOR SURE making this next year! So clever! Buy a cheapy bunny decoration from the Dollar Store and spray paint it with gloss brown spray paint. It looks like a chocolate bunny right??

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I made these Cadbury Egg Cookies to bring to work this week and they were a hit! Um, how come I’ve never realized before how delish these Cadbury Eggs are??

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This Jelly Bean Tree looks like it might be a little time consuming, it’s so cute and probably so cheap to make that I think it’s worth it for next year!

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Lastly, because I’m much more of a fan of brunch food for holidays, how about making this Ham and Potato bake? So elegant (and easy to make!)

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A Twist on a Classic

One of my all time favorite meals it also the easiest. Like embarrassingly easy. Growing up, we called them Hot Pockets, but they are not to be confused with the frozen variety. These are ham and cheese hot pockets that are folded up with refrigerated croissant dough. And that’s it! That’s all it is. You roll out the dough and separate them into four squares. Put your deli ham and cheddar cheese onto each square, fold ’em over and pinch the dough to close. Side bar: how scary is opening one of those tubes of dough? The scariest! Then you cook them in the oven per the directions on the packaging.

I love love this meal. I even submitted it for a cookbook put together by our dance studio once (Um hello?? You’d think I could have submitted something a little trickier that actually requires a recipe! How embarrassing! haha). This was also one of the first meals I ever cooked for Ryan which I’m sure won him over at first bite. That and B3, but that’s a recipe for a different post.

This afternoon we had some leftover deli ham in the fridge that I wanted to use up so I thought this would be the perfect lunch. Ryan acted super excited when I announced my plan but then he dropped a bomb: “Can we add something to these? They always feel like they are missing something, like they are a little bland.” What?? My favorite, easiest meal is a little bland? Heart broken. Just kidding – I heard him out and we made some changes. I’ll have you know though, that I have switched up this recipe before. For instance, I changed the shape from pockets to pinwheels. Groundbreaking stuff people.

Either way, today’s changes included adding chopped up caramelized onions and mustard. We also rolled it up and cut it into pinwheels after it baked. It came out looking like this:

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And you know what? The new additions made it delicious. Especially the onions. Lunches like this make me happy to be married to Ryan. He makes me better. And he makes my favorite recipes even better. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Toasted Walnut, Blue Cheese and Brussels Sprout Salad

Have I told you that I’m obsessed with brussels sprouts? Like seriously can’t get enough. I crave them. And I feel a little resentment towards my parents for not introducing them to me earlier in my life (just kidding mom and dad). So I’m obsessed with brussel sprouts and I’m also obsessed with The Brown Bag Deli down the street from our house. This cute little deli has amazing sandwiches and delicious side dishes. My favorite thing to do lately is get their combo of three small sides. They have really great seasonal chicken salad (my other obsession), smokey potato salad, caprese salad, and this sweet summer corn with basil and tomato. Really simple, delicious food. But guess what one of my favorite sides is? A roasted brussel sprout salad with walnuts and blue cheese! Its pretty much the best thing ever and I learned to make it at home yesterday (probably because it has about 3 ingredients).

I think the key to trying brussels sprouts and really liking them is to roast them. Oh and make sure to get fresh ones! Never frozen. Made that mistake a couple times. When you buy them fresh, you have to cut the little butt off of the bottom and then cut them in half. Toss them with olive oil, sea salt and a little black pepper in a bowl. Throw them onto a cookie sheet and stick them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 25-30 minutes, tossing them around occasionally to make sure they get all-over crispy.

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While these babies were in the oven, I threw some walnuts on another cookie sheet and toasted them for 10 minutes or so. I let everything cool, taste tested some of those crunchy, salty brussels sprouts, and then put them all in a bowl with some blue cheese. And that was it! And it was delicious! And it tasted just like Brown Bag. And I was happy.

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And I can’t wait to eat the rest for lunch tomorrow! Seriously, brussels sprouts, give ’em a try. I’m talking to you family.

Enchilada Rice

This won’t be the prettiest meal you ever make, but I think it might become one of your favorites. Mondays at our house are Meatless Mondays. We eat so much meat during the rest of the week that we think it’s a good idea to take at least one day off. Sometimes the challenge though is finding recipes that are meatless, but also delicious and easy (and don’t involve quinoa! I’m sick of hearing about quinoa!)

One of our favorites is this recipe for enchilada rice. Super super simple and really yummy. You know what else makes it so simple? I use this microwavable rice that cooks the rice perfectly in 10 minutes.

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I had a very traumatizing experience growing up which involved cooking rice for my family that I just can’t seem to get over. Specifically the meal was Rice-A-Roni and it was a complete disaster. Even if they don’t remember me ruining dinner, the memory is burnt into my mind and anytime I see a box of rice, I get anxiety. Thank you Success brand rice – you’ve really boosted my confidence.

The recipe for enchilada rice is so simple. Here are the basic steps (for the complete recipe, click here).

1. Cook your 1 cup of dry rice and set aside

2. In a pan with a little olive oil, sautee one bell pepper and one onion

3. In a bowl, mix together rice, two cans of green enchilada sauce, 1/2 a cup of cheese, 1/4 a cup of sour cream and one can of black beans (rinsed).

4. Once the pepper and onion are cooked add in a little cumin and chili powder. Pour in the rice mixture and stir to combine. Heat until warmed through and top with green onions and more cheese.

Ta-da!

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Not pretty, but definitely delish.