A Sheet Pan Meal

When our little cowboy arrived last fall, family and friends so kindly dropped off meals. Frozen meals piled in the fridge to warm when ready. Lots of tasty food to help our growing family get through the next couple weeks. Our first baby, and we had NO idea what to expect.

One meal; however, was still in whole-food form. As in, the meat was still in the package, the vegetables hadn’t come in contact with a knife quite yet and a foil pan was nowhere in sight. This was a special delivery from my sister. What could it be?

With the best of intentions, she did plan on prepping and cooking a hot meal for us that night; however, she was a little busy holding a sleepy baby while I shut my eyes for a quick snooze that afternoon. That was that, and I was left to pull together supper that night.

How was I supposed to spend an hour tied up in an apron and stuck behind the stove when I had now had a million other things on my to-do list. As in, checking this new baby every minute (no joke) to make sure he was breathing, worrying over his temperature or if he was hungry, just staring at him swaddled and snug, etc. Motherhood got me good. Got me real good.

A pleasant surprise then, to find that this mystery meal was, in fact, as easy as it gets. Guess she knows a thing or two about feeding a family, three kids later 🙂 It was a sheet pan meal, and she nailed it.

The beauty of this recipe (can we even call it a recipe when it is this stinkin’ easy?) is the flexibility to toss any vegetables on that pan. Broccoli has only a few more hours before it’s going bad? Perfect, throw it in. Bell peppers were buy one, get one at the grocery store? Chop ’em up.

So here it is, the breakdown of a sheet pan meal.

Ingredients

1 pound kielbasa sausage (beef or pork), chopped in 2 inch pieces

3 cups fresh vegetables, chopped in large chunks

1 cup white or sweet potato, cubed

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper (or lightly spray with oil).
  3. In a large bowl, toss kielbasa, vegetables and potatoes in oil and sprinkle with seasoning.
  4. Spread mixture evenly on sheet pan.
  5. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes until slightly browned.

Notes

Be sure there’s space between the meat, vegetables and potatoes. Packed together, the vegetables will steam, resulting in a different texture. Some prefer this, others (like me), enjoy a more crisp, roasted vegetable.


Chicken and Noodles

Picture this. Six years old, wandering my way through the lunch line. On the menu today: chicken and noodles. The cafeteria worker slops the delicious mess right on my plate, and to my surprise, a little pile of mashed potatoes is tucked under all that glory. So, I give it a try (my mother had taught me well, a “try” bite). Minutes later, the tray is empty. Years later, this is what chicken and noodles looks like at our house!

Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients

4 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 cups sweet yellow onion, diced

1 1/2 cups carrots, diced

1 1/2 cups celery, diced

1/4 cup all purpose flour

32 oz water

6 bouillon chicken cubes

2 cups chicken, cooked and cubed

2 cups frozen egg noodles

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Add butter and vegetables to dutch oven on the stovetop over medium heat. Cook 3-5 minutes to soften, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add flour to vegetables, stir to coat and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Add water, chicken cubes, chicken and egg noodles. Reduce the heat to simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally as mixture begins to thicken.
  4. Serve warm.

Notes

  1. Here in the mid-west, we eat chicken and noodles over mashed potatoes. Don’t knock it until you try it! Pairs well with a fruit and veggie of your choice 🙂

Meat the Only Stromboli Recipe You Will Ever Need

In my previous life (a few months ago), I would roll out a pre-made crust from the can to treat my family on pizza night. Our lives forever changed the day I stepped up and experimented with homemade pizza dough. The feeling of molding a perfectly developed dough—irreplaceable. I can’t say that I will never-ever use a can of crust again, but I can say that my family will be completely crushed on that day. Roll-up this hearty, meat-filled Stromboli for a REAL treat this week!

Makes: 10 pieces

Ingredients

For the Dough:

1 cup warm water

2 ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast

3 cups all-purpose flour

½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

Cooking spray

For the Filling:

1 cup marinara sauce

½ pound lean ground beef, cooked

½ pound deli pepperoni, sliced thin

2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

¾ teaspoon Italian seasoning, divided

1 tablespoon butter, melted

Directions

  1. Combine the yeast and water. Let set for 5 minutes.
  2. In the large bowl of a stand mixer, combine flour, sugar, salt and olive oil. After 5 minutes, when the yeast is frothy, pour the water over the flour mixture. Using the dough hook, begin mixing the dough. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Knead the dough on medium speed until fully developed. See notes.
  3. Remove the dough from the bowl and form into a ball. Lightly spritz the inside of the bowl with cooking spray and return the ball to the bowl. Lightly spritz the top of the dough with cooking spray as well and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours until double in size.
  4. When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  5. Roll the dough out on a clean surface into a 1 ½ x 2-foot rectangle, about ½ an inch thick.
  6. Spread the marinara evenly across the dough, leaving about 1″ around the edge.
  7. Layer the ground beef, pepperoni and cheese over the marinara sauce and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon seasoning.
  8. Beginning with the shorter side, roll the dough into a log. When rolled entirely, transfer to a greased baking sheet with the crease from the dough tucked under.
  9. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a golden crown crust has formed on the top.
  10. Remove the Stromboli from the oven. Spread melted butter across the top and sprinkle with remaining seasoning.
  11. Let set for 5-10 minutes before slicing into 1” pieces for serving.

Notes

  1. Kneading the dough usually takes around 5 minutes. A fun way to test and see if your dough is fully developed is the “windowpane test”. Pull apart a small piece of dough and begin to stretch it between your fingers. When the dough is fully developed, it will thin as it is stretched to create a small window but won’t break apart. That’s when you know that you are ready to rock-and-roll on to the next step!
  2. Pizza dough adapted from the Crazy for Crust recipe, https://www.crazyforcrust.com/the-ultimate-pizza-crust-recipe/.
  3. Alert. Family-friendly recipe here! Get your kids’ (or borrowed nieces and nephews) hands in the dough: measuring, rolling, filling. Fun stuff!

Tell me, what would you pair with Stromboli to build a balanced plate?