Polenta, turkey, and kale casserole

 Polenta, turkey, and kale casserole | Me & The Moose. This casserole requires one oven-safe pan, a few simple ingredients, and is an easy, fast, healthy, and delicious meal for any busy night. #meandthemoose #kalerecipes #polentarecipes #kalepesto #dinnerrecipes #onepotcooking #fastdinnerrecipes #casseroles

I don’t know if the abundance of sugar, salt, and fat change my tastebuds during the holidays, but I always struggle to live by the 80/20 rule in December. I indulge with the eating and drinking and then swear I’m going to be healthy the next day, but the healthy stuff never feels all that satisfying or tastes all that good. So I end up like a moth to a flame with the treats.

But you know what? I don’t have to toggle between bland salads and a dozen cookies. This polenta casserole may just be the middle ground: It’s still delicious and a little indulgent with a garlicky pesto and plenty of cheese on top, but it also features kale and ground turkey breast and is the perfect vehicle for any of those leftover veggies in your fridge that are about to go bad. Throw them in and see what happens!

I used my own kale pesto recipe, but cut down on the oil and nuts. But for ease, feel free to use any store-bought pesto that you can find. And to up the nutrition, add any veggies you have in your fridge. You may need to add a bit more pesto to cover the extra ingredients.

 Polenta, turkey, and kale casserole | Me & The Moose. This casserole requires one oven-safe pan, a few simple ingredients, and is an easy, fast, healthy, and delicious meal for any busy night. #meandthemoose #kalerecipes #polentarecipes #kalepesto #dinnerrecipes #onepotcooking #fastdinnerrecipes #casseroles
 Polenta, turkey, and kale casserole | Me & The Moose. This casserole requires one oven-safe pan, a few simple ingredients, and is an easy, fast, healthy, and delicious meal for any busy night. #meandthemoose #kalerecipes #polentarecipes #kalepesto #dinnerrecipes #onepotcooking #fastdinnerrecipes #casseroles

Polenta casserole

1-2 Tbsp olive oil
2 lb ground turkey
Large pinch of salt
¾-1 cup kale pesto (recipe below)
1 log premade polenta
½ cup mozzarella, shredded
½ cup hard gouda (not the softer, smoked variety), shredded
¼ cup grated parmesan

Preheat oven to 425.

In a large oven-safe sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium flame. Turn the heat to medium-low and sauté the ground turkey until no pink remains and it has just begun to brown, about 7-10 minutes. Season with a large pinch of salt.

Turn off the heat and stir in the kale pesto.

Slice the polenta log into 1/4 –inch pieces and layer over the turkey and pesto.

Top with cheese and cook in the oven for 13-15 minutes, until the cheese is brown and bubbling.  

Yield: 4 servings

Kale pesto

4 cups packed chopped kale
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
2 garlic cloves
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
4 Tbsp olive oil

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and fill another large bowl with ice water. Wash and chop kale, leaving the middle stems.

When water is at a rolling boil, add the kale and swirl with a slotted spoon a few times. After 1-2 minutes, remove it from the boiling water and add it to the bowl of ice water. Drain the kale (gently squeeze out the water) and add to your blender or food processor.

Roast the walnuts in a 350 oven or toaster oven for about 5 minutes or until just lightly browned and starting to smell nutty. You can also toast them in a sauté pan on the stove top. When browned, add them to the blender or food processor as well.

Add the garlic, salt, and lemon juice and start to blend, slowly adding the olive oil in a thin stream. If using a small food processor or a blender without a top that opens, just add the oil with the rest of the ingredients and process together. Blend until you've reached your desired consistency.

Yield: about 1 cup

 Polenta, turkey, and kale casserole | Me & The Moose. This casserole requires one oven-safe pan, a few simple ingredients, and is an easy, fast, healthy, and delicious meal for any busy night. #meandthemoose #kalerecipes #polentarecipes #kalepesto #dinnerrecipes #onepotcooking #fastdinnerrecipes #casseroles

Sweet potato muffins

 Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

Thanksgiving is here! I love this holiday and the season that follows, but there are definite downsides. I’ve talked about keeping expectations in check with kids and holidays. And while it’s exciting and fun that there’s always something going on: Making cookies, making gifts, buying gifts, wrapping gifts, listening to music, decorating, holiday events, holiday parties, holiday-themed school things, concerts, visiting relatives, etc, it can be…a lot. And for a little one like mine who’s always searching for his equilibrium, it can be.. A WHOLE LOT.

 Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

So, let’s not add even more by completely abandoning our commitment to balanced eating, mkay?

These sweet potato muffins are a fantastic “sweet” to have around. They feel festive and would certainly make a fitting Thanksgiving breakfast to watch in front of the parade or DOG SHOW (!!!!!!!), but are just sweet enough thanks to the applesauce, a few Tbsp of brown sugar divided between the batter and the muffin tops, a handful of golden raisins, and sweet potatoes.

And did I mention that they only require one bowl? You’ll have enough dishes this week.


A couple of notes:
- Chop the sweet potatoes into 1/3-1/2 inch chunks. Any bigger and they may not soften enough during baking, but if you shred them, they disappear and make the batter a bit too wet.
- This is a thick batter, almost dough-like in consistency. Don’t worry. It always puffs up well in the oven and results in an airy, light muffin.

 Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

Sweet potato muffins

4 Tbsp butter or coconut oil, partially melted
½ cup applesauce
1 egg 
1/2 cup brown sugar, divided  
3/4 cup yogurt 
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup wheat flour 
1 cup white flour 
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt 
1 medium sweet potato, cut into tiny squares (about 1.5 cups)
¼ cup golden raisins

Move your oven rack to the bottom or lower middle portion of the oven. Preheat to 375.

In a large bowl, partially melt the butter or coconut oil. Microwave it for a few seconds until it just begins to liquify, but is still partially solid.

Mix in the applesauce, egg, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients and mix until combined and no streaks of flour remain.

Add the chopped sweet potatoes and raisins and stir again to combine.

Spoon the batter into the cups of a muffin tin, filling about 3/4 of the way. Top each muffin with a large pinch or two of brown sugar.

Bake for 18-22 minutes until firm to the touch and a tester in the middle comes out clean. Check after 12-15 minutes and cover if the sugar browns too fast.

 Sweet potato muffins | Me & The Moose. These one-bowl, whole grain muffins sneak in some vegetables at breakfast, lunch, or snack time. #sweetpotatomuffins #meandthemoose #sweet potatorecipes #thanksgiving #healthybaking

Sheet pan dinner: Miso fish with edamame and corn succotash

 Miso fish with edamame and corn succotash is maybe the easiest, fastest, heathiest, and cleanest meal I know how to make.

This might actually be the fastest dinner I know how to make. These are white fish steaks, but if you go for flatter, thinner fillets, it's even quicker! Either way, this dish is certainly faster than ordering bad-for-you takeout.

And this week, we definitely needed some easy, healthy dinners to help avoid the end-of-day, burned-out, bad decisions that sometimes happen at dinner time. I've been home with a super sick kid for the past few days and after just two weeks of M being in preschool, I forgot how exhausting it is to take care of a small person all day.

 Miso marinade is a simple mixture of garlic, ginger, sesame oil, neutral oil, and rice vinegar. Whizzing the whole mess in a food processor means that you don’t have to chop anything.

What I love about this dish is that it tastes kind of subtle. It's tangy and salty and certainly flavorful enough for the adults and older kids, but mild enough for the younger set if they don't love strong flavors.

 Miso, ginger, garlic, oil, sesame, and vinegar make for a tangy, sweet, flavorful marinate that perks up the bland white fish.

The sauce really makes this dish. It requires miso paste, which you might not have on hand, but is super easy to find at the grocery store or Japanese specialty store. If needs must, you can order it on amazon. I used a red miso paste, but red or white would work fine in this recipe.

 Add some butter mid-way through cooking this sheetpan dinner for some added richness.

Because miso tends to be really salty, I don't add any extra sodium to this dish, but feel free to add a pinch at the end if that suits your taste.

 Sheet pan dinner: white fish with miso, edamame, and corn succotash

Miso fish with edamame and corn succotash

For the sauce:
4 Tbsp miso
2 large garlic cloves
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled
2 Tbsp avocado or other neutral oil
2 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1/8- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

1½-1¾ lb white fish (about 4-5 medium steaks)
2 cups frozen edamame (shelled)
1 ½ cups frozen corn kernels
1 Tbsp salted butter, cubed

For serving:
2-3 large scallions, sliced
2-3 large zucchini, spiralized into noodles –or-
1 package of soba noodles, cooked according to directions –or-
4-5 cups brown rice, cooked according to directions

Preheat oven to 375. Make your sauce by placing all of the ingredients in a food processor and blitzing until the sauce resembles chunky peanut butter. Set aside.

Scatter the frozen edamame and corn over the sheet pan. Place your fish on top of the veggies and spread a scant tablespoon of the sauce over each filet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes, until the fish starts to flake fairly easily with a fork. 

Remove the pan and scatter small cubes of butter around the veggies. Return to the heat and cook for 4-5 more minutes. Remove from the oven and top with sliced scallions.

Mix half of the leftover sauce with your zoodles, noodles, or rice and then add more to taste. Top each serving of zoodles, noodles, or rice with one fish filet and a portion of the veggies.

Yield: 4-5 servings, depending on how many fish steaks you use.

 Eat this roasted fish with edamame and corn over zucchini noodles or soba noodles.
 Sheet pan dinner: Miso fish with edamame and corn. Quick, easy, healthy, and delicious.



Sheet pan dinner: Chicken, potatoes, poblanos, and scallions

 Sheet pan dinner: chicken thighs with poblano peppers, potatoes, and scallions.

Guys, this is one of the fastest, easiest dinners you can make. As long as the chicken is defrosted (always dicey in our house as I am notorious for leaving things in the freezer), this can be on your table about 30 minutes. Ready...go! 

 Fresh poblano peppers and scallions mellow considerably when roasted.

I love a sheet pan dinner for so many reasons. It's fast. The cleanup is easy. Roasting is a simple way to add flavor and texture by using heat to crisp and caramelize everything. And obviously, wrapping things in a tortilla and serving it in a taco truck like this one is a surefire way to get my toddler to eat anything.

AND, this sheet pan is customizable for any dietary need. Want gluten-free? Choose corn or gluten free tortillas. Doing a Whole 30 or following a Paleo diet? Forget the cheese and tortillas altogether or eat this as a hearty salad over greens with avocado and an olive oil and lime dressing. Vegetarian or vegan? Swap in tofu for the chicken or increase the veggies and put the spices directly onto the potatoes. See? Something for everyone.

 This Tex-Mex rub is cumin, oregano, chili powder, coriander, garlic powder and salt.

A couple of notes:

  • I've listed two tablespoons of oil in the ingredients, but use the second tablespoon sparingly. The fat that renders from the chicken when cooking is usually enough for the potatoes and other veggies. I spray the parchment with olive oil before adding the potatoes to prevent sticking and then let the chicken fat do the rest of the work.

  • The poblano peppers and chili powder that I've used in this recipe are really mild and fine for my almost-3-year-old. If you're concerned about spiciness, feel free to sub a can or two of roasted poblano peppers that are marked "mild" and don't cook them; just stir them into the hot veggies and chicken at the end. Also, taste your chili powder before using it to gauge its heat. If it feels too hot for your kiddos, swap in an equal amount of paprika or skip it altogether.

 Ingredients list: chicken thighs, scallions, poblano peppers, and potatoes. Add olive oil and a Tex-Mex spice mix for a sheet pan dinner that will please the entire family.

Sheet pan chicken with potatoes, poblanos, and scallions

2 lb skinless boneless chicken thighs
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp Mexican oregano (or regular oregano)
½ tsp mild chili powder
½ tsp coriander
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp kosher salt
1 lb Yukon potatoes
2 large poblano peppers
1 bunch scallions

Preheat the oven to 425. Cover a large sheet pan with parchment paper or tin foil and set aside.

In a large plastic bag, combine the chicken, 1 Tbsp of olive oil, and the dry spices. Close the bag tightly and shake and squish around to combine and distribute. I like to mix the spices together in a small jar to avoid any pockets of one flavor, but that’s not strictly necessary. Set aside.

Chop your potatoes into medium-small cubes. Mine are about 1 inch long and ½ an inch wide, but every potato is shaped differently. You want your cubes to be small enough that they’ll roast quickly, but large enough that they won’t turn to mush.

Lightly oil the parchment and then spread the potatoes in a single layer on the parchment-covered pan (see note above). Sprinkle the potatoes VERY lightly with salt. (There's a fair amount of salt and spice on the chicken that will transfer to the veggies during cooking, so don't go overboard.) Remove the chicken from the bag and place the pieces on top of the potatoes.

Roast for 12 minutes.

While the chicken and potatoes are cooking, slice the poblanos into thin sticks. Trim the hairy bottoms and any yucky bits from the scallions. Set aside.

After 12 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and scatter the scallions and peppers evenly over the pan. Using tongs, carefully fish out the chicken pieces and place them on top of the scallions and peppers. Put the whole shebang back into the oven and cook for 5 more minutes until a thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken reads at least 165.

Remove the chicken with tongs and set aside. Continue to cook the vegetables for 5 more minutes or as needed to reach your desired doneness. We're usually set after 5 minutes.

See serving suggestions above, but however you eat this roasted goodness, first SPRINKLE ALL OF IT WITH LIME JUICE!

Yield: 4 servings

 This sheet pan dinner is delicious served in a taco or on its own. Use corn tacos for a gluten-free meal either way.
 Serve this sheet pan dinner as a salad or rice bowl for another healthy dinner option that can suit anyone at your table.

Falafel waffles

Falafel waffles, guys. They're really really good. Also, hearing a 2 year old say "Falafel waffle" is hysterical. M studies at the Leslie Knope Institute of Waffle Appreciation, so I try to waffle things whenever possible. These are particularly successful. I usually feel pretty 'meh' toward baked falafel because they tend to be, in my opinion, mealy, dry, and little hard to swallow. Appetizing, eh? No so with these guys! I adapted a terrific recipe from Epicurious but added more spices, tahini to help bind and moisten the batter, and chunks of haloumi cheese.

Let's talk about haloumi. I love this cheese so so much. BUT, I have to add the caveat that it's rubbery when cold. Like, feels terrible on your teeth and makes a horrible sound when chewed, rubbery. But, once heated, this cheese is divine. Melted, roasted, grilled, etc, it's great. Grilled is my favorite because it becomes more oozy and gooey, but doesn't seem to fully melt. Anyway, this cheese is salty and a little briny, but very mild and in the waffles creates pockets of salty goodness.

The batter here is not your typical waffle batter and when I first made these, I thought for sure that they'd be a flop. Once combined, these ingredients make sort of a grainy, sandy, thick-ish mixture that bakes into a totally normal waffle. A couple more notes: I only use dried chickpeas that I've soaked overnight in these. I think that the canned ones fall apart too easily. I also used garbanzo flour to make these gluten-free, but you can use any type of flour you have on hand. Be sure to spray your waffle maker with some olive oil spray between each batch as these guys can stick.

Falafel Waffles

Roughly adapted from Cookie + Kate

2 cups chick peas
1.5 Tbsp (just grab a handful) fresh cilantro
1.5 Tbsp (ditto above) fresh parsley
½ large onion
1 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp paprika
½ tsp coriander
2 Tbsp tahini
6 Tbsp garbanzo flour
8 oz haloumi cheese (1 medium-sized block)

Place all of the ingredients up to the cheese into a food processor and pulse until well combined and looking like medium grains of sand. Chunk up the cheese with your hands and mix into the falafel batter. Form into palm-sized balls (about 1/3 cup each) and cook in a well-greased waffle maker according to the appliance’s directions.

Yield: 12 small waffles