Category: RECIPES

5 Inspiring Ways to Roast a Holiday Turkey

roast-turkey-mainSince I’ve taken on the unenviable task of cooking our family’s Thanksgiving turkeys, I can say that over the years I’ve picked up a thing or two. I’ve discovered there’s no need to take out that grill or deep fryer to get creative! I’d love to share with you 5 inspiring ways to roast a holiday turkey that goes beyond your usual method. (more…)

Pizza Crust for the Absolute Beginner

pizza dough beginner cover 1Making my own pizza crust had been on my “to-do” list for years. Pizza night is a weekly event in our house, so learning to make it myself became a must, The thing stopping me? A major intimidation factor.

Before this, pizza night consisted of the good ole frozen variety pizza. Cheap and quick was the name of that game. After all, I was at work all day. Who has time to make pizza dough?

Even more so, I had never worked with yeast before, nor did I have a paddle mixer or bread machine.  Clearly this was an endeavor I had better leave well enough alone. Or so I thought. (more…)

Fish Tacos

Fish tacosNow here is something I can say with great confidence…..and it is this…..I sure do love me some tacos!

Bad grammar aside, it’s no mystery as to why the taco is so appealing to so many. And it is this one word……diversity.

Up until recently, I thought I had enjoyed them just about every way possible. Beef, chicken or pork. Sometimes shredded, other times cubed. Heck, even ground works. And the meat options are only the beginning to prove my point that tacos can be anything you’d like them to be.

So having enjoyed them in so many different ways, I admit it did give me pause when I first heard the term “FISH tacos”. Fish? Really?

Not being a big fan of the stuff, I can say I wasn’t exactly eager to dive into this one. Just seemed wrong, ya know? Kind of like when someone decided to dip bacon into chocolate. Everyone loves them both. But together?

Well, turns out the answer it a resounding YES! Scroll down and I’ll show you how I’ve been putting these together ever since by the request of by uber picky eating family.

10 Amazing Summer Recipes from your Slow Cooker

summer slow cooker 2I don’t know about you, but when it’s summertime, my slow cooker rarely makes an appearance. I guess I’ve always associated crockpot meals with the  heavy stews and roasts that are so warm and comforting during our freezing Midwest winters. But as I’ve since discovered, that’s been a big mistake.

Don’t be like me and overlook the fabulously tasty family dinners that can come from your crockpot in steamy, summertime weather. Bonus….these dinners don’t heat up your kitchen, and you’re not standing over a hot, smoky grill either!

So let’s give that grill a rest. Check out this lineup of amazing dishes that can be cooked up on the hottest of summer days. Big payoff, little effort…..and super delish! (more…)

Gluten Free Caramel Freezies

caramel freezies cover2

Clean eaters of the world, avert your eyes, for I present to you, Crunchy Caramel Freezies. They’re sweet, they’re crunchy, they’re frosty, and you’re going to love ’em!  Yes, they do have ingredients that include preservatives, but they ARE gluten free, and under 100 calories per serving!  I think I can make an exception here (tee hee).

Best of all? Just two ingredients, and done in a snap.

I found these cuties in a magazine featuring Hungry Girl. Known for having a way with cutting fat and calories from everyday, basic dishes, snacks and desserts, this treat is one of our all time faves. (more…)

Chorizo & Turkey Chili

chorizo chili cover 3In my opinion, there are just so many reasons to love chili. Aside from the fact that it’s exceptionally tasty, chili is just so gosh darn versatile. Let me also add inexpensive and super, duper easy. For years I’ve been experimenting with different ingredient combinations that make this a dish that is overall pretty hard to screw up!

One such ingredient is chorizo sausage.  A number of years ago, my sister introduced me to this  fantastic little flavor dynamo and I loved it instantly. I’ve been looking for new ways to work it into more and more recipes ever since.

The chili I have here for you is just one example of how well this Mexican sausage can blend into new and existing recipes with ease……..Chorizo & Turkey Chili.  This one really gets it done when you’re looking for a little winter comfort food, or for days when you just don’t want to make a huge effort to get a tasty meal onto your table. (more…)

Spinach Pesto

pesto mainThe first time I tried pesto, I didn’t like it. To me it tasted strange and a little…”herby” maybe?

But that was then and this is now. Today, I can’t get enough of the stuff.

Seeing how expensive the jarred pesto was, I decided to try making this myself. At first I stuck to the original concept of pesto using basil, garlic, cheese and pine nuts. Since then, I’ve experimented a little, changing this out for that, increasing and decreasing quantities here and there, until I hit upon what I find to be the perfect combination. (more…)

Seriously Perfect Brown Rice

brown rice recipeIn my never ending quest to cook healthier meals, I’ll admit that small changes don’t always stick. One change that has is that I always substitute white rice for brown.. I’m shocked that my picky family has easily accepted this change. It’s pretty much the only kind of rice I’ll make now. But I’ll tell you, my first attempt at cooking brown rice wasn’t pretty.

On my first venture, well, let’s just say that I should have read the instructions more carefully before forging ahead.  If I had, then I wouldn’t have run into the problem of the main dish being done WELL before the rice was finished cooking. You see, as I’d discovered, it takes a lot longer to prepare brown rice than white. Not only that, the results were…..embarrassing. One time it’s totally underdone, then through my efforts to improve my method, I over compensate by cooking it to a starchy, mushy mess!

Not willing to give up so easily, I then discovered a better method that gets me away from stovetop vigilance to simply using the oven.. Did I read that right? Baking rice? I’ve seen it done for casseroles, but not just for the sake of cooking only rice. But I’ll tell you, I’ve never looked back. I initially used this recipe from Baked Brown Rice from Alton Brown. (more…)

Zuppa Toscana

zuppa toscana recipeDuring one of our annual staycation “travels”, we found ourselves asking the glorious question of…”where should we go to eat?”.  I use the word “glorious” because I absolutely love eating out. And really, what’s not to love? No cooking, no clean up, and most of the entrees are something that I wouldn’t typically make at home.

It has been my experience that most men and children don’t always “get” the wonders of eating out. I’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions as to why, but to many of my dear readers out there… know exactly why! I watched my mom do it, and now I’m also faced with the unenviable task of asking that age old question….”what’s for dinner?” Boredom can soon lead to feelings of drudgery.  And from that develops a kind of euphoric reaction to the thought of going out for dinner. If cost wasn’t such a factor, I’d do it wayyy more often.

So as we’re driving aimlessly looking for a place to satisfy all four of us, my darling first born jumps out of her seat and exclaims “OLIVE GARDEN!”.  We don’t have many close to where we live, and she’s been asking to go there literally for years.  I don’t know why we’ve never given in to that request, but we’re going to break that seal today. (more…)

Alfredo Sauce (reduced fat)

ALFREDO SAUCEHere at Almost the Real Thing, you’ll probably notice quite a few pasta recipes. It’s one component to our main dishes that is always a crowd pleaser. With good reason.

The thing I love most about pasta dishes is, of course, the huge selection of sauces that can be served with it. You can make them as healthy or decadent as you’d like.

One of those that falls squarely into the “decadent” category would be Alfredo Sauce. (more…)