Home Cook and Avid Runner

Roasted White Balsamic Grape and Ricotta Crostini

Grape Crostini.jpgIt has been WAY too long since I shared some wonderful recipes with everyone and it is time to change that!  I cannot wait to dive right back in to blogging and share some delicious recipes with everyone.  The first recipe I want to share is something that came out of some extra odds and ends from the fridge on appetizer night.  We love having appetizer nights in our house, and this recipe was an experiment that turned into a winner!  The white balsamic brings out the sweetness of the grapes, and the juice the grapes release is so delicious paired with the creamy ricotta mixture.  This recipe is great for a movie night in, but also fancy enough for entertaining.  Enjoy!


Roasted White Balsamic Grape and Ricotta Crostini

from Thyme to Beet Original



1.5 pounds seedless red grapes

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I used garlic infused)

1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon thyme

1 French baguette, sliced into crostini

8 oz whole milk ricotta



Preheat oven to 450 F.

On a sheet pan, toss the grapes with oil, balsamic vinegar, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Roast the grapes in the oven until softened and starting to release juices, about 15 minutes.

Mix the ricotta and thyme together in a small bowl.

Cut the baguette into ¼-inch thick pieces, crust off. Brush with oil and toast until golden.

To assemble: spread some ricotta mixture over the crostini, top with a few grapes, and finish with some of the grape juice from the sheet pan.

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Cheesy Grits Sausage Breakfast Bake


As you all know by now, I am a huge fan of the show The Kitchen on Food Network.  Once of the first episodes this year, focused on breakfast.  The majority of the show was about making dishes with a good amount of protein to keep you going throughout the day.  When I saw this recipe, I knew we would have to try it!  It looked like a perfect breakfast or brunch dish to entertain with.  We had friends visiting this weekend, so I whipped this up before taking them to the airport.  It was delicious and easy to make.  This recipe makes a ton so there were leftovers to portion out for the week for breakfast even.   It would also freeze well for a quick grab and go breakfast.  I will definitely be making this again!


Cheesy Grits Sausage Breakfast Bake

from The Kitchen



1 pound ground breakfast sausage
3 cups lowfat (2 percent) milk
1 cup quick-cooking grits
3 cups grated Cheddar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon hot sauce
4 scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced, dark green tops reserved for garnish
1 jalapeno, minced
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper (to taste)



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. In a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat, cook the sausage until browned and the fat is rendered, about 10 minutes, breaking up the chunks of sausage with the back of a wooden spoon. Remove the sausage to a bowl and set aside.

Add 2 cups of the milk and 2 cups water to the skillet and bring to a boil. Whisk in the grits slowly until smooth and no lumps remain. Reduce the heat and continue to cook, whisking, until very thick, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in about half of the grated cheese.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs with the hot sauce and remaining 1 cup milk. Slowly stream the egg mixture into the skillet with the grits while continuously whisking. Fold in the cooked sausage, scallions and jalapeno and season with salt and pepper. Top with the remaining cheese and bake until a knife inserted in the center comes out mostly clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour. Slice the reserved scallion tops and sprinkle on top just before serving.

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Paleo Kalbi (Korean Short Ribs)


I never like using the word “diet”, because I think it has a negative connotation. It is no secret that we love food in our house and good indulgent food at that, but there also needs to be balance. I have been doing a lot of research on the different healthy eating lifestyles out there and we have decided to go paleo in our household. Yesterday was Day 1 and I tried to recreate one of my husband’s favorite dishes Kalbi (Korean short ribs), with paleo ingredients. They came out amazing!!! I could not have expected the results to come out as good as that did and he even said it was a keeper. Paleo or not you need to try this recipe!


Paleo Kalbi (Korean Short Ribs)

a Thyme to Beet original


  • 1/2 cup coconut aminos
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 small Asian pear, peeled and finely grated
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 pounds Korean style beef short ribs (flaken cut)



In a medium bowl, whisk together aminos, coconut sugar, pear, garlic, mirin, and ginger. In a gallon size Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine soy sauce mixture and short ribs; marinate overnight, turning the bag occasionally. Preheat grill to medium high heat. Add short ribs to grill and cook, flipping once, until desired doneness is reached, about 2-3 minutes on each side. Serve immediately.


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Copycat Portillo’s Chopped Salad

portillos salad

It is no secret that the only “fast food” I will eat is Portillo’s.  There is nothing on their menu that I do not absolutely love!  One of my favorite items is the chopped salad.  I call it the garbage salad, which I realize does not make it sound appetizing, but for me it means it has everything I could ever want in it.  There is everything from pasta to bacon to yummy gorgonzola.  I think the biggest key to any salad is the dressing and this one is no exception.  In order to get just the right flavor, I mixed two types of vinegar together.  I used my “all things” chicken for this recipe and it came out phenomenal!  The result was a spot on copycat recipe.  It was a hit for dinner!  This is definitely entering the normal meal plan rotation in our household.

Copycat Portillo’s Chopped Salad 


Salad Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  • 1 1/2 cups cooked Macaroni or Ditalini pasta (cooled)
  • I bag of salad mix (iceberg, cabbage, and carrots)
  • 3 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 5 slices cooked and crumbled bacon
  • 1/3 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 2 cups shredded or diced chicken


For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a jar or small bowl. Whisk or shake until well-combined. Add additional salt and pepper to taste, if needed. You can make and refrigerate the dressing a week or two in advance.  In a pot of salted, boiling water, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse quickly with cool water so it doesn’t stick together while it cools. Pour a few tablespoons of the dressing over the pasta and stir lightly. Set aside to cool to room temperature (spreading it into a flatter layer – versus mounded in a bowl – will speed up the cooling process).  In a large bowl, toss together the lettuce mix, tomatoes, and green onions. Add the cooled pasta, bacon, gorgonzola cheese, and chicken. Toss the salad with the dressing before serving.

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Cherry-Smoked Vietnamese-Flavored Ribs

smoked ribs

The weather is finally starting to break out here in Arizona, which means it is time to grill and smoke!  The funny part is back in Indiana, we would wait for the temps to warm up to be able to grill and smoke, but out here it is the opposite.  It is finally breaking under 100 degrees and I am starting to dive into grilling and smoking again since being outside for long periods of time has become more bearable.  I was so sad when we moved because I had to give up my smoker, but the grill we have now has proven even better for smoking.  The grill is able to hold at a constant temperature for several hours, which makes it ideal for smoking.  I have several Weber cookbooks and have always eyeballed this recipe.  It is totally worth the time.  We have never made a bad recipe out of the Weber books and this is no exception.  These were amazing!!! The marinade smells beyond incredible and the ribs come out perfectly tender and caramelized.  I kept the temperature at around 200 degrees throughout the smoking process.  These are great paired with a simple side salad. I am sure you could also bake them in the oven low and slow and then turn on the broiler to caramelize them if that was more convenient since the marinade stands up on its own.  But, I definitely think the cherry wood adds a sweet undertone to the recipe.  Enjoy!

Cherry-Smoked Vietnamese-Flavored Ribs


  • 1/4 cup Vietnamese fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 2 teaspoons grate lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 racks spareribs, preferable St. Louis cut
  • 3-4 fist size chunks of cherry wood
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish


In a small bowl mix together fish sauce, orange juice, 1/4 cup cilantro, brown sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, tamarind paste, lime zest, lime juice, garlic, and ginger to make the marinade.  Place ribs in an extra-large resealable plastic bag and pour in marinade. Seal bag and toss to coat ribs completely with marinade. Marinate in refrigerator overnight to 24 hours.

Remove ribs from refrigerator while preparing the smoker or grill. Fire up smoker or grill to 225°F, adding chunks of smoking wood chunks when at temperature. When the wood is ignited and producing smoke, place the ribs in smoker or grill meat side up, reserving marinade.  Pour reserved marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat and boil gently for 1-2 minutes, then remove from heat.

Smoke ribs until they have a slight bend when lifted from one end, about 5-6 hours for spare ribs, basting with marinade every hour after 2 hours of smoking.  Remove ribs from smoker, brush meat side with remaining marinade then grill meat side down over a hot grill or place in a heated broiler meat side-up until sauce caramelizes lightly. Let ribs cool for 5 to 10 minutes, garnish with fresh cilantro, and serve.


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“All Things” Chicken

All Things Chicken

One of my favorite activities is meal prep and planning.  Each week on Wednesday, I sit down and plan out the meals for the next week.  This is so fun, because I can tailor each week to our schedule and tastes.  I do have some hard and fast rules for the weeks planning: Monday is “Meatless Monday” and Tuesday is “Taco Tuesday”.  The fun part is finding a new way to interpret each weekly.  Also, since moving to AZ I have started to make a Sunday dinner for us.  It is so fun to look up new and exciting recipes for this too.  I love when ingredients overlap throughout the week.  For example, this week we are having nachos and a copycat salad with chicken.  This meant I needed to prep a versatile chicken recipe in order to use in both.  This has been my go to recipe for enchiladas, pasta, soup, or pretty much anything that needs shredded chicken.  The recipe freezes great too.  In coming weeks, I will be sharing my meal plan with everyone on Fridays for the following week.

“All Things” Chicken


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth


 Place chicken in slow cooker. Drizzle with olive oil being sure to coat all sides. Add garlic, sea salt, and pepper. Pour broth around the outside of the chicken. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours. Shred or chop the chicken for multiple uses.

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“Sneaky” Turkey Meatballs


I am always looking for fun and exciting healthy meals to make for myself for lunches. With all the local produce at my fingertips out here in AZ, I love finding new uses for every day vegetables as well.  I prep once on Sunday and then have no excuses throughout the week when it comes to healthy eating.  These meatballs smell amazing when they are in the oven and so easy to put together!  They are completely freezer friendly too!! Trust me, make them you will not be sorry!


“Sneaky” Turkey Meatballs



  • 1 small eggplant
  • 2 cups store-bought low-fat marinara sauce (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 tablespoons low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • ¼ small yellow onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 large egg white
  • 12 ounces lean ground turkey breast
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 6 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces whole-wheat spaghetti


Place the eggplant on the grate of a gas burner over a high flame. Char the eggplant, turning it every few minutes, until the skin is blackened and the flesh is cooked through; this should take about 12 minutes. (Alternatively, you can char the eggplant on a barbecue grill, on a grill pan, or on a baking sheet under the broiler of a gas or electric oven.) Allow the eggplant to cool slightly, and then cut it in half. Scrape out the flesh, being careful not to incorporate the blackened skin. Measure out ¼ cup of the flesh; reserve the remaining eggplant for another use.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pot, heat the marinara sauce over medium heat.

In a blender, combine the chicken broth, onions, garlic, cooked eggplant, and egg white. Puree until the mixture is smooth. In a large bowl, combine the pureed mixture with the ground turkey, parsley, and 2 tablespoons of the cheese. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Divide the meat mixture into 8 equal portions, a little over 2 ounces each.

When the marinara sauce comes to a simmer, roll each portion of the meatball mixture with the palms of your hands to form a ball, and gently drop the meatballs, one by one, into the hot marinara sauce. Shake the pan gently to coat the meatballs with sauce. Cover the pan, and when the sauce begins to simmer, reduce the heat to low. Simmer the meatballs for 12 minutes. Gently turn each meatball over in the marinara sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes.

While the meatballs are cooking, cook the pasta in the boiling water according to the package directions, about 10 minutes; drain.

Divide the spaghetti among 4 plates, and top each plate of pasta with 2 meatballs and some sauce. Sprinkle the remaining 4 tablespoons cheese on top, and serve.


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Balsamic Honey Glazed Figs


It is still well into the triple digits in Arizona, so lighter meals have been my preference lately. Last night I made chorizo mussels and paired it with balsamic glazed fig crostini. I had never made fresh figs at home previously. When I saw the figs in the store, I knew I had to make something fun with them. I was in the mood for a crostini, so a goat cheese paired with glazed figs sounded delicious. I cut the figs in three and brushed some balsamic and honey on them before popping them in the oven. Then I paired the figs with whipped goat cheese, I infused with truffle oil and honey. It was the perfect bite. These would be great with prosciutto too! Such a healthy appetizer or snack! Three easy ingredients and you have an appetizer worthy of entertaining.

Balsamic-Honey Glazed Figs


  • 8 fresh figs (cut vertically into thirds)
  • 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of honey


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place cut figs in a baking dish. Whisk together balsamic vinegar and honey. Brush or spoon the balsamic mixture over the cut figs. Bake for 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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5 Ingredient Chocolate Mousse Pie


Chocolate is not one of my favorite foods by any means, but Mr. Thyme to Beet that is another story.  He loves chocolate and in particular chocolate mousse pie.  Whenever we go out for a “fancy” dinner, it seems we always share chocolate mousse if it is on the menu.  I have grown to like chocolate over the last couple years.  This chocolate mousse recipe contains items you probably already have in your pantry.  I always keep them on hand so that I can whip up one of these pies in a flash.  It is great for entertaining as well.

5 Ingredient Chocolate Mousse Pie



  • 1 ½ cup miniature marshmallows
  • 1 (7 ounce) bar milk chocolate candy
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream (Tip: keep cold until whipping, forms peaks faster)
  • 1 (9 inch) pre-baked pie shell or graham cracker crust


Heat marshmallows, chocolate candy, and milk in a saucepan over low heat until marshmallows and chocolate are melted, stirring constantly. Allow mixture to cool completely.

Beat heavy cream in a large bowl until stiff peaks form (I use my stand mixer for this). Lift your beater or whisk straight up: the whipped cream will form sharp peaks. Gently fold cooled chocolate mixture in whipped cream until well mixed; pour into baked pie shell. Refrigerate until set, about 3 hours.

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“Meatless Monday” Chili


It has been a couple months now, since I brought up the idea of “meatless Mondays” for the Thyme to Beet household.  It has become a fun challenge each week to find something that is meatless and also will have the type of flavor I am looking to fit in the meal plan that week.  Let us forget for a second that it is on average 110 degrees right now in Arizona, but I was craving chili.  Something about chili and cornbread was calling to me.  I knew that chili would be the perfect meal for “meatless Monday”, but I did not like a single vegetarian recipe I looked up for some odd reason.  I decided to take some ingredients from three different recipes and mix them together to make my own.  It came out phenomenal!  I froze the leftovers and we are having them on baked potatoes tonight.  It makes a lot, so you will have some for lunches or to freeze for the future.

“Meatless Monday” Chili


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 15oz. cans black beans
  • 1 15oz. can diced tomatoes with green chiles
  • 3 oz. tomato paste (1/2 of a 6oz. can or about ¼ cup)
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp salt


Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the onion and garlic to a large pot with 1 Tbsp olive oil and cook over medium-low heat just until softened (2-3 minutes).  Add the ground turkey to the pot and continue to sauté until the turkey is cooked through (5-7 minutes). Break the turkey up into small crumbles with your spoon as it cooks.  Add the three cans of beans (undrained), the diced tomatoes (undrained), tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and oregano. Stir everything to combine.  Let the chili simmer for about 10 minutes to let the flavors blend and help the liquid thicken slightly. Taste the chili and add salt as needed Serve with your favorite chili toppings.

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