Thanksgiving Gravy – Pioneer Style

So I recently told you about my love of Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman on Food Network. I’ve searched all her recipes lately to see if there’s anything new I need to try for Thanksgiving. And I found it!

I’ve never really mastered turkey gravy. But this is my year. She has a step-by-step process for making the best giblet gravy. We have two Thanksgiving feasts tomorrow, and for the first one, I’m in charge of the turkey! To go with my beautiful bird (I’m hoping she’ll be beautiful), I’ll be giving this gravy recipe a whirl. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Giblet Gravy - Pioneer Woman

Giblet Gravy – Pioneer Woman

Hope everyone has a family and food-filled turkey day! As I get ready for this special day, I feel very thankful for all of you who join Jill and me at We appreciate each and every one of you. We wish you the best Thanksgiving ever!



Perfect Potato Soup – Pioneer Woman

Ree Drummond, otherwise known as Pioneer Woman, has quickly become one of my favorite Food Network stars. She lives on a ranch in Oklahoma and became famous by just blogging about her recipes each day. She literally walks people through every single step of each recipe with simple instructions and beautiful photography. I’ve made several of her recipes, and all of them have been awesome. They’re not calorie conscious by any means, but what does that hurt now and then?

During this time of year I love making potato soup. It’s creamy (good), has potatoes in it (good), and it’s the only soup my husband and son will eat (best). But I don’t feel like I’ve mastered it. I want to try some different recipes out to see which one fits our family the best. So I thought Ree could help me out. Here’s her recipe for potato soup. If you check it out on her blog, you’ll find step-by-step instructions as well. Enjoy, and let me know if you have a favorite potato soup recipe as well!

Potato Soup - Pioneer Woman

Potato Soup – Pioneer Woman


  • 6 slices Thin Bacon, Cut Into 1-inch Pieces
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Diced
  • 3 whole Carrots, Scrubbed Clean And Diced
  • 3 stalks Celery, Diced
  • 6 whole Small Russet Potatoes, Peeled And Diced
  • 8 cups Low Sodium Chicken Or Vegetable Broth
  • 3 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt, More To Taste
  • Black Pepper To Taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cajun Spice Mix
  • 1 teaspoon Minced Fresh Parsley
  • 1 cup Grated Cheese Of Your Choice

Preparation Instructions

Add bacon pieces to a soup pot over medium heat and cook bacon until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove the bacon from the pot and set it aside. Pour off most of the grease, but do not clean the pot.

Return the hot to medium-high heat and add the onions, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook for 2 minutes or so, then add the diced potatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, seasoning with salt, pepper, and Cajun spice.

Pour in the broth and bring it to a gentle boil. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are starting to get tender. Whisk together the flour and the milk, then pour into the soup and allow the soup to cook for another 5 minutes.

Remove half to 2/3 the soup and blend in a blender/food process until completely smooth. Pour it back into the soup pot and stir to combine. Let it heat back up as you taste for seasonings, adding more of what it needs. Stir in cream, then stir in parsley, reserving a little for garnish.

Serve in bowls garnished with parsley, grated cheese and crisp bacon pieces.


Homemade Salsa

I haven’t shared any recipes for a while because honestly I haven’t been cooking much. Between vacation a few weeks ago, work travel, tons of weekend family activities, and just keeping up with daily life, I have only cooked a handful of meals in the past month!!! So now that Summer is winding down, I was thinking it might be fun to make a fresh and easy salsa this weekend to munch on while painting my master bathroom – yes, I’m finally able to work on that!

I found this one for Serrano and Corn Salsa via Camille Styles’ blog, and it looks fabulous! Think I’ll give it a whirl.

Serrano and Corn Salsa - Camille Styles

Serrano and Corn Salsa – Camille Styles


2 ears of corn

1/4 cup chopped cucumber

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

1 serrano pepper, thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped scallion

2-4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons olive oil

drizzle of honey or agave

salt & pepper

Serrano and Corn Salsa Ingredients - Camille Styles

Serrano and Corn Salsa Ingredients – Camille Styles


1.Slice corn kernels off the cob. Next, using the back of your knife, scrape the cob to get some of the leftover corn pulp. (you should get about 1 tablespoon per cob).  2.Mix everything together. Let chill in the fridge for 20 minutes or up to a day. Taste and adjust seasonings. This is great served with chips, on tacos, on salads, or on grilled fish.



Summer Bruschetta

One of my FAVORITE Summer foods is bruschetta. It’s just so fresh and light – perfect for a snack or any entertaining you’re doing. Last weekend, I had some goodies from the Farmers’ Market, so I decided to make some bruschetta for our 4th of July celebrations.

Bruschetta Ingredients

Bruschetta Ingredients


Summer Bruschetta - Middle Redefined

Summer Bruschetta – Middle Redefined

Here’s my recipe:

5 Regular Tomatoes (or 8 Roma Tomatoes) Chopped

2 Cloves of Garlic (add more or less depending on how garlic-y you like it) diced

1 5-oz Container of Feta (I like Feta in mine, but you can also do mozzerella)

8-9 Basil Leaves Chopped

1/2 Lemon Squeezed into the Bowl

1 Tblspn Balsamic Vinegar

2 Tblspns Olive Oil

Dash of salt and pepper


Mix all your ingredients together in a bowl and serve over warm bread. I just buy baguettes at the grocery store, cut them into slices, drizzle them with olive oil, and warm them for no more than 3 minutes in a 350 degree oven. If you do any more than that, they’ll get too hard – and no one wants that!




Homemade Protein Bars

A weekly occurrence at our house is the making of homemade protein bars – super simple and very yummy. Plus these little snacks are far better than most of the “Fruit Crack” (the misters name for them), or snacks that our kids want us to buy in the grocery store.  Thanks to the mister for coming up with this recipe that every one in our family enjoys.

Ingredients - Homemade Protein Bars

Step 1 - Protein Bars

Step 2 - Protein Bars

Step 3 - Protein Bars

Step 4 - Protein Bars

Try not to eat just one – I dare you!

Farmers’ Market Fresh

One of my favorite Saturday morning activities is going with my family to the farmers’ market. The one we have in Kansas City in the River Market is just FULL of people, activities, and tons and tons of fresh food.

Farmers' Market Fresh

Farmers’ Market Fresh


Kansas City Farmers' Market

Kansas City Farmers’ Market

And just about every other vendor has huge bouquets of flowers for $8-$10 per bunch. I buy them every time…why wouldn’t I?

Flowers at the Market

Flowers at the Market

So when I got home, those flowers ended up in my very own mason jars, just like the ones I showed you last week at Rye Restaurant – perfect centerpiece!

Mason Jar Flower Vases - Middle Redefined

Mason Jar Flower Vases – Middle Redefined

One of the recipes I make almost every time we grill (you would think we’d get tired of it) is my Rosemary Roasted Potatoes. Here are my red potatoes from the market, ready to go.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

I cut them into bite-sized pieces, seasoned them with kosher salt and season salt, tossed them with olive oil and some freshly-chopped rosemary from my backyard.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes Recipe

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes Recipe

Roast them in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes (toss them with a metal spatula every 5-10 minutes so they don’t stick). And they are pretty much even better than the steak my husband grills to go with them – not sure if he agrees with that statement.

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes - Middle Redefined

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes – Middle Redefined

Make these during your 4th of July celebrations this weekend, and I promise they’ll be a hit with your fam. Enjoy!

Pizza Quesadilla

My family loves pepperonia pizza. Really, who doesn’t? So I always have pepperoni slices and pizza cheese in my fridge so my little man can help me with homemade pizza now and again. Last Saturday for lunch, we didn’t really have time to bake refridgerated pizza dough, so I decided to make our “pizza” into a quesadilla instead. My son and I thought they were absolutely delicious and super easy for a quick lunch.

Pizza Quesadilla Recipe - Middle Redefined

Pizza Quesadilla Recipe – Middle Redefined


Pizza Quesadilla Recipe - Middle Redefined

Pizza Quesadilla Recipe – Middle Redefined


2 Whole Wheat Tortillas

1 cup of Shredded Pizza Cheese

8-12 Pepperoni Slices (I had Turkey Pepperoni on hand)

Butter for the outside of the quesadilla

1/4 cup of Marinara for dipping



Heat your skillet to medium-hot. Butter one side of each tortilla. Place one side butter down on the hot skillet. Pile that tortilla with the cheese and pepperoni slices. Place the other torilla on top, butter side up. Flip the quesadilla to the other side once the first side has browned (about 2-3 minutes). Once both sides are as crispy as you like and your cheese is melted, place the quesadilla on a cutting board and cut into six slices. Use the marinara as your dipping sauce. Enjoy!



Italian-inspired lunch

On Monday, I shared our table setup for the Mother’s Day lunch. So today I thought I’d share the delicious recipes from the meal we all shared on that fun day. I went with an Italian theme for the food because I wanted the main course to be Chicken Piccata, which is my husband’s favorite dish that I make.

Here’s the rundown:

1. Barefoot Contessa’s recipe for Chicken Piccata (I own every one of her cookbooks and have never had one of her recipes fail me)

2. Roasted vegetables – I cut up red pepper, asparagus, string beans, and cauliflower and roasted them for about 30-40 min in a 400 degree oven

3. French baguettes sliced, warmed in the oven, and tossed in a bowl for people to dip in their individual olive oil

4. Lemon tiramisu trifle – I had never made this before, but it was so decadent and tasty; I also had chocolate chip cookies on hand for those who might not be interested in the trifle


Chicken Piccata -

Chicken Piccata –


[caption id="attachment_621" align="alignleft" width="768"]Roasted Vegetables Roasted Vegetables



Lemon Tiramisu Trifle

Lemon Tiramisu Trifle





Creative Croutons

My family loves Ceasar salad. My four-year-old gobbles it up, so we make it at least once a week to go with evening meals. I was getting bored with the traditional take, so I decided to get a little creative with the croutons. Instead of pouring pre-made croutons out of a bag, which is what I normally do, I made these out of tortillas. They’re so fun and you can either crumble them into the salad or eat them like crackers.

First, take a whole wheat flour tortilla and baste each side with olive oil.

Basting with Olive Oil

Basting with Olive Oil


Season one side with kosher salt. Chop fresh rosemary and sprinkle it all over the tortilla. Cut it into triangles, place them on a baking sheet, and bake them at 350 degrees for about  7 minutes. They will be golden brown on the edges and starting to curl up a bit.

Seasoned Tortilla

Seasoned Tortilla




Creative Croutons Ready to Bake

Creative Croutons Ready to Bake


Serve them however you’d like with your salad. Or, use them with a dip. They have a fantastic texture…I promise your family will love this homemade version of croutons, chips, crackers…whatever you want to call them. Enjoy!

Creative Croutons Recipe - Middle Redefined

Creative Croutons Recipe – Middle Redefined



Weekend Brunch

This weekend, I had my family and in-laws over for a Sunday brunch after church. To my friends in NYC, this means sometime between 1 and 3 p.m. For those of us in the Midwest, it’s around 11:30 a.m. With seven people to feed, I decided a frittata was in order. A frittata is basically just a crustless quiche, and it’s faster and easier than a quiche. The only thing you need in order to make one is a skillet that can also go in the oven.

You can fill it with whatever veggies you have on hand. In this case, I used onion, red pepper, and asparagus. I also generally include some sort of breakfast meat, like bacon, sausage, or ham.

First, cook your meat or just warm it up in the skillet if it’s pre-cooked. For mine, I had pre-cooked turkey sausage on hand, so I just cut it into bite-sized pieces and sauteed it for about three minutes. Then, I set it aside.

Turkey Sausage for Frittata

Turkey Sausage for Frittata


After that, I sauteed chopped red pepper, asparagus, and onion in some olive oil. Throw the meat back in the skillet when the veggies are close to done.

Veggies for Frittata

Veggies for Frittata


Crack and whisk together 12 eggs (I only use 6 eggs when it’s just my family). Whisk in about 1/4 cup of milk and season with salt and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the veggies and meat. Let that set up a bit until the outside edges firm up. The middle will still be a little wobbly. While it’s cooking, I usually gently lift the outside edges with a rubber spatula and tilt the skillet so that extra egg can run under the frittata and cook a little faster.

Sprinkle the top with shredded cheese, and put the whole thing in a 350 degree oven. This will help set the top. It usually takes about five minutes. It’s done when the center is no longer jiggly.

Frittata Recipe - Middle Redefined

Frittata Recipe – Middle Redefined


Serve it just like a piece of quiche. It’s even yummier when serves on a super fancy plate. Enjoy!

Brunch Frittata - Middle Redefined

Brunch Frittata – Middle Redefined


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