Good Better Best Holiday Gift Ideas-For Your Best Cook!

With the holidays right around the corner, I thought I would take a break from recipes and give you some of my Good Better Best favorite kitchen items as ideas for gifts for the cook in your life...or for you to put on your own Santa list.  These are items that I use every day in the Good Better Best kitchen.

1) Spoonulas!
These are great for cooking and baking and make fun stocking stuffers.  Red, Green and White tied with a ribbon also make a festive hostess gift.

These are from Rachel Ray

2) Herbs of Provence

I am a big fan of Herbs of Provence.  I use them to season soups and make excellent grilled vegetables when combined with olive oil.  A fun little pot of these amazing herbs are much better than coal in your favorite cook's stocking! Available at Williams Sonoma.


1) Vinturi Wine Aerator
I bought one of these for Running Daddy last year for Christmas and he uses it for every glass of wine he pours.  Instantly aerates wine and makes a cool sound as the wine goes through! $39.95 at Crate and Barrel.

2) Giada Food Processor
I purchased this food processor at Target this summer and have been quite pleased.  Very user friendly, it has been excellent for making pestos and blended soups.  Target exclusive!

1) Calphalon 12 inch pan
This is simply the best pan I own.  I probably use it at least 3-4 nights per week and almost six years later I am still obsessed with it.  It pan sears chicken beautifully and you can brown taco meat in a snap.  While it is in the higher price range it is totally worth it.  You don't need a lot of cookware in your kitchen but the pieces you have should be the best you can afford and this is a must buy!

2) Wusthof Knives
I feel the same way about these basic knives as I do about the Calphalon pan above...simply love them!  Again, you don't need a lot of knives, you just need the best basic knives that you can afford.  Running Daddy and I received these as a wedding gift and I use them every day, especially the Chef's knife. is so fun to say Wusthof! $299.95 at Crate and Barrel.

So I hope that you have some Good Better Best gift ideas!  Leave me a comment below if you have any questions about other gift ideas.

Enjoy the Best holidays!

Crock on with your Good self--Crock Pot Beef Fajitas

I love cooking in a crock pot...basically we ran holiday errands yesterday while dinner cooked itself.  You could do this on a week night if you either prepped the night before or got up 10 minutes earlier in the morning.  The flavor slow cooks in all day and the beef is fall apart tender when it is ready.

Katie W...this one is for you.

1 1/2 lbs. flank steak cut into 4 pieces
1 medium onion chopped
1 green pepper sliced
1 red pepper sliced
1 clove garlic
1 Tbs cilantro
1 Tsp chili powder
1 Tsp cumin
1 Tbs lime juice
1 10oz can dice tomatoes with green chilis (I used Rotel mild, use regular Rotel for more heat and spice)

Cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa

Place steak in a slow cooker; top with onions and remaining ingredients.
Cover and cook on high for 5 hours.
Remove meat and shred.  Serve in tortillas with toppings. 

To make Better add one element of organic steak, organic, garden grown or farmer's market onions and pepper or whole grain tortillas.  To make Best add multiple elements of  organic steak, organic, garden grown or farmer's market onions and pepper or whole grain tortillas.

Now...if you happen to have any left can turn this into the Best Beef Tortilla Soup.

Take the steak and cut into small pieces and put into a stock pot.
Dump the remaining left overs from the crock pot into the stock pot.
Add one carton of beef stock.
Bring to a boil and then turn down heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
Serve with crushed tortilla chips.

Enjoy the Best food!

Simply the Best-Sausage, mushroom and chestnut dressing

This dressing does take some work, so it is only for special occassions...but it is simply the Best!

1 lb fresh chestnuts
4 onions thinly sliced
2-4 Tbs olive oil
16 oz. mushrooms (I used a combo of white button and baby bellas) chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 Tbs butter
2 lbs sweet italian sausage, removed from the casings

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Score each chestnut with a deep X and place on a baking sheet.
Roast chesnuts for about 15 minutes. 
Let cool until cool enough to handle.  Once cooled remove shell of chestnuts and put the chestnut meats aside in a bowl.

Saute onions in olive oil over medium low heat until carmelized, about 30 minutes.
Turn heat up to medium high and add mushrooms.
Saute mushrooms for about 10-15 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Turn heat to high and add white wine.  Let the wine cook off for a few minutes.  Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
Stir in butter 1 Tb at a time.  Remove from heat.
Add chestnuts to the onion and mushroom mixture.

In a large skillet brown sausage for 5-7 minutes until cooked through .  Add to mushroom mixture.

You may now serve as dressing along side your turkey or roast chicken.  You could also stuff your turkey or chicken with the mixture as you would a bread stuffing.  I served this as a side.

To make Better add one element of organic or farmers market onions or mushrooms or use organic sausage.  To make Best add multiple elements of organic or farmers market onion and mushrooms and organic sausage.

Have the Best holidays with the Best food!

Thanksgiving with Good Better Best

After Christmas, which is my favorite holiday for so many reasons, Thanksgiving is my other favorite holiday.  While we all love being together with family, the real star of Thanksgiving is the food.  It's the perfect Good Better Best holiday.

So as you start to prep your meal planning, and maybe you have already started, there are simple ways to incorporate Good Better Best into the Thanksgiving meal.  Here are some ideas....

Turkey (the super star of the meal)-think about getting an organic turkey this year.  You can't beat the flavor.

Stuffing-use a whole grain bread or organic corn bread.  This year I am making a non-bread stuffing with organic sweet italian chicken sausage and I a roasting chestnuts to put in it for the first time ever!  Thanks to Lisa M. and Marisa for your chestnut roasting tips.  I will let you know how it turns out.

Potatoes/sweet potatoes-use organic or get these at the farmer's market.

Root vegetables-butternut and acorn squash add wonderful elements to the meal especially when organic or from the farmer's market.

Cranberries-go organic.

Pumpkin pie-use organic pumpkin and think about making a whole wheat crust.

Kitchen basics-organic chicken broth, organic eggs, fresh herbs from your garden or windowsill.

I hope that the ideas are flowing with Good Better Best as you prepare for the biggest food holiday there is!

Wishing you the Best Thanksgiving.

Apple and Shallot Turkey Burgers

My husband aka Run Daddy has now run 22 marathons as of yesterday completing the 2010 Marine Corp Marathon.  Before a big race, and after the carbo load, he needs to eat something mild.  But mild does not need to be bland and before the Wilson Bridge Half Marathon in September I made Run Daddy these turkey burgers and then again on Saturday night before Marine Corp.  The apples and the shallots keep them from drying out and give them great flavor and you can enjoy them whether you run marathons or not.

Good Recipe-Apple and Shallot Turkey Burgers

1 lb ground turkey
1 small apple
1 large shallot
1 tsp poultry

Peel and core apple.  Chop apple into small pieces. 
Chop shallot into small pieces.
Combine ground turkey, apple and shallot in a bowl.  Add poultry seasoning all are well combined.
Make medium sized burgers, this should make around 6 burgers.
Add burgers to a preheated grill and cook until well done and a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.
Serve on a burger bun.

Better: Add one element of organic ground turkey, organic/farmers market apple or shallot or serve on a whole grain bun.

Best: Add multiple elements of organic ground turkey, organic/farmers market apple or shallot or serve on a whole grain bun.

Enjoy the Best Food!

Already Better Beef and Black Bean Tostadas

Good Better Best is back!  We were having some technical difficulties and we took a quick trip to Disney World earlier this month...where I actually found a way to eat the Good Better Best way, that will be a separate post.

So let's get cooking once again!

Tostadas are fun alternative to taco night.  They are just as easy to make as tacos but they do not fall apart when you eat them and they get even better with Good Better Best.  The black beans are a whole grain so this recipe starts out in the Better category!

Better Recipe

4 (6 inch) corn tortillas
Cooking spray or olive oil in an oil mister
1 (15 oz) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 lb lean ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
¾ cup water
¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place tortillas on a baking sheet and coat on both sides with cooking spray or olive oil from a mister.  Bake for 12 minutes or until crisp.

Brown ground beef until done and drain.  Add taco seasoning and water. 

Once water is absorbed, add black beans.  Gently mash beans, combining with beef.  Cook for 3 more minutes until heated, stir often.

Place tortillas on serving plate and top with beef and bean mixture.  Add cheese.  You may also add toppings such as shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and light sour cream.

Best: Since you already have a whole grain with the bean, you can make the beans Best by choosing organic beans, or add multiple elements and combine organic beef, organic tortillas, organic cheese, organic lettuce and tomatoes.

Enjoy the Best food!

Vegetarian Skillet Lasagna

Vegetarian Skillet Lasagna

This is our first request from my lovely friend Shannon C. who said she wanted vegetarian options.  We all love lasagna but it can be so much work.  Well, it just got faster and healthier with Good Better Best!  You can have this great skillet lasagna on the table in no time and the leftovers make an awesome hot lunch!

Good Recipe
28 oz can of diced tomatoes (or 2 14oz cans)
10 lasagna noodles
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
2 tsp olive oil
1 small onion diced
3 cloves of garlic minced
½ cup low fat ricotta cheese
1 cup part skim shredded mozzarella

Drain diced tomatoes and add enough water to make 2 cups of liquid.  Set aside.

Break lasagna noodles into small pieces.

Cut zucchini and squash into ½ inch pieces.

Heat skillet and add olive oil.  Add onion and cook for 3 minutes.  Add garlic.

Add liquid from step 1.  Add broken lasagna noodles to skillet.  Place drained diced tomatoes onto the noodles.  Cover and reduce heat to medium.  Cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.  Add zucchini and squash and cook 8-10 more minutes.

Stir in ricotta and season with salt and pepper.  Top each portion with shredded mozzarella.

Better: Add one element of organic diced tomatoes, whole grain lasagna noodles (such as whole wheat or brown rice), organic/farmers market/homegrown zucchini or yellow squash or organic mozzarella cheese.

Best: Add multiple elements of organic diced tomatoes, whole grain lasagna noodles (such as whole wheat or brown rice), organic/farmers market/homegrown zucchini or yellow squash and organic mozzarella cheese.

Enjoy the Best Food!

Don’t Try this on a Weeknight: Grilled Flank Steak, Skinny Smashed Red Skin Potatoes and Steam Green Beans

The Don’t Try this on a Weeknight series of recipes are ones that take more than 30 minutes, most should be reserved for weekends or when you have a little more time.

You could try this recipe on a weeknight if you made the marinade the night before or early in the morning. The marinade takes about 5 minutes to make.

This flank steak is simply one of the best things I make, it is truly crazy good. This well rounded dinner gets even tastier with Good, Better, Best.

Flank Steak-Good
¾ cup soy sauce or tamari
4 Tbs. whole grain mustard
4-5 garlic cloves chopped
1/3 Worcestershire sauce
1-1 1/2 lbs flank steak

In a bowl combine first 6 ingredients. Combine steak and marinade in a zip top bag. Chill for 10-24 hours turning the bag often.

Remove steak from bag and discard marinade. Grill steak 6-7 minutes per side. Let sit for 10 minutes before slicing into thin strips.

Skinny Smashed Potatoes-Good
5 large red skinned potatoes quatered
1 cup chicken broth
¼ cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Cover potatoes with water in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Drain potatoes well and return back to warm pan. With the pan on very low heat, begin to mash the potatoes. Add parmesan cheese. Add chicken broth a little at a time and continue to add until potatoes reach desired creaminess.

Serve steak with skinny smashed potatoes and fresh steamed green beans.

Better: Add one element of organic steak, organic, farmer’s market or home grown potatoes, organic chicken broth or organic, farmer’s market or home grown green beans.

Best: Multiple elements of organic steak, organic, farmer’s market or home grown potatoes, organic chicken broth or organic, farmer’s market or home grown green beans.

Note: This menu is gluten free.

Let me know what you think of this one.

Enjoy the Best Foods!


Chicken sausage with spinach and polenta

This budget friendly recipe is packed with flavor and gets even yummier with Good Better Best. Because you can whip this up in about 25 minutes, you can have a healthy and fantastic meal no matter what the commute home looks like.

Good Recipe
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 lb raw chicken sausage-hot or mild, I used mild, casings removed
1 roll style polenta-you can find this in the Italian food section of most supermarkets
4 Roma tomatoes
2 Tbs. Parmesan/Romano grated cheese blend
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat a large non-stick skillet and spray with olive oil from an oil mister or use cooking spray. Add sausage and cook, breaking up the sausage with a spatula until browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes.

Slice the polenta into thin rounds about 1/8 an inch. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil from an oil mister or with cooking spray. Add polenta rounds to baking sheet and spray with oil. Top rounds with the Parmesan/Romano cheese blend. Bake for 15 minutes.

Slice the Roma tomatoes lengthwise and then into small pieces.

Once the sausage is browned, add tomatoes to the skillet and cook 2 minutes.

Add spinach to the sausage mixture and cook 2 more minutes.

Place 3-4 baked polenta rounds on a plate and top with the sausage, tomato and spinach mixture.

Better-include one element of either organic sausage, organic spinach, or homegrown/farmer’s market tomatoes.

Best-incorporate multiple elements of organic sausage, organic spinach, and homegrown/farmer’s market tomatoes.

Tonight’s dinner was the Best with organic chicken sausage, organic spinach and tomatoes grown in our backyard.  My four year old gobbled this up tonight.  This dish is also gluten free.

Let me know that you think of this recipe by posting your comments. I will read every one. Please feel free to email me at

Enjoy the Best Food!
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