Thursday, November 15, 2012

Spaghetti with Butternut Leek Sauce

Although I may not be skinny, I frequent the Skinny Taste blog in hopes of being inspired by her delicious and healthy recipes.  This pasta was no exception with it's creamy and rich sauce - you'd swear it was loaded with heavy cream when in fact that ingredient doesn't even come near this plate of yummy pasta.

My meat loving husband even approved but did say he'd prefer if we added some grilled chicken to it next time - fair enough ;)


Spaghetti with Butternut Leek Sauce
(adapted from Skinny Taste)

1 lb butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 tbsp butter
1 lb spaghetti
1 large leek (white part only)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup grated shaved parmesan cheese
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add butternut squash and cook until soft. Remove squash with a slotted spoon and place in a food processor and puree until smooth.

Add pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions for al dente, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water before draining.

Meanwhile, in a large deep non-stick skillet, melt the butter, sauté the leeks and garlic over medium-low heat until soft and golden, about 5 - 6 minutes. Add pureed butternut squash, season with with salt and fresh cracked pepper and add a little of the reserved pasta water to thin out to your liking. Stir in parmesan cheese and mix in pasta until well coated.

Mexican Stuffed Shells

I'm a sucker for all things Mexican/ Tex-Mex so instead of tacos or enchiladas every night, I've been trying to spice it up (pun intended) with my Mexican inspired meals.

These stuffed shells were relatively easy to put together and it made two pans of 12 shells each which means we have a freezer meal waiting in the wings for us.  Yay!

I topped my shells with sour cream and green onions but my less adventurous husband ate them as is and he really enjoyed them.  Next time I might try these with either ground turkey or shredded chicken and maybe add a can of diced green chilies.


Mexican Stuffed Shells
(adapted from The Adventures of Mini Martha)

1 lb ground beef
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 package taco seasoning
8 oz. cream cheese cut into small blocks
1 box of jumbo pasta shells
1 ½ cups salsa (I used medium-heat)
1 cup taco sauce (I used medium-heat)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Green onions- optional
Sour cream- optional

Preheat the oven to 350°. Spray 2 baking pans with Pam and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground beef and green pepper and cook until beef is cooked through and pepper has softened. Add drained beans and taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions (most taco seasoning packets have you add 3/4-1 cup of water). Add the cream cheese and simmer until cheese is melted and the mixture has thickened slightly, stirring occasionally to help the cream cheese melt. Set aside and cool.

While the ground beef is cooking, cook the pasta shells according to directions; drain. Place shells on a cutting board so that they don’t stick together.

Pour salsa into the bottom of the prepared baking dishes. Stuff each shell with the filling mixture. Place shells baking dish open-side facing up. Cover shells evenly with the taco sauce.

If you're going to cook, cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  At the end of 30 minutes, remove foil and cover with cheddar cheese.  Return to oven for 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Top with green onions and sour cream (optional).

If you're going to freeze, cover with foil and freeze. When it comes time to bake them, thaw in refrigerator overnight then bake for 30 minutes with foil on.  At the end of 30 minutes, remove foil and cover with cheddar cheese.  Return to oven for 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Top with green onions and sour cream (optional).

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Homemade Baby Food

So as some of you may have deduced, we welcomed a baby into our lives earlier this year.  P will be 6 months old tomorrow (OMG!) and we're having the time of our lives with our little princess.

At P's 4 month appointment, her pediatrician said we could start solids if we wanted.  I knew from the moment of conception (ha!) that I'd make my own baby food.  Then when breast feeding didn't work out, I was even more determined to do so so that I cold control exactly what good, nutritious foods my daughter was eating.  It also doesn't hurt that I clearly love to cook and am a total foodie so it felt natural for me to do so.

Let me be honest - making baby food is my newest obsession.  I get so excited when I think of a fruit or veggie I haven't made yet for P and CAN make for her.  Watching her try new foods is so very much fun as the husband and I try to guess "is that her 'I like this!' face?"

We started with avocados, which were a hit and from then we've been full steam ahead.  Girlfriend eats better than her daddy and I do most nights ;) By her 6 month appointment P will have tried:

green beans
sweet potatoes
butternut squash
acorn squash
yellow squash

I'm proud of what I've provided her with - nutritious food in a range of colors, textures, and flavors.  By making her food, I've been able to combine her food for interesting and new combinations and I can't wait to add yogurt, meat, spices and legumes into the fold.

Lots of moms and moms to be ask me how I've make the food and really, it's much, much more simple than most think.  I either bake or steam the flesh of the food (the exception to this being avocados, bananas, and kiwis - they can be eaten raw at this age) and then throw it into the food processor.  I don't thin any of my purees before freezing because sometimes freezing can change the consistency of the puree ever so slightly.  I have more control over the texture when it's thawed if it's not thinned out.

Seriously - it is THAT easy. And, as she gets older, we'll do less purees and more finger foods - chunks of baked sweet potatoes, slices of avocado.  The goal here is to keep it as easy and healthy as possible.

As far as which foods I've baked... my sweet potatoes, butternut squash, acorn squash, and pumpkin have all been baked before pureeing   I just slice these down the middle, scoop out the seeds, rub a tiny bit of oil onto the flesh, and bake cut side down for roughly 60 mins.  After cooling, I scoop the flesh into the bowl of the food processor and let it do it's thing.

The majority of her food (pears, apples, peas, mangos, carrots, beets, zucchini, broccoli, plums, asparagus, peaches, yellow squash, eggplant, green beans) have been steamed after it's been rid of it's peel and any core that may exist.  I use a steamer basket and a pot of boiling water - steam until tender and puree.

As far as the homemade oatmeal is concerned, it is a little more labor intensive than opening a box of baby cereal but I figured if I was going to DIY the rest of the food, why not the cereal too?! For this, I dump some (not measured) traditional oats (NOT quick cooking) into the food processor.  Turn it on and let it run until it makes a fine powder.  Then I measure out 1/4 cup of oat powder and dump it into 1 cup of boiling water.  Whisk it continuously for 10 mins over low heat until a thick, porridge consistency is formed.

As for storage, I measure out the puree into 1 oz portioned cubes.  To do this, I freeze in ice cube trays then once the cubes are hardened (note - prunes will not solidify into a cube - weird, right?) I dump them into quart sized freezer bags that are labeled with what it is and the date.  As a general rule of thumb, purees are good for roughly 3 months before the nutritional value begins to break down.

If you could't tell, I really love making P's food (I just dedicated a whole post to it... yet again :) Check out P's blog for more of the same: and I'm hoping that by exposing her to lots of delicious flavors, we'll have a little foodie on our hands in no time!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sweet & Sour Chicken

I'm the kind of girl who would literally make a new recipe every night of the week.  Partly to try new things and partly because my husband is incredibly ambivalent towards most things.  If you ask him "did you like this?" his reply will most likely be short and sweet and 1 word, "sure".  Well that tells me nothing so off I go on a quest to find a recipe that wows him.

This recipe for Sweet & Sour Chicken wow'ed him.

This recipe for Sweet & Sour Chicken wow'ed me.

It was so tasty I've already made it two more times.  That's saying something ;)

It's the right mix of sweet and tangy with a nice crust on the chicken.  I served it over Trader Joe's Frozen Brown Rice at the suggestion of a friend who first made this and it was a good accompaniment and super easy to make (hello 3 minutes in the microwave!).  This last time I steamed up some fresh broccoli to add to the bulk and veggie intake and it was a success too.

This recipe is easy enough to throw together for a weeknight supper but fun enough to serve for guests, it's a recipe I will make again.  (I had to put that in print so the husband can hold me to it ;)).


Sweet & Sour Chicken
(adapted from Made It. Ate It. Loved It.)

3 chicken breast
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup canola oil

Rinse chicken, trim off fat or extras and then cut into 1 inch cubes. season with salt and pepper.
Mix cornstarch, flour, salt & pepper together.
Mix eggs and milk together.
Set up a breading station and dip chicken into flour-cornstarch mix, then eggs, then back into the flour-cornstarch mix.
Heat oil in large skillet and cook chicken until browned.
Place browned chicken into a 9x13 baking dish.

3/4 cups sugar
4 Tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder

Whisk all ingredients together until smooth.
Pour sauce evenly over chicken and turn the pieces so the sauce gets on both sides.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
At the end of 15 minutes, turn chicken and then cook for an additional 15 minutes.
Serve over rice with a side of steamed broccoli.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

Sure the title is a mouthful to say but trust me when I tell you that when you bite into these, the heavens literally open up and start singing.  Yes they're that good.

I love love love anything sweet & Salty and these cookies are the perfect juxtaposition of this flavor profile.  Sweet from the soft cookie and chips, and salty from the crunchy pretzel bits (which , may I add, stay crispy after baking which absolutely amazed me).

These will absolutely making an appearance on my holiday cookie trays this year!


Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies
(adapted from Sugar Cooking)

1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. of table salt
1/4 tsp. of baking soda
1/2 cup of softened butter
1/2 cup of tightly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup of granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup broken up pretzel pieces
sea salt for topping

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and table salt. Set aside.

In a larger bowl, beat the butter and sugars together on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2-3 minutes). On low speed add the egg and vanilla extract. Beat to combine, scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Add the flour mixture and beat just until there are no more streaks of flour. Stir in the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and preztels. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out well rounded tablespoonfuls of the dough and smoosh them down a little.  Place the cookies on the parchment, leaving approximately 2 inches between and sprinkle with salt.

Bake for 10-12 minutes (mine were perfect at 11 minutes). Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chicken Salad Cucumber Cups

Another Pinterest gem, these Cucumber Cups were easy to make and fill with deli prepared chicken salad making them a recipe I'll reach for again and again.

You could easily stuff these cups with more exotic fillings but the creamy chicken salad (tuna salad would be fab too!) contrasted quite nicely against the crisp cucumber.


Chicken Salad Cucumber Cups

2 large English cucumbers
1 pound deli chicken salad

Cut ends off of your cucumbers and then cut them into 1 inch slices. 
Using a small melon balls, carve out some of the cucumber flesh and discard, leaving enough in the bottom to create a base for your chicken salad.
Fill cups with salad and serve immediately or chill until serving.

Antipasti Skewers

In my search for delicious, easy, and quick appetizers, I headed straight to Pinterest (would you expect any less from me?!) and spotted these antipasti skewers.  You can put anything on a stick and it instantly becomes 1,376,271x's better so why not take all the yummy pieces of an antipasti platter and skewer it?!

I made 40 skewers but you can switch this recipe up and make as little or as many as you need.  And you can always hit the gourmet olives and cheese section of your local grocery store to mix up what's on your skewers.  The possibilities are really endless.


Antipasti Skewers

9 ounces uncooked cheese tortellini
20 slices deli salami, cut in half
20 slices deli pepperoni, cut in half
40 pitted kalamata olives
40 green olives with pimentos
40 small fresh mozzarella balls
3/4 cup Italian dressing

Cook your tortellini according to package instructions.  Drain and toss with Italian dressing.  Allow to marinate for up to 2 hours.
Skewer your pasta with the salami, pepperoni, olives, and cheese in any order you choose. Serve immediately or keep chilled until serving.

Jack Daniels Meatballs

I hosted a little get together this past weekend in the form of a Pampered Chef party.  I scoured the internet for some yummy and easy appetizer recipes that would feed my crowd and I stumbled upon this recipe for meatballs from a friend of mine.

Let's be honest here... anything with Jack Daniels & brown sugar and I'm so in.  These meatballs have a sweet, unexpected heat to them and were perfect to eat straight from the slow cooker (but I was happy to have leftovers because I froze them in anticipation of sliders sometime next week :)).


Jack Daniels Meatballs

100 frozen meatballs
16 oz jar Grape Jelly
1 cup ketchup red ketchup
1 ½  cups of Jack Daniels Original # 7 Whiskey
½ cup Worcestshire sauce
¼ cup Tabasco sauce
¼ cup Brown Sugar
2 tbsp Nature’s Seasoning
Salt & pepper to taste

Take a large pot, place over medium heat. Add the Jelly, stir and allow to liquefy (about 2-3 minutes). Add the ketchup and stir to combine. Allow to come to a boil. Add the Worcestshire, Tabasco, Nature’s Seasoning, Brown Sugar and 1 cup of whiskey.  Bring back to a boil. Stir occasionally over the next 10 minutes over medium-low heat.

Empty all meatballs into the pot. Don’t worry about any frost or ice falling into the sauce… you will want this to happen. You will notice
that there are more balls then there is sauce. No worries… try your best to scoop some sauce from the bottom of the pot and coat all balls. (And as a side note... I've never said "balls" so many time without making an inappropriate joke.  You're welcome).

Once all the meatballs have been coated, you can cover and keep on medium-low for another 20 minutes. Stir and mix halfway through the twenty
minutes to help keep everyone happy and coated in sauce.

After twenty minutes, add the remaining whiskey, put heat on low, keep covered and cook for another 90 minutes. Stir every so often minutes to keep the bottom from burning.

Serve immediately or add them to a crock pot. You can make these the day before and leave them in the crock pot overnight and heat them on high for 3 hours before serving.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps

My husband loves red meat.  He would eat it 7 days a week and be the happiest man in the world.  

Sadly for him, he married a chicken and seafood obsessed woman who couldn't care less if I ever ate red meat again (Unless it's a peppercorn blue cheese filet.  Then talk to me). 

When I spotted this wrap recipe on Pinterest (I told you - I am obsessed), I figured I'd give it a whirl.  I was pleasantly surprised at a) the ease of the recipe and b) the end result.  I liked it so much, I made it the following week.  

This is one of those recipes that you can totally customize - adding whatever burger toppings you prefer right into the wrap.  For me, it was cheese, pickles, onions, tomatoes.  For my better half is was cheese, pickles, and mustard.  Everyone wins! YAY!

Enjoy :)

Grilled Cheeseburger Wraps
(adapted from Semi Homemade Mom)

1 lb ground beef
1 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoon ketchup
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste
4 large flour tortillas
shredded cheddar cheese
sliced tomatoes, yellow mustard, pickles, sliced onions - basically any burger toppings you fancy!

Brown ground beef in large skillet and drain. Add Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, onion, garlic and salt and pepper to the beef and simmer for 5 minutes.
Sprinkle shredded cheese down center of each tortilla.
Add a quarter of the beef mixture on top of the cheese and top with burger toppings of your choice.
Roll up tortilla burrito-style and place wraps on preheated indoor grill (I used my Cuisanart Griddler until the tortilla is browned.

Blue Cheese Macaroni & Cheese with Chicken & Broccoli

Hearty and delicious, this macaroni & cheese dish had just a little tangy surprise with the addition of blue cheese to the mix.  The husband and I love blue cheese so it was no surprise that we devoured this for dinner and excitedly ate the leftovers for lunch the following day.


Blue Cheese Macaroni & Cheese with Chicken & Broccoli
(adapted from The District Domestic)

1 pound penne pasta
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups whole milk
1 cup whipping cream
3 cups cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups blue cheese, crumbled
2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
2 heads of broccoli, blanched and shopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13×9 baking pan.

Cook pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water until tender, but still al dente. Drain and leave in strainer until the sauce is ready.

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add flour to make a roux and stir constantly to let the flour cook, but not burn.

Gradually whisk in milk and cream. Simmer until mixture thickens, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and add grated cheddar cheese (reserving 1/2 cup for sprinkling on top before baking) and crumbled blue cheese. Whisk until cheese melts, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add cooked pasta, chicken, and broccoli to sauce, stir to coat. Transfer mixture to prepare baking pan and sprinkle with remaining cheddar cheese. Bake until golden brown on top (sauce will begin to be bubbling), about 25 minutes.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pumpkin Streusel Bread with Brown Sugar Glaze

Three words to describe this recipe are as follows:
1) Yum
2) Yummy
3) Yummiest

I found this recipe while perusing my addiction (aka: Pinterest) and knew it would be the perfect fall wonder to send off to my secret baking exchange recipient.  Before I share the recipe with you I want to let you in on a little secret... the deliciousness you see before you was made with the use of a boxed yellow cake.  And trust me, unless you tell people that is how it's made, they'd be none the wiser because it is an incredibly moist and delicious cake.

This recipe is set up to be a coffee cake sort of thing, being made in a 9x13 pan.  But since I didn't want to ship a 9x13 pan, I decided to make it in a loaf pan, which will make for easier shipping.

And that, my friends, the only real adaption I made to this recipe  A bonus to making this recipe as a bread versus coffee cake - it makes two loaves :) You can choose to gift one to a friend and I'd encourage doing so unless you want to eat both of them by yourself.

This bread is quite delicious but I wish I had added some chopped pecans to the streusel topping - I think that would really make this recipe quite perfect.  Guess I'll just have to make it again.  Aw shucks... ;)


Pumpkin Streusel Bread with Brown Sugar Glaze
(adapted from Pretty. Good. Food.)

1/3 cups water
15 oz can pureed pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
2 whole eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 teaspoons Pumpkin Pie Spice
1 box yellow cake mix
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup brown sugar, divided
1/2 cups flour
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cups heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl mix together the water, pumpkin, eggs, 1 tbsp of vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice until well combined. Add the cake mix and baking soda and mix until combined.

Prepare two loaf pans by spraying with cooking spray (I like the one made specifically for baking - it has flour in it to help remove the baked good from the pan after) and pour half of mixture into each.

In a small bowl mix together 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour and melted butter. Use your fingers to sprinkle over the top of the cake. Bake at 350 for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

For the glaze, combine the other 1/2 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and heavy cream in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir until all sugar is dissolved.

When cake is finished baking, poke holes in the top with a toothpick. Pour glaze over the cake, making sure to cover all surfaces. Serve cake warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Taco Noodle Bake

Going for a walk together with the kids, running down to borrow sugar, a quick wave of the hand in the morning, and swapping recipes are all perks of having awesome neighbors.  Our amazing friend, neighbor and Paige's god-mom, Melissa, shared this recipe with us that is a twist on the traditional tacos.

So wait... we're combining pasta and tacos?  I knew we had to try it.

I'm a taco feign and cannot get enough of all things Mexican so I was excited when this recipe turned out to be just as tasty as Melissa promised.

Per usual, I made some adjustments to the original recipe in regards to spices and the amount of meat added.  What we ended up with was a hearty dish that both Jim and I devoured.


Taco Noodle Bake
(adapted from Taste of Home)

12 ounces egg noodles
1 pound ground turkey or beef
1-8 ounce can tomato sauce
3/4 cup water
1-4 ounce can chopped green chilies
1 envelope taco seasoning
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup taco sauce
sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, black olives for garnish

Cook noodles according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, cook the meat over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, green chilies, taco seasoning, onion powder, cayenne pepper and garlic powder. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Drain noodles; place in an 11-in. x 7-in. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spread the meat mixture over the top. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
Spread taco sauce over top of the cheese. Top with sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, black olives.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Reese's Pieces Cheesecake Brownies

Yes - you read that title correctly.  And yes, you are salivating on your keyboard.

These hybrid brownie-cheesecake thingys are decadent and rich and totally diet busting.  But they're oh so worth it.  I spotted this recipe on, you guess it, Pinterest, and knew I had to find an excuse to make them.

My excuse - a Sunday afternoon and a baby who graced me with a 2 hour nap.  Perfect!

They take a little bit of time as the layers firm up but they are really super easy to make.  So easy that I may have to make them again in the future (darn!).


Reese's Pieces Cheesecake Brownies
(adapted from Pip & Ebby)

1 - 19.5-oz. box chocolate fudge brownie mix
1-  8-oz. package cream cheese, softened
1 - 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup creamy peanut butter
12 oz. Reese’s Pieces candy
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly coat a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
Prepare the brownie mix according to package directions. Spread the batter in pan and set aside. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with hand-held mixer until fluffy. Add condensed milk and peanut butter and beat until smooth. Spoon the mixture over the batter. Spread evenly.
Sprinkle Reese's Pieces candies over the cheesecake layer.
Bake for 40 minutes or until cheesecake layer is set and edges are golden brown. Cool for 30 minutes and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips and cream together, stirring constantly.
Spread over cheesecake layer.
Allow top chocolate layer to harden before slicing. Store covered in the refrigerator.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili

I just realized that all three recipes I've blogged as of late have been eaten in a bowl - Ha! If I'm being honest, we try and use our bowls as much as possible because our dishwasher is freakishly small on the bottom so my lovely and oversized Dansk dinnerware does not fit without a struggle. Insert sad face here.

Anywho... I'm a big fan of any recipe that calls for you to dump all the contents into your crock pot, turn it on, and devour it 8 hours later.  I spied this chili recipe on a friends Pinterest page and knew I had to toss it into my crockpot and see how it turned out.

The husband and I were both super pleased with the results.  I played with the spices/ ingredients that were included in the original recipe and what I ended up with was a smokey and spicy in the back of your throat kind of chili.  The chunks of sweet potato were a nice sweet bite without being sugary sweet. I served it with Garlic Naan from Trader Joe's (OMG - if you haven't tried this, do it now.  Seriously.  Stop what you're doing and go buy a pack!) and it was the perfect accompaniment to this chili.


Slow Cooker Sweet Potato Chili
(adapted from Can You Stay For Dinner?)

28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
14 ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1” pieces
3 cloves garlic, minced
15 ounce can kidney beans, drained
15 ounce can black beans, drained
1 cup of water
1 lb ground beef sirloin, browned

Combine all ingredients in the base of your slow cooker and stir to mix well. Cook on low for 10 hours.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Cheese Tortellini with Tomatoes, Corn, Avocados, and Grilled Prawns

With summer rapidly coming to a close, I knew I needed to take advantage of the fresh produce and light flavors that exist in the summertime.  This recipe caught my eye on a friends blog and I knew it would be something that would be the perfect dish that could be served either hot or cold and I was pleasantly surprised that it tasted quite lovely either way; we ate it hot one night for dinner and cold the next day for leftover lunches - a win win!

I used some culinary inspiration and decided to add some fresh chopped avocados and grilled prawns to round out the dish.  My husband is anti-vegetarian meals so the simple addition of grilled prawns convinced him this dish was a-ok.


Cheese Tortellini with Tomatoes, Corn, Avocados, and Grilled Prawns
(adapted from TasteofHome)

2 - 9oz packages of refrigerated tortellini
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
3 Tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice (juice of 1 lemon)
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups of any type of tomatoes, chopped
1 cup fresh corn kernels
1/2 cup sliced scallions
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 lb prawns, grilled
1/2 cup coarsely chopped basil
salt and pepper to taste

Cook tortellini according to package directions.
In a food processor, pulse together olive oil, cheese, lemon juice, garlic, Worcestershire, and salt. Toss vinaigrette with tomatoes, corn, scallions.
Once tortellini is done, drain and add to the veggie mixture.
Top with chopped basil, chopped avocado, and grilled prawns.

Ziti with Portobello Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese, and Sausage

Having a new baby means that my time spent in the kitchen has been drastically cut down for the most part. Luckily for me, I have a husband who is more than willing to take over the bedtime routine so I can get my cooking groove back.

During the week I've been keeping things pretty simple but this past week I decided to spice it up and make this recipe I found on Pinterest from one of my favorite magazines, Food & Wine. This recipe jumped out at me because let's face it, anything with goat cheese, caramelized onions, and portobello mushrooms has to be delicious.

 Let me assure you - it was delicious and then some. The pasta is creamy and tangy with the caramelized onions adding just enough sweetness to balance it. The mushrooms add earthiness to the pasta and with my addition of Italian sausage and a quick deglaze of white wine, it was a perfectly hearty meal. Sure you could leave out the sausage but if a meal doesn't have meat in it, my husband gets a week bit cranky ;)


Ziti with Portobello Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, Goat Cheese, and Sausage 
(adapted from Food & Wine)

1 lb sausage, cooked & sliced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound portobello mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1 pound ziti
4 ounces soft goat cheese
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

In a large frying pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderate heat. Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are well browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from the pan.

In the same pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms, white wine, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and brown and the wine has cooked off. Add the reserved onions, the parsley, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper. 

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the ziti until just done, about 13 minutes. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water and drain. Toss the ziti and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water with the mushroom mixture, the goat cheese, and the Parmesan. Add the cooked sausage to the pasta. If the pasta seems dry, add more of the reserved pasta water. Serve with additional Parmesan.