Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Lemon Butter Salmon with Creamy Barley, Zucchini, and Spinach (30 minute meal!)

A beautiful spring meal, done in just 30 minutes! Pan seared salmon is served with creamy barley that's loaded with green veggies. 

I think we sometimes reach for the same stuff all the time - I know rice or pasta are my usual go-to starches and we eat more chicken than I wish to admit! I think that's why this barley and fish dish immediately caught my eye. Fish always cooks up fast, making it the perfect weeknight meal, and thanks to quick cooking barley, the entire dish finishes in less than 30 minutes!

Thanks to my favorite herb, dill, and a healthy amount of butter, this meal is flavorful and delicious. The buttery salmon is perfect alongside the creamy barley and veggies.

Barley is a grain that is a bit chewy, a bit nutty, and a lot tasty ;) I always forget about it! If you haven't made it outside of a soup, you should try it!

 Lemon Butter Salmon with Creamy Barley, Zucchini, and Spinach
1 lb skin-on salmon fillets
1 cup quick cooking barley
6 ounce bag baby spinach
2 medium zucchini, small diced
the zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup fresh dill, stems removed
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sour cream

Bring 2 cups of water to a boil; once boiling, add the barley and a dash of salt. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 10-12 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the spinach and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes or until the spinach has wilted. Transfer the mixture to a mesh strainer placed over a bowl. Using the back of a wooden spoon, press the spinach mixture to release the liquid. Squeeze out as much liquid as possible (discard the liquid). Finely chop the spinach and set aside.

In the same pan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the diced zucchini and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4-5 minutes or until lightly browned and softened. Transfer to a bowl and wipe out the pan.

Pat the salmon fillets dry and season with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat 4 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, Add the fillets, skin side down. Cook 2-3 minutes or until browned. Carefully flip and add the butter to the pan. As the butter melts, start spooning the butter over the fillets. Cook 1-2 minutes or until flaky. Remove from pan; stir in half of the lemon juice to the remaining butter in the pan.

To the pot of cooked barley, stir in the sour cream, chopped spinach, cooked zucchini, half of the dill, and the remaining lemon juice. Drizzle with some olive oil, mix well, and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the salmon over top of the barley mixture, spooning lemon butter sauce from the pan over top. Garnish with additional dill.

Source: adapted from Blue Apron

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Pork Tenderloin with Shredded Brussels Sprouts

A quick and healthy meal! Tender pork is topped with a homemade mushroom sauce and served alongside flavorful Brussels sprouts. Main dish + side dish can all be done in around 30 minutes!

I've been working to include more pork in our meal plan - we always gravitate straight to chicken! While I don't love all pork, I adore pork tenderloin. It's always so lean, flavorful, and tender. The fact that I can cook it so quickly doesn't hurt either! Quick weeknight meals are my jam. :)

In this recipe, your pork roasts while the sprouts cook; while the pork rests, you whip up a super fast mushroom sauce that is perfect drizzled over the pork. Start to finish, you can do it in 30 minutes once the oven preheats.

You could toss a carb on your menu to round it out but we found it to be just perfect for a weeknight dinner!

Pork Tenderloin with Shredded Brussels Sprouts
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 large pork tenderloin (about 1.5 pounds)
8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 9-ounce bags shredded Brussels sprouts (see note)
1.5 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
Zest of 1/2 lemon, grated
1/2 cup heavy cream
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 450. Mix the cumin, paprika, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper in a small bowl. Rub the pork tenderloin with olive oil then coat with the seasoning mix. Place in a large, ovenproof skillet (such as castiron) and place in the oven.

Roast for 15 minutes, flip the meat and scatter the mushrooms around the pork, and continue roasting until the pork is browned and a thermometer reads 145 degrees F (about 10 more minutes).

Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until browned and fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the Brussels sprouts, 1 cup chicken broth, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook until the sprouts are wilted, about 10 minutes. Stir in the dill and lemon zest; cover and keep warm.

Once the pork is done, transfer it to a cutting board. Place the skillet with the mushrooms over medium heat. Add the remaining 1/2 cup chicken broth and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil then add the heavy cream. Return to a boil then immediately remove from the heat.

Slice the pork and top it with the  mushroom sauce. Serve alongside the Brussels sprouts.

Note: if you can't find shredded Brussels sprouts, look for a blend instead that may also include shredded broccoli, kale, etc.

Source: adapted from Food Network Magazine

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

German Chocolate Cake

The best recipe for a scratch-made German chocolate cake that you'll ever make! The boxed stuff can't even compare - this version is rich, moist, and incredibly decadent.

Six months ago, my dad came to visit us and I wanted to surprise him with his favorite dessert. I am not a baker but I really wanted to attempt a scratch-made version. So, I went in search of a German Chocolate Cake I thought I could handle. Handle is probably an overstatement; like I said, I am not a baker. However, I worked on this cake over the span of 2 days and while there may have been tears shed, I was so darn proud of how it turned out.

Thankfully it not only looked pretty, it tasted fantastic. I'm not even a huge German Chocolate Cake fan and this was one of the best cakes I've ever tasted. It's incredibly rich, super moist thanks to the run syrup, and so decadent.

To say he loved it would be the understatement of the century! He was only here for 4 days but did his best to finish it off (it's a BIG cake!). I took one for the team and helped him out :)

Don't look too closely at my frosting technique - I don't own an icing spatula and ended up using a butcher knife! Not as pretty but still tasty :)

German Chocolate Cake
For the cake:
2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons water
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup + 1/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the filling:
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
1 1/3 cups sweetened coconut, toasted

For the syrup:
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons dark rum

For the icing:
8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream

To make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter two 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set aside.

Combine both chocolates and the water in a microwave safe mixing bowl and microwave, stirring often, until melted and smooth. Use very short bursts so you don't burn the chocolate. Set aside and let come to room temp.

In a medium mixing bowl, beat the egg whites on high until they form soft droopy peaks. Slowly add in 1/4 cup of the sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and 1 1/4 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the melted chocolate, then the egg yolks one at a time, scraping the bowl as needed to fully incorporate.

In another large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. 

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix on low until incorporated. Mix in the buttermilk and vanilla extract until combined. Use a rubber spatula and gently fold in 1/3 of the egg whites; once combined, add the remaining egg whites until just combined.

Divide the batter into the 2 prepared pans, smooth the tops, and bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans for 10 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

While the cakes cool, make the rum syrup:
Combine the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in the rum. Set aside.

Next, make the filling:
In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, sugar, and egg yolks. Place the butter, pecans, and coconut in a large mixing bowl and set aside. 

Heat the cream mixture over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly (and scraping the bottom) until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spoon. An instant read thermometer should read 170 degrees.  

Immediately pour the hot custard over the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool completely to room temperature. It will thicken as it cools; however, if your coconut was not packed tight, you may need to stir in additional coconut to help thicken it up even more.

To make the icing:
Place the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and 1 ½ ounces of butter.
In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Transfer to the fridge until firm enough to decorate. I made my icing the night before and it was firm enough the next day. 
To assemble the cake: 
Cut the two cake layers in half horizontally, using a serrated bread knife. Set the first cake layer on a cake plate, cut side up. Liberally brush well with syrup. Spread ¾ cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer, making sure to reach to the edges. Set another cake layer on top. Repeat, using the syrup to liberally brush each cake layer, then spreading ¾ cup of the coconut filling over each layer, including the top.
Ice the sides with the chocolate icing, then pipe a decorative border of chocolate icing around the top, encircling the coconut topping.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Maryland Crab Cakes

A simply delicious authentic crab cake recipe! Thanks to light seasonings and just enough filler to hold things together, the flavor of the sweet crab shines through. This is an easy weeknight meal!

Last summer, I hosted a kids cooking camp that focused on a different region of the country each day. When we focused on the north east, I knew crab cakes had to be on the menu. Thankfully, they are so simple to make that the kids easily mastered the recipe. They loved these crab cakes!

I love crab cakes but often find that when I order them in a restaurant, they are stuffed full of fillers and you can hardly taste the crab. Not so with this recipe! There is just enough filler to hold it together, and just enough seasoning added to enhance the crab meat, and the rest is all crab.

We served these on their own but you could make crab cake sliders, place one on an arugula salad, or even make crab cake eggs Benedict (my favorite!).

Chilling the mixture before shaping is a must - don't miss this step or your cakes will fall apart.

Maryland Crab Cakes
1 lb jumbo lump or backfin lump crabmeat, fresh or pasteurized
1 large egg
1/4 cup mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip)
1.5 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1-1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs from soft white sandwich bread (just pulse in food processor)
1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt
Lemon wedges for serving
Drain the crabmeat, if necessary, and pick through it for shells. Place in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, mayonnaise, mustard, Old Bay seasoning, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Scrape the mixture over the crab and mix gently until well combined. Gently break up the lumps with your fingers but do not overmix.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs and the parsley over the mixture, and mix them in thoroughly but gently - it should be somewhat loose. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours.

Once well chilled, shape the crab mixture into 8 cakes about 1 inch thick. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the butter and the olive oil over medium heat. When the butter is frothy, add the cakes to the pan. Cook until dark golden brown on the underside, about 4 minutes. Flip the cakes, reduce the heat to medium low, and continue cooking until the other side is well browned, 4 to 5 minutes.

Serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over the cakes.

Source: slightly adapted from Fine Cooking

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Chicken and Dumplings (one pot and 30 minute meal!)

Comfort food made easy! This one pot hearty chicken and vegetable stew is topped with tender biscuits and done in a flash. Family friendly and perfect for busy weeknights!

While Charlotte has seen some warm days here lately, I know many of you are dealing with snow and cold still! Cold = comfort food and this is a winner!

Many of us love the depth and flavor that comfort food brings but don't have the time to always cook them the traditional way. On a typical weeknight, I need a shortcut version ;) Thanks to a store-bought rotisserie chicken, a carton of chicken stock, and drop biscuits, you can still have a flavorful comfort food dish for dinner any night of the week. All done in one pot!

One of the best things about this recipe is that you can easily adjust it, both by adding in veggies you have on hand or switching out the seasonings and herbs to match your family's preference and what you have readily available.  

Stay warm, friends!

Chicken and Dumplings
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
2 tablespoons flour
1 quart chicken stock
1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled off and set aside
1 cup frozen corn

2 cups baking mix, such as Bisquick
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup minced flat leaf parsley

salt and pepper, to taste

Drizzle the oil in a large Dutch oven and place over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the butter, potatoes, carrots, onion, celery, and bay leaf. Cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to coat. Cook 2 minutes and then stir in the stock. Bring to a boil and stir in the shredded chicken and frozen corn.

In a medium bowl, stir together the baking mix, milk, and parsley until well combined. Drop tablespoonfuls of the dough into the pot, spacing them evenly. Cover the pot with a lid, reduce heat to medium-low, and steam the dumplings 8-10 minutes. Remove cover and gently stir to thicken the sauce slightly. Remove from and heat and serve.

Source: adapted from Rachael Ray

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Bacon, Spinach, and Cheddar Quiche

A simple quiche loaded with crispy bacon, spinach, and lots of cheese! Thanks to a storebought crust, this quiche is easy to toss together.

Several years ago, the Charlotte area had a snow/ice incident that kept us trapped in the house for a few days. Because our house is on a hill, and the driveway was solid ice, we weren't going anywhere (safely). Unfortunately, I balked at the weather reports/overreactions and didn't pick up a single thing at the grocery store... which resulted in us eating buttered noodles for Valentine's Day dinner. Memories, right??

So this year, when they hyped up our snowstorm and said to expect significant snowfall, I hit the store like every good southerner. Since I was going to (potentially) be home several days in a row, a quiche for breakfast made it to the menu. Originally, I was going to stick with spinach and cheese but then my husband fried up some bacon and it jumped right into my quiche. It ended up being one of my favorite quiche combinations ever!

This quiche is cheesy, smoky, and loaded with flavors. The spinach and bacon almost serve as a double crust with the delicate egg layer on top - it's so good !

Oh - that significant snowstorm? We barely got a dusting ;)

Note: be careful to squeeze the heck out of that frozen spinach! You want it as dry as possible so your quiche isn't watery.

 Bacon, Spinach, and Cheddar Quiche
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
5 slices bacon, cooked until crispy and crumbled
4 large eggs
1 cup half and half or milk
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Roll out crust and place in a 9-inch pie pan; bake for 8 minutes.

After the crust has baked 8 minutes, remove it from the oven and layer the spinach in the bottom. Top with the crumbled bacon followed by the cheese.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk/half & half, salt, and pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the top.

Bake for 45 minutes or until set in the middle. If the crust begins to brown too quickly, cover the edges with strips of foil.

Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Monte Cristo Poppers

Crispy dough balls are stuffed with turkey, ham, Swiss cheese, cheddar cheese, then sprinkled with powdered sugar, and dunked in raspberry preserves. All the greatness of a Monte Cristo sandwich in a snack size!

We always end up at a Super Bowl party (though I belong more with the we're-just-here-for-the-food folks!) and I am already thinking about what tasty snacks I'll be bringing. My husband is a huge Dallas Cowboys fan and though they had a great season, unfortunately we won't be rooting them on the first Sunday in February. On the upside, that means the game won't be near as stressful to watch this year! I've gotten in the habit of bringing these poppers to Super Bowl parties. They usually aren't similar to any other dish brought and they disappear in a flash!

Making them is easy but does take a bit of time. You're frying them (I never said they were healthy!) and since they cook quickly, I find it easier to go ahead and prep them all and then fry them in batches. Trying to stuff some while frying others has not gone over well for me in the past. The dough will stretch quite well so keep stuffing until you can't stuff anymore!

Note: unless you need a full pound of meat/cheese, let the deli counter just sell you the 1/2 lb - plus you can have them cut it very thin!

 Monte Cristo Poppers
1 8-count package of flaky biscuits
1/2 lb deli ham, thinly sliced
1/2 lb deli turkey, thinly sliced
1/2 lb Swiss cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 lb cheddar cheese, thinly sliced
powdered sugar, for dusting
raspberry preserves, for serving
vegetable oil, for frying

Using the palm of your hand, flatten out a biscuit and then cut it into 4 pieces. Flatten each piece into a small circle. Repeat with remaining biscuits until you have 32 pieces.

Stack a few slices of both meats and both cheeses and tightly roll it together. Cut the roll into smaller pieces and place each piece in the center of a dough circle. Wrap the dough around the rolled up meat/cheese until it's completely sealed. Repeat with the remaining ingredients until all 32 pieces are stuffed and sealed.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, add enough oil for it to be around 2 inches deep. Heat to 350 degrees and then add the poppers, a few at a time, and fry until they are browned all over. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Repeat until all poppers are fried.

Serve warm with raspberry preserves for dipping.

Source: adapted from Oh Bite It

To help prepare for your Super Bowl parties, I've teamed up with my football blogger friends for one final collaboration to bring you some brilliant game day recipe ideas! We've made appetizers, entrees, desserts, and even drinks!

Note: This post is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by the National Football League (NFL) or any of its teams. All opinions and views expressed on our blogs are our own, not that of the NFL and/or any of its 32 teams. Any team names, logos, or other symbols referenced are properties of their respective organizations. We are just big fans - and we want to share our love for our teams, the game, and the food that brings us all together on game day.

Classic Potato Salad by Celebrating Family
Chili Cheese Burritos by Love Bakes Good Cakes
Fruit Spring Rolls with Key Lime Cheesecake Dip by Body Rebooted
Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Sliders by Dash of Herbs
Mediterranean Seven Layer Dip by The Culinary Compass
Chicks in a Blanket with Apricot Sauce by Mom's Messy Miracles
Jalapeno Pale Ale Chili by Beer Girl Cooks
Jalapeno Popper Pull Apart Bread by The Life Jolie
Sausage Pepperoni Pizza Dip by Feast + West
Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls by Family Food on the Table
Mini Bacon Ranch Cheese Balls by Honey & Birch
Cookie Dough Cheese Ball by Bread Booze Bacon
Hawaiian Pizza Jalapeno Poppers by Love & Flour
Meatloaf Sliders by Foodtastic Mom
Wonton Taco Cups by A Mind Full Mom
Pancetta and Smoked Mozzarella Arancini by The Secret Ingredient Is
Bean and Cheese Taco Bites by The BakerMama
Monte Cristo Poppers by See Aimee Cook
Chile Beer Sangria by Cake 'n Knife
Low Carb Stuffed Crust Pizza by Sustaining the Powers
Puff Pastry Pizza Bites by The Mexitalian
No Churn Pistachio Baklava Ice Cream by Club Narwhal
Roasted Jalapeno Poppers by Off the Eaten Path
Buffalo Cauliflower Mac and Cheese by Hello Little Home
Jalapeno Popper Chicken Wings by Around My Family Table
Gluten Free Bread Sticks by What A Girl Eats
Cheesy Beef Dip by Polka Dotted Blue Jay
Buffalo Chicken Deviled Eggs by The Crumby Cupcake
Greek Meatballs by Two Places at Once
Baked Taco Empanadas by Simplify, Live, Love
Cheese Sticks by Coffee Love Travel
Bacon Wrapped Blue Cheese Meatballs by West via Midwest
Puff Pastry Bacon Pizza Twists by 2 Cookin Mamas
Skillet Chicken Queso Dip by foodbyjonister
Spicy Sausage Rolls by Peanut Blossom
Protein Dark Chocolate Truffles by The Creative Bite
Chickpea Pepper Cheese Poppers by Bucket List Tummy
Maple Cranberry Apple Sangria by Order in the Kitchen
Meyer Lemon Shandies by The Speckled Palate
Game Day Fried Deviled Eggs with Chow Chow Relish by For the Love of Food
Buffalo Chicken Eggrolls by Simple and Savory
Pimento Mac and Cheese Squares by Lauren's Kitchen
Pastrami Nachos by A Little Gathering
Shrimp Ceviche Dip by Glisten and Grace
Football Bourbon Balls + Boozy Lemonade by Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Apple Cider Mimosas With A Sparkly Sugar Rim by And She Cooks
Pulled Pork Stuffed Corn Dogs by Nik Snacks
Easy Pepperoni Rolls by Me and My Pink Mixer
Real Boneless Chicken Wings by Macheesmo
Califlower Tater Tots by Living Well Kitchen
Cheeseburger Naan Pizza by Shaws Simple Swaps
Red Velvet Ginger Rum Balls by Cafe Terra
Crab Rangoon by Brunch-n-Bites
Sweet n' Spicy BBQ Popcorn by Life's Ambrosia
Buffalo Chicken Rolls by Loves Food, Loves to Eat
Crowd Pleasing Steak Fajita Dip by Lizzy is Dizzy
Sriracha Hummus Pinwheel Sandwiches by Casa de Crews
Simlple Meatball Sub Sliders by Loaves & Dishes
Maple-Mustard Bacon Chicken Bites by An Oregon Cottage
Soft Pretzels with Beer Cheese & Honey Mustard Dipping Sauces by A Simpler Grace
Ricotta Stuffed Sausage Meatballs by A Joyfully Mad Kitchen

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Skillet Lasagna (30 minute meal!)

All the deliciousness of a traditional lasagna - but in one pan and just 30 minutes! This family friendly pasta will soon become part of your regular dinner rotation.

I first blogged this recipe over 4 years ago, right after we moved into our new home here in Charlotte and were trying to get settled after a whirlwind summer. It may have actually been the first dinner I cooked here! Since then, we've had it occasionally when I needed something flavorful and easy to get on the table. It's so good and was deserving of a better photo!

You quickly saute onions and seasonings before adding ground beef to brown. Once browned, stir in dried pasta and canned tomatoes, cover, and let cook until the pasta is tender. Add three kinds of cheese, broil until browned and gooey, and serve. So easy!

One pan, 30 minutes, delish!

Skillet Lasagna 
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
pinch red pepper flakes
3/4 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1 lb ground beef
10 (curly-edged) lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces
3 (14.5 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
3 Tbs chopped fresh basil
Heat the oil in a 12-inch oven safe skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring often, until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, pepper flakes, and Italian seasoning and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add the ground beef to the skillet. Cook, stirring often and using a wooden spoon to break up the meat, about 3 to 5 minutes, or until it's no longer pink.

Scatter the pasta in the skillet, then pour the tomatoes over the top. Stir, increase the heat to medium-high, and cover. Cook at a vigorous simmer, stirring often, until the pasta is tender, 20 minutes (stirring often is important!).

Meanwhile, preheat the broiler.

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in half the mozzarella, half the Parmesan, and 1/4 cup of the ricotta. Dot the remaining ricotta over the noodles in tablespoons, then sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.

Transfer to the oven and broil until the cheese melts and is starting to brown. Remove from oven, sprinkle with basil, and serve.

Source: adapted from Pink Parsley

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Green Bean Casserole (from scratch!)

Scratch made green bean casserole is easy to make and loads tastier than the canned version! This green bean casserole is the BEST version I've ever made!

Y'all. I could eat this for dinner, all by itself, straight from the pan. I adore green bean casserole - it's by far my favorite holiday side dish. And yes, I know, it traditionally shows up about once a year, right next to the turkey and stuffing, but I don't see why you have to wait all year to enjoy the deliciousness that is green bean casserole. Especially when it's so easy! This version is heaps healthier and SO much tastier than a canned version.

Cooking up comfort food these cold, winter days? This would be perfect alongside a roast chicken, pork tenderloin, or pork roast.

Green Bean Casserole
1.5 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed and longer beans snapped in half
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 large portabello mushroom caps, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup half & half
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
6 ounces french fried onions
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and boil for 5 minutes. Drain into a colander and then plunge into a large bowl of ice water (this stops the cooking process). Drain and set aside.

In a large cast iron skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften, around 4-5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper, and continue cooking another 2 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour over top, stir to combine, and cook 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and whisk to combine. Add the half & half and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture thickens, around 6-8 minutes.

Remove from heat and carefully stir in drained green beans until well combined. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over top followed by french fried onions.

Bake until bubbly, around 20 minutes. If your onions begin to burn, simply cover the pan with foil.

Source: adapted from The Novice Chef

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Bacon and Chipotle Corn Pudding

A delicious twist on the traditional corn pudding! Thanks to bacon and chipotle chiles, this version is smoky and just a tad spicy. Plus cheese! Lots and lots of cheese! The best part? It's all made in one pan!

I was so disappointed yesterday when I woke to.... rain. The meteorologists seemed certain we'd see substantial snow but of course, mother nature had a different idea. We finally did get a pretty coating of the white stuff but certainly nothing impressive. The upside is that we planned to stay in all weekend so my kitchen was overstocked with goodies and I've been cranking out tasty things to nosh on. Plus we have zipped through our Netflix watch list!

If you're also in the south, and were lucky enough to get a thick layer of snow this weekend, please enjoy it for me!

Meanwhile, I'll be over here drowning my disappointment in this corn pudding. While corn pudding often shows up at BBQ's, I think it's perfectly fitting as a cold weather comfort food. Especially this version, with bacon and chipotle! It's super simple to throw together in your cast iron skillet and has such a delicious smoky flavor. Did I mention the cheese?

We had this alongside ribs but have also made it as an addition to our Thanksgiving table. It goes with a huge variety of "main" dishes making it incredibly versatile.

Kitchen tip: after using the 2 chipotle chiles, divide the remaining chiles (and sauce) into ice cube trays. Freeze, then pop into a freezer bag. You'll never have to toss a mostly full can of chiles again!

Bacon & Chipotle Corn Pudding
5 slices of bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
2 chipotle chiles in adobo (from a can), minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
Salt, to taste
3 eggs
1 cup half & half
2 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a large cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, fry the bacon until crispy. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease left in the pan.

Add the corn and chipotle chiles to the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the corn is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Remove from heat and stir in the cumin, nutmeg, cornmeal, and baking powder. Add salt to taste.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, half & half, and cooked bacon. Pour over the corn and stir until well blended. Top with cheese and bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the pudding is set.

Before serving, pour the lime juice over top. Serve warm.

Source: slightly adapted from The Homesick Texan's Family Table

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Yippee Casserole

Ground beef, au gratin potatoes, corn, and loads of cheese mean this easy casserole will soon be a family favorite!

This recipe is actually from my husband - and it's one of his favorite meals! Years ago, when he was in college, he came across the recipe in a magazine. The tagline on the recipe was something like "your kids will go yippee for dinner!" and the recipe became known as "yippee casserole" from then on.

Though some food snobs might turn their nose up to the use of processed foods, it really is tasty and great to have on hand for those busy nights when you just need to get dinner on the table. Unfortunately, it's not the most photogenic of dishes, either!

I like to throw a big dollop of sour cream on top but it's certainly optional.

Yippee Casserole
1 box au gratin potatoes
2 and 1/4 cup boiling water
1 cup frozen corn
2/3 cup milk
1/2 pound lean ground beef, browned and drained
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 400. In an ungreased 2 quart baking dish, stir together the dried potatoes, potato sauce mix, boiling water, corn, and milk. Stir in the browned beef and 3/4 cup cheese. Bake uncovered 30-35 minutes or until top is golden brown. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Serve with sour cream, if desired.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Lobster Etouffee

Cajun comfort food made easy! This creamy dish is loaded with lobster and best served over hot cooked rice. While it can be spicy, you can easily tweak the heat to your taste. This is one of our favorites - it's so flavorful!

Clearly, I am the world's worst food blogger. With my last post being back before HALLOWEEN, I missed two huge food holidays - Thanksgiving and Christmas! I was out of town two weeks in November and once I was back, it was Advent! My work seriously triples during the Advent season so blogging was put on the back burner.

Right now, Charlotte is cold and wet. Really, it's miserable. On those cold, damp days, all I want is comfort food! This lobster etouffee is perfect!

It's a very simple recipe to make so don't be intimidated. The ingredient list is longer than some of my normal recipes but it's mostly pantry staples and spices that have been beginning to be used. I used lobster, as I had some on hand I needed to use, but you could easily sub in shrimp or crawfish.

Lobster Etouffee

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup butter, plus 4 tablespoons reserved
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning or to taste
1/2 cup minced green onions, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley leaves, plus extra for garnish
3-5 dashes hot sauce or to taste
1 8-ounce jar clam juice
3 cups chicken stock or broth
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (don't drain!)
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound or 4 cups lobster meat (can substitute crawfish or shrimp)

To make the roux, melt together the butter and the oil in a large Dutch oven over low heat. Whisk the flour into the melted butter/oil and cook, whisking continuously, until the mixture becomes a caramel color and gives off a nutty aroma, about 15-20 minutes. Don't be tempted to increase the heat - leave it on low.

Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic and cook over low heat until the vegetables are limp, about 5 minutes.

Add the black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, Cajun seasoning, green onions, parsley, and hot sauce to taste. Stir until combined and then add the clam juice, chicken stock or broth, tomatoes with their juice, and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until mixture thickens.

Add the lobster meat and cook for 3-5 minutes, being careful to not overcook. Remove from heat and add the 4 tablespoons reserved butter and stir to melt.

Garnish with the green onions, parsley, and serve over steamed rice.

Source: Foodie Crush

Monday, October 24, 2016

Greek Casserole with Turkey, Rice, and Feta

This Greek inspired casserole is loaded with ground turkey, a quick cooking tomato sauce, rice, and feta. Bonus? It's healthy and weeknight friendly!

I gotta be honest.... this recipe almost never made it to the blog. Casseroles are really (really) difficult to photograph and it just wasn't that attractive (though most casseroles don't have much visual appeal!). I ultimately decided it should be shared because it's DARN TASTY.

Simply brown ground turkey and onions, simmer it in a flavorful tomato sauce until everything is delicious, then stir in cooked rice, feta, and parsley. Bake. If you can think ahead of time and cook the rice the night before, you can have this on the table even faster!

This may remind you of your favorite stuffed pepper recipe - except without the work!

Greek Casserole with Turkey, Rice, and Feta
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 lb lean ground turkey
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 cups cooked brown rice (can sub white rice)
1 cup crumbled feta cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 350 and lightly spray a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Once hot, add the chopped onion and ground turkey. Cook, breaking up the meat, until the meat is browned through and the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and cook 1 minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, bring to a boil, and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the cooked rice, 1/2 cup of the feta, and the parsley. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and top with the remaining 1/2 cup of feta.

Bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes. Serve hot. 

Source: slightly adapted from Cookin' Canuck

Monday, October 17, 2016

Kentucky Hot Brown

The Kentucky Hot Brown - an open faced sandwich of thick sliced turkey, Mornay sauce, bacon, and tomato - is famous for a reason! It's sinfully delicious and so easy to make!

Over the summer, I hosted two chef camps for kids that focused on food around the country. Each day, we created (and enjoyed!) cuisine from a different region. On our "deep south" day, one of the dishes we made were these delicious sandwiches! Kids love assembling things and since most of the recipe is assembling, they loved it. And who doesn't like a cheesy turkey sandwich?

Tip: This calls for 4 oven safe gratin dish; if you don't have one, simply place all 4 sandwiches in a baking dish that will hold them fairly tightly (so the sauce isn't too shallow once poured in). It won't be as pretty but it'll taste just as delicious!

Kentucky Hot Brown
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
2 pints heavy cream
6 ounces grated Pecorino Romano cheese
salt and pepper
4 slices hearty bread, toasted
1 lb roasted turkey, sliced thick (1/2-3/4 inch thick)
8 slices thick cut bacon, cooked until crisp and then crumbled
4 slices ripe tomato, optional
2 tablespoons minced parsley
Dash of paprika

Preheat broiler to high.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk to combine. Cook, whisking constantly, until it is pale golden brown, about 1 minute. Slowly pour in the heavy cream, whisking constantly. Bring to a simmer and then remove from heat. Whisk in the grated cheese, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place 1 slice of toast in the bottom of each gratin dish. Divide the turkey between the 4 dishes and layer it on the toast. Ladle the sauce over each sandwich, completely coating them. Place the sandwiches under the broiler until spotty brown and bubbly, about 2-3 minutes.

Add a slice of tomato on top, if using, and sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Sprinkle with parsley and paprika. Serve hot.

Source: adapted from Serious Eats

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Italian Nachos with Sausage and Chicken (Johnny Carino's Copycat)

Crispy wonton chips are topped with sweet Italian sausage, shredded chicken, olives, tomatoes, peppers, and then smothered in a creamy alfredo cheese sauce. This restaurant copycat is easy to make at home and is a crowd pleaser!

Y'all, I miss Johnny Carino's. They are nowhere to be found near me anymore! I know they are a typical chain Italian place but they had some dishes no one else had - including these nachos! For one, wonton chip > tortilla chip anyday but then that alfredo cheese sauce? Yup. Amazing.

At Johnny Carino's, you can choose chicken, sausage, or both. Obviously we go with both in our house but you could up the amount of either and eliminate the other if you'd like. I typically use shredded rotisserie chicken and, if I've just pulled some from the fridge or freezer, I warm it up in the skillet with the browned sausage.

We love these nachos and consider them a great weeknight dinner! You could easily use them as a twist on the traditional nacho bar, too, and just keep the cheese sauce warm in a small crockpot. They are so delicious!

The chips and cheese sauce cook quickly so prep your meats and toppings ahead of time so you're ready to serve as soon as the cheese is finished.

Italian Nachos (Johnny Carino's Copycat)

1 package wontons, cut on the diagonal to make triangles
1 lb ground sweet Italian sausage, browned and cooked through
1 boneless/skinless chicken breast, grilled and thinly sliced or 1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup sliced pepperoncini peppers
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup sliced jalapeno peppers
oil, for frying

For the cheese sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2.5 cups half & half
2.5 cups grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

In a Dutch oven, add about 1 inch of oil and heat over medium-high until hot enough to fry (around 350 degrees). Once ready, add a batch of sliced wontons - being careful to not overcrowd the pan - and cook about 15-20 seconds on each side, or until brown and crispy. Remove with tongs to a paper towel lined plate. Repeat until all chips are fried.

To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter over low heat in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and then sprinkle in the flour; whisk to combine. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and whisk in the half-and-half little by little. Cook until thickened, about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and add the grated Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.

Spread wonton chips on each plate then top with sausage, chicken, and desired toppings (olives, tomatoes, jalapenos, etc). Drizzle with the warm cheese sauce and serve immediately.

Source: adapted from Get Off Your Butt and Bake

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