Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Roasted butternut squash and kielbasa

A weeknight meal that roasts together in one pan might just be perfection. It's a beautiful day today and I'm making this for dinner. While I can't wait to grill again soon, quick meals like this allow me to enjoy more daylight time before prepping dinner. We love to keep Trader Joe's frozen brown rice on hand. It's clutch in these dinners where I forget I need rice until the final 10 minutes...that is a common mistake around here. I discovered this Dizzy Busy & Hungry recipe via Pinterest.

You will need:
*20 oz butternut squash, peeled and chopped into bite-sized cubes
*1 tablespoon olive oil
*1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
*12oz kielbasa, sliced into rounds
*1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced or diced

1. Preheat the oven to 400.

2. In a large bowl, coat the squash in the olive oil and garlic salt. Place coated squash onto a baking pan in a single layer. (You'll want room to add kielbasa and onion, so you might need two baking pans) Roast the squash for 20 minutes.

3. Stir the squash; add kilebasa and onion to pan. Bake for another 15 minutes. Stir again. Then cook another 5-10 minutes.

5. Serve over rice.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Blood Orange Chicken

I was so excited to find blood oranges a few weeks ago. They were even on sale! I don't usually see them at the grocery store I frequent so I scooped them up and started searching for recipes. Elly's recipe sounded perfect because it was a one pan dish and affordable as well. Dave and I both enjoyed this dinner and some leftovers for lunches. I never roast chicken thighs but I'm realizing now that I should. As long as you have the extra time to marinate and roast, these are hands-off enough to make a simple weeknight meal. We aren't usually home until late during the week so this was a better weekend option for us. You could also use any orange, but I highly recommend you try to find the blood orange variety.

For the chicken, you will need:
*1 teaspoon blood orange zest

*1/4 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
*2 tablespoons olive oil
*
3 cloves garlic, minced
*
2 tablespoons cilantro

*1 jalapeño, chopped and seeded (can keep seeds for a bit more heat)
*
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root
, grated
*1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

*3/4 teaspoon smoked hot paprika

*1.75 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

*Optional toppings for serving: sliced scallions, cilantro, and orange wedges

1. Combine the zest, juice, olive oil, garlic, cilantro, jalapeño, ginger, salt, and paprika in a blender or food processor. Pulse until pureed.

2. Combine the chicken and marinade in a large bowl, tossing the chicken pieces to be sure they are covered. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least one hour prior to cooking. (Longer is preferred for more flavor)

3. Preheat the oven to 475. Put the chicken thighs in a pan and discard the leftover marinade. Roast until for about 40 minutes, or until meat and juices are no longer pink. Serve with your desired sides and/or topping. See side suggestion below**

**I followed Elly's example and baked Yukon potatoes in with the chicken. I diced two potatoes and seasoned them with a bit of garlic powder, paprika, and pepper.  I roasted asparagus on the side, but you could also roast a veggie in with the dish by adding it in the later part of the cooking time.

Recipe originally adapted from Cook This Now by Melissa Clarke. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Recipe Swap: Breaded Pork Chops



Food is a connection to so many memories. Familiar smells, tastes, and moments. Breaded pork chops were a staple in my childhood. I remember helping with the Shake-n-Bake bag to coat the chops and eating them alongside green beans, which were one of the few veggies I liked as a kid.

Sarah at Taste of Home hosted another What's Cooking recipe swap. The blogger's choice theme was easy for me. I spotted these pork chops on Mary Ellen's blog and was already planning to try them soon. Once I was assigned her blog, the choice was made. I am terrible at not burning breaded items that I attempt to pan fry. As you can tell by the less than impressive photo, these suffered the same fate. I changed the cooking to finish in the oven to avoid charring them further. Luckily Dave and I do both enjoy a crisp dinner! When I try these again I'll definitely change up the directions to follow what I posted below. We enjoyed these chops with a side of roasted broccoli...that was clearly still cooking when I quickly snapped the above photo!

You will need:
*4 thin pork chops
*salt and pepper, to taste
*garlic powder
*3 tablespoons flour
*1 egg
*1 cup Italian bread crumbs (Italian)
*2 tablespoons vegetable oil
I don't measure when I'm seasoning, so I did not list amounts above. I lightly seasoned the chops with salt, pepper, and touch of garlic powder, and then generously seasoned the bread crumbs with garlic powder, pepper, and a touch of Italian seasoning (omitted all since It breadcrumbs) and salt.

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Season the pork chops with salt, pepper, and a touch of garlic powder.

2. Place flour in a shallow dish or bowl. Do the same with the egg and beat it with a fork. Put the breadcrumbs in a final dish/bowl.

3. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. While the oil is heating, coat the pork chops by dipping them one at a time into the flour, then egg, and lastly coat with the breadcrumbs.

4. Add breaded pork chops to the pan and cook for about 2 minutes. Flip and brown the other side for 2-3 minutes. I then moved my chops into the oven to finish cooking (until they reach 160 degrees). You can continue to pan fry if desired.

   

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Sweet and Sour Chicken

I never really think of making Chinese style dishes at home. We rarely eat Chinese food takeout. In fact, we don't really eat much takeout besides Chipotle. I discovered this dinner from Pinterest and was introduced to the blog The Recipe Critic. This dinner turned out great. It comes together quick enough for most weeknights as long as you have the extra time needed for baking. I highly recommend this meal.

You will need:
*3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
*salt and pepper, to taste
*1.5 cups cornstarch
*3 eggs, beaten
* 1/4 cup canola oil
*1/2 cup granulated sugar
*3 tablespoons ketchup
* 3 tablespoons white vinegar
*3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
*1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
*1 teaspoon garlic salt
*broccoli**, optional
*cooked rice, for serving

*added broccoli
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place the cornstarch in one bowl and the slightly beaten eggs in another. Dip chicken pieces into cornstarch then coat in egg mixture.

3. Heat canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken until browned (cooking will finish in the oven). Place the browned chicken in a 9 x 13 greased baking dish.

4. Combine sugar, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, soy sauce, and garlic salt in a mixing bowl. Pour over chicken and bake. Bake for about 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir at least once during cooking to keep the chicken coated in sauce as it bakes.
**If adding broccoli, cook the chicken for 20 minutes, then stir and add broccoli to the pan. Bake for another 20 minutes.
Serve over rice.




Thursday, February 13, 2014

Creamy Veggie Noodle Soup

This winter has called for comfort food. It's cold. We're eagerly anticipating some warm sunshine in our lives. While we await that opportunity, we turn to warm food. I am trying to keep an eye on our weekly balance to make room for some indulgences while still striving to fit in the warm weather clothing when it's removed from the frozen attic. There is hope emerging from the slight increase in daylight after work these days.

This soup is a wonderful treat for a chilly day. Using my perfect rationale, the vegetables make this cream good for you. The chicken broth balance keeps the dish from climbing too high in calories. I found this recipe on Stephanie Cooks back in the fall. We've enjoyed it many times since.

You will need:
*1 cup medium-sized pasta (we used shells), cooked and set aside
*4 tablespoons butter
*1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced
*2 ribs celery, finely diced
*2 carrots, peeled and diced
*2 garlic cloves, minced
*4 tablespoons flour
*1 cup heavy cream
*1 cup nonfat milk
*3 cups low-sodium chicken broth

*1 teaspoon salt
*1/2 teaspoon pepper
*1 teaspoon garlic powder
*1 cup baby spinach, torn or roughly chopped
*1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1. In a Dutch Oven over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic to the pan and saute until the onion is translucent. Next, stir in the flour for about a minute. Add the cream and milk. Bring to a simmer.

2. Once the simmering mixture thickens, add the chicken broth. Although time to heat and thicken again. Then add the cooked pasta, spinach, and seasonings; simmer until soup is heated through.
 
3. Serve and enjoy!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa

Now that I'm sharing this dinner, I want to eat it immediately. We love Frank's buffalo sauce in this house but go through phases of eating a lot of it and then carelessly avoiding it for awhile. It's been in the cabinet too long at the moment. This quinoa is a perfect weeknight meal and the leftovers make a great lunch. This is easily transitioned to a vegetarian option by removing the chicken and adding more broccoli. If you like things extra spicy, you can change your hot sauce preference. I once (accidentally!) made this with the Frank's extra hot. It was just too much for me, especially when reheated. I'll stick with the delicious tang of buffalo wing sauce. This recipe was a Pinterest discover from Half Baked Harvest.

You will need:
*1 cup quinoa (be sure to rinse it well before cooking)
*2 cups water
*1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
*1 cup broccoli florets
*1 cup shredded carrots
*1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles, plus more for serving
*4 green onions chopped, divided
*1/2 cup olive oil
*1/2 cup hot sauce (I recommend Frank's buffalo)
*1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1. Place quinoa and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer with the heat on low. Cook for about 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Remove cooked quinoa from heat and fluff with a fork.

2. While the quinoa is simmering, cook the chicken pieces in a skillet. While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce by combining the olive oil, hot sauce, and seasoned salt in a measuring cup. Whisk to combine. Once the chicken is almost finished, add the broccoli and about 1/4 cup of the sauce.

3. Remove the skillet from the heat once the chicken is fully cooked and the broccoli has softened to your liking. (I prefer to leave it a little crunchy) Stir in the carrots, blue cheese crumbles, cooked quinoa, and half of the scallions. Mix in sauce until the dinner is coated. I like to use most, if not all of it. Serve topped with additional blue cheese and the remaining scallions.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Crockpot Chicken Gyros

Happy New Year!
Here's a healthy, delicious, and simple crockpot recipe to kick off 2014. We've enjoyed this meal a few times. Eating this dinner brings me back to enjoying gyros while basking in the Mykonos sun a few summers ago. That vacation was a once in a lifetime opportunity for us so I like to relive it whenever possible. This is a quick version of this popular Greek dish that can cook while you're at work all day. As soon as I spotted this on Kate's Recipe Box, I knew it would be a winner in our kitchen. I immediately doubled that recipe to yield more leftovers that we could enjoy in more wraps and over salads. This reheats well, and I think it would freeze well too. I need to find a good, authentic Greek style pita option to enjoy these in. Maybe I'll have to look into making my own.

You will need:
*2 pounds chicken breasts (frozen works well here, no need to thaw)
*6 cloves garlic, minced
*
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
*1 onion, diced
*
1/2 cup water
*2 tablespoons olive oil
*4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
*2 teaspoons oregano

*1/2 teaspoon allspice
*2 teaspoons lemon pepper
*
Tzatziki sauce, tomatoes, romaine and pitas, for serving

1. Place the chicken breasts in the base of a slow cooker. Whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over chicken. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

2. Shred and serve in pitas with desired toppings.
Don't forget the tzatziki! I use Trader Joe's prepared or make my own.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Lasagna Cupcakes


Happy Holidays! I hope that everyone is enjoying time with family, friends, and good food. We've had a wonderful time celebrating and are ready to continue into the new year. I'm so thankful that I get school vacation around this time of year.  It fully allows me to enjoy a lot of time out and about, as well as time at home. I love cooking dinner when I'm not rushing around after work.

These individual lasagnas are a perfect dinner and an excellent potluck option. I first discovered this recipe in a Hungry Girl email a couple years ago. I've altered it slightly over time as we've enjoyed this meal. I decided it was finally time to photograph these and post the recipe here. This recipe makes about 12 cupcakes. Enjoy!

You will need:
*olive oil (eyeball about one tablespoon)
*1 pound ground turkey breast
*1/4 tsp. salt, divided

*1/8 tsp. black pepper

*1 cup onion
, chopped
*1/2 cup  mushrooms, chopped

*about 18oz of your favorite marinara sauce (or crushed tomatoes with garlic)
*1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning

*1 clove garlic, minced
*10-oz. spinach, chopped (I rarely use frozen spinach. We prefer to sautee fresh, but frozen could definitely work hear if thawed and squeeezed dry)
*
1 1/2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
*
1 egg
*1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
*
24 small square wonton wrappers
*1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese 



1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.



2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey and season with 1/8 tsp. salt and pepper. Cook and crumble until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add onion and mushrooms, stirring often, and cook until veggies are soft and the turkey is cooked through. 

Reduce heat to low. Add marinara sauce and Italian seasoning to the skillet. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

3. While turkey simmers, 

combine spinach, ricotta cheese, egg, nutmeg, remaining 1/8 tsp. salt, and garlic in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.

4. Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray or olive oil. Be sure the pan is well coated so that the muffins won't stick. Press a wonton wrapper into the bottom and shape up the sides of each cup of the pan. Evenly distribute about half of the spinach-ricotta mixture among the cups, smoothing the surfaces with the back of a spoon.

Next, add about half of the turkey mixture among the cups, smoothing the surfaces with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle each turkey layer with about 1 tablespoon mozzarella cheese. Place another wonton wrapper into each cup, lightly pressing it down on the cheese layer and along the sides of the cup, letting the edges fall over the pan. Repeat the layering by evenly distributing remaining spinach-ricotta mixture and turkey mixture among the cups. Top each cup with another tablespoon of mozzarella cheese.



5. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes or until cheese has melted and wrapper edges are browned. Cool slightly before removing from pan.

These are best after a few minutes out of the oven. They do reheat well for the filling, but I find that the bottom wrapper can get soggy. I usually try to make them close to serving time. We do still enjoy leftovers for lunch throughout the week when I make them for just the two of us.


Friday, December 13, 2013

Recipe Swap: Crockpot Beef and Broccoli


Sarah is hosting another What's Cooking Recipe Swap. For this swap I was assigned Simple Gourmet Cooking. I had fun browsing Dawn's blog, and it was difficult to decide which recipe to try first! I pulled Dave in to help sort through my narrowed down choices. This beef and broccoli was perfect. I love utilizing the crockpot to cook weekend dinners. We both really enjoyed this dinner and plan to repeat it again. It was the perfect amount for the two of us to enjoy dinner and lunch the next day.

You will need:
*1 cup beef broth
*1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
*1/3 cup brown sugar
*1 tablespoon sesame oil
*3 garlic cloves, minced
*1 pound stew beef or a sliced beef chuck roast
          (We can never get a roast under 3 pounds, so I used the butcher's precut stew beef)
*2 tablespoons cornstarch
*frozen broccoli florets (as many as desired-we used 16oz)
*Rice, cooked

1. Add the beef broth, soy sauce, brown sugar, sesame oil and garlic to the insert of the crockpot. Stir together to combine.

2. Place the beef in the liquid and toss gently to coat. Cook on low 4-6 hours, until beef is completely cooked, but not shredding when touched.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together 4 tablespoons of the crockpot broth mixture and the cornstarch.  Add back into the crockpot and mix well. Cook on low for an additional 30 minutes to thicken up the sauce. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, add in the broccoli to heat through.

4. Serve hot over rice.




Thursday, November 21, 2013

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes with Walnut Streusel



Thanksgiving is one week away. We are hosting yet again and I am frantically trying to get our menu put together. Every year I start saving recipes in magazines and pin many new ones with the intention to test drive them. Good intentions, but we often end up returning to favorites when we are a week out needing to make a decision. (And yup. That is happening again) These sweet potatoes worked really well last year and are worthy of a repeat. I love potatoes but tend to only make them around the holidays. With the amount of recipes I've collected, that might have to change this year. This recipe was found on Lauren's Latest.

For the potatoes, you will need:
*3 large sweet potatoes

*4 tablespoons brown sugar

*3 tablespoons butter

*pinch salt

*1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

For the streusel, you will need:
*
3 tablespoons flour
*
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

*1/4 cup chopped walnuts
*
2 tablespoons butter
*
3 tablespoons brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350. Fork the sweet potatoes to create numerous holes. a Bake for about 40 minutes, or until soft.

2. Allow cooked sweet potatoes to cool slightly. Then slice in half, scooping out the centers into a bowl, leaving about a 1/4 inch border of sweet potato with the skin. Place the potato skins back on the baking sheet.

3. In the bowl of sweet potato, stir in brown sugar, butter, salt, and cinnamon until smooth. Spoon or pipe the filling back into the potato skin shells. (We stopped at this step when prepping ahead of time. We made the streusel and warmed the potato skins shortly before serving)

4. In another small bowl, combine all ingredients for the streusel. Mix together until all the ingredients start sticking together. You might want to use a fork to help blend the butter as it warms. Top the filled sweet potatoes with the streusel. Bake 20-30 minutes. Serve warm.