Category Archives: Dinnertime

Pasta Ricotta Bake

What’s your go-to meal when you aren’t sure what to have for dinner? This is mine!
We have this every other week or so and it always comes out awesome! It requires just a few pantry staples and can be tailored to any other items you might need to use or have in your refrigerator.

This is actually a back-logged recipe I’ve been meaning to post since December! I made it when my husband’s parents were coming into town for Christmas. Due to bad weather on the way, they made the drive here a day early. I chose to make this for dinner the night they arrived. I know its always nice to have a home cooked meal after a long 12 hour day in the car of fast food and on-the-go snacks! I appreciate when we make the drive there for sure! So I was just trying to repay the hospitality!

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Grammy and Grandpa are the best! And such silly munchkins!

Anyways, back to the nitty-gritty! Here is my recipe.

Pasta Ricotta Bake

Ingredients:

Pasta
Ricotta
Cheese
Sauce

Just Kidding- but that could be the list for this meal and it would be pretty good! You can make this more complex (making your own sauce) or easier (less veggies) or vegetarian (no meat!) Its also one of those things that is easy to make early then chill in the fridge until you’re ready heat in the oven! Here’s mine for real:

  • 1 lb pasta (any kind works but I used whole wheat penne)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 TBL olive oil
  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped (can use any color really)
  • 4 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or put through garlic press
  • 1/2 package (about 4 oz) baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • 16 oz container ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups parmesan cheese, divided (could substitute mozzarella too)
  • 2 eggs

There are 3 parts to this: Meat, Pasta & Ricotta Mixture. I think its easiest to start heating the salted water for pasta then make meat and sauce. While that’s cooking, stir together the ricotta.

Directions:

Cook pasta in salted water, cooking 1-2 minutes less than box recommends. Drain as usual.
Pasta Ricotta Bake

Warm up the oil in a large dutch oven and dump in the ground beef. After it has started to brown (3-4 minutes), add the onion, mushrooms bell pepper, garlic. Cook for 8-10 minutes on medium low until onion has turned translucent and bell pepper has softened. Season with salt and pepper. Add the pasta sauce and spinach and turn on low and continue cooking for a few more minutes and all is warmed through. Add pasta and stir into sauce.

Pasta Ricotta Bake

While meat in cooking, use a large bowl to stir ricotta together. Start with ricotta and add in the eggs and lightly beat together. Season with salt and pepper and add 1/2 cup of the parmesan.

Pasta Ricotta Bake

Prepare a casserole dish (at least 9×13) by spraying with non stick cooking spray. Spread 1/2 of the meat and 1/2 of the pasta in the bottom and press firmly for an even layer. Mound in the ricotta mixture over the pasta and spread out evenly.

Pasta Ricotta BakePasta Ricotta Bake

Add on the remainder of the meat and pasta and press into the dish. Hopefully your dish is large enough to accommodate it all!

Pasta Ricotta BakePasta Ricotta Bake

Sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 cup of parmesan and cover with foil. I’ve found it helps to spray the underside of the foil and it keeps the cheese for sticking.

Pasta Ricotta Bake

Place immediately in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or if from refrigerator, for 1 hour 20 minutes.

Pasta Ricotta Bake
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10 servings
 
The easiest dish to put together, ever! And everyone always gobbles it up!
Ingredients
  • 1 lb pasta (any kind works but I used whole wheat penne)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 TBL olive oil
  • 2 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped (can use any color really)
  • 4 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or put through garlic press
  • ½ package (about 4 oz) baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 jar pasta sauce
  • 16 oz container ricotta cheese
  • 2 cups parmesan cheese, divided (could substitute mozzarella too)
  • 2 eggs
Instructions
  1. Cook pasta in salted water, cooking 1-2 minutes less than box recommends. Drain as usual.
  2. Warm up the oil in a large dutch oven and dump in the ground beef. After it has started to brown (3-4 minutes), add the onion, mushrooms bell pepper, garlic.
  3. Cook for 8-10 minutes on medium low until onion has turned translucent and bell pepper has softened. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the pasta sauce and spinach and turn on low and continue cooking for a few more minutes and all is warmed through. Add pasta and stir into sauce.
  5. While meat in cooking, use a large bowl to stir ricotta together. Start with ricotta and add in the eggs and lightly beat together. Season with salt and pepper and add ½ cup of the parmesan.
  6. Prepare a casserole dish (at least 9x13) by spraying with non stick cooking spray. Spread ½ of the meat and ½ of the pasta in the bottom and press firmly for an even layer. Mound in the ricotta mixture over the pasta and spread out evenly.
  7. Add on the remainder of the meat and pasta and press into the dish.
  8. Sprinkle with the remaining 1½ cup of parmesan and cover with foil that has been sprayed on the under side.
  9. Place immediately in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes or if from refrigerator, for 1 hour 20 minutes.
  10. Let sit 5-10 minutes before devouring.

 

Hope you enjoy as much as we do! I’d love to hear what you think of the Pasta Ricotta Bake! Please feel free to leave a comment!

Healing Chicken Soup

Healing Chicken Soup

It was a rough few days several weeks ago when our kids got sick. There are so many people getting sick or the flu or whatever contagious junk is spreading around. It’s a rough year for the sickies! I’m very glad that we are feeling back to normal!

This isn’t my typical recipe with all the before and during pictures. I had a touch of something and couldn’t get it all together. Thankfully I was feeling better shortly afterwards and thought, this might be helpful to anyone is the same situation as me!

Crock pot Chicken Soup with Rice. Its a mouthful so I’m calling it Healing Chicken Soup. Since I made it to heal my poor sick family.

I made this soup to be mild but hearty. I know everyone has a favorite chicken soup recipe but I like to make mine this way.

Healing Chicken Soup

2-3 chicken breast, preferably bone-in
salt and pepper
2 TBL olive oil
3 stalk celery, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 whole onion, chopped
48 oz chicken stock
1 bunch fresh thyme
2 cups rice
4 cups water

Start by roasting the chicken breast in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes depending on the size of chicken breast. Let cool and cut meat off bones, leaving meat as whole as possible. Bones can make more stock later on!
Place chicken, all veggies, stock, thyme and salt and pepper in crock pot on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-8.
When almost ready to eat, cook rice in water. Take chicken out of broth and shred and return to crock pot. To serve, put soup in bowl and add a scoop of rice on top. Store leftover separately and rice won’t get mushy.

Healing Chicken Soup

You end up with a simple, delicious broth soup that has lots of chicken flavor and not too salty or heavy like many canned varieties.

It was so enticing, Calvin couldn’t help himself from a carrot or two!

Healing Chicken Soup

And when I tried to run him off to finish photographing, he threw a huge tantrum!

Healing Chicken Soup

But we ate lunch and he was much better! Although I don’t have a picture to prove it! We went out side a few days later and here he is all smiles.

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Healing Chicken Soup
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2-3 chicken breast, preferably bone-in
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 TBL olive oil
  • 3 stalk celery, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 whole onion, chopped
  • 48 oz chicken stock
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 cups rice
  • 4 cups water
Instructions
  1. Start by roasting the chicken breast in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes depending on the size of chicken breast. Let cool and cut meat off bones, leaving meat as whole as possible. Bones can make more stock later on!
  2. Place chicken, all veggies, stock, thyme and salt and pepper in crock pot on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-8.
  3. When almost ready to eat, cook rice in water. Take chicken out of broth and shred and return to crock pot. To serve, put soup in bowl and add a scoop of rice on top. Store leftover separately and rice won't get mushy.

 

Hope you can keep this around whenever you need it, and I pray that’s not anytime soon!

Please let me know what you think about the Healing Chicken Soup. I love to read any and all comments!

 

Strip Steak with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

Strip Steak with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

In an effort to post more efficiently, I tried a new method: iPad photos only. I don’t think it is an “everytime” kind of method but I wanted to see if the process was streamlined at all. My dslr camera is still my preferred photo taker (imagine that!) but sometimes I would like to do something super fast and that way ain’t it! So bear with the less clear photos and know this is not the norm!

So this dinner is something that is slightly more difficult for a 3 and 1 year old to eat so the hubby and I ate this meal after the babies had already eaten. Although both of them did ask to try some bites so maybe I should have just made it for all of us!

I tried to cook and time myself to give an approximate time frame but I had to delay things since we had a later arrival home than what I originally anticipated. That being said, I would guess you could do this whole meal in 60 minutes. I will post the recipes separately to make them easier to follow but none of them really have to be babysat individually for a long length of time.

Regardless, here they are. We really love this kind of meal, colorful, flavorful and not terribly difficult.

Strip Steak Ingredients

NY strip steak with red wine reduction

2-3 Steaks, about 1/2 in. in width, a little less than 2 pounds total
1 TBL olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 TBL butter
1/2 cup red wine
2 TBL half and half

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take steaks out to rest and start their marinade. Blot dry with paper towels and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Place in plastic zip top bag and drizzle olive oil and soy sauce. Set aside to rest for 20-30 minutes.

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When ready to cook, heat on high heat, a large skillet big enough to hold all the steaks without over crowding. Place in the hot pan the steaks for 2 minutes per side, only turning once.

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Remove from heat and place on a sheet pan and finish in oven for 5-10 minutes depending on how you like your steak’s done-ness. Remove from oven and let rest uncovered for 10 minutes.

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We like a medium steak so I believe I had them in a total of 7 minutes. Use a digital thermometer to make sure the inside temperature is exact. Mine read 130 degrees and rested up to about 137. Here is a good table for temperature and done ness: http://www.thestayathomechef.com/2013/02/new-york-strip-steak-topped-with-garlic.html
While steaks are in oven, pour red wine in pan with stuck on bits, scraping up to remove bits from bottom.

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Let wine reduce by half and add half and half. Stir to incorporate. Let warm through for another minute and add butter.

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Remove from pan and serve along side of steaks

NY strip steak with red wine reduction
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2-3 Steaks, about ½ in. in width,a little less than 2 pounds total
  • 1 TBL olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 2 TBL butter
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 2 TBL half and half
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take steaks out to rest and start their marinade. Blot dry with paper towels and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Place in plastic zip top bag and drizzle olive oil and soy sauce. Set aside to rest for 20-30 minutes.
  2. When ready to cook, heat on high heat, a large skillet big enough to hold all the steaks without over crowding. Place in the hot pan the steaks for 2 minutes per side, only turning once.
  3. Remove from heat and place on a sheet pan and finish in oven for 5-10 minutes depending on how you like your steak's done-ness. Remove from oven and let rest uncovered for 10 minutes.
  4. While steaks are in oven, pour red wine in pan with stuck on bits, scraping up to remove bits from bottom.
  5. Let wine reduce by half and add half and half. Stir to incorporate. Let warm through for another minute and add butter.
  6. Remove from pan and serve along side of steaks.

 

Sweet Potato Mash with Rosemary

Sweet Potatoes (3 Large)
1/2 cup half and half
salt and pepper
3 TBL butter
1 TBL chopped fresh rosemary

Clean and peel the sweet potatoes.

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Cube into 1 inch pieces and steam for 15 minutes on stove, or until tender when pierced with a fork.

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Remove from heat and mash with half and half, butter, 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper, each and rosemary. (I usually put this in the oven to stay warm while I finish the rest of the meal.)

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Sweet Potato Mash with Rosemary
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 servings
 
Ingredients
  • Sweet Potatoes (3 Large)
  • ½ cup half and half
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 TBL butter
  • 1 TBL chopped fresh rosemary
Instructions
  1. Clean and peel the sweet potatoes.
  2. Cube into 1 inch pieces and steam for 15 minutes on stove, or until tender when pierced with a fork.
  3. Remove from heat and mash with half and half, butter, ½ tsp of salt and pepper, each and rosemary. (I usually put this in the oven to stay warm while I finish the rest of the meal.)

Sauteed Spinach with Mushrooms and Onions

(I actually adapted this recipe:
http://healthyfortwo.com/2012/01/10/quick-sauted-spinach/)

1 TBL olive oil
1 onion, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz mushrooms, sliced
1 pound baby spinach
salt and pepper

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and saute the onions and mushrooms until softened, about 6 minutes.

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Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.

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Add spinach and stir until all leaves are starting to wilt and soften.

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This should only take a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

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Sauteed Spinach with Mushrooms and Onions
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 TBL olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 pound baby spinach
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and saute the onions and mushrooms until softened, about 6 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add spinach and stir until all leaves are starting to wilt and soften.
  4. This should only take a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

The finished plate:

Steak with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

I hope if you make even one for these recipes, please feel free to leave a comment. I would love to know what you think!

Black Bean Chicken and Rice

Black Bean Chicken and Rice

I’ve been pretty neglectful of my blog the past week but its been a hectic week!

There are some great posts I have waiting for me to write! If only I could blog instead of sleep, I would get everything done I wanted! HA!

This chicken and rice dish has been in my back pocket (not literally…) since we had some good friends over for dinner after Thanksgiving. I wanted to make something that was pretty far removed from stuffing and turkey and the like. This really hit the spot with the fresh peppers and corn and creamy rice. They brought over a really delicious salad to go with and we had a great meal!

Luckily I had an excellent helper to make it more fun!

Black Bean Chicken and Rice

Black Bean Chicken and Rice

3 TBL butter
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 medium jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
1 tsp cumin
1/4 cup flour
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup half and half cream
4-5 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (2 lbs)
1 1/2 cups white rice
8 oz jack cheese, shredded (I used my food processor)
1 can black beans (15 oz), drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
2 limes, juiced
Tortilla chips, crushed to crumbs
cooking spray

Black Bean Chicken and Rice Black Bean Chicken and Rice

Melt butter in a large pot (with a lid) over medium high heat.

Black Bean Chicken and Rice

Add bell peppers, onion, jalapenos and salt. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes.

Black Bean Chicken and Rice

Stir in garlic and cumin and warm through, about 30 seconds. Add in flour and stir constantly for about 1 minute, until slightly browned.

Black Bean Chicken and Rice

Whisk in broth and cream, stirring slowly to incorporate. Black Bean Chicken and Rice

Add the chicken breast, cover and bring to a simmer.

Black Bean Chicken and Rice

Reduce heat to low and cook until chicken is cooked completely or thermometer reads 160 degrees, about 15-18 minutes.

Black Bean Chicken and Rice

Remove chicken to cool and add rice to broth mixture. Stirring often, cover rice and cook until cooked, about 22 minutes.

Black Bean Chicken and Rice

Shred chicken when cooled enough to handle. Remove pan from heat and stir in following ingredients: shredded chicken, grated cheese, drained black beans, corn and lime juice.

Black Bean Chicken and RiceBlack Bean Chicken and Rice

Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a 13 x 9 dish. Spread out the crushed tortilla chips on top of mixture. Spray with cooking spray all over top. Cover with foil. Place in 400 degree oven for 45-60 minutes until bubbling. Remove foil and bake until crumbs are crisp, 15-20 minutes.

Black Bean Chicken and Rice

This makes a huge amount of food and its really great leftover! If you have a small crowd, I would recommend freezing half or double it and freeze. Just thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours and bake as above.

Black Bean Chicken and Rice

Black Bean Chicken and Rice
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 3 TBL butter
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 medium jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup half and half cream
  • 4-5 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless (2 lbs)
  • 1½ cups white rice
  • 8 oz jack cheese, shredded (I used my food processor)
  • 1 can black beans (15 oz), drained and rinsed
  • 1½ cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • Tortilla chips, crushed to crumbs
  • cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a large pot (with a lid) over medium high heat.
  2. Add bell peppers, onion, jalapenos and salt. Cook until soft, about 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in garlic and cumin and warm through, about 30 seconds. Add in flour and stir constantly for about 1 minute, until slightly browned.
  4. Whisk in broth and cream, stirring slowly to incorporate.
  5. Add the chicken breasts, cover and bring to a simmer.
  6. Reduce heat to low and cook until chicken is cooked completely or thermometer reads 160 degrees, about 15-18 minutes.
  7. Remove chicken to cool and add rice to broth mixture. Stirring often, cover rice and cook until cooked, about 22 minutes.
  8. Shred chicken when cooled enough to handle. Remove pan from heat and stir in following ingredients: shredded chicken, grated cheese, drained black beans, corn and lime juice.
  9. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a 13 x 9 dish. Spread out the crushed tortilla chips on top of mixture. Spray with cooking spray all over top. Cover with foil. Place in 400 degree oven for 45-60 minutes until bubbling. Remove foil and bake until crumbs are crisp, 15-20 minutes.
  10. This can be frozen and defrosted overnight in the fridge. Bake as above after defrosted.

 

Please let me know what you think about the Black Bean Chicken and Rice. I would love to hear any and all comments!

Italian Risotto

Italian Risotto (and more!)

Happy Thursday everyone!

I’m trying to wrap my mind around the fact that Christmas is less than 3 weeks away! Ack! What’s exciting about our December is my husband’s birthday is December 11th, then our wedding anniversary is December 23 and then Christmas comes 2 days later. Gift giving gets real this time of year!

So I will try to keep this short and sweet as I have gifts to buy (some to make!) and then wrap!

Anyways, this is what I made in a rush since I had butternut squash, chicken and sausage to make but struggled with not wanting to put all of them in 1 dish. So I made this: Seared/Roasted Chicken, Butternut Squash Mash and Italian Risotto. I call it Italian since 1:it has Italian Sausage in it and 2: its a take on Giada De Laurentiis recipe but I made so many tweaks, I don’t think she would recognize it!

Italian Risotto

3 1/2 cups chicken broth (I used more of my leftover turkey stock)
2 TBL butter
1 lb bulk Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cup arborio rice (I had to use long grain but I recommend the shorter arborio)
3/4 cup white wine
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
salt and pepper
2 TBL parsley, chopped

Warm the broth (espcially if its been in the fridge) in a saucepan or in a measuring cup in the microwave. In a large pan or skillet, melt the butter on medium heat and brown the sausage, breaking apart. Once browned, about 5 minutes, remove and set aside.

Italian Risotto

Add onion, bell pepper and garlic to the same pan. Saute until softened, about 8 minutes. Stirring to remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.Italian Risotto

Add the rice and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring. Add the wine and simmer until its been evaporated.

Italian Risotto

Start adding broth in 1/2 to 3/4 cup at a time, stirring constantly so that all broth is absorbed before adding the next. This should take 2-3 minutes in between each batch.

Italian RisottoItalian Risotto Italian RisottoItalian Risotto

When the last 1/2 cup of broth is added, also add the sausage back into the rice.

Italian Risotto

Stir in the cheese and parsley and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and serve along with extra parmesan.

Italian RisottoItalian Risotto

I also seared and roasted chicken breasts as well. The easiest way to do this is pat the chicken dry and season. I added salt, pepper and Italian seasoning blend on each chicken breast, flipping over to season other side as well.

Italian Risotto

Sear on each side 3 minutes, just until color starts to develop.

Italian Risotto

Move to sheet pan and place in 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until internal temperature reaches at least 160 degrees. (I love my digital thermometer!)

Italian Risotto

Butternut squash in the oven is super easy and really simple. Wash squash and cut in half, trimming ends off as well. Scoop out flesh and seeds. Place in large pan and fill with water 1 inch up sides.

Cover with foil and place in 350 degree oven for 1 hour. Take out and let cool until able to handle. Scoop out flesh into bowl and mash by hand with fork or masher. Add salt, pepper, 1/2 cup cream or milk and 2 TBL butter.

Italian Risotto

If you make all of these at once, they can be made simultaniously. Just make sure the little ones are occupied!

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This is a snapshot of one of the kids’ bowls and our plates. It was gobbled up!

Italian Risotto Italian Risotto

Please let me know what you thought about the Risotto or any of these dishes!

Mexican Vermicelli (Sopa Seca)

Mexican Vermicelli (Sopa Seca)

We had an awesome Thanksgiving! There was so much food but we got to eat leftovers just enough times to make me appreciate it… and now they are gone! Thanks to all the Morgans for sharing a wonderful holiday with us!

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Before we had our big Thanksgiving dinner, I planned and cooked and prepared for a few days in advance. At the end of one such afternoon, I had been doing a lot of cooking and I still needed to make dinner. I took some left over porkchops and made this mexican Vermecelli dish. It comes together so easily that even after a day of cooking, it was no sweat! It was so helpful to have the leftover protein to use the next night. I love when things like that work out! I served it right out of my skillet too!

You could really make this with anything leftover: grilled chicken, shredded chicken, pork tenderloin, or turkey! (As if you want more turkey right now!)

Mexican Vermicelli (Sopa Seca)

8 oz vermicelli (or spaghetti)
2 T oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chipotle sauce (more if you want it super spicy!)
salt and pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 lb cooked porkchops, sliced thinly (or chicken or turkey)
3 oz shredded Mexican cheese
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 green onions, sliced thin

Instructions

Break the vermicelli in half. I find it easiest to break when rolled in a paper towel and split by pushing the middle over the edge of the counter.

Mexican Vermicelli

Toast the vermicelli in 1 TBL of oil in a large skillet over medium heat, until golden brown. Stir often and should take about 5 minutes.

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Remove to paper towel lined plate (can use the paper towel from before). Add the remaining oil, onion, garlic, chipotle, salt and pepper to the skillet and cook until onion is softened, 5-6 minutes. Add the whole can of tomatoes and stir.

Mexican Vermicelli

Add the broth, black beans and vermicelli. Cover and cook over low heat, until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid vermicelli sticking. Season with salt and pepper. (I had to use another pan since my large one doesn’t have a lid!) The mixture is hard to stir at first but when the noodles start to soften, you can really start mixing it all up.


Mexican Vermicelli
Mexican Vermicelli

Mexican VermicelliMexican Vermicelli

Stir pork, cilantro and green onions into dish and cook until heated through. (Taste test pork as needed.)

Mexican Vermicelli Mexican Vermicelli Mexican Vermicelli

Take off of heat and sprinkle on cheese.

Mexican Vermicelli

Delicioso!

Mexican Vermicelli (Sopa Seca)
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
This delicious one-pot dish with a Mexican twist with black beans and tomatoes.
Ingredients
  • 8 oz vermicelli (or spaghetti)
  • 2 T oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp chipotle sauce (more if you want it super spicy!)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 lb cooked porkchops, sliced thinly (or chicken or turkey)
  • 3 oz shredded Mexican cheese
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 2 green onions, sliced thin
Instructions
  1. Break the vermicelli in half, rolling it lengthwise in a few paper towels and split by pushing the middle in half over the edge of the counter.
  2. Toast the vermicelli in 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat, until golden brown. Stir often, cooking about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove to a paper towel lined plate. Add the remaining oil, onion, garlic, chipotle sauce, salt and pepper to the skillet and cook until onion is softened, about 5-6 minutes. Add the can of tomatoes and stir.
  4. Add the broth, black beans and vermicelli. Cover and cook over low heat, until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid any sticking. Season with salt and pepper. Noodles will be stiff at first but will soften after a few minutes.
  5. Stir pork, cilantro and green onions into dish and cook until heated through.
  6. Take off heat and sprinkle on cheese.

 

Please feel free to leave a comment and let you know what you think about the Mexican Vermicelli!

Spicy Tamale Pie

Spicy Tamale Pie

It has been a few days since I have been able to post. I had a cold (who didn’t have one?!) that really got the best of me this week and just a whole lot on the old to-do list, plus my hubby was out of town last weekend. It doesn’t lend itself to a productive time!

I found this recipe on the wonderful time-suck that is Pinterest. I’ve been making it for a year or so and have tweaked it a bit that makes it even better (IMO). The orginal one I used can be found here: http://pinchofyum.com/chicken-tamale-pie

I started by roasting chicken drumsticks for dinner a few nights ago and last night I was craving something with a little kick to it! Tamale Pie is super easy to throw together and you can tailor the spicy-ness very easily. In fact, I made this one a little TOO spicy and decided not to scar my children by feeding it to them, whoops!

I apologize for the lack of pictures for this post since my camera was acting very funny! I changed the batteries in my external flash and left it alone for a day then everything looked good again! Who knows what happened? Couldn’t have been operator error, of course!

Spicy Tamale Pie

1/3 cup milk
1 egg
seasoning mix: see below (original recipe calls for 1 1/2 TBL taco seasoning)
1 14 oz can cream style corn
1 8.5oz box cornbread mix
1 7oz can chopped green chilies
Enchilada sauce:
1/2 14 oz can tomato sauce
3 TBL flour
1 1/2 cup water
1 TBL chili powder
2-3 cups shredded chicken (I used the chicken drumsticks but a rotisserie chicken would work great here!)
1 cup shredded cheese
1 cup cotija cheese
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Spicy Tamale Pie

I admit, not the best picture I’ve ever taken! I blame my camera…

Seasoning mix:

1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp each: oregano, garlic powder, onion powder
1 tsp each: chili powder, ground cumin
Cayenne Pepper: 1/4-1 tsp (depending on your desired level of spicy-ness; I used a heaping 1/2tsp and it had some good kick!)

Spicy Tamale Pie

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Beat together egg, milk, 1/2 of seasoning mix, chilies, cream corn, and cornbread mix to make batter in a medium size bowl.

Spicy Tamale Pie

Pour into a greased pie pan and put into oven for 20-25 min.

Spicy Tamale Pie

While cornbread bakes, make enchilada sauce by mixing flour in water to make smooth paste. Combine in saucepan with chili powder and tomato sauce, adding a tablespoon at a time. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add remaining seasoning mix to shredded chicken.

Spicy Tamale Pie

When cornbread is done (it will be barely set), poke with a fork all over. Pour enchilada sauce over cornbread. I find it helps to drizzle slowly to allow cornbread to soak it up. Top with seasoned chicken and scatter shredded cheese. Place back in oven for 10-15 minutes just for cheese to melt.

Spicy Tamale Pie Spicy Tamale Pie

Top with cotija cheese and cilantro. Enjoy!

Spicy Tamale Pie

The cotija cheese on top melts from the heat of everything and gets just slightly gooey! Its awesome!

Spicy Tamale Pie

Spicy Tamale Pie
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
One of my family's favorites, a spicy cheesy dish that is a little different from the norm.
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • seasoning mix: see below (original recipe calls for 1½ TBL taco seasoning)
  • 1 14 oz can cream style corn
  • 1 8.5oz box cornbread mix
  • 1 7oz can chopped green chilies
  • Enchilada sauce:
  • ½ 14 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 TBL flour
  • 1½ cup water
  • 1 TBL chili powder
  • 2-3 cups shredded chicken (I used the chicken drumsticks but a rotisserie chicken would work great here!)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • 1 cup cotija cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • Seasoning mix:
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp each: oregano, garlic powder, onion powder
  • 1 tsp each: chili powder, ground cumin
  • Cayenne Pepper: ¼-1 tsp
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stir together seasoning mix.
  2. Beat together egg, milk, ½ of seasoning mix, chilies, cream corn and cornbread mix to make batter in a medium bowl.
  3. Pour into a greased pie pan and put into oven for 20-25 min.
  4. While cornbread bakes, make enchilada sauce by mixing flour in water to make smooth paste. Combine in saucepan with chili powder and tomato sauce, adding a tablespoon at a time. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add remaining seasoning mix to shredded chicken.
  5. When cornbread is done (barely set), poke all over with a fork. Slowly pour enchilada sauce over cornbread. Top with seasoned chicken and scatter shredded cheese on top. Place back in oven for 10-15 minutes just for cheese to melt.
  6. Top with cotija cheese and cilantro.

 

Please feel free to leave a comment or question about the Spicy Tamale Pie. I would love to know what you thought!

Pork and Barley Soup

Pork and Barley Soup

Thank you to all who responded to the Thanksgiving poll! It looks like 2/3 of voters would prefer to have a mixture of both traditional and new. I’m still compiling my recipes to test and narrowing down what we will “break bread” over on Thanksgiving day. Can’t wait!

For now, I’ll keep posting my meals, just the same. I made a pork and barley soup last night that turned out just so yummy and filling. Since the weather has turned cold here in Florida (for the time being!) I love to eat things like this.

Pork and Barley Soup

Ingredients:

1 1/2-2 lbs thin sliced pork chops, chopped into chunks
salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tsp olive oil, divided
1 cup barley, uncooked (not quick cooking)
1 TBL thyme
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped (about 4 cups)
Parmesan cheese for topping

Pork and Barley Soup

Directions:

Salt and pepper pork and heat 2 tsp of oil in large pot on medium high heat. Cook pork for 4-5 minutes.

Pork and Barley Soup

Remove meat to plate, reserving juices in pan. Set meat aside. Add onion, celery and garlic to pan and saute for 3 minutes over medium low heat.

Pork and Barley Soup

Add remaining 1 tsp oil, and stir to incorporate. Add barley and thyme, cooking for 2 minutes.

Pork and Barley Soup

Add 1/2 cup of chicken broth and scrape any bits off of the bottom. Add remaining 4 cups of broth and squash and bring to boil.

Pork and Barley Soup

Add pork and cover. Turn heat to simmer and cook for 40-45 minutes. Barley will soak up more liquid the longer it sits.

Pork and Barley SoupPork and Barley Soup

I sometimes add a little broth when reheating the next day to make it the right consistency. A few parmesan shavings are pretty yummy on it as well!

Pork and Barley Soup
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Rich, filling and hearty, just what a cool, fall day calls for!
Ingredients
  • 1½-2 lbs thin sliced pork chops, chopped into chunks
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup barley, uncooked (not quick cooking)
  • 1 TBL thyme
  • 4½ cups chicken broth
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped (about 4 cups)
  • Parmesan cheese for topping
Instructions
  1. Salt and pepper the pork. Heat 2 tsp of oil in large pot on medium high heat. Cook pork 4-5 minutes until mostly cooked through.
  2. Remove meat to plate, reserving juices in pan. Set meat aside. Add onion, celery and garlic to pan and sauté for 3 minutes over medium low heat.
  3. Add remaining 1 tsp oil and stir to incorporate. Add barley and thyme, cooking for 2 more minutes.
  4. Add ½ cup of chicken broth and scrape any bits off the bottom. Add remaining 4 cups of broth and squash and bring to boil.
  5. Add pork and cover. Turn heat to simmer and cook for 40 minutes. Barley will soak up more liquid the longer it sits.
  6. Additional broth might be necessary when reheating cooled leftovers to achieve correct consistency.

Pork and Barley Soup

 

 

I would love to hear what you thought of my Pork and Barley Soup! Please feel free to leave a comment!

Easy Turkey Chili

Easy Turkey Chili

I hope everyone has recovered from Halloween! Now that my sugar high has worn off and our jack o’lanterns have burned out, I’m looking to have a nice relaxing weekend before things get crazy for Thanksgiving!!

Here is my version on a classic, easy dish. It can’t get much easier than throwing everything in a slow cooker and leaving for the day. There is nothing better than coming home to dinner already ready! I’ve also made it where I leave it all on the stove for an hour as well. Works great either way!

I love making this to bring to a couple who just had a baby and even for a large crowd over at my house. There are so many ways to add flavors and then when you add toppings, it makes it all that much better!

Easy Turkey Chili

2-3 lbs ground turkey, browned
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 cup chicken broth
2 1/2 TBL chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
8 oz can tomato sauce (not pasta sauce!)
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
15 oz can each black beans, kidney beans, both drained
15 oz can diced tomatoes & chilies

Easy Turkey Chili

Add meat, onion, bell pepper, broth, tomato paste and sauce, diced tomatoes, and seasonings to slow cooker. Mix together.

Easy Turkey Chili

Add black and kidney beans and corn.

Easy Turkey Chili

Turn on low for 6-8 hours.

Easy Turkey Chili

5.0 from 1 reviews
Easy Turkey Chili
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Super Easy Turkey Chili is a simple answer to a cool day. All the ingredients cook together in a slow cooker, making dinner a snap.
Ingredients
  • 2-3 lbs ground turkey, browned
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 2 cup chicken broth
  • 2½ TBL chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce (not pasta sauce!)
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn, defrosted
  • 15 oz can each black beans, kidney beans,
  • 15 oz can diced tomatoes & chilies
  • *Cornbread and sour cream make a great addition. And don't forget the shredded cheese!
Instructions
  1. Add meat, onion, bell pepper, broth, tomato paste and sauce, diced tomatoes, and seasonings to slow cooker. Mix together.
  2. Add black beans, kidney beans and corn.
  3. Turn on low for 6-8 hours.
  4. Serve with toppings!

Cornbread (obviously!) makes a great accompaniment to this dish but I like just a dollop of sour cream and sprinkling of shredded cheese.

Enjoy!

Easy Turkey Chili

Please let me know what you thought of the Easy Turkey Chili! I would love to hear from you!

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie

We started making this easy recipe when our whole family went on a gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, no-preservative diet. We were trying to eat this paleo diet (like the paleolithic times!) to see if it eased my daughter’s eczema. Unfortunately, it didn’t really help her symptoms much and she still had a lot of itching and dryness. On the plus side, we felt great, it made us eat a ton of vegetables and healthy foods and cut out a lot of unnecessary junk in our lives.

Nowadays, we still eat pretty healthfully and I make shephards or cottage pie (or turkey) every few weeks or so. Its such an easy way to get a lot of veggies in a dish and its easy to prep in advance, most likely during a nap time. It also has such a homey, filling quality to it. I hope you enjoy it as well!

There is a lot of chopping involved here, but it really makes the dish super hearty and delicious. It’s something I feel really happy about feeding to my family 🙂 You can always do that step in advance and store until you are ready to cook.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my special helper this time.

Harper chose to work on "her job" instead of cooking with me this time
Harper chose to work on “her job” instead of cooking with me this time

But this guy came to keep me company:

Waiting for any dropped food!
Waiting for any dropped food!

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie

2 lbs. ground beef (I used 93/7 this time.)
1 tsp each: thyme, basil, oregano
1 medium onion
1 red pepper
4 oz mushrooms
4 celery stalks
4 carrots (or big handful of baby carrots)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 TBL worcestershire
1 1/3 cup chicken broth, divided (Or beef broth)
2 tomatoes
2-3 large sweet potatoes*
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 cup milk
parmesan cheese

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie- Ingredients

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and cube sweet potatoes and place in boiling water to steam 10-15 minutes, until fork-tender.

(*FYI I roasted my sweet potatoes the day before for 1 hr in 375 degree oven wrapped in foil and then cooled and refrigerated overnight).

Start filling by browning meat in large skillet and seasoning with salt and pepper and all herbs. Remove to another dish, leaving any fat in pan and set aside.

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie- Browned meat

Chop veggies: onion, celery, carrots, mushrooms, red pepper and garlic. Add to skillet on medium low heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie- Chopped veggies Sweet Potato Cottage Pie- Veggies

While veggies cook, remove sweet potatoes and mash. (I use my immersion blender, it’s awesome!) Add garlic and onion powder, milk and 1/3 cup of chicken broth, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly.

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie- Mashed sweet potatoes

Add 1/4 cup of chicken broth to veggies and scrape up any bits on bottom of pan.

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie- broth added

Chop tomatoes and add to veggies. Add tomato paste and worcestershire, continuing to stir.

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie- Tomato, worcestershire added

Add another 3/4 cup of chicken stock and bring to simmer, 1-2 minutes.

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie- skillet

Return beef to pan and stir to incorporate.

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie- Filling complete

Add beef and veggie mix to 9 by 11 in pan. I find it helpful to press everything down with my spatula to even-out the filling.

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie- in the dish

Mound sweet potatoes by the spoonful atop the beef filling.

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie- Sweet potato dollops

Grate parmesan cheese all over top. The dish can be covered and put in refrigerator if need be or placed directly in oven, uncovered for 30-40 minutes.

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie- grated cheese

I like to broil the top for the last 2-3 minutes to get cheese really melted. Let stand for 5 minutes, then dig in!

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie- in the oven Sweet Potato Cottage Pie- broiled

Please let me know what you thought of the Sweet Potato Cottage Pie! I would love to hear from you!

Sweet Potato Cottage Pie