Tag Archives: Cheese

Taco Soup

Taco Soup with Cilantro Cream

Welcome to winter! Except that it’s still fall… in Florida…. We had to wear something other than flip flops which was so weird. Then, I had to put an actual coat on my children, and not just to school! Even home from school! It was just weird all around. It would be better if there were a picture of them wearing said coats, but alas, I do not. Oops. Hey, we can’t all be perfect, right!

Anyways, back to cold! Whenever it gets a little chilly, I automatically want something for dinner that will really keeps you warm! Growing up, my mom used to make this amazing, delicious taco soup and oh man, it was so good. Like, eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, so good! I craved it like crazy when I was pregnant with Harper and made it immediately after my mom emailed me the recipe. And it was so worth it! Even with all the taco seasoning, ranch packet and block of Velveeta were worth it!

Tonight, however, I decided to give myself a challenge…. make the beloved Taco Soup, without those 3 above items! (Since I didn’t have them and didn’t want to get out in said cold with said children in said coats to buy them!)

So, here is the recipe of my taco soup. And I got pretty darn close! I even made up an extra topper to mimic the creamy velveeta!

Taco Soup
Taco Soup
cilantro
Cilantro
Cilantro cream
Cilantro Cream

Taco Soup with Cilantro Cream
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Taco soup gets a healthy update without the taco seasoning, ranch packet and velveeta of my beloved mother's version.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1½ T chili powder
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder, onion powder, each
  • ½ tsp oregano, cilantro each
  • 8 oz salsa
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can hominy
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
  • ½ cup fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup sour cream or greek yogurt
  • 1 lime, halved
  • Shredded cheese
Instructions
  1. Brown the beef in a large pot over medium high heat with onion and bell pepper. Cook about 5 minutes to soften onion.
  2. Add chili powder, cumin, garlic and onion powder, oregano and cilantro. Stir to combine. Add salsa and season with salt and pepper and simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  3. While spices and beef are cooking, drain black beans, kidney beans and hominy. Rinse.
  4. Add to pot and stir to incorporate.
  5. Add chicken stock and 1 cup of water and diced tomatoes. Bring to boil on high.
  6. Turn heat to low and cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  7. While soup is simmering, prepare cilantro cream. Hand chop or blend cilantro until leaves are very finely minced. Mix sour cream and half of lime juice in a small bowl. Stir together with cilantro and set aside.
  8. When soup is done, add juice from the other half of lime and stir.
  9. Serve warm with cheese and dollop of cilantro cream.

 

Taco Soup
Taco Soup

Thankfully this will be all gone by the time it gets back up to 75 degrees in a few days!

Please let me know what you thought about the Taco Soup! I would love to hear!

Easy Pasta with Sausage

Here in Pensacola, we have had a rough week the past 7 days. We had a lot of heavy rain and thunderstorms, the last of which on Tuesday night into early Wednesday morning. I heard between 20 and 25 inches of rain in a 24 hour period! There were many city streets that had total washouts and many people, including some friends had water come into their houses. We were fortunate enough only to have water in our backyard. Our house is on a sloped lot so the porch (shown) is 5-6 feet off the ground.

backyard-flooded in easy pasta with sausage post backyard-flooded in easy pasta with sausage post

The water had gone back down past the fence by the time the day had ended. It was crazy! I just feel terrible for all those that are still dealing with water damage, insurance companies and heartache over losing so much. I can’t even imagine what they are going through.

Anyways, I will get on with the recipe.

Easy pasta with sausage is something I make when I need a quick dinner and it’s just me and kids eating. Not that my husband wouldn’t like it, but I like to keep it simple and easy on the nights I’m cooking for just us. Everything is throw it in a pan and serve from there.

I feel like I make a lot of these type of ‘versatile’ dishes like this, but it’s so easy and yummy, why not? So, use what you have in this basic formula and feel better about using fresh food that doesn’t get dumped out later because it went bad sitting in the fridge! (I hate that!)

What’s really great too, is it’s so easy to sneak some extra vegetables in that don’t always get eaten. I like to throw finely chopped up fresh spinach or diced, de-seeded fresh tomato as well. A finish of herbs are also nice as well. Whatever you have in the fridge will work!

sausage-for-easy-pasta

Easy Pasta with Sausage

Ingredients:

  • I used 3/4 of one of these, all natural pork sausage (the whole thing pictured). I know its not organic but its better than others, right?
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5-6 button mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 carrot or handful of baby carrots, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 lb. whole wheat pasta (rotini in this case)
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (I usually grate some off the block/wedge)

Directions:

Cook the pasta according to directions. Make sure to keep the starchy cooking water aside.

Brown the sausage with the vegetables in a large skillet over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper.

brown sausage and vegetables for easy pasta and sausage

Cook until everything is softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add broth and bring to simmer for 3-4 minutes until slightly reduced.

add browth and simmer - easy pasta with sausage

Add cooked pasta and taste for any additional seasoning.

add cooked pasta to easy pasta with sausage

Add sprinkled cheese and stir to combine.

add sprinkled cheese to easy pasta and sausage

Doesn’t really get much easier than that!

Easy Pasta with Sausage
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 9-12 oz natural pork sausage
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 5-6 button mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
  • 1 carrot or handful of baby carrots, diced
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 lb. whole wheat pasta (rotini in this case)
  • salt and pepper
  • ¾ cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta according to directions. Make sure to keep the starchy cooking water aside.
  2. Brown the sausage with the vegetables in a large skillet over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook until everything is softened, about 8-10 minutes. Add broth and bring to simmer for 3-4 minutes until slightly reduced.
  4. Add cooked pasta and taste for any additional seasoning.
  5. Add sprinkled cheese and stir to combine.
  6. Serve with more cheese on the table to top.

 

Please let me know if you are able to make Easy Pasta with Sausage and what you thought of it!

 

Breakfast Strata

End of Christmas Break & Breakfast Strata

I hadn’t really intended on taking a month off of posting but things just kept happening (sound familiar?!) So at the end of the year, I thought, I’ll just start things back up when I can make the time again. Sooo that’s what I’ve done!

We had a fabulous Christmas and New Years. It was just awesome! Since we didn’t go home to Dallas this year, everyone came to us and you might think having houseguests for 2 weeks is tough but I really enjoyed it!

I spent a little time on Christmas Eve morning making this Breakfast Strata. We had a ham for dinner a night or two before and I was hoping to use some of the leftovers for this. It cooked while we opened presents and drank coffee (expect the kids!) and played with all the new present. It worked out perfectly!

IMG_1432 IMG_1441 IMG_1452 IMG_1470

The beauty of this recipe is if you have a specific ingredient you want to use or don’t have you can make the filling different. If you want to use goat cheese, just swap it out. Combonations that also might work: Sausage and mushrooms; spinach and fontina cheese; or roasted red peppers and parmesan. Whatever you would like! My only suggestion would be to keep it under 3 flavorful ingredients.

Breakfast Strata

1 large loaf of French or Italian Bread (the big fluffy kind), sliced 1/2″ thick
1 stick of unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 lb. red potatoes, scrubbed and diced
salt and pepper
3 shallots or 1/2 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 TBL fresh rosemary, minced
1 lb ham, diced
1 cup dry white wine
12 oz monterey jack cheese, shredded
12 eggs
3 cups half and half
3 TBL minced fresh parsley

Breakfast Strata Breakfast Strata
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread the bread out on 2 baking sheets and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. I switched and turned them halfway through the cooking time.

Breakfast Strata

Let bread cool and spread butter on one side of each slice, using 3-4 TBL of butter.

Breakfast Strata

Meanwhile, boil potatoes in water and 1/2 tsp salt over high heat. Cook until just slightly tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the potatoes.

Breakfast Strata Breakfast Strata

Melt 3 TBL butter in a skillet over medium heat and add potatoes. Cook until beginning to brown about 7 minutes.

Breakfast Strata

Stir in the onion and cook 2 minutes. Add garlic and rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Breakfast Strata

Transfer to a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add ham and stir together.

Breakfast StrataBreakfast Strata

Add wine to skillet and simmer until very reduced, about 5 minutes, take off of heat to cool.

Breakfast Strata

Butter a 9x13inch pan (I had a slightly larger one)and place half of slices in the bottom in a single layer, with butter side up.

Breakfast Strata Breakfast Strata

Sprinkle half of the ham and potato mixture and 1/3 of cheese over the bread slices. Repeat with remaining bread slices, ham and potatoes and another 1/3 of cheese.

Breakfast Strata Breakfast Strata

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until combined then whisk in reduced wine, half and half, parlsey, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.

Breakfast Strata Breakfast Strata

Pour egg mixture evenly over all and sprinkle remainder of cheese on top.

Breakfast Strata

Wrap the strata with plastic wrap, very tightly. Weigh the strata down with a few sugar boxes or heavy books. (These beignet mix boxes are the perfect size and pretty heavy.) Refrigerate for 8-24 hours.

Breakfast Strata Breakfast Strata

When ready to cook, unwrap the dish and let sit out on counter for 15-20 minutes. Bake uncovered for 1 hour and 20 minutes in 325 degree oven. Strata should puff slightly and pull away from sides. Cool for 5-10 minutes.

Breakfast Strata

Also, this is a great breakfast-for-dinner item as well! Its delicious for either!

End of Christmas Break & Breakfast Strata
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large loaf of French or Italian Bread (the big fluffy kind), sliced ½" thick
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter, divided
  • 1½ lb. red potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 shallots or ½ onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 TBL fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 lb ham, diced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 12 oz monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 12 eggs
  • 3 cups half and half
  • 3 TBL minced fresh parsley
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread the bread out on 2 baking sheets and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. I switched and turned them halfway through the cooking time.
  2. Let bread cool and spread butter on one side of each slice, using 3-4 TBL of butter.
  3. Meanwhile, boil potatoes in water and ½ tsp salt over high heat. Cook until just slightly tender, about 4 minutes. Drain the potatoes.
  4. Melt 3 TBL butter in a skillet over medium heat and add potatoes. Cook until beginning to brown about 7 minutes.
  5. Stir in the onion and cook 2 minutes. Add garlic and rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  6. Transfer to a medium bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add ham and stir together.
  7. Add wine to skillet and simmer until very reduced, about 5 minutes, take off of heat to cool.
  8. Butter a 9x13 inch pan (I had a slightly larger one)and place half of slices in the bottom in a single layer, with butter side up.
  9. Sprinkle half of the ham and potato mixture and ⅓ of cheese over the bread slices. Repeat with remaining bread slices, ham and potatoes and another ⅓ of cheese.
  10. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until combined then whisk in reduced wine, half and half, parsley, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp pepper.
  11. Pour egg mixture evenly over all and sprinkle remainder of cheese on top.
  12. Wrap the strata with plastic wrap, very tightly. Weigh the strata down with a few sugar boxes or heavy books. Refrigerate for 8-24 hours.
  13. When ready to cook, unwrap the dish and let sit out on counter for 15-20 minutes. Bake uncovered for 1 hour and 20 minutes in 325 degree oven. Strata should puff slightly and pull away from sides. Cool for 5-10 minutes.

 

Please let me know what you think of the Breakfast Strata (or any other dish!) I would love to know hear your comments!

 

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