cauliflower power

You’ll have to forgive me, it’s literally been almost a year since I last posted on here. Really, I post mostly for my own ability to find good recipes we’ve had when I am scrambling for dinner ideas at 5:05pm on a weekday after work. So maybe I will apologize to myself. I have a lot of great recipes we’ve discovered this past year that need to find their way on to this site. I am hoping to play some serious catch up. My second apology is for some of the pictures I am going to post (i.e. the one for this recipe) as the sun sets at like 4:30 these days, so lovely, naturally lit pictures are out until the next time change. Oh well.

This recipe is one I found in my real simple magazine after we spent New Year’s Eve cleaning out our pantry (no lie, it was 10pm and being the crazy party animals we are, we were chucking half our pantry to rid ourselves of expired and unhealthy items). Hidden in the depths of the third shelf was a glorious stash of quinoa that I had no idea was back there, so I have been using the opportunity to try out new recipes using what we already have. This was a really simple, delicious dinner that looks so pretty with out all the effort. In our house it was even easier as a team effort–hubby out on his new birthday grill using his deeply ingrained man-tuition to grill the steaks to perfection (he’s surprisingly good for not having had a grill until a few months ago). Now, the real jewel in this recipe is the pureed cauliflower. I always hear about people trying to replace potatoes with cauliflower and I have never been convinced–until now. It was just like mashed potatoes, it was kind of amazing. I cheated with this recipe a little—I used a bag of “steam fresh” frozen lightly seasoned garlic cauliflower, and it was so flavorful. I also cooked the quinoa my traditional way, as the first time I followed the recipe it was a little crunchy and under done. A few other minor tweaks and this is now a go-to meal for us. It really only takes about 15-20 mins to make, and it’s a good healthy meal for two (multiply the recipe as needed to fit your family size). Continue reading “cauliflower power”

supremely minestrone

I saw this recipe across a crowded room and it was love at first sight. We had finally made it across town to try out this new barbecue place. We were chowing down on some seriously delicious pulled pork sandwiches when Ina Garten caught my eye on the television. After trying to figure out why in the world they would be playing the Food Network at a restaurant, I found myself caught in that very trap– drooling over food on tv while subsequently stuffing my stomach full of another delicious food (because America!). I scribbled down the name of the recipe and ‘barefoot contessa’ so I could look the recipe up later. I think it was the allure of the giant pot, full to the brim with chunks of veggies. And the most brilliant and delicious little tip I learned while watching Ina work her magic—-I saw her RUB a garlic clove across the tops of the toasted french bread. The heck with garlic salt. It half grated, half melted itself into what I would soon learn is the most delicious main course topping for a hot soup on a cold day. You know, those cold cold, snowy Florida days.

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spectacular salmon

So… I never liked salmon. And by that, I mean that I am pretty sure I never even tried salmon until about a year ago under the assumption that I wouldn’t like it. It’s easy enough to avoid. With a swift “Oh, no thanks, I don’t like salmon” a lifetime can fly by (because I am so old ; ) where you have never even taken a bite. I don’t know why, I guess it’s the pink color that reminds me of under cooked chicken. So about a year ago I took the plunge. I like fish. People like salmon. I like most people. And it was good! And I was happy. And I was a little sad for all the times I had turned it away. But I assure you, we have probably made up lost times times two. The best part is that this salmon recipe takes 8 minutes and four ingredients. And to top it off, paired up with whole wheat cous cous and steamed green beans, the entire meal is easily multi-tasked together in 10 minutes (or see the above variation of brussel sprouts and quinoa-brown rice). It’s my new, healthy go-to meal when I hit the 5 o’clock meal panic after work. Enjoy!

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my first meatball

 

So somehow I have gone my whole cooking “life” without ever making a meatball. It has literally never even crossed my mind. Strange, huh? I’ve had loads of delicious bbq meatballs at parties on toothpicks and loved them and never thought to ask for the recipe. And if I ever wanted spaghetti and meatball(s) I’d call up the road for some take out with a big bowl of garlic knots (yum! and I put the ‘s’ in parentheses because that wonderful place does one BIG meatball….mmm…). So after 3 days of having a fever and eating ‘cup of noodle’ 3 meals a day (ironically while watching a marathon of Worst Cooks in America BTW…woops…) I decided it was the time to treat my sweet hubs and myself to some real food courtesy of my own personal chef  slow cooker.

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not your mama’s spaghetti

 

I saw this and knew we would love it. The idea of this recipe is simple and brilliant. It’s everything lovable in a simple Italian meal, all in one beautiful presentation. Pasta, sauce, cheese, and delicious garlic bread. One of our favorite recipes is also a crescent roll style braid, and I love the variability in these types of meals because they are easy to change up to fit different tastes or what you have on hand. This was easy and delicious, I made it without any meat to save some time, but some sausage or ground beef/turkey would add something extra as well.

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barely barley

I’ll admit, I wasn’t looking for a risotto recipe when I stumbled upon this little gem. We had stopped at a great little seafood restaurant out of town and my husband ordered a side of black eyed peas and rice. I had some and then some more and then I ate pretty much all of it  we shared the rest evenly between us. I’m not sure that I’ve had black eyed peas many times but they are delicious! I knew right when I got home I’d have to find some excuse to fit them in a meal—the alternative to me eating an entire can on its own. This twist on traditional risotto using barley sounded fun. It came out hearty and comforting, and reheated really well. We ate it with some gourmet style chicken apple sausages which made for a great meal. I can’t wait to try it out on a cold winter day—excuse me, I mean our one winter day here in FL—it was perfectly tender, warm, and could be a nice deviation from chili in the colder months. And it’s versatile–switch the type of broth, beans, and veggies to make the perfect flavor for you.

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what rhymes with tortilla?

There is beer in this recipe. I want to put that out there up front so those sweet, apple pie stay at home mom’s out there reading this don’t get all the way to the grocery store before realizing that there is—oh no not that!—beer on the ingredients list. I’m sure you can substitute chicken broth to make this more kid friendly, but for those of you adults who just don’t normally drink beer I challenge you to be bold—just trust the recipe. You don’t really taste the beer outright, but I think it adds something to the flavor that really makes it complex and delicious (and it smells amazing!). And of course the chicken breasts, cooked in the crockpot for several hours, are as always fall apart tender and moist. It’s always, hands down, the best way to cook chicken. In fact, at the end of this recipe you are supposed to remove the cooked chicken breasts, place them in a bowl, and shred. Well I tried to stick them in the middle with a fork and lift them out and they literally fell apart. It was beautiful. The best kind of cooking failure, when you can’t shred your chicken in a bowl as the recipe calls for because it shreds itself. And wonderful, moist chicken aside, this was just delicious. It definitely climbs to the top of my slow cooker recipes. It’s cheap and simple and makes SO much food. My husband and I literally have been eating it for a week, which is okay with us because its delicious and reheats like a dream. Add a dollop of sour cream and tortilla chips–crunched or used to scoop–and you’ll be set. I’d recommend this recipe for when you’re having people over for a quick and easy solution. And if you’re going to tortilla chips anyway, do it right and get the ‘hint of lime’ chips. So delicious.

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robust, a must!

Lasagna is quite a varying food. There is the frozen kind (“homemade”), the basic ricotta-and-marinara-from-a-jar lay up, the extreme homemade-noodles-sauce-and-expensive-cheeses, and then variations in between (see my white mushroom lasagna and then make it and die happy). This recipe is from the all hailed Pioneer Woman, and you can bet anything out of her kitchen is going to be good. This recipe is so unique in that it is one of the most hearty, robust, flavorful lasagnas I have ever tasted—the kind that makes you want to hide away on the couch with a bowl full and watch the snow come down (says the Floridian-ha!). It comes across as a complex recipe that I would never make on my own because its too much work. BUT the amazing thing is that this recipe uses every short cut and canned item it can, much to the dismay of many food snobs. But all the reviews speak loud—all the chefs were skeptical, even wagged a finger or two but admitted in the end that it is truly a spectacular lasagna. And THAT is my kind of lasagna (also it filled my 9×13 dangerously to the brim so it will feed a lot of people or last for quite a few meals).

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a loaf to love

This was a product of the all-too-often post work dinner scramble. I I have a ridiculously tall stack of Real Simple magazines that have boundless recipes tucked into their pages and I rarely take the time to dig through them use them so so much….yeah. So I decided to dive in and found this little gem in their little section where they list “10 ideas for”—this time was ground turkey. The main appeal was that recipe was succinctly summarized in a mere 3 or 4 sentences, ingredients and all. I knew it’d be quick and was surprised by the impressive taste. It’s not the biggest loaf, serving 4-6 people with sides. But it’s just what I needed in a tight fix and and was too simply delicious to be true–and wallet friendly. Whip up some homemade mashed potatoes (if you have the time—they will beat the pants off of instant every time!) and a veggie and enjoy a great, healthy dinner.

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the un-coleslaw

 

 

My husband doesn’t like coleslaw. I am not one to go out of my way to stick it on a menu or wrestle my way to the bowl when I see it at a barbecue, but I do eat it and normally enjoy it alright now and then. Recently I’ve been exhausted everyday after work and found this wonderful recipe for slow cooker bbq pork, which meant the lovely crock pot fairy would be cooking dinner instead of me– God bless her! I wanted a fresh, healthy side to go with to keep in light and summery since the pork would be so savory. Coleslaw is a traditional topper of pork sandwiches at bbq places, but since we’re not coleslaw crazy I went a less traditional route. Broccoli slaw, which I’ve seen in stores but never known what it’s for, was the perfect answer. We love broccoli and it was so crisp and fresh, perfect for summer. The big difference was the avoidance of the standard mayo and vinegar that really gives coleslaw its flavor. Instead, I did a light honey-dijon dressing which gave it the coleslaw feel but with a totally different and delicious flavor.  I highly recommend trying out this new twist on a classic summer side dish—it is sure to please everyone, coleslaw lovers and not-so-lovers alike!

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