Thursday, November 20, 2014

Thanksgiving Side Dishes


I LOVE Thanksgiving for many reasons...family, friends, fellowship, football and of course food. Besides my Thanksgiving staples - turkey, dressing & some kind (or two kinds) of potatoes - I like to switch up the sides from year-to-year to keep it fresh & fun. I also like things that I can make in advance so I can enjoy the other parts of Thanksgiving, too. I've included a few of my favorite go-to crowd-pleasing recipes for you below. They each serve about 6 people so double or triple as necessary!


Stuffed Potatoes

Ingredients:
3 medium baking potatoes
extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup butter, softened
1 ½ cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
¼ cup milk
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon dry ranch dressing mix
1 tablespoon green onions, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
3 slices bacon, cooked
1 tsp each salt & pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°. Wash potatoes; rub with salt and a touch of olive oil. With fork, pierce potatoes 5-6 times in different places around the potato. Place on baking sheet and cook for 1 hour or until tender. Remove and reduce heat to 375°.  Let potatoes cool for 10-15 minutes. While potatoes are cooling, chop green onions and prepare garlic. Cut each potato in half lengthwise; scoop out pulp leaving a thin shell. In a large mixing bowl, beat the pulp with butter. Add in milk, cream, ranch mix, and garlic; beat until well blended. Stir in green onions, cheese and bacon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into potato shells. Bake for 20 minutes. If making ahead you can put on a baking sheet and cover with saran wrap; let potatoes come to room temperature before baking.


Corn Pudding recipe adapted from Southern Living
Ingredients:

6 cups frozen corn (or 12 fresh ears of corn, kernels removed)
1 tbsp butter, and an additional 6 tbsp butter, melted
¼ cup sugar

2 tbsp flour
2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt
5 eggs
2 cups half & half (or heavy whipping cream)
Handful of parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions: Thaw corn according to package directions then saute in 1 tbsp butter to add some flavor.
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk together eggs, whipping cream, and butter in a large bowl. Slowly add dry ingredients into egg mixture, whisking until smooth; stir in corn and cheese. Pour mixture into a [lightly greased] 9 x 13 dish. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until set. Let stand 5 minutes.


SFB's Deviled Eggs
Ingredients:
12 large eggs
¼ cup mayo
2 tsp yellow mustard

1 tsp dijon mustard
¼ tsp each salt & pepper
dash of pickled jalapeno juice 
paprika and sliced green olives for garnish

Directions: Lay eggs in bottom of a medium-large sauce pan and cover with water. Bring to boil and let cook for 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat and cover with lid; let sit for 15 minutes. Drain and cover with cold water. Crack shells and carefully peel under running water. Dry off. Slice open eggs, removing yolks into a bowl. Smash yolk with a fork and add in remaining ingredients, mixing well. You can spread into eggs or pipe in (if you don't have a piping bag a Ziplock with do the trick - just cut a small hole in one of the tips). Garnish with sliced olive and paprika, and place in refrigerator to keep cool until serving.


 Whipped Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients:

4 large sweet potatoes, washed
olive oil & salt for the rub
1 cup half and half
2 tbsp butter
, softened
3 tbsp brown sugar
¼ tsp cinnamon

Directions: Preheat oven to 350. Pierce potatoes several times with a fork, then rub olive oil and salt on them. Roast for 40 minutes or until very soft. Let cool for 10-15 minutes, or to the point where you are able to handle them but they still have some steam once skin is removed. Scoop out the potatoes and place in your mixer, add remaining ingredients and whip until smooth & creamy.

Spinach & Berry Salad

Ingredients
:
Fresh baby spinach
½
container of strawberries, washed and sliced
½ container of blueberries, washed

1 pear, peeling removed and diced
1 avocado, sliced
¼ cup  red onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup feta cheese

½ cup glazed (or regular) pecans

Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette
½ extra virgin olive oil¼ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tsp brown sugar

1 tsp dijon mustard¼ cup red onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced

salt & pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients in a mason jar and shake up!



I hope y'all have a blessed holiday! Enjoy :)


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Monday, November 17, 2014

Peruvian-Style Chicken with Rice & Beans


This is my take on Peruvian-style roasted chicken, served with my favorite - I mean absolute FAVORITE - beans and rice recipe. The chicken is so tender from the marinating process and the beans have a bacon-garlic flavor that will just make you happy...trust me.

Ingredients for chicken
1 3-4 lb roaster chicken
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lime
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 tsp paprika
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp sugar
dash of red pepper flakes

Ingredients for beans & rice
2 tbsp canola oil
1 cup rice (I prefer brown)
2 ¾ cups chicken broth or water
1 tsp salt (omit if using chicken broth)
2 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
¼ cup sweet onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 15 oz can pinto beans, rinsed & drained
1 tsp salt

 

Step One
Make sure to wash chicken thoroughly, removing everything from inside; pat dry and set aside in a large roasting pan (I also like to tie the legs up).


Step Two
Stir together remaining ingredients (or use food processor if you have one). Spread over chicken and underneath skin. Cover with saran wrap and marinate - preferably for 6 hours - but if you are short on time 1 hour will do : )


Step Three
Preheat oven to 375°. Cook chicken for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Step Four
In a non-stick saucepan, heat 1 tbsp oil on medium high heat. Add in rice and 
sauté until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes (this gives it some additional flavor).

Step Five
Add in 2 cups chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer until broth is absorbed (following package instructions for rice). When done, turn to low to keep warm.

Step Six
In another non-stick saucepan, heat remaining oil on medium-high heat. Add in bacon and onion, cooking for about 5-6 minutes or until translucent. Add in garlic and cook an additional minute.

Step Seven
Add in beans, and cook about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Take a fork and smash about
¼ of the beans in the pan (this will help to create a good texture).

Step Eight
Add in remaining chicken broth, bring to a boil, then set to medium-low and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. When done, turn to low to keep warm.

Step Nine
Turn oven to 400
° and cook chicken for an additional 15 minutes or until crispy golden brown. Let sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy, y'all!


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Monday, November 10, 2014

Baked Chicken with Pesto Asparagus Quinoa

Ingredients for the chicken
3-4 chicken breasts, washed & patted dry
1 tsp each salt & pepper
½ tbsp butter
3 garlic cloves, smashed
¾ Italian bread crumbs
¼
cup panko bread crumbs (optional)

1 tsp red pepper flakes

Ingredients for the quinoa
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2 cups chicken broth (water can be substituted)
½ tbsp butter (optional)

3 tbsp pesto (I like Classico brand)
6-8 asparagus spears, cut into 1 in slices
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp parsley

Step One
Heat oven to 375°. Place foil on a baking sheet and set aside.

Step Two
In a small skillet, heat butter and garlic over medium heat until butter melts and garlic becomes fragrant. Set aside and let cool for 2-3 minutes.

Step Three
While butter cools, mix bread crumbs and red pepper flakes in a shallow dish.

Step Four
Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dip in butter then breadcrumb mixture, coating well on both sides. Cook on foil-lined baking sheet for 30-35 minutes or until juices run clear and chicken is golden brown.

Step Five
In a medium-size sauce pan, bring quinoa and chicken broth to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until broth is absorbed.

Step Six
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat olive oil on medium-high heat. Saute asparagus for 4-5 minutes or until cooked through.

Step Seven
Stir pesto, asparagus, butter and parsley into quinoa. 

Plate your quinoa, place sliced chicken on top and sprinkle with parsley for a fun presentation!

Enjoy, y'all!

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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ladies Night In Wine Tasting


Three of my favorite things: time with gal pals, hosting parties and indulging in wine. Can you blame me? 

During one of my many times lost on Pinterest, I came across the idea to host a ladies night wine tasting. It was completely casual with sweet neighbor gals (I got lucky in the neighborhood department), chatting over small bites while we sipped some of our favorite wines.

Here’s the low down on my Ladies Night-In Wine Tasting.
Invitation:
I just made a casual facebook invite with the following wording:
"Hi neighbors! I would love to get everyone together to introduce some new faces and enjoy a little ‘ladies night in’ wine tasting fun! Bring your favorite vino and we’ll have a casual tasting contest. Prizes involved and appetizers will be provided. Hope to see all of you as we “wine down” the last days of summer!"

You could be more specific and say “red” or “white” wines only, wines made in your state, etc. – really whatever sounds fun to you! I would suggest keeping the party limited to 10-12 people so there’s enough wine in each bottle for everyone to try a little.

Set Up:
I wanted guests to be able to keep track of their wine glasses (plus it’s fun to have your name on anything) so I bought white cardstock from Michael’s, cut into shapes, wrote each person’s name, punched a hole and used jute string to tie onto the bottom of each wine glasses.
 As guests arrived they put a number card on their bottle (so everyone could keep track of what they were trying). You could also use brown paper sacks and have a “blind” taste testing if you wanted.

Make sure you have a couple bottle openers on hand. Also, fill a cute bucket with ice so you are prepared to keep white wines chilled.

Small Bites: 
I wanted to keep the appetizers simple but also have a variety of options that would pair with different types of wine. 

  • Assorted cheeses (brie, fontina, apple cheddar, pepper cheese ball), 
  • Crackers (great for cleansing the pallet in between wines), pita bread & pretzel thins
  • Salami
  • Olives
  • Hummus
  • Fruits (grapes, strawberries & apples)
  • Bacon-wrapped asparagus (just because) 
  • Chocolate (bite-size brownies and chocolate-covered craisins)



Notes:
I created a little note sheet so each person could keep track of what they tried, what they liked, what they didn’t, etc. I had every intention of having the ladies vote on which one they liked best (with a prize ready to go) but we ended up chatting the night away and forgot. That was okay by me.

A good time was had by all! What's your favorite thing to do for ladies night? I love hearing new ideas!




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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pork Fried Quinoa

I am sucker for pork-fried rice from most Chinese restaurants. Is anybody with me here? I had some pork chops on hand and instead of frying them up with some potatoes (which would have been equally as delicious) I decided on a whim to create my own {healthier} version of “fried rice” using protein and vitamin packed quinoa. This dish was a hit and will definitely be making another appearance at the Fry dinner table very soon.

Ingredients
  tbsp oil (canola, vegetable or peanut)
4 boneless thin cut pork chops
1 tsp each salt & pepper
3-4 green onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup carrots, chopped
½ cup frozen sweet peas , thawed
2 tbsp soy sauce
1-2 eggs (optional)
2 cups cooked quinoa
1-2 tsp chili garlic sauce or sriracha sauce  (optional, but highly recommended)

Step One
Prepare quinoa as listed in the recipe here (leaving out the corn).

Step Two
Heat 1 cup water to a boil in the microwave, drop in peas and drain after a few minutes (don’t heat the peas in the microwave - this takes away the nutrients).

Step Three
Heat 1 tbsp oil in large skillet on medium-high heat. Season pork chops with salt & pepper. Add to skillet and cook on each side 3-4 minutes, or until no longer pink inside. Remove and cut into smaller pieces.

Step Four
Heat remaining oil in skillet and sauté the onions & carrots 4-5 minutes, or until slightly tender. Add in garlic and cook for an additional minute. Stir in peas and pork; cook for an additional minute.

Step Five
Move vegetables around the edge to create a circle in the middle of the skillet. Crack eggs directly into the skillet, letting sit for a minute. Using a spatula, start to break eggs up into smaller pieces until cooked through.

Step Six
Add in quinoa, soy sauce and chili garlic sauce (if using). Mix everything together and cook for a couple minutes.

Serve alongside some edamame for an easy light meal. Enjoy, y’all!






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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Spinach & Beef Lasagna

Lasagna is one of my all-time favorite dishes, especially during fall. It's hearty. It's cheesy. It's a crowd pleaser. It's calorie free. I WISH. Hey, there is nothing wrong with having one of those "splurge" meals every once in a while, right? Tonight was one of those nights. I had a craving AND I had the ingredients on hand. All signs pointed to Y-E-S.

This recipe also gets bonus points because it cuts down on a couple of the steps by using oven-ready lasagna noodles and jarred tomato sauce. Don't judge! I like making my own sauce, but sometimes you just don't have the time (or the desire). Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think (I bet you won't be able to tell the difference)!

Ingredients
1 box oven-ready lasagna noodles
½ cup sweet onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups raw baby spinach (or ½ pkg frozen spinach that has been thawed and drained)
1 lb ground beef
¼ lb mild sausage (this is not necessary, but does add a nice flavor)
1 jar basil marinara
1½ cups cheddar-mozzarella shredded cheese (or just mozzarella)
1 small container reduced fat ricotta cheese
1 egg
½ cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
dash of red pepper flakes
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 375.

Step One
Sauté onion and garlic in 1 tbsp olive oil, 4-5 minutes or until translucent. Add in spinach and cook until reduced down.

Step Two
Add beef, sausage, oregano, salt, pepper & red pepper flakes; cook until no longer pink.

Step Three
Drain off most of the fat (leave a little for flavor). Pour in the jarred tomato sauce (saving ¼ cup to the side).

Step Four
(this can be done while meat is cooking) Beat the egg in a mixing bowl. Add in the ricotta, Parmesan & parsley. Mix well.

Step Five
Using a 9 x 13 glass pan, pour the remaining tomato sauce over the bottom. Layer 3-4 noodles (however many fit) across the bottom. Spread ricotta mixture, then later beef mixture and top with some shredded  cheese. Repeat this twice, ending with a little beef mixture on top and a layer of cheese.

Step Six
Cover with foil. Cook for 40-45 minutes. Remove foil and cook for 10-15 more minutes (or until a light golden brown).

Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with salad and warm crusty bread for a complete and delicious meal.

Enjoy, y'all!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Vegetable Soup

It's finally feeling like fall outside so its time to add soup back into the menu rotation! This vegetable soup can be made with any combination of fresh and/or frozen veggies you have on hand. It's also a great excuse to add grilled cheese as a "side dish" to a meal!


Ingredients
4 green onions, sliced
¼ cup white onion, diced (optional - just had this on hand)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1 tsp each oregano, basil, salt & pepper
¼ tsp thyme, rosemary, garlic powder & red pepper flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes (I used Muir Glen fire-roasted)
2 tbsp tomato paste
4-5 cups chicken broth
7-8 cups fresh or frozen vegetables
(pictured below corn, peas, butter beans, okra, potato, carrots, tomatoes and squash)  

Step One

Heat oil large dutch oven on medium high heat. Saute onions, celery and spices for 4-5 minutes, or until translucent. Add in garlic and cook an additional minute.

Step Two

Add broth, diced tomatoes and paste to the pot. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Step Three

Add in vegetables, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 35-40 minutes (and vegetables are tender).

**You can also make this recipe using the crock pot. Complete step one (in smaller saute pan) and then dump everything into your slow cooker. Cook on high 4 or 6 hours.

Enjoy, y'all! xo --


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Friday, September 26, 2014

Soft Pumpkin Cookies


Once fall hits I love having an excuse to make any and everything pumpkin! Today I just felt like spoiling my boys so I decided on this sweet treat. If you have a can of pumpkin on hand you have no reason NOT to make these cookies (most the of the other ingredients are typical staples in anyone's pantry). You won't mind the delicious fall smell that takes over your house either! :)


Ingredients
2/3 cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup pumpkin puree
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp salt
½ cup powdered sugar
1½ tbsp milk
1 tbsp maple syrup (you can omit if you do not have it on hand)

Step One
Heat oven to 350°.

Step Two
Beat the sugars (granulated & brown) & butter on medium speed until mixed together.

Step Three
Add in pumpkin & eggs and beat on low speed until combined.

Step Four
On low speed, blend in your flour, baking soda and spices until all combined.

Step Five
Drop by the tablespoon full on an ungreased cookie sheet (should make approximately 2 dozen).
Cook for 10-12 minutes or until slightly browned.

Step Six
Remove cookies and let cool on wire rack for at least 30 minutes.

Step Seven
In a small mixing bowl, stir together your powdered sugar, milk and syrup to make a light icing.

Step Eight
Pour into a small ziplock bag (or piping bag if you have one) and drizzle over the cookies.

Enjoy, y'all!






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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pulled Pork Chili

Chili and crisp fall weather just make sense together. You can see what I mean here and here. Since today is the first day of fall I felt it was only right to kick off the season by creating a new version of the American classic.

I just happened to have a ton of slow-roasted pull pork left over from this past weekend (we of course cook pork on Razorback game days) that I couldn't let go to waste and the result was worth sharing! This chili will be a great addition to your fall menu.

Ingredients
2 cups pulled pork (you can substitute cooked chicken breast if you prefer)
1 sweet onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
½ pepper
2 cans petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed & drained
1½ cups chicken broth
extra virgin olive oil
shredded cheese, sliced avocado, tortilla chips (or any other preferred toppings)

Step One
Sauté onion in olive oil on medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes or until translucent. Add in garlic and sauté an additional minute.

Step Two
Add in spices and stir to combine. Let cook for about a minute.

Step Three
Add in beans, tomatoes, pork and chicken broth. Stir to combine then bring mixture to a boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Step Four
Turn setting to medium-low and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Step Five
Turn to low and let simmer for an additional hour (or more if you have the time).

Step Six
Scoop into bowls, top with avocado and cheese and serve alongside tortilla chips.


Enjoy and happy fall, y'all!





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Monday, September 8, 2014

Baked Parmesan Chicken & Tomatoes

Chicken Parmigiana is one of my favorite dishes to order at nice Italian restaurants. This is my lightened up, easy-to-follow recipe for you to try at home! Sometimes I serve over pasta but on days where I need some more greens in my life I choose to (errrr make myself) steam up some broccoli or asparagus to serve alongside this savory chicken.

Ingredients
For the tomato sauce:
½ sweet onion, diced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 can basil, garlic & oregano diced tomatoes
1 tsp salt & pepper 
½ tsp parsley
¼ c Parmesan cheese

For the chicken:
2-3 large chicken breasts (slice in half if they are really thick so they cook evenly)
1 tbsp butter
1 garlic clove, minced
½ cup panko bread crumbs
½ Italian flavored bread crumbs
fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced (2-3 slices per breast)
¼ cup Parmesan cheese

Directions
Preheat oven to 400°. 

Tomato sauce:
Step One
Heat olive in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté onion until translucent, maybe 4-5 minutes.

Step Two
Meanwhile, process tomatoes in food processor for about 30 seconds.

Step Three
Add tomatoes, salt, pepper, parsley and Parmesan into saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Chicken:
Step Four
Heat butter in small sauté pan on medium-high heat. When butter is melted, add in garlic and sauté for a minute. Set aside and let cool for 2-3 minutes.

Step Five
While butter is cooling, mix together bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.

Step Six
Dip chicken in butter then into bread crumb mixture. Set in a baking dish.

Step Seven
Cook chicken for 20 minutes, or until slightly browned. 

Step Eight
Add tomatoes and place slices of fresh mozzarella on top. Bake for an additional 20- 25 minutes (or until cooked through/cheese is bubbling up a little). 

Serve with some fresh sauteed vegetables for a low-carb, tasty meal. Enjoy, y'all!



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Monday, September 1, 2014

Slow-Roasted Garlic Chicken

Who doesn't love a slow-roasted chicken (or slow-roasted anything for that matter)? Add this recipe to your list of easy dinners...literally 10 minutes (if that) of prep time and the Crock Pot does the rest for you. I served it with some greens and creamy grits, but any sides will be a perfect complement to this juicy and flavorful chicken.

Ingredients
1 small (4-5 lb) fryer chicken
1 tsp each: salt, pepper, paprika
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter, sliced in ¼ inch pieces
¼ cup sliced sweet onion, sliced
6-7 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
¼ c chicken broth

Needed:medium-large size Crock Pot

Step One
Remove chicken from packaging, trim and clean thoroughly (removing insides from body cavity). Also make a couple small slits in skin so you can insert butter later on. Set on a platter and pat dry.

Step Two
Turn Crock Pot on low setting. Layer your onions and garlic on the bottom.

Step Three
Mix spices and olive oil together until it becomes a paste. Spread over both sides of chicken. Take 3-4 slices of your butter and put under the skin. Place chicken on top of onions and garlic.

Step Four
Place remaining butter around chicken and add your chicken broth along the sides

Step Six
Let cook on low for 5-6 hours, checking every once in a while.

Step Seven
Carefully remove chicken and place in roasting pan (it will be very tender). Broil for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy, y'all!

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Homemade Meatballs

Everyone needs a good go-to meatball recipe. Here is mine. It is savory and simple. You will want to eat them plain...it will be hard to stop...and I won't judge you for it. In all seriousness, though, give them a try and let me know what you think!

Ingredients
1 lb. (lean) ground beef
½ lb. pork sausage
½ sweet onion, diced

2 green onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, smashed and diced (or you can use 2 tbsp jarred minced garlic)
¾ c Parmesan cheese, grated/shredded
¾ c Italian bread crumbs
2 eggs

2 tbsp parsley (fresh or dried)
1½ teaspoon salt½ teaspoon pepper
dash red pepper flakes
¼ c water

olive oil

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat oil over medium-high heat in sauté pan. Sauté onions and 1 teaspoon salt until translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add in garlic and cook an additional minute, stirring frequently. Set aside and let cool.

In large mixing bowl (I prefer to use my KitchenAid so it does most of the work for me), blend together the meats, cheese, bread crumbs, eggs, parsley, remaining salt, pepper, red pepper flakes. Add in your onion mixture and water then mix one final time.


Roll meat mixture into preferred size (I make them about the size of a golf ball). This recipe should make about 25-30 meatballs.


Using same sauté pan, heat more oil over medium-high heat. Brown meatballs on all sides (about 3-4 minutes total in pan) and spread out on a lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. 


Serve however your heart desires! In the picture above I added them to some garlic & basil marinara and let the sauce heat through for about 20 minutes (to add a little more flavor). They also freeze well if you want to double the batch and save some for an easy weeknight meal later on.

Enjoy, y'all!  




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Monday, August 25, 2014

Fried Okra Tacos

I love okra season. I wish it was year round...but because that's not possible, during the months of August and September I make it as often and in as many ways as I can. I also freeze several bags so I can enjoy in December (even though it's not quite the same). 

My hands down absolute favorite way to enjoy okra is fried up in these tacos. Melt in your mouth good. Please trust me on this and go get the ingredients tomorrow! You will never look at okra the same way again, y'all.

Ingredients
For the okra:
1 lb okra, washed and cut into ½ inch slices
¾ cup self-rising buttermilk cornmeal

1 tsp each salt & pepper
¼ tsp garlic powder & red pepper flakes
a handful of pickled jalapenos (optional)
canola oil

For the taco fixings:
flour tortillas
tomatoes, chopped
green onions, diced
black olives, sliced
lettuce, shredded
Monterey jack cheese, shredded
avocado or guacamole 

Heat oil in cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Meanwhile, take cut up okra (and jalapenos if you want an extra kick of flavor), corn meal and spices and shake together in a large ziplock. 

Once oil is nice and hot (this is key to good frying) pour okra into pan. Let cook on one side 7-8 minutes, flip once and cook on remaining side 7-8 minutes or until golden brown.

Load up your tortillas with all the fixings and top with okra. Enjoy, y'all!


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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Tomato, Scallion & Ham Quiche

Quiche plays a big role in many of our weekends around here. So many ways to change it up depending on what ingredients you have on hand. The Tomato, Scallion & Ham Quiche was my latest creation. Easiest part: pre-made pie crust (there's nothing wrong with taking a shortcut sometimes).

Ingredients

6 large eggs
1 cup half & half
2 scallions, diced
1 roma tomato, sliced
½ cup honey ham, diced
½ cup colby jack cheese
1 tbsp parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon salt & pepper
1 refrigerated pie-crust, thawed (and placed in glass pie plate)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Beat eggs, half & half and spices until blended. Place ham, cheese and scallions in bottom of crust. Evenly spread tomatoes on top. Pour egg mixture over other ingredients and cook for 35-40 minutes, or until eggs are set.

Enjoy, y'all!


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Sweet & Spicy Turkey Burgers


                                 
Meet the Sweet & Spicy Turkey Burger. There really isn't much that beats a good American beef burger but every once in a while we like to shake it up around here. This will now be my go-to turkey burger recipe. It's full of flavor with a little kick and a little sweetness from the red pepper jelly (used in place of your usual burger condiments - mayo, mustard or ketchup). Instead of fries I served it with roasted okra which still provided a little crunch with a lot less calories!


Ingredients

1 lb. ground turkey
¼ cup red onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded & diced
1 tbsp cilantro
2 tsp cumin
 ¼ chili powder
1 tsp each salt & pepper
sliced cheese (we used Boars Head 3-pepper colby jack)
red pepper jelly
bibb lettuce
buns

Mix first eight ingredients together and shape into 4-5 large patties. Note: if making for a little one [who doesn't like the spice] make their patty before mixing in the jalapeño.

Grill burgers 5-6 minutes on each side. During the last couple minutes of grilling add your preferred cheese; toast buns on the grill as well. When finished, spread red pepper jelly on top bun.

Serve burgers with some roasted okra (at least if you make them while it's still in season)!

Heat oven to 500°; put rimmed baking sheet in oven while it's preheating.

Wash okra and cut lengthwise. Mix with olive oil, salt, pepper & a dash of garlic powder. When oven is heated, carefully take pan out and put okra in one layer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, turning once.

Enjoy, y'all!

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie Pasta

Chicken Pot Pie is one of my all time favorites. I was craving the comfort of one this weekend but wanted to jazz it up a little. Although I hated not to indulge in the buttery, flaky crust, the pasta was a nice alternative (with a few less calories and a lot less time to make). It won't replace my CPP recipe by any means but it will definitely be added to the easy weeknight meal list!
 
Ingredients
2 chicken breasts, baked & cut into small cubes
½ bag homestyle egg noodles (or substitute your favorite pasta)

2 tbsp butter
½ cup yellow onion, diced

1 carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup greens (spinach or whatever you have on hand), chopped in strips
¼ cup flour

2 cup chicken broth
1 tsp each salt, pepper & poultry seasoning

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tbsp butter on medium-high heat. Sauté onion, carrot & celery for 4-5 minutes. Add in garlic and greens and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until greens are wilted down. Set this mixture aside.

Add the remaining butter to the pan. After it is melted add in the flour and spices. Whisk together while slowly adding the chicken broth (note: you can substitute cream or 1/2 & 1/2 for some of the broth if you want a richer flavor). Let simmer for a few minutes, or until it is thickened up. Add your vegetables and chicken into the mixture and stir together.

Drain your pasta and pour into a large mixing bowl. Add in your chicken, veggies & sauce and mix really well. Pour into a baking dish, cover with foil and cook for 20-25 minutes.

Enjoy, y'all!

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Slow-Cooked Pork Carnitas

Are you looking for a fresh take on a crockpot meal? I love pork carnitas and anything slow-cooked so creating this easy recipe was a no-brainier for me! These carnitas are SO good and all you have to do is chop up a few fixins' to add on at the end...and maybe make a side of this Sweet Corn Quinoa to go with them. It's a low maintenance meal and sure to be a family fave (kiddo approved)!

What You Will Need:
2 lb. pork loin
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp each cumin, onion powder, oregano, salt & pepper
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled & cut in half
1 large orange, juiced
2 limes, juiced
corn or flour tortillas 

Directions:
Step One
Mix dry ingredients together and rub on pork. Pour juices in bottom of crock pot, along with garlic cloves, add in pork and cook on low for 8 hours (you can cook on other settings but I suggest at least 8 for the most tender meat).

Step Two
Around the last hour, take two forks and shred the pork so it can marinate in the juices.

Step Three (optional)
Set oven setting to broil. Place shredded carnitas on a baking pan and broil for about 5 minutes. This will add a nice crispness to the edges and take your tacos to the next level!

Enjoy, y'all!


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Zucchini-Squash-Tomato Parmesan Gratin


Here's a delicious way to use up those summer veggies! This gratin is easy to throw together and full of flavor. Alright, what are you waiting for?!

Ingredients
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp butter
1 medium size zucchini, sliced thin
1 medium size yellow squash, sliced thin
4-5 small, round tomatoes
1 tsp each salt and pepper
¼ cup parmesan cheese, shredded



Heat 1 tbsp butter in skillet on medium-high heat. Sauté onion for 4-5 minutes or until translucent. Add in garlic and cook for an additional minute, or until garlic is slightly browned.

Meanwhile, mix sliced veggies with salt in pepper in a large bowl.

Pour onion mixture into bottom of round baking dish and add two-three layers (depending on your dish size) of veggies, alternating to make it colorful.

Drizzle remaining  butter over the top, cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil, add cheese and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Enjoy, y'all!



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