Southwest Succotash

Ah, good ol’ succotash!  An American classic that has been served on supper tables for decades and, for some reason, is one of my favorite words to say.  Today though, we’re giving the southern staple quite a southwestern twist!  The added ingredients of avocado, black beans and jalapeno are balanced out with a tangy and sweet vinaigrette.  Now, by all means, please add in the original versions most popular ingredient, lima beans (I really do like them).  Though, I suppose they can be optional and given there are still beans in the mix, no one will be the wiser…

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 cups cooked/grilled corn, fresh or frozen *grilled fresh is ideal
  • 2 avocados, cut into 1/2″ cubs
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped 
  • 1/2 cup frozen, thawed lima beans (optional)

Vinaigrette

  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 fresh lime, plus zest
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper, each or to taste

 

In a large bowl, combine the prepared vegetables and beans.  In a small separate bowl, whisk together the vinaigrette ingredients.  Make sure to taste for seasoning (i.e. more salt? pepper?  Maybe an added tablespoon of honey?)

Pour the dressing over the corn salad, toss to coat and chill in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.  Serving suggestion:  Plate under grilled chicken, steak or fish or serve with tortilla chips.

SouthwestSuccotash

Creamy Bacon and Pea Pasta (one-pot)

When you combine the flavors of smoky and salty bacon with sweet green peas and creamy pasta, something magical happens.  Well, magic may be a strong word, but at the very least something your taste buds would deem incredible!

This is a neat recipe, because you can take such simple everyday ingredients and elevate them into a dinner worthy of a party…aka “dinner party” ;).  Plus, all it takes is one large pot, yes just one, and about 30 minutes of your time.  It just can’t be beat!

The Starting Lineup

  • 8oz penne pasta
  • 6 slices thick cut bacon
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup peas, frozen
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tablespoons cream cheese
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup (8oz) sour cream
  • 1/4 parmesan cheese

In a large pan, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it is crisp.  Set the bacon aside and remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease.

Next, add in the mushrooms and onions to the pan and sauté until they begin to soften.  Add the garlic and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes, followed by the chicken stock, milk and pasta to the same pan.  Bring to a low boil, cooking for 7-10 minutes (covered) or until pasta is al dente.

Add in the cup of frozen peas to the pasta and gently stir until they have defrosted.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream cheese and sour cream.  Crumble the crisped bacon overtop and gently fold into the pasta.  Salt and pepper taste.  To serve: sprinkle shredded parmesan cheese overtop.  Enjoy!

CreamyBacon&PeaPasta

Slow Cooker White Bean & Sausage Soup

Due to the wacky weather of a Texas Spring, it fortunately still affords us the opportunity to enjoy a warm bowl of soup.  Now, I won’t delve into the rich, hearty, creamy versions that I indulge in come Fall and Winter.  I will, however, sit down to a light broth style.

This meal is so stinkin’ easy as you simply cook and sauté your sausage and onions and then it all goes into the pot!…or the slow-cooker so to speak.  *In many, if not all, slow-cooker meals, I advise always sautéing you’re veggies prior.  Your dish will have SO much more flavor!  Same goes with meatloaf, precook your veggies first people, do not add them to your meat blend raw!…I digress…

So back to THIS bowl of light and flavorful soup, my other tips and/or advice is to use the hot Italian sausage, not the mild or the sweet.  If you insist on the others, so be it, but I promise this soup is anything but spicy.  Also, please drain and rinse your beans with a fine mesh sieve or colander.  Removing the extra starch the beans contain in the can will ensure a light broth.

Now, I suggest if you’re in a slump for what to make this week, please try this out!  You can serve it with warm bread and butter, a half sandwich or a light salad… and life will be good.

The Starting Lineup

  • 4 (15oz) cans of white cannellini (or great white northern) beans, drained & rinsed
  • 2 (32oz) cans or boxes of low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (14.5oz) cans of Italian-style diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups spinach leaves, fresh/bagged
  • 2 lbs of hot Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Fresh basil, torn (garnish)
  • Parmesan cheese, grated (garnish)

In a skillet on your stovetop, over medium heat, brown the Italian sausage with the onion, garlic and a hefty pinch of salt and pepper.

Drain and add the cooked meat mixture to your slow cooker along with the beans, chicken broth, tomatoes and spinach leaves.  Set the slow cooker on HIGH for 3-4/LOW for 5-6 hours.

To serve:  Ladle into bowls and top with a bit of the fresh basil and parmesan cheese and serve with warm crusty bread.  Enjoy!

WhiteBeanSausageSoup

Balsamic Strawberry Chicken Quesadilla

I’m quite the advocate of a great balsamic reduction.  No, not the vinegar (though good where it is needed), but the rich, slightly sweet glaze.  Now, while I mainly consume it over pillow-like soft slices of mozzarella sprinkled with coarse salt, I felt I needed to broaden both the sauce’s and my horizon.  With that being said, I have concocted the easiest hand-held, Springtime delight!

Likely from my raising in Arizona, I am quite partial to the quesadilla, so I decided what better than to “stuff” a few of my favorite light and fresh ingredients into a tortilla and grill up!

Man oh man, when I tell ya that the popular Mexican favorite doesn’t have to contain south-of-the-border ingredients after all!  It was everything sweet, tangy, crunchy and fresh with the addition of fruit and herbs, vegetables, goat cheese and pecans…last but not least, the balsamic reduction to bring it all together!

*If you like it extra, ooey-gooey cheesy, please feel free to add mozzarella as well! 🙂

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
  • 6 flour tortillas (regular, spinach, low-carb, whole wheat, etc)
  • 1 pint strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 4oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 (8oz) bottle Balsamic Reduction (not to be confused with vinegar)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

In a Ziploc bag, combine the extra virgin olive oil, a hefty pinch of salt and pepper and 1/4 cup of the balsamic reduction with the chicken.  Zip up, massage to coat and set aside for 20-30 minutes to marinate.

Grill the chicken, until cooked through and the juices run clear; thinly slice.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat with the butter.  On each tortilla, layer an even amount of the cooked chicken, strawberries, spinach leaves, pecans and goat cheese crumbles.  Fold in half and cook each side of the quesadilla until golden brown in color.

To serve:  Slice into wedges with a pizza cutter, sprinkle with a bit more fresh basil and drizzle the remaining balsamic reduction overtop, enjoy!

quesadillaStrawBasilChx

 

Pink Lemonade Icebox Pie

Well Spring has sprung and Easter is just around the corner…one more week, friends!  If you’re anything like me, you are already coming up with your Easter day menu and may be at a loss come the dessert.  Whelp, I am here to help!!

This pie is like a cheesecake decided to hook up with gelato and had an amazing baby; producing the most tangy, sweet and silky glass of ice cold pink lemonade you’ve ever had!  It will certainly transport you back to your childhood with it’s refreshing flavor and that beautiful pink hue is fabulous for a Springtime sweet!

*Feel free to substitute regular lemonade or even orange juice concentrate if desired.  The OJ will be rich, but similar to a creamsicle. 

*Must be frozen, in my opinion, the refrigerator just won’t firm it up enough.  It also thaws quite quick, so no need to leave out on counter for long.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 (9-inch) premade graham cracker crust
  • 1 (8oz) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 (14oz) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 of a (12oz) can frozen pink lemonade concentrate, slightly thawed
  • 1-1/2 cups Cool Whip (appx 1/2 of an 8 oz container)
  • 3-4 drops red food coloring (optional)

In a large bowl, beat the softened cream cheese with an electric hand mixer (or stand mixer) on medium-high until fluffy.  Slowly, beat in the sweetened condensed milk, lemonade concentrate and food coloring (optional) until combined.

With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the whipped topping and then pour into your prepared pie crust.  Freeze for 4-6 hours or overnight (you can place saran wrap overtop).  To serve:  Let thaw for 5 minutes, slice and garnish with extra lemon slices if desired.  Enjoy! xo

 

pinklemonadepie.jpg

*Thank you to Granbury’s incredible photographer, Shad Ramsey, for the fantastic photos.

 

 

Bourbon Pecan Pork Tenderloin

This pork tenderloin recipe will be the show stopping centerpiece at your next dinner and honestly, it doesn’t take too much effort!  I gave it a bit of Southern flair, with the addition of pecans and bourbon, and I’m sure I made all the lower states proud!  Your taste buds with have texture, flavor and nuttiness from the spiced pecan crust and the sauce brightens the entire dish with tang and color!

Please feel free to try this out for Easter or even a Mother’s Day brunch or dinner.  The flavors are also great on chicken, ham or pork chops!  You really can’t go wrong. xoxo

*If concerned about the sauce, alcohol does cook way down annnddd even my 6 year old asked for “more gravy”; it’s not too strong! 🙂

*I bought chopped pecans and then added them to a large Ziploc bag and gently “smashed” them with a heavy bottomed pan.  You can also use a food processor, just be careful not to pulse too much, or you’ll have yourself a paste similar to peanut butter and zero texture ;).

*All ovens heat a bit differently, so please check the internal temp to ensure it is cooked to your liking.

The Starting Lineup

Pecan Pork Tenderloin

  • 1 lb pork tenderloin, any silver skin removed
  • 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup Pecan, almost ground
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • kosher salt & pepper, to taste

Bourbon Dijon Sauce “Gravy”

  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp bourbon 
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp soy sauce, low sodium
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tbsp butter, cubed
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet/dish with foil and spray with non-stick.

In a small bowl, combine the crushed pecans, thyme, cayenne, salt and pepper.  Liberally rub the 3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard all over the outside of the pork and then coat the tenderloin with the seasoned pecans, as it will stick to the mustard.  Pack it on there!

Transfer to the preheated oven and bake for 50-60 minutes, uncovered, or until a meat thermometer registers at least 140 degrees.  **Though we prefer no pink in ours and I register about 155 degrees for an all white, no pink center.  Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

While the pork is resting, in a small saucepan, combine the chicken broth, bourbon and cornstarch.  Whisk and bring to a boil.  Reduce to medium-low heat and whisk in the dark brown sugar, Worcestershire, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, pinch of salt and the butter until smooth and coats the back of a spoon.

Serve the sliced Pecan Pork Tenderloin over warm, buttery mashed potatoes and a hefty drizzle of the slightly sweet and tangy Bourbon Dijon Sauce over top, enjoy!

PecanPork

 

Tropical BBQ Sliders

As of late, there has been a cooking phenomenon of baking the King’s Hawaiian rolls with ham and cheese, roast beef and cheese, turkey and cheese, do I need to go on?  ..and quite frankly, I LOVE it!  I have tried them all and they are all delightful.

On that same note, stay with me…my oldest son has been on a Lilo & Stitch movie binge.  Every single night before bed, for the last 2 weeks, he requests this now somewhat old movie, at least compared to his 6-year-old self.  Fifteen days into it later, he randomly asked me if I could make “Hawaiian Sandwiches” for dinner.  Now, I wasn’t about to go buy a can of SPAM, so I got creative while thinking of those new, beloved baked sandwich recipes.  Below I give you another favorite that needs to be added to the Pinterest lineup of such.  You can make them for an appetizer, party, a dinner with a side of fries…  A super easy and fun recipe to enjoy with your whole family!

*You can use fresh pineapple, by all means, but for this I actually prefer the canned variety, as fresh is pretty tart and overpowering for this recipe.  That being said, my preferred brand is the new’er Libby’s Brand “Skinny” Pineapple…It is not canned in that heavy syrup, so it’s not cloyingly sweet.

The Starting Lineup

  • 12 ct package King’s Hawaiian Rolls
  • 1/3 cup of BBQ sauce (I prefer also the King’s Hawaiian original barbecue sauce)
  • 1 lb thinly sliced or shaved ham (I prefer honey or Black Forest from the deli)
  • 1 package swiss cheese (about 8 slices); Colby Jack is a good alternative too
  • Pineapple (about 6 slices or 1/2 cup segments)
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon (hefty fill) of ground ginger (i.e. McCormick brand)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp shredded coconut 
  • **Optional: fresh jalapenos slices, for a savory-sweet-heat flavor

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease or non-stick spray a rimmed baking sheet or casserole dish.  Most recently, I used my Pyrex 8×11, but I have used a foil-lined & sprayed baking sheet when I made a double batch.

In medium microwave safe bowl, slowly melt your butter.   Whisk in the soy sauce, ground ginger, garlic powder and coconut.  Set aside.

With a large bread knife, halve the ENTIRE 12 (or 24) rolls horizontally, so that the rolls are still connected to each other and you have two “bread rectangles”; a bottom halve and a top half that will form your sandwich slider.

Place the bottom half of bread into your prepared bread and lay on half of the cheese, followed by the ham.  Next drizzle the BBQ sauce evenly overtop, followed by the pineapple and then the remaining cheese.  Place the other “bread rectangle” topper on top.

Whisk your butter mixture once more and evenly pour or brush overtop it all (don’t worry, it doesn’t get soggy).  **If using the  fresh jalapeno slices, I like to place 1 slice ON TOP of each roll (12 slices) and then pour on the butter mixture. 

Immediately transfer to your preheated oven, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, till the top will be a deep golden brown and the cheese is super melty.

Serve immediately and enjoy!  Maybe with a Mai-Tai or two?? 😉

TropicalBBQSliders

 

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