Monthly Archives: March 2016

Spinach & Sausage Gnocchi

I must be feeling “off” because instead of (my favorite) Mexican food…I was having an Italian craving!  So I loaded up the crew and headed to the store in search of something that’d catch my eye!

Once in the produce section, I saw aplenty of fresh mushrooms, and while their meaty texture would of been fine alone for me, I KNOW my hubby needs meat in his meals.  So let’s head for the Italian Sausage!!  In true Carly form I went with the spicy..hey, even my young boys love it!  Finally, what goes better with sausage and mushrooms in not only flavor, but color?  Sautéed spinach!!  Dang, when paired with the onions and garlic, the light pillowy texture from the gnocchi (Im dreamy eyed right now), this was just delicious!!  **plus quick!!

*This can be made gluten free.

*You can leave out the sausage and substitute veggie broth instead of beef stock for a vegetarian option.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 16oz pckg gnocchi (gluten free available)
  • 1 pckg Italian sausage links (I used spicy)
  • 1 9oz pckg frozen spinach (defrosted and drained)
  • 2 portobello mushrooms (cleaned, scraped and sliced)
  • 1 8oz pckg baby Bella’s mushrooms (cleaned & sliced)
  • 1 cup beef stock (gluten free available)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic and 1/2 shallot, minced
  • Kosher salt & pepper, red pepper flake (a pinch each/to taste) 

    Beef broth not pictured

         

In a large skillet on medium heat, place in the Italian sausages along with a couple Tbsps of water.  Cover and allow to brown, turning ever so often.  Once the sausages are browned on all sides, remove most of the grease and then carefully poor in the 1 cup beef stock over the sausage.  Cover again and allow to steam in the broth for about 5 minutes to finish cooking through.  When finished, set aside on a paper towel lined plate reserving the pan juices. 

   

**Meanwhile bring a large stockpot of salted water to a low boil.  

In that same pan with the reserved juices, add in the garlic & shallot and cook for 1 minute. 

 Next, toss in all of the mushrooms followed shortly with the defrosted & drained spinach.  Sauté the veggies together while slicing the now cooled and cooked sausage links into 1″ pieces.  Add to the skillet. 

     

**Your water should now be boiling, so toss in the gnocchi and cook to package directions.  This does NOT take long folks.

Gnocchi is now cooked!  With a ladle transfer the pillowy potato bites directly into the sausage skillet.  Make sure to include a little of the cooking water with the gnocchi!  Really makes for a great sauce!! 

 Finally…add that nutty parmesan cheese over top the entire skillet and fold in. 

Serve with a bit more freshly grated Parmesan on top alongside a light salad and glass of vino!!  Enjoy!!! 

 

Twice Baked Shepards Pie

Wow! This is honestly such a cool recipe in both taste and presentation. Plus, if you have some hungry people in your life, these are sure to fill them up all while being inexpensive too!

A fancy Sunday dinner in my home consists of steak and twice baked potatoes…crunchy, salty potato skin filled with creamy, cheesy mashed potatoes! …and then I thought about how your normal Shepard’s Pie has that same mashed tater ‘crust’. So why not combine the two?? Duh!! Genius I tell ya 😉💡

You can also make these a healthy way too! Why not use a sweet potato, ground turkey or double veggies and a cauliflower mash on top?! I’ll stick with my comfort version, but the healthy one can be all yours 😉

The Starting Lineup

  • 3 large russet potatoes
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 cup peas
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1 cup chicken or beef broth
  • 1 cup red wine 
  • 2-3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 1 stick butter, divided
  • 1 cup milk or heavy cream 
  • 2 tsp thyme
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil  

Let’s bake some potatoes friends! Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. With a fork, poke your potato about 6-8 times. Coat each of these ginormous potatoes with some extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle liberally with kosher salt. Place the potatoes DIRECTLY onto the oven rack. You can put a baking sheet under them on the rack below to catch any drippings. These will bake for 1 hour.

 While the potatoes are baking, chop up your onion, carrot & garlic. Chop the vegetables in uniform size to ensure they cook evenly.

 In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat 1 Tbsp EVOO and 2 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Toss in your carrots and cook till just about soft (5 minutes). Next add in your onion and cook for 3-4 minutes.

   Once the onions start ‘sweating’ their juices, add in the ground beef, thyme and salt & pepper. Cook the meat till browned, about 10-12 minutes.

 After your ground beef is cooked through and onions & carrots are soft, drain just a little of the grease (reserve some in pot). Sprinkle in the flour one Tbsp at a time. Quickly mix this in with your meat & veggie blend. The flour will bind it all together and really thicken it up fast!

   Now to finish up your Shepards Pie filling! Add in your broth, wine, tomato paste, Worcestershire, peas & garlic. Give it a good stir and bring heat down to a simmer. This will cook down quite a bit and thicken up after 20-30 minutes. It has SUCH a great, rich color to it!

   While your filling is simmering away, your baked potatoes should be done. Remove after the hour is up and allow to cool a bit, you need to be able to handle them. Also, bump that oven up to 400 degrees.

Have a large bowl ready with the remaining butter already in it. Cut each potato in half lengthwise. With a spoon (carefully) scoop out about 90% of the potatoes flesh and put into the bowl. Careful NOT to break that potatoes skin! *I like to almost ‘outline’ where I’ll be scooping out, keep just enough flesh against the potatoes skin to keep its shape. Place these hollowed out skins onto a baking sheet.
 With the potato flesh and butter now in the bowl, pour in your milk or heavy cream and a pinch of salt & pepper. Now mash away!! Or for creamier mashed potatoes, use an immersion blender if you have one available.

 Have ready your shredded cheddar and chopped parsley.

 Once you’ve finished the potatoes, your meat filling will be cooked down and ready to go!! The assembly step can be a bit messy, but that’s ok! That just means it’s going to be good….

Scoop a hefty amount of your meat & veggie mix straight into your potato skin shell. Next is the mashed potato layer. Go ahead and be liberal with that amount as well! What the heck right? 😉 *you of course can make this “pretty” and use an icing bag to add the mashed potato layer, but I like it more rustic myself.
 Top each filled, potato off with a good amount of cheddar cheese and pop these bad boys in the oven for about 15 minutes. Oh my, my, my….

   Once time is up, remove from the oven and sprinkle with some chopped, fresh parsley for added flavor and color. There you have it…Twice Baked Shepard’s Pie!! Enjoy!

Guinness Corned Beef Sliders

Growing up I was quite fond of St. Paddy’s Day. The corned beef and cabbage part, I was not. Since being on my own, I created something along the lines of the traditional American-Irish meal. However, mine is better. At least to me. It is also a crockpot meal, so you can be at work during the day and when you return home all you need to do is eat & have a green beer. 🍀🍻
The Starting Lineup

  • 3lb+ corned beef
  • 2 small yellow onions, quartered
  • 2 carrots, quartered
  • 1 bottle of Guinness 
  • 1-2 cups water 
  • Bakery slider rolls/potato buns
  • KerryGold Dubliner cheese, sliced

*I like too add spicy mustard to my finished sliders. 

 In a large crockpot, spray with non-stick and place in your cut veggies. They’ll act as a rack for the brisket. 

 Layer your corned beef over top. Typically, it will either have the seasoning already on it or you just cut open and sprinkle the attached packet over top the meat. (In a crockpot I like to trim off some of the fat before cooking it. Normally fat is a great thing for flavor, but a crockpot makes meats so tender due to its long cook-time).. Add in the 2cups water and the Guinness over top. 

 Whelp! That’s it for the meat! Cover that baby up and let it cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for about 5-6.

Dinner time!!!! Serve how you please, but I like to halve potato rolls and place on a lined baking sheet. Brush halved buns lightly with a bit of olive oil, butter or non-stick spray. Place under the ovens broiler for just a couple minutes till golden. Meanwhile, slice up that Irish KerryGold cheese! 

 Assemble the tender, hot corned beef over the toasted bun bottom and top with a slice of cheese or two and the bun top! Serve with a cold Guinness and repeat! 

Spring Break ’16

I’m baacckkkk….as it may of seemed that I took a bit of a hiatus, I was actually having so much fun visiting family and friends in Arizona and California.  We may of even saw Mr. Mickey Mouse himself!

We started the LONG journey from north central Texas (why o’ why didn’t we fly?? next time for sure!) to Arizona with our two boys in tow.  If you’ve never driven through Texas, or even halfway through, I compare it to flying to the moon.  Yes, it IS that large.  Finally, after battling the I-10 El Paso traffic and smell, the boring flat trip through New Mexico, we arrived to our destination of the perfectly manicured northwest valley of Arizona! 

We fortunately left a day earlier than planned so we got to spend a day with family (Tuesday..outside of our vehicle, yay!) hanging out and enjoying good food and cocktails.  ..because that very next morning we were back at it and off to California!

Luckily comparing that drive to Los Angeles vs the prior one from Granbury, TX to north Peoria, AZ felt like a quick trip to the grocery store.  After a great ‘girls-night’ evening with family we woke up (now Thursday) and jetted off to Disneyland!!  Myself along with my two boys (4 and almost 3 years old) mother in law, sister in law, niece and her son (3 years old) had the best time!!!  The look on their faces seeing the ‘real’ Mickey & Minnie, Goofy..Spider-Man, Darth Vader, all the rides, just priceless oh my!  We won’t speak of Brooks and my ride on the Matterhorn however, we’ll save that for a near death experience blog ;). 

             The very next morning (Friday..are you keeping up here?? Cause I was exhausted!), we headed back to Phoenix for a mexican fiesta at my mother in laws home where we always stay.  More friends and family came over and we stayed up late!  *Two-Stepping, guitar playing and lots of laughter may have ensued. 

 I believe it’s now Saturday morning, my mind is a bit foggy..I’m not sure if it’s from the car rides across states, constant activities or the free flowing wine, but I’m awake and ready for round 52!!  It’s my best friends wedding at the beautiful Carefree Resort & Conference Center..and boy was it ever!!  

Thankfully the boys were off for a fun day of the zoo, park and lunch with their aunt, uncle and grandpa (seriously, they’re having the best week of their tiny lives!), while I attempted to pull myself together, wipe the bags from my eyes and get wedding ready!! 

   All in all, we had the best time at Mr & Mrs Softley’s shindig!  A beautiful environment with beautiful friends I’ve had since I was 14!  No need to ask how old I am, but let’s just say we’ve all been friends for a while ;). 

       Our last day…Sunday.  Like everyday before, it was a busy day of getting laundry and packing done, collecting all of the boys’ new toys from their too nice family members, a Target shopping trip and a farewell till next year dinner.  Teary goodbyes, please-stay-here’s & hugs.  Monday morning we were out…till next year AZ!  I’m back to cookin’!!!

We’re home!!

 
*who ever was curious to Shane’s where-a-bouts half of the time, it involved guitar playing, an acoustic show at the Irish Wolfhound Pub and LOTS of tattooing!  His back kind of hurts ;). He also got a secret surprise when we returned home last night!  In cahoots with his two best friends who run a motorcycle shop, they tricked out his bike with new white wall tires, fxrp suspension, etc while we were away..one HAPPY boy!! 

      

She’s a beaut!

 

Frito Pie Poppers

As we all know, Frito Pie and Jalapeño Poppers are a Texas delicacy (if you didn’t, now you do).  They may not be what you call fancy, but you know what?? They’re damn good and get eaten in a hurry!  You will never have leftovers!

So considering today is Texas Independence Day, I thought that this would be a delightful tribute to this great state!  Boy was I right!!!  Now the recipe below makes 12…assuming you eat one a piece, well…you may need to quadruple it because my hubby and I ate them all.  No problem.

The Starting Lineup

  • 6 large jalapeños 
  • 1 can chili (no beans & you will have extra)
  • Cheddar cheese, cut into long strips
  • 1 cup corn chips, slighty crushed
  • 1/4 cup white onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onion, diced (not pictured…I forgot ok?)
  • Sour cream

Optional

  • Bacon,for topping….isn’t that always an option though??  

Alrighty..preheat your oven to 475 degrees and place your jalapeños on a foil lined baking sheet.  Allow to roast for about 10-15 minutes (*you’ll start to see blackened spots and the “skin” bubbling..rotate ever so often)

 Meanwhile, heat the chili in a sauce pan along with the chopped white onion. 

 Peppers are now ready and cooled a bit!  Slice in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and pith (*I use a fork for this, MUCH easier than a spoon…also, if sensitive please wear gloves.  If you’re like me, just go for it!). Turn oven down to 375 degrees. 

 Place the seeded and halved roasted jalapeños back onto the same foil lined baking sheet and place a strip of cheddar cheese into each one. 

 Next spoon on a couple tablespoons of the chili and top with the crumbled corn chips. 

 Place into the 375 degree oven for about 10 minutes (*until the cheese has melted and corn chips become a little roasty….<– that’s a word, right??) 

 Once hot and bubbling remove from the oven and serve witha dollop of sour cream and the diced green onions.   Be careful…they’re quite addicting!!! xoxo

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