Dinner

Shiner, Kielbasa and Potato Cheese Soup

This recipe just screams Texas hill country…Shiner, sausage and a hearty dish?  Our German ancestors would be proud!  This hearty, creamy soup sings Fall in our home and I’ll gladly take the lead!  This dish is fantastic around the table with warm bread and is even better come winter around the fire.

I will say this though, please do not use a light “sissy” beer her.  Please, please go out of your way, if needed, and by the famous Spoetzl Brewery concoction!  So worth that deep, yet tangy, flavor!

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 4 large russet potatoes (about 3 lbs), baked
  • 8 strips bacon, chopped
  • 1 package Kielbasa sausage, halved and sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 12 oz bottle Shiner Bock beer
  • 2 cups chicken broth, low-sodium
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 1/2 cups Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Garnish

  • Crumbled bacon
  • Sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Sour cream
  • Jalapeno slices, fresh

 

Begin by baking your potatoes (oven or steamed in the microwave), once cool to the touch, chop up.  The skin is optional.

In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the chopped bacon until crisp.  With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a bowl, reserving the bacon grease in pot.  Add the onions and kielbasa to the hot grease and allow to sauté for 5-7 minutes.  Transfer to the bowl of cooked bacon.

Back to the same pot, add in the flour to form a paste/rue, followed by the Shiner Bock and chicken broth.  Whisk until smooth.  Next, add in the chopped, baked potatoes and slightly mash up with a hand-held potato masher.  Stir in the cheese, milk and reserved cooked bacon, onions, and kielbasa.  Bring to a low boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes until thickened.  Serve with your garnish of choice and warm, crusty bread for dipping.  Enjoy!

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The BEST Roasted Potatoes

Friend!!  These potatoes are like a religious experience…they’re also like a science experiment. lol  “What?” you say…Yes, though easy, they have a couple ingredients you’ve probably never added to make roasted potatoes.  Which is why they’ve never turn out quite like these!  These roasted potatoes have a crunchy coating on the outside and are warm and tender in the center with a beautiful golden brown color, every single time.

A few things you want to remember when making the perfect restaurant-style roasted potatoes are:

  • You MUST parboil.  If you only roast in oven, your potato will almost always be overcooked or undercooked and not be too pretty to look at.  Plus the baking soda in the boiling water creates an alkaline pH that helps break down the potatoes surface, resulting in a starchy paste like exterior that will help make that crunch you’re after.
  • Please cut them in 2-inch (or even 3″) pieces for maximum surface area.  You always want the have a good exterior/interior ratio with roasted potatoes.
  • Russet potatoes are the best choice for this given they will make the crispest crust and fluffiest interior.  Save the Yukon Gold’s for mashed potatoes.
  • Please feel free to play around with the amount of baking soda and cornstarch as you make this recipe through the years.  Also, every oven operates a bit different, so just always watch to see if they need taken out sooner or need to roast a bit longer.

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 2lbs russet potatoes, cut into 2″ cubes
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 hefty teaspoon+ baking soda
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (bacon drippings too if you have it)
  • 1 Tbsp+ cornstarch
  • Kosher salt & pepper
  • Fresh or dried herbs for garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (400 if using a convection setting).  Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, along with the 1 Tbsp kosher salt, the baking soda and 2″ cubed potatoes.  Boil for roughly 10 minutes, until a fork can just pierce them.  You don’t want them overdone as they’ll finish in the oven.

Drain the parboiled potatoes in a colander and allow excess moisture to evaporate (a minute or two).  Transfer to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper, drizzle with the oil/a bit of bacon grease and sprinkle the cornstarch over top.  Roughly toss around in the bowl and a thick “mashed potato-like” paste will seem to build up over the potato cubes.

Finally, transfer to a baking sheet, lined with foil or nothing at all (parchment paper will not allow it to crisp up on the side touching the potato).  Spread them out evenly and place in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.  At this time, shake the potatoes around (you may need a thin spatula to release any stuck potatoes from pan) and return to oven for another 15-20 minutes and your potatoes are a beautiful golden brown and crisp all over.

Season with more salt and pepper or herbs and serve immediately, enjoy!

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Mediterranean Chicken Rollatini

Believe it or not, chicken rollatini is an easy weeknight dinner that gives you a restaurant feel.  With school starting up again soon, I have been playing around with recipes that can be made with ease once those long summer days go away.

Another reason this is a keeper in our household, my entire family loves it, including the lil boys!  I’m not kidding, my 6 year old cleaned his plate and asked if we had anymore the next day for lunch!  As a mom, I feel good about that because it’s packed full of vegetables and baked.  Now, if you’re trying an even healthier route, the mozzarella cheese can be omitted…but why would you want to do that?!

*Easy way to roll up your chicken rollatini’s: Pour the slightly cooled veggie mixture into the casserole dish. One by one, take a thin chicken cutlet right onto the mix and with your hands, place a few tablespoons into the center, roll up and place seam side down on the dish. Repeat. *The filling you laid down first will help the rollatini hold together as you finish the rest of them. If you cannot fit all the filling in the amount of chicken you have, that is ok. It can linger on the sides in the dish and you can spoon over top when serving.  Plus the oil and butter the veggies were sautéed in will fully coat the chicken allowing it to brown and stay moist.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1-1/2lbs thinly sliced chicken cutlets (contains about 6 cutlets)
  • 6oz bag of baby spinach
  • 12oz jar roasted red peppers (drained, it is 6.7 oz)
  • 8oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1-2 Tbsp capers
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/3 cup dry white wine
  • 8oz fresh mozzarella (i.e. BelGioiosa brand), optional

Garnish/Serving

  • Balsamic Reduction Glaze
  • Parmesan Risotto
  • Parsley/Tomatoes 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a oven-safe casserole dish with nonstick spray.

In a large skillet, warm the olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add in the spinach, drained roasted red peppers, mushrooms, garlic and shallots.  Sauté for 5-7 minutes until the spinach and mushrooms have wilted.  Pour in the white wine and capers and let simmer for 3-4 minutes (salt and pepper, to taste).  Remove from burner and allow to slightly cool.

Fill and roll up your chicken rollatinis, placing seam side down, in your prepared casserole dish.  Bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes.  During the last 5 minutes of cooking, carefully remove the hot dish from the oven, lay the sliced mozzarella over top and return to oven until melted and ooey-gooey!

I like to serve ours sliced (so you can see the goodness inside each rollatini), over creamy, parmesan risotto drizzled with a sweet balsamic reduction and fresh chopped parsley and tomatoes.

 

 

Campfire Nachos

Back in the day, pre-kiddos, my husband and I actually went out on dates.  Like I real-deal left the house and even wore heels! …memories… That being said, one of our favorite places to go was the Yard House for extra-large beers and appetizers, my fave being their chicken nachos.  Given my current, complete “mom life” and flip flops, I still crave those crunchy, cheesy chips, but it’s not as easy to get.

Sooooo, I made my own version!  All I have to say, is that Yard House has best watch-out, because mine are just as legit.  Ok, the multi-million dollar restaurant is probably safe, they’ll just be losing my $13.95. 😉

*Absolutely buy your favorite tortilla chip, BUT for the best experience, I buy mine from our bakery.  They’re 100% fresh, crunchy, salty and thick.  Yes, normally I’d like thin chips for my salsa, but with heavy piled nachos you do NOT want your chip to break, right??  Eating nachos with utensils defeats the entire purpose, so please listen to me folks! 🙂

 

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 bag of corn tortilla chips 
  • 2 cups shredded chicken (i.e. rotisserie); you can also use ground beef or brisket
  • 1 can Borracho beans, drained
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce red, green or both (1/2+1/2 cup…which I love to do!)
  • 2+ cups cheese, shredded (fresh melts best, i.e. cheddar or jack)
  • Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, sour cream

Using a cast-iron skillet, Dutch oven or disposable foil pan, layer in 1/2 of the tortilla chips, followed by 1/2 each of the shredded chicken (or beef), beans, enchilada sauce and cheese.  Repeat the same process with another layer.

Warm the prepared nachos, until the cheese is melted and bubbly, either over your campfire, on your grill or in the oven (350 degrees).  Once the nachos are heated through, remove and top with a scoop each of the guacamole, Pico de Gallo and sour cream.  Serve warm.

**If preparing on the campfire or grill, you can loosely cover with foil to speed up the cooking time.

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Honey Garlic Baked Cauliflower

When I get a hankering for some Asian flavors, this is one of my favorite go-to’s!  What I also love about this dish, is the different ways one can prepare it.  There are times that I just like it clean and simple with “naked” roasted cauliflower and a drizzle of sauce.  Other times, I will coat it with a super crunchy panko crust and toss it completely covered in sauce, then top it off with orange zest and sesame seeds.  Lot and lots of options here friends!

So when you may be in a time crunch, midweek, but still want something fun to put on the table for dinner, THIS is great!  It is healthy, sweet, savory, spicy and can be tweaked oh so easily to fit your family’s palate.  I’m sure after trying this recipe, it’ll be a back pocket staple!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite size florets
  • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs, plain
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

Sauce (can be doubled for larger cauliflower heads or to fully coat vs drizzled)

  • 6 Tbsp honey
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 6 Tbsp water + 2 tsp cornstarch (whisked into a slurry)
  • 1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or Tamari
  • 1/2 Tbsp sriracha or chili-garlic sauce (<–if you like more heat, like myself)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.  Pour the Panko breadcrumbs onto the sheet in a flat layer and spray with a bit of cooking spray.  Bake for about 5 minutes until a golden brown.

Dip the cauliflower into the beaten egg and shake off any excess.  Place, one by one, onto the slightly browned Panko and gently roll and press all of the breadcrumbs onto the cauliflower.

Place back in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked and exterior is a dark, golden brown.

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While the cauliflower is cooking, you can prepare the sauce.  In a small bowl, combine the water and cornstarch, set aside.  In a small saucepan, combine all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a gentle simmer for a few seconds.  Next, whisk in the cornstarch slurry to the saucepan and keep on a simmer/whisk for a couple minutes, until it starts to thicken.  Remove from the heat and the sauce will thicken even more.

Drizzle (or coat) over your baked cauliflower bites and top with the thinly cut scallions.  Serve over rice and don’t forget those chopsticks!!

*Can be made without the panko for low-carb or gluten free/ GF Panko can be substituted as well.

**A fun addition of orange zest and sesame seeds are always tasty too.  If you really like the orange flavor, add a bit of the zest and squeeze of juice to the sauce.  

BakedHoneyCauli

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!

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