vegetables

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

 

BLT Goat Cheese Pasta

I probably crave a traditional BLT sandwich a few times per week…arguably one of the best, simple sandwiches ever invented.  Now, one night at dinner, I wanted to elevate somewhat from my 12-year-old-self appetite and I figured out how to do just that!  Pasta!!

Yes, to feel the age I really am, all it takes is some yummy Italian food and a glass of wine to transport me back into my 30’s.  Plus, my husband prefers this sort of meal as well, not a random sandwich I put before him. 😉  So I already had the bacon on hand, a must, and I substituted the spinach leaves for iceberg and halved cherry tomatoes for the traditional beefsteak or Roma variety.  The kicker though, is that added touch of crumbled goat cheese at the end.  It melds beautifully into the warm pasta with the savory and sweet bacon and maple sauce.

Let me also note and close with…this meal takes less than 30 minutes to prepare and have on the table!  Gourmet, simple and oh so flavorful!

 

*As always, you can pair this with any sort of pasta, whether gluten free, spaghetti squash, zucchini noodles, etc.

The Starting Lineup

  • 10 oz linguine (or other long noodle)
  • 8 strips bacon, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (plus more for thinning sauce, if desired)
  • 1 hefty Tbsp real Maple syrup (no Aunt Jemima here please)
  • 3 cups spinach leaves
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
  • 2oz goat cheese, crumbled

Prepare your pasta according to package directions/ al dente.  Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet (as you’ll be adding all of your cooked pasta to this), cook your bacon pieces over medium heat till slightly crisp.  Remove all but 2 Tbsp of the bacon grease (depending, you may have that exact amount of bacon grease in your pan and won’t have to drain any).

Pour in the chicken broth and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to pick up any brown bits of bacon flavor.  The “fancy” word for this is deglazing..look at you!

Now over low heat, add in the maple syrup, spinach (1 cup at a time as it wilts), halved cherry tomatoes and mushrooms (<-optional), toss together.

Finally, add the cooked pasta and the goat cheese to the sauced skillet.  The goat cheese will melt in to the dish creating a creamy texture (If you like a thinner coating, just add a tablespoon of chicken broth at a time).  Serve with warm bread and a salad for a truly great and easy meal, enjoy!

BLTGoatCheesePasta

Enchilada Meatball Sub

When a Turkey and Swiss just won’t cut it…I give you THIS!  Now, like most sane adults, I’m a sucker for a meatball sub, hoagie, grinder..whatever.  They’re gooood no matter what you call your sandwich!  The last time I played around with the ever popular recipe, I tweaked it with a cheddar and barbeque flair (try that one too please….ughhh sooo good).  However, THIS TIME, I’m giving it that TexMex flavor and turning the great state of Texas’ favorite enchilada into a handheld vessel.  Genius you say?  Yes.  Yes it is.

Now, you do not have to use the enchilada flavored meatballs to make only a sub sandwich.  By all means, use them on their own with a plate of rice, refried beans, warm tortillas or chips…wrap them in a large flour tortilla with extra enchilada sauce and beans or place them on a platter alongside toothpicks for a great appetizer!  No disappointment will follow.

* I used Oaxaca Cheese for my meatballs (Mexico’s version of mozzarella), but feel free to use any of your favorite melty cheese! I.e. Monterey Jack, mozzarella, cheddar blend, Pepper Jack, etc.

The Starting Lineup

  • 1-1/2 to 2 pounds ground beef
  • 15 ounce can enchilada sauce, divided
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (I kept seeds in on for mine)
  • 1/2 white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, rough chop
  • 2 tsp each: cumin, chili powder, Mexican oregano
  • 2 cups shredded cheese (I used Oaxaca cheese), to top

If making into sub sandwiches:

  • Bakery roll or Torta bread
  • Avocado/guacamole
  • Pickled onion
  • Jalapenos, sliced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a 9×13 casserole dish.

In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce, panko, eggs, jalapeno, onion, garlic, cilantro and spices until just incorporated.  I just use my good ol’ hands for this and no need to overwork.

Using an ice cream scooper or again, your hands as I did, make about 2″ balls and place into the 9×13 dish.  *Try to make them relatively the same size for even cooking.  You can always add/take away the meat mixture to make even.

Pour the remaining enchilada sauce overtop all of the meatballs and cover with foil.  Bake in your 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.  Uncover and add the cheese overtop, bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes more.

Serve warm straight from pan with a side of rice, beans and tortillas OR turn into a monster sub sandwich with Mexican inspired toppings of your choice!  Enjoy!

EnchiladaMeatballs

Roasted Green Chile Artichoke Dip

Well, if artichoke dip wasn’t addictive enough, wait till you try it with the smoky kick of green chiles added to it!  At all of my get-together’s, I always like to have an assortment of goodies out, including an ooey, gooey cheese dip.  Now most can be heavy and bland, but this version will definitely spice up your party!

Another great and yummy idea for this dip, is you can use it to stuff chicken breast prior to baking or use it as a spread for a juicy hamburger!  Oh man…drooling!

*I realize that I used both canned AND fresh chiles in this dish.  Reason being, is I like the textural difference and flavor of both.  The canned gives off a good tang and the fresh add a smokiness to the dish.  However, feel free to use all fresh (so 2-3 peppers) or 1-2 cans of your favorite chiles…and I also like a bit of heat, so I added the jalapeno.  If you are more of the mild eating type, then simply omit!

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 (14oz) can/jar artichoke hearts in water, drained, rough chop
  • 1 (4oz) can green chile
  • 1 Anaheim or Hatch chile, roasted, peeled and chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, roasted, peeled and chopped 
  • 4oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated/shredded (NO “green can” please!)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Drain the artichokes and pour onto a paper towel and gently pat dry.  After the fresh peppers have roasted, steam in a paper sack or plastic bag for 15 minutes to soften skin.  Peel off the blackened skin, scrape out the seeds and chop up.

Combine all of the above, prepared ingredients into a large bowl.  Stir to fully incorporate and then transfer to either an oven safe 8×8 casserole dish or pie plate (coated in nonstick) or an 8″ cast iron pan.

Place in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until warmed though, hot and bubbly and golden brown on top!  I like to serve with tortilla or pita chips, baguette bread chunks, crostini or fresh cut veggies.

greenChileArtichokeDip

 

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