vegetables

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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CampfireNachos3

Spicy Crab Cake BLT’s

We’ve all heard me ramble on about my love affair with the simple BLT sandwich and it’s no secret that my cuisine of choice is Mexican.  What one may not know is that when I enter any restaurant, I go straight to their seafood options!

So when I saw our local grocer had lump crabmeat on sale, it was on!!!  The sweetness of crab goes wonderfully with a bit of Mexican inspired heat, and please tweak the spiciness level to your liking.  Just remember, don’t go too overboard since the crab is the star of this sandwich!

Oh yeah…and bacon. xoxo

The Starting Lineup

  • 1 lb lump crabmeat, pick over to remove any broken shell
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup chopped scallions
  • 1 finely minced jalapeno, seeded (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • a couple dashes of Mexican hot sauce
  • Pinch of salt 

Breading

  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil

Assemble

  • Thick slices Texas toast or bakery rolls, lightly toasted
  • Bacon, cooked crisp
  • Beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
  • Romaine or iceberg lettuce
  • Spicy mayo (whisk together 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup sour cream, 2 minced chipotles from can of ‘chipotles in adobo’ and juice of 1 lime)

 

Crab Cakes:  In a large bowl, mix together the crab meat, mayonnaise, beaten egg, Panko, scallions, jalapeno (optional), lime juice, cilantro, hot sauce and salt.

Breading:  Gently form the mixture into about 8 (1/2-3/4th inch) patties and then fully coat in the Panko/cumin bread crumbs.  Set on a platter and refrigerate for 25-30 minutes to firm up.

Fry:  In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil to medium-high.  Fry 2-3 crab cakes at a time until a golden brown crust appears on each side.  About 3-4 minutes per side.

To Serve:  For each sandwich, smear a tablespoon of the chipotle mayo on each slice of the lightly toasted bread or a split roll.  Next layer on the lettuce, tomato slices, spicy crab cake(s) and crisp bacon.  Top with remaining dressed bread slice and serve!  Enjoy!

SpicyCBLT

 

Michelada Pops

After a fun-filled weekend, we love to wake up with a “hair of the dog” sort of beverage.  Often, those are either a Mimosa or Bloody Mary, the Midwest inspired Red Beer or a south of the border, Michelada.  Now, like many first-world-problems, we sure do not  want our drink getting warm, so how do we keep it cool???…..

A Michelada (Spanish pronunciation: [mitʃeˈlaða]) is a Mexican cerveza preparada made with beer, lime juice, and assorted sauces, spices, and peppers.[1] It is served in a chilled, salt-rimmed glass.[2] There are numerous variations of this beverage throughout Mexico and Latin America.

We simply turn the flavors into a popsicle!  Yep!  Depending on your cocktail of choice, mix all of your non-alcoholic ingredients into your mold and freeze overnight.  Once you awake and need that oh so special beverage, you simply add your frozen delight to your seasoned beer and it keeps it ice cold and never dilutes the flavor, only enhances!

*If popsicle molds are not readily available, feel free to use an ice cube tray and add a few frozen cubes to each glass of lager.

**Another easy variation, is making popsicles/icecubes with freshly squeezed orange juice and adding to a wheat beer (i.e. Hefeweizen)

https://www.wayfair.com/kitchen-tabletop/pdp/fox-run-brands-frozen-ice-pop-maker-fru1290.html

The Starting Lineup

  • 2 1/2 cups Clamato juice
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce
  • A few dashes of hot sauce (i.e. Tabasco)
  • 2 tsp Tajin seasoning spice (a chile-lime-salt blend)
  • 2 tsp horseradish
  • “popsicle molds or ice cube trays)

Serve:

  • 6-8 bottles of light Mexican beer
  • Limes wedges
  • Tajin seasoning
  • Frosted pint glasses

In a large, glass measuring bowl with a spout, whisk all 7 ingredients together until combined (NOT the “serve” ingredients).

Carefully pour into popsicle molds and place in the freezer for 8 hours, or overnight.

To serve, squeeze a lime wedge around the rim of each frosted pint glasses and dip into Tajin seasoning.  Pour the beer 3/4th of the way into each pint and drop the popsicle, stick side up, into each glass.  Serve immediately.

*Again, if popsicle molds aren’t available, feel free to use an ice cube tray and add a few to each glass of lager.  Another variation, is fresh frozen orange juice with a wheat beer (i.e. Hefeweizen)

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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

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&amp;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!

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