Thursday, November 17, 2016

Sausage Cups: Thanksgiving Style!

Were you invited to a friendsgiving and have no idea what to bring? Look no further! This appetizer is unbelievably easy and equally as delicious! I used sweet Italian sausage, but you can easily substitute for ground turkey or chicken instead. Also, I understand that Pillsbury Crescent Roll Sheets are not sold everywhere (hint: check your local Walmart), so you can always buy the Original Crescent Rolls, roll a can out into a sheet, and use your fingers to press out the creases.

If you aren't familiar with Bell's seasoning, it's basically Thanksgiving in a box. I used it because I love it, but you can omit that ingredient and add more fresh thyme.

Ingredients (makes 24 cups):
1lb Sweet Italian Sausage
1 Yellow Onion, diced
2 tsp Bell's Seasoning
2Ttbl Fresh Thyme, separated
8oz Cream Cheese
1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (I used Cabot, of course!)
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper (optional)
1 Can Pillsbury Crescent Rolls Sheets
1 Tbl Olive Oil
Mini Muffin Tin

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray your mini muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add diced onions and sausage. Break the sausage apart into crumbles as it cooks. Cook until sausage is no longer pink. Add spices and 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme and mix well. Add the block of cream cheese and mix everything together. Take the skillet off the heat and add the additional tablespoon of thyme along with the sharp cheddar cheese.

Roll out your sheet of dough so it's about 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 24 even squares. Place each square into a mini muffin cup and press down and to the sides with your fingers. Fill each cup with the sausage mixture. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the tops of the cups turn golden brown.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Slow Cooker Pork Tacos

Mmmmm. Tacos.

This dish is perfect for a weeknight meal. *cough cough Taco Tuesday*

While I used pork, I encourage you to try this with chicken breast or beef as well! Crock pots are amazing and just like a fast pass for tolls on the highway, everyone needs one.

I used flour tortillas because I'm not a fan of their cousin, corn tortillas, but if you're gluten free or just prefer corn, go for it!

Slow Cooker Pork Tacos
Photo Credit: MJL

Ingredients (makes about 12-14 tacos):
3lbs Pork Butt/Shoulder (you can get a bigger size for more leftovers)
Flour or Corn Tortillas
2 Tbl Chili Powder
2 Tbl Cumin
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper

Salsa Verde (I used Chi-Chi's)
Cheese (I did one with feta and one with cheddar)
Pickled Jalapeno Slices
Diced White Onion

Spray slow cooker with cooking spray. Place pork inside and coat with spices. Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred pork, taste, and adjust spices as needed.

To assemble the tacos, just add 1-2oz of pork in each shell and top with your favorite toppings! Stay tuned to see what I did with the leftover pork!

Enjoy :)

The nutrition facts are better left unsaid. Also, the amount of meat/shell type/toppings varies per person!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Spaghetti squash bake

I've fallen off the wagon lately in terms of eating healthy. After an awesome weekend at a bachelorette party, I'm ready to get back to business! I was recently introduced to Italian seasoned ground turkey and it tastes JUST like sausage!

This can be made with any ground meat and your favorite vegetables, but this is my spin on it. If you have trouble finding Italian Seasoned Ground Turkey in your local grocery store, I'm sure you can buy regular ground turkey and add 1-2 tablespoons of Italian seasoning!

Spaghetti Squash Bake

Ingredients (serves 4):
1 spaghetti squash
1lb Italian seasoned ground turkey
2 zucchini, halved and cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 red onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, diced finely 
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
2 Tbl oil, separated 
Salt and pepper

Set oven to 400 degrees. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Rub olive oil, salt, and pepper on each half and place cut side down on a baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbl olive oil in a pan on medium high heat. Add onion and zucchini and cook until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and spices and cook for 2 more minutes.

Remove vegetables from the pan and add the ground turkey. Cook until it's no longer pink, about 8 minutes.

Add chicken stock to a deep casserole dish. Add vegetables and turkey. When the spaghetti squash is done, use a fork to make your "noodles" and add to the casserole dish.

Mix well and top with mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Top with red pepper flakes when it comes it if you want!

Enjoy :)

Nutrition Facts (per serving):
Calories: 350cal
Fat: 21.2g
Cholesterol: 100g
Sodium: 873mg
Carbohydrates: 10g
Protein: 29.6g

Friday, February 19, 2016

Mexican Breakfast Pita Pizza

I make pita pizzas all the time for dinner but decided to try out a breakfast pizza this morning!

Mexican Breakfast Pita Pizza

Ingredients (Serves 2):
2 Pita Pockets (I suggest Joseph's 60 calorie pita)
2 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar
2 eggs
1 avocado, sliced (optional)
4 thin slices of deli ham
1 tsp taco seasoning
Sriracha (optional)
Chili Powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Microwave 2oz of cream cheese for 20 seconds, add taco seasoning, and mix well. Spread this mixture on the pita.

Cut the ham into bite seized pieces and disperse evenly over the cream cheese. Top with cheddar and bake for 10 minutes.

While your pita is in the oven, cook your eggs however you would like. I prefer over easy, so this is how I did it: I turned my pan to medium heat and added a pad of butter. I cracked the egg into the pan once the butter started to bubble and cooked for 1 minute on the first side, (on until the whites are just set) and about 30 seconds on the second side. I topped my egg with salt, pepper, and chili powder.

For over medium, cook the egg for 2 minutes on the first side and a minute and a half on the other.

For over hard, cook the egg for 2 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes once you flip.

Once you have your eggs cooked and pitas out of the oven, it's time to assemble! Place the egg in the center of the pizza and spread sliced avocado on top of that. Drizzle sriracha if you desire, and cut into 4 equal sized slices.

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Chicken Taco Soup

Don't worry, soup season is almost over! Maybe. Probably not.

I made yet another taco soup variation last night and it's really good, in my opinion. I cheated and used a rotisserie chicken because I was feeling extra lazy in the kitchen and was doing a million things at once!

Chicken Taco Soup

Ingredients (makes 4 servings):
4 cups of chicken stock
1 bag of baby spinach (6oz)
1-2 cups of shredded chicken
1 14.5oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained of liquid
1/2 large white onion, diced
2 jalapenos, diced (see spice instructions below)
1 bell pepper, diced
8oz Ortega Medium Taco Sauce
1  Tbl cumin
1 Tbl paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 Tbl oil

Heat oil over medium high heat and add onion, jalapeno, and bell pepper. Cook for about 8 minutes or until the vegetables have softened. Add your spices, black beans, and spinach. Cook for about 3 minutes and make sure the spinach has wilted. Add the chicken, chicken stock, and taco sauce to the pot, turn down to medium low, and cook for 30 minutes to an hour.

Enjoy :)

Spice level instructions:
Really Spicy- Do not remove any seeds or stems from pepper
Spicy- Remove seeds and stems from 1 pepper
Warm- Remove seeds and stems from both peppers
Not Spicy- Use green bell peppers or poblanos instead

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Baked Mac and Cheese

I've actually never made mac and cheese from scratch before, only assisted others and made alfredo sauce. I decided I was up for the challenge last night and wanted to put my spicy twist on it (which came out very delicious)! I'd say it was the perfect comfort food for a chilly February night, but El Nino decided it would be 52 degrees out yesterday up here in Boston.

Baked Mac and Cheese

Ingredients (Serves 6-8):
1 lb. pasta of choice (I used cavatappi, macaroni would have worked well too)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbl butter, separated
1 cup light cream
1 1/4 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (Cabot is my favorite)
1/2 cup shredded aged gouda (I used Rembrandt and it's amazing)
1/2 cup shredded gruyere
1/2 cup Romano or parmesan cheese
1tsp dried mustard
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
1 sleeve of Ritz crackers, crushed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the pasta al dente according to instructions on the package.

In a deep sauce pan, melt 1/4 cup of butter. When the butter starts to bubble and turn golden, add your spices and whisk until well mixed. Add the flour once they are. Add the milk, cream, and cheese, and stir until the cheese sauce is smooth and to your desired thickness.

Empty a package of Ritz crackers into a large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, bottle of wine, or your hands, crush the crackers until they are very fine and resemble breadcrumbs. Melt 2 Tbl of butter, add to the bag, and mix well.

Once your pasta is drained, add the cheese sauce into the large pasta pot (for less mess) and mix well. Pour into a lightly greased (with cooking spray) casserole dish and top with the Ritz crackers.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. If you want the crust to be extra crispy, broil for 2 additional minutes.

I served my mac and cheese with roasted broccoli and some cabernet sauvignon!

Enjoy :)

Monday, January 18, 2016

Chicken and Kale Soup

...with bacon! I'm about to overdose on soup, but we received our first snow of the season over the weekend so it's completely understandable. This soup has some Mexican flavors,  tons of heart-healthy kale, and some cous cous for fun!

Chicken and Kale Soup

Ingredients (makes 4-6 servings):
1 large white onion, diced
1-2 jalapenos, diced (seeds in or removed depending on your preference)
3 cloves garlic, diced
1 bushel of chopped kale
2 4oz cans of diced green chilis
1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes
4 strips of cooked bacon, crumbled
4 cups chicken stock
8oz chicken
1 cup cooked cous cous/quinoa/rice/pasta
1 Tbl cumin
1 Tbl chili powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbl olive oil

Sautee onion, jalapeno, and garlic in olive oil on medium high until the onions become translucent. Add the kale and constantly stir until it is all wilted.

Meanwhile, cook the chicken as desired. I boiled mine in a pot of water with some of the same spices as the soup for extra flavor. When the chicken cools, shred it or cut it into bite sized pieces.

Add your canned goods, chicken, bacon, and spices to the soup. Turn town to medium low, stir, and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock and cous cous, cover, and turn the heat down to low. Cook for 30 minutes.

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Italian Sausage Soup

I really didn't know what to call this one. It has sausage, vegetables, pasta, and some great Italian flavors. I actually never liked Italian sausage, only the versions presented by other countries, such as kielbasa, chorizo, chourico, linguica, etc., until very recent (and I'm quite happy about it). It's been helping me get through this week and I look forward to having it for lunch every day! You can easily substitute the sausage for ground turkey, beef, chicken, pork, or lamb, if you also do not like Italian sausage.

Italian Sausage Soup

Ingredients (makes about 8 servings):
1lb ground Italian sausage
16oz sliced mushrooms (I used 8oz each of white and baby bellos)
1 large white onion
1/2 cup diced carrots
4 cloves garlic, diced
1 9oz bag of fresh spinach
8oz pasta (I used Dreamfields Rotini)
4 cups chicken stock
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup white wine (I had pinot grigio on hand)
1 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 Tbl garlic powder
1 Tbl fresh sage, diced
1 Tbl fresh rosemary, diced
2 tsp fresh Thyme

Heat olive oil in a big pot over medium high. Add the ground sausage and cook until browned. Add mushrooms, onions, and carrots and cook for about 7 minutes. Add the diced garlic, dry herbs, and fresh herbs and cook for about 3 minutes. Add in the spinach and mix until it is all wilted. Add the chicken stock, tomatoes, wine, and pasta. Turn down to low and cook for about an hour. Finish it off with 1 tsp each of salt and pepper.

I highly suggest topping off your soup with some fresh parmesan cheese!

Enjoy :)