Category Archives: dinner

Cheesy Scalloped Potato, Broccoli and Ham Casserole




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I know that “Healthy” and “Cheesy” don’t usually go together, but trust me, these do. Plus, veggies, which I’ve been trying to eat in some capacity at every meal. This winter has been unbelievably cold and snowy, and we’ve made some stick-to-your-ribs meals that come together pretty easily, warm you up really well and leave enough for lunch the next day, too. Here’s one of them.

  • 2 cups fully cooked, diced ham
  • 2 lbs. potatoes, washed, peeled and sliced very thin (a mandoline helps a lot – just be careful!)
  • 2 heads broccoli, washed and cut into florets
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 vidalia onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 5 tbsp. flour
  • 2 cups grated cheddar, or cheese of choice
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 pinches nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper

1. Heat the oven to 375.

2. In a French oven, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, stir, then cook until translucent, approx. 4-5 minutes.

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Chinese Pork Dumplings


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If I could pick one food to eat for the rest of my life (pasta is a given), it would be these. I love dumplings, especially the really good ones. Unless you live in a city, good-quality dumplings are really hard to find – most of the ones I order around here are either too thick, not flavorful enough, or some sort of variation on Asian pierogies.

That said, these are fantastic. Perfect consistency, great filling, light and super tasty. Brendan and I made them together, and it was amazing how many of them we got out of 1 lb. of pork. I gave in and stuck to the basics with this recipe, but I’m already planning what version we’re going to make next. These were a really fun kitchen project, AND they froze really well too. Who needs city Chinese food?? Ok, me. I do. But when I can’t have it, this is a pretty great substitute.

CHINESE PORK DUMPLINGS (makes a ton. Freeze whatever you don’t make in an airtight container)

  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 3 scallions, green parts only, thinly chopped
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 egg
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • Pot Sticker wrappers (I found these at a little Asian specialty store)

1. In a large bowl, combine the pork, scallions, sesame oil, salt & pepper and minced ginger. Mix to combine.

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Creamy Tomato Pasta with Artichokes




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My mom had a pretty rough time throughout December, so before I went away for Christmas, my parents, my sister and I all made a Saturday afternoon lunch and just hung out for a while. My mom’s a vegetarian, and we all needed some comfort food, so this pasta and artichokes in a creamy tomato sauce was perfect. Everything tastes better when you eat it with your family. <3

CREAMY TOMATO PASTA WITH ARTICHOKES (4 servings)

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 shallots, sliced pretty thinly
  • 1/2 vidalia onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 1 14-oz can chunky crushed tomatoes
  • 2 fresh tomatoes, chopped and seeded
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1/2 c. heavy cream
  • handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • freshly grated parmesan (about 1/3 C., plus more for topping)
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 lb. linguini

1. Melt the butter and EVOO over medium heat. Add the chopped shallots and onion, cook until translucent, approx. 5-7 minutes.

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2. Add the wine, stir everything together and keep stirring sporadically until the alcohol has burned off.

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3. Add the artichokes (drained).

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4. Add the chopped tomatoes and let them cook a bit until their skins are looser.

5. Add the can of chunky crushed tomatoes, then the cream, stir everything together.

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6. Get your pasta water up to boiling, then cook your pasta. Reserve about a cup of the pasta water before draining.

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7. Stir in the handful of chopped parsley, about 1/3 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese, then taste and season as needed. Thin with the pasta water if needed.

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8. Add the pasta to the saucepan, combine everything so the pasta is evenly coated.

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9. Serve and enjoy (my mom got the “You’re the Best” plate, of course).

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Mushroom “Meatballs”




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These were the first thing Brendan ever made me, and they’re one of my very favorites. Meatballs are one of the best foods ever, but these are vegetarian, and they honestly stand up to the real thing. Plus, anytime I get Bren in the kitchen is a done deal. He’s an awesome cook.

MUSHROOM “MEATBALLS” (makes about 20 – recipe via allrecipes.com)

  • 1 lb. white mushrooms, finely chopped
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1/2 c. yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 C. quick-cook oats
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 C. bread crumbs
  • 1/4 C. chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 eggs, divided
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • pinch dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. EVOO

1. Finely chop mushrooms, then heat the 1 tbsp. EVOO in a large skillet over medium. Add mushrooms and a pinch of salt, cook and stir until the liquid has evaporated.

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2. Add butter to the mushrooms, cook until golden brown.

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3. Add onion to the mushroom mixture and cook until it’s translucent, approx. 5 minutes. IMG_6834

4. Remove from heat, add garlic and stir approx. 90 seconds. Add mixture to a mixing bowl.

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5. Mix in the oats, approx. 1/3 C. parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley and, when the mixture is cool, 1 egg. Add the salt pepper, cayenne pepper and oregano, then mix until combined. Stir in the other egg.

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6. Heat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then roll the mixture into little meatballs.

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7. Bake for approx. 15 minutes or until mushrooms are golden brown. Eat alone or over pasta – these are the bomb.

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Loaded Baked Potato Soup


IMG_6896This “Arctic Freeze” makes me want to get into pjs, curl up under a blanket and eat a big bowl of soup. You know, pretty much like last year.  I love loaded baked potato anything, and now’s the perfect time of year for this soup. It was comfort food to the extreme, keeps amazingly well, is thick and rich and totally indulgent.  Plus, bacon. Mmmmmm.

LOADED BAKED POTATO SOUP (serves 6)

  • 3 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. chunks
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. EVOO
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • bay leaves
  • 5 strips bacon, cooked until crispy
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 dashes nutmeg
  • 1.5 tsp. kosher salt
  • chopped chives
  • sour cream for garnish (optional)

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Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Bulgar, Sausage and Feta

One of the things that entertains me the most about dating Brendan is his ridiculous appetite. The boy can EAT. He’s the best taste tester ever, and  I don’t think he’s ever met a meal he didn’t like. As a Colorado guy, he’s used to more meat-based meals, but sometimes I’ll make something totally vegetarian, and healthy too, and I swear he doesn’t even miss a beat. These portabellos have a pretty meaty flavor, anyway, so maybe that was the middle ground? I added some sausage just for a little more substance and flavor, but you can leave this out if you want.

 
PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS STUFFED WITH BULGAR, SAUSAGE & FETA (makes 4)
 
– 4 Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed
– 3 sausage links, uncooked
– 3 scallions, chopped
– 1/3 c. crumbled feta
– juice of 1 lemon
– 1/4 C. EVOO
– Italian herbs
– 1 cup bulgar
– 2 cups water
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– 1 tbsp. butter
 
1. Clean the mushrooms, scrape out the “gills”. Take off the stems and set aside (don’t throw these away).
 
2. In a bag, marinate the mushrooms with the lemon juice, 1/4 c. EVOO & the Italian herbs for at least an hour.
 
3. Boil 2 cups of water. Place 1 cup of dry bulgar in a bowl, add the 2 cups boiling water, cover. Let this steam for about 30 minutes.

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Black Bean, Acorn Squash, Kale & Cheddar Jack Quesadillas

Let’s say that you and your boyfriend are going to a city council meeting one night, and you’re both working basically right up to the time it starts. Do you A. Go to the grocery store and buy things for dinner which would probably consist of pasta, and a jar of sauce B. Pick up something on the way to the meeting or C. Think about the hodgepodge of ingredients in your refrigerator on your drive home from work, throw this together in 45 minutes and then watch your boyfriend inhale an entire quesadilla in the 5 minutes he’s home before you both have to leave for the council meeting, knowing that it’s made of almost completely healthy things? 
 
C. If this town could run itself as efficiently as this recipe came together, it would be a whole new world. 
 
BLACK BEAN, ACORN SQUASH, KALE & CHEDDAR JACK QUESADILLAS (serves 2-4)
– 1/2 an acorn squash, sliced
– 1 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
– 2 cups kale, ribs removed, torn into pieces
– 1/2 vidalia onion, really thinly sliced
– 1/3 shredded jack cheese
– 4 flour tortillas
– 1 tbsp. butter
– 1 tbsp. EVOO
– kosher salt & pepper
 
1. Preheat the oven to 400. 
 
2. Carefully (these are really hard), with a serrated knife, cut the acorn squash into strips. Rub the cut sides with a little olive oil.
 
3. Place acorn squash on a baking sheet, roast for about 30 minutes, flipping sides around halfway through.



4. Thinly slice an onion, then cook it over medium heat in 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp. EVOO until it soften and starts to caramelize. Continue reading

Crispy Lemon Chicken

 There’s nothing better than produce from the Farmer’s Market. Everything is fresher, bigger, more flavorful. I love talking to the farmers and getting to know more about where what I’m eating is coming from. It’s also so much easier to make healthy decisions during the summer, and I usually end up stocking up on meats to try and make it through the winter, like a 21st century Pioneer (which Brendan, who would live off the land entirely if it was up to him, is going to love). Anyway, the only time I’ll get chicken thighs is from the Farmer’s Market – any other time I’ve bought them from a grocery store, they kind of skeeve me out. This was thrown together in 10 minutes, ready in 30, and while it was cooking I made cauliflower puree and Brendan whipped up this awesome garlic-y, lemon-y sauce with scallions and thyme for the chicken. It was a crispy, super flavorful, perfect Monday night dinner.

CRISPY LEMON CHICKEN (serves 2-3)
– 2 lbs. skin-on, boneless (if you can find them, if not, bone-in) chicken thighs 
– 2 lemons 
– 1 tsp. EVOO 
– Kosher Salt & pepper 
– Leftover chicken juices 
– 2 tbsp. flour (approc.) 
– 2 cloves garlic, chopped 
– Fresh thyme and the greens of 2 scallions 

1. Preheat the oven to 425. 

2. In a COLD cast iron skillet (I used Le Creuset), add the tsp. EVOO, circling it around the pan. 

3. Add well-seasoned chicken thighs, skin side down, then turn up the heat to medium. The chicken will start to cook in its own fat and develop a ton of flavor. 

4. Walk away for about 10 minutes. After that time, flip the chicken thighs over and cook for another 4 minutes or so. When you flip them, the skin should be brown and crispy looking – this is perfect. 

5. Drain most of the oil from the skillet, leaving a pretty decent coating. 

6. Thinly slice one of the lemons, then scatter them into the skillet with the chicken. Squeeze half of the other lemon all over everything. 

7. Bake in the oven for approx. 10 minutes, or until chicken is 160 and the juices run clear when cut. 

8. Remove chicken and lemons from the pan. 

9. Make the sauce. Pour what’s left in the pan through a fine sieve into a small sauce pot. Mash the lemons against the side of the sieve so the lemon-ness gets into the sauce. Add the garlic, lemon juice, thyme and scallions and whisk it all together. 


10. Over medium-low heat, whisk together this mix, adding a little bit of flour at a time until it starts to come together. Keep whisking it to get the lumps out. 


11. Serve chicken with the sauce, some of the lemon and the side of cauliflower puree. Oh and make sure you have the sauce on the table, since you’re going to want it all over everything.


Shrimp with Lime and Cilantro over Thai Peanut Quinoa

A bag of frozen shrimp should be a household staple. You can defrost it in ten minutes, put together some of the quickest, tastiest meals ever, and you probably have everything you need in your kitchen right now to get dinner ready, stat.  This recipe is soooo simple and so summery and great – shrimp, cilantro, lime & a little cumin – and you can serve it over pasta, rice, in a tortilla, or over quinoa dressed with spicy Thai peanut sauce, like we did. Shrimpy shrimp shrimp, how I love you so.

SHRIMP WITH LIME AND CILANTRO (serves 3)
– 1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined
– juice & zest of 2 limes
– handful of cilantro, chopped
– 1 tbsp. butter
– 2 garlic cloves, chopped
– 1 tsp. cumin

1. If the shrimp is frozen, thaw quickly by immersing shrimp in a bowl of super cold water, and changing the water approximately three times over 10-15 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.

2. Add shrimp to a bowl, then add the lime zest & cumin.


3. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the tbsp. butter.  Add garlic and stir until fragrant, approx. 90 seconds. 


4. Add shrimp to the pan and cook, approx. 2-3 minutes on each side. Don’t over cook!


5. Remove from heat, stir in lime juice and cilantro, mix well. 

6. Spoon shrimp over whatever you’re serving this with, add lime slices for garnish, enjoy.



  

Turkey Arugula Burgers

I’ve really cut down on the amount of red meat I eat, which means ground turkey is a substitute for a ton of recipes. After I got out of work early the day before the 4th of July, I came home and made these awesome turkey-arugula burgers for lunch. The onion gives them a little crunch, the dijon mustard holds them all together, and they were ready in maybe 10 minutes flat, which was just enough time for me to throw together a summer salad to go with lunch. We put these on potato rolls and mashed up some avocado to use as a base for these, which was awesome. Brendan made these killer dark and stormys and we kicked off the 4th of July weekend right.

TURKEY-ARUGULA BURGERS (makes 4)
– 1 lb. ground turkey
– 1 cup arugula
– 1/4 onion, diced
– 2 tbsp. dijon mustard
– kosher salt & pepper (maybe 1 tsp. each)

1. Get the grill (or grill pan) ready.

2. In a bowl, combine turkey, feta, onion, mustard and salt and pepper.


3. Dig in with your hands and mix it all together.


4. Form mixture into 4 equal burgers.


5. Grill for maybe 3-4 minutes on each side.


6. Serve on a bun with more arugula and mashed avocado, and enjoy the weekend.