Red Beans and Rice

About 2 years ago, my husband’s Grandfather was quite ill, and getting older and asked us to come visit him and spend time with him. Since my husband has a job where he can work from home, we had the freedom to go down to Panama City Beach, FL and spend time with him and some of my husband’s other family for an extended period of time. It was so bittersweet; while we were there, my husband’s granddad passed away. The sweet part is that we were there, we got to express how much we truly loved him… AND my children really got to build memories with their great granddad. They will always remember that time there with him, and connect that place with him. I will always be grateful and glad for that time that we set aside to make him feel loved… and build those memories. All that to say, while we were there, there was a hurricane warning… we decided to evacuate. The safest place at the time was New Orleans! (This was the hurricane that just PUMMELED southern Florida.) So, we evacuated to New Orleans, just to be safe, and got to visit that amazing city! We stayed in the Garden District, and tasted the food, took in the history and the sights and really got to experience New Orleans for about 4 days. Our kids LOVED it! We rode the trolley from our hotel in the Garden District all over the city. We went to the Zoo, got beignets, had chicory coffee for the first time, heard live music… it was incredible! One thing we took home with us was our love for the cajun food. We visited Emeril’s restaurant one night while we were there (Which, by the way, if you ever go to New Orleans… TRY to get in there, it was OUT OF THIS WORLD!) and tried Red Beans and Rice! I know… not something new to a lot of people out there… but it was new to me! I had heard of gumbo and jambalaya before… but this was new. I had to figure out a way to make this at home! So… I did adapt it and made it my own! I just couldn’t take the HOURS AND HOURS that they take to make it, so I modified and made my own quick version. Their version is of course a bit more rich and refined… but mine is DEFINITELY delicious. My husband loves this dish so much, he requests it about 1x per week. I don’t make it THAT often, but I try to about once or twice a month. You can also adjust the spiciness to whatever you desire. This is a good one!

The finished product… not the prettiest, but definitely some of the most delicious!

While I write out this recipe… I will probably tell you MANY different optional things. For one… I used pinto beans this time I made it, so that will be in the ingredient list. Sometimes I use literal “red beans”. It’s so hard, because depending on which grocery store you go to, will really determine whether or not they have the beans I want. I’ve used canellini beans, black beans, etc. I am not a fan of kidney beans… too thick of skin… but if you like them and have an extra can already, use them! I prefer, for this dish, to use beans that are lighter in color and have thinner skin. They break down a bit easier and help thicken up the dish quicker that way.
Another thing that I change out is the type of pork I use. Sometimes I change it each time I make it. Sometimes I put bacon in when I am sauteeing the onions and garlic. Sometimes I precook it and sprinkle it on top after I am done. SOMETIMES I don’t add any bacon… like this time. No Bacon. Sometimes I use turkey kielbasa, sometimes I use Andouille sausage, sometimes I use both. The thing I like about it is that I can make it taste delicious no matter how I change it up. I like to try and use what I already have. So…. that’s kind of a quick note on this recipe. Let me know if you have any questions!

Ingredients

2 cans “red” beans (I’ve used pinto, pink beans, or SMALL red beans)
1 bell pepper chopped up (I used yellow in this recipe, cuz it’s what I had.)
2 TB olive oil
1 sweet yellow onion chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
4 links andouille sausage (I used Aidell’s brand) cut into bite size pieces
** You can use 2 links andouille, and 1/2 of a turkey kielbasa… OR just kielbasa as well!
1/2 package of deli ham (Really about 1/2 lb of any thinly sliced and chopped ham will do)
** optional, 3 slices of bacon
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne powder (You can use more if you like it spicier than that)
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 dried bay leaves
1 quart chicken broth (bone broth would be good too!)
1-2 cups of water
1-2 cups rice – (that’s the uncooked measurement… cook according to package directions and set aside)
chopped fresh parsley to garnish if you’d like

Directions

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onions (and chopped up bacon if you choose to use it), bell peppers,and seasonings, for about 5 minutes. Add the bay leaves, ham, and sausage and saute for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the beans, garlic, and enough chicken broth to cover the contents in the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally while it thickens. While you are stirring, use your spoon to mash some (about half) of the beans against the side and bottom of the pot. When it starts to thicken, as it gets to the point of thickness of the picture below (where when you drag your spoon across the bottom of the pan, and it takes a moment to slide back together) add another 1/2 cup of broth. Keep adding until you’ve used the entire quart of chicken broth. Once you’ve used the entire quart, you can continue to cook and add water as it thickens as long as you’d like up to 2 hours. That will produce a thicker, darker and richer result. I usually only cook mine until I’ve used up my entire quart plus 1/2 cup of water. That takes about 45 minutes and serves 4-5 people, depending on how many times people go back for seconds!

Remove the bay leaves and serve over steamed rice.

I’ve been listening to a lot of Carrie Underwood lately… so I had to post this song!
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Baked Gnocchi with Keilbasa, Spinach and Herbs and some Fresh Mozzarella

Trying to get creative with cooking lately sometimes leaves me stumped… because I feel like I’ve tried to cook just about everything. My husband has even gifted me with cooking classes here locally so I can learn how to make dishes that are a bit ambitious for me… so I can learn how to do it correctly… and it was so fun! I learned how to make risotto! I even ventured and made a jambalaya risotto. Now, that will be on a blog at a later time, it is probably one of my favorite ways to make it! For my birthday this year, he is going to go to a cooking class WITH me! Some of the things I still want to learn how to perfect are: Salmon, homemade pasta (of all kinds), bread with a starter, fish (other than salmon), bone broth, homemade tortillas, paella, a perfect poached egg, and homemade mayonnaise… just to name a few! I thought I was over learning new things… but I seriously cannot stop watching videos and cooking shows and Netflix shows about cooking. I love to learn new techniques and methods and recipes!
One of my FAVORITE shows is Chef’s Table on Netflix. I watch the show with a notebook sometimes, writing down ideas that I want to try… or a type of food that I want to research and attempt recipes of. Is it just me that does this, or does anyone else? The more that I cook, the more that I want to know. Especially cooking for my husband… he makes me feel like a James Beard award winning chef! He is my love… and he makes me feel so adored, that I would cook every day if he was the only person that ever noticed or loved it. He is my person.
Because he is so special, I had to make a special recipe for gnocchi!
This recipe came from the fact that I was at Aldi, and walked past a package of gnocchi and my mouth started watering… so I bought it. HA! When I got home later, I realized that I didn’t want to do just anything with it, or what I have done before… I wanted to do something NEW. There’s a few things that you can do with gnocchi, but it’s usually pretty traditional. I have a certain way I wanted to make it, and had to get a bit creative with the ingredients and the way I prepared it so that I could get it just how I wanted it. Luckily, it turned out DELICIOUS!! This dish will seem like it is a lot of steps, but they are QUICK steps, and won’t take as long as it seems like it will… and all of the steps are worth it, for the end result. It felt rustic, and like comfort food.

Ingredients:

1 package of gnocchi (I used Aldi Priano Gnocchi – I will post a picture)
1/2 (to a whole, depending on how many servings you want) turkey Kielbasa (you can also use Aidells andouille sausage) sliced into bite size pieces and set aside
1/2 cup baby spinach, roughly chopped
1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese
1 ball of FRESH mozzarella, sliced
1/4 cup dry white wine (you can use chicken broth instead, just use 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 to 3 TB butter
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 sweet yellow onion
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp dried thyme
dash of dried red pepper flakes

Honestly, not the prettiest dish to photograph… but can you imagine the taste of that stringy, melted FRESH mozzarella over the crispy gnocchi?!?!?!?!

Directions:

Start by bring a large sauce pan full of water to boil with a dash of salt in it. Cook the gnocchi based on the instructions on the back of the package. Once cooked, strain and leave in a strainer and set aside.
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Meanwhile, chop your onions, kielbasa, and spinach.
Heat a skillet, or dutch oven on the stove with 2 TB butter in it. Heat it at medium so you do not burn the butter. Take the onions, and put into the butter and start to saute. Add the cooked gnocchi to the pan and evenly space them so none is overlapping. Let simmer and crisp on the one side for about 2 minutes until they are slightly crisp and golden brown. Flip and do the same on the other side. Once browned on both sides, add the kielbasa, garlic, and seasonings and wine and chicken broth. Give a good stir to combine. Add the chopped spinach and stir until it just starts to wilt. Flatten out a bit and top with the sliced mozzarella, evenly spaced, and then sprinkle with a bit of the parmesan. Put into the preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cheese is melted, bubbly and slightly browned.

Makes 4 servings.

Then, SERVE!

This dish just warmed me through, I felt like it was a dish I would crave in the winter when I just needed some comfort food to warm the soul. My husband ate the leftovers for 2 days! I love the crisp on the gnocchi, where it’s soft and pillowy inside, but has a nice crunch on the outside… PERFECT!

One of my new favs ūüôā

Carrot Cayenne Soup with Sourdough Grilled Cheese

This Cozy Cayenne Carrot Soup is PERFECT for a chilly day!

For those of you who do not know me, my love language is quality time. Have you heard of “love languages”? It’s an amazing book that helps you speak love in a language that your partner best understands. Brilliant! Anyway, my husband has gotten a lot better at taking me out on dates, and I really really have enjoyed it! My parents recently sold their home in NC, and moved in with us while they look for land in the area here, near us. Since Papa and Grandma are HERE, and they TELL us to go out on dates… we certainly can’t say no, can we!? HA! So, the other night, we went to this cute local cafe and they had a spicy carrot soup on the menu… and my husband LOVED it. He told me that he just knew I could make it, and that the next week he wanted me to see if I could recreate it. So, this is my version of spicy carrot soup… AND, I paired it with a sourdough grilled cheese…because, why have grilled cheese if it isn’t on sourdough?

Ingredients:

2 TB olive oil
2 TB butter
1 sweet yellow onion
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 lb organic (doesn’t have to be, that’s what I used) carrots, peeled and cut in large pieces
6 cups vegetable broth
1-2 tsp madras curry powder
dash of coriander
1/8 tsp cayenne (I am very weak when it comes to spice… add to your desired spiciness)
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/4 cup half and half
You will also need an immersion blender, high powered blender like a vitamix that can handle hot soups, or a food processor for this recipe.
Sandwich Ingredients:

1 loaf of sourdough bread (I bought mine from Publix)
1 block of sharp cheddar cheese
Butter

Directions:

Drizzle the olive oil into a large soup pot, and heat over medium heat (5 out of 10 on my stove). Add the onions, and saute until translucent and then add the cut up carrots and minced garlic. Let the carrots and onions simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes and add all of the seasonings, and add the 2 TB of butter. Stir until nicely combine and let simmer for about 3 minutes. After the 3 minutes, add the vegetable broth and turn the heat to high until it comes to a boil. Once it’s’ at a boil, bring back down to medium of medium low (3 to 4) and let simmer about 15 minutes or so, or until the carrots are SOFT.
Now, I poured the whole pot into my Vitamix and put it on the hot soup setting, and blended it until it was the texture I liked. I only had to blend for about 25 seconds. A food processor would have it be a bit more textured, the Vitamix makes it very velvety and smooth. An immersion blender would be good as well, and then you wouldn’t have to transfer it back and forth.
Once the soup is blended, if you have to, transfer it back to your soup pot and put on low heat to bring back up to desired temperature and add the half and half** and stir.
While your soup is reheating, make your grilled cheese if you want to add it to this meal.
Slice your sourdough bread to the desired slice thickness. I made mine on the larger size, but you don’t have to. Slather some butter on the outside of each slice of sourdough, 2 slices per sandwich you are making. Slice your cheddar cheese, about 5 to 6 thin slices of cheese per sandwich. Heat your small skillet over medium heat on your stove. Put the first slice of bread down on the pan, butter side down. Place the slices of cheese on the plain side up and then top with the next slice of bread, butter side up. Cook on medium heat until golden brown, and flip… doing the same on the other side. Should take about 4 minutes per side or so, depending on your pan and stove top.

Once your sandwiches are done, and the soup is nice and warm, serve! I sprinkled a tiny bit of cayenne and fresh ground pepper on top of the soup and served. This was so delicious!!! Cozy and warm, and not too spicy at all.
**Fyi, the half and half is completely optional, and not at all necessary.

Enjoy!

Just cuz this song is awesome, and so is Kelly Clarkson.

Air-fried Hash and Brussel Sprouts Topped with an Egg and Pesto

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So, here I am, blogging again. Two years is quite a long time to take a hiatus. A lot has happened in that time… a lot! We aren’t even living in the same house… much less the same city. We have had adventures, losses, joys and sorrows. The same as a lot of others, I’m sure. I have really missed blogging, especially when my husband posts a picture of what I cook on facebook, and someone asks for the recipe… and I have to say “I have NO idea what I did!!”. It’s an effort and a habit to pay attention to what I am doing with how I am cooking. Writing down measurements, ingredients, cook times and heats…. otherwise I am just cooking based on taste and feeling… which I LOVE to do!! Cooking is my passion, my stress reliever and a joy. I have been cooking A LOT, especially lately, in my “new” kitchen. I have come up with quite a few recipes lately that my hubby asked me to make again… but I couldn’t remember exactly how I did it… so, again, he asked if I would pick up blogging so I could write it down. I put him off until I had a couple of people ask me for recipes of what I was posting… and now, here I am, posting some recipes I’ve made, and really want to become consistent again. Maybe I’ll even write a cookbook! That’s quite honestly a dream of mine! Either way, here is the recipe that my husband LOVED! I made it at the end of January with my Christmas gift, a Ninja Foodi!!!!! I LOVE my new Foodi…. LOVE. So versatile, and easy to use. I like that it is an air fryer, you can saute in it, broil, and pressure cook! I’ve made a few things in it, but this was the first meal I used it as an air fryer… and it turned out GREAT!

I did NOT take a lot of pictures when I was cooking, like I normally would… so the picture above is IT. I am also trying super hard to remember all of the ingredients that I used… bear with me, and let me know if you have any questions!! I got A LOT of my ingredients at Aldi.

Ingredients:

1 1lb bag of brussel sprouts (FYI, use them the SAME day you buy them, they go bad quickly.) (Also, got them at Aldi)
1 small bag of rainbow baby potatoes
1 zucchini
1/2 sweet yellow onion
1/2 turkey keilbasa
3 slices pre-cooked bacon
Pre-made (homemade if you can) Pesto
1 fried egg per person
Salt and Pepper – to taste
2-3 TB olive oil
1-2 tsp Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb
Optional shaved parmesan for serving

This makes 4 servings

Directions:

Start by prepping the brussel sprouts. Dump the bag of brussel sprouts into a colander and wash WELL and dry them. Then, cut the stems off, and then slice the brussel sprouts in half, discarding the stems. Remove any browned or wilted looking leaves from each one and then set brussel sprouts aside in a large glass bowl. Microwave the pre-cooked bacon (or cook your bacon to your desired crispiness, crumble and set aside) for about 40 seconds, set aside. Cut your kielbasa into bite sized pieces and set aside. Dice your onion and add to the glass bowl. I sliced my zucchini into bite size pieces and then tossed them and the baby potatoes into the bowl as well (you can cut them into bite size pieces if you’d like, but I left them whole since they are already pretty small). Drizzle the olive oil over everything and toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle the seasonings and the salt and pepper and toss again so everything is evenly distributed. I placed my air fryer basket into the Ninja Foodi and then dumped the contents of the bowl directly into the Ninja Foodi basket. Close the air fryer lid, and set the temperature to 390, and the time to 15 minutes (You may have to add 5 minutes to this if you like it a bit more crispy). Open the lid and toss the contents about every 5 minutes. During the last five minutes add the kielbasa and toss, and close the lid to finish cooking.

While the air fryer is finishing up, put 1/2 TB butter in a pan and fry up a couple of eggs to put on top of your hash. Then, drizzle your pesto over the egg and hash, sprinkle bacon over top and SERVE! You can even top with a bit of shaved parmesan if you would like!
Let me know if you have any questions!

Guest Posts Coming!

Hey…

So my posting does seem sporadic as of late, but I don’t want to close down my blog. So, I am now a “sporadic food blogger”. When I get especially inspired about a new recipe I have, or find one that I cannot stop using, etc. I will BLOG it! Or, if I get into a run of new recipes that I actually write down, I will BLOG! I want to have these for the future! I may make a cook book one day! For now though… sporadic.

In the mean time, I have asked my uncle, a GREAT cook, to sporadically (when he has a moment… which may not happen often) do a guest post on here! (or 2, or 100… whatever he can do!) I want some of his recipes, and the food I’ve been seeing him make lately look AMAZING! So, if you see another person posting, it’s on purpose, I promise!! Who knows…. maybe we will collaborate on a cookbook one day! Or a FOOD TRUCK! Or…. cook the BEST THANKSGIVING EVER! ūüôā

Anyway… that’s what’s happening!

Oh, and I will be posting my new favorite brownie recipe later… IT’S AMAZING… and FLOUR free! WHAT?! Yes!

 

And, for my song of the day: (You’ll be able to tell what I saw over the weekend)

Shrimp and Veggie Mei Fun

Since choosing to try out the “gluten free” fad in order to stay healthy and fit… it has really limited my choices when we eat at a chinese food restaurant. Luckily I am not gluten “intolerant”, and I do not have celiacs disease. I cannot imagine how hard that would be!! It’s mainly a choice and I do have a bit of cheats here and there. One thing I learned is that there is wheat in some soy sauce! I also learned that some chinese restaurants do use flour to thicken some of their sauces! With trying to be “good” on my diet I was pretty choosy about what I would order. I have found a new favorite though!! Mei Fun!! It is similar to chow mein, but it is made with gluten free rice noodles and loaded with yummy vegetables! It’s actually one of the less expensive dishes on the menu as well! WIN! Like anything though, I like to attempt to make it at home to see if I can do it. Always worth trying I say! (By the way… I did attempt egg drop soup for my husband. I’ve been told to stop trying, it’s not good when I make it. HAHAHAHAHA! So… I can NOT make egg drop soup. If anyone has a tried and true recipe without any food dyes, etc. please let me know.)

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Ingredients:

1. 3 TB olive oil
2. 1/2 pound medium/jumbo shrimp
3. 3-4 oz. sliced deli ham chopped
4. 1/2 green bell pepper diced
5. 1 tsp minced garlic
6. 1 small zucchini sliced thin and cut up
7. 5-6 baby carrots julienned (you can also use 1-2 large carrots)
8. 8.2 oz. rice noodles (I used these: Vermicelli Rice Noodles), soaked in warm water for 30 minutes to an hour (use kitchen shears to cut the noodles to about a 10-inch length so they don’t bunch up when stir-frying)
9. 1 tsp garlic powder
10. 1   Р2 TB dry white wine
11. 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
12. 1 teaspoon soy sauce (gluten free options available, or try Aminos!!)
13. 2 tsp sesame oil
14. 1/2 cup frozen peas
15. 1 cup frozen french green beans cut to shorter bite size pieces
16. 1/4 sweet yellow onion diced
17. Salt and pepper to taste

****Be sure to start soaking the noodles about an hour before you’re ready to start preparing the rest of the dish.

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Instructions
  1. Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F. At the same time, place your noodles in a large bowl of warm water and soak.
  2. Place 1/2 pound jumbo shrimp on lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with garlic powder and salt and pepper. Bake for 12-15 min from frozen.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in your wok until it just starts to smoke. Add the ham¬†and stir-fry for about 20 seconds. Add the onion, garlic, and pepper, ¬†carrots, green beans and zucchini and stir-fry for another minute. The heat should still be high, and you should be stirring constantly. You want enough sizzle to produce that “wok hay” (literally translated to: ‘breath of the wok’) flavor. (this description taken from :¬†Mei Fun Noodles¬†)
  4. Add the soaked noodles and give everything a good stir. Toss in the¬†shrimp and stir-fry until the noodles are heated through–about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add the dry white¬†wine, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Mix well. If your noodles begin to stick, the skillet¬†is probably not hot enough. Just use your spatula and make sure to scrape anything off the bottom of the wok so it doesn’t burn!
  6. Finish with the frozen peas. I toss them in to JUST barely heat them so they will “pop” when you bite into the baby peas.¬†Serve! If you want a bit of spice, you can add sriracha or some pepper flakes to the top.

This will possibly be replacing my take-out! It was SOOO good!!!

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If you find yourself craving some take-out, but want to be a bit careful, give this one ¬†a try! It’s delicious, not greasy, gluten-free and you’ll want it over and over again!

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And now, for the song of the day:

Zucchini and Chicken Alfredo

GUESS WHAT I GOT!?!?!?! A veggie spiralizer! My friend had a pampered chef party the other week and I saw that they have a spiralizer! Now… I’m mildly obsessed with all things Pampered Chef. It’s a problem… but I FORCED my friend to have a party, just so she could partially benefit from my obsession and need to order this spiralizer. So, because she’s a good friend, she hosted a party and I got it! YAY!

I’ve made this dish 2 times. Once by using the largest side of my cheese grader, and once by using my spiralizer. I did like both, but my favorite version was with the spiralizer. It was just FUN! It made the zucchini the size and texture of noodles. You can make a still delicious version with your cheese grater though if you don’t want to/don’t have the spiralizer.

My husband and daughter thought this was a WINNER!!! My sweet son couldn’t try it because it’s chock full of cheese and dairy… but I’m sure if he could, he would’ve loved it! Who doesn’t love alfredo?! And if you’re gonna splurge, you may as well splurge with veggies so you don’t feel QUITE as guilty!!

My recipe is adapted from this one: Zucchini Alfredo

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 5¬†tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 4 chicken tenderloins sauteed in a skillet with olive oil, salt and pepper for about 4-5 min. per side (from frozen) and then set aside to rest.
  • 2 large¬†zucchini (or 3 medium to small), spiralized* OR shredded with the LARGE side of a cheese grater
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or gluten free flour alternative for a thickener)
  • 1 1/2 cups¬†half and half OR 2% milk (at the least amount of fat. The cheese won’t bind with the milk to make the creamy sauce if you use skim or rice milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I prefer “Shredded” parmesan cheese over grated. I had run out… but the taset is WAY better, creamier and cheesier)
  • Kosher salt¬†to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. As mentioned above, sautee chicken (Unless you’re using leftover rotisserie chicken) and set aside on a cutting board. Let rest BEFORE you cut up.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Sautee onions until translucent. Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and heated through, about 3-5 minutes; set aside.
  3. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in the saucepan. Add garlic, whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute.
  4. Gradually whisk in cream, italian seasoning and oregano. Cook, whisking constantly, until incorporated, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in Parmesan until slightly thickened, about 1-2 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk as needed; season with salt and pepper, to taste. (I am pretty generous with the black pepper. I think it makes the alfredo pretty and delicious.)
  5. Stir in zucchini  and the now chopped chicken tenderloins, and gently toss to combine.
  6. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and a bit more shredded parmesan cheese, if desired.

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And SERIOUSLY enjoy! You’ll be glad you made this one!!!

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And now, for the song of the day:

I can’t help singing to this song every time I hear it!!!

Baked – Potato Nachos

A couple of weeks ago my brother was over and I was trying to think of something easy and filling to make. I know both him AND my hubby LOVE potatoes and bacon. Then again, there are few that DON’T love that combination. Am I right?! So I cut up a few potatoes and just kept adding stuff I had in my fridge to the pan and VOILA! DINNER!

You want to know something weird though? My kids don’t love potatoes. The only type of potatoes they like are french fries. It’s a no to mashed potatoes, tater tots, hash browns, etc. Aren’t they weird. Who doesn’t love potatoes in all shapes, sizes and forms? MY CHILDREN. It’s like I don’t know who they are! They have some serious training to undergo. We’ve gotta work on them. Hopefully by Thanksgiving their MAJOR problem and pickiness of potatoes will be transformed. I will let you know. ūüôā

So…. here is the HIT OF THE NIGHT with the adults. The kids had sandwiches. So THERE.

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Ingredients:

  1. 6-10 slices of precooked bacon (I used black label hormel pre-cooked. You can also “pre-cook your own in the oven and then freeze what you don’t use and pull out as needed! Great trick for bacon cravings!!)
  2. 4-5 Yukon gold potatoes scrubbed and diced into bite size pieces (You can also buy the “pre chopped” homestyle fries from the frozen section of the grocery store for an easy option.
  3. 4 chicken tenderloins cooked (I sauteed with 1 TB olive oil, salt and pepper) and diced. You can also use leftover rotisserie chicken. That would be EASY and TASTY!
  4. 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  5. 2-3 TB olive oil
  6. 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  7. 2 sweet mini red bell peppers diced
  8. 2 tsp chili powder
  9. 1 tsp garlic powder
  10. 1/2 tsp cumin
  11. 1 avocado (for topping)
  12. Greek yogurt (for topping)
  13. Salsa (also for topping)
  14. 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar or Mexican blend shredded cheeses
  15. 3 green onions, sliced thin
  16. OPTIONAL: sprinkle with red chili flakes

 

 

Directions:

Bacon: Microwave the pre-cooked bacon on a plate with paper towel as directed on packaging. You can also cook raw bacon in the oven as directed. I just go for easy and quick bacon on nights like this!

Potatoes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scrub and diced the potatoes into bite size pieces. ( like the peel to still be on the potatoes. You can peel if you’d like to). Drizzle the potatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper, cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder on the pan and stir around a bit. Spread the potatoes out in a single layer and bake for 20 minutes, stir well and bake an additional 15 – 20¬†minutes or until soft.¬†Stir again and if needed bake another 10-15 min.

(If you need to saute chicken because you do not have leftover rotisserie chicken, do it NOW while potatoes are baking. Then set aside and rest once cooked. Dice right before you put onto the potatoes.)

Chop the bacon into small pieces. Remove the potatoes from the oven, stir again and sprinkle generously with shredded cheese, peppers, chicken, and chopped bacon. Return the tray to the oven and bake an additional 2-3 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Top with sliced green onions, avocado and greek yogurt (or sour cream) just before serving. Enjoy!

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And now, for the song of the day:

Mexi-Lime-Cilantro Rice with Shrimp

Sometimes I run low on ingredients. I know it seems weird if you’ve even seen my shopping lists… but I only go shopping every 2 weeks (Unless I poorly plan and run out of an essential like butter or milk). So, towards the end of the two weeks, if I have been cooking outside of my meal plan… I don’t always have all of the ingredients for my meal plan! AH! That happened last week and I had to go scrounging on pinterest for a recipe that had shrimp and rice… that wasn’t something I’d made a million times. I found this recipe:¬†Cilantro Lime Black Bean Rice and Shrimp¬†. I of course made my alterations and made my own recipe out of it, especially because I have a food blog… you gotta change at least 3 things to make it your own! The plus side? It took me less than 30 minutes to make! Give this one a try, and ENJOY! You can even make it less or more spicy, to your taste. Throw some jalapenos in there if you want!

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Ingredients

Shrimp
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 pound raw, frozen (wild caught) shrimp, peeled and deveined
    • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 fresh cracked pepper
Rice
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup uncooked basmati rice (depending on how many people you’re going to serve. Adjust according to amount of people you’re cooking for. This is for 4 people. Remember, if you increase amount of rice, also increase amount of water!! 2 parts water to 1 part rice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed + extra
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed, drained
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped + extra

Remaining Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1 ripe avocado diced
  • 1/2 can fire roasted diced tomatoes with green chilis
  • 1/4 chopped sweet onion
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • diced bell pepper (I used red)
  • 1 TB butter

 

Instructions

Rice
  1. Start this first!! Rinse the rice well either in a bowl or in a mesh colander until the water runs clear. Then put into a rice cooker, or a sauce pan and cook according to directions on package. Once rice is done and completely cooked, pour into a mixing bowl.
  2. Mix in the lime juice, salt and cilantro and set aside.
Shrimp
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
    2. Line pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
    3. Drizzle shrimp with olive oil and sprinkle all of the seasonings evenly over the top.
    4. Dollop the butter over the tops of some of the shrimp.
    5. Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through, circled up tightly and no longer transparent in the middle. (Depending on size of shrimp. I usually use medium to jumbo shrimp).

Rice Skillet Mixture

  1. Add the butter, black beans, onions, diced bell pepepr, and corn into the skillet. Sautee until the onions are translucent and add the salt, pepper, garlic and the 1/2 can of diced tomatoes with green chilis. Pour in the cilantro lime rice and stir to properly combine. Sprinkle in the fresh cilantro and top with the shrimp once cooked. Garnish with more cilantro and a bit of avocado!

ENJOY!!!!

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And now, for the song of the day:

Zucchini “Lasagna” Roll-Ups

Since going low-carb I’ve really missed some classics. I do love Italian food, especially lasagna! I’ve been wondering a good way to make it, without just using “gluten free” pasta, or corn pasta, or whatever. I found this recipe on pinterest:¬†Zucchini Lasagna Rolls¬†. I, of course, changed a few things and made my own version… but it was SO good and satisfying!!! Plus, you get ¬†your veggies, meat AND dairy all in 1 meal!!! Low carb, but I would save some calories for this one… lots of DELICIOUS cheese in this one!!

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Ingredients:
Cheesy Filling
    • 8 ounces ricotta cheese (I used 2%)
    • 4 ounces low fat cottage cheese
    • 3 tablespoons shredded fresh parmesan cheese
    • 2 tablespoons fresh flat leaf parsley roughly chopped
    • 1 tablespoon fresh basil roughly chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 1 tsp italian seasoning
    • 1/4 tsp oregano
    • Black pepper to taste
Other Ingredients:
  • 3¬†large zucchini cut lengthwise into 8 (1/4 inch thick) slices
  • 1 lb lean (I used grass fed) ground beef
  • 1¬†jar marinara sauce (I used Newman’s Own… use your favorite!)
  • 3/4 to ¬†1 cup shredded mozzarella

 

 

Instructions

Cheesy Ricotta Filling
    1. Add all of the ingredients into a small bowl and stir until well blended.
    2. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Grilled Zucchini
    1. Heat a grill or grill pan to medium high heat. (Lightly salt grill pan if you use one)
    2. While the grill is heating, slice the zucchini lengthwise into 1/4 inch thick planks. (Try to get no thicker than this, and try to get all similar. Use a mandolin if you have one)
    3. Brush with extra virgin olive oil (I used some garlic infused olive oil!! YUM!) on both sides of the zucchini planks, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
    4. Place the zucchini on the hot grill and cook for about 2 minutes on each side or until the zucchini is soft and pliable. (So that when you roll them they don’t break… but you also don’t want them mushy)
    5. Remove from the grill and cool on a plate with a paper towel (to catch excess liquid) until they can be handled.

Meat Sauce
1. Brown your 1 lb ground beef in a large skillet until cooked through.
2. Drain and remove fat from pan.
3. Add jar of (or homemade) marinara sauce and let simmer on LOW.
4. Remove from heat and set aside.

Assembling the Zucchini Lasagna Rolls
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Line a 9 x 15 (Or similar) casserole dish with parchment paper (or spray with cooking spray).
  3. Spread a 1/4 cup of the meat sauce evenly over the bottom of the dish.
  4. Blot any excess liquid off of the cooled planks of zucchini with paper towels.
  5. Spoon about a tablespoon of the ricotta filling onto one side of the zucchini and spread it into an even layer.
  6. Roll up the zucchini and place them seam side down in the casserole dish.
  7. Top the zucchini rolls with the remaining meat sauce , shredded mozzarella cheese, some parmesan, fresh black pepper and some chopped basil.
  8. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

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And… THIS is what it looks like!!! It will be a hit! Even the kids loved it!!! YUM!

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And now, for the song of the day: I’m sorry… it’s seriously my FAVORITE song right now!!!!!