Thursday, March 29, 2012


I found this recipe in the Parade on Sunday and it was calling my name. This was my first attempt at homemade Minestrone and I'm definitely a fan. Its a thick, hearty vegetable soup, full of all kinds of goodies...and did I mention only 280 calories per serving? This was a perfect rainy day dinner and I was happy to enjoy the leftovers for several days afterward.

The only changes I made were to double up on some of the veggies so I could have leftovers, so recipe is posted here with my updates. I think this would also be great with some spicy Italian turkey sausage.

adapted from Mark Bittman


1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 medium celery stalks, chopped
Salt and black pepper
4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
1/2 tsp. dried basil (or a few leaves fresh)
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1" pieces
1 bunch kale, coarsely chopped
1 can cannellini beans, drained
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional, I didn't think it added much)


1. In a large pot, heat 1⁄4 cup oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, and celery. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables begin to soften and darken around the edges.

2. Add potatoes; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are nicely browned. Add 6 cups water, stirring to scrape up any brown bits from bottom of pot. Add tomatoes and basil, bring to a boil, and then lower heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes.

3. Add zucchini and kale, raising heat if necessary to keep mixture at a steady bubble. Cook until vegetables are very tender, another 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in beans. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add salt and pepper, if needed. Top with Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Braised Leeks

If there is one thing I wish I ate more often, it is braised leeks. Um, braised leeks? Really? I bet that's not what you thought I was going to say. Well, have you ever braised leeks? If so, you'll understand what I'm talking about. And if not, you are sooo missing out on some wonderful bundles of deliciousness. And I therefore apologize for not posting about these sooner!

I first made these a few years ago, after coming across a recipe on Smitten Kitchen. The leeks were actually just a side dish to a chicken recipe that I wanted to try, so even though at that point I had never, ever had leeks before I decided to make them too because they looked great and had such a glowing review on that site that I wondered if I had been missing something all my life...and sure enough I was! That particular chicken recipe didn't make it on to my list (but if you want to check it out, here is my brief review: pretty good, but way too much work for the end product) however those leeks are something I cannot get enough of!

So if you've never braised a leek, I highly suggest you try it. I don't even know how to accurately describe them. Braising brings out a subtle sweetness and mellows the onion flavor. They are just a-mazing. They make a great side dish for just about anything, and are equally fantastic on their own. I'm sure there are other ways to enjoy leeks but I kind of don't want to know them because I just want to eat braised ones forever and ever. We had them last night with another new chicken recipe that won't be making it on to my list, so I was happy I had these leeks to override any disappointment.

Leeks holding up the disappointing chicken. Looks good, it just wasn't. Thank goodness for the leeks!

So what are you waiting for? Go get yourself some leeks!

Braised Leeks
from Smitten Kitchen (I'm posting the recipe direct from the site, with my notes here. I always switch it up a little depending on what I have on hand)


6 large leeks
About 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (though I always skimp and use less)
1 cup sliced shallots (I've used onion and it works just as well)
1 Tbsp. thyme leaves (use fresh ones if you can!)
1/2 cup dry white wine (I've also subbed dry sherry)
1 1/2 to 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock or water (I know its an option, but don't use water. Just don't.) kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Remove any bruised outer layers from the leeks. Trim off to the roots, leaving the root end intact. Trim the tops of the leeks on the diagonal, leaving 2 inches of the green part attached. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise, and submerge in a large bowl of cold water to clean them. Shake the leeks well to dislodge the dirt stuck inside. Let them sit a few minutes, to allow any grit inside the layers to fall to the bottom of the bowl. Repeat the process until the water is clean. Place the leeks, cut side down, on a towel and pat dry completely.

**(Yes, this step is a pain! It always shocks me how dirty these things are, so if I am willing to go through all the trouble of cleaning them then you know they have to be good!)

3. Turn the leeks over so their cut sides are facing up, and season with 2 teaspoons salt and a few grindings of black pepper.

4. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Pour in 1/4 cup olive oil, and wait 1 minute. Place the leeks in the pan, cut side down, being careful not to crowd them. (you will probably need to saute them in batches or in two pans. Add more olive oil to the pan as needed, for each batch.) Sear them 4 to 5 minutes, until they are golden brown. Season the backs of the leeks with salt and pepper, and turn them over to cook another 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer them to a large gratin dish, lining them up, cut sides facing up.

5. Pour 1/4 cup olive oil into the pan and heat over medium heat. Add the shallots, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, until the shallots are just beginning to color. Add the white wine and reduce by half. Add 1 1/2 cups stock, and bring to a boil over high heat.

6. Pour the liquid over the leeks. The stock should not quite cover them; add more stock if necessary.

7. Braise in the oven 30 minutes, until the leeks are tender when pierced.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Smoky Buffalo-Style Chicken Chili Bowls

I found this recipe in a Rachael Ray mag and it sounded like something we would enjoy, and it was! It was a light, easy meal, too spicy for my little one but you could fix that by not adding so much chipotle. Not sure where the "buffalo-style" part comes in but it was good so I'm not gonna worry about that :) Quite healthy too, which is the best part...even with a few chips and some cheese on top it still fell well within my current eating guidelines - yay!

I was a little concerned when I went to make it that it wouldn't be hearty enough for my husband, so even though I made some plain white rice for him to mix with his - and he liked it that way - I honestly don't think it needed it!

from Everyday with Rachael Ray

2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 lbs. ground chicken or turkey breast (I used chicken, about 1.5 lbs)
2 carrots, chopped
3 - 4 stalks celery with leafy tops, finely chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped or grated
Salt and pepper
1 small can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 15-oz. can tomato sauce
2 cups chicken stock
A couple of handfuls thin blue-corn tortilla chips, such as Xochitl brand, lightly crushed
1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
3/4 cup blue cheese crumbles (I didn’t add this)
About a palmful pickled jalapeno chile pepper rings


1. Heat the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook to brown, stirring to crumble. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, 10 minutes or so.

2. Place the chipotles and adobo sauce in a food processor or blender and puree. Spoon 2 rounded tablespoons into a small bowl and combine with the tomato sauce to make a chipotle-infused tomato sauce.(Scoop the remaining pureed chipotle into a small, resealable plastic bag, then mark the bag and freeze--the next time you need chipotle, just cut off a piece.)

3. When the vegetables are tender, stir in the chile-tomato sauce and chicken stock. Simmer for a few minutes to thicken and combine the flavors.

4. Meanwhile, switch on the broiler and position a rack in the center of the oven. Arrange 4 bowls on a baking sheet and fill with the buffalo chili. Top with an even layer of the tortilla chips, cheeses and jalapeno rings. Broil for a couple of minutes to brown the cheese and crisp the chips. (Better than a basket of wings, and better for you!)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Green Chile Chowder

*photo from Homesick Texan

Let me tell you, Lisa of the Homesick Texan is my kind of girl. I don't think I've come across any recipe on her site that I haven't wanted to try right away. Her Tex-Mex recipes are definitely the kind of things I would eat every day if I could.

This soup caught my eye because 1) I love a good, new soup recipe and 2) I thought it might be a good place to start for a different recipe I've been anxious to work on, a green chile clam chowder. But that will be another post for another day, once I can get that one going!

This soup is fantastic. It a warm, creamy chowder with just a hint of spice from the chiles. The original recipe suggest serving this either hot with some cheese or cold with some extra lime and tortilla chips. Since a hot soup was what I was looking for, I did it hot with cheese, extra lime, and tortilla chips. Yum. :)

The only thing I would do differently next time is save a little more of the soup chunky and not puree as much, but that is a personal preference because I wished it was little more hearty once we sat down to eat. 

Green Chile Chowder 
from Homesick Texan


2 jalapenos
4 poblano peppers
1 Tbsp. butter
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup cilantro
2 lbs. of potatoes, peeled and diced
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup half and half
Juice from one lime
Salt and black pepper to taste


1. Cook the poblanos and jalapenos under the broiler for about five minutes on each side or until thoroughly blackened. (The jalapenos will probably cook faster so remove them first) Place poblanos in a paper bag, close it and let them steam for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, remove stems from jalapenos and dice. After 15 minutes, take the poblanos out of the bag and rub off the skin. Remove seeds and stem and then dice the chiles.

2. In a large pot, heat on medium the butter until it’s melted. Add the onions and cook them for 10 minutes or just until they’re about to brown. Throw in the garlic and cook for another minute. Add to the pot the chiles, the potatoes, the chicken broth, the cilantro, the cumin, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

3. Scoop out 2 cups of the soup and set aside. Puree the rest of the soup until smooth and then mix the smooth with the chunky. Add the milk and half and half to the soup and cook until warm. Squeeze in the lime juice and serve either warm or chilled, with cheese, tortilla chips and extra cilantro.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

This Week's Menu

Smoky Buffalo-style Chili Bowls

Tortilla Pizzas


"Man-pleasing" Chicken and Braised Leeks


Tuna Noodle Casserole

Baked corn flake chicken with wild rice-green bean casserole

Pita Pizzas

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

Asian Tilapia

I always seem to have a stock of tilapia in my freezer, and am therefore always looking for new ways to prepare it. Don't get me wrong, our usual Broiled Tilapia Parmesan is delicious and I would eat it all the time, but its nice to change it up every so often too :)

This simple Asian-style marinade was very simple but pretty yummy, and it worked great on the tilapia. Plus I love a dinner that can be ready in less than 15 minutes! I think the sauce would be fantastic on salmon too. We enjoyed this with some Quinoa Fried "Rice" for a light yet flavorful meal.

Asian Tilapia
adapted from Week of Menus


2-3 lbs. tilapia (about 3-4 pieces)
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. sake
1 Tbsp. finely grated ginger
1 Tbsp. finely chopped scallions
1 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro


1. Preheat oven to 450. Line a broiling pan or cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Place tilapia on pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients.  Drizzle about 1 Tbsp. sauce on top of each fish fillet; reserve remaining sauce.  Bake 8-10 minutes or until fish is opaque and cooked through. Drizzle with reserved sauce.

Monday, March 19, 2012


I may be the last person on the planet to jump on the chimichurri train, but hey, better late than never right?! I've always been intrigued by this green condiment - very, very green - but never really knew what it consisted of or what made it so trendy. So after I got a great deal on some skirt steak and needed something to jazz it up, an experiment with chimichurri seemed like the way to go.

The verdict? I think its fun! It tastes very bright and fresh, has a little tartness from the lime and a touch of spice from the red pepper. It went perfectly with our simple pan-fried skirt steak - definitely a more out of the ordinary and sophisticated way to go rather than pulling out the steak sauce. I think it would also be great on chicken, as a spread on grilled bread, or even a super-healthy chip dip!

It seems as though all the recipes for this are almost the same, varying slightly on the amount of herbs and such. I used 2 different recipes combined for what I made, which is the recipe I'm posting here.


1 1/2 cups fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup fresh oregano leaves
3 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper


1. Combine parsley, cilantro, oregano, and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped. Add remaining ingredients and process until herbs are very finely chopped and sauce is well combined. Note: you may need to add a little more lime juice and/or olive oil to get it the perfect consistency.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Parm Flounder

Photo from Firebirds blog

Thanks to Becky at Firebirds Woodfired Grill (aka my aunt!) for posting this recipe on their blog. I had never had flounder before, but noticed it was so cheap at the grocery store ($1.98/lb!) that I figured it would be worth trying. Luckily I found this recipe right away to use it in, and I have to say I am a flounder fan! Its very mild-tasting, I would say similar to other white fish like sole or halibut or tilapia even. This was a great, easy intro for me and I'm now on the lookout for more flounder recipes!

Parm Flounder
from Firebirds

*Note: Their recipe includes a Tomato Basil Buerre Blanc, which I didn't do, but I bet it would be delicious on this!


4 - 8 oz. fillets Flounder
2 eggs
4 Tbsp. milk
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 tsp. garlic powder
2 Tbsp. butter


1. In a shallow dish, whisk together eggs and milk. Combine Parmesan, Panko and garlic powder in another shallow dish.

2. Working with one fillet at a time, dip fish into egg mixture and then into Parm mixture. Coat evenly. Place on clean dish.

3. Heat 2 Tbsp. butter in a large skillet. Fry fish until golden brown on one side, about 2-3 minutes, then flip and fry until other side is golden brown.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Chicken Marsala

In the words of my 2 year-old whenever she likes something: "Yum, yum, yum!" This was something out-of-the-ordinary from our usual dinner fare but I am happy to report it will be making its way onto the regular rotation. I had eaten Chicken Marsala before but never attempted my own, this recipe inspired me since it was so easy to put together.

I'm usually put off by strong wine/alcohol taste in food, and I was concerned with this one while the sauce was reducing because it had such a deep aroma, and was therefore pleasantly surprised at how mild-tasting it actually was. The sauce comes together nicely and is perfect over the thin, crispy chicken. My only change? Doubling the mushrooms, of course! I could just eat those in the sauce and be happy :)

Chicken Marsala
from Savory Sweet Life


2 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup all purpose flour or corn starch for gluten-free
up to 1/2 cup olive or vegetable oil
8 ounces container of mushroom, sliced and cleaned (I used 2 containers)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup sherry or dry white wine (I used dry sherry)
Optional: 2 tablespoons heavy cream (I added a little half-and-half)
Garnish with chopped parsley or oregano


1. Split each chicken breast through the middle to make 2 pieces. Place plastic wrap over them and pound each one flat using a meat tenderizer/mallet until they are about a quarter inch thick. Season a good amount of salt and pepper on both sides of each piece. Place some flour on a plate and and dredge each piece of chicken in it.

2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat and when the oil is hot fry each piece of chicken for 3-4 minutes on each side until they are golden brown (this may require you to do this in 2 batches). Remove chicken and place them on your serving platter covering them with foil. carefully soak up any remaining oil with paper towels and discard. 

3. Reduce the heat to medium and add butter and mushrooms. Saute mushrooms for 4-5 minutes making sure to season them with salt and pepper lightly. Add marsala wine, sherry, cream, and chicken stock allowing the liquid to reduce slightly – approx. 3 minutes. Pour mushrooms and sauce over chicken and serve. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Huevos Rancheros

Ah, breakfast for dinner. It just seems more fun that way, doesn't it? I love some good huevos rancheros, these ones were particularly delicious, I just wish they were more photogenic!

The best part about this dish is the ranchero salsa...I've actually made it a few more times to go with other meals because we like it so much. Its so simple, but I think its the addition of a little cooking time that gives it a little something more than a regular salsa.

Also, this recipe includes the addition of chorizo-infused refried beans as a side dish, which I was excited about being a big chorizo fan. However, I was a little disappointed in these, and really didn't think the chorizo was necessary and didn't add much flavor to the beans like I was hoping for. I just used canned beans so maybe homemade/fresh ones would have been better.

Oh, and make sure to cook your eggs just until the whites are set so you get lots of yummy yolk-y goodness to spread around :)

Huevos Rancheros
recipe adapted from From Away

2 cups refried beans (or one can)
4 oz. fresh Mexican chorizo
8 corn tortillas
2 cups Salsa Ranchera (recipe follows)
Vegetable oil (for frying)
8 eggs
1 cup pepper Jack cheese, grated
2 scallions, chopped
1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup Mexican crema, or regular sour cream thinned with milk (I used sour cream)


1. In a small saucepan, heat refried beans, thinned with a little water, until bubbly and hot. In a small frying pan, cook crumbled chorizo until crisp, and drain on paper towels. Add to refried beans, stir to combine, cover, and set aside. In another saucepan, warm salsa.

 2. Preheat oven to 200 degrees, and warm the plates you plan to use for serving in the oven. Cover bottom of a medium frying pan with vegetable oil bring to 340 degrees over medium heat. Working one at a time, quickly fry each tortilla, about two seconds per side. Drain tortillas on paper towels, place two tortillas on each plate, and put back in the oven to keep warm. 

3. Fry two eggs at a time in butter until cooked over-easy, with soft yolks. Keep finished eggs warm in oven as you continue cooking. 4. To assemble: On each plate, place a tablespoon of warm salsa on each tortilla. Top with fried eggs. Top eggs with another spoonful of salsa. Add refried beans to side of plate. Top eggs and beans with a few sprinkles of shredded Jack cheese, then scallions, then cotija (or Parmesan), followed by a sprinkle of cilantro, and a drizzle of the crema. Serve immediately.

Salsa Ranchera 

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 14.5 ounce can fire-roasted chopped tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 serrano chiles, toasted in a dry skillet until charred, stemmed, and chopped
A few shakes of Mexican hot sauce, such as Cholula brand (I didn’t add this because I didn’t think it needed it!)

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine oil and onions. Cook until onions begin to soften, about four minutes. Meanwhile, put tomatoes, garlic, and chiles in bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth but still slightly chunky.
 2. Pour tomato mixture into pot with onions can cook over high heat for five minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken. Adjust spiciness of salsa by adding hot sauce, as needed.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Deep Dish Pizza

I'm a crispy, thin crust pizza kinda girl, but my husband LOVES deep dish. Its not what I think of when I want pizza, I think because it seems more casserole or pie-like versus a delicious crispy crust traditional version. So this was my first foray into deep dish-making, and this recipe almost has me converted. I was a little concerned about how long the recipe looked, but rest assured most of it is just the dough prep...which let's be honest, I never make my own dough. I might start though because its worth it! I really, really loved how this dough came out.

We made two batches of this dough, and created the deep dish pizza seen here as well as a regular pizza. The crust worked beautifully for both - it has a light, biscuit-y kind of texture, that when baked up also became kind of crispy so I was for sure a fan. My only change to this recipe was to add in Italian sausage between the mozzarella and the sauce, which I do recommend! Oh, and definitely don't try to shortcut and use a canned sauce, this pie needs a chunky, homemade one :)

Recipe from Pennies on a Platter

For the dough:
1 1/2 cups + 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/8 tsp. instant yeast
1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp. water, at room temperature
1 1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened

For the sauce:
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 Tbsp. grated onion
Pinch of dried oregano
1/4 tsp.salt
1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
1 (14.5 oz) can petite-diced tomatoes
Pinch of sugar
2 Tbsp. chopped basil leaves
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
Ground black pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste

For assembling and topping:
2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 ounces Mozzarella, shredded (about 2 cups)
½ lb. Italian sausage, cooked, drained and crumbled
1/4 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 2 tablespoons)

To make the dough:
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer, until well blended. Attach the dough hook and mix in the water and melted butter on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Increase the speed to medium-low and knead until the dough is glossy and smooth, about 3 to 4 minutes. Coat a medium bowl with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Transfer the dough to the bowl, turning once to coat with oil. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled, about 45 to 60 minutes.
Once dough is risen, turn it out onto a dry work surface and roll into an 8- x 6-inch rectangle. To laminate the dough, spread the softened butter over the surface, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Starting at the short end, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. With the seam side down, flatten the cylinder into a 9- x 2-inch rectangle, then fold into thirds like a business letter. Pinch the seams to form a ball, and return to the oiled bowl. Cover tightly again with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator for 40 to 50 minutes.   

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce:
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the onion, oregano and salt. Saute until the liquid has nearly evaporated and the onion is golden brown, stirring often, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes and sugar, then increase the heat to medium-high. Bring the mixture just to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until reduced to about 1 1/4 cups, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the basil and oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Assemble and top the pizza: Preheat oven to 425˚F. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with olive oil. Move the dough to a dry work surface and roll out into a 13-inch disk about 1/4-inch thick. Carefully transfer the dough to the pan and lightly press to line the bottom of the pan and 1 inch up the sides. If the dough resists stretching, wait 5 minutes before trying again. Sprinkle the shredded Mozzarella over the surface of the dough, then layer the sauce over the cheese. Top with Parmesan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until crust is golden brown. Let rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

 Note: You can prep the dough ahead of time, and store in the fridge overnight or even freeze.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

This Week's Menu

Ground Turkey Tacos

Udon Noodle Soup

Baked Chile Relleno

Monday, March 5, 2012

Quinoa and Roasted Pepper Chili

This is a fantastic vegetarian meal option that I highly recommend! Cooking Light magazine has so many delicious, light options in each issue (which they post online at the My Recipes website) that I always find myself debating which ones to try, and I'm glad I went with this one this week because it did not disappoint! There really isn't much to it, but the peppers and zucchini and quinoa work really well together and give it a hearty feel. Its a perfect light yet filling meal - thanks to that quinoa superfood! - that the whole family can enjoy.

One note I have is that at the original link, some reviewers mentioned it was much too spicy, but I followed the recipe almost exactly and I didn't have that issue at all - I actually wished mine had had a little more spice to it. I think this comes down to the poblanos, because you just never know what each one's heat level will be until you use them! So, just keep that in mind when you go to make this that you may need to watch out for your spice level!

Quinoa and Roasted Pepper Chili 
adapted from Cooking Light

2 red bell peppers
2 poblano chiles
4 tsp.olive oil
3 cups chopped zucchini
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp.chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with chipotles, undrained (I couldn't find these, so I used regular fire-roasted tomatoes and added 1 tsp. of adobo sauce)
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup low-sodium vegetable juice


1. Preheat broiler.

2. Cut bell peppers and chiles in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membranes. Place halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet, and flatten with hand. Broil 10 minutes or until blackened. Place in a paper bag; fold to close tightly. Let stand 10 minutes. Peel and coarsely chop.

3. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add zucchini, onion, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin, and paprika; sauté for 30 seconds. Add roasted peppers and chiles, 1/2 cup water, and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until quinoa is tender.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Cajun Mac & Cheese

Picture of Cajun Mac and Cheese Recipe

*Photo from Food Network

I guess you could use the term "grown-up mac and cheese" to describe this, and although I don't really like using that phrase, when I make this and my 2 year-old gets a different version, I guess the "grown-up" term is a good description. Although using the wagon wheel pasta gives it a kid-like feel...hmmm...let's just call this a spiced-up mac and cheese :)

We really enjoyed this, a little twist on a plain macaroni and cheese that totally didn't feel like we were eating macaroni and cheese. You could use polish sausage or smoked sausage in place of the andouille if you don't want the extra spice, and I think it would be just as good!

Kosher salt
12 oz. wagon-wheel pasta (I found this in the bulk section of my store, it can be hard to find in the pasta aisle)
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
6 oz. andouille sausage, diced
2 bunches scallions, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper (red or green), chopped
1 Tbsp. Cajun spice blend
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes (I used mild cheddar since we aren't sharp fans) 


1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 1 minute less than the label directs. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.

2. Meanwhile, combine the olive oil and sausage in a large skillet over high heat and cook, stirring, until the sausage starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the scallions and bell pepper and cook until the vegetables are slightly soft, about 3 more minutes. Add the Cajun spice and flour and cook, stirring, 2 more minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk and continue whisking until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 5 more minutes.

3. Add the pasta, cheese and reserved cooking water to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, tossing to coat the pasta in the sauce and melt the cheese, about 1 minute.


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