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Anything Caprese!

24 Apr

Hello friends & family!  I know it has been a while, and I haven’t taken the time to blog, but I really want to get back into the swing of things!  Blogging is so much fun for me, but I didn’t want to be overwhelmed.  Sometimes life just seemed too busy, and I couldn’t imagine trying to add blogging into the mix of school, working full-time, commuting, maintaining the house, spending time with Matt when he’s home, etc.  But now is the time to get back into it… I just recently finished my Associate’s Degree program AND turned the big 3-0, so I’m on to the next chapter!  Time to bring blogging into the next chapter with me!

As I mentioned earlier, I just turned 30… yeeps.  I’ve been going back and forth between being ok with it and feeling anxious, and my wonderful husband was sweet enough to fly me to Vegas to celebrate!  (A little back story for ya… he’s been out of town for work for the last 2 of my birthdays and this would have been the 3rd one in a row since he was already in Vegas for a trade show… good call on the Vegas trip, babe 😉 )  We had a blast, and it was definitely the BEST birthday I’ve ever had… fabulous dinner at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant at the Paris Hotel, followed by drinks with Matt’s fantastic coworkers at Gilley’s Saloon in Treasure Island.  This is where I may or may not have ridden a mechanical bull… and there is definitely NOT photographic or video evidence!

Bull riding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Matt is out of town, which can be quite often some months, I’m not always the most creative or adventurous when it comes to making myself dinner.  I tend to fall back on the old stand-by of something frozen or premade, which some of you know is SO not like me.  Sometimes it seems so tough (and boring) to cook for one person and not end up with leftovers for years afterward, and I am horrible about eating leftovers.  Tonight was definitely different!  I found a recipe earlier for Caprese Lasagna Roll Ups and I knew that was going to be my dinner!  I love Caprese anything – salads, sandwiches, pasta – so I knew this would be delish (in fact, I’m making my version of a Caprese grilled cheese on a ciabatta roll for dinner tomorrow).  It was pretty easy, and healthier than one might think since I used fat-free ricotta, low-fat mozzarella, and added thinly sliced zucchini.

Caprese Lasagna Roll-ups
(adapted from Cooking Classy)
Caprese Lasagna

8 lasagna noodles, uncooked
8 oz shredded Mozzarella cheese, divided
3/4 cup fat-free Ricotta cheese
1 egg white
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
Fresh ground black pepper
3 Roma tomatoes, very thinly sliced
1/3 cup julienned fresh basil (roll the leaves up and then slice them so they come out as ribbons)
1 zucchini, finely sliced (optional)
2 cups marinara sauce (the original recipe for this came with a recipe for fresh marinara, but I just bought some premade sauce to save time)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Cook your lasagna noodles as directed by the packaging to al dente. Line cooked, cooled noodles in a single layer on a sheet of parchment or wax paper.  Pour 1/4 cup of the marinara in your cooking pan (a large glass baking dish).

In a medium-sized bowl, mix the ricotta and egg white together until blended. Stir in half of the Parmesan cheese and 6 ounces of the mozzarella and season with the black pepper to taste (I also added some of the premade pesto sauce I had in the freezer for that extra basil kick, but I absolutely love basil/pesto!).  Spread 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture on each one of the noodles, followed by the zucchini (if you used it), then the tomato slices, followed by the basil.  I only used 3 tomato slices per noodle, which seemed to be enough for me (aren’t they so pretty??).

Noodles

Roll the noodles up and place into your marinara sauced pan, seam side down.  Pour the remaining marinara sauce over each of the roll ups evenly, making sure the edges are coated so they don’t dry out when baking.  Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses over the top and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned. Yum!

I hope you all enjoy this dish as much as I did (and will for the next few days… I’m excited for these leftovers!).  I think next time, to stick to the Caprese idea, I might make a balsamic vinegar reduction to lightly drizzle over it.  It is very yummy on its own, but I think the reduction could really tie everything together.  I’d also recommend seasoning your zucchini before you add the tomato and basil and roll the little yummies up – it was a little bland in that area for me.

Comments & feedback are ALWAYS welcome!

Until next time…

heartDes

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Copy Cat!

28 Feb

Well hello everyone!  I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanukkah/New Years/Valentine’s Day!  Before we get to the business at hand – food!! – the blog stats were absolutely INSANE today, like biggest day ever insane!  I have no idea why or how, but it’s awesome!  Some of it has been Pinterest, but almost 200 of the hits came from Facebook and my “Easy Weeknight Pasta” post… weird, but awesome!  Alright, it’s been a while, so let’s get back into the swing of things shall we?

When Matt and I moved to Phoenix, I discovered so many new restaurants!  There are always the great local places, but I’m always a sucker for a good chain restaurant.  I had always heard about Chipotle, but never tried it.  Luckily (or unluckily?), there was one about 2 blocks from our apartment.  It was love at first taste!  I always loved the burritos at El Diablo in Missoula because of their cilantro lime rice, so I was excited to have that burrito in a bowl (no more tortilla in my teeth!).  The only problem with these burrito bowls… they were gigantic and so unbelievably unhealthy.  Ok, fast forward to about a month ago… I’m browsing Pinterest, which I do quite often, and I see this recipe for crock-pot chicken that sounds very yummy!  As I’m reading through it, the flavors remind me of Chipotle… and that’s when the lightbulb goes off!  I could totally make this and make my own cilantro lime rice and have my own Chipotle at home and in the portions I want and the fat content I want!  I was super jacked!  Can you tell?!  And what better day for something like this than Super Bowl Sunday?!  Football and crock pots go together like… oh forget it, let’s see it!

DIY Burrito Bowls

So instead of giving the traditional list of ingredients, I’m going to break this down a little differently:

Chicken:

2-4 chicken breasts
1 jar of salsa
1 can of black beans
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tbsp cumin
1/2 tbsp minced fresh garlic
(you can also just use 2-3 tablespoons of premixed taco seasoning instead of the spices)

Throw all of those ingredients into the crockpot for about 4 hours on low. When the time is up, you can literally take two forks or just a wooden spoon and shred the chicken up. Cook it for another hour or so.  You might have to add a little water during this last stage, depending on how hard your crock pot cooks on low (mine is a little out of control at times)…

While the now-shredded chicken is finishing its last cooking cycle, mix up the rice.

Cilantro Lime Rice

2 cups long grain white rice (uncooked)
4 cups of water
Juice of 1 lime
2 tsp salt
6 tbsp fresh, chopped cilantro
2 tsp olive oil

Cook the rice as directed on the package (water/rice measurements may be different, plus I made the 4 servings ratio because I wanted leftovers for lunch). In a separate bowl, mix the lime juice, salt, cilantro, and olive oil together. Once the rice is done, stir it all together.

Now it’s time to put it all together! First, put down a bed of the cilantro lime rice. Top that off with the chicken mixture, some shredded cheese of your choice, guacamole, pico de gallo, and sour cream, and there you have it! You can top it off with a little green leaf lettuce for a little crunch.  Sidenote: I made my own guacamole using Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Guacamole recipe, which is seriously divine.  In fact, now that I’m talking about it and looking at the recipe, I’m craving it….. yummmm!

I hope you guys have fun recreating this recipe!  You could totally do this with pork tenderloin or a beef roast too!  Do your own thing – don’t be afraid to experiment with it!

Happy Dishing!
~Des

I’m Back! Now Where Was I?

28 Nov

Oh. My. Lord. What a slacker I have been! My poor blog has been so neglected! Blame it on being too busy, blame it on being lazy, blame it on whatever you want – the fact of the matter is I haven’t been good about blogging and for that I apologize!  Time to get back into the swing of things!

So where have I been you ask? Oye, what a whirlwind the past couple months have been! As I mentioned, Matt and I were living with my sister, but we have since moved into a townhouse of our own that we absolutely adore! It is about 15 minutes away from work for both of us, so that is perfect! “Wait, work for both of us you say?” Yep, that’s right. I am now gainfully employed! After about a year of being a stay-at-home puppy mom, I figured I should probably find a job.  I ended up getting a job at a hospital in the area in the imaging department (x-rays, CT scans, ultrasounds, MRIs, etc.).  Long story short, I schedule exams for patients and doctors offices.  It has been a LOT to learn, but I’m starting to feel like I am getting the hang of things.  This partially explains my lack of blogging – I just don’t seem to have the time during the week, and on the weekends, I’m catching up on housework that I don’t have time for during the week.  Now that the holidays are here, I will be cooking more and starting on my food gifts, so there will be more blogging!  No more of these long hiatuses (if that’s a word)!   So now let’s get back to the food!

Turkey leftovers are everyone’s nemesis.  Don’t even try to deny it – you cook that big ol’ bird and look at the leftovers and the carcass with all its yummy scraps and think ‘now what the heck am I supposed to do with all of this?!’.  Soup, silly!  Make soup!  That is the quickest way to get rid of 90% of it (but save some for sandwiches of course!).  I received this recipe last year from one of Matt’s former coworkers after she brought a big pot of it in and Matt raved about it.  When he tried it, it had ham in it, but I thought I’d give it a whirl with leftover turkey.   It is the BEST!  Be warned, it makes a ton of soup, so plan on freezing a big container of it.

Turkey & Wild Rice Soup

3 cups cooked wild rice (follow package instructions – 1 cup uncooked rice, 2 cups of water)
1 large onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 rib of celery, diced
2 cups of turkey
1 stick of butter
1 cup of flour
6-7 cups of chicken broth
1 cup half & half
Salt & pepper to taste

Saute the onion, carrot, celery, & turkey in butter for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Stir in the flour and continually mix so it doesn’t burn. Slowly add in the chicken broth and keep stirring to keep the flour from clumping. Add the cooked rice, and heat to a boil to thicken. Simmer for 10 minutes to warm through and add the half & half just before serving. Don’t let it come to a boil after you add the half & half. Serve with some warm bread and enjoy!
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This soup is your classic comfort food. It is so creamy and yummy and just perfect for the cold, rainy Seattle day we had today. It’s a really quick recipe, but the wild rice can take 45 minutes or more so be ready ahead of time for that. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! Now go get rid of that leftover turkey! Happy Holidays!

Happy Dishing!
~Des

Mmm… cobbler…

24 Aug

Let me just preface this blog post by saying that Matt dubbed this his favorite dessert I have ever made him. Ever. It’s that good. So good that I had some for breakfast! Don’t judge me – it’s fruity and bread-like, which is no different than toast with jam on it! And I’m just going to continue to tell myself that!

Anyways… there is this really cool store near where we live that has all fresh, yummy stuff (like a mini-Good Food Store for you Missoulians). They are always advertising their amazing, fresh, local peaches on signs by the road, so of course I had to stop. I already planned on making a peach cobbler, that much was for sure! Well… yesterday I was sitting outside on the deck in the back yard and noticed that the blackberry bushes were FULL of big, beautiful blackberries! I had heard of peach blackberry cobbler before and decided to give it a whirl. I did some recipe digging and settled on the Pioneer Woman’s Blackberry Cobbler recipe. (This may come as a shock to some of you who know what a food blog lover I am – I didn’t discover the Pioneer Woman’s blog until the beginning of this year! Crazy right?) I didn’t have self-rising flour on hand, so you’ll notice a difference in recipes there.

Peach Blackberry Cobbler
(adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup fresh blackberries (frozen are fine too – just be sure you thaw and dry them good)
1 cup fresh peaches (see above about frozen)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×13 baking dish with butter. (You could go smaller to make it a little thicker, but you’ll have to increase your cook time a little bit.)

Rinse the blackberries and dry on a paper towel, then peel and pit your peaches and cut into cubes.

In a medium bowl, stir together 1 cup of the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the milk and combine. Add the melted butter and whisk until smooth. Pour the batter into the greased baking dish. Scatter the top with all of the blackberries and peaches. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of sugar over the top.

Bake for about 1 hour or until the edges are crispy. When you have 10 minutes of cooking time left, sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Serve warm with ice cream – YUM!
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Just writing this is making me want to go have some cobbler for lunch! I’ll try and control myself… I definitely used more than 1 cup of each fruit – probably more like 1 1/2 cups. This recipe is more of a buckle than a cobbler to me (What’s the difference you ask? A cobbler has more of a biscuit topping with fruit on the bottom – a buckle has the cake on the bottom and then the fruit is put on top like this one and when it’s baked, the fruit sinks to the bottom). Whatever it’s “technical” name is, it is phenomenal!

Happy Dishing!
~Des

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