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Tag Archives: quick and easy

Pepperoni & Basil Tortellini Salad

Usually, I’d argue that this dish makes a perfect salad for Summer, whether it’s as a side dish or a meal itself. And it does. But when it’s unseasonably warm weather-wise on the home front and were less than two weeks away from Christmas, I’m not going to rant or rave. I mean I can’t actually do anything about it, so why not just go with it?

Tortellini & Pepperoni Pasta Salad 2

Just picture it, your favorite cheese tortellini with ripe grape tomatoes ready to burst with flavor, fresh basil, a generous helping of chopped pepperoni, and all mixed up with your favorite creamy Caesar salad dressing. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, or anybody on a diet, but if neither of those apply to you, it’s a dreamy combination.

Tortellini & Pepperoni Pasta Salad

Trust me you want in on this dish. In a month filled with warm, rich comfort foods and chaos and (if you’re a parent) kids home on break needing more lunch options than the typical brown bag variety, run headlong toward this ‘salad’. This is pasta salad, 2.0, and it’s just the change of pace we enjoy. With the roller coaster weather, us and our meals have to roll with the punches.

Pepperoni & Basil Tortellini Salad

Tortellini & Pepperoni Pasta Salad 3

1 (20 oz) pkg cheese tortellini, or about 3-4 cups frozen tortellini
1 cup pepperoni slices, chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup cubed, or shredded, mozzarella cheese
1 cup caesar dressing
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

Directions

  1. Cooked the tortellini according to package directions. Drain and transfer the tortellini to a large bowl.
    2. Stir together the dressing and the cooked tortellini. Add in the pepperoni, basil, cheese, and tomatoes and gently stir together, so that the tortellini don’t fall apart, until everything’s evenly combined.
    3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Eggnog Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread is one of the sons’ favorite things to eat, and it’s little wonder why. It’s sticky, it’s sweet, and it’s basically dessert that they have permission to eat for breakfast and they get to wash it all down with a tall glass of cold milk.

Think you don’t have time to make such a yummy dish from scratch? We’ve made this super simple to make, so simple you’d have to try hard to actually mess it up.

Eggnog Monkey Bread 2

Even better? This isn’t any ordinary monkey bread recipe, this one is dressed specifically for the holidays, with its typically sugary sweet, pull apart pastry and a liberal buttered eggnog cream poured overtop.

Eggnog Monkey Bread

Eggnog Monkey Bread

1 can (16.3 oz) regular refrigerated biscuits, no flaky layers or butter flavored

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp nutmeg

6 tbsp butter, melted

Directions

1. Mix 1/4 cup of the sugar and the nutmeg, stirring to combine.

2. Separate the biscuits and use a pair of kitchen shears to cut each one into 4-6 pieces and put the cut pieces in a large zip locking bag, or a large tupperware.

3. Add the sugar mixture to biscuits, seal, and shake well to evenly coat the biscuit pieces.

4. Transfer the sugared biscuits to a greased 6 cup bundt pan.

5. Mix melted butter and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and pour it all over the biscuits in pan.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 28 minutes, or until golden brown.

7. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing. To remove, tip the bundt pan upside down onto a serving plate, give it a pat or two if needed to release the bread, and top it with the eggnog glaze.

Eggnog Drizzle

1 cup powdered sugar

1 tbsp butter, softened

1/2 tsp rum extract

3 tbsp eggnog

1/8 tsp nutmeg

Directions

1. Stir together all the ingredients until evenly combined, add more eggnog if you’d prefer a thinner consistency. Drizzle the eggnog glaze over the monkey bread.

Crusty, Fool-Proof Baguettes In 30 Minutes Flat

Quick & crusty baguettes in 30 minutes flat. Say that five times fast. How many of you thought you’d ever be able to say that at all, let alone believe it? This recipe is like the best (not anymore!) kept secret on the planet. It’s so easy, it’s been called fool proof. It’s perfect for beginner bakers and as an easy introduction to from-scratch bread making. Plus, it only uses five (yes, 5) everyday ingredients you probably already have in stock.

Baguettes for Beginners 2

Soft and flaky on the inside, crisp and crusty on the outside. They’re perfect for tearing into and chewing alongside your favorite pasta, your favorite cheese, your favorite soup, or for something as simple as slapping on a slab of your favorite butter. These baguettes are perfect. And they can be made last minute. Goodbye pre-planning and hours of rise time. I won’t miss tip-toeing around the house or trying to time nap time so heavy foot steps and little running feet wouldn’t make my dough fall, that’s for sure!

Baguettes for Beginners 3

This recipe makes two loaves, and we love to enjoy one fresh out of the oven with our favorite spices in a little olive oil for a quick and easy appetizer to tide us over while our main meal cooks.

Crusty, Fool Proof Baguettes In Under 30 Minutes Flat

Baguettes for Beginners

2 cups very warm water
1 packet yeast, or 2 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
3-4 cups of flour

Directions

 1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the warm water, yeast, and sugar. Set the bowl on top of your preheating oven for ten minutes. Stir in the salt and add the flour a half-cup at a time, until the dough becomes soft, but not sticky. Knead the dough until elastic.

2. Cut the dough into four even pieces. Roll each of them into four long, thin ropes. Twist together two of the ropes to form one loaf. Twist the other two ropes together to form a second loaf. Transfer both onto a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

3. You can now bake the loaf right away (if you’re in a hurry), or allow it to rise for an additional 15-30 minutes on top of your warm oven.

4. Fill a large bowl with 3-4 cups of ice. Open your hot oven and place the baking sheet with the baguettes inside, then toss the ice cubes on the bottom of the oven and quickly shut the door. Do NOT open your oven for 15 minutes (the steam for the ice is what creates the crunchy outer crust). Bake until golden brown, about 15-18 minutes.

5. Serve warm with butter or with a dipping sauce of your favorite seasoned olive oil.

3 Cheese Gnocchi Macaroni & Cheese

Easy. Peasy. And, yes, cheesy. (Sorry, had to go there. The rhyme was just too tempting.)

Gnocchi Mac And Cheese 2

Two of my favorite things, both equally indulgent, in one fantastic dish? Yes, please! Fluffy potato gnocchi basking in a rich, creamy cheese sauce worthy of gracing the plate of even the hautiest of Mac & Cheese snobs? Fill ‘er up, and I’m already calling dibs on seconds.

Gnocchi Mac And Cheese 3

It’s awe-inspiring. Has my kitchen ever churned out such a fine bowl of creamy comfort before? And The taste!

There’s just a small price to pay for a few decadent cheeses. And some calories. But the finished product absolutely pales in comparison.

Three Cheese Gnocchi Mac & Cheese

Gnocchi Mac And Cheese

2, 16 oz, pkgs potato gnocchi
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp butter
3-4 tsp minced garlic
1 cup half and half, or milk (warmed)
1 1/4 cups shredded fontina cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt & pepper, to taste
finely-chopped fresh parsley or basil, for topping

Directions

1. Cook the gnocchi according to package instructions. Drain and set aside.
2. While the gnocchi cooks, get started on the cheese sauce: In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and the broth until evenly combined and set aside.
3. In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat the butter or olive oil. Add in the garlic and saute, stirring, about 1-2 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch mixture, and whisk until combined. Add in the milk, and whisk until combined. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches a low boil. Then remove from heat, and stir in the cheeses until they too are melted and the cheese sauce is smooth. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste, if desired.
4. Combine the cooked gnocchi and cheese sauce together in the pot you cooked the gnocchi in, and toss together until the gnocchi are evenly coated. Serve immediately, with a sprinkle of finely chopped, fresh basil and/or parsly and a sprinkle of shredded Parmesan, if desired.

recipe adapted from Gimme Some Oven

Healthy Pumpkin Pie Protein Overnight Oats

One night, my defenses had been systematically whittled down enough that, I let the youngest son have the dregs of my Mountain Dew Voltage. It was in a glass and he didn’t know exactly what it was other than some kind of soda, which he’s rarely allowed to have.
Handing me the empty glass to put in the sink: “Mom, that tasted like it gave me powers, super powers. I know it didn’t, but it tasted like super powers.”

Aaaaaaaaand, that is why you my son are not allowed to do The Dew. Like, ever.

Protein & oats however, make much sturdier fare (and a better breakfast option) for any real-life Super Heroes in-training. And pumpkin pie is such an obvious Fall flavor. Combining the two was a no-brainer.

And overnight oats? They’re quick and easy enough for Super Heroes of any age to whip up, or just to lend a helping hand. Throw everything in a mason jar (or pretty much any seal-able container your heart desires), give it a good stir, and let it sit overnight while you sleep. When you wake up? A protein packed, breakfast that tastes like dessert will be waiting to greet you.

Healthy Pumpkin Pie Protein Overnight Oats

 Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats

1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions

  1.  Add all of the ingredients to a mason jar or other plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, and stir everything until evenly incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Serve cold.

*To fit in with dietary restrictions or requirements, you can use a sugar alternative such as Splenda or Truvia in place of the sugar, and you can also sub Gluten-free oats if necessary.

Chipotle Cheddar Turkey Wraps

Where are all my fellow football fans at?

<Fist Bump>

Now, I freely admit, while I love the game and can in fact follow along and all the rest, my favorite party about game day is the food. Hey, there’s no shame in my game 😉

And who doesn’t love a good excuse to make an entire meal out of appetizers, assorted snack foods, and chips and dip?

Chipotle Cheddar Turkey Wraps

I love serving wraps because they’re simple to assemble and easy to throw together a the last minute. Like under 5 minutes quick. Who wants to be stressed out on game day? Or make that any more stressed out if your team didn’t bring it that day.

This wrap though has, most definitely, brought it. It’s bursting at the seams with flavor. The creamy (& healthy–shh don’t tell the guys) avocado yogurt sauce pairs perfectly with the tang from the sharp cheddar. They’re rounded out with the addition of some of your favorite sliced turkey and tomatoes. Then we’ve sprinkled on some cilantro leaves and a pinch of Chipotle seasoning for the perfect amount of fresh color and kick.

Chipotle Cheddar Turkey Wraps

2 large flour tortillas, burrito size
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, or sour cream
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
8 thin slices of cheddar cheese, softened to room temp
1/2-1 tsp chipotle seasoning, or more (to taste) if you’re feeling adventurous
1/2 cup of your favorite chopped tomatoes; Rotel, diced Roma, or even sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, stems discarded, chopped

Directions

  1. Place the tortillas onto a clean, flat work surface, such as a cutting board or counter top.
    2. In a small bowl, combine the avocado, yogurt, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, using a fork to mash everything together until evenly incorporated into a thick sauce.
    3. Spread the sauce out evenly, dividing it in half between both wraps, and remembering to leave a 1/4″ bare edge all the way around.
    4. Add the cheese slices (about 4 slices per wrap depending on the size) in an even, flat layer. It’s ok if you need to break the cheese in places to get it to properly cover the whole wrap.
    5. Evenly sprinkle each wrap with 1/2 the desired amount of chipotle seasoning.
    6. Evenly sprinkle each wrap with 1/4 cup of tomatoes.
    7. Evenly sprinkle each wrap with 1/4 cup of the fresh cilantro.
    8. Roll each wrap up tightly and position so that the seam side is facing down. Set the rolled wraps onto a plate and chill in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes.
  2. 9. Using a serrated knife, slice each wrap into 1-inch slices and serve them immediately to a hungry crowd.

Pan Fried Chicken with Apple Cider Gravy

Fall is in the air. And in the grocery store. Apples, apples everywhere!

Trust me though, that is by no means a complaint. And stocked right beside all the apples sourced from several local orchards are just about every local brand of cider you could hope to find. And if you’re like us, you look forward to that taste as an integral part of any ‘Fall’ experience. But did you know that cider can be so much more?

Pan Fried Chicken with Apple Cider Gravy 2

Betcha never thought about using it to make gravy, did ya?? Prepare to have your eyes opened wide to a wonderful new world of cider possibilities.

Apple Cider Gravy 2

This recipe allows you to easily cook up a chicken and gravy based dinner for your family, without any of the headaches or fears of making a more traditional gravy. It’s a thinner gravy, but it’s also low in fat. It’s sweet and savory and, thanks to the addition of the cider, full of Fall flavor. It’s a match made in Heaven, well I suppose I should say a match made in Autumn.

Pan Fried Chicken with Apple Cider Gravy

Pan Fried Chicken with Apple Cider Gravy

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3/4 cup chicken broth
3/4 cup fresh apple cider
1/2 tbsp dried parsley
1-2 tsp minced garlic
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tbsp corn starch + 1 tbsp water, stirred together, to thicken
mashed potatoes or rice, for serving the gravy over

Directions

  1. Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper.
    2. Heat the butter and olive oil over medium high heat in a large skillet or Dutch oven.
    3. Add the seasoned chicken to the pan, and brown on each side for about 2-4 minutes, or until cooked through. Remove the cooked chicken from the pant, and set aside.
    4. To the heated pan, add the broth, cider, parsley, and garlic. Bring the mixture to a boil, and use a spatula or spoon to deglaze the pan. Stir in the corn starch mixture, and reduce the heat to medium and let the mixture simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Season the gravy with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the chicken back to the skillet and remove the pan from heat. Serve the chicken with the a liberal serving of gravy poured over both the meat and over the mashed potatoes or rice.
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