Balsamic, Garlic, and Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Balsamic, Garlic, and Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts

I love brussels sprouts, but I needed a new way to cook them. I was stuck in a rut of boiling them with butter and salt. The old stand-by is fine, but I needed more flavor and this recipe delivered! It’s a little misleading, since a cast iron skillet is used to first sauté or brown the brussels sprouts, then they’re roasted later, but I promise it’s worth the effort! I have adapted this recipe from one I found from NY Times Cooking.

Ingredients

  • 1 pint brussels sprouts (approximately 1 lb)
  • 4-6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (this will vary as you sauté the brussels sprouts-enough to coat the bottom of the cast iron skillet should be sufficient)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese (or desired amount to taste)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Trim the bottom of the brussels sprouts and cut each sprout in half lengthwise and remove any outer pieces that may be old or have fallen off.
  1. Add a small amount of olive oil to the bottom of a cast iron skillet and heat over medium high heat. Add sprouts in a single layer in the pan cut side down. Add garlic and salt and pepper to taste. If the oil is absorbed during cooking, add more oil to the pain. Cook until the sprouts become a golden brown on the bottom.
  2. Place the pan in the oven and bake 10-20 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to avoid burning. Bake until the sprouts are fork tender and browned to your liking.
  3. Remove the pan from the oven and add balsamic vinegar and stir the sprouts well. Sprinkle the desired amount of parmesan cheese on top of the sprouts. Place the pan back into the oven for 5 minutes or until the parmesan is slightly melted.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven and stir the sprout and parmesan cheese mixture well. Serve immediately.
The Best (and Easiest!) Chicken Parmesan and Baked Spaghetti

The Best (and Easiest!) Chicken Parmesan and Baked Spaghetti

“Chicken Parm, you taste so gooooooood!” Yes, I know you just sang that in your head in Peyton Manning’s voice. I love chicken parmesan and somehow always feel like it has to be this complex, multi-step process to actually make it at home. I have good news… IT DOESN’T NEED TO BE! The most complicated part of this recipe is boiling the spaghetti, so you’ve got this! This recipe was adapted from a recipe I found from The Lazy Dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb (1 box) thin spaghetti noodles
  • 2 (24 oz) jars of marinara or pasta sauce (I prefer tomato basil for extra flavor, but any variety will do!)
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan (shredded will also work)
  • 8 frozen chicken patties
  • seasoning to taste (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and grease a 9″x13″ baking dish.
  2. Cook and drain spaghetti noodles according to package directions. Mix with 3/4 of the tomato sauce (1 1/2 jars) and 2 cups of shredded mozzarella. Add salt, pepper, or Italian seasoning if desired (optional).
  3. Add the pasta, sauce, and cheese mixture to the casserole dish and top with 8 frozen chicken patties.
  1. Top the chicken with the remaining sauce and spread it evenly to cover all of the contents of the casserole dish. Evenly sprinkle the top with 1 cup (or more) of shredded mozzarella and 1/2 cup of grated parmesan cheese.
  1. Bake on the center rack for 30 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown and the chicken is thoroughly heated and cooked.
Easy Overnight Oats

Easy Overnight Oats

I’ve never been a huge fan of sweet breakfast foods. I’m more of a bacon and egg or omelet person, but… here I am. Eating overnight oats ever. dang. morning. For real, though. I love that I can put a bunch in the fridge then customize them every morning however I’d like with nuts, chocolate chips, fruit, anything really (now don’t get crazy… I love cheese as much as the next person, but don’t be putting any in your oatmeal, people…). I think I love overnight oats more than typical oats because they don’t seem to turn to mush like normal oatmeal does. They still have a firmness to them and you can flavor them with sounds good when you roll out of bed in the morning. You can also eat them cold or nuke them for 45 seconds to a minute if you’re not feeling the cold variety.

I adapted this recipe from one I came across from Eating Bird Food. My version isn’t altered much, just makes them a little more simple.

I also found some awesome overnight oat jars that seal and are water tight and dishwasher safe. They’re great to prepare several at a time and keep in the fridge for when they’re needed. Amazon, never fails!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use 2%, but any unsweetened milk works great!)
  • 1/4 cup lowfat plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp chia seeds (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp honey (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder (optional… if you’re feeling chocolatey)

Toppings (Optional)

  • nuts (pecans, walnuts, almond slivers… any kind will do!)
  • peanut/nut butter (almond butter works great!)
  • fruit (bananas, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries are all great options)
  • chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients except toppings well. Store in refrigerator overnight for up to 5 days. The longer the oats sit in the refrigerator, the softer they’ll become.
  2. Add desired toppings when serving.
  3. Enjoy!
Easy Ramekin Pecan Pies

Easy Ramekin Pecan Pies

One Thanksgiving I wanted to find a something different for desert. After searching a while I just wasn’t happy with any of the pie recipes I was finding. I wanted something… different, but not too out there. I came across these little ramekin pecan pies and they were just different enough to be a great Thanksgiving desert. Bonus: you don’t have to make the crust yourself! They didn’t disappoint! The only problem I found with the recipe from Tablespoon.com was that it didn’t yield quite as many as the recipe called for. This could be because my ramekins happen to be a little deeper than most ramekins. This recipe yields approximately 9-12 ramekin pies. Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 2 packages Pillsbury™ Refrigerated Pie Crust (4 crusts)
  • cooking spray
  • 1 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup dark corn syrup
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 4 tablespoons bourbon
  • 4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs lightly beaten
  • 4 egg whites lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Grab 12 ramekins and lightly coat the insides with cooking spray.
  3. Roll out the Pillsbury™ pie crusts. Using a large cookie cutter (or any large round glass/cup) cut out circles and place each crust inside each ramekin. If there is crust leftover, you can add it to the edges for a rustic look. Place the ramekins with crust in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  4. Combine all remaining ingredients, except for pecan halves, in a large bowl. Whisk until nicely combined.
  5. Pour the pie filling into each ramekin.
  6. Top each with 3 pecan halves.
  7. Bake mini pies for 35 minutes, or until the center is set.
  8. Let cool about 15 minutes and enjoy!
Slow Cooker Pork Chops and Vegetables

Slow Cooker Pork Chops and Vegetables

I love slow cooker recipes I can start in the morning, forget about all day, then voila… an entire meal in a pot. That’s this recipe. No adding something at the end or sogginess. It cooks perfectly and all of your vegetables, starches, and gravy is included! I adapted this recipe from an original by The Seasoned Mom.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. bag of baby carrots
  • 2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise and cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 8 small red potatoes, quartered
  • 8-9 boneless pork chops, about ¾-inch thick (about 1.5 lbs. total)
  • 1 (1 ounce) envelope dry onion soup and dip mix
  • 1 lb. fresh baby portabello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen peeled pearl onions, or 1 regular onion, sliced
  • 2 cans (10.5 ounces each) condensed cream of mushroom soup (NOT diluted)

Directions

  1. Place carrots, celery, and potatoes in the bottom of a large slow cooker. Top with pork chops. I use a lot of pork chops so we can have leftovers throughout the week. Layer the pork chops if there are too many for a single layer. Sprinkle dry onion soup mix seasoning over the pork chops.
  2. Add mushrooms and onions on top of the pork.
  3. Cover with cream of mushroom soup (not diluted).
  4. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.
Easy Thai Peanut Chicken Wraps

Easy Thai Peanut Chicken Wraps

I love wraps and order them out a lot. Why? They’re easy. I came across a Thai Peanut Chicken Wrap recipe and figured it sounded easy enough, so I gave it a shot. It was DELICIOUS. I’ve adapted the original recipe to things I usually keep on hand or to make my life a little easier (don’t we all need to make things easier on ourselves right now????). You can find the original over at Simply Whisked. You can also buy peanut sauce in most stores and use in this recipe if you’re short on time.

Ingredients

For the chicken wraps:

  • 3 cups coleslaw mix
  • 1 cup shredded carrots (optional, add if your coleslaw mix doesn’t contain carrots or if you like extra carrots in your wraps)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped or sliced (I bake a large pan of chicken breasts with olive oil, garlic powder, and pepper at the beginning of the week to use for recipes later, but any cooked chicken will do!)
  • 6 large tortillas

For the peanut sauce:

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or vegetable oil)
  • 1/4 cup extra crunchy peanut butter (if you don’t happen to have extra crunchy on hand, you can add peanuts to the wraps to add extra peanut flavor and crunch)
  • 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4–1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced

Directions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the peanut sauce ingredients.
  2. In another bowl, add the cabbage, carrots, and cilantro (also add peanuts if you are using creamy peanut butter instead of extra crunchy). Pour the sauce over the mixture and stir. Let this sit while you prepare the tortillas and chicken.
  3. Heat up the tortillas for about 10 seconds in the microwave to make them easier to work with.
  4. Divide the chicken and coleslaw between each tortilla
  5. Roll tightly, securing with toothpicks if necessary.
Copycat Chipotle Guacamole (and Tips on How to Make Sure it WON’T Turn Brown in 5 seconds!)

Copycat Chipotle Guacamole (and Tips on How to Make Sure it WON’T Turn Brown in 5 seconds!)

Ok… if I had known how easy it is to replicate Chipotle’s guacamole I would have been eating it for every meal of the day. Seriously. I honestly can’t believe I never even thought about the ingredients that go into it and simple they are! I found this “recipe” (I used quotes because it’s so simple it’s not really even a recipe!) from Culinary Hill.

Ingredients

  • Large Haas avocado (moderately still firm… no mushy avocados here!)
  • Lemon juice
  • Lim juice
  • Fresh cilantro, finely chopped, to taste
  • sea salt, to taste
  • red onion, diced (I didn’t have any onion on hand, so I used onion powder and it was surprisingly delicious)

Directions

  1. Halve the avocado and scoop out each half with a spoon (NO chopping aloud!). Save the pit… it will come in handy later!
  2. Mash the avocado whole in a bowl.
  3. Add lemon and lime juice to the avocado and mix well. This step helps keep the avocado from browning quickly and gives it some great flavor.
  4. Finely chop the cilantro and red onion and add to the bowl. If you don’t happen to have onion, onion powder works great to add some flavor.

How to Keep Guacamole from Turning Brown

Place the pit in the middle of the guacamole mixture to keep it from turning brown quickly. Add Saran Wrap over the guacamole and press firmly against the guacamole before adding a lid to help minimize oxidation. Voila! Your guacamole may hold for 5 minutes instead of 5 seconds. You’re welcome.

Easy Stovetop Queso

Easy Stovetop Queso

I’ve always wanted to make my own queso, but thought there’s no way I could get close to restaurant recipes… until now! I altered a recipe from Sumptuous Spoonfuls using ingredients I already had on hand and it turned out AMAZING!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion (I didn’t have a fresh onion on hand, so I used frozen diced onion and it worked out great!)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 oz cream cheese (I think I had lower fat cream cheese, so that’s what I used for this recipe)
  • 6 oz quesadilla cheese, shredded
  • 4 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded (I didn’t happen to have any on hand, so I used colby jack instead)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2-4 Tbsp jalapeno, to taste (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp salsa, or to taste
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro, optional (I planned on using the cilantro, but loved it without, so I used it for garnish)

Directions

  1. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until tender and translucent.
  2. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in the cream cheese, quesadilla cheese and pepper jack cheese along with 1/2 cup of the whipping cream. Stir until the cheeses melt, then stir in the chopped jalapeno and salsa. Taste and add more jalapeno and/or salsa for heat and fresh cilantro (optional).
  3. If the dip is too thick for your liking, stir in some more whipping cream (or milk) until it is the desired consistency. Serve warm with tortilla chips.
The Best Green Bean Casserole

The Best Green Bean Casserole

One more after-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving recipe. The general population of Thanksgiving celebrators seem to have a love/hate relationship with this one. They either love it, or they hate it. The recipe I use is basically French’s recipe, but adapted for a larger gathering. I use French style green beans (it seems to make it less… sloppy) and a larger quantity of them. I also use a lot more French fried onions because, let’s be honest… who couldn’t eat a whole can of those things in one sitting? Just me? Ok…

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (10 1/2 oz) Cream of Mushroom condensed soup
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 5 cans Del Monte French Style green beans, drained well
  • 1 1/2 cans French Fried Onions, divided

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix cream of mushroom soup, milk and pepper in a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Stir in green beans and can Crispy Fried Onions.
  2. Bake 30 minutes or until hot. Stir.
  3. Top with remaining 1/2 can onions. Bake 5 minutes until onions are golden brown.
  4. Serve and enjoy!
Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole

Traditional Sweet Potato Casserole

More Thanksgiving recipes… after Thanksgiving! This might just be my favorite one. I also don’t alter this recipe at all from the original-don’t mess with perfection!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, cubed into 1 inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans, divided
  • cooking spray
  • 2 cups miniature marshmallows (or large if you prefer!)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.
  2. Place the sweet potatoes in a Dutch oven, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until very tender. Drain; cool slightly.
  3. Place potatoes in a large bowl. Add sugar and next 3 ingredients (through vanilla). Mash sweet potato mixture with a potato masher. Fold in 1/4 cup pecans. Scrape potato mixture into an even layer in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup pecans; top with marshmallows. Bake at 375° F for 25 minutes or until golden.