October flew by. Seriously. I think it was just labor day in NYC. Somehow I’m now 7 months pregnant and work’s huge Thanksgiving fundraiser is just around the corner.
We harvested pears at Mrs. M’s house and cooked them into a few dishes, froze a ton of them for smoothies, then made the rest into pear sauce. The pear sauce has been so good warmed up and served with vanilla ice cream.
October fall flavors kicked off with a Thanksgiving Burger… maybe the best decision I made all month. Ground Turkey, stuffing, cheddar, and cranberry mayo were such a great combo before you’re overrun with Thanksgiving foods.
Pumpkin Coffee Cake was unbelievable and really easy. I’m no baker, but this will appear again very soon.
I think October’s most fun dinner was a Top Your Own Potato Bar. It was seriously so fun and took no time at all.
After apple picking, there were apples appearing in lots of foods, like caramel apple cider, in sausage stuffing, breakfast yogurt, but most importantly this chicken sausage, apple, onion calzone and apple, manchego, bacon quesadillas.
Let’s check on my goals:
The Year of the Flower lives on! I got some funky purple squirly ones but forgot a pic and then added some fall festiveness for my desk.
send more mail – a very special gal got engaged and got a card…though why aren’t there more same-sex engagement cards? I had to resort to congratulations since the engagement are way too heterosexual. I sent the nephews some Halloween cards too.
make some Pinterest pins a reality - Not so much, though I’ve pinned about 1,000,000 baby-inspired pins though I’ve spared my followers with a private board
cook with yeast (yikes!)try a spin class – um nope. I’m not adding in any super new exercises at this point. I’ve tried to stay active and walking a lot. I might try some prenatal yoga.
make more cocktails – umm no cocktails for me until January but I made Caramel Apple Cider that was unbelievable.
Lil’ Chil is growing and growing. I can’t believe I’m 30 weeks along. 10-ish more weeks. Crazy! This past month has been baby-centric. We toured the maternity ward, registered and learned a lot about what little ones need. We picked baby names. We not only planned the nursery, but Mr. J painted the walls! We started checking out daycare options.
Next up, classes, putting the nursery together, and a busy, busy work month. I’ll for sure have fewer posts but stay tuned! I’m sure we need more soup and maybe a new pizza.
Happy almost Halloween! I don’t have a spooky-themed dinner, but this would be easy to whip up before taking little ones trick or treating, or would be quick to throw together between handing out Reeces. I get about 3 trick or treaters but I make sure to have good candy or the ones I get will never come back! And, just like hosting a party, you should serve what you’re happy to have leftover for yourself.
I tell ya. The apples are never ending. These past few weeks I’ve been trying to add them anywhere that made sense. Here they got to provide the crunch and were perfect with the melty cheese. This dinner is quick and easy. It would be great as a panini too.
Ingredients: (for 2 quesadillas)
3 slices of bacon
4 flour tortillas
1 large apple, sliced
6 oz manchego cheese
Pan fry the bacon until crisp, then drain and chop.
Heat a griddle or large pan to medium and spray with non-stick spray.
Lay the tortilla and top with sliced cheese.
Add sliced apple, and chopped bacon.
Top with the 2nd tortillas, lightly spray with non-stick spray and flip once. (this helps it to brown evenly)
Serve with some honey mustard for dipping!
The cheese was more of a splurge but for this very few ingredient dinner, it was worth it. Mixing manchego with cheddar might have enabled these to be cheesier.
Apple, Bacon & Manchego Quesadilla – Manchego + cheddar/brie/gouda/cheese of your choosing
Apple, Bacon & Manchego Quesadilla – apple + pear/roasted sweet potato/other fruit or veggie of your choosing
Apple, Bacon & Manchego Quesadilla – bacon + proscuitto/ham/turkey/other protein of your choosing
Apple, Bacon & Manchego Quesadilla – bacon = vegetarian option
I should call this dinner “all the fall things”. I went to town on fall flavors. Maple! Brussels Sprouts! Sweet Potato! Apple! I have been cooking often but this meal was a lot. I get full so quickly now so this was just so much.
2-4 boneless pork chops
3 tbs maple syrup
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
1 apple, sliced
Preheat a skillet to medium high heat and preheat the oven to 375-degrees.
Sear the pork with salt & pepper on each side in the hot pan for 4 minutes on each side, then put them into a baking dish.
While the pork is cooking, shake together the glaze ingredients: maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, oil, salt and pepper.
Spread the glaze over the pork and bake for 20 minutes. Using a meat thermometer, check the temperature to ensuring the pork cooks through without over cooking it. (USDA guidelines recommend 145-degrees and then rested a few minutes before serving)
For the last few minutes of cooking, add sliced apple.
I served these with some roasted brussels sprouts with a touch of Parmesan and whipped sweet potato. The Parmesan came about since the pork and the sweet potato were both sweet flavored items and I didn’t want it all to seem the same. The apple was barely cooked which added a subtle crunch.
‘What I Ate’ is a series of posts for so-easy-this-doesn’t-need-a-recipe but I’m sharing with you for the idea or inspiration.
Apple cider is one of my favorite flavors of fall. This fall, as I’m 7 months pregnant, I’ve been heating it and drinking it on the way to work. It helps me pretend I have all the coffee I can drink. Helps.
I was digging around to figure out why hot cider at fancy places tastes so different. Then I discovered Betty Crocker had the secret! It is heavy cream! Don’t bail on me, hear me out. This is amazingly apple and caramel flavored with just a touch of creaminess.
(for 2 mugs or 1 travel mug)
3 tbs brown sugar
3 tbs heavy cream
3 cups apple cider
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
whipped cream for garnish (optional)
Heat brown sugar and cream until bubbly and dissolved.
Add cider, vanilla extract, and cinnamon, cooking until heated through.
Divide into 2 mugs.
Optional: top with whipped cream, cinnamon, and caramel ice cream topping while playing some coffee house jams.
This is so decadent. I have it for dessert…warmed cider is the morning version. It is super sweet but you definitely taste the caramel and apple. You could always add in a splash of rum, vanilla vodka, whipped cream vodka, or the spiking of your choice.
After apple picking, I knew some dinners should include apples…as well as snacks, breakfasts, and any other occasion this fall. Seriously, the orchard only did big bags so we have a LOT of apples. I hadn’t made a calzone in awhile so that was the winner.
Apples are easily served with brie or baked into some dessert. Well, no brie or soft cheeses for me for another 3 months, and I’m not a big baker.
1 onion, sliced
2 apples, sliced
2-3 chicken sausage links
2 cups mozzarella, shredded
Preheat the oven and a pizza stone if using one, to 400-degrees.
In a large skillet over medium low heat, gently cook the onion until lightly browned and cooked through.
Slice the sausage and add them to the pan to warm through.
Roll out or spread the dough out. Then drape it onto the pizza stone or pan, off-centered so the toppings will go on the bottom and the excess will fold over.
Layer on the cheese, sausage and onions, and the apple slices.
Keep layering the toppings, even if it seems like it is over filled.
Pull the rest of the dough over the top and pinch to close.
Cut a few slices in the top of the calzone to vent it.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden browned and cooked through.
Let sit 5 minutes before slicing.
I loved this one. I’ll definitely make it again. The apples being raw added a soft crunch to go with the sweet onions and the mild chicken sausage. This is such a fantastic combination. I’d love these flavors as a sub or panini, or as a pizza, or an app of some sort.
The last time we ordered pizza our specialty pie had roasted red peppers on it. It made me think, woah, that’s an ingredient I guess I assumed Mr. J wasn’t into, annnnnd it is a veggie I don’t use often. That was all about to change.
I was aided when I scored 3 red peppers in the clearance produce for $0.68. Insane! The peppers were fine if used in about 5-7 days. They weren’t squishy or shriveled at all.
(sauce yields 4+ servings)
3 red bell peppers (or double the jarred roasted red peppers)
2 medium tomatoes
1/2 jar roasted red peppers
2 tbs minced garlic
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts or toasted walnuts
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tbs lemon juice
3-4 tbs olive oil
2 tsp heavy cream (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
Half the tomatoes and fresh red peppers. Brush or drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes.
Flip once and bake another 10 minutes.
Remove and put into a plastic bag, or cover with plastic wrap for 5 minutes then release the steam and pull off the skin.
In a food processor, blend all the red peppers, tomatoes, garlic, parmesan cheese, nuts, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Blend 30 seconds to a minute.
Bring salted water to boil for the pasta.
Scoop out the sauce in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add cream, or some starchy pasta water.
Toss the pasta with the sauce.
I liked this a lot. It had a great flavor to make dinner feel a bit different. The sauce was thick and a bit textured (from the nuts). I love sauce so it was great to me, or you can blend more for a more silky sauce that would stick to the pasta a bit less.
I think the sauce has great potential for a ton of uses. It would be good on a sandwich, panini, or wrap. I’d like it on pizza too. It would definitely be a fun twist on bruschetta.
I was inspired to make dinner out of potatoes after seeing lots of potato skin-football food and after making candied sweet potatoes for tacos. A few years ago mashed potato bars were all the rage at weddings costing a fortune for such basic ingredients. I figured with a few toppings it could easily be dinner.
Baked potatoes are so much faster than I really thought they’d take. I spread out a few toppings and it was such a fun dinner. This would be great for guests. Everyone getting to customize their own keeps everyone happy.
frozen creamed spinach
1 cup shredded cheddar
4 strips bacon, chopped
Microwave potatoes for 4 minutes then bake potatoes for 20 minutes at 400-degrees.
Pan fry the bacon until crisp.
Heat the creamed spinach until warmed through.
Rub the potatoes in olive oil and a sprinkle of salt.
Lay out the toppings and enjoy!
The potatoes were filling but not super heavy. The creamed spinach was a perfect sauce and took no effort.
I saw, I pinned, I waited forever, then I made. I’m not much of a baker but despite the cake, topping, and glaze it was actually really easy. It was addictive and somehow squares of the pan just kept disappearing. I’m not sure how it happened.
This comes from Tasty Kitchen by way of How Sweet It Is and Pretty Good Food and whoever else has made it.
Pumpkin Coffee Cake
⅓ cups water
1 can pumpkin
1 tbs vanilla
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 box spice cake mix
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
4 tbs melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup heavy cream
In a mixer, combine water, pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, and pumpkin pie spice until well combined. Add the cake mix and baking soda and mix again until just combined.
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees.
Pour cake into a sprayed 9×13 pan.
In a small bowl, mix the topping ingredients: brown sugar, flour and melted butter. Use your fingers to sprinkle over the top of the cake.
Bake for 25-30 minutes.
In a medium sauce pan simmer brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla, and heavy cream. Remove from heat and stir until all sugar dissolves.
When the cake is cooked, pokes some holes and pour glaze over the top.
I absolutely loved this. It was great as dessert and as breakfast.
So… I’m here! I’m here! I’ve been a bit tired this week so the rest of the week’s posts lost out to:
a) Autumn Awesomeness ice cream: at my fav local ice cream place (vanilla, with nutmeg, apples, and cider donuts)
b) Going to bed early
c) Getting a few baby preparations started
d) all of the above
ding ding ding! D is correct, which means each are right. I figure nobody wants to read a post I wasn’t really into writing or editing so I’ve snoozed a bit earlier than usual, passed my glucose/gestational diabetes test! Mr. J and I went to the hospital to meet the maternity/delivery team and learned how much we don’t know yet. Somehow more posts didn’t make it into this week.
I’ve cooked a bunch this week and last week of oldie but goodies that were freezer friendly so half could be enjoyed now and the other half could emerge during my busy time at work…just before Thanksgiving! Here they are in no particular order if you’re ready for fall/wintry foods or want some freezer prep too!
Butternut Squash Lasagna
I love this one. It is so good and perfectly divides into 2 baking dishes…one for now, one for later.
This is a great main dish, or a side. I added shallots and pears and we devoured the “now” portion.
Chicken Pot Pie
I make the filling and add the topping when round 2 comes up.
Sweet & Smoky Chili
I literally filled the crockpot for 5 people. Needless to say there were leftovers so we ate some a few more times, and froze the rest.
Let’s start Monday off gently. This is not going to overwhelm your brain. We had houseguests early last week and I wanted to throw some dinners together on Sunday so we could leisurely visit and not put anyone to work. My thought for these Chicken Parmesan Cups were that it seemed like less work than serving Chicken Parmesan and anything in serving size portions is fun. I was going for a crowd pleaser and something I was pretty familiar with making.
Chicken Parmesan Cups
Yield: 12 muffin cups, ~5 people
Time: prep ~20 min, cook ~20 minutes
1 sheet of puff pastry
sprinkle of flour
5 chicken tenders
1 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees and defrost puff pastry to room temperature.
Cook the chicken until fully cooked through.
When cool enough to handle, chop up the chicken and set aside.
Spray a muffin tin or 12 ramekins with nonstick spray.
Lightly flour a surface to roll out the puff pastry. Roll to about 1/8 inch thick and cut it into 12 squares, about 3×3 inches each.
Lay the puff pastry into the muffin tin.
Divide the chicken into each cup, spoon sauce over, and top with cheeses. (I had some extra puff pastry so I put another mini 1″ square on top)
Bake for 20 minutes, or until puff pastry puffs up and get golden brown.
I loved these. They made serving way easier. I tossed a salad together an poof, dinner was ready. These would be super simple to serve to a crowd since they almost could be eaten by hand.
chicken parmesan cups + baked eggplant = dynamic duo of parm
chicken parmesan cups – tomato sauce – cheese + pot pie fillings (corn, carrots, celery, gravy, etc) = chicken pot pie cups
chicken parmesan cups + ricotta = chicken “lasagna” cups