February felt like the last stint of true winter around here. A few warm days has me thinking spring is ahead. I’m sooo ready for more and more daylight after work! Also…the beginning of March brings my birthday! Bring on the cake!
But first, I’m fitting in all the wintry meals on my list. I made this Breakfast Inspired Risotto with bacon, white cheddar, everything bagel seasoning, and an egg. I loved this and will likely make it again asap!
#MeatlessMondays have continued and these Tomato Basil Polenta Bowls were a big hit, especially with the toddler! I cooked most of this in advance which made for an even faster weeknight meal. It’d be a great one to make for a crowd or for 1-2 servings.
I made another hot chocolate that was like a turtle candy with nutella, salted caramel, almond extract, and chopped pecans. Yum!
I have a few recipes lined up for March. Stay tuned for another deviled egg variation, another souped up hot chocolate, a smoothie, a burger, and we’ll see what else. I haven’t made too many things just to pack as lunch so maybe I’ll do that too.
The Little One:
Feb was kind of rough for getting outside. We ended up with some rain and snow. Days he can get outside are always better. He’s very into puzzles so we got some for his rewards for potty training. He really likes them! I made a crock pot chicken & dumplings dinner that he really wasn’t interested in. We didn’t make it a big deal and eventually he tried it on his own and ate enough to be dinner. Phew! I know he doesn’t love dishes where everything is cooked together but I was really proud that we didn’t prod him and he tried it, and liked it enough, when he was ready. This month he ate more eggs than usual and still loves pb&j. He’s been doing this funny thing when we start talking about breakfast that he wants meatloaf. I have no idea when he last saw it!
This year’s goals:
Year of the candle: I got this cool geometric ceramic one.
Cook more appetizers/snacks: I made Caprese Sliders
Taking time to blog thoughtfully: lack of daylight is rough.
Journal the cute moments of my little one: I didn’t capture too many this month.
What I’m reading: I read Miller’s Valley and am into my bookclub book.
What I’m watching: All Olympics, all the time.
These little veggie sliders are so fun for an app or as lunch. They’d be great for a vegetarian option to build-your-own-slider bar. I can see these going quickly a a party as a filling appetizer or on a lunch spread. Little sliders are perfect alongside a few soups!
Swap the pesto for basil leaves, or mix the pesto with a touch of mayo for a lighter flavor. I love pesto all the time, so I went full out, on each side of the bread. The tomatoes could be roasted in advance to speed it up even further. I only made a few so I popped my tomatoes into the toaster oven and melted the mozzarella in there too.
Caprese Sliders (for 2 sliders)
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
2 slider rolls, or dinner rolls
2 tablespoons basil pesto
1 fresh mozzarella ball
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Add the tomatoes and vinegar to a baking dish with a sprinkle of salt & pepper, and roast for 5-10 minutes until they split.
Slice the mozzarella and slider rolls.
Spread the pesto onto the inside tops and bottoms of each rolls.
Spoon the tomatoes onto each roll and top with a slice of mozzarella onto each.
Bake for 5 minutes until melty.
Add the top roll and enjoy!
For as much as I don’t usually want foods to touch, I’m 100% on board for foods that go together served in a bowl. Bring on all the bowl meals! Build your own! Love it! I made these bahn mi bowls as a quick dinner that could have been made more perfect, but speed is the name of the game here. I figured out the best
cheat workaround to not pickling veggies for 24-hours in advance!
I’d totally make these with leftover pulled pork too! I skipped pickling the carrots mostly because I forgot. My workaround? Pickle juice! A few spoonfuls of pickle juice from our fav local pickles was exactly what this needed. That touch of tart flavor was perfect.
Quick & Easy Bahn Mi Bowls for 3-4
3-4 thin sliced pork cutlets
1 cup brown rice
2 cups broth/water
3-4 thin pork chops
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (optional)
2 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
1/4 cup pickle juice
Marinate the pork in the soy sauce and rice vinegar overnight, or before cooking.
Cook the rice with broth or water. (I cooked mine in the pressure cooker).
Pan fry the pork in the marinade over medium heat until cooked to 145-degrees using a meat thermometer- just 3-4 minutes on each side.
Chop the carrots and cucumbers into matchsticks. Then slice the pork and chop the cilantro.
Pour the cooked marinade into the rice and mix. (Only from the pan, not any from the raw pork.)
Stir together the Sriracha and mayo.
Spoon rice into each bowl, then add sliced pork, cucumbers, carrots, cilantro, and sriracha aoli. Then drizzle with pickle juice.
This was fun for a speedy dinner. The pork is soooo fast to cook just being careful not to overcook. Overcooked pork is tough and tasteless. I meant to pickle the carrots but forgot until it was literally time to make this- thus my pickle juice being added on there. Rice in the pressure cooker is so amazing. Brown rice cooks in no time and I love how soft and sticky it gets. It makes great leftovers or can be on a roll or as a bowl.
The little one liked it since he is 100% game for rice, any day of the week.
I made risotto the other night with bacon, white cheddar, everything bagel seasoning and topped it with a fried egg and I cannot be more excited about it. I made it back in 2014, according to instagram, but didn’t blog it since I didn’t make it up. I am now realizing this was the genius idea of We Are Not Martha! Hers is bea-u-ti-ful with a lovely poached egg! There are about 10,000,000 variations on pinterest too! I knew mine had to be all about the Everything Bagel Seasoning!
It is so delicious prepared as risotto- maybe because the sticky rice seems like oatmeal texture? The everything bagel seasoning MAKES this. Do not skip it! I make my own or I’ve heard it is at every grocery store now. At first I gave the little one avocado instead of an egg but he ate so much of my egg that we made him his own and he ate it all. Eggs can be hit or miss so I love whenever he eats it up!
Bacon & Cheddar Risotto with Everything Bagel Seasoning & an Egg (for 3-4)
1 cup arborio rice
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cups water (or white wine)
6-8 strips of bacon
1 cup white cheddar, shredded
2 tablespoons Everything Bagel Seasoning (here’s my recipe)
Prepare the risotto according to the package. Mine went into the pressure cooker for 6 minutes.
(if cooking risotto in a pot: In a large saucepan, saute some olive oil over medium heat. Add in the rice and stir regularly for a few minutes to toast it, then reduce heat to medium low. In a medium saucepan, heat the liquids to low heat. Add a ladle of liquid to the rice cooking until absorbed. Continue adding, stirring, and simmering until absorbed. Cook for ~20ish-30 minutes.)
While risotto is cooking, chop the bacon into bite-sized pieces and pan fry until crisp. Then drain on paper towel. (spoon a little bacon grease into the risotto…I won’t tell.)
When the risotto is cooked, add in the cheese, bacon, and about 3/4 of the everything bagel seasoning.
Gently stir to incorporate without breaking the bacon too much.
Fry the eggs and serve on top of the risotto.
Top with additional everything bagel seasoning!
This was dinner and was ohh, so, delicious. I took leftovers as lunch the next day with a hard boiled egg. I added tons more Everything Bagel Seasoning and after I warmed the risotto (not the egg – ewww – weird) I dumped some grape tomatoes with a drizzle of Italian dressing on top of my leftovers too. The cool and acidic tomatoes with the warm decadent risotto were fantastic.
Risotto is the best, though tricky for a crowd. It seems like the perfect meal for 1 if you halve it! Or you could turn leftover rice into this to revamp some leftovers! I’ve made the same general idea swapping arborio rice for other grains, like as a farro bowl.
BLTs in all forms! I put all my fav flavors into a calzone. I prepped this on a weekend, let it cool, and wrapped it up, and it was ready to go during the week! I baked it a little less than usual and the night we were going to eat it, I popped it into the oven for about 15 minutes. Voila! The little one is veryyy ready for dinner when we get home so this was such a great time saver.
6 strips of bacon
1 tomato, chopped
2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
2 tablespoons cornmeal/wheat germ
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Preheat the oven to 400-degrees (and preheat the pizza stone, if using one).
Pan fry the bacon until crisp, and drain on paper towel.
Chop the spinach, tomato, and bacon.
Sprinkle the cornmeal or wheat germ onto the baking sheet or pizza stone.
Spread the dough out into a big circle. Then lay the dough off centered, onto the pizza stone/pan. (I try not to move the calzone once filled, so I lay the dough out onto the pizza stone to put the toppings on and fold the dough to become the top.)
Layer on half the cheese, half the bacon, half the tomato, half the spinach. Repeat. Pull the other half of the dough over the filling and pinch to close. Cut a few slits in the top to vent.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until golden brown.
Slice and enjoy!
The beauty of this calzone is the classic combo of these few ingredients. Calzones also make great leftovers so I was also in luck for lunch the next day too. Calzones are also easy to make mini so this can be 1 big calzone or 4 individual serving ones!
I hadn’t anticipated what a hit these would be for the little one. He ate so much that he ate what would have been my leftovers for lunch the next day! The base is canned tomatoes, white beans, spinach, and basil topped with a polenta cake and melted cheese. It was an easy meal to prep in advance for a quick #meatlessmonday !
I liked the warm & comforting nature of this dinner, especially for a cold night. I imagine it would have reheated nicely, but some three-year-old I know ate about 4 servings-worth. Seriously, what am I going to do when he’s a teenager?
Ok, onto my soap box: go get some Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes. Not sponsored- they have no idea who I am. These are the best for pizza sauce and as an everyday tomato sauce. I looooove that there isn’t any sugar, check out your go-to tomato sauce. It likely has tons of sugar, and prob a surprising amount of sodium. Jazz it up however you like but I promise you’ll love it!
Tomato Basil Polenta Bowls
~2 cups Pastene Kitchen Ready Tomatoes, or tomato sauce
1, 15 oz can of white beans, drained & rinsed
2 cups spinach, chopped
6-8 basil leaves, chopped chiffonade
1 cup instant polenta prepared, or 1- 18 oz tube sliced into disks
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella
salt & pepper
If using dry, instant polenta, prepare according to directions and pour into a baking dish. (I used instant and prepared it the morning before serving. I covered and refrigerated until dinner time.)
Add Kitchen Ready Tomatoes, white beans, chopped spinach, salt & pepper to a large pan over low heat. Cook for ~10 minutes to warm through, stirring occasionally. Add in basil at the end.
In a small skillet, pan fry disks of polenta in a drizzle of olive oil, just until crisped and warm. (I used instant polenta that I cut out with a biscuit cutter- or maybe it was a slider ring, who knows.)
Flip and top with shredded cheese. Pop under a broiler for just a minute to melt.
Serve polenta cake on top of the bean mixture. Enjoy!
I can’t stop! Hot chocolate with all the flavorings and toppings are like the acceptable version of a sundae anytime of the day! This hot chocolate is caramel, chocolate, and pecans- just like the candy turtle!
I used some salted caramel hot chocolate mix (half that, half regular) but a generous spoonful of caramel sauce into the hot chocolate works great too! I stole my pecans out of trail mix but walnuts taste great if you have them instead.
Turtle Hot Chocolate, for 2
hot water & cocoa mix, quantities according to package (6-8oz per mug)
1-2 teaspoons salted caramel sauce
1/2 teaspoon almond extract (or spike it with almond liquor! I didn’t even think of that at the time!!)
1 teaspoon chocolate hazelnut spread
5-6 pecans, chopped
Prepare the hot chocolate according to the instructions. (I used half salted caramel hot chocolate & half regular.)
Mix hazelnut spread, almond extract, and caramel sauce into the hot chocolate. (I skipped the caramel sauce in the hot chocolate since my mix was flavored).
Top with whipped cream, a drizzle of caramel sauce, and pecans.
This is such a great treat. I wanted a real nutty flavor to come through and I tasted it. I’d totally make this as dessert, or some of those flavors would be good in coffee too! I have another junked up hot chocolate idea…stay tuned! In the meantime there are a few dinners in store.