I’m back! I was just too crazy to blog during my busiest time at work. I’m proud to say it was a success and now I’m super ready to embrace the season! I made this Creamless Tomato Soup as a super quick lunch that I thought was especially nice after a filling holiday weekend. There isn’t any cream or bread to thicken this soup and the white beans add that element with the bonus of some protein. Now you just need a grilled cheese!
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1, 28 oz can Kitchen Ready tomatoes
1, 15 oz can white beans, rinsed
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup red wine, optional
Saute the garlic in a little olive oil in a heavy pot, over low heat for about 2-4 minutes.
Add in the tomato paste, kitchen ready tomatoes, white beans, and salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Blend either with an immersion blender, or carefully labeled into a blender or food processor.
Return to the pot and add in the oregano. Cook for another 5 minutes on low.
(Optional: add in some veggie stock or water if too thick.)
Serve and enjoy!
I think the herbs make this soup.
Salty pancetta and sweet pear plus melty cheese makes for such a wonderfully balanced pizza. That’s it. Pizza dough, cheese, pancetta, and pear. That’s it. So, basically dinner is brought to you by the letter P.
1 cup Pancetta
1 1/2 cup shredded Mozarella cheese
Preheat the oven and pizza stone (if using one) to 400 degrees.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the pancetta to crisp. Then drain.
Spread the dough out onto a pan, poke a few holes into the dough. Cook for 5-8 minutes to lightly browned.
In the same pan as the pancetta, saute the pear for about 5 minutes over low heat just to soften a little.
Then top the dough with cheese, pear, and pancetta.
Bake for 5-8 minutes more until the cheese melts.
The little one picked off all the pancetta, ate that first, then the pears, then was full. I loved the sweet and subtle pear with the very salty pancetta. I’d totally make this again. Seriously, these few ingredients are just born to go together.
Six years? Woah! Crazy. It always creeps up on me. Once again, I have no idea what is in store for me or the blog but I wanted to take a moment to thank the blogosphere, thank readers, and think about the year to come!
My fav photo of the year: Cherry Cheesecake Yogurt Parfaits
My fav burger of the year: The Ramen Burger!
Fav new kitchen item: The pressure cooker!
Fav Meal: Pad Thai made at home!
I loved a mini-challenge I self imposed for more creative breakfasts. If you pack lunch I’d challenge yourself to that!
How’d the goals go? They were good! I liked that they were pretty varied this year!
The Year of the: Seasonal Decor: this was such a great year of the…I might need to do it again!
do something a different way: always a good reminder.
drink more water: I could always keep this on the list. I’m not sure I quite got a perfect method for this.
make more interesting side dishes: I liked this since they’re often quicker than the main thing.
cook more soups & sauces: I didn’t make too many soups, but sauces was a good place to start.
watch more movies: this was a fun one! We get Netflix so I wanted to be sure to actually watch them.
make working out a higher priority: I ran a 5K! That was big for me!
And onto the next goals:
Year of the:….wait for it….Pajamas! I’m an adult and want legit pjs…not just pants and old event tee-shirts.
do more dinner prep more in advance
cook more fish
focus on clothes that I really like
monthly grocery store ingredient, recreated
My crockpot got more of a workout in a few days than it has in a while. Mr. J made a cashew chicken that was great, though needs a tweak for next time. Stay tuned. I saw a chicken and golden mushroom recipe and thought I could lighten it the tiniest bit without sacrificing anything. Here it is, I loved it! It was good as leftovers and the babe liked it a lot.
Have you used golden mushroom soup? It is more like a thicker broth than a cream of mushroom. It can be hard to find. Find some. Stock up. Freeze some and use it the next time you need veggie broth.
Lightened up & adapted from Slow-Cooker Golden Mushroom Chicken
1 pound baby portabella mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
6 chicken tenders
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup water
1 can golden mushroom soup
1/4 cup cream cheese with chives
1 packet Italian Dressing mix
fresh cracked pepper
1/2 pound spaghetti
2 cups baby arugula
In a large skillet over medium heat, add butter and mushrooms to cook for about 5 minutes. Stir well to golden brown and until the liquid all evaporates.
Cut the chicken into cubes.
In a large bowl, mix together the broth, water, golden mushroom soup, cream cheese, Italian Dressing, and cracked pepper.
Spray a slow cooker with non-stick spray then add in the chicken, the mushrooms, and the sauce.
Turn to low for 4-5 hours.
To serve, boil salted water for the pasta. Add the arugula into the crockpot and stir over low/warming for about 5 minutes to wilt.
Cook the pasta to al dente.
Serve the chicken, mushrooms, & sauce over the pasta. Enjoy!
The original had 2x as much soup, 4x as much creamed cheese, 3x as much chicken, and no greens. Mine still had plenty of flavor, creaminess, and tender chicken. The arugula is peppery and adds a nicer crunch than parsley would be.
Polenta is the ingredient I always forget will provide the variety to a weeknight meal we all need. Rice takes forever. Pasta seems overdone. Polenta? Yeah polenta cooks in just a few minutes. I like it soupy to be spoon-able. I used pre-cooked turkey meatballs, zucchini and a really quick sauce. Poof! Dinner!
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 zucchini, chopped
1 cup dried polenta
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup gruyere cheese, shredded or chopped
1/2 cup milk
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the zucchini and tomato paste to cook for about 4 minutes.
Add in the meatballs, 1 cup of the broth, and salt & pepper. Bring to a low boil and cook for about 8 minutes until broth reduces a bit.
In a medium pot, add the polenta, butter, 1 cup of broth, 1 cup water and bring to a boil for 5 minutes.
Reduce heat to low and stir in the milk and cheese.
Spoon polenta in to the bowls, then top with meatballs, zucchini, and the sauce.
Today’s panini was a fun quick dinner. I was inspired by Blunch who has a panini called “The Piglet” with black forest ham, smoked bacon, maple aioil, sliced tomato on multi grain. I went for the ham & maple aoli theme and panini-ified some soft rolls. Paninis are the best for dinner since they’re fast and can still be special. We had these with some tomato/cuke/feta salad.
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 soft rolls
4-5 slices of ham
1 cup shredded gruyere
2 cups arugula
Mix together the mayo, maple, and cinnamon.
Heat a panini press or grill pan to medium heat.
Assemble the sandwiches by spreading the maple aoli onto the bread generously, then layering the ham, cheese, and arugula.
Press or grill the sandwiches until the outside is crisp and the cheese melts.
Slice & enjoy!
The maple aoli is light but so good. I thought the cinnamon was key! The arugula is ideal because it is so peppery and holds up well to the sandwich getting cooked.
Tis the season for all the fall foods, and for my busiest couple of months at work so I’ve tried to really be on top of dinners when I can, and still trying to get some workouts despite it being sooo dark in the mornings now!
This Fall Burger had sage and pear in a pork patty for all the best fall-ish flavors. It is still great grilling weather!
I made a breakfast calzone with braided puff pastry thanks to a friend from college’s post on facebook. It was a really great and quick for a weeknight meal. I’ll totally make this again the next time I have house guests!
Sour Cream & Onion Deviled Eggs were fun and went quickly at a 3-way baby shower at work.
The Little One:
He’s such a love! He likes giving us hugs and it just melts my heart. I’ve enjoyed seeing how long he’ll do some activities. We have some fun activities for halloween: a visit from Grammie C; daycare trick or treating; and maybe a jack-o-lantern thing in the park. He’s been into some pumpkin books. The little one is eating everything, even eggs on occasion!
This Year’s Goals:
The Year of the: Seasonal Decor: Mr. J picked up some leaf garland when he saw it and it is really perfect for the mantle – also spanning the fall/halloween/harvest timing.
do something a different way: I made conscious time to be social. I went to my college reunion; I joined a new local bookclub which was great; and one group had a dip-party during a Pats game.
drink more water: I need to do better with this.
make more interesting side dishes: yes! I made broccoli & cheddar risotto in the pressure cooker
cook more soups & sauces: Garlic Parmesan Mac & Cheese was all about the cheese sauce
watch more movies: we watched The Neighbors and cracked up. I’ve been super into This is Us.
make working out a higher priority: I can amp this up. Work has a Fitbit challenge going on and I’ve gotten some walks in…nothing major, but something is better than nothing!
My MIL is the queen of stuffed eggs so I channeled her and put a twist on the traditional deviled egg. Work was having a 3-way baby shower for 3 mommas-to-be. They seemed ideal for a snack that didn’t need to be reheated, and was easy to bring, open, and serve without any assembly.
1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon Nutritional Yeast Flakes (optional)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon mayo (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives + some for topping garnish
Hard boil the eggs then let cool for at least 3 hours before pealing.
Slice in halves, pop the yolks out and into a bowl. Add in the yogurt, mustard, salt, pepper, nutritional yeast flakes, onion powder, and mayo.
Mix well and add in the chives.
Spoon into a ziplock bag, push to the bottom corner, and snip of the corner with scissors.
Pipe into the egg halves and sprinkle the remaining chives on top.
I liked these! The flavors were a bit subtle, but still there. The yogurt gave a little tang and I added the mayo for some creaminess. I added the nutritional yeast flakes because it kind of mimics cheese and I thought it’d help the sour cream & onion touch without dip mix or anything. I have a few more flavor options in my head. Stay tuned!
This Garlic Parmesan Mac & Cheese is not joking about the garlic. I loooove homemade mac and cheese and the garlic flavor was so great! The little one hasn’t been interested in boxed Mac & Cheese but he loved this! He has good taste!
4 tablespoons butter +2 tablespoons for topping
3-4 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chicken/vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon fresh garlic
1/2 pound pasta (elbows, shells, spirals, penne)
1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese (+2 tablespoons for baking)
1 cup shredded gruyere (or fontina/provolone/gouda)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (+2 tablespoons for topping)
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs (mine were seasoned)
1 cup fried onions, broken up
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
In a medium pot, melt the butter and stir in the flour. Cook for 3-4 minutes stirring the roux paste regularly.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.
Pour in the chicken broth to the roux and stir well to combine. Then add the cream, milk, and garlic, bringing to a low boil.
Add in the cheddar, gruyere, Parmesan, salt, and pepper.
Cook the pasta until al dente & drain – return the pasta to the large empty pot.
Stir well as the cheese melts.
Add cheese sauce into the pasta, stirring to assess how much more is needed (I had some sauce leftover that I froze).
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and pre-heat the oven to 375-degrees.
Spoon half the pasta into the dish. Sprinkle the cheddar in the middle, then pour the remaining pasta on top.
Bake for 15 minutes while prepping the topping.
Melt the 2 tablespoons of remaining butter and mix in the panko, the fried onions, remaining parmesan, and garlic powder.
Sprinkle the topping onto the mac & cheese and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
Let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
I loved this. It has been awhile since I made some homemade mac & cheese. The topping was awesome and was kind of an afterthought. I happened upon the Frenches Fried Onions near the panko and thought it’d be perfect. They were!
Snacks snacks snacks! October for Mr. J’s year of snacks/treats was themed: “homemade.” I tweaked a Chex Mix recipe to play more on the cornbread-smoke flavors rather than how muddy-buddy/powder-y the original recipe was. I added potato sticks, almonds, and corn chips.
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons corn syrup
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
4 cups Chex cereal (I used Rice Chex)
1 cup almonds
1 package potato sticks
~1 cup cornbread mix
1 cup corn chips
Melt the butter and stir in corn syrup, sugar, and liquid smoke.
Mix together the cereal, almonds, and potato sticks.
Stir the sugary sauce into the cereal then add in the cornbread mix and the chips.
Pour onto wax paper to cool/dry for at least 20 minutes.
This one was subtly addictive. I liked the smokiness and the chips are the perfect salty touch. It got a bit soggy a few days later so I’m not sure how to change that. Eat quickly! Next month’s theme is chewy!