HAP-py New Year! I didn’t exactly make it to midnight. I kept dozing, Mr. J dutifully would gently wake me and I was drowsy/cranky/confused. Dec 30th (a “school-night”) and Jan 1 I had no trouble at all getting to being awake at midnight. Ohh well. Christmas is packed away and the little one now points and says “oooo” at the snowmen I pop into place where Santas once stood. 2016 is going to be fun & tasty, I can feel it.
Ohhmygosh. I’m so excited. I got a pressure cooker for Christmas and I broke it out the other night for risotto. I know, I too thought they were only helpful for big pieces of meat until talk at lunch enlightened me. Risotto in 6 minutes? Sign me up! Spoiler: it was awesome…slightly longer than 6 minutes, but I pretty much dumped it in and let it do the work. Isn’t she pretty? This risotto would work perfectly in a pot on the stove as well. It has Parmesan cheese, corn, and chopped arugula.
Sweet Corn Risotto with Arugula (serves ~4)
2 tbs butter 1 tbs garlic, smashed or chopped 2 cups arborio rice 2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth) 3 cups water (or sub white wine) 1/2 cup grated Parmesan 1-2 cups Arugula, chopped 1-2 cups corn
In a pressure cooker (see below for stovetop directions*), saute the garlic in the butter for 1-2 minutes. Add in the rice and stir well, cooking for about 2 minutes until the rice gets a bit more opaque than white. Add in the broth and water and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. While rice is cooking, cook the corn and chop the arugula. Release the pressure. Stir in parmesan, corn, and arugula. Enjoy! *For stovetop risotto: In a medium pot warm the broth and water over low heat. Melt the butter and cook the garlic over medium heat. Add in the rice and cook for a few minutes- until the rice gets opaque versus white. Add in the liquid 1 cup at a time. Wait for it to absorb and then add another cup. Repeat for all the liquid – likely 30 minutes.
I loved this. It was cooked PERFECTLY. It was creamy but not mush. The corn was living in my freezer but had been cut off the cobb awhile back. The chunks still connected make me smile…like finding a double Cheez-it! I chopped the arugula really well partly because the baby was going to eat it too, and partly because I love using it like an herb! I’d use wayyy more next time.
The baby loved the risotto! He ate quite a lot. Mr. J and I did a his/hers entree and shared risotto. He had grilled steak and I had grilled salmon with some dijon/lemon/garlic/salt/pepper. Poof. Insta-dinner.
Or moreso lounging in the new year. I’m not so into New Years, and never really have been. I was happy to earn $100-bucks babysitting back in the day for NYE. #highschoolfortune This year I’ll be enjoying sliders & shakes at home in my yoga pants. That worked out so well last year we decided it must become tradition! Though, last year I was about to pop myself and this year it can be a boozy shake! I cannot fathom why people stand out in Times Square alllll day to keep their spot. Or those who will be spending $400 for Olive Garden (no bottomless breadsticks). Both options are beyond me.
What do you do? Party? Get fancy? Go away?
An Apps & Zerts party is fun, a la Tom Haverford
A PJs & Pearls Party a la Carrie Bradshaw?
2015 was so wonderful and though I’m excited for what’s to come, it’ll hold a special place in my heart and I’ll be sad to see it end. The little is asleep by 8 so it’ll just be another day to him, maybe it should be to us all. I love to set goals for the year. I think there’s always room for improvement and I definitely need the reminder of the goals so it isn’t suddenly July before I remembered things I wanted to do.
The Year of the Earring: always a favorite yearly item.
make more salad dressings: this was my best goal of the year.
factor more time into how long every-day tasks/trips will take: this is an on-going quality for me to improve on
recreate restaurant menu items: ehh. I didn’t do this every month, but it’s a fun one when you’re needing a whats-to-make moment
be more adventurous with my reading selections: I read more than I thought I would. I learned I need a book or too much time passes before I seek one out.
use the crockpot more: This didn’t make me love the crockpot more, but I made a few things.
seafood once a month: I should be eating more fish.
So, what’s up for 2016? The little one turns 1 in a few weeks! Hello, theme party! He’s walking all around the house, from room to room. He feeds himself and eats pretty much everything. I love to see his little personality more and more. He’s a curious, determined, and giggly guy.
The Year of the: Seasonal Decor
do something a different way
drink more water
make more interesting side dishes
cook more soups & sauces
watch more movies
make working out a higher priority
Catch ya in 2016! I got a pressure cooker and the pasta attachment for my stand mixer…watch out world!
Don’t be sad that Christmas is over. I have the perfect use for your leftover holiday ham. This is ideal if you’re in weird limbo of brunch/lunch/dinner over the next few days.
I love the holidays but now I can’t even comprehend that there’s only 3 weeks until my little one turns one. Crazy. I need to catch my breath over here. How do I have a one year old? Sometimes when I go into his room I picture my burrito-wrapped-babe and there he is standing up lifting his arms to get picked up. Anywho, I can’t wait for his birthday. CAKE!
These ham spirals go together quickly and feature salty ham, buttery puff pastry, and mustard. It is definitely a perk of this that you only need a small amount of ham and a small amount of cheese…whatever is leftover from your apps and your ham!
Ingredients: (3-4 meal servings, ~6 appetizer servings)
1 sheet puff pastry
2-3 slices of ham, chopped into cubes
1 cup shredded swiss/cheddar
1/4 cup grain mustard
1/4 cup cream cheese
2 tbs butter
1-2 tsp poppy seeds
Defrost the puff pastry sheet at room temperature (40 min) or in the refrigerator (4 hours).
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Roll out the puff pastry and top with cheese and ham- being sure to get the filling all the way to the edge.
Roll the puff pastry and pinch the end to close the roll. Then slice into 1-inch pieces.
Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and lay the pinwheels face up. Leave some room for them to puff up and expand.
In a small pan, over medium-low heat, heat mustard, cream cheese, butter, and a splash of water (about 2 tbs or more if needed).
Pour the sauce over the pinwheels and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Then bake for 30-40 minutes, until toasty and puffed up.
Serve & enjoy!
These were dinner one night but the ham has me thinking they’d work well for brunch too. You could put each one into a muffin tin for individual servings.
I don’t know why Green Goddess may have been a thing of the 70s. I made it with some leftover herbs and it was such a hit. The secret ingredient is totally what separates good homemade dressing from the ehhh-home-made dressing. The next time you buy some herbs for something, plan to whip up some Green Goddess dressing. Diversify your veggie tray for a gathering or make dip for 2, like I did!
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup parsley
1/4 cup chives
3 tbs tarragon
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp anchovy paste
salt & pepper
Blend everything together.
Serve or chill then enjoy!
The anchovy paste is such a secret ingredient. Seriously. Everyone loves my mom’s Caesar dressing and that is absolutely what makes these dressings taste better but it is a flavor you just can’t quite put your finger on. I wasn’t feeling the salad so I served this as a dip alongside dinner. It was so much more fun than salad!
Happy Holidays! I’ll be back after Christmas with a perfect use for some leftovers. I can’t wait for our 2nd family Christmas and then Christmas morning at home. I’m still working on the menu for Christmas day. Enjoy!
On very rare occasions I venture out for lunch. I’m lucky to get homemade lunch & salad every day at work. I know. So lucky. I have to realllly be in the mood to spend $8 on a sandwich when there’s free & delicious homemade lunch at work. The local coffee/sandwich shop has very delightful, yet very expensive, panini with cheddar, apple, bacon, and pumpkin butter. I recreated at home using apple butter. This isn’t THAT different than one I’ve made before, but apple + cheddar in a panini is just goooood.
4 slices of good bread
2 tbs apple or pumpkin butter (sub pumpkin puree if you don’t find one of the butters)
2 tbs stone ground mustard
3 slices sharp white cheddar
2 slices of American cheese
1 green apple, sliced
Preheat the panini press, grill pan, or griddle to medium heat.
Assemble the sandwiches with apple butter on one side and mustard on the other. Top with cheese, apple, and other cheese.
Spray the panini press with non-stick spray or a brush of olive oil.
Cook about 4 minutes, or until cheese melts and outside gets crisp.
Slice & enjoy!
I can’t believe I forgot to put the bacon in it. That’s such a great touch on the panini from the restaurant. I think it was still good. The apple butter was so great with crisp apples and melty cheese. I think that a little bit of American cheese made this ohh-so-gooey and delicious.
My garden herbs are still kind of hanging on, likely because it has been 50-degrees! I used them with some feta for a Greek-inspired salmon or the topping would work nicely on chicken as well. I cooked it on the grill or it could be popped into the oven as well.
1 salmon fillet
1-2 tbs crumbled feta
1/2 tsp chopped fresh oregano
1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
Chop the feta and herbs and mix together with a little pepper (the feta will provide enough salt).
Preheat the grill or oven.
Make a foil packet sprayed with a little non-stick spray.
Place the salmon onto the foil and top with the feta/herb topping.
Close up the foil and cook until your desired doneness.
The herbs flavor cooked in really well. It was a his/hers dinner so Mr. J grilled some steak while I had salmon. With some roasted broccoli and some creamy white beans, dinner was really quite hands-off. It was a good reminder that the salmon I had hanging out in the freezer would defrost quickly and cook quickly with only a few ingredients. What a perfect use for some leftover fresh herbs you have from something else!
What MAKES this burger not your average burger, is the vehicle the Texas toast provides. I never have Texas toast but I was obsessed with this idea and it took a few weeks to come to fruition. Texas Toast bakes up surprisingly soft and easy to bite through for a burger! My toppings could probably get more amped up a bit, but dinner was fast approaching. The burger gets BBQ sauce in it, and on it, with some meat rub, onion, and some great flavors. I topped the bread-shaped patties with colby jack cheese and a bbq sauce/ketchup smear.
4 slices of cheesy Texas Toast
1/4 pound ground beef/chicken/pork
1/4 white onion, diced finely
1/3 cup BBQ sauce
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp yellow mustard
2 tbs dry rub
2 slices colby jack cheese
Mix the meat with onion, bbq sauce, liquid smoke, worcestershire sauce, and mustard.
(we did his & hers patties of beef=his & ground chicken=hers)
Form into thin oblong patties, keeping in mind the size of the Texas toast.
Dust the outside with the rub.
Bake the Texas toast according to the package (likely 8-12 minutes).
Grill until cooked through, being careful not to overcook.
Top with cheese & sprinkle some more rub onto the burger.
Mix together 1 part bbq sauce & 1 part ketchup.
Assemble the burger with chopped lettuce, pickles, burger, and BBQ/ketchup sauce.
I was a bit fearful that the bread would be too crusty and thus hard to eat since it is also so thick! It wasn’t at all! Yee-haw! I loved the smokey flavors and how juicy the burgers came out being. I’m telling you, liquid smoke goes so nicely here. Get some. It’ll take your chili to the next level.
Yum. We loved this. I have the other half of the Texas toast package so we’ll see where that goes. It seems like just the perfect snack…just saying.
I looove pork tacos. I decided to sweeten the filling whilst on my never-ending quest to find my favorite salsa. I might need to be making my own. Hmm. Different story for a different day. I added some fresh pineapple and some pomegranate molasses. I love that stuff on brussels sprouts. Ahhh: stay. on. topic.
pulled pork shoulder (a great use for leftovers)
2-3 slices of fresh pineapple, chopped
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
shredded white cheddar
salsa/pico de gallo
Saute the pork with pineapple and molasses over medium heat. The goal is to warm the pork through and soften the pineapple a bit…about 5 minutes.
Taste, and add more pomegranate molasses, if necessary.
Fill the tacos with the pork/pineapple, lettuce, cheese, white beans, and salsa.
Top with guac, and enjoy!
I loved the sweetness to these tacos! The pineapple was a nice touch of sweetness and tartness. The fruity touch was so great, and different than flavors we typically have. I added in some white beans, partly because I had them and it felt like they’d go. The little one eats beans but I’m always trying to use them before they get slimy.
I found my favorite guacamole and now I’m wanting better salsa. I want fresh salsa. It’s often too thick or too sweet. I like restaurant-style salsas. Sal-sa. I’ll have to work on that. Aren’t the taco stands so cute? I love my tacos upright.
I used apple cider to make oatmeal awhile back and the other day a light dinged when I gave the babe some pancakes. Ah-ha! I thought cider would be good in place of the water! I kept these really straight forward but they’d be great with apple chunks, cinnamon and the cider.
Measure out the pancake mix according to the package. Replace the water with apple cider.
Preheat a grill pan or skillet to medium heat.
Mix until smooth.
Cook pancakes, flipping once the bubbles pop.
Serve with syrup and a drink of cider!
The cider is a really light touch. I don’t know that everyone would necessarily taste it without knowing it was in there. An apple cider syrup would be delightful on these. So, in the end it worked just fine but wasn’t a strong flavor.
November is which a whirlwind for work. Our Thanksgiving fundraiser makes my October & November a bit nutty. By the end of the month I was really exhausted physically, I got a bit sick, I was tired of going to bed thinking about work and waking up thinking about work. I made a few quick dinners but I was glad to not add too much to my plate and just try to focus/enjoy the ride.
This month, sis’ bday was a fiesta! I made Mexican Street Corn and Mr. J made margaritas. Other than that, Mom made everything else. I looooved the corn. It was creamy, salty from the cheese, sweet from the corn, and had just a hint of zest from lime. It was so great as a side. I’d also definitely be willing to put it on a taco. This one will be a quickie repeat.
The Three Bite Rule. Turned. Five. Yes, 5 year old. Craziness!
I wanted something really good in the crockpot. This crockpot cassoulet wasn’t the best I’ve ever made, but I liked it annnnd I used dried beans, so that was a first.
Queso Smothered Chicken over a bed of black beans and peppers was the perfect tweak on taco-night.
The Little One:
He is so funny. He’s movin’! He took his first steps just before turning 10 months. I love Mr. J’s monthly photos. He always looks like: splat! Like he’s stuck! There are about 5 seconds before he wiggles off. He has no interest in staying still. The poor babe. He had hand, foot, and mouth. It felt like forever. This photo was delyaed while he was cov-ered in it. Ugg. It’s a total yuck one. Let’s not do that again….ummk?
Progress on this year’s goals:
The Year of the Earring: I missed it this go-round.
make more salad dressings: I made a dressing for the Mexican Street Corn…counts, right?
factor more time into how long every-day tasks/trips will take: I’d say I did OK during my busiest time of the year.
recreate restaurant menu items: Nope, I missed this one too.
be more adventurous with my reading selections: I haven’t read much.
use the crockpot more: Yup! I made Crockpot Cassoulet.
seafood once a month: Nope, I’m behind on that.