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Chili over Cheesy Polenta

Chili over Polenta

I haven’t written a blog post since before I was pregnant which has now been almost 2 years.  I used to feel guilty for not writing then I realized I was not writing because I was out exploring the world, enjoying my family, and getting on with other things.  It might be another 2 years until  write the next one and that is ok.  I started this blog as a hobby and can see how it quickly became another responsibility.  Anywho, I have put things into perspective and I’m here now so that’s all that matters.

The hubby and I made it our summer goal to add some curb appeal to the outside of our house by adding shutters and painting a door.  So in true fashion, we were working on this until Labor Day Monday evening.  Nothing like putting it off until the last minute!

Look how great it turned out though.  I love the door so much.  It makes me happy every time I drive up now.

House (Before)House (After)

Since I knew I would be outside all day, I wanted something easy for dinner that would also be hearty enough to fill us up after a long work day.  I had a small amount of left over shredded beef from the day before and also wanted to be able to extend that as much as possible so what better way than to make chili.  Topping this quick chili over cheesy polenta completely amps up this dish and takes it to a whole new level.  My husband raved and kept asking for more, more, more.  I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine!

Erin

Chili over Cheesy Polenta

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound stew meat
  • 1 can diced tomatoes in sauce
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1/2 white onion, diced
  • 1 can S&W chili beans
  • 1 envelope McCormick chili seasoning
  • 4 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup instant grits
  • 2 cups extra-sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions for Chili:

  1. Liberally season stew meat with salt and pepper and bring to room temperature.  Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high heat until almost smoking.  Add stew meat and sear until nicely browned on all sides.  Transfer meat to slow cooker.
  2. Add diced tomatoes, pepper, onion, chili beans, and chili seasoning to slow cooker.  Stir everything together and set to low for 6-8 hours or until stew meat shreds easily with a fork.

Directions for Cheesy Polenta:

  1. Slowly bring milk to a boil over medium-high heat in a large pot.  Stir the milk frequently so it doesn’t burn.
  2. Once milk is boiling, add grits in a steady stream while stirring vigorously.  Reduce heat to low and cover for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove lid from pot and add cheese in batches until fully incorporated and melted.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Add butter and stir until melted.
  6. Serve hot polenta in bowls and top with chili.
 
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Posted by on September 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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10 Minute Pecan Pie Filling

Pecan Pie Slice

This pecan pie filling comes together in 10 minutes, no joke. I am usually so focused on the dinner that I will be serving that dessert is always an after thought if it even happens. After realizing how easy it really can be, I now have a go-to last minute dessert recipe.

If you’re not in a hurry, you can obviously make your own pie crust which is always preferred.

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen pie crust
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. pure vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3 eggs

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Chop pecans and add them to the pie crust in a single layer.
  3. Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl until combined.
  4. Pour over chopped pecans.
  5. Loosely cover pie with tin foil.  Bake for 30 minutes covered.
  6. Remove tin foil and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until center is “set.”

Pecan Pie

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 23, 2013 in Dessert

 

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Falafels with Tzatziki

Falafel

Sometimes I get a hankering for falafels and although it’s sometimes easier to go to my local Mediterranean restaurant and pick them up, they are honestly so much better homemade.  Unlike a lot of take-out places, these falafels are crispy on the outside and smooth on the inside with a lot of flavor to carry them on their own without being dried out.  The tzatziki adds a creaminess to bring the whole thing together for a fresh and quick dinner.

If you have a food processor or blender these come together in a snap.  The main ingredient is garbanzo beans so they are very inexpensive to make, and I think are good reheated.  It makes for a much more interesting lunch than a peanut butter sandwich.

Servings: 8
Active Time: 45 minutes
Inactive Time: 4 hours

Ingredients for Tzatziki:

  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded (use other half of cucumber as garnish for falafel)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt, divided
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 3 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Ingredients for Falafels:

  • 2 (15 oz) cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour + more for coating falafel
  • 2 tsp. cumin, fresh ground
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • Oil for frying (peanut, canola, corn)
  • 4 warm pita breads, cut in half
  • 1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Diced cucumbers
  • Hot Sauce
Directions for Tzatziki:
  1. Grate cucumber and sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt.  Transfer to a fine sieve set over a bowl to catch liquid.  Allow to drain for 2 hours.
  2. Transfer strained cucumber to a bowl.  Stir in Greek yogurt, sour cream, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and remaining 1/2 tsp. salt.
  3. Refrigerate for 2 hours before using to allow flavors to meld.  Can be made up to 2 days in advance.

Directions for Falafels:

  1. In a food processor, combine garbanzo beans, 3 Tbsp. flour, cumin, minced garlic cloves, and 1/2 tsp. cayenne in processor until combined. Add 3/4 cup onion, egg, and pulse until ingredients are finely chopped.
  2. Transfer to a bowl.  Roll mixture into 1 inch balls, then roll in a bowl of flour.
  3. Pour oil into a heavy skillet and heat over medium-high heat.  Once oil is hot add four falafels at a time making sure to not overcrowd.  Turn after about 2 minutes to brown on all sides.
  4. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
  5. Serve falafels in pitas with tzatziki, diced tomatoes, diced cucumbers, and hot sauce.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on October 12, 2013 in Beans, Entrees, Made from Scratch, Uncategorized

 

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Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup

It’s here..it’s here…it’s really really here.  SOUP SEASON!!!  I despise winter and am so sad to see summer go, but I do love me some Fall.  Comfy sweaters, cool sleeping weather, lazy Sunday Football Fundays, and SOUP!

Someone asked my mom once what my favorite color was and she replied, “Well for Erin that all depends on the day!”  That is exactly how I feel about soup.  It can fit so many different moods, eating habits, and cravings.  From a comforting chicken soup when you’re under the weather to a silky lobster bisque on date night, soup has many sides and serves many purposes.  It’s great for using up leftover ingredients in the fridge along with being easy on the pocketbook.  Oh soup, I love you!

Today I decided on a chicken wild rice soup.  I happened to have some homemade chicken stock in the refrigerator so I wanted that to shine.  I added a bit of cream but not so much to mask the poor chicken stock that spent so many hours on the stove last Saturday doing it’s thing!

This is one of those recipes that tastes best the next day so feel free to make it ahead of time and eat it throughout the week.  It will get better with some age.  Most things do!

Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup Recipe
Yield: 8 Servings
Active Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup wild rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 8oz portabella mushrooms
  • 2 medium carrots or 10 baby carrots, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. butter + 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
  • 1 shallot, about 1/2 cup
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 7.5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken, cooked and shredded (rotisserie or poached chicken works great here)
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Rinse wild rice and drain.  Heat water with 1/4 tsp. salt and rice until boiling.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Rice is done when it pops open and is chewy not hard.
  2. Fry bacon in a heavy skillet over medium heat until crisp.  Transfer bacon to paper towel, let cool, then coarsely chop.
  3. Add mushrooms to skillet and saute for 3 minutes.  Add carrots and continue to saute for another 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. In a large stockpot melt 1/2 stick butter over medium heat.  Add shallot until soft, about 2 minutes.  Add flour and stir constantly 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in chicken stock.
  5. Increase heat to a boil.  Add rice, mushroom/carrot mix, bacon, chicken, and thyme.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes to allow flavors to meld and reduce slightly.
  6. Stir in cream and heat for an additional 5 minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
 
4 Comments

Posted by on September 22, 2013 in Fall, Soup, Uncategorized, Winter

 

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Easy Baked Rigatoni

Baked Rigatoni

I generally spend one weekend day preparing food for the week ahead.  A pasta dish is always a winner for a few reasons.

  1. The ingredients are cheap.
  2. It reheats well making a perfect lunch for the remaining work days.
  3. It freezes well so can be assembled and thrown in the oven an hour before dinner.

These are all qualities that I love in a weeknight dinner.  Yes I have made homemade “gravy” plenty of times but, for all time-intensive purposes, jarred sauce is a great base start to a very pleasing weeknight dinner without taking all day to make.  Hence the name, “Easy Baked Rigatoni.”

Yield: 8 Servings
Prep Time: 35 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 (24oz) jar pasta sauce
  • 2 (15oz) cans diced tomatoes with Basil, Garlic, and Oregano
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 12oz rigatoni
  • Handful fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 log fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces

Directions:

  1. Brown Italian sausage.  Drain and transfer to a heavy Dutch oven.
  2. Add pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, fresh thyme, garlic, pepper, and salt.  Simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes to allow flavors to meld.
  3. Cook rigatoni until al dente in salted water.  Drain but do NOT rinse.
  4. Taste the sauce and adjust seasonings as necessary.
  5. Add basil and rigatoni to sauce and mix to combine.
  6. Transfer to a freezer proof dish and top with mozzarella.
  7. Bake at 350F for 30 minutes until cheese is bubbling.  If freezing, cook covered with foil for 50 minutes.  Remove foil and cook another 15 minutes until cheese is bubbling.
 
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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Entrees, Uncategorized

 

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Zucchini Fritters with Lemony Mayo

 

Zucchini Fritters with Lemony Mayo

3 years ago I planted my first garden.  I learned very quickly that two people do NOT need 5 flourishing zucchini plants!  We had so much zucchini that I bet I made these fritters 50 times.  Needless to say, I was “frittered-out” by the end of that summer.

It took me until yesterday to have a craving for them.  I forgot how light, fluffy, and full of flavor they are.  The lemony mayo adds just the right amount of creaminess and zing to make all the flavors pop.  So go crazy, make some fritters, and see if you can have more restraint than I did!

Yield: 30 bite-sized fritters
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeno, minced with seeds
  • 6 slices bacon, cooked crisp and chopped fine, reserve bacon fat for frying
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cup mayo
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions:

  1. Toss zucchini, jalapeno, and bacon in a large bowl to combine.
  2. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg. Stir in milk, cayenne, salt, and pepper.  Pour over zucchini mixture and toss to coat.
  3. Add flour and baking powder to zucchini mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Heat bacon fat over medium heat.  Drop spoonfuls of zucchini mixture into bacon fat making sure to not overcrowd.  Cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown.  Flip fritters and flatten with the back of a spatula.  Cook another 2 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
  5. Whisk together mayo and lemon juice and serve with warm fritters.
 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 2, 2013 in Appetizers, Summer, Uncategorized

 

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Summer Quinoa Salad

Summer Quinoa Salad

This is one of my most requested recipes so it’s about time I put it on the blog.  It’s very versatile so you can add anything that is in season at the time you make it.  It’s a very fresh tasting salad and works as a really nice side dish at a summer bbq.  It can be left out at room temperature and since it’s not mayonnaise-based, you don’t have to worry about it making anyone sick if left out too long.  It’s also very healthy, packed with protein, and gluten-free.

For those of you unfamiliar with quinoa, it is a small grain similar in texture to couscous.  It is very high in protein, gluten-free, a good source of fiber, and iron.

Jicama is another ingredient in this recipe that might be unfamiliar, and might not be readily available in all grocery stores (I’m thinking the small town in South Dakota where I grew up).  It adds a nice crunch to the salad so if you can’t find it, try substituting some chopped water chestnuts.  Jicama is a root and it’s texture would be similar to a crisp, firm apple.  It has a sweet flavor which comes from oligofructose inulin, which is a prebiotic.  It is also high in fiber, and vitamins A, B, and C.

Yield: 14 Servings
Assembly Time: 15 minutes    

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 (15oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice, about 6 limes (see note below)
  • 8 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tsp. fresh ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 ears corn, cut from cob
  • 1 cup chopped jicama

Directions:

  1. Cook quinoa according to package instructions.  Remember to rinse your quinoa well in a mesh strainer.  The saponin on quinoa’s outer exterior imparts a bitter flavor that you want to avoid.  Rinsing two or three times will do the trick!
  2. Toss everything together.  The salad is best if allowed to sit overnight to let the flavors come together.

* Juice your limes before cutting to get the juices flowing.

Summer Quinoa Salad Label

 
4 Comments

Posted by on August 5, 2013 in Salad, Uncategorized

 

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