Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cauliflower Gratin

This was one of two side dishes I served with the turkey meatloaf - Ina's Cauliflower Gratin. Cauliflower isn't a vegetable I cook with regularly, but it's a great alternative to broccoli or other cold-weather vegetables. And bonus, SP and Baby Girl both love it.

Cauliflower gratin2

When I think of gratins I think of heavy, cream-laden dishes but this was surprisingly light. The sauce is made with milk, not cream, and there's only 4 tablespoons of butter for a 3-lb head of cauliflower.

Cauliflower gratin

We all loved this. I can't wait to experiment with more cauliflower dishes this winter.

Cauliflower Gratin
Recipe from Ina Garten

1 (3-pound) head cauliflower, cut into large florets
Kosher salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs (from one slice of bread)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Gruyere, and the Parmesan.

Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of a 2 1/2-quart baking dish. Place the drained cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Gruyere and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.
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Monday, November 25, 2013

Turkey Meatloaf

I wanted something homey and comforting for Sunday dinner a few weeks back so I turned to an old favorite, Ina Garten's Turkey Meatloaf.

Turkey meatloaf

I've made this recipe a bunch of times so I can't believe I never blogged about it. Baby Girl ate a ton of this, more than me actually. We'd cut some up for her and she'd inhale it then ask for more. I made the full 5lbs for 5 adults and 1 child and we had just enough leftover for lunches for four adults, plus a little extra for late-night sandwiches.

Turkey Meatloaf
Recipe from Ina Garten

3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
5 pounds ground turkey breast
1 1/2 cups plain dry bread crumbs
3 extra-large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a medium saute pan, over medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt, pepper, and thyme until translucent, but not browned, approximately 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased sheet pan. Spread the ketchup evenly on top.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. Serve hot, at room temperature or cold in a sandwich.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Chopped Chicken Taco Salads with Cheese Quesadilla Strips

It's been awhile since we had a big, hearty salad for dinner. I had this Chopped Chicken Taco Salads with Cheese Quesadilla Strips recipe on my to-make list and I wanted something easy and quick for Halloween night, something that could sit if we had trick-or-treaters at the door.

chopped chicken taco salad

We all loved this. I was especially in love with the cheese quesadillas, which is funny because they weren't anything extraordinary - just tortillas and cheese - but with the salad they were absolutely perfect. I'll definitely be making this one again and again.

Chopped Chicken Taco Salads with Cheese Quesadilla Strips
As seen on How Sweet It Is

2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 limes, juiced
2 garlic cloves, minced

Cooking spray
2 tortillas
4 ounces monterey jack cheese, freshly grated

2 romaine hearts, chopped
2 avocados, chopped
1 cup sweet corn
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1/4 red onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive olive
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 lime, juiced

Combine the cumin, paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper in a bowl. Add the olive oil, lime juice and garlic. Mix thoroughly. Place the chicken in a large plastic food storage bag. Add the seasonings and coat the chicken evenly, then marinate in the fridge for 2-24 hours.

Heat a large skillet or grill pan over medium-heat heat. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes on one side, then flip and cook for another 4 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes and then cut into chunks.

While the chicken is cooling, add a tortilla to a large skillet coated with cooking spray. Brown on one side, then flip and add the grated cheese and the second tortilla on top. Cook until both sides are golden and cheese is melted, then remove from the skillet and slice into strips or triangles.

Combine the lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, corn and onion in a large bowl, then toss with the salt and pepper. Add olive oil, red wine vinegar and lime juice, tossing well to coat. Add in chicken and toss well, then separate into bowls. Add the quesadilla slices and serve.
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Chinese Orange Beef Stir-Fry

I'm a huge fan of Chinese food but with Baby Girl's nut allergy it isn't something we can indulge in often. That's where make-at-home versions of our favorite dishes come into play. While I've never ordered Orange Beef Stir-Fry at a restaurant, Amy's picture was so drool-inducing I couldn't wait to make it.

Chinese orange beef2

The flavors in this dish were so bright - the powerful citrus punch, the salty soy sauce and the heat from the chile garlic sauce all came together beautifully. It took all my will power not to eat two servings at dinner that night. And Baby Girl positively loved this, making all kinds of yummy noises and asking for more beef.

Chinese orange beef

The next day I took my leftovers and served it over angel hair pasta, which is my new favorite way of eating Chinese food leftovers.

Chinese orange beef3

The best part about this dish is once you get everything prepped (and there really isn't much to prep) the whole dish takes less than 10 minutes to cook. The rice takes longer than that. Such a quick and easy weeknight meal.

Chinese Orange Beef
As seen on Very Culinary, adapted from America’s Test Kitchen

Zest from a small orange
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce (low-sodium or gluten free)
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 pound fresh green beans, ends cut, trimmed into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds sirloin, sliced thinly then into 2-inch wide pieces
2 scallions, chopped

In a medium bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, brown sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, ginger and cornstarch.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the green beans and stir for about 4-5 minutes until crisp-tender and brown in some spots. With a slotted spoon, transfer them to a large bowl. Pat the sirloin dry with paper towels; add to the pan, spreading the pieces out in an even layer. Cook, without stirring, for 1 minute. Toss and transfer to the bowl with the green beans.

Whisk the orange juice mixture then add it to the pan. Cook, scraping up any brown bits, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add sirloin and green beans back to the pan, along with any accumulated juices. Add the scallions; toss to coat.

Serve over rice or pasta.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto

SP and I have been alternating cooking Sunday dinner for my parents. He tends to lean towards Italian dishes but even so, I was pretty surprised when he told me he wanted to make Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto. He's made it clear to me in the past that he isn't a fan of one of my all-time favorite dishes. Apparently I was just putting too many "weird" ingredients in my risottos of the past. Who knew?

caprese risotto

This was truly outstanding. SP did a great job cooking the rice to perfection. He used some of the tomatoes my mom and I canned over the summer instead of the cherry tomatoes in the original recipe, as well as some of the fresh basil I froze when my basil plant was thriving. It was great to throw in those cubes of basil leaves and smell that summery aroma.

caprese risotto bowl

He made one and a half recipes (rather than doubling the recipe) for 4 adults and 1 child and there was barely enough leftover for lunches the next day. And that was with salad and bread on the side. It's just so good we all kept going back for more.

Tomato and Mozzarella Risotto
Recipe from Lidia Bastianich

4 1/2 cups hot chicken broth
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
1 medium onion, minced, (about 3/4 cup)
1 medium leek, white parts only, trimmed, cleaned, and chopped
6 scallions , trimmed, white and green parts chopped separately
2 cups arborio rice
1/3 cup dry white wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups fresh mozzarella
1/3 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, freshly grated
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces

Pour the stock into a 2 quart saucepan and keep it hot over low heat.

Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a wide skillet over medium heat. Add 2 cloves garlic, sliced, and shake the pan until the garlic is lightly browned. Slide in 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes and stir gently until they are juicy. Toss in a handful of shredded fresh basil, remove the pan from the heat, and set aside.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a wide 3 to 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the leek and white parts of the scallions and cook, stirring, until the onion is golden, about 6 minutes. Adjust the heat under the pan as the onion browns so that it cooks slowly with gentle bubbling.

Stir in the rice and continue stirring until the grains are coated with oil and toasted, the edges become translucent, about 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and let it boil, stirring the rice, until evaporated.

Season the rice with salt and ladle enough of the hot stock into the pan to barely cover the rice. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the stock is at a lively simmer. Cook, stirring constantly, until all the stock has been absorbed and you can see the bottom of the pan when you stir. Continue cooking, pouring in the remaining hot stock in small batches - each additional should be just enough to completely moisten the rice - and cook until each batch of stock had been absorbed. Stir constantly until the rice mixture is creamy but al dente, this will take 16 to 20 minutes from the time the wine was added. Stir in the sauteed cherry tomatoes halfway through cooking.

Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in half the grated cheese, taste the risotto, and add salt, if necessary, and pepper. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of cubed fresh mozzarella (preferably mozzarella di bufala) along with the grated cheese and butter. Stir in butter and green parts of the scallion until the butter is completely melted.

Ladle risotto into warm, shallow bowls and serve immediately after finishing.
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Friday, November 15, 2013

Recipe Swap: Fontina Mushroom Pizza

A mushroom walks into a bar looking dejected. The bartender asks what's wrong and the mushroom says "I don't know why but I just can't get a date." The bartender looks at him and says "I don't know why, you look like a fun guy."

Fun guy. Fungi. Get it?

I'll be here all week.

fontina mushroom pizza2

The recipe swap ladies from my cooking board recently suggested changing the way we do the swaps. Rather than assigning them a recipe to make, they pick a recipe that fits the theme from an assigned blog. This month's theme was vegetarian and I was given Dawn's blog, Simple Gourmet Cook. As soon as I saw this recipe for Fontina Mushroom Pizza I knew I had to make it. SP is a huge mushroom fan and this finally gave me the push I needed to get some more pizza dough in the freezer.

fontina mushroom pizza3

This was a very labor-intensive pizza to make since I had to roast some of the mushrooms, saute the rest, make the pesto, etc. But it was worth it. Baby Girl helped, which usually involves her batting her eyelashes and making innocent faces at me as she steals pieces of whatever ingredient I'm prepping.

fontina mushroom pizza

I think next time I'd do half fontina and half mozzarella - I found the fontina to be a bit overwhelming - but otherwise this was a great pizza.

Fontina Mushroom Pizza
Simple Gourmet Cooking, adapted from Annie's Eats, as seen on Pink Parsley

For the mushroom pesto:
6 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1 small shallot, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

For the pizza:
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
1 ball pizza dough
Olive oil
1 1/2 cups shredded Fontina cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 450˚. Spread the mushrooms in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with foil. Toss the mushrooms with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast, stirring occasionally, until browned and crisp, about 20-25 minutes. After 15 minutes of baking, add the garlic cloves to the pan.

In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine the roasted mushrooms, peeled garlic cloves, shallot, thyme, parsley, and remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil. Process until smooth, scraping down the bowl and adding small amounts of water (1 tablespoon at a time) as needed. Transfer pesto to a small bowl, stir in the Parmesan, and set aside.

Turn the oven up to 550˚ and preheat a pizza stone.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Saute the mushrooms until browned and soft, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat.

Roll out the pizza dough into a 12-14 inch round. Lightly brush the outer edges of the dough with olive oil. Spread the mushroom pesto over the crust in an even layer, leaving about 1/2 inch around the sides for a crust. Add the sauteed mushrooms on top. Top with the fontina and Parmesan.

Carefully transfer the pizza to the preheated pizza stone and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crust is lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes.

To see what other vegetarian recipes were made in the swap click the links below.

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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Product Review: East Riding Farm’s All Natural Popovers

Over the summer I received some frozen popovers from East Riding Farm. I absolutely love popovers, which are a light and flaky roll, and make them every year for Christmas dinner.


One morning I was standing in front of the fridge trying to decide what to make for breakfast when I thought about the popovers again. I knew I had eggs, spinach and leftover Alfredo sauce and decided to make a spinoff of Eggs Benedict using the popovers as the base, topped with the spinach (I also used sliced tomato once), fried eggs and drizzled with the Alfredo sauce. I wasn't sure how it would turn out the first time but it was outstanding. The light and flaky popovers cook in just four minutes in a preheated oven (I used my toaster oven), which is just enough time to cook the eggs.


You can definitely serve the popovers by themselves as a side, but I loved topping them in this way. I can't wait to try some other variations.

Popovers with Eggs, Spinach and Alfredo
Makes one serving

2 standard-size frozen East Riding Farm popovers
1/4 cup frozen spinach
1/2 tablespoon butter
2 eggs
Alfredo sauce

Cook the popovers in a preheated oven according to package directions.

Microwave the spinach until hot. Wring dry in a clean kitchen towel.

Heat butter in a small non-stick skillet over medium-low heat until melted. Crack the eggs into the skillet and cook to desired doneness.

Heat the Alfredo sauce.

Place the popovers on a plate. Fill each cavity with half the spinach, then top each with one egg and some of the Alfredo sauce. Serve immediately.

Disclaimer: I received free samples of East Riding Farm’s All Natural Popovers. I was not paid to write this review and all opinions are my own.
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Monday, November 11, 2013

Roasted Potatoes with Parmesan and Oregano

I'm always looking for new side dishes so when Cassie posted these Roasted Potatoes with Parmesan and Oregano I thought I'd give them a try. I haven't really been happy with any roasted potato recipe I've made so I was hoping these would be a winner.

crispy potatoes

And, they were! The potatoes were crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. They also held together wonderfully. I think the red potatoes are key for that since they tend to be a sturdier potato. The oregano and parm flavors really came through and this was so easy to throw together. I cut the recipe in half because we didn't need leftovers, but I bet any leftover potatoes would be great topped with fried eggs for breakfast. Thanks Cassie!

Roasted Potatoes with Parmesan and Oregano
As seen on Cassie Craves

3 pounds baby red potatoes, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.

Arrange the potatoes in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, and Parmesan cheese. Drizzle with olive oil and use your hands to toss the potatoes with the seasonings.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping occasionally, until browned and crispy.
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Friday, November 08, 2013

Beet Salad with Tomatoes and Blue Cheese

I love beets. Love them. If there is a beet salad on a menu I'll order it. And when my favorite thin crust pizza place took their beet, arugula, red onion, mandarin orange and blue cheese pizza off the menu for the season I was close to tears. When Joelen posted this Summer Beet Salad recipe I knew I had to make it.

beet and tomato salad

This was a delicious salad. I did make a few small modifications, mainly to the dressing since we aren't big fans of balsamic vinegar. I also changed the name to remove summer because I don't want anyone to see this in the fall, winter or spring and think they can't make it. It's a great year-round recipe, especially because cherry or grape tomatoes tend to be good any time.

Beet Salad with Tomatoes and Blue Cheese
Adapted from What's Cookin' Chicago, originally from Cooking Light

4 beets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
salt and pepper
1/2 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
baby arugula or mixed greens
1-2 ounces blue cheese

Preheat oven to 400°.

Wash the beets, then trim off the roots and stems. Wrap each beet in foil and bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until tender. Allow to cool, then peel off the skin. Cut the beets into bite size pieces.

Mix olive oil, vinegar, mustard and thyme in a bowl or salad dressing container. Season with salt and pepper.

Combine the beets and chopped tomatoes in a bowl. Add a few splashes of the dressing and toss to coat.

Arrange the arugula or mixed greens on a serving platter. Top with the beets and tomatoes, then crumble the blue cheese on top. Drizzle with more dressing and sprinkle with more salt and pepper to taste.

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Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Sponsored Post: Campbell's Dinner Sauces

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

Recently I was selected to try the new Campbell's Dinner Sauces. The tagline is "Make an awesome weeknight dinner in just 15 minutes" by browning meat, adding the sauce and serving over pasta or rice. I was excited to try it out.

Thai green curry chicken2

I couldn't choose between the different flavors (the Campbell’s Skillet Sauces are available in Marsala, Toasted Sesame, Scampi and Thai Green Curry), so I asked SP which he preferred. He immediately chose the Thai green curry, which ended up being a good thing because when he went to the store to buy it that was the only flavor they had on the shelf. They've since added the rest of the line-up at our supermarket, however.

I wanted to make this a complete meal, so I opted to add some vegetables in with chicken and sauce. I chose potatoes, onions and zucchini, but you could also add mushrooms, green beans, squash, etc.

Thai green curry chicken

I was a little skeptical as I was cooking dinner, thinking the flavors would be watered down to be palatable to a wider audience, but we all enjoyed this. It had a nice kick and the green curry flavor really came through, but it wasn't too spicy for Baby Girl. I loved the addition of the veggies, although adding them in did take this from a 15 minute meal to a 30 minute meal.

Campbell's also has a line of slow cooker sauces: Tavern Style Pot Roast, Sweet Korean BBQ, Apple Bourbon BBQ, Hawaiian Luau, Mexican Red Chile Taco and Moroccan Spiced Stew. If I ever get myself a new slow cooker I'd love to try a few of those.

You can check out Campbell's Dinner Sauces on their website and on Facebook.

Thai Green Curry Chicken with Vegetables

4 small-medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1lb chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 zucchini, cut into chunks
1 small onion, cut into chunks
1 pouch Campbell's Thai Green Curry sauce
rice, for serving

Boil the potatoes in salted water until just tender. Drain and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides. Remove to a bowl and set aside. Add the zucchini and onion to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken back into the pan, along with the potatoes and green curry sauce. Simmer according to package directions.

Serve over rice.

This post brought to you by Campbell’s Dinner Sauces. Weekend-worthy dinners with only weekday-level effort needed! Learn more at

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Monday, November 04, 2013

Skillet Baked Ziti with Sausage

Today I'm doing a guest post over at The Way to His Heart. Maeghan's baby boy is due in a few weeks and when she asked me to do a guest post I was thrilled. Maeghan and I met through our cooking board and I love her blog. Head on over to her blog check out the recipe I made.

skillet baked ziti3

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