It’s here. That coo-coo crazy time when the calendar fills up some how before you can even turn it over to the new month. Parties, parties, and more parties mixed together with events, events, and more events. Thus making it a time more than ever that we need healthy options for weeknight dinners that are easy to throw together so we can get the job done that needs to be done. This week it was a glue-gun crazy Halloween costume making extravaganza, followed by two elementary school fall parties, and a family neighborhood party –– whew. Every year, because of all of the said hoopla, I get a little more excited about the idea of crockpot dinners. I mean, really, what would we do without them in our lives? They might be right up there with the phone as far as usefulness and ease. Still seeing zucchini at the markets not only makes me happy but makes this dish more flavorful and hearty. Slow Cooker Zucchini Chicken laced with tomatoes, garlic and cilantro, poured over brown rice and topped with some cotija cheese makes this weeknight dinner not only a breeze but gives you some time to go remove all of that glue and glitter from your fingers.
Place whole chicken breasts, tomatoes, onions, white wine, garlic, and half of the cilantro into the slow cooker on low heat and cook for one hour. After one hour add in zucchini, salt, and pepper and continue to cook for one more hour on low heat. After second hour, remove chicken breast and using two forks, shred meat. After meat is shredded return chicken to the slow cooker, turn off heat, and stir until well combined.
Finally spoon out 3/4 cup to 1 cup of rice into each serving bowl and top with a 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the chicken mixture. Top each serving with a sprinkle of the cilantro and cotija cheese and serve.
Perhaps I should not even be talking about this just yet, but this has been on my mind. It’s known that the holiday season can be a bit overwhelming and a bit of a drag for some of us. Ok, no wait, I am going to say for most of us at some point during the next two months or so there’s going to be a moment when you just feel the holiday exhaustion. It might not be a huge moment, it might only be a split second, but nonetheless we will all have one (or maybe a few) of those experiences. When you find yourself there, it that space, in that place, take a moment, breathe. There are going to be days ahead when you want to just cozy up and hide under the covers (yes, please!) these are the times to be thankful for an easy to throw together breakfast or brunch that can carry you into the week of crazy. A warm dish of pumpkin bread pudding finished with a slightly caramelized pecan topping can bring you to a happy place in this Brown Sugar Pecan Pumpkin Bread Pudding recipe. We made this over the weekend and to my delight I have decided this will be made again and again until the end of the year. The recipe is fairly simple and the results are a sure fire way to help ease us all on through to the new year.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using the Tablespoon of butter, grease a 9 X 13 pan and set it aside.
In a large bowl combine pumpkin, cream, eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Place bread cubes into the prepared pan and spread out evenly. Pour pumpkin mixture slowly over the top until all poured onto the bread cubes. Use the back of a spoon to gently press the cubes down into the pumpkin mixture to coat all of the cubes. In a small bowl combine topping, brown sugar, pecans, and salt. Next sprinkle topping over the top of the bread cubes evenly. Once finished, place into the oven and bake for 35-45 minutes or until lightly golden on the top and the pudding is cooked through.
Do you remember that cheer: “We’ve got spirit, yes we do. We’ve got spirit, how ’bout you?” Well, there are some days when you just don’t have the “spirit” and other days when you do. Over the weekend I was feeling a little out of spirit gas, or maybe just overwhelmed by all of the upcoming events and holiday hoopla that’s about to go down. I know it should be the “most wonderful time of the year” but I just haven’t been feeling it, I mean it’s still only October. In the food world things are a bit more amped up during the last quarter of the year — inundated with all things holiday and party. I made my trip out to the farmers market with this sort of gloomy-holidays-are-starting cloud not really knowing what to expect when I came across these gorgeous red peppers from Winfield Farm. It was love at first sight and just like that my holiday mojo was found. These Roasted Red Pepper and Cilantro Crostini can be a great addition to any of those upcoming soirées, make them just for snacking or serve them as a side dish at dinner. Bring on the crazies… I mean festivities … I’ve got some spirit, yes. I. do.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using tongs place the peppers over an open stove top flame to char the outside skins. After charred, place onto a baking sheet. Complete the process until each pepper is charred and oven ready. Once finished place pepper into the oven for 20-30 minutes or until soften and fork tender on the insides. Once finished remove from the oven and let cool completely.
Brush baguette slices with a Tablespoon of olive oil on one side and place into the oven to bake until slightly golden and crispy –– about 3-5 minutes. Once crisp remove from the oven and let cool.
Chop peppers a few times and place roasted peppers, cilantro, onion, remaining olive oil (3 Tablespoons), garlic, salt, and pepper into a food processor. Pulse until well combined.
Top a slice of the baguette with the red pepper mixture, followed by a few crumbles of the cotija cheese. Continue process until all crostini are ready and serve.
I don’t need to tell you it’s fall because there is really no escape from the autumn frenzy happening across the nation right now. Pumpkins are in everything and pumpkins for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is the new norm. In our house one of the kids favorite things to eat, and boy do I mean eat, is pesto. Ok, I admit, when it’s requested I always agree –– It’s one of my favorites too. Often times I just make a simple basil leaf based one, or our favorite zucchini pesto (have you tried it?), but today we made a (slightly creamy) pumpkin seed pesto and it was devoured. I honestly don’t know how these littles can consume so much, I mean where does it go? We have reached a shift in our household where the little people are eating more than half of the big people –– craziness. Anyway, Creamy Pumpkin Seed Pesto Pasta –– rigatoni drenched with a creamy, pumpkin-seed-y sauce is not a bad way to spend these gorgeous fall evenings as of late.
In a food processor add pumpkin seeds, olive oil, parmesan cheese, garlic, onion powder, salt, and pepper. Pulse until well combined and set aside.
Make pasta according to directions and set pasta back into it hot pan once well drained but not rinsed. Add in the cream and the pumpkin pesto and stir until well combined. Once well combined, portion out and serve.
We went to New Mexico last week –– Ahhh, “The Land of Enchantment” –– and while it was absolutely beautiful with it’s fall foliage and large mountains, the menu selection while traveling through that part of the country was well … kinda limited. Not in a bad way, but in a green chiles must-be-on-or-in-everything-we-serve on the menu kind of way. Don’t get me wrong, I adore green chiles but … I was, ok we were, ready for a change of food scenery once we landed home. Rosemary Potato + Apple Fritters to the rescue –– shredded rosemary potatoes laced with sweet apples and a touch of cinnamon in a warm, crispy on the outside, tender on the inside little package. Now, I suppose you could top these with some sort of green chile sauce and they would be delicious only we are breaking-up with green chiles for the moment (a few weeks) at least. For now just enjoy these with a side of scrambled eggs at breakfast or as a main course with a fresh green salad minus the chiles.
Place potato, apple, rosemary, flour, cinnamon, salt, and pepper into a large bowl and mix together until well combined.
Place a paper towel lined plate near by and set aside for later use.
Place a heavy duty pan over medium high heat and add in enough oil to coat the pan with a 1/2" and let the oil heat up for 1-2 minutes. Oil should be hot but not burning. Using a fork, grab a heaping of the potato + apple mixture and place into the hot oil pan. Gently press down and form into a pancake-like shape.
Continue process until pan is almost full but not crowded. Let fritters cook until lightly golden brown for about 2-4 minutes. Once golden flip over and continue to cook until the other side is golden as well -- about another 2-3 minutes. Remove from the pan and set onto paper towel to drain off excess oil. Continue process until all of the fritters are cooked. Serve
There was a time when my only real comfort food was a big dish of Italian pasta. You know, a heaping bowl of hot steamy noodles with a light tomato sauce –– simple, yet, satisfying and well, comforting on a cool night. Over the years my tastebuds have evolved and grown to enjoy a wide array of comfort foods. My latest addiction of these has been ramen –– there’s just something about those noodles that makes me happy –– rich broth-y noodles loaded with flavor, yum. Now I am not talking about ramen from collage days that came in a square package shaped into a hard sponge-like form with some sort of mystery “flavoring” packet to mix up into the hot water –– no, no, no. I am talking about this Roasted Butternut Squash Ramen Bowls ––a rich vegetable stock with hot ramen, roasted butternut squash, cilantro, carrots slices, green onion, and a hard boiled egg aka a big bowl of comfort on a cool night.
Watch my video to get more tips on prepping and roasting butternut squash and grab the recipe below.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chopped butternut squash onto a cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Using a spoon or your hands toss the squash into the olive oil to coat. Once coated place into the oven and roast for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, use a spatula or a spoon or flip the squash over and then place back into the oven and continue to roast for another 10-15 minutes or until fork tender. Once tender remove from the oven and set aside.
Place butter into a large pot over medium high heat. Add in garlic and let cook for 1 minute while gently stirring. Next add in vegetable broth, salt, and soy sauce, stir together and let heat up for 5-7 minutes or until almost boiling.
Portion ramen noodles into serving bowls. Gently ladle broth over the noodles leaving some room at the top of each bowl. Top bowls with carrots, cilantro, eggs, green onion, nori pieces, and butternut squash. Serve.
Ok, I’m officially on the pumpkin-must-be-everywhere-and-in-everything bandwagon. It’s taken me a few weeks to really wrap my head around the fact that we are in O-C-T-O-B-E-R and the end of the 2014 year is only and couple of months out –– crazy, right? Spied in the stores alongside exuberant amounts of black, orange, white, and […]
Can you feel it? The shift in the air with an earlier darkness upon us in the evening, a few changing leaves, and a slightly cooler temperature –– fall is here. We went for a bike ride last night and it was perfect, well … except for the copious amounts of jumbo mosquitos lurking about […]
Dang we are a busy people and the rumor is that we are only going to be getting busier –– what the what?? There are those moments that I have been stuck across town or at an appointment that ran long when I think, crap, what am I going to make for dinner tonight? What […]
Back in the land before children I used to make a jumbo salad almost every day for lunch or sometimes even for dinner. These vast bowls of greens were mostly smothered with left over things in the fridge or a collections of dried fruits and nuts that needed to be used up. Now, we eat […]