Red Lentil Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Veggies

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you know how much I love a good quick weekday meal.  This one came together in about 10 minutes and I got all the ingredients at Trader Joe’s! And it is super healthy!  Winning all over the place!

Alternative pastas are having a major moment right now, but keep in mind they are not all created equally. Not all are as good as others. Studies* show this is one of the legit ones.

*Studies conducted by me.

1 bag of red lentil pasta

1 jar traditional marinara sauce (or your favorite tomato sauce)

1 package garlic and herb chicken sausage, sliced into coins

½ 12oz bag baby spinach

¼ to ½ bag frozen asparagus spears, thawed, cut into fourths

Grated parmesan cheese

While a pot of water is coming to a boil, slice the sausage and cut the asparagus.

Cook the pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a hot skillet with a little bit of olive oil, sauté the sausage until golden brown and warmed through. Add the asparagus and cook until softened and warm. Add the spinach and cook until wilted (won’t take too long).

Drain the pasta and add back to the pot. Add the veggie/sausage mix to the cooked pasta. Add the jar of marinara sauce. Use as much or as little as you’d like.  Mix altogether and serve with a sprinkle of parmesan.

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Slow Cooker Brisket Enchiladas

I know Instant Pots are all the rage right now, and I do love mine, but my slow cooker is still the pride and joy of my kitchen gadgets. It is tried and true and never lets me down.

Not too long ago, there was a bulk meat sale at Bristol Farms. I went to “just check it out” and ended up a freezer full of brisket and pork shoulder. As much as I could just eat smoked meat all the time, smoking a brisket is a 12-hour process and we just don’t always have that sort of time commitment. Don’t get me wrong; we will still smoke the brisket at some point, but we have 4 good-sized briskets so at least one of them has to be less time-consuming to prepare.

That’s where these enchiladas came in. Not only were they super easy to make, they were really delicious too! And even though they still took about 10 hours, it was mostly all in the slow cooker so it was pretty much zero maintenance for me.

Slow Cooker Brisket Enchiladas

1 4-5 pound brisket

½ pound shishito peppers

1 brown onion, quartered

4 cloves of garlic

1 package taco seasoning (or homemade)

1 cup beef broth

6 flour tortillas

Shredded cheddar or Mexican cheese blend

Enchilada sauce (store-bought or homemade)

Put the brisket in the slow cooker fat side up. Sprinkle with the taco seasoning. Add the peppers (whole), garlic (whole), onion, and beef broth. Cook for 8-10 hours on low.

When the brisket is done, remove to a cutting board and shred with two forks. I also spooned over the shredded meat some of the cooking liquid for added flavor, but that’s optional.

Add about ¼ cup of enchilada sauce to the bottom of a baking dish.

Put a generous amount of the meat in the tortilla, enough that you can still roll it closed without a mess. Along with some shredded cheese. Roll up and add seam side down to the baking dish. Repeat until done.

Top the enchiladas with the sauce and more cheese.

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Sweet-and-Spicy Bourbon Peach BBQ Chicken

I used to think that finding healthy but tasty recipes was hard. People tend to associate healthy eating with plain baked chicken and broccoli, which is just not true. I love finding new flavor profiles and ways to eliminate overly processed foods and try to keep things as clean as possible while still having fun with the meal.

Food shouldn’t be complicated and it shouldn’t cause you to feel bad for eating. This dish, for example, uses peach preserves which have sugar. I could have used fresh peaches and maybe one of these days I will try that, but everything else in it is good, so the sugar from the preserves isn’t so bad. Plus, it isn’t like I’m eating the entire batch of sauce. Take that into account as well. The amount per serving makes a huge difference so enjoy yourself!

Sweet-and-Spicy Bourbon Peach BBQ Chicken

makes about 2 cups of sauce

1 tablespoon canola oil

½ poblano pepper, seeded and diced

1 small onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 10 oz jar peach preserves (try to get as all natural as you can)

½ cup orange juice (from 1 orange)

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

¼ cup bourbon (I used Bulleit)

½ cup ketchup (organic if possible)

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

For the chicken, I used a package of 5 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, seasoned with salt, pepper, and paprika.

In a 350 degree oven, bake the seasoned chicken on a foil-lined baking sheet for 20-25 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, make the sauce:

In a pot over medium-high heat, add your canola oil, pepper, and onion. Cook until starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the peach preserves and stir until melted in. Next, add the orange juice, apple cider vinegar, and bourbon.

Bring to a boil and add the ketchup, honey, Dijon, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne.  If you don’t want any spice, don’t add the cayenne.   (Leave the poblano, though. It doesn’t really add any heat, just a nice flavor). Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium. Let it cook down for about 15 minutes. After it has reduced and thickened up a bit, add the mixture to a blender and blend until smooth.

Take the chicken out of the oven and pour/brush on at least a couple tablespoons of the sauce onto each piece of chicken. Then put the baking sheet under the broiler for about 3-5 minutes, or until the sauce has cooked onto the chicken and is a nice golden brown.