Pecan Cranberry Green Beans

I think one of my last posts was about how I don’t do too many side dish recipes on here. Well, here’s another one. I make these green beans for Thanksgiving every year. Sometimes for Christmas as well. They are always a hit and are so easy, you can make them any night of the year.

If you want to call it a recipe, you can, but the amounts are entirely up to you. I eyeball everything.

Fresh green beans (not canned!), trimmed and snapped in half

Bacon, cut into small pieces

Pecans, roughly chopped

Leeks, sliced in half moons

Dried cranberries (big handful)

Cook the green beans until crisp-tender. You can boil them for a few minutes or you can microwave them with a little water. My microwave has a fresh veggie setting that cooked them perfectly. You want them soft, but al dente.

In a skillet, crisp up your bacon. I used about 8 slices of bacon for a pound of green beans. Remove the bacon from the skillet, but keep the rendered fat. You really only need a couple tablespoons, so if there’s a lot, you can discard some, but keep at minimum 2-3 tablespoons.

To the rendered bacon grease, add your sliced leeks and cook until soft and starting to caramelize. Add the green beans, pecans, cranberries and bacon back to the skillet and toss altogether. Taste to see if you need salt and pepper, but you probably won’t.

This comes together within minutes, so save until the last minute and serve it warm.

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Cranberry Brie Appetizer Bites  

Full Disclosure here: This is not my recipe. I got from one of those recipe videos that are all over everyone’s Facebook/Instagram feeds. I don’t remember which one, but it was definitely either Tasty or Delish.

Either way, these are so yummy! I made them as a Thanksgiving appetizer, but you could use them for Christmas. Or New Years. Or any random Tuesday for that matter. They are super easy and really tasty.

You just need a wheel of brie cheese, a tube (or two; I’ll explain in a minute) of crescent roll dough, chopped pecans, and prepared cranberry sauce. Rosemary is optional.

In the video, they used a sheet of crescent roll dough without any perforations to make the triangles into crescents. I can’t find that particular item in any stores near me, so I bought two tubes of the dough with the perforations and just sort of “mushed” everything together to create my own solid sheet of dough. Then I cut the dough into small squares to fit into a mini muffin tin. My mini muffin tin has 24 spaces so I made 24 squares and placed a square of dough into each cup.

Then, cut the brie into the same amount of cubes and placed them into the cup on top of the dough.

I topped each one with a small spoonful of prepared cranberry sauce. I made my own (recipe here), but you can use your own recipe or buy canned. Make sure it is the whole berry sauce though, not the jellied. Finally, sprinkle the chopped pecans on top of each one.  The video also topped each one with a few rosemary leaves, but honestly, I couldn’t taste any rosemary, so you could probably leave it off.

After you have assembled everything, bake at 375 for 15 minutes.

Serve warm or at minimum room temp.  We had some leftover and they are not quite as good cold from the fridge.

Butternut Squash “Noodles” with Bacon and Goat Cheese

I love all the flavors of Fall and anytime I can put them together in a new way, I’m all about it. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted a side dish on here, but this one was definitely worth it. I mean, it has bacon and goat cheese in it, so it couldn’t possibly be bad, right? We all know goat cheese is life.
 

If you are braver than I am, you can cut your butternut squash yourself and use a spiralizer to make your “noodles”. I, however, am terrified of cutting hard-skinned squashes for fear of stabbing myself. I either enlist the hubby to do it (although I still have a fear of watching, lest he also stab himself) or I just buy it precut, like these cute zig zag cut noodles from Trader Joe’s.

 

Anyway, once you get the noodles taken care of, you are on your way to a quick and easy and (most importantly) delicious side dish.

Butternut Squash “Noodles” with Bacon and Goat Cheese

1 butternut squash cut into “noodles” (or about 12 oz from a store-bought container)

4 slices of bacon, cut into small pieces

1 tablespoon fresh sage, minced

2 sprigs worth of fresh thyme, minced

Goat cheese to your heart’s content

In a skillet over medium heat, cook your bacon until crispy. Remove from skillet to a paper towel-lined plate.

 

In the same skillet with the bacon grease, add your butternut squash noodles. 


Cook until softened. Just before they are done, add the sage and thyme. You can add a little bit of salt and pepper if you want, but the bacon is pretty salty, so you shouldn’t have to. Stir to incorporate and when the squash is done, remove from the heat and transfer to your serving dish.

Add the bacon back in and the goat cheese. Since you cook the noodles in the bacon grease, you lose the orange of the squash a bit and it isn’t the prettiest dish, but it tastes really yummy!

Autumn Steak Salad

I know salads for dinner are usually thought of as a summer thing. They are light and refreshing and rarely involve turning on an oven in the heat of the summer.
 

Fall foods are usually considered more hearty and comforting. However, there is nobody saying that you can’t enjoy a good salad in the Fall and still feel warm and full. I was looking for something that would check off all the boxes: healthy, salad, filling, hearty, full of Fall goodness, so I came up with this beauty of a dish. My husband loved it. I loved it. It definitely hit the spot.

I’ve put approximate amounts in the list below. That’s one of the things that’s so great about a salad: you have so much free reign to make it how you like. Don’t want steak? Use chicken. Or no meat at all. Change the apple, add more cranberries.

You do you, boo.

Autumn Steak Salad

1 bag mixed greens (or lettuce/greens of your choice)

1 sweet potato, cubed

Olive oil

Ground cinnamon

1 apple, diced (I used a Fuji)

½ cup dried cranberries (or more if you’d like)

½ cup chopped walnuts (or more if you’d like)

Goat cheese, crumbled

Steak cut of your choice (I used a 15oz rib eye I found at Trader Joe’s)

Maple Dijon Apple vinaigrette

Salt and pepper

Fresh sage, about 1 tablespoon, minced

Place your cubed sweet potato on a baking sheet and coat with some olive oil, salt, and cinnamon, just a sprinkle or so will be fine. Roast in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside to cool.

While the potatoes are roasting, season your steak with salt and pepper. Cook in a skillet over medium heat (I used my cast iron) until cooked to your preferred doneness. Remove and let set for about 5-10 minutes. Slice thinly.

Mix together the vinaigrette by combining equal parts olive oil and apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and ½ tablespoon of maple syrup and whisk together.

Assemble the salad: In a big bowl, add the greens, apple, cranberries, walnuts, sage, goat cheese, cooled sweet potatoes, and steak slices. Drizzle with dressing and toss to combine.

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken with Sage and Apples

Fall in SoCal is a finicky thing. It usually takes awhile to actually start feeling the cooler weather. Sometimes that’s October and sometimes that’s December. Usually, it begins as cold in the morning and evening but still hot in the afternoon. It’s annoying.

For me, who is obsessed with the season, Fall begins right after Labor Day. I wait patiently for the weather to cool even just slightly (I’ll take low 70s) so as to tackle my long awaited list of yummy Fall recipes: Chili, soup, roasts… pumpkin spice and everything nice.

Today is the Autumnal Equinox, which marks the first official day of Fall. I thought it would be the perfect time to share a recipe I just came up with last week. I recently started an herb garden which contains, among others, sage. Now, sage is a very Fall flavor, so I’m just looking for ways to incorporate it into my meals before Thanksgiving. Here’s one I came up with and it was super delicious!

Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken with Sage and Apples

2 chicken breasts, halved lengthwise

Fresh Sage leaves (some whole and about 1 tsp finely minced)

Thin sliced prosciutto (enough to wrap around your chicken)

1 apple, diced (whichever kind you like, just not Granny Smith. I used Fuji.)

½ diced yellow onion

½ cup low-sodium chicken stock

¼ cup Dry white wine (optional. Can use more chicken stock if you prefer)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Olive oil

Cut your chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Try to get them as much the same thickness as possible. Sprinkle with a little pepper. I wouldn’t salt them because prosciutto is pretty salty and you don’t want to over do it.

Place fresh sage leaves (the whole ones) on each piece of chicken. I used about two per piece. Wrap each chicken prosciutto. Again, I used about two to three slices per piece.

In skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil. Brown each piece of chicken for about 5 minutes on each side, or until almost cooked.

 

Remove the chicken and add the onion, apple, and minced sage. Saute until just starting to soften. Add the chicken stock and wine (if using). 

 

Bring to a boil for a couple minutes and add the chicken back in. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for about 7-10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid is slightly reduced. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Serve the chicken topped with the apples and some of the cooking liquid.

 

Happy Fall!!!!!!!

Instant Pot Tropical Chicken & Rice

I know I’ve sung the praises of my Instant Pot before, but here I go again! I really think there is a learning curve with this gadget and I think I may be on the verge of really figuring it out. It is so perfect for busy day meals or days when I forgot to take meat out of the freezer. For me, those days are usually one in the same! I’m terrible at meal planning. 
 

That’s actually not true. I’m great at meal planning. What I’m bad at is meal follow through.

Anyway, this was a super easy and quick recipe that I will definitely be making again. I use the term recipe lightly.

Throw two chicken breasts in the Instant Pot. Top with one 12oz jar of Trader Joe’s Island Salsa (or any other tropical salsa you may find). Fill the jar up a little more than halfway with water and pour that into the Instant Pot with the salsa and the chicken.

 

Make sure the vent is closed and select manual and set the timer to 20 minutes if the chicken is frozen and 7 minutes if it is thawed.

When it’s done, shred the chicken but leave it in the juice that generates so it can soak up the flavors.

I topped mine with a mango sauce found in this recipe here: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/honey-lime-chicken-with-mango-sauce-52430181

Serve with brown rice and broccoli or any other veggie you like.

Skinny Nachos

Other than cheeseburgers, I’m pretty obsessed with nachos. I mean, how can you beat a plate of really good nachos? The chips, the melted cheese, the chicken (or other meat), sour cream and guacamole. Beans? Yes please. It’s got it all.

My absolute favorite nachos are from Yardhouse. I could eat them at least once a week. I tell everyone about these nachos. Unfortunately, they clock in at a whopping 2,460 calories.  

Yes, I know you are supposed to share them, but even when it’s just my husband and I, that’s still 1230 calories each. Also, I’m not a huge fan of sharing food. I like my food to be my food. You can have some when I’m done. Plus, it messes up the check at the end of the night.


Anyway, I had to come up with something to get my nacho fix. The other day I was looking in my fridge planning lunch. The kids had their turkey and cheese sandwiches and I was *thisclose* to making that for the hubby and myself as well. Then I saw we had leftover turkey taco meat and the lightbulb went off.
SKINNY(ISH) NACHOS!!! They were delish. There’s not a real recipe here because that’s the beauty of nachos: Freedom. Make as much as you want, put whatever toppings you want. Just keep in mind that the ingredients I use are why I can call them skinny. Make all the substitutions you want, but be wary of whether or not you start to lose the “skinny” in the title.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, lay out a layer of Blue Corn Tortilla Chips (I used the Trader Joe’s brand that includes quinoa, chia seeds, and sprouted amaranth). 


Top that with a layer of taco meat. I used leftover turkey taco meat, you can really use any taco/tex-mex flavored meat you like here. Top that with a layer of cheese (I used low fat three cheese blend from Trader Joe’s). 


If you wanted to add beans, you can do that at this point as well.

Bake the chips/cheese/meat mixture at 375 for about 8 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the meat is warmed through.

Top with whatever you want to top it with. I cut up some cherry tomatoes and added a heaping scoop of guacamole. I also used plain nonfat greek yogurt in place of sour cream.