Roasted Veggie and Goat Cheese Pasta

This dish makes a lot, which is good because it I makes for GREAT leftovers.  This is a good recipe to have on hand because it uses mostly pantry staples so you can make it anytime. I mean, I don’t usually have prosciutto just lying around, but this pasta is still really yummy without it too. The prosciutto was an added bonus this time around.

It all comes together really quickly, so it makes a good weeknight meal even when you’re busy.

Roasted Veggie and Goat Cheese Pasta

1 each red, orange, yellow bell pepper, seeded and sliced

1 large zucchini, sliced

1 medium shallot, sliced

4 cloves of garlic, minced

Olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped

Goat cheese

4 oz package prosciutto, cut or torn into small pieces *optional

1 box small pasta, like penne or small shells

2 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar

*Note: Prosciutto is a bit salty on its own, so if you are using it, you can go easy on the salt on the roasted veggies.

Toss the bell peppers, zucchini, shallot, and garlic in a couple tablespoons of olive oil and salt & pepper. Roast in a 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until tender and a little caramelized on the edges.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, crisp up the prosciutto if you are using it and cook your pasta per package directions. I like using Banza chickpea pasta for this, but you can use any pasta you like.

When the pasta is done, drain and put it in a large bowl. Add the prosciutto and the veggies. Use any of the oil that comes off during roasting as well. That’s lots of flavor!

In a small bowl, whisk together a tablespoon of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar. Pour over the pasta mixture and toss.

Finally, add some crumbled goat cheese (as much or as little as you want; there are no rules here!) and the fresh herbs. Toss again and serve.

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Herbed Goat Cheese Stuffed Peppers

Just a quick little food fact about me: I used to hate goat cheese. I say that because I never tried goat cheese and I always thought it was the same as Feta (which I actually do despise; judge me if you must). I can’t remember what made me try it, but I can say that I’ve been hooked ever since. If there is a menu item with goat cheese, I’m all about it. I will put it on or in anything from salads, to eggs, pasta. And these super delicious appetizers that my husband and I just scarfed down one night making us almost too full for dinner.

They are super simple:

Cut a bunch of mini sweet peppers in half lengthwise (however many you want to make, I did 12 peppers, so I got 24 halves). Remove any seeds or ribs in the pepper. Mini peppers don’t usually have too much inside.

Place the peppers on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for about 10-15 minutes on 400. They should be slightly softened, but still sturdy enough to hold a filling.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together 4 oz cream cheese and 4 oz goat cheese with about a tablespoon of fresh chopped chives, ½ tablespoon each fresh chopped basil, thyme, and oregano. Add about 1 teaspoon garlic powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

When the peppers are done, fill with the goat cheese filling. I used a plastic bag and piped it in, but you don’t have to.

Put the peppers back in the oven for about 3-5 minutes to let the cheese mixture melt a little.

Baked Green Bean “Fries”

I have to admit that getting my kids to eat veggies has been a struggle. When they were babies, I made their baby food, hoping that they would taste the real veggie taste and develop a love for it. They ate like crazy as babies! Then, as they grew older, they became pickier and pickier. Thankfully, my oldest (who’s 8) has started to head back to the direction of being less picky. He’s still not exactly where I’d like him to be, but he’s eating more variety of foods, is more willing to try new foods, and is willing to eat more green veggies. The youngest (4) is still a stubborn little thing, but I’m hoping she’ll take after her brother and eventually go back to eating more foods.

I’m not at all above disguising veggies. Sometimes it makes them more fun! These green bean “fries” were a big hit with my son and I can’t blame him; they are delish! He dipped them in ranch because I’m pretty sure he’ll eat a shoe if it’s dipped in ranch, but I would think the dipping possibilities here are pretty endless. Or you can eat them as-is.  They had a great crunch on the outside and they were nice and soft on the inside. The coating had a nice flavor without completely masking the green bean taste so you can still taste the veggie just enough.  Also, they are very quick to make! Great for a side dish for a meal or even just a quick snack.

Since I was just experimenting this time around, I only made a small batch—about 10-12 beans. This is very much an eyeball-it type recipe. Make however much you want and use however much coating you think is necessary for you.

I read through a bunch of recipes for green bean fries and just sort of made one that worked for me.

A dozen green beans, washed and trimmed

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup flour

1 cup panko bread crumbs

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

2 tsp garlic salt

Heavy sprinkle of black pepper

*have fun with the seasonings here. For example, cayenne for a bit of a kick would be yum. Cajun seasoning for Cajun fries would be good too.

Make your dredging station:

1.       Beat your eggs in one dish

2.       Add flour to another

3.       Combine the panko, cheese, and seasoning in a third dish

Coat each green bean in flour, then dip in the egg, then coat in the panko mixture.

Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and lay the green beans out in a single layer. Spray the top  of the beans with a light spray of the cooking spray.

Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes, until golden brown and crispy.

Cajun-style Shrimp, Sausage, and Potatoes

I am often day dreaming about recipes. I know, it may seem weird, but I truly do think of a couple ingredients and just imagine what I can do with them. I start out pretty general and then play around with ingredients in my head until I think I may be on to something. It doesn’t always work out, but often it does and when that happens, I am quite pleased with myself.

This dish came out of a craving I was having for shrimp. Who doesn’t like shrimp, right? I also LOVE Louisiana-style cuisine. Unfortunately, it isn’t usally the healthiest, so I either avoid it, just give in and go for gold, or, like in this case, rely on simple seasoning to give a healthy dish some Cajun flair.

This meal came together in a flash and the hubby went back for seconds. That makes it a total winner in my book.  The potato/sausage mixture makes a lot, so you can have leftovers, which are super delish the next day with sunny-side up egg on top.

You can adjust the seasonings based on your preference/tolerance for spice.

Cajun-style Shrimp, Sausage, and Potatoes

 

Olive oil

½ yellow onion, diced

4-5 mini sweet peppers, diced (mix of red, yellow, and orange). You can also just use 1 red bell pepper, diced.

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, diced

1 pound smoked turkey sausage (i.e. Hilshire Farms)

Cajun seasoning (I used Tony Chachere brand)

Shrimp, factor in about 5 medium-sized shrimp per person

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add about a tablespoon or so of olive oil. Saute the sausage until it starts to brown. Remove from the skillet. Add a little more olive oil if you need it and saute the onions, peppers, and potatoes until the potatoes are almost softened. Add the garlic at this point so you don’t burn it. Add the sausage back in and sprinkle some Cajun seasoning. However much you want. Let this cook until the sausage and potatoes are browned and cooked through.

Meanwhile, in a separate skillet over medium heat, add a little more olive oil. Sprinkle more seasoning on some peeled and deveined shrimp and cook until done, just a few minutes on each side is usually all you need.  I cook the shrimp separately because you will have leftovers of the potatoes and the shrimp doesn’t reheat well. You can always make more shrimp if you want later.

Once it’s all done, just serve up the potato/sausage mixture and top with about 5 shrimp per person.

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.

Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers

If you’ve read any of my recipe posts before, you’ll know how much I like a quick and easy recipe. Like most families, our weeknights tend to get a bit chaotic, so anything that doesn’t take too much time but is still super tasty and can be considered healthy will always be a winner in my book.

When I was meal planning and grocery list writing for this week I was very unmotivated. Normally I have some ideas of things I want to make during the week, but not this time. This time, I was drawing a blank. I was looking at food images to try to get my creative juices flowing when I came across stuffed peppers. Perfect. Done. Put them on the list. I moved on through the rest of the week’s meals and hit up Trader Joe’s.

Often after grocery shopping and putting away the food, I don’t want to cook dinner. It is just a testament to how simple these are to make that I didn’t mind making dinner after I put the groceries away!

Stuffed peppers are pretty easy and can be totally customizable to whatever flavors you want. I went with a southwestern flavor profile for these and they were very good.

When buying your bell peppers, try to get the ones with four nodes on the bottom. The ones with three are fine, but four makes them a bit easier to stand up in the baking dish. Also, try to get round, fat ones. The longer skinny ones won’t work quite as well.

Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers

serves 6-8, depending on the size of your peppers

 

6-8 bell peppers, any color (*see above for tips on buying)

1 pound ground turkey

½ yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

½ package taco seasoning (or the equivalent of homemade)

1 4oz can diced green chiles

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

2 tablespoons lowfat cream cheese *optional

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 cup or so shredded cheese (I used cheddar)

olive oil

Salt and pepper

Preheat your oven to 375.

In a skillet over medium heat, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Brown the turkey with the onions and garlic until the meat is cooked through and the onions and garlic are softened. Next, add the taco seasoning, green chiles, tomato paste, and corn. Stir.

If adding the cream cheese, do it now.  It is optional, but it does take the filling up a notch. It also makes it a bit creamy and less likely to dry out in the oven. It won’t seem like enough at first, but trust me. Keep stirring it in and it will cover the whole pan.

Meanwhile, cut the tops off the peppers and take out the seeds and core. Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle in some salt and pepper.  Stand up in a shallow baking dish.

Time to assemble: In the bottom quarter of each pepper, spoon in some rice. Sprinkle with a little cheese, then top with the meat filling. Pack it in and let it go over the top. Don’t be shy with the filling!  Sprinkle more cheese on top.

Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the cheese is all melty.

Basic Frittata

I go to work really early during the week, so family breakfasts aren’t really a thing most of the time. I get up, get dressed, make whatever lunches need to be made, have some coffee, and head to the office. Everyone else is still asleep.

Weekday breakfasts tend to be oatmeal or cereal or toast. Something along those lines. That’s why I try to up my game on the weekends. I like breakfast burritos or French toast. Waffles and pancakes. Even just good ol’ bacon and eggs is nice for my family to sit down and have breakfast together. One breakfast I really like to make is a frittata.  I know, it sounds so fancy, but it is actually really quick and easy to make. You can pretty much put whatever you want in it: veggies, meat, potatoes, herbs & spices. I’ve even seen pasta in a frittata.

Frittatas are an Italian dish and the word means “fried.” It was just a meant as a general term for cooking eggs in a skillet, but has since come to be known for this dish in particular, which is sort of a cross between a crustless quiche and an open-faced omelette.

I made mine with some leftover cooked sweet potatoes, some veggie odds and ends, and goat cheese. Next time, I’ll use a whole new rotation of meat, veggies, and cheese.  That’s what’s so great about a frittata; it is so customizable. It’s also a great way to use up veggies so they don’t go to waste.

Here’s the basic “recipe” for a frittata, you just substitute whatever you want and use however much you want:

In a cast iron skillet (or any skillet that is oven-proof), add a tablespoon or two of olive oil over medium high heat. Add your veggies. I used about a cup of chopped broccoli florets, a whole chopped zucchini, and a tablespoon or two of minced garlic. Once those were softened, I added my potatoes.** If you were adding herbs, you would do so at this stage as well.

**My potatoes were already cooked since they were leftovers. They also already had onions and peppers in them. If your veggies aren’t cooked yet, make sure to add them sooner.**

***Also, if you are adding meat that needs to be cooked, like bacon or sausage, make sure you do that first***

OK, back to the frittata: Once the veggies were ready, I sprinkled them with salt and pepper to taste and I topped them with goat cheese.

In a bowl, I whisked together 8 eggs and a large splash of milk.  Pour the eggs over the veggies and cheese.

Let it sit on the stove top for a minute or two then transfer to a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the eggs are set.  Serve in wedges like a pie.

This is a great option for breakfast, lunch, brunch, or dinner and a great way to use up just about anything you have in the fridge.