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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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!

Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Leeks, Pancetta, and Asparagus

So it seems like the culinary world’s IT GIRL, Cauliflower, is still going strong. Mashed “Potatoes”, Buffalo “Wings”, “Fried Rice”… these little florets can do anything and do it deliciously well. Last night for dinner, I put it to the test and made pizza.
 

That’s right, I said I made PIZZA! With CAULIFLOWER. And you know what? It was freaking FANTASTIC!

OK, no more yelling… just on to the recipe. Which you all should try ASAP. A little birdie hinted to me that you can buy cauliflower pizza crust, but it was really so easy to make and it made my house smell yummy, so I say just do it yourself.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

 For the crust:

1 bag frozen cauliflower rice, thawed (I used the one from Trader Joe’s. It’s about 12oz)

2 eggs, beaten

¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

½ cup shredded mozzarella

½ teaspoon garlic powder (eyeball)

½ teaspoon Italian seasoning blend (eyeball)

Pinch of salt and pepper

Toppings: *These are all optional. You can do whatever sort of topping your heart desires*

2 tablespoons garlic spread


½ cup shredded mozzarella

1 sauteed leek

diced pancetta (4 oz)

about 5 or 6 asparagus spears, steamed just enough to make them soft

Take the defrosted cauliflower rice and put it in a blender or food processor for a few pulses to make it even smaller. Add the cauliflower to a dry skillet over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until softened slightly. Put it all in a towel (I used a few paper towels but you can use a dish towel) and wring out as much water as you can from the cauliflower. You’re basically left with cauliflower pulp.

Mix the cauliflower pulp with 2 beaten eggs, 1/4 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, 1/2 teaspoon or so garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon or so Italian seasonings and a pinch of salt. 

 

Mix together and spread out into a 10″ circle on a parchment lined baking sheet. It should be the equivalent thickness of an average thin crust pizza. Not cracker thin, though. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.


The crust will still be soft but golden brown.


After you add your toppings, bake for another 10 minutes.


I used a light layer of garlic spread from Trader Joe’s, more mozzarella, some crisped up pancetta and sautéed leeks and some parboiled asparagus. But you can use whatever you want.

Corn and Poblano Summer Salad

I was not going to post about this. It was supposed to be an afterthought to the amazing ribs my husband and I were smoking all day. We just needed a quick side dish. No big deal. 

It was a big deal. It turned out so good I just had to make a post about it! This salad will no doubt become my go-to summer side dish. It can be served cold or at room temp. Also, since it isn’t a mayonnaise-based salad, it lends itself really well to BBQ buffets because it can sit out for longer periods of time.

And the best part? It is SO EASY! 

Corn and Poblano Summer Salad 

1 bag frozen corn

2 Poblano peppers 

1 medium avocado 

Handful of cherry tomatoes 

1 lime

3 T olive oil 

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the corn according to package directions, usually in the microwave. You can use fresh corn too if you want, just grill them and cut it off the cob. I just find the frozen much easier and the taste is still great.

After the corn is cooked, add it to a dry skillet over high heat. The goal here is to just char it up a little bit. Set aside to cool. I put it in the fridge to bring the temperature down to warm/room temp. I prepped the rest of the salad in the meantime.

Put the Poblanos over the flame on your stove, turning until charred on all sides.


When done, put the peppers in a plastic bag and seal. Let them steam for about 10-15 minutes. 


Remove from the bag and the skin will just wipe off with a paper towel. Open up the peppers and remove the stem and the seeds. Dice the pepper.

In a bowl, add diced avocado, halved cherry tomatoes, diced pepper, and cooled corn.

In a small bowl, mix your dressing which is just the zest and juice of 1 lime, olive oil, a dash of pepper and 1t salt. Whisk together with a fork and pour over the veggies. Careful toss the veggies to coat. Add a little more salt if necessary.


That’s it! So easy and so much flavor! It was the perfect side!

Chicken, Corn, and Black Bean Enchiladas

I’m always looking for ways to eat Mexican food in a healthier way. The flavors of Mexican cuisine are so yummy but eating out at Mexican restaurants usually isn’t the best for you. I find making it at home is a lot easier to control what ingredients you are using so you can still get the delicious flavors but without any unnecessary fat and extra calories. Plus, you can be sure that the ingredients you are using are less processed and much cleaner.

When I set out to make these enchiladas, I wanted to make chicken, but I was out. I, mean, who runs out of chicken?! Me, I guess. I always try to have frozen chicken breasts on hand in the freezer so I can always make something for dinner, even if it is just a pantry meal (chicken with whatever veggies we have on hand). Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying attention and I ran out without realizing it.

I almost just threw in the towel, but then I saw that we had some frozen veggie patties on hand. I’ve really been enjoying the Morning Star Farms Chipotle Black Bean Veggie Burgers. I wondered if I could chop those up and throw them in? I warmed them up so they were thawed enough to break apart and added the “burger” crumbles to the corn and black bean mix. 


Most of the ingredients in the patties were pretty much the same as what I had going on anyway, so it totally worked! They made for some really delicious enchiladas. You would never realize they were vegetarian. I will say, though, that because the patties had some of the flavors I was going for already in them, I did NOT include the can of diced green chiles mentioned in the recipe below. If I had just used regular chicken, I would have included that ingredient.

Chicken, Corn, and Black Bean Enchiladas

1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

½ bag of frozen corn

½ onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded

½ tablespoon cumin

1 small can diced green chiles

Salt to taste

1 bottle enchilada sauce (or homemade)

6 corn tortillas (I used a corn/wheat blend tortilla I found at Trader Joe’s. low fat, low cal, and high in whole grains per serving. 

Low-fat shredded Mexican blend cheese

In a skillet with a little olive oil, sauté onions and garlic until soft. Add the corn and black beans and cook until the corn is softened.


Add the chicken, cumin, green chiles, and some salt. Continue cooking until warmed through. Sprinkle in about ½ cup of the shredded cheese and stir to combine.

 

Pour a little bit of the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Fill each tortilla and roll up carefully (corn tends to break easily. You can heat them up in a microwave with a wet paper towel to help with this.). Place each enchilada seam side down in the baking dish. Top with more enchilada sauce and cheese (however much or little you want).



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


Roasted Garlic and Beet Soup 

So a couple months ago I signed up for Farm Fresh to You. I like it. I don’t know how much longer I’m going to keep it, but it’s pretty cool. I’ve been able to try more veggies than I probably would have on my own, like beets. I don’t think I would ever just pick up a beet in the grocery store and make something with it, but since it was coming in my delivery anyway, I figured what the heck? Why not give it a try.


Since I’ve never had a beet before, I thought it best not to try out a recipe on my own and go with a pro. Enter: Martha Stewart. I found a recipe that seemed simple enough to follow with our soup cleanse and it was actually pretty tasty.

I had read many places that beets sort of taste like dirt. Even after roasting them and combining them with the other ingredients, I can totally see why someone would say that. They were VERY earthy. But the roasted garlic and the leeks really combined nicely with the beets.

Would I make it again? I don’t know. I didn’t love it that much, but it wasn’t hard work at all to peel the beets, though they are very messy. Beets are super healthy, so maybe someday I’ll be inspired to repeat the recipe, but we’ll have to just see.

Roasted Garlic and Beet Soup

Adapted from Martha Stewart

3 medium beets

1 head of garlic

1 leek

1 tsp fresh thyme

2 cups vegetable broth

Salt and pepper

Olive oil

Lemon juice

Remove the greens from the beets and wrap them in parchment and foil with a drizzle of olive oil. Roast at 400 degrees for about an hour. Cut off about a ¼ to ½ inch of the garlic head and wrap that in foil too with some olive oil. Roast that for the last 30 minutes of the beets.

Meanwhile, saute the leeks and thyme until softened.

Let the beets cool enough to handle them and wipe the skin off with some paper towels. It should just rub off very easily. Add the beets to the blender.

Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the cloves into the blender. Add the sautéed leeks and thyme, vegetable broth, and salt and pepper. Blend until well combined. It really helps to have a high powered blender such as a Vitamix, Ninja, or Blendtec.

Add a squeeze of lemon juice and taste to see if you need more salt or pepper.

 

The color of this soup is out of this world gorgeous, but be careful because beets can stain.

Creamy Veggie Soup (without the cream!)

I think I’m really getting the hang of this soup thing, you guys! I love coming up with new combinations of veggies and flavors that complement each other to whirl up into delicious soups. I am also LOVING my Vitamix more and more. I can whip up these soups on the soup setting and the result is a creamy, velvety soup that doesn’t have any dairy in it at all. It’s so mind boggling; every time I take a bite, I can’t believe there’s no cream or dairy in the soup.

The only thing I need to start working on is making bigger batches. Just when I think there’s going to be enough, it only makes about 3 servings, maybe 4 depending on how much you eat in one bowl.

So far this little makeshift soup cleanse we’ve been on has been very successful. We are getting all our veggies in and we still feel full after a bowl of soup. And the hubby and I are both down to below our pre-vacation weight!

 

Creamy Veggie Soup (without the cream!)

½ red bell pepper, cut in half

½ orange bell pepper, cut in half

1 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise

1 poblano pepper

1 cup frozen corn

3 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 cup vegetable broth

Salt and pepper to taste

Place all the peppers and zucchini on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.

When the veggies are done, place the bell peppers and zucchini in a blender. Put the poblano in a zip top bag and seal it. After about 5 minutes, remove the poblano and peel the skin off. It should just pull right off. Cut it in half (carefully because it will be hot), and remove the stem and scrap out the seeds. Add the pepper to the blender.

Add the rest of your ingredients to the blender and let her whirl until done.


Taste to see if you need to add more salt.


I had some avocado I needed to use up so I topped mine with avocado. I didn’t do it this time, but it would probably be yummy to add more corn pieces as well, to off-set the texture a little bit.