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.

Crowd Pleasing Spinach Artichoke Dip

So, I suppose all spinach artichoke dip is crowd pleasing, right? I mean, who doesn’t love this stuff?? When I was deciding what to bring to this year’s Super Bowl party, the hubby suggested this dip. In a bread bowl. With the hollowed out bread for dipping.

That man just gets me, you know?

So here it is. And there it went. It was long gone by the time the game was over.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

*This is actually a double recipe because I used a big loaf of bread. Cut it in half if you use a bread bowl instead. Or don’t. It’s delicious. Make two bowls.

**The fat content of each item is up to you. Low fat? OK. Full Fat? Go for it. Non fat? Whatever you want, dear one.

 

2 8-oz blocks of cream cheese, room temp

1 cup plain greek yogurt

½ cup mayo

2 Tablespoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon onion powder

3-4 green onions, white and light green parts, diced

A few dashes of hot sauce

16 oz bag frozen chopped spinach, thawed.

2 cans quartered artichokes, drained and chopped

3 cups mozzarella cheese

1 cup parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut off the top of a loaf of bread and remove the bread inside, leaving about 1 inch around the outside for stability. Set aside.

In a big mixing bowl, mix together the cream cheese, yogurt, and mayo until combined. Please note that I attempted to make this without mayo but I found it needed it for the right texture. If may freaks you out, use sour cream. Add the garlic powder, onion powder, green onions, hot sauce, and salt and pepper. Mix well.

Put the thawed spinach in a towel and squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Add to the cream cheese mixture with the artichokes. Add 2 cups of the mozzarella and the parmesan cheese and stir to combine everything thoroughly.

Scoop the spinach/cheese mixture into the hollowed out loaf. Don’t be shy. Fill her up. Then top with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella.

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes until the cheese is all melty and the top is golden brown.

Serve with the bread you carved out from the inside or crackers or chips or pita or veggies or…. You get the idea.

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.

Minestrone Soup

I’ve been a bit in a slump lately. At least when it comes to blogging recipes. I’ve been making food I’ve already done on here or making other people’s recipe or even just making stuff that I ultimately deem “not blog-worthy.” (That parmesan French toast was pretty delish, though!)

I blame it on end-of-the-year laziness. I seriously get so lazy after Thanksgiving. I think I only worked out 2 times in the entire month of December. I barely do any housecleaning and the laundry starts when we are all on our last pairs of underwear. Well, it’s January now and a new year has started. I have a list of things I want to start doing. Work has been absolutely CRAZYPANTS but it should calm down in the next few days and my head will stop spinning and perhaps I can actually start accomplishing things.

First up, this soup. It’s been raining like crazy here in SoCal the past couple days. Now, I happen to enjoy the rain. I don’t like going out in it, but I do love being warm and cozy and listening to it pitter patter outside my window. I always like to think Fall weather is soup weather, but in SoCal that is not at all the case. It’s usually pretty warm until mid-December to January when it starts to get a little chilly.

Minestrone soup is a thick Italian soup made of a flavored broth and veggies with optional beans and pasta added in. There is no set recipe for minestrone since you can use whatever veggies are in season. This soup dates back to the Roman Empire, but the basic premise remains today.

This soup really hit the spot and was so easy to make. It hit my trifecta of easy, healthy, and delicious!  If I weren’t in the beginning of a Biggest Loser Challenge, I would have served this with a side of bread as well.

30-Minute Minestrone Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ yellow onion, diced

4 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper

1 16 oz bag frozen veggie medley (green beans, corn, peas, carrots. You can really use whatever veggies you want.)

Parmesan rind (optional)

1 28-oz can low-sodium crushed tomatoes

6 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 15oz can kidney beans, rinsed and drained

12 oz box of shell pasta (or other small pasta of your choice) *I used Banza chickpea pasta and it was DELISH! You can’t even tell the difference and it punches up the protein of an otherwise-vegetarian dish.

Add olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute or so.

Add the frozen veggies, basil, oregano, some salt and some pepper. I had a leftover rind from some parmesan, so I added this as well. You don’t have to.  Stir and cook for a few minutes until veggies start to soften.

Add the crushed tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil for about 10 minutes.

Add the beans and pasta and cook about 10 minutes (or per package directions for the pasta). Remove the parm rind if you used one and taste the soup for seasoning. I ended up adding more salt, pepper, and basil, but make it how you like it.

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.