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.

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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.

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.

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!

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!

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes (Thanksgiving Tip)

I recently discovered a kitchen trick that I have immediately added to my arsenal: Slow Cooker mashed potatoes!! 

OK, I’m sure you’ve been doing this for a long time. I’m almost positive I’m late to the slow cooker mashed potato party, but I’m here now and I’m excited.

I recently started sharing some tips and tricks for Thanksgiving on my Instagram (hint: follow me on Instagram!) and I just shared this one. It is so easy, I can’t believe I’ve been wasting precious stove space all these years!

Usually when making mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving, I would just boil the potatoes like usual on the stovetop and then mash them and add my other ingredients (milk, butter, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese… whatever you like). It was always saved to the last minute so they would be warm, but the last minute is the most chaotic, amiright? Making the mashed potatoes this way will be a stress reliever, if nothing else. Here’s what you do: 

(Apologies ahead of time for the bad pictures. I was having issues…)

Cube about 3-4 pounds of potatoes (I used Yukon gold, but I’m sure you could use russet or red)

Add them to the slow cooker with about 1-1/2 cups of water and some garlic.


Cook on low for 3-4 hours, or until fork tender.

Drain the water and mash the potatoes with whatever ingredients you like right in the slow cooker. Don’t forget to salt them to taste too. 


That’s it. And if they are done earlier than the rest of the meal, you can just put the lid back on and set it to warm until you are ready to serve! I wouldn’t do this step too early, though, because you don’t want to risk drying them out.

Pancetta Brussels Sprouts

Ok, so if you had told me a couple years ago when I started this blog that I would have not one but two Brussels sprouts recipes, I would have told you to get out of town.

Seriously. I never would have guessed years ago when I was drinking more soda than ever, that one day I would want a snack and make Brussels sprouts! My husband said the same thing. 

I’ve heard many people say this, and I agree wholeheartedly, I think of you don’t like Brussels sprouts, you probably haven’t had them prepared correctly. They have quickly become one of my favorite vegetables.

This is a very similar recipe to the other one I posted, but it doesn’t require you to turn on your oven and it comes together much quicker. 

This recipe serves two as a side dish at around 80 calories per serving.

10 Brussels sprouts, halved

1 T olive oil (I love garlic infused for this)

Leeks, sliced, about an inch or two of the leek

1 oz diced pancetta 

1 teaspoon honey

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard 

In a hot skillet, add your olive oil and place the sprouts cut side down. This helps the core soften and makes for some really good caramelization.


After a minute or two over medium high heat, add the pancetta and leeks. (I used regular onions this time because I was out of leeks, but I really prefer the leek flavor.)


Let the pancetta, onion, and sprouts continue cooking until the pancetta is crispy and the onions and sprouts are browned. You can start turning over the sprouts so they can cook all over.


When everything is almost done, add a pinch of salt and the honey. Mix altogether.

Put in a bowl and finish off with a little Dijon mustard. Stir to coat and enjoy!