Southwest Skillet Ragu

Hello friends! One of these days my goal is to get back to regular posting. I swear just when I think things will get back to normal, something else comes up that keeps me incredibly busy. This time it’s a move!! My boyfriend and I have lived in the same apartment for over 6 years now, and while we love a lot of things about it, when we got word of another place opening up, we jumped on the chance to take it. This time we will be renting the 2nd floor of a two-family house which has a lot more character than the generic apartment we live in now, and I think has a lot more potential for customization… also, I’ll be getting my own office/study/craftroom space which I am super excited about, and there’s space for a decent sized garden!!!! Anywho, our move out/move in date is January 1st, and that is rapidly approaching. With work keeping me busy much of the week, I’m using most of my spare time packing and getting ready for the move. It’s amazing how much we’ve accumulated in the 6+ years we’ve lived together.

With all the craziness around here, I’m searching for quick and easy meals that require few pans, and minimal cleanup. Okay, that’s what I’m always searching for, but even more so these days. This meal fits the bill perfectly. Two dishes, few ingredients, and all around comfort, this dish is a winner. Goulash is such a comforting food to me (it’s one of the first I started making on my own when Ron and I moved into our apartment), and this take on it with the southwest flavors of chili powder and cumin is really yummy. Definitely recommended.

Southwest Skillet Ragu

Southwest Skillet Ragu

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1 cup elbow macaroni

1-1.5 lbs ground beef or turkey

1 large onion, diced

1 red (orange, yellow or green) bell pepper, chopped

8-12 oz white button or baby bella mushrooms, quartered

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (optional)

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, with juices

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded, plus more for serving

Salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Place a pot of water to boil, salt the water, and cook pasta according to directions. Reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water when done. Drain pasta and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, place a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add 1 tsp of olive oil, and add the ground meat. Cook until browned and cooked through, about 8 minutes, remove the meat from the pan and set aside, and drain off most of the grease. Leave a small amount just to coat the bottom of the pan.

3. Add the onions, and 1/2 tsp of salt, and cook about 5-6 minutes until softened and beginning to brown. Add the mushrooms and cook 5-6 minutes until golden brown. Add peppers, and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add garlic, spices, and 1/2 tsp of salt and cook 30-60 seconds until fragrant.

4. Add the tomatoes and their juices and bring to a boil. Add back browned meat, and simmer for about 5 minutes more until the sauce has thickened.

5. Add the pasta and cheese, and stir until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If the sauce is too thick, add a bit of the pasta cooking water until the sauce is to your desired consistency. Serve, topping each serving with more cheese if desired.

Source: The Kitchn

 

 

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Poached Eggs over Avocado and Smoked Salmon

Happy Thursday friends! I hope that the week is treating everyone well! This week has gone by pretty quickly in my opinion, so that’s always a good thing. Another great thing about this week was seeing the first snow flakes of the season! If you’ve been reading this blog a while, or know me, you know I love snow, and I was so excited to see a pretty snow shower when I woke up for work earlier this week. It didn’t stick, so my boyfriend has nothing to complain about yet, haha.

Another thing he had no complaints about- this meal! He loved it so much that he requested it be regularly added to our meal plan. I have no problems with that as this was simple, healthy, delicious, and super quick to make. Smoked salmon is one of my favorite things, and it made for such a great addition to a salad. Usually I have smoked salmon on bagels with cream cheese, but this was a new and extremely delicious way to indulge in it! Yum!

Poached Eggs over Avocado and Smoked Salmon

Poached Eggs over Avocado and Smoked Salmon

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 Tbsp white vinegar

4 oz baby spinach

1 lemon (Meyer or regular)

8 oz smoked salmon

1 Hass avocado, thinly sliced

4-8 large eggs

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Fill up a shallow pot with about 3-inches of water. Add vinegar. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower to a simmer.

2. Put about 1 oz (1 cup)  baby spinach on each plate. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top and season with salt and pepper. Place 2 oz of smoked salmon on top of greens, and top with 1/4 of the sliced avocado on each plate. Squeeze a bit more lemon juice on top.

3. To poach eggs: Break an egg into a small bowl. Slip gently into the simmering water, and use a spoon to try to keep the egg whites close together. Do the same with the remaining eggs. You may need to do this in 2 batches, if using 8 eggs instead of 4. When eggs are in the water, turn off heat, cover and cook 3-4 minutes. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon, letting water drain off. Add 1 or 2 poached eggs to each plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Source: slightly adapted from Absolutely Avocados via Cookin’ Canuck

Tex-Mex Chicken Pizza

Hello friends!! Long time no see! I’m sorry for my absence lately. Things have been so busy in my neck of the woods- my best friend got married this weekend, and me being the maid of honor I have been super busy with that! The wedding was beautiful and I was so excited to be a part of all the festivities.  In a couple of weeks I have another bachelorette party to attend as my brother is getting married in a couple of months… and the holidays are drawing closer and closer too! Luckily all this stuff is fun, but it’s been busy nonetheless. That is why I figured I’d bring you and nice and simple dinner tonight for those busy times in your own lives.

As you all know, I am a fan of easy dinners. These Tex-Mex “pizzas” fit that description to a tee! Toast some tortillas, top with deliciousness, and devour. If you buy a rotisserie chicken, this meal is even easier! I made this a few weeks ago on a super busy night, and had it for the next few days because it was so delicious. This is one of those meals that I wish I always had the ingredients on the ready because they are the perfect lazy person’s dinner.

Tex-Mex Chicken Pizza

Tex-Mex Chicken Pizza

Makes 4

Ingredients:

1/2 cup sour cream

1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, divided

2 Tbsp lime juice, divided

Salt and pepper

1 (16-oz) can refried beans

1 tsp chili powder

4 (8-inch) flour tortillas

8 tsp vegetable oil

2 cups shredded chicken (from a rotisserie chicken, or you can cook and shred a couple chicken breasts)

1 cup pepper jack, Monterey jack or cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup pickled jalapenos, chopped (or sliced)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In a small bowl, add the sour cream, 1/4 cup cilantro and 1 Tbsp lime juice, and whisk together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. In a seperate bowl, stir together the refried beans, remaining lime juice, and chili powder.

2. Line  two baking sheets with aluminum foil. Brush each tortilla with vegetable oil- use about 1 tsp per each side of a tortilla. Lay on the baking sheets, and bake about 5 minutes until golden, flipping halfway through. Check frequently, as the tortillas can go from golden to brown fairly quickly.

3. When the tortillas are done, spread each with about 1/4 cup of the refried bean mixture. Leave about 1/2-inch border around the edge. Top the refried beans with about 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture per tortilla, then 1/4 cheese, and then 2 Tbsp jalapenos. Transfer to the oven, and bake about 6-8 minutes until the cheese is melted and the toppings are heated through. Serve with sour cream mixture, cilantro and salsa if desired.

Source: America’s Test Kitchen: 30 Minute Suppers

Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites with Chipotle-Sour Cream Dipping Sauce

My boyfriend and I have an annual Halloween tradition in which we eat lots of junk and watch horror movies all night on Halloween. It’s one of the days I allow myself to indulge (okay-one of many). This year we decided to watch Cabin in the Woods (my favorite movie from last year), The Ruins, and The Exorcist (because you need a great classic horror film in the mix!). Other movies that have made appearances in the past: Halloween (of course), Trick ‘R Treat and Hocus Pocus (maybe one of the greatest movies known to man!). Our menu always includes our favorite nachos along with some other goodies. This year we went with pizza, mozzarella sticks, and these fabulous bacon-wrapped potato bites. They were super tasty and very easy to make- the hardest part was assembling them- which really wasn’t hard at all, just took a little time, but they are definitely worth it!

Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites with Chipotle Dipping Sauce

Bacon-Wrapped Potato Bites with Chipotle-Sour Cream Dipping Sauce

Makes about 36 potato bites

Ingredients:

1 lb small red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 1/2 tsp salt, divided

Freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 lb thick-cut bacon, cut into thirds

1/2 cup sour cream

1-2 tsp adobo sauce (more if desired)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, and place a wire rack on top (this will help the bites cook evenly and the bacon crisp without the need to flip during cooking).

2. Place potatoes in a medium pot, cover with cold water, add 2 tsp salt and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, and once boiling cook for 3-4 minutes until potatoes can be pierced easily with a fork, but not totally cooked- you don’t want them super soft or falling apart- they will finish cooking in the oven.

3. Meanwhile, as the potatoes are cooking, mix together the olive oil, remaining 1/2 tsp of salt, a pinch of pepper, and rosemary in a medium bowl. When the potatoes are cooked, drain and add them to the bowl and toss.

4. Wrap the bites in the bacon strips (cut into thirds), and secure with a toothpick. Place on rack on baking sheet. If you need to you can use 2 baking sheets, as you don’t want to crowd the bites. Cook for 30-40 minutes until bacon in cooked though and crispy.

5. While the bites are cooking, stir together the sour cream and adobo sauce, adding more or less to achieve your desired spice level. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can double the sauce if you’d like, but I found this to be more than enough.

6. Serve the bites with the dipping sauce!

Source: The Kitchn via Tracey’s Culinary Adventures

 

Pan-Roasted Swordfish Steaks with Mixed-Peppercorn Butter

Some of my favorite memories of my childhood took place on Cape Cod where my family and I vacationed for more than a decade of my life. We always rented a house, called “The Manor House” with my mom’s family- my grandparents, her brothers and their families, and of course my mom, dad and my brothers. The house we stayed on was located on a small bay- Lewis Bay- in West Yarmouth. We spent a week there every summer playing on the beach, digging for clams on what we dubbed “clam island”, catching sea squirts, going on whale watches, having an annual lobster night (my favorite!!!), going to our favorite pottery place (Scargo) and doing many, many other exciting things. In addition to our lobster night, one of the things I remember eating on Cape Cod was swordfish. I don’t remember having it many other times I my life other than on Cape Cod. When I saw that it was on sale at Whole Foods this weekend I just knew I had to buy some. I found a super simple recipe for it on Epicurious, and it turned out fantastic…. And it brought back those wonderful memories of Cape Cod. I should definitely cook swordfish more often!

Pan-Roasted Swordfish Steaks with Mixed-Peppercorn Butter

Serves 4

Ingredients:

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature

2 tsp fresh parsley, chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 tsp freshly ground mixed peppercorns, plus more for sprinkling

1/2 tsp grated lemon zest, packed

1 Tbsp olive oil

4 1-inch thick swordfish fillets (about 6-oz each)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a small bowl mix together the butter, parsley, garlic, 1/2 tsp ground peppercorns, and lemon zest. Season to taste with salt. Set aside.

3. Place a large heavy (ovenproof) skillet over medium-high heat, and add oil. Season swordfish on both sides with salt, and ground mixed peppercorns. Place in skillet, and cook about 3 minutes, until browned. Flip over, and transfer to oven. Cook 10 minutes longer, or until cooked through.

4. Remove swordfish to a plate, and place skillet back over medium-high heat. Add butter mixture and cook until melted and bubbling, scraping up the fond (the brown bits) on the bottom of the pan. Pour over swordfish and serve.

Source: Epicurious.com

Super Saturday (on a Sunday)

I’ve really been missing Super Saturday, so I thought that even though today is Sunday, I should get one up this week… and since it’s a holiday weekend, today is basically Saturday, right?!

So I am just loving that it’s fall. It is definitely my favorite season. I used to say that spring was my favorite, and while I still love spring, fall has risen above it. I love the chillier temperatures, changing leaves, pumpkin spice everything, and of course Halloween…. I absolutely love scary movies, haunted houses, ghost stories, and everything else associated with the holiday.

Here are some Halloween and Fall related things I’ve been loving lately!

Fall Decor

So I love carving pumpkins, but I have been loving these alternatives to the traditional pumpkin carving this year. I still will probably do a couple of traditional ones, but maybe I should get a couple extra and try some of these other ideas out…

Mouse Motel

via marthastewart.com

via realsimple.com

via realsimple.com

 

via mysweetsavannah.blogspot.com

via mysweetsavannah.blogspot.com

via countryliving.com

via countryliving.com

It is my dream to someday have an front porch so that I can create an entryway such as these:

via marthastewart.com

via marthastewart.com

via jollymom.com

via jollymom.com

from hgtv.com

from hgtv.com

via bhg.com

via bhg.com

Here are some other fall decor ideas I am loving!

via revelblog.com

via revelblog.com

via bhg.com

via bhg.com

via laurenconrad.com

via laurenconrad.com

 

via bunchesandbits.blogspot.com

via bunchesandbits.blogspot.com

Oh, and of course there are a million things I want to buy from Etsy…. as usual….

via MoseyRoseDesigns

via MoseyRoseDesigns

via 112FarmhouseLayne

via 112FarmhouseLayne

 

via LonelyHunterHome

via LonelyHunterHome

via TheCountrySignShop

via TheCountrySignShop

 

I’m sure I’ll have even more fall/Halloween related things to share next time. I just can’t get enough.

Crab Cakes

Hello everyone! Long time no see!!!! I’m so happy to be back, and I’m really hoping to be back on here regularly from now on. I have many excuses for my absense… sickness, bridal shower planning… but I really do miss this space here. I have been cooking of course- despite how busy I’ve been I would never be able to stay away from my kitchen (except during my horrible flu/cold that I had). I still haven’t finished sharing my vacation recipes. Shame on me!!! This was probably the best thing i cooked on vacation. Blue crabs are in abundance down in the Chincoteague area, and while we didn’t catch our own this year, we did buy a bunch of local crabs. The first night we just ate them as is- steamed, and then we made crab cakes and a crab frittata with the leftovers. I love that we had an abundance of crab… this is the only place I’ve ever been able to say that. At first I was going to just make veggie-filled crab cakes. My aunt Annmarie and I made the best crab and veggie cakes one year when we were vacationing on Cape Cod, and these were my attempt to make something similar. I REALLY need to get that recipe! My dad however, likes the simple crab-only crab cakes. So I decided to make both…. and then I threw some jalapenos and Old Bay into a few too. I have to say my favorite were the veggie-filled crab cakes with the inclusion of the jalapeno and Old Bay seasoning. So much flavor!!!!

Simple Crab Cakes

Makes about 8-10 small crab cakes

Ingredients:

1 lb lump crab

1/2 cup cracker crumbs (I used Trader Joe’s Mulitgrain crackers- you could use those, ritz, or a similar type of crackers)

1 egg

2-4 Tbsp Mayonnaise

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 Jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced (optional)

1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning (optional)

Salt and pepper

2 Tbsp canola oil, more if needed (or other higher heat oil)

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, mayonnaise(start with the smaller amount) and Dijon. Add the crab meat, cracker crumbs, jalapeno and Old Bay (if using) and season with salt and pepper, and gently mix together.

2. Carefully form your crab cakes. If they are having a hard time staying together you can add more mayo as needed. It helps if you wet your hands slightly. Place on a plate, and refrigerate for at least half an hour (this will help them firm up).

3. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of canola oil. When hot, add your crab cakes, making sure not to crowd the pan. You will have to fry them in 2 or 3 batches. Cook 4-5 minutes per side, until browned. Add additional oil to pan as needed between batches.

Source: Original recipe, but inspired by many recipes around the web

Vegetable Filled Crab Cakes

Makes about 10-12 small crab cakes

Ingredients:

1/4 red pepper, finely diced

1/4 green pepper, finely diced

1/4 summer squash, grated

1/4 red onion, finely diced)

1 Tbsp olive oil or butter

1 lb lump crab meat

1/2 cup cracker crumbs, crushed (I used Trader Joe’s Mulitgrain crackers- you could use those, ritz, or a similar type of crackers)

1 egg

2-4 Tbsp Mayonnaise

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 Jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced (optional)

1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning (optional)

Salt and pepper

2 Tbsp canola oil, more if needed (or other higher heat oil)

Directions:

1. Place a medium skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil or butter. When hot, add the bell peppers, summer squash and red onion. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and saute until softened, about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, mayonnaise(start with the smaller amount) and Dijon. Add the crab meat, cracker crumbs, jalapeno and Old Bay (if using), sauteed vegetables and season with salt and pepper, and gently mix together.

3. Carefully form your crab cakes. If they are having a hard time staying together you can add more mayo as needed. It helps if you wet your hands slightly. Place on a plate, and refrigerate for at least half an hour (this will help them firm up).

4. Place a large skillet over medium heat. Add a tablespoon of canola oil. When hot, add your crab cakes, making sure not to crowd the pan. You will have to fry them in 2 or 3 batches. Cook 4-5 minutes per side, until browned. Add additional oil to pan as needed between batches.

Source: Original recipe, but inspired by many recipes around the web, and my Aunt Annmarie’s Crab Cakes