Jambalaya with Riced Cauliflower

Jambalaya with Riced Cauliflower

Photo Credit:Polka Dotted Blue Jay

My husband and I are going on a business trip in a few weeks to New Orleans and I am wanting to get myself in the mood for all I am about to experience. This is why I am sharing this Jambalaya recipe with you! Let me be honest, my husband will be there for business. I will be there for the food and music! I will share the entire trip with you after we return. Currently I am scouring the web for fun places to visit and amazing restaurants. So, if you have any suggestions please share in the comments!

Usually healthy and New Orleans food are not synonymous. Don’t fret! I will be sharing a full fat and super sugary treat later. For now we are going to try to mix it up a bit and try to make this well-known dish somewhat healthier. Plus, I am going to need to cut back on the calories for all those beignets I will be devouring in New Orleans!

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Summer

Classic Recipe With A Twist: Italian Wedding Soup

Italian wedding soup recipe

I recently saw a recipe for Italian Wedding Soup on Ina Garten’s website. The picture of the soup drew me in and I realized I had never tried the soup before! It is such a classic Italian recipe and I knew that I needed to make t. I wanted to test out Ina’s recipe for an upcoming party that we are hosting and it will be an Italian theme. Ina’s recipe called for chicken sausage and ground chicken to be used to make the meatballs. Most of the recipes I found called for beef or pork or a combination of the two. I decided to follow the recipe to a “T” but, went with all organic ingredients(that’s my twist). I have to say there were a ton of ingredients but it was not a hard recipe to make. I loved the idea of baking the meatballs in the oven, as opposed to a skillet. Another addition that Ina made was dill. I looked through a few other recipes and this was not something used. I compared Ina’s recipe to Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe, since she is the Queen of Italian cuisine. They did use quite a few different ingredients. Ina used Spinach and Giada used Curly Endive. Giada also did not include celery and carrots to her soup. As I am typing this I am realizing that I should make Giada’s recipe:). I did like Ina’s but I would have preferred it to have beef or pork meatballs and no carrots and celery. I have never liked carotsorn celery in my soup…strange, I know…but I don’t like it!

 

The hubs did not care for it at all but my son loved it. So, this recipe is not a winner or a failure. It is all about tweaking the ingredients and making it you own. It was very hearty and would be awesome on a cold day. The broth was very flavorful and the meatballs were full of cheesy goodness. I am glad I finally made this classic recipe and I think it was a very healthy option with the use of organic chicken and vegetables. Let me know if you have tried this soup and what you think!

Ina Garten’s Italian Wedding Soup

Ingredients

For the meatballs:
3/4 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound chicken sausage, casings removed
2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for serving
3 tablespoons milk
1 extra-large egg, lightly beaten
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the soup:
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 cup minced yellow onion
1 cup diced carrots (3 carrots), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
3/4 cup diced celery (2 stalks), cut into 1/4 inch pieces
10 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup small pasta such as tubetini or stars
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
12 ounces baby spinach, washed and trimmed
Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

For the meatballs, place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, Parmesan, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and combine gently with a fork. With a teaspoon, drop 1 to 1 1/4-inch meatballs onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. (You should have about 40 meatballs. They don’t have to be perfectly round.) Bake for 30 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

In the meantime, for the soup, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a large heavy-bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened, 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for 1 minute. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach is just wilted. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan.

2008, Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics, All Rights Reserved

Read more at:  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/italian-wedding-soup-recipe.print.html?oc=linkback

Summer

Cookbook Review: The Real Girl’s Kitchen by Haylie Duff

rgk-book-cover

As I mentioned before, I haven fallen back in love with cooking. I have never hated it,  just got in a funk. In the past few years I have rarely tried any new recipes, I have not watched a whole lot of cooking shows and have even bought most of my desserts…GASP!!!! I have to say the switch came when I caught Haylie Duff’s cooking show on the Cooking Channel. It was so refreshing. I love that she is my age and you can just see her passion for cooking come through the screen each week. I immediately bought her cookbook, The Real Girl’s Kitchen(which is also the name of her cooking show). It truly is a real girl’s guide to cooking. I love that she uses so many fresh ingredients but not anything that is too complicated.

I found a love for other cooking shows as well. Saturdays on The Cooking Channel are amazing! So far I have tried three of her recipes and they all were so good! There was nothing I would change.  Her directions are super simple and easy to follow. There are not a million different steps. The end product seems like you made something super fancy and took forever to make, but they really are quite simple.

On her show she is usually hosting some dinner party or having her friends and family over for lunch. I so miss that. I decided to have my brother over as well as my sister and her family. My sister has a pretty strict diet so I had to run a few things by her. I decided on making the Legit Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken. It had a shallot sauce that you could make with it, but it had gluten in it so I decided to pass on that, it sounded delish! I was super afraid that no one would like this dish and I would be left to order pizza. I was so excited when everyone said they loved it! The chicken was stuffed with goat cheese. I then sprinkled it with sea salt, pepper and fresh thyme. Finally, I wrapped the chicken breasts in a few pieces of prosciutto and baked in the oven. Super easy and super yummy.

My sister and her family couldn’t be at dinner  until 7, as well as The Hubs,  so I wanted to have an appetizer for my brother and I to eat. I am going to be hosting a Christmas Party early in December for a group The Hubs is involved with so, I thought I could try out a few ideas in the meantime. I saw Haylie’s Sausage and Thyme Stuffed Mushrooms recipe and thought I would try that one out. OH MAN, they were so good!!!!! I needed thyme for my chicken recipe so this was perfect as I never use all the sprigs of thyme up. The recipe called for Sausage(I used Italian…because Italians always do it best), jalapenos, Pecorino Romano cheese, Parmesan cheese  and a few other spices and binding ingredients. I will definitely be making these at my upcoming party. My brother and I loved these so much. I may have had three or four.

The first recipe I tried was for a super easy S’more. These were made in the oven. There is no gas in my house so, there are two things I miss: heating up a tortilla on the stove and roasting marshmallows! With this recipe though, you use your oven’s broiler! Why didn’t I think of that before? Simply lay down the graham cracker, then chocolate(or if you are like me and like cold chocolate wait until after you have broiled the marshmallow) and finally the marshmallow. She also suggests adding some cinnamon to the top of the marshmallow before you broil it. I tried it…and I liked it! Seriously, it was so good and it only took a few seconds under the broiler.

Overall, I really enjoyed this cookbook and hope she comes out with another one soon. At this rate I will have tried every recipe before not too long!

Here is a link to order the cookbook if you would like: The Real Girl’s Kitchen

Summer

Classic Recipe With A Twist: Mississippi Roast

mississippi roast

I have a confession. I make a roast once a week! It is a meal everyone in our family loves. Spaghetti was something I made once a week, but we grew tired of it. I didn’t want that to happen since I make my roasts in the crockpot and they are truly the easiest meal I make.  The Hubs saw a recipe for a roast on Facebook that someone had shared and he suggested I make it. He never does this so I knew I had to try it. I loved this recipe because it is a take on the classic roast I make. It was just amped up a bit. If you are looking for an easy meal for a busy night, this one is great. It was so much more flavorful than my classic roast. It was actually quite rich(probably due to the stick of butter!!!). I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Mississippi Roast

3# Chuck Roast

1 package of Ranch Salad Dressing Mix(NOT dip mix)

1 Package of Au Jus Mix

5-7 Jarred Pepperoncinis

1 TBS Pepperoncinis Juice

1 Stick of Butter(you could easily use 1/2 stick if using a 3# Roast)

Add Roast to slow cooker(crockpot). Sprinkle Ranch and Au Jus packets on top of roast. Add stick of butter on top of roast and add in Pepperoncinis and Juice.

Cook on low for 7 hours. If possible you can flip roast over half way through to evenly mix the seasonings with the butter. Also, at this time you can add any vegetables you prefer. I usually make mashed potatoes so I skipped this step.

Enjoy!

 

Summer

A Night In: Valentine’s Cooking Date

One of the passions The Hubs and I share is food. We love watching cooking shows. They are one of the few shows that we both enjoy watching together. We love going to new restaurants and old favorites. Good food, good ambiance and good company can’t be beat! As I mentioned before, The Hubs isn’t a fan of V-day so, we usually celebrate it a week later to avoid the crowds. To be honest we go out to eat a lot. So, this year we decided to stay in and cook dinner together. It was so fun and The Hubs did an amazing job. I went to Culinary School and I can get a bit robotic at times when I cook. I find my best dishes are those that I get creative with and put my heart into it. That is exactly what we did on Valentine’s Day…after all it is all about love! We took the time to prepare a few different dishes and they were all so good!

First up I had some artichokes steaming (we had to have something to fuel us for the long night of cooking). I just melted some butter and added in some garlic powder to dip the leaves and hearts in. I eat the leaves and I usually let The Hubs have the hearts. Just realized another reference to hearts!

 

The Hubs made his awesome mashed potatoes. We made these mainly for Shane as we made a lot of food Shane wasn’t too thrilled with.

 Next up was Gorgonzola and Honey Bruschetta. A super simple appetizer.
 

 
I began by cutting a baguette into a few slices and brushed them with olive oil. Then put the slices in a 400 degree oven and baked for 8 minutes.

 
Added a chunk of Gorgonzola to each little toast and put them back in the oven for about 2-3 minutes. Finally, I drizzled some honey on each one and yummmm..they were delish!

 
Next we started on the veggies. I showed The Hubs how to snap off the woody section of the asparagus. About 1 to 2 inches at the bottom of asparagus is where it will naturally snap off and you can remove the inedible section.
 
 
We decided to add a little of Gorgonzola in between the asparagus and prosciutto. Simply wrap a small chunk of the cheese as you cover the asparagus in prosciutto. Bake on a foil lined baking sheet…drizzled with olive oil… at 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Then turn over each asparagus and bake for another 5-7 minutes until the prosciutto is crispy. Our cheese melted out so we decided that wasn’t a great idea! It also added a bit more saltiness. The prosciutto is so salty on it’s own so, I think we will skip this next time. We will also use less prosciutto on each asparagus spear. Overall though… these were tasty.

 

 

 
I couldn’t pass up this heart shaped Brie!

 

 
I bought Shane his favorite “fancy”drink. Sparkling water. No joke, this kid loves him some Pellegrino!

 

 Last but not least, The Hubs made the most amazing scallops! He has never made scallops before and requested we make them. He has watched so many chefs on tv make them and seriously just took their lead and pulled it off perfectly! He seared them first in some  olive oil. Added butter and some finely chopped thyme and sage. He spooned the butter over it all until the scallops were cooked. He finished the butter sauce off with a squeeze of lemon and BAM! The Hubs can cook(I think he may needs to get in the kitchen more often).

 
Look at those scallops! So amazing! They were cooked to perfection, which we have found is hard to do. Many restaurants can’t get it right. So, we were excited that the main star of our Valentine’s dinner turned out!

 

 
I knew after all this cooking I wouldn’t feel like putting together a fancy dessert. So, I made a boxed brownie mix earlier in the day. I cut them out with a heart shaped cookie cutter and finished it with a scoop of ice cream. S.I.M.P.L.E <3 font="">

 



It was great cooking together and not having to deal with the crowds. It is awesome to enjoy something we both love. We were glad it all turned out as these were all new recipes. We tweaked them all a bit..but here is a link to each recipe:

Bruschetta with Gorgonzola Cheese and Honey
Asparagus Wrapped in Crisp Prosciutto
Scallops with Herbed Brown Butter


Summer