Posted in Breakfast, Brunch, Christmas, Classic, Comfort Food, Cooking for one, Cooking for Two, Dinner, Family Friendly, Healthy, Holiday, Homemade, Leftovers, Lunch, One Pot Meals, Pantry Staples, Potatoes, Quick cooking, Turkey, Veggies, Winter

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch!

Merry Christmas readers!

I don’t know about you but I’m pooped!  Every year I tell myself that I’m going to simplify the holidays but then somehow one party turns into three, the number of presents to wrap keeps growing, I’ll bake just one more batch of cookies, the holidays in non-profit world keep getting busier (not that I’m complaining about all the people we’re helping!), traveling gets more hectic.  And then all of a sudden it’s over and I realize I didn’t stop and remember the reason I feel compelled to do all that to start with.

I’m challenging myself over the next couple days before Christmas to slow down, enjoy time with family, remember to take a little “me” time and don’t forget to breathe.  One way I’ll do that is to relax and enjoy some of the little traditions we do this week.

One of my absolute favorite things to do during the holidays is curl up on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa (and homemade marshmallows), a fuzzy blanket, and my husband and watch classic Christmas movies and cartoons.  Each time I settle down to watch Charlie Brown, White Christmas or Claymation Christmas I feel a calm settle on me.  I get super sappy and nostalgic when I watch those things.  I remember the childlike wonder and amazement of the Christmas season and at least for a few minutes all is right in the world.

My very favorite Christmas cartoon is How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Not only do I love everything Dr. Seuss, I love the reminder that Christmas isn’t about things and being busy, it’s about the quality time we spend with family and friends celebrating the season.

He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!

Let’s all take our queue from Mr. Grinch and Whoville and remember…

Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.


Hash is a great way to use up leftover meat and veggies that are hanging in the fridge around the holidays.  I love to make hash and every time I do I can’t help but think of the Grinch slinking through Cindy Lou’s house stealing everything including the Who hash!

This hash combines sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts and homemade turkey chorizo for a filling breakfast fit for a Christmas morning full of opening presents!!

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 Then he slunk to the ice box. He took the Whos’ feast, he took the Who pudding, he took the roast beast. He cleaned out that ice box as quick as a flash. Why, the Grinch even took their last can of Who hash.

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The Grinch’s Who Hash

Olive oil
Garlic
1 cup red onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
2 cups sweet potato, pre-cooked (this is a great way to use leftover roasted potatoes)
2 cups brussel sprouts, sliced thin
Homemade chorizo (recipe below)
Fried eggs
To finish: salsa, cilantro, cotija cheese (all optional)

Turkey Chorizo
1 lb. ground turkey breast
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
Splash of apple cider vinegar

To make chorizo: Mix all spices and apple cider vinegar together to make a paste.  Mix it with the turkey until thoroughly combined.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add a big glug of olive oil and let heat. Add chorizo and cook 4-5 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from pan.

Heat a little more olive oil in the hot pan. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add onion, bell pepper and poblanos and cook until slightly charred around the edges. Add sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts and cook another 5 minutes or so until all the veggies are cooked through and a little crispy around the edges. Add the chorizo back to the pan and season with salt and pepper.

To serve: top the hash with two eggs any way you like them. I prefer over easy with all their yolky goodness. Top with a little of your favorite salsa, cilantro and a sprinkling of cotija cheese. Yum!

Source: Ruth’s Table

You’re a rotter, Mr. Grinch / You’re the king of sinful sots / Your heart’s a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots / Mr. Gri-inch! / You’re a three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce!

I bet if the Grinch started his day with this hash he wouldn’t have been so Grinchy!  🙂

What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book?

Posted in Chicken, Cooking for Two, Dinner, Family Friendly, Grilling, Healthy, Marinade, Pantry Staples, Quick cooking, Summer, Veggies

Pantry Staples – Greek Marinade

Spring has finally sprung!  The sun is shining.  The birds are singing. My eyes itch and I’m sneezing my head off.  Darn it, I’m still going to enjoy the beautiful weather!

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Now that the weather is nice I start craving all kinds of spring/summer foods.  I want to be grilling, eating veggies, and making all kinds of fresh salads.  BUT I don’t want to spend a lot of time in a hot kitchen.  Give me quick and easy and I’m a happy camper!

My biggest tip for putting together a quick and easy dinner is to make sure you keep your pantry stocked with a variety of things to throw together a meal quickly and with very little effort.  One of my favorite, go-to pantry marinades is my Greek Marinade.  I use it on chicken, shrimp, veggies, fish.  It is so versatile and easy to put together!  Pair some chicken with a quick side dish of veggie couscous and you’re set.

For marinades I almost never actually measure ingredients.  Once you’ve done it a time or two you’ll get it just the way you like it.  My rule of thumb for a marinade is pretty simple: 2 parts oil, 1 part acid, salt & pepper, herbs and spices of your choice.  The best method though is just to taste it.  You know what you like. Trust your instincts!

Greek Marinade

Olive oil
White balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
Zest and juice of one lemon
Salt & pepper
Greek seasoning blend (the brand I use has onion, garlic, oregano, mint)

Put all the ingredients in a mason jar and shake it up. Marinate your choice of protein or veggies for about 15 minutes.

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Other variations:

Asian-olive oil, a dash of sesame oil, orange juice, rice wine vinegar, Sambal Olek (instead of pepper), soy sauce (instead of salt), garlic, ginger, honey

Southwest-olive oil, lime juice, red wine vinegar, salt & pepper, cumin, chili powder, garlic, cilantro, splash of tequila

Greek Grilled Chicken and Veggie Couscous is one of our regular rotation meals.  It’s super simple, comes together in about 25 minutes, and is light and healthy.  You can have dinner on the table with very little fuss, very few dirty dishes, and can be back to enjoying the warm weather and extra hours of sunshine in no time!

Greek Grilled Chicken and Veggie Couscous

For chicken:
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
Greek marinade

For couscous:
1 box couscous, cooked according to package directions
Olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
2 medium zucchini, cut into rounds
Grape tomatoes, halved if they’re really big
Garlic
Salt & pepper

For sauce:
1 cup greek yogurt or mayonnaise
1 cup feta cheese
Juice of a lemon
Parsley, chopped
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Put the chicken in the marinade while you’re gathering your other ingredients, about 15 minutes. Preheat a grill pan over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken and grill 2 minutes per side until you have some nice grill marks. Pop in the oven for about 10 minutes to finish cooking. Remove chicken when done and let rest a minute before serving.

While chicken is in the oven, preheat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil and onion, saute until translucent. Add the zucchini and cook for a minute or two until it starts to brown a little. Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds until fragrant. Turn heat down to medium and add tomatoes and cook, stirring for another minute or until they start to pop and release a little liquid. Add the couscous, salt and pepper and toss together.

For the sauce, mix all ingredients together and serve with chicken and couscous.

To serve: top the vegetable couscous with a chicken breast (sliced to make the presentation pretty) and a tablespoon of the sauce. Garnish with a little chopped parsley and lemon zest if you want.

Source: Ruth’s Table

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Posted in Comfort Food, Cooking for Two, Date Night, Dinner, Healthy, Mushrooms, Quick cooking, Vegetarian, Veggies

Meatless Monday – Farro Risotto with Balsamic Mushrooms

I decided several years ago that I was going to give up meat for a month. I was doing it as a part of a fast with my church that asked us to give something up to refocus. I decided on meat and to focus on regaining control over my health. I’ve always been a lover of vegetables and meat is often an afterthought when I’m just cooking for myself so I thought it would be a breeze. There was only one problem. The first week of our fast included Memorial Day! How on earth did I miss that?! It also happened to be a weekend we were in Ohio celebrating my sister-in-law graduating so we were hosting a cookout! Seriously, I’m not sure how I made it but by the grace of God I did.

During that time I learned a lot of new techniques and recipes and how to adapt them so that my meat loving hubby would enjoy them too. Over the years I’ve tried to make it a habit of making the majority of our meal vegetables while keeping our meat consumption reasonable. I even thrown in the occasional meatless meal that is still packed with protein. With the increased availability of a lot cool grains and exotic veggies that makes things super easy!

One of my favorite things to make, especially when I’m going meatless, is risotto. A lot of people think risotto is difficult to make but really you can have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes start-to-finish. The only thing risotto requires is a little patience. It isn’t a meal you can just pop on the stove and walk away from. The repetitve stirring is very therapeutic after a long day though, trust me. 🙂

I have recently discovered a love for farro. It has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture which make it a great option for meatless meals. It’s a great source of fiber and protein so it will fill you up and you won’t even miss the meat! Throw in meaty mushrooms and you’re all set!
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Farro Risotto with Balsamic Mushrooms

1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup farro
1/2 cup dry white wine (a big glug)
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
Bay leaf
Mixed mushrooms (I get a package that includes cremini, oyster, and shitake)
Thyme
Parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Asiago cheese

In a medium saucepan, heat vegetable stock, water and bay leaf until just below a simmer.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add one tablespoon olive oil. Saute shallots and garlic for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add farro and toast about 30 seconds. Add wine and stir until absorbed. Reduce heat to medium and add one ladle of stock. Stir off and on until liquid is absorbed, add another ladle of stock. Keep repeating until farro is tender and creamy. This will take 23-25 minutes. I always set a timer and taste for texture starting at about 20 minutes.

Finish with thyme leaves, parsley, one tablespoon butter, salt & fresh cracked pepper, and grated Asiago.

For the mushrooms, heat olive oil in a pan over medium high heat (I use a cast iron pan so they get nice and brown). Lower heat to medium. Add butter, sprig of thyme, and mushrooms. Leave them alone for a minute so they start getting brown and a little crispy. Cook 2-3 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and cook another 30 seconds until balsamic is a little syrupy. Season with salt & pepper. Remove thyme sprig.

Serve risotto topped with mushrooms and lots of shaved asiago.

Serves 2.

Source: Ruth’s Table

This is a perfect “fancy” dish to impress a date. I can’t wait to make this for my hubby on our next date night in!

Posted in Autumn, brown bag lunch, Chicken, Comfort Food, Fall, Healthy, Mexican, One Pot Meals, Quick cooking, Soup

FALL = Soup Weather

When October rolls around and there is a nip in the air and the leaves start to change I want nothing more than to curl up on the couch under a blanket with a book (Frankenstein, Dracula or Poe of course) and a cup of tea.  I want to visit apple orchards and pumpkin patches and drive through the mountains to see the colors.  I want to sit by a bonfire and toast marshmallows and tell ghost stories.  I want to dress up as a vampire and hand out candy to kids in adorable costumes.  I want to wear sweaters and boots and jackets.  I want to eat all the pumpkin things and all the carmel-y apple things and drink drinks made with warm, spicy bourbon-y things.  I want to watch The Great Pumpkin and Hocus Pocus and dream of being a kid again.

I want October to never end.

On chilly, fall nights, I like to warm up with a big bowl of soup.  This soup came about when I was searching for something quick and easy to make on a Sunday afternoon.  I found lots of recipes for posole but decided to create my own and add a few of my favorite must-have pantry spices: coriander and cumin. It made a great dinner and an even better lunch all week!

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Pollo Posole Verde

Olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 poblano, diced
2 gloves garlic
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1 can diced green chiles
Salt & pepper
2 cans white hominy, drained and rinsed
1/2 jar green salsa
6 cups chicken stock
Rotisserie chicken, shredded
To garnish: cilantro, lime, cotija (or feta) cheese, avocado, sliced radishes (optional)

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.  Add onions and poblano and saute for about 5 minutes or until slightly brown around the edges.  Add garlic, coriander and cumin and toast for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add green chiles. Add stock and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove toasty bits. Add salsa, hominy and shredded chicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let simmer for about 20 minutes. To serve, garnish with cilantro, lime, avocado and cotija cheese.

Serves 6.

Source: Ruth’s Table

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” – L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Posted in Appetizers, Autumn, Comfort Food, Date Night, Fall, Healthy, Holiday, Nuts, One Pot Meals, Party Worthy, Potatoes, Soup, Supper Club, Vegetarian, Winter

Soup’s On!

How many times do you catch yourself saying “we should really get together more often” or “let’s do this again real soon” when you’re hanging out with friends?  How many times do you actually follow through?  We all have good intentions but “life” gets in the way and we go months before making plans.  When we finally do we have such a great time and then make the same promises all over again.

IMG_0895Well, I’m VERY thankful for friends who take the initiative, make a date, invite us all and stick to it.  We should all be more like that!!

Our friend Nick is exactly this kind of person.  We have been talking for month’s about getting together and cooking for each other and hanging out and we’ve just kept putting it off.  Finally, a couple weeks ago Nick just picked a date, invited us over and told us to bring soup.  The monthly Foodie Pow Wow was born.

My contribution to this culinary endeavor was one of my favorite go-to soups.  You really can’t go wrong with rich, silky butternut squash in the winter time.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Granola

    • 1 (2 1/2 pound) butternut squash
    • Cooking spray
    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
    • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
    • 4 cups vegetable stock
    • 2 cups water
    • 2 cups peeled, diced sweet potato
    • 2 teaspoons fresh sage
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut squash in half lengthwise, spoon out seeds.  Place squash flesh side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the squash is tender.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Remove peel and mash the pulp.

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat.  Add onion, saute for 2-3 minutes or until starting to brown around the edges.  Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add the squash, vegetable stock and the next six ingredients (through bay leaves) and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and let simmer for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  Remove bay leaves.

Place one-third of vegetable mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure twice with remaining squash mixture. Return pureed mixture to pan; cook over medium heat 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  Stir in honey.  Top individual servings with spiced granola.

Spiced Granola

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • Handful of dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix oats, walnuts, garam masala, salt and pepper.  Spread on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and bake for 10-15 minutes or until fragrant, stirring once.  Remove from oven and add honey, cranberries and sage.  Let cool.

Source: Soup adapted from Cooking Light http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/roasted-butternut-soup-with-goat-cheese-toasts-10000001932617/, Granola by Ruth’s Table

Our other delicious creations…

Red Beans & Rice
Red Beans & Rice
Steak and Black Bean Chili with Cornbread Waffles
Steak and Black Bean Chili with Cornbread Waffles
Cornbread Waffles (yummy!)
Cornbread Waffles (yummy!)
My favorite jams!http://www.bathtubginonline.com/
My favorite jams!  Goes great with cheese!
http://www.bathtubginonline.com/
Balsamic Strawberries and pound cake (recipe for another day!)
Balsamic Strawberries and pound cake
(recipe for another day!)

“Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don’t catch steak hanging around when you’re poor and sick, do you?” – Judith Martin (Miss Manners)

Stay tuned for scenes from our next Foodie Pow Wow…

Posted in Chicken, Childhood treats, Comfort Food, Family Friendly, Healthy, One Pot Meals, Pasta, Quick cooking

Help Me! Help Me!

My Dad was a great cook.  He was a master of ribs and loved Italian food.  He didn’t shy away from a challenge in the kitchen.  He took inspiration from his world travels while he was in the Navy.  BUT, despite all that, one of my Dad’s favorite things was Hamburger Helper.  Why he loved the quick, powdered cheese, pasta and beef concoction I will never know but any time I see the Helping Hand dancing around in commercials or see that familiar box on the grocery store shelves I can’t help but smile and remember the lunches I ate while visiting my Dad on the weekends. 🙂

Now that I’m all grown up and have a big girl job, a home and a husband I totally understand the need for convenience food but let’s be honest, those things are never very good for you.  I’m always on a mission to find yummy, healthy, budget-friendly, quick-cooking dinners to put on the table.  When I found this recipe on one of my favorite blogs, Annie’s Eats, I couldn’t wait to try it!  The only thing I did differently was add a few more veggies which my Dad would have turned his nose up at (he was kinda picky when it came to anything green!).

This recipe totally blows the boxed stuff out of the water.  It’s DEFINITELY going in the regular dinner rotation!

What are your favorite quick weeknight meals?

Creamy Taco Mac

  • Olive oil
  • 1¼ lbs. ground turkey breast
  • 8 oz. dry pasta (I used mini penne because it reminded me of the box!)
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 4 tbsp. taco seasoning (I use Old El Paso in the packet)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • Salt and pepper
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
  • Parsley, chopped (optional)

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Cook pasta according to the package directions.  Drain, reserving ½ cup of pasta water.  Set aside. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion and carrot and cook a few minutes to soften.  Add ground turkey breast and cook until no longer pink.  When the turkey is cooked through add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in diced tomatoes and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat for about 7-8 minutes or until carrots are tender.  Add the pasta, cream cheese, sour cream and reserved pasta water to the pan and stir until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce comes together.  Stir in the frozen green peas (they will thaw as it simmers).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer  3-5 minutes to reduce the sauce. Remove from the heat and top with shredded cheddar cheese and parsley, if desired.

Source: Slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats – Creamy Taco Mac

DELISH!!

Posted in Appetizers, Healthy, Mexican, Portable/Picnic, Quick cooking, Summer

Cinco de Mayo, Ole!

It’s been a hot, lazy Saturday for me.  I’ve been hanging out, reading a book, drinking coffee, watching the Derby, doing a little laundry, setting up our new computer.  Hmm, guess it hasn’t been so lazy after all!  All that being said, it isn’t lost on me that today is Cinco de Mayo sooo…It’s happy hour at the Richard residence!!

We love Mexican food.  We don’t need a holiday to celebrate our love of all things salsa.  Spicy enchiladas, crispy tacos, refreshing margaritas, you can bet we indulge at least once a week!


One of our favorite places for Mod Mex food is Momocho in Cleveland, Ohio.  One of my besties works there and introduced us to it a few years ago.  I crave the guacamole and margaritas!!!  I’m having one of those cravings right now!  Since I can’t hop in the car and drive the 531 miles to my gastronomical Mod Mex heaven (but guacamole and margaritas for breakfast is tempting!!) I’ll have to make do with my own quite tasty knock off at home.

Guacamole with Pineapple, Jicama and Mint

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1/2 cup pineapple, diced fine
  • 1/2 cup jicama, diced fine
  • 1 tablespoon mint, chopped fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 clove roasted garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Habanero pepper (as much or as little as you like)
  • Salt & pepper
Place all ingredients in a bowl, mash with a fork and stir to combine.  Serve with your favorite tortilla chips and a nice, cold margarita.  How easy is that?!


It’s pretty delicious but it’s hard to beat the original, the atmosphere, the staff and the great time that’s to be had at Momocho.

The next time you’re in Cleveland (it does rock you know) stop by and see my friend Cristy.  Her smiling happy face will be your passport to a fantastic evening!  Viva Momocho!!

http://momocho.com/