Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mexi Grits

A quick meal made with things I had in my pantry and fridge. You can even make it in advance so meal time is even easier!

Cheesy Grits:
1 cup instant grits
2 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup shredded cheddar or jack cheese
Mexican Topping:
1 16oz can refried beans
1/4 cup water
1 small zucchini
1/2 red bell pepper
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
2 chicken breasts cooked and shredded
1 16oz can of green enchilada sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar or jack cheese
Canola or vegetable oil

-Boil water and broth. Add salt and grits and stir until grits become thick (about 5 minutes).
-Pour grits into the bottom of a greased 9x13 casserole dish, and smooth out to cover the bottom of the dish.
-Dice zucchini, onion, and pepper into 1/2" pieces and mince garlic. Cook in 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat until vegetables are tender (about 10 minutes).
-Remove veggies from pan and place in a large bowl. Mix with chicken and set aside.
-In the same pan you cooked the veggies, add the beans and 1/4 cup of water.
-Cook beans until the water is mixed in and they are creamy in consistency.
-Spread beans over grits.
-Add chicken and veggies on top of beans in an even layer.
-Cover the casserole with your enchilada sauce and sprinkle grated cheese on top.
-Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until the dish is hot and bubbly.
-Sprinkle with chopped scallions and cilantro before serving. Garnish individual servings with avocados and/or sour cream.

-As always, you can substitute the chicken for additional veggies to make it vegetarian.
-OR, instead of chicken try the dish with pulled pork, ground beef or chorizo.
-You can use red enchilada sauce too (I just prefer the green!)
-Quick cooking polenta can be switched out for the grits.
-Don't like grits or polenta? Try the dish with rice, just make the beans your first layer then the rice and then the chicken/veggies.
-Try it wish refried black beans too! Yum!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


This hearty one dish meal is perfect for when the weather gets cold! Packed with healthful vegetables and the tang of balsamic vinegar, you can't go wrong. Make extra because the leftovers are equally as yummy!
6 sausages (I used turkey)
1 pound sweet potatoes
1/2 pound baby carrots
1/2 yellow or red bell pepper
1 large onion
2 cups button mushrooms, cut in half
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 tsp Italian herbs
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup grape tomatoes

-Peel the potatoes, wash them and cut each potato in 1"-2" pieces.
-Peel and cut onion into 8 wedges.
-Slice bell pepper into strips.
-Place potatoes, onion, mushrooms and onion in a big roasting tray.
-In a bowl, combine the oil with the Italian herbs, grated or chopped garlic, and chicken broth.
-Pour mixture over veggies and toss to coat.
-Season with salt and pepper.
-Cover the tray with aluminum foil and pop it in a preheated oven. Bake at 450F for 40 minutes.
-While veggies are in the oven, cook sausages on the stove top until outside is browned (They don't have to be fully cooked because you will cook them in the oven also). Cut sausages in half.
-After 40 minutes, or whenever the potatoes and vegetables are fork tender,  place the sausages and tomatoes amongst the veggies.
-Pour the balsamic vinegar over meat and veggies.
-Place the tray back in the oven, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
-Flip over the sausages and ladle some of the juices at the bottom  all over the food.
-Put it back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes, until everything is nice and brown.

This recipe was adapted from Kayotic Kitchen's Lazy Sunday Casserole dish. It was SO good I can't wait to try out more of her recipes!

-More veggies to add or swap out: zucchini, fennel, red skinned potatoes, parsnips, or butternut squash. Just make sure to cut all your veggies into similar sized pieces so they all cook at the same rate!
-Instead of Italian seasoning use dried, chopped rosemary.
-Use sweet, spicy, chicken, pork, turkey or beef sausage depending on your preferences!

Saturday, January 19, 2013


A quick weeknight 'Refrigerator' Mac & Cheese- aka- Whatever was in the fridge, throw it in! The cheese sauce was made with brie, jack cheese, cream cheese, cheddar and parmesan. Add a squirt of dijon and a splash of white wine and heavy cream. I also added some chopped spinach, roasted red peppers and shredded chicken. Sprinkle some breadcrumbs on top, and bake until hot and bubbly. Yum!

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Perfect for a side dish or an appetizer and a great way to eat some healthy greens. Be sure to serve with a side of toasted bread to sop up they yummy garlic sauce!
15 oz can of cannellini beans or navy beans
1 small head of fresh escarole
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
red pepper flakes (add at your liking- more or less if you like it spicy)
extra virgin olive oil

-Separate and wash the head of escarole.
-Roughly chop the escarole and set aside.
-In a large pot over medium low heat, warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil.
-Add garlic and cook for 5 minutes until soft, but not browned!
-Add the can of beans (do not drain/rinse!) to the pot and stir.
-Add chicken broth and chopped escarole to the pot.
-Mix contents and cover with a tight fitting lid.
-Let cook until greens are wilted and tender and mixture is creamy, about 10-15 minutes.
-Add in nutmeg, cheese, and red pepper flakes and stir until combined.

This recipe was inspired by a delicious Beans and Greens appetizer I used out to eat at a nearby Italian restaurant.

-Frozen spinach tastes just as yummy when used in place of escarole.
-Want to add more creaminess to the dish? Toss in a few tablespoons of cream cheese or a few triangles of laughing cow cheese.
-If you wish to drain/rinse the beans (for less sodium) just add a few more splashes of broth and some cream cheese/laughing cow cheese triangles.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pumpkin Molasses Cookies

I have a new [slight] obsession with ginger molasses cookies these days. The best I've had is from the Bracken Mountain Bakery in Brevard, NC. So, I'm trying out a bunch of these type spice cookies to see if I can come up with something comparable since I don't make it to NC too often! Thought these sounded tasty with the addition of pumpkin, and well- they were! They are soft, light and fluffy and full of flavor.
2 1/3 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp black pepper
8 Tbs butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup molasses
2/3 cup pumpkin puree
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

-Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and pepper.
-Beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy.
-Add the brown sugar, molasses, and pumpkin puree and beat for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
-Add the egg and beat for 1 minute more.
-Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until the flour and spices disappear. (You will have a very soft dough!)
- Divide the dough in half and wrap each piece in plastic wrap.
-Freeze for at least 30 minutes. (The dough is sticky, so the longer time it can chill the easier it is to work with.)
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Put the white sugar in a small bowl.
-Working with one packet of dough at a time, roll the dough into walnut sized balls.
-Roll the balls in the sugar.
-Place balls on greased cookie sheets and press down on the cookies until they are about 1/2 inch thick.
-Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 8-9 minutes, or until the top feels set to the touch.
-Remove baking sheets from the oven.
-Let cookies cool 5 minutes on the sheets before transferring them to a cooling rack.
-Repeat with second batch of dough.

Recipe derived from

-Have some pumpkin puree left? Use it with one of these recipes: Pumpkin Pancakes, Enchiladas or Pumpkin Turkey Chili.
-I suggest keeping the cookies stored in an air-tight container in the fridge to keep them fresh.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pineapple Upside Down Cake- With RUM!

In honor of my grandfather's 87th birthday, I channeled the baker inside and undertook the task of making a homemade Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Holy Cow- it was DELICIOUS! I'm sure the rum had something to do with it... I definitely suggest giving this old school recipe a try if you are looking for a dessert with presentation and taste value. Even my "I'm not a dessert guy" father cut himself a second slice!
For the topping:
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon rum
6 slices of pineapple (use fresh or canned)
Maraschino cherries
5 whole pecans

For the Cake:
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoon rum
1 teaspoon vanilla

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees; position a rack in the center of the oven.
-Melt butter in a large bowl in the microwave.
-Add brown sugar and 1 tablespoon rum to the butter; stir until mixed well.
-Pour butter mixture into a greased 9" round cake pan.
-Arrange the pineapple slices evenly in the pan; place a cherry in the center of each one and fill the center and any other open space with either additional pineapple pieces or pecans.
To make the cake:
-In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt and whisk to combine.
-In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until fluffy; scrape into a clean bowl.
-Using the same large mixing bowl (that you beat the egg whites in), beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick and creamy.
-Add the rum and vanilla extract and mix well.
-Add the flour mixture and beat until well combined.
-Using a spatula, fold in the egg whites until just mixed in.
-Pour the batter over the fruit in the cake pan and smooth to the edges.
-Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the cake is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
-Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.
-Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake.
-Place a serving plate directly on top of the pan and invert carefully allowing the cake to slide out of the pan.

This recipe was found at and is indeed the best pineapple upside down cake I've ever tasted!

-You can certainly leave out the nuts and cherries if you so desire (or don't have any on hand).
-Don't allow the cake to cook for more than 10 minutes. It needs to be slight warm still to come out of the cake pan easily!
-If you don't want to use rum, you can substitute pineapple juice instead. But I suggest using the rum... it adds a great depth of flavor!
-Serve with some vanilla ice cream or a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Grilled Chicken and Veggies

Nothing like grilling out in January! A summer dinner favorite enjoyed on this not so wintry, 60 degree Ohio evening.

For the vegetables- (I sliced up zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, mushrooms, and a red onion) coat in olive oil and sprinkle on some grill seasoning and add a splash or 2 of balsamic vinegar. Grill over medium heat on foil until just tender, flipping occasionally. Add a diced up, ripe avocado for added creaminess. Delicious every single time!
Check out Catherine's Favorite Chicken for a simple combo of seasonings to sprinkle on your chicken before it hits the grill.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Pumpkin and Chicken Enchiladas

A tasty Mexican dish with a pumpkin-sauce twist! 
1 small sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 small zucchini, thinly sliced
4 oz. can diced green chiles
2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 cup chicken broth
2 tbs. taco seasoning
Dash of salt & pepper
12 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded jack cheese
1/4 cup diced scallions
canola oil

-In a saucepan, warm1 1/2 tbs. oil over medium heat, then add the onion and zucchini slices.
-Saute until brown and caramelized, about 7-10 minutes.
-Add the chicken, chiles, and 1 cup cheese to the pan, stirring it to mix with the caramelized veggies, then remove from the heat.
-In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, broth, taco seasoning, salt and pepper.
-Spoon chicken mixture into the tortilla's, rolling them tightly and placing in a 9x13 baking dish.
-Once all enchiladas have been rolled, spread the pumpkin sauce over the top.
-Sprinkle generously with remaining cheese, then bake at 425 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or just until the cheese begins to brown and get bubbly.
-Garnish with diced scallions before serving.

Recipe adapted from's Chicken Enchiladas with Pumpkin Cream Sauce.

-Make it vegetarian by removing chicken and adding more veggies like spinach, summer squash, and black beans.
-Add cayenne pepper to the pumpkin sauce to make it spicy!
-Make sure you buy a can of pure pumpkin puree, not pumpkin pie filling!