One-Pot Pizza Pasta Bake

I may not be a parent yet, but I am a teacher, so back-to-school in our house is a zero-to-sixty time of year with school days, school nights, and marching season! The concept of the one-pot meal is one that, as a busy teacher and lazy pan washer, I absolutely adore. They’re very user-friendly, especially for the multi-tasker. You fix the meal, cover the pot, and go do something else while dinner cooks…in my case, it’s usually laundry or a cleaning chore of some sort.

I came across a round-up of 15 Best Back-To-School Recipes over at Damn Delicious. If you haven’t come across this blog yet, click to it! It’s full of amazing recipes that are easy to cook and true to the blog title. This pasta bake caught my eye and I knew I had to try it. Including prep time it took about 30 minutes. I adapted it based upon the meat and vegetables that I had on hand.

One-Pot Pizza Pasta Bake

adapted from Damn Delicious

  •  1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz ground turkey
  • 1 medium zucchini; peeled, sliced and quartered
  • 4 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup pepperoni, divided – slice regular-sized pepperoni into quarters, or use the mini ones
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp oregano, divided
  • 1 tsp dried basil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder, divided
  • 8 oz dry rotini pasta
  • sat & pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the ground turkey and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes; break it up as you go so it gets nice and crumbly. Add the zucchini, mushrooms, and half of the oregano, basil and garlic powder. Cook for two minutes until the zucchini starts to get some color. Add half of pepperoni and cook until heated through.
  3. Preheat the oven to broil.
  4. To the skillet add the tomato sauce, pasta, and the rest of the oregano, basil and garlic powder. Pour in 1 1/2 cups water and season with salt and pepper; stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil; then cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked, about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese, remaining pepperoni, and parsley on top. Place into the heated oven and cook until the cheese has melted and browns a little (about 2 minutes). Serve immediately!

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This was a hit in our house and my husband said it was ‘really good’, too – so I call that an absolute win. This may sound kind of weird – but this tasted a lot like Hamburger Helper but without all the weird additives in it. It look about as long to prepare, included vegetables and was, well, real food. This dish was good on it’s own, but can be served with a green salad if you want, too. You can also customize the vegetables you use,  especially if you like several toppings on your pizza. You can also adapt this to be meatless but omitting the pepperoni and turkey, and adding more veggies.

It’s a basic dish that’s packed with flavor – and only uses one pot. What’s not to love? Enjoy 🙂

Harissa Ravioli

I have a fun one for you today!

We’re now combining the concept of ‘eating less meat’ and ‘Lent’. I’ve been searching high and low for a few new meatless meals that aren’t all about grains and dairy (which we all know hold the first several spots in my list of favorite foods) and may be relative nice on the waistline.

I came across this one in a cookbook that had been circulating around the bakery; lately we’ve been passing around a cookbook or two to get inspired in our own kitchens. I came across this recipe and was hooked because of its use of harissa.

Harissa is a spicy chili pepper paste that is THE condiment of Tunisia. It has a very rich, spicy flavor and is used for meats, vegetables, dips…you name it. There are several different variations of harissa; all of which vary based upon household preferences and regions. Our version that I found at Spice Merchants (I loooooove this store) includes caraway, cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and dried chiles. It has such a neat flavor profile and after trying this recipe, I cannot wait to use it again (I’m thinking roasted veggies).

 

Harissa Ravioli

adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day

  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp harissa paste/powder
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12-oz cheese ravioli (fresh or frozen) (tortellini works too)
  • 8 oz broccoli florets, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces (broccolini/rapini works too)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (almonds or pepitas work, too)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 5 or 6 kalamata olives, sliced
  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. While it’s heating up, prepare the harissa mixture: Take the smashed garlic clove and sprinkle the salt over it. Then, chop into a paste. Transfer this to a small bowl and stir in the lemon juice, harissa, and olive oil. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  2. Once the water is boiling, add the ravioli. Cook until they float to the top of the water (usually 1-2 minutes is all it takes). About 30 seconds before the ravioli has finished cooking, add the broccoli to the pot. Boil for about 30 seconds to a minute, then remove from heat.
  3. Put the ravioli and broccoli in a large mixing bowl. Add the harissa mixutre, nuts, cheese and olives. Toss to combine and serve.

This meal from start to finish took approximately 20 minutes to make and was absolutely perfect for a weeknight meal and a Lenten Friday, at that. I used spinach & cheese ravioli; you can use whatever kind you wish, however. The leftovers heated up very well for my hubby and it really was a nice change from our usual meal line-up as of late. The harissa does have a kick, so if you are a bit wary of the heat, use less sauce when you mix up the ravioli for serving.  It’s simple, flavorful and relatively healthy, too.

If you see harissa at your local store, pick some up and give it a try. It’s a really neat condiment that adds depth, heat and flavor to what are otherwise ordinary ingredients. As I said before, I’m thinking that roasted veggies with harissa will be next 🙂

Chicken Cacciatore

Okay – I feel better now 🙂 I made a dish that didn’t fail; granted it’s a tried and true recipe and the previous ones were ones that I hadn’t tried before. Even so, I feel like less of a failure and I feel that it’s relatively post-worthy.

red pot Look at one of my pretty Christmas gifts from my husband! A gorgeous red Le Creuset dutch oven. I’m so in love with it. I’ve been wanting one for quite a while and he remembered…I wasn’t picky about the color, but I do like red things for my kitchen so again, he remembered!

I’m not very well-versed in cookware like this, so I still have a lot to learn in terms of what I can and cannot cook in it. I figure “low and slow” is a good mantra for this pot – soups, stews, and dishes that need at least a good 30-45 minutes to meld together. I am proud of the fact, however, that I remembered that it’s a coated cast iron pot – meaning that you need to wear oven mitts whenever dealing with it or else you risk some major burns.  This is also a step in the right direction for me, as I’m that person that will carelessly forget when a pan has been in the oven, and will accidentally grab it with my bare hands when I’m ready to serve it (my husband will vouch for me on this one).

Anyways – it’s winter time. It’s pep band season. We’re working a lot, and to save a little bit of cash, we need dinners that are going to last us a while so we’re not stopping at the store for a quick meal or even *ugh* fast food. Dinners that are still delicious and (relatively) healthy, but still stick to the ribs to keep us warm. Know what I mean? I thought about something to cook this week with my new pot, and immediately thought of chicken cacciatore!

Chicken cacciatore is “hunter-style” chicken; chicken with mushrooms, onion, and tomatoes. It’s a hearty dish that fills you up, goes a long way and tastes amazing. The recipe that I based my dish off of, however, doesn’t include mushrooms! I think I’ll have to make a note in my cookbook for next time.

Chicken Cacciatore

adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

  • 4 boneless chicken thighs, cut in half
  • 2 boneless chicken breasts, quartered (or 4-6 tenders, halved)
  • salt and pepper (just a sprinkle of each)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped (based on your preference)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 ( 28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth/stock
  • 3 tbsp drained capers
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  1. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper. On a plate or in a shallow bowl, dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat.
  2. In a large heavy saute pan or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and saute just until they’re just brown (~5 minutes). Do not crowd the pan; feel free to brown the chicken in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and wait two minutes. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute until the onion softens. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the wine and simmer until the liquid reduced by half (~3-5 minutes). Add the entire can of diced tomatoes (including the juice), broth, capers and oregano. Stir to combine.
  5. Return the chicken to the pan and coat it in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 20 minutes, until all the chicken is cooked through and the flavors have melded together.
  6. Serve hot, sprinkled with basil and with pasta if desired.

cacciatore

As I said in the recipe, you can serve with or without pasta. This makes a lot of sauce and leftovers reheat really well. I had mine with a piece of baguette from work on the side to pick up any last sauce that was leftover in the dish.

I cannot recommend this recipe enough this time of year – it really warms you up and sticks to your ribs!  Delicious Italian food in the dead of winter. How can you go wrong!? Enjoy 🙂

 

Risotto with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Risotto is one of my most favorite comfort foods; one I only discovered about four years ago. I’ve finally started to broaden my horizons and make versions other than my absolute favorite recipe. This one was on my meal plan for a few weeks, as I had some spinach and sun-dried tomatoes that I really needed to use up. But because risotto takes a lot of time – it’s not a meal that you can quickly cook – I kept bumping it further and further back. Finally, I found a little bit of free time to make this version of risotto – I’m very pleased with the result, and I also feel that Liz will be especially relieved that I finally made it!

Risotto with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

adapted from My Favourite Pastime

  •  6-8 cups stock/broth
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 cups spinach, washed & shredded
  • 6 sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped (mine were vacuum sealed, not in oil)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
  • salt & pepper
  1. In a saucepan, heat the olive oil & butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the garlic and rice and stir for about 2 minutes until it just starts to brown a little.
  3. Add the wine and reduce the heat. Stir constantly until the wine has been absorbed.
  4. Add a cup of your stock to the rice, and stir. When the rice has fully absorbed the liqud, add more stock – a little at a time.
  5. One all the stick has been absorbed, your right should be nice and soft, with a creamy texture. Add the spinach and tomatoes. Add salt & pepper to taste, then add the parmesan cheese. Toss into the rice, and serve hot.

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It’s a colorful meal, isn’t it?

I will absolutely make this again, especially once CSA season rolls around again and I have plenty of fresh chard & spinach. If you don’t like parmesan, you can always change the cheese to mozzarella – I think that would taste just as great. I also wonder what this would taste like with a little lemon zest. I ended up taking the leftovers for lunch; I honestly don’t mind leftover risotto, unlike someone else I know 😉

In the meantime, if you’re expecting yet another winter storm, I highly suggest putting this on the docket for dinner. It’s comforting, flavorful and warms you right up!

 

Chicken Piccata

Snowed in.

Snowed in.

Love the view from our front window this morning? Northern Michigan was blessed with a Winter Storm Warning at 10pm last night; between 6am yesterday and 6am this morning, The Weather Channel says we received a foot of snow. I’m about ready to send our plow guy flowers for the great job they’ve done with our driveway this year.

With all the cold, snowy weather we’ve been having lately, I’ve found myself really craving some citrusy, summery, ‘light’-tasting dishes for dinner (minus this past week when I came down with a wicked chest cold and didn’t really want to eat anything except noodle soup).

As you probably know already, I’m a tad obsessed with the free-range, organic chicken breast that is available at our local organic co-op, so that explains all the chicken dishes we’ve been consuming (and you’ve been reading about) lately. I feel I can truly taste a difference…but then again, maybe that’s just the cold meds talking.

This dish – a favorite from the Giada cookbook that I have – hit the spot dead-on.

Chicken Piccata

adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cut into halves
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2-3 tbsp flour, for coating
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (I supplemented with the bottled since I ran out of lemons!)
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained
  • dried parsley
  1. In a gallon-sized freezer bag, add the chicken breasts and the flour. Toss around to coat the chicken. Shake off the excess flour.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil; wait about 1-2 minutes for the oil to heat up.
  3. To the skillet, add the chicken. When it starts to brown, turn each piece over. Remove and set aside on a bowl or plate.
  4. Turn the heat down to low and add the lemon juice, stock, and capers. Bring the mixture to a boil, deglazing the pan as you go. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes.
  5. Return the chicken breast back to the skillet and simmer for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove from heat and sprinkle with parsley.

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As you can see, we served this with some fresh asparagus, orecchiette pasta, and garlic bread. Overall it is a very easy dish to make – I made it on a Monday evening after going for a run at the gym! It really satisfied that light, citrusy taste that I was looking for.

You can easily substitute veal or pork, if that’s what you’d rather use. I think, however, I’m going to stick with my fancypants organic chicken for now 🙂

Valentine’s Day Fondue

I suppose I should let you in on a little secret as to one of our favorite “traditions” that we have, just the two of us.

For our Valentine’s Day celebration, we like to fondue. We’ll clear off the coffee table, set out bowls of dippable fruit, vegetables, & proteins…and have ourselves a wonderful & relaxing meal while watching movies. We received a fondue pot (the kind you can use Sterno with) as a wedding shower gift – it came with both a glass pot and a metal pot. The glass one broke…so a few years ago my sister gave us a new, electric one for Christmas.

Electric fondue pots are where it’s at. Easy to heat, easy to clean, easy easy EASY! 🙂

This year one of the movies we watched was West Side Story. I’ve seen this movie so many times, yet Mike never had. It was really hilarious to watch this with him and hear all of his commentary. As you can imagine, it’s those comments that often people just keep to themselves 🙂 The best part is that my husband truthfully does appreciate musical theater – he just likes to make comments to make me laugh!

We never did get to the chocolate fondue – as yours truly fell asleep (I ended up coming down with a chest cold the next day, also in true Valentine’s Day tradition – I’m sick almost every year on VDay. How’s that for romance?) We ended up cooking up cheese fondue as an appetizer, and broth fondue for the main course. Chocolate will just have to wait until this cough subsides…

Cheese Fondue

adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

  • 2 dashes garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup beer (we used homebrewed Saison or spitless Chicha, can’t recall)
  • 8 oz sharp cheddar cheese, diced into cubes
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • hot sauce, to taste
  • Worcestershire sauce, to taste
  1. Turn on your fondue pot.
  2. Combine first four ingredients and stir until the cheese is melted.
  3. Add hot sauce & worcestershire sauce (to taste) and stir to combine.
  4. Serve with your favorite dippables!

Behold the power of cheese.

Alright, so maybe it’s a little odd that we drank red wine with our beer-y cheese? Oh well. It was awesome anyway. We ate our cheese fondue with some crusty French bread from Breadworks. I also bought some broccoli & an apple to slice, but in the end we decided to keep this course a bit simple.

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For our next course, we opted for a broth fondue to be a bit healthier. I had a quart of mushroom broth lurking in my pantry. I supplemented it with some chicken broth as we cooked along, and threw in a clove of garlic.

Our favorite dippables (cookables?) for our broth fondue were some chicken, beef, mushrooms (my favorite), red onion, and potato. Next time I may copy what Kristin did on Iowa Girl Eats  and try some tots or french fries. Bell pepper and zucchini can taste pretty good, too. Truthfully, whatever you feel like cooking up in the pot – try it. You won’t be disappointed (and if you are, just don’t make it next time).

Oh – I can’t forget about the sauces! We made a simple soy sauce/teriyaki/ginger/sriracha one, a horseradish-mayo sauce, some honey mustard, and some barbecue sauce. All were delicious – I made them up on the fly, but next time I think I’ll do a bit more internet research so I can make (and memorize!) some winners.

Fondue is great any time, and for any families whose members can be trusted with pointy objects. 😉

Do you ever fondue? What are your favorite things to fondue?

Buffalo Chili

This post is long overdue – I made this recipe over a month ago and just never got around to blogging about it. But trust me, it will be worth the wait.

One of the guys my husband works with owns a bison farm – Jordan Valley Bison. Random, right? Well, a lot of people up here do farming, canning, or hunting of some sort – so I suppose in retrospect it’s not too strange. My husband & I are not hunters by any means, but I did start canning last summer; we also have a vegetable garden once again this year which I hope will be much more plentiful than last year’s.

We purchased some bison at our local farmer’s market and my husband made sure to say hello to his friend’s wife, as his friend was working at the foundry that morning. She had lots of great suggestions for how to use the bison that we were purchasing – and gave us probably 3 or 4 different recipes. We chose this one! 🙂

Buffalo Chili – adapted from Jordan Valley Bison

  • 1 lb bison burger
  • 1 sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 peppers (red, yellow, orange or green)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dark chili powder (I used powdered smoked adobo chiles)
  • 2 tbsp mild chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 46 oz. tomato juice (low sodium)
  • 28 oz stewed tomatoes (chopped fine)
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 can light red kidney beans (drained & washed)
  • 1 can dark red kidney beants (drained & washed)
  • 1 can black beans (drained & washed)
  1. In a large stockpot, carmelize the onion & celery with a good splash of olive oil.
  2. Add the bison burger on top, flipping/mixing once, and breaking into smaller 1-inch chunks.
  3. Add garlic & peppers. Stir to combine.
  4. Add remaining ingredients & simmer for two hours on medium heat. Enjoy!
The photo is unappealing, but the flavor is delicious!

The photo is unappealing, but the flavor is delicious!

If you are not adverse to trying bison/buffalo, I highly recommend it. It has a bit of a gamier taste than beef, but is actually very lean. As you know, locally raised is definitely the way to go on this one 🙂

We made this dish on a cold, chilly Sunday – and it really hit the spot! I liked how many vegetables were incorporated into this chili. It also made a lot of leftovers, which were great the next day or two for Mike’s lunches.

It’s really neat to be able to really KNOW where your food is coming from and to know the people who are taking care of food for you. The amount of local products (and the quality!) available up here in northern Michigan still astounds me – and I love it.