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!

 

Colcannon

I don’t know about you, but I’m officially ready for all things green, and it’s not even St. Patrick’s Day anymore. I’ve bookmarked so many festive, spring-y recipes in the past three days alone that I may have to spend extra time in my kitchen once our water troubles are over, just so I can get into the spirit. I’m quite tired of the winter blues.

This year for St. Patrick’s Day, we decided to bake our corned beef brisket rather than boil with vegetables. In previous years, we always end up with a ton of leftover cabbage, and not a lot of the really flavorful ‘stuff’.  Plus, since we’re grown-ups and had to work, neither of us could stay home and drink cook all day. Ah, those were the days…

…anyway, this was the recipe that I made to go along with our corned beef. We needed something tasty, yet easy to whip up – you all know how Mondays are! What’s even better is that I didn’t have to buy any cabbage – I had a half-head of it in my freezer, leftover from our CSA. It was the perfect amount needed to whip up this recipe for colcannon.

Colcannon

adapted from Barefeet in the Kitchen

  • 1-2 tbsp bacon bits
  • 2 lbs small red potatoes, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 head cabbage
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • Kosher salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp butter
  1. In a pot, bring the potatoes to a boil. Continue until the potatoes are fork tender (around 15-20 minutes).
  2. Around ten minutes into the potato boil, heat the oil in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until lightly browned.
  3. Add the cabbage and periodically toss as it cooks down. Add some salt & pepper as you go. Add the bacon bits and toss to combine. At this point, make sure to check the potatoes – if they are nowhere near done, turn off the cabbage so that it does not burn.
  4. Once the potatoes are finished cooking, drain and return them back to the pot. Add the milk, butter and a dash of salt and pepper; mash away!
  5. Add the cabbage mixture to the potatoes and mix well.
Staying classy on a paper plate. I blame the pipes.

Staying classy on a paper plate. I blame the pipes.

I never really thought about putting bacon into colcannon until I found the original recipe for this post. It really adds a little something extra to the dish (and probably to my waistline, too). Obviously, you are more than welcome to omit the bacon if you so choose. I used bacon bits because that’s what I had in my refrigerator, and I didn’t really feel it was necessary to really grease up the skillet any more than I needed to (especially with all the plumbing issues we’ve been having).

This dish is delicious, easy on the wallet, and definitely not the worst thing you could consume on St. Patrick’s Day.

Acorn Squash Soup

I just did a calculation and there’s only 4 more months until warm weather – March, April, May, June! Granted, February just started, but some of us up here are snowed in and frozen solid…

…anyway, the squash that we received during our CSA this past summer has lasted a relatively long time. In fact, I still have some laying around and it needs to be used up. This soup that I made utilized the acorn squash that I hadn’t used yet. This really hit the spot on a cold snowy day when basketball & pep band were cancelled. 

You need to do one of two things with this recipe: either 1) roast the squash ahead of time, or 2) have a good 2+ hours to make dinner. Trust me on this one.

Acorn Squash Soup

Adapted from Guy Fieri

  • 3 whole acorn squash
  • 6 shallots (3 whole, 3 diced)
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 cups stock (I used chicken)
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper (white pepper is so…weird)
  • 1 tsp sage (dry)
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. DO THIS STEP AHEAD OF TIME IF NEEDED: Preheat the oven to 350*. Cut the squash in half on the equator and remove the seeds with a spoon. Cut a flat spot on each end so the squash will lay flat. Line a baking sheet with foil and on, lay the squash, cut side up. To 3 of the halves, add a whole shallot. To the other 3 add 2 cloves of garlic. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and drizzle with 2 tbsp of the oil. Roast in the oven until very tender; approximately 1 hour. Remove from oven & when cool enough to touch, scoop the squash from the skin, keeping the roasted shallots & garlic with the scooped squash.
  2. In a large Dutch oven, heat 1 tbsp of oil and the butter over medium-high heat. Add the raw, diced shallots & saute until they begin to carmelize.
  3. Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup of the stock and stir to remove any bits of shallot off of the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat and add the squash, roasted shallots & roasted garlic. Stir,then add in the remaining stock. Stir to combine, then puree with a stick blender.
  4. Add in the cayenne, white pepper, and herbs. Stir to combine, then add the cream and Worcestershire. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until it begins to simmer.
  5. Once you have a slow simmer going, use the stick blender again to puree the soup until it is nice and smooth. Stir in the parmesan and reduce the heat to low.

You can serve the soup topped with black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of Parmesan, or even some Tabasco sauce, like we did:

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We had some fresh bread with ours…mmm!

While making this soup, I finally realized why I haven’t used up all of my squash yet – I really don’t like all the scooping & scraping that comes with its preparation. If only there were an easier way…I really do like how squash is such a palette for flavors, but I really don’t like all the work that goes into it.

Sadly, I have 4 more squashes to go…

Make sure that if you can, get some fresh bread to eat with this soup! I picked up a loaf of Breadworks Italian and it was really fantastic for getting the last spoonfuls out of the bowl. The older I get, the more I realize that soup can truly be a comfort food.

Polenta Tamale Pie & The Freezer

For the past month or so, I’ve had this tube of polenta sitting in my pantry. I like polenta a lot – and have seen quite a few recipes that include it – but just never got around to it. I really liked the idea of using it with a Mexican-flavored dish, so off to the internet I went.

I came back with polenta tamale pie. Mike is a huge fan of tamales, so I figured this would be a great dish to try. There are so many recipes out there for this, so I ended up reading through a few and just going for it, so to speak – the two links I’ve linked to gave me the best directions based on what I had sitting in my pantry & freezer.

Polenta Tamale Pie

Inspired by Bon Appetit & Eat, Live, Run

  • 1 tube polenta – sliced into 1/4″-thick rounds
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2/3 lb ground beef
  • 1 can refried beans with green chiles
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • a dash of cayenne pepper
  • salsa
  • 4 oz shredded Mexican-blend or sharp cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*.
  2. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion; cook for a few minutes until the onions start to get a little soft.
  3. Add the garlic and the ground beef at the same time – keep an eye on the garlic so that it doesn’t burn. Once the ground beef has been cooked through, turn off the heat and drain the mixture in a colander in the sink.
  4. In a bowl, mix the ground beef with the refried beans. Add the spcies and salsa, and mix to combine.
  5. In a baking dish, layer about half of the polenta rounds to cover the bottom. Then pour your beef & bean mixture on top of that. Lay the second half of the polenta rounds over the mixture, and cover with cheese.
  6. Cover and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the cover, and bake for 15 more minutes (a total of 30 minutes total). Serve with sour cream and cilantro, and a side of yellow rice, if desired.

Sadly, I don’t have a picture of my tamale pie, because my husband someone had dug right into the pie before I could snap a picture…and this is one of those dishes that doesn’t look very appetizing once someone has started digging into it. But, you’re going to have to trust me on this one. It’s delicious!

You can easily, easily make this a vegetarian (or maybe even vegan if you omit the cheese?) dish by making your mixture with corn, tomatoes, and pinto or black beans, instead of ground beef and refried beans. More than likely, this is what I’m going to do next time I make this dish. You really wouldn’t “miss” the meat, persay. You could even do ground turkey instead of beef, to lighten it up – I used beef because I have some in my freezer, and wanted to use some up before transferring it to the new chest freezer!!!

I’ve had my chest freezer for 24 hours and I’m already in love. The freezer in our kitchen refrigerator is terrible – it defrosts ice cubes – and the freezer in the garage is even worse, especially with the frigid weather we’ve been having. It was an affordable necessity. I also purchased a small FoodSaver to see if that will help me freeze extra meat and vegetables better, especially when CSA season starts and I want to preserve vegetables. So far, the 2 lbs of ground beef I vacuum-packed & froze have held up well. I’m sold 😉

So, in a nutshell, that’s what’s been up over here in my kitchen. Tamale pie, and a new freezer. All while it’s freezing cold outside.

Shallot, Spinach and Goat Cheese Pasta

Greetings! I have to say, thank you to all of you who have come visited the blog while I’ve been a little, um, preoccupied with work. Granted, we had two snow days last week (one of which was on my birthday so it was the best day ever), but I definitely hit the ground running when I came back from Christmas break with pep band and exam preparations. Mike was in charge of cooking a few times as my ETA from school was after 8:00pm. It’s so nice to not have to worry about cooking dinner some nights – as much as I love to do it!

You know it’s an awesome recipe when your husband texts you that the dinner he made (and the recipe that I picked) was “really good”. 😉 It was a nice change from all the visits to restaurant dining, epic grilled cheese, fantastic family dinners, and alcohol consumed during our visit to Cleveland. Even better, it’s a meatless meal.

Shallot, Spinach & Goat Cheese Pasta

adapted from How Sweet It Is

  • 8 oz pasta (we used fusilli)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • salt & crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 12 oz (1 package) fresh spinach
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 log (~4 oz) goat cheese, crumbled
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
  2. Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over low heat and add the oil. Add the shallots & salt. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Try not to let the shallots get too dark.
  3. Add the brown sugar and cook for about 5 more minutes. By this time, the water should be boiling and the pasta should go in.
  4. Add the spinach to the skillet and stir constantly until the spinach wilts down.
  5. In a small saucepan (we’re using 3 burners, what?), over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk constantly until the butter starts to brown. As soon as you see brown bits start to appear, turn off the heat and remove the saucepan from the stove. Whisk for another 15-20 seconds. Whisk in the minced garlic and keep mixing for another 30 seconds.
  6. Drain the pasta and add it to the large skillet – where the spinach & shallots are. Toss to combine, then add the garlic brown butter and toss to coat. Add the goat cheese and stir; sprinkle pasta with crushed red pepper and serve immediately.
Like my plastic fork? Classy teacher right here.

Like my plastic fork? Classy teacher right here.

I absolutely loved this dish. Granted, I didn’t get to eat it right away since I was at school, but the leftovers were fantastic. The original recipe says that it should take about 30 minutes to make, but I can’t vouch for it since I didn’t make it, and I doubt that my husband kept track 😉 One of the ingredients that surprised me the most was the brown sugar; it added just enough sweetness without it being too sweet. It really complimented the shallots and the brown butter nicely. Again, this is a meatless dish – but truthfully, it didn’t need any whatsoever. There are so many flavors going on that the dish kept my attention from first to last bite.

This is an absolutely wonderful dish with which to kick off 2014.

Shared at Frugal by Choice, Cheap By Necessity’s “Homemade Mondays”

Reader Request: Pumpkin Enchiladas

Good things happen to those who finally have time to cook, and end up cooking something awesome!

I took a day off on Friday and lo & behold, did nothing work-related the entire day. Thus I now feel recharged, refreshed, and ready to get some major work done this week for our holiday concerts coming up on December 11 & 12. It’s amazing what a day off can do for the soul.

With the turn of the weather heading towards winter (and who would believe that, as it was storming at 60* out today), I’m finding myself getting anxious about vegetarian meals again, so the making of this recipe is accidentally perfect timing. Since I finally had some major free time to myself on Friday, I decided to finally tackle a reader’s request that I had been sitting on for a few weeks. A friend of mine from our community garden “nominated” me to try a recipe out and “report back” how it went, and if it was any good. 

PUMPKIN ENCHILADAS.

At first I was like, “ew, what?!” All I could immediately think of was Mexican flavor fused with pumpkin pie spice – bleh. But then, I clicked on the link & saw that it was a) a crockpot recipe, and b) did not use pumpkin pie spice at all. Challenge accepted, Cyndi 🙂

Pumpkin Enchiladas

adapted from Eat Local Grown

Into your crockpot/slow cooker, add the following & stir:

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
  • 2 cups pureed pumpkin
  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 16-oz bag frozen corn
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 dashes of cayenne pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup water or broth

Cook on low for 6-8 hours (the original recipe says high, but my slow cooker is kinda evil & will burn if left on high that long). When you get home or start getting a rumbly in your tumbly, move on to the next part of the recipe.

Preheat the oven to 375*. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray – depending on the number you want to make, use either 8×8 or 9×13.

To make the enchiladas, fill a tortilla with some filling, plus a sprinkle of cheese if you so wish (in my house, that is a necessity). If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, try some salsa-flavored cream cheese in there (we had it lying around so I figured why not?!) Wrap up the enchilada and place it seam-side-down in the pan. Repeat until the pan is full. Top the enchiladas with enchilada sauce. I had a taste for tomatillos so I used the green chile sauce made by Frontera. Sprinkle with some cheese (if you’d like) and bake until the sauce is nice and bubbly, and the cheese is melted.

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I honestly don’t know what excited me more as I dug into these enchiladas – that I now had another use for the stash of pumpkins in my dining room, I had a new vegetarian recipe that didn’t suck, that someone requested a post for my blog and it actually worked – maybe a bit of all of those.

I topped my enchiladas with sour cream & some habanero hot sauce – because I’m awesome like that and love the heat. You could easily add chicken or beef to these enchiladas if you really want some, but truthfully, the meat wasn’t missed. These had great flavor and were very filling. Since we’re big fans of leftovers in our house (for use in lunches), I made a big pan of them and so far they’ve reheated quite well.

So, thank you, Cyndi, for the challenge! I hope you enjoy the results and that you’ll enjoy making/eating these enchiladas as much as I did.

P.S. If any of my lovely readers out there have a recipe for me to try out on here, let me know anytime!

Crew Picnic Pepper Relish

Happy Halloween! 🙂

Tonight we’re having some friends over to help pass out candy (they barely get trick-or-treaters at their house), play a game or two, & have some pizza. We are having a very rainy day today up here and I’m a little thankful that I don’t have a little one to take around door-to-door tonight. 🙂

Today’s recipe is a bit on the side of “Throwback Thursday” as it takes me back to fond memories from high school. Back then, I was very active in not only the music department, but the drama department. I loved to participate on the stage, but as I got older I started to get more hands-on with stage production. The group of people I met while on stage crew are still many of my friends to date, even though it’s been 10 years since I graduated high school (whoa.).

dianne

Diiiiannnne!

As a high school teacher now, I completely understand what our fearless leader & brave supervisor-adult Dianne meant when she said we were giving her grey hair. I could write, and write, and write about all the hilarity that ensued during those hours I spent after school. But, some stories are best kept amongst “the few, the proud, the crew”. 😉 One of our many traditions was the “crew barbecue” (or as our fearless leader, Dianne called it, the crew picnic). We’d all come in on a Saturday (we’d normally just meet after school) and work on sets, painting, etc., all while having a grand old time goofing around and pulling shenanigans. For lunch, we would fire up a grill and grill out some hambugers. Dianne would bring this pepper relish that she made herself during the summer.

hamburgers

Grilling at a crew barbecue

While I’m not sure if I was the only kid that ate it, what I do know is that for at least three of crew barbecues (we had one for every show, even when it was snowing), I would end up coming home with a jar of pepper relish and proceed to eat with sandwiches, crackers, hambugers, hotdogs, you name it.

I’ve seen Dianne several times since I’ve graduated high school and I’ve actually even met up with her twice since I’ve moved to northern Michigan…it’s a small world after all, and she has a family cabin about a half hour away from us and come up here every once in a while. We have plenty more to catch up on other than stage crew and pepper relish (she had a lot of fun touring our house and giving her two cents on what the original floorplan probably was – I tell ya she is one smart woman).

This past summer, with the exhorbitant amount of peppers in my fridge (about 4-5 different varieties and 30+ to count) I needed to do something with them. And I had a major taste for some pepper relish. So, I got to work doing some research to see what I could come up with on my own…and I came up with something pretty close. It’s a perfect balance of sweet and savory, with a bit of a bite, because I used some jalapenos & serranos.

Pepper Relish

Inspired by BonAppetit, Diana Rattray, and of course, Dianne

  • 20 peppers – you can adjust the ratios to your pepper preference*
  • 1/2 large sweet onion
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt

* I used 5 jalapenos, 6 green/purple peppers, and 9 sweet peppers (some were the small, sweet peppers)

  1. Heat a medium pot over medium-high heat. Wash all of your peppers, chop them up, and add them to the pot. Chop your onion and add it in as well.
  2. Cook down the peppers until they are nice and soft – about an hour. Do not let them burn; turn down the heat as necessary. Let cool when finished (they will cook down).
  3. Use a food processor to chop the pepper mixture down to a relish-sized texture. One all the mixture has been processed, put it back into the pot and add the vinegar, sugar and salt.
  4. Boil the peppers for 15 minutes until everything is evenly distributed.
  5. Store in a glass jar. This made a pint and a half for me.

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So far I’ve managed to eat this on pulled pork, sloppy joes, and turkey sandwiches. I just can’t get enough! It is awesome. I’m not sure how long this will keep in the fridge, but I’m pretty sure that it will last me for a little while. If you make more than one batch, the processing time is either 10 or 15 minutes – honestly, I don’t remember what I read in the planning stages.

All I can currently think about is how this would also be fantastic with cream cheese and crackers. Mmmm.

I hope you all enjoy your evening tonight, be it with your young’ins, just passing out candy, watching scary movies (not my thing much to my husband’s dismay), playing games, or just relaxing 🙂

 

Mushroom Marsala with Onion and Thyme

Some of my favorite meals to cook are Italian dishes. Maybe it’s because I’m Italian? Maybe it’s because it’s a significant part of the cuisine that I grew up on. Maybe because I just like to cook it? Either way…I love to cook Italian dishes, and I’m not afraid to admit it.

If you’re like me, then you should wander over to the Proud Italian Cook. She’s got a lot of great recipes that not only taste amazing, but look absolutely delicious. She makes Italian cooking very user-friendly. When I came across this recipe, I immediately bookmarked it in my reader – and couldn’t wait to make it. It’s a vegetarian twist on one of my favorites – chicken marsala.

Mushroom Marsala with Onion & Thyme

adapted from The Proud Italian Cook

  • 12-16 oz mushrooms, quartered
  • 12 oz rigatoni
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 3/4 cup marsala wine
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • fresh thyme
  • olive oil, salt & pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400*. Start the water on the stove to boil your pasta. Once the water is boiling, add your pasta!
  2. Once the oven is to temperature, place the mushrooms & onion onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper. Bake for about 10 minutes til everything is caramelized.
  3. While the vegetables caramelize and the pasta boils, heat a saucepan over medium-high heat. Warm the olive oil & butter, then add the garlic. Once the garlic is nice and golden, add the wine, and thyme (‘needles’ from 2-3 springs).
  4. Let the wine reduce for several minutes, then whisk in the milk. Reduce the heat and let the sauce slowly thicken. (it will take a little while)
  5. When the sauce has thickened, add the caramelized mushrooms & onions. Add your cooked pasta & stir to coat.

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As you can see, I made a few edits to the original recipe – why? Because I didn’t read the recipe thoroughly enough. Always read your recipe thoroughly enough! I completely didn’t see the memo about mascarpone cheese. As far as the cipollini onions go, I wanted to use some onion that I had on hand. I did also use more pasta than what was asked for, because I wanted some leftovers for Mike to take to work. The sauce made this possible.

Hands down, I loved this dish. I served it with a green salad & it was a delicious, filling meal. The leftovers are GONE, too, which means it really was a hit. 🙂 A perfect ‘comfort food’ meal on a chilly fall evening.

Baked Broccoli Mac ‘n Cheese

With fall and cooler temperatures comes one big request in our dinner rotation: comfort food. I was raised on Kraft macaroni & cheese, so I don’t mind eating it at all. My husband, though, prefers the real thing 2:1, so I need to make it from scratch every once in a while (in his defense, he will oblige to eat it my way; Kraft macaroni & cheese with hot dogs).

Gina over at Skinnytaste does a fantastic job (as I’m sure many of you know) with lightening up recipes & still making them taste good. She truly doesn’t disappoint with this one, either. I used broccoli from my CSA, which really added something fresh to this dish. Being that we want to eat more vegetables, but have our mac ‘n cheese and eat it too…this was a great remedy and compromise.

Baked Broccoli Mac ‘n Cheese

adapted from Skinnytaste

  • 12 oz ‘healthy’ elbow pasta (Ronzoli Smart Taste, whole wheat, etc.)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups skim milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth (low sodium, or veggie broth works too!)
  • 1 8-oz bag reduced-fat sharp cheddar
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 12 oz fresh broccoli florets
  • grated parmesan, bread crumbs, & paprika, for topping
  1. In a large pot, cook the pasta & broccoli together until the pasta is al dente (I love this. It saves you a pot!). Meanwhile, spray a casserole dish with some cooking spray & preheat the oven to 375.
  2. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion & cook on low for about 2 minutes or so.
  3. Add the flour & combine with the butter until a nice roux forms and the mixture is a nice gold color. Add the milk and broth, and whisk; turn the heat up to medium-high until it starts to boil.
  4. Stir consistently until the sauce becomes nice and thick – but do not let it boil over! Add salt & pepper, then stir & remove from heat.
  5. Add the cheese & mix well until the cheese is melted & the mixture is even thicker. Add more salt & pepper if needed. Add the macaroni & broccoli, and mix well.
  6. Pour the mac & cheese into the baking dish, and sprinkle parmesan and breadcrumps on top. Then, add a dash of paprika, too.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, til the top gets a little golden brown.
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Baked healthy deliciousness.

I really liked out this turned out. I know that I didn’t miss the full-fat version very much; this dish had great flavor and I didn’t feel very guilty about eating it. It’s always nice to feel a little indulgent when you’re trying to watch what you eat – especially when all you want is some comfort food.

Rice and Bean Enchiladas

This dish was a great ‘teamwork’ dish. I had Open House at one of my schools this week, and wouldn’t be getting back home til about 7:30/8:00. Getting dinner started at that point in the evening doesn’t work very well for my husband who needs to get to bed around 9:30.  Since I knew what I wanted to eat (enchiladas), I decided to prep the dinner halfway so that he could finish making it once he was home from work and done biking. He wasn’t stuck waiting for me to finish dinner, and there was something ready for me to eat when I got home.

Rice & Bean Enchiladas

As prepared by The Spicy Simmer

  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • chili powder
  • cumin
  • cilantro (fresh or dried, whatever you have in the fridge)
  • paprika
  • salt & pepper
  • optional: cayenne powder
  • optional: shredded Mexican blend cheese (or whatever you have in the fridge )
  • tortillas
  • Enchilada Sauce
  • optional: green onions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375* and spray a large baking pan (9×13 is best) with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the rice, beans & corn together. Add the spices and about 1/4 cup of the cheese, if you’d like. Mix well so that all the ingredients are well-distributed.
  3. Assemble the enchiladas – spoon some of the filling into the tortilla & roll up. Place each one seam-side down into the pan.
  4. Coat the enchiladas with the enchilada sauce.  Optional: Top with a few sprinkles of cheese & some green onions.
  5. Cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly (and the cheese is melted).

For prepping this dish the night before, I made the filling & stored it in the refrigerator, with the enchilada sauce in a seperate container, ready to go. Once Mike got home from work, he got everything out of the fridge and finished cooking. I rolled into the driveway around 8:00 that night and very hungry – everything was done, Mike was relaxing with a game of Madden, and all was well.

I love teamwork 🙂