Crispy Garlic Parmesan Green Beans!

Summer sides kill winter sides!! A few fresh, healthy vegetables tossed in a beautiful olive oil, sprinkled with garlic, salt and pepper, and grilled to perfection definitely beat winter sweet potato casseroles any day. Of course now I’m totally craving a yummy sweet potato casserole with a toasted marshmallow topping! See how that works? Ha!

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My number one vegetable side is probably brussels sprouts, followed by asparagus, then zucchini and squash…I always forget about green beans. No offense to green beans, until I see them smiling up at me from their bin I always forget! So here is my favorite way to prepare them!

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Garlic Parmesan Green Beans
Ingredients:
2 cups fresh green beans
1/4 olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt/pepper
1/4 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Rinse, dry and snap off stringy ends of green beans.
Put beans on an aluminum foil covered cookie sheet
Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.
Shake and push to a single layer.
Sprinkle with chopped garlic.
Salt/pepper to taste.
Cook at 425 degree oven for 10 minutes. Flip and cook another 3-5 minutes until they are brown and crispy.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan cheese.

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Enjoy!
Ciao!

The Best Ever Mexican Lasagna!

Truth. I have tried many different “Mexican Lasagnas” throughout the years. Mostly using leftovers. They ended up being a delicious undressed taco with layers, but honestly never blew my socks off!

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So this time I had an idea. Why not add some yummy Brown Sugar Sriracha Glazed Bacon and see what happens. What happened was like the best thing ever! So instead of a very good cumin, chili powder seasoned garlic onion ground beef layer-kind of boring- we have crunchy bites of sweet and spicy glazed bacon throughout the meat later! Yikes! So good!

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Like most lasagnas, the leftovers the next night were even better!

Here is the recipe…

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Mexican Lasagna
Makes one 9X13 lasagna

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. olive oil for meat and 2 tbsp. for casserole dish
1 lb. ground beef
1/2 lb. Brown Sugar Sriracha Glazed Bacon (see recipe below)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp. cumin
2 tbsp. chili powder
red pepper flakes- for added heat
salt/pepper to taste
1 15 oz. can refried beans
1 cup corn kernels, frozen and steamed, canned, or fresh cut off the cob
1 cup Salsa Mojo Verde /your favorite taco sauce
1 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes
10 flour tortillas
2 cups shredded chihuahua cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
cilantro, garnish

For the Brown Sugar Sriracha Glazed Bacon
Ingredients:
1/2 lb. thick sliced bacon
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. sriracha sauce

Directions:
Heat olive oil in a medium pan.

Toss onions and garlic with oil and cook for 3 minutes.

Add ground beef and cook until no longer pink, drain any excess fat.

Place meat in a mixing bowl.

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Meanwhile, to cook the Brown Sugar Sriracha Glazed Bacon…
Preheat oven 350 degrees.

Place bacon strips in a single layer on an aluminum foil covered cookie sheet.

Sprinkle dark brown sugar.

In a top to bottom motion, squeeze a small stream of Sriracha sauce in zig zags.

Bake 13-18 mins. until glazed and crispy. (Remember, the sugars on the bacon will “crisp up” as they cool. Don’t think it will be crunchy when you remove it from the oven. I know it’s hard to wait, but don’t burn your mouth it will be very hot!!)

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When cool, chop bacon into 1/4 inch pieces and mix into ground beef bowl.

Combine refried beans and corn in a separate bowl.

Combine stewed tomatoes, salt/pepper, and red pepper flakes in a bowl.

Combine cheese in a bowl.

Cut tortilla shells, 2 cuts into triangles.

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Layer lasgna-starting by coating casserole dish with olive oil, then covering by overlapping tortillas until covered.

Next, add a cheese layer, meat, tomatoes, beans and corn, salsa mojo verde or taco sauce, followed by another layer of tortilla shells.

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End with tortillas and cheese on top.

Bake 15-25 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Sprinkle with chopped cilantro.

Enjoy!
Ciao!

Lemon Herb Garlic Shrimp!

Everytime I prepare this shrimp dish I have people begging me for the recipe and I feel so guilty because it is so easy!

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The lemon herb garlic shrimp skewers are perfect for a summer night when served with a cold salad, or don’t skewer the shrimp and toss them with your favorite long pasta like angel hair.

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The technique in the recipe is the fastest – coating the shrimp with olive oil, rolling in herbs, grilling shrimp, and squeezing lemon. If there is time, the herbs can be infused in the garlic before covering the shrimp. This creates a stronger herb flavor. Either are delicious, it just depends how much time you have!

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Lemon Herb Garlic Shrimp!

Ingredients:
1 lb. medium shrimp, cleaned and deveined
1 lemon, sliced into wedges
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 thyme springs, leaves removed and finely chopped
1 tbsp. Basil, finely chopped
1 tbsp. Rosemary, finely chopped
(Cayenne pepper optional to add heat)
Salt/Pepper to taste
Wood skewers

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Directions:
In a small bowl mix herbs and garlic and cover a plate.
Skewer shrimp.
Drizzle with olive oil and either brush or use clean fingers to coat.
Dip into herbs on a plate.
Set skewers on a parchment covered cookie sheet or prepare to grill.
Grill a few minutes per side until shrimp turn pink.
Broil in oven until shrimp turn pink, turning once.
Squeeze half of a lemon over cooked skewers and serve!

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Enjoy!
Ciao!

Whiskey Brown Sugar Pulled Chicken Sliders!


Summer food is the best! Grilling anything definitely feels like summer. Dishes paired with cold salads make refreshing dinners on the deck! The issue ends up being prep time. I end up making fast meals because we are swimming or playing outside too long.

For the whiskey brown sugar chicken, I used the slow cooker. A home chef’s (busy mom’s) secret weapon for these sorts of dishes, the slow cooker is perfect for fall-off-the-bone meats with infused flavors, not to mention I feel safe leaving the house while it is cooking away!

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You think I am the Parmesan Princess? Well, I am the sweet and savory queen! Seriously, I cannot get enough- so it is no surprise that every ingredient is perfectly paired with its counterpart. The whiskey is paired with the sweet brown sugar. The alcohol cooks off and you are left with the hint of almost a smoky flavor. Garlic and sweet tomato paste; worcestershire sauce and spicy dijon mustard, etc. Topped with sliced sweet beets, artichoke hearts and a slice of savory aged gouda cheese. The cheese’s flavors of toasted caramel and hints of salt totally make these sliders!

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Whiskey Brown Sugar Pulled Chicken Sliders
Ingredients:
3/4 cup whiskey
1 tbsp. tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. spicy dijon mustard
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 lbs. bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 lb. Beemster Classic Aged Gouda Cheese
8 oz. artichoke hearts
8 oz. sliced beets
slider buns

 

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Directions:
Pour whiskey into slow cooker.
Whisk in tomato paste, garlic, worcestershire, dijon mustard, and brown sugar until well mixed and sugar is semi-dissolved.
Add chicken to slow cooker. Chicken should not be completely submerged in liquid but wading in it.
Cook on high 6-8 hours, until chicken is cooked through and falls off the bone.
Remove thighs from slow cooker, let cool for 15-20 minutes, and shred.
Add shredded chicken back into liquid and stir well.
Slice artichoke hearts, and beets.
Scoop chicken onto a bun, add one layer of gouda cheese, and top with artichokes and beets.

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Enjoy!
Ciao!

Sausage Gnocchi With Arugula!

Potato pillows that melt in your mouth, homemade Italian deliciousness…yep, gnocchi.  Instead of a traditional tomato sauce, I love to try new flavor combinations with gnocchi because they are a blank slate!  There are plenty of delicious fresh gnocchi, or frozen fresh options if you don’t make your own. I like to freeze my gnocchi, ravioli, and cavatelli, for a rainy day.  It is my opinion that these types of homemade pasta cook better from frozen.  This meal took under 20 minutes!  Win!
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I received the most perfect pork sausage from the meat CSA at Big Horn Ranch and tossed it with the gnocchi, spicy oregano, red pepper flakes, and the crunch bite of arugula. Dressed with olive oil, a little goes a long way, coating each bite.  The sausage had very little fat, but sorry fat haters, fat is flavor. A reasonable amount is fine! The kids loooooved this recipe and had seconds and thirds.  I happened to have arugula handy, feel free to sub kale or spinach!

 

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Sausage Gnocchi With Arugula

Ingredients:
1 lb. pork sausage, Italian sausage out of casing
1 lb. potato gnocchi, homemade or frozen
2 tbsp. garlic olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
salt/pepper to taste
2 tbsp. crushed red pepper
1 tbsp. oregano
fresh gated parmesan cheese
Directions:
Cook sausage and garlic in a large pan while chopping and crumbling with a spoon, until browned.
Drain fat. (I was lucky and had no more than 1/2 tsp. of fat so I left it in for flavor.
Meanwhile, boil a pot of water add salt and cook gnocchi until they float.
Drain, save 2 tbsp. pasta water.
Add olive oil, sausage, and arugula to the large pan and toss to coat.
Salt/pepper to taste.
Sprinkle with oregano and crushed red pepper.
Top with fresh grated parmesan cheese.
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Enjoy!
Ciao!

Corn & Chicken Chowder!

Most of the time my menus are planned around the weather. Chilly, rainy Spring days call for a warm and comforting dinner.

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The days activities determine the intricacy and time commitment of the prep. There is nothing wrong with taking a few shortcuts, like buying a rotisserie chicken, for example. Hey, we are cooking at home, the number one step towards a healthier lifestyle. It is possible to cook delicious meals for the family. It is impossible to add time to our day.

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Sweet corn has just started popping up in my local grocery stores- really early I know, but I have ben totally in the mood, especially after the 78 degree summer teaser days we have had recently. Many of my favorite dishes require fresh frozen or sweet corn cut off the cob. I am a huge salty sweet fan, so anytime corn is roasted with garlic, butter, and salty spices, I cannot get enough. My latest find is a dry sriracha seasoning. I’ve been sprinkling it on everything!

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A corn chowder is a perfect example of this mix of flavors. Comforting, with just enough kick to be different, this recipe is a family favorite and my kid’s eat seconds!
Here is the recipe…

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Corn & Chicken Chowder
Ingredients:
2 tbsp. butter
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. flour
1-1/2 lbs. chicken breast, roasted (or rotisserie chicken breast shredded)
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
2 – 10 oz. bag frozen corn or 6 ears of corn cut off the cob
1 14 oz. can cream style corn
salt/pepper to taste
chopped green onions /parsley for garnish
Optional- 3 tbsp. sriracha, dried sriracha, cayenne pepper to taste

Directions:

Melt butter in a soup pot.
Add onions and cook until softened.
Add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
Stir in flour until thickens.
Whisk in chicken stock bring to a boil and simmer 15-20 minutes.
Add chicken and corn and cook low to medium heat 10 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and top with garnish.

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Enjoy!
Ciao!

Roasted Corn and Black Beans!

Happy Cinco de Mayo! For some of us, Mexican night is a weekly occurrence, taco Tuesday for example, but for others it is rare.
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In my house, Mexican is an important weekday supper staple. An easy dinner filled with fresh vegetables, and the kids ask for seconds? Everybody wins!
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I change up my menu based on taco type- beef, chicken, pork- or I add some different side dishes. The dishes include some combination of beans and rice, roasted corn, and homemade chunky salsas. Roasting the corn creates a depth of flavor. I especially love corn on the cob done this way- roasted and seasoned with butter, chili powder, cayenne pepper, topped with sour cream and sprinkled with garlic and cilantro. It is absolutely delicious!

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Here is the recipe for my roasted corn and black beans dish…

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Roasted Corn and Black Beans
Ingredients:
2 cups corn, sliced off the cob or frozen.
2 tbsp. Olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 cup black beans, cleaned and soaked
1 tsp. Chili powder
1/2 tsp. Cumin
1/2 tsp. Cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. Chopped cilantro
Salt/pepper to taste

Ingredients:
Heat olive oil in a medium pan.
Add corn, garlic and onions.
Cook until corn is browned and garlic and onions are softened.
Add beans, salt/pepper, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Mix well.
Remove from heat and toss with cilantro.
Serve warm or cold.

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Enjoy!
Ciao!

Moroccan Beef and Lentils!

High protein low carbs…because it is almost bathing suit season and seriously delish! Moroccan flavors literally spice up ingredients like vegetables, crushed tomatoes, ground beef, and lentils. You can easily create a sliding heat scale by adding more or less cayenne pepper and crushed red pepper flakes.

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I was introduced to these flavors and can’t stop. Lately, I have been incorporating them into quick and easy dinners that take the meal to the next level.

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I cooked this dish in a pan and simmered/softened the lentils in a medium saucepan. Start to finish about 20 minutes -my lentils did cook fast- prep to table. The colors and age of lentils definitely effect their cooking time.
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The key to this dish is great quality meat and I was lucky enough to have some ground beef from Big Horn Ranch . Big Horn Ranch offers a meat CSA!

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Grass fed, natural meat delivered right to your door. Farmer Mike Wright is a grass expert as well as a certified nutrient management consultant. Get to know where your meat comes from, what your meat eats, and what meat from natural sources tastes like… Check it out!

I love getting mail…especially food mail, with hand written notes and instructions! Ha!

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Enough about the beautiful beef, let’s cook it up!

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Here is the recipe…

 

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Moroccan Beef and Lentils
Ingredients:
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tiny onion or 1/2small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup dry lentils
2 cups water
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 lemon, squeeze
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
red pepper flakes (garnish)
parsley or cilantro (garnish)
salt/pepper

Tahini Sauce
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp. tahini
1 garlic clove, crushed
salt/pepper to taste

Directions:
Rinse lentils and pick out any sediment, skins, or rocks.
Add lentils and 2 cups water to a saucepan and cook on medium heat approx. 20 minutes until lentils soften. (get to a simmer with little bubbles and keep there never boiling or creating rapid bubbling.
Cook beef in a pan until browned. If there is fat drain, remove meat and put in a bowl.
Drain lentils.
Add olive oil onion and garlic to the beef pan.
Cook until softened and add beef, lentils, and spices.
Remove from heat, plate, and top with tahini sauce, parsley, red pepper flakes.
Serve with a roasted vegetable.

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Enjoy!
Ciao!

Spinach and Goat Cheese Stuffed Meatballs!

Spring is here! So on a recent grocery run I picked up some spinach and crumbled goat cheese. You know, to make my favorite Springy salads- spinach, fruit, pecans, topped with goat cheese and a drizzle of olive oil or a fruity balsamic. So today I made…stuffed meatballs. Ha!image

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At least I used the spinach and goat cheese, right?

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I only had one lonely pound of ground beef. This might be the reason I decided to stuff. I honestly love a beef/pork combination with loads of garlic and fresh grated parm. The unique thing about meatballs is that they are a blank canvas. Adding Greek flavors, Mexican flavors, Bacon and Cheese, takes the Italian meatball on a fun vacation!

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Stuffing the meatballs adds an element of surprise. My kids took their first bites and my Brady, age 7, says, “Hey mommy, what did you hide in here.” As he’s chewing spinach happily I just smiled. Bella said, “Is this goat cheese?” Ummm, my Bella is almost 5 and hates goat cheese- unless it’s hidden really well. Apparently, the meat heavy garlic, and spinach wasn’t enough camouflage. Nope, she reached for a spoon and scooped out the goat cheese and ate the rest of her meatball. She told me I shouldn’t post this one.

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Here is the recipe…

Spinach and Goat Cheese Stuffed Meatballs

Ingredients:
1 lb. ground beef (use your favorite meatball meat ground turkey, ground veal, or a mix!)
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 egg
salt/pepper
1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/3 cup spinach, finely chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, mix meat, garlic, breadcrumbs, egg, salt and pepper.
Using your clean hands, mix well until all ingredients are incorporated.
Section off 1/2 inch clump of meat mixture and flatten.
Place one tablespoon goat cheese and one tablespoon of spinach on patty.
Roll up the sides and top with an equal amount of meat and form into a ball.
Put meatballs on a cookie sheet one inch apart and bake 12-18 minutes until desired doneness.
Top with finely chopped spinach and crumbled goat cheese and serve.

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Enjoy!
Ciao!

The Best Grilled Cheese and Gourmet Roasted Tomato Soup!

With two kids, a food blog, a foodpreneur business, and co-hosting Between The Eats, grilled cheese is a welcomed “easy meal”. I like to add amazing flavors to the base of the cheese being used- sweet grilled onions, rich sundried tomatoes in oil, buttery toast, and the zing of a spicy mustard!

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The absolutely necessary accompanying soup often gets completely ignored! Here is an amazing roasted tomato soup recipe. With bold, herbed flavors, it pairs beautifully with a gourmet grilled cheese.

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Here are the recipes..

SunDried Tomato and Onion Havarti Grilled Cheese

Ingredients:

4 slices havarti cheese
1/2 onion sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp. fresh grated parmesan cheese
6-8 sun dried tomatoes in oil
2 slices of your favorite bread
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. spicy brown mustard

Directions:

Add butter, garlic and onions to a hot pan and cook until lightly browned.
Remove onions from pan and butter slices of bread.
Grill bread until desired toastedness.
Layer cheese slices, parmesan cheese, tomatoes, and onions on grilled bread.
Allow cheese to melt on low heat.
Top with mustard.

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Roasted Tomato Soup

Ingredients:

1/4 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 -32 oz. cans whole San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes in oil+ some for garnish
1 cup heavy cream
1 quart chicken stock
2 tbsp. Butter
2 tbsp. Rosemary
Salt/pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375.
Add olive oil, garlic and onions to a hot pan.
Cook until softened.
Spread tomatoes, garlic and onions, and leftover olive oil in a single layer on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with a lip.
Roast at 375 for 20-30 minutes until tomatoes are caramelized.
Remove from oven and place in a stock pot.
Add chicken stock and butter.
Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced.
Puree in a blender until smooth and return to the pot (or use an immersion blender).
Add heavy cream and mix well.
Salt and pepper to taste.
If too thick, add more stock.
Garnish with sundried tomatoes, a dash of rosemary, and serve hot!

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Enjoy!
Ciao!