Caramelized Onion, Baby Kale and Goat Cheese Pizza

baby kale pizza

Hooray!! It’s another weird pizza! I’ve had some pretty fabulous pizzas on the blog. I absolutely love experimenting with pizzas, mostly because it’s so easy it’s stupid, but also because a store-bought pizza crust is the PERFECT blank canvas to try interesting flavor combinations. I would argue that any of your favorite flavor combos would make a good pizza. Are you a fan of truffles, gruyere cheese and garlic? Throw it on a pizza! What about a cheeseburger with mustard, lettuce and special sauce? Think In-N-Out. Why couldn’t that be a pizza? Oh my goodness, In-N-Out Burger Pizza coming soon to a blog near you. Wow, I’m excited!

This little pizza pie really took BJ by surprise. I took some of my favorites…caramelized onions, goat cheese and pine nuts…and added a few newcomers to create a perfect bite. Fresh baby kale and a sweet balsamic drizzle give it enough green to ease your guilt over the cheese and buttery onions, and enough acid to cut through the richness. De-lish. This would be a fabulous holiday party appetizer. Cut it into rectangles and call it a flat bread. People will “oooh” and “ahhhh” and think you’re a secret celebrity chef or something. If you want to serve it as a quick lunch or dinner, throw some bacon into the mix and call it day. Protein, veggies, dairy. Done.

slices of baby kale pizza

Happy cooking!

Caramelized Onion, Goat Cheese and Baby Kale Pizza

1 lb. mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 whole wheat Boboli pizza crust
2 large red onions, sliced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 oz baby kale
5 oz goat cheese, crumbled
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Balsamic Drizzle

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Heat the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions and slowly caramelize, approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring balsamic vinegar to a simmer in a small saucepan. Stir in honey and salt and pepper. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until thickened. Remove from heat.
  3. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the pizza crust on a pizza stone or cookie sheet, and top with mozzarella cheese, caramelized onions, goat cheese crumbles and red pepper flakes. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cheese in melted.
  4. Remove from the oven and top with baby kale, pine nuts and drizzle with the balsamic drizzle. Slice and serve.

Caramelized onion and baby kale pizza with goat cheese

Brown Butter Cheesy Potatoes and Brussels

brown butter brussels and potatoes

My favorite winter-time pasta dish is Orecchiette with Brown Butter Brussel Sprouts. It is the BEST. The flavors of  sautéed leek, shredded brussels, nutty pine nuts and rich browned butter meld together to create a dish that literally makes me happy from the inside out. I could eat it every night, no problem. Honestly, I would probably even talk myself into thinking it’s healthy because of the brussels sprouts. But it’s not. No, chalk this one up as a loss in the healthy-eating department, as you generally can with anything that calls for a stick of butter. It’s ok though. ‘Tis the season to indulge!

I planned to make my all-time favorite pasta dish last week but when I got home from the grocery store I realized I hadn’t put any pasta in my basket. UGH. How does a meal planner leave things off her list? Good grief. I scoured the pantry looking for any kind of pasta I could find…I saw a box of no-boil lasagna noodles and briefly considered what that would come out like. Eh. Then I saw the potatoes on the counter. Tiny, beautiful, golden potatoes that practically begged to be doused in brown butter and all of the other brussels “fixins”. Sure thing teeny potato. Today is your lucky day.

So the dish went the same way it always does…leeks and brussels sprouts sautéed in olive oil and a splash of white wine, seasoned liberally with salt and pepper. Butter, (much less than a stick as I wasn’t making a butter sauce for pasta, but a light glistening for the spuds0, slowly browning in a saucepan. The only difference in prep was instead of boiling orecchiette pasta I roasted the potatoes in a 375 degree oven for approximately 50 minutes. When the potatoes were cooked to perfection I tossed the whole thing together and took a fork straight to the serving dish. Ahhhhhhh.

Just in time for Thanksgiving, I’ve found a new, delicious side dish. I mean let’s be real, this combo screams Turkey Day. If you’re looking for something a little different this Thanksgiving, yet still a timeless classic, this should be your go-to. It’s definitely a new favorite in my house!

Happy cooking– and Happy Thanksgiving!

brussels and potatoes

Brown Butter Cheesy Brussels and Potatoes

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 lb. small yukon gold potatoes, halved or quartered to the same approx. size
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium to large leek, quartered and chopped
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 cups Brussels sprouts, shredded
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss the potatoes with extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for approximately 45 to 50 minutes, or until cooked.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat and continue to cook, swirling occasionally, until butter turns golden brown, Skim foam from top, and remove from heat. Pour into a bowl to stop the cooking, leaving any burned sediment behind; set aside.
  3. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and leek and cook for 2 minutes. Add the brussels sprouts and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add a splash of white wine and deglaze the pan. Simmer until the wine is mostly absorbed. Stir in the potatoes and pine nuts. Pour browned butter over the mixture and combine. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Serve immediately.

Ten-Course Thanksgiving Day Meal Plan

thanksgiving

I love Thanksgiving!! Of course I do, as it’s a holiday almost completely centered around food. What’s not to love? Since I love it so very much I wanted to share with you my complete 10-course dinner meal plan complete with tried and true family recipes. Use the whole thing or use just a few recipes and incorporate them into your family’s tradition. I imagine you in the kitchen with someone very near and dear to you, chopping and mixing and cooking your heart out. Perfection. I’ll be with my mom and sister, talking through Chelsey’s wedding plans as we cook, our fellas hanging out with Kellan and Allie and watching football. Pure perfection, indeed. Enjoy the holiday, your loved ones and some really great food. Remember all you have to thankful for and simply take the time to soak in your many blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving!

1o-Course Dinner

Short Rib Chili

short rib chili

Halloween has come and gone and we somehow forgot to schedule our annual late-October chili night potluck. I guess that’s what happens when life is no longer just about a fun night with friends, but is completely centered around your kids’ Halloween costumes, scouting out the best neighborhood for trick-or-treating, and making it out to the Pumpkin Patch before the moment passes. Check, check, and check. Chili night? No check. Bummer.

To cheer myself up, I decided we would have our very own little chili night, Purvis party of four, three, make that two. Allie’s still on the bottle and Kellan is boycotting food, so BJ and I were left to ourselves with a giant pot of chili. It’s ok though, because this was gooooooood chili. I started with a friend’s already awesome recipe and made some minor changes and one MAJOR addition. Short ribs. Yep. So now we’re talking a three-meat chili made with ground beef, bacon, and beer-braised short ribs. Holy. Cow. Literally.

three meat chili

Take out your calendar, phone, day planner, or if you’re like my husband, a sticky note, and plan a day to make this chili. You’re going to want to get this on the books ASAP. Pick a day when you have nothing else to do because you’re going to want to babysit this one. Low and slow wins the chili race. Add ingredients, taste, add more, cook more, taste again. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Great chili is very much a personal preference, so I don’t want you  to limit yourself to my suggested measurements and time frames. Take these ingredients and methods and make them your own. If something sounds like too much heat to you, leave it out. If the idea of honey in your chili weirds you out, skip it. (Actually please don’t skip the honey, it really rounds the whole thing out. Unless you must. Sigh.) Let me know how your chili turns out, especially if you have a delicious addition that I absolutely MUST know about. Happy cooking!!

Short Rib Chili

For the short ribs:

3 lbs. beef short ribs
2 red onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
light Mexican beer
tablespoon oregano
salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons canola oil

  1. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat canola oil in a large braiser or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sear each side until brown, approximately 3 minutes per side. Remove the short ribs and add in onions and garlic. Cook until softened and beginning to brown.
  2. Add short ribs back to pan and pour in beer until the liquid comes a little over halfway up the sides of the meat. Bring to a boil and stir in oregano. Reduce heat to low and cover.
  3. Cook on low heat for 3 hours. After 3 hours remove the short ribs and pull the meat off the bone and shred. Try to keep the fat separate and discard.

For the chili:

1 lb. bacon
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 yellow onion, diced
4 shallots, diced
2 cans El Pato Mexican tomato sauce
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons chili powder, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon cumin, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons garlic powder, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon onion powder, plus more to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
3 poblano peppers
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1 tablespoon honey
large can light Mexican beer

  1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Bake the bacon for 25 to 35 minutes, or until crispy. Finely chop.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and shallots and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add ground beef and cook until crumbled, browned and cooked through.
  3. Reduce heat to medium low and add bacon, El Pato, beans, spices, and half of the can of beer. Stir, cover, and cook on low for 2 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, set the oven to HIGH Broil. Spray the poblano peppers with cooking spray and put on a baking sheet. Broil for 5 minutes or so per side, until skin is charred and blistering. When the entire pepper is charred, remove from the oven and place in a glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 15 minutes. Next, remove blackened skins. Seed and finely chop.
  5. After 2 hours, add the poblano peppers, yellow mustard and honey. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. If it needs tang, add more mustard. If it needs something to take some of the heat out, add more honey. If it needs thinning out, add more beer. Let your tastebuds be your guide.
  6. Lastly, add the short rib. Stir to combine and serve. You can top with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, or cornbread croutons. Enjoy!

short rib chili

Chicken BLT Mac and Cheese

Chicken BLT Pasta

More pasta to talk about, and this is a really good one. Anything with bacon usually is. And cheese. And leeks. Yum! This is the kind of thing I crave on a gloomy, rainy day, so it’s a good thing I live where it almost never rains or I would be eating this far too often. But guess what? Yesterday it rained! I had been promising Kellan for weeks months that the next time it rained we would go outside and play in it, so we did just that. We splashed around in puddles, got soaking wet, and pretty much had the best morning ever. So fun! If you see rain often, you might not think to go outside and enjoy it. But Kellan has been waiting for a while, (tough life, kid), so you would have thought he hit the lottery or something. I love the simple fun a three year old can have; if only all adults were so easily elated!

After about an hour of soggy fun, we came inside, dried off, and starting looking for lunch. Luckily, I had seen the forecast so this Chicken BLT Pasta was already made and hanging out in the fridge. I reheated the whole thing and we dug right in. Best move ever! This one-pot-wonder is pasta perfection. It smells so insane while you’re cooking it, and even better once the whole thing comes out of the screaming hot broiler. Of course, bacon can again take a lot of the credit for that, because there are few smells better than bacon. I’ll admit, sautéing leeks in bacon fat is an easy second. We have that here as well. Ahhhhhhh!!

blt-pasta-3

blt-pasta-zoomed

Put this on your list for the next time the weather takes a crappy turn. It will make the sun come out in your kitchen, for sure!

BLT Pasta with Arugula

Chicken BLT Mac and Cheese

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 lb. rigatoni pasta
2 leeks, cleaned and sliced
8 slices of bacon, chopped
3 T tomato paste
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1-2 cups pasta cooking water, reserved
2, 3 oz. bricks cream cheese
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

  1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Toss chopped bacon in and slowly render fat (cook!) until crispy. Remove the bacon from the pan using a slotted spoon. Reserve.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare pasta according to package directions and reserve 2 cups of the cooking liquid.
  3. Add leeks to the pan with the bacon fat and sauté until softened and beginning to caramelize. Add crushed red pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste for 1 minute. Stir in the cream cheese until melted. Stir in half of the grated parmesan, then the reserved pasta cooking water as needed to create a sauce.
  4. Add the pasta and shredded chicken to the sauce and toss until well coated. Stir in diced tomatoes and crispy bacon. Top with remaining parmesan cheese and bake for 7 to 8 minutes or until browned on top.
  5. Enjoy!

BLT Pasta

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Balsamic Mushroom and Leek Penne Pasta

Balsamic Mushroom and Leek Penne Pasta

Yay for Fall!!! Cooler weather, cuter outfits, and a wonderful excuse to start eating heartier dinners. I was all about the salad this summer, and honestly, I’ve been eating the Chopped Thai Salad at least 3 nights a week since I posted it on the blog. It was too hot to really cook this summer and I credit this salad with helping me bounce back to pre-baby weight. Yippee! But now it’s Fall and I’m my normal self, so I can start cooking and eating like my normal self. That means one word. Pasta. I’ve said it before, but pasta is without question my favorite thing to cook and eat. It’s so much more than spaghetti and meatballs. Pasta is a blank canvas for whatever you’re in the mood for. It can be light, rich, loaded with veggies, loaded with cheese, full of protein or completely meatless. It’s basically the best. I love that you can easily find whole-wheat AND gluten-free pastas in your regular grocery store, so it’s not too difficult to amp up the health factor when you want to. I really love whole-wheat pasta. It’s rich and nutty and holds up really well against bold flavors, and this Balsamic Mushroom and Leek Penne is a great example of that.

There are a lot of bold, fall flavors in this pasta. Mushrooms are a quintessential fall ingredient. I love their earthiness and the perfect umami they bring to things. Balsamic vinegar, heavy cream and parmesan cheese melt into an unbelievable sauce that soaks into the ridges of the penne pasta. Throw in some butter-caramlized leeks and shallots and you have yourself a delicious plate of autumnal comfort. If you’re anything like me, you’re breaking out the fall decor this weekend.  This pasta would go great with that! Grab yourself a pumpkin spice latte in the morning, grab a few pumpkins at the farmer’s market, plant some mums in the front yard, take a stroll through a park showcasing the changing leaves, burn a cinnamon candle or twelve, and whip this up as the finale. That sounds like one pretty amazing day to me. Let me know how it goes! 🙂

Happy fall y’all! …And happy cooking!

bite-of-pasta

Balsamic Mushroom and Leek Penne Pasta

16 oz. whole wheat penne pasta (can use regular if you prefer)
8 oz. crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 leek, trimmed, washed and sliced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Reserve.
2. Heat butter and olive oil over medium high heat until butter is melted. Add leeks and shallot and sauté until beginning to caramelize, about 4 minutes.
3. Add mushrooms and cook until softened, about 4 more minutes.
4. To the mushroom mixture, add balsamic vinegar and heavy cream. Stir until combine and simmer over low heat as it thickens, about 2 minutes.
5. Toss in parmesan cheese and stir. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Top with a sprinkle of chopped fresh parsley.
6. Serve.

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Dinner Parties, Good Friends and Olives

marinated olives appetizer

Dinner parties, good friends, and olives…just a few of my favorite things. I LOVE having people over for dinner. The more the merrier! It can be a challenge to wrangle all of my favorite people together at the same time, but the stars aligned this weekend and we had ten wonderful friends slated to eat dinner at our home.

When I’m cooking for a lot of people, I try to keep it simple. I like to choose a meal that can be mostly prepped and cooked in advance, and then reheated as my guests arrive. This works well for a lot of reasons, but my favorite reason is because my kitchen can be all cleaned up with no dishes in the sink when the party starts. Always a plus! When cooking for more than four to six people, it’s way too stressful to try to serve a meal that has to be cooked and served immediately. That’s even tough to do for a weekly family dinner, but throw in wanting to socialize with friends and keeping your kitchen  moderately presentable, and it’s nearly impossible.

So for our little dinner party I made my Mega Meaty Pizza Lasagna, caprese salad, arugula tossed with a quick vinaigrette, butter-charred crusty bread, marinated kalamata olives, and a simple ice cream dessert. With just a little planning, I was able to do almost all of it HOURS before the party started. So easy!

One of the surprises from the night was how much everyone liked the marinated olives. Really? The two-minute, simple, no-recipe-needed appetizer was the show stopper? Figures. So! Whenever something is REALLY easy and yet REALLY yummy, I always feel compelled to share it with you so you can wow your crowd as well. This is a great appetizer to make when you want to stretch a dollar yet make a big impact. Kalamata olives are marinated with minced rosemary, garlic and the zest of one lemon and one orange. That’s it! It’s great for holiday entertaining- especially at Christmas. I chuckle as I type that because ever since my best friend, Haley, told me that rosemary tastes like a Christmas tree, I always pair the herb with that holiday. I mean, she’s right after all, so why not go with it? (She also thinks goat cheese tastes like a farm, but I’m not yet willing to only serve the delicious cheese when I’m having a hoedown…which is never.)

bowl of marinated olives

This is a really great dinner party menu. It helps you, the host, have the best of both worlds- a delicious spread of food and plenty of time to enjoy your friends. And the olives…yum! Give them a try soon; even if you aren’t having a dinner party. They’re easy and inexpensive enough to make for absolutely no reason. Enjoy!

Happy cooking!

Marinated Olives

2 jars kalamata olives, pitted
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
zest of 1 lemon
zest of 1/2 large orange
drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil

Mix all of the above ingredients together. Cover with plastic wrap for an hour or up to overnight. Serve with crostini, crackers, or alone.

marinated kalamata olives

 

It’s Football Season- Time to eat Hot Wing Sliders!

Hot Wing Sliders

Summer is on its way out and it’s time for my favorite season of the year. I’m not talking about Fall, although Fall is pretty awesome in its own right. No, my favorite season has less to do with great weather and falling leaves, and more to do with an increase in trash talking, wearing a particular set of colors every Saturday, and eating some delicious, nerve-calming food. That’s right, it’s FOOTBALL SEASON!! We made it!

Football season is not great for eating healthy food, but when your nerves are shot watching your team go for it on 4th and inches during a tied ballgame, who wants to be dipping celery in some ranch? Not me, certainly not my husband, and I’m guessing not you, either. I laughed as I overheard BJ giving our little boy a heads up last weekend.

“Kellan, next weekend starts the beginning of staying inside all day, yelling at the TV, and eating lots of yummy food. Are you ready?” Kellan is. Granted, he will be over it in about ten minutes and I’ll be the bad mom who puts Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the iPad to babysit him for a few, but I’m confident he’ll still turn out alright.

BJ and his brothers always use football season as an excuse to ask their mom to make her famous hot wings. They are so good. They will set you on fire and have you begging for a gallon of milk to guzzle, but that’s the point of hot wings, isn’t it? The only problem is, it can be a drag to make hot wings. It is A LOT of work unless you have an indoor deep fryer. Masterbuilt makes some incredible fryers that make everything, including clean up, easier. If you love making hot wings, you need one!

But let’s say you don’t have an indoor fryer, you don’t want the mess and hassle of homemade hot wings, but you DO want the delicious, melt-your-face off, I’m-crying-real-tears, essence of a hot wing. That’s when Hot Wing Sliders become your new best friend.

Three Hot Wing Sliders

These little gems are super easy and will give you EXACTLY what you’re looking for in hot wing flavor. Honestly, I think I like them just as much…maybe better.  I’m a girl after all, and the idea of gnawing on a chicken wing, especially given my dislike for chicken in general, is kind of unappealing. Especially when there are other people around, which there inevitably are on game day. Yep, this is easier. Easier to make and easier to eat. You can feed an army with this recipe, just double or triple it as your crowd grows. You can even toss it all in a slow cooker if you really want a hands-off experience. I love that idea on a busy game day!

Give these Hot Wing Sliders a try this weekend. Win or lose, at least you’ll be eating well.

Happy football season!

Happy cooking!

Oh– and WAR EAGLE!

Hot wing slider on a plate

Hot Wing Sliders (makes 12 sliders)

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
18 oz. Lousiana Hot Sauce
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 packet ranch dressing seasoning
Ranch dressing or blue cheese dressing, for garnish
Pack of 12 Hawaiian Rolls, halved into slider buns

  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a bowl, mix 1/4 cup hot sauce and garlic powder with 2 cups of water. Set aside.
  2. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pan like a Dutch oven or braiser. Sear chicken, about two minutes per side. Reduce heat to low, and hot sauce-water mixture until it goes a little over half way up the sides of the chicken, cover with a lid and let cook on low for 1 to 2 hours, depending on how much time you have.
  3. Meanwhile, combine remaining hot sauce and dry ranch dressing seasoning. Remove chicken from pot and shred. Drain cooking liquid from pot. Add chicken back to pot and pour in hot sauce-ranch mixture. Cover and keep on low heat.
  4. To serve, top one side of Hawaiian bun with a heap of chicken mixture. Top with ranch or blue cheese dressing. Top with other side of Hawaiian bun. Eat!!!

holding hot wing slider

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Cheesy Chicken Mexican Lasagna

cheesy Mexican lasagna

Can I appoint myself Loryn the Lasagna Queen, or is that bad form? I really love making lasagna! The more I make it, the easier I find it to be.  Make a sauce of some kind, layer it with no-boil noodles and cheese, and bake until it’s bubbly. Simple. No-boil noodles are the secret. They remove an annoying step from the whole process, and I don’t think anyone can tell the difference. You just have to make sure the sauce you are using has enough liquid to cook the noodles, and make sure you take that sauce all the way out to the edges so you don’t end up with a crispy, uber-al dente edge. That would just be a pity. I’ve made several delicious lasagnas using this method, and they are always crowd-pleasers. Check them out on the blog if you haven’t already…Tuscan Lasagna, Buffalo-Ranch Chicken Lasagna, and Mega-Meaty Pizza Lasagna. Today I took my love for lasagna in a new direction and tried my first Mexican version. It was incredible. Cheesy, spicy, and tangy…all of the flavor profiles you expect from Mexican food, but all wrapped up in a lasagna. So fun!

mexican lasagna

This Cheesy Chicken Mexican Lasagna could not have been easier to throw together. It really took me only 20-25 minutes to have the whole thing in the oven. You can’t beat that when it comes to homemade lasagna!

whole-mexican-lasagna

I boiled three chicken breasts until they were cooked through, and then shredded them up. Combined the chicken with a jar of salsa verde, fire-roasted green chiles, queso quesadilla cheese, garlic powder, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Then I layered that Mexicany-goodness with the no-boil noodles, Crema Mexicana, more queso quesadilla cheese, and Monterrey jack cheese. Repeat, repeat, and keep repeating until you run out of the chicken mixture. Then top the whole thing with all of the remaining cheese and bake. Now you can call yourself the Lasagna Queen…or King. Serve this next time you have a hankering for Mexican but are over tacos and burritos. It has all of the flavors of your favorite Mexican restaurant, but with an unexpected twist. You’ll love it!

Happy cooking!

mexican lasagna slice

Cheesy Chicken Mexican Lasagna

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of ickiness
1 jar of salsa verde
10 oz. can fire roasted chiles (could substitute Rotel if you want some tomatoes too)
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
salt and pepper
no-boil lasagna noodles
2 cups shredded Cacique Queso Quesadilla, shredded
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
15 oz container Cacique Crema Mexicana

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9×9 baking dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper and boil until cooked through. Shred.
  3. In a bowl, season shredded chicken with cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Stir in fire roasted green chilies, salsa verde and one cup of the Queso Quesadilla and 1/2 cup of jack cheese. Combine well.
  4. In the bottom of a baking dish, spread a small amount of the chili-chicken mixture.
  5. Top with layer of lasagna noodles. Spread with another layer of the chicken mixture, making sure to go all the way to the edge with the liquid. Pour Crema Mexicana over the entire layer, again paying close attention to the edges. Top with a layer of shredded jack and Queso Quesadilla.
  6. Continue building casserole alternating between layers of lasagna noodles, green chili-chicken mixture, Crema Mexicana and shredded cheeses.
  7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated 375(F) oven for 30 minutes. It’s a good idea to spray the bottom side of the foil with nonstick spray so that the cheese doesn’t stick to it.
  8. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking another 5-10 minutes until cheese on top has melted and the entire casserole is bubbling and hot.
  9. Allow the casserole to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving. Serve alongside sliced avocados and a sprinkle of cilantro.

 

More Chicken I Don’t Hate…Who Knew?

Buffalo Lime Chicken

I kind of knew that the moment I went public with my hatred for chicken, chicken recipes galore would flood my brain. I was right. So maybe I don’t hate chicken at all. Maybe I just hate chicken done wrong. Yes, we’ll go with that. Chicken done wrong is gross, but THIS chicken was done right!

Say hello to buffalo-lime chicken. This is perfect for a quick weeknight meal and yet tasty enough for a weekend cook-out. The key to chewy-piece-free chicken is to cut away all of the icky-ness before you ever begin cooking. That’s right, don’t just pull the the chicken out of the plastic wrapped styrofoam and cook it as is. Yuck! That’s how you end up with the yucky bite that makes you want to dump the whole breast in the trash. It’s happened to me one too many times- usually at a restaurant. Maybe that’s why I tend to like chicken I prepare a little better. I can control it. I’m a bit of a control freak anyway so that makes sense. For this recipe I used three chicken breasts to make enough for three people. First cut away all of the slimy, nasty, stringy bits, then slice the breasts into 3 tenders each. Season the tenders with salt and pepper, marinate in the hot sauce-lime mixture, then simply grill to perfection. So easy and so yummy!

Happy cooking!

Buffalo Lime Chicken 

1 cup of your favorite hot sauce (I prefer Louisiana)
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  1. In a bowl, combine hot sauce, garlic salt, lime juice and extra-virgin olive oil. Stir to combine.
  2. Toss trimmed chicken tenders with hot sauce mixture and let marinate one hour or overnight.
  3. Heat a grill to medium-high heat. Oil the grates to keep chicken from sticking.
  4. Grill chicken for 3 minutes per side or until cooked throughout. If need be, place seared chicken on the top rack away from direct heat to keep outside from burning while allowing the inside to cook.
  5. Serve with a squeeze of lime juice and hot sauce, ranch dressing and/or blue cheese dressing for dipping.

Buffalo Lime Chicken Tenders

What Gazpacho Taught Me About My Tastebuds

green gazpacho

It was a fun week experimenting with my Farmer’s Market goodies. I enjoyed only having to throw everything into a blender and then TA-DA…dinner was served! All of my summer produce was showcased so nicely in its raw state. Nothing beats summer veggies at their freshest, and using them in a crisp, bright gazpacho served before the main dish is the perfect way to highlight their awesomeness. So get out to the Farmer’s Market and see what you can find. Use these recipes only as a starting point, and let whatever bounty you score be the star of your dish.

 

white gazpacho

 

Gazpacho week has taught me something I had long forgotten about my tastebuds…they don’t like raw onion. And guess what? Gazpacho is packed full of raw onion. Raw everything, right? Next time I make gazpacho I think I’m going to cheat a bit. I’m going to sauté whatever onion, shallot or leek the recipe calls for before I chunk it into the blender. Problem solved. If you’re not a fan of raw onion I encourage you to do the same when you play with these two recipes. You’ll be happier with the results and will still only have to do minimal cooking. However, if you’re not worried about that strong taste and resulting strong breath, give the recipe a whirl as is.

Happy cooking!

Green Goddess Gazpacho

green goddess gazpacho

3 spring onions
1 small clove garlic, peeled
1 green pepper, cut into a few chunks
2 cucumbers, cut into large chunks
1 avocado
5 tbsp fresh basil
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
fresh dill or dried dill weed, for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Throw everything in the blender and puree until smooth. Garnish with dill, a dollop of plain greek yogurt, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Serve.

 

Nutty White Gazpacho

nutty white gazpacho

1/2 medium head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets
2 slices of crustless white bread
1/4 cup pine nuts (1 1/2 ounces)
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 large shallot, coarsely chopped (optional to saute)
1 1/4 cups blanched slivered almonds
1/2 medium seedless cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped, plus 1/4 cup finely diced cucumber
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and white pepper, to taste

  1. In a large saucepan of boiling salted water, cook the cauliflower until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold water until cool and drain well.
  2.  In a blender, combine 1 1/2 cups of cold water with the cooked cauliflower, bread, pine nuts, chopped garlic, sherry vinegar, chopped shallot, 1 cup of the slivered almonds and the coarsely chopped cucumber; blend until smooth. Add the olive oil and pulse just until incorporated. If necessary, add more water to thin the gazpacho. Season the soup with salt and pepper and refrigerate until chilled, about 1 hour.
  3.  Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the remaining 1/4 cup of slivered almonds in a pie plate and toast for about 6 minutes, until fragrant and lightly golden. Ladle the gazpacho into bowls. Garnish the soup with the toasted almonds and the finely diced cucumber and serve.

 

Special Saturdays

farmer's market peaches

There is nothing I love more than a good Farmer’s Market. Saturday mornings and farmer’s markets go together like grilled cheese and tomato soup. Sure, one is fine without the other – enjoyable even. But put them together and you have something special, and this past Saturday was just that – special.

It’s rare that we are able to do anything last-minute these days. With a rambunctious two-year old boy and a very scheduled three-month-old girl, outings take advanced planning. Who am I kidding? A shower, a bathroom break and even a moment to brush my teeth in the morning all take advanced planning! However, the stars aligned this Saturday morning and when both babies had been fed and BJ and I had downed our first round of caffeine, we loaded up the car and headed into the Village for our first trip to the Laguna Beach Farmer’s Market since Allie came along. It was a gorgeous summer day- blue skies, warm air, cool breeze. Tourists were still asleep and had yet to descend on the tiny town, which meant there were plenty of parking spots. God was smiling down on our gutsy little adventure for sure.

After pulling into a fabulous spot, BJ loaded both kiddos into the stroller and I hit the ATM so I would have plenty of cash. Everyone at the market was in a lovely mood; how could they not be with the aroma of perfectly ripe peaches, succulent basil and sweet tomatoes wafting through the air? Oh take me back!

loryn-at-farmer's-market_forweb

 

farmers-market-flowers_forweb

I’m kind of a spazz at the market. There is no method to my madness- I just pick what looks good at each stand, not wanting any one vendor to be left out. Sometimes I legitimately sympathy-buy. That’s when I go for the onions. I could have shopped for days but knowing we will be heading out of town this week, I tried to be sensible and only buy what I would actually have time to cook. I also tried VERY hard to stay away from the flowers…So hard! I did come away with a ton of tomatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers the size of baseball bats…ok maybe t-ball bats…purple basil, mint, cauliflower, almonds and some gorgeous bunches of scallions.

farmers market tomatoes

 

farmers market cucumbers

 

I’m ready to cook! Except I’m not. It’s been getting hot in the afternoons and when I turn on my stove or oven the house heats up like no one’s business. So I’m not going to cook. Instead, I’m going to let all of this glorious produce speak for itself and make three beautiful gazpachos. A classic red, a lovely green, and a fun white one. I’ve never made gazpacho so I’m excited! I’m also excited that this trip to the farmer’s market is not going to sabotage my weight-loss plan. Oh speaking of weight loss and sabotage, did I mention the prosciutto empanada BJ and I shared while strolling through the stands? Holy buttery, flaky, salty goodness. Yum. I cried a little when it was gone. But how fun is that? Not only can you get ridiculously fresh and fabulous fruits and vegetables, you can hit up an emapanda stand or the tamale cart and EAT while you shop. Kellan’s favorite is the popsicle cart. He may or may not have enjoyed a strawberry lemonade popsicle at 9am. Don’t judge.

I’ll let you know how it goes with the gazpachos and will share the three recipes in the next week or so. Hopefully BJ will humor me. I suppose I can always hand him some tortilla chips and call it salsa. We shall see! 🙂

What else can I do with this ricotta?

So now that you have a nice batch of homemade ricotta in your fridge, let’s figure out how to use it! I’m assuming you have some left over after making the roasted cherry tomato bruschetta, and that’s a bold assumption because I definitely didn’t. But good news– even if you’re out, you now know how  easy it is to make more.

Like I said, I ran out post-parent picnic, but I had already brainstormed all of these wonderful ways to cook with it so I’m seriously making more tomorrow. Good thing I have a steady supply of cheesecloth in my pantry. So here are my thoughts and some useful links that will help you get the most out of that creamy, wonderful goodness just lying in wait in the refrigerator. Let me know which ones you use and always let me know if you come up with something totally awesome that I haven’t thought of…I would LOVE to try it!

(More) Uses for Homemade Ricotta Cheese 

  1. Pancakes
  2. Stuffed Shells
  3. Summer Vegetable Tart
  4. Scones
  5. Muffins
  6. Cheesecake!! duh
  7. Pizza- See my “weird pizza” OR this one!
  8. Gnocchi!!!!!!! (I’m excited about this one!)
  9. Cookies
  10. Stuffed and Fried Squash Blossoms

Need a few more dinner ideas? Check out this Food 52 article that will inspire you to squeeze 6 dinners out of one batch of ricotta. Or if you’re ready to move on from our cheesy friend but still need some dinner ideas, become a Menu Therapy subscriber for just $5. We will plan your dinners, write your grocery lists and help you become a superstar in your kitchen. 🙂

I hate chicken.

chickenmarsala_forweb

I wish I liked chicken. People who like chicken have an easier life. Their restaurant orders are easier, the bill is cheaper, and they’re eating healthier than me by default. I’m never going to go for the chicken on the menu, (unless of course I’m at Chick-Fil-A or Zaxby’s, that’s a whole different kind of chicken). I’m going for the steak, the king crab legs or the pasta. In my humble opinion, ordering chicken at a restaurant is giving up on the meal before it has even begun. Ick. Chicken is boring. Bland. Dry. And there’s always a fear of landing the mysterious chewy piece that you have to spit out into your napkin and hope no one saw. Gross. Nope, no chicken for me please. I do, however, make it for my family all the time, and I always put a chicken dish or two on each week’s meal plan since most people do, in fact, like it. I also ALWAYS try the dishes that I’m asking others to eat so I run into a chicken preparation that I actually like every now and then. What kind of cook would I be if I didn’t? This recipe is one such preparation.

Maybe it’s the Italian inspiration behind this Chicken Marsala with Pan Roasted Cherry Tomatoes that makes my tastebuds sing, or perhaps it’s simply the umami-richness of the mushrooms and marsala wine sauce. Whatever it is, this dish is a winner. It will please the chicken-eaters and the chicken-haters in your life, although it’s quite possible that of the latter I am the only one. It’s quick, easy and tasty…perfect for a weeknight dinner. I served this chicken alongside parmesan smashed red potatoes that were par-boiled, smashed down onto a baking sheet, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted in the oven. YUM!

Chicken Marsala with Pan Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

16 ounces fresh crimini mushrooms, sliced
3 tablespoons butter, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry Marsala wine
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
2 tablespoons heavy cream
½ teaspoon salt (more to taste)
6 chicken cutlets
1 tablespoon olive oil
⅓ cup flour
salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups cherry tomatoes
fresh parsley

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a medium or large saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.
  2. Add the garlic and wine – let the mixture simmer gently to reduce the wine, stirring occasionally. After 15-20 minutes, add the cornstarch, cream, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the marsala mixture – it should start to thicken slightly
  3. Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Toss the chicken in the flour mixture until coated. Shake off excess.
  4. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Pan-fry the coated chicken for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked through.
  5. Add sauce and mushrooms to the skillet with the chicken. Top with tomatoes and simmer until the tomatoes are beginning to burst. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve.

Interested in more yummy recipes and meal plans? Become a subscriber for just $5. Happy cooking!

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