Happy Fourth of July week! We are headed to the beach with some friends today and I couldn’t be more excited for some time to relax and to get a much needed tan. I’ll be making my recipe below for Grilled Teriyaki Chicken in kabob form for our Fourth of July feast along with my Zesty Black Bean Dip that I posted last week, and will probably include grilled corn and fresh watermelon for sides! Yum!
We’ve enjoyed the recipes below this summer-I hope you try them out!
Perfect Peach Iced Tea We love sweet tea all year around, but especially in the summer time! And I’ve been completely obsessed with peaches this summer, so this tea really hit the spot for refreshment. I like how the simple syrup can be served on the side so that people can add it as they choose.
Grilled Veggie Burritos The Pioneer Woman always has great recipes, and this one is super easy and delicious. Grilled vegetables are another summer food favorite for us. You can easily swap out the white rice for brown rice or quinoa.
Artichoke Pesto I really enjoyed this flavorful take on pesto. Delicious on pasta, but also on a sandwich, grilled chicken or other veggies.
Grilled Teriyaki Chicken The longer you marinate the chicken, the more flavorful and tender it will be! The whole day or even over night is the best way to go. As you’ll see, I used salmon for the original recipe, which is incredible as well. Make sure to boil the marinade rather than throwing it away so that you can use it for an incredible sauce over rice, cous cous or quinoa. You’ll need to bring it to a boil, then allow it to simmer for ten minutes since it was used with raw chicken. But after that, it’s safe to consume! My only change is that I used a Tablespoon of Dijon mustard instead of the white wine and ground mustard. The Dijon provides a similar flavor profile if you don’t have wine on hand!
Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Enchiladas I could eat the sauce for these guys by the spoonful! What’s better than roasted red pepper? A few swaps for this recipe:
-swap 2 red peppers for the poblanos, but roast for the same amount of time
-exclude the bread crumbs in the sauce
-swap half a 28oz can of whole tomatoes in their juice for the chicken broth
-swap the black beans for 2 cups of cooked chicken
-to make it a little lighter, I sprinkled a 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese on top rather than 1 cup.
Quinoa Salad This is my all time favorite quinoa salad! To mix it up a little, I used a roasted poblano pepper (roast at 425 for 3o minutes, allow to cool, remove skin, chop) instead of the red pepper. I also added half a can of black beans for added protein. Delicious!
(perks of hosting a wedding shower: leftover flowers to brighten our home)
In true fashion, spring has been feeling quite full! Wedding showers, friends visiting, parties, and yard work have overflowed into our lives. We had a wonderful get away last weekend to a personal retreat center and we are excited to celebrate our third anniversary next week with a night spent in New Orleans!
The retreat last weekend was truly a gift. We spent two days at an amazing little bed and breakfast/counseling center about thirty minutes away from us with an incredible husband and wife who ministered to us, counseled us, and served us the best homemade Mexican food(thank you, Lord!) Coming up on three years of marriage, my teeny piece of marriage advice is this: get counseling even when you don’t feel like you “need it”. Honestly, Matthew & I are in a really sweet and peaceful season in our marriage, so we didn’t have a long list of issues to bring to our time of counseling. We went into the weekend asking the question: how can we grow in our marriage? I’m not sure why, but for some reason I expected to spend our time there weeping and hashing things out. Instead, our time was peaceful and refreshing, and our eyes were opened to some important things to work on and some revolutionary ways to communicate and grow closer as husband and wife. Even if you can’t get professional counseling, find a couple who is older and wiser than you and get time with them for advice and wisdom. However, if you can, find a professional marriage and family therapist to meet with! It is worth it!
In the midst of a full spring, here are some recipes we’re enjoying:
Smitten Kitchen’s Three Bean Chili. I love to try new chili recipes. Smitten Kitchen is one of my favorite blogs and I always know the recipes will be delicious. My change is adding some ground beef to up the protein factor for my husband. If you do add ground beef, add about 1.5 pounds, sautéed with the onions. Also, when adding the water, you’ll need to double it so that it doesn’t dry up & burn during the simmering process. I may or may not know this from experience.
The Pioneer Woman’s Heavenly Hummus Wrap: really anything with hummus is a favorite for me. Homemade is best, but I also absolutely love Whole Food’s Original Hummus. Randomly, last night I dreamed that I read the ingredient list for their hummus and it included ground up pancakes. Don’t worry, this is not true.
Spicy Sriracha White Bean Dip from White on Rice Couple; My go to for appetizers and snacks is usually a good ole classic hummus. But I really enjoyed this switch up with white beans and an Asian flare.
My Roasted Vegetable & Brown Rice Bowl with Peanut Sauce: I will never get tired of that peanut sauce! Such an easy and delicious meal, use whatever seasonal veggies are available!
Rachel Ray’s Pasta Carbonara: This is quite a creamy meal but a little less heavy because she doesn’t use cream in the sauce. A few changes: I used brown rice fettuccine, I did not use lemony breadcrumbs as a topping, although that sounds delicious! Instead of asparagus, I used spinach and instead of pancetta, I used bacon. Overall, this is a great restaurant-style meal that’s easy to make at home.
Raw Brownies from A Couple Cooks: wowowowoweeee. These brownies have gotten rave reviews from friends and from my husband. Topped with some simmered down berries or served over coffee ice cream, this is the perfect dessert. These are totally easy to make and much healthier than your average brownie.
I’d love to hear what recipes you are enjoying lately! I hope you try and enjoy some of these.
These are some photos from our retreat. Isn’t Louisiana beautiful?!
Every Christmas Eve my family enjoys a fondue feast. It’s a special, beautiful and delicious meal which starts with cheddar fondue with veggies and bread and apples followed by chicken and beef with peanut sauce and creamy horseradish sauce. Dessert puts us over the edge: dark chocolate fondue to coat strawberries, bananas and homemade buttery poundcake. I love fondue not only because it’s so good but because of the laughter and interaction we have as a family. It’s as extravagant as it sounds and we leave the dinner table feeling happy and full.
This is a definitely a special once a year treat, any more than that and we’d all be a little larger. But there’s one thing from the meal that I always crave and love to make at home: peanut sauce. The creaminess, the saltiness, it’s just perfect and so easy to make at home because I usually have all of the ingredients on hand.
Paired with roasted vegetables and brown rice, this is a great lunch. It could easily be made heartier with the addition of chopped grilled chicken or a fried egg right on top.
This week I celebrated the arrival of my first CSA produce box. My friend Lena and I are splitting a weekly box of fresh produce from a local farm, Luckett Farms. It feels really good to be cooking with vegetables that were picked the day I picked them up as well as to support local farmers. Our first box was filled with cabbage, broccoli, carrots, collard greens, sweet potatoes, and raw honey from bees on the farm. The honey is heavenly!
For this recipe, I roasted some of the broccoli, carrots, and cabbage. The judges on Chopped would probably look down on the way I let my broccoli get slightly burned, but trust me, that dark crispness is where the flavor pops. It really doesn’t taste burnt, just nicely caramelized.
I hope you enjoy!
Roasted Vegetable & Brown Rice Bowls with Easy Peanut Sauce
One head of broccoli, cut into florets
2 carrots, sliced
3 one inch slices of cabbage (cut off of the whole head, keep intact)
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup of brown rice*
2 1/4 cups of water
Handful of chopped peanuts
Cilantro leaves for topping
One lime, cut in half
1/4 cup of peanut butter
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup water
1 garlic clove, minced
Squirt of Sriracha
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Bring 2 1/4 cups of water to a boil in a pot on the stove. Add rice and turn heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes until water is dissolved and rice is fluffy. Remove from heat and add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt to the rice.
While rice is cooking, place sliced carrots, broccoli florets, and sliced pieces of cabbage to a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over vegetables then sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Put veggies in preheated oven and allow to roast for 20 minutes. Halfway through, take a spatula and turn veggies over so they can crisp on all sides. If you don’t want your veggies to have that brown crispness, take them out of the oven after 15 minutes.
For the peanut sauce: in a sauce pan, combine all ingredients over a low heat. Stir slowly until the sauce is combined and warm.
Scoop 1/2 cup of brown rice into a bowl, top with half the veggies, drizzle generously with peanut sauce, top with chopped peanuts and fresh cilantro. Squeeze lime juice on top.
*you’ll definitely have leftover rice. Throw it in a Tupperware in the fridge and use for something else!
Today is a beautiful, sunny day in Baton Rouge. I’ve already enjoyed sitting outside at a coffee shop with a friend and later I’m planning to head to the dog park with Boone. The weather is a much needed pick-me-up from the early weeks of February which were grey and cold and sad.
I love February because I love Valentines Day! Hearts and chocolate, pink flowers, fancy food, cards, I love it all. Growing up, my mom always made Valentines Day special with a delicious and gourmet breakfast or dinner and my dad would give us flowers and Godiva chocolates, the best! It’s altogether more delightful being married on Valentines Day. Matthew and I celebrated with dinner at our favorite restaurant, Roberto’s on River Road, where we enjoyed sensation salad, stuffed red fish, and King Cake bread pudding. To die for. I bought Matthew some a beef jerky milk chocolate bar from Wild Ophelia and he said it is the best chocolate he’s ever had. What a man.
February is also wonderful because I get to celebrate the birthdays of two of my very favorite people in the whole world, my older brother and my younger sister.
Ryan lives in Colorado where he skis and snowboards and makes the most of life with new adventures developing all the time. He is laid back, full of joy, friendly, and just the sweetest. I’m so thankful for my big brother!
Natalie lives in Texas where she is loved by every person she knows, is the smartest girl I’ve ever met, drop dead gorgeous, and excellent in everything she puts her hand to. She may be my little sister, but I have lots to learn from her.
I’m celebrating you both today!
In the food world, here are a few recipes that we have enjoyed lately:
Caesar Dressing is one of my favorite things to make at home. This one uses Greek yogurt for a delightful creaminess. If you’re afraid of anchovies, just omit them! As much as I love garlic, I would use 2 cloves instead of 4, especially if you make this for a party.
We loved the Walnut Crusted Chicken from Kitchenspired. The flavors are really profound and the walnut crust gives the impression of breadcrumbs without the bread.
One of my new favorite meals is spaghetti squash with a meaty marinara suace. I really don’t miss the pasta at all. Just use your favorite meat sauce recipe with roasted spaghetti squash. It’s delicious!
Enjoy these recipes, friends!
One of the biggest blessings of this past year has been our puppy, Boone. He’s just the sweetest and has brought so much joy with his playful personality and all around adorableness. Recently, he has been begging for food. He doesn’t whine or anything, he just sits about 1 foot from the table and looks at us with his big brown puppy eyes and from time to time licks his lips. It’s really all my fault. It’s just that I want him to get to taste a little bread or bacon once in a while. I’ve never fed him directly from the table, I promise! I usually “accidentally” drop something on the ground while I’m cooking. I don’t think my trickery is working. He’s figured out that I’m a softy who can’t say no…to my dog. This does not bode well for one day when I have kids.
So of course, when making this stew, I may or may not have dropped a piece of Parmesan cheese on the ground. It’s my favorite food and I feel like in his little dog life, Boone should get to taste it.
Anyways, on to why you’re here: kale, beans, & pasta in a rich tomatoey stew seasoned by a Parmesan rind (don’t be scared!) and pancetta (again, don’t be scared). It’s Italian, it’s comfort food, it’s healthy, and it’s flavorful. With a big piece of crusty buttered bread for dipping, it’s the perfect winter meal. I like my soups and stews to have lots in them. I’m not a huge fan of creamy, evenly textured soups. I like to get different flavors and bites throughout. And this fits the bill!
Pasta é Fagoli
adapted from My Favorite Things
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 2-ounce piece pancetta, minced
1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 Tbsp dried bay leaves
1 piece parmesan cheese rind, (buy a block of cheese, cut off the rind!)
2 cups small pasta, I used Orecchiette but shells would work great
1 bunch kale, stems and ribs discarded, leaves chopped
1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
Freshly ground pepper
Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, red pepper flakes, rosemary and pancetta, if using, and cook 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook 2 more minutes; season with salt. Add the beans, chicken stock, the bay leaves and parmesan rind. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the beans are tender, 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours.
Uncover the pot and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Add the kale and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 5 to 6 more minutes.
Remove the bay leaves, parmesan rind. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with parmesan cheese and parsley.
P.S. In real life I topped my with significantly more of the beloved freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
In the midst of the season’s hustle and bustle, it’s important for me to pause for moments of rest and refreshment. To soak in the treasure of this time of year, to enjoy a cup of coffee with a friend or to sit by the fire with a good book gives me perspective and room to breath. That’s why I loved the article over at Lark and Bloom on Breathing. Take a minute in your day to read and be refreshed.
This meal is a pause and a break for me. A tangy, flavor mix up from normal holiday foods. Don’t get me wrong, I love garlicky spiced crackers and hot chocolate and sugar cookies, but mid week between Christmas parties and dinners, I’m craving something fresh, healthy and bright. Plus I find that I feel a lot better about eating an extra dark chocolate truffle at a party if I’ve been eating healthy during the week.
My favorite flavor profile is definitely Mediterranean. How can you go wrong with lemons and garlic and olive oil? After college and before marriage, I lived with some dear family friends. Every Thursday I cooked dinner for them and upon entering the kitchen their oldest, Hudson, would always ask: “Jill, is there garlic in this?” The answer was always yes. Hey, it’s heart healthy!
I used toasted pumpkin seeds in the meatballs instead of pine nuts as the original recipe called for. I love pumpkin seeds because they are inexpensive but pack the same deep, nutty flavor. The leftovers are great stuffed into pita bread or covered in hummus. I hope you try this and enjoy it; afterwards make a cup of Nutella Hot Chocolate to keep you in the Christmas spirit.
Mediterranean Meatballs with Brown Rice & Tahini Sauce
Adapted from the recipe for Kofta b’siniyah from “Jerusalem: a Cookbook”
2 cups brown Basmati rice or regular brown rice, cooked according to package directions
2/3 cup tahini paste (found in most grocery stores, just ask!)
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup of room temp water
1 medium clove of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp olive oil
finely chopped flat leaf parsley to garnish
1lb ground beef or lamb
1 small onion
2 large garlic cloves, minced
7 Tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds, finely chopped
2 teaspoons all-spice
1 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup feta cheese
3 Tbsp capers
1 Tbsp chopped green onion
Cook brown rice according to package directions. This takes about 40 minutes, so make sure to plan ahead!
Using your hands mix together ground beef, chopped onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, pumpkin seeds, all spice, salt and pepper in a bowl. Shape meat into round balls, pressing together so it is compact and keeps its shape. Place on a plate and chill until you are ready to cook them.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini paste, lemon juice, water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. The sauce should be a bit runnier than honey; if needed, add one to two tablespoons of water.
Heat olive oil in a large pan over high heat, sear the meatballs on each side to get a nice golden brown color, about 5 minutes. Do this in batches so the meatballs are cramped together. Place them on a baking sheet and put in the oven for 4 minutes.
Remove meatballs from oven. Serve over brown rice, drizzling tahini sauce over top and sprinkle with capers, feta cheese, chopped parsley and green onion. Serve immediately.
The coming of fall has been a dream! A few things I’ve enjoyed lately…
My birthday was really special this year. I felt so loved by friends and family and specifically enjoyed a delicious Italian dinner at Frankie Marcello’s with my husband (get the chicken piccata!), tea with my girl friends at the English Tea Room (the Earl Grey Supreme is divine) in Covington, dinner and drinks with Matthew and my parents at Galatoire’s Bistro (you’ve got to try the banana bread pudding!), and gifts galore!
The pumpkin latte with house-made maple whipped cream at Magpie Cafe. Need I say more?
The grand opening of Trader Joe’s. I won’t mention how many times I’ve been so far. But some of my TJ faves so far include: 21 Seasoning Salute (a salt-free blend of yes, 21 different spices, perfect for chicken, fish, burgers, eggs, etc..), Pumpkin Spice Rooibos Tea, Tuscan White Bean Hummus, Gorgonzola Crackers, and Coconut Bonbons, and my husband’s fave Cookie Butter (dangerous).
Rollerblading with my puppy, Boone. Maybe the most fun and scariest form of exercise ever. I’m bringing rollerblading back!
My fall herb garden. I transferred most of my herbs from my larger garden into pots so that in the unlikely chance that it freezes this winter I can bring them inside. I love having fresh herbs right outside of my house to use in my cooking. I’m growing: rosemary & thyme, arugula, cilantro, chives & dill, sage & parsley, and not pictured, basil, oregano, mint, lavender and patchouli.
Besides all these delights, lately we’ve enjoyed:
California Chicken Rice Bowls: this is a flavorful and delicious meal. I made it for a friend who recently had a baby, and they loved it! Also great with quinoa instead of rice. I topped it with feta cheese rather than blue cheese and skipped the walnuts.
Butternut Squash Pasta: husband approved! The sauce has a unique sweetness that changes things up a bit from your normal pasta sauce. I added a whole can of tomato paste as well as a de-seeded roasted red pepper to the blender when blending the sauce. I enjoyed the added savory and tomato flavor to offset the sweetness of the butternut squash. The recipe makes a ton, so I’m going to use the leftover sauce for pizza sauce later this week.
Lebanese Style Stuffed Eggplant: It may sound out of the box, but these stuffed eggplants are absolutely divine. The flavor profile is actually not as unusual as you might think. I used cous-cous instead of rice. Try it!
Balsamic Pot Roast: we enjoyed this out of the ordinary take on pot roast. Pot roast is a great dinner for a cold night after a busy day, as the slow cooker does all the work!
Homemade Granola: served as cereal with milk or a topping for Greek yogurt with maple syrup and fruit, this is one of our go to breakfasts. It is simple to make and much cheaper than buying from the grocery. Plus you can control the sugar content. I like to make a batch on Sunday afternoon and enjoy throughout the week.
Blueberry Upside Down Cake: an easy but impressive looking dessert. Perfect with vanilla bean ice cream or homemade whipped cream.
My husband usually eats without saying much. When I ask him if what he’s eating is good, he says: “yes, that’s why I’m not speaking!” But I know something is truly above and beyond delicious when he makes comments while consuming his food. Hearing: “mmmmm, wow, this is amazing” coming from both my husband and our friend Daniel as they ate a bowl of this soup confirmed it as one of the most delicious things I’ve made in a while!
Paired with buttery toast and topped with nutty Parmesan cheese, it’s the ultimate cozy comfort meal, especially perfect as the evenings get colder.
I adapted this recipe from The Pioneer Woman to make it just a tad lighter (half the amount of cream!) and a little easier with one of my favorite tricks: the rotisserie chicken. It’s a wonderful way to cut down on cooking time when you’re in a hurry but still want lots of flavor. On Mondays, Whole Foods has their rotisserie chicken on sale for $5.99 and it is fabulous!
I also added two cloves of garlic, because I put garlic in everything. Why not?
Creamy Italian Chicken Soup
adapted from The Pioneer Woman
1/2 box Ditalini Pasta (very Short Macaroni-type Pasta Noodles)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 chopped rotisserie chicken (pick up at local grocery or whole foods)
4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1/2 Medium Onion, Diced
1 Red Bell Peppers, Diced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
1 Stalk Celery, Diced
1 whole Fresh Jalapeño, Diced
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 can (28-ounce) Can Diced Tomatoes
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/3 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Oregano
Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste
Parmesan Cheese Shavings, For Serving
Buttery Toast, For Serving
Cook pasta in a pot according to package directions, being sure not to overcook it. Drain and rinse in cold water to cool. Toss in 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside.
Remove chicken meat from skin and bones of the rotisserie chicken. Chop and set aside.
Heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil and oregano and turn off heat, stirring over the next minute to keep oregano from burning. Set this aside.
Sauté onion, red pepper, celery, and jalapeño in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until tender and golden brown, about 10 minutes. Add minced garlic cloves and stir for 1 minute. Add chicken broth, shredded chicken, and tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add cooked pasta, cream, and all the oregano and olive oil from the small skillet. Stir to combine. Turn off heat.
Serve with lots of Parmesan sprinkled on the top and toast for dipping!
Enjoy all the compliments and “mmmmms” you get!
As much as I absolutely love the fall months, I’m not quite ready for summer to end. I’m holding on to every fresh berry and ripe tomato I can get my hands on and I’m especially not ready for Hobby Lobby to be filled with scarecrows and pumpkins. Don’t get me wrong, fall is probably my favorite time of year, but I don’t want to skip the end of summer. Given the fact that it won’t get even slightly chilly here in Louisiana until maybe mid-October, I guess I have a bit more time.
For me, salads are the best thing to eat in the summer. And even though I could certainly make this salad in the fall or winter, there’s something summery about it. The tangy feta and spicy chipotle make this easy dish flavor packed.
For a heartier salad, add some chopped rotisserie chicken or mixed greens and avocado. But without any of those things, this is still a hearty and delicious salad.
Happy end of summer!
For the salad:
2 cups of plain cous cous
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 can (15oz) black beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup crumbled feta
A handful of blue corn tortilla chips
optional: chopped rotisserie chicken, sliced avocado, a handful of mixed greens
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 Tablespoon chopped chipotle chile in adobo (found in a small can on the Mexican foods aisle)
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup of water
Cook cous cous according to package directions, fluff and scoop 2 cups into a large bowl. Add drained & rinsed black beans, corn. Add chicken if using.
In a blender combine dressing ingredients. Add to cous cous mixture and stir to combine.
Place salad ingredients in a bowl on top of a handful of mixed greens if using. Top with a sprinkling of feta, cilantro and avocado. Serve with tortilla chips.