Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf, and a verrrryyy quiet weekend

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf with mushroomsI was totally lazy yesterday afternoon while The Bug was napping.  And all evening, after he went to sleep.  I should have been folding laundry.  Or cleaning up the kitchen.  But instead I started writing a blog post, perusing Facebook, and catching up on My Fair Wedding and Sweet Genius on my DVR.  And why was I feel totally OK with this?  Well, The Bug was napping.  My tummy was full from gobbling up some leftovers of Friday night’s dinner (after I had already had lunch.  And a cake pop.) while I was photographing it for this blog entry.  And The Hubby was away until Sunday afternoon, so I knew I had all night and a good portion of Sunday to do the piddly tasks.  Other than the sound of The Bug snoring over the monitor, the house was very quiet.  Almost unnerving how quiet it was.  Today, for some reason, the quiet is nice and appealing.  Maybe because now the chores are done, and it is a damp, dreary day, perfect for staying inside.

So anyway, dinner Friday night.  So good!  As I mentioned, I was picked at more of it straight out of the fridge.  And, since The Hubby wasn’t home, I just finished it off for dinner.  The Bug happily devoured a broccoli and cheese omelet (with ketchup naturally).  I’m wasn’t sharing my leftovers.

I love Jessica’s How Sweet It Is blog.  Her photos are amazing (something I aspire to), and she cracks me up regularly.  You would think by the name that her blog would be all about desserts.  Well, she does have some A-MAZ-ING desserts.  But oftentimes, it is her savory recipes that catch my attention.  Like this Springtime Jasmine Rice Salad.  Mushrooms, asparagus…  mmmmm!!!!  My favorites.

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf from top

I scoured my grocery store and could not find the jasmine brown rice.  I guess I could have bought regular jasmine rice, but I bought a bag of millet on a whim awhile ago.  Millet is a grain that looks similar to couscous or maybe even kinda like barley, but it is gluten-free.  I have been trying to figure out a way to make it that wouldn’t freak out The Hubby.  Put a new dessert or a new meat dish in front of him, and he is all over it.  A new vegetable or grain – well, that is usually perceived as me trying to force “crunchy” health foods on him.  But this was good.  Real good.

Asparagus and mushroom miillet pilaf leftoversI used some dried cranberries instead of the dried cherries, and tweaked the amounts of other ingredients, since I was making a larger portion.  And I used vegetable broth instead of chicken.  I’m sure either way would be great, but with the veggie broth, this is a nice vegan meal.  And if you aren’t vegan, try it with some shrimp, like we did on Friday night, or sprinkled with a little goat cheese, as I did on Saturday night.  Or eat it straight out of the fridge, cold.

The Hubby liked it, despite his lack of love for asparagus and mushrooms, and The Bug ate his portion.  Though honestly, he was more interested in devouring seven or eight shrimp – go figure, normally he won’t touch shrimp.  Ugh, the eating habits of toddlers!

I definitely want to try it with the brown jasmine rice, just as Jessica made it.  But I think that’ll require a drive to Whole Foods, which, sadly, is not too convenient.  And I still have that bag of millet, or I am thinking it would be good with quinoa, to, to amp up the protein.  Mom, can’t wait for you to try it – this is what I am making on Good Friday!

And since it is so quiet, I need some conversation, even if it is “virtual”.  So tell me what you think of this recipe, answer the questions below, or just say Hi.  I’d love to hear from everyone who is reading, so we can get to know each other!

Are you lazy or productive when your significant other is away?  What are you favorite spring vegetables or fruits?

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf (serves 4)

Adapted from Springtime Jasmine Rice Salad at How Sweet It Is

Ingredients

about 1 lb asparagus spears, woody stems removed, cut into 1-1 1/2 in pieces

Asparaugs and Mushroom Millet Pilaf Collage2 T olive oil, divided

1 c  millet

1 t kosher salt

2 cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock

1 shallot, minced

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 pint white or baby bella mushrooms, quartered

1/2 cup dry white wine (I used a sauvignon blanc)

1/3 cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped

kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

Directions

1.  Prepare the millet as per the package directions, using stock instead of water.  I cooked mine in my rice cooker.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  Toss the asparagus with 1 T olive oil, 1 t salt, and freshly ground black pepper.  Lay in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast until tender, about 20-25 minutes.

3.  Heat 1 T olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.

4.  Add shallot and a little salt, and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes.

5.  Add mushrooms to the pan, and cook until nicely browned and soft, about 5-7 minutes.

6.  Add the garlic and dried cranberries, and cook for another minutes or so.

7.  Add the wine, and cook for a couple of minutes to reduce the liquid a bit.

8.  Toss the mushroom mixture with the roasted asparagus and millet, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

Asparagus and Mushroom Millet Pilaf Close-up

This recipe was shared with:

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Lemony Chicken Foil Packets and Firing Up the Grill

The Bug at the Grill

It’s March, and I am grilling.  That never happens!  This has been the weirdest winter, and being somebody who is always cold and hates being cold, I am not complaining.  It would have been nice to have one good snowstorm, so that I could get a chance to play in the snow with The Bug, since he was not even walking last winter.  And since I spent good money on snow pants and boots, because if you don’t buy them in October, there will inevitably be a blizzard in December, at which time all of the snow pants and boots are gone, and you are left deciding on what swimsuit you want for the summer.  But that is neither here nor there.

Back to grilling.  The Hubby loves meat, especially grilled meat.  So sometimes, even in the coldest winters, he will go outside and grill a steak on a Saturday night.  He has even been known to dig a path through the snow to get to the grill.  Not me.  I wait until I can go outside in a tee shirt and flip flops before I am going to go outside of my nice, cozy kitchen to cook dinner.  Seventy degrees in March calls for cooking dinner on the grill.  So I threw together these tasty little packets, tossed them on the grill went inside to set the table, play with The Bug and say Hi to The Hubby.  Then 20 minutes later, dinner was on the table.

Lemony Chicken Packets Collage

If you don’t have a grill, don’t know how to use your grill, or, you know, live in North Dakota where it is too cold to grill, especially in March, you can always throw the packets in the oven.The Greek yogurt and lemon juice marinade give the chicken so much flavor, and help to create a little lemony sauce and some steam to cook the poatoes nice and soft, and the green beans still slightly crisp.

I didn’t get a picture, but The Bug was a fan!  Well, truthfully, he did not eat the beans.  Even when I put ketchup on them (yes, he is one of those kids who will eat anything with ketchup – but I do make my own.  I’ll get to that in another post).  For some reason, he will eat green beans at school, but at home, he won’t go near them.  Whatever.  Potatoes are always a hit, but he can be picky about meats.  And this chicken was so tender and flavorful that he devoured almost as much as I ate!  The Hubby isn’t the biggest fan of green beans, but he indulged me when I want them sometimes, and he thought they were pretty good.

IMG 4658

Don’t miss today’s Friday Fun!

Do you ever grill in cold weather?  What is your favorite thing to make on the grill?

Lemony Chicken Foil Packets with Parmesan Green Beans and Potatoes(serves 4)

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts

1/4 c Greek yogurt (I use Chobani)

1 lemon

3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme (or some dried thyme, I’d say about 1/4 t)

1 clove of garlic

2 t kosher salt, divided

freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. red potatoes, slice about 1/4 in. thick

1 lb green beans

1 T olive oil

1/4 c parmesan cheese

4T water

Directions

1.  Before making the marinade, zest the lemon before you cut it and squeeze it for the juice.

2.  Make the marinade by combining the Greek yogurt, the juice of one lemon, thyme, garlic, 1 t salt , and a few grinds of pepper in a bowl or plastic bag.

3.  Add the chicken breasts and let marinate for at least 20-30 minutes, but the longer the better.

4. Toss the potatoes, green beans, olive oil, parmesan cheese, 1 t salt, a few grinds of pepper, and the reserved lemon zest.

5.  Take four squares of heavy-duty aluminum foil, or a double layer of regular aluminum foil, and spray the dull side with olive oil or coking spray.

6.  Divide the potatoes and beans evenly between the packets. Or you could be as meticulous as me, and start with a layer of potato slices, then put the green beans on top.

7.  Lay one chicken breast on top of the potatoes and beans in each packet.

8.  Fold up the foil into pouch, and before sealing, at 1 T water to each packet.

9.  Put on a medium to medium-high grill for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are soft and chicken is cooked through. (Or you could put it in a 350F oven, probably for about 25-30 minutes).

10.  Open up your packets and serve.

Enjoy!

IMG 4660 with text

This recipe was shared with:

Amee’s Savory Dish Fit and Fabulous Friday 3/23/12

Addicted to Recipes’ Scrumptious Sunday Link Party #4


Mexican Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes – No More ‘Mallows!

I have lots of dreams.  Strange Weird Crazy Stupid Lame Awesome as it sounds, many of those dreams have to do with food.  Things like open a bed & breakfast, become a sommelier, own a cafe/wine bar/bakery, be a waitress at a really fancy restaurant, meet Giada or Tyler or Michael or Tom or Mario (DiLaurentiis, Florence, Symon, Collicchio, and Batali for those of you who aren’t on a first name basis with them, as I am), write a cookbook…

One of those dreams is to win a recipe contest.  Now I have always been an overachiever, so I have my sights set on the $1 Million Pillsbury Bake-Off.  But I figure I should probably start a little smaller.  So when I saw Biz at My Bizzy Kitchen post her entry for the No More ‘Mallows! recipe contest, sponsored by the North Carolina Sweet Potato Commission, I knew I had to enter.  I had just made a sweet potato recipe a couple of weeks ago that I thought would be perfect for this contest.

No More 'Mallows!

The black bean filling for my spin on baked stuffed potatoes is based on this Black Bean & Mango Taco recipe from my friend, Michelle, at Find Your Balance.  She is a health coach, and has some awesome, healthy recipes.  Pinapple Black Bean Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes with ForkAnything that gets my husband to eat and love a dinner that does not include meat must be good.  And The Bug loves Mexican.  So her recipe has become one of our family favorites.  But I have switched it up some, and instead of tacos, I thought it would be awesome stuffed into some sweet potatoes.  And, just to make Michelle happy, I added in some dark, leafy greens and Greek yogurt (though the leafy greens could be optional, if you are not a fan, and you could use sour cream, if you prefer).

So give this a try for your Meatless Monday, Lent Friday, or any day, really.  It’s that good.  No need to reserve it for your vegetarian days (unless all of your days are vegetarian days).  It has a lot of ingredients, but most are probably already in your pantry.  Oooh, and it would probably also be good with some of this.

Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes with Limes and Avocado

Have you ever entered a recipe contest?  What are some of the random, seemingly silly goals you have?

Mexican Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Baked Sweet Potatoes (serves 4)

Adapted from Black Bean & Mango Tacos from Find Your Balance

Ingredients

For Sweet Potatoes:

4 sweet potatoes

half of a lime

1/2 t kosher salt

1 T olive oil

For Monterey Jack Creamy Swiss Chard:

16 c Swiss chard (or other dark, leafy green of your choice) – I know this sounds like a lot, but it really cooks down

Monterey Jack Swiss Chard1/4 t salt

freshly ground black pepper

1/2 c milk (any kind will do, I used 1%)

1 c (about 4 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

For Pineapple Black Beans:

1 T olive oil

half of a large sweet onion, chopped

Black Beans1/4 t salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 red pepper, chopped

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 lime

2 T chili powder

1 T cumin

1/2 c water

Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes on plate1 c chopped fresh or canned pineapple

2 T chopped cilantro

For garnish (optional):

1/2 c Greek yogurt (I like Chobani) or sour cream

1/2 lime

chopped avocado

cilantro

Directions

1.  Preheat your oven to 400°F.

2.  Squeeze half of a lime into a bowl and add the salt.  Toss the sweet potatoes in the lime-salt mixture.

3.  Wrap each potato individually in aluminum foil, and bake for 45 minutes-1 hour, or until soft (alternatively, you could cook them in the microwave for about 10-15 minutes, but NOT with the aluminum foil)

4.  While the sweet potatoes are baking, prepare the fillings.  Start by spraying a large pan with olive oil or cooking spray, and putting over medium heat.

5.  Add the Swiss chard, salt and pepper, and cover with a lid.  Cook for about 5 minutes, or until wilted, stirring every couple of minutes.

6.  Remove the lid and add the milk and cheese.  Cook until thickened slightly and cream.  Set aside.

7.  In the same pan or in a clean pan, heat the olive and add the onions, salt, and pepper.  Cook until starting to turn translucent.

8.  Add the red pepper and cook until the onions and peppers are soft.

9.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute.  Add the black beans, juice of a lime, chili powder, cumin, and water, and simmer for 8-10 minutes, or until heated through.  You can keep covered over a low heat until the sweet potatoes are ready.

10.  Stir the pineapple and cilantro into the black bean mixture.

11.  Combine the Greek yogurt or sour cream and lime juice, and chop the avocado and cilantro, if using.

12.  Slice open the baked sweet potatoes, and fill with the swiss chard and black bean mixture.  Top with the desired garnishes.

Enjoy!

Pineapple Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes close up
This recipe was shared with:

Kelly the Kitchen Kop’sReal Food Wednesday 3/21/12

These Chicks Cooked Recipe Swap #44

The Countertop Confections’ What’s Cooking Thursday 3/22/12

A Little Nosh’s Tastetastic Thursday 3/22/12

Savannah’s Savory Bites Friday Feature Blog Hop 3/23/12

Amee’s Savory Dish Fit and Fabulous Friday 3/23/12

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Sausage Tomato Cream Sauce

I’ve gotten a few people intrigued by spaghetti squash, and some who haven’t had it in awhile are looking for new ways to use it.  In fact, Katie, from ...and a glass of red wine was asking for a spaghetti squash recipe to make for her brother and fiance.  Unfortunately I couldn’t get this post up on Thursday, since The Bug decided that a 1 hour nap was sufficient, and then proceeded to be a cranky, miserable mess for the rest of the day.  And I think she came up with a faboulous-sounding dinner that incorporates some of my favorites – scallops, mushrooms, and butternut squash.  But maybe she’ll give this a try another time.  I hope you do, too.

And if you aren’t quite ready to make the spaghetti squash leap, try the sauce over some spaghetti or penne or whatever pasta shape you prefer.  It is really yummy!

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Sausage Tomato Cream Sauce

And look, even easy enough that a not-quite-2-year old can help…

Mama and The Bug Cooking Tomato Cream Sauce

And I know I have been on an Italian kick, giving you this and this over the past few days.  Maybe I a using tomatoes and garlic to counteract all of last weekend’s chocolate.  I promise, I’ll be switching it up a bit this week.

Do you have a “go-to” meal that you like to serve to guests?

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Spicy Sausage Tomato Cream Sauce

Ingredients

Sausage Tomato Cream Sauce1 spaghetti squash (or pasta of your choice)

3 sausage links (I like to use hot turkey sausages, but you can use the meat of your choice, and mild or hot)

Half of a large, sweet onion, chopped

1/4 c red wine

One 15 oz. can or half of a 28 oz. can (about 1 1/2 c) crushed tomatoes (I ALWAYS used Tuttorosso when I am using crushed tomatoes.  It has a little basil in it, so if you use a brand without basil, you may want to add a little fresh or dried)

1/2 t dried oregano

1/2 kosher salt

freshly ground pepper

1/4 c heavy cream

1/4 c grated parmesan cheese

1 T fresh parsley

1/2 c frozen peas (optional)

1/4 c shredded mozzarella cheese

2-3 T grated parmesan cheese for topping

Directions

1.  Cook the spaghetti squash and scrape out the “noodles” (see this post for my oven method and a link to a microwave method).  Preheat or keep your oven set at 400ºF.

2.  Heat a pan over medium heat, and spray with olive oil or cooking spray.

3.  Squeeze the sausage out of the casings into the pan, and cook until is starts to get nice and brown.

4.  Add the onions and saute until translucent and soft.

5.  Add the wine, tomatoes, oregano, salt, and pepper, and simmer until it is hot and the onions are fully cooked.

6.  Stir in the heavy cream, parsley, 1/4 c parmesan cheese, and frozen peas.

7.  Pour enough sauce over the squash noodles (or pasta) until it is as saucy as you like (I like mine less saucy as my husband, so there may be some extra sauce, which you can serve on the side).

8.  Pour the mixture into a glass baking pan or casserole dish (I use the 1 1/2 qt. oval Corningware) that has been sprayed with olive oil or cooking spray.

9. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until hot and bubble, and the cheese is golden brown.

Enjoy!

Baked Spaghetti Squash with Sausage Tomato Cream Sauce closeup

 

 

Slow Cooker Tomato Veggie Sauce with Sausages – Crazy Cooking Challenge

I am so excited to be participating in my very first Crazy Cooking Challenge from Moms Crazy Cooking.  As you all know, I am new to the blogging world, so just heard about this late last week, but still wanted to join in on the fun.  Since I found out about my little bit of a wheat intolerance, I have only had pasta a few times, and typically use spaghetti squash instead.  Or just forego it altogether.  But I have been looking for a good reason to try some of the gluten free pastas, so the Tomato Sauce Challenge was the perfect opportunity.

The only problem was that I was heading to my mom’s for a long weekend the day after I found out about the challenge, and we already had plans for cooking in and eating out for the weekend.  So the only day I had to shop and cook and blog was Tuesday – yes, the day before the posts go up.  I needed something quick, easy, and would only require a quick trip to the store for a few items I didn’t already have in my fridge and pantry.  I started clicking on some links of the blogs listed on the Crazy Cooking Challenge page, and, although I looked at a few others, the first one I stumbled upon was perfect!  It was Simple Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce from Little Mommy, Big Appetite.  I had most of the ingredients (including a partial bottle of red wine), and I knew that I could easily grab the last few items from the store and get it in the Crock Pot while The Bug was at pre-school.

Sausage on a platterI made a few changes to the recipe, mainly based on what I had in the house.  I had some fresh basil I wanted to use up, instead of dried, so added that in at the end.  Little Mommy suggests mushrooms as an optional addition, but I decided to add in zucchini – mushrooms are not The Hubby’s favorite, but I still wanted to get in some extra veggies.  And, while I wanted meat with dinner, I didn’t want a meat sauce.  So instead of the optional ground beef, I threw in some mild Italian chicken sausages.  You could definitely use pork or turkey sausages.  Or make it vegetarian or vegan by leaving out the meat altogether.

Veggie tomato sauce with chicken sausage on a platter

Well, first of all, I was pleasantly surprised by the brown rice spaghetti.  Pasta may be re-entering our lives, and not just in squash form!  And, since this is what we are really talking about here, the sauce was rich and delicious.  I loved all the veggies, the sausage was super soft, and the red pepper flakes gave it a nice kick that I balanced by topping it with a dollop of ricotta cheese (just because I had some to use up) and parmesan.

Bowl of Spaghetti and Veggie Tomato Sauce with Chicken Susage form top

Bowl of Veggie Tomato Sauce with Chicken Sausage Seconds

I liked it so much that after I finished my spaghetti, I went back for a bowl of sauce and sausage.

This sauce will definitely be entering our regular dinner rotation.  And, most importantly, The Hubby and The Bug approved.  The Bug typically spits out zucchini, and can be hit or miss with meat, but he ate three plates of “noodles”!

This is a little spicy, but nom nom nom!

And in my never ending quest to re-purpose leftovers, I bet this would make a really awesome sausage sandwich, on some nice, crusty bread with mozzarella cheese melted on top.

So if you are reading this and haven’t checked out the Crazy Cooking Challenge, click on the button below to to see the other entries, and click on mine to vote for it as the Ultimate Spaghetti with Red Sauce recipe.  Thanks!

Photobucket

Also shared with Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food Wednesday 3/7/2012

Slow Cooker Tomato Veggie Sauce with Sausages

Slightly adapted from Simple Slow Cooker Pasta Sauce from Little Mommy, Big Appetite

Ingredients

1 T olive oil
1 sweet onion, chopped  (I actually used only half because the one I had was enormous)
1 cup shredded carrots
2 small zucchini, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes – I used Tuttorosso Whole Peeled Plum Tomatoes, chopped them into bite-sized pieces, and added the liquid from the can, but not the liquid that squished out from the tomatoes onto the cutting board while I was chopping them.
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce – again I used Tuttorosso
1/2 T dried oregano
1 T parsley
1 t sugar
1 t crushed red pepper flakes (this gives it a but of a kick, so you may want to cut this down, depending on how spicy you like things)
1/4 cup red wine (I used Merlot)
1/2 T Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2T fresh (or 1/2 T dried, as per the original recipe, but toss this in before cooking)
*1 pound mild Italian chicken sausage (optional, or substitute pork or turkey sausage)

Spaghetti of your choice (regular, whole wheat, gluten-free), cooked as per package instructions.

Optional: Ricotta and/or Parmesan cheese for serving.

Directions

1.  Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.

2.  Add the onions, carrots, and zucchini and cook until soft, and onions are translucent.

3.  Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.

Cooking the Veggies

4.  Throw all of the veggies in your slow cooker.

5.  While you are adding all of the other ingredients to the slow cooker, throw the sausages into the pan you used to cook the veggies and brown them a little on the outside.Browning the sausage

6.  Add all of the other ingredients except for the pasta and optional cheese(s) to the slow cooker, stir it up and add in the sausages.Filling up the slow cooker

7.  Cook on low for 4-6 hours (to be honest, I had mine cooking for about 7).

8.  While you are cooking your pasta, take the lid off of your slow cooker to allow the sauce to thicken up a bit.Sauce is ready

9.  Serve over your favorite spaghetti,with a little dollop of ricotta cheese and/or a sprinkle of parmesan, if you like.

Bowl of Spaghetti and Veggie Tomato Sauce with Chicken Sausages

10.  Enjoy!

Spaghetti and Veggie Tomato Sauce with Chicken Sausage ready to eat

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