Monday, December 21, 2015

Fried Arancini

Helloooooo, beauties!

We're here, in the holiday rush. Running from party to party, wrapping gifts, and cooking up a storm.

Of course, we aren't hiding from it. We are embracing it, charging full steam ahead to spend the last couple of weeks of 2015 (I'm sorry, what and where was I?) with those we love most.

I have unlocked the magic of the holiday season with these special, delicious, other-worldly appetizers. Homemade start to finish. The perfect holiday treat for new friends and old. Fried Arancini. Who could say no to these golden nuggets?! Nobody, that's who.

I'm normally not one to brag about my kitchen escapades, but even I have to admit that I impressed myself when I took the first bite of my freshly fried arancini. I was even more flattered when these absolutely FLEW off our holiday party table. If you're planning a last minute holiday party, or a quiet night in with good friends and family, make my fried arancini the star of the show!

Here's the thing though: these rather impressive apps are actually not all that difficult to make, so long as you plan ahead (which, if I can do that, so can you!). I've included a good deal of detail in the recipe below (including a full risotto recipe), so don't be intimidated by the length - I'm just trying to make things easier for you!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Beef and Corn Enchilada Spaghetti Squash Boats

Woohoo!! This is an Amazing Dinner Alert!!

There it is. Right up there.

Spicy, cheesy, beefy - these are a few of my favorite things. 

These Beef and Corn Enchilada Spaghetti Squash Boats are a wonderful lightened-up alternative to one of my favorite comfort foods. I could eat these every week! Spaghetti squash makes the perfect vessel for homemade enchilada sauce, lots of cheese, crunchy corn and hearty ground beef. 

The best part about this meal, besides the deliciousness of it all, is that it can be customized in any way to your tastes. Lighten things up more with shredded chicken or ground turkey; make it entirely vegetarian by stuffing these with chopped cauliflower; perhaps you just want lots of cheese, in which case you can take out the beef, add some black beans and extra cheddar. 

No matter how you stuff it, I'm sure you're going to love it. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Crockpot Harvest Beef and Barley Stew

I have your new favorite Crockpot dinner ready to go! If you're overwhelmed at the thought of a full 24+ hours of cooking for Thanksgiving, this is a perfect recovery meal (that is better than take-out!)

This Harvest Beef and Barley Stew is the perfect set it and forget it meal that is packed with warm, comforting fall flavors. I love how just a few updates on a classic recipe make this stew feel totally new again!

If you're wondering what exactly makes this a "Harvest" stew, it's really quite simple! I added a couple of small diced sweet potatoes, a few dashes of cinnamon, a dash of nutmeg, and chopped fresh rosemary. The sweetness of the potatoes and cinnamon pair well with the tang of tomato soup and the saltiness of the beef broth to create glorious soupy balance!

If food were blankets, this stew would be the biggest, warmest, flannel-iest blanket you could imagine!

The recipe as written includes one teeny, tiny extra step that I think truly makes a difference in the depth of flavor - dredging the beef in flour and browning it in a cast iron pan prior to dumping everything in the slow cooker. This step is optional if you are really in a pinch, but if you have the time give this technique a try!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Banana Bread

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Banana Bread! How good does that sound?!

I am here to assure you that this tastes even better than you can imagine. Two of my favorite quick breads come together for a happy holiday mash-up. This is the perfect make-ahead breakfast for your Thanksgiving day.

I got the idea to search the internet for a banana pumpkin bread when I found myself with a couple of super-ripe bananas, but not enough to make banana bread, and a half-used can of pumpkin puree. If you are anything like me, never fear, this recipe is here for you.

This recipe starts with a banana bread base, but it gets amped up with all the fall flavors that you expect in a pumpkin bread - namely, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Warm and comforting, sweet and satisfying.

And lets not forget the chocolate! Any banana bread or pumpkin bread is infinitely better when you throw in some chocolate chips. For this recipe, I am holding nothing back and adding some deliciously melty chocolate chunks! It is the holidays after all...

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Chicken, Cheddar and Kale Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

Hiiii, internet!!

Sorry I have been away...for SO long...more than two months with no new recipes! I can't believe it.

Actually, I can! Because during this time away, I was barely keeping my sanity as I was planning a wedding, getting married, and whisking away to Iceland for a honeymoon! November 1, 2015 was the day I married my best friend and became Mrs. Beaudoin. Everything was perfect and magical (sorry to be cliche); nearly two years of planning really paid off!

Of course, now I am in what many people told me would be a post-wedding depression and in an effort to occupy my now-free time, I am 100% ready to start cooking again!

Fall is my favorite time of year for cooking and eating (and drinking pumpkin spice lattes!) I whipped these tasty Chicken, Cheddar, and Kale Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes for a quick lunch this week and I think you're going to love them.

Twice-baked potatoes are especially fun because of how customizable every recipe is. You can easily make these with regular potatoes, or ground turkey, or spinach. They are a perfect light lunch, and they also would make a tasty dinner when paired with a crunchy salad and warm dinner rolls. 

Since sweet potatoes are inherently, well, SWEET, I wanted to pump up the spicy and savory components of the filling. Kale is so loved right now and I love how this sturdy leafy green stands up to the richness of the sweet potato. Plus, any edges of kale get crisped up for a much needed crunch. Chopped green peppers pump up the crunch and give a great freshness to the dish. Cheddar makes everything better, and I used an extra sharp variety for extra flavor. Leftover rotisserie chicken is the perfect protein for the potatoes. Also be sure not to skimp on the black pepper, crushed red pepper and chili powder - flavor explosion! 

Friday, September 4, 2015

Nutella Brownie Bites

Let us have a quick discussion on Nutella...

It is the best thing on Earth, right? I mean, not exaggerating, every single person loves Nutella, don't they? I can't imagine a world where someone is offered a spoonful of Nutella and declines...

Well, here I have the most perfect Nutella dessert that is as easy as it is delicious. These Nutella Brownie Bites are bursting with that amazing chocolate hazelnut flavor in a chewy bite-sized brownie. The hardest part of this recipe is not eating all the Nutella from the jar before you bake up your brownie bites.

Added bonus: all you need are 5 ingredients, a mixing bowl, a mini muffin tin and a strong wooden spoon. Anyone can make this dessert, trust me!

I love baking with Nutella! If you follow me on Instagram you probably saw that I made a huge batch of Nutella donuts. I have never gotten so many 'likes' on one hopefully in the next few weeks, I can have the recipe up for you!

In the meantime, I think you will love the simplicity and sweet deliciousness of these brownie bites! They are an update to one of the first recipes I ever shared on my blog! I hope you still love them as much as you did three years ago :-)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Chicken Rollatini with Asparagus and Mozzarella

I know what you're having for dinner tonight! I do! I do!

It's THIS.

This crispy, gooey, tasty, Chicken Rollatini with Asparagus and Mozzarella is the next best thing on your summer eating menu. It takes just a little bit of effort but the rewards are certainly worth it.

Here's the kicker with this chicken--I strongly recommend finding thin sliced chicken breasts in your grocery store. Then, using a meat tenderizer and channeling your inner frustrations, pound out the chicken even thinner between two pieces of plastic wrap. I use this method for my regular chicken cutlet recipe as well!

Super thin chicken breasts are the perfect vehicle for tasty summer asparagus and smooth, velvety fresh mozzarella. To take everything to the next level, a dip in an egg wash and a coating of whole wheat breadcrumbs. Yes, it's worth it - you're worth it!

So what is there to say about this dish? Really, it made us speechless, because we couldn't stop eating! Whole wheat breadcrumbs and low fat mozzarella cheese means you certainly can (and should!) have a second roll without feeling bad about it. A light arugula salad was made to live alongside these rollatinis, but mashed potatoes, brown rice, or a bit of pasta would also make great partners for this dish.

Let's roll!!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Roasted Asian Eggplant, Fennel and Garlic Pasta

Pasta makes me happy, happy, BUT THIS PASTA? Well, it's a game changer.

A few times every summer, I've tried to make a habit of going to the Farmer's Market and finding a vegetable or two that I've never cooked with before. A lot of stands will have signs next to most of their produce describing the flavor and some ideas on how to cook it; if not, I strongly recommend you talk to the folks working the stand--they are the most knowledgeable after all!

Last week, I came away from the market with some classics--big giant zucchini, green and golden, as well as blackberries and local onions--as well as some newer veggies. I decided to try these adorable Asian eggplants as well as a fennel bulb! 

I have never much enjoyed traditional eggplant, both in taste and texture, but I liked the IDEA of eggplant. When I saw that Asian eggplants have a softer skin and are milder in flavor compared to regular eggplants, I felt confident that this is what would change my mind on eggplant (when combined with buttery noodles, creamy roasted garlic, and parmesan cheese of course).

As for fennel, I just never really gave it a chance. I don't really love a strong licorice flavor, so I was judging a book by it's cover and simply assuming I wouldn't like fennel. How wrong I was! Golden brown roasted fennel has a wonderful depth of flavor and is sweet and savory--the perfect compliment to this pasta dish.

This is an easy and delicious dinner that is perfect to whip up on a busy work night or to impress guests on the weekend. Roasted garlic and plenty of butter bring everything together. This pasta is filling yet light thanks to lemon juice and plenty of fresh parsley. I'm sure you're going to love it!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Caprese Egg White Scramble

We're in the thick of it: summertime!

I love summer, you have to love summer if you want to be a human. When summer rolls around I become obsessed with all things summer produce--cherries, for one. Tomatoes, for another. And with tomatoes comes my unstoppable summer obsession: CAPRESE SALAD.

If you follow me on instagram, you'll see that I recently started having caprese salad for dinner. I went to the store, uninspired to cook anything in sweltering heat, and came away with a big vine-ripened tomato and a fresh mozzarella ball (OK FINE I GOT TWO) along with a big bundle of fresh basil. A french baguette for the side made perfect sense.

Cut to a few days later and I still had quite a bit of fresh mozzarella begging to be used. That's when I came up with this delightful Caprese Egg White Scramble. A perfectly light but fulfilling breakfast that is satisfying and bursting with fresh summer flavor.

I started with a couple of cherry tomatoes (which I grew - ON MY PORCH! That's right. My very own tomato plant is proving quite lucrative). The tomatoes are sauteed in olive oil with fresh garlic, salt and pepper. Egg whites join the party as the tomatoes begin to burst. Fresh mozzarella, cut into small cubes, becomes melted and stringy throughout the scramble. Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes give our taste buds a kick. Fresh basil and a few drops of balsamic reduction, because what is a caprese salad with basil and balsamic?

Enjoy this scramble with a slice of whole wheat toast on a slow Saturday morning. I'd eat it for lunch or dinner, too - it's THAT good!

Caprese, previously: Caprese Pasta Salad