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Harvest Vegetable Quinoa Soup

19 Mar

Harvest quinoa soup-001Harvest soup in March?  March is known for madness, so why not?  Add cooked cubed chicken–or not.  Quinoa is a complete protein so makes this tasty dish a complete meal without meat.  And it’s gluten free. This soup fits the bill for just about everyone!

Ingredients

  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ribs celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup diced baby carrots
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 cups torn kale
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2/3 cup quinoa
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, cubed (optional)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan, plus extra for topping

Preparation

  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy pot or dutch oven over medium heat.  Add celery, carrots, and onion and season with salt and pepper.  Cook for ten minutes, or until tender.  Add the kale and garlic plus more salt and pepper and saute for three minutes.
  2. Add 7 cups of broth, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf and bring to a boil.  Add potatoes and quinoa.  Lower heat and simmer, covered for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender and quinoa is cooked.
  3. Add in chicken, if desired, and heat through.  Turn off heat and stir in parmesan.  If necessary, add more salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe inspired by Iowa Girl Eats.

Photo by me, mylittlefoodspot.

Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese

10 Oct

Charity’s sensory issues have led me to cut artificial food dyes out of her diet.  Among the bajillion culprits lies Kraft’s Macaroni and Cheese, which uses yellow dye.  This has placed me on the hunt for a good homemade macaroni and cheese recipe.  In general I don’t like Velveeta recipes because they seem to turn out so thick and sticky.  And homemade versions using real cheddar, flour, and milk always seem a bit chalky and pasty to me.  This version of Velveeta macaroni and cheese, utilizing butter, flour and LOTS of milk creates a much creamier pasta than the recipe on the Velveeta box.

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz. uncooked macaroni
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 14 oz. Velveeta, cut into chunks
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs tossed with 3 T melted butter (optional)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare macaroni almost according to package directions.  Undercook by a minute or two and drain while still al dente.  You want a firmer pasta, so it doesn’t turn to mush as it bakes for 20 minutes.  Pour into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

Melt margarine in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in flour and cook for a few minutes, until color begins to darken without burning.  Whisk in milk and cook, stirring constantly until mixture bubbles and thickens.  Add chunks of Velveeta and stir to melt.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Pour sauce over macaroni. If desired, top with buttered panko.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Recipe inspired by food.com

Baked Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Sweet Sausage, Peppers and Onion

10 Oct

Baked Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Sweet Sausage, Peppers and Onion-001

This was fantastic!  I love using bratwurst in my pasta dishes in place of ground beef.  It bursts with flavor and adds sweetness.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 4 to 5 bratwurst, casings removed
  • 2 bell peppers, your choice of colors, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp each salt and black pepper
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Halve spaghetti squash and place cut side down on buttered baking sheet.  Bake for 40 minutes or until tender.  Cool to the point of being able to handle, remove and discard seeds then shred pulp gently with a fork so that strands resemble spaghetti noodles.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

While squash bakes, cook and crumble bratwurst in a skillet over medium heat.  Add peppers, onion and garlic and continue cooking until vegetables are crisp tender.

Add squash, tomatoes, basil, oregano, salt and pepper to skillet and heat through.  Remove from heat and drain excess liquid.  Mix in 3/4 cup Parmesan and transfer to a greased 9×13 or oval 2 quart casserole dish.  Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, topping with remaining Parmesan for the last five minutes of baking time.

Baked Spaghetti Squash Casserole with Sweet Sausage, Peppers and Onion b

Recipe and photo by me MyLittleFoodSpot.com

BBQ Comfort Meatballs with Mashed Potatoes

15 Apr

BBQ Comfort Meatballs with Mashed Potatoes

This has become a weeknight favorite.  In a rush?  Pull out some ready-to-cook meatballs, whip up a quick sauce, add some instant mashed potatoes and a frozen veggie to the equation and you’ve got a meal fit for a busy and somewhat picky family.

Ingredients

  • 20-30 packaged, frozen Italian style meatballs

FOR SAUCE

  • 1 cup Ketchup
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire
  • 4 Tablespoons (to 6 Tablespoons) Onion
  • 1 dash Tabasco

 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place frozen Italian style meatballs in a single layer on a cookie sheet.

Combine all sauce ingredients. Pour over meatballs and bake at 425 degrees for 22-23 minutes. Serve with egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or crusty French bread.

 

Recipe inspired by Pioneer Woman

Photo by me, mylittlefoodspot

Maple Dijon Glazed Chicken

15 Apr
Maple dijon glazed chicken
This dish is so easy to throw together and then immediately bake or freeze for another day.  It’s one of the eight meals from Six Sisters Stuff that I prepared in a two hour sitting frantic rush, just a few nights before our youngest was born.  The six sisters claim you can do it in one hour, but I was still pleased to completely prepare eight meals in such a short time.  They make it really easy for you, too, by providing a combined shopping list for all eight meals.  You can’t go wrong with that!  And while the slow cooker is an easy way to go, I prefer my food baked.  So bake it as described below, or slow cook it on low for 8 hours (on high for 4 hours).
Ingredients:
  • 1 (1.5 lb) pkg. chicken breasts or thighs (boneless, skinless)
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbl. rice wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper for taste
  • Fresh or dried rosemary

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.  Mix together Dijon mustard, maple syrup and rice wine vinegar.  Put the whole package of chicken thighs into an oven-proof baking dish (I lined mine with aluminum foil for easy clean up).  Salt and pepper the thighs.  Pour your maple mustard mixture over them, turning the thighs in the mixture so they are fully coated.  Put the chicken thighs in the oven, and let them bake for 40 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees F.  Baste the tops of the chicken with more sauce halfway through.  Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.  Sprinkle with fresh rosemary.
Photo by me, mylittlefoodspot

Grilled Meatloaf

15 Apr

Grilled meatloaf

As one of my favorite uses for the very versatile Dorothy Lynch dressing, this makes an incredibly moist, sweet, flavorful meatloaf.  The glaze is so easy and even Trevor likes it.  I prefer it to a baked meatloaf for a few reasons: it doesn’t end up floating in grease, I can easily grill my accompaniments, and, the biggie!, zero clean up.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. hamburger
  • 3/4 cup oatmeal
  • 2 T minced onion
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup Dorothy Lynch Home Style Dressing‚ (separated 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup)
  • 1 T Dijon mustard

Preparation

In a large bowl, combine the oatmeal, onion, parsley, Worcestershire, eggs and 3/4 cup Dorothy Lynch.  Crumble beef over mixture and mix well with hands.  Shape into two loaves on a sheet of heavy-duty foil (do not seal foil).  Combine reserved dressing and mustard and spread over loaves.

Prepare grill for indirect heat; grill meat, covered, over indirect medium heat for 50 minutes or until meat is no longer pink and a meat thermometer reads 160°. Brush tops with additional sauce/dressing if desired. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.

Grilled meatloaf b

Recipe inspired by Dorothy Lynch Home Style Dressing

Photos by me, mylittlefoodspot

Spicy Dr. Pepper Shredded Pork

5 Jan

Spicy Dr. Pepper Pork Tacos

The Pioneer Woman succeeds again.  I am rarely disappointed by one of her dishes; maybe never.  We love this on fried corn tortillas topped with sour cream, shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, sliced onion, and Chalula Chipotle Hot Sauce.  Feel free to create your own magic taco!  This also freezes well, which goes along with my current kick.  Baby #4 is set to make his appearance sometime in the next three weeks, so I am busy creating double batches of casseroles and meats for freezing.  This equals quick weeknight meals for after we add a newborn to an already busy family.  I place the leftovers in a Ziploc bag and use it in soups or for a super easy taco supper somewhere down the line.

Spicy Dr. Pepper Pork Tacos 2

Ingredients

  • 1 whole Large Onion
  • 1 whole Pork Shoulder (“pork Butt”) – 5 To 7 Pounds
  • Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 can (11 Ounce) Chipotle Peppers In Adobo Sauce
  • 2 cans Dr. Pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Peel the onion and cut it into wedges. Lay them in the bottom of a large dutch oven.

Generously salt and pepper the pork roast, then set it on top of the onions in the pan.

Pour the can of chipotle peppers over the pork (include the sauce.) Pour in both cans of Dr Pepper. Add brown sugar to the juice and stir in.

Place lid tightly on pot, then set pot in the oven. Cook for at least six hours, turning roast two or three times during the cooking process. Check meat after six hours; it should be absolutely falling apart (use two forks to test.) If it’s not falling apart, return to the oven for another hour.

Remove meat from pot and place on a cutting board or other work surface. Use two forks to shred meat, discarding large pieces of fat. Strain as much of the fat off the top of the cooking liquid as you can and discard it. Return the shredded meat to the cooking liquid, and keep warm until ready to serve. (You can also refrigerate the meat and liquid separately, then remove hardened fat once it’s cold. Then heat up the liquid on the stovetop and return the meat to the liquid to warm up.

Photos by me, mylittlefoodspot

Chicken Fajitas

26 Feb

chicken fajitas I remember, growing up, that chicken fajitas were a big deal.  Not only were they a welcome break from the Hamburger Helper lasagna, meatloaf, and grilled chicken (all of which I love, by the way), but when mom made chicken fajitas, we felt like royalty.  Now that I’m (sort of) all grown up, I enjoy this sizzling entree at restaurants from time to time, but every once in a while you gotta MAKE something that just says, “WOW!  We are special.”

Serve with spicy cheesy refried beans and a garden salad.

Ingredients

    • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts
    • Salt
    • 2 T canola, safflower, peanut or grapeseed oil (a high smoke point oil)
    • 1 large onion, sliced lengthwise (root to tip) into 1/4-inch strips
    • 3 bell peppers of various colors, sliced into 1/4-inch strips

Marinade

    • 2 T lime juice
    • 3 T olive oil
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
    • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
    • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Extras

    • 8-12 flour tortillas
    • Taco sauce
    • Sliced avocado
    • Sour cream
    • Shredded cheese
    • Thinly sliced iceberg lettuce dressed lightly with salt and cider vinegar

Combine the marinade ingredients in a Ziploc bag.  Add the chicken, shake well to cover, and let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.  This can be prepared in advance and marinated in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours, but allow to sit at room temperature for an hour before cooking.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and wipe off excess marinade.  Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt.

Heat a large cast iron frying pan on high heat for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add a tablespoon of canola oil to the pan and, once the oil begins to smoke, carefully add the chicken breast pieces.  Work in batches, if necessary.  Allow the chicken to sear for 2-3 minutes then turn the pieces over and allow the second side to sear for another 2-3 minutes.

Stack seared chicken on a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil to retain heat and finish cooking as you saute the peppers and onions.

Add another tablespoon of canola oil to the pan and, once the oil begins to smoke, carefully add the onions and peppers to the pan.  Using a metal spatula scrape up the leftover browned bits from the chicken and stir to coat the onions and peppers with the oil and brown bits.  Evenly spread the onions and peppers in the pan.  Leave them to sear undisturbed for 2 minutes, allowing them to blacken a bit.  Stir and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

chicken fajitas02

If chicken is not quite cooked through, place it back in the pan for a minute or two.  Slice the chicken against the grain into strips and serve at once with the peppers and onions, some warm tortillas, and your favorite toppings.  I opt for diced tomatoes or a good pico de gallo, guacamole and shredded cheese.

Recipe inspired by simplyrecipes.com

Photos by me, My Little Food Spot

Spicy Sausage Sauce

23 Feb
spicy sausage sauce01I’ve made this one a number of times.  An easy and tasty twist on the classic spaghetti sauce.  For some reason though, we generally eat it over hot, cooked rice.  Pasta.  Rice.  You choose.  It’s great either way.  And if you prefer your food heat-less, use sweet Italian sausage and nix the jalapenos.
Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound spicy Italian sausage links, removed from casings
  • 1 tablespoon thinly sliced garlic
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced or finely diced
  • 1 cup lightly packed, torn fresh basil leaves
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, pureed with their juices
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the sausages and cook until done, breaking them up into chunks with a wooden spoon.  Remove the sausages from the saucepan and drain them on paper towels. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the saucepan. Add the sliced garlic and chiles and cook until the garlic begins to brown, about 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the basil and cook for 15 seconds, then add the tomato puree. Simmer the mixture for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

Return the sausages to the saucepan and heat through.  Serve over your favorite pasta or hot, cooked rice.

Adapted from Michael Chiarello’s recipe

Photo by me, My Little Food Spot

Skillet Chicken Ole

17 Jan

skillet chicken ole 2I broke out my favorite cookbook recently, Southern Living’s Easy Weeknight Favorites.  We tried some new recipes and relived some old favorites.  This one is a definite tried and true treasure.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into small pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 10 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 4 oz. can green chiles, undrained
  • 10 oz. frozen whole kernel corn
  • 2 1/4 oz. can sliced black olives
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup shredded colby jack cheese
  • Hot cooked rice
Cook chicken, garlic, and onion in hot oil in a large skillet over medium heat for five minutes, stirring frequently.  Add tomatoes, green chiles, corn, olives, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.  Uncover and simmer 10 more minutes.
skillet chicken ole 1
Sprinkle with cheese and serve over rice.
Photos by me, My Little Food Spot