Loaded Philly Cheesesteak Baked Potato

I’m not going to lie, Tuesday and Wednesday weren’t the best days of my pregnant life.  Week 24 seems to have brought a weird stomachache along with some heartburn and a lack the desire to really eat anything.  Me not wanting to eat is REALLY weird – I always like food – happy, sad, stressed…I eat.  Basically I just don’t feel like myself and while I want to complain and play the pregnancy card, I’ve tried to rally and be thankful for how healthy I have felt the entire time.  I’m hoping that this is a short phase and that I’ll be back to “normal” in no time.

But you’re here for food…so here’s a peak at dinner this past Monday.  It was a good one.

A meat and potatoes dinner that isn’t a steak and roasted potatoes.  Instead, the famous cheesesteak sandwich is turned into a stuffed baked potato for a nutritious, filling and delicious feeling that your whole family will love.

You can either cook your potatoes in the microwave or in the oven (I prefer the oven if I have the time, I think the skin is so much better).  Thinly sliced steak is seared after being seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  The steak needs less than two minutes to cook – so watch it.  Remove the beef and add in your peppers, onions and mushrooms and sauté until softened.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cut the potatoes in half and top with the veggies plus the beef and then a generous amount of cheeeeeeese.  Broil until the cheese is melted and then dig in.

cheesesteakpotato

I loved this spin on a classic and found that while it was meaty and cheesy, it wasn’t heavy.

Oh, and our garden is still producing lots of bell peppers which is one benefit of still having warm weather.

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Pumpkin Pasta with Balsamic Sage Brown Butter Sauce

Despite the summer-like weather on Sunday, we had the most fall-filled day.  After Big Guy being away all week and then me being away all weekend we felt quite like ships passing in the dark.  Thankfully we were able to spend quality time on Sunday afternoon together.  Not only did we visit the pumpkin patch and put together our “fall” display in the front yard, but we made a fall-inspired dinner of pumpkin pasta.  

The pasta requires only two ingredients.  That’s right, two.  In a food processor, pulse together one can of pumpkin puree with flour until it forms a dough ball.  From there, the pasta noodles come together quite easily if you have the pasta attachment for your Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.

The sauce is made by browning butter with whole garlic cloves and fresh sage leaves.  Once brown, remove the sage and garlic, and add in white wine and balsamic vinegar.  Allow the sauce to simmer before adding in your cooked pasta.  Toss and then serve with roasted pumpkin seeds, manchego cheese and fresh nutmeg (my special addition).

pumpkinpasta

This dinner hit the spot.  Not only did it feel my belly but it was nice to enjoy a stress-free (well, mostly stress free…the pasta water pot overflowed and let’s just say it wasn’t pretty) meal together after a long week away from Big Guy.

Pumpkin in food – like it, love it or hate it?  

I’m all about REAL pumpkin being in food but I find that some of the “pumpkin spice” items are taking things a little far…like been jerky.  Just no.

Apple Cheddar Rosemary Bacon Pizza

Don’t think that just because we enjoyed a comforting meatloaf Sunday Supper last weekend that we’re not devouring pizza.  Because we are.  Honestly we make pizza about every other Sunday and we made our first “fall” pizza a couple of Sundays ago.  I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to share the deliciousness with you.

The flavor combination is out of this world.  Don’t be scared of apples on a savory pizza!  And you jazz up “boring” bacon (let’s be honest, bacon is never boring) with fresh rosemary and pepper before cooking until crisp in the oven.  By the way, cooking bacon in the oven is so much cleaner than on the stovetop.  Instead of sprinkling the pizza with mozzarella, you actually make a cheese sauce that goes ALL over the pizza.  The sauce starts with sautéing onion and garlic in a little bit of butter and then adding flour to make a roux.  Then you add in broth, milk and oregano and allow it to thicken before adding in shredded fresh mozz.  Oh, so creamy and dreamy.  Check the salt content – ours needed a big pinch.

Let’s make a pizza!  Roll out your homemade (or store-bought – no judgement here) dough and top with the sauce leaving a little border around the outside.  Now arrange the apple (golden delicious worked perfectly) slices all over the dough and then sprinkle on the chopped, cooked bacon.  Finally, add the shredded cheddar (we used a chipotle cheddar which was a very good idea).

rosemaryapplepizza

I instantly fell in love with this pizza.

Sweet and tart yet salty and cheese.  Amazing.

If you haven’t gotten on the Sunday pizza train yet, please do.

BBQ Meatloaf and Grilled Fontina Cornbread Stack

If I’m not going to have pizza on Sunday, then please let me have bbq meatloaf with grilled fontina cornbread.  It’s the ultimate comfort food and the perfect ending to any weekend.  And please, grill the cornbread in your cast iron skillet.  It’s the Southern thing to do.

I prepped the cornbread in advance because you want it to be able to cool before you slice and grill.  The cornbread is FULL of fontina cheese.  This is not a sweet cornbread and I think that a little bit of diced jalapeño would be incredible in this loaf.

For the meatloaf, which by the way is a horrible name for food, we decided to live on the wild side and used a blend of ground veal and ground lamb.  But you could totally use ground beef like the recipe calls for or you could even use ground turkey.  To the meat you add sautéed onions and garlic along with breadcrumbs, worcestershire sauce, tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, S&P plus an egg.  Don’t over mix!  Form the meatloaf into sliders in the size of your choice.  The meatloaf is baked and then topped with a BBQ-tomato sauce mixture and then baked a little more.  I broiled for a minute before removing from the oven.

Slice the cornbread and melt some butter in your cast-iron skillet before grilling the cornbread to perfection.  We tried the cornbread once it was cooled and while it’s delicious there’s nothing quite like cornbread cooked in butter.  Just sayin’.

fontinacornbreadmeatloaf

On the side, simple roasted brussels that are seasoned with salt and pepper plus some chopped pecans for nuttiness and crunch.

I mean, I can’t even deal.  This is not “your mama’s” meatloaf.

Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Curry

I never regret letting the crock-pot handle dinner. This crock-pot recipe requires no pre-cooking and you simply dump the ingredients in the slow cooker and let it do it’s thing.

And just because it’s “meatless” doesn’t mean it’s flavorless.  In fact, this curry is packed with flavor thanks to Thai red curry paste, garam masala, fresh ginger and turmeric.  By the way, turmeric is FULL of health benefits and we all should be eating more of it.  The creaminess comes from coconut milk that is added after the curry is finished cooking.  I’ve never cooked with red lentils before (gasp!) but I found that they almost “melted” into the curry and they weren’t detectable at all.

The curry is served over rice along with quick pickled red onions and cilantro for freshness.  Don’t leave the toppings off – they add life to a meal that’s literally cooked all day long.

curry

And you’ll have lots and lots of leftovers.  The recipe serves 8, so either invite some friends over or plan to eat delicious curry for lunch throughout the week.

Now if only we could teach the crock-pot to clean up the kitchen…

 

Brownies for Two

Saturday was just one of those days.  We were out late on Friday night at the Zac Brown Band concert (I haven’t seen 1am in a long time and I don’t plan on seeing it again until baby girl arrives) and then up early on Saturday to go to the noon Pirate football game.  And then the weather turned sour – aka it felt like August and then I got rained on.  Basically, I was over Saturday before 3pm hit.  Big Guy headed out to the grocery store once we arrived home from the game and I decided to turn my frown upside down.  I made some hot tea and I made a small batch of brownies.  

There is just something comforting about being in the kitchen for me.  Sometimes in life things seem out of your control but when I’m in the kitchen with a recipe, everything (well, almost) is in my control.  I love small batch dessert recipes because I don’t need a full batch of chocolate brownies at my fingertips.

These brownies are dairy-free and gluten-free and are absolutely delicious.  They are chocolatey without being overwhelming and are incredibly light.  I enjoyed one both Saturday and Sunday evening while we caught up on all our shows on DVR and slowly but surely, my mood shifted.

brownies

A tip for these brownies – allow them to cool completely and then transfer to the fridge BEFORE cutting.  When serving, warm in the microwave for a few seconds for a delicious chocolate treat.

(p.s. Everyone has bad days – and while my pregnancy has been a cake walk, I still have some crazy hormones which is what I’m blaming for my mini-breakdown on Saturday.)

Fire Crackerz

Remember when I used to feature “Tailgate Thursday?”  Well I’m bringing it back today with these utterly addictive crackers.  And the recipe couldn’t be easier.

crackerz

Good ‘ole store bought Cheez-Its are jazzed up with a few ingredients for a finger lickin’ good snack.

The crackers are simply tossed with canola oil, a ranch packet and red pepper flakes (the more you add, the more fire you’ll get).  Spread on a baking sheet and bake at a low temperature.  Allow the crackers to cool and then store in an air tight container.

I told you it was simple!