Veggie-Packed Bolognese

Remember how I promised another “flipped” recipe?  In this Veggie-Packed Bolognese, there is still beef in the sauce.  But instead of there being more meat than sauce sitting atop a mountain of pasta, there’s a little beef, lots of veggies and spices and “boodles” (butternut squash noodles).

It is absolutely insane how “meaty” the bolognese tastes with only 6 ounces of meat in the entire recipe.  In addition to the beef, there is onion, mushrooms, carrots, celery – the two types of mushrooms add an intense flavor that mimics that of beef.  Other components of the sauce:  tomato sauce, tomato paste, crushed red pepper, oregano, and walnuts.  Yes, walnuts.  They provide a little nuttiness and lots of texture.

The recipe originally calls for a combo of “real” noodles and “boodles.”  We decided to use only “boodles” made with my new spiralizer and they were awesome.  So fun!  I think kids would get a kick out of creating noodles from a variety of veggies.

veggie packed bolognese

And you can’t have bolognese without cheese!  Freshly shaved parmesan finishes this meaty and delicious veggie-packed bolognese.

Do you have a spiralizer?  I’m most looking forward to trying it out with cucumbers and sweet potatoes (hello, sweet potato fries)!

Mushroom and Chicken Marsala Bowl

In the most recent issue of Cooking Light, there is a feature section that “flips” a few recipes:  more plants, less meat.  The reason for this flip is simple:  American’s eat way too much meat.  In fact, most American’s eat twice the recommended amount of animal protein while on 14% of us are eating enough plants.  {source}

Wait, wait, wait…I’m not turning into a vegetarian.  While I do eat lots of vegetarian meals, I love steak, chicken, fish, pork, BACON.  The “flip” is simply a way to reduce the amount meat and increase the amount of veggies.

Traditional chicken marsala has three times more meat than veggies and after the flip there is three times more veggies than meat.  And instead of serving the chicken and mushrooms over white pasta, this mushroom and chicken marsala is served over a bed of quinoa – a powerhouse of nutrients.

The quinoa is cooked in beef stock (it’s what I had on hand – feel free to use chicken broth) to give even more flavor to the dish.  With the chicken and mushrooms is sautéed spinach, lots of sliced garlic, fresh thyme and a sauce that’s made with beef stock, marsala wine, mustard plus salt and pepper.

The end result was ridiculously satisfying.

Meaty, rich and buttery.

This “flipped” dinner was so delicious I have a feeling you’ll see another edition of “flipped” soon.

Peppered White Bean, Kale and Egg Stack

Last night I had a “kitchen milestone.”  I finally prepared a poached egg correctly.  Make that two correctly poached eggs.

In the past, either the water is too hot or the water is too cold and the egg whites separate from the yolk.

The perfectly poached egg was sitting atop a bed of peppered white beans, sautéed kale and then topped with a salsa.  The peppered white bean mixture was simply a can of white beans brought to a boil with a little water and then simmered for a few minutes.  The beans were then removed from the heat and I added in some pepper and lemon zest plus a little parmesan cheese.  The kale was sautéed in a little EVOO until wilted.  The salsa was a simple mix of diced white onion, diced tomato, lemon juice and a little more EVOO plus salt and pepper.

The end result was creamy and full of flavor.  I loved the addition of the lemon zest in the white beans and the tomato salsa had a punch of flavor from minced garlic.  And the runny egg yolk acted as a dressing for the entire bowl.

This dinner and my perfectly poached egg might make up for the eight or ten sausage balls I consumed on Christmas morning.

Christmas Vacation

And just like that the ornaments are being taken off the tree, the wreaths are being taken down and Christmas has come to an end.

Big Guy and I have a few days off together over the next week and I’m excited to get the house cleaned up, all our presents put in their new places and cooking some dinner at home for the two of us.  Big Guy’s birthday is on Thursday so I’m sure we’ll be cooking up something amazing and popping open a bottle of bubbles.

Here’s a recap of our wonderful, joyful, delicious Christmas in Charlotte:

On Tuesday we made a quick pit-stop in Raleigh on our way to Charlotte to pick up a couple of last minute Christmas gifts as well as to kick off our Christmas vacation with sushi at Mura.

We arrived in Charlotte after driving through lots of rain (rain seems to be the theme of the past 5 days) and it was so good to see my parents and brother.  We ran a few errands and grabbed an easy dinner before calling it a night.

Wednesday started off with an early workout (actually late since it wasn’t at 5am) and then I baked my little heart out most of the day.  Sausage balls and banana bread galore!  That evening we had Christmas dinner at my Mimi’s house.  It was a smaller-than-usual celebration but it was wonderful despite one of my brothers and sister-in-law not being able to make it.

Christmas Eve morning started like any other day with a workout and then I baked my Dad’s birthday cake (he shares a birthday with Jesus and we celebrate this birthday on Christmas night).

Before we went to church we grabbed a late lunch at Paco’s Tacos and we all deemed that it is going to be our new Christmas Eve tradition.

The margaritas were fantastic and the food was awesome.  I started with a Cucumber and Jalapeño Margarita and since we were all starving, we shared some guacamole and queso.  For lunch, I ordered the Fiesta Bowl with Grilled Shrimp.  Can’t wait to continue this Mexican Christmas Eve tradition.

Christmas Eve night we have the tradition of cooking soup.  Despite the warm weather, both my Mom and I prepared a big pot of soup and we enjoyed the soup with ultimate grilled cheese sandwiches.  My mom made a roasted red pepper and gouda soup and I made a Loaded Baked Potato Soup.

Post-soup we spent the evening tidying up the house and getting ready for 20 plus folks the next morning for our Christmas Brunch.  Christmas Brunch has been a tradition that has taken place since I can remember.  The menu is always the same:  Monkey Bread, Sausage Balls, Grits Casserole, Sausage and Cheese Casserole, French Toast Bake and fruit.  Oh – don’t forget about mimosas.

Christmas morning came and I was so excited to see all my siblings and my niece and nephew.  The whole day was wonderful and it flew by way too fast.  As I mentioned before, we celebrated my Dad’s birthday with an Italian feast of lasagna, salad and red wine.

We had planned to come home on Saturday but we ended up deciding to stay the day and spend a little more time with my parents and my youngest brother.

We went to Rooster’s for lunch which was awesome (minus a little slower than desired service) and then we had a pizza and game night.  Big Guy is a party pooper and didn’t play dominoes with us – he missed out!

The perfect end to a wonderful few days.

I hope you all had a magical Christmas – treasure the time between now and next Christmas though – 2016 will fly by.

Enjoy your Monday!

Honey and Sesame-Glazed Chicken with Green Beans

Crunch time!

In between wrapping presents and and shuffling to and from every social gathering possibly, I’m sure everyone needs a quick and easy dinner that requires minimal ingredients and prep.

And guess what, Honey and Sesame-Glazed Chicken with Green Beans is both of those.

Not only does the recipe only take 20 minutes from start to finish but it only requires 9 ingredients.

The sweetness of the honey and the nuttiness of the sesame oil pair perfectly with the tangy whole-grain mustard.

I mentioned Lusty Monk Mustard yesterday and I’m mentioning it again today – it is THAT good.

We tried Lusty Monk for the first time in Asheville and ended up purchasing a jar – we’re already planning on ordering more.  It’s local and absolutely incredible.

I used a mixture of breasts and thighs when I prepared this dinner and both worked wonderfully.

The beans are simply tossed with a little butter, salt, pepper and pecans for some more nuttiness and crunch.

The perfect dinner the week of Christmas – because your “To Do” list keeps growing and your time keeps dwindling.


Marbled Red Velvet Bundt Cake {plus a holiday dinner menu}

Good morning!  I can honestly say it felt like Christmas this past weekend.  Don’t get me wrong, Asheville and visiting the Biltmore put me in the spirit but being with family and celebrating really made the fact that Christmas is THIS week real.

We spent most of the day Friday prepping for Saturday – setting the table, prepping as much as I could in the kitchen and trying to get ahead of the game so that I could enjoy Saturday to the fullest without being stressed out.

One of the menu items that I prepped on Friday was dessert.  More often than not, cakes can be made well in advance – I simply waited until Saturday morning to ice the cake.  Another bonus of baking on Friday morning – our house smelled amazing for most of the day.  The Marble Red Velvet Bundt Cake wasn’t all that difficult to prep – a pretty basic cake recipe.  And the trick to getting a swirled cake is to not use a knife to swirl – but instead you use a cookie scoop to drop the batters in a pattern that produces a swirl as it bakes.  The icing is a simple mix of powdered sugar and milk (I needed up using about 2 more tablespoons of milk than the recipe called for).

And the end result was gorgeous – I can’t lie, I was pretty proud of my baking skills with this dessert.

After a whirlwind Friday, the my in-laws along with other family arrived shortly before lunch on Saturday.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent simply enjoying the company of family we don’t see near enough.  We laughed, we opened gifts and we ate an amazing dinner.

Here’s the menu Big Guy and I came up with:

Cocktail Hour:

Apple Cider Sangria

Assorted Cheese Board featuring a couple of cheeses from Looking Glass Creamery (cranberry-walnut goat cheese and chocolate lab) as well as a Smashed Blue chutney from Looking Glass Creamery and an Ashe County Bleu cheese from SoCo Farm and Food home delivery.  We also had some pepperoni that we brought home from Asheville.


Dinner Menu:

Fresh Artisan Bread with Bacon-Honey Butter (from SoCo Farm and Food home delivery)

Salad (homegrown greens with a salad dressing:  1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoons Lusty Monk mustard, 1 minced garlic clove, salt and pepper)

Prime Rib with Red Wine Sauce

Creamy Collards (from SoCo Farm and Food home delivery)

Potato Gratin with Horseradish, Gruyere and Sweet Onions

Marbled Red Velvet Bundt Cake with Peppermint Ice-cream


It all was incredible!

Happy Monday, friends.


Spicy Veggie Hash

After a weekend in Asheville my body is craving veggies.

So that’s just what I had last night for dinner.

A big bowl of veggies.

Spicy veggie hash is full of green beans, black beans, sweet potatoes and topped with fresh tomatoes, a little feta, and pistachios.

The spiciness comes from the ground red pepper and the adobo sauce.  (p.s. They finally make and sale chiles in adobo sauce in a screw cap bottle.  Why did it take so long?)

And the bowl gets even more flavor from oregano, cumin, cinnamon and garlic.  I adored the addition of cinnamon in this dish.

veggie bowl

After an indulgent weekend, my body is thanking me.