my photos on tastespotting
Secret Recipe Club
The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2012
This area does not yet contain any content.

Three Cheese Orzo with Spinach

Want a simple and delicious side dish to serve with your dinner?  This recipe from How Sweet It Is fits the bill!  To go along with our chicken parmesan burgers last week, I thought that pasta was a fitting side dish.  Instead of the traditional spaghetti or other shapes with marinara sauce, I turned to this cheesy recipe.  Definitely a keeper in my book!

1 cup Orzo Pasta
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
1/4 cup Chopped Onion (I used 1/4 of a red onion)
2 Garlic Cloves
2 ounces Goat Cheese
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
1/3 cup Cheddar Cheese, grated
6 ounces Spinach
Pinch of Nutmeg (oops, I forgot this!)

Boil the water and cook the pasta according to package directions.  While the orzo is cooking, heat a skillet on medium heat and add the olive oil.  Add the onions with a pinch of salt and sauté until they become soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and spinach, cooking until the spinach wilts.  In a bowl, combine the drained pasta, spinach mixture, and the cheese, stirring until the cheese begins to melt.  Add the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper, if desired.


Sausage and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

Stuffing and squash...two of my favorite things about Thanksgiving.  This recipe from Prevention RD, originally on Sunny Side Up in San Diego, merges those two loves.  I've made a similar recipe before with a slightly more traditional form of stuffing, but the stuffing inside of this recipe is different, made with panko bread crumbs rather than bread cubes.  One of my favorite things about preparing this dish was the way it made my house smell, with a very close second being the extra stuffing that didn't fit inside the squash, which I baked in a ramekin and ate on its own.

2 Acorn Squash, halved and seeded
2 tablespoons Butter, melted
1 Garlic Clove, pressed
1/2 teaspoon Ground Sage, divided
3/4 pound Italian Sausage (casings removed if using links)
1/2 cup Onion, finely chopped
1 Celery Rib, finely chopped
4 ounces Mushrooms, chopped
1 Apple, cored and chopped
1 cup Panko Crumbs
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
Salt & Pepper
1 Egg, beaten

Combine the melted butter, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon of sage.  Brush the inside and outside of each squash with the butter mix.  Place the squash on a baking sheet, cut side up, and roast at 400 degrees for 50-60 minutes, or until fork tender.  In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the sausage.  When the sausage is browned, remove it from the pan and set it aside on a plate lined with a paper towel.  *At this point, we deglazed the pan with a splash of apple cider.  Add the onions, celery, and mushrooms to the skillet and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the apples and cook for another 2 minutes.  Return the sausage to the skillet and remove from the heat.  Season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of sage, salt, and pepper.  Stir in the panko and parmesan.  Add the egg and stir to combine.  Divide the stuffing evenly among the 4 squash halves.  Return to the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes.


Chicken Parm Burgers

Last weekend was mild in temperature compared to how it should be this time of year, and that gave us the perfect excuse to fire up the grill, possibly for one last time, before winter hits hard.  While we are not big on hamburgers, Joel and I both really enjoy burgers made with ground chicken.  Perhaps it is because we like chicken better than beef, but generally we find that chicken burgers tend to be more flavorful and not as dry as their ground beef counterpart.  I had flagged this burger recipe back in May from Tracey's Culinary Adventures, originally Elly Says Opa, and had been looking for a reason to make it.    This burger did not disappoint!  Rather than serving these on hamburger buns, we made homemade bread and served these along with a slice of it.

1 pound Ground Chicken
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
1/4 cup Bread Crumbs
2 teaspoon Italian Seasoning (I just used a blend of basil, parsley, and oregano)
1/4 cup Flat Leaf Parsley, chopped (I skipped because it didn't look good at the store)
1 Garlic Clove, finely minced
1 Shallot, finely diced (I used 1/4 of a red onion)
Salt and Pepper

1/2 cup Marinara Sauce
4 slices Fresh Mozzarella
Bread or Rolls

In a large bowl, lightly mix the chicken, parmesan, bread crumbs, seasoning, parsley, garlic, shallot, salt, and pepper.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for about 30 minutes for the flavors to meld together.  Separate the meat mixture into 4 patties and grill until cooked through, about 10-15 minutes, flipping once during cook time.  Top each burger with a slice of mozzarella cheese and continue to cook for about 1 minute, until the cheese starts to melt.  Top with marinara sauce and serve on a roll or with a piece of crusty bread.


Roasted Red Pepper Penne

We've been casually looking for a house for the past 2 years since we've been married.  Each weekend, we've been making a list of the open houses in our desired neighborhoods and checking out what was on the market.  The Sunday before Halloween, we had only 3 houses on our list.  On our short drive from one to the next, we happened to see an "open house" sign on the side of a street we hadn't had on our list.  We decided to drive down to check it out.  After waiting for some kids to move their hockey net out of the street, we pulled up to the house, walked in, and immediately knew we were home.  We called the owners that night to schedule another showing, and returned on Halloween night to look one more time.  We called that evening with an offer, and after one counter, we settled on a price.  Since then, we've signed the contract and had the inspection, and now we just wait until January when we can finally move into our dream home.  In the midst of those crazy days we've had, I wanted some quick meals, since we were running from appointment to appointment.  I've had this flagged from How Sweet It Is, so we decided to give it a go.  Talk about a quick meal!  I altered it a bit, omitting the chicken and using jarred red peppers instead of roasting my own, but I think that added to the ease of this recipe.  My modifications are reflected in the recipe below.

1 jar Roasted Red Peppers, drained
3 Garlic Cloves
1/3 cup Parmesan Cheese
4-5 Basil Leaves, torn
1/4 teaspoon Black Pepper
1/8 teaspoon Salt
4-5 tablespoons Olive Oil
1 pound Penne Pasta
1/2 Onion, thinly sliced

Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Cook the pasta according to package directions.  In a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and cook until they are translucent and begin to caramelize.  Meanwhile, in the bowl of a food processor, add the peppers, garlic, parmesan cheese, basil, salt, and pepper.  Blend until pureed, then stream in 3-4 tablespoons of oil so that the mixture comes together.  In a large bowl, combine the penne and onions.  Add the red pepper sauce and toss to coat.  Serve with additional parmesan cheese and a few basil leaves, if desired.


German Potato Salad

This is my first month taking part in the Secret Recipe Club, and I have to say, I already really enjoy it!  I was assigned to One Lovely Life, which truly is one lovely blog!  I read through from the most recent post, all the way to the very beginning and I enjoyed it very much.  Emily's posts are so well written, her pictures are awesome, and of course, she has an absolutely adorable family including her beautiful little girl, who she writes about often.  I had a tough time picking just one of the recipes on her blog to share for the reveal, but ultimately, it came down to German Potato Salad.  I've always loved German Potato Salad (sadly, Joel doesn't share that love).  As a kid, we'd open a can of it and serve it as a side to a grilled dinner.  Canned is ok, but I'd much prefer homemade.  We had a family friend who made the best homemade German Potato Salad.  Of course, she guarded the recipe closely, as it was a family secret.  Well, I think that this recipe is spot on for the perfect German potato salad.

6-8 Red Potatoes, scrubbed and peeled
1/2 Sweet Onion, sliced thin (*I added this)
3 slices Bacon, diced
1 1/2 tablespoon Flour
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/2 cup Water
3 1/2 tablespoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper
3-4 tablespoons Fresh Parsley, minced (optional--I omitted)

Place the potatoes in a large pot and fill with cold water, until the potatoes are completely covered by 1-2 inches of water.  Bring to a boil and cook until mostly tender, about 15-20 minutes.  Drain and allow to cool before slicing into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Spray a large, heavy bottomed skillet with non-stick cooking spray.  Cook the onions over medium heat until they have become golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Remove the onions to a plate and add the bacon to the skillet, cooking until crisp and brown.  Remove the bacon and set aside to cool on paper towels.  Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the flour to the bacon grease, stirring to combine.  Cook for 1-2 minutes.  Pour in the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Cook, stirring until thickened, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the sliced potatoes, onion, and bacon back to the skillet/pot and toss with the dressing.  Stir in the parsley, if using.  Serve warm or at room temperature.