October Menu ~ 2013

Oh, Fall, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…..

I cannot express enough how much I love this season for so many reasons.  I am essentially a cool weather kind of girl, and even though I do enjoy Summers off with the kiddos, I hate to sweat and I truly dislike the clothes. I like the jeans, layers of shirts and jackets, and trendy boots of the Fall season, not to mention the crisp air, apples, pumpkins, turning leaves crunching under your feet, and best of all Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Ah…………….

Okay, maybe the lattes aren’t the very best part of Fall but they come pretty close.

So this month I am jumping  head first into the baking season, full of deliciousness and comfort.  This is my time to snuggle down with a hot cup of spiced chai, read some good books, plan the holiday get-togethers (yeah, I have to start planning now) and cook some awesome food. Ready?

oct collage 2013

October Menu ~ 2013

Meatball Minestrone Soup

Italian Beef Sandwiches with Giardiniera

Crock Pot Meatloaf

Skillet Ratatouille

Crock Pot Swiss Chicken

Dijon Dill Salmon

Not Your Typical Rice & Beans

Quinoa, Black Bean & Corn Burritos

Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken

Peasant Soup with Rosemary Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

GF Tex Mex Polenta Pizza

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Dumplings (Pot Stickers)

Pot Roast Sliders with Creamy Chipotle Sauce

Crockpot Lasagna

SIDES

Spinach Squares

Carrot Mash Bake

Savory Skillet Veggies

Asparagus Feta Tart

Cheesy Pesto Pull-Apart Bread

LUNCH

Pizza Tarts

Mini Meaty Cheesy Quiches

Corndog Muffins

Pizza Buns

 Chicken Enchilada Puffs

BREAKFAST

Zucchini Tomato Feta Frittata

No Yeast Cinnamon Rolls

Breakfast Cookies

DESSERT

Crock Pot Blueberry Cobbler

 Cannoli Tarts

Pumpkin Pie Spice Whoopie Pies

Plum Crumble

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Caprese Style Quinoa Bake

This was soooooo yummy.  Hubby and I like to eat meatless so this was actually great by itself for a meal, but it makes an awesome side dish as well for those who want a more rounded-out dinner.  The boys liked it, too, though they aren’t crazy about chunks of tomato.  A regular caprese uses fresh, delicious mozzarella, so by all means use it if you’ve got it.  However, I didn’t have any so I used goat cheese instead.  It was awesome!  This dish came out tasting like warm, comforting, creamy tomato soup with some chew.  Delicious.

caprese quinoa

Caprese Style Quinoa Bake

3 cups cooked quinoa

1 cup pasta sauce

2 T tomato paste

1/3 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese

1 cup Mozzarella (or 4 oz. goat cheese)

2/3 cup grape tomatoes, halved*

1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into ribbons

salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350*. Cook the quinoa- 1 cup quinoa + 2 cups chicken broth.

2. In a saucepan heat up the pasta sauce and tomato paste. Once warm, stir in the cream, parmesan, salt & pepper, half the tomatoes, half the basil, and half the mozzarella or goat cheese. Stir until heated through and everything is melted and smooth. *I didn’t have grape tomatoes so I diced up a large one.

3. Spray a baking dish (I used a 4×7 but you can go up to an 8×8 or 9×9). Pour in quinoa mixture and top with remaining tomato and mozz/goat cheese.

4. Bake for 15 minutes, then broil for an additional 2 or 3, until cheese is gold and bubbly.

5. Remove from oven and top with the remaining basil ribbons.  Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.

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BBQ Chicken Pizza Pinwheels

These were super easy to throw together while I was preparing dinner one night.  All you need is a prepared pizza crust (I used whole wheat) and a little bit of prep- or some leftover chicken, or hey, even chicken from a can would work.  Bake it up and put in the refrigerator. Then pack it in your lunch, or the kiddos- which is what I did- and you’ve got a great meal on the go.

BBQpinwheels1

BBQ Chicken Pizza Pinwheels

1 pkg pizza dough

1/2 cup BBQ sauce

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

2/3 cup cooked chicken, shredded

1/4 red onion, finely diced

3 T cilantro, minced

BBQpinwheel2

1. Preheat oven to 400* and roll out the pizza dough into a 1/2-inch thick square on a floured surface.

2. Spread BBQ sauce evenly over the dough. Top with cheddar, chicken, onion, and cilantro.

3. Carefully roll the dough up lengthwise.  Cut3/4-inch wide slices and place on lined baking sheet.

4. Bake for 17-20 minutes, or until lightly golden.

5. Serve with extra BBQ sauce for dipping.

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Pan-Seared Salmon with Basil Cream Sauce

We like to eat a lot of fish around here but sometimes it gets boring. Eating fish two times a week is highly recommended for anyone wanting a healthier diet and lifestyle, and since we primarily eat only salmon and tilapia as our main sources of fish, we like to try new ways to prepare them. This sauce has a little fattening-boost to an otherwise healthy dish, but man, does it make it good! If I’d had any fresh spinach this dish would have been excellent on a bed of wilted greens. However, as it turned out it was just as good served with roasted brussels sprouts (see this post for a great recipe) and parmesan cous cous.

basil cream sauce & salmon

Pan-Seared Salmon in Browned Butter with Basil Cream Sauce

3 or 4 salmon fillets, or a 1.5 lb cut

3 T butter

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup cream cheese, room temp.

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp lemon zest

salt & pepper

1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped, divided

1. In large skillet heat the butter until it is lightly sizzling. Season salmon with salt & pepper and cook both sides until lightly browned. Set aside.

2. In small bowl combine sour cream, cream cheese, lemon zest, and 1/2 cup of the basil.

3. Deglaze pan with the wine. Simmer a few moments to reduce the liquid by half. Add in garlic and let cook 1 minute.

4. Stir in cream cheese mixture and heat through.

5. Serve salmon with a spoonful of cream sauce and a sprinkle of fresh basil.

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Chicken Stroganoff

Here is a yummy twist to an older standard. I love regular stroganoff but we don’t eat a whole lot of beef here, nor do the boys like mushrooms. This recipe is a great sub for that lovely sour cream sauce you crave but with tender, delicious chicken and pasta instead. This is also a quick week night meal. 30 minutes tops and you’re ready for supper!

chix stroganoff

Chicken Stroganoff

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed and cut into 1-inch pieces

3 T EVOO, divided

1/4 cup shallots or green onion, sliced thin

1 T flour

1/2 cup white wine

1/2 cup reserved pasta water

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup cream cheese

1 tsp tarragon, dried (1 T fresh)

8 oz. pasta, cooked according to package directions

1. Heat 2 T EVOO in a large skillet and brown chicken pieces until cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside.

2. Add last T of EVOO and cook shallots for 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Deglaze pan with wine and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Reduce liquid by a third.

4. Whisk together flour and pasta water, add to pan. Simmer for several minutes.

5. Stir in creams and the tarragon. Combine well.

6. Add chicken back into the skillet and allow to simmer a minute longer.

7. Toss with (cooked and drained) pasta.

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Pizza Tarts

Is it silly for me to say how excited I am about these little pizza tarts? Seriously, I am.

First of all, they are one of my newest lunch box recipes and I am positive they have been a HUGE hit with the boys. And secondly, they were simple to make and smelled amazing coming out of the oven. It was super hard not to gobble them up right then!

It’s too bad blogs don’t offer scratch and sniff screens…..

pizza tarts

Pizza Tarts

1 sheet refrigerated pie crust, rolled out to desired thickness

turkey pepperoni

shredded mozzarella cheese

pizza or marinara sauce

WARNING: While I did get the idea from a magazine, I do not have specific measurements so hopefully my directions won’t be too scattered for you. But really, this wasn’t hard at all. Just eyeball it, have fun, and use your imagination.

1. Preheat oven to 375*

2. Lightly grease a muffin tin and place circle cut-outs of pie crust that are about 1/4 inch in diameter larger than the bottom of the muffin tin. I used a glass with a wide mouth (about 3 – 3.5 inches) which made a good sized circle to fit in the bottom of a regular sized muffin tin.

3. Cut up veggies or meat of choice and place in the bottom of the pie crusts. I used turkey pepperoni, about 2 little slices for each tart.

4. Spoon on some pizza or marinara sauce. It won’t take much, about 1.5 – 2 T of sauce.

5. Sprinkle about 1 tsp of Parmesan cheese on top of the sauce.

6. Now for the mozzarella cheese. I’d guess about 1 T of shredded cheese. I didn’t have any on hand, only slices, so it came out to about 1/4 slice per tart, cut up.

7. Bake for 15 minutes.

You can enjoy these right away or refrigerate and pack for lunches the next day. Enjoy!

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Creamy Chicken Crock Pot Tacos

This was so easy I could have done it in my sleep. You can even throw frozen chicken breasts into the slow cooker if you haven’t had time to thaw them out- just increase the cooking time. And the taste?? WHOA! These were so so so incredibly delicious that all my boys scarfed them up! Serve with your favorite tacos toppings; we used shredded lettuce, diced tomato, sliced black olives, shredded cheese, and diced avocado. Just serve it up in a 6-inch tortilla and enjoy!

crock pot chix tacos

Creamy Chicken Crock Pot Tacos

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup taco seasoning mix (1 pkg)

12 oz. jar of salsa

6 oz. container of mascarpone cheese*

1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained

1. Spray crock pot with cooking spray and place chicken at the bottom.

2. Combine the taco seasoning with the salsa and pour over chicken. Stir to cover the chicken.

3. Put cover over crock pot and cook on high for 3 hours (if thawed) or on low for 5.

4. Shred chicken using two forks and return to crock pot. Add beans and let mixture heat through.

5. About 15-20 minutes before serving add in mascarpone cheese (*can use cream cheese) and beans. Combine well so cheese is melted and creamy, and beans get heated through.

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Chocolate Chip – Coconut Blondies

The other week I was really craving something chewy and chocolatey. And the idea of coconut made it even better. Instead of getting in the kitchen and creating something (it would have been fabulous, I’m sure) I decided to adapt these blondies I’d had a recipe for.

Although no one can call these healthy by most standards (they are homemade which means no preservatives or chemicals added), a small square will never hurt, and it makes a great dessert in a lunchbox or on dessert night.

blondies

Chocolate Chip – Coconut Blondies

1 cup flour (I used my 1/2 & 1/2 flour)

1/8 tsp salt

4 oz. unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temp.

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1 large egg

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup coconut flakes

1 1/4 cups chocolate chips, divided

1/4 tsp butter

1. Grease and flour an 8- or 9-inch square baking pan. Preheat oven to 350*.

2. Combine flour and salt. Set aside.

3. Beat melted butter and brown butter together. Add egg and vanilla until well blended and smooth.

4. Slowly beat in flour mixture until well blended. Stir in coconut and 1 cup chocolate.

5. Spread evenly in pan and bake for5 20 to 25 minutes. (Don’t over bake) Let cool.

6. Melt remaining 1/4 cup chocolate with butter and drizzle over the top of the blondies.

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Baked Oatmeal Casserole

If you are looking for a breakfast (or snack) that has protein, nutrients, fruits, nuts, fiber, and iron, and is quick, easy, satisfying, and filling, then look no further than here. Yes, seriously, this casserole is all those things and more.

I love this casserole because I can make it a night ahead and just serve up portions in the morning with a little zap in the microwave. You can eat it plain because it is moist and has so many flavors, or add a drop of pure honey or maple syrup over it. It’s a complete meal in itself and it’ll give you all the energy you need to take you through your busy mornings.

Another great thing about this casserole is that there are no rules for what you can put in it. I used what I had on hand, which was frozen blueberries and rhubarb, pecans, and bananas, but you could easily use strawberry, raspberry, blackberry, and walnuts. Whatever your heart desires.

baked oatmeal1

Baked Oatmeal Casserole

2 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup brown sugar, plus extra for topping

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup pecan or walnut pieces, divided

1 cup frozen berries, divided

1/4 – 1/2 cup frozen rhubarb pieces

1/2 cup chocolate chips, divided

1 banana, sliced

2 cups milk

1 large egg

3 T butter, melted

1 T vanilla

baked oatmeal2

1. Preheat oven to 375* and grease a 10×7 baking dish.

2. In a large bowl combine the oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, half the nuts, half the berries, the rhubarb, and half the chocolate. Mix well.

3. Lay this mixture out evenly in baking dish. Top with banana slices and remaining nuts berries, and chocolate.

4. Whisk together milk, egg, vanilla, and melted butter (make sure the butter sits a minute so it’s not too hot).

5. Pour over oatmeal mixture and gently shake the dish so the milk goes through the oats.

6. Sprinkle additional brown sugar over the top (maybe 1/8 cup) and bake for 35 minutes.

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Wonton Quiche Cups

I had this great little mini quiche idea for lunches but decided to cut a corner or two by using wonton wrappers. The result was great except they weren’t “mini” as in mini muffin size (they’re regular muffin size, which, yes, is still mini compared to a regular sized quiche…on we go….) and were better suited for breakfast. So I will still be working on the mini-mini quiches for the boys’ lunches, but here is an unexpected bonus recipe/meal. I love when that happens.

Also, just a quick side note, since I was experimenting I only made 6 quiches. The measurements are simple enough though to double or triple the recipe if you so desire. And don’t forget that you can put whatever meat/veggies you want into your quiches.

quiche cups

Wonton Quiche Cups

12 wonton wrappers

4 eggs, beaten

3 slices turkey bacon

1/3 cup shredded swiss cheese

1/4 cup shredded cheddar

salt & pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375*.  Lightly oil the muffin tins.

2. Layer 2 wrappers together with the corners spread out so it looks like you’re holding an 8-pointed star. Place in the bottoms of each muffin cup and push down to shape them.

3. Cut up the bacon (1/2 slice per cup) and put in bottoms of wontons along with the swiss cheese (divide evenly).

4. Salt & pepper the beaten eggs and divide between the wonton cups. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the egg.

5. Bake for 15 minutes, or until eggs are set and very lightly browned.

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