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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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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Crock Pot Swiss Chicken

I love Swiss Chicken. It’s one of my all-time favorite comfort foods, and I especially like to make it in the winter. It’s an easy weeknight meal but also special enough to serve to company. One of the best things about my swiss chicken recipe is that it can easily be halved, doubled, or even tripled. I’ve been making this for years and was pleasantly surprised to find how simple it was to make in the crock pot. So here’s a staple recipe of mine simplified for you even more.

crock pot swiss chix

Crock Pot Swiss Chicken

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

5-6 slices swiss cheese

*1 can cream of chicken soup

1/4 cup milk

1 box Stove Top chicken stuffing

1 stick butter, melted

Spray crock pot with cooking spray and place chicken at the bottom.  Cover chicken with the swiss cheese.

In a bowl combine soup and milk. *Get the recipe here for a chemical-free cream soup alternative. Pour and evenly spread this mixture out over the chicken and cheese.

In a larger bowl mix the melted butter into the dry stuffing until combined well. Top the chicken and cheese with this stuffing.

Place lid on top and cook for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high.

*If you have a slow cooker where the crock is removable, put it in the oven under the broiler for a few minutes or until the stuffing on top is a bit crispy. Awesome.

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Chocolate-Drizzled Cheesecake Cream Puffs

This was so easy. The boys love stuff like this (as do I) and I especially like the way it tastes just as good as what you can get from the bakery with a fraction of the cost. If you have these ingredients handy then you could whip up some at any time to feed that sweet tooth.

A few quick substitutes just in case you don’t keep cheesecake-flavored pudding around. The pudding can be replaced with vanilla-flavored, and the mascarpone can easily be subbed with regular cream cheese, though I would keep a few Tbsp of powdered sugar near by to taste and add as needed.

cream puff2

Cream Puffs

2 sheets puff pastry, thawed

6 oz. container of mascarpone cheese

1 pkg. cheesecake-flavored pudding

3/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup whole milk (+ a few more T for consistency)

3/4 cup chocolate chips, melted

cream puff1

1. Preheat oven to 375*.

2. Using a water-glass or cookie cutters, cut 9 large circles from each pastry sheet.

3. Place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes. (I baked one sheet at a time; 9 puffs each sheet)

4. Mix together pudding mix and mascarpone cheese using a mixmaster with the whisk attachment.

5. Add in heavy cream and milk. Whisk until combined and smooth (you may need to add up to 2 T of extra milk here).

6. Let puffs cool and then slice each one carefully into two pieces wherever you find a natural split in the middle.

7. Place pudding mixture into a plastic baggie and cut a corner to pipe cream onto bottom halves of each pastry puff. Place tops on.

8. Melt chocolate slowly in microwave, stopping to stir every 30 seconds (should only take about a minute. The last bit will melt while stirring).

9. Put chocolate in plastic bag and cut a corner to drizzle over the tops of the puffs.

10. Allow about 20-30 minutes in the fridge so chocolate can set or enjoy right away 🙂

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Random Recipe Roundup

Crunchy Fish Tacos with Cilantro Cream Sauce

I love fish tacos- but if you’ve been reading long enough you already knew that. There are so many ways to put together a fish taco starting with the type of fish you use and how it’s prepared. Then there’s the shell (soft corn or flour tortillas, or crunchy shells) and then everything that goes in between. Some of my favorite toppings are shredded cabbage, cheddar cheese, tomato and avocado.

But the star of this show isn’t the taco. As you can see I just used frozen fish sticks (sometimes you just gotta have that crunch). The main attraction in this post is the Cilantro Cream Sauce that is made for any kind of fish tacos…and you can thank Yvonne for this one 🙂

cilantro sauce

Crunchy Fish Tacos

Frozen fish sticks

Corn or flour tortillas

Tomato, diced

Avocado, diced

Cabbage, shredded

Shredded cheese

Cilantro Cream Sauce

1/4 sour cream

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

fresh pepper and salt, to taste

lime juice, to taste

Mix together ingredients and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

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