Orzo and Cheese Stuffed Tomato

Forget Meatless Monday! Eat what you want when you want. Lots of veggie options today from my local market. I found a pretty heirloom tomato. The guy said it was hollow and needed to be stuffed. #challengeaccepted

Orzo and Cheese Stuffed Tomato

All I did was cut off the top and hollow out the inside of a summer heirloom tomato… I filled it with leftover cooked orzo and topped with mozzarella. Broiled on low for 10 minutes. YUM!
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Braised Beef Short Ribs in Tomato Sauce

I am enjoying my last week off by cooking up some yummy meals in the kitchen! Today’s lunch was super tasty, so I had to figure out a way to one up myself. When I saw these beautiful beef short ribs on sale today, I knew what I had to do. I live for short ribs. When I see short ribs in the store or on a menu at a hip or fancy restaurant, I always consider getting them. Love them in every way, shape, and form. I have done both beef and pork ribs on the blog, so this is not too far off base with what I have done before. I could charge you at least $22 for this entree. =)

This is a one pot wonder if there ever was one! The meat can cook for hours on end in this tomato sauce; it slowly falls of the bone to create this velvety rich sauce. I served it on top of orzo sprinkled with a bit of parmesan with a side of crusty bread for scarpetta (Italian for sopping up sauce and cleaning your plate). You could serve this on any starchy pasta or polenta. I even served it on mashed potatoes in one recipe.

Braised Beef Short Ribs in Tomato Sauce

Ingredients

Beef Short Ribs or Beef Back Ribs-
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 glass red wine- I used Malbec, my new favorite red
1 small can diced tomatoes
1 large can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter

Directions

Salt and pepper both sides of your ribs.
Brown ribs in a bit or oil in large dutch oven on med. high heat, about 6 minutes per side
Take out ribs. Add onions. Cook for about 6 minutes. Stir.
Add garlic. Cook for about 3 minutes. Stir.
Add tomato paste. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.
Add wine. Sir and reduce for about 5 minutes.
Add your cans of tomatoes, worcestershire sauce, and sugar. Stir and cook for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add in your meat. Cover. Stir every 45 min or so. Cook for 4-6 hours.

****You could do this in your crock pot by adding all ingredients in your pot in the am (you still need to brown meat, but you can do this the night before). Stir and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. You could also put all of this in the oven on 375 until the meat falls apart 4-5 hours.

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Seafood Steamed in Garlic, Butter, and Wine

My lunch today was pretty special. I was at the grocery store and passed by the seafood department. There were these little clams and mussels that seemed to be calling my name. I decided to get some. Then I noticed the shrimp and lobster tails were on sale, so I bought a small serving of each.

I decided to cook them in this creamy rich sauce. Garlic and butter go hand and hand with seafood. I had juice running all down my arms and face. I loved sopping up all that juice with my crusty bread. In Italian, that is called “scarpetta.” You could serve this with pasta or on top a fresh bed of sauteed veggies. Me? I just loved enjoying all the flavors of the seafood and garlicky butter. So succulent!

Seafood Steamed in Garlic, Butter, and Wine

Ingredients

1 lobster tail
6-8 shrimp
6-8 mussels
6-8 clams
3 cloves garlic
3/4 stick of butter
splash of white wine

Directions

In a large pot (I used a circular dutch oven)
melt your butter
cook your garlic for about 3-4 minutes
add your wine- cook down for about 3-4 minutes
add all your seafood
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stir, put a lid on it
cook for about 6 minutes or until all the clams and mussels have opened (throw out the ones that do not open) Your shrimp should be pink and your lobster tail should be red

Serve with a side of crusty bread for sopping up all that delicious juice!

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Chicken and Shrimp with Mustard, Bacon, and White Wine Sauce

How ya’ll doin’ tonight? Not sure how to describe this bad boy. Creamy, smoky, mustardy and succulent. I have been thinking of combining these ingredients for quite sometime. Whole grain mustard, bacon, white wine…awesome combo! I was thawing some chicken thighs today and have been thinking of this dish all day. So here is how I put it together…

Chicken and Shrimp with Mustard, Bacon, and White Wine Sauce

Ingredients

6-8 pieces of bacon
1 onion chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed and minced
6-8 red potatoes (yellow or fingerling can substitute) Chopped in even small pieces. Depending on the size of your potato, I would say in quarters or 6ths.
1 heaping tablespoon stone ground mustard
3-4 Chicken thighs
1/2 pound- 1 pound of raw shrimp (anywhere from 10-20 shrimp depending on size.
a few tablespoons of white wine (can substitute with chicken or seafood stock)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a large cast skillet or pan (cast iron or dutch oven)…
Cook your bacon. Take out and place on a paper towel to cool.
Brown chicken in your bacon grease. Take out chicken.
Add in your onions and potatoes. Cook and stir occasionally for 10-15 minutes. Add in your mustard. Stir for 5 minutes. Add in your wine/stock and reduce for 5 minutes.
Chop your cooled chicken. Add back in your chicken. Cook for 10 minutes.
Chop your cooled bacon. Add in your raw shrimp, chopped bacon, and heavy cream. Cook and stir just occasionally under 10 minutes- when until your shrimp curls and turns pink.
Done =)

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Kale and Beet Chips

Hey there! I am here with another idea for summer veggies. Make them into chips! I did my chips 2 ways; kale and beets. Crunchy and healthy.

For the kale- tear or cup off the leaf from the rib and stem. Discard the rib and stem. They are just too fibrous to eat. No bueno. I sprayed a cookie sheet with Pam. Then I sprayed the kale with Pam and salted it just a bit. You could use olive oil. That is fine. Plus, it has no fat or calories, so it is a bit more figure friendly. But if you have olive oil spray, that would be fine as well. Still healthy! Cook at 450 for about 15 minutes. This stuff cooks fast, so be on the watch so it doesn’t burn. I don’t mind when it turns a little brown, but more than that and it is unedible. 014

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for the beets- slice very thin, preferably on a mandolin. Use the guard and be careful! I treated the beets the same way as the kale. Pam and a little salt and pepper. These take a bit longer. Mine went about 30 minutes. 015

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These are a great way to eat kale and beets even if you don’t think you like kale or beets. The kale has this amazing salty crunch that just sort of melts in your mouth after each bite. The beets are a mix of sweet and salty and are just beautiful. I think next time I will gild the lily and add a sprinkle of grated ginger. Ginger and beets go hand in hand.

EASY Yummy Veggie Lasagna

Here is another vegetarian meal brought to you by my farmer’s market veggies. I made a huge pan, knowing full well that I am the only one eating it. Whatever is leftover in a few days will go straight to the freezer for future consumption.

This lasagna was super easy to make. Store bought sauce, pre-shredded cheese, no boil pasta, and lots of sliced veggies. I threw this together in less than 10 minutes, baked for about 45 minutes until the cheese on top was bubbling and starting to turn brown. The end product was super cheesy yet still light and full of summer flavors! You can mix and match your sauce and veggies and even add in ground meat if you want to make it non-vegetarian. Or serve it as a veggie side pasta to some chicken parm etc.

EASY Yummy Veggie Lasagna

Ingredients
jarred sauce- I used a mixture of alfredo and vodka sauce. I find that for lasagna 1 container of thick sauce is never enough, so I experimented with 1 regular sized Vodka Sauce and 1 small jar of light mushroom alfredo sauce. Perfect amount! I love making different homemade pasta sauces, but I love the convenience and ease of a jarred sauce. I try to keep a couple in my pantry for quick dinners.

1 small bunch of kale, chopped- just the leaves- the ribs and stems are too fibrous to chew-
1 large or 2 small summer squash, sliced
2-3 summer tomatoes- I used one large yellow and 1 small red
1 package of no cook lasagna
1 pound of shredded mozzarella

Directions

Preheat oven to 350
Spray large oven safe casserole dish
put a bit of sauce spread on the bottom
add kale, then some cheese, then pasta, add sauce
add squash, then some cheese,then pasta, add sauce
add tomatoes, then some cheese, then pasta, add sauce

Bake for 45 min-1 hour until cheese is bubbly and brown. That combo of the mushroom alfredo and vodka sauce is unbelievable. It is rich and creamy, yet somehow still manages to feel light and delicate. It pairs perfectly with the veggies, which just kind of melt into the pasta and sauce. This is an awesome recipe to use some pretty amazing farmer’s market ingredients. I hope you give it a try!

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Girls Night In- Part 2: Mama

So I love beanie weenies as much as the next grown-up. Yeah, well, I can fake it if I have to, but I don’t. I took a tortilla chip to the rest of the cheese sauce. http://funfoodiefamily.com/2014/07/13/girls-night-in-part-1-kids/

So yummy, but it needs some spice. I had a plan. I added a chopped jalapeno with the seeds and a few shakes of the hot sauce with the wooden top. You know the one? I could eat hot sauce sprinkled on most foods. Cholula is AMAZING!

This picture cannot give my cheese sauce the proper justice. The sauce was creamy and rich with a ton of spicy flavor. All I did was add the jalapeno, a few dashes of Cholula, and a few dashes of pepper.
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I don’t have a picture of a final dish. Imagine yourself dipping crispy tortilla chips in the yummiest spicy queso that you can. I wouldn’t even put it past us to be drinking a nice cold margarita, chilled white wine, or a favorite cold draft/bottle beer. Cheers to all us grown up girls!

Girls Night In- Part 1: Kids

So hubby is out tonight and it is just us girls. They were playing and all of a sudden wanted dinner. Really? It is only 4:00 and you just ate at 2:00. I had planned on hot dogs and baked beans anyway, so I decided that it was fine if they were hungry. I looked in the cabinet for a starch. Tons of pastas, 1 boxed mac and cheese, and potatoes on the counter. Hmmmm…. Look in the fridge. A whole container of shredded cheddar. Eureka! I’m making a homemade cheese sauce for quick homemade mac and cheese. The girls wanted no part of having a bun, so I introduced them to beanie weenies.

Beanie Weenies are easy. All you have to do is cut up your favorite hot dog (I used Applegate brand) and mixed them with baked beans. I always keep a can of baked beans in my cabinet. It is a great pantry staple.

Homemade Mac and Cheese

I took 1/2 a container of bowtie pasta (use what you have) and cooked it al dente.

This sauce starts with a classic bechamel sauce

Bechamel Sauce (I got from Mario Batali)
Ingredients
5 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Directions
In a medium saucepan, heat the butter over medium-low heat until melted. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Over medium heat, cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use.

Cheddar Cheese Sauce
Put your velvety bechamel sauce back on medium heat. Stir in 1 pound of shredded cheese- I 3/4 sharp cheddar and 1/4 parmesan. Use what you like or have in the fridge. Whisk well.

I added a few spoonfuls to my pasta. Add a few tablespoons of pasta water if needed to thin out the sauce.

Home run dinner.

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Veggie Pesto Pasta

Hey guys! Hope you are having a great weekend! Yesterday I went veggie crazy at the farmer’s market, per usual. I concocted this veggie pesto pasta using all my farm fresh ingredients. You could throw in some grilled chicken or sauteed shrimp in at the end. Pasta Perfection!

Veggie Pesto Pasta

Pesto- There is nothing like a summer fresh homemade pesto! Original pesto has basil, pine nuts, garlic, and parmesan mixed with olive oil. I like to play around with my pesto, so here is how I made it this time.

In my food processor, I mixed together the following things…
2 cups packed greens- 2 good handfuls of mixed greens I got from the market; spinach, arugula, romaine, and kale.
3 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup coarsely grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Veggie Pasta

I sauteed a chopped onion, a handful of cherry tomatoes, 1 sliced squash, sliced sweet peppers (1/3 each of red,yellow,green), and 1 sliced jalapeno. I added 1/2 box of bow tie pasta (use whatever kind of pasta you have/like) to the veggies. Save some pasta water. Add a few tablespoons of your pesto. Add in a bit of pasta water. Mix well.

With all those beautiful colors and flavors, this pasta looks and tastes just like summer!

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Oven Baked Tilapia

Happy Thursday my fellow food fanatics! Thanks for supporting me in my culinary adventures in the kitchen. Here is another food win… oven baked tilapia. This fish turns out moist and flaky and has a delicious crunchy parmesan coating that my family loves.

Oven Baked Tilapia

Ingredients

3 large tilapia fillets- almost 1 pound. On sale, it cost less than $6.
1/4 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
2 cups breadcrumbs (plain or Italian will do fine)
1 tablespoon paprika
3 tablespoons parmesan
1 teaspoon each of onion and garlic powder
Salt and Pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 450

Set up your 2 stations…
Station 1- milk and egg mixed together
Station 2- breadcrumbs, paprika, parmesan, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.

Take your fish and dunk in station 1 on both sides well. Then dunk in station 2. Add each piece to a oven safe dish that has been coated with your favorite cooking spray.

Cook for about 12 \minutes- 6 minutes on each side; flip halfway through. This all depends on the thickness of your fish.

I served with pan roasted brown butter squash (brown 3 tablespoons of butter and add squash with salt and pepper), spicy sauteed spinach (bunch of spinach sauteed in olive oil, a tablespoon of both butter and marscapone, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper), and couscous cooked in chicken stock.

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