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Posts from the ‘Sides’ Category

Spinach, Feta and Olive Stuffed Bread

I sort of stumbled my way to this recipe. I found myself thinking of all the things I like to eat (carbs and cheese being at the top of the list) and then just got a little crazy with spinach and olives.

Spinach, feta and olive stuffed bread is awesome as an anytime snack or meal. You can have it in the morning on the side with some eggs, for lunch with some soup, or by itself for dinner…and it gets better! This is great to make ahead of time and freeze. You can eat it slice by slice, whenever you’re feeling a little lazy 🙂

Ingredients:

– 4 oz frozen or freshly chopped spinach

– 2 oz green olives

– 3 oz reduced fat feta cheese

– 1 tbsp olive oil

– 1 garlic clove

– 4 oz crushed tomatoes (use canned)

– 1 tsp dried oregano

– 1 tsp salt

– 1 tsp black pepper

– 1 tbsp unsalted butter

– 1 tbsp parmesan

– 2 tbsp panko bread crumbs

– 1 pizza dough – I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t have time to make this from scratch so I would get this either from the grocery store or your local pizzeria and save yourself some time!

Instructions:

Pre-heat oven to 375.

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan over low heat. While the oil is heating up, finely dice the garlic clove. Add the garlic to the hot oil and allow it to begin to brown. Once the garlic is slightly brown add the crushed tomatoes and spinach. Mix together in the pan and then add the salt, black pepper and oregano. Continue cooking over low heat until the spinach is wilted (about 3-5 minutes). While the spinach cooks, dice the feta cheese and olives. If you buy crumbled feta this step is not necessary! When the spinach is cooked, add in the olives and feta cheese and turn off the stove. In a separate bowl, melt 1 tbsp of butter in the microwave and then mix in the panko bread crumbs and parmesan cheese. Set aside to use as a topping for the bread.

Spread some flour on the counter and on a rolling-pin. Place the pizza dough on the counter and begin to roll it out, flipping it over after ever few rolls of the pin to evenly roll it out and ensure each side is well floured. This will keep the dough from sticking to the rolling-pin and counter. Once the dough has been rolled out in the shape of a pizza pie, place on a greased cookie sheet. Spread the spinach filling evenly across the dough, leaving a 1 inch border all the way around. Fold over one side of the dough across the spinach. Then fold the other side over and twist the ends like a twist tie. Spray with cooking spray and place in the oven for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes remove from the oven and place the butter/parmesan/bread crumb mixture over the top. Spray with some cooking spray again and place back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool for about 5 minutes before slicing.

Hostess with the Mostess: You can make this the day before your party and then just reheat it before you’re ready to serve. If you want it to be freshly made, do everything ahead of time and leave the bread on the baking sheet. Place in the oven to cook about 30-40 minutes before you’re ready to serve. No need to call everyone to the table…the smell of freshly made bread will bring them on their own.

The Perfect Cup of Coffee

BEEP BEEP BEEP. Your alarm clock goes off at 6AM. You sleepily reach across your bed and aimlessly start hitting your nightstand. You’re aiming for the alarm clock but at 6AM your aim is slightly off and it takes you a few tries to 1) find the alarm clock and 2) successfully hit the snooze button. Then, just as you’ve started to drift back into a semi-sleep state of mind, it goes off again. This time your aim is slightly better but you’ve resigned yourself to getting up and starting your day. As you force yourself to sit up, all you can think about is that first cup of coffee. You can practically taste it in your mouth and just thinking about it gives you something to look forward to.

Does this sound familiar? I hope it does. If not, I have a serious addiction to caffeine and will probably need to seek professional help. Getting up every morning for work is not something we (i.e. I) look forward to, but it has to be done. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I do need coffee to get my day going, but what non-coffee drinkers don’t understand is it’s not just ANY cup of coffee that will get me through my day. It has to be the PERFECT cup of coffee.

If you’re making coffee at home it may seem like a no brainer, but I’m going to blog about it anyways today because after years of drinking coffee, 3 different coffee makers and countless different brands of coffee, I’ve learned what the formula is for coffee. You’re in luck, because I’m going to share it with you 🙂

Ingredients:

– 1 heaping tbsp of ground coffee – I go for hazelnut or chocolate raspberry but choose whatever works for you

– 3 tbsp half and half

– 1 tsp sugar

– 2 cups water (measured in the coffee pot)

Instructions: 

So this recipe is for 1 cup of coffee. Your coffee maker will have lines in the pot to use for measuring water. As a general rule of thumb, every 2 cups of water you measure with the pot will only yield 1 cup of coffee. I learned this the hard way, so take note of this!! If you want 2 cups of coffee that means you have to measure 4 cups of water with the pot and so on.

The next step is measuring out the coffee. For every cup of coffee you’re serving, you want 1 heaping tbsp of coffee. This may seem like a lot, but once it gets diluted in the water and you add half and half…it’s really not.

Add the water to your coffee maker and the coffee to your filter and hit that start button. You should be able to smell the coffee as it’s brewing and once its done, a quick glance at the pot will usually tell you if the coffee is good or not. A good pot of coffee will be a dark, rich brown color. If you hold the pot up to the light, it will be difficult to see through the coffee. A weak (i.e horrible) cup of coffee will be light brown in color and you will be able to see through it. When you pour the coffee into a cup and add half and half, a good cup of coffee will slowly take a creamy, light caramel color. A weak (i.e horrible) cup of coffee will turn an odd slightly grayish color and if you taste it, it will be bitter.

So there you have it guys – not a very traditional way of getting my recipe across but just remember that every 2 cups of coffee pot water = 1 cup of coffee  to drink and for every 1 cup of coffee you want to drink, you need 1 heaping tbsp of ground coffee to add to the filter. If you remember those 2 things you will ALWAYS have a perfect cup of coffee.

Also, as you may have guessed, I haven’t yet jumped on the K cup band wagon. I may make my way there at some point which would eliminate the need to try to make the perfect cup of coffee. For now, I’m good with my pot. It makes it easier to make multiple cups of coffee at once and if you have people over it makes it a little easier to make coffee for everyone.

Happy Sunday everyone! Hope your day starts off with a great cup of coffee 🙂

Sauteed Spinach with Garlic

Looking for a healthy and easy side dish for your perfect meal? I’ve got one for you here and just because it’s healthy and easy doesn’t mean it’s lacking in the flavor department (which is usually what it feels like when you put the words “healthy” and “easy” together in the same sentence). Pair this with my steak with gorgonzola butter and you’ve got yourself an amazing, delicious meal!

Ingredients:

– 4 cups fresh spinach

– 1 tsp salt

– 1 tsp black pepper

– 2 tbsp olive oil

– 2 garlic cloves

– 2 tbsp fresh parmesan cheese

– 1 tsp crushed red pepper (leave out if it’s too spicy for you)

Instructions:

I think I said a few posts ago that I didn’t think I was ever going to have a recipe as easy as gorgonzola butter. I may have lied – making a side of sautéed spinach with garlic is pretty easy and my recipe is foolproof.

To make this, heat up the olive oil in a sauté pan on low heat. While the oil is heating, chop up the 2 garlic cloves. When the pan is hot, add the garlic. Allow the garlic to begin to cook and turn golden brown. At this point, add the spinach, salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper. Mix together with the oil and garlic in the pan and continue cooking over low heat for 1-2 minutes. As soon as the spinach has wilted, turn the stove off and mix in the parmesan cheese.

Hostess with the Mostess Tip: Make this ahead of time! You can either leave it in the sauté pan to re-heat directly in there or plate it in your serving dish and warm it up in the microwave before serving.

Dress to Impress Tip: Place parmesan shavings on top of the spinach before serving. It adds a little something to the dish and makes it look like it came from a restaurant 😉

I mentioned this is a super healthy dish, right? You won’t feel it, since your taste buds will be so overwhelmed with the garlic and parmesan cheese. You might even be able to trick your kids into eating this one!

Gorgonzola Butter

You know you love butter and you know you love gorgonzola cheese…so why not mix them together to make gorgonzola butter?? Super easy to make and easy to store for use at any time as a topper for pasta, burgers, sandwiches and my favorite…STEAKS!

Lets get started 🙂

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted room temperature butter

– 3 oz crumbled gorgonzola cheese

– 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

Are you ready for this? To be honest, I’m really not sure if I’ll have a recipe that gets much easier than this one. All you have to do is put the butter in a bowl and break it up with a spoon. Add in the gorgonzola cheese and black pepper and mix it together until the cheese and pepper are full incorporated in the butter.

At this point lay out a sheet of Saran wrap that is about the size of a one foot square. Place the gorgonzola butter in the center of it and fold the top half of the Saran wrap over the butter. Then fold the bottom half over the butter so it’s on top of the top half (sorry if that’s confusing!). Then twist each end together.  At this point you want to begin rolling the butter like it’s a rolling-pin to shape it into a long cylinder. You might need to shape it a bit with your hand before you start rolling it.

Once you’ve finished rolling it, you have 2 storage options –

1. If you’re serving it that day just put it in the fridge so that it firms up and can be sliced when you’re ready to serve.

2. If it’s for use at a later time, then freeze it! You can easily store this for weeks at a time and just pull it out, slice a couple of pieces at a time and then put it back! If you’re freezing it, then wrap it in foil after you’ve wrapped it in Saran wrap, just to make sure it stays fresh.

Like I said up above, this can be used in so many ways. I’m going to use it for my Valentines Day dinner at home with my hubby. What am I going to use it with? Steak, of course 😉

Hostess with the Mostess: So, kind of a no brainer here. Make it ahead of time! If you’re serving it for a dinner party, then make sure you time it so that it’s placed on the hot burgers, steak, pasta right before serving. That way everyone can see the pretty, buttery, cheesy discs start to melt over the food. It’s kind of making my mouth water right now just thinking about it. Have I mentioned yet how much I love food?

As a side note – this is butter after all, so make sure you’re careful with how much you use! It’s easy to add a few slice of it to your serving but a little goes a long way so make sure you’re sticking to no more than 1/2 of a tbsp.

Portobello Mushroom and Zucchini Cheesy Quesadillas

MMMMMM quesadillas!!  The perfect thing to eat, any time of day. Don’t believe me? Keep reading to see all the different ways to eat them!

1. Late night snack – what else would you want to eat at 2 in the morning when you have the munchies??

2. Game day – a portable, easy snack to eat while watching a game

3. Lunch/dinner – make a meal out of it! The portobellos add some meatiness to it and make it pretty filling.

So, if that doesn’t convince you of how these are a great anytime dish I’m really not sure what will. In any case, try out the quesadillas!

Here’s what you’ll need –

Ingredients:

1 portobello mushroom

– 1 medium zucchini

– 1 medium onion

– 1 medium green pepper

– 1 tbsp olive oil

– 1 tsp black pepper

– 1 tbsp adobo seasoning

– 1/2 cup of reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese

– 1/2 cup of reduced fat shredded monterey jack cheese

– 4 tortillas – 8″ in diameter – use whole wheat for a healthier version

Shred the zucchini and put aside. Slice the portobello mushroom lengthwise into thin strips. Peel the onion and cut in half. Slice each half into thin strips. Do the same with the bell pepper, making sure to remove all seeds (they’re not spicy so you can leave them in if you want).

In a saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the zucchini, mushroom, onion and bell pepper. Add the pepper and adobo. Mix together and allow the vegetables to continue cooking until the onions become translucent (about 3-5 minutes). Remove the vegetables from the saute pan and set aside in a bowl.

Now the traditional way to put these together is on a skillet but to be honest…it’s SO much easier to just throw these in the oven and let them cook on their own. So…all you need to do is take a tortilla, spread half of the vegetable mixture on it, add half of the cheddar and monterey jack cheese, put another tortilla on top and repeat to make another one. Spray the quesadillas with cooking spray and put in the oven for 5 minutes. That’s it!!! Once they’re done, remove and slice it like a pizza.

Serve with guacamole (yes, I have a recipe for that too!), fat-free or low-fat greek yogurt (use sour cream if you prefer) or salsa.

Hostess with the Mostess Tip: If you’re serving this at a party for a large number of people, saute all the vegetables ahead of time. About 20 minutes before you want to serve, pre-heat your oven to 375. Create the quesadillas on a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Heat up the quesadillas in the oven and you’re ready to go! Sprinkle a little bit of chili powder over the quesadillas if you have it – it will add a nice touch to your presentation. 🙂

Buffalo Chicken Nachos

It’s almost game day!!! As fun as it is to watch the game, you all have to admit that the snacks that go with the game are something to look foward to as well.

I’m a huge fan of ANYTHING with buffalo chicken in it (stay tuned for some more neat ideas with buffalo chicken) so I thought why not add them to nachos to make the ultimate game day nachos? They’re so good that your friends may ask to take some home with them (be nice and let them).

These are ridiculously easy to make (a theme with my blog incase you hadn’t noticed) so you can make them anytime you’re craving a yummy snack.

Ingredients:

– 8 oz boneless chicken breast

– 1 tbsp olive oil

– 1/4 cup hot sauce

– 4 oz reduced light ranch dressing*

– 3 oz reduced fat cheddar cheese*

– 3 oz reduced fat monterey jack cheese*

– 1 bag of tortilla chips

Instructions:

Pre heat oven to 375.

Dice the chicken breast into small cubes. In a saute pan, heat up the olive oil over medium heat and add the chicken and 2 tbsp of the hot sauce. Continue cooking until the chicken is cooked all the way through (about 7 minutes). There’s no need to season the chicken with salt since the hot sauce already has salt in it.

In an oven safe dish, or a baking sheet that has been greased, arrange 3/4 of the bag of tortilla chips. Once this is done, sprinkle half of the cooked chicken, montery jack and cheddar cheese. Create a second layer of chips by putting the remaining tortilla chips on top of the first layer and then add the remaining chicken and cheese. Drizzle the remaining hot sauce (adjust to your liking) and the 4 oz of ranch dressing over the top.

Place in the oven for 5-7 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven and SERVE!

Hostess with the Mostess Tip: If you’re doing this for a party, make it easier for yourself by cooking the chicken ahead of time and setting it aside in a bowl (I try to use paper in these situations so that I can toss the bowl vs. having dishes pile up in the sink). If you’re not buying pre-shredded cheese, then make sure you shred the cheese beforehand. That’s really it…this is a super party friendly dish for both the hostess and the guests!

Blue Cheese Sliders with Caramelized Onions

I LOVE a good burger. Some of my best childhood memories are from summer days spent barbecuing with my family, so it’s no surprise that I’ve got a burger recipe on here (it won’t be the last either!). These are so quick and easy to make. Prep time is minimal and once they’re on the grill you can make the blue cheese mayo and caramelized onions for them. By the time the burgers are cooked, dinner will be ready to serve!

Ingredients:

 1 lb ground beef

– 1 tbsp salt

– 1 tbsp black pepper

– 1 tsp freshly chopped garlic

– 1 small shallot

– 1 tbsp hot sauce (this is not enough to make the burgers spicy, but you can leave this out or adjust the amount if it’s too much)

– 2 tbsp olive oil

– 1 large red onion

– 1 cup reduced fat mayonnaise (use fat free if you want a healthier option)

– 4 oz crumbled blue cheese

– 10 slider rolls

Instructions:

Finely dice the shallot. Mix the salt, pepper, hot sauce, garlic, diced shallot and 1 tbsp of olive oil in a bowl with the ground beef. Taking a large spoonful at a time, form burger patties that are about 2 1/2″ in diameter and about 1/2″ thick. 1 lb should yield 10 burgers. Grill for 2-3 minutes on each side on medium heat or cook in a pre-heated oven at 375 for 10 minutes, flipping half way through.

While the burgers are cooking away on the grill or in the oven, go ahead and start cooking the caramelized onions. Peel the red onion and cut in half. Slice the onion halves into thin slices. Heat the remaining olive oil in a saute pan and place the onions in the pan. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and continue cooking over low heat until the onions are translucent and slightly golden brown about 5-7 minutes. At this point, turn off the stove and leave the onions in the pan.

The last part of this recipe is the mayo for the sliders. It’s a little tricky to make so make sure you follow these instructions carefully…

To make the mayo for the sliders, mix the mayo with the blue cheese. If you’re feeling a little daring, add a dash of hot sauce to the mayo. That’s it. You’re done.

Hostess with the Mostess Tip – If you don’t have time to grill/bake the patties while your guests are there, make everything ahead of time so that all you have to do is assemble the burgers and serve. Your friends will be impressed at how well organized you are 😉

Cookies and Cream White Hot Chocolate

You know that feeling you get when you bite into a chocolate truffle? That absolutely delicious taste when the chocolate starts to melt in your mouth and you find yourself thinking you’re going to have to grab another truffle because one just isn’t going to cut it? Good news guys – drinking a cup of my homemade cookies and cream white hot chocolate is like eating a handful of truffles. It doesn’t disappoint and will leave you wondering why you ever bothered with the powdered stuff before. 😉

Never made hot chocolate at home before? Well, here’s the thing – in the time it would take you to open up a packet of hot chocolate mix, grab the milk from the fridge, pour it into a cup, warm it up, mix in the hot chocolate powder and begin to drink – you could actually have already made homemade hot chocolate that will taste a thousand times better. And you know what? It actually SOUNDS better to. When you go into work the next day, you can say “Yeah I just whipped up some cookies and cream white hot chocolate” instead of saying “Yeah, I made hot chocolate from that powder packet”. Needless to say, your co-workers will be impressed.

Ingredients:

– 4 cups 2% milk

– 8 oz white chocolate chips

– 4 tsp vanilla

– 4 Oreos

Instructions:

Place the Oreos in a sandwich bag and use a rolling-pin, spoon, hammer (whatever you’ve got on hand!) to smash the cookies so that they look like crumbs. Set the bag aside to use as a topping for the hot chocolate.

Heat up a double boiler and spray lightly with cooking spray. Once the pan is warm, add the chocolate chips and begin to stir them around with a whisk. Once the chips start to melt, slowly add the milk about 1 cup at a time. Add the vanilla at this point and keep whisking until the hot chocolate is hot.

Pour into individual cups and top with the cookie crumbs. Serve immediately.

Hostess with the Mostess Tip: Make this ahead of time (about an hour before your guests arrive) and leave it in the double boiler to heat up right before you’re ready to serve.

Cheesy Gruyere and Swiss Mini Quiche

 

I love eggs in the morning but sometimes I’m not in the mood to stand in front of the stove and cook them. To be honest sometimes I’m barely functioning in the morning, especially if I haven’t had my first cup of coffee. So, how excited am I at a recipe where I mix together a bunch of ingredients, throw it in the oven to cook and go about enjoying my coffee while I wait for breakfast? Ecstatic doesn’t even begin to cover it.

Ingredients:

– 5 eggs
– 1 1/2 cups of half and half  (substitute with whole milk for a healthier option)
– 1 tsp of salt
– 1 tbsp of freshly cracked black pepper
– 2 tbsp fresh thyme
– 3/4 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
– 3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
– 3/4 cup of panko bread crumbs 

Instructions:
Pre heat oven to 375.

Beat the eggs together and add the half and half, salt, black pepper and 2 tbsp of thyme. Mix together and then add the Gruyère and Swiss cheese. In a separate bowl, mix together the remaining thyme with the panko bread crumbs. Using a ladle, pour the mixture into a greased muffin tin, filling up 3/4 of the way. The quiche will rise as they cook so leave some room for this. Cook for 10 minutes and then pull out the muffin tin to spoon the bread crumb mixture onto each quiche, about 1 tsp each. This will ensure the breadcrumbs stay on top and get crispy. If they are added in before the quiche goes into the oven they will sink into the mixture. Continue cooking for another 15 minutes until the top turns golden brown.

Allow the quiche to cool for about 10 minutes. Once they have cooled, run a butter knife along the edge of each quiche to loosen it up and pull it out.

Dress to impress tip – Grab some extra sprigs of fresh thyme while you’re at the store to use for a garnish. Place the extra sprigs in between the quiche to have bright pops of green.

Breakfast Sausage Patties

Who doesn’t love sausages in the morning? They’re the perfect complement to a sweet breakfast dish (try pairing it with my french toast with candied pecans) or can be eaten in a breakfast sandwich. If you’re like me and never have enough time in the morning then make these ahead of time and freeze them. You can take them out one at a time to have for breakfast each morning. What better way is there to start your day?

Ingredients:

– 1 lb ground beef

– 1 egg

– 1 tbsp salt

– 1 tbsp chili powder

– 2 tbsp brown sugar

– 4 tbsp olive oil

– 1 shallot

 Instructions:
Finely dice the shallot. In a large mixing bowl combine the ground beef, egg, salt, chili powder, brown sugar, 1 tbsp olive oil and the shallot. Heat a non stick skillet with the remaining oil on medium heat. Take the beef mixture and make beef patties out of it, about 2 1/2 inches in diameter. These are breakfast sausages, so make sure you don’t end up with 1/2 lb burgers! Begin frying the patties with the remaining olive oil, cooking on each side for about 2-3 minutes until dark brown.* Arrange the patties on a white serving dish.
 *For a healthier version, you can bake the patties instead of frying them. To do this, pre-heat your oven to 375 and bake for 15 minutes.