Strawberry Mojito Pitchers

Well, it’s September and I’m finally getting back to posting stuff. Living in a city where we only get a few months of warmth each year it seems as though we try to pack it all into a shortened time frame. There were weddings and parties, happy hours and out of town trips, coupled with trying to take our boat out any chance we could get. On top of all that, we bought another house, celebrated 5 years of marriage & I turned 30! All that equals zero time left for me to cook, let alone photograph my meals when I do, but here’s some iPhone pics to catch you up.

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Sissy & I out on the boat

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Girls weekend in Put-in-Bay, Ohio

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Hubby & I at a friend’s wedding

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One of many delicious dinner parties!

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Our new house!

My 30th birthday

My 30th birthday

Birthday party decor

Birthday party decor

One thing that I was able to make and perfect this summer was this delicious pitcher of Strawberry Mojitos! If you want to make it ahead, combine all ingredients except for the mint and strawberries until ready to serve. Enjoy!

Strawberry Mojito Pitchers

Strawberry Mojito Pitchers

  • juice of 4 limes
  • juice of 4 lemons
  • 1 bottle Bacardi Rum (750 ml)
  • 3/4 cup simple syrup (recipe below)
  • 1 bottle club soda (1L), plus more if desired
  • splash of orange juice or lemonade
  • several handfuls of fresh mint
  • fresh strawberries, quartered

To make the simple syrup, combine 1 cup water and 1 cup white sugar in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stirring, until sugar has dissolved. Allow to cool. Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher, stir and serve!

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Garlic-Parmesan Pita Chips

Garlic-Parmesan Pita Chips

I bought a bag of pitas from the store with the intent of using them as wraps for lunch and whatnot, but rather than them being pliable, doughy and delicious they were dry and broke when I tried to roll them into a wrap. So here I was, stuck with a bag of pitas, not wanting to eat them and definitely not wanting to throw them out. Ah hah! Pita chips had to be easy, right? Right! Armed with a sharp knife, olive oil, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese I set out to not waste an entire bag of perfectly, albeit dry, pitas. Success!

Garlic-Parmesan Pita Chips

  • 6-8 whole pitas
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • block of Parmesan cheese
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut pitas into wedges, like you would a pizza, using a sharp knife or pizza cutter. Using a pastry brush, brush one side of each wedge with olive oil. Sprinkle garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper on the brushed sides of each pita wedge and arrange on a cookie sheet, seasoned size up. Bake for 20 minutes, until crispy.

Quinoa Salad with Baby Spinach

Quinoa Salad with Baby Spinach

Quinoa Salad with Baby Spinach
Quinoa (keen-wa) is an ancient grain-like seed that originated in South America over five thousand years ago. This tiny seed is chock full of tons of valuable nutrients, including all eight essential amino acids. Add in lots of other highly beneficial attributes, vitamins and minerals, plus the fact that it’s gluten-free and easy to digest and it’s pretty easy to understand it’s recent rise in popularity.

However, quinoa is still a bit new to my diet. Mostly because I don’t know what to make with it. Slowly I’m learning how to incorporate this versatile seed into my everyday meals. This salad is bright, fresh and easy. And did I mention that it’s also tasty and healthy? Say hello bikini body!

Quinoa Salad with Baby Spinach

  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
  • generous handful of baby spinach
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced
  • handful of pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Following the directions on the package, cook quinoa in the chicken broth. The quinoa should come to a boil, then cover it and put it on a low simmer and let cook for 15 minutes. Once the quinoa is cooked it will absorb all the broth. Add remaining ingredients to a large resealable bowl and shake until contents are well incorporated. Serve cold.

Green Monster Smoothie

Green Monster Smoothie

Just in time for St. Patty’s Day, I present to you with this lovely green monster smoothie. While I don’t intend on drinking these this Sunday (hey, I *am* Irish after all!), these smoothies have been my go-to for breakfast or lunch on most other weekends. They make a great, nutrient-packed meal replacer, as you are pretty stuffed after drinking one. I like them because they’re easy and quick to make when I don’t have much in the fridge or I’m nursing a hangover, much like I will be this Sunday. As always, ingredients are easily customizable to what you have available. I’ve subbed frozen spinach for fresh, greek yogurt for milk and so on. One thing to note from my experiments though, whether it’s fresh or frozen, you always need a banana. That’s what she said. HA! I just said what you were thinking. But seriously, you need a banana to help “overpower” the flavors of the other ingredients. I’ve tried it without banana and it just tastes like a weird milk and spinach smoothie. Gross.

Green Monster Smoothie

  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 banana, cut in thirds
  • 6 frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

Add ingredients to a blender and blend, blend, BLEND! Depending on your blender, it may take a few minutes to get everything smooth or you may need to stir the mixture up halfway through. I like my smoothies to be drinkable through a straw so you may need to add or subtract liquid until you reach your desired consistency.

Spicy Black Bean and Butternut Squash Soup

Spicy Black Bean and Butternut Squash Chili

The inspiration for this meal came from the one poor little butternut squash that’s been sitting on my counter since November, just begging me to be cooked. The truth is, I’m so squashed-out from all that we got from our farm share that I just couldn’t bear to eat anymore for at least a month. I knew I probably only had a few weeks left before my squash started to go bad so I searched my cupboards (AKA Pinterest) for a dish that wasn’t overly squashy. The original recipe calls for adding bulgar to add bulk and to replace the beef, but I chose not to add it. I love chili, so I knew I’d only be kidding myself into thinking it was something that it’s not. That being said, this soup definitely stacks up against the competition. It makes a hearty weeknight meal or reheats easily for lunch. Bonus: It’s 100% vegetarian/vegan if you use vegetable broth and omit the optional greek yogurt topping.

Spicy Black Bean and Butternut Squash Soup
adapted from The Bitten Word

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, hand crushed
  • 2 15.5-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
  • 2 cups frozen fire roasted poblano peppers
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2-4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, depending on desired thickness
  • juice of half a lime
  • coarse kosher salt
  • greek yogurt (optional)
  • sliced avocado (optional)

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until soft and beginning to brown, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Sprinkle chili powder and coriander over; stir 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes with juice, beans, poblanos, squash and oregano. Add broth and lime juice. Bring to boil, reduce heat to low, cover with lid slightly ajar, and simmer until squash is tender, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with greek yogurt and avocado slices.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

Pumpkin Spice Granola

What’s super easy to make, healthy and also makes a really tasty snack? GRANOLA!

I really can’t understand why I ever spent money on granola in the past. I guess just always assumed I couldn’t make it at home. Well, you already know what happens when you assume. That’s right. I’m a total ass for never making this before. There’s a whole heck of a lot less sugar in my version then there is in the store bought stuff. Plus, you know all the ingredients that are going into it and it’s totally customizable. Oh AND it’s WAY cheaper! My grocery store charges almost $7 per pound for the pre-made stuff. My version probably costs around $2! It really doesn’t get much better than that.

Pumpkin Spice Granola

• 2 cups old fashioned rolled oats (not quick cooking)
• 1/2 cups nuts or seeds
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1/3 cup honey
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 3 tablespoons pumpkin spice
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup dried fruit or chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine the oats and nuts or seeds. Add in all ingredients except dried fruit or chocolate chips. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet covered in aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring every 15 to make sure all pieces bake evenly. Remove from oven and allow to completely cool before adding dried fruit or chocolate chips.

Spicy Sweet Potato and Ham Hash

Spicy Sweet Potato and Ham Hash

This dish is a bright and colorful take on the traditional breakfast staple. Plus, sweet potatoes are loaded with beta-carotene, vitamin A, vitamin E and potassium. Bonus! Tastes great and healthy! I wish I could say that about everything.

Here I used some frozen leftover honey baked ham that I defrosted the night before. I also used frozen poblano peppers from my farm share from over the summer. Sigh. I really miss our weekly bag of fresh veggies. I also miss those long summer days. This whole dark-when-I-go-into-work-dark-when-I-get-home thing is really cramping my style. First world problems. I know, I know. That’s what lack of sunshine will do to you!

Spicy Sweet Potato and Ham Hash

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups diced ham
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, add all ingredients and mix until well combined. Spread mixture onto a large rimmed cookie sheet and bake in oven for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Top with an over easy egg or, since I was out of eggs, a sprinkle of feta cheese.

Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup

Since everyone is still on their new year resolution diets I figured the first official recipe post of 2013 should at least be something healthy, right? I LOVE making a big batch of minestrone and having plenty to bring in for lunch for the week or freeze for a later occasion. This version has been healthified and lightened up by using veggie pasta over regular pasta. I think the original recipe might’ve come from Martha Stewart, but I’ve been making it for years now. Feel free to experiment, use the veggies you have on hand, fresh or frozen. You really can’t screw this soup up!

Minestrone Soup

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, hand crushed
  • 4 cups low-sodium, low-fat chicken broth (or vegetable broth for vegetarians)
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen chopped zucchini, green pepper, yellow squash mix (I used frozen, leftover from my farmshare)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon crush red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 15-ounce can low-sodium cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup Eden Organic small vegetable shells
  • 1/3 cup finely grated parmesan cheese (omit for vegans)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the celery and carrot and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, chicken broth and water. Stir in the green beans and vegetable medley, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in the kidney beans, pasta and baby spinach. Cook until the pasta and vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt. Ladle into bowls and top with parmesan cheese.

Sausage-Apple Slow Cooker Stuffing

Sausage-Apple Slow Cooker Stuffing

Ok, so maybe I’m a month late to the game on posting this one, but better late than never right? I figure stuffing is pretty versatile and you don’t necessarily need to wait until next Thanksgiving to make. Serve it up with some pork chops or stuff it inside some chicken breasts. The way I see it, you can’t go wrong with stuffing, ever. Hopefully everyone had a fantastic holiday filled with lots of fun, food and family. See you peeps in 2013! Cheers!

Sausage-Apple Slow Cooker Stuffing

  • 1 bag of seasoned croutons
  • 1-1/2 pounds spicy chicken sausage, casings removed, browned and drained
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, diced (no need to peel) you could also use 1 cup of craisins
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 4 celery ribs, diced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cups chicken broth

Brown the sausage on the stovetop and drain. (I browned the sausage and chopped all the other ingredients the night before.) Toss the croutons and sausage together in your slow cooker, and pour in the melted butter. Add apples, vegetables, and seasonings. Use two large spoons to toss the ingredients and disperse the spices. Pour in the chicken broth, and stir gently to coat bread and veggies with broth. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 3 hours, checking occasionally. Stir well, and keep on the warm setting until meal time.

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