Simple Baked Pasta Dish

Tomorrow, I am heading on a business trip for a couple of days so I wanted to make a dinner for the hubby and me to enjoy (mainly so he has some yummy leftovers to eat while I’m away).  Being 7 months pregnant, I am interested in the simple life in the kitchen these days and it doesn’t get much easier than this Baked Pasta Dish.  You can make this reduced fat recipe a little more ellaborate if you want to get fancy with the sauce or cheeses, but I promise you it will be delicious with whatever you decide- after all it’s pasta, sauce, and cheese!  I’ve made this several times, but this is the version I made tonight…

Twice Baked Potatoes- Fully Loaded

In honor of Father’s day, I wanted to post a recipe that satisfies half of the manly ‘meat and potatoes’ stereotype.  This Sunday, we will have our families over and serve this exact dish, along with some nice steaks and other fatherly favorites.  I normally don’t post recipes without photos, but I wanted to share a yummy idea in case you’ve been scratching your head for what to make to celebrate the men in your life (and I promise pictures will be posted as soon as my latest batch are complete).  You can prepare these Twice Baked Potatoes ahead of time and then pop them in the oven to finish them off-  any leftovers will freeze and reheat well too!

Fiesta Salad

It’s getting hot out there, so I figured now is a good time to post a cool Summer friendly dish.  This Fiesta Salad is great to serve as a side at home or  the perfect item to bring to a cookout, picnic, or other gathering.  The ingredients are most likely in your kitchen already and you can always change it up to use what you’ve got around (add in some peppers or tomatoes like I decided to do last minute)!  It’s healthy, colorful, and most importantly full of delicious flavor.

French Onion Soup

French Onion is a favorite soup of mine- pretty much a must order when I see it on a restaurant menu.  Inspired by my gal pal, Lindsay, I decided to give a homemade version a try.  It was not only easy to do, but delicious and eye appealing.  This French Onion Soup makes a great starter to serve to dinner guests or to just spoil your loved ones without having to work too hard.  With the help of my slow cooker, I wasn’t a slave in the preparation process and you won’t have to be either!

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash

Another simple side dish comes your way.  Cauliflower mash has become quite popular over the past few years, and its fame is mainly due to the low carb diets that swept the country.  Fortunately, this dish doesn’t taste like a ‘diet food!’  I’m not ready to give up my potatoes completely, but this a healthier alternative is definitely a winning recipe to accompany your meat, poultry, or pork! 

17 Bean & Veggie Soup (Slow Cooker)

A very busy schedule recently has resulted in me being in the kitchen less.  Fortunately, I have been able to make a home cooked meal every few days and this 17 Bean & Veggie Soup was so great that I wanted to post the recipe within a couple of hours of us enjoying it!  Last week, while on a business trip, I picked up a bag of 17 bean and barley mix during a pit stop at Trader Joe’s (still waiting for them to open a TJ’s closer than 3 hours away from our home), but you can use any mix of beans.  And actually, you can use whatever veggies you want too.  I stocked up on a bunch of different ones this weekend and tossed it all into the soup along with some other pantry items and it turned out great.  Enjoy this ‘dump it all into the slow cooker and get on with your life’ recipe! 

Slow Cooked Chili

Chili is one of my husband’s favorite meals I make and I like it too because it tastes good, is easy to make, and it makes a dollar go a long way.  This particular recipe is great for us because we eat half of the pot right away and then freeze the other half for another day (we just had a leftover batch this week).   And I know there are Texans out there that will read this and want to hunt me down and beat sense into me since “real chili doesn’t have beans,” but honestly, I love beans in my Chili! We like our chili to have a kick, but I’ve definitely made mild versions for friends who don’t do spicy.  The way I control that is to use different varieties of canned diced tomatoes (mild, medium, etc.).  This is a great recipe to enjoy on a “chili” winter day!

S’mores Bread Pudding

The other morning I woke up and my first thought was, “I wonder how a S’mores Bread Pudding would turn out.”  It may seem strange to you that this is how my brain functions, but I swear, it’s completely normal. It didn’t take too long for this curiosity to get the best of me, so  I went for it.  Having all of the ingredients on hand (including a baguette I previously froze to the point where it could have been used as a baseball bat) and out of town family coming over for dinner, I had the perfect excuse to execute what I consider  to be my best bread pudding creation to date.  

Even after perfecting this dish, I still refuse to consider myself a “baker” because making bread pudding allows for more leeway than most other desserts.  The measurements don’t have to be exact, the ingredients can be changed to taste, and you’ll still get a great end result.  With this particular recipe, the combination of the S’mores components brings the campfire treat to the dinner table, sans the mosquitoes!

Baked Chicken Alfredo Florentine (Vegetarian version too)

After wrecking my brain about what I wanted to serve as the main course for this year’s holiday dinner for my lady friends, I decided to create a pasta dish that was different, but would still appeal to everyone attending.  This dish is like a collaboration of Baked Ziti, Spinach Lasagna, and Chicken Alfredo.  It worked out perfectly because I was able to make a vegetarian version too (just doubled the recipe and left out the chicken on the second pan). Both were delicious and had plenty of flavor.  I really enjoyed the change from red to white sauce, as it gave the dish a creamy texture, yet was still not heavy and overbearing.

Santa Bites

While perusing the foodie blog scene, I came across these cute little treats that I couldn’t wait to make for the annual girl’s holiday dinner I host (which took place last night).  As I brought the tray to the table, they got a similar reaction as to what you would expect a group of ladies would sound like if I just brought out a little puppy dressed in a sweater.  The whole arrangement is rather simple to do and you can change up the base if you want to do something different than brownies- just place a “santa hat” on top of your favorite mini treat and you have yourself a holiday hit!