recipes

baked spaghetti squash white cheddar mac & cheese

I apologize for the mini vacation I took from this little blog of mine! Catching up with “life” was long overdue and much needed. But the good & promising thing is, it’s FALL! My all time favorite season of cooking & eating. So I can assure you that I will annoy you with all things pumpkin, squash, nutmeg, cinnamon…please embrace this season of happy with me!

My #1 favorite during fall/winter season would definitely be a giant, warm bowl of pasta. Literally nothin’ better. That with a side of Netflix and I’m done in.


This recipe is one of those BUT without actual pasta. As weird and impostor-like as this sounds, this is one for the books for sure. And a little less guilt involved because we are going to use spaghetti squash instead of noodles ;)

makes 4 servings

for the spaghetti squash:
2 mini/small spaghetti squashes, halved & seeds removed
EVOO
salt & pepper

for the cheese sauce:
3 tablespoons butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cup milk (I like to use 1%)
1 cup-ish shredded white cheddar cheese (seriously, use however much you want!)
2 tablespoons ground sage
2 tablespoon ground thyme
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
salt & pepper

for the panko topping:
4 oz pancetta
EVOO
2 shallots, diced
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 cup panko bread crumbs

1. Drizzle spaghetti squash halves with EVOO and season with salt and pepper. Turn facing down on baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes.
2. While squash is cooking, start making your cheese sauce by making a roux (mixture of flour + butter). Melt butter in medium sauce pan over medium heat, add garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Then add flour and whisk until mixture is pretty thick.
3. Slowly add milk, cheese and spices, whisking until all the cheese is melted. Let it hang out over low heat until squash is done.
4. When squash is done and is not too hot too handle, use a fork to pull out strands of the squash. Try to soak up extra moisture and water from squash with paper towels. Literally I just put all the strands on a giant plate and press down on it with paper towels…seems funny but it will soak up a lot of that excess moisture.
5. Transfer squash to a big mixing bowl and add cheese sauce one ladle full at a time. Often, I make more cheese sauce than I actually need so just save some for later if that happens! We dont want to drown the spaghetti squash in cheese sauce here ;) then transfer into oven safe ramekins.
6. Heat small skillet over medium-high heat, add EVOO and when pan is hot, add pancetta and shallots until lightly browned.
7. In a small bowl, mix panko with pancetta/shallot and top over the spaghetti squash
8. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until panko mixture is lightly browned.


I know this recipe is long, but I swear it’s so dang easy so don’t be intimidated :)

Happy fall!

recipes

chili lime shrimp with green goddess broccoli rice

Alright Amy, green goddess? Really? What does that even mean…

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Well it’s my definition of me playing a game called find everything in the kitchen that’s green and throw it in broccoli rice. That’s my version of green goddess. I don’t even think that’s politically correct in the culinary/food world. But, oh well :)

Sometimes I get bored naming my recipes just by their ingredients, so why not?

No, I’m not on the “Whole30” plan or diet. I don’t read labels 100% of the time, I still eat chocolate cake, I love a good cocktail… BUT I do try to incorporate as many elements of the Whole30 in my recipes as I can throughout the week. This recipe is Whole30 approved, and I think you’ll enjoy it whether you’re on the Whole30 or you just love good, yummy food!

Also, this has been my new favorite addition to some of our meals lately! I found it at our local Sprouts Farmer’s Market. It’s basically like a clutch ingredient that can redeem or enhance any dish last minute! And it’s Whole30 compliant! Yay!

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I’m pretty sure it was only $3.99 or so? Throw it on eggs, in tacos, over chicken, mix it in your salsa…it’s so versatile and worth every penny for sure!

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makes 4 servings

for the shrimp
32 large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
chili lime seasoning, to taste (Trader Joe’s has THE BEST!)
1/4 cup avocado oil (you can totally use EVOO)

for the broccoli rice
12 oz frozen broccoli rice (I get mine from Sprouts, but you can totally make your own)
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/4 cup crushed tomatillos (I cheat, mine are from a jar!)
1/3 cup onion, chopped
1 large avocado, pitted and diced
1 large cucumber, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped

1. Drizzle a few tablespoons of EVOO in a skillet over medium heat an add frozen broccoli rice.
2. Season well with salt & pepper and add garlic powder, crushed tomatillos, onion. Stir and keep cooking until broccoli rice is cooked through about 5-7 minutes or so.
3. Transfer broccoli rice to a mixing bowl and set aside.
4. In the same skillet, drizzle avocado oil over medium high heat. Season shrimp with chili lime seasoning and add to pan when oil is hot. Cook shrimp until opaque and light pink, about 2 minutes on each side.
5. Add cucumber, avocado, and herbs to broccoli rice. Toss well and season with additional salt & pepper if needed.
6. Top broccoli rice with shrimp and any pan drippings for extra flavor!

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recipes

skillet zoodle ziti with ricotta

Zoodles? ZUCCHINI noodles! They are the absolute best. So stinkin’ easy too. Actually I’d rather handle zucchini noodles than actual noodles. Zoodles cook so much quicker, they’re healthier, they have better texture…I could go on and on and on!

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So what’s makes this zoodle recipe different than all the others? IT’S A ONE POT RECIPE! My kind of cooking! Don’t get me wrong, for whatever reason I love seeing how much counter space I can take up in the kitchen…but sometimes you just want something simple that you can throw together without making a complete mess.

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makes 4 servings

1 lb lean ground beef or ground turkey
2 tablespoons EVOO
3 cloves garlic, minced
Italian seasoning, to taste
salt & pepper, to taste
1 large yellow squash
1 large zucchini
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup pesto (I think I used a tomato based pesto, but whatever pesto you come up with will be fine!)
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

1. Using a sprializer, spiralize both yellow squash & zucchini. Set on paper towels and set aside.
2. In an ovenproof skillet or cast iron skillet, brown the ground beef over medium to medium high heat with minced garlic, salt & pepper.
3. Once the ground beef is cooked through, add canned tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt & pepper, pesto & spiralized ZOODLES!
4. Keep stirring and taste testing along the way to make sure the flavor is how you want it. Zucchini is very watery and canned tomatoes don’t have a ton of flavor. Don’t worry about the mixture looking chunky or dry, the zoodles will give off more water once cooked.
5. Top with several dollops of Ricotta cheese and cover with parmesan cheese
6. Bake in 400 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes

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My best advice for this recipe – SEASON WELL! My measurements are just ballpark guestimates of what I actually did. I never measure. Literally never. I don’t even know why I own measuring cups!

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Taste as you go, use what you have in your cabinets and in your fridge. Don’t have canned tomatoes? Use fresh tomatoes! Don’t have pesto? Find an alternative source of flavor to add like tomato paste, ketchup, srirracha, cheese, etc. SOMETHING that will make that sauce POP and not taste bland or flavorless. Have everything on the ingredient list except Ricotta? PLEASE just use whatever cheese is already in your fridge. Get creative and spice things up by using what you already have! 

And to quote my  husband after dinner last night…”Dude I just ate a bunch of pasta and I don’t feel bloated!”

It’s true! Zoodles are the best :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

recipes

sweet heat turkey sausage bites

Before you read any further! Just know that all of these ingredients are 100% swap-outable. PLEASE make substitutions if you don’t feel like making special trips to different stores.

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This recipe was simply a result of the random things that I had on hand in my kitchen. The whole point here is to combine sweet + heat, so use what you have to make this combo happen! You won’t be disappointed ;)

Ritz crackers are totally optional here. I prefer my “bite” without the cracker but some of my family preferred the cracker to balance out that heat a little more. It’s also like a little vessel for your “bite” but hey, it’s all up to you!

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Here’s a few products that I used!

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetTarget sells this little wheel of cheese for $3.99 and I personally think it’s so worth it! The amount of heat is perfect, I like the bite behind it!

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetThis ready to eat Mango Jicama slaw is $4.99 at Trader Joe’s. All you do is toss with the little packet Lime Mango Vinaigrette inside and boom, done!

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16 oz turkey sausage, fully cooked & sliced in thick rounds
7 oz mango jack cheese
1/2 cup apricot jam
Trader Joe’s Mango Jicama slaw
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

*optional: Ritz crackers

1. Grill or pan fry turkey sausage rounds with EVOO. Remember, the sausage is already cooked so just enough to get a little sear/light brown color on the outside! SHould only take a few minutes whichever method you prefer.
2. Top each turkey sausage round with a slice of cheese and melt in oven or microwave
3. After cheese, top with a small spoonful of apricot jam, slaw, chopped cilantro.

*Remember, totally up to you if you’d like to put a Ritz cracker underneath your sausage bite.

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recipes

grilled zucchini pizzas with ricotta & balsamic glaze

zucchini pizza topped with more zucchini…that’s basically what this is and I am SO in love!
I found all this squash in the recipe below from the NC State Farmer’s Market so if you see something and you’re like Amy, what the heck is that? Sorry, the Farmer’s Market made me do it! ;)

So another word for the round squash that I used here is also known as “8 ball” squash…how cool? I love the Farmer’s Market. It always forces me to try new things! And the tiger zucchini is just so good! It’s got these really cool, funky stripes and it’s got a good crunch to it. Yeah so this might go without saying buttttt – all this squash was about to go bad at the same time! So it was the perfect opportunity to create something with what I had on hand! (the reason there is squash on top of squash…hehe)


makes 2-3 servings

1 tiger zucchini, sliced in thick rounds
1 round yellow squash, sliced into 3/4 inch thick rounds
1 round green squash, sliced into 3/4 inch thick rounds
1/2 cup EVOO
garlic salt, to taste
ground pepper, to taste
grated Parmesan cheese, to taste
1/2 cup onion, diced
4 oz pepperoni (I used turkey pepperoni and it was delish!)
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 large tomato, diced
3 rainbow peppers (any colors you have on hand will do)
balsamic glaze (TRADER JOE’S HAS THE BEST!)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

1. Using a brush, coat all zucchini rounds and peppers with EVOO. Grill for a few minutes on each side or until grill marks form. Season with garlic salt, pepper and grated Parmesan cheese
2. Small dice the tiger zucchini and peppers after they have been grilled.
3. Assemble the large zucchini rounds with chopped tiger zucchini, mozzarella cheese, chopped onion, tomato, dollop of ricotta, peppers, pepperoni.
4. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and top with fresh basil

Just a head’s up, this is super messy. Eat it with your hands or with a fork, no judgement here! Remember to always use what you have on hand! If you always stay within your comfort zone of cooking, you’ll never truly experience FOOD. I know that sounds cheesy, but it’s true. The only reason you’re reading this recipe and my blog right now is because that’s how I cook almost every day. Use whatever you have on hand and let your mind create! I promise you won’t regret it. Happy cooking!

recipes

Grilled peach and brie crostini with roasted blueberry jalapeno compote

Summertime grilling season has officially arrived and I am more than okay with it ;)


We have been grilling out several times a week because I mean come on, food just tastes so much better GRILLED! Literally it’s to the point where I get super sad if when it rains because then I can’t grill outside :(

Anyway, moving on! This is an easy but still elaborate, and semi-fancy dish! The soft Brie cheese melts so easily onto the grilled crostini and then is topped with grilled peaches and blueberry jalapeño and bacon goodness…just too good! Pairs really well with a good Chardonnay too ;)

makes 4 servings

3 peaches, pitted and cut in large slices
1 bag of store bought crostini
6 oz brie, sliced to fit on top of crostini :)
1 cup blueberries
1/2 of a large jalapeno
1/8 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/8 cup fresh mint, chopped
2 slices turkey bacon
1/8 cup white wine (I used chardonnay)
EVOO

1. Spray grill with EVOO and set to medium heat; grill peaches and jalapeno a few minutes on each side until charred grill marks form, set aside
2. Cook turkey bacon with EVOO in a skillet over medium high heat, set aside
3. Deglaze turkey bacon pan/fat with white wine, add blueberries, minced jalapeno (no seeds), chopped turkey bacon, chopped mint & basil. Let simmer for a few minutes or until all ingredients are combined. Add more EVOO and white wine if mixture is too chunky ( I think I did this once or twice)
4. Assemble crostini’s back on your grill over low-medium heat. Top with brie slices, close grill and just keep checking until the brie is melted and remove from grill
5. Top crostini/brie with a grilled peach slice, blueberry compote and garnish with fresh mint/basil leaves if desired

The melted Brie though…

recipes

BBQ steak mini pizzas with kimchi

KIMCHI! The newest foodie trend. In simplest terms, it’s spicy pickled cabbage. It’s a Korean staple and is also known to have many health benefits! Sign. me. UP!

I love mixing spicy and sweet. It’s my ultimate go-to. The heat from the kimchi + the tangy BBQ + sweet, juicy pineapple is out of this worrrrrld! The jicama was a last minute add on for some crunch and I think it was well worth it ;)

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makes 8 servings

2 packages sandwich thins
1 jar store-bought marinara sauce
1 jar kimchi (I got mine from Trader Joe’s!)
1 jar Korean BBQ sauce (Again…Trader Joe’s!)
14 oz steak
1/4 cup EVOO
1 cup jicama, cut into matchsticks
1 pineapple, peeled, cored & cut into long spears
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
2 cups shredded mozzarella & provolone cheese blend

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1. Marinate steak with 1/2 cup BBQ sauce, refrigerate overnight
2. Grill steaks until you’ve reached desired “doneness”. Brush pineapple & jicama with a little EVOO and grill until browned. Slice the steak, dice pineapple and jicama
3. Pull sandwich thins apart, pop in toaster and toast until crispy and lightly browned
4. Spread layer of marinara sauce onto your mini pizzas; add a couple spoonfuls of kimchi, shredded cheese, grilled pineapple, jicama and sliced steak
5. Pop in the oven set to “broil” for a few minutes or until cheese has melted and bread is extra crispy
6. Top with green onions and additional cheese & BBQ sauce, enjoy!
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