Mix & Match Shepherd’s Pie

I’ve had a subscription to Food Network magazine for quite a few years now. They always have a good mixture of recipes in each issue. Including snacks, appetizers, side dishes, main dishes, desserts and anything else that may be in between. One thing they have sometimes is a Mix & Match recipe option. They give you a foolproof formula for a recipe and you get to pick the mix-ins. So you can customize it for your tastes or if it’s a last minute meal for whatever you currently have in your fridge and pantry. In last month’s issue they had a Mix & Match option for Shepherd’s Pie. A delicious dish that is filling and gives you a good amount of vegetables in each serving. While there a numerous ways you can customize it I pretty much went the easy and basic route. Below are the ingredients I used, but, I have included the link to the recipe where you can get options to customize your own version of this dish. It’s the perfect dish for these days when you may rummaging through your fridge and/or pantry to use up the last of something or to be creative in making a good meal.

Mix & Match Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients:

2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks

1 1/2 lbs. ground beef*

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 large carrots, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

3/4 cup red wine**

1 cup low-sodium broth (beef, chicken or vegetable)

1 cup frozen peas

4 tablespoons salted butter

2/3 cup milk***

3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

 

*I used an 80/20 mix

**I used Merlot

***I used whole milk

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 F.

Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Season with salt and then bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the potatoes until tender, about 20 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking cook the meat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add in the onions and carrots and season with salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables are soft, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Increase the heat to medium high and add the ground beef to the skillet. Break the meat up and cook until no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper and add in the garlic cloves and fresh thyme. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Make a space the center of the skillet and add in the tomato paste, stir until darkened and then stir into the meat along with the Worcestershire sauce. Stir in the wine and then simmer until almost dry, about 2 minutes. Add the broth and simmer until the mixture becomes saucy, 4 to 5 minutes, then add in the frozen peas. Spread the meat into a 3-quart baking dish and set aside.

Once the potatoes are ready drain them and return them to the pot. Add the butter and the milk and mash the potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and add in the shredded cheese. Spread the potatoes over the meat using the back of a spoon. Bake in the preheated oven until the top is golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before enjoying.

Recipe from Food Network

Happy New Year!!!

Happy New Year! The holidays are quickly winding down. Truthfully, and I think most would agree, the holidays just seemed to fly by this season. Mainly due to the short time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. With Thanksgiving falling so late there was less than a month to get everything ready for Christmas. Besides posting my annual Cookie Palooza recipes I just didn’t have time to blog anything else during the month of December. That doesn’t mean I didn’t do a lot of baking though. There were chocolate covered pretzels, Almond Biscotti (these were so good that I ended up baking a second batch the day after making the first), a few cakes (one of which was supposed to be a tangled lights decorated cake but turned into a congratulatory cake for my oldest niece after competing in her very first gymnastics tournament and placing in a few of the events), and of course cookies, cookies and more cookies. I baked about 300 cookies in one day and by the end of the day the smell of sweets and sugar was just too much for me to handle.

So here we are in a new year and a new decade. Truthfully it didn’t really dawn on me that a new decade was upon us until I was watching the news and they started talking about it. I was just thinking of how the year had gone by so fast. And granted one could say that about every year, but, 2019 in particular seemed to fly by to me. I was thinking about things that happened and they didn’t seem like months ago but more so days ago. I have heard that one of the perils of getting older is that time goes by faster. Maybe it’s because you have a greater realization of things happening. As a kid I think you forget more than you remember but as an adult everything that happens gets filed away so it’s easy to measure things by the events in our lives. My dad has been gone 4 years and I still measure things from before and after his death as well as before and after he got sick. I’ll remember something or see something from a particular year and I measure it against these dates. Not always a good thing. But, it is a good reminder to me of how quickly things can change and can happen. It’s true what they say that life can change in the blink of an eye.

And for many a new year means resolutions to change things in their lives or do things differently. I myself have never made a New Year’s resolution. I personally believe that there is no time like the present to make a change for the better. Every day you are given the opportunity to do things better and/or differently than the day before. So why not grab on to that as opposed to waiting for the year to change. Let’s say you fail at your resolution in February, does that mean you should wait 10 months to try again? Absolutely not! So, instead of resolutions I’ll look back and see if I have grown as a person over the course of time. Of course there are things that I would like to be different, but, at the end of the day I am content. And being content makes it a bit easier to work on those things that I would like to change.

So, what’s on my plate for 2020 so far… A semi-monumental college reunion that I may or may not attend and a pretty exciting vacation! And of course more baking and crafting. Next month marks 8 years that I have been blogging. And while I may not have the amount of followers that others have, I am still trudging along and thankful for those of you who do follow me and welcome any and all new readers. I enjoy baking, crafting, photographing, writing, and everything else that makes up my blog so I will continue on! Besides, good things come to those who wait.

I leave you with two pics…

A pic of the Christmas cake I made (this was totally not the design I had in mind for this cake, but, I had a frosting fail at 10p on a work-night so I had to improvise and was happy with the outcome)…

And the cake I made for New Year’s Eve – I decided to try out the decorated sheet cake trend. After piping the designs on to the cake I then sprayed it with Wilton’s Color Mist in pearl and sprinkled it with a mixture of festive sprinkles…

Happy 2020!

 

 

 

Sheet Pan Cuban Rice and Beans

I just might be on a sheet pan cooking kick. I recently shared a recipe for a Teriyaki Barbecue Pineapple Chicken dish and today I am sharing with you a rice and beans dish. I would have never thought I would make rice and beans in the oven on a sheet pan, but, after coming across the recipe and figuring it was worth trying I may try making some other rice dishes this way. I usually make rice the “normal” way, in a pot with water. And while it’s always edible there are times that I miss the moment when I should lower the heat and cover the pot and my rice comes out a little crispy on the bottom, or vice versa, I cover and lower it too soon and I end up with rice that has one too many clumps. I wouldn’t say it’s mushy by any means though. But, my first time using this method turn out rice that was pretty perfect.

I began by combining two sliced bell peppers (red and green), a sliced yellow onion, and 3 sliced garlic cloves with olive oil and salt in medium bowl. After tossing everything together I transferred the vegetables to a sheet pan I sprayed with cooking spray. I roasted the vegetables in a 400 F preheated oven for about 12-13 minutes.

While the vegetables were in the oven I combined rice, 2 cans of rinsed black beans, cumin, oregano, coriander, salt and 2 1/2 cups of water in a medium bowl. Don’t worry, it’s not a lot of water and if you use a large enough sheet pan it will not spill over.

After removing the pan from the oven, I stirred the vegetables and then carefully poured the rice mixture to the pan. I gave everything a few good stirs using a spoon and tongs. I covered the pan with aluminum foil and returned it to the oven for 30 minutes.

I let the pan stand for five minutes after removing it from the oven and then removed the aluminum foil and fluffed the rice with a fork. This was definitely one of the easiest and foolproof ways that I have made rice and beans. The end result was flavorful and the rice was the perfect texture and consistency.

Sheet Pan Cuban Rice and Beans

Ingredients:

2 bell peppers, any colors cut into thin strips

1 yellow onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1 cup long-grain white rice

1 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.

Combine the peppers, onion and garlic in a medium bowl and toss with olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Spread the vegetables on the prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for 13 – 15 minutes, until softened. Remove the pan from the oven and stir the vegetables.

In another medium bowl combine the rice, beans, cumin, oregano, coriander, remaining salt and 2 1/2 cups of water. Pour the mixture onto the pan with the vegetables and stir to combine. Cover with foil and return the pan to the oven for 28-30 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before removing the aluminum foil.

Remove the foil and fluff the rice with a fork before serving.

Recipe slightly modified from Epicurious

Teriyaki Barbecue Pineapple Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Sheet Pan Dinners… They are pretty ingenious. You combine all of your ingredients on a pan, cook it in the oven and dinner is ready. It switches the idea of one pot cooking to a pan and lends itself to an easy and quick clean-up. You can’t beat that. Recently during a lull at work I clicked on a link for 50 sheet pan dinner recipes and came across a few that caught my eye. One is for gnocchi that included a variation to use Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi which I currently have a bag of in my freezer. It took me a few trips to Trader Joe’s to finally find it since it’s apparently so popular. On a side note, I normally shy away from making frozen meals or snacks, but I am coming to love some of the frozen food in Trader Joe’s. Some of my faves, their mozzarella sticks, chicken and cilantro wontons, and Mandarin Orange Chicken. Back to the recipe for today though… a Teriyaki Barbecue Pineapple Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner. That’s a mouthful of a recipe title for sure, but, one that turns out a delicious end product.

I began by chopping some of my ingredients into bite-sized pieces: chicken breasts, a green and yellow bell pepper, and a sweet onion. I combined them with broccoli florets – I purchased a bag of these in the produce section – and a can of drained pineapple chunks in a large zip-top bag. In a medium bowl I whisked together the ingredients for the marinade: soy sauce, barbecue sauce, minced garlic, pineapple juice (from the can of pineapple chunks), honey and pepper. I poured some of the marinade into the bag, reserving a cup, and then sealed it and shook and massaged the bag to make sure the marinade was evenly distributed throughout it. I then placed it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. You could leave it in longer if you have the time.

After the 30 minutes I preheated my oven to 400 F and using a slotted spoon I transferred the chicken and vegetables to a large baking sheet. You want to transfer as little as the marinade from the bag to the pan as possible as the chicken and vegetables will create more liquid as they cook. I then placed it in the oven and cooked it for 20 minutes. The recipe stated 10 minutes but when I checked the chicken at that point it looked way to underdone for my taste so I left it in for another 10 minutes. While the chicken and vegetables were in the oven, I poured the reserved marinade in a small saucepan and simmered it over medium-low heat until it was thickened.

Once chicken was done I removed the pan from the oven and switched it to the broiler setting. Using paper towels I soaked up some of the excess liquid on the pan and then poured the thickened marinade over the chicken and vegetables and stirred it all together. I placed the pan back in the oven and broiled it for about 6 minutes. To go along with this I made rice and had the perfect dinner (and leftovers.)

And there you have it… My first sheet pan dinner that I am sure I will be making again.

 

Teriyaki Barbecue Pineapple Chicken Sheet Pan Dinner

Ingredients:

2 skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 orange bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 sweet onion, cut into bite-sized pieces

20 oz. can pineapple chunks in pineapple juice, drained and the juice reserved

 

For the marinade:

1/2 cup soy sauce

1 cup barbecue sauce

1/2 cup reserved pineapple juice

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon pepper

 

Directions:

Combine the chicken, peppers, onion and pineapple in a large zip top bag.

In a medium bowl combine the ingredients for the marinade and whisk them together. Reserve 1 cup of the marinade and pour the rest into the zip top bag.

Seal the bag and shake and massage the marinade into the meat until it’s evenly distributed. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Using a slotted spoon (or tongs) transfer the contents from the zip top bag to a sheet pan in a single layer. You don’t want to transfer too much of the marinade since the chicken and vegetables will let off their own liquid as it cooks. Discard the leftover marinade.

Cook in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Until the chicken is just about done.

Meanwhile, pour the reserved cup of marinade in a small saucepan and cook on medium heat until it begins to boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue simmering until the sauce is thickened and has reduced by half.

Remove the pan from the oven and switch the oven to the broiler setting.

Use paper towels to remove any liquid from the pan. Pour the thickened sauce over the chicken and vegetables and lightly toss to coat.

Return the pan to the oven and broil for 5-7 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the chicken and vegetables are browned.

Serve with rice or noodles.

Recipe from Yellow Bliss Road

Slow Cooker Sunday: Hawaiian Barbecue Ribs

I can’t remember the last time I had or made ribs. I am pretty sure it’s been over a year, maybe even two. I wasn’t even sure if I still liked them to be honest. Then I came across a recipe for baby back ribs in a slow cooker and they sounded simple (and tasty) enough that I decided it was time to have ribs again.

While the recipe called for 2 small racks of baby back ribs about 2 lbs. a piece, I ended up getting one rack that was 4 lbs. I divided this rack into 4 pieces and then seasoned it with salt and pepper then rubbed them with vegetable oil and sprinkled chile powder over the ribs. Rubbing the chile powder onto the ribs.

In a measuring cup I whisked together teriyaki barbecue sauce, apple cider vinegar, minced garlic and ginger and then poured this into the insert of my slow cooker. I then added in the seasoned ribs and coated them in the marinade. To make sure each rack was coated, I added each rack one-at-a-time to coat.

I covered my slow cooker and set it to cook on low for 7 hours. Well, I don’t own a digital slow cooker, so, I actually set it to cook for 8 hours. And intended to take the ribs out at 7 hours, but, I put them to cook overnight so by the time I woke up my slow cooker had already switched to the warm setting… Oops! It was all good though, the meat was thoroughly cooked and thankfully still intact.

I transferred the ribs to a foil-lined baking sheet bone-side down. In a small bowl I whisked together some of the cooking liquid from my slow cooker, teriyaki barbecue sauce, pineapple preserves and ketchup to make a marinade. I then generously brushed it on the ribs.

I then broiled them on high for about 5 minutes, until the sauce was sticky and the ribs were charred in spots.

I’ll definitely be making these again, but, I think next time I will make them with Honey Barbecue Sauce for a sweeter flavor.

 

Slow Cooker Hawaiian Barbecue Ribs

Ingredients:

Small Racks of Baby Back Ribs (1 4lb. rack cut into 4 pieces, or 2 2lb. racks cut in half)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons chile powder

2/3 cup teriyaki-style barbecue sauce*, divided

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup pineapple preserves

2 tablespoons ketchup

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

*I used Sweet Baby Ray’s

Directions:

Season the ribs with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Rub the ribs with the olive oil and then sprinkle with the chile powder. Rub the chile powder onto the ribs so it will adhere.

In a measuring cup whisk together 1/3 cup of the barbecue sauce, the vinegar, ginger and garlic and then pour into a slow cooker. Add the seasoned ribs and turn to coat in the marinade. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours, until the ribs are tender.

Preheat the broiler. Transfer the ribs to a foil-lined baking sheet bone side down. Remove 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid from the slow cooker and combine with the remaining 1/3 cup of barbecue sauce and the pineapple preserves and ketchup in a small bowl. Whisk together.

Brush the sauce generously on the ribs. Broil until the sauce is stick and the ribs are charred in spots, 3 to 5 minutes.

Recipe from Food Network

Slow Cooker Sunday: Beef Ragu with Pappardelle

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, my favorite type of slow cooker recipe is the dump it in and forget about it kind. This beef ragu is just that. I added all of my ingredients to my slow cooker…

Set it to cook on low for 7 hours, shredded the meat, added it to some cooked pasta…

And had a delicious meal to pack for lunch.

 

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu with Pappardelle

Ingredients:

1 lb. beef chuck roast

1 15oz. can of crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup dry red wine

1 tablespoon of tomato paste

3 garlic cloves, sliced

1 sprig of rosemary

1 3-inch piece of Parmesan rind

Kosher salt

Black pepper

12 oz. fresh pappardelle

Directions:

Add the tomatoes, wine, tomato paste, garlic cloves, 1/2 teaspoon of salt to a slow cooker and whisk together. Add the rosemary spring and Parmesan rind. Season the beef with salt and pepper and add to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 7 hours, or until the meat is very tender. Shred the meat with two forks, discard any fat, the rosemary and Parmesan rind and set the slow cooker to warm while you cook the pasta.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the past and cook according to label directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of cooking water then drain the pasta. Return the pasta to the pot and add the meat and sauce from the slow cooker as well as the reserved cooking water. Cook on medium high heat until the sauce begins to thicken. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle each serving with olive oil.

Recipe from Food Network

Rigatoni with Sausage & Peas

I may have mentioned this once or twice before, but, I’m always on the search for quick and easy meals that flavorful, don’t require a slew of ingredients and gives me enough leftovers for a few days. This pasta dish checks all of those boxes.

I started by cooking the pasta. Then, I sautéed garlic, browned the sausage, added frozen peas and finally heavy cream and butter. After bringing it to a boil I added in the pasta and that was it. You can’t top something as simple as that.

Rigatoni with Sausage & Peas

Ingredients:

1 pound rigatoni

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 pound sweet Italian sausage meat or sausages with casings removed

12 ounces frozen green peas

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

4 tablespoons butter

Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add pasta and cooking for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente and then drain.

In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat and sauté garlic. Add the sausage and brown. Then add the green peas and simmer for 5 minutes. Slowly add the heave cream and butter and bring to a slight boil. Cook for 5 minutes and then toss with cooked pasta and top with parmesan cheese.

Recipe from allrecipes