I can’t believe summer is coming to an end; how is it almost September? The last few months flew by – a blur of work, school, and so many great vacations. I haven’t been able to cook much this summer – I spent most of my days traveling for work or traveling for fun – so every moment I get in the kitchen is extra special.
Mike and I finally had a quiet weekend at home to get caught up on housework and finally relax. A trip to the farmers’ market inspired this dish packed full of local foods – sweet corn, gorgeous cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and cheese. Seriously – there is nothing quite like Wisconsin sweet corn (sorry, Cape Cod, but the corn we had out there was terrible).
I served these fritters with a side of zucchini noodles sautéed in a bit of olive oil and lightly seasoned with some roasted red pepper and garlic seasoning we got from Soulard Spice Shop.
Cheesy Sweet Corn Fritters with Sautéed Tomatoes serves 6
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped and divided
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 – 2 small green chile peppers, minced (optional)
2 ears sweet corn, kernels removed
2 1/3 cup yellow corn meal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, divided
1 cup buttermilk (or combine 1 cup milk with 2 teaspoons white vinegar and let sit for 5 minutes)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
2 tablespoons basil, roughly chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add half the onions and sauté for 1 minute. Add the bell pepper and chile peppers and cook for an additional 2 minutes, or until vegetables begin to soften. Add sweet corn and cook for two minutes, or until corn softens. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set vegetables aside to cool.
Meanwhile, combine the corn meal, flour, sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of the cayenne in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg. Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Stir in the vegetables, cheese, and basil.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the remaining onion and cook until softened, about 2 – 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and season with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne, salt, and pepper. Cook until tomatoes begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.
Heat a very thin film of oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Working in batches, cook 1/4 cup scoops of batter in the oil. Cook 2 minutes per side, or until fritters are golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil as needed. Serve fritters immediately with sautéed tomatoes.
I’m a bit of a cheater. This month’s What’s Baking theme was “Baking with Fresh Fruit”. Rhubarb is a veg, but I’m going to go and act like it’s a fruit. Because rhubarb is seriously one of my favorite things to bake with in the summer. Over the years, I’ve drifted towards a preference of rhubarb dishes that are a bit more in-your-face tart. The tartness of rhubarb is one of the reasons I love it so much. I’ve mentioned that I’m obsessed with sour candy, right? Rhubarb is nature’s sour candy and I can’t get enough of the stuff.
Want to know how much I loved this? I served this during dinner with Mike’s family and instantly regretted it. I selfishly kept the leftovers to myself and managed to eat them before I crawled into bed. So, do yourself a favor and just make a double batch: one to share and one to keep for yourself. Or just keep both for yourself. Good food is meant to be shared, but really good food is meant to be hoarded and eaten in secret without the threat of someone swooping in to take a bite.
Rhubarb Ginger Crisp
for the filling:
5 cups chopped rhubarb (about 2 pounds)
1/3 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons oat flour
zest and juice of 1 orange
for the topping: 1 cup oat flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
7 tablespoons Earth Balance, softened
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 2 quart baking dish and set aside.
To make the filling: In a large bowl, combine the rhubarb, crystallized ginger, sugar, 2 tablespoons oat flour, orange zest and juice. Stir until well combined. Spread filling into the bottom of the prepared dish.
To make the topping: In a separate bowl, stir together the oat flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, brown sugar, and grated ginger. Using your clean hands, work in the softened butter until the mixture coarse crumbs the size of a pea. Spread topping evenly over rhubarb filling.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour in preheated oven or until filling is tender and bubbling and topping is golden brown.
There is something about roasted garlic that makes me swoon. The anticipation of waiting for it to cook up in the oven is almost too much. I’m the one poking at it every ten minutes, impatiently waiting for it to reach that perfect golden color and becomes buttery soft.
This bread? A killer way to use some roasted garlic. It’s like garlic bread x 1000 and super simple to throw together. Easy, breezy, beautiful… garlic bread.
A big thank you to Nicole over at Seven 8 Nine for hosting this month’s ‘baking with garlic’ theme! Love garlic? Want more? Make sure to check out her blog for a roundup of all the delicious garlicy recipes!
Cheesy Roasted Garlic Pull-Apart Bread
2 heads of garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cans Pillsbury Grands Homestyle biscuits
8 ounces Swiss cheese, shredded
1 cup flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Roast the garlic: Preheat oven to 400°F. Peel most of the paper off the garlic. Cut about ¼-inch off the top of the garlic bulbs to expose the tips of the cloves. Drizzle each head with 1 teaspoon of olive oil and wrap in foil. Place garlic in preheated oven and bake for 35 – 40 minutes, or until golden brown and soft. Unwrap garlic and set aside to cool.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 °F. Lightly grease a 9×5 loaf pan and set aside.
Once garlic is cool enough to handle, gently squeeze the base of the bulb to release the cloves of garlic. Place cheese, garlic, and parsley in a bowl and mix until well combined.
To build the bread: slice biscuits in half horizontally. Lay one half on your workspace and sprinkle with a bit of the cheese and garlic mixture. Top with another half of biscuit. Repeat until you have a stack 6 biscuits high. Transfer this to your prepared loaf pan and repeat until the pan is full. (You may have leftover biscuits and/or cheese – it’s ok! Sprinkle any remaining cheese on top of the biscuits in the pan and bake the leftover biscuits according to package directions.)
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
Is it cold where you live? Do you have mountains of snow outside your window? Are you short on time? Do you hate doing dishes? Do you love comfort food that warms you up? If you answered yes to any or all of those questions, this chili is for you. Tossing everything into the slow cooker means you don’t have to spend hours standing over the stovetop, stirring and tending to your chili. Plus, who doesn’t love coming home after a long day to a house that smells amazing?
Slow Cooker Beef & Veggie Chili
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound 93% lean ground beef
2 medium onions, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 bell peppers, diced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
16 ounces tomato sauce
2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 jalapeno, seeds removed and minced (optional)
for serving (optional): cooked macaroni noodles
fat free Greek yogurt or sour cream
thinly sliced green onions
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, onions, and garlic and cook until beef is no longer pink, about 7 minutes; stir with a spoon to break beef up into smaller pieces. Add chili powder and cumin and stir to coat. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes or until fragrant, stirring frequently. Transfer mixture to a slow cooker.
Stir in bell peppers, mushrooms, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and kidney beans. Cover slow cooker and cook for 6 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving toppings of your choice.
I love chips and dip. Taco dip, guacamole, salsa, French onion, hummus… I’m the weirdo hovering by your dip bowl at the party. Hovering? More like hoovering. I really want to host a chips and dip dinner party. I don’t know if anyone would come, but I could probably eat the entire spread myself. Just sayin’.
Spinach artichoke dip is one of my favorites to dip in, but all that cheese – oh goodness. I did my best to lighten it up while still keeping that to-die-for richness. I opt for fresh spinach, but feel free to sub in a package of frozen chopped spinach; just make sure to thaw and drain it before stirring it in.
Lightened-Up Spinach Artichoke Dip
8 ounce bag baby spinach, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained chopped
8 ounce package reduced-fat or fat-free cream cheese
1 cup plain fat free Greek yogurt
2 tablespoon light mayonnaise
8 ounces part-skim mozzarella, shredded
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
In a medium pot, combine, spinach, garlic and artichoke hearts. Cook over medium heat until spinach is just wilted. Stir in cream cheese, yogurt, mozzarella, Parmesan, and red pepper flakes. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until cheese is melted and ingredients are blended.
Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.
Slow cooker instructions: place ingredients into a slow cooker and heat on low for 3-4 hours or high for 2 hours. Stir well before serving.
Football season is over this weekend. I don’t know what I’m going to do with all my extra time. What am I going to eat now that game foods are out? I’m assuming that eating spinach artichoke dip for lunch isn’t acceptable unless you’re watching football. On second thought, it’s probably not acceptable during football season either.
Once in a while, I will eat real food during a football game. You know, something that isn’t 99% cheese. Like this super easy slow cooker Italian chicken sandwich. Holy bucket of yum, I tell ya. If you don’t have your Superbowl menu set yet (shame on you!), make sure you get this delicious sandwich on there! Your friends and family will thank you.
Easy Slow Cooker Italian Chicken Sandwiches
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 envelope Good Seasons Zesty Italian salad dressing mix 8 ounces pepperoncini slices, drained + 2 tablespoons liquid
8 ounces hot giardiniera, drained
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
for serving whole wheat buns
provolone cheese slices
Place chicken in the bottom of a slow cooker and sprinkle with dressing mix. Top with pepperoncini, giardiniera, and chicken broth. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours.
Remove meat from slow cooker and shred with two forks. Alternatively, place the chicken into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater. Beat on low for 30 or so seconds or until chicken is shredded. Return shredded chicken to slow cooker for 5 minutes.
Scoop chicken onto buns and top with provolone cheese, giardiniera, and pepperoncini. Serve immediately.
When I hear the word casserole, images of cheesy, fatty, not-so-great-for-you comfort food comes to mind. What if I told you that you could have all the comfort food flavor without all the bad stuff? This dish is loaded to the top with veggies and whole grains. It’s a dish you can feel great about eating.
Lightened-Up Cheesy Chicken & Rice Casserole
3 cups cooked brown rice
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional)
1 head broccoli, cut into florets and steamed (about 4 cups)
10.75 ounce can fat-free cream of mushroom soup
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons light mayo
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread cooked rice in the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish.
Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray. Add chicken and cook until cooked through and no longer pink in the middle. Remove chicken from pan to a separate bowl.
Add onion, garlic, mushrooms, bell pepper, and jalapeno to pan. Cook until vegetables just begin to soften. Stir in soup, broth, mayo, and mustard until well combined. Mix in broccoli, 3/4 cup of the cheese, and the cooked chicken. Scoop mixture on top of rice in baking dish and sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly. Allow to cool 5 minutes before serving.
Chili is one of my favorite winter comfort foods. We just got out of a mega deep-freeze up here in Wisconsin (“feels like -35°F” is something I would be OK with never seeing and feeling again) and this spicy turkey chili mac hit the spot. I made this on one of the nights that Mike and I were apart, so having to wash only one pot was a huge bonus. Doing dishes is the least exciting part of cooking.
Easy Spicy Turkey Chili Mac
1 1/4 pound 93% lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes*
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup dried whole wheat elbow macaroni or pasta of choice
1 – 2 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste optional toppings: shredded cheese, fat free Greek yogurt or sour cream, jalapenos
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook turkey, onion and garlic until meat is browned and cooked through and onion is tender.
Stir in beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, pasta, jalapenos, chili powder, and cumin. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low and allow mixture to simmer. Cook, covered, for about 15 minutes, or until macaroni is soft, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Top with optional toppings before serving.
*I used a pint of quartered tomatoes I canned over the summer.
Cranberries are one of my favorite parts about winter. So many cranberries, so little time. These cheesecakes were the perfect way to showcase a bit of the tart fruit. I think these mini cheesecakes are my new go-to party dessert. They’re super quick and easy and they are the perfect amount of pretty. These baby cheesecakes won’t crack and won’t brown before they’re cooked through. They’re pretty much impossible to mess up. So, if you’re looking for an easy, stress-free dessert, your search is over! These mini cranberry swirl cheesecakes are the dessert for you. Enjoy! Mini Cranberry Swirl Cheesecakes makes 3 dozenfor the cranberry swirl: 1/2 cup cranberries 1/8 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest 1/2 cup water for the crust: 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 6 whole graham cracker sheets) 3 tablespoons butter for the filling: 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, room temperature 3/4 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 1/8 teaspoon salt 2 large eggs, room temperature
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a mini cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside.
Prepare the cranberry sauce: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cranberries, sugar, lemon zest, and water. Cook, stirring frequently, until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Prepare the crust: In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Stir together until well combined. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of graham cracker crumbs into the bottom of each liner. Press down to pack into a crust; I found a shot glass worked really well for this step. Bake in preheated oven for 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
Prepare the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese on medium-high speed or until smooth and fluffy. Mix in the sugar, vanilla, and salt until well combined. Add in eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
To assemble the cheescakes: Fill each liner 3/4 of the way with cheesecake filling. Carefully place 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of cranberry sauce on top of the cheescake filling. Swirl the cranberry sauce using a toothpick to create a marbled effect.
Bake cheesecakes in preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until cheesecake is set.
Allow cheesecakes to cool in pan on a wire rack. Once cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Asking me to pick between these bourbon fudge brownies and the espresso bourbon brownies I made a few months ago is like asking me to choose between Sour Patch Kids or Sour Skittles. It’s pretty much impossible for me to pick. They’re both delicious. If you have people who aren’t huge coffee fans but still enjoy a nice hint of bourbon, these are the perfect brownie.
Mike likes to eat these with a little glass of bourbon on the side. I love these best when they’re straight from the oven. I mean, seriously, does anyone actually wait for stuff to cool before eating? I’m pretty sure I spend most of my life with a burnt tongue and/or roof of my mouth. I should probably work on my self control.
Bourbon Fudge Brownies
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweeetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9×9-inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
Bring bourbon to boil in a small saucepan. Remove pan from heat, add chocolate chips and stir until smooth.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt and whisk until combined and lump-free.
Combine the sugar and butter in a large bowl and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well combined. Add vanilla and eggs and beat to combine.
Add bourbon and flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined.
Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.