Southwest Stuffed Peppers

This past weekend Jesse and I took another trip to Hong Kong. We had a lot of fun, but it wasn’t all play time – we went to Hong Kong so that Jesse could officially get his Z Visa, basically a resident visa! It’s weird when things feel like they are such a long time coming, then once they happen it feels like it was all so fast! Who would have thought we would be living in China? Crazy.

We had these Stuffed Peppers early last week before our trip, and I was hoping to get this post up while we were in Hong Kong, but I completely forgot to take my lap top with me! Better late than never, though, because we really loved this dinner. Stuffed Peppers are bright, colorful, filling, and delicious.

 




Penne with Chicken and Vegetables in Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce

Wow, that’s a really long name! Probably too long, but when thinking about this recipe it just didn’t feel right to leave any part out of the name. The chicken, vegetables, and roasted garlic sauce all work together to form one beautiful, filling, delicious pasta dish.

I knew that I wanted to make pasta for dinner and I knew what ingredients I had on hand, but I didn’t have a specific recipe in mind. So I went searching and what I found was very promising recipe on my friend Krystal’s blog (Krystal just had a baby, by the way!). I worked with what I had and used her recipe as guide, and what I thought was going to be a good dinner turned out to be a GREAT dinner! So much so that I’m putting it back on the menu for this week!

The first change I made was to use zucchini instead of broccoli (side note: why can I never spell either of those words right on the first try? mental spelling block) and penne instead of fettucine.  I also used milk instead of cream, but because I was worried that it wouldn’t thicken up enough, I added a tablespoon of corn starch. It worked perfectly and even held up and remained creamy for my next day lunch leftovers. Finally, I added mushrooms because it just seemed right.

Penne with Chicken and Vegetables in a Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce

Ingredients

1 head of garlic – roasted with salt, pepper, and olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small-medium zucchini, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
4-5 button mushrooms, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups milk
1 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for topping
1-2 chicken breasts (depending on how much chicken per serving you want), roasted and sliced
12 oz. penne pasta
Fresh chopped basil or parsley for garnishing

Directions
Preheat oven to 375. Cut the top off of a head of garlic to expose the tops of cloves. Place on a sheet of aluminum foil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Loosely wrap the aluminum foil around the garlic, pinching the seams to seal. Roast for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the cloves are tender and start to turn golden brown. Allow to cool.

While the garlic is roasting, drizzle the chicken breast with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and roast for about 30 minutes, until cooked through. Allow the chicken to rest, covered with aluminum foil, until you’re ready to serve, then cut into slices. (Roasting in the same oven as the garlic slightly infuses some of the garlic flavor into the chicken, mmm!)

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook penne until al dente then drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, whisk together the milk and corn starch in a glass measuring cup, set aside. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil and butter. Add the onion, zucchini, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring often, or until the vegetables soften and the onions are translucent. Season with a little salt and pepper. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the cloves into the skillet. Use a spatula or wooden spoon to break up the garlic and mix into the vegetables.

Create a well in the skillet by pushing the vegetables to the edges, slowly stream in the milk/cornstarch mixture, whisking constantly. Work the vegetables into the sauce with the whisk then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan, then cook for another 3-5 minutes, or until the sauce begins to thicken and coat the back of the spoon. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Add the cooked pasta to the skillet and stir to coat. If the sauce seems too thick, add the reserved cooking liquid a tablespoon at time until you get the desired consistency.

Top each portion with the sliced chicken, extra Parmesan, and fresh chopped basil or parsley. Serve hot and enjoy!

Adapted from Mrs.Regueiro’s Plate

Sloppy Joes

I have a confession to make. I’m a little intimidated by my new kitchen and supermarket. Baking has been going just fine, but my creativity in the dinner department has been somewhat lacking. Partially because my new kitchen isn’t as well stocked as I’m used to (though time will hopefully take care of that) and partially because going to the supermarket makes me a little nervous. It’s set up differently than I’m used, I can’t read the packages or labels, and I’m just generally being a big chicken about it.

One thing that makes me feel like I’m regaining my sense of control in the kitchen is to go back to somewhat classic meals. When Jesse and I were newlyweds, something that we had far more often than I care to admit was sloppy joes. Of course in the very early days it was a can of Manwich. Now that I’ve become more aware of the foods that I’m eating and have tried to make more and more things the homemade way, it was time to revisit that classic and give it a new homemade twist.

This Sloppy Joe recipe was just what I needed. I just slightly adapted it from the Pioneer Woman, using what I had on hand and slightly upping the veggie count. The result was a hearty, filling, warm-belly feeling, kind of dinner that was Jesse approved. It went perfectly with the Brioche Buns I made earlier in the day (only in a non-whole wheat version) and I went with Mac and Cheese for the side.

Sloppy Joes

Ingredients
1 Tbsp Butter
1-1/2 lbs Ground Beef
1/2 medium Onion, Diced
1 Green Bell Pepper, Diced 
1/2 cup Carrot, Grated
3 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 cup Ketchup 
3/4 cup Water
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
3/4 tsp Dry Mustard
1/2 tsp Paprika
Pinch Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
Worcestershire Sauce, to taste (optional)
Dash of Tabasco Sauce (optional)
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Brioche Buns (Hamburger Buns)



Directions
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the ground beef and cook until brown. Drain excess fat and return to the pan. 


Add the onion, green pepper, carrot, and garlic, cook until the vegetables start get tender, about 4-5 minutes. Add the dry seasonings and ketchup. Stir to coat the ground beef and vegetables. Stir in the water and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Add the Worcestershire and Tabasco, if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. 


Serve hot on a bun (toasted if you like!)


Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

Quinoa Mexican Soup

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I’ve been known in the past to have what my friends and family call “Shiny Things Syndrome.” I can be in the middle of a conversation or on my way to another room to do something and all of the sudden something “shiny” will catch my eye and the next you know I’m lost in the conversation or have completely forgotten what I was trying to do. What can I say, I can be easily distracted.

That’s exactly what happened a few weeks ago after I read a post on Branny Boils Over. She’s hosting a blogging event called the “Souper Bowl” and for every entry she will be donating $1.00 to the ASPCA. All you have to do is dedicate a post to a pet and share a recipe for soup. Sounds perfect for me! I love soup. I love my cats. I had a minestrone recipe just begging to be made. Then I posted my soup…. and realized about a day later that I just shared my entry for the Souper Bowl without actually making it an entry. DOH!

Then I found this recipe on Nicole’s blog and fell in love. Soup for me. Dedication to my cats. Post for the Souper Bowl. Win, win, win!


I love everything about this soup. Nicole said she wasn’t sure if she would like it but tried it anyway and liked it a lot. I, on the other hand, knew I would love this soup at first glance. The only thing that surprised me was the fact that I didn’t have to de-veganize it by adding sour cream and cheese. Of course I added a little cheese to one bowl. But I quickly found that it just wasn’t needed. There is flavor jam packed into every square inch of this soup and I love it. Did I say that already?

So in honor of both of my beautiful cats (who have to fly home to Ohio for the next couple of months while I’m in China, SO SAD!!!!!!!) I bring you Quinoa Mexican Soup.

Bigun
Tiffany 

Quinoa Mexican Soup

Ingredients
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 (14.5 oz) cans low-sodium fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 poblano pepper, cut in half, seeds removed
1 red bell pepper, cut in half, seeds removed
1 jalapeno, cut in half and seeds removed
1 cup dry quinoa
1 Tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 bay leaves
pinch ground cinnamon
1 avocado, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 lime, cut into wedges (I forgot the lime!)

Directions
Turn your oven to broil, the high temperature if you have the option. Lay the poblano, red pepper and jalapeno skin side up on a baking sheet. Broil for 4-5 minutes, keeping an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn, but just the skin chars. When the outsides are charred carefully remove from oven and place in a ziploc bag and let steam. Peel and dice the peppers.

In a stock pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and let cook for 4-5 minutes or until they just start to stick to the bottom of the pot. Deglaze the pan with 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth. Cook again for another 3-4 minutes and deglaze again with more vegetable broth. Repeat this process 3 or 4 more times until the onions have caramelized and are dark golden brown with a slightly sweet taste.

While the onions are caramelizing, cook the quinoa according to the package.

When the onions are caramelized, add the rest of the broth, fire roasted tomatoes, poblano pepper, jalapeno, bell pepper, and seasonings. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, add the quinoa and stir.

Serve with fresh cut avocado and lime wedges (if you don’t forget them like me).

Source: As seen on Prevention, RD originally from Virtually Vegan Mama