This weekend I was busy testing some recipes for Thanksgiving ideas (and blog posts!) and the best thing ever that can happen when you’re cooking occurred: I had leftover stuffing. My family has a special little trick for leftover stuffing, we use it to make a little breakfast hash. It’s barely a recipe, which is just how breakfast should be made: add a tiny pat of butter to a hot pan and throw in the stuffing and, if you have it, some chopped onions, sausage, bacon — you can’t mess it up! After the mixture cooks together for a few minutes push it the sides to make an opening in the center of the pan. Crack in egg in the center of the stuffing and let it fry up, then slide that whole thing on a plate and dig in! I garnished mine with some fresh chopped green onions, and let me tell you, it was tasty. IMG_4918.JPG

There are a few ‘trigger’ ingredients that I look for on a cocktail menu when I’m making a drink selection, and the tartness of grapefruit of is always one of my trip contenders. I mixed up sweet and herb-y drink to balance the tart grapefruit flavor in a tasty drink with Brugal Rum. To make one yourself, follow these instructions: in a rocks glass over ice add 1 tsp of honey, fresh grapefruit juice (1-2 grapefruits, depending how much juice you can get out of them!), and 1.5 oz of Brugal White Rum. Stir vigorously, and garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme – swirl it around in the glass to release some of the flavors into the drink, and enjoy!
Thyme Grapefruit Punch Ingredients Thyme Grapefruit Punch

Brugal Rum provided me with sample products to test, all opinions are my own. 

I’ve got another fun rum cocktail for you today after some more experimenting with Brugal Rum — a blueberry basil smash. My idea for this drink came from a peruse through my fridge, I had some leftover blueberries and basil that were ready to use! To make your own version of this drink, follow these steps: In a cocktail shaker, muddle 1 tsp of sugar, 2-3 lime wedges, a handful of blueberries, and a few sprigs of basil. Pour 1.5 oz of dark rum over the muddled mixtures and shake with ice. Pour in a glass and top with soda water; serve with a fresh lime wedge and a striped straw for good measure! Blueberry Basil Smash Ingredients Blueberry Basil Smash Muddling Blueberry Basil Smash _edited-1 Blueberry Basil Smash _

Ready for this little sweet-treat mash-up? I was scheming up something to bring to a birthday party this weekend and saw The Faux Martha’s recipe for apple cider baked donuts.  I wanted to try the recipe out so I decided to make a batch of mini-donuts and pop them on top of classic vanilla cupcakes (I used a box mix for those, no judging!). In case you were curious if topping cupcakes with donuts was a good idea, let me tell you: it was a great idea. And a few leftover donuts for breakfast the day after weren’t too bad either. IMG_4673.JPGIMG_4678.JPGIMG_4680.JPGIMG_4677.JPG

The other day at work the topic of Thanksgiving foods came up, and while it’s not a traditional Thanksgiving food, I mentioned that we always have a mac and cheese at ours because my siblings aren’t big on turkey. One of the best mac and cheese dishes that I’ve ever eaten was on our honeymoon, and the dish came served with a side of homemade applesauce — delicious. My wheels started turning for how I could combine these flavors in a new way, and I came up with this cute little idea for a savory and sweet side dish: mac and cheese baked apples. I love the idea of offering these in small apples as an appetizer, or as a bigger portion for a side dish at dinner — either way, they’re a super tasty treat. Full recipe below!

Mac and cheese baked apple Mac and cheese baked apple1 mac and cheese baked apple2 mac and cheese baked apple3 mac and cheese baked apple4 mac and cheese baked apple5 mac and cheese baked apple6Ingredients:

  • 4-5 large apples (honey crisp apples worked great)
  • 5 cups of cooked pasta (elbows work great!)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup of shredded sharp cheddar cheese (plus extra for garnish)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions:

Cook pasta as directed, removing from water when still al dente. Clean apples and slice their tops off; using a melon-baller, scoop out the insides of the apple leaving a half-inch rim around the edges. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and begin to whisk in flour until a roux forms, then slowly whisk in the cup of milk and heat until the sauce thickens. Next, mix in the cheeses and combine until the sauce is a consistent texture. Remove from heat fold in pasta until fully coated; salt and pepper to taste. Fill the hollowed-out apples with macaroni and cheese mixture, and top with additional sharp cheddar cheese. Bake in a baking dish in a 400 degree pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes.

 

I’ve been trying to be better lately about not wasting food. Cooking for two means we unfortunately sometimes end up tossing out lots of leftovers, so I’ve been challenging myself to be creative with what’s in the fridge and use as much as I can. We had a roasted chicken for dinner this weekend so I was brainstorming ideas for what to make with the extra meat. I whipped up a batch of chicken stock with the bones from the chicken and decided it would make a pot-pie, but in order to use more of the stock and chicken, I made it into a soup instead. I even added a fluffy biscuit for dipping to get the crust flavors. Full recipe below:

Chicken Pot Pie Soup 1
Chicken Pot Pie Soup 3 Chicken Pot Pie Soup 4 Chicken Pot Pie Soup 5

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 small red potatoes
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 yellow onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 3 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 cup of half and half
  • 1.5 cups roasted chicken, shredded
  • 1 cup of fresh corn
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas

Instructions:

Dice red potatoes, carrot, and onions. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and roast at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Add roasted mixture to a large pot with 1 tbsp of olive oil. As the mixture heats up, stir in flour until it dissolves and coats the vegetables. Add chicken stock and half and half and bring the soup to a low boil. Reduce to medium heat and add in chicken, corn, and peas. Simmer for 15 minutes to blend flavors; add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a warm biscuit for dipping.

I’m super lucky to work so close to Flour Bakery — when I go there for lunch, which is often, I tend stick to the same order each time. This week though, a quiche on their weekly specials board caught my eye: sweet potato and blue cheese. These are two of my favorite flavors, but I never thought to put them together until I saw them on the menu. I ordered the quiche — it was amazing — and left with determination to use this flavor combination in a dish of my own soon. My spin on the Flour Bakery quiche is a sweet potato blue cheese frittata — full recipe below:

Sweet Potato Blue Cheese Frittata 7Sweet Potato Blue Cheese Frittata 1 Sweet Potato Blue Cheese Frittata 2 Sweet Potato Blue Cheese Frittata 3 Sweet Potato Blue Cheese Frittata 4 Sweet Potato Blue Cheese Frittata 5

Ingredients:

  • 1 Large sweet potato
  • 1 Small yellow onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1/3 cup of crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Peel sweet potato and dice into small cubes, thinly slice yellow onion and toss with sweet potatoes in a pie dish with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes, tossing mixture at the halfway point. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before crumbling 1/3 cup of blue cheese over the roasted mixture. In bowl, whisk 6 eggs with 1/2 cup of milk and 1 tsp of fresh thyme leaves, salt and pepper. Pour egg mixture over sweet potatoes in pie dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

I am absolutely terrible at packing my lunch for work — I try to bring leftovers every once in a while, but I tend to prefer heading out for lunch to get something fresh. When a copy of Mason Jar Salads and More showed up in my mailbox though, I figured it was good motivation to make something tasty to bring along with me to work this week. The book has lots of good tips for layering salads and meal ingredients in mason jars to keep them fresh and crisp (dressing on the bottom, and pack down ingredients over it to keep other ingredients from getting soggy!). I took inspiration from the book’s caprese pasta recipe and made my own version: spinach tortellini with pesto, mozzarella, grape tomatoes, red onions, grilled corn, and more tortellini on top — the flavors melded together great!

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On a recent trip to the farmer’s market, I spotted the cutest little mini eggplants (I learned they’re called fairy tale eggplants) and had to scoop some up to experiment with. Given the warm weather recently, I decided to use them in a summer-temperature-friendly appetizer — eggplant caprese bites. I washed the eggplants and sliced them into thin, 1/4 rounds, then dunked them in a whisked egg batter and dredged them lightly in Italian bread crumbs. Using a large skillet, I browned the eggplant in olive oil, and then let them come up to room temperature while resting on a clean paper towel to remove some of the oil. Then comes assembly time — on a toothpick I stacked up tomatoes, eggplant rounds, halves of mini-mozzarella balls, and fresh basil leaves. Right before I served them I sprinkled the bites with sea salt for a little extra flavor. Aren’t they so bright and cheery?

Eggplant Caprese BitesEggplant Caprese Bites 1 Eggplant Caprese Bites 3 Eggplant Caprese Bites 4 Eggplant Caprese Bites 5 Eggplant Caprese Bites 6

After what feels like dozens of hot nights in our apartment, it finally cooled down enough this week that turning on the oven was an option. Getting back into the kitchen was such a good re-charge for me this week, especially with all of the amazing seasonal produce available to play with! I needed some comfort food after a long weekend of partying it up at a friend’s wedding so I went with a pasta dish — something quick and simple. I roasted a small eggplant, a container of quartered grape tomatoes, and two heads of garlic with some EVOO and salt and pepper at 425 degrees for 25 minutes. While that cooked, I made angel hair pasta and tossed it with half a lemon’s juice, torn basil leaves, about a tablespoon each of olive oil and butter, and some parmesan cheese. Once the vegetable mixture was well roasted, I pulled the cloves out of the garlic heads and smash them up with the tomatoes and eggplant, and tossed all of the ingredients together with the pasta and a few tablespoons of reserved pasta water. It totally hit the spot — the roasted garlic infused the eggplant and tomatoes with so much flavor, and all of the ingredients came together for a fresh but hearty meal. 20140729-075547-28547218.jpg20140729-075543-28543386.jpg20140729-075545-28545209.jpg20140729-075544-28544309.jpg20140729-075546-28546026.jpg20140729-075548-28548272.jpg