Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Spicy Sausage Pasta



I love Pinterest. Ever since a friend introduced me to it, I've become a bit of an addict. Then it dawned on me that I've pinned so many recipes, yet haven't really tried any of them! Pinterest is slowly forming a world of people who love looking at pictures of pretty food, instead of making it hehe.

So I set out to work through my pins - though more are added so it's a moving target - and make as many as possible. So far I've made Broccoli Quinoa Casserole, which is delicious! And also, Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bites with Blue Cheese Dip, which are not as good as they sound. So it's been a 50-50 split between deliciousness (seriously, make the casserole now!), and "meh".

But this Spicy Sausage Pasta tips the scales to the deliciousness side a hundred fold! Oh wow, I can't stress how much my husband and I love this recipe. It's so easy, and so tasty - we've cooked it quite a few times now, and will cook it again...and again...and again! :)

Serves: 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
1 lb smoked turkey sausage, sliced
1 1/2 cups diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 (10 oz) can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles, Mild
1/2 cup double (heavy) cream
16 oz pasta (originally recipe said 8 oz)
1 cup cheese, shredded (we used Cheddar Jack)
1/3 cup thinly sliced spring onions
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste


1. In a large sauspan, heat a little olive oil then add the sliced sausage and onion then cook until browned - about 4 minutes. (I hadn't discovered Publix frozen diced onion before this recipe, but I'm so glad I did! What a time saver!) Add the garlic and cook until fragrant - about 30 seconds.


2. Add chicken broth, tomatoes, cream, and dried pasta (because we doubled the pasta quantity, I added 1/2 cup of water here too). Stir. Add salt and pepper if you wish - we didn't add any. Bring the pot to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let it simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes - until the pasta is cooked. 

 
 

3. Remove from the heat and stir in half the cheese and half the spring onions. Top with remaining cheese and spring onions - you can put it under the grill to brown the cheese, if your pan is safe to go under the grill, but we just served it as is :)

  
4. Enjoy!
 

We really love this Spicy Sausage Pasta, and have cooked it so many times now. It's really easy to do, even my husband (who hates cooking) volunteers to make it!

This will be my post for this week's Hearth & Soul Blog Hop :)  Be sure to check out the other recipes on there this week and follow my blog for more tasty treats!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Creamy Cucumber Salad



One of the side dishes that I absolutely love is cucumber salad! Since moving to America I've got to try a host of different takes on the dish, but I really liked the look of a recipe on Barefoot Contessa for Creamy Cucumber Salad. So I gave it a try, and it really is delicious! And so easy to make - which is always a bonus :)

Ingredients:
2 cucumbers, thinly sliced (I used British cucumbers)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced in half rounds
salt
2 cups (16 oz) plain whole-milk yogurt
1/2 cup (4 oz) sour cream
1 tbsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar, the original recipe calls for white wine vinegar)
1/4 cup minced fresh dill
black pepper to taste

Serves: 4

1. Mix the sliced cucumbers and red onion in a bowl with 3/4 tbsp salt. Pour the mixture into a collander and suspend over a bowl. Cover the whole thing with plastic wrap, and put it into the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight, to drain into the bowl.



2. Line a sieve with a paper towel and pour yogurt into it. Suspend over another bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and put it into the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight, to drain into the bowl.


3. Discard the collected liquid from both bowls.

4. Roll the cucumbers in paper towels to remove more of the remaining liquid. Then put them into a large bowl with the yogurt, and sour cream, dill, vinegar, and salt and peper to taste (we didn't add any extra salt or pepper). Mix together thoroughly and place in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavours blend - we found that the leftovers of ours tasted even better the next day!

5. Serve chilled and enjoy :)


This will be my post for this week's Hearth & Soul Blog Hop :)  Be sure to check out the other recipes on there this week and follow my blog for more tasty treats!

I'm also on Foodie Friday this week too :)

Friday, 31 January 2014

Chinese New Year: Happy Year Of The Horse!

Happy Chinese New Year! :)  This year we're into the year of the horse. Now myself being a brony since I was in single digits (we won't go into how many years ago that was), I had to add to this year's celebration with this awesome purchase: Chinese New Year Pinkie Pie! (best pony)


This year my husband and I are going out for a meal tonight to celebrate. So I thought it would be fun to share the recipes I've made in the past for Chinese New Year celebrations.  I'm making myself hungry just looking at them!  I hope you try some, they're all delicious :)






Happy New Year to everyone :) No matter if you celebrate or not, have a great Friday and these recipes are good all year round!


Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Roasted Squash and Winter Vegetable Soup



I love soup. It's the one thing I don't mind making, and it's such a comfort food through the Autumn and Winter! Especially with some delicious chunky bread.

I've grown up with my Mom making homemade soup all the time, and it's a tradition that I do now too. She has her own special recipes that are family favourites, and I love experimenting with my own made up recipes to find some new family favourites too :)  This was one of those experiments over Christmas.  And as we currently have icicles hanging on the tree outside - yes, ice in Florida! - I'm going to defrost some of the excess batches from the freezer and enjoy the warming goodness, while the palm trees face the sleet and cold beyond the window.

Ingredients:
1 large onion, diced (there are two in the picture, but I decided to only use one in the end)
2 small/medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
5-6 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 vegetable stock cube (plus boiling water to dissolve)
sour cream (optional)
grated cheese (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C. Cut the acorn and butternut squashes in half, scoop out the seeds and place on a baking tray. Lightly drizzle with olive oil and a light sprinkle of salt. Roast in the oven, cut side up, for 45 minutes to an hour (until lightly browned). Set aside to cool.


2. In a large saucepan add a little oil and cook the onions until slightly softened, add the garlic. Stir and cook for 2-4 minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant.

3. Mix the vegetable stock cube with some boiling water to disolve, add to pan. Then add the sweet potatoes and carrots. Pour boiling water until just covering the vegetables, stir and simmer for about 25 minutes (until the sweet potatoes are softened), stirring occasionally.

4. Using a spoon, scoop out the acorn and butternut squash flesh, discarding the skin. Add the flesh to the saucepan and mix in well. Simmer for another 5 minutes.

5. Blend soup with a handheld blender, or regular blender (whichever you prefer!), and serve hot.  Top with sour cream and cheese if desired, and chunky bread.

6. Enjoy!


When the excess soup has cooled down, you can pour it into freezer containers to store for a later time. We always have 2 or 3 different kinds of homemade soup in the freezer - it's so easy to defrost and reheat.

This will be my post for this week's Hearth & Soul Blog Hop :)  Be sure to check out the other recipes on there this week and follow my blog for more tasty treats!

I'm also taking part in Foodie Friday this week for the first time :)

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bites with Blue Cheese Yogurt Dip


This is another recipe from Pinterest that I liked the look of. The original recipe is over on the NatureBox blog.

It was fairly easy to do - basically you smoosh everything together and bake it! But it's not a recipe I'll be making again. Both my husband and I thought they were "ok" at best, and even though I love blue cheese, this dip just didn't work.  So why am I sharing the recipe? Well, I don't know enough about buffalo chicken and it may just be that I used the wrong kind of sauce, and perhaps someone else might have a better result :)  If you do, let me know what you did differently!

Ingredients:
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup shredded cooked chicken
1/4 cup goats cheese
1/4 cup sharp cheddar
1/4 cup buffalo sauce
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 large egg, beaten
2 tbsp plain flour
salt and pepper to taste

For the dip:
1 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup blue cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp dried parsley
salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 180°C, 350°F, gas 4. Grease a mini-muffin pan (we used a normal cupcake pan).

2. Mix together the Greek yogurt, blue cheese, garlic powder, dried dill and dried parsley in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper if needed. Keep in the fridge until the bites are ready.


3. Mix together the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl, add salt and pepper if needed.


4. Divide the mixture into small balls - you could use an ice cream scoop for this - and place in the pre-greased tin. Use about 1 1/2 tbsp mixture per ball.


5. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until golden.  Serve immediately with the dip!


This will be my post for this week's Hearth & Soul Blog Hop :)  Be sure to check out the other recipes on there this week and follow my blog for more tasty treats!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Broccoli Quinoa Casserole


They say admitting that you have a problem is the first step, right?  So here goes.... I have a problem. A problem that I think a lot of people suffer from. I am... a Pinterest hoarder!

Yes, I see all these wonderful looking recipes, and crafts, and design ideas and I pin them thinking "I'd love to make that!"  But do I ever make any of them? Nope! They go into the pin-hoarding vault and get forever forgotten about, until someone else re-pins it and I think "I should really make that..."

So I've decided to break the cycle!  I made a list of 4 recipes and their ingredients - four seemed like a manageable number in one month - and bought everything I needed before I got sidetracked by more pins.

This is the first recipe of the fab-four: Broccoli Quinoa Casserole :)  The original recipe is from Eating Well, Living Thin.

Quinoa is something I've eaten for a few years - my Mom is vegetarian so it's been included in most recipes for a while.  My husband is pretty new to the quinoa scene though - and still refuses to believe the pronunciation (keen-WAH) - but he's adventurous, tried it and really liked it! We both did, and we'll definitely be making it again :)

Ingredients:
10 oz can Cream of Broccoli Soup (or cream of mushroom, or cream of whatever you like soup!)
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp milk
1 1/4 cups grated cheese (we used 4-cheese Mexican, because we like the mix of flavours)
1/2 tsp sugar (splenda if you prefer)
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (or a dash of freshly grated)
2 cups cooked broccoli
3/4 cup quinoa (1 1/2 cups when cooked - see below)
grated cheese for the top (we used the same 4-cheese Mexican blend)

To cook the quinoa:
3/4 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
pinch salt

Rince the quinoa in a sieve under a running tap, until the water runs clear.  Add the rinsed quinoa to a saucepan with the water and salt, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover, then cook for about 18-20 minutes, stirring as little as possible.  The white "tail" will be visible when it's cooked.


For the casserole:

1. Preheat oven to 180 C, 350 F, gas 4.  Grease a shallow 8x8" casserole dish (I used a pie dish).

2. Mix together the soup, mayonnaise, milk, grated cheese, sugar and nutmeg in a large bowl. You can add black pepper to season if you like - I'm not a fan of it so we always leave it out of recipes.


3. Add the cooked quinoa and cooked broccoli and mix well.


4. Pour into the casserole dish and sprinkle over with grated cheese. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges are golden and bubbly.



5. We were too impatient and hungry, so our edges never got to the golden bubbly stage ;)


6. Enjoy!

We served ours as a side and it was really delicious! I'll definitely be making it again, it was so simple and if you're feeling healthy you can substitute the lower fat versions of things like mayonnaise or reduced fat cheese, and use low sodium soup.

This will be my post for this week's Hearth & Soul Blog Hop :)  Be sure to check out the other recipes on there this week and follow my blog for more tasty treats!

Also, this will be my first time taking part in Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Caturday: Indiana

When I moved from England to America, my two cats (they're brothers, from the same litter) stayed behind in England with my Mom. I miss them a lot, and they will move over here eventually, but in the mean time I have many, many photos of them - plus I skype with them when I chat to my Mom lol! They totally don't scoff at the webcam and go to sleep or anything. Honest.

Here is Indiana :) He was so named because of his adventurous streak when I got them both as kittens. He's a bit of a sun god, and loves lazing around to soak up some rays.

Why hello there.

This paw is dirty from all the walking I haven't been doing.

You're in my light.

That's better!