Tag Archives: Cooking

Spaghetti Squash with White Cheese Sauce

white cheese sauce, spaghetti squash, recipe, healthy, alternative to mac and cheese, basil, food, fall, easyI asked and you responded, “what generally unhealthy dish would you like to see transformed into something healthy and delicious?”  The response was unanimous, Mac and Cheese.  So today I bring you the first ever “Transformation Tuesday”  where I turn a generally unhealthy dish into something healthy and yummy. Today I transformed Traditional Mac and Cheese into Spaghetti Squash with White Cheese Sauce.

The result was a delicious, gluten-free, vegetarian dish that packs way less calories, fat, carbs and sodium than any macaroni and cheese dish you will eat at a restaurant!

The Cheesecake Factory Macaroni and Cheese SIDE DISH packs 51 grams of fat, 1309 calories, 768 milligrams of sodium and 92 grams of carbs, and that’s just the side dish to the main course!!

My dinner portion of Spaghetti Squash with White Cheese Sauce comes in at 275 calories, 12 grams of fat, 335 milligrams of sodium and 10 grams of carbs for a 1 cup serving. Even if you double the serving size to 2 cups, you will still save 759 calories and 27 grams of fat!

Just to make the picture even more clear, if you are counting Weight Watcher points, one side of macaroni and cheese at The Cheesecake Factory counts for 25 points, while my dish weighs in at only 4 points!

squash, parmesan cheese, goat cheese, mozzarella cheese, soy milk, basil, garlic, olive oil, ricotta

 

 

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup part-skim mozzarella (shredded)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (shaved)
  • 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (to garnish)

Start by cutting the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and brush with the olive oil then sprinkle with the salt and pepper.  Place cut side down on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 400° for 45 minutes.

Spaghetti, Squash, Roasting, Oven, Food, Recipes, Cheesy Spaghetti SquashRemove from the oven and watch this how-to video on what to do next!

 

Once all of the spaghetti squash has been added to the sauce, separate into four bowls and top with the fresh basil to serve.

white cheese sauce, spaghetti squash, recipe, healthy, alternative to mac and cheese, basil, food, fall, easyNow it’s time to dig in!

white cheese sauce, spaghetti squash, recipe, healthy, alternative to mac and cheese, basil, food, fall, easy♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is gluten-free.

 

A Girl with a Plan, a Blog and a Craving for Adventure

“You cannot always wait for the perfect time, sometimes you must dare to jump. Life is all about risks and it requires you to jump. Don’t be a person who has to look back and wonder what they would have or could have had.” – Don Kel 

I’m jumping into a new social experiment in blogging that involves a summer of travel and I need your help, read below to find out just what this all means!

As I approached (and gracefully passed) my quarter life mark the usual life events began to occur, friends got married (Congratulations Marin!), friends had babies (Love you Eli!),

friends graduated college, friends got new jobs, friends advanced in their careers, friends moved away and friends moved closer and I…. made food!

My life is an ever-changing adventure, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Growing up, my parents (the greatest in the world in my book!) always told me to go for it, to live my dreams and to never miss out on an opportunity. I took their advice, probably even further than they expected (and maybe wanted me to) sometimes!

When I was 21 I started my first business and I loved every minute of it, but at a certain point I realized that it was not what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. That is when the crazy adventure that is, my life in LA, began.

I really had no plans in LA, but just to try something new. And something new is what I got.  I went back to school, I traveled, I made new friends and I began the ever amazing journey that is the Little Leopard Book.

The Little Leopard Book began as an actual notebook I wrote in when I first moved to LA. I wrote in the book about things that made me happy, what my goals were and what I was doing to achieve each of those goals.

Today’s post is a culmination of all those things. Over the last year I’ve realized that the things that make me the happiest and most fulfilled are:

  • People – meeting them, talking to them, being around them. I love fun people, people with interesting stories, adventurous people and my favorite, the positive people 🙂
  • Traveling –  “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustin
  • Adventures – Everything from half marathons in the mountains to hiking at the beach to camping in the woods, I’m always up for a new adventure!
  • Food – I’m pretty sure if you’ve ever read my blog before, you can pretty much figure this one out!
  • Cooking – This is my escape, when I’m in the kitchen I’m the most creative, the happiest and the most at peace than anywhere else!
  • Writing – What a release!  Writing for me is therapy. Everything from jotting down notes, to writing stories, writing recipes and writing about my adventures, I love the way the written word can resonate with people so uniquely and reach people on different levels!

I have combined all of these and come up with my latest plan for life.

The Plan:

I will be traveling to cities everywhere from the US, to Mexico, to Canada and anywhere else someone invites me!  I will be staying with friends, family, friends of friends and cooking for them.  Yup, you heard me right, I stay at your house = I cook for you! I would say the trade-off works pretty well right? In each city I want to experience a new adventure, whether it be sky diving, mud runs, swimming with dolphins or anything in between, I’m up for it!  I’ll be interviewing chefs, bloggers and interesting people in each city and trying the best and most intriguing restaurants each one has to offer!

Here’s where you come in:

  • Where should I go? Tell me where you live or where you’ve visited that I must go and see!
  • What should I do?  What adventure should I experience in this city? Do you all have the largest Jazz festival outside of New Orleans, do you have a beer festival that would put Oktoberfest to shame, do you have a secret adventure spot that only the locals know about?
  • Where should I eat? Who has the best pizza, most interesting menu, biggest pancake I’ve ever seen?
  • Who should I interview?  Are you a chef, do you know a chef, do you own a restaurant, are you a fellow blogger, are you “in” with the chef at your favorite restaurant or are you just an interesting person with a story to tell? Tell me who to talk to!

The good news:

I’ll be recording everything on the Little Leopard Book (not the original, this one, the virtual one 😉 ) and sharing my adventures, recipes, interviews and restaurant reviews with all of you!

The goal:

  • The book.  At the end of the summer I will publish my first “food and travel” book!
  • The people. I want to meet you!  You can view a calendar of my travel here! If I’m coming to a city near you, lets meet for coffee or a pint!  I’d love to hear your story!
  • The adventures. Adventures = Stories and “Stories are the creative conversion of life itself. They are the currency of human contact.” — Robert McKee                                                                                                                                                         Join in the adventure by helping me complete one of my Summer Bucket List items!
  • The food.  In the words of my girlfriends OBVI!

I need your help in this adventure!!! Comment below, message me on Facebook, tweet me on the Twitter, Instagram me (@whitneybond), tag me on Pinterest in a destination or adventure picture I have to try, befriend me on Yelp so I can see your reviews of places, share this with your friends, family, fellow bloggers, join the adventure with me!

In the end, my goal is to say this every day of the summer:

“Each day I am thankful for friends that turned into family, dreams that turned into reality and likes that turned into love.” – Unknown

Strawberry Mini Pies

Individual Heart Shaped Mini Pies

In continuation with my obsession of strawberry season I made my Mom’s amazing strawberry pie into scrumptious mini pies!

Mini Fresh Strawberry Pie

While my cooking passion comes from my Dad, my baking skills definitely come from my Mom!  She makes the most beautiful and delicious pies you have ever seen and this recipe is no exception!

Strawberry Mini Pies

This recipe also marks a milestone on the blog, it’s the first post including images from my new Canon SLR! I’m still in the process of learning all the amazing things it can do, but loving the results so far!

Strawberry Pie Ingredients

Ingredients (makes 12 mini pies or one 9″ pie)

Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp butter (melted)

Pie Filling:

  • 6 cups strawberries
  • 3 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Prepare the crust first by combining the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a small mixing bowl.

Mix until it forms a buttery, crumbly texture.

Graham Cracker Crust

Now press the crust mixture into the bottom of a dozen lined muffin tins or mini pie plates. Both the super cute Mini Pie Plates and Red Re-Usable Silicone Baking Cups can be found on Amazon.

Place the mini pie crusts in the refrigerator while preparing the filling!

Begin by washing the strawberries then remove the top and hull them. Hulling simply means cutting out the inside white part of the berry.

Hulled Strawberries

Reserve a dozen of the best looking little berries to top each mini pie!

Slice the rest of the berries in half and place in a large skillet and mash.  I use a muddler to mash the berries, but a spoon, fork, your hands, pretty much anything will do!

Fresh Strawberry Pie Filling

Mash until you have a thick, slightly chunky berry consistency.

Fresh Strawberry Pie Filling

Now add the corn starch to the mashed berries, then the sugar.

Mix together then move the skillet to the stovetop over medium heat.

Once the strawberry mixture begins to bubble reduce the heat slightly and allow the berries to cook down to a dark, thick consistency.

Remove the mixture from the heat and add the lemon juice.

Allow the mixture to cool.  Once cooled, add a heaping tablespoon to each mini-pie.

Individual Strawberry Pies

Top each mini-pie with one of the reserved whole strawberries.

Individual Heart Shaped Mini Pies

Allow the pies to cool inside the refrigerator for approximately one hour.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Oh my gosh, I’m not sure what I love more, the cuteness of my mini-pie or the amazing picture quality of my new Canon!

You can also use this recipe to make one 9″ whole pie. Make the crust the same way, just press it on the bottom and edges of the pie plate. Top with the strawberry mixture, then top with the whole strawberries and voila!

Fresh Strawberry Pie Recipe

What’s prettier, roses or strawberry pie? I’m leaning towards strawberry pie at this point!

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: The pie filling is gluten-free.  You would only need to substitute gluten-free graham cracker crumbs for the crust.  Whole Foods carries a graham style cracker by Kinnikinnick which can be crushed into crumbs and used. Yay for gluten-free dessert!

Strawberry Mini Pies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 12 mini pies

Strawberry Mini Pies

Ingredients

    Crust:
  • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp butter (melted)
  • Pie Filling:
  • 6 cups strawberries
  • 3 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Begin making the crust by combining the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter in a small mixing bowl.
  2. Mix until it forms a buttery, crumbly texture.
  3. Now press the crust mixture into the bottom of a dozen lined muffin tins or mini pie plates.
  4. Place the mini pie crusts in the refrigerator while preparing the filling.
  5. Prepare the filling by washing the strawberries then removing the stems and hulling them.
  6. Reserve a dozen of the best looking strawberries to top each mini pie.
  7. Slice the rest of the berries in half and place in a large skillet and mash.
  8. Mash until a thick, slightly chunky consistency is formed.
  9. Add the corn starch to the mashed berries, then the sugar.
  10. Mix together then move the skillet to the stovetop over medium heat.
  11. Once the strawberry mixture begins to bubble reduce the heat slightly and allow the berries to cook down to a dark, thick consistency.
  12. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the lemon juice.
  13. Allow the mixture to cool.
  14. Once cooled, add a heaping tablespoon to each mini-pie.
  15. Top each mini-pie with one of the reserved whole strawberries.
  16. Allow the muffin tins to set and cool inside the refrigerator for approximately one hour, then remove each lined mini-pie from the muffin tin and serve.
http://whitneybond.com/2012/03/04/whats-for-dessert-strawberry-mini-pies/

Note: This page contains affiliate links. I only link to products I use & love!

Blue Cheese Stuffed Burgers with Homemade Roasted Red Pepper Aioli

I don’t think it’s normal for a main dish to come as an afterthought to side dishes, but around my kitchen it seems to be happening a lot lately!  I started with the Buffalo Potato Wedges and decided they would be a great addition to a burger. But being the little leopard book I could not let the main dish be trumped by the amazingness of the side, so the 1/2 lb grass-fed blue cheese stuffed burger with homemade roasted red pepper aioli and topped in avocado was born!

Let’s start by making that scrumptious homemade roasted red pepper aioli!

Ingredients (makes 1/2 cup)

  • 12 oz roasted red peppers
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup fat-free plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
Start by draining and patting dry the red peppers.

Now chop the peppers and garlic.

Next, add the chopped ingredients to a food processor or blender.

Puree the ingredients, then add the greek yogurt.

I used fat-free plain greek yogurt in place of mayonnaise which is traditionally used in aioli’s.  I thought the sauce was just as good, if not better with the greek yogurt and saves you 26 fat grams and 213 calories per 1/3 cup!

Now add in the olive and grapeseed oils, salt and pepper. Blend together and the aioli is ready to go!

Oh my gosh, how good is that going to be on top of the mouth-watering burgers you’re now ready to prepare!

Ingredients (makes 2 burgers)

  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 2 tsp steak seasoning
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 4 tbsp blue cheese
  • 2 ciabatta rolls
  • 1 avocado
  • homemade roasted red pepper aioli

First of all, let me point out a very important part of the ingredient list and that is the grass-fed ground beef!

The flavor of this meat is so amazing that you’ll never go back to the other stuff! If there’s not a Trader Joes in your area check your local farmers market, or even a lot of traditional grocery stores carry grass-fed these days!!

Start by pre-heating the grill to medium-high heat. Now get the burgers ready to grill by adding the steak seasoning to the ground beef.

Next, add in the worcestershire sauce.

Now separate the beef into two equal patties.

And it’s time to get stuffing!! Start by carving out a large, deep hole in each burger.

Place 2 tbsp of blue cheese in each burger.

Now wrap the beef tightly around the cheese so that you don’t lose any of the yummy cheesiness out of the middle while the burgers are on the grill!

It’s time to start grilling!

A little trick of the trade: a lot of people like to press their patties down with a spatula but that is a no-no!  Pressing down on the beef continually throughout the cooking process will press all those yummy juices out of the burger and dry it out… and nobody wants that!!! So let’s stick with using the spatula for one thing: flipping!

There’s something about those beautiful grill marks that just makes me so happy!

Now it’s time to slice the ciabatta rolls in half and add to the grill to toast.

Cook to your liking then remove from the grill and get ready to assemble the masterpiece!

Oh my gosh the juiciness, a little of the blue cheese peaking through, I can not tell you how hard it was to take all these pictures and not take a bite!!

I now added more blue cheese on top.  For two reasons:

  1. It looks good in pictures,
  2. I have a mild(ly serious) addiction to the smelly cheese!
I actually would not recommend the additional cheese on top as there is plenty in the middle of that baby!

Next, add the sliced avocado on top.

Now it’s time to drizzle that delectable homemade roasted red pepper aioli all over the beefy work-of-art!

Add the buffalo potato wedges on the side and you’ve got one incredible lunch!

Can I take a bite already??? My gosh! 😉 I’m cutting it open… getting closer!!!

Oh yeah, that’s a lot of cheese!!!! Excuse me while I devour this amazing piece of “food-art”!

♣ Vegetarian Option: Sub veggie ground protein for the ground beef.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Use gluten-free rolls or buns. Make sure the worcestershire sauce is gluten-free, Lea & Perrins is a gluten-free brand!

Buffalo Potato Wedges

Baked Buffalo Potato Crisps

In continuing with my Buffalo sauce addiction I am here to share with you another new recipe!

Buffalo Potato Wedges

This one came from the  simple fact that I had a large bag of potatoes and the buffalo sauce in the refrigerator was staring me  down, so I brought the two harmoniously together in this yummy new side!

Buffalo Potato Wedge Ingredients

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 lbs baking potatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp steak seasoning
  • 1/4 cup buffalo sauce
  • 3 tbsp butter

Start by pre-heating the oven to 400° and cutting the potatoes into wedges.

Sliced Potato Wedges

Next, add the potatoes to a mixing bowl and add the crushed garlic, olive oil, steak seasoning and buffalo sauce.

Buffalo Sauce Potato Wedges

Toss everything to coat then arrange the potatoes in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet or in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Chop the butter into small cubes and place throughout the potatoes.

Baked Potato Wedges with Buffalo Sauce

Now place the potatoes in the oven for 40-45 minutes. The potatoes are done when fork-tender and the sauce has reduced.

Buffalo Sauce Potato Wedges

I’ve served these as a side dish with both Baked BBQ Buffalo Chicken  and Blue Cheese Stuffed Cheeseburgers!

Buffalo Potato Wedges Recipe

They can also be served as an appetizer with toothpicks and blue cheese dressing for dipping.

Buffalo Sauce Baked Potato Wedges

 

Baked Buffalo Wedge Fries

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is gluten-free.

Buffalo Potato Wedges

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Buffalo Potato Wedges

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs baking potatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp steak seasoning
  • 1/4 cup buffalo sauce
  • 3 tbsp butter

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°.
  2. Slice the potatoes into wedges.
  3. Add the potatoes to a mixing bowl and combine with crushed garlic, olive oil, steak seasoning and buffalo sauce.
  4. Toss everything to coat then arrange the potatoes in an even layer on a 9 x 13 baking dish.
  5. Chop the butter into small cubes and place throughout the potatoes.
  6. Bake the potatoes in the oven for 40-45 minutes.
http://whitneybond.com/2012/03/02/whats-for-a-side-buffalo-potato-wedges/

Lemon Zest Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Frosting

As the resident foodie and party planner extraordinaire for all my friends, when Birthday time comes around I’m everyone’s first call!  For a friend I’ve known my whole life I pull at all the stops, and that friend would be Billy!  It just happens that Billy’s Birthday fell on Superbowl Sunday this year, bonus!  So a duel celebration was in order, biggest football day of the year and celebrating the birth of one of the greatest guys I know!

So the first question I ask my friends as their birthday approaches is “what kind of cake”?  This year Billy responds with the dreaded “surprise me!”  Oh no, this means not only do I have to come up with an amazing cake, I also have to figure out what kind of cake that is! So in true little leopard fashion, I made three cakes, just to be sure!!! Some were made into cupcakes, like these delightful little desserts! (Easier for sharing at a party!)

Ingredients (makes 48 mini cupcakes or 24 large cupcakes)

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • lemon zest from 2 lemons
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup half-and-half

Start by pre-heating the oven to 350° and lining a cupcake pan with paper liners.

Next, combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a small mixing bowl.

In a medium mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar together, then add eggs one at a time. Next, add the zest and vanilla.

Then add the lemon juice and half-and-half.

Combine together with electric hand mixer.

Mmmm creamy! Now spoon into the lined cupcake pan.

I used the mini-cupcake pan because they’re so darn cute and easy to gobble up in one bite!

Bake for app 15 minutes.

Now it’s time to make the Lemon Cream Frosting!  I simply took my Cream Cheese Frosting recipe and added lemon juice!

Ingredients

  • 2 8 oz packages cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Use an electric hand mixer to combine ingredients. Next spread on top of the lemon zest cupcakes!

Now of course I have no pictures of the cupcakes WITH the frosting on top! I got busy making all of the other delicious Superbowl Party food and asked my girls to frost the cupcakes for me, by the time I realized there were no pictures, they were all gone!

I promise they were as pretty as they were yummy!

Tomato Basil Bruschetta

This tomato basil bruschetta recipe is a recreation of BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse appetizer favorite, it’s healthy and easy to make in just about 10 minutes!

Tomato Basil Bruschetta Recipe

Tomato Basil Bruschetta

When BJ’s restaurants quit serving their Tomato Basil Bruschetta, I was so upset, but luckily after a few attempts I was able to re-create and perfect the recipe myself!

Tomato Basil Brushetta Ingredients

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 6 Roma tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1/2 red onion (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1 french baguette

Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl.

How to make tomato basil bruschetta

Toast the baguette in an oven at 350°F for 5 minutes. Slice the baguette and top with the tomato basil bruschetta, sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.

BJ's Bruschetta Recipe

I serve this bruschetta regularly as an appetizer with my favorite Italian dishes like Chicken Parmesan, Italian Crab Cakes or Ricotta Filled Arancini and the number one comment I always get is, “it tastes so fresh!”

I’ve also incorporated the recipe into entrees like Tomato Basil Bruschetta Turkey Burgers & Bruschetta Grilled Chicken Zoodle Bowls!

Healthy Tomato Basil Bruschetta

With spring and summer right around the corner, this is the perfect healthy, light and refreshing dish to serve as an appetizer at your next dinner party!

BJ's Restaurant Tomato Basil Bruschetta

Simple to make, delicious to eat and healthy, I’m ready to dig in, how about you?

Italian Tomato Bruschetta

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Serve with gluten-free bread instead of the baguette or with large slices of red bell pepper instead of bread to make this dish gluten-free.

Tomato Basil Bruschetta

Total Time: 10 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Tomato Basil Bruschetta

Ingredients

  • 6 roma tomatoes (chopped)
  • 1/2 red onion (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tbsp parmesan cheese (grated)
  • 1 french baguette

Instructions

  1. Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Toast the baguette in an oven at 350° for 5 minutes.
  3. Slice the baguette and top with bruschetta, sprinkle parmesan cheese on top.
http://whitneybond.com/2012/02/26/whats-for-a-side-tomato-and-basil-bruschetta/

Note: This page contains affiliate links. I only link to products I use & love!

Hoisin Sauce Lamb Chops with Potato and Celery Root Mash Topped with Roasted Sunchokes

For some cooks the kitchen is your domain, no one is allowed in, to touch your gadgets or to “help” with anything. Well I would be that kind of cook!

I like to do things myself, I like my space and I’m very particular about my cooking.  There is a method to my mayhem, a way I like things chopped, grated, pureed and that’s why I tend to make my kitchen a “do-not-enter” zone!  I allow my friends to help by keeping my wine glass full 😉

But last Wednesday I allowed my friend Colin into my kitchen for a co-produced dinner. He had been bragging about his cooking skills for months so I finally put him to the test. He did not disappoint.  He had told me that he made a great lamb chop and since I’d never made lamb chops before I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to learn from someone who had perfected a recipe!

Since I couldn’t give up complete control of my kitchen I offered to make the sides. This week while at the Farmers Market I bought a few Sunchokes, also called Jerusalem Artichokes.  I’d never cooked with them before so I Googled them to find out what to do! I found a lot of recipes that used them in mashed potatoes or simply roasted them.  I then found on Bon Appétit the recipe I adapted mine from, combining the two most common approaches to Sunchokes incorporating mashed potatoes and roasting them.

Let’s start with Colin’s Hoisin Sauce Lamb Chop Recipe:

*Don’t be fooled by the jar of Hoisin Sauce.  Colin uses the Lee Kum Lee Hoisin Sauce as a base, but adds to it!

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 6-8 medium lamb chops
  • 2 tbsp Thai Peanut Satay Sauce
  • 4 oz Hoisin Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp Thai sweet chili sauce

Start by mixing together the store-bought Hoisin sauce with the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and chili sauce.

Next, sear the lamb chops on the stove for 2 minutes on each side.

Look at that sweet action shot!

Then, remove the chops from the stove top and into an oven safe dish.  Place in the oven set at 400° for 6 minutes.

After 6 minutes, flip the chops and cook for an additional 6 minutes. Next, remove from the oven and brush with the peanut satay sauce, then top with the hoisin sauce and place in the oven for an additional 4 minutes.

Remove from oven and serve!!  Simple and delicious!

Now for the Potato and Celery Root Mash Topped with Roasted Sunchokes Recipe (which is possibly the longest recipe name EVER!)

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 large celery root
  • 1 lb Russet potatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 rosemary sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3-4 Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes)
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Start by peeling and chopping the celery root and potatoes into 1 inch cubes.

Next, add the chopped vegetables to a large pot with the chicken broth, milk, garlic cloves, rosemary and bay leaf.

Then, add enough water to cover the celery root and vegetables completely and bring to a boil.

Allow to boil for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender and break apart with a fork.

While the potatoes and celery root are boiling, prepare the Sunchokes. Start by chopping each one into quarters.

Next, mix the chopped Sunchokes with 1/2 tbsp butter, olive oil, sea salt and pepper.

Spread onto a foil lined baking sheet.

Now, place in the oven at 400° for 20 minutes.

While they are roasting, finish the potato and celery root mash.

Start by draining the potato mixture.

Next, discard the rosemary and bay leaf. Return the potato mixture to the pot over low heat and add the remaining 3 1/2 tbsp butter.

Mash the potatoes and celery root until creamy.

Now, place potato and celery root mash in a large serving bowl.  Remove the Sunchokes from the oven and place on top of the mash.

Get ready for your close-up….

Might be my favorite potato recipe ever!  I love the crunch of the roasted sun chokes on top and the creaminess and flavor of the celery root and potato mash from boiling them in milk and chicken broth.

I finished the meal off by roasting some garlic lemon asparagus in a foil packet for 20 minutes at 400°

Ingredients

  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 6 cloves of garlic

Place the asparagus on top of foil and drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil , then top with salt, pepper and garlic cloves. Wrap the foil over the asparagus into a packet and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, unwrap and place onto serving dish.

And the meal is complete!

Time to chow down!

Colin definitely knew what he was talking about and is now invited to cook with me anytime!  Ok… maybe not ANY time, but he’s no longer on the “do-not-enter” list 😉

♦ Gluten Free Option: Make your own Hoisin Sauce.

Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter or black bean paste
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil

Things I love…

With the ever-expanding Little Leopard Book, I decided to actually  give some background on myself through my “about” page rather than being ambiguous and just talking about the things I love!

With that said the original page with the “Things I Love” was the starting point for a blog that I was not sure what was to become of! After months of blogging and thousands of hours of Tweeting, Facebooking and Pinteresting about the blog, the Little Leopard Book has formed an identity around food, cooking, party planning and a little bit in between!

I continue to love these things that I posted on the first day of blogging so I wanted to share a post on the LLB where new followers could connect with me through the things I hold so near and dear to my heart!

… the things I ♥

  • Family
  • Traveling
  • Food
  • Cooking
  • Eating
  • Football
  • Pictures
  • Friends
  • Game Nights
  • Milkshakes
  • Fresh Flowers
  • The Food Network
  • Fashion
  • Backyard BBQ’s

And the little leopard book will fill in the rest…

Heart Shaped Cookie Cutter

Buffalo Chicken Cheesy Penne

Shredded chicken is added to a spicy, cheesy buffalo sauce and tossed with penne pasta in this creamy, delicious Buffalo Chicken Cheesy Penne Recipe, made in only 30 minutes!

Buffalo Chicken Cheesy Penne Pasta

This is the first recipe I’ve posted while simultaneously eating the dish!

Ok, so maybe it’s the leftovers from yesterdays lunch, but it’s just as good the second time around!!

Buffalo Chicken Cheesy Penne Recipe

For six months now I have been obsessed with all things buffalo chicken thanks to my friend Lindsay who first introduced me to Buffalo Chicken Dip! I now think of all the ways I can incorporate buffalo chicken into new recipes. From burgers to tacos to this new yummy dish, I’ve found some interesting ways to spread out my obsession over several genres of food!

Today I will be sharing with you my newest creation, Buffalo Chicken Cheesy Penne.

Buffalo Chicken Cheesy Penne Ingredients

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shredded chicken breasts (boil or pressure cook 1 lb of chicken and shred)
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup buffalo sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup blue cheese dressing
  • 12 oz uncooked penne pasta
Optional toppings
  • Green Onions (chopped)
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Instructions

 

Buffalo Chicken Cheesy Penne

 

Buffalo Chicken Cheesy Penne

Oh yeah, that is one pretty bowl of spicy chicken pasta that this girl can dig!

Buffalo Chicken Cheesy Penne Pasta

♣ Vegetarian Option: Omit the chicken.  The spicy, cheesy buffalo sauce is so good on its own, you could definitely do it without chicken! Also, use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Use gluten-free pasta. Make sure the blue cheese dressing is gluten-free. Ken’s Blue Cheese Dressing is what I used in this recipe & it is gluten-free!

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Buffalo Chicken Cheesy Penne

Total Time: 30 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Buffalo Chicken Cheesy Penne

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shredded chicken breasts (boil or pressure cook 1 lb of chicken and shred)
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup buffalo sauce
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup blue cheese dressing
  • 12 oz uncooked penne pasta
  • Optional toppings
  • Green Onions (chopped)
  • Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Instructions

  1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the cream cheese, buffalo sauce and chicken broth.
  3. Whisk until creamy.
  4. Add the paprika, garlic powder, black pepper and salt.
  5. Stir to combine
  6. Add the blue cheese dressing.
  7. Stir to combine
  8. Add the shredded chicken.
  9. Allow the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes over low heat.
  10. In the meantime, boil a large pot of water and cook the penne pasta according to package directions, drain, add to the cheesy buffalo chicken sauce and stir to combine.
http://whitneybond.com/2012/02/23/whats-for-lunch-buffalo-chicken-cheesy-penne/

Note: This page contains affiliate links. I only link to products I use & love!

Gluten Free Chicken Parmesan

This 30 minute Gluten Free Chicken Parmesan recipe substitutes gluten free breadcrumbs and adds homemade marinara sauce for a delicious twist on an Italian favorite!

Chicken Parmesan Recipe

I have to start out this blog post by expressing my eternal gratitude to Jenna’s Everything Blog for being one of my first inspirations to start blogging!

My brother was lucky enough to meet Jenna and her husband Adam when he moved into the college dorms over a decade ago and they still remain the best of friends!  Jenna’s posts are entertaining and hilarious, her pictures are stunning and her recipes exquisite!

The means for my rambling about the greatness of Jenna is that this is my first blog post recipe inspired by a “Jenna original”!

Gluten Free Chicken Parmesan Ingredients

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil (chopped)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/3 cup Gluten Free Breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups chunky tomato marinara sauce (click for recipe)
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella (thinly sliced)
  • 8 oz gluten free pasta (cooked according to package directions)

Preheat the oven to 500°

Slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Next, mix the oregano, thyme, basil, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs and parmesan in a small bowl.

Drag the chicken through the breadcrumb mixture and place on top of the olive oil in an oven safe skillet over medium heat. Next, brown the chicken on the stove, 2-3 minutes per side.

Turn the heat off and cover the chicken breasts with the sliced mozzarella.

Chicken Parmesan with Fresh Mozzarella

Next, add the tomato sauce.

Chicken Parmesan Recipe

Cover the skillet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.

Remove the cover and bake for an additional 5 minutes. That delicious fresh mozzarella should now be nicely melted in!

Baked Chicken Parmesan

Serve with the cooked pasta.

Gluten Free Chicken Parmesan

Ok yeah, it’s as good as it looks!!!  Writing this post takes me right back to the happiness of that first bite.

Chicken Parmesan with Homemade Marinara

Oh I wish I hadn’t already eaten all the leftovers!!

Fresh Mozzarella Chicken Parmesan

♣ Vegetarian Option: Substitute tofu for chicken.

♦ Gluten Free Option: The chicken parmesan is gluten-free. Serve with gluten-free pasta or a side of steamed vegetables instead of pasta.

Chicken Parmesan

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Chicken Parmesan

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil (chopped)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/3 cup Gluten-Free Mary’s Gone Crackers “Just the Crumbs” Breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan
  • 2 tbsp Enzo Basil Olive Oil
  • 2 cups chunky tomato marinara sauce (click for recipe)
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella (thinly sliced)
  • 8 oz pasta (cooked according to package directions)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 500°
  2. Slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise.
  3. Mix the oregano, thyme, basil, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs and parmesan in a small bowl.
  4. Drag the chicken through the breadcrumb mixture and place on top of the olive oil in an oven safe skillet over medium heat.
  5. Brown the chicken on the stove, 2-3 minutes per side.
  6. Turn the heat on the stove off, cover the chicken breasts with the sliced mozzarella.
  7. Add the tomato sauce to the skillet.
  8. Cover the skillet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes.
  9. Remove the cover and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
  10. Serve with cooked pasta.
http://whitneybond.com/2012/02/22/gluten-free-chicken-parmesan/

Note: This page contains affiliate links. I only link to products I use & love!

Spinach, Goat Cheese and Bacon Frittata

A bag of spinach, a carton of eggs and a package of bacon, what to do, what to do?? It’s sounding like my Italian ancestors version of an omelet is about to happen!  Yes, if you were wondering what exactly a frittata was or what the difference between a frittata and quiche were, you are not alone!  So in the simplest terms: a quiche has a crust (usually) and more liquid than egg, where as a frittata has more egg than liquid and no crust, there it is!

So whether you just learned your fun fact of the day or not, you’re about to dive into a delicious recipe for this Italian crust-less egg dish!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 3 cups spinach
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 1 avocado

Start by frying up the bacon.

Don’t mind those extra couple slices of bacon.  Those are for…. someone 😉 Fry until crispy then drain the grease, crumble and mix together with the eggs, milk, salt and pepper.

Next, heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and add the onion and red bell pepper.

Sauté for 2-3 minutes then add spinach and sauté for an additional 3 minutes.

I know that looks like a LOT of spinach, but I promise it will cook down!

See, I promised 🙂

Next, add in the egg and bacon mixture.

Let cook for 2 minutes then crumble the goat cheese on top.

These chunks of goat cheese add an amazing creamy surprise in the middle of the Frittata!  Now cook on the stove for 5 minutes, then move into the oven to finish cooking at 400° for 10 more minutes.  Remove from the oven and voila!

I sliced the Frittata into pieces, topped with avocado and served with homemade rosemary focaccia bread!

Click here for printer-friendly version: Spinach, Goat Cheese and Bacon Frittata

♣ Vegetarian Option: Omit the bacon.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Omit the rosemary focaccia bread.

Grilled Jalapeño Poppers

These little morsels were meant to be a part of my Superbowl Party menu, but with so little time and so much over-ambition they did not make it on to the smorgasbord of hor d’oeuvres last Sunday. Never fear, two days later these little poppers made the perfect side for my Mexican Meatloaf!

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 10-12 Jalapeño Peppers
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1 small tomato (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp green onions (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients except the Jalapeños in a small bowl. Slice the jalapeños lengthwise and remove the seeds.

Stuff the cheese mixture into the jalapeños.

Place the stuffed jalapeños on a pre-heated grill covered in cooking spray.

Grill the peppers 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted and voila! These poppers make a great side dish for Mexican food or a fun Gameday Grub snack!

Chicken and Sweet Corn Tamales with Green Chili Avocado Salsa

These homemade tamales are filled with a sweet corn masa mixture and shredded chicken for a deliciously authentic and gluten free Mexican dinner recipe!

Chicken and Sweet Corn Tamales with Green Chili Avocado Salsa

After having the best sweet corn tamales of my life in Malibu last week, I was inspired to make my own.  Let me start by giving you two bits of advice people:

  1. There’s a reason making tamales is a family event.
  2. There’s a reason they sell packaged tamale corn husks.

For these two reasons, my tamales took about 5 hours to make the first time I prepared them! I attempted to use the corn husks from actual ears of corn and they are far too small.  Therefore I ended up making 60 baby tamales instead of 12 normal size tamales!  Since each tamale must be filled, wrapped and tied, the time to make 60 vs 12, no matter the size, makes a huge difference!  On the upside I filled each with a different assortment of ingredients so they were kind of like the fortune cookie of tamales, you opened each one not knowing what you were going to get!

Round two of making tamales: I’ve since wised up and purchased large tamale corn husks at the grocery store!

Sweet Corn Tamale Ingredients

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 6 ears of corn (app 6 cups kernels)
  • 2 cups harina de maiz
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 oz unsalted butter (softened)
  • 1 egg

“Optionally Awesome” Filling Ingredients:

Chicken Tamale Ingredients

  • Cooked Chicken Breasts (Shredded)
  • Jalapeños (diced)
  • Serrano chili peppers (diced)
  • Mexican cheeses (shredded)
  • Diced green chilies
  • Fresh Cilantro

Begin the recipe by deconstructing the ears of corn. If you are not able to find packaged corn husks in the grocery store or you want to use the actual corn husk to construct the tamales, carefully remove the husks from the corn ears and reserve.  If not, just rip those puppies off and get to the kernels!

Next, begin removing the kernels from the ears of corn. Use a sharp knife and they should slice right off the cob. Reserve the cobs for a cool little trick I learned from the Cooking Channel.

Sweet Corn Tamales

Next, add the corn kernels to a blender or food processor.

Sweet Corn Masa

Blend until creamy.

Sweet Corn Masa Mixture

Next, begin soaking the corn husks so they’ll be ready to fill. A little 10 minute bath should do the trick!

Soaking Tamale Corn Husks

While the husks are soaking prepare the corn masa mixture.

Using an electric hand mixer, blend together the harina de maize, water, sugar, salt, baking powder, egg and butter in a large mixing bowl.

Sweet Corn Masa Mixture

Next, hand mix in the blended corn kernels.

Sweet Corn Masa Mixture

Now for my fun Cooking Channel trick. Start with a large pot (I used my dutch oven) and if you are like me and you don’t have a steam basket that fits, use the trick of lining the bottom of the pot with corn ears.

How to steam tamales

Next, fill the bottom of the pot with about 1-2 inches of water, then place a small steam basket on top of the cobs to make sure that the tamales do not touch the water.

Steam Basket for Tamales

Turn the stove on and bring the water to a boil. Now all that’s left to do is put these tamales together!

I constructed a tamale making station on my counter top with my accouterment of different filling ingredients.

How to make Homemade Tamales

Start assembling the tamales by opening a corn husk and filling with the sweet corn mixture, then add some of those “optionally awesome fillings”. The little guy got some shredded chicken and diced green chilies, Yum!

How to make Homemade Tamales

Then, fold one side of the tamale over the mixture.

How to make tamales

Then the other side…

Make Your Own Tamales

Then fold the other two sides over the middle…

Homemade Tamale How To

Now it’s time to do a little gift wrapping of deliciousness!

Wrapping Homemade Tamales

After all of the tamales are assembled, place them standing up in the steamer basket or atop the corn ears, just make sure they do not touch the boiling water.

Steaming Tamales

Now cover and allow to steam for 45 minutes. Remove one tamale from the steamer after 45 minutes, if the filling is firm and pulls away easily from the husk then they are ready to be gobbled up! If not, steam for an additional 10-15 minutes. Be sure to check the water level every 10-15 minutes and re-fill if necessary.

Steamed Tamales

Sweet Corn and Chicken Tamales

While the tamales were steaming I prepared the Green Chili Avocado Salsa, then served the delicious dinner with chips and salsa, Chili Lime Garlic Grilled Shrimp and White Peach Sangria!

Gluten Free Vegetarian Tamales

Mmmm look at that plate of scrumptious tamales! In the words of Forest Gump “Life is like a box of LLB tamales, you never know what you’re gonna get!”  Ok, so maybe that was not the exact quote, but close enough!

Homemade Chicken Tamales

I prepared half of the tamales with chicken and half with a combination of chilies and peppers for my guest who was a vegetarian!

Vegetarian Tamale Recipe

Both versions were delectably awesome!

Tamale Recipe

The harina de maiz is corn based, therefore gluten-free!

Chicken Tamale Recipe

Gluten Free Sweet Corn Tamales

Buen apetito amigos!

Sweet Corn Tamales

Gluten Free Tamale Recipe

♣ Vegetarian Option: Omit the chicken, replace with extra chilies and peppers.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Using the ingredients pictured above this recipe is gluten-free! Yay!

Mexican Meatloaf

Mexican Meatloaf gives a spicy twist to a classic favorite with roasted jalapenos, chili powder and cayenne pepper for a dinner dish with a little kick made in only one hour!

Spicy Mexican Meatloaf

My refrigerator is in a current state of “Superbowl Hangover”, a random mishmash of leftover ingredients lingering in my fridge following one huge party on Sunday. These ingredients include things like ground beef, jalapeños, bell peppers, celery, carrots and assorted cheeses, so I began to ponder what I could make out of these ingredients.

Mexican Meatloaf

That is when the idea for Mexican Meatloaf came to me!

Just when I thought I had come up with the next new food craze, I googled Mexican Meatloaf to find I was not the first to come up with such a brilliant idea (dang it!) but either way I threw together my random assortment of ingredients into what may not be the first, but may very well be the best Mexican Meatloaf ever!

Mexican Meatloaf with Spicy Tomato Topping

Yeah I said it, THE BEST, it was that good!

Mexican Meatloaf Ingredients

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 Jalapeños (roasted, peeled, seeded and diced)
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper (diced)
  • 2 celery ribs (diced)
  • 2 carrot sticks (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (use Gluten Free Breadcrumbs to make the recipe gluten-free)
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Topping:

  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp chili powder

Start by pre-heating the oven to 375°F.

Next, roast the jalapeños on the grill. (If you don’t have a grill you can roast them in the oven)

Let the peppers roast for app 5-7 minutes per side, or until black and bubbling.  While the peppers are roasting sauté the diced bell peppers, onions, carrots and celery together for 5 minutes.

Next, add the minced garlic to the vegetables and sauté for an additional minute.

Sauteed Peppers and Onions

After the vegetables are sautéed, remove them from the heat to cool.

Remove the jalapeños from the grill. After the peppers have cooled, remove the skin, then slice into the pepper and remove the seeds. Next, chop the roasted pepper and add to the vegetable mixture.

Chopped Roasted Jalapeños

Now combine the cumin, chili powder, cayenne, salt, pepper and bread crumbs in a small mixing bowl.

Spicy Breadcrumbs

Add to the mixture the eggs, sour cream, ketchup and cheese, stir to combine.

Mexican Meatloaf Mix

Next, add this mixture to the ground beef and vegetables.

Mexican Meatloaf Mix

Now it’s time to get your hands dirty and mix it all together. Next, place the mixture into a loaf pan coated with cooking spray.

Mexican Meatloaf

Cook in the oven for 25 minutes.

While the meatloaf is cooking combine the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, water and chili powder in a small bowl for the topping.

Mexican Meatloaf Topping

After 25 minutes remove the meatloaf from the oven, drain any juices and spread the tomato topping onto the meatloaf.

Mexican Meatloaf with Spicy Tomato Topping

Cook for another 15 minutes then remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

Gluten Free Mexican Meatloaf

I served mine with Jalapeño poppers… part of that whole Superbowl Hangover thing I mentioned (AKA: party hor d’oeuvre’s that didn’t get made due to over-ambition and lack of time!) They turned out to complement each other very well and I would definitely recommend it!

Mexican Meatloaf Recipe

♣ Vegetarian Option: Substitute a sleeve of veggie crumbles and 3/4  can of semi mashed black beans for the ground beef.  This was made by my good friend Katie and she gave me the recommendation, thanks girl!

♦ Gluten Free Option:  Use Gluten Free Breadcrumbs to make this dish gluten-free.  Also make sure that the ketchup used is gluten free.

Mexican Meatloaf

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Mexican Meatloaf

Ingredients

  • 2 Jalapeños (roasted, peeled, seeded and diced)
  • 1 small onion (diced)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper (diced)
  • 2 celery ribs (diced)
  • 2 carrot sticks (diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Mary’s Gone Crackers Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Topping
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp chili powder

Instructions

  1. Start by pre-heating the oven to 375°.
  2. Next, start roasting the jalapeños.
  3. Let the peppers roast for app 5-7 minutes per side, or until black and bubbling.
  4. While the peppers are roasting sauté the diced bell peppers, onions, carrots and celery together for 5 minutes.
  5. Next, add the minced garlic to the vegetables and sauté for an additional minute.
  6. After the vegetables are sautéed, remove them from the heat to cool.
  7. It should now be time to remove the jalapeños from the grill. After the peppers have cooled, remove the skin, then slice into the pepper and remove the seeds.
  8. Next, chop the roasted pepper and add to the vegetable mixture.
  9. Combine the cumin, chili powder, cayenne, salt, pepper and bread crumbs in a small mixing bowl.
  10. Add to the mixture the eggs, sour cream, ketchup and cheese, stir to combine.
  11. Next, add this mixture to the ground beef and vegetables.
  12. Mix it all together.
  13. Next, place the mixture into a loaf pan coated with cooking spray.
  14. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes.
  15. Combine the tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, water and chili powder in a small bowl for the topping.
  16. After 25 minutes remove the meatloaf from the oven, drain any juices and spread the tomato topping onto the meatloaf.
  17. Cook for another 15 minutes then remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.
http://whitneybond.com/2012/02/09/whats-for-dinner-mexican-meatloaf/

Note: This page contains affiliate links. I only link to products I use & love!

Guinness Braised Short Ribs

After three months of dreaming and mouth-watering over this recipe the infamous Guinness Braised Short Ribs have finally come to fruition in my kitchen!  After reading DailyCandy.com’s “Comfort Food to Crave” which included STK’s Guinness Braised Short Ribs I was hooked, I knew this was a dish that belonged in the little leopard book! With a few changes from the original recipe and my own addition of sides, here’s the little leopard version for your drooling pleasure!

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 3 lbs boneless beef short ribs
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 tbsp diced garlic
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup diced parsnip
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 1 pint Guinness Stout
  • 32 oz beef stock
  • 16 oz chicken broth
  • 3-4 bay leaves

Start by combining brown sugar, paprika, cumin, black pepper, salt and mustard powder in a small bowl.

Now place chopped onions, garlic and coffee in a 6 oz or larger dutch oven over medium heat.  Next, spread your spice mixture on a platter and rub your short ribs, then add them to the dutch oven.

Brown the short ribs on each side.

Once browned, remove the short ribs and add the carrots, parsnips, celery and ginger to the dutch oven.

Once vegetables are tender add the tomato paste and brown.

Once browned, add the beef stock, chicken broth and the all-important GUINNESS!

Place the short ribs back in the dutch oven and add the bay leaves. (I promise there’s beef under there! It’s just hiding under all the deliciousness of veggies, coffee and Guinness, can u blame it?!)

Cover the dutch oven and place in 350° oven for at least 2 hours. If you do not have a lid, cover tightly with foil.

After 2 hours, remove from the oven and serve.  I served mine on a bed of horseradish purple mashed potatoes with caramelized shallots and topped with roasted root vegetables. (Because something as amazing as Guinness Braised Short Ribs can’t just be served with any ol’ potato and veggie!)

To prepare the Roasted Root Vegetables:

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 large carrots
  • 2-3 large parsnips
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp steak seasoning
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic,
  • 1/4 cup horseradish

Peel and chop carrots and parsnips then place in a foil basket on a baking sheet or roasting pan, top with olive oil and steak seasoning.  Add chicken broth.

Add foil on top and crimp edges to seal. Cook for 30 minutes at 350°

After 30 minutes remove foil from the top and add the butter, garlic and horseradish.

Re-cover the vegetables and cook for an additional 15 minutes.

To prepare the Horseradish Purple Mashed Potatoes:

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 lbs purple potatoes
  • 1/2 cup milk or cream
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp horseradish

Peel potatoes and cut into quarters, then boil until tender.  Drain boiled potatoes and add the milk, butter, worcestershire and horseradish and beat to combine.

There you have it!  A delicious dinner, full of color and flavor!!

♦ Gluten Free Option: Substitute Guinness with a gluten-free beer.  Make sure to purchase chicken broth and beef stock that is gluten-free.  The ones pictured above are!

How to: Throw the Perfect Pumpkin Carving Party

What could be more fun than carving pumpkins, drinking pumpkin beer and eating pumpkin chili??  Add Pumpkin Rice Krispie Treats, Pumpkin Bread and Spinach Artichoke Dip and there is pretty much nothing more fun in the world!  This is how you throw the Perfect Pumpkin Carving Party!

Things you will need:

  • Orange plastic tablecloth (to cover your pumpkin carving table)
  • Halloween Paper Plates/Napkins/Bowls (for all your Delicious Pumpkin Themed Food!)
  • Carving utensils/stencils (enough for all of your guests to carve their perfect little pumpkins)
  • Tealights (to light up the inside of your perfect pumpkins)
  • 2 Large bowls (one for the pumpkin guts and one for the pumpkin seeds)
The Perfect Pumpkin Carving Party Menu:
  • Pumpkin Chili
  • Traditional Chili
  • Pumpkin Bread
  • Pumpkin Rice Krispie Treats
  • Spinach Artichoke Dip and Chips

For the pumpkin chili, click on the link for the recipe!  I also made traditional chili in case someone didn’t like pumpkin (not sure why, because I shun anyone who does not like pumpkin, bahaha) but it’s easy to throw it together in a crock pot, so I did!

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 can chili beans
  • 1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes with green chilies) (14.5 oz)
  • 1 package chili seasoning
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8 oz)
Brown the ground beef, then combine all of the ingredients in a crock pot.  Allow to cook for 1 hour on high, then continue to cook for at least 3 hours in the crock pot on low. I top mine with grated cheddar cheese and jalapeños, yummy!

While your chili’s are simmering in their respective crock-pot’s, get your Pumpkin Bread ready to bake!
Ingredients (makes 1 loaf)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 2 large eggs (whisked)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 6 tbsp unsalted butter (melted)
  • 1 can pumpkin puree (15 oz)
Combine sugars, flour, baking soda and spices in a bowl.
In a separate bowl combine the whisked eggs, milk, melted butter and pumpkin puree. Then, mix in the dry ingredients.
Now it’s time to pour the batter into a loaf dish and bake at 350° for 45-55 minutes.
The bread should come out golden brown, moist and delicious!
While the pumpkin bread is baking and bringing that amazing aroma into your home, get those little Pumpkin Rice Krispie treats going!
Ingredients (makes 8 pumpkins)
  • 6 cups of Rice Krispies
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 package mini marshmallows
  • orange food coloring
  • green gum drops
Melt the butter and marshmallows in the microwave for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Then, add the orange food coloring, stir to combine.  Add the Rice Krispies and stir to coat.  Wait about 10 minutes for the mixture to cool then use a buttered spoon (or buttered hands, like I do!) to form the Rice Krispie treats into little Pumpkins.  Top with green gum drops and you have a super cute, festive treat that is easy and everyone loves!
Now, right before your guests arrive prepare your Spinach Artichoke Dip.
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
  • 4 oz frozen spinach
  • 1 can artichoke hearts (14.5 oz)
  • 8 oz package cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Start by thawing out the frozen spinach by placing it in a microwave-save dish covered with a lid and into the microwave for 5 minutes. While the spinach is defrosting, blend the artichoke hearts in a food processor until only small chunks exist. When the spinach has been defrosted combine this with the cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, salt, garlic powder and artichoke hearts in a 20 oz small casserole dish.
Top with the mozzarella cheese.
Place in the oven set at 350° for 25-30 minutes. To make this dish fit in with the festive pumpkin-themed night, I hollowed out a small pumpkin and put the dip inside, SO CUTE!
Now it’s time to set up your yummy table of munchies before all of your pumpkin-loving guests arrive!
Now that all your food is ready to go, you can enjoy carving a pumpkin with your guests while they help themselves to chili and snacks!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip combines spicy buffalo chicken between layers of cheese for a perfect party snack served with chips, veggies or a sliced baguette!

Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe

I will forever be indebted to my beautiful girlfriend Lindsay for introducing me to “Buffalo Chicken Dip” at her BBQ this summer!

Easy Buffalo Chicken Dip

I was already OBSESSED with boneless buffalo wings before this magical summer day but after that I had a new way and another reason to eat one of my favorites!!

Buffalo Chicken Dip with Blue Cheese

As I planned my “Gameday Grub” menu I knew I had to include this dip because what goes better with football than wings?  Ok, maybe beer, but we’re talking food here, so I’m sticking with wings!

This recipe is a great way to get the yummy wing-ness without all the mess!

Buffalo Chicken Dip Ingredients

Ingredients (serves 6)

  • 3 cups cooked and shredded chicken breasts
  • 1 cup buffalo sauce
  • 16 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup bleu cheese dressing
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 1/4 cup bleu cheese (crumbled)

Begin preparing the dip by combining the shredded chicken and buffalo sauce in a medium bowl.

Next, pre-heat the oven to 350°.

In a small-to-medium size casserole dish combine and spread the cream cheese and bleu cheese dressing in the bottom.

Cheesy Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe

Next, place the buffalo chicken on top.

Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe

Finally top with the cheddar cheese and bleu cheese crumbles.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Now it’s time to get it in the oven and start melting that delicious, buffalo cheesy dip together!

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Now you have a couple of options on how to serve this scrumptious little dip.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

I served mine with a sliced baguette, as well as veggies for a healthier option.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

There were also chips and slider buns hanging around that people could use to make this into a true chip-and-dip situation or little buffalo chicken sliders.

Easy Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe

♣ Vegetarian Option: Substitute “veggie crumbles” for the shredded chicken.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Serve with vegetables or corn tortilla chips to make this recipe gluten free.

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Serving Size: 6-8

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked and shredded chicken breasts
  • 1 cup buffalo sauce
  • 16 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup bleu cheese dressing
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 1/4 cup bleu cheese (crumbled)

Instructions

  1. Begin preparing the dip by combining the shredded chicken and buffalo sauce in a medium bowl.
  2. Next, pre-heat the oven to 350°.
  3. In a small-to-medium size casserole dish combine and spread the cream cheese and bleu cheese dressing in the bottom.
  4. Next, place the buffalo chicken on top.
  5. Finally top with the cheddar cheese and bleu cheese crumbles.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
http://whitneybond.com/2011/09/22/whats-for-lunch-buffalo-chicken-dip/

Taco Ring with a Twist

This 45 Minute Taco Ring Recipe combines colorful bell peppers and red onions with taco seasoned ground beef and cheddar cheese inside a crescent roll crust.

Crescent Roll Taco Ring

Yes, yes, yes!  I’ve never been so excited to not be doing homework, but instead to be doing my new favorite thing, blogging!!! I have 5 words of advice for all of you in the blogging world… NEVER TAKE AN ONLINE CLASS!!!!! I’m serious, you’re basically saying, I would like to teach myself the entire subject of ___________(fill in the blank) and then do the readings and homework as well! So just don’t do it to yourselves, I beg of you, you will regret it!  Ok, I’ve warned you, I feel like I’ve done my civic duties for the day, and if that wasn’t enough now I’m also going to share with you my yummy dinner recipe from tonight! Aren’t I just the best??!!

Crescent Roll Taco Ring with a Twist

So today’s recipe comes from a childhood favorite of mine. When I was probably 11 or 12 years old my Mom took me to a Pampered Chef party (and people wonder why I love cooking so much!) and we made a taco ring recipe, it instantly became a fav at the Bond household of picky eaters.

Southwest Taco Ring Recipe

Yes, growing up I took after my Mom and her horrible pickiness in food. There is no greater person in the world than my Mom, but there’s gotta be something a little weird about you if you don’t like food 😉 Luckily after moving across the country to the West Coast and into the land of fresh veggies, fruits and fish I broadened my horizons and now love every aspect of food, from shopping for it, to cooking it, to eating it (that part is probably my favorite!) Although most of my recipes I post are somewhat new or innovative, I like to throw in an old classic here and there as well, ie. the taco ring of today! I added some peppers and onions to the ground beef to give it a little more flavor and texture (that’s the twist part!)

Taco Ring Ingredients

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion (chopped)
  • 1 bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 (8 oz) cans of refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp homemade taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp water

Optional Toppings

  • sour cream
  • diced jalapeños
  • salsa

Begin by heating the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Next, add the bell peppers and onions.

Colorful Bell Peppers and Onions

Sauté for 5 minutes then add the ground beef and brown. In the meantime, pre-heat the oven to 375°.

Taco Ring Ground Beef Filling

Drain the grease from the ground beef, then add the taco seasoning, water and cheese.

Taco Ring Meat Cheese and Seasoning

Now it’s time to form a ring with the crescent rolls!

Start by placing a small glass on the center of a Baking Stone to get that perfect circle in the middle! Next, stagger the crescent rolls around with the wide ends overlapping in the center. Once they’re all on there it should look something like this ↓

Crescent Roll Ring

Next, pile the meaty, cheesy mixture of yummyness onto the crescent roll ring!

How to make the perfect taco ring

Now it’s time to get a little messy, you basically need a system of how to roll the dough up around that mound of meat after removing the glass without it all dumping into the middle.

Bell Pepper Ground Beef Taco Ring Filling

My recommendation: slow and steady! Look at that perfect little middle circle!

Once it’s all rolled up it should look something like this ↓

How to make a taco ring

Now it’s time to pop this baby in the oven. Cook for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and beautiful.

Bell Pepper Ground Beef Taco Ring

Place a ramekin filled with your favorite optional toppings in the middle such as sour cream topped with tomatoes and jalapeños, salsa or guacamole.

Taco Ring Recipe

I love seeing that cheesy, ooey, gooeyness surrounded by all that meatiness and wrapped in flakey, delicious crescent rolls.

Crescent Roll Taco Ring with Sour Cream

Bell Pepper Ground Beef Taco Ring

Ok already, I’m hungry!  Time to slice into this baby and go to town!

Taco Ring with Sour Cream

I’m now ready to sit down and devour this while watching tonight’s episode of “The Great Food Truck Race”!  What a great Sunday night 🙂 Til next time bloggies!!

Taco Ring with a Twist

♣ Vegetarian Option:  Substitute meatless crumbles for the ground beef to make this taco ring recipe vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Gluten Free Mom has a recipe for gluten-free crescent rolls that could be used in place of the traditional Crescent rolls to make this recipe gluten-free.

Taco Ring with a Twist

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Serving Size: 4

Taco Ring with a Twist

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion (chopped)
  • 1 bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 (8 oz) cans of refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tbsp homemade taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Optional Toppings
  • sour cream
  • diced jalapeños
  • salsa

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the bell peppers and onions to the oil.
  3. Sauté for 5 minutes then add the ground beef and brown.
  4. Pre-heat the oven to 375°.
  5. Drain the grease from the ground beef, then add the taco seasoning, water and cheese
  6. Form a ring with the crescent rolls by placing a small glass on the center of a baking stone then staggering the crescent rolls around the glass with the wide ends overlapping in the center.
  7. Add the ground beef mixture to the middle of the crescent roll ring around the cup.
  8. Remove the glass from the middle and roll the dough up and over the ground beef.
  9. Place the roll in the oven for 20-25 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and place a ramekin filled with optional toppings in the middle of the roll.
http://whitneybond.com/2011/09/11/whats-for-dinner-taco-ring-with-a-twist/

Note: This page contains affiliate links. I only link to products I use & love!

Mediterranean Couscous

A blend of couscous, sun dried tomatoes, garlic and feta are combined in this 10 minute Mediterranean couscous salad recipe!

Sun Dried Tomato Couscous

I realized 2 things after my first week back at school, I despise anything math related and I always lose weight while I’m in school because I never have time to eat!  With a back-to-back class schedule and boat loads of homework I will sometimes go all day only eating an energy bar and large cappuccino (not a great thing for someone who loves food as much as I do!)

Needless to say when I got home from school today I had consumed a Trader Joes fruit and nut trail mix bar and a 7-eleven french vanilla cappuccino… and it was now 5:00 pm… I was very hungry and I needed something QUICK!! So today’s recipe was inspired by both what was in my pantry that I could make fast, as well as a recipe from one of my Food Network favorite’s Guy Fieri.

Mediterranean Couscous Recipe

Couscous is a very quick cooking mediterranean grain and one of the healthiest grain-based products out there!  Low in fat, high in protein and lower on the glycemic index than pasta.

Mediterranean Couscous Ingredients

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese (crumbled)

Begin by heating the olive oil in a medium skillet, next add the garlic and red pepper flakes, sauté for 1 minute.

Sautéed Garlic and Red Pepper

Next, add the sun-dried tomatoes and sauté an additional minute.

Sautéed Garlic, Red Pepper and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Mediterranean Chicken Stock

Add the couscous then remove the skillet from the heat and cover.

After 5 minutes remove the lid and fluff with a fork.

Sun Dried Tomato Couscous

Now it’s time to add the cheese (my favorite part!) I used the mediterranean feta from Trader Joe’s which worked perfect for this recipe, but regular feta will work too!

Sun Dried Tomato and Feta Couscous

Now toss together with salt and pepper to taste and you have a healthy, simple, delicious meal in about 10 minutes!

Mediterranean Sun Dried Tomato Couscous

If you haven’t noticed yet most of my lunches do not involve meat, for 2 reasons, meat dishes usually take longer to cook and meat is expensive. My goal with lunch is creating something delicious, yet also quick and inexpensive!

Mediterranean Couscous

Lemon Rosemary Chicken would be a delicious addition to this Mediterranean Couscous for dinner!

Mediterranean Couscous with Feta Cheese

♣ Vegetarian Option: Use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock to make this dish vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Substitute quinoa for couscous to make this dish gluten-free.

Mediterranean Couscous

Total Time: 10 minutes

Serving Size: 2

Mediterranean Couscous

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup couscous
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese (crumbled)

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet.
  2. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, sauté for 1 minute.
  3. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and sauté an additional minute.
  4. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  5. Add the couscous then remove the skillet from the heat and cover.
  6. After 5 minutes remove the lid and fluff with a fork.
  7. Add the feta cheese, toss and serve.
http://whitneybond.com/2011/08/31/whats-for-lunch-mediterranean-couscous/

Caramelized Beet and Feta Cheese Salad

Steamed Beets are oven roasted in olive oil & balsamic vinegar then topped with creamy feta cheese in this easy 20 minute Caramelized Beet and Feta Cheese Salad Recipe.

Caramelized Beet and Feta Cheese Salad

Today’s lunch was inspired by what was in my refrigerator… beets!

Caramelized Beet and Feta Cheese Salad Recipe

I usually make a carmelized beet and goat cheese salad that involves arugula and avocado… but I didn’t have goat cheese, arugula or avocado so what else did I have in there?  Well I had feta, that could replace the goat cheese, I had onions and tomatoes so there I go!

Caramelized Beet and Feta Salad Ingredients

Ingredients: (Serves 1)

  • 8 oz baby beets (steamed & peeled)
  • 1/2 red onion (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tomato (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp feta cheese

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil then place the beets on top.

Sprinkle the chopped onions over the beets then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic. Top with salt and pepper.

Caramelizing Beets

Place in the oven for 6 minutes, toss, then cook for an additional 6 minutes.

Remove from the oven and place the beets on a plate. Pour the sauce from the foil onto the beets then top with the chopped tomatoes and feta cheese.

Easy Beet and Feta Salad Recipe

The result was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S and healthy! Don’t even get me started on my purple food obsession, but beets pack tons of antioxidants, as well as betanin pigments which have been shown to lessen tumor cell growth, I’m sold!

Caramelized Beet and Feta Salad

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is gluten-free.

Caramelized Beet and Feta Cheese Salad

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Serving Size: 1

Caramelized Beet and Feta Cheese Salad

Ingredients

  • 8 oz baby beets (steamed & peeled)
  • 1/2 red onion (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp Enzo Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tomato (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp feta cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil then place the beets on top.
  3. Sprinkle the chopped onions over the beets then drizzle with olive oil and balsamic.
  4. Top with salt and pepper.
  5. Place in the oven for 6 minutes, toss, then cook for an additional 6 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and place the beets on a plate.
  7. Pour the sauce from the foil onto the beets then top with the chopped tomatoes and feta cheese.
http://whitneybond.com/2011/08/26/whats-for-lunch-carmelized-beet-and-feta-cheese-salad/

Butternut Squash and Mozzarella Salad

This roasted butternut squash and mozzarella salad is drizzled in a balsamic vinegar reduction for a sweet, delicious, gluten free and vegetarian salad made in under 45 minutes!

Balsamic Vinegar Mozzarella Squash Salad

Today’s lunch was inspired by a lovely salad I had at the fabulous La Piazza Ristorante Italiano at The Grove.

Butternut Squash Mozzarella Salad

The salad is sweet, salty and Italian, so pretty much a combination of all of my favorite things!

Butternut Squash and Mozzarella Salad Ingredients

Ingredients (serves 2)

  • 12 oz butternut squash
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese balls

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees, then prepare the butternut squash.

I am fortunate enough to live within walking distance to Trader Joes (which is pretty apparent in all of my ingredient shots!) so I purchased pre-cut ready-to-go butternut squash cubes.  If you aren’t so fortunate (holler to my Oklahoma peeps!) just buy a couple of medium size squash and cube them yourself. Place them on a baking sheet (I like to line with foil bc I HATE to do dishes and it prevents them from sticking to the baking sheet so easier clean up!)

Drizzle the olive oil over the top.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Next, sprinkle with salt, pepper and cinnamon.

Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash

Then on to my favorite part… BROWN SUGAR!  I feel that everything in life would be better if it had a little brown sugar involved!

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Butternut Squash

Now the squash is ready to go in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Toss them about half way through.

While the squash is roasting prepare the balsamic reduction for drizzling over all of this yummy salad! Heat a skillet over medium-high heat then add 1 cup of balsamic vinegar to the skillet, followed by 2 crushed garlic cloves. Bring it to a boil then lower the temperature and allow it to reduce by half.

Next, toast the walnuts.

Once again, I bought already chopped walnut pieces from Trader Joes, but if you have whole walnuts just give them a nice chop and you’re ready to go!

Throw these on some foil on a baking sheet and in to the oven for 3-4 minutes, these little babies toast up quick in the 400 degree oven!

Once the squash and walnuts are out of the oven and the balsamic is reduced it’s time to put it all together. Use tongs to move the squash on to a plate in a nice little pile, then top each pile of squash with 4-5 mozzarella balls, next sprinkle a few toasted walnuts on top, then it’s time for that yummy, syrup-y, balsamic reduction goodness to get drizzled all on top!  Your plate should end up looking something like this ↓

But are those two plates I see?!??!

Yes those are two plates of deliciousness you see!  So if you are thinking back to yesterdays blog and thought “didn’t she say she experimented with cooking at lunch because she was only cooking for herself” why yes, yes I did say that so now I guess I’m a liar, but all in good reason!!

Time to introduce my best friend Erin, she’s the kind of girl who will drink a case of bud light with you and enjoy an enormous burrito all while wearing 5-inch heels and approximately 68 pieces of jewelry, needless to say she is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  Well I had the fortune of feeding her lunch today after she arrived home early from a work trip and had the day off! Watch as she intently stares at her food, raising her fork in anticipation of that first magical bite:

And here she goes… time to dig in!

Mmm delicious!  Definitely recommend this dish for a great appetizer or lunch salad, or I was thinking I might skewer a ball of mozzarella between two pieces of the roasted butternut squash and drizzle with the balsamic reduction for cocktail parties! Who wants to come to my next cocktail party now, huh? Yeah I know you do 🙂

♣ Vegetarian Option: This recipe is vegetarian.

♦ Gluten Free Option: This recipe is gluten-free.

Butternut Squash and Mozzarella Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Serving Size: 2

Butternut Squash and Mozzarella Salad

Ingredients

  • 12 oz butternut squash
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese balls

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees, then prepare the butternut squash.
  2. Place the butternut squash on a baking sheet then drizzle the olive oil over the top.
  3. Next, sprinkle with salt, pepper, cinnamon and brown sugar.
  4. Place the squash in the oven for 25-30 minutes, toss half way through cooking.
  5. While the squash is roasting prepare the balsamic reduction.
  6. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat then add 1 cup of balsamic vinegar to the skillet, followed by 2 crushed garlic cloves.
  7. Bring to a boil then lower the temperature and allow it to reduce by half.
  8. Next, toast the walnuts by placing them on a baking sheet and in to the oven for 3-4 minutes.
  9. Use tongs to move the squash on to a plate, then top the squash with 4-5 mozzarella balls, next sprinkle a few toasted walnuts on top, then drizzle with the balsamic reduction.
http://whitneybond.com/2011/08/25/whats-for-lunch-butternut-squash-and-mozzarella-salad/

Creamy Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

Creamy orzo is tossed with roasted vegetables in this delicious recipe made in under an hour, perfect as a side dish or entree!

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SOOOOO excited to share my first cooking post on the blog! Lunch is a time where I like to experiment for two reasons:

  1. I never plan what I’m going to have for lunch because every day is different in my life and I don’t know where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing so  therefore when I’m home and have time to cook lunch I just use what’s already in my kitchen to make instead of shopping specifically for the meal.
  2. I’m only cooking for myself at lunch so if it sucks I’m the only one that suffers haha! But on the other side if it’s awesome I get to eat it all myself 🙂

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This morning I had my girl Rachael Ray on and she was making a lemon risotto on 30 Minute Meals and I love myself a good risotto, so I took to my cabinets to see what I could find to make my own version of Rachael’s yummy little dish! As I got looking through my cabinets I saw that Trader Joe’s bag of Orzo staring me in the face.

I’ve never cooked with orzo but as I adventure into new food frontiers I find myself grabbing 2 or 3 items I’ve never cooked with before each time I go to the store and incorporating them into my new dishes. So today became project Creamy Orzo, basically an Orzo Risotto of sorts. So here we go!

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Ingredients (serves 2- as meal, 4- as side dish)

  • 2 red onions (1 chopped, 1 sliced)
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 red bell pepper (quartered)
  • 1 green bell pepper (quartered)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (separated)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 6 garlic cloves, (2 minced, 4 whole)
  • 2 cups orzo
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil (chopped)

Begin by slicing one red onion and both bell peppers.  Cut the eggplant in half.  Arrange the vegetables with 4 garlic cloves on a baking sheet, then drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper.

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Next, place the vegetables in the oven at 350° for 30 minutes while preparing the orzo.

Begin preparing the orzo by bringing 4 cups of chicken stock to a boil.

While the stock is heating up place 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large skillet then add the chopped onion and minced garlic.

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Cook for 1-2 minutes then add the orzo, cook for 1 minute then begin adding the chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time.

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Every time the orzo starts to look dry add another 1/2 cup of stock until all of the stock has been used and the orzo is soft and creamy! This should be about a 15 minute process.

Next, add the parmesan cheese and mix into melty goodness!

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Then remove the vegetables from the oven, chop the bell peppers, onion and garlic. Simply scoop the inside of the eggplant out and add them all to the orzo along with the fresh basil.

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This dish could be served as a vegetarian entree or side dish for Chicken Parmesan or Italian Crusted Pork Tenderloin!

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The orzo is creamy and delicious on it’s own, but the addition of flavorful roasted vegetables makes it oh-so-scrumptious!

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♣ Vegetarian Option: Substitute chicken stock with vegetable broth.

♦ Gluten Free Option: Substitute orzo with quinoa.