One Pan Chicken Sausage and Veggies

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I’m working longer days now. Which in part, I love because it earns me an extra day off per week (I’m working 4, 10-hr shifts). But, when that puts me walking in the door post-workout on a weeknight at 7:30, I don’t want a complicated recipe. (And honestly, who really does on a weeknight!)

I ran across this recipe, actually on Pinterest, a couple months back looking for easier dinner recipes. And this is one of the ones that stuck. We’ve made this several times. Often enough to be honest, that I’m a little embarassed that I haven’t added it on here yet.

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The basis for the recipe is from Chelsea’s Messy Apron. We make it largely as written using one of the pre-cooked flavors of chicken sausage from Trader Joe’s and tons of veggies. It’s probably us more than the recipe, but I usually end up roasting this on 2 separate pans. When the pans are too crowded the food ‘steams’ instead of roasting, and you all know we want the flavor that comes from those browned, roasted veggies.

With the addition of the red pepper flakes, it is a touch spicy. Probably not too much for many adults, but if you were making this for kiddo’s, you might want to back of the amount or leave it off. We typically serve this over brown rice, but you could easily serve over quinoa, couscous, etc.

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Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

One Pan Chicken Sausage and Veggies
From Chelsea’s Messy Apron

Ingredients:
1 pkg. pre-cooked Trader Joe’s chicken sausage (5 links)
4-5 small red potatoes
0.75 lb. fresh green beans
2 bell peppers, any color
2 heads broccoli
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes, optional
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Quinoa/brown rice/couscous
Grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil.

For the veggies: cut the red potatoes into small pieces (~1/8 potato) to allow them to cook completely. Seed and chop the bell peppers. Cut the ends off the green beans and cut in half, if needed. Trim the broccoli florets and discard the stems.

Slice the sausages. Add both the sausages and the veggies to a large bowl. Add olive oil and spices, and stir to coat. Divide evenly between the pans. Roast for 15 minutes. Stir each pan and continue to roast for another 10-15 minutes. Serve over your grain of choice and top with Parmesan cheese.

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Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie

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Sweet potatoes seem to be a devisive ingredient. It seems you either love them or hate them. Maybe it’s the marshmallow-loaded Thanksgiving side dish that gives them a bad day? (But let’s be honest. I LOVE that too… in its own right). Thankfully here, the hubbs and I are both on board with sweet potatoes, especially roasted. I think I could eat those for dinner alone!

So, as you can see, the topping of this Sheperd’s Pie from Cookin’ Canuck definitely got my attention. One thing I tend not to do with either normal potatoes or sweet potatoes at home is make mashed potatoes. I don’t really have a good reason why. I guess somehow in my mind I made it out to be a complicated process, but honestly, it’s probably faster than many other methods of cooking them.

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At work, I’ve shifted over to 10-hr days. On one hand, I’m loving the extra day off, but as the primary cook in the house, I’ve been looking for ways to make dinner a little easier on the hubbs. Especially in the winter where its not quite as easy for him to just grill everynight. Putting this dish together was an easy process, and it allowed for me to do all the assembly (up to the final bake) the day before. For a busy night or a spouse roommate who doesn’t like to cook as much, all they have to do is bake it!

And, on top of easy… it was delicious. I think the hubbs ate half the pan 🙂

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I will say, I did use the bison meat, but didn’t read the package well enough, so I only made the pie with 12oz of meat. If you can’t find bison or would prefer beef, I’m reasonably certain this could be made with ground beef as well. It seems that anywhere from 3/4 to 1-1/2 lbs of meat would work, just dependent on how much food you’d like and ease for package sizes, etc.

(Printable Recipe)

Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
Adapted from Cookin’ Canuck

Ingredients:

For the sweet potato topping:
1-1/4 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed into ~1/2-inch pieces
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

For the filling:
2 tsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3/4 to 1-1/2 lbs. ground bison or ground beef
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried crushed rosemary
1 cup beef broth
1 cup frozen peas

For the sweet potatoes:
Place the cubed sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the water and leave the sweet potatoes in the pan. Mash the potatoes with the butter, milk, salt and pepper.

For the filling:
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saute pan. Add the onions and cook until they start to turn translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add the meat, crumble while cooking, until cooked through. Add the tomato paste, garlic, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the broth and frozen peas. Simmer until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 5-10 minutes.

Add the meat mixture to a baking dish. I used a 1-1/2 qt dish. A square pan would also likely work, although a 8×8 pan will be full. Cover with the mashed sweet potaotes ensuring all edges are covered. At this time, the dish can be refrigerated to bake (wouldn’t leave it more than 1-2 days) or baked immediately at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Greek Chicken Pitas

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This is one of those dinners that isn’t really a recipe. It came about sometime last summer. I don’t remember exactly when, but I can tell you it definitely came out of a desire to have good food quick after long days at work and then training.

These pitas can be as “store-bought” or as homemade as you want – although I’m guessing most of us would buy the feta 🙂 The pitas, hummus, and tzatziki could all be homemade if you’re feeling adventurous (in fact I might suggest you look here and here to start). More often than not we’ve been looking for quick and started with pre-made. The tzatziki we’ve been using lately isn’t a true tzatziki, but man, the cucumber-dill yogurt sauce from Opadippity (by Litehouse) hits the spot! Nonetheless I think these would be outta this world with some freshly made pitas, and I need to give it a try some night when I have a bit more time.

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If I’ve planned ahead enough, I do like to marinade the chicken for several hours while we’re at work. It just gives the meal a little extra flavor. Outside of the marinade time, it’s just chopping, grilling, and eating!

(Printable Recipe)

Greek Chicken Pitas
The Cookin’ Chemist Original, marinade from The Black Peppercorn

Ingredients:
For the Chicken Marinade:
4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. oregano
2 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper

For the Pitas:
4-6 whole wheat pitas
1/2 to 1 cup of hummus
1 colored bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 to 1 cup of tzatziki sauce
1 pkg. feta cheese

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Pour into a plastic bag and add the chicken. Refrigerate and marinade the chicken for at least 1 hour, up to overnight. When ready to grill, discard the marinade and grill chicken as desired. Let rest for several minutes after grilling then chop into bite-sized pieces.

Top pitas with hummus (amount as desired). Layer with chopped vegetables and chicken. Top with tzatziki sauce and feta (also amounts as desired). Enjoy!

Christmas Soup Series: White Chicken Chili

Last but not least, I’m adding white chicken chili into the mix. This is one of those recipes where I’m sure everyone has their own little variation, but no matter how you make it, it always turns out awesome! This recipe is my mom’s, and it has made an appearance more than once on Christmas Eve. 

I feel like I say this a lot, but I really, really like this soup. We made a double batch of it last Friday for the savory part of a cookie exchange party, so my husband and I have been enjoying the leftovers all week. It literally is one of those things that I could eat everyday and not become tired of it. The recipe for this soup does call for a 1/2 cup of heavy cream. I have successfully swapped lower fat products including half and half and whole milk. If you are looking to try this, keep in mind that these items will “thin out” the soup a little bit more than the cream and may clump easier if they get too hot in the soup. If you are making it in the crockpot, be sure not to add any of the dairy products until about 30 minutes before you plan to serve the soup or they may curdle. A bonus with the crockpot is that your house will smell so good when you come home!

This is definitely a recipe that will allow for some tailoring, so if something sounds like it would go well in here, try it! I know I’ll be enjoying my last bowl tomorrow. Merry Christmas everyone!

(Printable Recipe)

White Chicken Chili
From Mom

Ingredients:
1 lb. cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, shredded
1 Tbsp. oil (only if cooking in stockpot)
1 medium onion, chopped
1-1/2 tsp. garlic powder
2-3 cans (14.5 oz each) white beans (navy beans), rinsed and drained
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cans (4oz) chopped green chiles
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1-1/4 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy cream

If cooking in a stockpot, heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic powder and saute until the onion is translucent. Add beans, broth, chiles, and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in sour cream and heavy cream. 

Crockpot directions: Add all ingredients except the sour cream and heavy cream to the crockpot. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Add the sour cream and heavy cream about 30 minutes before serving to allow the soup to re-warm after the addition.

Christmas Soup Series: Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini

Day 2 of soups for Christmas. This is one of the other recipes that my brother made last week while he was visiting. It is a little similar to this soup recipe that I posted last year in that it contains both sausage and red wine, but the soups are distinct enough that I am considering them different. 

Of all the things on my blog, my soups are probably one of the things that we “repeat” the most at home. You other bloggers know what I am talking about. The “are we having something new again for dinner” syndrome. This soup is definitely up with the others in flavor, and that is considering that we really like all of the soups posted here. Given the fact that my brother served us this during the same meal as the chocolate-chip toffee cheesecake, I would certainly say we had a great meal!

Similar to the minestrone, the pasta in this soup will soak up some of the liquid as it sits. Just add extra broth to your preference when you reheat it. This one also calls for red wine, but it can be substituted for the beef broth if you prefer. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Italian Sausage Soup with Tortellini
Adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
1 lb. sweet Italian chicken/turkey sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups beef broth
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup red wine
1 can (14.5) oz. diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup thinly sliced carrots
1/2 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
1/2 tsp. ground oregano
1 (8oz) can tomato sauce
1-1/2 cups quartered zucchini
8 oz. fresh whole wheat tortellini 
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

Shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large Dutch oven, brown the sausage, crumbling as you cook it. Remove the sausage from the pan and drain the fat.

Add the onion and garlic to the pan and saute until the onion begins to soften. Stir in beef broth, water, wine, tomatoes, carrots, basil, oregano, tomato sauce, and sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Skim fat from the soup if necessary (should be very little if you use chicken/turkey sausage). Stir in zucchini and parsley. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Add tortellini during the last 10 minutes. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese.

Crockpot directions: Cook the sausage as directed. Place all ingredients except tortellini and Parmesan cheese in the crockpot and cook on low for 8-10 hours. Cook tortellini separately on the stove according to package directions and add just before serving. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese.

Christmas Soup Series: Jamie’s Minestrone

Growing up we had quite a few Christmas traditions. Starting the day after Thanksgiving, we’d get up early to grab donuts before heading to the Christmas tree farm to pick out/cut down our tree. We also had a paper nativity scene that doubled as an Advent calendar. My brother and I would alternate days of putting up each character, often squabbling over who would get to put the star up over the manger on Christmas Eve.

One of the other traditions that I still continue – soup on Christmas Eve. The kind has changed over the years (there was a time when I would have a can of Campbell’s chicken and stars because the rest of the family was having oyster stew…), but the idea of soup has stayed constant. We’ve done stews, chili, homemade chicken noodle, and even played with the idea of bread bowls, but it’s always homemade and always great! Plus, it is low stress as you can put it in a crockpot and forget about it. Bonus that it leaves room for Christmas cookies 🙂

As I don’t have too many Christmas cookie recipes to share with you this year, I thought I would let you in on our little tradition and offer up a few soup recipes leading up to Christmas Eve. 

The first soup is a classic – minestrone. I have made this recipe a couple of times, and I really enjoy it as it is everything a minestrone soup should be: great flavor and loaded with vegetables. The recipe calls for red wine. If you are worried about including alcohol, it could certainly be replaced with some additional broth, however if you can, I would strongly suggest you include it. I love the flavor red wine adds to soups. One thing to note is that the pasta will continue to soak up the liquid (even when fully cooked), so cook it al dente and only add it a few minutes before serving. This is especially important if you are making the soup in a crockpot! For the leftovers in this case, I have just been adding a little bit more broth as needed when I heat it up. 

Feel free to join in if you want. It’s a fun tradition to start! Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Jamie’s Minestrone
Adapted from allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
1-1/2 Tbsp. olive oil 
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 onions, chopped
2 cups chopped celery
5 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cups chicken broth (can use vegetable broth to make vegetarian)
2 cups water
4 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
1 can (14.5oz) low-sodium kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed into 1-inch pieces
2 cups baby spinach
3 small zucchinis, quartered and sliced
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup small whole wheat pasta, cooked al dente
shredded Parmesan cheese for serving

In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add onion and saute for 4-5 minutes. Add celery and carrots, saute for 1-2 minutes.

Add chicken broth, water, and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. If using, add red wine. Reduce heat to low and add kidney beans, green beans, spinach, zucchini, oregano, basil, and salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, the longer the better.

Cook pasta separately until al dente according to package directions. Drain and add to soup. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Crockpot directions: Follow the first step through cooking the onions. Add the sauteed onions and garlic to the crockpot with the rest of the ingredients except the pasta, spinach, and Parmesan cheese. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Cook the pasta until al dente as directed above and add to the crockpot with the spinach just before serving. The heat will wilt the spinach. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Hearty Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Quinoa

Man. I feel like a little bit of a wimp saying this, but it was cold this week in New Orleans. No, not snow cold, but cool weather combined with rain can still be cold. We were there for a pharmacy conference and having to walk around in the rain is not synonymous with fun. I was definitely ready to get back to Arizona desert last night! Nonetheless, the chill stayed with me and has me thinking of one thing. Soup!

In reality, I made this soup a couple weeks ago, almost immediately after I ran across it online, and a bowl of it sounds about perfect right now! Dara from the Cookin’ Canuck came up with this recipe on her own, and I have to say she is a genius. Check out her site for the pictures, and let me tell you that this soup is as good as it looks. Extra points in because it is healthy. Delicious + healthy = win.

I changed the soup a little by using a sweet potato rather than a butternut squash and slightly varying the cooking method. The recipe calls for cooking the chicken in some broth, but you could certainly use cooked chicken as a time saver if you want. We loved our end result, but I’m sure it would be great with the butternut squash too. If you’re looking to warm up from some cool weather, this would be a great way to do it. Enjoy!

(Printable Recipe)

Hearty Chicken Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Quinoa
Adapted from Cookin’ Canuck

Ingredients:
1-1/2 lbs. sweet potato, peeled and cubed into 1/2-inch pieces
3-1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1-1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
4 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 can (14 oz) petite diced tomatoes
2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
3/4 cup pitted and quartered kalamata olives
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley, chopped

In a medium saucepan, add sweet potatoes and cover with water. Bring the water to a boil and boil for 5-7 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are fork tender. Remove half of the pieces. Continue boiling the remaining pieces of sweet potato until they are very soft, 3-5 minutes more. Drain and mash with the back of a fork. Set aside. 

In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the chicken broth to a simmer. Add the chicken and cook until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate and allow to cool. Pour broth into a medium-sized bowl.

Return the saucepan to the stovetop and lower the heat to medium. Add olive oil and allow to warm. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is starting to turn brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and oregano. Cook stirring for 1 additional minute. To the saucepan, add tomatoes, cubed sweet potato pieces, and mashed sweet potato. Stir to combine. Stir in reserved chicken broth and quinoa. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the quinoa turns translucent, about 15 minutes. 

Shred the chicken with your fingers or a fork. Stir in the chicken, olives, and pepper into the stew, and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and serve.

SRC: Crockpot BBQ Chicken Loaded Baked Potatoes

Another month, another Secret Recipe Club post. I can’t believe how fast this past month has gone! Summer – unofficially out the door, my birthday – yesterday, my residency – picking up steam like an unstoppable freight train, football – depending on the league you follow started either last week or this past weekend. I guess fall must really be knocking on the door because they are forecasting temperatures below the triple digit mark here next week. Not sure I am ready yet…

This month for SRC I was assigned Tami from Tami’s Kitchen Table Talk. I am somewhat familiar with Tami’s blog as she is the wonderful host of the Cookie Carnival in which I’ve been involved for quite awhile. While I’ve somewhat known about her blog through the carnival, I was excited to get a chance to look around! Much of the time I’ve spent over there has involved cookies in some form, so I wanted to find a non-sweet dinner recipe from her archives.  As it turns out, this was harder than it sounds as Tami has some yummy sounding desserts over there! Nonetheless, I ended up combining two of her recipes – BBQ chicken sliders in the crockpot and homemade BBQ sauce to make a great, non-involved, easy dinner.

My only change to her recipes was omitting the whiskey from the barbecue sauce. In reality, this wasn’t an intentional change. If you are worried about the alcohol, it will all cook off while the mixture is boiling. My issue was the lack of whiskey in our pantry. I swore we had some but when I went to look for it, none was to be found. As a result, my barbecue sauce ended up a little on the sweeter side. While it was still great, I think the whiskey in here serves the purpose of cutting the sweetness a little bit. I also blended it with my immersion blender at the end to incorporate the onion chunks. 

The idea for this pairing came from our love loaded baked potatoes. Not the side-dish kind. The meal kind with chicken, onions, and cheese. It has been a long time since we have had them! Growing up, mom always made ours with canned or rotisserie chicken mixed with bottle barbecue sauce. By combining Tami’s recipes for BBQ sauce and crockpot pulled chicken, I was able to make both from fresher ingredients in my own kitchen with only a little bit more effort. By making the barbecue sauce ahead of time one Sunday morning and cooking the chicken with it in the crockpot later that day, the only step left was cooking the potatoes and chopping a few ingredients right before serving. A perfect busy day recipe. Success if you ask me. My husband is already asking for them again!

(Printable Recipe)

Crockpot BBQ Chicken Loaded Baked Potato
Adapted from Tami’s Kitchen Table Talk

Ingredients:
BBQ sauce:
1/2 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups ketchup
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup molasses
1/2 tsp. pepper
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tsp. mesquite flavor liquid smoke
1/2 tsp. tobasco sauce
2 Tbsp. whiskey (optional)

Loaded Baked Potatoes:
1-1/2 to 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-1/2 cups of BBQ sauce
5-6 russet potatoes
cheddar cheese, shredded
sour cream
red onion, diced
black olives, sliced
aluminum foil

For the barbecue sauce, warm a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Saute the onion and garlic with the whiskey until the onion begins to soften. Combine remaining ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If a smoother sauce is desired, blend with an immersion blender or let cool and add to a regular blender. Blend until smooth. Use 1-1/2 cups in the following recipe. Save the remaining sauce in the refrigerator.

Layer the chicken breasts into the crockpot by alternating one piece of chicken with a little barbecue sauce. Add the remaining barbecue sauce over the top of the chicken. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. After 4 hours, check to see if the chicken is cooked through. It should begin to shred itself if it is finished cooking. If it is not quite done, continue to cook for another hour. Remove the chicken and place on a plate. Shred using two forks. Place the chicken in a resealable container and mix with any remaining barbecue sauce from the crockpot. Refrigerate until ready to use.

On the day you are planning to eat the potatoes, wash and wrap each in aluminum foil. Place the wrapped, raw potatoes in the clean crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. When ready to eat, warm the chicken on the stove or in the microwave. Add more barbecue sauce to the chicken if desired. Top the potatoes with your desired ingredients. Enjoy!

Pesto and Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches with Fresh Mozzarella

While we may be a few weeks out from the official “first day of summer,” I think summer may have hit the country in the past few days. I am used to the 90’s, but I saw them all across the weather map this evening on the news. The whole thing was red! 

When it is warmer, I try to avoid making meals in the oven, especially anything that needs to bake longer than say 20-30 minutes, so we end up grilling out quite a bit. In fact, we’ve been grilling a lot this year including things that wouldn’t be your traditional grill fare – vegetables, bread, and even some fruit. This was a recipe that landed in my email inbox from Cuisine at Home, and I think it was the launchpad for our current grilling obsession.

I did adapt the recipe a little. We ended up using a french loaf rather than the ciabatta because the store was randomly out of ciabatta that day. Lately, I’ve been into making my own bread more, but with boards, it just wasn’t going to happen. The french loaf worked fine, although I would like to have these again with the ciabatta – this may be my excuse to have them again soon 🙂 My other change contradicts the oven thing a little, but I broiled the assembled sandwich for a minute or so after it was done because I wanted to help the cheese melt just a little bit more. As a side note, grilling the vegetables is pretty easy, but keep an eye on the bread. It will get toasty quickly on the grill!

We really enjoyed this dinner, and if you are like us, you’ll find yourself finding new reasons to grill vegetables after having this 🙂 Enjoy! 

(Printable Recipe)

Pesto and Grilled Vegetable Sandwiches with Fresh Mozzarella
Adapted from Cuisine at Home

Ingredients:
2 red bell peppers cut into quarters
1 zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
1 yellow squash, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
1 red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 loaf ciabatta or french bread (16 oz), sliced in half, lengthwise
1-1/2 to 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup purchased basil pesto
8 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch slices

Preheat the grill to medium-high heat. Place onions on a metal skewer so that the skewer pierces each layer; this will help keep the rings from falling apart when grilled. Brush the peppers, zucchini, squash, onion, and cut sides of the bread with olive oil; season with salt and pepper.

Grill vegetables until tender, 3-5 minutes on each side. Grill bread until toasted, 1-2 minutes on each side. Preheat the oven to broil. If desired, slice bell peppers into strips. 

Spread pesto on one side of cut bread. Remove the onion from the skewers and separate into rings; place over pesto. Layer mozzarella and other vegetables over onion. Top with the remaining side of the ciabatta loaf. Broil for 1-2 minutes keeping a close eye on the bread to make sure it doesn’t get too brown. Cut loaf into eight sandwich wedges.

A Springy Casserole and The Secret Recipe Club

Last month as I was looking through the blogs, I noticed a couple people posting recipes from a group called The Secret Recipe Club. As members, you are assigned a blog, and your only requirement is to make one recipe from that blog some time during the month. We keep our “assigned blogs” secret until the post day where everyone reveals their blog and their chosen recipe at the same time. Fun right? I was in. 

My The Secret Recipe Club blog for May was Anne’s Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy. I ended up spending the better part of an afternoon looking through her recipes, and I really like her philosophy – healthy and nutritious recipes do not need to be expensive or complicated! I actually had a really hard time settling on a recipe, but in the end I decided on her recipe for A Springy Casserole since it is a recipe that is different from what I would typically make. It is originally a recipe from about.com, but Anne definitely made it her own.

In her post, Anne mentions that this recipe is one that would adapt well to the inclusion of different vegetables. In fact, she made two versions – one with chopped red bell pepper, and another with shredded zucchini in place of the pepper. Red peppers are one of my favorite vegetables, so I decided to go with that version. Other swaps/changes include using Greek yogurt rather than plain yogurt, adding 1 cup chopped cooked broccoli, and including 2 Tablespoons of Dijon mustard. 

Our verdict: Pretty good! The recipe made more that the two of us could eat in one sitting, and I think it got better as the flavors melded together the next day. I love that it is a great way to use up random leftovers that may be hanging around in your fridge. Not sure about anyone else, but I always seem to be one that ends up with way too much rice whenever we are using it for a recipe. This is definitely one to keep in mind for when that happens. I haven’t tried it, but this recipe also seems like it would work well to make ahead and just pop in the oven when you were ready to cook dinner. Win, win all around. Thanks Anne for a great recipe, and it was really great to stumble across your blog! Be sure to check out our blog-hop to see which recipes everyone made! Enjoy!  

(Printable Recipe)

A Springy Casserole
Adapted from Quick and Easy, Cheap and Healthy

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1-1/2 medium red bell peppers, chopped
1 cup frozen broccoli, thawed and chopped
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth, divided 
1-1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 cups cooked brown rice
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 cup chopped cooked chicken
1 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spray a 1-1/2 quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, warm the oil until hot but not smoking. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers, broccoli, 1/4 cup of the broth, thyme, black pepper, and continue cooking until the bell pepper begins to soften, 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in the remaining 3/4 cup of broth, brown rice, Greek yogurt, and mustard. Add the chicken, remove from the heat, and stir until well combined. Stir in one-third of the mozzarella and the parsley. Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the casserole is heated through and the cheese has melted. 


 
 




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