The Quickest Way to a Healthy Breakfast Smoothie

The healthy breakfast smoothie shortcut. Complete with simple recipe.

I know talking about smoothies right now, since it is currently so autumn, is a bit like talking about all-day beef stew in the smouldering heat of summer.

Faux pas.

But let’s be real here.

For some of us, namely the us in the Southern US, it’s still reaching the high 80’s every day. Continue reading

Spicy Peanut Cabbage Slaw

Spicy Peanut Cabbage Slaw

I’m pretty sure I just toxified a detox salad in two easy steps:

1) added peanut butter

2) added peanuts.

Whatevs.

It’s going to make us eat cabbage.

Over and over again. Continue reading

Zucchini Pizza Salad

Zucchini Pizza Salad - zucchini, tomato, red bell pepper, fresh mozzarella, salami, pepperoni, homemade vinaigrette, olives, croutons

“This is the best salad you’ve ever made for me.”

Say wha??

Shaved zucchini? Tomato puree in the dressing? Shallots and fancy tiny mozzarella balls?

Again I say, shaved zucchini?!

And it’s my husband’s favorite salad I’ve ever given him. Ever. Continue reading

Coconut Lime Bars and Sliding Doors

Coconut Lime Bars | Home is Where The Cookies Are

Have you heard of “sliding door moments“?

It’s when you are faced with a choice and you can either open the door to connect with those around you, or you can close it and disengage from those around you.

They happen several times a day.

Connect/disconnect, that’s the choice. Continue reading

Sweet Baby Pea Salad with Cashews and Bacon.

Sweet Baby Pea Salad with cashews, bacon, watercress, water chestnuts, and scallions in a vinaigrette - nice holiday side dish.

Sweet peas. Spring. New life.

Food, family meals, nourishment.

As nutrients enter our bodies, health.

As prayers whisper from our lips, grace. Continue reading

Cheesy Chicken and Cauliflower Orzo Bake

A delicious casserole filled with meat, pasta, veggies, and creamy white cheese sauce. Special enough for company and holiday dinners too!

Um, so cauliflower seems to be whispering to me from the supermarket seven blocks down the road in the produce aisle.

It somehow manages to taunt me through the double sliding glass doors – the same ones I happened to knock off the tracks with the giant race car shopping cart my daughter was riding in the other day.

And, well, this cheese sauce seems to be trailing me too. Continue reading

Argentine Inspired White Bean Salad

This little recipe goes out to my Mama.

She came to visit me a few months back, and we set out one weekend evening for a very girly night of what we thought would be hors d’oeuvres, wine and art galleries followed by an elegant steak-ish dinner.

Our gallery walk turned into a wild goose-chase in uncomfortable shoes, only to find a few sparse galleries pocketed with circles of chubby old men smoking cigars and a single woman with waist-length hair who claimed in her artist’s statement to be attempting to paint the very condition of human kind.

??

Huh?

That was the turning point.

No wine.

No hors-day-oov-rays.

Aching heels.

It was time for a stiff cocktail and some seared red meat. Continue reading

Veggie Stuffed Shells

Let’s explore some things that are all shoved full-up with goodness:

Letters from long-lost friends.

Time capsules.

Tacos.

Our favorite magazines.

Breakfast muffins.

The giant bag of fresh produce on grocery day.

The dryer load full of fresh, warm blankets.

The cooler on beach day.

Your son’s hands when they reach out and hold yours (when you thought he thought he was too old to do that anymore).

A nice long phone call with another woman, because we are the only ones who truly understand one another. That’s just Truth.

Fresh from a nap baby cheeks.

The secret stash of jellybeans in my nightstand. (Not such a secret anymore, is it?)

The stack of novels waiting for me on my end table.

The rack of fabric scraps at Joanne’s.

Favorite cookbooks.

These pasta shells – that’s what my little guy says anyway.

He says:

1) that they’re awesome.

2) that they are “giant pasta rolls shoved up with broccoli, cheese, and mashed potatoes”.

If you are afraid of anything in the kitchen, I suggest you tackle it and conquer it sometime soon.

I feared making a bechamel, and now I don’t.

The whole process was interesting and delightful in a science-project-gone-perfect sort of way.

I feel so much smarter now.

Which brings me to another observation.

I SO would never, ever, in a million years, make it on Master Chef.

Unless I could squeak by like poor David Martinez.

If someone handed me a sea urchin and told me I had one hour to cook it, I would squawk and hide under the table.

If I had to soft boil an egg to impress Gordon Ramsey? I’d burst into tears instantly and make a bee-line sprint to the wine cooler, seeing as how I am repulsed by hard-boiled eggs so I’ve never even ventured seriously into the territory of cooking eggs in the shell – except for a couple of weeks ago when my kids claimed they wanted to try hard-boiled eggs and I had to look up¬†how to make them.

Yes. That’s me.

Somehow though, learning how to hard boil an egg was not nearly as satisfying as making this pasta and conquering the bechamel.

I know this is very “wintry” food, but you can make summery excuses for it.

You can make it ahead and store it for later, so that when you come home from summering all day, you can just pop it in the oven.

You could use zucchini or summer squash to fill the shells.

You could serve it with sparkling white wine – very summery.

It makes enough for at least 8 people, so you could eat it outside at sunset with a big group of friends and drink sparkling white wine.

I believe those are all sufficiently summery excuses. Capisce?

Veggie Stuffed Shells

A fantastic tutorial, if you are new to bechamel, is available here, where I found the inspiration for this dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 (12 ounce) box large pasta shells
  • 5 ounces prepared pesto
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella, divided
  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, cooked and mashed
  • 2 cups broccoli, steamed, and roughly chopped
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper, a couple modest shakes
  • For the Sauce:
  • 2 cups reduced fat milk, heated
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2 ounces prepared pesto
  • 1/2 cup freshly shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • dash of kosher salt
  • shake of garlic powder
  • shake of cayenne pepper

Directions

Cook pasta shells according to package directions, less two minutes. When shells are finished cooking, drain and cool them on a tea towel until you are ready to stuff them.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the 5 ounces of pesto, ricotta, Parmesan, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella (reserve 1/2 cup for topping), mashed potato, chopped broccoli, nutmeg, salt, pepper, and cayenne.

Prepare either two 9"x9" baking dishes, or one 9"x13" baking dish by spraying lightly with cooking spray.

If cooking immediately, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Stuff each shell evenly with filling.

Place stuffed shells in a single layer in the baking dish(es). Set aside.

To prepare the bechamel, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Once butter is melted, add flour bit by bit, stirring with each addition until it is well incorporated. Continue to stir and cook for a couple of minutes.

Start adding hot milk a little bit at a time, mixing continuously, and not adding more until each addition has been fully incorporated.

Once all of the milk is incorporated, slowly add the pesto, then the Parmesan cheese.

Continue stirring, and cook on low until the sauce thickens.

Add in pepper, salt, garlic powder, and cayenne.

If your sauce ends up lumpy, either run it through a blender to puree and smooth it, or if you have an immersion blender, that'll do the trick as well.

Pour sauce evenly over the stuffed shells. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella over the top, and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Finish by broiling for 5 minutes, or until the cheese on top is beautifully browned.

Source

inspired by, and adapted from Manu's Menu

https://www.wherethecookiesare.com/2012/07/17/veggie-stuffed-shells/

Andouille Soup with Red Beans and Rice

Let’s start with lists:

Cajun things I do not like, not one little bit:

  • crawfish
  • turtle soup
  • oysters in any way, shape, or form (I’m sorry. I lack ‘culture’ in this regard.)
  • hurricanes (obviously, not strictly Cajun, but Southern in general)
  • Shirtless men in denim overalls

Cajun things I can totally dig:

Continue reading