Summer Baked Beans

These Summer Sausage Baked Beans are super easy thanks to the slow cooker! {Brittany's Pantry}A few months ago I hosted a summer birthday shindig for my husband.

You know what that means, don’t you? Man food. Spicy things and salty things and meat. Wanting to play and visit and chill with our guests, I tried to plan a menu that would be more hands off, ensuring I didn’t spend the day in the kitchen. I knew I wanted to make a slow cooker full of beans, but decided to do something different in order to meet the spicy, salty, meaty requirements.

These aren’t very salty, and actually, not very spicy either, but the men (and women and children) were more than happy to devour them. It is entirely possible that I may never make beans any other way again. Like, ever. They are that good.

In addition, they are a great dish to travel to a potluck type of situation, so be sure to share. The slow cooker is a beautiful thing, friends and this one is our absolutely favorite! Especially in the summer when you don’t want to heat up the house. Perfect for a birthday shindig or any other event you need ‘man food’ for.

These Summer Sausage Baked Beans are super easy thanks to the slow cooker! {Brittany's Pantry}Just mixed up and ready to cook! You can tell because the color hasn’t deepened yet and the onion is still raw. You can absolutely make these the night before and then start them in your crockpot the next day! These Summer Sausage Baked Beans are super easy thanks to the slow cooker! {Brittany's Pantry}Summer Baked Beans
You can substitute cannelini beans for this recipe, but they don’t hold up to long cooking times as well as great northern beans do, so don’t let them go all day! Also, note that this feeds a crowd! Feel free to halve the recipe, but leftovers reheat wonderfully!

4 cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1-14 oz package, smoked sausage or kielbasa of your choice (we like the all beef versions), diced
1 large onion, diced small
1/2 c ketchup
1 c brown sugar
2 T dijon mustard
2 T apple cider vinegar
1 tsp red pepper flakes, or to taste

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a standard, 3 quart slow cooker (or a larger one) and stir carefully. It will be full! Turn it on low for about 6 hours (or high for 3) or until the flavors meld and the onion is cooked. Depending on your sausage and the size of your onion, the time may vary, but the beans hold up well so no worries. Give them a stir once or twice if you can so that they heat evenly. Enjoy!

Honey-Ginger Cucumber Salad

This quick and easy Honey Ginger Cucumber Salad is crisp and refreshing. Not to mention healthy! {Brittany's Pantry}Just dropping in to pass along a quick recipe for the weekend!

Simply put, this fresh and crisp cucumber salad is just an easy kind of dish to make. It is light and refreshing and great along side heavier barbecued or grilled food. There is very little to it, making it so easy your kids can make it! I like to use it when I need a vegetable, but don’t want to cook anything. Because…yeah. The whole country is hot and steamy right now. We do NOT need to be making anything that will add to the heat and make us wilt any further. It can sit in the fridge for several hours before you serve it and won’t spoil if it is out on the table for too long. No mayo here!

So lets review.

Green? Check. (I’m not sure why this is a requirement, but I think green food is pretty and gravitate toward it…)

No cook? Check.

Healthy and easy? Check check.

Aaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnddddddddd…my work here is done!

Honey-Ginger Cucumber Salad
My favorite cucumbers to use are the English cucumbers. They have very thin skins so there is no need to peel them, and less seeds inside as well so they are easier to digest. We LOVE them at our house and they are the only kind I buy anymore. SO much easier! Look for them with the rest of the produce; they will be shrink wrapped in plastic to protect them from damage.

2 large English (hothouse) cucumbers, cut into bite sized pieces
1 T honey
1 T red wine vinegar
1 tsp freshly grated ginger, or to taste
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and toss well to evenly distribute the flavors. Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper if needed. If you like the string flavor of fresh ginger, feel free to add a bit more. Chill until ready to serve.

Chicago Style Hot Dogs

These Chicago Style Hot Dogs are perfect for your next summer barbecue! {Brittany's Pantry}Summer just wouldn’t be summer without hot dogs on the menu!

True, it isn’t a food you see on my blog that much, but I have a bit of a confession. I loooooove hot dogs. I really do. The good kind that are really meaty and snap a bit when you bite into them. Yeah. Those kind. Like the good state fair hot dogs of our youth. On a hot summer day when you have been playing hard and everyone is dirty and sweaty and you smell like sunshine, there are few things that taste as good as a really fantastic hot dog.

About a decade or so ago, when my husband was still in the Navy and were living in San Diego, I flew back to Minnesota to visit family and friends. Mike was deployed and I was keeping myself occupied with a long overdue trip home. I ended up taking a train down to central Illinois to see visit our best friends, and of course, Amtrak took me through Chicago. I had several hours to kill before my next departure and I was way past hungry. I kept seeing signs for authentic ‘Chicago Style’ hotdogs and followed my nose right to a booth. These Chicago Style Hot Dogs are perfect for your next summer barbecue! {Brittany's Pantry}You guys. The man behind the counteract my hot dog in half lengthwise, and then fried it on the flattop! I had NEVER seen that before and thought it was so darn genius, I immediately doubled my order. The cook turns back to me and says, “You want a true Chicago dog?” I hesitated just a moment before reluctantly nodding. I had absolutely no clue what that actually meant, but figured, what the heck. You only live once.

I don’t actually remember all the specifics of what was on my hot dog that day, but the whole dill pickle spear and freshly chopped tomatoes stood out enough that I never forgot it. When he picked up a shaker and dusted my plate just before handing it over, I assumed it was pepper, and was surprised when my nose caught a whiff of the spice.

“Was that celery salt?” I asked.

He grinned. “Yeah.”

I looked at my plate and back up at him. “On my hot dogs?”

Now he looked mildly offended. “Yeah.”

I quickly smiled, not wanting to be a lame and bothersome tourist (too late) and chirped out a thank you. I had no idea at the time, but I was about to eat one of my favorite things ever. Sitting by myself in the corner of a little brick walled nook in the middle of Chicago’s Union Station, I ate-nay, inhaled-my first ever Chicago hotdog. The mix of flavors and textures was outrageously satisfying and I couldn’t believe I had been missing out on this my whole life. It made quite an impression and was neatly filed away in my memory as one of those special food moments we all have sprinkled throughout our lives.These Chicago Style Hot Dogs are perfect for your next summer barbecue! {Brittany's Pantry}Fast forward to present day.

A craving for the fresh taste of that meal led me to an impromptu Chicago hot dog night. Now before you get all huffy about what goes on a traditionally classic Chicago dog, let me first say that everyone has an opinion about that. There doesn’t seem to be any single list of ingredients, although there are obviously a few main commonalities. A pickle spear. Chopped tomatoes instead of ketchup. Diced onion. And of course, celery salt. Some add special sauce, others add spicy mustard. For me, my version only covers the main flavors of my original experience. It is easy to recreate and hits the important points. Simple and so tasty, you won’t believe how you ever lived without it.

The best part? I can eat it here the Midlands of South Carolina. No train ticket needed.
These Chicago Style Hot Dogs are perfect for your next summer barbecue! {Brittany's Pantry}These Chicago Style Hot Dogs are perfect for your next summer barbecue! {Brittany's Pantry}How do YOU like your Chicago Style HotDogs?!

Chicago Style Hot Dogs
Do not-I repeat-please do NOT skip the celery salt. I promise it is worth it.

hot dogs
good bakery buns
dill pickle spears
chopped fresh tomatoes
diced onion
celery salt

Assemble your hot dog and sprinkle with the salt. Enjoy!

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #FreschEats #CollectiveBias

This Quick and Easy Broccoli Slaw is the perfect addition to a family pizza night! {Brittany's Pantry}I may feel like it sometimes, but I am not Superwoman.

Like most Moms and Dads, my husband and I can multitask with the best of them. As busy parents, it is a bit of a necessity to be able to do several things at once. I can fold laundry, help my son with his spelling words, supervise my daughters art project (and assist with extra glitter), all while sipping my reheated coffee and stopping my youngest from scaling the rock fireplace. We are talking ninja level skill here. But even I need a bit of help in the kitchen now and then. Yes, I cook 99% of our family meals, but sometimes life has a way of getting in the way. Even when I make meals ahead and tuck them in the freezer, it isn’t always an option when time and energy are at an all time low. So I started keeping a few convenience items around to help me out on my overly scheduled days.

What did we reach for most often? Frozen pizza. We don’t have to leave the house and we discovered a brand that tastes better (yes, better) than anything we could have delivered. Freschetta Pizza has always been a favorite, but now they have new Artisan Crust® Pizzas! Three whole grains in the crust and you can absolutely taste the difference. They bake up in the time it takes me to throw together a healthy side to serve along with it!
This Quick and Easy Broccoli Slaw is the perfect addition to a family pizza night! {Brittany's Pantry} This Quick and Easy Broccoli Slaw is the perfect addition to a family pizza night! {Brittany's Pantry}I buy my Freschetta at Publix and it is easy to locate in the frozen section with all the other pizzas. I love to stock up and right now, all Freschetta pizzas (excluding Gluten-Free) are two for ten dollars from now through the first week of June. Needless to say, my freezer is full! The ingredients are quality and while we have been inhaling the Artisan Crust lately, we often enjoy the Brick Oven and Rising Crust pizzas as well. All I have to do on pizza night is whip up a fresh side to go along with it and dinner is d-o-n-e done. With flavors like Freschetta ® Artisan Chicken and Fire Roasted Vegetable Pizza and my personal favorite, Freschetta ® Artisan Margherita Pizza, it is super easy to find a kind that everyone enjoys! You can check out all the incredible Freschetta products by clicking here. They are also on Facebook, Twitter, and even YouTube!This Quick and Easy Broccoli Slaw is the perfect addition to a family pizza night! {Brittany's Pantry}My family loves a good green salad with our pizza, but lately, I have been trying to branch out. Broccoli slaw has been the answer to busting any green veggie boredom with my kids. So fresh and crunchy and ridiculously healthy, this slaw comes together in the time it takes your kids to set the table. It is heartier than regular slaw so it won’t get soggy like cabbage will. If you previously avoided coleslaw due to the bitterness of the vegetables this is your answer! A light dressing and quick toss and you have the perfect cool and crisp side salad.

Hm. Turns out I am a bit like Superwoman after all.
This Quick and Easy Broccoli Slaw is the perfect addition to a family pizza night! {Brittany's Pantry}This Quick and Easy Broccoli Slaw is the perfect addition to a family pizza night! {Brittany's Pantry}This Quick and Easy Broccoli Slaw is the perfect addition to a family pizza night! {Brittany's Pantry}Quick & Easy Broccoli Slaw

1-12 oz package pre shredded broccoli slaw vegetable mix
1/4 c mayo
1 T sour cream (I use light)
1 T red wine vinegar
1 T honey
salt and pepper to taste

Place the shredded vegetables in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Taste for seasoning. Pour the dressing over the veggies and mix well. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve! Can be made up to 1 hour ahead of time. Enjoy!

This Mexican Casserole is healthy and full of flavor! {Brittany's Pantry}Hello friends!

I have returned from an unexpected, yet much needed hiatus from blogging. It has been several weeks, but if you follow me on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, then you know that I have still been busy in the kitchen.

Whenever I hear the word ‘casserole’ (or ‘hot dish’ if you are like me and grew up in a northern state) I immediately think warm, comforting thoughts. Don’t you? Cozy and hearty and full of flavor? A one dish meal? Absolutely. That is the appeal of a casserole! I know we aren’t supposed to crave these kinds of things now that warmer weather is here, but I can’t help it. If you page through the BP archives you will find more than a few warm weather casseroles. Like this light, summer veggie meal. Simply outstanding with a glass of lemon water on the porch.

This has been added to that list. The list of casseroles I want to eat in summertime. And wintertime. And all the time….

Brown rice and a butt load of veggies make this hearty, but healthy. I try to refrain from going overboard on the cheese, but what ever you do in the privacy of your own home is your business. 🙂 I love to prep the veggies and meat a day ahead of time, making it a cinch to throw together before supper. My family is crazy about the flavors of this dish, so when they smell it in the oven, the drool starts to flow. It also is perfect to make ahead and freeze it, unbaked, for a future meal or a friend in need. Simply put, it is just a familiar combination of flavors in one dish. So feel free to plant that extra zucchini plant this summer. You just might need it for this recipe! This Mexican Casserole is healthy and full of flavor! {Brittany's Pantry}This Mexican Casserole is healthy and full of flavor! {Brittany's Pantry}Mexican Chicken & Rice Casserole
Try using pepper jack cheese in this. It is stellar!

1 c brown rice
2 c chicken broth or water
Cook rice in liquid until done and liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Cover and set aside.

3 small zucchini, cut into bite sized pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large sweet bell pepper, chunked
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 c frozen corn
3 c cooked chicken (from a rotisserie chicken or 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded)
2 c shredded cheddar/jack, colby jack, or whatever mix you like + 1 extra cup for the topping
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 c good chicken broth

In a large saute pan, cook the onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil or butter until just translucent. Add to a large mixing bowl. in the same pan, quickly saute the zucchini and peppers until just hot, but not cooked. Add to the bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and gently mix well. Taste for seasoning (it may need a bit more salt) and if it seems dry, add 1/2 c of chicken broth. Mix well and pour into a casserole dish. Top with additional cheese if you want, and either freeze for later, or put into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, or until hot all the way through and cheese is melted. Enjoy!

Murphy’s Wild Rice

This easy Wild Rice is a family original we have been enjoying for years! So much flavor! {Brittany's Pantry}Memories and the connection food has to them is often the topic of my blog posts.

If you read my site at all, you know that I generally show my love for people by feeding them. I really love to feed people. I need to feed my family and friends. I just want to give all the food to all the people all the time. Maybe I have a bit of Italian grandmother in my heritage….

Life itself needs food to survive and our lives rotate around mealtimes and eating. What better way to show warmth and support and love than to share your table with those you care for most in your life? I have witnessed this unbridled hospitality many times growing up and knew early on that food, while basic in our need for it, can be a powerful thing. Indeed, it has the ability to heal, damage, soothe, and hold us hostage. It can make us crave, ache, and weep with joy. Yes, I could be describing an episode of Downton Abbey, but in this case, I am referring to a really good hamburger. Or a perfectly made apple pie. Or that casserole that only your Mom seems to make juuuuuuuuust right.

Or this wild rice.

Amongst the circle of my family, this rice is rather famous. When you grow up eating something and it becomes part of you and your memories, you assume that everyone will enjoy it as much as you do. How could someone NOT love Aunt Fluffy’s steak and kidney pie? Or Cousin Fred’s lutefisk sandwiches? For example, my husband goes on and ON about how good it is to eat Grape Nuts with coffee instead of milk, and no matter how much he tries to convince me of it, I resist. It never occurs to him that it is weird or strange or, well, icky. It is simply how those in his house ate it and when you love something that much, you want everyone else to love it that much too. Family dishes are as important as our genealogy and as legendary as family lore.

In this case, I learned young that this really IS something everyone loves as much as my family. Relatives, friends, acquaintances, spouses, co-workers, and everyone in-between; they all love this rice. It is most definitely magical.

Why? Because it is simple. Because it has bacon, and it is good. Because it has great texture, and it is good. It is even better leftover and it is very good.

Never had wild rice before? Don’t fret. You cook it just like regular rice. Even though I grew up eating it in Minnesota where it is widely available and a staple in our diet (Ever heard of Creamy Chicken & Wild Rice Soup? Gaaaaaahhhhhhhh) it isn’t all that different from other rice so it transfers well to other regions. It is nutritionally dense and has more protein than any other rice. It is also high in fiber, low in fat, and like all rice, gluten-free.

It is also beautiful, yes? Fluffy and gorgeous, this rice can make your heart beat fast in anticipation! Our favorite way to enjoy it is with anything roasted; duck, turkey, chicken, you name it. It is excellent. It is also perfect with fish of any kind. Piled up on a plate with a veggie makes for an awesome light supper.

I realize that since you have no direct emotional family connection to this dish, it will more than likely not make you weep with joy. However, I DO hope that you will make it for your own legendary family table. For like most food, it tastes better when you share it with family and friends. This easy Wild Rice is a family original we have been enjoying for years! So much flavor! {Brittany's Pantry}Murphy’s Wild Rice
This rice is called Murphy’s because that is my Dad’s name, and he is the one that makes it. Until now, as far as I know, he is the only one that makes it. I was given his blessing when I asked to post it here. It is actually more for my benefit that anything else. I don’t live in the same timezone as my parents and I want to be able to recreate it when the mood strikes. This is even better on day two and it is outrageously good when mixed with scrambled eggs.

1 c wild rice, long grain and still with the outer hull
1/4 lb, 4 slices or so, good smokey bacon, diced small (1/4 inch)
1 small onion, diced small
1 stalk celery, diced small
1/4 c diced mushrooms, fresh or canned
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
cayenne to taste

Cook the wild rice in plenty of boiling water (just like you would pasta) until popped. The rice will split and curl beautifully when it is cooked. This will take 30-40 minutes. Drain well. In the meantime, sauté the bacon until cooked, but not crispy. Add the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper, going light on the salt due to the bacon. Cook over medium-medium low heat until veggies are translucent. You don’t want to fry everything, just sauté. Set aside. When rice is done, mix everything together in a bowl and taste for seasoning. Rice should be peppery and well seasoned, but not garlicky. This can be made a day ahead of time, simply cool and cover. When ready to serve, just microwave with a large pat of butter, stir, and enjoy!

This Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew is gluten-free and paleo to boot! Wonderful to make ahead and put in the freezer or enjoy immediately! Yum! {Brittany's Pantry}If you have been looking for a new winter stew to warm you up, this should be added to your menu!

Spring is around the corner but while most of the country has experienced some beautiful weather, it IS just February. Snow, cold, sub-zero temps, ice storms, chilly wind, and slushy-sloshy weather are still an imminent reality. So keep your eye out for flower buds and the tell tale bobbing of a robin across the lawn, but keep your boots, muffler, and this stew, handy.

The beauty of this recipe is that it is a bit of a chameleon.  You can eat it if you are gluten-free or dairy free, you can freeze it ahead of time if you are busy, and the ingredients are a cinch to prep ahead if you need to have it handy for a weeknight. It is also mostly paleo with a few modifications (read: wine) so depending on how hard core you are, this might work for you. Ultimately, it is incredibly hearty with the sweet potatoes and carrots, but surprisingly light. Warms you up and fills your tummy without weighing you down with any heavy ingredients. It has become a favorite this season at our house and will be part of our menus for years to come! Obviously I had to share it here. That is what this space is for! Making sure you get to see all the best that can come out of my kitchen, making it a bit easier for YOU to create successful edibles out of yours.

Truly scrumptious! Hope you try this one-its a WINNER!

What is YOUR favorite ‘warm me up’ kind of food? Chili? Pasta? Soup? Leave a comment below and share it with us!
This Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew is gluten-free and paleo to boot! Wonderful to make ahead and put in the freezer or enjoy immediately! Yum! {Brittany's Pantry} Chicken & Sweet Potato Stew
Recipe adapted from OAMM

2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks
2 large carrots, cubed (2-3 cups)
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 4 cups)
1 Onion, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 T of butter, olive oil, grapeseed or coconut oil
salt and pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 dried bay leaf
1 c of dry white wine
1-32 oz carton, good quality chicken broth-I like the Swanson low sodium, 99% fat free or use homemade if you can
1 T arrowroot, optional

Add the butter or oil to a large, heavy bottomed stew pot. Brown the chicken over medium heat, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. You want the chicken to get some color on it so don’t crowd the pan or the meat will steam. You may need to do it in batches and it does NOT need to be cooked all the way through. When brown all over, remove to a plate and set aside. If pan is dry, add a bit more butter or oil, and dump in all the veggies. Season with salt and pepper and add the dried thyme. Let cook over medium heat, stirring often, sautéing the veggies, but not letting them burn. When the largest pieces of carrot are just starting to soften, add the white wine and stir, scraping up the bits from the bottom of the pan. This is BIG TIME FLAVOR! Let the wine reduce by half and add the bay leaf, chicken and any juices on the plate, and chicken broth. Stir, bring to a simmer, lower the heat and cover. Now. You can either slip this into a 350 degree oven for a half hour, or let is just slowly simmer away on the stove top. It is up to you. Either way, let it slowly cook until the veggies are just crisp tender. Not too mushy! When you stir it, depending on your veggies and your stove, there maybe a lot of liquid left or not. If you want to thicken any broth left in the pan, add the tablespoon of arrowroot, stir well to dissolve and heat gently until thick. This is totally optional so YOU make the call. If you want to freeze it, cool to room temp and seal in an airtight container. Otherwise just spoon into bowls and enjoy!!

Dairy-Free-Vegetable-Chowder-Brittany's-PantryWhen I think of chowder, I think of heavy, milk and cream laden soups that are nearly as thick as a stew. And, I must admit, that is what I find appealing about them. If you are eating them whilst wistfully gazing out at the sea, then they are even more appealing.

I have been to Seattle several times and each time I try to eat something different. On one such visit, I had some of the local clam chowder. It was solely for the purpose of eating the local fare in an amazing location.  Of course, if you have ever had really good clam chowder in the Pacific Northwest, you know that the salt in the air, the sounds of sea birds, and the spray of the water against the hull of a ferry boat all contribute to the flavor. It is the experience of it as much as the food. Like eating a beignet while walking the streets of the French Quarter in New Orleans or gazing up at the Sears (Willis) Tower in Chicago while digging into a hot dog loaded with chopped tomatoes, onions, celery seed, and a pickle spear. The flavor and the memory are one and the same.

Well, this is not that kind of chowder.

I know! I know! You want a recipe for the heavy, milk and cream laden soup. But that isn’t what is happening today. Nope. Today is the ‘lets make a thick and creamy healthy chowder’ day. Don’t worry. You will thank me latter when you feel great and look fit.
Dairy-Free-Vegetable-Chowder-Brittany's-PantryThe whole she-bang is simple. Bacon + veggies + broth = wonderful goodness. Its a culinary formula for success.

Sometimes, it is the spectacular flavor that pulls you in and that is the deal with this soup. It may look rather plain and nondescript, but it is a classic example of how a few simple ingredients can make something spectacular. In this case, I wanted all of the goodness of a vegetable chowder but due to the dietary limitations of a house guest, it also had to be dairy free. As it turns out, that isn’t really a problem with chowder. No, it may not be traditional but for me, it hits enough of the major characteristics to qualify.  So chowder it is.
Dairy-Free-Vegetable-Chowder-Brittany's-PantryDairy-Free (Gluten-Free) Veggie Chowder
Recipe adapted from here.

6 slices of bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large carrots, chopped
3 large stalks of celery, chopped
2 T olive oil, grapeseed, or coconut oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 bay leaves
1 head of cauliflower chopped, core, leaves, and large stems removed
1-48 oz carton of good quality chicken or vegetable stock
1 HEAPING T arrowroot
1 c plain, unsweetened almond milk or 1 c or regular milk

In a large soup pot, saute the bacon until browned and crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a bowl, and drain off excess fat. Do NOT wipe out the pot! Over medium heat, add the olive oil to the pot along with all the vegetables. Season with the salt and pepper. Stir often to let the veggies start to cook. When they start to steam, add the bay leaves and the stock. Bring the soup up to a slow simmer, and let it cook until the vegetables are cooked, but not mushy. Gently break up the chopped vegetables with a potato masher, and if you choose, blitz it a bit with an immersion blender. Mix the arrowroot and the milk together and slowly stir it into the soup. Let it heat up to a bubble again, taste for seasoning, and serve with crumbled bacon on top.

Pasta W/Vodka Sauce & Spicy Sausage

This Pasta With Vodka Sauce tastes fancy, but it is super easy. Great for a special night! {Brittany's Pantry}It is funny sometimes how things stick with you.

Years ago, (why do so many of my posts start with that…?) I was watching Giada DeLaurentiis make a pasta dish on one of her very first cooking shows, Everyday Italian. They featured the finished product first and it was wonderfully creamy and rich looking. I drooled all over the couch.

Then I heard what it was: Vodka Sauce. I wrinkled my nose and nearly changed the channel, but got caught up in all the adjectives she was using to describe the food. Tangy. Velvety. Smooth. All things I did NOT associate with vodka. So I put off doing whatever it is I was supposed to be doing (probably laundry) and watched.

Ooooh baby. It looked absolutely glorious. I mean, the dish was finished off with heavy cream and cheese. How could that be wrong?! (The correct answer to that is, it can’t.) My favorite part? Four ingredients. Four stinkin’ ingredients and you end up with this lovely, easy to make sauce that tastes extra special. And I have been making it ever since.This Pasta With Vodka Sauce tastes fancy, but it is super easy. Great for a special night! {Brittany's Pantry}I have mentioned before that our family likes to have an extra special pasta dish for our New Years dinner. This seafood one is a major favorite, but today’s recipe would be excellent as well.  It really is a great meal for company and in my experience, adults and kids alike love the flavor. Don’t worry; the alcohol gets cooked out and the bite of the vodka mellows. No one eating this is in danger of getting schnockered. Although, what you do with any leftover vodka is your own business.

Vodka Sauce W/Spicy Sausage
Recipe adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis
I never serve this without the sausage, but obviously, you can omit it. If you don’t have sausage, this is outstanding served alongside grilled chicken. If you want to make it for company but don’t have the time to let the sauce simmer, make it a day or two ahead of time, but stop after you cook down the sauce and the vodka. Let it cool and store it in the fridge.  Before you serve it, warm it gently on the stove and then continue with the recipe, adding the rest of the ingredients.

1 quart homemade or purchased plain marinara sauce
1 c vodka
1/2 c cream
1/2 c freshly grated parmesan cheese
1 lb spicy italian sausage in the casing
1 lb pasta-penne, penne rigati, fettuccine, or linguini all work well
fresh basil for garnish, if desired

In a medium sauce pan, heat the marinara sauce and the vodka together over medium heat. Bring it to a slow simmer and let the liquid evaporate until its thick again. This will take about 30 minutes, depending on your sauce. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions and set aside. Brown the sausages in their casings until cooked through, then slice into coin shaped pieces. Set aside. When the sauce has thickened and the vodka has lost its bite, add the cream. Gently heat through-do not let it bubble- and then stir in the cheese. Heat until cheese is melted and the whole sauce is smooth and creamy. Stir in the sausage and gently toss the whole thing with the pasta until coated evenly. Garnish with basil and serve immediately.

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CornishHenHolidays #CollectiveBias
This Rosemary Orange Glazed Cornish Hens are so easy and a fantastic alternative to a big roast at Christmas! {Brittany's Pantry}This may sound surprising, but cornish hens are kind of nostalgic for me.

My parents are no doubt scratching their heads right now, since I never ate them as a kid. But when my husband and I were first married and moving around during his time in the Navy, I discovered a double pack of cornish hens at the super market. It was cost effective and perfect for just the two of us so I gave them a try. Turns out they were perfect for us. I kept several tucked in the freezer at all times, and when we had company, I just roasted up a few extra. Now, three kids, three states, and three different jobs later, I find that they still make me think of those early honeymoon years.

Of course, I am talking about the Tyson® All Natural Premium Cornish Hens. Easily recognizable and just as scrumptious as they were 15 years ago! This is probably due to the fact that they have no added hormones or steroids. Just a fresh, all natural product. They are widely available, but I found mine at Walmart in the frozen food section. Each hen is individually wrapped, protecting it from freezer burn and frost, so naturally, you can find them next to similar products, such as whole turkeys.This Rosemary Orange Glazed Cornish Hens are so easy and a fantastic alternative to a big roast at Christmas! {Brittany's Pantry}This Rosemary Orange Glazed Cornish Hens are so easy and a fantastic alternative to a big roast at Christmas! {Brittany's Pantry}Look at those beauties! I have been buying this product for a long time, so when they say they are wrapped for protection, they aren’t kidding! Every single hen I have ever eaten has been pulled from the packaging clean and perfect and beautiful. Definitely a sign of quality.

I know they look kind of big in the picture above, but they are just a bit bigger than my husbands hand. Perfect serving size for an adult. We usually cut one in half for my two youngest kids to split, but they love that they each get their own ‘drummie’. They make dinner feel so special but are really wonderfully easy to prepare, which makes them a shoe-in for holiday dinners. When you don’t need to roast (or want to take the time to roast) an enormous turkey, or spiral cut ham the size of Texas, try these cornish hens instead. They cook faster and are much easier to find space for in the oven! They also just naturally have more flavor to them. Wether you roast them like the recipe here, butterfly them and throw them on the grill, or even tuck them in the slow cooker, you won’t be disappointed in your results! This Rosemary Orange Glazed Cornish Hens are so easy and a fantastic alternative to a big roast at Christmas! {Brittany's Pantry}I have mentioned before that I like to use coupons and since we don’t get a daily paper, I rely on my iPhone for discounts. I am a huge fan of the IBotta app which is incredibly easy to use. It has to be if I am going to use it! Want to give it a try? Install the Ibotta app today and get $1.50 cash back when you purchase your Tyson Cornish Hens.

Memories are a powerful thing. While this dish makes me think of those first years as a married woman, it will forever remind my kids of cozy meals and the comforting smell of dinners at home. That is a nostalgic as it gets.
This Rosemary Orange Glazed Cornish Hens are so easy and a fantastic alternative to a big roast at Christmas! {Brittany's Pantry}This Rosemary Orange Glazed Cornish Hens are so easy and a fantastic alternative to a big roast at Christmas! {Brittany's Pantry}This Rosemary Orange Glazed Cornish Hens are so easy and a fantastic alternative to a big roast at Christmas! {Brittany's Pantry}Rosemary-Orange Cornish Hens W/Carrots & Onions
This dish has simple flavors with a simple technique. Roast meat on vegetables and glaze. Badda bing-badda boom.

4-Tyson® All Natural Premium Cornish Hens, thawed
5 large carrots, scraped and cut to the size of snacking sticks
2 large onions, peeled and sliced into rings or half moons
2 large sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 T soft butter
salt and pepper
1 c orange juice
1/4 c pure maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 375. In a large roasting dish, smear the softened butter evenly around the bottom. Add the onions and carrots to the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Pull the leaves off of ONE of the rosemary sprigs, trying to leave them in large clumps. This makes it easier to remove later. Sprinkle them evenly over the vegetables and set the pan aside. Remove the packaging from the cornish hens and discard. No need to rinse these birds! Just tuck the wing tips back and under and place them on the vegetables in the roasting pan. It is fine if the hens touch but they shouldn’t be too crowded. Sprinkle the hens with just a pinch of salt and pepper (inside and out) and place the whole pan in the oven and roast for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small, heavy bottomed sauce pan, simmer the orange juice, syrup and remaining rosemary sprig. Leave the herb whole so that you can remove it in one piece later. Simmer, stirring occasionally until the glaze has reduced by half and has thickened a bit, about 15 minutes, but it depends on your juice and your syrup. Set aside. After 45 minutes, check the hens. The drumsticks should move easily when wiggled and the juices should run clear when you pierce the thick part of the thigh. If not, give the hens another 15-20 minutes. When they are just about finished, brush them liberally with the glaze and let them continue to roast for five minutes. Repeat two more times, watching so that they don’t burn. Then remove the pan and set the birds on a serving platter to rest. Remove the veggies from the dish to a serving bowl with a slotted spoon. If desired, serve the broth over rice on the side. Enjoy!

These Roasted Fall Vegetables are a great side dish! Here are TWO additional ways to enjoy them! {Brittany's Pantry}Brace yourselves. I have news.

There is a misconception that great produce is not available once summer is over. *gasp* I know. Shocking.

Obviously, since you all go to pumpkin patches and apple orchards in September and October, you know that this cannot entirely be the case. Autumn is a favorite time of year for a lot of reasons (fall colors, crisp weather, cute boots…) but I am continually inspired by the rainbow of available items at my local farmers market. The colors and flavors and textures draw me into the kitchen like no other season does. I’m not talking about the heavy, cream laden casseroles and hot dishes, although those are good too. I’m am referring to the stewed, roasted, and braised root veggies and greens that thrive in this chilly weather.

So in turn, to inspire all of YOU, I have TWO (actually three) ways to enjoy a rainbow of vegetables this season. Roasting is easy, classic, and tasty, but it goes beyond just roasting and eating. There are so many different ways to take this dish to the next level, and these are just two of them. What are YOUR favorite ways to enjoy the veggies of the season?
These Roasted Fall Vegetables are a great side dish! Here are TWO additional ways to enjoy them! {Brittany's Pantry}These Roasted Fall Vegetables are a great side dish! Here are TWO additional ways to enjoy them! {Brittany's Pantry}Check out the recipe for Roasted Vegetable Salad and Roasted Veggie Pasta over at the Columbia City Moms Blog!


Hot German Potato Salad

Easy Hot German Potato Salad via Brittany's Pantry makes Oktoberfest especially delicious!Oktoberfest may be almost over, but there is still a week or two to sneak some german inspired dishes into your menus!

But this isn’t just any german dish. This is a family recipe that has been enjoyed for generations. As a kid, my parents made this throughout the colder months of fall and winter (and spring…) and to be honest, I never appreciated it then. I didn’t used to be a fan of tangy, vinegary recipes. Thankfully, I grew out of that and as an adult, I am trying to make up for lost time. Better late than never right? I am very grateful that my kids inherited my love of food!

I actually have significant german ancestry, as does my husband, and while I have ever been very motivated to celebrate Oktoberfest anytime before, I wanted to put together a menu and do something special this year. Unfortunately, our plans for this past weekend were cancelled due to weather (two weeks of rain+hurricane Joaquin=our current situation here in Columbia, SC) but just before our power went out, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I made Sauerbraten with big fat noodles and huge piles of these potatoes on the side. Rest assured, there was also beer.

It is hard to convey the sheer abundance of flavors in this warm salad. It bursts with creamy, salty, tangy, and sour with just a bit of sweet. It goes wonderfully with anything roasted, stays warm for quite awhile when covered well, and reheats great. There aren’t too many ingredients, and once the potatoes are boiled, it comes together quite quickly. At its base, it is just a simple dish. Handed down through the family, I will continue to make it for my own, paying homage to our heritage is small, tasty ways.
Easy Hot German Potato Salad via Brittany's Pantry makes Oktoberfest especially delicious!Easy Hot German Potato Salad via Brittany's Pantry makes Oktoberfest especially delicious!Hot German Potato Salad
Grilled brats, simmered in beer and onions, are so good with this it may render you speechless with joy.

9 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed into bite sized pieces
1/2 lb bacon, diced
1 small onion, minced
2 T flour
2 T sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp celery seed
2/3 c water
1/3 c white vinegar

Cook potatoes until just tender. Drain and set aside. In a large skillet, fry and brown the bacon pieces until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour off all but 2 T of the bacon grease. Add the onions to the skillet and sauté over medium heat until translucent, but not fried. Add the flour and whisk or stir until combined and smooth, continuing to cook until the flour flavor is gone, about one minute. Add the sugar, salt, celery seed and stir. Pour in the water and vinegar and stir or whisk until smooth and thick. Turn off the heat and add the potatoes and bacon, gently string to coat the potatoes well. Taste for seasoning as it may need salt. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm. Enjoy!

Spicy White Bean Dip W/Sriracha

This Spicy Bean Dip is creamy and light without being overwhelming. Great as a snack or appetizer for a crowd on GAME DAY!! {Brittany's Pantry}Have you ever read the description of a dish or read the ingredient list and you just knew it was going to be good?

I do that all time.  Like when I check out the recipe for a chocolate cake and I see the words sour cream, cocoa, coffee, ganache, and vanilla.  Yeah.  You know its gonna be outstanding.  Or a beef stew that has the words red wine and fresh rosemary tucked amongst the potatoes and onions.  Mmm.  You can almost taste it, right?  It is the same reason your mouth starts to salivate when you hear the words apple pie or pumpkin spice latte.  You already know what is in it and that it will be fantastic.

This dip is kind of like that.  Spice, lime, garlic, sesame, curry…mmmm.  For those of you that are looking for a bit of a change from the hummus scene, I got your back.  If you are obsessed with all things spicy and, well…we’ll just say it…Sriracha…then you are covered with this one.  If you are gluten free and love variety in your diet, then here ya go!  And if your house is the place to be for every football game from now until the Super Bowl because of your 879 million inch flat screen and make-ahead snacks with a kick are totally singing your song, well then I am playing your tune amigo!!
This Spicy Bean Dip is creamy and light without being overwhelming. Great as a snack or appetizer for a crowd on GAME DAY!! {Brittany's Pantry}I am not usually into food trends, but it is hard to avoid Sriracha right now.  And for good reason, since it is quite fantastic.  It was around a long time before it became the most famous condiment EVER and it will be around long after the foodie world has moved onto something else.  But don’t burn out on it because the flavor of this stuff is really spectacular.  Spicy, yes, but vinegary and earthy at the same time.  Not just any hot sauce, so don’t be fooled.  It is just good stuff.

The combination of flavors in the finished dip here is a little bit asian and a little bit mediterranean.  A nice fusion that is perfect with the flavor of the hot sauce and makes for a light and creamy dip.  My kids inhale this just as much as my husband and his friends do, so don’t be put off by the Sriracha in the title.  YOU control the heat and since you can dip nearly anything in it short of shoe leather and have it taste good, it covers all your bases.  If you are thinking this would be awesome at your upcoming Halloween party, you would be right. Adding this to your menu for game day and toting it along to a holiday party or two would also be in order.  Check YOU out being all trendy and stuff!
This Spicy Bean Dip is creamy and light without being overwhelming. Great as a snack or appetizer for a crowd on GAME DAY!! {Brittany's Pantry}White Bean Dip W/Sriracha
Recipe adapted from White On Rice Couple
This is great served with just about anything.  It is also fantastic on a tortilla with chicken or wrapped up with some deli turkey.  Spread it on toast with tomato and avocado and gaaaaaaah.

In the bowl of a food processor, add:
2 (15 oz) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T lime juice
1 heaping tsp chopped garlic
2 tsp sesame oil
1 T soy sauce-I prefer low sodium
2 T Sriracha, or to taste
1 tsp curry powder
1 T water

Blend all ingredients together until smooth.  Add water by teaspoonfuls if it is too thick.  Scrape sides of the processor and combine well. Serve with crackers, pretzels, and various veggies.  Enjoy!

Lemon-Mustard Baked Chicken

Lemon Mustard Baked Chicken is a wonderfully easy weeknight meal! {Brittany's Pantry}Some recipes are just born out of necessity. For example, I have 80 pounds of chicken in my freezer. I have the need for chicken recipes.

Several months ago, I decided to start buying my meat in bulk and wholesale off the back of a truck. I swear it is much less shady than it sounds…

We are loving the convenience of it, but occasionally, I start to abandon my regular recipe rotation and randomly seek out something new. Something different. Something with zing. Years ago, I made chicken similar to this from a recipe I found in a Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. I have no idea what the full recipe was, but I recreated it again from memory with great success. It combines two of my favorite items to use in marinades and sauces: lemon and mustard. Packed with flavor and that tangy zing, these two ingredients add very few calories to a dish, but bring the taste factor over the top. There are few additions that pack such a flavorful punch and that is exactly what they do to this chickie. Give it a PUNCH.

This dish is great for a weeknight because you can let it marinade for a few hours, or just smear the sauce on it and throw it in the oven. It comes out equally wonderful either way. A few pantry and fridge ingredients that are always on hand and dinner is done. It goes great with just about anything you can throw at it; potatoes, pasta, veggies, salad, rice, or whatever leftovers you pull from the icebox. Speaking of leftovers, this chicken, cold and diced and thrown on a salad is pretty darn fantastic. Almost as fantastic as having 80 pounds of meat in your freezer.
Lemon Mustard Baked Chicken is a wonderfully easy weeknight meal! {Brittany's Pantry}Lemon Mustard Baked Chicken is a wonderfully easy weeknight meal! {Brittany's Pantry}Lemon Mustard Baked Chicken is a wonderfully easy weeknight meal! {Brittany's Pantry}Lemon-Mustard Baked Chicken
Adapted from a memory I have of a recipe in BHG. 🙂
You have several options with this recipe. Add the marinade and freeze the unbaked chicken for later, or follow the directions, but grill instead of bake. Roasted potatoes are so good with this chicken, it is down right criminal. Double the recipe and make it the main player in a meal for company! Just watch how much salt you add. My lemon pepper mix from the the store has no salt added, but every brand is different.

3 large, boneless-skinless chicken breasts, or 4 medium to small
1/4 c of extra virgin olive oil, grapeseed oil, or coconut oil
1 T dijon mustard
1 T lemon juice
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1 tsp dried oregano
large pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix all of the ingredients (except chicken, duh) in a small bowl and pour over the meat. Turn to coat and let marinade for 2 hours if possible.  Place into a large baking dish and roast until just cooked through, about 30 minutes.  Roasting time will depend on how large or thick your chicken pieces are.  Try not to over cook!  Let cool a bit, slice, and enjoy!

This Paleo Pizza Casserole is rich, creamy, and totally healthy! {Brittany's Pantry}This recipe.  *sigh* I tell ya… This recipe is a supahstar! (Said in my best Molly Shannon voice from SNL.) If you have never tried spaghetti squash before, this is your recipe!  Read on!

Truthfully, I have never been a big fan of spaghetti squash. I have only tried it a few times before, and the results were kind of underwhelming. But when my sister, the gorgeous and ridiculously fit woman behind the Instagram account @j_rose_fitness told me that she just HAD to make this dish for the family, I agreed wholeheartedly.  Because, really…I never turn down free food.

And holy WOW!  It has surpassed chicken spaghetti as my new favorite casserole and totally changed my initial impression of spaghetti squash.  Apparently I was making it wrong before, because there is certainly nothing wrong with this dish! It is incredibly creamy and the flavor here is over the top outstanding.  My favorite part is that we can make it different every single time.  Notice the title? Pizza casserole.  Meaning the ingredients change based on what you like on your pizza! In the above pic you can see green olives, sausage and mushrooms peeking out. That just happens to be the ‘pizza’ combo we made this time, but the possibilities are endless! This Paleo Pizza Casserole is rich, creamy, and totally healthy! {Brittany's Pantry}Yes, this recipe happens to be paleo, gluten free, and dairy free, but those are really just labels for people with food sensitivities and allergies. It is so hearty and so dang comforting that it actually tastes indulgent.  Like you are sinking your teeth into something sinful!  So wether you are watching what you eat or not, I recommend giving this a try. I have added it to the menu for several upcoming events where I am hosting kids and adults alike, both of which have issues with food. Spicy or mild, crazy or simple, I can mix it up ahead of time and leave my hands free to entertain.  It makes a giant pan so it feeds a crowd.  Or as I discovered, just our family of five with only ONE serving for leftovers! I honestly have no idea if it freezes well because we always eat it, but that is on my list of things to experiment with soon.

Have YOU ever tried spaghetti squash?  How did you eat it?
This Paleo Pizza Casserole is rich, creamy, and totally healthy! {Brittany's Pantry}Just before going in the oven.  Kinda pretty, right?
This Paleo Pizza Casserole is rich, creamy, and totally healthy! {Brittany's Pantry}This Paleo Pizza Casserole is rich, creamy, and totally healthy! {Brittany's Pantry}Just out of the oven! And yes, it is incredibly difficult to not snitch a bite of crispy pepperoni off the top! You can’t believe how incredible this smells!!
This Paleo Pizza Casserole is rich, creamy, and totally healthy! {Brittany's Pantry}This Paleo Pizza Casserole is rich, creamy, and totally healthy! {Brittany's Pantry}Paleo & GF Pizza Casserole 
Recipe from JRoseFitness, inspired by PaleOMG
Any matter of desired meats or veggies can be mixed into this casserole.  The ingredients below are what WE like.  Use your imagination and come up with a tasty combination!

1 large spaghetti squash
2 c store bought or homemade marinara sauce or pizza sauce
1 lb Italian sausage, sweet or spicy, browned, crumbled, and drained of excess grease
1 lb portabella or shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 large sweet bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c sliced black or green olives
Pepperoni slices, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Halve the spaghetti squash lengthwise and scrape out the seeds.  Lay the two halves cut side down in a lined sheet pan and bake until soft when pressed with a finger, or a knife slides in easily.  Remove and set aside until cool enough to handle.  Meanwhile, brown the mushrooms, onion, and pepper in a bit of olive oil until just starting to soften.  Set aside.  When the squash is cool enough to hold, use a large fork to scrape the squash (it will come out in strings looking like spaghetti-hence, spaghetti squash) into a large bowl, separating the threads as you go.  Leave the oven on, and spray or butter a large, 9X13 glass baking dish. Add the sauce, sausage, veggie mixture, eggs, and olives to the bowl, mixing thoroughly.  Pour the whole thing into the prepared dish and smooth the top flat.  If desired, and I highly recommend it, cover the top with slices of pepperoni, overlapping slightly.  Bake the whole casserole in the oven until the center is hot and it is all evenly browned and crispy on top, about 30 minutes.  Let sit for a few minutes to settle and then scoop and enjoy! Top with grated parm if you so desire!