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!

Grilled Tomato & Bacon Bruschetta

Grilled Tomato & Bacon Bruschetta from Brittany's Pantry Living in South Carolina means lots of sunshine and an abundance of outdoor living spaces. My family and I, along with any guests that stop by, are most often on the porch enjoying the breezes, so whenever I have the opportunity to make meals outside and not heat up the house, I take it. Cooking outdoors allows me to spend more time with those I love, and to impart a little extra flavor into my food. And when I grill, I like to do it as simply as possible.

This recipe hits all of those points!

There are few things as good as fresh from the garden tomatoes. But some would argue, myself included, that the occasional addition of bacon only improves things. This is definitely one of those times. This simply grilled bread is just toasty enough to stand up to the tomatoes and give this snack a nice, toothy crunch.  Topped with summer tomatoes and salty bacon, this appetizer or first course could easily become a light dinner.  Prep the ingredients ahead of time and it becomes a fuss free dish you could make with your eyes closed.  Around here, an enormous glass of sweet tea (lots of ice) makes the perfect partner to a platter of this bruschetta, but I’ll let you make that call.

What is YOUR favorite dish to grill and what kind of cold drink to you enjoy it with?
Grilled Tomato & Bacon Bruschetta from Brittany's Pantry Grilled Tomato & Bacon Bruschetta from Brittany's Pantry Grilled Tomato & Bacon Bruschetta
This is an easy dish to prep ahead. Make the tomato topping and set aside until ready to serve.  Slice the bread and wrap well to keep fresh, and crumble or chop the bacon and set aside as well.  Have all the ingredients sitting out at room temp and waiting for you.  When you are ready to make it, brush the bread, grill, top, and serve-all in a matter of minutes!

1 lb bacon, fried till crispy
1/2 of a 1lb loaf of whole grain Italian baguette, or similar bread, cut into half inch slices (this will give you about a dozen slices)
3 large, vine ripe, preferably local tomatoes, chopped
small pinch of salt
large pinch of ground black pepper
2 T of olive oil
1 tsp of balsamic vinegar

When the bacon is cool, chop or crumble and set aside. Gently toss the tomatoes, salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar together in small bowl.  Set aside. Lightly brush both sides of the bread with olive oil and grill over medium high heat, just until toasted and grill marks appear. THIS WILL NOT TAKE LONG! A minute at most! Flip the bread to toast the other side. Remove the toast to a platter and top with large spoonfuls of the tomato mixture. Sprinkle with bacon and serve immediately.
Note: Topped with a fried egg, these make an awesome dish for brunch!

Spicy Chicken Tacos

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.
#GrillWithATwist #CollectiveBiasSpicy Chicken Tacos via Brittany's Pantry are healthier than you may think!Yes, these amazing tacos are as good as they look and YES, they are healthier than you think! Score!

The above dish is actually vegetarian, thanks to a little help from MorningStar Farms! I have long been a fan of their veggie cuisine and my kids count the chicken nuggets among their personal favorites. I keep them stocked in my freezer for quick lunches at home and add them to their plates with sweet, bell pepper strips, cottage cheese, and a pile of berries.

That convenience stretches out during the summer too! Wether I am cooking on the grill or just trying to incorporate as many fresh, summer foods into the menu as possible, I like to make sure all my guests have something they can eat, regardless of food preferences. Enter these incredibly kicked up chicken tacos!  They satisfy everyone with one spectacular meal!

I purchased all of the items for this recipe at my all time favorite store-Target.  So it basically means I have a one stop shopping trip, since I am always in Target anyway!  *sigh*  Aren’t we all…?
IMG_5459I found my MorningStar Farms product in the meat and seafood portion of the frozen section and am thrilled that they always have such a huge variety!
IMG_5458They also happened to be on sale the day I went shopping so you can BET that I stocked up.  I often incorporate meatless meals into our menu rotation for health reasons, variety, and also to keep my grocery budget on target.  The cool thing is that MorningStar Farms has a Veg of Allegiance program where you can pledge to skip the meat for a voluntary number of meals!  To learn fun facts, take the pledge yourself, and even earn awesome prizes, click on the link and learn more about it!

This particular recipe is a bit spicy due to the addition of Sriracha, but even my kids scarfed it down.  It takes a few ingredients and elevates them to something you would order at a little tex mex restaurant.  But WAY cheaper and much easier than having to leave your house.  Be sure to make plenty, as it seems to require a very large platter to keep up with demand!
Spicy Chicken Tacos via Brittany's Pantry are healthier than you may think!Spicy Chicken Tacos via Brittany's Pantry are healthier than you may think!Spicy Chicken Tacos
Just a a few simple ingredients is all it takes for this recipe.  Minimal ingredients but maximum flavor!

4 MorningStar Farms Original Chicken Patties, cooked according to package directions
3 c of shredded coleslaw mix (about 1/2 of a one pound bag)
1/4 c mayo
1 T Sriracha
1 T lime juice
8 corn tortillas
extra lime wedges for serving

While chicken patties cook, toss the coleslaw mix, and next three ingredients together in a bowl until evenly mixed.  Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.  Slice the chicken into strips. Gently toast the corn tortillas one at a time in a dry pan over medium heat, flipping the tortillas when one side is barely browned. Immediately, but carefully as they are a bit warm, layer a few pieces of chicken in the center of the tortilla and top with about 1/4 c of spicy slaw mixture.  Serve with extra lime for squeezing!

Tangy Tuna Salad W/Avocado & Capers

This Tangy Tuna Salad goes perfectly with the cool and creamy avocado!  Scrumptious and gluten free, this is a the perfect lunch dish! {Brittany's Pantry}Capers and I have a thing going.  Its a love-hate thing.  Well, ok.  Mostly love.

Fine.  All love.  Its an all love thing.  I love capers.

But doesn’t everyone?  If you haven’t tried them, they are actually little buds that have been pickled and brined.  They have a sharp, tangy little bite like a pickle, but its more vinegary.  They are a fantastic accent to SO many foods, and the recipe above has been my obsession for a few months now.  I canNOT stop eating this.
This Tangy Tuna Salad goes perfectly with the cool and creamy avocado!  Scrumptious and gluten free, this is a the perfect lunch dish! {Brittany's Pantry}It started one day when I wanted egg salad, but I also wanted tuna salad.  So I combined the two and started tossing things in.  I tried lemon juice; it was too sour in here.  I tried sour cream, but it ended up making everything too creamy.  I wanted chunkiness that I could pile on a fork.  Not in the mood for bread, I started dumping my mixture over avocados.  The tomatoes on the side are not part of the recipe, but I have to say, they are absolutely outstanding with this so be sure to serve some alongside.

Mound this stuff on a bagel, whole grain bread, crackers, or keep it real and eat it out of the bowl.  Wonderfully satisfying and full of nutrition, this dish might have you starting your own relationship with capers. *sigh* Welcome to the club.
This Tangy Tuna Salad goes perfectly with the cool and creamy avocado!  Scrumptious and gluten free, this is a the perfect lunch dish! {Brittany's Pantry}Tangy Tuna Salad W/Avocado & Capers
Note: This serves one person.  When I double the recipe, I can easily feed myself and my three kids. It is also incredible using salmon, but the flavor of the tuna works better here.

1 individual tuna pouch (about 2-3 oz)
2 hard boiled eggs, one yolk discarded
1 T capers, drained
1 T good mayo
pinch of salt
ground pepper to taste
1/2 whole avocado, peeled
fresh tomatoes & crackers for serving

In a medium bowl, mash the tuna and eggs together until broken up.  Add the mayo, capers, and seasoning, and toss gently with a fork until combined. Serve the tuna salad over the avocado and serve with tomatoes etc.

Quick Korean Beef

Quick Korean Beef via Brittany's PantryAaaah!  I’m back!  Between moving to the new house and the loss of all electronics (including internet), I have returned with an arsenal of incredible recipes to share with you!

First on the list this summer is this Korean Beef.  Oh. My. Lanta.  This is good.  And I mean, really good. My kids inhale it and my guests devour it. It has incredible flavor with just a few ingredients and you can make the whole she-bang in about 20 minutes.  Tops.  Is that not a beautiful thing?  Its a beautiful thing.  Pictures of the new house (and my new kitchen), coming soon. :)
Quick Korean Beef via Brittany's PantryQuick Korean Beef via Brittany's PantryQuick Korean Beef via Brittany's PantryQuick Korean Beef
Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything
I have been meaning to try this with honey instead of brown sugar, but haven’t yet.  Let me know if you give it a go!

1-1.5 pounds of lean ground beef (I err on the side of more…)
1 small onion, or half of a large onion, diced small
1/4 c brown sugar
1/4 c low sodium soy sauce
1 T sesame oil
1 heaping tsp of gated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
large pinch of dried red pepper flakes
cooked brown rice for serving
green onions or parsley for garnish, if desired

In a small liquid measuring cup, combine the sugar, soy sauce, oil, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  Set aside.  In a large skillet, brown the beef and the onion together until cooked through.  Drain off excess fat if necessary.  Over medium low heat, add the sauce mixture and stir well, heating until it coats the beef and evaporates a bit.  Serve over brown rice and garnish with green onions or parsley.

Quick-Chicken-Asparagus-Lettuce-Wraps-Brittany's-PantrySpring has sprung here in South Carolina and like everyone else, our house is excited! For me, this is doubly so ever since I found out I can grow asparagus.

When we moved to the south, we decided to stick to our family dream and purchase land.  A parcel of property large enough for the kids to explore, hike on, take four wheeling rides through, and of course, big enough for a large garden.  I want chickens too, but that is another post.  *grin*

Now is the time of year to get our plows moving and start planting, but the red clay, granite boulders, and the abundance of trees has us on pause as to exactly how we are going to execute said garden.  We figured no matter how delayed we were, we would at least get the asparagus planted.  It takes a year or two for asparagus to start really producing so we didn’t want to waste any time!  When I started asking friends in the area how well their asparagus faired, I was unprepared for the blank stares, perplexed looks, and general confusion of the question.  Not one person I knew grew asparagus, knew how to grow asparagus, or had ever seen asparagus growing, much less growing in South Carolina.

Panic set in.

Would I ever be able to fulfill my dream of creating my own asparagus field, thereby guaranteeing that I would have a bumper crop of wonderfulness to roast and grill every spring?  Had we moved to the south and built our dream home on our dream land only to live our lives eating asparagus imported from (gulp) Indiana?  Would my children ever know the satisfaction of walking among the tall, bright green fronds of asparagus plants and delight in the knowledge that below them grew stalks of a vegetable so stupendous it could be used as currency in some countries?

It turns out, yes.  Yes we would.

Asparagus grows great in the south and while we will have some adjusting to do with our soil, further research led me to the see that not only is it abundant here, but that clearly my friends haven’t been spending enough time out of doors.

With my future asparagus needs secured, I turned my attention to eating it.  Cold, hot, snappy, or creamed into a soup, I love it in any form.  I often blanch the stalks in boiling water for a bit after I bring them home and then save them, all set to go, to use later in the week.  It was with this in mind that I decided to create these quick lettuce wraps.  So fresh and so full of flavor; I foresee them becoming as much of a favorite in your house as they have in mine.  The bright colors and crisp texture just scream the word ‘spring’ and the quick prep time fits the craziness of our schedule as the school year winds down.  Simply scrumptious.

Now.  Can anyone tell me if rhubarb grows in the South…?

Want to make my Quick Chicken-Asparagus Lettuce Wraps?  Click here to get my original recipe created exclusively for BonBonBreak.com!  But don’t stop there!  Asparagus can be used in a bazillion different ways.

How do YOU cook your asparagus?  What is your favorite way to enjoy this spring vegetable?

Sweet Pineapple Casserole

Sweet Pineapple Casserole is a cross between bread pudding and pineapple upside down cake!  And it goes great with HAM! {Brittany's Pantry}Just a quick post to pass along a favorite side dish recipe.  Just in time for Easter!

About a bazillion years ago, a sweet southern woman served me this kind of baked, scalloped, pineapple, bread, thing.  I was hooked.  I have no idea what she called it, but we ate it with breakfast and I have been dreaming about it ever since.  With a holiday coming up that has a meal traditionally centered around ham, I thought this was the perfect time to bring that tasty memory to reality.

To be honest, I don’t really remember if this is anything like the version I ate all those years ago, but I love it so much I don’t really care anymore.  This stuff is addictive.  In the past few weeks, I have eaten it with burgers, breakfast, and yes, some roasted meat.  All good.  All very very good.  It is like the jack-of-all-trades of the side dish world.  I’ve seen this wonderfulness served with Thanksgiving dinner as well as brunch.  It is at home alongside quiche as well as barbecue.  And yes, you can be sure it will be crazy good with that ham you will be making in a few days.

Pineapple and ham?  Perfect.
Sweet Pineapple Casserole is a cross between bread pudding and pineapple upside down cake!  And it goes great with HAM! {Brittany's Pantry}Sweet Pineapple Casserole

1 stick of butter (1/2 c) of softened butter
1 c sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1-20 oz can of chunked pineapple, drained
1 small loaf of french bread, cut into 1 inch chunks (4-5 cups)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray or butter a small casserole dish or glass 9X9 dish.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until incorporated.  Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Fold in the pineapple and the bread cubes until well mixed and bread is coated.  Pour into greased dish and spread evenly.  Bake until bubbly in the center and golden brown on top, 35-40 minutes.  Enjoy!

Savory Chicken Chile Hand Pies

Savory Chicken Chile Hand Pies via Brittany's PantryOne of the things I realized after having children is that anything that is able to be eaten with your hands is golden.  Instant success, friends.

Come to think of it, this may be true across the board with adults as well as kids, hence our continued obsession with all things ‘on a stick’ at the summer festivals.  But there is something incredibly appealing about being able to walk and munch at the same time.  Is it because finger foods are so cute?  Its fun?  We like doing two things at once?  Whatever the reason, these cheesy little pockets of goodness satisfy that need we all have to multitask.

Made with convenient, ready-made pie crusts, this dinner/lunch comes together faster than you would think.  They are just a tiny bit spicy, but not enough to turn anyone off.  Crispy and gooey and warm and satisfying.  A portable little meal.  Perfect for to enjoy while vacuuming.  Or folding laundry.  Or walking the dog…

Find the recipe and more photos over on the Columbia City Moms Blog website.


Crockpot Corned Beef & Cabbage is so easy to make, you are going to want to have it year round! {Brittany's Pantry}I bought a new crockpot today. *sigh* Its a beauty.

It is stainless-steel and black and holds up to 7 quarts of glorious food.  At more than double the size of my regular one, it was definitely an overdue purchase.  So what was the first thing I made in it?  Why, Corned Beef and Cabbage of course!  A lot of corned beef and cabbage.  The bigger our family gets, the more I need to adjust the portions I plan for when grocery shopping.  Hence, this recipe that calls for a 5 lb roast!  In a few more years, I’m going to need to upgrade again, but for now, this is perfect for a family of 5 or 6 with extra for leftovers.

With St. Patricks Day just around the corner, adding this to your menu is a must and this version is so darn easy and so simply classic that you will want to make it year round.  It is good.  Really good.  I use minimal ingredients and let the flavors of the beef and the beer do all the seasoning.  This is pretty much the most simple way to make this dish, EVER.  It is very hands off and you are rewarded with melt in your mouth goodness.  Literally.  Melt. In. Your. Mouth.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to go polish my new crockpot.
Crockpot Corned Beef & Cabbage is so easy to make, you are going to want to have it year round! {Brittany's Pantry}Easy Crockpot Corned Beef & Cabbage
This recipe is not rocket science so adjust it to what you have.  I happened to have a bunch of baking potatoes left so I used those.  If you have little round roasting potatoes, those are fine too.  A bag of baby carrots to use up?  Throw them in.  Feel free to add as many veggies as you can fit in the crockpot.  It will all cook down.

3 lbs potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
1 large onion, sliced
5 large carrots, peeled, trimmed, and halved
1 (4-5 lb) corned beef brisket, including spice packet
1 bottle of beer, preferably something pale
Water to fill the slow cooker
1 small green cabbage, outer leaves discarded

In a large slow cooker, at least 6 quarts, place the potatoes, onion, and carrots in the bottom of the crock.  Place the meat on top of the veggies and sprinkle the spice packet over top.  Pour in the beer, and add water until it comes up about an inch from the top of the crock, not quite covering the meat.  Cut the cabbage in half, cut out the core, and then slice each half into thirds.  Place the cabbage around the edges of the meat, snuggling them down into the liquid if you can.  Cover, and set the slow cooker on hight for 6-7 hours, or until the cabbage is nicely steamed and the meat starts to shred with a fork.  Remove the meat with a tongs to a cutting board and let rest for a minute.  With a slotted spoon or tongs, remove the veggies to a platter as well, leaving the liquid in the crock.  Slice the meat crosswise, on the bias, in the opposite direction of the grain.  Make the slices thin to keep the bites tender, about a half an inch.  Serve meat and veggies together!

College Pasta

College Pasta is an easy, one dish meal that is reminiscent of Momma's kitchen, no matter where you may be! {Brittany's Pantry}Have you ever noticed that the dishes that grace your table are such a representation of your life that it is almost like a culinary scrapbook.  Let me explain…

Years ago when I was in college (go figure), I lived in an old, yellow house just off campus.  The floor was so slanted that when I walked across the kitchen, my ears would pop due to the change in elevation.  My three roommates were also my three close friends and all of them were from Wisconsin.  I tried not to hold that against them.  We had a blast in that house and tried not to mind the lack of air conditioning or adequate heat.

I did my fair share of cooking and baking in that house and my roommates, none of them slackers in the kitchen, contributed quite a bit as well.  My friend Tai used to make this pasta, cottage cheese, and marinara sauce thingy and I loooooooved it.  I can actually remember the moment I walked into the kitchen and Tai handed me a hot plate of this pasta.  I noticed was that it was made with these curly little lasagna noodles that I had never seen before.  But let me tell you.  They make all the difference in the world.  I swear it doesn’t taste the same if you use a different kind of pasta.  It was so easy and so scrumptious that we would all munch it down by the plateful.  If I remember correctly, it was just a regular dinner her mom used to make but was easy and economical enough that it was perfectly practical for four, busy college women living under one roof.  Mmmmm.

Like all good meals, this has stayed with me.  I have tweaked the original a bit and made it more of a full dish, but to me, the essence is the same.  The creamy tang from the white sauce on the noodles is incredibly fantastic with the red sauce.  My husband and kids agree.  And so, I serve this meal to my family and end up telling goofy stories about my college days because that is where it came from.  Just like Lemon Bars can spark conversations about my Mother.  Or the fact that I make roast beef in my slow cooker because of the recipe I got from a little old lady at the military commissary when we lived in San Diego.  It is all a patchwork of our experiences and our personal history.

And I love to share mine with you.  Curly lasagna noodles and all.College Pasta is an easy, one dish meal that is reminiscent of Momma's kitchen, no matter where you may be! {Brittany's Pantry}College Pasta is an easy, one dish meal that is reminiscent of Momma's kitchen, no matter where you may be! {Brittany's Pantry}College Pasta is an easy, one dish meal that is reminiscent of Momma's kitchen, no matter where you may be! {Brittany's Pantry} College Pasta
I have fancied up this dish a bit.  The ingredient list was less than half of this when we made it way back when.

1 lb, curly, mini lasagna noodles, cooked according to package directions
1 lb ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, diced
1 quart store-bought or homemade marinara sauce
2 c cottage cheese
2 c sour cream
1 tsp dried italian seasoning
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350.
While the pasta cooks, brown the beef in a sauté pan with the onions and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  When cooked through, drain fat if needed, and add the marinara sauce.  Stir to combine and set aside.  When the pasta is finished cooking, drain and dump into a large bowl.  Add the sour cream, cottage cheese, and italian seasoning, and stir well.  Season with salt and pepper.  Lightly spray or butter a large, rectangle baking dish and spread the pasta mixture evenly on the bottom.  Pour the meat sauce over top and smooth it out to the edges.  Bake in the oven just until hot all the way through, 20-30 minutes.  When it is done, top with mozzarella cheese, return it to the oven, and then turn the oven off, allowing the heat to gently melt the top.  Scoop and serve!

Rice & Noodle Pilaf

Rice and Noodle Pilaf is a quick side dish to make anytime! {Brittany's Pantry}You can never have too may side dishes in your menu arsenal.  You can also never have too many quick and easy side dishes that go with everything.  As you may have guessed, that is what this is.  It never hurts to state the obvious.

It is easy to slip into a rut when it comes to meals and making the same old veggies or potatoes with your meal is a common gripe I get emails about.  As a gal who is kind of addicted to variety in my food, I totally understand.  I don’t mind leftovers, but I often will wait several months before making a dish a second time.  There are just too many foods out there to try and make and experiment with and enjoy!  Why limit yourself and repeat?

That said, I run into the same issues everyone else does.  Budget, time limits, busy lives, etc all play a factor in my menu planning.  Earlier this month I shared a recipe for jazzing up store-bought marinara sauce.  I pull out that method when I am in a hurry and have limited ingredients.  This side dish is similar, in that it uses pantry ingredients and is incredibly inexpensive.  While my husband and I continue to build our new home, our schedules are often interrupted, thus ruining my careful planning.  I am also faced with the current challenge of trying to feed our family of five on a fairly fixed budget.  To that end, I am trying to take advantage of what I already have available in the house.   That has been my goal recently and this dish couldn’t be more perfect.

I have been making it for a few years now and it never fails to fill in any gaps in my menus.  Kids love it, adults love it, and the simplicity lends itself to just about anything you can think of to serve it with.  Exactly what I need.  Think of it as a rice and noodle lifeline that you can tie together into a little rope to pull you up and out of that menu rut you may be in!

Rice and Noodle Pilaf is a quick side dish to make anytime! {Brittany's Pantry}Rice and Noodle Pilaf is a quick side dish to make anytime! {Brittany's Pantry}Rice & Noodle Pilaf
Recipe adapted from Mad Hungry

2 T butter
1 small onion, diced small
1/2 c dried angel hair, vermicelli, or thin spaghetti noodles, broken into small pieces
1 1/2 c white rice
3 c chicken broth or water
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saute pan with a lid, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté until translucent and cooked, about 5 minutes.  Don’t let them brown!  Add the dried pasta and stir it all together until toasted and fragrant.  Add the rice and stir in the liquid.  Bring to a boil stirring often, then lower the heat to slow simmer, cover, and let bubble until cooked and all the liquid is absorbed-about 20 minutes.  Be sure the heat is low enough so that it won’t burn, but keeps it cooking!  When it is finished and cooked through, stir and fluff, then taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as necessary.  Enjoy!

Weeknight Marinara: How To Make Store-Bought Sauce Taste Homemade {Brittany's Pantry}If you could smell what I smell right now, you would swear I had spent hours in the kitchen chopping, dicing, mincing, and stirring my way to the awesome sauce you see above.  If you could taste what is in this picture, you just might start searching my house for the Italian grandmother you figure I must have hidden somewhere.  It is that good.

I do not, in fact, have an Italian grandmother.  Not genetically and not chained to the radiator in my pantry, ready to make cannoli at a moments notice.  I DO however, occasionally have the desperate need to feed my family quickly and with whatever is in my pantry.  Doing this inexpensively is always good too.  When those days sneak up on me, I make this marinara sauce.  Its fast and perfect for busy families, big or small.  It is so easy, I can make it in my sleep.  Come to think of it, I probably have made it in my sleep…

So.  This is my go-to method for those days when I am out of homemade sauce in the freezer and I just need something ready made.  With the addition of a few key  ingredients, you can boost the flavor in a matter of minutes.  Dried herbs are my friend here because it is just faster.  In the time it takes to boil water for pasta, I can whip this up and use it in a bazillion different ways.  Sometimes I add italian sausage, tons of bell peppers, or mushrooms.  Occasionally I skip the pasta and dunk cheesy bread in the sauce.  The addition of meatballs, homemade or store-bought, is great over pasta or on a toasted hoagie bun.  Whatever I have in the fridge to use up, this recipe can make use of it.  So smart.  Maybe not as handy has having an Italian grandmother in charge of your kitchen, but I work with what I have. :-)
Weeknight Marinara: How To Make Store-Bought Sauce Taste Homemade {Brittany's Pantry}Weeknight Marinara
This recipe can be doubled to feed a crowd without adding to any of the cooking time.  When it comes to jarred sauce, I usually pick the cheapest, most plain brand I can find to stash in my pantry for emergencies.  If I can find a brand that is preservative free and low sodium, even better. The addition of the butter and sugar here helps cut down on the acidity that is usually so high with purchased sauces.  If your brand isn’t that bad, omit the sugar.  If you need to stretch this just a bit, add an undrained can of petite diced tomatoes to the recipe.

1 T butter
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1-quart jar of store-bought marinara sauce
1 tsp dried basil (or 1 T chopped fresh basil if you have it lying around)
1/2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp sugar
large pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
large pinch of red pepper flakes
1 large, dried bay leaf (optional)
chopped fresh parsley, if you have it

In a medium sauce pan, melt the butter and heat the garlic together over medium heat.  Once the garlic is fragrant (about 30 seconds) add the rest of the ingredients.  Simmer together, stirring often, for 10-15 minutes, and taste for seasoning.  Remove the bay leaf and top with parsley if you like.  Enjoy!

Carolina Cobb Salad

Carolina Cobb Salad is so full of flavor you don't even need to add a salad dressing! {Brittany's Pantry}Well hello!

For those of you who are noticing that this is the second salad recipe I have posted in a week, I would like to reply with, yes, I realize that too.  And I will not apologize for it, dang it!!

You can never have too many fresh, flavor-filled salads in your rotation and I have been on a particular binge with them lately.  You too?  Oh good.  This particular salad was created when I had something similar in the deli section of a supermarket.  When I started researching the name, Carolina Cobb Salad, I realized that it was just a title.  As far as I could tell, there is no specific formula for this kind of salad.  So after a few tries, I realized that this is the combination that I love.  Then I realized I better right it down before I forget it.  No that that ever happens, but, you know…

You want to know the best part?  The last time I ate this, I skipped the dressing entirely.  There was so much going on in my mouth with the whole crunchy, tangy, crispy, and sour thing, I didn’t even need it.  Which means, you can toss this whole she-bang in a container on your way to work and just grab a fork.  Staying home with the kids, I have been making one for myself and tucking it in the fridge so that I have no excuse not to eat healthy for lunch that day.  Even though, with this salad, it isn’t exactly a taxing experience.  My biggest issue?  Keeping my 2 1/2 year old from stealing all of mine.  So now I just make him his own.  Neither of us miss the dressing and the rainbow of colors is incredibly satisfying on these January days.  Salads for the win!
Carolina Cobb Salad is so full of flavor you don't even need to add a salad dressing! {Brittany's Pantry}Carolina Cobb Salad is so full of flavor you don't even need to add a salad dressing! {Brittany's Pantry} Carolina Cobb Salad
In the interest of keeping this salad healthy, keep your portions of bleu cheese and dried fruit to a minimum.  This combo of flavors is absolutely stellar but if you really need to add dressing, use it sparingly.

Layer on individual plates:
lettuce (I happened to have romaine on hand when I photographed this but use whatever you like)
tart diced apples, such as granny smith or gala (I use 1/2 an apple per person)
crumbled bleu cheese
hard boiled egg
diced cooked chicken or turkey
unsweetened, dried cranberries
cherry tomatoes, or whatever tomatoes look good at the time
Optional: bleu cheese dressing or ranch dressing