Speedy Glazed Salmon

Quick and Easy Glazed Salmon is perfect for a weeknight meal! {Brittany's Pantry}I didn’t really feel like making dinner tonight.

I mean, I love to cook (it never hurts to state the obvious), but I was in the middle of some serious cleaning and organizing  and I didn’t want to lose the ‘zone’.  You know.  The ‘zone’.  Where you are so focused on you task and its goal that you just keeping thinking in your head, “Advance!  Advance!”  Then I looked at the clock.  4:30.  Time to seriously make some dinner plans.  I had taken some salmon out of the freezer this afternoon, but now wasn’t really hungry for it.  Still, I looked down at the ankle biters that I love so much and figured if I didn’t feed them something, they were going to start to rebel.

I have thrown this glaze together several times before and it always turns out about the same.  Feel free to add whatever you like.  I served mine with brown rice pilaf and some steamed vegetables.  Just in time too.  As I was photographing my plate for this blog I noticed it was a little too quiet in the house.  I turned around and Eli had climbed up on a step stool to reach the counter and eaten a large portion of the rice meant for dinner.  It was a little hard to be mad when he grinned at me with parsley stuck in his teeth and said, “Yes, Mama!  Good!”  Yup.  Good indeed.

Glazed Salmon

Equal parts:

Red Wine Vinegar
Brown Sugar
Dijon Mustard
1/2 part Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Mix all ingredients and pour over salmon fillets.  If you are only making a few portions, start with 2 T of each and 1 T of the olive oil.  If you are making it for a crowd, use bigger measurements.  Roast in a 400 degree oven.

Lemon Spaghetti

So my kitchen is done.

Do I hear angels singing…?

All the elements that make it functional are in place.  Appliances, counters, sink-all finished.  It will take me some time to reorganize it and have things in their correct places, but for the most part, it is done.  We celebrated by christening the kitchen with one of our favorite meals.  Chicken Piccata w/Lemon Spaghetti and Roasted Asparagus.  Yeaaaaah baby!
Lemon Spaghetti | Brittany's PantryI could eat this meal everyday!  With a few breaks for mashed potatoes and chocolate…

And steak.
And roast chicken.
But anyway…

The roasted asparagus is done the same way I roast just about every vegetable.  Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and roast at 425 until just tender.  Every time I find a fun new asparagus recipe to try, I hesitate and ultimately never make it because I just want to eat it this way.  Why mess with perfection?  And now is the time to enjoy it, people!  For those of you farther north, you may have to wait a few weeks, but asparagus season is early spring and only lasts for a few months.  Try to buy local (most of the asparagus you find off season is shipped from Peru or Mexico) and you will be rewarded with superior taste.  Eat as much as you can before it is gone for another year!

The Chicken Piccata recipe is from Giada De Laurentiis and can be found here.  It is simple, easy, and one of those dishes that feels special but can be put together on a Tuesday night with minimal effort.  We make this all the time!  At least once a month.  I think it is from her first cookbook Everyday Italian, an indispensable volume that I pull out on a regular basis.

Speaking of Giada, she is the creator of Evelyn’s most favorite food in the entire world.  Lemon Spaghetti.  And we do not ever make chicken piccata without it.  EVER.  Even though it is a versatile pasta that could be paired with any number of dishes, we usually always make it with the chicken piccata.  And take my word for it, and Giada’s for that matter, when I say that they go together perfectly.  But you can discover that for yourself.  Maybe even on a Tuesday.
Lemon Spaghetti | Brittany's PantryLemon Spaghetti
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
This pasta is simple, but has amazing flavor.  It would be great with just about anything grilled and the leftovers are fantastic cold.  Be sure to taste the dish just before serving.  If it isn’t seasoned enough, it just tastes like sour noodles.  You will know it has enough salt when it tastes wonderfully bright and nutty.  Try it with whole wheat noodles too!  This recipe serves 6 as a side dish.

1 lb thin spaghetti or vermicelli
1/2 c olive oil
3/4 c grated Parmesan
1/3 c fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
zest of one lemon
1/2 c chopped fresh basil

Cook the pasta according to package directions, reserving 1/2 c of the pasta water just before you drain it.  Add the next four ingredients to a large serving bowl and stir to combine.  Add the hot pasta to the serving bowl and toss well, adding the pasta water to moisten, if necessary.  Top with lemon zest and basil, toss once more, taste for seasoning and serve.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce | Brittany's PantryAll right.  So I hesitate to say that I am back, but my kitchen is so close to being finished (and then cooking can recommence!) that I am getting extremely antsy.  Wouldn’t you be?  Its spring here in Illinois and I am desperate to use the last of the winter citrus to make lemon pudding cake, orange marmalade, and lemon rosemary cornmeal cookies.  Cute little butter cookies in the shape of flowers, Easter eggs, and bunnies might possibly be on the menu, if my kids have any say in the matter.  Then I want to move on from winter and start grilling again!  My friend has this amazing recipe for pork chops that I have been super excited to share with you.  It is one of those recipes that you are going to want to make over and over.  We are going to be eating them all summer.  I also got an early birthday surprise from my husband (a Canon EOS 7D), and need to start experimenting with the lenses on some yummy food!

I had a small tumor removed from my left hand last week so the bandages are slowing my usually lightening fast typing skills.  I am…like…a ninja at a keyboard.  But I get my counters and sink this coming Friday so bandages or no, I plan on taking advantage of my new space and am going to cook a huge turkey dinner for my family and some friends.  All the trimmings people!  Mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, and if I can find the right fruit, a gallette.  I have hundreds (or thousands) of recipes to try, so BRING IT ON!  I have been kept from my kitchen for too long!

So what, you might ask, am I doing blogging when I still have extremely limited means and can’t preparing anything more exciting than peanut butter sandwiches?

Well, I was cleaning out my picture files and I found this one of two different cranberry sauces that I make for Thanksgiving.  For some reason, I photographed the food and then never blogged about it.  Several years ago I saw a great recipe for cranberry sauce and was amazed at how easy it was.  By far, the fastest and most simple holiday recipe I have ever made.  And what goes good with cranberry sauce?  Ham.  When do the majority of Americans eat ham?  Easter.  And its right around the corner.  Look at me!  I’m ahead of the game!

Words cannot express how fantastic these two recipes are.  One has a smooth and rich flavor with a wonderful citrus background.  The other is tangy and sweet, and I must say, totally killer on sandwiches.  My friend Ashley requires me to leave the leftovers with her every Thanksgiving just so she can smear it on a turkey sandwich.  And she doesn’t even like cranberry sauce!  Yup.  These are that good.Homemade Cranberry Sauce | Brittany's Pantry Cranberry Sauce with Port
Adapted from http://www.uscranberries.com/
This sauce is the most beautiful shade of deep red.  And it couldn’t be easier.

1 (12oz) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
¾ c sugar
½ cup ruby Port
Zest of one orange
1/4 c orange juice

Bring all ingredients, except the OJ, to a simmer in a medium sauce pan.  Let it bubble gently, stirring occasionally, until all the cranberries have burst and it starts to thicken slightly.  Remove from heat and stir in orange juice.  Cool completely.
Note: Can be made up to a week ahead.  Store tightly covered in the fridge.

Cranberry-Mustard Relish
Adapted from Bon Appetit

1 (12 oz) bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1 1/3 c sugar
1/4 c Dijon mustard
2 T whole grain Dijon mustard

Add cranberries and sugar to a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer.  Cook, low and bubbly, until all the sugar dissolves and the cranberries burst.  Cool completely and stir in both of the mustards.
Note: Sauce can be made up to one week ahead.  Store tightly covered in the fridge.

Enchilada Pie

Easy Enchilada Pie from Brittany's Pantry is freezable and fast to put together!  So, as promised, this is the recipe for Enchilada Pie.  I made it a few days ago and finally got the pics in the computer!   This is not my creation, but a sort of mixed version of several different ones I have found lately.  It was fast, easy, and it is fantastic!  It is a healthy, one dish meal that is definitely a new regular in our house.  My husband is a crazy, Mexican food fanatic, so anything I make with those flavors is a hit.  I wish I had this recipe to make about a year ago, when Eli was little.  The pieces of this dinner are great for little fingers!  I would say that it serves 6, but Mike loved is so much he ate two huge slices of the ‘pie’ so that brought ours down to five.  How many pieces will you eat?Easy Enchilada Pie from Brittany's Pantry is freezable and fast to put together!  Filling all ready to layer!Easy Enchilada Pie from Brittany's Pantry is freezable and fast to put together!  Tortilla on the bottom and starting with a layer of cheese!Easy Enchilada Pie from Brittany's Pantry is freezable and fast to put together!  Filling and then another tortilla.  Repeat!Easy Enchilada Pie from Brittany's Pantry is freezable and fast to put together!  Fresh from the oven and ready to slice.

Enchilada Pie
Adapted from Everyday Food

1 small onion, diced
1 jalapeno, ribs and seeds removed, minced (optional)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt and Pepper
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 c chicken stock or beer
1-2 c cooked, shredded chicken
1 can corn, drained
4 tortillas, regular or whole wheat
1 bag shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese (2 c)

Heat a little olive oil in a skillet over med heat.  Add the first five ingredients and saute until onion is cooked and translucent.  Add the beans and liquid and heat for another few minutes until most of the liquid is evaporated.  Add the chicken and corn.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Set aside.  Lightly spray a deep, glass pie dish.  Lay one tortilla in the bottom of the pie dish.  Sprinkle a layer of cheese and then a third of the bean and chicken mixture.  Place another tortilla on and repeat layers 2 more times.  Top with cheese.   My pie was really high, but it worked just fine!  It can be made ahead up to this point, just wrap and chill until ready to bake.  Bake at 400 degrees  for 25-30 minutes and cheese is melted over the top.  Cut into wedges and serve with salsa and sour cream.

Five Minute Meatloaf

Five Minute Meatloaf from Brittany's Pantry-Small effort and BIG flavor!While working on our kitchen yesterday, it became apparent that it was one of those evenings that needed music.  The kids were running around and playing with trucks while I was scraping old wallpaper glue off the walls and looking for places that the previous owners had patched, never sanded, and painted over.  My husband was rebuilding the walls where things had been torn down, rewiring, and putting new lights in our ceiling.  We were working hard, playing hard, laughing and joking, and generally excited that it was Friday and that progress was being made on the construction site that we call home.Brittanys-Pantry The kids are playing on the drywall in the ‘clean’ end of the family room/kitchen.  Turns out sheet rock is perfect for playing with trucks!Brittanys-PantrySo out came the classics.  Billy Joel, John Mellencamp, Michael Jackson’s music from his early years, John Denver, Phil Collins, Neil Diamond, and the mixed CD my best friend sent me to cheer me up on my first wedding anniversary when Mike was out to sea and I was in the middle of Wisconsin.  Good music that I hadn’t played in awhile but was perfect to keep you motivated and dancing among the cordless drills, piles of rubble, and sheets of dusty plastic.

And in the midst of it all, I was dying for a home cooked meal.  Mashed potatoes have been on my radar for weeks and finally, acknowledging my kitchen limitations, I broke down and bought the ready made kind in my refrigerator section.  But I still needed a protein, so I made the first thing I could think of that was fast, easy, and really good.  We needed comfort food and by golly, I was going to deliver!  And really, what is more comforting than meatloaf?

I know what you are thinking. Meatloaf? Seriously? Blegh. I am fully aware that there are several of you out there who may have some issues with meatloaf, no doubt stemming from some tragic childhood experience with football shaped meat that was dry, tasteless, greasy, and covered in burnt ketchup. I am only guessing here because we ate meatloaf all the time when I was a kid and we all loved it. And while meatloaf sandwiches are not the way I like to enjoy the leftovers, they seem to be some kind of lunch necessity among men everywhere. And that includes my Dad. My Mom made awesome meatloaf and I usually follow her lead and do it the traditional way. Ground beef, chopped onion, egg, spices, oatmeal…oh yeah. And she always used BBQ sauce on top instead of ketchup. This makes a huge difference in flavor and I never deviate from it. Good stuff.

But I was going for speed and simplicity here people! And it had to be easy enough to mix in my living room on my son’s train table. So this was my improvisation. We enjoyed ours with frozen corn (not pictured), pre-made mashed potatoes, and rolls that wouldn’t fit in my freezer (also not pictured). Gourmet cooking at its finest.  Mmmm. I loved every convenient bite.

Five Minute Meatloaf
This isn’t much of a recipe but it is perfect the next time you need something quick, easy, and satisfying.  We ate almost all of it.  That is why I only have a picture of my plate.  My family dug into it like a lions into a gazelle and there wasn’t enough left to photograph.  All signs of satisfied customers.

1 pkg ground turkey (I use the 97 percent lean) or beef
1/2 box dry stuffing mix, such as Stovetop
1 egg
BBQ sauce

A pathetic list of ingredients, I know, but its really good!  Mix enough hot water with the stuffing to soften it and make it moist, about a cup or so.  Add in the meat and the egg and mix with a fork.  In a sprayed, shallow casserole dish, shape the mixture into a loaf.  Spread BBQ sauce over the top.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes or until cooked through.

Vegetable Couscous

Vegetable Couscous | Brittany's PantryI should start by saying that this is not what I planned on blogging about today.  Eli’s lunch, I mean.  My original intention was to post a recipe I just tried for Enchilada Pie (Wowzer its good!), but that is temporarily postponed due to the construction dust that was all over the lens of my camera that just won’t seem to wipe off.  When I did get it clean enough, dinner was over and the leftovers were in the fridge.  And there is the fact that I just felt like telling you about a dish that is so everyday in our house, it never really occurred to me to tell you about it.  Until today.

And any dish that uses pantry ingredients is my friend these days!

Sometimes I make this as a side dish for dinner but today, I made this for my toddler for lunch.  I do that on a regular basis because it is quick, healthy, and pretty darn tasty.  This is a great idea for all the parents out there with small children.  Perfect for little fingers to pick up and eat.  For those of you unfamiliar with couscous, let me be frank.  BUY SOME!  It is the fastest carb you will ever find.  It is actually tiny little grains of pasta and they are so small, hot water is all you need to make it.  No cooking involved.  How great is that?!Vegetable Couscous | Brittany's Pantry Vegetable Couscous
This is January so the veggies that go into this are frozen.  In the spring when asparagus is in season, it is outrageously good when sauteed in olive oil and garlic and used in this recipe.  If the asparagus is grilled, even better!  Use whatever vegetable you like, fresh or frozen, that is in season at the time.  Spinach, cherry or grape tomatoes, corn, peas, or a mix like I do here.  It all tastes wonderful.

2 c water
1 c whole wheat couscous
2 c cooked veggies, cut into bite sized pieces
2-3 T olive oil
1/4 c grated parmesean cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, microwave the water until boiling.  Add the couscous, give it a quick stir and cover the bowl with plastic wrap.  Set aside for 5 minutes or so, or until all the water is absorbed and the pasta is soft.  Fluff with a fork and add the rest of ingredients.  Taste for seasoning.
Note:  This is also great cold and would be fantastic to bring to a summer pot-luck.  A greek version with chopped tomatoes, fresh mint and crumbled feta would be stellar!  For a quick soup, add a scoop or two to a bowl and pour in a can of good quality chicken broth.  Heat till serving temp.  My husband is eating exactly that as I type this.

Laura’s Salad & Resolutions

This easy salad is beautiful to look at and makes for a spectacular main dish or lunch all year long! {Brittany's Pantry}You may have noticed by my previous blog entries that I don’t do the whole New Year’s healthy eating resolution deal.  Personally, I think that eating healthy food, regular exercise, a good nights sleep, and plenty of stress relieving activities are all things that we should be doing all the time.  It isn’t just a random decision that we make on Jan 1st and then start groaning inwardly with guilt about before Valentine’s Day.  I don’t recall ever making a real New Year’s resolution.  Perhaps because I knew that if I didn’t stick to it, it didn’t really matter to anyone but me.  No one noticed and no one cared.  So why do it?  Yup, I have a bit of an attitude.

That said, I think that anything that gets a person to eat better, exercise, stop smoking, budget better, etc. is fantastic and a great thing.  So whatever day is on the calendar and you decide to make changes in your life for the better, I wish you good luck and support.  Just remember that every day is a new day.  There are no mistakes in tomorrow.

So on that note, I am posting one of my favorite, uber healthy recipes.  Is that how you spell uber?

This salad recipe is from my dear friend Laura, and although she is probably unaware, I have been making it repeatedly ever since she gave me the recipe.  Like, a lot.  It is one of my family’s favorites and it is perfect for the middle of January for several reasons.  All of the ingredients are readily available year round, there is virtually no prep, and it is satisfying enough for dinner but easy on your hips.  This recipe got me eating nuts in my salads again, something we all should be doing.  Good, heart healthy walnuts.  If, like my siblings, you are allergic to walnuts and they make your tongue itch (weird, but true) feel free to add almonds instead.  But I cannot stress enough that the beauty of this combo is when you have all the elements.  Its creamy, crunchy, sweet, salty, tangy, and yes, very good for you.  Put it at the top of your list for this winter and feel fantastic about it!

Note:  There are no poppy seeds in my dressing for a very good reason.  I didn’t have any.  Just so you know…
Laura's Salad is fresh, lowcarb, and full of protein! {Brittany's Pantry} This easy salad is beautiful to look at and makes for a spectacular main dish or lunch all year long! {Brittany's Pantry} Laura’s Salad
Leftover dressing lasts for weeks in the fridge.  Its is also good brushed over chicken.

1 T Dijon mustard
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp finely minced onion
1/3 c canned, jellied cranberry sauce
1/4 c white wine vinegar
1/2 c oil (I use 1/4 canola and 1/4 extra virgin olive oil)
1 T poppy seeds, optional

In a small bowl or jar, blend the sugar, cranberry sauce and the vinegar.  If you do this first, the sugar dissolves easier.  Add the rest of the ingredients and shake or whisk until well blended.

dark greens, such as spinach, spring mix, or both
dried cranberries
feta, crumbled
grilled chicken, diced

Build your salad and enjoy!

Fettuccine with Spinach Alfredo

Easy Spinach Alfredo | Brittany's PantrySometimes there are certain foods that there just is not any substitute for.  Alfredo is one of them.  If you see a recipe that says low fat alfredo, put it down.  Step away.  Do not give in to the lure of healthy comfort foods.  Don’t get me wrong, I am all for recipe make-overs.  I do them myself on a regular basis.  But when I am hungry for rich, thick, decadent pasta with a creamy parmesan sauce.  I do it right.

Bring on the heavy cream!

I once read that true fettuccine alfredo doesn’t really have much of a sauce at all.  If I remember correctly, the recipe called for you to heat butter and cream in a pan until hot and then add slightly undercooked pasta.  With the heat on, toss the pasta in the cream until it started to absorb it and get thick, cooking the pasta the rest of the way.  And that was it!  Call me crazy, but if I have a chance to add garlic and cheese to something, I’m going to!

So this is what I do.  It isn’t really a full recipe, its more of a method that I figured out years ago while desperate for something quick for dinner.  I will try to give you accurate quantities if I can, but I am usually making this on the fly with little trucks at my feet and Veggie Tales on in the background.

Here goes.Easy Spinach Alfredo | Brittany's Pantry Alfredo
4 side dish servings

1/2 lb of fettuccine or linguine, cooked according to package directions

While the pasta is cooking, heat a knob (about 2 T) of butter in a large skillet.  Add 2 cloves of garlic, minced.  Let garlic cook over medium heat, for 30 seconds or so, but do not let it burn or your whole dish will taste bitter.  Add 1/2-3/4 cup of heavy cream.  Don’t be afraid to add more if it thickens and doesn’t look like enough sauce.  Heat until bubbling, adding fresh ground pepper to taste.  Add 1/2 c parmesean cheese and heat gently until cheese melts and the whole sauce thickens.  Add cooked pasta to the skillet and toss together.  Taste for salt and pepper.  Adjust the cream and cheese based on how thick or how saucy you like your pasta.  If it starts to thicken up too much at the end add a splash of milk and toss.  Serve as a side dish or double the recipe and serve with grilled chicken or sauteed shrimp.

Add 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, chopped, when you add the pasta to the sauce.
Add 1/2 pound fresh spinach to finished dish, letting the greens wilt with the heat of the pasta.  Alternatively, add 1 package chopped frozen spinach, squeezed dry.
Add the zest of 1 lemon to cream sauce.
Toss finished dish with finely chopped walnuts.

Filet Au Poivre (Steak W/Black Pepper & mustard Cream Sauce) via Brittany's PantryFilet Au Poivre, Fettuccine with Spinach Alfredo, and Cherry Tomatoes.  That was our dinner last night.  And my husband is still raving about it.

I really didn’t think that the meal was going to be that impressive.  I make some version of Alfredo at least once a month and good beef is on the menu fairly regularly.  I am my Fathers’ daughter after all.  And let me just make it clear that he raised me right and I only eat my steak with salt and pepper.  I  can count on one hand how many times I have eaten a good piece of beef with any kind of sauce or topping on it and it was usually not my choice.  But this recipe sounded so good and it was sitting on my desk and steak was completely on my brain yesterday.  (Deep breath!)  I decided to give it a try.

So I made it, heavily modified of course.  And I can honestly say that although my husband likes the food I make in general, I have never heard him praise a dish quite like this one.  I kid you not.  He wanted to drink the sauce on the filet.  His upbringing stopped him short of licking the pan, and instead, he settled for snatching up all the little bites of meat left on our kids’ plates to scoop up the last of the sauce.  It was creamy, and peppery, and tangy and…wow.  It was really good.

I don’t really know how to accurately explain my husbands reaction.  He said it was better than anything he had ever had at a restaurant.  Better than anything I had made before.  The best filet he had ever had.

And I blushed a little.

As long as he is happy, I am happy.
But he was right.  It was fantastic.  And when I mentioned that I would be blogging about it, he started all over again.  Hmmm.  Maybe I will make it again on Valentine’s Day…

Honorable Mention:  It can be expensive, but filet of beef, or filet mignon is worth it!  As tender as it is the lack of fat in it can mean lack of flavor too.  It is the perfect cut to enhance with a sauce.  And this recipe is a great example.  Restaurant quality food in less than 20 minutes.  Yes please!Filet Au Poivre (Steak W/Black Pepper & mustard Cream Sauce) via Brittany's Pantry This is even a bit too done for my taste.  I love it medium rare.  Still fantastic though!

Filet Au Poivre
Adapted from Ree
There are so many different versions of this dish, but I can’t get passed this one.

2 filets of beef, or filet mignons
2 T butter
Salt and Pepper
2 T Dijon mustard
1/2 c beef broth
1/3 c heavy cream
1 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Season both sides of the steaks generously with salt and pepper.  Melt the butter in an oven proof skillet over medium high heat.  When the skillet is sizzling hot, sear the steak for about 3 minutes.  Flip and slide the whole skillet into the oven about 5 minutes, for medium rare.  Remove the pan and place the steak onto a plate, covering it with foil to let it rest.  Put the skillet back onto the stove over med heat and add the beef broth, scraping up the browned bits from the pan.  Let bubble for a minute or two and whisk in the dijon.  Let heat for a minute and whisk in the cream and last tsp of pepper.  Let the whole sauce bubble for another minute and thicken slightly.  Spoon over steaks and enjoy!

Mini Corn Muffins

Mini Corn Muffins from Brittany's PantryThese little gems are perfect with Indian Summer Chili.  They are also good to whip up in the summer when you want a little something to go with a salad.Mini Corn Muffins from Brittany's Pantry

Mini Corn Muffins
Adapted from Bon Appetit Recipe modified 2/28/13

Mix together in a medium bowl:
1/4 c sour cream
1/4 c buttermilk
1 egg
2 T canola oil
1/2 c white whole wheat flour or all purpose flour
3 T cornmeal
1 T sugar
3/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
Mix all ingredients just until combined.  Do not over mix.
Fold in 1/2 c frozen corn, thawed
1 T chopped fresh dill, or 1 tsp dried dill (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly spray a mini muffin tin.  Divide batter among the mini muffin cups and bake until puffed and golden, 9-11 minutes.

Indian Summer Chili

Quick & Healthy Indian Summer Chili is easy to make ahead and freeze! {Brittany's Pantry}Like most northerners, I grew up eating chili.  Ground beef, kidney beans, tomato based sauce, onions, spices, and if my Dad is making it, black olives.  Now I like chili and my Dad’s recipe is exceptional, but any meal that I have to eat with a spoon (with the exception of cereal) isn’t my first pick.  I am a meat and potatoes gal, through and through.  I will eat soup and stew and I love to make them, but I will always pick something else if there is a choice.  That is kind of too bad for me because soup is cheap, easy, convenient, and usually good for you.  I would be a lot thinner if I loved soup as much as say, my Dad or my sister.  It also freezes well, a fact that is pretty important to me.

When I was expecting my first child, I was doing crazy research online to find freezable recipes that I could make ahead of time.  I wanted dishes that went beyond lasagna and casseroles.  I froze beef fajitas, stuffed chicken, cookies, quick breads, coffee cake, whole spiced chickens, and of course, spaghetti sauce and soups.  I came across this recipe by Rachel Ray and the ingredients sounded a bit odd for chili, but I tested the recipe anyway.  It was a hit.  The flavor is wonderful and you can throw the whole thing together in (you guessed it) less than 30 minutes!  My version has morphed into something specific for our family, so change what you like.  For example, a friend of mine loathes beans so she never adds them to this recipe.  I love the taste and nutritional benefits so I include them.  And they are pretty too!  Speaking of nutritional benefits, this chili is fantastically healthy.  As my Mother would say, its good for what ales you.  Give it a try and you won’t be disappointed.  Of course, you may have to make a double batch if you want any to make it into your freezer.

Indian Summer Chili 
Adapted from Rachel Ray
This is quite awesome served with Mini Corn Muffins or Whole Wheat Cornbread!

I make this for company quite often.  If I have the time, I make it several weeks ahead and then freeze the whole batch-just reheat and serve!  Enjoy!

1 lb ground turkey ( I use 97 % lean)
2 T chili powder
2 T grill seasoning, any flavor, such as Montreal
1 T cumin
2 T Worcestershire sauce
hot sauce to taste
1 onion, diced
2 bell peppers, diced (I use 1 red and 1 green for the color)
1 bottle of beer
1 (14 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 c bottled BBQ sauce-the smokier the better!
2 c frozen corn
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained

Brown the turkey in just a bit of olive oil.  Add the next 7 ingredients and cook over med heat until the veggies just start to soften.  Add the beer and cook for another few minutes.  Add the tomato sauce and the BBQ sauce and let the whole batch come to a bubble.  Let simmer for 5 minutes or so for the flavors to meld.  Add the corn and beans and bring back up to a simmer.  Taste for salt and spiciness.

Corn Casserole

Corn Casserole is quick and easy! {Brittany's Pantry}The year was 1996 and I had just graduated from high school.  It was my first week at college and I was sitting at a computer and ‘surfing’ the Internet for one of the first times in my life.  Yes, for all you youngin’s out there, the Internet really isn’t that old.  In fact, computers aren’t that old.  I was in first or second grade when my elementary school first got computers.  They were enormous, loud, and had to be kept in a temperature controlled room.  Sitting in the library, 18 years old, and trying to figure out how to set up an email account seemed light years away from Number Munchers and The Oregon Trail.  Chat rooms were really getting big and the fact that I had never been to one caused me a certain level of embarrassment.  I still have never visited a chat room-do they even still have those?

Anyway, the second I set up a hotmail account, all these links popped up for different sites to send you automatic emails.  Newsletters, word of the day, joke of the day, history fact of the day, that kind of thing.  The recipe of the day caught my eye, and I was hooked.  I printed off recipes from that email for years.  I think I have most of them, but the only one I actually ever remember making, is Corn Casserole.  It is so good!  Perfect for your Thanksgiving table, it is quick to throw together and requires, little or no cooking ability.  Mix it up, dump it in a dish, and into the oven it goes.  While it is meant to be served warm with dinner, I have been told on more than one occasion that it is great for breakfast the next day drizzled with syrup and a bit of milk.  It will stay warm for quite awhile so if you have to bring a dish to supper, this would work great.Corn Casserole is quick and easy! {Brittany's Pantry} Corn Casserole

1/4 c melted butter
1 c sour cream
1 egg
1 can whole kernel corn (drained)
1 can creamed corn
1 pkg, corn muffin mix, such as Jiffy
1 c grated, cheddar cheese

Mix all ingredients together until well incorporated.  Pour into a greased casserole and bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until puffed, brown, and set in the center.  Reheats wonderfully.
Note: It is very easy to modify this recipe.  Add finely chopped chives, diced ham, top with more grated cheese-endless possibilities!

Broccoli, Bean & Cheddar Soup

Healthy Broccoli Bean & Cheddar Soup from Brittany's Pantry is ready in a matter of minutes!I tried this soup a few weeks ago and really liked it.  I recently passed the recipe on to a friend of mine and decided I should share it with all of you too!  It is adapted from the Eating Well website; a fantastic source for simply good food that is good for you.  Its inexpensive, super fast, super easy, and great with a hunk of crusty bread.  Best of all, no cream!  You can eat your fill without the guilt and still enjoy a thick and creamy soup.

Broccoli, Bean, and Cheddar Soup

1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth, or vegetable broth
1 cup water
1 lb broccoli crowns, trimmed and chopped (about 6 cups) or 1 large bag frozen broccoli florets, thawed
1 14-ounce can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 c shredded cheddar cheese

Bring broth and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add broccoli, cover and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in beans, salt and pepper and cook until the beans are heated through, about 1 minute.  Transfer half the mixture to a blender with half the cheese and puree. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining broccoli mixture and cheese.  Alternatively, blend in the pot with an immersion blender.  Serve warm.

Fried Noodles: A Childhood Favorite

Fried Noodles W/Cheese | Brittany's PantryMy parents would probably think that this is a little funny.  You throw something together for dinner, trying to shake things up a little, and that small, insignificant side dish becomes one of your oldest daughter’s most favorite childhood dishes.  Not my Dad’s excellent chili or his bechamel sauce with seafood over linguine.  Not my Mom’s homemade bread, which, if I close my eyes, I can smell right now, salty butter melting all over it and dripping with honey.  And certainly not the oatmeal raisin cookies my brother and I once made with garlic powder instead of cinnamon.  My Mom wouldn’t let us bake and serve those, but Nathan and I did eat the dough.  But let me back up a little.

When I was a kid, my parents used to make pan fried noodles.  These are not connected in any way to Asian cooking.  They were literally egg noodles fried in a pan.  Well, not just any pan.  In an enormous cast iron pan with 4 inch high sides.  It was like a kettle or dutch oven, but it had a handle on it like a skillet.  I assume they still own this phenomenon, as I have never seen one anywhere else so I don’t know how they would ever replace it.  I cannot even begin to count how many pounds of hamburger with a diced onion I browned in that skillet, or batches of beef storganoff I mixed together.  And it was perfect to fry up a batch of noodles.  Now, this whole process is so easy its a little embarrassing.  You take some noodles and fry them.  Yup.  That’s it.  Its a little astonishing that this was my favorite meal to make in college.  Or that when my husband was deployed and I was facing months of nights cooking for only one person (something I do NOT like to do), that this was my go to meal.  My quick, easy, comforting and always tasty plate of goodness.  I will also add that with the exception of cereal, it is quite possibly the only meatless dish that I would pass off as a meal.  I would add leftover pulled chicken if I had it on hand, but…I can’t believe I am saying this…its better without.  As a kid, we ate it as a side dish with a protein and a vegetable.  It took a large bag of egg noodles and I don’t recall leftovers.  After learning to cook meals for 8 people, half of them boys and all of us athletes, it took years for me to scale back my portions when preparing food.  This recipe is perfect for a family of four.  I have added a few things over the years that my parents never bothered with.  I am pretty sure they just poured vegetable oil in the hot pan and dumped in cooked noodles.  Maybe some salt.  Mine is a bit more interesting, but every bit as true to the original.

Fried Noodles

1/2 bag of egg noodles, cooked according to pkg directions
1 T canola or olive oil
1 T butter
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
1/4 c Parmesan cheese, optional

Add the oil and butter to a skillet and heat over med high heat till foam subsides.  Add noodles and sprinkle with garlic powder and salt and pepper to taste.  Let the noodles fry for a minute or two.  If you toss them around they will steam and turn mushy without getting crispy.  Once they start to get some color, toss them a bit, letting them get crunchy, but not burnt.  Toss them a third time and pull off the heat.  If desired, top with Parmesan cheese.

Note: I used to use the cheapest curly egg noodles I could find.  When I found out the nutritional difference between those and the yolk free or cholesterol free noodles, I switched.  The curliness of the noodles fries up much better than any other kind I have tried.  Also, I use butter for flavor and oil so that I can fry at a higher temperature.  Feel free to use all heart healthy oils, but if you use all butter, it will burn the edges of your noodles before they can get crispy.

Roasted Seasonal Vegetables W/Pasta is adaptable to whatever veggies are fresh t the time!  {Brittany's Pantry}OK.  So I know this is the second pasta entry in a row, but in reality, we didn’t eat them close to each other.  And you can never have too many quick, easy, and healthy pasta recipes in your repertoire, right?  This recipe falls into all those categories.  I think I created this two, maybe three years ago.  Its hard to remember because I make it quite often so it seems like I have been making it forever!  I was trying out different combinations in pasta that didn’t include grilled chicken, something we always have an abundance of in our fridge during the summer.  I am always grilling boneless, skinless, chicken breasts drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper.  I highly recommend this as we use it to make dozens of meals at a moments notice, and without heating the house.  Chicken and Black Bean quesadillas, Simple Soup w/Chicken, BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Chicken Salad (recipe to be posted soon), Chicken Cesar Salad Wraps…you get the idea.  While this is a very versatile ingredient, it can get a little repetitious.

The result of my experimentation yielded a light, healthy, and veeeeeerrry addictive pasta dish.  We never get tired of eating it and every time I make it we always go, “Oh my goodness!  This is sooo goood!”  If you are ever a guest in my home between the months of March and October, expect this on the menu.  While, as usual, I encourage you to experiment and add what you like, this recipe is the best combinations we have found.  Even though I could change it up, I don’t.  The only change is that I make it with asparagus in the spring and summer, instead of squash.  We found a winner and I don’t want to mess with perfection! 🙂Roasted Seasonal Vegetables W/Pasta is adaptable to whatever veggies are fresh t the time!  {Brittany's Pantry}Roasted Seasonal Vegetables W/Pasta is adaptable to whatever veggies are fresh t the time!  {Brittany's Pantry} Vegetables with Pasta-Recipe updated 10/13
I call this veggies with pasta because I usually try to make it a 2-1 ratio.  Its healthier, lighter, and… well…prettier!  Any small pasta shape is good.  You want the pasta and bites of vegetable all about the same size.  Bow ties, rotini, penne, and penne rigate work the best.  This serves four, but it is really easy to double or simply keep the recipe the same but add 3/4 of a pound of pasta instead of only a half.  Any leftovers taste great the next day, no need to reheat.

1/2 lb bite sized pasta cooked according to package directions
2 sweet Italian turkey sausage links
1 small butternut squash or 1/2 large, peeled, seeded and cut into bite sized chunks
1 large onions, sliced into half circles
2 medium zucchini, cut into bite sized chunks
8 oz portabello mushrooms, sliced (feel free to use any mushrooms available)
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil

Toss the squash and onions with a bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Spread in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast at 425 for 15 -20 minutes, or until squash is soft when pierced with a fork and onions are caramelized.  Meanwhile, remove the sausage from the casing and brown in a skillet over med heat, crumbling as you cook it.  If you use turkey sausage, you won’t have to drain the meat, but if you use pork Italian sausage, you may need to remove the fat.  Place the sausage in a large serving bowl.  Put the skillet back on the stove (no need to clean it) and add the mushrooms.  Saute in the leftover fat from the sausage, adding a little olive oil of the pan is dry.  Don’t crowd the mushrooms or they will steam instead of brown.  Just a few minutes till they are cooked, but still firm in the middle, and add them to the bowl with the meat.  Next add the zucchini.  A little olive oil, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, med to med high heat for 3 minutes or so just till they get some color on them.  We don’t want anything to be mushy.  Add to the serving bowl.  Add the pasta and the roasted squash and onions.  Toss ingredients together.  Add cheese and toss gently and taste.  Add salt and pepper as needed and a drizzle of olive oil if it is dry.