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!


This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #PairsWellWithHolidays #CollectiveBias
Mini Meat & Cheese Skewers W/Maple-Mustard Dipping Sauce via Brittany's PantryWhy does food on a stick taste so much better? I have asked my kids this question several times and the answer is always the same: Because its fun!

This rings true for adults as well as kids and thankfully, it is ridiculously easy to do. My husband usually gets leftovers for lunch, but in the case of today’s recipe, it is so fast and easy, it just packed for everyone! I make a lot of wraps and sandwiches but I like variety in my meals as much as my kids. Hence, deviating from the norm happens rather often in our house. I’m a rebel that way.

I’m not sure how I got so blessed to end up with children that like strong flavors, but I did, and I am thankful. They have always liked the taste of a good, spicy salami and a sharp cheese. Why not deconstruct the sandwich?! Just like a holiday snack plate, this lunch ends up being a munch-able, exclusively finger-food type of situation. Toothpicks are cute, but they are also the perfect size for a school lunch!Mini Meat & Cheese Skewers W/Maple-Mustard Dipping Sauce via Brittany's PantryThe meat I like to use for these is the same kind I serve to party guests. Creminelli has several flavors of uncured, handcrafted Italian salami and at the present time, the Tartufo (with black truffles) is our favorite. What I particularly like about this kind of meat is that the flavor is full and fantastic, but not overly spicy or salty. You can really taste the pork in this salami which is perfect wether you like strong flavors or not. It is mild enough for everyone! Add a cube of cheese and an itty bitty tomato and you have great taste in just a few bites. The meat doesn’t contain any of the chemicals and preservatives associated with other types of salami and that makes it a definite no brainer.
Mini Meat & Cheese Skewers W/Maple-Mustard Dipping Sauce via Brittany's PantryI pick up Creminelli products at my local Whole Foods store so stocking up is easy and convenient. And necessary! Between school and work lunches and weekend snack times, I keep some handy on a regular basis. The fact that I can (and do) use it for company at a moments notice is definitely a benefit for this busy Mom! Be sure to look for the savory Tartufo salami in the meat and cheese section. Because it is uncured, it won’t be refrigerated so check the displays in the aisles. The toughest part will be deciding which flavors to bring home!
Mini Meat & Cheese Skewers W/Maple-Mustard Dipping Sauce via Brittany's PantryMini Meat & Cheese Skewers W/Maple-Mustard Dipping Sauce via Brittany's PantryWhen I pick up the salami, I like to grab some water crackers as well. My kids-and husband-love the extra crispy texture with the bold flavors of the skewers. Some fruit and olives on the side and they have a pretty spectacular lunch! The only thing that makes it better is the maple-mustard dipping sauce. A tiny container tucked in with everything else and they can dunk whatever they like! It is just mild enough that it doesn’t overpower the taste of the salmi, but lets be honest here. Its maple and mustard together with salami and cheese. On a stick! Does it get much better?

What are YOUR favorite flavors to eat with salami?
Mini Meat & Cheese Skewers W/Maple-Mustard Dipping Sauce via Brittany's PantryMini Meat & Cheese Skewers W/Maple-Mustard Dipping Sauce via Brittany's PantryMini Meat & Cheese Skewers W/Spicy Maple Mustard
These are great with olives or pickles tucked into the lunches as well! Be sure to use grape tomatoes here, as cherry tomatoes will be too big for little mouths.

1 pkg, uncured, Creminelli Tartufo Salami
grape tomatoes
provolone, swiss, or mozzarella cheese, cubed small
1 T pure maple syrup
1 scant T mayonnaise
1 T grainy mustard
toothpicks or cocktail skewers

Remove the casing from the salami and discard. Cube the meat into small, bite-sized pieces. Skewer the tomato, meat, and cheese onto the toothpick. In a small bowl, mix the mayo, mustard, and maple syrup until combined. Serve skewers with the dipping sauce. Note: This entire recipe can be made ahead of time, making busy school mornings less hectic! 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!

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.

Goat Cheese Deviled Eggs

Goat Cheese Deviled Eggs are a fantastic twist on a classic appetizer! (Brittany's Pantry)Spring is here (FINALLY!) and now that Easter is over, you can put away the pastel colors, cheap chocolate, and large white bunnies.

This is going to sound odd, but do you know what one of my favorite parts about Easter is?


I’m not talking about the boiling and dyeing and hiding and searching phase. I’m talking about the crack and peel and slice and devour phase. Using up those leftovers to make snacks. I. Love. Deviled. Eggs.

When I was little, we stored our freshly colored Easter eggs in the fridge, making sure not to waste a single one. My parents made a killer potato salad and like a true 70’s and 80’s family, we sliced hard boiled eggs on the top for garnish and sprinkled the whole she-bang with paprika. I can pretty much guarantee we were wearing polyester as well. And while we are on the subject, what was with all the hard boiled eggs during those years? Egg salad, potato salad, or deviled eggs — it was all there.

While deviled eggs may be a food fad from decades ago, they are still the first thing to go at a party. Like cornflakes and mini skirts, they seem to have withstood the test of time. And I know why! It is because they are good (duh) and the endless varieties of flavor combinations ensure that you will never get bored. Eggs are inexpensive to make, easy to peel and they will taste great no matter how artfully they are put together so don’t hesitate to let your kids help. My little ones — including the three year old — always feel SO important when I give them a kitchen task and peeling eggs keeps them busy for quite awhile. Score!

Click here to get the recipe over at the Columbia City Moms Blog!

Do you like deviled eggs as much as I do??

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!  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?

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!

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!

Mini Corn Muffins W/Bacon, Chives, & Spicy Whipped Cream CheeseSometimes, inspiration just strikes.  Like lightening.  Or in my case, like cream cheese and bacon.

A few years ago I started adding bacon and chives to my regular Mini Corn Muffins.  I still make them plain all the time and usually serve them with chili, salads, or just as a snack to munch on. But filled with extras, they make the perfect addition to a brunch buffet or breakfast.  With the green of the chives and the chunks of bacon, they are more than a little tempting all piled up in a big basket.  A nice, savory change of pace.  And bite sized!  How cool is that?!  I decided to make them for a little get together I was at recently, but couldn’t shake the fact that they looked like they needed something extra.  Hats of cream cheese?  Yuppers.  Perfect.  All dressed up and ready for a party.  It was my husbands idea to top them with bacon.  I wanted to add some chives to the top for color, but bacon won out due to the enthusiastic and threatening insistent cries of my family.  Ultimately, you decide which you want to top them with!

These are so easy to bake up and top that you are going to want to make them for everything.  Parties are an obvious choice, but set out with a spread for a bridal shower or baby shower, these are a fantastic, non-sugary appetizer that are irresistibly pop-able.  They are also the perfect size for little fingers so try adding them to a table at a kids party, with or without the topping.  Bursting with flavor and fantastic textures, these little bites of wonderfulness are definitely ready for their close-up.
Mini Corn Muffins W/Bacon, Chives, & Spicy Whipped Cream CheeseMini Corn Muffins W/Bacon, Chives, & Spicy Whipped Cream CheeseMini Corn Muffins W/Bacon, Chives, & Spicy Cream Cheese Whip
Top the mini muffins no more than an hour or two ahead of time.  You can bake them up a day ahead and store them in an airtight container.  Mix up the topping and chill it in the fridge until you are ready to use it and everything will be ready when you are.

Cook 1/2 lb of bacon and chop.  Set aside several pieces for garnish.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees and lightly spray a mini muffin tin.


Mix together in a medium bowl:
1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c buttermilk
2 eggs
1/4 c canola oil or grape seed oil
1 c white whole wheat flour or all purpose flour
1/3 c cornmeal
2 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients just until combined. Do not over mix.
Fold in 1 c frozen corn, thawed
2 T chopped fresh chives
Add most of the bacon, still reserving a bit for garnish on the tops.

Divide batter among the mini muffin cups and bake until puffed and golden, 9-11 minutes.  This makes about 40 mini muffins so it may take two passes through the oven.  Remove to a cooling rack.

4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 T sour cream
1 tsp bottled hot sauce
1 T honey
1 tsp milk

Whip all ingredients together until smooth.  Pipe, spread, or dollop whip on the cooled mini muffins and garnish with reserved bacon, more chopped chives, or both!  Can be made and assembled an hour ahead.

Pork Carnita Nachos W/Chipotle-Lime Crema via Brittany's PantrySo.  There is this big game coming up.  Maybe you have heard of it.  Its called the Super Bowl.

I only mention it because I happened to be visiting some hardcore football fans the weekend the competing teams were selected and I actually witnessed the games.   Not being a huge sports fan, it may come as no surprise that this is the first time I have ever done that.  And I must admit, it was seriously cool.  I have no official affiliation with any team so I will be cheering for the Seahawks because my sister lives in Seattle, and because I thought their crazy comeback in the last game was pretty darn awesome.  Those are good reasons, right?

I might as well and just show my true colors.  My favorite part of Super Bowl Sunday (like this isn’t a teensy bit obvious) is the food.  Don’t judge.  The dips, the cheesy foods, the salsas and chips, the burgers and hot dogs…all winners.  This is the first year in awhile that I am not sick and pregnant, taking care of a baby, or alone with small children because my husband is working.  We are going to an actual, official, bonafide Superbowl party!!  I realize how pathetic that sounds and, no, I don’t get out much.

In the spirit of the upcoming game, I wanted to bring to the event something new.  Something outrageous.  And something goooood.  I recently discovered pork carnitas at our local Mexican restaurant and I cannot. get. enough.  How have I been missing these my whole life and why has no one told me about them before?  If you are unfamiliar with them, carnitas are usually pork braised in orange or lime, and then crisped up before nestled in a warm tortilla and slathered with toppings of choice.  I know.  Amazing, right?  No matter how many times I eat them, I still want more.  So I decided to experiment and make them myself.  Research shows very little continuity in recipes so I created my own based on the flavors I noticed when taste testing them at every Mexican place I could find.  Phew!  It was tough.
Pork Carnita Nachos W/Chipotle-Lime Crema via Brittany's PantryIn order to make them more party friendly, I decided to shred the meat over chips and turn them into nachos.  The mix of textures is incredibly satisfying.  Cunchy, creamy, tangy, meaty, cheesy-hard to resist, right?  I solve that problem by choosing NOT to resist them.

I love to squeeze a lime over my carnitas just before I inhale delicately enjoy them for a meal, but a cool dollop of sour cream is my favorite part.  I decided to combine the two (using plain yogurt instead as a healthy substitute) and just drizzle it over the whole darn thing.  Fresh lime + creamy yogurt = addictive sauce on every bite!  So much easier to munch on with a crowd!  Crema is just a fancy word for a Mexican sour cream, so my version is a very loose interpretation of that!  But tasty.  Very tasty.  These are just so darn good, you may be too distracted to watch the game.
Pork Carnita Nachos W/Chipotle-Lime Crema via Brittany's PantryThis picture is actually a different batch from the photos above.  Notice the crazy amount of cheese.  Ooey, gooey, goodness.

Carnita Nachos W/Chipotle-Lime ‘Crema’
You can easily make the pork on a weekend and either chill it for later in the week, or freeze it for later in the month.  Either way, it makes for a speedy meal to throw together.  Make sure to serve any extra crema on the side.  Its spicy and tangy and incredibly awesome with these nachos.  Feel free to slather it on anything else that sounds good too!

For the pork:
4-5 pounds pork butt, boston butt, or pork shoulder, trimmed of its large fat cap and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 c orange juice
1 c chicken broth, homemade or canned
1/4 c lime juice

Don’t trim the meat too much!  All that fat is flavor, baby!  Put all ingredients in a large slow cooker and turn on high for 4-5 hours, or low for 6-7 hours, or just until the meat holds it shape, but is tender and easily pulls apart with a fork.  Remove the meat with a large, slotted spoon and discard the cooking liquid.  Freeze, chill, or make nachos!!

For the crema:
1 c plain, fat free greek yogurt, such as Chobani
2 T fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp ground chipotle pepper
large pinch of salt
black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and set aside.

For the nachos:
large corn tortilla chips (the hint of lime ones are stellar here)
shredded pork
1 c canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large tomato, chopped, or 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
2 green onions, chopped
2 c shredded cheese, jack, cheddar, or a mix of both
quartered limes for garnish
Chipotle Lime Crema

Layer the nachos in a cast-iron pan or another oven proof pan or platter.  Start with a generous layer of chips, then break up the chunks of pork, covering it with as much as you like.  Note: you will only use about half of the amount from the recipe above.  Next, sprinkle with the black beans, then the onions and tomatoes, and lastly the cheese.  Tuck the whole she-bang under the broiler until the cheese melts, remove (with hot pads!!) and drizzle generously with the crema.  Serve with lime wedges to squeeze on the nachos and any extra crema.  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