Friday, October 25, 2013

*Tortellini Soup in the Slow Cooker*

My Mom told me that my Aunt Kim made this when she was in Fayetteville & that it was a must try.  She was right!  I thought it was delish.  And, it is easy peasy, quick to make, budget friendly, & plenty for left overs, too.  All of those are BIG +++ in my book.

24 oz jar prepared spaghetti sauce + 1/2 lb browned lean ground beef + 1/2 lb browned spicy Italian sausage (If you would like to do turkey & spicy turkey sausage that would be good, too!)
1/2 bag (4.5 oz) fresh spinach leaves
4 Cups chicken broth
8 oz cream cheese (the original recipe calls for regular b/c says fat free clumps up in the crock pot ... you could try 1/3 less fat if you'd like!)
8 oz sliced fresh mushrooms
16 oz cheese tortellini (frozen or unfrozen is fine)
parmesan cheese

Combine spaghetti sauce, meat, spinach, cream cheese, chicken broth, and mushrooms in a slow-cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours, on high for 2-3.

20 minutes before serving, turn heat to high if it isn't already an stir in tortellini. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until tender and hot.
Serve topped with parmesan cheese.

Monday, October 21, 2013

*Fall Salad*

I made this salad for supper club & LOVED it.  The salad dressing was hands down my favorite vinaigrette I have made for this time of the year.  I highly recommend it!

Sorry I forgot to take a picture :-(
Dressing Ingredients:
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons maple syrup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine all ingredients in a hand blender/blender/food processor until smooth.
In the salad I did romaine lettuce, fresh shaved parmesan, 2 red pears (peeled & sliced), & candied pecans.
I served the salad with the butternut squash & spinach lasagna rolls & French bread. 
For appetizer I did my bacon wrapped chicken bites appetizer(I recommend marinating these overnight).  I felt like I needed to do some sort of meat so the guys wouldn't be bothered by the meatless entrée :-)  And, I did an apple crumb for dessert w/vanilla bean ice cream. 
Original salad dressing recipe is found here.  The original recipe has different types of lettuce, but I went with romaine since that is always a good bet with a large group of people.

*Fall Spirit*

We have done some decorating around the house to get in the Fall spirit and I thought I might as well share a few pictures :-)  We had supper club at our house 2 weeks ago, so that helped us get motivated!  The flowers were for the tables the night of supper club.


And  last but not least, the cute owl vase my Mom got me.  Kappa's are owls too, ya know ;-)

*Spaghetti Squash with Cheese & Fresh Spinach*

As I am sure some of you have noticed, I absolutely love Gina's Skinny Taste blog.  It is one of my favorites because everything I have tried is great, and also low cal.  I made this for Jay O. & me last week & it was delish.  It was great the next day for lunch, too.  I would not say it tastes like mac n' cheese ... just kind of like I will never say cauliflower tastes like mashed potatoes ... but it is great to have this when you're craving some cheesy goodness! And, it's a great dish for meatless Monday's :-)

Original Recipe found here.

5 1/2 cups cooked spaghetti squash (I used one LARGE spaghetti squash)
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
1/4 cup flour (use 2 tbsp corn starch for gf)
2 cups skim milk
1 cup fat free chicken broth (vegetable broth for vegetarian)
8 oz 2% reduced fat mild cheddar
salt and pepper, to taste
4 cups (about 4 oz) baby spinach
1/8 cup grated parmesan


Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Poke holes in squash with a fork.  Bake the squash whole on a baking sheet until tender (knife should be able to pierce through the squash easily when done) about 1 hour - 1 hour 15 min.  Let squash cool about 15 minutes.  Cut spaghetti squash in half.  Remove seeds.  Then separate the strands of squash with a fork & place strands in a medium bowl (discard shells).   Maintain the oven temperature. 

Heat butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook about 2 minutes. Stir in flour. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring continually 3 - 4 minutes.

Add milk and chicken broth and continue whisking, raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil and becomes smooth and thick, about 2 minutes stirring; season with salt and pepper.

Once it becomes thick, remove from heat, add cheddar cheese and mix well until cheese is melted. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, add cooked spaghetti squash and baby spinach, pour into a baking dish and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Bake until bubbly and golden 25 to 30 minutes.

Friday, October 4, 2013

*Butternut Squash & Spinach Lasagna Rolls*

Yes, I am actually posting a recipe ... it's a surprise, right?! Since starting my new job in June (which I LOVE) I have been really focused & haven't been very creative with my cooking.  This week I decided to change it up a bit, & this recipe was fantastic.  It is perfect for Fall with the butternut squash parmesan sauce you make with garlic & shallots.  Jay O. is not a big veggie eater & loved this.  I highly recommend you try it this weekend if possible!!!

I will warn you, it is a tad time consuming.  I would make sure to have about 1  - 1.5 hour's on your hands to prepare the dish for baking.

The original recipe is from Gina's Skinny Taste Recipe's

The only thing I came across with the recipe was that putting 1/3 cup of the cheese/spinach mixture into each noodle did not quite make 9 rolls.  So, I would recommend adding additional cheese to your mixture, putting a little less in each roll, or just making 8 :-)

For the Butternut Parmesan Sauce:
1 lb butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh grated parmesan cheese
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the Lasagna:
9  lasagna noodles, cooked

10 oz package frozen chopped spinach, heated and squeezed well
15 oz fat free  or part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg
salt and fresh pepper
~3 ounces part skim shredded Italian Blend Cheese
1 tablespoon parsley, minced

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Half butternut squash, remove seeds & excess fiber.  Then peel the outside of the butternut squash & cut squash into large cubes.  Add butternut squash to boiling water & cook until soft . Remove squash with a slotted spoon, reserve about 1 cup of the water and set aside, then blend until smooth with a food processor or immersion blender, adding 1/4 cup  of the reserved liquid to thin out.

Meanwhile, in a large deep non-stick skillet, add the oil, sauté the shallots and garlic over medium-low heat until soft and golden, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add pureed butternut squash, season with salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Add a snitch more of the reserved water to your desired consistency. Stir in ~2 1/2 Tbsp of the parmesan cheese and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Ladle about 1/2 cup butternut sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 12 baking dish.

Combine spinach, ricotta, Parmesan, egg, salt and pepper in a medium bowl.

Place a piece of wax paper on the counter and lay out lasagna noodles. Make sure noodles are dry. Take 1/3 cup of ricotta mixture and spread evenly over noodle. Roll carefully and place seam side down onto the baking dish. Repeat with remaining noodles.

Ladle most of remaining sauce over the noodles in the baking dish and top each one with 1 tbsp Italian cheese blend. Put foil over baking dish and bake for 40 minutes, or until cheese is melted & bubbly.

To serve, ladle additional sauce onto plates & place lasagna roll on top (optional). 

As everyone says, "Happy Fall, Y'all!!!"