Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Fellow Blogger Love: Baked Chicken Chimichangas

I love food bloggers. Seriously. I find so many fantastic recipes and inspirations for my own recipes just by hitting up Pinterest or perusing some of my favorite blogs. This week I found a fabulous recipe for Baked Chicken Chimichangas courtesy of The Girl Who Ate Everything (how much do you love that title?) and just had to share!

Go check out her blog for more fantastic recipes and definitely give these simple chimichangas a try, we loved them and I love that I didn't have to fry them in oil and still got a great crispy outer tortilla texture on them from the oven!

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Monday, March 2, 2015

How To Use Up Squash: Stuffed Shells

I don't know about you, but by this time of year I am getting sick of winter veggies and I start longing for things like fresh asparagus, tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes and a salad instead of roasted veggies. Still, we have quite a few more weeks to go before I can start using all those springtime veggies I crave so I'm left with winter staples: hearty greens, butternut squash and potatoes.

Don't get me wrong, I love fall and winter staples, but since they've been the main source of our diet since October, by March I'm getting more than a little bored. That's why I was looking for a new way to use up some of the butternut squash lurking in my pantry and stumbled across the idea for stuffed shells.

This recipe is simple, hearty and really delicious, plus it uses squash and spinach so its a wintertime veggie win! You can use sausage in this recipe (the way I did) or swap in ground chicken or turkey and just make sure to season it up well with sage, salt and pepper. That will make it a little leaner without compromising much of the flavor. Also, the butternut squash is smooth and creamy in the sauce, rather than in roasted chunks, which definitely makes it taste like a brand new ingredient, rather than yet another squash dish.

Butternut Squash & Sausage Stuffed Shells

1 butternut squash (peeled and cubed)
1/2 yellow onion (sliced)
1 cup whole milk
1 cup chicken broth
1 lb. mild sausage
2 cups raw spinach leaves
3 cloves garlic (minced)
15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
1 egg
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 lb. jumbo pasta shells (cooked al dente and slightly cooled)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Heat the oven to 400 degrees, toss the onion and butternut squash with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about an hour until tender and golden.

Brown the sausage over medium heat, then add the spinach and garlic to the pan. Cook until the spinach is just wilted, then remove from heat.

Puree the onion and squash in the bowl of a food processor or blender. Add in the milk and broth, pulsing until completely smooth. 

Pour the sauce into the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish and set aside. 

Combine the ricotta, parmesan and egg in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle well with salt and pepper before adding in the sausage/spinach mixture. Fill the cooked pasta shells evenly with the ricotta filling and arrange on top of the sauce in the baking dish. Sprinkle with the Panko breadcrumbs and drizzle lightly with olive oil.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes to crisp up the top.

Recipe slightly adapted from Rachel Schultz

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Stromboli The First

I've never made stromboli, does that make me weird? Well, after last night I can't say that anymore so who cares, right? I honestly have no idea why I never thought to attempt it, I make a mean pizza and I can roll burritos like its my job, so why not combine those two skill sets?

My husband is a huge fan of calzones and stromboli and last week while making the grocery list it just hit me out of the blue to throw one together. Now, the recipe below is for a veggie-based stromboli, but you can honestly throw anything you want in one of these things! I would recommend cooking any veggies you add (ie mushrooms, spinach) to make sure you get all the water out of them otherwise your stromboli will be a hot mushy mess.

You can pick up pre-made pizza dough just about anywhere these days but it is so insanely easy to make I always just whip up a batch from scratch, all you need is yeast, water, flour and salt...maybe some olive oil for potential damage control (if the dough is too dry). That's it! Oh and about an hour of your time...to watch it rise. The pizza dough recipe I share below can be used for any pizza/stromboli/calzone so definitely check it out. One of my favorite homemade pizzas is my Chicken Tikka Masala Pizza, another standby in our house is a basic pepperoni and shroom pie. We love pizza around here!

Veggie Stromboli

Ingredients for the Dough
2 1/2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup warm water (at least 100 degrees)
1 packet instant dry yeast
1 tsp. granulated sugar or honey
Extra virgin olive oil (optional)

Ingredients for the Stromboli
1/2 cup pitted black olives (drained)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil
2 tbsp. of the oil from the sun-dried tomato jar
12 slices of provolone cheese
10 oz box of frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed really well to remove the water)
8 oz roasted red peppers (if you use jarred ones, pat them dry before slicing into strips)
1 egg
Kosher salt
1 tbsp. Italian Seasoning (I love Penzey's version)
Marinara sauce (warmed for serving)

Combine the warm water with the instant yeast in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Sprinkle on the sugar (or use honey) and let sit for 5 minutes until foamy. This means your yeast is alive (hooray!), so then go ahead and add in the flour and salt. Mix well, using the dough hook, until the dough comes together in a ball around the hook. If you dough looks too dry add in a drizzle of olive oil. If it looks too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour until you get the consistency you like.

Spray a large glass/ceramic/metal bowl with nonstick cooking spray and add the dough to the bowl, misting the top with the spray before covering with plastic wrap. Set aside to rise for at least 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Flour a clean work surface and roll out the dough to about a 14x10 inch size, making sure it is uniformly thick. I had a few patches in my first batch that were a little thin, don't worry, the stromboli still tasted fantastic it just was a little less pretty.

Add the black olives, sun-dried tomatoes and oil into the bowl of a min-food processor and process until a paste comes together. Spread onto the dough, leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Next, layer on the slices of cheese.

Top with the spinach and roasted red peppers. Now, you want to roll the stromboli burrito-style by folding in the shorter ends about an inch or so over the toppings before rolling it length-wise. Once you have it rolled (congrats!), place it on a foil-lined and greased baking sheet (or use a stone) seam-side down.

Lightly beat the egg and brush it over the stromboli. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and the Italian seasoning before baking about 30 minutes at 400 degrees until golden and hollow-sounding when tapped.

Let the stromboli cool 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving with marinara sauce on the side.

Note: If you aren't crazy about black olives (my husband and I usually hate them), don't worry, you don't taste them at all. They just mix flavors with the sun-dried tomato mixture and produce this really flavorful spread. If you still aren't convinced, use pesto as a spread instead of the olive/tomato mixture.

Original recipe adapted from Pip & Ebby

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