Maple Chipotle Baked Beans

Maple Chipotle Baked Beans 1

As much as I love summer, we’ve had a few tiny glimpses into fall weather lately and I’m so into it. I mean, sweaters and scarves and riding boots. But, can we keep summer food? I just love barbeques full of grilling and pasta salads and all things fresh. Baked beans always make me think of summer but with a change in the air, fall food is definitely on my mind. So I came up with a little compromise, summer baked beans but the maple and spice makes them seem perfect for fall.

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These beans are sweet, spicy and smoky and are made completely from scratch. I don’t know what it is about making beans from dry that makes it so much more satisfying to me. But if you don’t feel the same way, don’t have the time or just can’t remember to soak them overnight (hello me at times), you can absolutely make them with canned, rinsed beans instead. Just cut the cooking time in half so you don’t end up with a bowl of mush.
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The bacon running throughout is pretty spectacular too. Because bacon = better.

Maple Chipotle Baked Beans

1 lb. dry great northern beans, soaked overnight
4 cups chicken stock 1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely minced
3/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup barbeque sauce
Salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. maple syrup
3 Tbsp. chipotle in adobo sauce, finely minced
12 oz. thick cut maple bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

1. Heat a skillet to medium heat. Add olive oil and saute the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes, until translucent.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked onion and garlic, chicken stock, ketchup, barbeque sauce, salt, pepper, tomato paste, brown sugar, maple syrup, chipotle in adobo and bacon.

3. Combine beans and sauce mixture in a slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours. Turn slow cooker to high and cook another 2-3 hours, stirring often. If they get too thick, add a bit of water until desired texture is reached (I didn’t have to do this).

Sweet Corn, Bacon and Cheddar Risotto

I went and took a fancy Italian dish and trashed it up. Or Americanized it. Whichever phrase you prefer. But seriously though, who doesn’t love bacon, cheddar and corn? And creamy rice. Duh.
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I made this Saturday night for an impromptu date night at home after we got the kids to bed. We love to cook up a big, non-kid friendly dinner together at home every once and awhile since it’s so hard to get out on our own. We usually turn on some music, grill steaks the kids wouldn’t eat and make something fancy to go with it. Joel requested risotto this time so I looked around the fridge and pantry to see what we had and this is what I came up with.

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This hits on all those delicious taste buds and leaves you full and happy. The corn is sweet, the cheddar is sharp, the bacon is salty and smoky. Pretty much perfection in a pan. And it’s a fun and different way to use up that sweet corn before it’s gone for the season.
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This is obviously amazing with fresh corn cut from the cob, but you can also substitute with frozen corn (thawed first) when fresh isn’t available.

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If you want to serve it to the kids and are worried about the wine, just sub in additional chicken broth. This made a huge batch so the kids had it leftover for lunch with us the next day and they totally loved it too. “Like a fancy mac-n-cheese” said Noah.
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Because as you all should know by now, carbs and cheese are our favorites around here.

Sweet Corn, Bacon and Cheddar Risotto

2 cups water
32 oz. low sodium chicken broth
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 small onion, finely minced
2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sweet corn, cut from cob or thawed from frozen
6 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

1. Combine water and broth in a saucepan and warm over medium-low heat.

2. Melt butter in a large nonstick saucepan over medium heat and add olive oil. Add onion and saute for about 3 minutes, or until softened and translucent. Add rice; cook 2 minutes, uncovered, stirring constantly. Stir in wine and cook 30 seconds or until the liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt to the risotto.

3. Add broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth mixture is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total) until broth is gone or rice is cooked through. About 10 minutes in, stir in the corn. Once the rice is done, remove from heat and stir in cheddar.

Caprese Tortellini Salad

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In a few weeks, we’ll be driving to Colorado for our annual family vacation. Road trip with two kids, yay…. Really though they should do well since it’s not too far of a drive. The first night we are staying in Denver and going to Elitch Gardens Theme Park. We’ll be there on my birthday so I need some good family friendly restaurant suggestions. After our day in Denver we’re going to a little town about 45 minutes from Colorado Springs for the rest of our trip. Again, restaurant and activity suggestions are more than welcome.
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With the kids, we’re going to try and keep it more low key which totally goes against everything I stand for when it comes to vacation but it makes it much more enjoyable in the end. We learned that the hard way with our first family vacation after Noah was born. He was about 9 months old and we went to Chicago. I’d never been before so I wanted to see and do everything in the city. Although Noah was a really easy going baby, those kind of plans aren’t always kid friendly. He was miserable and overtired by the end of each day which in turn made us grumpy. It turned out to be a not so fun trip which was really a bummer for our first trip. I don’t know why we though we could run the way we did pre-child. And also, why we thought it would be a good idea to bring a full size stroller on the train. Seriously, we did that. I’m sure people hated us. I would have. The whole trip is funny to look back on now but man were we ticked back then.

Since we’re staying in a house in Colorado, we are going to be cooking most of our meals but not every meal. It is vacation after all! We’re planning quick, easy meals to maximize our time in the beautiful mountains. And this pasta salad is the perfect side dish for the occasion. It comes together in minutes and is even better if made the night before.
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For the homemade balsamic vinaigrette, simply place all ingredients in a mason jar and shake, shake, shake. Then chop the tomatoes and mozzarella. All of this can be done while cooking the tortellini. Boom. Throw some brats and veggies on the grill and dinner is served.

This would be great to serve for the 4th of July. And since it contains no mayo, you don’t have to worry about it sitting out for awhile. Quick side dish = more time to blow up stuff. That’s always a plus in my book. Speaking of fireworks, let me leave you with this little tip. Several firecrackers in a Sams Club size can of corn (opened completely of course) is always, always a good idea. Not that I speak from experience…..
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Did a bit of my redneck just come out?

Caprese Tortellini Salad

1 cup balsamic vinaigrette (recipe follows)
12 oz. cheese tortellini, cooked according to package directions
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
3 oz. mozzarella, finely diced

For the balsamic vinaigrette:
recipe adapted from Goodness Gracious

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. dried parsley
2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. onion powder
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tsp. kosher salt

1. For the dressing: combine all ingredients in a jar and shake to combine. Store in refrigerator.

2. Combine the tortellini, 1 cup dressing, tomatoes and mozzarella in a bowl and gently toss. For best results, make at least a few hours in advance.

 

Baked Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

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I ran my first 5K on Saturday and considering I’ve run only one other time in 2015, I would consider it a success. I didn’t run the entire time but most of it and was able to beat the goal I had set for myself. Plus, it was for a cause very near and dear to my heart so I would be proud no matter what. I’m going to talk about it more on Friday so stay tuned for that.
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Last week we were craving some comfort food so I whipped up some BBQ meatballs (recipe coming soon) and this delicious, cheesy, creamy bowl of goodness. I like potatoes in any form but these may be my new favorite. Joel thought the only thing that would make them better is bacon. Because bacon makes everything better.
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Sharp cheddar is diced small and stirred throughout then shredded and sprinkled on top with some crispy whole wheat panko (that makes them healthy) and parsley. The crispy panko topping gives a nice crunchy texture to the smooth, creamy potatoes.
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A little buttermilk is added to the potatoes to provide some tanginess. I’m kind of addicted to buttermilk in mashed potatoes ever since these bad boys. And adding cheese is always a good choice.
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I know mashed potatoes are more of a winter food but if you are having the weather we have lately, rainy and dreary, these will warm and fill you up.
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Baked Cheddar Mashed Potatoes

3 lbs. potatoes, peeled and diced
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dice 4 ounces of the cheddar into small, 1/4-inch pieces. Shred the other half. Place potatoes in a pan and cover completely with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, or until fork tender. Drain potatoes and return to pan.

2. Mash potatoes then add butter, buttermilk, milk, salt and pepper. Stir in the cubed cheddar. Place in a greased baking dish. In a small bowl, mix shredded cheese, panko and parsley. Sprinkle over the potatoes and bake for 15-20 minutes.
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Roasted Green Beans

I’m a parent to a picky four year old. He used to eat everything I put in front of him but as he’s gotten older, he’s gotten more and more selective. This is all very unfortunate as I have branched out since starting up this little blog and make a lot of unique meals that are not so common here in the Midwest. My palate has really increased and I am way less picky than I used to be. Of course there are still things I don’t enjoy but I’m pretty proud of some of the things I make these days.
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Green beans are a veggie I have had a hard time supporting. They just aren’t appealing to me but since I have a child to set an example for, I choke them down so that he can see that I was eating them “to make me healthy and strong.” That line works sometimes. He likes muscles.

Last week I decided to roast them in hopes that they would be a bit more bearable to consume. I love the transformation of veggies when they are roasted, especially cauliflower. They get all brown and crispy and all their natural sweetness comes out. I figured it could only up the green beans game. It doesn’t just make them bearable but really tasty! Seriously, I actually enjoyed them and went back for seconds. Pretty sure this is the only way green beans will be prepared in my house going forward. And an added bonus, they are so easy for a weeknight meal.
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Roasted Green Beans

12 oz. fresh green beans
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. fresh black pepper
1/2 tsp. roasted garlic powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss all ingredients together in a bowl. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. Flip, then roast another 10-15 minutes.

Buttermilk and Feta Mashed Potatoes

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So I’m pretty sure I have the weirdest kid in the world. He doesn’t like potatoes. POTATOES. Seriously, not mashed, baked, fried….nothing. What kid, or person really, doesn’t like fries? It’s seriously concerning and makes me question whether he’s really mine. Because this lady never met a potato she didn’t like.

I usually make these potatoes with gorgonzola (ala How Sweet It Is) but we had some leftover feta from pizza night so I gave it a try. It was definitely a good decision. I loved the creamy, saltiness the that it brought to the potatoes.
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We had these on Fat Tuesday with our ridiculous steaks but they would be equally delicious with chicken or pork. Or roasted veggies if your torturing yourself and not eating meat. I mean, if you’re a vegetarian.
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Buttermilk and Feta Mashed Potatoes

3 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and chunked
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup crumbled feta

1. Place potatoes in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and cook for 10-15 minutes or until fork tender.

2. Drain the potatoes and put them back in the pan. Add butter and salt and mash potatoes. Slowly add in buttermilk as you mash, adding more or less depending on your preference. Stir in crumbled feta and leave on heat for a couple minutes to allow it to melt. Serve immediately.

Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes

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Need a quick, last minute sweet potato recipe for Thursday? Well, I have the perfect recipe for you. These are so unbelievably good and really easy too. It’s always nice to have something simple to throw together when you have a million other things going on.

Another added bonus, I always have all these ingredients on hand so they would be a great side dish on a busy weeknight too. Make them. Enjoy them.
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Butter Pecan Sweet Potatoes
recipe from Martha Stewart

8 medium sweet potatoes (5 pounds)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Coarse salt
2 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
1/3 cup pecan pieces

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel sweet potatoes and slice  into 1/2-inch thick coins then cut each in half. Toss with olive oil and salt and lay in single layer on two baking sheets.

2. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven then sprinkle each pan evenly with the butter, brown sugar and pecans. Return to the oven and bake for 8 minutes.