Tomato Mascarpone Risotto

Tomato Mascarpone Risotto
Does anyone else feel super fancy when they eat risotto or is it just me? Have I watched too many episodes of Hell’s Kitchen? I think maybe the answer is yes.
Tomato Mascarpone Risotto
I’ve made classic risotto several times with good results but when I saw this recipe, I knew it would be special. And I was so right. It’s been over a week since I made it and I haven’t stopped dreaming about it. And you know how I said earlier that risotto = fancy in my book? Well, this recipe tastes like some spaghettios got all dressed up for prom. Yep, I loved them as a kid so this totally brought me back. But in a much more sophisticated manner. So so good.
Tomato Mascarpone Risotto
I also equate fancy with romantic so this would totally be a hit for Valentine’s day. Grill a steak or some chicken that has been marinated in balsamic vinaigrette and mix up a simple side salad for a perfectly delicious and romantic meal. Because I’ve never met a carb I didn’t like, I most definitely would be won over with this starchy goodness.

Tomato Mascarpone Risotto
recipe from The Recipe Girl Cookbook

3 cups chicken stock
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
2 Tbsp. freshly chopped basil
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a medium saucepan, combine broth and tomato sauce and heat over low heat until just warmed, 4 to 5 minutes.

2. In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and continue cooking for another minute. Stir in the rice and cook until it’s glossy in appearance about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine, stir and let the liquid evaporate. Stir in the salt. Add the warmed tomato broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring occasionally. When the broth has just about been completely absorbed by the rice, add another 1/2 cup. Continue to cook and stir and add broth in 1/2 cup increments until all the broth has been absorbed and the risotto is tender but still firm to the bite, 20 to 25 minutes.

3. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the mascarpone, basil and pepper. Serve immediately.

Blackened Beef Stir-Fry

Blackened Beef Stir Fry 1
So before I get to this recipe, I have to let you know that my computer is currently on the fritz. We have another so you wouldn’t think this would be a big problem but all of my photos are on my laptop along with the recipes. I have finally run into a problem of being too prepared and uploading my pictures too often. Luckily, these pictures were still on my camera so I have a recipe to share with you today. I do have photos of another recipe but I have to do some searching to see if I can find the link as I have it bookmarked on my laptop. Hopefully I will be back up and running by Monday but we still haven’t figured out the issue so we’ll see. If any of you have had any issues with a charger suddenly not working, please let me know. We aren’t sure if it’s the charger, battery or motherboard but it’s totally dead. In the meantime, I will work on whipping up some new recipes and taking photos so that I have some deliciousness to share. Enough with my sad story.
Blackened Beef Stir Fry 3
Whenever I think of stir-fry or whip up a quick one, soy sauce or teriyaki automatically pops into my head. So, when I was leafing through my cookbooks for some different recipes to try, this one jumped off the page at me. Stir-fry with blackening spice and tomato paste? I would have never thought of it but it was quite delicious.

I usually double the sauce for these types of recipes, but I didn’t this time and I wish I would have. We are the type of people who like extra sauce to drizzle over the rice and there wasn’t quite enough for that. I left the recipe as is but if you like things saucy, go ahead and double it.
Blackened Beef Stir Fry 4
Blackened Beef Stir-Fry
recipe from Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook

12 oz. boneless beef top sirloin steak or top round steak
2 1/4 tsp. blackening seasoning
2/3 cup water
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. instant beef bouillon granules
2 Tbsp. cooking oil
2 cups broccoli florets
1 cup sliced carrot
3 cups cooked rice

1. Thinly slice beef against the grain into bite-size pieces (it is easier to cut if it is partially frozen). Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons of the blackening spice and toss to coat.

2. In a small bowl, mix water, remaining 1/4 tsp. blackening spice, tomato paste, cornstarch and beef bouillon granules. Set aside.

3. Heat a wok over medium high heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. Saute broccoli and carrots for 3-4 minutes until tender crisp. Remove from the wok. Add remaining oil and quickly stir-fry the beef for about 2 minutes. Push the beef to the side and add in the sauce. Cook until thickened then mix in the beef and veggies until fully coated in sauce. Serve over rice.
Blackened Beef Stir Fry 2

Pepperoni Sauce

Pepperoni Sauce 2
Have you ever done something that you immediately regret? I am usually a pretty cautious person and think things through but lately I’ve been having some blonde moments. I call pregnancy brain. It’s not been anything major but just enough to make me slap my head and think “well that was dumb.”

I totally had one of those moments when making this sauce. Who in the world thinks wearing a white shirt while making a tomato sauce is a good idea? Apparently me. And it will surely end in tragedy. I even thought as I was pouring the sauce into my food processor “I better be careful otherwise I am going to splat…” and it was done….all over my shirt. The pasta needed to be drained and the sauce smooth-ified so I kept on working. What are you gonna do? And just and fyi, Oxyclean gets this out of clothing. Ya know, in case you may possibly encounter the same problem.
Pepperoni Sauce 5
Moral of the story, wear an apron. And make this sauce, because it’s worth any stain you may encounter.
Pepperoni Sauce 3
I would have never thought of adding pepperoni to a tomato sauce and pureeing it but I am so glad I stumbled upon the idea. The recipe is from the Bravo show Top Chef and it’s definitely worthy.

I love the spiciness that the pepperoni lends to the sauce and the addition of fennel really puts it over the top. I love fennel so I doubled the amount and it was just perfect. I also bumped down the red pepper flakes since, as you know, I live with a big wimp (who I love dearly) who can’t handle the heat. Noah even likes things spicier…that’s my boy. So, adjust the spices as you prefer.
Pepperoni Sauce 7
If this was healthier, I would eat it once a week. So unique and delish!

Pepperoni Sauce
recipe adapted from Cassie Craves

6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
5 medium cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb. pepperoni, cut into thin slices
2 tsp. fennel seed, toasted
1/2 – 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
14 oz. canned Italian tomatoes, chopped, with their juices
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 fresh bay leaf
Parmesan, for topping, optional

1. In a dry skillet heated to medium, toast the fennel seed making sure to constantly move them around. Once they slightly darken and become fragrant they are ready. Remove from the pan.

2. In a large, heavy bottomed skillet (I used the same as the one used to toast the fennel), heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic until softened and caramelization begins, 5-10 minutes.

3. Stir in the pepperoni and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in fennel and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute.

4. Stir in the tomatoes, chicken broth and bay leaf to the pepperoni mixture. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 45 minutes. Stir the sauce occasionally.

5. Remove the skillet from heat and fish out the bay leaf. Place sauce, you may need to do this in batches, into your food processor or blender and process until smooth. Serve over hot cooked pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan if you wish.

Cucumber Tomato Salad

Cucumber Tomato Salad 1
So, I know I have already shared a couple cucumber salad recipes with you all (here and here) but Noah and I are big cucumber fans and we go through quite a few every week. Because of this, we are always looking for new ways to eat them and this is our current favorite. My mom whipped this up one night when we were over for dinner and it was amazing and so simple.
Cucumber Tomato Salad 3
And the ingredients are ones I almost always have on hand. I don’t think I have to tell you how much I love those kinds of recipes!

The recipe recommends making this two hours before you are going to serve it but it is soo much better the next day so if you have the time, mix it up the night before so that it has time to marinate and soak up the delicious dressing.
Cucumber Tomato Salad 4

This is going to be my official summer side dish. Delish!

Cucumber Tomato Salad

3 English cucumbers, washed and thinly sliced
3 medium tomatoes, washed and diced into bite size chunks
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup vinegar (I used plain ‘ole white but red wine vinegar would be really tasty too)
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/4 cup oil (veggie or canola)
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. course ground pepper

Place cucumbers, tomatoes and onions in a medium sized bowl. Add vinegar, sugar, water, oil, salt and pepper to a mason jar or some container with a tight seal. Shake until thoroughly combined. Pour over veggies and stir to combine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight) before serving.
Cucumber Tomato Salad 3

Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup

Let me begin by telling you I am not a big fan of tomato soup. But Joel on the other hand is and has been begging for grilled cheese and tomato soup since the cold weather hit. I finally gave in but just couldn’t go the traditional route….it grosses me out.
Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup
So I went on the hunt for a creamy version that would have more purpose than just a dunk for the grilled cheese (although that’s all Joel really wants it for anyway). I came across this creamy tomato tortellini soup on Taste of Home’s website and knew it would be a good balance of what he liked and what I was looking for in a soup to share with you all.

It starts with canned tomato soup and veggie broth which helps bring this soup together in about 15 minutes. It’s great for busy, chilly evenings when you don’t have a lot of time but want something warm and comforting. The tortellini bring some heft to the soup and make it a lot more filling than the average tomato soup. And the added spices jazz up the canned ingredients. It’s perfect served alongside the ultimate grilled cheese.
Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup
Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup
recipe from Taste of Home

1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini (I used frozen)
2 cans (10-3/4 ounces each) reduced-sodium condensed tomato soup, undiluted
2 cups vegetable broth
2 cups 2% milk
2 cups half-and-half cream
1/2 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (I left these out)
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Additional shredded Parmesan cheese, optional

1. Cook tortellini according to package directions.

2. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, combine the soup, broth, milk, cream, tomatoes and seasonings. Heat through, stirring frequently. Drain tortellini; carefully add to soup. Stir in cheese. Sprinkle each serving with additional cheese if desired. Yield: 10 servings.

One Pot Spaghetti {Crazy Cooking Challenge}

One Pot Spaghetti
The Crazy Cooking Challenge is upon us again and this time around it’s spaghetti for the making. My heart sank a little when I saw that was the dish to prepare this month. I know a lot of people absolutely love spaghetti but Joel and I just aren’t big fans of red sauce. It’s one of those meals that I really have to be in the mood to eat. And then it has to have ground beef or Italian sausage which sadly are off limits for the next 31 days. This no meat thing has been hard, not as hard as I thought it would be but still difficult. I can’t get bacon off my brain. Mmmm, bacon. Ok, so I got distracted…back to the post.
One Pot Spaghetti
I wanted to find an easy, weeknight option that would still be tasty without meat. I have made a one-pot spaghetti from a cookbook many times that is very similar and really enjoyed it so I figured that this would be a winner. I searched around the blog world and found this recipe over at Recipe Shoebox. And oh my gosh, I am so glad I stumbled upon it! There are some recipes that sound incredible…just look at the dessert index, it is ridiculous in such a good way!

This spaghetti was a great, easy meal that was done in about 25 minutes (if you make it with ground beef or sausage it will take a bit longer). You can’t beat that. And the ingredient list was all staples that I always have in my pantry. I was a little worried that adding that much water would dilute the sauce but it was surprisingly tomato-y and flavorful. I might even add more basil next time around but I kind of have a thing for basil.
One Pot Spaghetti
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One Pot Spaghetti
recipe from Recipe Shoebox

1 lb. ground beef or ground sausage (I left this out since we aren’t eating meat right now)
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large can (32-ounces) chicken broth (4 cups)
3 cups water
2 cans (6-ounces each) tomato paste
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 box (12-ounces) dried spaghetti, broken
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. In a large saucepan cook the ground beef and/or sausage, onion, and garlic until meat is brown and onion is tender.  Drain. Or, if making this vegetarian like I did, add a little olive oil to a large saucepan and saute onion and garlic until tender.

2. Stir  in the broth, water, tomato paste, oregano, basil, and pepper.   Bring to a boil.  Add the broken spaghetti, a little at a time,  stirring  constantly.  Return to a boil; reduce heat.  Boil gently,  uncovered,  for 17-20 minutes or until spaghetti is tender and sauce is of the desired consistency, stirring frequently.  Serve with Parmesan  cheese.   Enjoy!

Recipe linked to  Mangia Monday, Totally Tasty Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Tempt My Tummy Tuesday, Cast Party Wednesday, What I Whipped Up Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday and These Chicks Cooked.

Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad

I kind of have an addiction to pasta salad (well any pasta really if we are being honest here) and this is one of the best ones I have ever made. I love balsamic vinegar and the combination of it with all the other ingredients was just amazing. It was really fresh and bright and felt lighter than a lot of other recipes I have tried in the past.

While this is really great for a summer barbeque side dish, I still really enjoy it in the winter as a meal served with a simple green salad. The chicken, bacon and veggies make it filling and satisfying. I recommend making this the night before so that all the flavors can meld and come together. If you do this, I would wait until serving to mix in the gorgonzola and parmesan cheeses so that they don’t get soggy or mushy.

You have to give this a try! It is so yummy!

Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad
recipe from Taste of Home

3 cups uncooked bow tie pasta
4 cups cubed cooked chicken breast (I shredded a rotisserie chicken)
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped red onion
4 bacon strips, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water; transfer to a large bowl. Add the chicken, tomatoes, onion, bacon and Gorgonzola cheese.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the oil, basil, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, salt and pepper. Drizzle over salad and toss to coat; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Yield: 8 servings.