Sauteed butternut squash salad

I don’t know if I am getting more adventurous in the kitchen or just coming into my own, but I have once again not followed a recipe AND with something I have never cooked before! Yes, I am ashamed to admit, I have never had butternut squash up until I made this dish and omg I have been missing out! This salad not only makes me want to eat more salads, but makes me crave them! I had read a couple recipes with pan sauteed butternut squash and the pictures looked so pretty that I thought, why not give it a try?!

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Ok first off, does anyone have any tricks/tips on cutting butternut squash?? That was an interesting task and pretty sure I wasted a lot of butternut squash, but once completed the rest of the dish was put together in no time!! The caramelization on the butternut squash gave the salad a nice sweetness which was paired nicely with the tartness of the goat cheese.  It was a very comforting and satisfying weeknight meal!  This was also a much needed healthy dinner after all the not so healthy things we consumed over the holidays 😉 .

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Sauteed butternut squash salad:

Ingredients: 

  1. 1 box of fresh Arugula
  2. 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
  3. 1 medium butternut squashed chopped
  4. 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  5. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  6. Goat cheese crumbles (as much as you prefer)
  7. Balsamic vinegar dressing*
  8. Pecans (as much as you prefer)

Directions: 

  1. Heat a the olive oil in a skillet on medium high heat. Add the butternut squash and brown sugar. Saute until there is a nice brown color on the squash. Reduce heat and cover until the squash is cooked through, about 15-20 mins.
  2. Mix arugula, red onion, goat cheese, pecans and balsamic dressing in a bowl. Place cooked butternut squash on top and serve.

See how easy that was?!

*I always make my own balsamic vinaigrette dressing: mix olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, honey, shallots, salt and pepper and shake in a salad dressing shaker! So easy and way cheaper then buying it at the store. (I actually never measure any of this just go by taste and adjust)

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Seafood Risotto with a Beurre Blanc Sauce

For the past 7 years me and the husband have forgone Christmas gifts and decided to do a nice meal together instead. When we were dating it took the pressure off of figuring out what to get the other person, and now that we are married  it gives us the quality time we need during the chaos of the Christmas season. This year I made a seafood risotto with a beurre blanc sauce out of a cookbook I borrowed from my aunt. Now let me just say, I wasnt even really sure what a beurre blanc sauce was so dont think I am all fancy. It was actually surprisingly easy to follow the recipe 😉 .

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Oh my this was delicious! The original recipe called for lobster, but like I mentioned before I wanted to spend quality time with my husband and who really has time to boil lobster then shell it for just a tiny piece of meat. I went the easy route and used crab instead, which honestly I dont think I could taste the difference. It called for a truffle risotto but I opted to just use my go to Parmesan risotto recipe instead. Also I was really excited when my sauce did not break and kinda shocked at how easy it was to make, not to mention how delicious! Seriously if you need a meal to impress this is the one you should use! It came together fairly quick and the recipe was really easy to follow.

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Hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Years like we did!

Seafood Risotto with a Beurre Blanc Sauce

Adopted from Alexander’s

Ingredients: 

  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  2. 6 scallops
  3. 6 shrimp peeled and deveined
  4. 1 teaspoon minced shallots
  5. 1/4 cup white wine
  6. 3/4 crab meat
  7. salt and pepper to taste
  8. 1/2 parmesan cheese
  9. 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
  10. beurre blanc sauce (recipe below)
  11. Parmesan risotto (recipe below)

Directions: 

  1. Prepare the beurre blanc sauce and keep warm
  2. Prepare the risotto just before serving
  3. In a sauce pan heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the scallops and brown on one side, turn the scallops over. Add the shrimp and cook until pink. Add the shallots, white wine, and crab meat. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chopped chives. Remove from heat and keep warm with foil.

Beurre Blanc sauce

Ingredients: 

  1. 1/2 cup white wine
  2. 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  3. 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  4. 1 tablespoon minced shallots
  5. 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  6. 1/2 cup butter, cold, cut into cubes
  7. salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Over medium heat combine the wine, vinegar, lemon juice, and shallots. Bring to a boil. Reduce until the liquid becomes syrupy. Add the cream. Reduce by half
  2. Turn the heat to low and gradually add the butter while stirring with a wooden spoon. Do not boil the sauce or it will separate. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm over low heat.

*The original recipe called for straining the sauce through a sieve, 1. I dont own a sieve and 2. I was just being lazy so I did not complete this step but honestly the way its served I dont think it made a difference!

Risotto

Ingredients:

  1. 3 to 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  2. 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  3. 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  4. 1 clove garlic, minced
  5. 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  6. 1 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Blanc or Sauvignon Blanc
  7. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  8. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  9. 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer and keep warm over low heat.
  2. In a separate medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion qand garlic and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the onion is transparent, about 5 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, until it is well coated with the butter and starts to turn translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and simmer gently until all the liquid is absorbed, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Ladle 1/2 cup of the warm broth into the rice mixture and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the broth is absorbed. Repeat, adding 1/2 cup of broth at a time, until the rice is cooked through but still firm, 20 to 25 minutes total.
  4. Add the remaining butter and the salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup of Parmesan. Stir to incorporate. Adjust seasoning with more salt to taste. Serve immediately, topping with additional Parmesan.

To serve assemble the risotto on a plate then add the sauce and top with the seafood mixture, you will not be disappointed!! 🙂

Mushroom, Arugula, Goat Cheese Flatbread

We recently went to a happy hour where I saw someone order a flatbread that looked amazing and ever since I had been craving one! So I decided to give into my craving and make one 🙂 . And oh my, am I glad I did!

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I actually did not follow a recipe, shocking I know, mainly because I needed to use the ingredients I already had in my fridge.   I also finished it off with a drizzle of the Shallot Balsamic Sauce I made in the previous post, and it was the perfect way to use up the leftover sauce. But you could use a balsamic glaze or even just a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar, or leave it plain.  This dish came together super quick. If your holiday season is anything like ours then you need a quick go to meal like this during the craziness of it all 🙂 .

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Mushroom, Arugula, and Goat Cheese Flatbread

2 servings

Ingredients

  1. 2 whole wheat flatbreads
  2. 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  3. 1/4 cup goat cheese (I didnt really measure this so just enough to cover, use your personal preference 🙂 )
  4. 1 onion thinly sliced
  5. 3 handfuls of arugula
  6. 10 oz. shitake mushrooms
  7. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  8. salt and pepper to taste
  9. Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
  10. Balsamic shallot sauce (optional)

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Brush olive oil on flatbreads and once oven is preheated add to oven and bake until golden brown, about 15 mins.
  3. Melt olive oil in a pan over medium high heat. Add onion and mushrooms and cook until onions are translucent. Add arugula until wilted. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.
  4. Once flatbread is done pull out of the oven and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Then add the onion mixture and goat cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted, drizzle with the balsamic shallot sauce and enjoy 🙂

Pork tenderloin with a Shallot Balsamic Sauce

I got this awesome new cookbook called Cook’s.  If you are a foodie like me I highly recommend it!! I will say while it doesnt have all the pretty pictures, it does have amazing recipes and all these neat tips and tricks. Seriously I sat and read it like a novel for over 2 hours the other day….my husband judged me a little. But while I was enthralled in my reading I came across a recipe for pork tenderloin with a shallot balsamic sauce with rosemary and mustard, and what do you know, I already had everything we needed to make this fabulous dish!

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I got a little over ambitious and decided to fix Parmesan risotto and sauteed asparagus, so the kitchen was a little hectic for an hour (the husband escaped to clean the car haha). But in the end all the hard work paid off and this dish was delicious!! The sauce was so easy to make and the aroma it put off….oh my! I did not use rosemary b/c well I personally think it smells and tastes like a Christmas tree, but I could not tell a lack in flavor in the least bit. Definitely a recipe we will do again 🙂

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Shallot Balsamic Sauce

Adapted from Cooks:

Ingredients: 

  1. 4 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces
  2. 2 shallots, sliced thin
  3. 2 tablespoons water
  4. 1 teaspoon packed light brown sugar
  5. 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  6. 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
  7. Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to a hot skillet, once melted add the shallots, water, and sugar. Cover over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until the shallots are browned and caramelized.
  2. Add vinegar and simmer until mixture is slightly thickened. You want it to reduce to about 1/3 of a cup.
  3. Take the skillet off the heat and whisk in mustard and  3 tablespoons of butter, 1 piece at a time. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Chicken pot pie

My husband has been begging me to make a chicken pot pie for dinner. I have never attempted a chicken pot pie and lets be real, he is used to my mother in laws perfected chicken pot pie. While I have come into my own cooking, I am no where near as talented, and its an intimidating task to try to recreate her home cooking. The smell, the flavors, the taste, the texture….I knew if I took on this challenge that it had to be just right.

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So on a cold day here in Charleston, when comfort food was just what was needed in our house, I made the decision to attempt a chicken pot pie. I found a recipe that seemed fairly simple and something I should be able to follow pretty well (I mean it had step by step pictures, how hard can it be?!).  I made a few changes to the original recipe and oh man! I was very shocked and surprised with the outcome! While this was in no way healthy (I served it with a salad so that helps right?? ha), it is something I will definitely be making again when the need arises for good ole comfort food in the Gabriel household!  I even got a close 2nd to my mother in laws from the husband (I mean no ones cooking is better then your moms 😉 ). This is also a great way to use up your left over turkey from Thanksgiving!!

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Chicken Pot Pie

Adapted from: Pioneer women (original recipe)

Ingredients: 

  1. 4 tablespoons of butter
  2. 1/2  chopped onion
  3. 1 chopped carrot
  4. 1 chopped celery rib
  5. 2 chicken breasts shredded
  6. 1/4 cup flour
  7. 3 cups chicken broth
  8. splash of white wine
  9. Salt and pepper to taste
  10. Thyme to taste
  11. 1/4 cup of 1/2 & 1/2
  12. 2 packaged pie crusts
  13. 1 whole egg
  14. 2 tablespoons water

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Place one pie crust in a pie baking dish, poke a few holes with a fork and back for 10-15 mins until golden brown
  3. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium high heat and then add onions, carrots and celery. Cook until onions are translucent, about 5 mins.
  4. Stir in the shredded chicken and then sprinkle the flour over the top. Stir until its all combined and cook for 1 min. Then add the chicken broth and a splash of wine and let cook until its thickened.
  5. Once it starts to thicken add salt, pepper, and thyme.
  6. Add the 1/2 & 1/3 and let bubble until the mixture had thickened (if it seems to thick you can always add more chicken broth) then turn off the heat
  7. Place mixture into the baked pie crust. Lay the 2nd pie crust over the top of the mixture. (the recipe said to press the edges to stick to the outside of the pan, but when we did this it just made a huge mess cutting it once it was cooked so I would just recommend making sure the pie crust stays on top of the mixture)
  8. Use a knife and cut little vents here and there on the surface of the dough
  9. Mix together the egg with water and brush it on the surface of the crust
  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Tomato Basil Tart

You know those dishes that just make you feel like you are back at home? As I mentioned we hosted a Friendsgiving recently, and I was so focused on finding new recipes to make, I forgot about some of my favorites from home. Thats when I realized that one of my favorite dishes, that is a staple in the Quinn household, I have actually never made! My grandmothers tomato basil tart!

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Now of course mine did not taste as good as hers, but it was a close second.  It is super simple and such a crowd pleaser! If you are looking for an appetizer that will impress this holiday season this is the recipe for you 🙂

Tomato Basil Tart

Ingredients: 

  1. Frozen pie crust- thawed
  2. 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  3. 5 roma tomatoes – de-seeded, drained on paper towel, and quartered
  4. 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  5. 2 cloves garlic
  6. 1/2 cup mayo
  7. 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  8. Salt and pepper

Directions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 450
  2. Bake thawed pie crust for 10 mins or until golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle crust with parmesan cheese. Turn oven down to 375 degrees F and let crust cool.
  3. Arrange tomato wedges on top of the cheese in the pie shell. In a food processor combine the basil and garlic until chopped then sprinkle over the tomatoes.
  4. In a mixing bowl combine mozzarella cheese, mayo, salt and pepper to taste. Spread the mixture over the basil.
  5. Bake at 375 degrees F for 35-40 mins or until the top is golden brown and bubbly.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving 🙂

Fettuccine with brussel sprouts in a creamy sauce

When it comes to cooking, I have my few staples that I can cook by heart without looking at a recipe. But when it comes to being adventurous and trying new things, I always have a recipe I follow. Sometimes I vary here and there  and add my own touch, however I usually follow 90% of the recipe.  Recently I got inspired by 2 different recipes, but then after thinking about what I had in my refrigerator,  I completely changed both to make my own! Our Bible study group was the guinea pig, bless their sweet hearts, and PF Changs was on speed dial  because lets be real this could have been a disaster…….

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BUT to my surprise, it turned out really tasty!! I saw a recipe that had Brussel sprouts in a pasta dish. I love brussel sprouts and I am always looking for a new way to cook them. My fridge was stocked full of veggies that needed to be used so I figured why not make a pasta dish that incorporated all of the things I already had on hand. This meal came together so quick and was super simple to make! I did not add any meat to the dish but this dish would be great to add chicken or steak.  While it isn’t the healthiest dish I have made (especially if you have two heaping bowls as the husband did) it is way better then eating a pasta dish out at a restaurant (or so I tell myself 😉 ).

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I am very happy with my first non recipe dish and it was widely approved by my brave guinea pigs :).

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Fettuccine with brussel sprouts in a creamy sauce: 

Ingredients:

  1.  1lb brussel sprouts quartered
  2. 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  3. 1 chopped  medium onion
  4. 1 cup mushrooms
  5. 1 chopped red pepper
  6. 2/3 cup heavy cream
  7. 1/3 cup 1/2 & 1/2
  8. 1 cup parmesan cheese
  9. Salt and pepper to taste
  10. 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions: 

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and prepare according to directions. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in large pan over medium high heat. Add brussel sprouts and sprinkle with brown sugar and salt (to taste) and let sit for 1 min. Then saute for 5 mins. Add onion, mushrooms, and red pepper and cook until tender. (Can adjust the heat to med if needed, you just want a nice golden brown color on the brussel sprouts)
  3. Add heavy cream, 1/2 & 1/2, paremsan cheese, and salt. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5-10 mins.
  4. Add the pasta to the sauce mixture and combine and serve!

*If sauce is to think you can save some pasta water and add it to the sauce to adjust the thickness

Friendsgiving

We hosted a friendsgiving this past weekend. I cooked my very first turkey ever. I was sure it was going to be an epic disaster! I read lots of recipes, watched multiple videos on how people cooked their turkeys, and no lie I even had my computer set up in the kitchen, watching a youtube video while trying to truss the turkey. Luckily no one was around to witness how comical this all really was. To my surprise, it actually turned out really good! I was kinda shocked….

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I am not going to lie, I was totally intimated by cooking a turkey. The ways I could royally screw this up were endless, and I kept picturing the scene from Christmas Vacation where they go to cut the turkey and it deflates. But to my surprise this did not happen! It was actually quite tasty and not near as hard as I was expecting, messy yes, but a fairly easy process.

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I am so blessed and thankful to have the group of friends we have down here. I love that they can enjoy my organized chaos in the kitchen and while it was a lil hectic at the end, I would say Friendsgiving was a success and a tradition we will keep alive for years to come! Thanks Kaitlyn and JD for ensuring we got pictures to document this 🙂

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Friendsgiving Turkey:

Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

Ingredients: 

– 13lb. Turkey

– 3/4 cup butter, softened

– 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

– 2 tbsp chopped fresh sage

-2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme – plus extra stems for stuffing the turkey

– Salt and pepper to taste

– 1 carrot

– 1 celery stalk

– 1 medium onion

– 32oz chicken broth

Instructions: 

(If you turkey has been in the fridge ensure to set it out an hr before you want to cook it)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2. Mix together softened butter, parsley, sage, and thyme

3. Remove the neck and other innards from the turkey cavity. Season the cavity with salt and pepper. Place the carrot, celery and onion quarters into the cavity of the turkey.

4. Truss your turkey (this is the video I attempted to follow)

5. Starting at the neck end, slide your hands under the breast skin to loosen. Smear 3 tablespoons of the herb butter underneath the breast skin. Smear another 4 tablespoons of the herb butter over the entire topside of the turkey.

6. Place the turkey in the roasting pan, breast side up. Pour the chicken broth into the roasting pan.

7. Cover the breasts with foil and place the turkey in the oven. Roast the turkey for 2 hours, basting every 30 mins.

8. Remove the foil from the breast. Roast the turkey until the thermometer registers 165 degrees F. (For us this only took 45 more mins) Continue basting every 30 mins.

9. Once turkey reaches 165 degrees F remove from oven and let rest for at least 30 mins before carving. – We let our rest for over an hr while we used the oven to cook other things and it was still warm when we carved it!

Enjoy 🙂

Happy Birthday to a best friend

Growing up I was very shy, I still am to a certain extent. We moved into a new neighborhood when I was in the 5th grade and I had to start riding the bus with people I did not know. My brother never had a problem making friends or talking to strangers, but to me this was a terrifying situation (I am pretty sure I pitched a huge fit over having to do this.) I will never forget as I climbed onto the bus and stared into the crowd of talking children, a good looking boy slid over and asked me to sit next to him. That moment of kindness will be one I will never forget and that boy soon became one of my best friends.  Today is his birthday.  We had this tradition every year for each others birthdays, he would make me brownies for mine and I would make Mimis famous strawberry cake for his.

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He was taken from us unexpectedly and is now in heaven, something that still doesnt seem real many years later. To this day I still bake a cake on his birthday and its a tradition I will keep alive until I am no longer able. He has forever impacted my life and I am so blessed to have known him, and have his family in my life. Happy Birthday Drew, you are dearly missed!

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Who doesn’t love a one pot meal?!

Anyone who has seen me in the kitchen before knows I am not a clean cook. I get sucked into a new recipe, making sure I get the timing of each component correct, or the taste just right. I want it to be perfect so sometimes I over look the disaster I am turning my kitchen into. In the Gabriel household we have a system, I plan, shop and then prepare the dinner, so naturally the husband cleans up after…..  Lets just say sometimes I get a little grief over how messy my cooking adventures can be. When I came across this one pot meal that not only looked delicious but sounded super simple and an easy clean up after a long Monday, I knew it would be the perfect choice for our dinner. I was half way correct….

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I found the original recipe from http://www.joyfulhealthyeats.com/. I made some changes to the dish I prepared. I did not use chicken thighs like the recipe called for, instead I used thin chicken breasts.   I knew they would not take the whole 1hr 15min the recipe called for so I started the veggies 30 mins before.  I also switched up the veggies based on what I had in the house.  I added a little olive oil to the veggies and why I did this I do not know, but it was a mistake. I could definitely taste to much olive oil!  However the chicken was cooked perfectly and tasted delicious! Also I hate rosemary so I didn’t use it at all but I still think the dish had great flavor (minus the olive oil soaked veggies).

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This is a dish I would do again but I think next time I will stick to the original recipe and try it with chicken thighs and definitely will not add more oil to the veggies! Eh you live and you learn, at least it was an easy clean up ;).

Mustard Balsamic Baked Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

Recipe adapted from: Joyful healthy eats

Ingredients:

– 4 chicken breasts

– 1/2 head of cauliflower chopped into larger florets

– 1 zucchini chopped

– 1/2 red onion quartered

– 5 red potatoes quartered

Marinade:

– 1 tablespoon of spicy mustard

– 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar

– 1/2 cup of olive oil

– salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, add spicy  mustard, minced garlic clove, balsamic vinegar, and salt & pepper. Whisk to combine, slowly add in olive oil.

  2. Place chicken breasts in bowl with mustard balsamic marinade. Toss to coat with marinade. Let sit for 30 minutes.

  3. Preheat oven to 375º

  4. Place all the veggies in a 13×9″ baking dish. Bake for 30 mins

  5. Add chicken breasts and marinade to the top of the veggies for 45 mins or until chicken is done and vegetables are soft. Remove from oven and serve!