Pesto Chicken, Roasted Tomato and Quinoa

Good Morning!!   I tell you what…it has been quite the week so far…and it is only Wednesday…MORNING!   Let me start with Monday.  Yes, Monday I was just going about my business, working in the Quad Cities.  I spent much of the morning stopping into see my podiatrists and inviting them to an upcoming event.  Around 11am, I pulled into yet another office.  Knowing the surgeon wouldn’t be in, I prepared to jot him a note. 

Reaching into my desk center console to grab my pen and paperclips, I notice that my secret stash of Zone bars was quite obviously no longer a secret. “Living” on the road…driving 2k-3k-4k miles per month, you just never know when you might need a meal bar, so I keep one in the console and replace it as I eat it. Unfortunately, there was going to be NO snacking on Monday. It seems a little furry friend found it, first. Yes. My Zone bar was DESTROYED. Eaten. Shredded. Nearly Gone. In it’s place were wrapper shreds, seat foam, and mouse turds. You can imagine, I was disgusted and furious. Not only was there a MOUSE in my car…but he ATE my bar! Jerk.

In a mad panic, I called Ryan and shared the delightful news. He encouraged me to rush home. His thoughts, “Well…if mice are eating away your seats (I assume to bury their chocolate chip treasure), they may also be eating away at wires. This isn’t safe and you need to get home. I will meet you there to help clean it out.” Me…the stubborn fool that I am, was ticked. I wasn’t done with work yet. I didn’t drive an hour (each way) to not finish my calls. I was not going to let a mouse alter my plans (or waste my gas!). So…I finished my notes and headed directly to Menards…to save some big money on mouse traps. There, I loaded up on supplies and trapped the heck out of my car. I wasn’t so sure I liked the idea of have mice glued to traps and riding around with me, but…hey, what other choice did I have? Traps in place, I finished my stops in the QC and scurried (no pun intended) back to Iowa City afterwards…praying that a mouse wouldn’t run across my feet as I traveled I-80.

Home mid-afternoon, husband-of-the-year, cleaned out my car, trapped the garage, and by midnight caught our little friend, Stuart. Bu-bye Stu. Don’t mess with my office…err, car. I live there.

After a short nights rest, I was on the road again by 5am on Tuesday. With a 7am case in Des Moines, there was no wasting time. Up at 4…on the road by 5. Only one problem. I wasn’t sure I was ready to hop back into my car. Fortunately, Ryan doesn’t drive his…so I opted to take our “old” ride. Ok…it really isn’t that old…only 10 years…but it certainly has it’s issues. Of particular interest yesterday…a NON FUNCTIONING air-conditioner. Sure. It’s March. BUT IT WAS 70 degrees yesterday! Let’s recap.

5am-7am: Drive to Des Moines. Dark…but smooth sailing.

11am-1pm: Drive back to Iowa City. Nearly peak sun…I was ROASTING.

230pm-4pm: Drive to Waterloo. Yep. STILL HOT.

7pm-830pm: Drive back to Iowa City. Dark again. Sure, smooth sailing.

So…I guess, air-conditioning is only important when the sun is out.

By 9pm last night, I was toast. I’d covered a couple of great cases in a couple of different hospitals across the state, I’d fought off a mouse, and gotten in a few hours in a sauna on the road. Whooo-Weee!

During that short break from 1-230pm yesterday, I also took another shot at “Wife of the Year.” Knowing I wouldn’t be home for dinner, I thought I would whip it up anyway so Ryan could eat more easily while he took care of Bella. Needing something quick and easy, I was reminded of a recipe that my friend Sara posted on her blog a long while back. (Sarabconsulting.com) Looking through my fridge, I thought I would make my own version…and it turned out well!

Pesto Chicken, Roasted Tomato, and Quinoa

Serves 4

  • 5 cups Cooked Quinoa
  • 8 oz Classico Basil Pesto (+ add’l 2-3oz, if desired)
  • 1 Handful Green Beans, cut into thirds
  • 1 pkg Santa Sweets (grape tomatoes), roasted
  • 2 large chicken Breasts, grilled and sliced
  • EVOO
  • 2 oz Parmesan, freshly grated

Preheat oven and grill to 400 degrees.

Start by marinading your chicken breasts in a bag with 3 oz pesto and 2 tbsp EVOO. Let sit for 20 mins.

While the chicken marinades, prepare the quinoa as directed on the box.

Trim the green beans, cut into thirds and boil for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Line a baking sheet with tin foil and drizzle olive oil to prevent sticking. Toss grape tomatoes in EVOO and spread across sheet. Roast in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15 – 20 minutes. Watch closely. Pull out of oven when tomatoes are oozing their juices and begin to shrivel. Set aside.

Place chicken on the grill. Medium to large breasts will need to cook for about 6-7 minutes on each side. Pull off when cooked through. Let sit for a few minutes and then slice.

When all of your ingredients are prepped. Grab a large bowl and combine by add the remaning 5 ounces of pesto to the quinoa. Stir thoroughly. Add green beans and roasted tomatoes.

Scoop 1 cup of pesto quinoa to a plate and top with slices of chicken. Sprinkle plate with parmesan and drizzle add’l pesto, if desired!

 

This was super quick and super easy! And I think Ryan was pleasantly surprised to find dinner waiting for him when he got home…even though I was already miles away…again. 

Enjoy the rest of your week!  I look forward to putting on a few more miles…this time ALONE…and WITH AIR. 

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

Creamy Mushroom & Chicken Lasagna

Happy Leap Day!

I read on FB last night that Caribou Coffee is offering BOGO today…so grab a friend and go enjoy a free Mocha…or Latte…or plain ol’ Coffee!

Last week I shared with you some of my recent struggles and while there is still work to be done and relationships needing a mend, I have tried to spend more time focusing on areas of joy.  One of my greatest joys is doing good for others…whether that be leaving cookies on a doorstep, dropping off lunch for Ryan, or surprising a friend with a note of encouragement, love and support. 

I once came across a quote that read, “The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.” 

So instead of dwelling on those who are causing me stress, I’ve reminded myself to spend that energy  bringing a smile to someone else who has done the same for me.  And, in the past week…the family I chose to “get even with”, was that of my friend and co-worker, Tiffany.  Just after Bella’s stay in the hospital with RSV, Tiffany prepared a delicious lasagna and dropped it off at the house while I was on the road for work.  To get even, I opted to return her lasagna pan FULL.  Like so many other kiddos, her son Ben needed tubes.  And that particular evening, I assumed dinner was the last thing she needed on her plate.  (No pun intended)  With that in mind, I decided to take a few of my favorite recipes, Creamy Mushroom Pasta and Chicken Marsala, and transform them into a delicious lasagna! 

Creamy Mushroom & Chicken Lasagna

Serves 6-8  (1 large pan)

  • 1 box lasagna noodles (I use the oven ready noodles)
  • 4 oz parmesan cheese, freshly grated

SAUCE

  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk, heated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup white wine (my preference is Sauvignon Blanc)
  • 8 oz mascarpone
  • 4 oz parmesan, freshly shredded

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in the hot milk, then the minced garlic cloves, mascarpone, white wine, parmesan and salt. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook, whisking, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

FILLING

  • 1 – 1.25 lbs chicken breast (2 medium breasts), grilled and cut into strips
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 shallots
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 16-20 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 oz parmesan, freshly shredded
  • 1 bunch basil, chopped
  • 1 cup ½ & ½

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees . In a large skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add the onions, shallots, and chopped garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the basil and 1/2 and 1/2.; season with salt and pepper.

Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and 1 cup of mascarpone sauce on the bottom. Layer the baking dish with lasagna noodles. Top with half of the mushroom mixture, sprinkle 2 oz of parmesan cheese, a layer of noodles, then the remaining mushroom mixture, 2 oz parmesan and the remaining noodles. Pour the sauce over top and sprinkle with the remaining 4 oz of parmesan.

Bake until golden, 30 to 40 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes.

After indulging in this Creamy Mushroom & Chicken Lasanga, Tiffany sent a text that said simply, “Home Run.”  So…take her word for it…not mine.  This recipe belongs in your line-up!

Finally…I hope you will take my lead. 

“Great opportunities to help others seldom come, but small ones surround us every day.” 

Go out today and find your opportunity to help a friend, a family member, or a stranger. 

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

Hummus Wraps, Portobella Burgers, & Sticky Buns Oh My!

Good Morning!  Happy Wednesday!  

How the heck are ya?!  🙂

I don’t know about you, but I am in a little bit of a funk right now.  A funk that I’m sure you are all familiar with…or have experienced yourself at some point.   While I am so grateful for my career…and enjoy it so much most days…the trials recently have taken their toll.  I feel the stress coming out of my ears and the daily drama draining my enthusiasm.  While I dig deep to push through…I’ve had to resort to an extra bowl of chocolate ice cream…a few extra deep breaths…and several extra personal pep-talks to survive the last month.  In each of those pep-talks, I inevitably remind myself how much I enjoy the variety each day.  Variety in surroundings, variety in co-workers (typically in a different territory each day or few days), variety in challenges and….variety in FOOD.  Yea.  You read that right.  As I talk to myself each morning, I often find myself thinking, “Oh Yes!  I’m headed to Des Moines today.  That means I can pop into Palmers.”  Or…”Sweet!  I will be in the QC early tomorrow morning, that means I can swing by Cafe Indigo and grab a Caramel Roll!”  Ahh.  It’s the little things that keep us going…like a caramel roll.  🙂

Today’s post is for all of the folks in Eastern Iowa.  If you are reading this and are in close proximity to Bettendorf, IA…I encourage you to check out one of my favorite cafes in Iowa, Cafe Indigo.  One of my partners, Julie Edmunds, introduced me to this wonderful little cafe several years ago.  And…in all of my visits, I have not strayed from the Portobello Burger and Hummus Wrap.  They are just SO GOOD.  Needing a few hours away from home and work, Ryan and I took a roadtrip to the Quad Cities on Saturday.  In addition to a stop at our favorite shop (TJ MAXX), I also introduced Ryan to Cafe Indigo.  He was just as pleased!

To start each lunch, the servers at Cafe Indigo offer homemade potato chips.  So simple…but so good!

While I recommended my two favorites (Grilled Portobella Sandwich and The Hummus Wrap), Ryan opted enthusiastically for the Western Chicken Cheese Panini.  Grilled Chicken, Pepper Jack, Smoked Gouda, Cilantro, Bacon, Avocado, and Pico de Gallo….now that is right up Ryan’s alley!  And assuredly, he was NOT disappointed.  (I snuck a bite to be sure.)

Ryan’s decision to go with the panini, left me in a predicament.  Portobella Burger…or Hummus Wrap.   Eeny Meeny Miny Mo.  Hummus Wrap it is!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this wrap.  So simple.  So filling…but so light. 

Mixed Greens, Cucumber, Artichokes, Red Onions, Tomatoes, Carrots, Asiago Cheese, Sprouts, Basil Pesto, and Chipotle Ranch Hummus wrapped in a tortilla.

While the flavor in this wrap is so delightful, I am equally excited that half of the wrap fills me up.  That leaves me an extra half for lunch the next day.  WOO HOO.  Ok.  So I had to steal one more bite before packaging it up…I just couldn’t resist! 

Last…but certainly not least, is my LOVE for their Caramel rolls.  There have been days I’ve raced over the the QC a little earlier than necessary just to get a roll before heading to the hospital.  There have also been days I have called ahead of time and asked them to set one aside so I could pick it up on may way out of the QC that afternoon.  Because, fortunately or unfortunately, these rolls are SO good that they sell out early each day.

So again…Eastern Iowans…this post is for you.  Next time you are in Davenport/Bettendorf, please stop in and visit Cafe Indigo.  You won’t be disappointed.  That I promise.  Whatever you do though, don’t go on Mondays.  They are closed on Mondays.  I’ve learned that lesson…the hard way and man was I disappointed.  🙂

Cafe Indigo.  4925 Utica Ridge Rd, Davenport, IA  52807

www.qccafeindigo.com

 Finally, if you are not local to Eastern Iowa but would like a make a pan of your own Caramel Rolls, check out one of my earlier posts on Sticky Buns!  That recipe will leave you wanting more!

INDULGE.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

Wine Diamonds After 15 Years

Today marks 15 years.  That’s right.  15 years ago today, Ryan took me to our first high school dance.  Dinner first at the Red Mill (oh, how I can’t wait to revisit that little supper club someday soon!) and a Winter Carnival Dance to follow at our ol’ MHS.  Every year we say the same thing, “Can you believe it has been XX years?!”  No!  I can’t.  We’ve survived high school…college at Minnesota…graduate school in Iowa…6 years of marriage…and finally, the birth of our first child, Bella.  I’d say we’ve had a pretty good run.  Ups and downs are expected on any journey, but this one has been oh-so-worth it.  Thank you, Ryan.  For an action-packed 15 years…and the most beautiful little girl (inside and out!) that I could have ever wished for.  I look forward to many more years…and many more meals to celebrate!  🙂

 

After several weeks of traveling for work, Ryan and I were really looking forward to kicking off the beginning of our “next 15 years” with a meal at home last Saturday night.  And after all these years, we’re pretty predictable.  First choice is always caprese, pasta, and wine.  All I needed was a new recipe idea.  Fortunately Rachael Ray offered up a great suggestion in her recent edition of “EveryDay with Rachael Ray”.   (You will have to catch that recipe below.)  Meanwhile, as we enjoyed our caprese we also cracked a new bottle of red wine.  As Ryan discarded the cork, I caught a glimpse of “Sparkle”.  This little lady never misses sparkle.  🙂  I retrieved the cork and noticed that it held many tiny crystals.  It was gorgeous!  I know…it’s a cork.  But have you ever seen a cork that sparkled?   I apologize that I couldn’t capture a better shot…but you get the idea.  I’ve also included a little lesson on these “diamonds” below…just click the link. 

“Wine Crystals:  Naturally made and un-stabilized wines develop crystals, which generally precipitate to the bottom of the bottle or attach themselves on the cork or the closure of the bottle. Sometimes referred to as “Wine Diamonds” they are indicative of good quality. Although crystals are bitter, they are harmless and do not affect the flavour of the wine in any way.”  http://winesworld.com/index.php/wine-crystals/68/

Along with this wonderful bottle of wine (diamonds and all!), we also enjoyed the new recipe by Rachael Ray (Boudreau modifications, of course).  If you are looking for a new twist on a spicy red pasta, please try this one.  We loved the smoky flavors….fire-roasted tomatoes and roasted/blackened red peppers…spicy red wine…yes, please!

Fire-Roasted Tomato and Hot Sausage n Beef Rigatoni

Recipe Courtesy of Rachael Ray

Serves 6-8

  • 2 large red bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons EVOO, plus more for drizzling  (I added another 2 tbsps just before serving…to thin the sauce a bit)
  • 3/4 pound bulk hot italian sausage (1/2lb is plenty)
  • 1/2 pound ground beef sirloin
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 hot cherry pepper, seeded and chopped, or fresno chile pepper, thinly sliced (These can be hard to find in Iowa…we used 1/2 a jalapeno)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup spicy red wine
  • 1 can (28 oz.) or 2 cans (15 oz. each) diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 pound rigatoni pasta
  • Pecorino-romano cheese, for serving
  • A generous handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped (We used BASIL)

Char the bell peppers under a hot broiler or directly over a high flame on the stovetop to blacken all over, turning occasionally. Place the charred peppers in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. Peel off and discard the skins and seeds. Quarter the peppers lengthwise, then slice crosswise into strips.  (You can do this over a grill as well.  We did!)

In a dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp. EVOO over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and beef and brown, crumbling the meat, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the onion, garlic and hot pepper until softened; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomato paste for 1 minute, then add the wine and reduce for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, stock and bell peppers; simmer to thicken.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt it, add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup cooking water. Add the pasta and reserved cooking water to the sauce and toss for 1 to 2 minutes. Serve in shallow bowls with lots of cheese and the parsley. Gild the lily with an extra drizzle of EVOO.

Heaven in a blue dish.  🙂  Serve up family style (like I did above) or plate individually like Rachael mentions.  Pair with a spicy red wine that can stand up to the flavors on your plate.  We chose one of our all time favorites…Zinfandel from Dry Creek Valley.  Enjoy!

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

The Ultimate Comfort Food

If ever there were a time for comfort food, now would be it.  I don’t know about your house, but the crud has hit ours.  For nearly 5 weeks, Bella and I have been nothing but sick.  What started out as a “common cold” resulted in an ER visit and an in-patient stay at UIHC.  Poor little girl was diagnosed with RSV and Adenovirus.  How torturous it was to watch her and listen to alarms signal as her oxygen would drop.  After breathing treatments and plenty of IV fluids, we were sent home with a little girl on the mend….or so we thought.  There she was, happy, smiling, and eating again but less than a week later…sick again.  Unfortunately, so was I. By Saturday I was at my wits end and sure my head was going to explode.  While my mom had come into town to babysit Bella while Ryan and I made our way to my holiday party in Des Moines, she instead, was watching Bella while I made my way to urgent care.  That in itself, was quite the experience. 

As I greeted the PA in Urgent Care, I said, “Allison, I am so sick I want to shoot myself.”  (I know I know…a little dramatic…but I was done trying to hide it.)  I was miserable.  Unfortunately, another PA was standing nearby and overheard my comment.  She abruptly scolded, “I’m sorry Ma’am.  We are mandatory reporters.  I’m going to need to call the authorities.”  Oh for crying out loud.  “Seriously?”, I thought.  I looked at her and replied, “I am miserable but I am not going to hurt myself.”  She, again, repeated that it was mandatory.  Lucky for me, Allison knew me from my time with Pfizer and defended my sanity.  Not only was I not well enough to attend our annual work function but I about ended up in a psyche ward instead.  Good grief.  Needless to say, I left with a diagnosis of serious sinus infection coupled with a double ear infection.  What am I?  A 2 year old?! 

Headed home with prescription, decongestant, and Sudafed in hand, I was never happier to have my Mom there to help with Bella…especially as her symptoms worsened.  And, here we are…6 days later.  Bella and I are both sick…I’m in CA and she’s at daycare.  What is wrong with that picture?!  I’m hoping Dad will soothe her to recovery in the evenings and I can take some time away after meetings to hide in my room and get the sleep I so desperately need.  Welcome to parenthood, eh?

All of that said, do you know what else is great thing about having Mom visit while I’m sick?!?!  HOMEMADE MAC N CHEESE!  I’m sure we all have something that reminds us of our childhood…something that soothed us when we were sick…something that tastes best when Mom makes it.  For me, this is her Mac and Cheese.  I’m not going to lie, Grandma’s tasted pretty good too…but then again, she just added butter. 

For those of you who are needing some good ‘ol comfort food this week, this is the easiest, most delightful treat that is guaranteed to soothe your aches and warm your soul.  I promise!

Mom’s Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 6-8

  • 16oz Mild Cheddar cheese, cubed (1 inch by ½ inch)
  • 2.5-3 cups Uncooked Macaroni
  • Milk
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Butter, optional (Grandma would!)

Start by boiling the macaroni until al dente (~7-9 minutes).  While the noodles boil, cube your cheese.  You will want plenty of cubes to layer amongst the noodles, so don’t cut them too large.

Strain the noodles.  In a casserole bowl or lightly greased 8×8 pan, layer the macaroni and cheese.  Start with a layer of macaroni, then cheese…..ending the final layer with cheese. 

Once your layers are complete, slowly pour milk over the top just until you can see the milk approaching the top layer.  You will not want to over-saturate…so pour slowly. With the mac, cheese, and milk all set, sprinkle the top with salt and pepper. 

 Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 75-90 minutes….or until golden brown on top.

(Note: if you want the added richness that Grandma would throw in, melt a stick of butter and pour a little over each layer as you make it!)

Thank you, Mom…for helping to take care of me and the Bean…and for making TWO batches of mac n cheese during your visit!  I’m feeling better already.  🙂

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

A Fiesta In My Mouth!

Who here is ready for a vacation?!  I know, I was in Miami last weekend…but I’m talking about a full week of sun, sand, and cervezas!  Who’s with me?!

I know I tell you all the time how handy Ryan is…but I have to tell you again.  That guy is NON-STOP.  Last month he spent 2 full weekends painting our dining room and foyer.  And…not just painting them…but painting stripes…on an 18ft ladder…twice…once in “tavern beige” and again with metallic silver.  Fortunately or unfortunately, Bella and I were both sick, so I didn’t assist with my mad painting skills (haha).  He did it by himself.  Thank you, Ryan!!

Knowing that he was pretty worn out and sick of painting, I stepped in at his most vulnerable moment and said, “Buddy, I found a great deal on an all-inclusive trip to Riviera Maya.  I think we should book it.  You know, fly to Mexico, re-celebrate my 30th birthday since I was pregnant last year and just take.a.break.”  For the first time in his life, he looked at me and said, “Yeah.  Book it.”  I’m not sure I have ever hustled back to my computer so quickly and clicked “Book Now”.  I knew dang well I needed to get it done before he changed his mind…or felt the need to “do some more research”.  I’m awful, right?!  Nah…I’m just helpful. 

Just a short time later, our friends Sean and Tiffany invited us over for dinner.  We purchased a mini-keg of Oberon (one of Tiffany’s favorite beers) while she was pregnant with the intention that we’d share it after Ben’s birth.  Now that Ben is nearly 5 months, we decided it was time.  The menu for the night, Taco Bar!  Perfect, I thought…I have been anticipating the flavors of Mexico and now I can whip up some “Mexican” appetizers to share!  On the docket for that night, Smoked-Gouda-Chorizo Jalapeno Poppers & Chicken Taco Cups.

Smoked Gouda-Chorizo Jalapeno Poppers

Recipe courtesy Sunny Anderson

Serves:  24 jalapeno poppers
  • 2 links Mexican chorizo, casings removed
  • 1/2 pound smoked gouda, shredded
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onions
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (recommended: Frank’s Red Hot)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 large jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and halved

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Brown chorizo in a skillet over medium-high heat, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and place into a large mixing bowl. Add the cheese, red onion, egg, cream cheese, sour cream, hot sauce, and salt and pepper, to taste.
 
Press into jalapeno halves and assemble on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake until golden and bubbly, about 20 minutes.

Chicken Tacos Cups

Yield: 36 Taco Bites

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 envelope reduced-sodium taco seasoning
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 jar (16 ounces) salsa, divided
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, divided
  • 36 wonton wrappers
  • Sour cream, chopped green onions and chopped ripe olives, optional.

Sprinkle chicken with taco seasoning. In a large skillet coated with cooking spray, cook and stir the chicken over medium heat for 5 minutes or until juices run clear. Transfer chicken to a food processor; cover and process until chopped. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, onion, half of the salsa and 1 cup cheese. (As an alternative to frying the chicken in cubes, bake full chicken breasts and shred.  I prefer shredded chicken to “pureed”)

Press wonton wrappers into miniature muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

Spoon rounded tablespoonfuls of chicken mixture into cups; top with remaining salsa and cheese. Bake 15 minutes longer or until heated through. Serve warm. Garnish with sour cream, green onions and olives if desired. Yield: 3 dozen.

**Tips/Tricks – When placing the wonton wrappers into the minitature muffin cups, ensure that the “tops” of the wrappers stand firm upright so that they do not fold over onto the tin and blacken**

Sean described these treats as, “A Fiesta In My Mouth!”   So, for your next fiesta, give them a try.  They were easy to make and easy to eat!

Thank you, Tiffany & Sean, for a relaxing night!

Indulge.  In Life. In Love. In Food.

The Village Corner Deli

Good Morning from Miami!  After delayed flights…and cancelled flights…and rebooking out of a completely DIFFERENT airport, I have finally arrived.  How wonderful it is to see the sun…and feel it’s warmth!

 As I mentioned in my last post, I am travelling again for work.  This weekend, Florida!  I have been to Miami several times now, but planning dinners never gets old!  Of particular interest, I have reservations at Prime 112 (one of my favorites) and Bin 18.  I will be sure to share my reviews! 

 Before flying out of Moline, IL last night, I made a stop at one of my all-time favorite sandwich joints, The Village Corner Deli in East Davenport, IA.  I was introduced to this hidden gem by Julie Edmunds more than 3 years ago and it remains a “must-stop” when I visit the Quad Cities.  Thank you, Julie!

 For those of you who dine with me often, you know that I can be a creature of habit.  When I find something I like, it is hard for me to order something different.  I mean, come on, what if it just isn’t as good as my “restaurant favorite”?!  For example, each and every time I walk into Her Soup Kitchen, Barb smiles and says, “Roasted Portabella Sandwich?!”….Yes Ma’am!  Lunch/dinner at the Corner Deli is no different.  When Julie first took me in for lunch, I asked her order for me (I figured she knew what was best!).  In my basket arrived a Smoked Turkery Pesto Sandwich.  I LOVED it.  And so…I order it every time.  What can I say?  It is one dang good sandwich.

#15 Smoked Turkey Pesto – Smoked turkey, provolone, lettuce, tomato and pesto mayo on a ciabatta hoagie.  Served warm!  YUM!

The next time you are in the Quad Cities (IA/IL), be sure to stop in and support this local and DELICIOUS little deli.  You will be glad you did!  (In the meantime, I’ve asked them to consider opening one in Iowa City…I don’t know if they took me all too seriously…but I meant it.)

The Village Corner Deli, 1030 Mound Street, Davenport, IA

http://www.villageofeastdavenport.com/Village-Corner-Deli.php

INDULGE.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

Spinach, Goat Cheese, & Pepper Omelets

What a week!  For the first time in 10 months…I boarded a plane!  Crazy, right?  LOL.  Yes, the work travel is back in full swing.   Denver this week…Miami next…and San Fran a few weeks later.  I hope Bella doesn’t forget what I look like.   Actually, I think she and Dad are going to have a great time during my mini excursions.   I’m not sure who will train who…but I’m guessing they are both in for a few surprises!  Poor Ruby might have to keep them both in check. 

I feel very fortunate to say that I am not feeling anxious or sad about traveling again.  Ryan is an awesome Dad and I really enjoy my work (most days).  A few days here or there of traveling is good for all of us.  When I called home from Denver this week, Ryan and Bella were out for Mexican.  I can just picture it…Ryan with a lime margarita on the rocks and Bella with an tiny umbrella tied to her bottle.  They are quite the pair. Ryan, thank you for taking good care of our little girl!

If the jumpstart into travel wasn’t enough, I also attended my first Rodeo on Tuesday.  Yeee-Hawww!  Yes, Sir…our team-building activity included a National Western Stock Show.  I have to be completely honest with you…it was NOT my thing.  I will save my opinions for another forum but I can assure you…I will not go back.  My heart goes out to the animals.  That said, it certainly was an experience.  From now on, I can use the phrase, “Look, this isn’t my first rodeo!”…and I won’t be lying!

Assuming fighting bulls and bucking horses isn’t your thing either, let’s get back to food!  Today I have another Boudreau household favorite for you…Spinach, Goat Cheese, and Pepper Omelets!  Truth be told…I let Ryan take the reigns on this one. 

SPINACH, GOAT CHEESE & PEPPER OMELETS
1 Serving
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 clove garlic , minced
  • 3/4 cup fresh spinach , washed, stems removed
  • 1/3 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup diced red or yellow peppers
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 or 3 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese
  • Dried Oregano and Basil
In a medium nonstick skillet with low, sloping sides, combine the olive oil and the garlic. Cook over low heat until the garlic begins to sizzle, about 1 minute. Add the spinach and peppers; cook 1 minute. Add the tomato and a pinch of salt and cook an additional 30 seconds. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl; set aside.In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and water, just until blended. Add salt and pepper to taste as well as a pinch of basil and a dash of oregano.Place the skillet, wiped clean, over medium heat 2 minutes. Add the butter, swirling it to coat the pan. When the butter stops sizzling, pour the egg mixture into the pan. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the bottom is set, about 10 seconds. Using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, pull the set eggs at the edges of the pan toward the center, allowing the unset eggs to run from the center to the sides. (Adjust the heat if necessary to prevent browning.) Continue to cook until a thin layer of unset egg is visible on top. The total cooking time should be less than 2 minutes.Remove the pan from the heat; spoon the spinach mixture across the middle third of the omelet (save some for garnish); sprinkle with the goat cheese. Using a spatula, fold the third of the omelet nearest the handle over the center third with the filling. Holding the handle, tilt the pan so that the omelet rolls out of it and onto a plate, seam side down. Top with remaining spinach, tomato, and pepper mixure.  Sprinkle with goat cheese.

Over the last several months, we have come to love the ease of these tasty omelets.  They make a great weekend breakfast…or a fast and easy weeknight dinner.  Even better, whip up a batch for your next group of house guests…serve on a gold charger, sparkly placemat, and pair with a Mimosa!
 
 
Indulge. In Life. In Love. In Food.

I’m Still Here…Chicken Soup & All!

 

Friday January 13th…..where has the time gone?!  The last time I wrote you was Oct 3rd and I was determined to post weekly.  Little did I know that every minute I could spare after work I would soak up with Bella!  She’s not your average little girl (ok, so I’m biased)…she is happy and sweet and an excellent sleeper!  When I pick her up from daycare, I get at least 4 hours with her as she doesn’t “go to bed” until 10…and lucky for me, sleeps until we get her up in the morning!  Sure, there may be a wimper here or there but quickly, she is back to sleep.  Oh…God is good! 

While I SO loving being a Mom to Bella…I’ve still been cookin’ and thinkin’ about Indulge.  Wednesday was a particularly “Indulgeful” day.  First, my friend Katie mentioned the Turkey Burgers that I featured in my first year of Indulge.  Later, I received a comment on my Red Wine Spritzers (Check it out. Lauren, I may not know you…but your comment cracked me up.).  And finally, WordPress sent my blog 2011 recap.  To my surprise, the day/post with the greatest number of “hits” was my last one…”Bittersweet Beginnings” on Oct 3rd.  What are the odds?  On the day of my last post…so many of you were there to check in.  Thank you for reading!  So…with all those little nudges…I knew it was time to get back to you.  Thank you for your patience!

As for good news…since Oct, I have worked out several recipes and I have many to share in the coming posts.  The first one I want you to try is courtesy of Tyler Florence.  Have I ever told you how much I love that man?!  Seriously.  The.Guy.Can.Cook.  My friend Mandy and I have been following him for years but over the last 3.5 months…as Bella and I have suffered through “building our immune systems” (aka daycare cooties), Tyler’s Chicken Noodle Soup has been a staple.  This soup will take you allll the way back to your Grandma’s kitchen…REAL chicken noodle soup.  Please give it a try…and don’t leave out the turnips!  (To my surprise, Iowa friends…you can get turnips at your local HyVee or Fareway….who knew?!)

Chicken Noodle Soup

Recipe Courtesy of Tyler Florence

6-8 Servings

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, recipe follows
  • 8 ounces dried wide egg noodles (I used frozen egg noodles – 16oz Reames”
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

Chicken Stock:

  • 1 whole free-range chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), rinsed, giblets discarded
  • 2 carrots, cut in large chunks
  • 3 celery stalks, cut in large chunks
  • 2 large white onions, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, halved
  • 1 turnip, halved (I used two!)
  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot over medium heat. Pour in only enough cold water to cover (about 3 quarts); too much will make the broth taste weak. Toss in the thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns, and allow it to slowly come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, partially covered, until the chicken is done. As it cooks, skim any impurities that rise to the surface; add a little more water if necessary to keep the chicken covered while simmering.

Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. When its cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones; hand-shred the meat into a storage container.

Carefully strain the stock through a fine sieve into another pot to remove the vegetable solids. Use the stock immediately or if you plan on storing it, place the pot in a sink full of ice water and stir to cool down the stock. Cover and refrigerate for up to one week or freeze.

Serve immediately while the soup is hot!  I promise…it will hit the spot.  

Cozy up this weekend with a big bowl of soup, your favorite blanket, and your favorite couch buddy.  Winter has hit Iowa…and it is CHILLY out there!  🙂

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

Bittersweet Beginnings & Roasted Red Peppers

If ever there were a day to describe as bittersweet…today would be it.   Today is a bittersweet day of firsts.  Today is my first day back to work.  Today is Bella’s first day at daycare.  Today is the first day of Bella’s future friendships.  Today is the first day I go out knowing my heart is somewhere else! 

It is amazing to me that my emotions are all over the place.  Nervous – to leave my little girl.  Excited – to be back at work.  Ambitious – to be successful in my career and as a mom.  Anxious – for there is so much work to catch up on!  Sad – that time flies by so quickly.  But mostly….mostly I am overwhelmed with gratitude and love.  I feel very blessed to be Bella’s Mom….blessed to be experiencing this bittersweet day.  I am not the first…and I certainly won’t be the last to experience this “dreaded day”…so instead of tears this morning, I smile and look forward to 5pm more than ever before!

To celebrate this new beginning, Ryan and I are sharing another one of our new obsessions with you.  Over the course of my maternity leave, we’ve come to love the combination of Roasted Red Pepper…Goat Cheese…Carmelized Onion…Spinach…and Garlic!  We’ve enjoyed homemade Roasted Red Pepper Pesto (Thanks to one of my FoodNetwork favs, Bobby Flay!)…an Omelet inspired by Hotel Monaco in Seattle, a new Boudreau Homemade Pizza, and an amazing pasta we created with all of the ingredients above!  In the next few posts, I will share all of this new creations with you.  I hope you can appreciate this new found love for Roasted Red Pepper (I think it all started with the Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Sandwich!).

To begin this tour of Roasted Red Pepper favorites, we need to start with Bobby Flay’s Pesto.  Run to the grocery store, pick up some red peppers (they are HUGE right now!), some fresh basil, and whip up some pesto this week. 

Red Pepper-Basil Pesto

Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay

  • 2 medium red bell peppers, stemmed
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F.

Put the peppers on a baking sheet, rub them with the canola oil and season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Roast until they are slightly charred and soft, turning several times, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let them steam for 10 minutes. Remove the skins and seeds. (As another option, we roasted ours on the grill!)

Put the peppers, garlic, basil and pine nuts  into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. With the motor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube and pulse to emulsify. Add the cheese and salt and pepper, to taste and pulse a few more times just to combine. Scrape the mixture into a bowl.

Once you’ve tackled the pesto, you will be wondering what to use it on first.  So, I say… it is time for pasta!  I happened to have all of these ingredients on hand, so I created the pasta below.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Pasta

Serves 3-4

  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, Coarsely Chopped
  • 1 Clove Garlic, Finely Chopped
  • 2 Red Peppers, Roasted and cut into strips
  • 3 oz Spinach
  • 1 Chicken Breast, cut into strips
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 oz Goat Cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 lb Penne Pasta
  • 4-8 oz Red Pepper Pesto (Recipe above)
  • 5 Fresh Basil leaves, torn (optional)
  • 1/2 jar of Bruschetta Sauce (optional)

Begin by roasting the red peppers (just as you did for the pesto above).  Once roasted, peel, slice & set aside.

Once the peppers are complete, prepare your chicken breast.  Sprinkle the breast with salt and pepper, rub with extra light olive oil and grill at 400 degrees for 6-7 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.  (As an alternative to olive oil, I marinated mine in a jarred bruschetta sauce for 20 mins for extra flavor!)  Slice and set aside.

In a small pan, add 1 tbsp EVOO and saute onions until slightly softened & translucent.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a seperate pan, add 1 tbsp EVOO and saute garlic and spinach until the spinach begins to wilt.  Remove from heat and set aside.

In a small pot, boil penne until al dente (~8 mins).  Strain noodles and return to pot.

Over low heat, combine all of the ingredients (pasta, peppers, onions, spinach/garlic mixture, chicken, and goat cheese).  Add 4 – 8 oz of pesto depending on just how “saucy” you like your pasta!  Heat through.  Serve immediately and top with a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan and fresh basil (optional).

Pair with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc and enjoy!  To a day…and week of bittersweet beginnings…CHEERS.

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.