It might not be asparagus season anymore and I guess we’re pretty far from it now, huh? So far from it that it feels like it will be asparagus season again in a few months! I may be exaggerating, but it is getting cold out and even though I’ve been craving all things creamy and comforting, I just can’t give up on the warmer season veggies all together – not yet, anyway! I had to get in one last spring/summer vegetable fix before I devote my kitchen to entirely to chili, hearty soups and all things squash!
I had to merge my desire for summery vegetables with my need for comfort food…in comes this Creamy Asparagus Pasta! I proclaimed my mad love for asparagus when I posted my Parmesan Asparagus Frittata earlier this year and even though I get completely bombarded by asparagus from my parent’s garden in spring, I just can’t get enough of it! Did you know that established plants can keep producing for up to 8 weeks? That’s crazy! I continue to crave this tasty veggie long after the stalks have stopped coming in and I must give into those cravings! I love it grilled, or sauteed and topped with parmesan, but I think this pasta is a new favorite!
I started with a simple creamy alfredo sauce recipe, added a hint of lemon and some chopped asparagus, and ended up with an amazingly delicious dinner that I could eat any day of the year. Yes, this was the perfect way to transition from fresh summer veggies to creamy and comforting! I usually reserve something as heavy as a cream sauce for the colder months, but the subtle hint of lemon makes this dish feel light enough to enjoy even on warm days! This sauce reheats very well, so I always make extra to pack in the hubby’s lunch!
Pasta with Asparagus and Cream Sauce
- 1 lb asparagus, rinsed and chopped
- 8 oz. spaghetti noodles (1/2 package)
- 4 oz. cream cheese
- 4 T butter
- 3/4 cup milk, warmed
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1 T lemon juice
- pinch of salt and pepper
- Boil pasta according to package directions.
- Add cream cheese to a saucepan over low heat. When it begins to melt, add butter. Melt over low heat and whisk to combine. It will not combine until completely melted, you may need to use a spatula to help incorporate it.
- Add the warmed milk, slowly and the remaining ingredients. Whisk to combine. Cook over medium low heat for about 7 minutes. It should be slightly thinner than you want it, as it will thicken upon cooling.
- Meanwhile, add asparagus and a small amount of water to a large frypan and cook over medium low heat until tender. Drain the water from the pan.
- Add sauce and pasta to pan and toss to coat. Sprinkle with dried thyme, if desired. Serve warm.
For years I strongly disliked nuts. All nuts, except of course candied nuts, and even then, I would suck the sugar off and spit out the actual nut. I must have matured or something in the past year because now I love them, especially these candied pecans! The combination of sweet and salty is out of this world. I made these to give to my dad as a Father’s Day gift, but wouldn’t you know that the longer they sat on the counter, the more that ended up in my mouth. I had to package them up and tuck them away before they were gone…out of sight, out of mind, right?
I have used a similar recipe to this in the past, but for candied almonds. That time, I used 1 tsp vanilla extract instead of the touch of almond extract I used here. Well, I was out of vanilla extract. Wait, out of vanilla…say what?! I know, it’s crazy, but I forgot to write it on the grocery list last week, and if it’s not on the list, it’s not in the cart. Not because I’m a super-awesome budget-er though, because I have a terrible memory. Oops. I decided to use a touch of almond extract and it turned out just heavenly!
You know how you always read little tips and tricks on pinterest, but so rarely get to use them? I know that’s not just me. Well, I remember seeing/reading that a cupcake wrapper is perfect for the top of a mason jar (as seen here). Guess what? It is! I love this little green plaid wrapper as a topper for Father’s Day. Green always reminds me of Father’s Day, actually. …maybe because my dad likes green? Or I associate green with dads? I don’t know, but I thought it made the cutest package for this homemade gift!
- 1 egg white
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp almond extract or 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 lb pecan halves
- Preheat oven to 250. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and gently spray with nonstick cooking spray.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white, water, and almond extract until foamy. Add pecan halves and stir to distrubute throughout.
- Sprinkle with sugar mixture and fold to evenly coat.
- Spread pecans in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Spring is my favorite time of year! There are so many things that I love about this season. Sundresses, birds chirping, bright green grass, and of course asparagus. Asparagus that can be made into a tasty asparagus frittata! So delicious! Did you know that May is National Asparagus Month? Go grab a bunch and get cooking!
I actually hated asparagus as a kid. That’s probably because It is abundant at my parents’ house and we ate it all the time growing up. Like every night. Dinner was usually something on the grill, asparagus and spinach salad. I also detested spinach salad for many years. It really wasn’t until about five or six years ago that I started to love vegetables as much as I do. I would turn my nose up at tomatoes or raw mushrooms and now I basically eat them by the pint! That has been a really beneficial part of growing up, especially as a vegetarian, because it was difficult to eat the right way when I was so picky! I’m glad that stage is behind me, but I still gag if I get a mouthful of mustard and can not stomach a green olive. Ick.
This asparagus fritatta is a wonderful breakfast or brunch meal, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t make it for dinner too! Light and fluffy eggs, a touch of salty parmesan and wonderfully tender asparagus. I used a feta asparagus frittata recipe from Taste of Home as a starting point. I used parmesan instead of feta and decreased the eggs so it would more easily feed two. I served it with a fruit salad and we still had some leftovers! If you add some chopped ham, or serve with a breakfast meat, I really think you could make this serve up to four!
- 5 eggs
- 11-12 asparagus spears
- 2 Tbsp onion, minced or finely chopped
- 1 T olive oil
- 2 Tbsp cream
- 1/4 cup shredded parmesan
- 2 T grated parmesan
- pinch of salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 350. Cut the woody ends from asparagus spears and discard.
- In a bowl, whisk eggs, cream, salt and pepper, grated parmesan, and all but a handful of shredded parmesan and set aside.
- Add asparagus and a small amount of water to a large skillet a cook over over medium heat until crisp-tender.
- Drain water from pan and remove stalks. Cut each spear to half the length of the pan you intend to bake the fritatta in. Leave the end with the tip whole, but finely dice the ends.
- Add diced asparagus, onions, and oil to skillet. Cook over medium heat for several minutes, until onions are fragrant.
- Add egg mixture and and cook 3-5 minutes, until nearly set. Arrange remaining stalks on top of eggs and sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.
- Bake for 7-8 minutes, until completely set.
Some of my favorite things are the simplest, like this basil butter. I love love love all things basil and practically eat pesto by the spoonful. I actually bought a basil plant two years ago for the sole purpose of always having fresh basil around. I have to say, I was so amazed at how well it grows! Seriously, it grows like a weed and if I forget to water it for too long, it always perks right back up. It is an insanely low maintenance plant! Don’t believe me? There are entire websites devoted to helping you grow basil, but you won’t need the help. All you need is a sunny window and an occasional watering!
The cream cheese I added to this basil butter makes it very smooth and spreadable while adding a subtle creamy flavor. You don’t notice the taste though. My husband hates (and I mean HATES) cream cheese and he was in love with this butter. It took everything in us to stop ourselves from eating it all. Could you imagine eating an entire stick of butter in one sitting? Ick. I’m telling you though, this butter will make you want to.
There’s no such thing as too much garlic in my kitchen, but if you’re nervous about using raw garlic, you can substitute a bit of garlic powder for fresh or saute the garlic in oil before adding it. You could also use a couple teaspoons of pesto instead of basil leaves if you want to cut out that step…or you could use pesto and fresh basil.
I love any kind of flavored butter or spread as an appetizer, especially in spring or summer because it requires no oven use! This was absolutely mouthwatering topped with a thin slice of feta and a fresh basil leaf. I plan on generously spreading what is left on a halved french loaf, sprinkling it with shredded parmesan and a little extra garlic, and baking it. I think it will make the most perfect cheesy basil garlic bread.
- 1 stick of butter, softened
- 4 Tbsb cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- pinch salt and pepper
- In a food processor or magic bullet, puree basil leaves and olive oil or finely dice the basil.
- Beat butter and cream cheese until incorporated. Mix in pureed basil leaves and remaining ingredients.
- Serve immediately or store in the fridge until serving.
The weather was so amazing over the past few days; it was perfect for my weekend off of work! Sunshine and warm temperatures called for a light summery dinner out in the sun. I whipped up this cucumber tomato salad and enjoyed a lovely dinner on the balcony with my husband. This is such a quick and simple recipe that you can easily adapt to fit your family’s taste! I had the Noodles & Co. cucumber tomato salad in mind when I came up with this recipe, and while it is similar in concept, it tastes quite different. As I always do, I used what I could find in my kitchen and of course I had to add feta; it makes everything better!
I like to use oil and vinegar to marinade my vegetables because I love the tartness the vegetables have after they’ve been soaking in vinegar. After marinating, I pour out the excess and toss the vegetables in an Italian vinaigrette for a great flavor boost. One of my favorites is Kraft’s Sun Dried Tomato Vinaigrette. You could use a vinaigrette to marinade your veggies for a milder taste or skip the viniagrette altogether and just use oil and vinegar. You could mix in anything from black or greek olives, to avocado chunks, or even quinoa.
This recipe is full of my favorite things! As I said before, I used my favorite vinaigrette, and then grape tomatoes are my favorite tomato, feta is one of my favorite cheeses, and cucumbers are my favorite vegetable. Speaking of cucumbers, have you ever tried cucumber vodka? I LOVE IT! It’s so refreshing and crisp mixed with soda water or 7-up. I’ve had it with cranberry juice too, and while I liked it, my husband did not share my opinion and we agreed it was best served as a cucumber press with half soda water – half 7-up). The colors in this salad are gorgeous too! It’s hard to beat garden fresh vegetables with a tangy vinaigrette and a salty bite of feta in my book!
- 2 medium cucumbers, roughly peeled and chopped
- 1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 1/3 red onion, chopped
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 tsp oregano
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp Italian vinaigrette
- Mix tomato, cucumber, and onion in a bowl or plastic bag with vinegar, oil, oregano, salt and pepper. Cover and let marinade in refrigerator for a couple hours.
- When ready to serve, take the marinading vegetables out of the fridge. You have two options here: you can either pour out the bit of vinegar and oil that is left in the mix first, or just add the vinaigrette and feta and give it a toss.
I’ve really been loving cauliflower lately. When I saw it was on sale last week at my local grocery store, I was all over that! I debated making a batch of my favorite cheesy cauliflower soup, but knew I should crawl out of my comfort zone and come up with something new. I decided on a cheesy cauliflower bake. I wanted it to be super cheesy and creamy in the center with a crispy panko topping. That is exactly what I got; it was perfect!
After browsing quite a few recipes for inspiration (on pinterest, of course), I settled on a recipe to use as a template for my delicious creation. I started with this cheesy cauliflower bake recipe from Mels Kitchen Cafe, added onions, changed out the topping, and made a few other adjustments.
I like to use sharper cheeses for dishes like this or homemade mac and cheese; I absolutely love that sharp taste when the cheese is melted. I used a mix of sharp cheddar and mozzarella (about 1 1/2 c cheddar and 1/2 c mozzarella), because it was what I had in my fridge, but of course, you could use any cheese you like. I wanted to cut some calories so I stuck with 1% milk for this dish. You can substitute heavy cream or half and half (or half cream and half stock/broth as Mel did) for the milk, and it might turn out thicker/creamier. Don’t get me wrong, this cauliflower bake was creamy; but it wasn’t terribly thick. Overall, I’m super happy with this side dish and will definitely make it again! It will be perfect for family get-togethers over the holidays or an easy potluck dish!
- 2 cloves garlic, diced
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 2 1/2 cups milk, slightly warm
- 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1/2 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 2 cups shredded cheese, divided (I used sharp cheddar + mozzarella)
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add garlic and flour and cook until golden and fragrant.
- Slowly whisk in the milk. Add cauliflower, onions, parsley, mustard, salt, and pepper and stir.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 6-8 minutes, until cauliflower is tender.
- Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese and all of the grated parmesan.
- Pour mixture into a 9x13 baking dish and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with remaining cheese and panko breadcrumbs.
- Bake an additional 10 minutes until topping is golden brown.
You may substitute heavy cream or half and half (or half cream and half stock/broth) for the milk to make it thicker.
I had to scrape the frost off of my car windows yesterday morning. What the heck, spring!? This is just not okay. To cope with the little bit of a chill that’s been in the air, I made up a big batch of hearty vegetarian chili. Chili and soup weather is almost out the door (thankfully), so I figured I might as well make the best of it by making (and eating!) lots of warm comfort food, like this creamy potato muhsroom soup and brownie caramel cheesecake. Okay, maybe brownie caramel cheesecake isn’t soup or chili, but it is definitely comforting! It wont be long before I can put away the winter coats and wave goodbye to frosty windows, mountains of snow, and that annoying patch of ice in front of my door!
I love this vegetarian chili recipe, and chili/soup recipes in general, because they are so easy to make. Throw everything in a pot or slow-cooker and let it cook; it doesn’t get too much easier than that! You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand, or add chicken or beef. This was the first time I added cinnamon and cocoa powder to chili, and it added a subtle depth to the flavor that really took this recipe to the next level.
I usually add a box of macaroni noodles when I make this vegetarian chili, but this time I decided not to. Do you want know what I did instead? I mixed the leftovers with leftover baked mac and cheese I had in the fridge and packaged it up for the husband and my lunches. It was super delicious and cheesy! We all know that mac and cheese doesn’t reheat the greatest and this was the perfect solution!
- 1 14.5 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 14.5 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 14.5 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes and juice
- 2 stalks celery, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 3/4 cup chopped carrots
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, diced
- 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp chili powder
- 1 Tbsp cumin
- 1 Tbsp dried parsley
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 2 1/2 cups tomato juice
- Sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and chopped green onions for garnish
- In a medium pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions begin to turn translucent.
- Add the onions and garlic to your slow-cooker, followed by the rest of the ingredients and give it all a mix.
- Cook on high for 4-5 hours, or on low for 7-8 hours.
- Spoon into bowls and top with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and green onions.
You can add the onions and garlic raw if you'd like, the flavor of will be slightly stronger. You can use tomato sauce or stock/broth/water instead of tomato juice; add enough to just cover the vegetables. You could also prepare this on the stove, just cook the onions and garlic in your soup pot, add the remaining ingredients and simmer until vegetables are tender.
Every once in a while, my husband and I have an appetizer night, where rather than eating a traditional dinner, we just stuff ourselves full of appetizers. Whenever there are appetizers present, I end up filling up on them anyway, so why not make that the intention? We’ve had countless dips (a favorite being baked artichoke dip), finger foods, cheeses, and fondue. Appetizer night is always a treat, as is fast food night, where we make our own knock-off versions of favorite fast food meals (think quesadillas, snack wraps, etc). It’s almost always enjoyed on the couch while watching a movie! If you don’t have evenings like this, you should consider starting to – it’s the perfect way to spend a date-night-in!
I love recipes like the one for these amazing shrimp tartlets because they are so versatile. You could use the filling as a dip, use wonton wrappers or phyllo dough instead of bread, and mix up the ingredients as you choose. I also love it because it is absolutely delicious! The subtle shrimp flavor, green onions, cream cheese, and Worchestershire sauce are a perfect combination that will leave your mouth begging for more! The crisp crust and creamy filling pair so perfectly together! After I made shrimp tartlets for the first time, I fell in love and they made another appearance in my kitchen just a week later. Even my nieces who claim to not like shrimp enjoyed these. They had a lot of fun helping make them too, especially flattening the bread slices!
Don’t know what to do with the left over bread crusts? Don’t throw them away! Toss them in the oven and toast over low heat to turn them into bread crumbs (or croutons), use it for bread pudding or baked french toast, or put them on the lawn for the local fauna.
- 1/4-1/3 cup finely diced/shreddd cooked shrimp
- 8 whole cooked large shrimp for garnish
- 4 oz cream cheese
- 3 Tbsp sour cream
- 2 Tbsp chopped green onion
- 1 Tbsp finely diced onion
- 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- pinch salt and pepper
- 8 pieces of white bread
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 400.
- Cut the crusts off of each bread slice. Use a rolling pin to flatten the bread; you want them as smushed as they can be. They will feel very thin and dense, almost doughy.
- Using a pastry brush, gently coat each side of the bread with olive oil. Fit each slice into the well of an ungreased muffin tin.
- Place them in the oven for 8-10 minutes, until the tops begin to brown.
- In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients with a wooden spoon. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- When the crusts are ready, remove them from the oven and reduce heat to 300. Let them cool for a couple minutes.
- Distribute the filling evenly into the crusts and top each with a whole cooked large shrimp. Place back in oven and bake for an additional 4-5 minutes.
Add whatever you'd like! Other optional mix-ins: mozzarella cheese, crushed bacon, dijon mustard, paprika, hot sauce/red pepper flakes, mayonaisse.
You could cut the bread slices into a circle first if you prefer. I left it them as a square because I like how the overhanging corners look.
When it comes to breakfast, I don’t mess around. No cheap granola bars or sugar-coated cereal here…okay, maybe sometimes, but I try to be both creative and healthy on the regular!
You know what they say: breakfast is the most important meal of the day! On my days off of work, I even wake up and make my husband breakfast…aren’t I just the sweetest?! No, I just know how important it is to eat right (especially at breakfast) and if I didn’t give him a push in that direction, he’d happily eat Honeycomb or Cap’n Crunch every morning.
I actually had to start slowly and work my way toward being able to eat much in the morning. I used to get a stomach ache if I had more than a piece of fruit in the first hour that I was awake, but I’m now able to eat breakfast foods full of protein and fiber without feeling sick at all! These pancakes may not be full of protein or fiber, but they sure are delicious!
Can you ever really go wrong with funfetti or cake mix? Nope. Put them together and what do we get? Well, look at those sprinkles.
Delicious. And sprinkles don’t lie.
These pancakes are so much fun! They’d be perfect for a birthday breakfast or brunch! I encourage you to try them; you could even add cake mix (and sprinkles!) to premade/store-bought pancake mix. I’ve said before that sprinkles make everything better and these pancakes are here to testify to that!
Funfetti Cake Batter Pancakes with Buttercream Icing
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup cake mix
- 1/2 Tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/8tsp salt
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 Tbsp melted butter
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 3 Tbsp sprinkles
- 4 Tbsp butter, softened
- 1 - 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- Preheat nonstick pan or griddle over medium heat.
- In a medium bowl, mix flour, cake mix, sugar, baking soda, and salt with a whisk.
- In a separate large bowl, lightly beat the egg, then whisk in milk, melted butter, and vanilla.
- Add the dry ingredients and whisk until incorporated. Adjust consistency by adding flour or milk until you reach your desired thickness. Fold in the sprinkles.
- Scoop 1/4 cup sized amounts onto the griddle and cook until bubbles appear throughout the pancake and the edges begin to cook; this will only take a couple minutes. Then flip and cook the opposite side for an additional 1-2 minutes, until golden brown.
- For the icing: Beat butter until light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and continue to beat until incorporated, add additional powdered sugar to thicken if desired.
I love quinoa. Why? More like why not! It’s full of protein, fiber, iron, calcium, phosphorus and- yeah yeah, we all know it’s super healthy. But what I really love is the texture it adds to a dish; whether it’s cold, tossed with pesto and veggies, or smothered in cheese and baked into a warm casserole. It’s so versatile and and can be substituted for pasta or rice in almost anything. This is especially important to me, being a vegetarian who doesn’t care much for milk or nuts…to have a superfood like quinoa with all those essentials? Yes, please! What’s your favorite way to eat quinoa?
This quinoa and spinach pizza casserole was fabulous! It was cheesy and flavorful, and the leftovers held up great in the fridge for reheating as weekday lunch! It’s even compatible with children and picky eaters because the flavors of the tomato sauce and spices are so powerful. This dish is a winner!
Spinach Pizza Quinoa Casserole
Yield: 9 servings / Prep Time: 15 minutes / Cook Time: 30 minutes
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 16 oz tomato sauce
- 2 cups frozen spinach, thawed
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp parsley
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- optional: cheese for topping (I used shredded cheddar and slices of mozzarella)
- Cook quinoa according to package directions. While it is cooking, chop your vegetables and thaw your spinach. Let the quinoa sit for five minutes while you combine the vegetables and seasoning.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Combine the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl and mix to combine. Add quinoa and mix again. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Pour into a 8×8 baking dish and cover with cheese.
- Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes covered, uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes until cheese is completely melted.