Rattlesnake Pasta

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My Mom and Mother-in-law both got me vintage Pyrex pieces for Christmas. Since then, I’ve become mildly obsessed with casseroles. Because when you’re using dishes from the ’50s, is there anything more appropriate to make than a casserole? I think not.

My new casserole dish is small – perfect for 2-3 servings, so I’ve been using it a lot and freezing extra portions for busy nights.  I can’t wait to break this one out again!

Rattlesnake Pasta
(adapted from The Oland Girls Craft)
Serves 6

12 oz. whole wheat pasta
1 26 oz. jar Alfredo sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 lb. dice, cooked chicken
1 small can diced green chilies
1 cup shredded cheddar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a casserole dish with nonstick spray.

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a large bowl, combine the cooked pasta, Alfredo sauce, garlic, Parmesan, bacon, chicken and chilies. Stir until thoroughly combined. Transfer to prepared casserole dish. Top with shredded cheddar.

Baked for 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.


Thai Veggie Burgers

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For some reason, Thursdays are my power day. I always feel the most together and most ambitious on Thursdays. It’s also the day I make my meal plans for the next week – which is both a good and a bad thing. Bad because I’m often more ambitious with the plans than I feel like being when I actually get around to cooking dinner. Good because when I power through the plans, I often get some pleasant surprises.

When I started making these, I had a what-were-you-thinking?! moment. We don’t generally eat a lot of Thai food. Mark isn’t crazy about peanut sauce. Veggie burgers are pretty hit-or-miss around here. Why did I think these would be a good thing to try mid-week?

Luckily, they were a huge hit. I served leftovers for lunch the next day – bun-less, on a bed of slaw – and they were even better. And we froze a few to break out for lunches during Lent. I already can’t wait.

Thai Veggie Burgers
(slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats)
Makes 6

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
2 tsp. olive oil, divided, plus additional for cooking
1 cup vegetable broth
1 15 oz. can of chickpeas
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 egg
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
3 cups cole slaw mix
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. water
Chopped peanuts
Burger buns

Rinse and drain the quinoa. Heat 1 tsp. of oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, until shimmering. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes to lightly toast. Stir in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Let cook for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand for 5. Remove the lid, fluff and set aside to cool.

In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, oats, cornmeal, salt, paprika, garlic and sesame oil until well blended. Pulse in the egg. Add the mixture to a large bowl and stir in quinoa, red pepper, onion and remaining 1 tsp. olive oil. Stir together until evenly mixed, divide into 6 equal balls and roll into patties.

In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, ginger, red pepper flakes, lime juice and water until smooth. Set aside.

Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until shimmering. Add the patties and cook until both sides are browned and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Serve the patties on buns topped with slaw, peanut sauce and chopped peanuts.

 


Pulled Pork Pizza

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So, you know how blogging around here was pretty slow around here towards the end of the year? I’m sure most people figured it was because of the baby but it was actually much more embarrassing – I filled up my hard drive. As in, I couldn’t put another thing on it without deleting something else. I quit taking pictures of things I was making because getting them onto the laptop was such a pain. (Well, I guess you could blame the baby – I’d filled it up with baby pictures…)

This was a pizza I made during that unintended blog break – and remade last week just so I could share it. I whipped it up to use up some leftovers and it turned out awesome – even my Mom, whom swears she hates spicy things, loved it.

And I finally bought a new computer so transferring pictures should be easy-peasy going forward.

Pulled Pork Pizza
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Makes 1 12″ Pie

1 lb. pizza dough
1/3 cup barbecue sauce
1 Tbsp. chipotle Tabasco sauce
1 cup pulled pork
2 Tbsp. chopped red onion
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1 cup cheddar cheese

Roll out dough into a 12″ circle.

In a small bowl, whisk together the barbecue sauce and chipotle tabasco sauce. Spread over the crust. Top with pulled pork, red onion and cheeses.

Bake at 425 until the crust is golden, about 20 minutes.


Crispy Black Bean and Rice Burritos

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We recently did something we’ve been talking about since we moved into the house – we bought a chest freezer! I’m really more excited about it than I should be. The day it got delivered I plunked the few things I could in there and I’ve slowly been trying to fill it up.

I cooked up these burritos for dinner one night and froze the rest for nights I need something quick. I wrapped them in foil and then stuck them in a freezer bag. To reheat, I baked them, still in the foil, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.

Crispy Black Bean and Rice Burritos
(from Brunch Time Baker)
Makes 6-8

 1 can of black beans
1/2 can of canned corn
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup cooked rice
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. cumin
Juice of half a lime
6-8 medium flour tortillas

In a large skillet, melt the butter then add the onion, bell pepper, black beans, corn, salt, pepper, cumin and lime juice. Cook until onion and pepper are soft.

Spoon 1/4 cup of the black bean mixture into each tortilla. Top with 2 Tbsp. of rice and 2 Tbsp. of cheese and wrap tightly. Brush an electric grill or grill pan with oil and grill the burritos until crisp. Serve with sour cream and salsa.


Almond Crusted Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce

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It’s super cliché, but we’re totally on holiday detox around here. I love indulging in all the holiday goodies, but by December 26th I just wanted a big salad. Does that officially make me old?

Either way, I’ve been mixing in some healthier meals during this last week. This has been one of those meals. These pork chops were pretty much everything I want in a dinner lately – quick, easy and super flavorful. Mark walked in the door from work and I handed off the baby for a diaper change. By the time he’d ditched his work clothes, changed the baby and made it back downstairs, I was plating them. Win all around!

Almond Crusted Pork Chops with Mustard Sauce
(from On My Way to Skinny)
Serves 2

2 pork chops, trimmed of fat and pounded to 1/4″ thickness
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup fat free half and half
1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp. almond meal
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. oregano
1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil to shimmering. Season pork chops with salt and pepper and dredge in almond meal. Fry for 4-5 minutes per side, until golden brown. Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm.

In the same skillet, whisk in the half and half, Dijon mustard, almond meal and oregano. Bring a boil, whisking constantly, and cook for 2 more minutes, until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve sauce over pork chops.


Oven Fajitas

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One of the things that’s been difficult for me with October Unprocessed is that I tend to pick recipes that are more complicated and time-consuming. I’m not sure why they appeal to me so much, but they’re really just not ideal for busy nights when you’re also juggling a baby. I’ve had to made a conscious effort to find quick, easy dinners that don’t rely on processed ingredients.

This was one of the best dinners so far. I did the prep during nap time so when dinner time came, I just had to toss it with the seasoning and oil and stick it in the oven. I served them with lettuce leaves for wrapping to make it October Unprocessed friendly, but tortillas would be great too.

Oven Fajitas
(from Budget Bytes)
Serves 4

1 Tbsp. chili powder
1/2 Tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. onion powder
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 Tbsp. corn starch
2 small onions
2 medium green bell peppers
1 medium red bell pepper
1 lb. chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 medium lime
Tortillas or lettuce leaves for wrapping

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. In a small bown, whisk together the first nine ingredients. Set aside.

Slice the onion, peppers and chicken into strips and place them into a 9×13″ baking dish. Sprinkle the seasoning over everything and then drizzle the oil over everything. Toss to coat evenly.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, stirring halfway through. When done, squeeze juice from half of the lime over everything. Serve on tortillas or lettuce leaves with your favorite toppings.


Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Salad Jar

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While we’re really only a few days into October Unprocessed, I think I already found my favorite dish of the month. This salad is fantastic. I whipped it up on a day that baby boy was particularly needy so it literally took me all day to get it finished. When Mark walked in from work at 8 pm, he’s like, “Is that dinner?” and when I said, “No, its today’s lunch” he knew better than to ask too many questions (and graciously helped do the dishes when I finally finished. I had really thought about ditching these once lunch time passed and I didn’t have anything more than some burned sweet potato, but I’m really, really glad I didn’t.

Much like the oats I shared a few days ago, I suggest multiplying the recipe and making several at once – it’s just more efficient to cook a few days worth of sweet potatoes and quinoa in one shot if you’ll be eating this for several days.

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Salad Jar
(from Popsugar Fitness)
Makes 1

1 small sweet potato, unpeeled, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup black beans
1/4 red pepper, diced
2 cups baby spinach
1 Tbsp. dried cranberries
1 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds

For the dressing:
1/4 cup mango, fresh or frozen
1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp. water

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Toss the diced sweet potato with the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the quinoa to a covered pot along with half a cup of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the water is all absorbed and the quinoa is tender.

Make the dressing: combine mango, vinegar and water in a blender and pulse until smooth.

Assemble the salad in a jar: Place the black beans at the bottom and then layer on the quinoa, dressing, red pepper, spinach, sweet potatoes, dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds.

Cover jar and refrigerate until ready to serve. When you’re ready to eat, shake the jar or dump it into a bowl and toss to combine.


Balsamic and Herb Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables

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This is actually a dinner I made last month, but it’s something we’ll be repeating this month since it fits October Unprocessed well.

And by I made, I mean it was a group effort. Our friend, Chris, just took a job in Saudi Arabia (!) so we had him over for dinner as sort of a last hurrah. I started cooking and then Mark took over when I had to feed the baby. Chris pitched in by making the gravy as Mark got the pork cut and plated. You know you have good friends when they have no qualms about jumping in to help in the kitchen! We’re really going to miss having him around.

This is a nice dinner because it’s a one-dish meal. I’m always a fan of fewer dishes! The marinade made for a really flavorful pork tenderloin and we used the last of the green beans out of the garden. I served this with a nice, warm loaf of bread to round out the meal.

Balsamic and Herb Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Vegetables
(from The Other Side of Fifty)
Serves 6

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp. fresh sage, chopped
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin
2 lbs. medium red skinned potatoes, scrubbed, diced into 1/2″ cubes
3/4 lb. green beans, ends trimmed
1/4 cup canola oil
1 heaping TBSP whole wheat flour
1 cup chicken broth

In a large bowl or ziplock bag, combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, mustard, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, salt and pepper. Add the pork, turn to coat and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees. Heat the canola oil to shimmering in an oven-safe pan.

Remove pork and discard marinade. Sear on all sides then transfer to oven and cook until the pork reaches 140F degrees on a meat thermometer. Remove pork from pan and tent on a plate. While the meat cooks, microwave the potatoes on high for 8 minutes, stirring halfway.

Increase the oven temp to 450F degrees. Add potatoes and green beans to the pan and toss to coat in the oil. Roast for an additional 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer the vegetables to a serving platter.

Whisk the flour into the juices remaining in the skillet and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat. Whisk in the chicken broth and continue whisking until smooth and reduced to the desired thickness.

Slice the meat and serve with vegetables and pan gravy.


Taco Stuffed Shells

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This was another freezer meal I prepped before Jake was born. I’ve made it a few times before but never got a bloggable picture before this. If it’s surprising to you that the best picture of this dish came while I was carrying around a baby, it’s surprising to me too.

This is a real people-pleaser meal – a fusion of tacos and pasta, how can you not love it? If you’re looking for a meal to bring to a friend, this is a great one.

For the freezer, I covered and froze after the taco sauce. I bagged the cheese separately and froze that so I’d have one less thing to do on a busy night. Also, the picture shows a half batch – I prefer to freeze in portions that are easier for two people so we’re not drowning in leftovers!

Taco Stuffed Shells
(from Blog Chef)
Serves 4-6

1 lb. ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese
20-24 large pasta shells
1 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 ½ cups tortilla chips, crushed
Green onions, black olives and sour cream, for serving, optional

In a frying pan, brown the ground beef and prepare as taco meat according to directions on the seasoning packet. When finished, stir in cream cheese until melted and combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

While the meat cooks, cook shells according to package directions. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Pour the salsa into the bottom of a baking dish. Fill each shell with the taco meat mixture and lay on top of salsa. Cover shells with taco sauce. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Uncover and top with cheeses and tortilla chips. Bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Top with green onions, black olives and sour cream, if desired, and serve.


Thai-Spiced, Honey-Glazed Chicken Skewers

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Meat on sticks. There hasn’t been enough of it this summer so I’m trying to remedy that before grilling weather is officially over. (It’s coming. Sigh.)

When I was making the meal plans for the week, I was pleasantly surprised to realize I already had all the ingredients for these skewers on hand, so they went on the menu. It’s simple ingredients, but they pack a big flavor punch here.

I set my chicken up to marinade in the morning, but starting to marinade the night before would be good too. I’d give this a few solid hours in the marinade to pack the biggest punch.

Thai-spiced, Honey-Glazed Chicken Skewers
(from The Iron You)
Serves 4

1 lb. chicken breast, cut into strips
2 tsp. Chinese five-spice
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. lime juice
Sesame seeds, for garnish
Sriracha mayo, for dipping

In a small bowl, whisk together the Chinese five-spice, cayenne, salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the chicken strips and toss until well-coated.

Add the chicken to a ziplock bag. In the same small bowl, whisk together the honey, olive oil and lime juice. Pour over chicken in the bag, seal and turn to coat. Refrigerate and let marinate for several hours.

After marinating, place the chicken on skewers. (If using wooden ones, soak in water for at least a half hour beforehand.)

Preheat a grill to medium and oil the grates. Grill for 8-10 minutes, turning halfway, until cooked through. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Serve with Sriracha mayo for dipping.