Fall Foodie: Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

Thanksgiving is next week- and in the days leading up to it- I’ve got a couple of Friends-givings to attend around the city. While I’m preparing menus, seating arrangements, decor and a *fantastic* playlist- I’ve also been experimenting in the kitchen with different vegetables to incorporate some new dishes into the lineup for the big meal. This past weekend, it was cauliflower’s turn for a transformation.

When I was a kid, I hated cauliflower. The texture and taste reminded me of Styrofoam- but as I got older and saw just how many endless and delicious possibilities it can be used for, I can’t get enough of it. For this quick dish- all you need is a handful of ingredients (including cheese, which automatically makes everything so much better) and just over a half hour of time to make a crunchy, savory side for your next holiday meal!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 7 cups cauliflower florets, cut to bite sized pieces
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. Combine the cauliflower and olive oil in a large Ziplock bag or a large bowl and shake or toss to coat the florets evenly.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients to the bag/bowl and shake/toss until coated, pressing slightly to help the breading stick to the florets.
  4. Pour the coated florets onto the baking sheet and spray the tops of the cauliflower with cooking spray and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Stir the cauliflower and continue to bake an additional 10 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!

If you’ve got fussy eaters (particularly kids who are anti-vegetable)– then this is a good way to get them to eat cauliflower without protest. The cheese and garlic taste incredible together, and the breading gives the otherwise soft cauliflower a much-needed crunch and extra flavor.

Add a little ranch dressing on the side and you’ve got the perfect vegetable appetizer to serve before the turkey and stuffing! Best of all? These are light- which means they won’t make you feel like you ate too much or weigh you down before it’s time to dive into the main course(s)!

But that’s all for me today. It’s time to chug my morning coffee and get to work. Now that the holidays are coming up- things tend to get a little busy around the office- so I’m trying to stay one step ahead!

Have a great Monday, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –

Fall Foodie: Mini Shepherd’s Pot Pies

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to the end of another week!

This coming weekend- kicking off when I leave work a little later on this afternoon- is sure to be a busy one. I’ve got to make an appearance at local horror movie convention tonight, possibly swing by a midnight screening of ‘IT’ (the Tim Curry version!) in the middle of the woods- yes, really- and prepare for a weekend in the city with friends when we all get together for our bride-to-be-BFF’s bachelorette party before she ties the knot in a few weeks!

But before I start racing around and more than likely tripping over myself- I wanted to share a pretty great recipe I found via PUREWOW earlier this week. If you’re a meat and potatoes type of person- this may be right up your alley, but if you’re a meat and potatoes AND mini versions of food enthusiast- then you’re going to love this and want to whip a batch of these up immediately!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 package refrigerated piecrust (2 x 9″ inch pie crusts)
  • ½ lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 (1 oz.) envelope onion soup mix
  • 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
  • ¾ cup beef broth
  • 1 cup frozen vegetables (corn, peas and carrot blend)
  • 1 package Bob Evans Classic Mashed Potatoes

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Unroll both piecrusts and use a 3” circle cookie cutter (or small round bowl) to cut out 12 circles (re-roll scraps of dough to get remaining circles). Line each cup of a 12-cavity muffin tin with the pie dough and bake for 8 to 9 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  2. Meanwhile, brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until cooked and crumbled. Stir in the onion soup mix and 1 tablespoon of flour and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the beef broth, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet and then add in the frozen vegetable mix. Continue cooking and stirring for an additional 2 to 3 minutes until the liquid has thickened and the veggies are mostly heated through.
  3. Scoop ¼ cup of the meat mixture into the piecrusts, then top each mini pie with 2 tablespoons of Bob Evans Classic Mashed Potatoes.
  4. Continue baking for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, till the piecrusts are golden brown. Turn on the top broiler for the last 2 minutes to lightly brown the mashed potatoes if desired. Run a butter knife around the edge of the mini pies to gently remove and serve warm.

If I had to make one criticism for these otherwise delicious pies- it’s that you may want to consider going a little easy with the onion soup mix. One full package left these pies tasting very strongly. It wasn’t terrible by any means, since I do like onion- but it may not be for everyone and if you’re serving these to guests- you’re going to want to be sensitive to their taste buds.

That aside, I loved these pies! They were warm, flavorful and filling- the perfect treat to end a rainy, brisk Autumn day. I can’t wait to make more!

But for now, I’ve got to get some work done and then hit the ground running come 4:30 PM. Here’s wishing you all a wonderful and safe weekend. I’ll be back on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Backyard BBQ Recipes: BLT Pasta Salad

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! Here’s hoping you all had a great weekend!

Before I dive right into my e-mails, early morning meetings and phone calls at the office- I thought I’d share a quick and easy recipe I tried out this past weekend for an afternoon cookout at a friend’s house (the first of many this coming season, I’m sure!)

I’m a big fan of the simplicity of BLTs for lunch- but I also think a backyard BBQ isn’t quite the same without a chilled pasta salad available as a side. This recipe combines the two- the minimal ingredients of the sandwich but with a more filling pasta substituted in place of the bread and a bit more flavor with a creamy and tangy dressing mixed in. Add some avocado and you’ve got yourself a hit for your next early-Summer gathering!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 1 pound bacon
  • 1 pound pasta (your choice! I used penne.)
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 medium tomatoes, cut into small wedges
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Arrange the bacon on the baking sheet; season generously with black pepper. Bake until the bacon is crisp, 15 to 17 minutes. Remove from the pan from the oven and cool completely.
  2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the pasta and cook according to the package instructions, 7 to 9 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard and vinegar; season with salt and pepper.
  4. In a large bowl, toss together the pasta, tomato, avocado and romaine. Crumble the bacon into the salad.
  5. If serving immediately, add the dressing and toss well to coat. Or leave undressed and store in the refrigerator for up to two days.

This pasta salad was so good- and was a fun and flavorful spin on the usual macaroni salads I typically see at cookouts and backyard BBQs. Any leftovers (and there wasn’t much!) were placed back in an airtight container and refrigerated- and tasted just as good on Sunday during an indoor lunch when the weather didn’t hold out as planned.

I’m thinking I’ll be making another batch of this for my co-workers when we have our pre-Memorial Day weekend luncheon in a couple of weeks. Anything with bacon and avocado is sure to be a hit!

Try to enjoy your Monday, everyone! Let’s make it to the weekend!

xx

– Ashley –

Super Bowl Snacks: Buffalo Chicken Sliders

Happy Friday, everyone! Today is my last day at work before I head off to Las Vegas overnight- and we’re all celebrating with a little pre-Super Bowl food day/party before Sunday’s big game. I admit, it’s going to be a bit strange not being in Boston to watch it at any of the usual bars or pubs- but I’m hoping I can find some Patriots fans in Sin City to party with. We’ll see how that goes!

Before I head off to the airport, though- I wanted to share a 15-minute recipe for those of you who may be heading to Super Bowl parties of your own this weekend and are looking for something quick, easy and delicious to serve up to your friends (or rival fans).

Behold, the pulled buffalo chicken sliders- a spicy and fun take on traditional cheeseburger sliders. If you love buffalo sauce or blue cheese as much as I do- then these are for you!

The measurements below make 8 servings, so modify as needed depending on how many people you’re going to be feeding!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ⅔ cup buffalo sauce
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 16 slider rolls, halved
  • ¾ cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • 6 leaves butter lettuce, roughly torn

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. In a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the buffalo sauce. Remove from the heat.
  2. In large bowl, toss the chicken and celery to combine. Add the sauce and toss to coat.
  3. Build sliders with the chicken mixture, blue cheese and lettuce.

An incredibly simple recipe that doesn’t require a ton of ingredients and still serves up a ton of fantastic flavors? Yeah- this is definitely one of my favorites. As much as I enjoy stuffing my face with wings and nachos- these are a bit more filling without leaving sauce or grease all over my face and fingers (or the feeling of guilt when I’ve eaten one too many.) 

Here’s wishing the best of luck to the Pats. I’d love nothing more than to return home in time to head back out to my city’s celebratory Rolling Rally if they can pull off another win!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone. I’ll be back to regular posting next week- and feel free to peep my INSTAGRAM to follow my adventures from Vegas! It’s shaping up to be a blast- and I’m just happy to be returning somewhere warm and sunny for a few days!

xx

– Ashley –

Side Dish: Stuffin’ Muffins

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We’ve made it through another week and it’s time for the final stretch before the holiday season is officially underway. You know the markets and grocery stores are going to be packed this weekend with people picking up their last minute Turkey Day necessities- so be careful out there!

Continuing with my brief series of Thanksgiving-inspired recipes leading up to next Thursday, I wanted to move on from the starters/appetizers and onto a fun and easy side dish you can serve your guests that is not only full of flavor- but is also perfectly proportioned where everyone will get a fair amount, too!

Meet “Stuffin’ Muffins”- the mess-free, compact and convenient way to enjoy a classic recipe.

These measurements make 12 muffins- so adjust accordingly depending on how many people you plan to feed!

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • ½ loaf crusty bread, cut into small (⅓-inch) cubes
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter, divided
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 4 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2½ cups turkey, chicken or vegetable broth

READY? HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the bread with 4 tablespoons of the melted butter.
  3. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter into a large skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and celery, and cook until the vegetables are tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute more. Stir in the parsley, thyme, rosemary and sage. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
  5. Pour the onion and celery mixture over the bread and toss well to combine. Add the broth and toss well to coat. Let the mixture sit 10 to 15 minutes to absorb the liquid, tossing occasionally.
  6. Divide the stuffing evenly among the prepared muffin cups. Bake until the tops are golden brown and crusty, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving warm.

Warm, buttery, and crumbly with a kick of spice- these muffins are the perfect pairing to your ham/turkey/tofurkey and vegetables. They’re just the right amount of stuffing to keep you from feeling overly- well, stuffed- and they’re just as great to store for leftovers, too!

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! Next week I’ll be sharing a really fantastic dessert recipe to wrap up my Thanksgiving series- and I’ve got some fun changes coming to Blondie Birdie, too!

xx

– Ashley –