Vegetarian Quinoa Paella and Beef Empanadas

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I have been searching for a good vegetarian paella recipe and I finally found one!  This one is made with quinoa instead of the traditional rice, but I think it works quite well!  I put in the whole sprig of fresh thyme to season the paella and took it out before serving.  I found this easier than getting the leaves off of the thyme plant.  I used drained canned tomatoes instead of fresh ones and it tasted great.  What I learned about saffron is that the red saffron turns yellow as you mix it with the water.  I found this in the spice section at a local grocery store.

Quinoa Paella Recipe

As for the beef empanadas, these required a bit of time and effort but they were quite yummy!  I added a decent amount of salt and some red pepper flakes to get the right flavor for the meat.  Just keep adding salt until it tastes right, otherwise the meat might be a bit bland.  I also replaced half of the flour with whole wheat flour to make for a heartier dough.  They freeze quite well and make for a great snack in a hurry this way!

Beef Empanada Recipe

Broccoli Pesto

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Broccoli Pesto!  How exciting is this?!  Broccoli is my favorite cooked vegetable and pesto is one of my all time favorite sauces.  The recipe that I adapted from a Weight Watchers cookbook allows for the yummy taste of pesto but with way less calories and oil used.  The red pepper flakes also give this dish some extra spice!

Broccoli Pesto

adapted from Weight Watchers

Ingredients:

8 ounces whole wheat rotini pasta

2 cups broccoli florets

3 tablespoons water

1 cup packed fresh basil

2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

2 Tbsp pine nuts

2 garlic cloves

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (more or less depending on how spicy you like things)

1/4 cup vegetable broth

2 tsp olive oil

*optional- pine nuts and parmesan cheese for decoration

Directions: Cook the rotini according to the package directions.  Drain the pasta and set aside.  Place the broccoli and water into a microwaveable bowl and cover and cook on high for 2-3 minutes.  Rinse with cold water.  Place cooked broccoli, basil, parmesan, 1Tbsp pine nuts, garlic, salt, and red pepper flakes in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.  Next add the broth and olive oil and process until the mixture is smooth.  Mix the pasta and pesto sauce together in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with pine nuts and parmesan cheese before serving if desired.

Funfetti Sugar Cookies

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Are you looking for the world’s best sugar cookie?  Soft, chewy, with a slight hint of almond?  If so this is your recipe.  These are by far my favorite sugar cookies.  They have a little extra in them with the almond extract and the nonpareils for a little fun.  These were devoured at a girl’s weekend trip.  The recipe is quite large so it makes enough to bring for a crowd or to freeze for later use.  For softer cookies bake them at 350 degrees and start to check on them at 10 minutes.

Funfetti Sugar Cookie Recipe

New Age Chicken Pot Pie with Cream Cheese and Chive Biscuits

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I had been craving chicken pot pie for a few months and had this recipe bookmarked for a while.  I finally made it and I was not disappointed.  This was a most fantastic version of the classic chicken pot pie.  The cream cheese and chive biscuits were very easy to make and were moist and buttery.  The sauce for the vegetables was creamy dreamy bliss and the vegetables were cooked to a perfect al dente texture where they were slightly crisp but cooked all the way through.  It also reheated quite well as a left over.   My take on the recipe included cutting the recipe in half, using green onions instead of white onions, and I used broccoli instead of peas.  If I had to change anything next time I make the recipe I would make more of the filling because it was so incredible!  You could also easily make this recipe vegetarian by using vegetable stock and adding more vegetables in place of the chicken.  Enjoy!

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New Age Chicken Pot Pie with Cream Cheese and Chive Biscuits

adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients

Biscuits:

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tablespoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1/8 cup chopped fresh chives

1/8 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes

2 ounces cream cheese, cold

3/8 cup buttermilk, cold (1/4 cup plus 1/8 cup)

Creamy Chicken Vegetable Filling:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cups chicken broth

3/4 cups whole milk

2 ounces cream cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/16 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

1 1/2 cups shredded chicken meat

1 tablespoons butter or olive oil

1/2 cup diced green onions

1 small garlic clove, minced

3/4 cup thinly diced carrots

1/2 cup diced zucchini

1 cup broccoli florets

Directions

Make the biscuits first: Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, black pepper, and chopped chives in a bowl.

Add the butter and cream cheese to the dry ingredients.  Use your fingers to quickly incorporate the cream cheese and butter into the flour.  Break up the butter and cream cheese with your fingers until some of the fat is the size of oat flakes.

Make a small well in the center of the fat and flour mixture.  Add the buttermilk and using a fork combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Place the biscuit dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Knead together until dough forms a disk about 1 1/2 inches thick.

Use a round, 1 1/2-inch biscuit cutter or drinking glass to cut biscuit (the goal here is to get round shaped biscuits, I did not have a biscuit cutter so I used a drinking glass). Gather the dough scraps, knead for a few turns, and cut out more biscuits until no dough remains.  Place biscuits on a small cookie sheet and place in the fridge until ready to bake.

Second make the filling:  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Dice green onions, garlic, carrots, zucchini.  Break up the broccoli into bite sized florets.  Place to the side.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter.  Then whisk in the flour.  The mixture will be very thick.  Heat for 1 minute and then turn the heat to low and add the chicken stock.  Whisk until no flour bits remain.  Whisk in the milk and add the cream cheese.  Heat over medium low heat, stirring often, until the cream cheese has melted and the mixture is the consistency of warm, thick pudding.  Add chicken, lemon, and nutmeg and stir.  Add the salt and pepper to taste and remove the mixture from the heat and set aside.

In a medium skillet or wok over medium heat, melt butter (or olive oil, if using).  Add the green onions and saute until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Add the minced garlic and saute for one minute more.  Add the carrots, zucchini, and broccli.  Cook for 3 minutes.  The vegetables will not be entirely cooked through, that’s ok!  They will be perfectly cooked after baking in the oven! Remove the pan from heat and add vegetable mixture to the creamy chicken mixture and stir them together.

Spoon filling into a 8×8 inch pan.  Remove the biscuits from the fridge and place them on top of the filling.  Brush the tops of the biscuits with heavy cream, buttermilk, or egg wash.

Bake for 20-23 minutes, or until biscuits are puffed and golden, and the sides of the pot pie are bubbling.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.

* feel free to use any mix of vegetables that you like!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Mini Muffins

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I had a leftover banana that was way overripe and I wasn’t sure quite what to do with it.  Then, I decided that I would cut down a recipe size for chocolate chip banana bread for one banana’s worth.  These are delectable!  You can taste the banana, the crunchy sugar on top adds a little something extra, and you don’t need to plan for these muffins by having multiple overripe bananas at your disposal.  Also these take much less time to bake than banana bread.  The two challenges with this recipe are the flour and the egg.  For the egg, I beat the egg in a separate bowl, and then used about half of it, which for me was 5tsp.  Just do your best and I promise it will turn out great!  I have done this for other recipes in the past and it works! For the flour I just filled my half measuring cup 80% full by my best estimate and it turned out splendidly!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Mini Muffins Recipe

adapted from Bake or Break

Amount: 12 mini-muffins

Ingredients

4/10 cup of flour (fill a 1/2 measuring cup of flour 80% full)

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 cup butter, unsalted

1/3 cup sugar

1/2 Tbsp sour cream (I used light)

1/8 tsp vanilla extract

1 mashed overripe banana

1/2 beaten egg (beat one egg and use half, for me it was about 5 tsp worth)

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (more or less depending on how chocolatey you like your muffins)

turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray 12 mini-muffin tins with baking spray (I used olive oil spray).  Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt and place the bowl to the side.  Then in a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until they are light and fluffy.  Add the 5 tsp of beaten egg and mix.  Next beat in the bananas, sour cream, and vanilla.  Gradually add the flour mixture until just combined. Then stir in the chocolate chips.

Divide the batter equally into 12 mini-muffin tins.  Sprinkle each muffin with turbinado sugar.  Place in the oven for bake for about 13 minutes or until cooked through.  They should be golden on top.  Remove from the oven and let cool before removing them from the tin.  They are served best warm with a glass of milk! 🙂