Leftover Ideas: Mashed Potato Stuffed Peppers

Pork chop with sauerkraut and mashed potatoesFor New Year’s Day, our tradition is to eat pork and sauerkraut for good luck and health in the upcoming new year. Normally I do country ribs in the slow cooker but I didn’t have any this year.  We had some bone-in pork chops instead but that left things off balance in terms of leftovers.

The pork chops were eaten leaving us with leftover mashed potatoes and sauerkraut.

What to do?

I had some green peppers that needed used up and figured that I could stuff those with the leftover mashed potatoes.


Mashed potato stuffed peppers with a tomato and sauerkraut sauce.I added a can of diced tomatoes to the sauerkraut and a little pinch of brown sugar (to help cut the tartness a bit), mixed that all up and poured it over top of the stuffed peppers.  I baked the stuffed peppers in a casserole dish at 400 for about 45 minutes.

The resulting dish was comforting and filling, perfect for a chilly evening.  I was able to utilize the leftovers in a new way and use them all up! I’m calling that a leftover success.

I’m pretty sure this might be a go-to dish now whenever we have leftover mashed potatoes.

Butternut Squash Hummus

Butternut Squash HummusIn October I was at an event over at Whole Foods and I was lucky enough to be one of the judges in a contest between some local chefs.

The food was fantastic!  One dish in particular that I really enjoyed and found to be very unique was the squash hummus.  It was light, creamy, and slightly sweet.


I decided to try my hand at making something similar because I thought it would be the perfect dish to take to gatherings and potlucks.  Something familiar yet a little different.

While my version isn’t nearly the same as The Kitchen’s, it came out how I wanted and makes for a lovely party dip.  It’s also super simple to make!

Andrea’s Butternut Squash Hummus

  • 1 can of Chickpeas, drained, rinsed (and if you feel inclined, remove the skins)
  • 2C of Peeled and Cubed Butternut Squash
  • 1tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 3/4C Honey Yogurt (I used Noosa, but you can use Greek Honey as well)
  • 1/2tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1TBSP Maple Syrup

Preheat oven to 400.  Toss the squash with the oil and place on a baking sheet.  Roast until the squash just starts to soften and turns a little brown around the edges.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

In a food processor place the chickpeas, pulse just until the chickpeas start to break down.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add in the squash, yogurt, syrup, and cinnamon.  Pulse until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy.

Store in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.  Serve with graham crackers or lightly salted pita chips.

Butternut Squash HummusSee, easy peasy!

I had a large squash that I peeled and chopped.  I used two cups from that bunch and the rest I put in a bag in the fridge to use later.

If you do have this dip out at a party, it’s best to put it out in small batches and refill when needed. You don’t want the yogurt to turn.

This will last about 4 days in the fridge.

I made it sweet because I wanted a little something different but squash plays very nicely with spice as well.  You could use curry or even some chili powder here if you wanted to try and make a savory version.

Now you have something fun and easy to take to your holiday parties!

Have fun kids, and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!

Pimento Cheese Macaroni Salad

Pimento Cheese Macroni SaladWe have been in the middle of a heat wave here in The Fort.  School was even cancelled today due to intense heat.

When you live in a house with no air conditioning, all you want to eat is cold stuff.

Very. Cold. Stuff.

We had some mayo on hand and I asked Scott if he wanted old school potato salad or old school macaroni salad.

He picked pasta.

Once I opened the pantry and saw some pimentos sitting there, I asked Scott if he would mind if I experimented with the macaroni salad.  He’s such a good sport and always indulges my creativity,  so I got to work right away on a new macaroni salad.

Now this isn’t macaroni salad with some pimentos added.  And it’s not pimento cheese with some pasta tossed in.

This is indeed a combo of the two and it’s delicious.

Andrea’s Pimento Cheese Macaroni Salad

  • 8oz Diced Pimentos (drained)
  • 2 1/2C Elbow Macaroni, uncooked
  • 1/4 Of A Small Red Onion, diced
  • 1 Small Green Pepper, diced
  • 2 Ribs of Celery, diced
  • 2C Shredded Sharp Cheddar (I like Tillamook)

For The Dressing:

  • 1/2C Mayo
  • 2TBSP Yellow Mustard
  • 1/4tsp Celery Salt
  • 1tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/2tsp Onion Powder
  • 2TBSP Dill
  • 1/2tsp Sweet Smoked Paprika

In a small mixing bowl, add everything for the dressing and combine.  Set aside.  In a large glass or non-reactive mixing bowl, add in the pimentos, onion, green pepper, and celery.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the macaroni.  Cook until pasta is al dente.  The goal is to cook the pasta till it’s just short of being fully cooked.  The pasta should still have a little bite and chew to it.

Once pasta is cooked, remove from heat and drain.  Then run cold water over the pasta to stop the cooking process.  Drain well and add pasta to the veggie and pimento mixture.

Toss veggies and pasta.  Add in the dressing and gently combine.  Then add in the cheese and also gently combine until everything is mixed well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Pimento Cheese Macaroni SaladPlease note that for two people this makes a lot of macaroni salad and that’s exactly what I was going for.  I wanted a side dish that would last for a couple of days in the fridge.  This is the kind of dish that just gets better the longer it sits and the flavors have time to develop.

Both of us loved this version of macaroni salad and I’m not sure if I could go back to regular after this.  You’ll notice that this version isn’t drowning in mayo dressing.  If you like your macaroni salads to have more dressing, you can certainly up the mayo and seasoning amounts to suit your tastes.

The pimentos and cheese add a nice twist to the dish, providing some sweetness and some tang.  If you’re looking for something different to take to a potluck or BBQ, this is the dish for you!

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!

Mashed Cauliflower Experiment

Cheesy Mashed CauliflowerThank you all so much for your kind words about our new house!  We are totally stoked to be able to get moved in soon and start a new chapter in our lives!

But enough about that, let’s talk about mashed cauliflower.

With certain diets that are trending right now, cauliflower has sprung up as a staple veggie and one that can be used in a lot of ways.

A common way that I have been seeing it used is as a replacement for mashed potatoes.

Say wha?

Mashed cauliflower or cauliflower puree, if you’re trying to be fancy, is pretty simple to make and it’s been popping up everywhere.

I decided to see what all the fuss was about and make my own.

I made it the way I make mashed potatoes.  The only difference being the cauliflower gets put in a food processor verses a stand mixer.

I washed, and cut up a whole head of cauliflower and added it to some salted boiling water.  I let it boil for about 5 minutes or until it was fork tender.

I drained it and then put the cauliflower back in the hot pot to help get rid of excess moisture.

In the food processor it went with milk, butter, and some cheddar for extra flavor.  A little salt, pepper, and garlic powder added for seasoning.

I pureed it until it got creamy and dished it up on plates.

Cheesy mashed cauliflowerBoth Scott and I really enjoyed this as a side dish.  It had the consistency of really creamy mashed potatoes but don’t fooled, it doesn’t taste like mashed potatoes.

It tastes like what it is, cauliflower.

I would definitely make this again for an easy side dish and a great way to have another veggie on the plate.  Would I use it as a sub for mashed potatoes?

Not on your life.  My Polish grandma would roll over in her grave and that is not the kind of juju I need.

What about you, have you tried mashed cauliflower before?

Have fun kids, and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!

Kale Pesto Meatballs

Kale Pesto MeatballsA little delayed but here is the last version of how I used the Kale Walnut Pesto, in meatballs!

I was trying to think of different ways to use pesto and while I know it’s a common topper/sauce for pasta, there had to be something else to do with it.

And that’s when I realized we haven’t had spaghetti and meatballs in ages and why not put the pesto in the meatballs?

So I did and the dish turned out fabulous!

Andrea’s Kale Pesto Meatballs

  • 1lb Ground Beef
  • 1lb Ground Pork
  • 1C Kale Walnut Pesto
  • 2 thick slices of crusty white bread, cubed
  • 1/4C Red Wine (can use milk or stock instead)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Either grease/line a baking sheet or a long casserole dish.  In a small bowl soak the bread in the wine and let sit for a couple of minutes.  Once the bread is soaked, add it to a large mixing bowl along with the beef, pork, and pesto.  Mix until everything is well combined.

Form into balls and place on the baking sheet or casserole dish.  I made them about tennis ball size.  Place in the oven and bake for about 20-25 minutes or until they are fully cooked through.

Serve immediately as a main dish or along with some pasta.

Kale Pesto MeatballsI served this with spaghetti dressed in a really basic tomato sauce.  I added some of the pesto to the sauce (about 1/2C).  When I plated the pasta I also added a little pesto on top for color and extra flavor.  Topped the whole dish with more grated Parmesan cheese.

We had this two nights in a row!  The meatballs are also great for sandwiches or crumbled on top of pizza.

Depending on what size you decide to make the meatballs will determine how many you get.  I did about tennis ball size so that yielded around 6, give or take.  It will also determine cooking time, so if they are smaller they will have a shorter cook time.

It’s a great make-ahead dish and the cooked meatballs freeze really well.

A nice little twist on spaghetti and meatballs for a weeknight dinner.

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food!  Enjoy!

Keep It Simple: Roasted Asparagus

roasted asparagus I love spring time because that means that asparagus is in season!

Every time I go to the grocery store, I scoop up at least two bundles each time.  I love it!

My favorite way to have asparagus is either grilled or roasted.  Most times we roast but if we are grilling then it usually makes an appearance as a side dish.

Roasted asparagus is one of the easiest things to do plus the clean up is super simple.

This is one of those dishes that I don’t have measurements for because everything can be adjusted according to amount and your taste preferences.

Typically when I roast (or grill) asparagus I toss the spears in a little:

  • Olive Oil
  • Soy Sauce
  • Salt
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Garlic Powder

Super easy!  Then I roast it for about 10 minutes at 400 or 425 degrees, on a greased or lined baking sheet.

Easy and quick side dish.  Any leftovers can be chopped and added to salads, eggs, or as a pizza or sandwich topper.

roasted asparagusWhat’s your favorite way of having asparagus?


Keep It Simple: Curry Rice with Lime and Cilantro

Curry Rice with Lime and Cilantro We love rice and probably eat it at least once a week here at the HQ.

Thai Jasmine is our favorite. It’s flavorful and cooks up really quickly.

Because we eat it so often I like to play up with different flavors to give it a slight twist.  My favorite rice is a great example of that.

Nothing crazy and nothing overly powerful.  Just some seasonings and a little punch of freshness.

I had some cilantro that needed used up and a lime that needed some attention, so into the rice they went!

I cook all my rice with broth but you can most definitely use water if you prefer.

Andrea’s Curry Rice with Lime and Cilantro

  • 1C Jasmine Rice
  • 2C Broth (I used pork)
  • 1/2tsp Curry Powder
  • 1/2tsp Soy Sauce
  • 3 Green Onions, chopped
  • 1 Large Handful of Cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Lime, zested and cut in half

In a medium sized sauce pot, heat the broth until it starts to simmer.  Add in the curry powder and soy sauce along with the rice.  Stir and cover reducing heat so that the mixture stays at a simmer.  Cook until the rice is done, about 7 minutes or so.  Turn off heat, add in the the juice of half the lime along with the zest and cilantro.  Add in the chopped green onion.  Stir, cover and let sit for about 2 minutes.

Remove from heat, serve and enjoy!

Both of us found this rice light and fresh.  The curry powder gives it a lovely yellow color, that combined with the green onions and herbs, makes this dish easy on the eyes. It went perfect with some fish and roasted veggies we had that evening.

Aside from a little extra prep work with chopping onions and cilantro, which can be done while the rice simmers, this dish is quick and easy to put together.

Next time you have rice, give it a little punch with some fresh herbs and seasonings!

Have fun guys, and remember, always play with your food! 


Superbowl 2013 Snackies

Braised Pork Ribs Someone said that there was a big athletic event this weekend. All I know is that hockey is back and the Pens play the Capitals (I can’t stand the Capitals and their website looks horrible. Ahem.)  on Sunday, so I’ll be focused on that.

If you’re having a big event on Sunday for the game of your choice, I’ve got some great ideas for you that will power you through the afternoon.

Braised Ribs are easy to make and the perfect “messy” game day food.  They can be served hot or room temperature and will keep you and your guests satisfied during the big day.

Pair it with some bourbon or green chili barbecue sauce for some extra kick!

If you’re looking for something a little less messy, then this honey mustard chicken salad is where you should turn.

Honey Mustard Chicken SaladThere’s no mayo so it can sit out without a problem.  Everyone can make their own sandwiches or wraps, or even put it on top of a mixed salad.

Chips and dips are always a must on game day.  Make your own horseradish onion dip the day before and it will be ready for when your guests arrive! Can be served with chips or veggies!

Horseradish Onion Dip If you’re looking for a different cocktail to serve, my friend Lori has a great one using sriracha! Head over to check it out!

Have fun this weekend and get your snacking on!



Keep It Simple: Zucchini and Tomato Saute

Zucchini and tomatoes are my two favorite summer time veggies. Well corn is up there too but zucchini and tomatoes take top spots.

They also go well together and I use them to make a simple side dish that takes only minutes to prepare.

I eat this often at lunch and sometimes again at dinner.  I know that summer and it’s bounty only stick around for a short time so I try to get in as much as I can.

Especially tomatoes!  A fresh summer tomato is better than candy.

I used little wee cherry tomatoes but you can certainly use whatever tomato you have on hand, just chop it up!

Measurements are guesstimates because amounts can be adjusted to suit your tastes and what you have on hand.

Andrea’s Zucchini and Tomato Saute

  • 1 Medium Zucchini, chopped into bite-sized peices
  • 1/2 Pint of Cherry Tomatoes, halved OR 1 Large Tomato, chopped
  • 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Grated Parmesan

In a medium sized skillet heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add in zucchini and seasonings. Saute until the zucchini starts to get tender, then add in the tomato. Saute for about two minutes until the tomato is just heated through.

Remove from heat and serve. Sprinkle each portion with the parmesan.

Remember the seasonings are up to you!  You can make a lot or a little.  It’s also great cold and spooned onto some lovely bread.  If you want, you can even add a little chopped onion in there for some kick.

A simple and quick way to use up some of that produce leftover from summer’s harvest.

Keep It Simple: Kale Salad with Walnuts and Parmesan

I love having salads at lunch but sometimes I need to mix things up a little bit to keep from getting bored.

Salads are great but can get a little stale after a while.

Since I love greens and they have been plentiful at the farmer’s market lately, I decided to use some kale to make a simple salad for lunch.

I don’t have exact measurements for the dressing because the amount is dependent on how much kale you have and how much dressing you prefer.

We lean more towards “lightly dressed” salads verses heavier dressed salads so the amount I used for this dressing wasn’t much.  The amounts listed below are guesstimations.

Andrea’s Kale Salad with Walnuts and Parmesan 

  • 1 Big Bunch of Kale, stemmed and ripped into bite-sized peices
  • Walnuts
  • Grated Parmesan

For the Dressing:

  • 1/4 C Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 TBSP Whole Grain Mustard
  • 1 TBSP Maple Syrup
  • 1 TBSP Olive Oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large deep bowl add the kale.  Mix the dressing ingredients together and pour over the kale.  Toss to coat, cover, and place in fridge for at least an hour.

Portion out into bowls, sprinkle with crushed walnuts and grated parmesan.  Serve and enjoy!

It’s best to let the kale sit in the dressing for a good bit of time.  The vinegar helps break down the kale (which can be quite chewy when raw) and remove some of the bitterness from the leaves.

I tend to put this salad together early in the morning and then when lunchtime rolls around all I have to do is portion it out!  It’s ready to go when we are ready to eat.

It’s even better as leftovers!

You certainly can up the protein by adding in some salmon, an egg, or even leftovers from a previous meal.  The kale provides a nice base for whatever you would like to add to it.  A favorite addition here is salmon and white beans.

Remember meals don’t have to be complicated or time consuming in order to be satisfying!