Quinoa Risotto Baked Tomatoes

Creamy quinoa risotto stuffed baked tomatoes make a perfect vegetarian main course! This filling dish is sure to warm any heart.

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Quinoa Risotto Baked Tomatoes
Author: Ruthy Kirwan
Ingredients
  • 1 small acorn squash seeds removed
  • for the quinoa risotto:
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups tap water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • for the baked tomatoes:
  • 4-6 large tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • olive oil to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 450* and slice the acorn squash down the middle. Remove the seeds with a spoon, then place the squash on a baking sheet or wrap in aluminum foil and roast for 30 minutes, or until the flesh is soft and can be easily pricked with the tip of a knife or a fork. Set aside and let cool slightly. When the squash is cool enough to handle, mash the squash and reserve one cup. Any squash left over will freeze beautifully. (The squash can be roasted and mashed ahead of time)
  2. for the quinoa risotto:
  3. In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium heat and add the onions, cooking until they are soft and translucent. Add the garlic and quinoa and stir until the garlic is very fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cup of mashed squash, vegetable stock, heavy cream, and tap water and stir to combine. Turn the heat to low, and cook, uncovered and stirring often, for at least 1 hour to 2 hours. The risotto is ready when most of the liquid cooks away and the grains are soft all the way through.
  4. for the baked tomatoes
  5. Preheat the oven to 350*F. Cut a hole in the top of each tomato and, using a paring knife or a serrated spoon, dig a hole into the tomato, taking care not to pierce the bottom. Fill this cavity with the finished risotto, and top with a layer of panko breadcrumbs. Drizzle the breadcrumbs with a little olive oil.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until the skin on the sides of the tomato has just started to split and the flesh is hot. If the breadcrumbs are not crispy enough, broil the tomatoes for a minute or two until the breadcrumbs have browned.
  7. Serve hot.

Slow Cooker No Soak Rosemary Black Beans

This slow cooker rosemary black bean recipe means I don’t have to remember to soak my beans the night before they cook!

I mean, I don’t know about you, but do you EVER remember? Even when I’m writing my meal plan, I’ll add in big letters ‘SOAK BEANS’ and I still forget.

I would love to blame this on the fact my brain is now fried after having children but if I’m being honest, I never remembered to soak beans before kids came along, either.

This leaves me purchasing more cans of black beans than I care to admit, but in the effort to lower our families’ salt intake, ditching the canned black beans is a good idea. And dried black beans are way cheaper than canned, pound for pound, so by using dried beans, I’ll be saving us cash in the process.

 

That is, until I forget to soak the beans.

Enter the slow cooker, God’s gift to the busy person. No soak beans, coming right up!

With a slow cooker, I can toss in my dried black beans, add broth and seasoning, and set it and forget it. Four hours later, I’ve got a batch of creamy, flavorful, just-right black beans. With no extra sodium and no overnight soak!

 

I mean come on. I heart my crockpot for many things, but when the ol’ trusty slow cooker saves me time, like with this recipe, I heart it even more.

This recipe brings the warm flavors of rosemary into play, which goes so well with black beans. There’s just a little cumin for kick, and the entire pot is cooked down with chicken broth. Feel free to substitute vegetable broth if you’re going vegetarian!

I love these beans in tacos, quesadillas, and any dish that’s Mexican inspired. I think they’ll be great made into refried beans, too, so I plan on trying them out in this beloved recipe soon.

The possibilities are endless, actually. Thank goodness for the slow cooker!

 

I NEVER remember to soak black beans before I cook them! This recipe is so helpful, since I can just throw them in a crockpot with no soak and still get easy black beans that taste yummy. God bless the slow cooker, lol. Great pin!
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Slow Cooker No Soak Rosemary Black Beans
Servings: 4
Author: Ruthy Kirwan
Ingredients
  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary about 1 ounce
  • ½ teaspoon dried cumin
  • salt, to taste
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients except for the salt to the slow cooker and stir to combine.

  2. Secure the lid, and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 6.
  3. Remove and add salt to taste. Serve warm.

Pear, Leek, and Cheddar Bread Pudding

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I brought this side dish to my company Thanksgiving Side Dish Only party, and it was a HUGE hit! What's better is, it's a totally make ahead recipe, too- I made it two days beforehand and let it sit in the fridge til I was ready to bake. So easy! Can't wait to bust it out for my holiday dinner recipes, too. Great pin!

This easy make-ahead savory bread pudding makes a GREAT Thanksgiving side dish!

I have made it a couple of years in a row on Thanksgiving, and it’s always popular for being just a little different and out of the box- but still really well suited as a holiday dinner side dish.

What I really love about this simple bread pudding is how well it does when it’s made ahead, and left to sit in the fridge before baking.

You know how some soups and sauces are even better the same day?

That’s the same idea behind this pear, leek and cheddar bread pudding! Letting it chill out in the fridge for a while makes the flavors come together even better than when you make it the day of.

And when it comes to the cheese you use in this savory bread pudding, let me tell you – the sharper the cheddar, the better the flavor.

I like using really sharp, blow-your-mouth-off cheese in this dish. Sharp cheddar really holds its own against the sweet flavor of pear and the chewy, crusty texture of the bread cubes.

Plus, I mean, we’re talking about cheese. I get all the heart-emoji over cheese, in any form.  So when it’s added to a Thanksgiving side dish, I’m a pretty happy bunny.

Thanksgiving side dishes can get a bad rap sometimes, I think.

In the balancing act of tradition with new-ness, sometimes side dishes can be either boring as all heck, overplayed, or just weird.

This pear leek and cheddar bread pudding is none of those things.

➡It hangs out really well with savory turkey, especially when said turkey has an herby crust.

➡It’s a perfect foil against creamy, crunchy green bean casserole.

➡It’s a sweet-enough side that kids dig it.

And it actually holds up banging as a leftover. The next day when you’re throwing together that perf turkey sandwich, add a spoonful of this bread pudding on top.

 

You’ll be thankful you did (see what I did there?)

It’s time to change up the roster of your usual Thanksgiving side dish, guys. Try adding this sweet, savory, cheesy Pear, Leek and Cheddar Bread Pudding to your holiday table!

 

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Pear, Leek, and Cheddar Bread Pudding
Servings: 4
Author: Ruthy Kirwan
Ingredients
  • 2-3 cups diced day-old bread let it get good and dried out
  • 1 cup minced leeks
  • 1 pear peeled, cored and diced
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*F.   In a large bowl, toss together the bread, leeks, diced pear and cheddar.  
  2. Combine the eggs, heavy cream, garlic and salt. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and toss to distribute evenly.

  3. Dump the contents into a 9"x13" ovenproof baking dish and spread out evenly, making sure all the ingredients are still evenly distributed.
  4. Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the egg and cream mixture has set and the top bread cubes have browned and crisped.  Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Grilled Peach, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

 I love this simple grilled salad of peaches, tomato, and mozzarella as a side for barbecues- or when you just want to take advantage of perfect summer produce!

Grilling brings out an inherent sweetness in tomatoes, and it highlights the sugars in peaches. Rounding out the entire dish is creamy, milky mozzarella, drizzled with a zing of balsamic vinegar and garnished with chopped fresh herbs.

Grilled Peach, Tomato, and Mozzarella Salad highlights summer produce like none other! This grilled salad is a perfect barbecue side, and the grill highlights a sweetness in the tomatoes that works perfectly with the perfumey peaches, topped with creamy mozz and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Here’s how good this grilled salad of peach, tomato, and mozzarella is:

I ate it standing at the counter in my kitchen, using only my fingers. It’s one of those, “Ok, one more bite – and then I’ll stop” kind of salads. But… I didn’t stop.

The combo practically sings together at the end of a fork; a grilled salad of caramelized tomato, sweet, perfumey peach, topped off with milky mozz and a splash of vinegar and I swear, it’s like your taste buds threw a party. A party with a smoky bbq, a radio of summer tunes playing in the corner, and friends standing around gripping sweaty glasses of cold drinks while the sun beats down.

In other words, summer.

Grilled Peach, Tomato, and Mozzarella Salad highlights summer produce like none other! This grilled salad is a perfect barbecue side, and the grill highlights a sweetness in the tomatoes that works perfectly with the perfumey peaches, topped with creamy mozz and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Perfect, delicious summer. It’s the start of August and that makes me feel panicked that I only have one month-ish left of summer to enjoy!

So with that in mind, head to the farmer’s market for sun-ripened produce, fire up the bbq, and make this grilled salad. Your taste bud party will thank you.

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Grilled Peach, Tomato, and Fresh Mozzarella Salad
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
15 mins
 

Grilling brings out the sweetness in peaches and tomatoes, and the milky creaminess of mozzarella with a zing of balsamic vinegar brings it all together. Great salad for summer evenings on the grill!

Servings: 2
Author: Ruthy Kirwan
Ingredients
Ingredients
  • olive oil for brushing
  • 1-2 ripe peaches pitted and sliced into rounds
  • 1-2 heirloom tomatoes stem removed and sliced into rounds
  • to taste large grain sea or kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 oz fresh mozzarella torn or sliced into rounds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or basil leaves torn
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Instructions
Instructions
  1. Line a grill with aluminum foil and brush with olive oil or spray with nonstick cooking oil.
  2. Brush each slice of peach and tomato with olive oil on both sides and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange the slices on the aluminum foil, leaving a little space between each slice.
  4. Grill for about one minute each side, until grill marks appear and the fruit has softened slightly.
  5. Place the grilled slices on a plate and scatter with fresh mozzarella. Sprinkle with the oregano or basil, drizzle with balsamic vinegar, and serve immediately.

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Super Creamy, Extra Cheesy Macaroni and Cheese

There's only 15 minutes standing between you and the creamiest, dreamiest macaroni and cheese! This is way better than anything you'd get out of a blue box.

There's only 15 minutes standing between you and the creamiest, dreamiest macaroni and cheese! This is way better than anything you'd get out of a blue box.

There's only 15 minutes standing between you and the creamiest, dreamiest macaroni and cheese! This is way better than anything you'd get out of a blue box.

There's only 15 minutes standing between you and the creamiest, dreamiest macaroni and cheese! This is way better than anything you'd get out of a blue box.

There's only 15 minutes standing between you and the creamiest, dreamiest macaroni and cheese! This is way better than anything you'd get out of a blue box.

Macaroni and Cheese is the ultimate in comfort food, and this recipe does not disappoint!

Creamy, cheesy, delectable- this is not diet food, make no mistake. I sincerely hope you’re not making this super creamy macaroni and cheese if you’re planning on having a bikini ready body soon!

But we can all afford a little indulgence here and there, right? Bonus, this is a perfect quick weeknight dish to make, and easy enough to throw together when you’ve got hungry little people clinging to your legs and whining for graham crackers.

I know this, because that is my life most nights at about 6pm, and this mac and cheese rivals anything out of a blue box. It’s also a great way to use up some leftover cheese, if you have any laying around!

If you make a point to start boiling the noodles and then starting the sauce, there’s a good chance you’ll have everything ready at the same time. And since the sauce clocks in at just under 15 minutes, that means there’s only a quarter of an hour standing between you and the creamiest, dreamiest, cheesiest mac and cheese ever.

Want to sneak some healthy stuff in there? I’ll often toss my super creamy macaroni and cheese with wilted spinach, or peas, or chopped asparagus. My picky toddler painstakingly removes every single shred of “green”, but at least I know I’ve done what I can to pretend she’ll willingly eat vegetables.

There's only 15 minutes standing between you and the dreamiest creamy macaroni and cheese ever! This homemade stovetop mac and cheese is so easy, a great kids recipe, and quick enough to make for a weeknight meal.
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Super Creamy Extra Cheesy 15-Minute Macaroni and Cheese


Servings: 4
Author: Ruthy Kirwan
Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 2 cups whole or 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella
  • 8 ounces American cheese
  • 4 cups cooked macaroni pasta (about 2 1/2 cups uncooked)
Instructions
  1. In a large bottomed pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook until the flour has turned a light brown, the color of milky coffee (about 3-5 minutes) 

  2. Slowly whisk in the milk, taking care to whisk clear any lumps that might appear. Add the salt and stir to combine.

  3. Add the cheese in 2 to 3 batches, stirring well between each addition. The sauce is ready when all the cheese has been added and the sauce is smooth, with no lumps.

  4. Toss the cheese sauce with the cooked macaroni pasta until coated. Serve warm. 

  5. This macaroni and cheese will keep stored in the fridge in a tightly covered container for up to one week. 

Recipe Notes

If you use 2% milk here, make sure you use American cheese or another cheese with a high milky fat content; you need that extra fat in there or the sauce will break. 

**Please note that 4 cups of cooked macaroni and cheese is equal to about 2 1/2 cups uncooked pasta. To save time, I start boiling the pasta and then make the sauce; that way they will both finish around the same time. Make sure the pasta is well drained before stirring it into the sauce. 

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