You know what I’m terrible at? Measuring pasta. I can never get it right. I always cook way too much or way too little. I know they have little spaghetti measuring gadgets, but my problem goes way beyond just one style of pasta. Penne, macaroni, angel hair—I’m horrible at estimating all of it.
Since cooking too little pasta is mega annoying (because by the time you realize it’s too little, you’ve already dumped the boiling water and have to boil another pot—ugh), I like to err on the side of cooking too much. Which means there is a pretty constant supply of leftover pasta stashed in my fridge.
Sometimes I’ll just heat it up with a little sauce or pesto and call it good, but I also like to repurpose the pasta into something new and exciting—like this leftover spaghetti frittata.
If we have spaghetti for dinner, it’s a pretty safe bet we’re eating this frittata for breakfast the next day. I like it best with spaghetti, but it will work with whatever pasta you have kicking around. In the summer (or in Fall, when we’re lucky enough to not have had a frost yet), I’ll use fresh, Italian herbs—parsley, oregano, and basil—and fresh tomatoes. During the winter months, I’ll pull out my dried herbs and use some sundried tomatoes. Both ways are absolutely delicious! The great joy of a frittata is that you can pretty much throw in whatever you have in the kitchen, and it almost always turns out spectacular. It’s a great dish if you want to try to get into more of seasonal cooking—use what you have.
Frittatas are also a great option for lunches. Make up a frittata on the weekend, cut it into small slices, and pack it into containers for healthy, easy lunches throughout the week. I happily eat leftover frittata cold or at room temp (but you can also nuke it if you’d rather enjoy it warm).
I always make frittatas in my old, well-seasoned cast iron skillet. I absolutely love cooking in cast iron because it holds heat so evenly, it transfers seamlessly from the stovetop to the oven, and it also helps increase the iron levels of the food that is cooked in it. If I was told I could only use one pan for the rest of my life, I’d pick my cast iron skillet!
Have some pasta kicking around your fridge from last night's dinner? Use it make this Italian-flavored leftover spaghetti frittata.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 clove garlic, minced
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 1/2 cup milk
- 4 eggs
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 cups cooked pasta
- 2 tablespoons fresh, minced oregano (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried)
- 2 tablespoons fresh, minced parsley (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried)
- 2 tablespoons fresh, minced basil (or 1 1/2 teaspoons dried)
- Preheat oven to 425°. Heat the olive oil over medium-high in a medium-sized oven-proof skillet. Add in the fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, onion, and garlic. Cook until onion and garlic are fragrant and tender, about five minutes. Add in the tomato and cook until some of the water is released, about 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the milk, eggs, Parmesan, salt, and pepper until light and frothy.
- Add the leftover pasta to the tomato mixture, and stir until evenly distributed. Spread the mixture evenly along the bottom of the skillet.
- Pour the egg mixture over top of the spaghetti mixture—do not stir. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook until the edges of the frittata are solid, but the top is still liquidy, about 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle top with herbs, and place frittata in the oven to finish setting up. Frittata is done with the top is no longer liquid and it begins to brown. Remove from oven, and let cool for five minutes before slicing.
Back when I was working in an office, we had a reoccurring staff meeting that was a bit like show-and-tell for adults. We’d go around the circle all showing off something that inspired us in hopes that it might inspire our colleagues in a similar manner. I worked in a creative job, and it was always a struggle because we were constantly trying to harness inspiration and use it for business. It’s taxing trying to be creative in a business world. And so we didn’t get totally burnt out (although, I eventually did—hence why I no longer work there), we did just about anything we could do to keep the inspiration flowing.
Sometimes people ask me where I come up with the ideas for my recipes (I have 300+ on the pages of this blog, and an additional 200+ in my two cookbooks), and I’d be lying if I said it’s always easy. Sometimes it is. But more often than not, being inspired takes work. You have to prime yourself for inspiration—really be willing to accept it. And you have to go out and seek it. A lot times, we have this image of “waiting for inspiration to strike,” but I’m a big believer that inspiration doesn’t just strike, you have to work for it.
So that’s why I try to absorb as much food-related content as possible when I’m trying to come up with my recipes. I subscribe to more food magazines than I care to divulge. I read tons of blogs. I spend a good chunk of time each day on Pinterest. I study menus at my favorite restaurants. This makes it sound like that my inspiration is actual thieving of ideas—but it’s different from that. When we were brainstorming at my previous job, we had a no negativity rule—you weren’t allowed to shoot down any idea. Because that idea could birth another idea which could birth another idea which could birth another idea that was the idea you went with. And if you nixed the first one, you might never get down that path. I apply that same logic to food. I see something that appeals to me, and I let it swirl around until it turns into something all mine (and often times completely unrecognizable from the original).
One of the places I’ve been getting inspiration from lately is from Yahoo! Food. Yahoo! has put together a bunch of really fun online magazines that center around one topic. Go figure, my favorite of the bunch is the one that is packed with drool-worthy food! The content comes from all around the internet—bloggers, print magazines, cookbook authors—and is curated all into one place for easy reading. I like to flip through it while I’m trapped under a sleeping baby (thankfully the site is easy to navigate one-handed on my phone).
When I was flipping through Yahoo! Food last week, I was inspired by this recipe for Black Bean and Edamame Burgers. I’m always looking for more ways to bring vegetarian eats into our dinner plans, and these burgers were just the spark of inspiration I needed. One problem—I’m currently not eating soy. That meant it was time to take the rough idea of the burgers, and create something all my own!
These burgers are delicious, meaty, and hearty, but they are not, in any way, shape, or form, fast. They are tasty enough to be worthy of your time, but I wouldn’t put these on your menu for a Tuesday night. What I would do, is devote a few hours on the weekend and make a double batch to freeze. These freeze beautifully after cooking, and make a great office-friendly lunch after a minute in the microwave.
May you find inspiration all around you! Enjoy.
You'll never miss the meat in these hearty, vegetarian, black bean burgers.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups chopped portabella mushrooms
- 1 cup cooked wild rice
- 4 cups black beans (about 2-14.5 ounce cans), divided
- 1-1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup fresh minced parsley
- 1 tablespoon mustard
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add in the onion, carrots, and garlic and cook until tender and fragrant, about five minutes. Add in the mushrooms and cook until they release almost all of their water, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In the basin of a food processor, combine the wild rice and three cups of the black beans. Pulse until it resembles a chunky paste. In a large bowl, mix together the mushroom mixture, the rice mixture, the remaining black beans, and all remaining ingredients until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for a half hour.
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
- Form the chilled mixtured into 10 even patties. Place on the prepared baking sheet, and bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway in between, or until the outsides are just barely golden brown.
Adapted from Yahoo! Food/The Kitchn
This post is sponsored by Yahoo! All opinions and content are my own. Thank you so much for your continued support!
I used to be such a beet hater. I loathed beets so much, I couldn’t even stand to be in the same room while they were cooking! They were just so earthy and yucky smelling (and tasting). Blech.
But as I started to explore more foods in the past few years, beets have slowly made it off my black list—I love how you can evolve your tastebuds. I wouldn’t say beets are one of my most favorite foods, but I will say that I can definitely appreciate a good beet recipe (there is a beet and black bean burger recipe in my new cookbook that is probably my most favorite recipe in the whole book). And these roasted beets have become a staple in our diet.
I think I struggled with beets for so long because they are one of those foods that can be totally hit or miss depending on the quality of the beet and the cooking method. I try not to be much of a food snob, but beets are one of those veggies that I’ll only eat if they are super high-quality (preferably locally grown). I think you can really tell a difference! Ever cracked open and tried to cook a can of beets off the store shelf? They barely even resemble the sweet, nutty taste of high-quality fresh beets. And if you’re already on the fence about beets, eating them out of the can is going to give you a hefty shove onto the “no thank you” side.
I also think what makes this dish such a good one to help convert beet haters is the use of golden beets. Golden beets are becoming increasingly more easy to find (we can get them at our local supermarket), and they still have a lot of beet-y flavor, but less of the earthy taste that turns a lot of folks off from beets. They are very sweet, and I think they look absolutely beautiful mixed in with the deep scarlet beets. If you have a nice farmer’s market in your area, you also might be able to find an even wider variety of beets than just purple and yellow. We have always had terrible luck growing beets in our area—I so wish we could figure out the secret, because there are some seriously cool beet varieties out there that would be so fun to have in our garden.
If you’ve never worked with beets before, let me give you a bit of a primer. First things first, don’t you dare throw out those beet tops! Beet greens are 100% edible and super delicious. They have a mild beet flavor, and work well anywhere you’d use other leafy greens like kale or chard.
A word of warning, you might be surprised by how much those red beets will stain your digits, so if you don’t want to walk around the next day with red hands, you might be inclined to wear a pair of gloves while working with the beets.
Roasting beets is easy work, but it isn’t fast—so this probably isn’t a recipe for your rushed Tuesday evening dinner. Save it for a Sunday afternoon supper. I recommend serving them up with a perfectly roasted chicken, some scalloped potatoes, and some biscuits. And then invite me over. I’ll bring wine.
These bright and colorful roasted beets are a tasty and healthy side dish that will convert even the biggest beet hater.
- 3 medium-sized golden beets, tops removed
- 3 medium-sized red beets, tops removed
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrupo
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 350°. Scrub outside of beets, then wrap each beet in aluminum foil. Place foil-wrapped beets on a baking sheet, and bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes, or until the beets are soft when pierced with a fork.
- Remove beets from oven and let cool until cool enough to handle—about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the vinegar, honey or maple syrup, salt and pepper in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until thick and bubbly—about 3 minutes.
- Using clean hands, rub off the peels of the beets, or alternatively, use a sharp vegetable peeler to peel off the peels. Slice the peeled beets into 1/4" rounds. Layer rounds on a platter, then drizzle with the glaze before serving. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
Here’s a holiday-themed confession for you: I’m actually pretty indifferent about Thanksgiving dinner. I mean, sure, it’s delicious and all, but what I get really excited for are the leftovers. All year, I wait for that moment on Thanksgiving night when the kitchen is clean, my jammies are on, and I can happily dig into a turkey and cranberry sauce sandwich while I sip on a glass of wine and watch Elf (because everyone knows the Christmas season starts as soon as you get up from the Turkey Day table). That sandwich is worth all the work of cooking the massive meal. That sandwich is stuff dreams are made of.
And then, by about day three of having my favorite sandwich for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, I’m so sick of it that I can’t imagine ever wanting another turkey sandwich (until next year). That’s when I start to bring out the other uses for leftover turkey. Turkey soup is good. But turkey pot pie is even better.
I know most people make pot pies with pie crust or phyllo dough (or even canned crescent rolls—don’t knock it ’til you try it, it’s delicious), but I’m a biscuit kinda girl, and I love topping pot pies with biscuits. These sweet potato biscuits are an amazing way to complement the turkey-veggie filling underneath. It’s like a supercharged version of biscuits and gravy. Yum.
My favorite part of this recipe is how adaptable it is to whatever leftovers you have kicking around. Put in chicken instead of turkey. Throw in your leftover veggies from Thanksgiving dinner (Brussels sprouts, green beans, whatever). Switch out the sweet potato puree for pumpkin or squash puree (or leave it out all together). Half it if you just have a few leftovers. Double it and share it with friends and family if you have lots. This recipe is incredibly flexible—really, it’s pretty much impossible to mess up.
We were lucky enough to have a whole bunch of smoked turkey leftover from Canadian Thanksgiving when I went to make this dish. My Dad was in charge of the turkey this year, and he brined it in apple cider, and then smoked it beer-can style for hours and hours on Thanksgiving morning. It was, without a doubt, the most moist and delicious turkey I’ve ever had. We all agreed that we’ll never roast a turkey again! Bonus: the oven didn’t have to be on all day heating up the house.
And the smoked turkey was absolutely incredible in this pot pie! Non-smoked turkey or chicken would also work great, but if you can get your hands on some that has been through a smoker, I highly recommend it.
I’m a big fan of turkey soup, but I think this might be my new favorite way to repurpose holiday leftovers.
Repurpose your Thanksgiving leftovers in this hearty turkey pot pie topped with fluffy, flaky sweet potato biscuits.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 stalks celery, diced
- 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 4 cups chicken or turkey broth
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
- 3 cups shredded, cooked turkey
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for kneading)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/2" chunks
- 1 1/2 cup sweet potato puree
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- To prepare the filling: In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat, add in the garlic and onion and cook until fragrant and tender, about five minutes. Add in the celery, and carrots and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle the flour over the veggies, stir to coat, and cook for two minutes. Then add in the broth, bring to a boil and add in the potatoes and peas. Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until all veggies are tender.
- Remove from heat, stir in the parsley, turkey, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- To prepare the biscuits: In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda until well-mixed.
- Using a pastry blender, two forks, or your fingers, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter pieces are a touch smaller than a pea.
- In small bowl, whisk together the sweet potato and buttermilk.
- Gently stir in the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients, being careful not to over mix. The mixture will (and should!) be very sticky and liquidy—about the texture of a thick cake batter. If it isn't liquidy, add more buttermilk.
- Heavily flour a work surface, and dump the dough onto the flour. Flour the top of the dough well, and then pat out until 1/2-inch thick. Fold the dough in half horizontally, then pat down again until 1/2-inch thick, adding more flour to cover sticky parts if necessary. Fold the dough in half vertically, then pat down again until 1/2-inch thick. Repeat this process 5-6 more times (this is creating the delicious, delectable layers that make the final biscuit so awesome).
- Flour a circle biscuit cutter or a drinking glass, and press straight down to cut the biscuit. Do not twist the cutter! Twisting “seals” the sides of the biscuit and stops it from rising. Just push straight down and bring the cutter straight up.
- To assemble the pot pie: Pour the filling into an ungreased 9 x 13 baking dish, top with the biscuits (butting the biscuits right up next to each other). Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown and the filling is bubbly. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
There are a lot of things about my life that have changed since I became a parent. I now consistently go to bed while it’s still light out. I do adult things like pay for life insurance. Each room of my house is littered with toys. And my diet has totally changed. I definitely didn’t foresee such a huge shift in what I ate back when I was prepping for parenthood.
There are a number of reasons why the change happened. First of all, obviously, my time is limited. And a lot of that limited time is spent holding a baby, which means I no longer have two free hands to cook and eat food with the wild abandon I once had. Secondly, we discovered a few months back that my JuneBug has a milk and soy protein intolerance, meaning I’ve cut out all soy and dairy from my diet. Thankfully, most kids grow out of the intolerance within the first year, and I’ll eventually be able to drown myself in cheese again, but for now, my diet is limited. The two things combined mean my diet is drastically different from what I was eating pre-baby.
And let me tell you, this combination isn’t very conducive to healthy eating. More of my diet than I like to admit is made up of granola bars (I have a specific brand and variety that I know is soy- and diary-free) and trail mix. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either, but when they make up a large portion of your daily calorie intake, it’s not a very balanced way of eating. And I’m feeling it. The sugar overload has me feeling completely run down (well, that and having a four-month old).
I decided this past week I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, and decided to (a) complain about it on the internet for the whole world to see and (b) do something to fix it. So I headed to the kitchen and powered through a bunch of cooking in order to whip myself up some new mom friendly foods. Healthy, fast, not packed with sugar, soy or daiy, and preferably easy to eat with one hand. The first of my Mommy munchies are these super tasty quinoa patties.
These are like little health food superstars wrapped up in an easy grab-and-go package. They are a source of complete, vegetarian protein (thanks to the quinoa), they are packed with nutrients because of the carrots and spinach. They are both filling and nourishing. And, if you think all of this sounds like a recipe for tastebud boredom, you’ll be happy to know that these patties are incredibly flavorful. I was so impressed with the explosive flavor of these guys.
I’ve been eating them straight out of the fridge (see previous note about lack of time), but you can also top them with sour cream, tzatziki, hummus to add a bit more punch. These patties are so versatile! Crumble them onto a salad. Eat them as a side dish for dinner. Form them into bigger patties for a veggie burger substitute. Pack them into a lunch. Freeze them up for later eating. It may seem like this recipe makes a ton, but I promise you’ll find a way to use them—and then wish you’d doubled the recipe.
I cooked these up by pan-frying them in a touch of avocado oil (it has a nice high smoke point), which made them crispy and crunchy, but if you want to be mega-healthy, you could also bake them in a medium oven for 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown. Personally, I feel like pan-frying quinoa and spinach is the picture of balance. Life is too short to eat your quinoa baked. Or something like that.
Showcase the power of two vegetarian superfoods in these spinach and quinoa patties. Perfect for snacks, lunches or dinner!
- 3 cups cooked quinoa (for extra flavor, cook in chicken or vegetable broth)
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons minced parsley
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
- 4 green onions, diced
- 1 cup frozen, chopped spinach, thawed, and squeezed dry
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
- 1-2 cups whole wheat panko breadcrumbs (I like these)
- 2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
- Combine all ingredients, except the oil, in a medium mixing bowl until well mixed, adding in more breadcrumbs if necessary to achieve a mixture that will hold its shape when formed into patties. Let the mixture rest for 5-10 minutes to allow melding.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Form the mixture into small patties (about 2" wide) and, working in batches, cook patties in heated skillet for two minutes on one side, flip and cook for an additional two minutes, or until both sides are golden brown. Let patties cool on paper towels.
There is something about hosting houseguests that makes me want to go junk-food crazy. I guess I like to use other people kicking around my kitchen as an excuse to whip out all the foods I wouldn’t normally eat. I like to live by the 80/20 rule of nutrition—80% of the time, you’re eating healthy, fresh foods and 20% of the time, you can eat non-nutritive junk food like this. And it seems like that 20% always happens to fall when I have friends and family in my home. I swear I eat healthy most of the time, friends. It just doesn’t look like I do when you come visit my house.
We hosted my husband’s parents this past week, and there was a lot of delicious food (junky and not-so-junky). So much so that I actually totally forgot to bring out this party mix that I made for snacking on. I had put it all in a big zip-top bag and stashed it behind a bunch of other food, and by the time I remembered it was there, my in-laws were already on their way back to Canada. C’est la vie. Honestly, I kinda think Craig isn’t too sad that we have a whole bag of this stuff to ourselves. He called it “incredibly dangerous” as he shoveled handfuls in his mouth.
The inspiration for this mix comes from my favorite movie theatre treat. I like to mix together buttered movie theatre popcorn with Reese’s Pieces while taking in a flick. It is the absolute best combination of sweet and salty! So to make this Halloween snack mix, I took that flavor profile to the next level—mixing together popcorn, Reese’s Pieces, salted peanuts, pretzels, and everyone’s favorite Fall candy—candy corn. And then I slathered it all in a peanut butter caramel coating, and then topped it with an orange candy drizzle and sprinkles—just in case you didn’t quite get the idea that this wasn’t health food (well, it’s healthy for your soul—but probably not your body).
When it comes to the texture of the final mix, you have a bit of a flexibility with this recipe. If you want it to be crunchy and crispy like standard caramel corn, you can cook the peanut butter caramel coating a bit longer to the hard crack stage (about 300°, but I don’t have a candy thermometer, so I just use the ole water glass trick). If you want it a bit fudgier, just cook it until the soft crack stage (about 280°). I like it this way because a lot of the elements are still crunchy—the peanuts, pretzels, Reese’s pieces—but the whole mix is a bit creamier. It’s a bit like a candy bark that way. Both ways work (although, I would say the hard crack would be best for putting in cute little baggies and distributing as gifts). Whatever bakes your cookie. Or caramels your corn.
I went with the standard Halloween candy add-ins, but as I was browsing the candy displays, I saw so many fun additions that would work. You could throw in candy eyes for a really spooky treat. Or even those candy pumpkins (those were always a little bit too much for my tastes). You could also drizzle on some different candy melts—black and green would be fun and festive, too!
I promise I’ll post something with some vegetables later on. Now that my houseguests have left, it’s time for me to get back to my normal, kale-heavy diet.
Enjoy! Happy Halloween!
This fun and festive peanut butter Halloween party mix will satisfy you sweet tooth!
- 12 cups air-popped popcorn
- 3 cups mini-twist pretzels
- 1 cup roasted, salted peanuts
- 1 cup candy corn
- 1 cup Reese's Pieces
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
- 1/4 cup butter
- Orange candy melts and sprinkles for garnish
- In a very large bowl, mix together the popcorn, pretzels, peanuts, candy corn, and Reese's pieces. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, bring the honey, sugar, salt, peanut butter and butter to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Boil without stirring for five minutes. Remove from heat, and drizzle caramel over popcorn mixture. Stir to coat.
- Spread the popcorn mixture onto two baking sheets covered in parchment. Drizzle with melted candy melts and top with holiday sprinkles. Let cool completely, then break apart to serve.