Do y’all cook with orzo? This rice-shaped pasta is one of my pantry stapes that I love so much for its versatility. It works great in quick homemade soups, it’s excellent in pasta salads, and fantastic in baked pastas and casseroles. Plus, it’s very popular in our home because it’s much easier for toddlers to scoop up and eat than long pastas (like spaghetti and fettuccine) are. I had a half-pound of orzo hanging around my pantry last week and decided to use it in a new-to-me recipe, highlighting some of my favorite ingredients — a meatless fall pasta dish with sweet potatoes, mushrooms, kale, ginger, onions, and garlic, all glazed with a super savory soy/balsamic sauce.
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You’d be surprised by the number of recipes in frequent rotation at our household that aren’t actually on this blog at all. A lot of them are basic-yet-fantastic side dishes, like these roasted smashed potatoes, that I just never think to photograph and properly write-up. However, last time I made these (to accompany a scrumptious steak), I realized that they had a combination of deliciousness + simplicity that meant they really needed to get on this blog ASAP. So, I grabbed my camera, snagged a few pictures, and I’m so thrilled that I can now share ’em with you.
These potatoes are truly heavenly. The potato skin gets wonderfully golden and crisp, while the inside is perfectly soft and creamy. It’s like a beautiful hybrid between roasted potatoes and mashed potatoes. With this recipe (and many of my recipes), I tend to have a “simpler is better” mindset, and for that reason, I serve these very simply, with olive oil, salt, and pepper. If you do want to dress them up more, you absolutely can — with sour cream and chives, or parmesan and garlic, or rosemary and thyme, for example. Actually, as I write this, some of those dressed-up versions sound amazing — I may actually have to try those myself next time I get a craving for smashed potatoes. =)
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You may remember that, a few weeks ago, I hosted a giveaway for Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate! in Nashville. We had the pleasure of attending a performance ourselves this weekend, and I wanted to share my experience. While I was excited to attend myself (because I grew up loving movies like Aladdin, The Little Mermaid, and Beauty and the Beast), I was most excited about the idea of taking our 2-year-old daughter. She had never seen ice skaters before, nor had she been to a big performance like this before, so we were really eager to see her reaction.
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I go through phases of obsession with my crock-pot. I may not use it for a month or two, but then I remember how awesome it is, get into crazy crock-pot mode, and find myself using it three or more times a week. And these days, folks, I’m in crock-pot-lovin’ mode. Life is (wonderfully!) busy, between work and family and friends, and I adore the set-it-and-forget-it aspect of a slow-cooker dinner. Pop it all in in the morning, go about your usual day, and a whole lotta hours later you come home to an amazing smelling house, and a meal that’s ready to be devoured.
And this particular meal? We loved it. Fall-apart tender, juicy, melt-in-your-mouth beef, combined with flavorful peppers, onions, and garlic, all in a savory tomato-herb broth. While I’d normally serve this type of beef with mashed potatoes or pasta, the original recipe called for it to be served over polenta, so I decided to give that a try. And wow, I loved it! The creamy, buttery, mild polenta is a beautiful complement to the super savory beef + veggies, and a sprinkle of fresh basil + a grating of parmesan rounded the whole meal out perfectly. I did serve the leftovers with pasta, to see which version I liked better, and I’m split 50/50 — it was fantastic both with the polenta, and the pasta.
So, if you’re looking for some new slow-cooker meals to add to your lineup this fall/winter, add this one to your list — it is wonderful. And hop over to my Recipe Index for all my slow-cooker/crock-pot recipes. There are tons of fantastic ones to choose from!
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I love Middle Eastern food. The flavors of Lebanese, Turkish, and Persian cuisines in particular are some of my all-time favorites. One of my most-likely orders when I’m at a Middle Eastern restaurant are kofta kebabs. Kofta are essentially meatballs, and kofta kebabs are meatballs that are shaped around a kebab skewer. Kofta is a popular dish in many different countries, and there are endless variations, depending on the country, culture, and individual cook’s preferences. In this version, I used a blend of lamb and beef, seasoned with beautiful, warm spices — cinnamon, allspice, cumin, coriander, and ginger — plus onion and parsley. I shaped them around a skewer into long skinny meatballs, let them hang out in the fridge for a couple hours, then cooked ’em up.
And, heavens, they turned out AMAZING. This was a Sunday supper I made for my family a few weeks ago, and I declared (loudly and proudly) that it may have been the tastiest Sunday supper we’ve had … EVER. I served them as pictured, with rice, salad, homemade hummus, pitas, and tzatziki sauce, and it was a seriously perfect dinner. I was so confident that this dinner was going to rock that I doubled the recipe when making it, and froze half of the kofta kebabs (uncooked) for a future meal. I’m already eager to thaw those out soon, and replicate this fantastic dinner again! continue reading →