Sweet Potato & Black Bean Quesadillas





I just made this on a whim this week…but I loved it so much I had to share it! At least once a week, I make some sort of quesadilla or panini for dinner because it’s so quick and easy. I’m a busy girl…I need a break (even from cooking) during a busy week. You can make anything a quesadilla, I mean you can’t go wrong with a tortilla and cheese no matter what you throw in the middle. This is also a great appetizer or snack, because it is on the lighter side. If you are having this for dinner, it would go great with a side salad, some quinoa or rice, or some chips and salsa. (Let’s be honest, we are all having the chips and salsa). You can also dress it up with some sour cream, salsa or guacamole. Aside from roasting the sweet potatoes, this takes minutes to make. I use my panini press, but you can do this on grill pan or a non stick skillet. I just read somewhere the other day, when making something like this on a skillet, to use the bottom on a cast iron skillet to press down on top of it. This would be easier than flipping it over and having all the stuff fall out of the sides, and it would probably give you that panini press effect. Or you could even just throw it in the oven. Let me know if you try it and how it works!

What you’ll need…
(These ingredients are for just 1 quesadilla. Just double the amount of ingredients for two, ect..)

-1 sweet potato
– cumin
– chili powder
-olive oil
– 2 medium sizes flour tortillas
– 1/4-1/2 cup black beans
– a large handful of Monterey Jack or Mexican blend cheese

Peel and cut the sweet potato into small cubes. Place on a parchment covered baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle some olive oil and season with cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. (I never like to put measurements for seasonings because everyone is different, season to what you prefer. I will say, even though I don’t love spicy food, I was generous with my seasonings here). Bake for about 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees until tender. (Baking time will depend on how small the pieces are and if you are baking more than one potato). Place one tortilla on a panini press (or skillet). Add on the sweet potato, beans, sprinkle the cheese on there, then top with the other tortilla. If you’re using a panini press, let cook a few minutes. If you’re using a skillet or grill pan, cook over medium heat and take a cast iron skillet and press the bottom of the skillet on top of the quesadilla. (I haven’t tried it this way yet) but I would let it rest on top there for a few minutes. Serve immediately, cut into 4 equal pieces.

Vegetable Lasagna


I apologize for the lack of posts this week, I have been a busy girl. Forgive me? I’ll make this lasagna for you!
The first time I made this and told Joe it was a vegetable lasagna, he said “Ew, I’m not eating that.” Really. Now this guy won’t even eat regular meat lasagna, I swear. This is one of his favorites and mine too! I promise you won’t even miss the meat in this. You know how when you eat typical lasagna, it’s heavy and you feel so full after? This is a much lighter alternative, but honestly just as delicious. It also reheats great. This is one of those things we usually have no problem finishing. What is it with things in 9×13 dishes? I feel like everything I make in them we can devour in one sitting. But I like I said before, don’t be like us, you can have a normal person serving size.
There is not much to this recipe, it’s easy and simple! If you have a regular lasagna recipe you like, you can just replace the meat with veggies or follow my recipe below!
Note: this is exactly the amount of vegetables I typically use for mine but you can use more or less of any or substitute for others! Sometimes I use yellow squash or yellow peppers, or mushrooms-anything goes. Usually it really depends on what I have on hand or what’s available when I do my food shopping.

What you’ll need-
– 2 red peppers
– 1 or 2 green squash (if they’re on the smaller size, I use 2)
– a small to medium sized bunch of broccoli
– 2 to 4 carrots (depending on the size, again if they are small I use more if they are large I usually will use 2)
– about half or so of a sweet onion
– 1 package of oven ready lasagna noodles
– 1 jar (sometimes I need 2) of marinara sauce ( I use Bertolli Tomato & Basil)
– 1 15oz container part skim ricotta cheese
– 1 egg
– a few handfuls of fresh spinach
– about 1-2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese

Chop the veggies- dice the onion and peppers. Slice and quarter the squash. Peel and cut the carrots and slice into small pieces. And for the broccoli, I just try to cut as small as I can without having it fall apart. In a large skillet with olive oil, sauté the vegetables over medium high heat for about 10 minutes until they are tender but still crisp. You don’t want them to get too soft.
Meanwhile, combine the ricotta cheese, egg and spinach in a bowl. (I just tear up the spinach alittle with my hands, you can also chop it into smaller pieces). Season with salt, pepper and alittle Parmesan cheese. Mix to combine.
In a 9×13 glass baking dish, pour some sauce on the bottom and lay 4 lasagna noodles in an even layer, overlapping one another. Spread half the cheese mixture onto the noodles. Spoon half of the vegetables on top and pour a little sauce over. Lay 4 more noodles on top, once again overlapping. Spread the rest of the cheese, spoon the rest of the vegetables and pour a little sauce over. Top with another 4 noodles, pour the remaining sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Take the jar that had the sauce in it and just pour a little bit of water into it, 1/4 cup or so. Swirl it around and the pour into the pan around the edges of the noodles. This will prevent them from drying out. You can just pour some water in there, I like to pour into the sauce jar to get the last bits out and it assures me it’s not getting watered down with plain old water. (I don’t know, I’m weird! But I notice a difference!) Cover with foil and bake for about 35 minutes at 375. Remove foil, bake another 5-10 mins.

Roasted butternut squash & kale pasta




I make this quite often in the Fall and Winter, actually this is probably one of the last times I will make this until next Fall. Not that I’m not excited for Spring or anything but Fall and Winter cooking is my absolute favorite, especially butternut squash. I cook with it several times a week during the cold months. Today was unusually cold for the end of March and I am trying to squeeze in my favorite cold weather meals before Spring arrives (well…technically it has but you would never know since it was 20 degrees this morning). I love this combination of the squash and kale (I also make this in a quesadilla version). I will say, this is not totally husband approved. Joe isn’t a huge fan of kale but he will eat this, it’s just not his ultimate favorite. This is just a simple, light, easy meal perfect for a busy weeknight. You can even prep by having your squash ready for the oven and your kale washed and trimmed so you have less to do when it comes time to cook. Make this even easier by buying already cut up squash and the kale sold washed and trimmed in a bag.

What you’ll need-

– a bunch of kale or 1 bag of kale (I don’t use the whole bag-use however much you’d like!)
– 1 butternut squash or 1 package of it peeled and cut
– olive oil
– a few cloves of garlic minced
– fettuccine or linguini (a bit more than half a box was how much I used for 2 people)
– Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Since there isn’t much of a sauce here, when pasta is done just add a little butter to it to prevent it from drying out.
For the squash, if you are using a whole butternut squash, peel and cut into bite sized cubes. If you buy the precut, just cut a few of the larger pieces, if any and lay in an even layer on a parchment covered baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and sage. Bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes.
For the kale, wash and trim the stems off. Tear into smaller pieces. Cook garlic in medium sauté pan in olive oil over medium heat about a minute. Lower the heat, add the kale and cover. Cook on low heat for 5-10 minutes, until wilted but where it still maintains it’s shape, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper than add the squash to the pan, stir to combine. Spoon over pasta, add some Parmesan cheese and mix to combine and coat the pasta.

Creamy Tomato Pasta





This is the easiest pasta ever. However, it doesn’t taste like its easy.
It’s so incredibly delicious you’d think you had spent all day making it. This is a weekend meal for me because it’s not the lightest pasta dish around and well…I eat about 3 servings of this when I make it. I know. Can you tell by now my idea of portion control is non existent. But you know what, it’s Friday and I went to the gym four times this week so I will stuff my face with this delicious pasta along with plenty of bread and a glass (ok…many glasses) of wine. This recipe comes from one of my favorite bloggers and Food Network chefs, the pioneer woman. There isn’t too much to tell you about this dish- it’s easy, it’s delicious and you should make it this weekend!

Here’s what you need-

-2 15oz cans of tomato sauce (I like Hunts)
– 2 tablespoons butter
– 1 onion
– a few cloves of garlic (I use a lot in my sauces, at least 5 sometimes more)
– 1 cup heavy cream
– fresh basil, chopped (you can use dried but I really like fresh in this particular recipe)
– 1 1/2 lb fettuccine (I use the fresh pasta found in the cold section usually near the cheeses or deli in the grocery store. The packages are usually on the smaller size, I boil 1 1/2 packages)
– grated Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve some of the pasta water and set aside. Chop up the onion and garlic. Melt butter and some olive oil in a large sauce pan. Add garlic and onion, cook over medium heat for a few minutes. Add the two cans of sauce and season with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar. Cook over low heat (simmer) for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the heavy cream, basil and Parmesan cheese (I usually add maybe about a half cup or so and then add more later on). Stir to combine and turn off the heat. Add the cooked pasta directly into the pan and mix well to coat evenly. If it seems too thick, add some of the pasta water. Serve immediately.

Quinoa Enchilada Bake




This is my FAVORITE thing right now. And guess what, it’s husband approved! Ever since I made this a couple of months ago, it’s now a regular over here at our house. I did not think Joe would like this at all….he hears the word “quinoa” and “meatless” and he was not loving the idea. To my surprise he devoured this, and every time I make it, we fight for the leftovers. It’s packed with flavor, and it’s very filing and satisfying. You almost don’t think you’re eating something that is healthy and filled with plenty of good for you ingredients. This recipe makes enough for a family but I love having the leftovers for lunch (it reheats great). During the week, I make this in the morning or the night before so all I have to do is heat it when I come home. We eat this with tortilla chips, as if it were a dip, but you can eat this like a normal human being on a plate with a fork and not stuff your face with tortilla chips….we are disgusting.
This recipe comes straight from http://www.twopeasandtheirpod.com (can you tell I love this blog). I pretty much followed the original recipe but I did make some of my own changes. I decreased the amount of beans and added an extra pepper and jalapeño.

Here’s what you’ll need!
-1 red pepper
– 1 yellow pepper
– 1 orange pepper
– 2 jalapeños peppers
– 1 white onion
– a few cloves of garlic
– 1 cup of frozen sweet corn
– chili powder
– cumin
– cilantro (fresh or dried up to you!)
– juice of 1 lime
– 1 cup of quinoa
– 2 cups enchilada sauce (I use old El Paso mild)
– 1 can of black beans drained and rinsed
– 2 cups of Monterey Jack or Mexican blend shredded cheese

Cook the quinoa according to the package directions. While the quinoa is cooking, chop up the onion, garlic and jalapeños. (Don’t use the seeds in the jalapeños) Cook in a large skillet with some olive oil (a tablespoon or so) over medium heat about 5 minutes. Dice up the peppers. Add peppers and corn to the skillet and cook another few minutes. Turn off the heat and add the lime juice and seasonings. I sprinkle a generous amount of chili powder and cilantro and just a little cumin and salt and pepper. Season to your liking!
Combine the beans and quinoa in a large bowl and mix. Add the vegetable mixture. Pour in the enchilada sauce and a handful of the shredded cheese. Mix well and pour into a 9×13 glass baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Cover with foil and bake about 25 minutes at 350 degrees. You can serve this with avocado, green onions, sour cream or anything else. (But we just serve it with a giant bag of tortilla chips!) I swear every time I eat this I promise myself to eat it regularly but the chips…they belong here. Trust me, once you make this, you will make it again!

Brussel Sprouts & Pecan Pasta




Brussel sprouts have a bad rep. Roast these guys in the oven though….and they are a whole different thing. This combination of brussel sprouts and pecans was inspired by a similar dish from Two Peas and their Pod. This is so good I can’t even tell you. I know you’re thinking…brussel sprouts, but even my husband devours this and he is hard to please when it comes to vegetables. As I type this, we just finished eating the whole entire pot of this pasta….that’s right….the whole entire pot. Don’t be like us.

Here is what you’ll need-

-2 12oz bags of brussel sprouts
– about 1/2 cup of pecans
– 4 tablespoons of butter
– couple cloves of garlic minced
– some onion or shallots minced (I use about a handful)
– a box of medium shell pasta (I use alittle more than half the box and it’s enough for about 3 servings)
– grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, Place the pecans on a baking sheet (covered in parchment for easy clean up) and bake for just a couple of minutes (about 3 or 4). Let cool and then chop. Prep the brussel sprouts by rinsing them and then cutting the stems. Cut them in halves or if they are large you can cut them in quarters. Place them on a parchment covered baking sheet and spray with olive oil spray or drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and any other seasonings you wish (I like a tiny bit of garlic powder). Bake for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. Meanwhile, cook the pasta and drain. Cook the shallots/onion and garlic in a large sauté pan in some olive oil over medium heat for a few minutes. In a small sauté pan or pot, melt the butter until foamy and when you can smell the nuttiness and it starts to become brown in color. (You can use more than 4 tablespoons. I try to keep it minimal to keep this on the healthier side and 4 tablespoons is just enough it get that brown butter flavor). Add the pasta, brussel sprouts and pecans into the large pan that has the shallots/onion and garlic in it. Pour the brown butter over and some Parmesan cheese and mix to combine. Serve immediately.

Roasted Vegetable Panini




This is one my weeknight meals. As much as I love to cook,during the week I need quick and easy dinners. I get home from work too late to start something complicated! Many times, I will do some prep in the morning or even the night before so this way, when I get home, there’s little to be done. With this panini, I prep my vegetables in the morning and when I come home all I do is put them on my tortilla, sprinkle some cheese and it’s ready in minutes. This roasted vegetable panini is light and healthy, perfect with a side salad or sometimes I serve this with Parmesan cous cous. I use my panini press to make this, but if you don’t have one you can easily do this in the oven or stovetop on a grill pan or whatever you have! I do recommend a panini press though, I love mine and use it all the time. I’ll link below to an affordable one that I found on Amazon, if you’re interested. This is so easy to make and you can use any vegetables you want. I got this recipe idea from another recipe that I make often. It was a roasted vegetable pasta dish and I thought it would be perfect as a panini. I do this with a lot of recipes, like my butternutsquash and kale pasta, I also make as a quesedilla. (Which I will post both recipes eventually!). I also change up the vegetables whenever I make this, mostly using whatever I have in my fridge. This time I used, zucchini, orange and yellow peppers, eggplant, mushrooms and onion.
(This is how much I used to make two paninis, with a couple of spoonfuls of the vegetables left over)

Here’s what you’ll need!

-1 green or yellow squash
– 2 peppers (red, yellow or orange are my preference)
– 1 eggplant
– a handful of mushrooms (I buy them sliced to make my life easy)
– about half of an onion (I use sweet onion)
– shredded mozzarella cheese
– large flour tortillas (burrito size)

-Chop up the vegetables into small pieces. With the eggplant, I keep the skin on and cube into bite size pieces. Place them on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper in an even layer (you might have to use two). Drizzle some olive oil, salt and pepper and then toss to combine. Bake in the oven for about 15-18 minutes at 400 degrees.
Spoon some of the vegetables onto one size of a tortilla and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and fold over. Place on your panini press and cook until cheese melts and the top is browned. Or you can do this on a grill pan on your stove, turning once. Serve immediately.

Sweet Potato & Spinach Risotto


This recipe has become a staple in my house and I think it will for you too! I found this recipe for Two Peas and their Pod blog which I read daily. This dish is perfect for a cold day, it can be served as a side but I eat it as a main dish as it’s very rich and filling. I didn’t make too many changes to this recipe, but it’s a very flexible recipe and can be tweaked in almost any way. The only thing I wouldn’t change here is the type of rice. This dish is very simple, it’s just very needy! It’s not something you can just throw on the stove and walk away, you have to stir almost constantly, but don’t let that deter you from making this! It is worth standing at the stove for a half hour trust me! There are so many combinations for this risotto, but sweet potato and spinach is definitely my favorite. I do also love cooking this with butternut squash and kale! You can throw almost anything in here, vegetables, shrimp, chicken, you name it,
Here’s what you’ll need!
– 2 sweet potatoes
– about 4 tablespoons of butter (sometimes I use 5 or 6 but don’t tell anyone)
– chopped up shallots or onions (again this is something that you can tweak. I typically use 1 large shallot or a couple of small ones, or about half of a sweet onion, really whatever I have on hand!)
– couple cloves of garlic minced
– 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice (this is important, you definitely want to use this type of rice for the best results)
– 1/2 cup dry white wine (plus more for a glass for yourself!)
– 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth (whatever floats your boat!)
– a couple of handfuls of fresh spinach, chopped just a bit
– Parmesan cheese

Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into bite size pieces. Lay on a baking sheet (covered in parchment paper for easy clean up). Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle some salt and pepper and toss around to make sure the pieces are evenly coated. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-25 minutes.
Heat the broth in a saucepan, keep it on low heat the entire time to keep it hot. Make sure not to skip this step!)
Melt butter in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add shallots or onion and garlic, cook for a few minutes over medium heat. Pour in the rice and stir for a couple of minutes to coat the rice in the butter. Add the wine and stir, let cook a couple of minutes but keep stirring. Pour 1 cup of the hot broth over the rice, stir, stir, stir! Do this for about 5 minutes or until the broth is absorbed. Once it’s absorbed, add another cup of broth, let it cook about 5 minutes while stirring and repeat until you have used all 6 cups of the broth. This will take about 30 minutes. It’s ok if you take a quick minute break from stirring but watch carefully as the rice will start to stick to the pot and burn. Once you’ve used up all the broth, turn off the heat and add the sweet potatoes and spinach and then add the grated Parmesan cheese (you can add as little or as much as you want, I often use about 1/2 cup). Stir to combine. Serve immediately.