best bean dip

I spent last week playing at the beach with my family, so I was far too lazy busy for blogging. It was glorious. And I want to go back. But alas, it’s back to real life. At least I have this super-easy-incredibly-tasty recipe to share with you today!

I made this bean dip for my little boy’s birthday party a few weeks ago, and it was a huge hit! We had leftovers of all the other food, but the bean dip was all gone by the end of the party! Everyone kept coming back for more. And the best part? It’s only four ingredients!

easy bean dip

Just get a medium sauce pan and dump in one can of refried beans and one package of cream cheese.

bean dip recipe

Stir over medium heat until the cream cheese melts and the beans and cream cheese are combined. (I know it, doesn’t look very appetizing. But let’s be honest, refried beans kinda just look like mush. Also, I was hastily preparing things for the birthday party and didn’t have time to get pretty pictures.)

best bean dip recipe

Now stir in the salsa and shredded cheese, and stir until everything’s combined, hot, and melty. (yes, that’s the technical term.)

four ingredient bean dip

Pour into a bowl or other serving dish, and serve warm with tortilla chips! Get some fast – it’ll disappear pretty quickly! And if you’re making this for a crowd, the recipe is super easy to double, triple, etc.

Best Bean Dip

1 15 oz can refried beans
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup + shredded Mexican blend or cheddar cheese

1. In a medium sauce pan, combine beans and cream cheese. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the cream cheese melts and the beans and cheese are combined and smooth.

2. Add the salsa and shredded cheese, and stir until cheese is melted and everything is heated through. Serve with tortilla chips.

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Goat Cheese and Sausage Quiche

My husband and I celebrated our fifth anniversary this month! So we celebrated by dropping the kids off with the grandparents, going out for Ethiopian food (amazing. seriously.) and then going to Trader Joe’s. We’re so romantic. (and we did drive to a few beautiful lookouts in the city before we got pelted by a crazy rainstorm.) But  really, we love that store!  He bought me a beautiful orchid plant (one of my favorite flowers!!) and then we wandered around the store tossing whatever delicious things we felt like getting into our basket. One of those things was goat cheese. I don’t often buy it because it’s fairly expensive, but hey, it was a special occasion! 🙂

So then I had this delicious goat cheese, and had to come up with something to do with it. Then I remembered this Italian sausage I’d stuck in the freezer, plus some fresh spinach we had in the fridge… and one thing led to another, and we had a quiche!

goat cheese sausage spinach quiche

The beautiful and delicious end result! This golden, fluffy, flavor-packed quiche.

This meal took a bit longer to prepare than most of my meals because I made the pie crust, cooked the sausage, sautéd the veggies, made the filling, and then the whole thing had to bake. The prep time was probably about 30 minutes, then the bake time was about 45. So plan ahead a little bit for this meal! It would be great for a brunch, or even for dinner. But if you’re like me and don’t like to get up early, you probably won’t be eating this for breakfast (unless it’s as leftovers).

Start off by making the pie crust. For my tips and recipe, check out this post. Or if you really want (but I’m telling you, it won’t taste as good!) you can use a frozen or refrigerated crust.

Then cook the sausage in a medium frying pan. I used an Italian sausage, the bulk kind (like ground beef) not links. It adds a nice flavor and texture to the quiche, and complements the goat cheese well.

While the sausage is cooking, slice the onion into thin slices, and toss in a small frying pan with the butter to caramelize. While the sausage and onion are cooking, slice the mushrooms and chop up the spinach.

caramelized onions and mushrooms

Once the onions are turning golden, add the mushrooms, stirring often. When the mushrooms are tender and beginning to brown, add the spinach.

caramelized onions mushrooms and spinach

Cook, stirring often, until the spinach is wilted. Mix the vegies with the cooked sausage, and set aside.

Prepare the egg filling by whisking the eggs, milk, salt, pepper, and paprika together in a medium bowl until frothy.

goat cheese sausage spinach quich recipe

Pour the sausage and vegetables into the pie crust, and sprinkle the goat cheese on top.

quiche recipe with goat cheese sausage spinach mushrooms

Slowly pour the egg mixture into the pie crust. (Or you can just mix everything in with the eggs, and pour it all together into the pie crust.)

Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes, or until the quiche is set (if you’re not sure, stick a butter knife in the center. It should come out clean). Remove quiche from the oven and let it sit for a few minutes before cutting and serving. If you’re worried about the edges of the crust burning, you can cover them with foil for the first 25 minutes of baking.

goat cheese spinach sausage quiche

Goat Cheese and Sausage Quiche

1 9-inch pie crust
1/2 lb bulk Italian sausage
1/2 large onion
4-6 mushrooms
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh spinach
4 oz crumbled goat cheese
5 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp paprika
pinch of salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375. Prepare the pie crust, if making homemade. In a medium frying pan, cook the sausage until browned. While it’s cooking, slice the onions and mushrooms, and chop the spinach.

2. Heat a small frying pan with a little bit of butter. Add the sliced onion, and let cook, stirring occasionally, until golden. Add the mushrooms, and continue cooking until the mushrooms are beginning to brown. Add the spinach, and cook until the spinach is wilted. Mix with the sausage and set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, paprika, salt, and pepper until frothy.

4. Pour the sausage and veggie mixture into the prepared pie crust. Sprinkle in the goat cheese. Pour in the egg mixture. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes, or until quiche is set. Remove from oven and let stand a few minutes before serving.

Makes on 9-inch quiche, approximately 8 servings.

 

change it upYou could also add (or substitute for some of the other vegetables) red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, and/or roasted garlic.

5 Minute Alfredo Sauce

In an effort to stop buying canned/jarred/prepackaged food, I’ve been working on recipes for the foods I most often buy canned/jarred/prepackaged – like pasta sauce.

I’ve mentioned before that pasta is one of my go-to meals when I don’t feel like cooking, or cooking anything that requires much thought or effort. So in order to keep it that way, I wanted a really quick, simple pasta sauce that wouldn’t take a whole lot more time and effort than opening a jar, but would be cheaper and not full of preservatives and sodium.

So now I’m happy to present: 5 Minute Alfredo! So simple, so creamy and cheesy, and so delicious! It only takes five minutes, and it’s only five ingredients! So easy!

5 minute 5 ingredient alfredo

Ok, if you add salt and pepper, it’s technically seven ingredients. But they’re not necessary, and I like the 5 minute 5 ingredient thing.

five minute five ingredient alfredo sauce

Start off by melting the butter over medium-high heat in a medium sauce pan. As it begins to melt, crush the garlic into the pan so it starts to saute a little.

easy alfredo sauce recipe

Once the butter has melted completely, add the flour and stir well so it doesn’t get lumpy. Once it starts getting bubbly, slowly stir in the milk.

5 minute alfredo sauce recipe

Keep stirring to prevent lumps and scalding. The sauce should begin to thicken after just a couple minutes. Cook and stir for 3-5 minutes, until the sauce is fairly thick. If it starts to boil, that’s as thick as it’s going to get. (It doesn’t need to boil, just if it does, know it’s done thickening.)

5 minute 5 ingredient alfredo sauce recipe

Add the cheese, stirring until it’s melted and mixed. If you want salt and pepper, add a little now. Serve over your favorite pasta, veggies, chicken, etc. Top with an extra sprinkling of cheese, or some fresh herbs like basil, oregano, or parsley.

five minute alfredo sauce

5 Minute Alfredo Sauce

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1-2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 – 2 cups milk
1 cup grated Italian blend cheese (or half parmesan, half mozzarella)
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. As it begins to melt, crush in the garlic.

2. Once it’s completely melted, stir in the flour. Stir well to prevent lumping. Once it starts to get bubbly, add the milk, stirring constantly until the sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes. (I only did 1 1/2 cups milk, and it was really thick. If you like your sauce a little thinner, add a little more milk.)

3. Add the cheese, and stir until it is completely melted and mixed. Add salt and pepper, if desired. Serve over pasta, vegetables, chicken, etc. Top with more cheese or fresh herbs, if desired.

Makes about 6 servings

change it upAdd some sundried tomatoes or roasted red peppers for an extra pop of flavor!

Whole Wheat Pasta with Ricotta and Asparagus

Pasta is one of my go-to meals. When I don’t feel like coming up with something to cook, we have pasta.

The nice thing is, it can be as simple or complex as you want. And you can have a whole meal in one pot. Add some veggies, some meat, some cheese. It’s actually a great way to use up some of your vegetables, too. Seriously, almost any vegetables taste good in pasta. Just saute them in a little olive oil, and throw ’em in with the noodles and sauce! Or even go without sauce, and just sprinkle (generously!) some cheese on top.

So this was my “I don’t feel like cooking but I need to use up that jar of pasta sauce and that asparagus” dinner. I know, I used jarred pasta sauce… I was lazy. But don’t worry, I’m working on a post for my “5 minute marinara” so be on the lookout for that soon!

whole wheat pasta with ricotta and asparagus

Three of my favorite things about this pasta:

1. It only took about 10 minutes to make, since that’s about how long it took to boil the water and cook the pasta. And I only used two pans, so cleanup was quick too!

2. It’s delicious.

3. its good for you I used whole wheat pasta (you can’t even tell a difference in the taste in angel hair pasta); asparagus, which is full of vitamins; and cottage cheese (I know the title says ricotta, but I was being cheap and using what I had) which has lots of protein.

Start off by putting a big pot of water on to boil. Then chop up your asparagus into 1″ pieces.

asparagus

Put a little olive oil in a skillet, heat it up, add the asparagus, and toss regularly. After a couple minutes, crush in a clove of garlic and sprinkle a little salt and pepper.

garlic roasted asparagus

The water should be boiling by now. Add your pasta, and follow the package instructions. (If you’re using angel hair, it only takes about 4 minutes.)

whole wheat angel hair pasta

Drain the pasta, and put it back in the pot. Pour in the sauce and the ricotta or cottage cheese. Heat through, stirring regularly.

whole pasta with ricotta

By now the asparagus should be done – you want it tender-crisp. If it cooks too long it gets kind of limp and mushy. You can either stir it into the pasta, or serve it on top. Sprinkle some parmesan on top, and enjoy!

whole wheat pasta marinara with ricotta and asparagus

Whole Wheat Pasta with Ricotta and Asparagus

1 package whole wheat angel hair pasta
1 jar marinara sauce, or about 2 cups homemade sauce
1 cup ricotta or cottage cheese
10-12 asparagus shoots
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper
parmesan cheese

1. Boil a large pot of water for the pasta. While waiting for that, trim the asparagus and cut it into 1″ pieces. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, and add the asparagus, tossing regularly.

2. Once the asparagus has cooked for a few minutes, crush in the clove of garlic, and sprinkle in some salt and pepper. Continue to toss regularly until the asparagus is tender-crisp.

3. Cook the pasta according the package instructions. Drain, and return to pan. Pour in the sauce and ricotta, stir and heat through.

4. Stir in the asparagus, or serve it on top with the parmesan sprinkled on top.

Reinventing the Grilled Cheese Sandwich

There really aren’t too many things more delicious than warm, melty, gooey cheese. Especially good cheese. I mean, think about all the foods we eat smothered in melted cheese – pizza, nachos, lasagna, cheeseburgers, enchiladas, chili cheese fries, and, of course, grilled cheese sandwiches.

So if all those other foods get lots of other sauces and flavors, then why not grilled cheese sandwiches? Probably because it’s really easy to just slap a slice of cheese between two pieces of bread and toss it in a pan for a few minutes. But it really doesn’t take much longer to throw on a couple of extra ingredients to take your sandwich from tasty to amazing.

I’ve been experimenting a bit lately with this, so this will be the first of a few posts to give you some ideas on how to impress your friends, children, coworkers, and/or tastebuds with your grilled cheese awesomeness!

pear muenster sunflower seed grilled cheese sandwich 2

A lot of what makes these more “gourmet” grilled cheese sandwiches work is knowing what flavors will complement the flavor of different types of cheeses.

save moneyNow I know, cheese can get expensive, so you’re probably not going to be buying lots of fancy expensive cheese just to make sandwiches. But if you look at the grocery store where they sell all the deli cheeses, there’s usually a little bin of “remnants” – small chunks leftover from the bigger blocks – that you can get pretty cheap. Plus, if you decide you don’t like that particular cheese, you only bought a little bit!

So here’s the first “Reinvented” Grilled Cheese for you:

pear muenster sunflower seed grilled cheese sandwich 4

I used Muenster cheese for this sandwich – it has a nice mild taste, so the sweetness of the pears and the nutty flavor of the roasted sunflower seeds complement it nicely.

pear muenster sunflower seed grilled cheese sandwich 3

Just butter the outside of the bread, layer the cheese, sunflower seeds, and pear slices, and put it on the stove in a small frying pan.

DSCN4043

Tip: To get your cheese nice and melty without burning your bread, cover the pan with a lid or foil to keep the heat in. And don’t get too impatient and turn up the heat – it’ll just burn your bread before the sandwich is heated through. It only takes a few minutes!

pear muenster sunflower seed grilled cheese sandwich 1

Muenster Pear and Sunflower Seed Grilled Cheese

2 slices of whole wheat bread (or any bread you like)
1-2 thin slices of pear
a few slices of Muenster cheese (enough to cover the size of the bread)
1 Tbsp sunflower seeds
butter

1. Butter one side of each slice of bread.

2. Layer the cheese, sunflower seeds, and pear slices on one slice of bread (not on the buttered side). Put the other slice, buttered side out, on top.

3. Place in a small frying pan over medium heat. Tip: Cover with a lid or foil to help the cheese melt faster without burning the bread. After a few minutes, flip the sandwich over. When bread is nicely toasted and cheese is melted, remove from pan and enjoy!