Sausage and Pierogi Skillet with Creamy Mustard Sauce

improvchallenge

I’m sure by now you’ve all guessed what the last month of no posts means – I had the baby! Miss Julie joined us just as the last Improv Challenge was going up. We’re totally smitten, but life with two kids is no joke! I’m super grateful that I stocked the freezer with dinners before she came – I’ve been relying on them heavily since Mark went back to work!

Most of my freezer meals this time around were things I could just pop in the oven. I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to stand over the stove cooking this time – and it’s totally true. Most of my “real” cooking the last month has been on the weekends – when Mark is around to help out with the littles.

This was one of the first dinners I made post-baby that didn’t involve heating up something from the freezer. The ingredients for the Improv Challenge this month were sausage and mustard – perfect flavors for the beginning of fall! This dish uses chicken sausage and covers everything in a creamy mustard sauce. Bonus: it’s a one-pan meal so there’s less to clean up!

You can check out what the other bloggers cooked up here:


SausageMustardImprov

Sausage and Pirogi Skillet with Creamy Mustard Sauce
(adapted slightly from Such the Spot)
Serves 4

16 oz. pierogies
4 chicken and apple sausage links, sliced thin
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp. butter, divided
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In an oven-safe pan, melt 2 Tbsp. of butter on the stovetop over medium-high heat. Add 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and then the pierogies. Cook until the pierogies are browned lightly on both sides and remove to a plate.

Add remaining butter and olive oil to the pan, then add the sliced sausage. Cook about 5 minutes, until the sausage begins to brown. Add the pepper slices and cook until tender-crisp. Remove to the plate with the pierogies.

Whisk the flour into the pan to create a thick paste and cook until golden brown, about two minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock and mustard until smooth. Cook until bubbling and slightly thickened. Stir in the heavy cream.

Return the pierogies, sausage and pepper to the skillet and stir to coat in the mustard sauce. Sprinkle mozzarella over the top and then place in the oven for about 15 minutes, until everything is hot and bubbly.

Garlic and Rosemary Sliders

improvchallenge

This month’s Improv Cooking Challenge ingredients were garlic and rosemary – and I immediately thought, burgers! I couldn’t find a recipe that I really liked, so I decided to create my own – and these were a fabulous success.

There’s double garlic and rosemary here – fresh in the aioli that tops the burgers and dried spices in the burgers themselves. The result is flavorful without being over-powering. And, I made them slider-sized because that makes them perfectly toddler sized – a big win in our house right now!

You can check out what the other participating bloggers made with garlic and rosemary here:

 

GarlicRosemaryBurgers

Garlic and Rosemary Sliders
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original)
Makes 8 sliders

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 1/4 lbs. ground beef
1 tsp. herbs de Provence
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
8 slider rolls
Arugula, for serving

In a heavy pan over low heat, toss together the olive oil and the sliced sweet onion. Cook until caramelized, stirring occasionally, then transfer the onions to a bowl.

In a medium bowl, mix together the ground beef, herbs de Provence, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Divide into eight equal patties and cook in the pan from the onions until they reach the desired doneness.

Meanwhile, whisk together the mayonnaise, garlic and rosemary. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

Spread 2-3 tsp. of mayonnaise mixture on the bottom of each slider bun. Top with a burger patty, onions and arugula. Serve immediately.

Chicken Sausage and Marinated Summer Veggies

Current craving: all the veggies. I’ve eaten more salad and grilled vegetable sandwiches recently than I ever have in my life. I’m not sure if it’s a pregnancy thing or just the mid-summer bounty, but it’s been delicious.

While aimlessly flipping through Pinterest, this recipe caught my eye because of all of the veggies. I adapted it slightly to fit what we had in the garden/what looked best at the store, but you could really do this dish at any time of the year with whatever produce is in season.

I served it along with a loaf of warm, crusty bread – it was an awesome summer dinner.

ChickenSausageSummerVeg

Chicken Sausage and Marinated Summer Veggies
(slightly adapted from Beachbody)
Serves 4

2 tsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper, taste
2 zucchini, coin sliced
2 yellow squash, coin sliced
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1 green pepper, chopped
1 red onion, sliced
4 cooked chicken sausages, coin sliced
2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped

Whisk together olive oil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Toss all the veggies with the balsamic mixture and let sit for 30 minutes, stirring halfway.

Preheat your broiler to high.

Stir the chicken sausage into the veggies and transfer to a sheet pan. Broil for 10-15 minutes, until vegetables are soft, turning halfway.

Basil Pesto

We have so much basil in the garden. SO MUCH. I’m sure we always have a lot at this point in the year, but this year it feels like an especially large haul. The obvious way to use up a lot of it? A batch of pesto.

I combined two recipes here – the ingredient amounts from one and the method from another. The extra step of toasting the pine nuts and garlic is so worth it here – this is a great, go-to pesto.

Now, to use it up!

BasilPesto

Basil Pesto
(adapted from Crumbly Cookie and Self Magazine)
Makes about 1 cup

1 clove of garlic, unpeeled
3 Tbsp. pine nuts
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cups basil leaves

In a small nonstick skillet over medium heat, toast the pine nuts until golden. Transfer to a food processor. Add the unpeeled garlic to the skillet and toast for 1 minute, flip and toast for another minute. Peel and add to the food processor, along with the parmesan and olive oil.

Process until smooth. Add the basil and process again, until a paste forms.

Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins

I have been in total use-it-up or throw-it-out mode. I think it’s part of nesting. I’ve cleaned out both freezers, the refrigerator, the pantry and our overflow canned good stock in the basement the last few days. I’m not sure the kitchen has ever looked better!

We had a few bananas that were just past prime. I probably could have given them a day or two and someone would have eaten them or tossed them in a smoothie – but my must-clean-off-the-counters brain couldn’t handle that, so I decided to try a new muffin recipe.

I’ve yet to meet a banana muffin I didn’t enjoy, but these were really good. Using mini chocolate chips keeps the banana flavor from being overwhelmed and the oatmeal added a nice chewiness.

BananaChocolateChipOatmealMuffins

Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Muffins
(from The Taste of Home Baking Book)
Makes 12

1 egg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
3 medium, ripe bananas, well mashed
2 cups flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together the egg, oil and sugar until smooth. Stir in the bananas until evenly combined.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir into the wet ingredients until just moistened. Fold in chocolate chips.

Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool for five minutes before removing from the pan.

Peaches and Cream Popsicles

improvchallengeToday, I’m jumping in with a fun, new-to-me group – Improv Cooking Challenge. Each month, there are two ingredients to use – and you can make any kind of dish you want. I’m really excited to jump in and create some fun things in the coming months!

This month’s ingredients were peaches and cream. My first thought was a pie or cake (and I’m kind of hoping some of the other bloggers did this so I can drool over their treats!) but it’s been so ridiculously hot here that popsicles sounded like the best bet. These were delicious – and a relatively healthy treat to boot. Jake and I both loved them!

You can check out all the other peaches and cream dishes bloggers made here:

 

PeachesCreamPopsicles

Peaches and Cream Popsicles
(from Pint Sized Treasures)
Makes 4

2 large peaches, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
3 Tbsp. milk
2 Tbsp. honey

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds and freeze until solid.

Broccoli Apple Salad

Does anyone else crave fresh produce in the summer? I’d blame it on pregnancy, but this happens every year. Farmers’ markets become crazy dangerous because I just want to buy everything.

Summer also makes me lazy, though. I can’t tell you how many times I end up cooking up those impulse farmers’ market just before they go bad. Salads like this that require no cooking are always my best bet.

To my surprise, the toddler really liked this too. I fully expected him to just pick out the cranberries and apples, but the dressing was just sweet enough that he would happily eat it all.

BroccoliAppleSalad

Broccoli Apple Salad
(from The Recipe Critic)
Serves 6-8 as a side

4 cups fresh broccoli florets
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 large Gala apples, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

In a large bowl, toss together the broccoli, carrots, onions, apples, pecans and cranberries.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Pour over the broccoli mixture and toss until evenly coated.

Refrigerate until serving.

Nutella Topped Rice Krispie Treats

I haven’t had many have-to-have it pregnancy cravings, so when I get one I’ve been indulging. A few weeks ago, it was rice krispie treats. The day after we’d finished off the pan, I was chatting with a friend and mentioned them. She was like, oh yes! I smothered mine in Nutella while pregnant. Which, of course, sounded fantastic so then I needed some like that.

These were, of course, fantastic. Just the right amount of chocolate. I found a fun box of red, white and blue Rice Krispies, too, so they’re extra festive for today! If you need a last minute dessert, I highly recommend these.

Hope you’re all having a wonderful 4th of July weekend!

NutellaToppedKrispieTreats

Nutella Topped Rice Krispie Treats
(adapted from Liv Life)
Makes 1 9×13″ pan

1/4 cup butter
1 bag mini marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup Nutella
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp. shortening

Grease a 9×13″ pan. Set aside.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the marshmallows and stir often, until melted. Stir in the Rice Krispies. Transfer to the prepared pan and press down evenly.

In a smaller saucepan, combine the Nutella, chocolate chips and shortening. Melt over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. Pour over the top of the Rice Krispie treats and spread out evenly. Let sit until the chocolate sets then cut into bars.

Jerk Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers #CookoutWeek

Another great company I was introduced to via #CookoutWeek was Swine Dining. They specialize in small batch, made-by-hand spice mixes – and they’re awesome. They sent us three spice mixes to try and we loved them all.

Their signature blend is “Wimpy’s BBQ Rub” – called Wimpy’s because there’s no heat. We used it last night to make up a batch of our favorite pulled pork. We didn’t miss the heat – and it made it much more toddler-friendly. It was an awesome dinner for the whole family. Wimpy’s is currently available via their Etsy shop. They have plans to launch the other two spice mixes we tried – Jamaican Me Hungry (which I used in these burgers) and Dilly Dust – via Kitckstarter.

As soon I as I saw they sent us a jerk seasoning, I knew I wanted to make some sort of sweet potato burgers. The patties were too soft to place directly on the grill so I opted to bake them and they came out fabulous. If you wanted to get the grilled flavor, you could make them ahead of time and reheat on the grill.

JerkSweetPotatoBurgers

Jerk Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers
(a Kate’s Recipe Box original}
Serves 8

2 large sweet potatoes
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs
1 egg
3 Tbsp. Swine Dining’s Jamaican Me Hungry jerk seasoning
Fresh sliced pineapple
Lettuce
Burger buns

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Wash the sweet potatoes and poke all over with a fork. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 45 minutes – 1 hour, until very tender. Let cool until cool enough to handle. Scoop out the flesh and mash with a fork.

Reduce the oven to 350 degrees.

Mash half of the black beans and mix into the sweet potatoes. Mix in the remaining black beans, quinoa, breadcrumbs, egg and jerk seasoning until thoroughly combined. Divide into 8 patties and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake for 45 minutes, flipping halfway.

Serve on a bun, topped with pineapple and lettuce.

SwineDining

 

Cherry Vanilla Coke Poke Cake #CookoutWeek

Every good cookout needs a fun dessert – and this is my new favorite.

Cherry Vanilla Coke just reminds me of summer so I was smitten when I saw this cake. It really does capture the flavors nicely. It was my first time making a poke cake, but I have to say I’m hooked. It was so moist! I made this a day ahead and it was perfect on the day of our cookout.

I also loved how easy this was to put together. I always plan ambitious menus for our cookouts so having something this easy was a definite bonus!

CherryVanillaCokePokeCake

Cherry Vanilla Coke Poke Cake
(from The Recipe Critic)
Makes 1 9×13″ cake

1 French vanilla cake mix, plus ingredients to prepare
1 large box cherry flavored Jello
12 oz. Coca Cola
1/2 cup cold water
1 small box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 container frozen whipped topping, thawed
Chocolate sprinkles and maraschino cherries, for topping

Prepare the cake according to package directions. Once baked, let cool for 15 minutes and then use the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes about 1 inch apart all over the cake.

In a bowl, combine the Jello mix, coke and water. Whisk until dissolved and then pour slowly over the cake, filling up the holes as much as possible. Refrigerate for at least half hour.

After the cake is chilled, combine the pudding mix and milk. Whisk until thoroughly combined then stir in vanilla. Fold in the whipped topping and then ice the cake. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

When ready to serve, top with sprinkles and cherries.