Spinach and Bacon Alfredo

I’m sure by now you’ve all seen the Great Dress Debate of 2015. I swear, that dress has been EVERYWHERE the last 24 hours. All over my Facebook newsfeed. All over Instagram. All over the news. I walked into rehearsal tonight for a show I’m choreographing and one kid yelled across the room, “Steph, what color is the dress?” and I knew EXACTLY what he was talking about. For the record, it started out gold and white for me, and then changed color while I was looking at it. I’m not kidding. It freaked me out a little bit…I’m having some trust issues.

Now, if I was really on the ball, I would have segued into some cute “white and gold/black and blue” dessert…but it’s Friday, and that’s just too much work for my brain to handle today. So, instead, you get this AWESOME pasta that I love to throw into my weekly dinner rotation. Now, most of the time, I’m a plain alfredo girl. Throw a little salt and pepper on top, and I’m a happy clam. But, occasionally, I want a variation. I know chicken alfredo is the standard, but I think my Spinach and Bacon Alfredo is more fun. And, obviously more healthy, since it’s got a vegetable in it. Right? RIGHT?!

Spinach and Bacon Alfredo

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What I’m Listening to: “Sugar” by Maroon 5

Ingredients (makes 2 servings)

-1/4 box of fettuccine, or your favorite long pasta

-Olive oil

-1/4 pound of bacon (Get it fresh at the meat counter…mine was $1!)

-2 tbsp butter

-1/2 cup heavy cream

-2 cloves (or 1 tsp) minced garlic

-3/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

-1/4 cup cooked spinach

-Salt and pepper, to taste

Fill a medium saucepan 2/3 full of water, and bring to a boil. While the water is heating, cook the bacon in a small skillet until crispy on both sides. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined bowl to cool. When the water begins to boil, add the fettucine and cook according to the package directions.

In a separate saucepan, melt the butter. Add the heavy cream and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium, and simmer for 4-5 minutes, until the mixture begins to thicken. Add the garlic and parmesan cheese; whisk quickly. Remove from the heat and add the spinach. Crumble the bacon into small pieces over the top and mix well.

Drain the pasta when done and return back to its original pan. Pour the alfredo sauce over the top and toss to coat. Serve with garlic bread and a small salad.

*Note: I used frozen spinach and cooked it while I was frying the bacon. You could also use raw baby spinach, and saute it with some olive oil, or the bacon grease, if you’d prefer.

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Mom’s Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

Happy Monday, foodies! How was your weekend? Mine was pretty low-key; lots of cleaning and errand-running. Yesterday, I went and saw a play at my alma mater and then hosted an Academy Award viewing party with four of my closest friends. We ate chicken pot pie and tried to predict the winners, but mostly enjoyed Oprah’s “I don’t give a crap” faces and the classy acceptance speeches. And all things Neil Patrick Harris, of course.

I am so excited to share one of my mom’s recipes with you today! I’m a big fan of snacking on almonds already, but when they’re coated in cinnamon sugar? Yes please! This recipe is very simple, and takes little prep work. My mom says they’re fool-proof, and she’s not kidding! Make up a batch over the weekend and you’ll have snacks for the entire week…and your house will smell amazing!

Cooking for Beginners: Mom’s Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

almonds

What I’m Listening to: “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars

Ingredients (makes about 2 1/2 cups of almonds)

-1 egg white

-1 tsp vanilla

-1/4 cup white sugar

-1/4 cup brown sugar

-1/4 tsp salt

-1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

-12 oz bag of natural almonds

Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg white and vanilla. Add the white sugar, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon; mix well. Pour the almonds over the mixture and stir gently with a wooden spoon, until well coated. Transfer the almonds to the baking sheet in a single layer.

Bake for 60 minutes, stirring every 15-20. After 40 minutes, move the almonds directly onto the baking sheet, and discard the foil. Continue to bake for the remaining 20 minutes, stirring as needed. Allow to cool, then store in an airtight container for 4-5 days, or put in a freezer-safe Ziploc in your freezer for up to 4 months.

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One Pot Chicken and Vegetable Risotto

Oh friends, I am exhausted. Yes, it’s late on Thursday night and I’m frantically trying to finish this post before I go to bed, but it’s been a CRAZY two weeks. (Hence the lack of posting. I’m sorry! I promise I’m back in the game now…I also promise to use the word “hence” more often.) We had our big dance fundraiser last weekend, which meant I’ve spent the better part of February eating, sleeping, and breathing work. It’s a really fun fundraiser, and I love working on it, but even when I’m at home, I’m thinking about it, over-analyzing what we’ve done and what we’ve forgotten to do. A blessing and a curse. Anyway, it’s over now, and I’m slowly recovering…although my feet still hurt from my six hours in heels. Never, ever wear heels. Ever.

In other news, it’s still freezing here in Iowa. I am trying everything I can think of to “think spring,” including using obscene amounts of spring vegetables in my cooking. I’ve made this risotto twice in the last week, hoping it would magical lead to green grass and light spring rain, but alas, no luck. On the plus side, I did get to eat risotto twice in one week!

I have to admit that risotto scared me for awhile. I tried to make a tomato cream risotto a few years ago, and I remember it looked like pink goop and smelled like garbage. Mmm. So, I put risotto on the back burner until last month, when I decided to give it a whirl. This time, it went well. Very, very well! I love it because a) you only dirty one pot, b) it seems fancy, but it’s not, and c) it makes EXCELLENT leftovers! And we all know how much I hate leftovers.

One Pot Chicken and Vegetable Risotto

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What I’m Listening to: “Venice” by The Lighthouse and The Whaler

Ingredients (makes 3-4 servings)

-1 tbsp olive oil

-1/4 cup white onion, diced

-3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

-3 cloves (or 1 1/2 tsp) of minced garlic

-1 large chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

-1 1/2 cups milk

-2 cups chicken stock, plus 2 cups extra

-1 cup arborio rice, uncooked

-1 tbsp flour

-1 cup shredded parmesan

-1 cup frozen peas

-Salt and pepper

In a large stockpot or jumbo cooker, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and stir to coat them in oil; saute for 1-2 minutes, making sure that the veggies don’t burn. Add the garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the diced chicken. Cook until the outsides of the chicken are white for about 5 minutes (the insides will still be raw.)

Next, add the milk, 2 cups of chicken stock, arborio rice, and flour. Turn the heat to high, and mix the ingredients well. Let the pan reach a rapid boil, then turn down to medium heat. Cover the pan and set a timer for 25 minutes. Stir every 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan so the rice does not stick. (Make sure to stay with the pan the entire time, to avoid boiling over!) If the risotto begins to look dry, add the extra chicken stock, a 1/4 cup at a time. Risotto should have a creamy consistency. After the timer goes off, remove the lid and add the parmesan, peas, and salt and pepper to taste. Allow to cook for 2-3 more minutes until the peas are warm. Serve immediately with crusty bread. Enjoy!

Note: Inspired by Recipe Tin Eats

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Oh-So-Tasty Sloppy Joes

I’m having one of those weeks where I’d like nothing more than to stay in bed for the entire week. Know the feeling? I’m blaming this cold, snowy weather. So, I’ve been working furiously to channel spring and summer. I’m wearing brighter colors than my normal black. I’m drinking fruity tea. I’m mentally planning my summer landscaping projects. And, I made my favorite sloppy joes, one of my warm weather staples.

I don’t ever remember us eating sloppy joes as a kid, but I do remember the ones served for school lunch. Ew. Now, wipe that image out of your mind and take a peek at the picture below. Yum. These sloppy joes are light, flavorful, and make enough to get you a few days of lunches. The original recipe is courtesy of Perry’s Plate, but I’ve made some changes over the years, which are reflected in the recipe below. Enjoy, and keep channeling those warm weather thoughts!

Oh-So-Tasty Sloppy Joes

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What I’m Listening to: “Thunder Clatter” by Wild Cub

Ingredients (makes 8 sandwiches; 2 per serving)

-1 lb. ground turkey

-Lawry’s seasoned salt

-15 oz tomato sauce

-1/2 tsp ground sage

-2 1/2 tsp dried minced onion

-1/3 cup ketchup

-1/8 cup yellow mustard

-1/2 tsp salt

-1 tsp chili powder

-8 hamburger buns

Brown the turkey in a large skillet over medium-high heat. As the turkey cooks, sprinkle generously with seasoned salt. When the meat is cooked through, add in the remaining ingredients and stir. Cook over medium low heat until the sauce is heated through. Serve on buns with your favorite fruit or vegetable side.

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Cooking for Beginners: 10 Kitchen Essentials Every Foodie Should Have

Happy Super Bowl Sunday, foodie friends! I hope you are all enjoying your day! I’m currently snowed in with my sister, Kaylee. We’ve gotten 10+ inches of snow and it’s still coming. So, a lazy day it is! We started off the day making my Chocolate and Peanut Butter Chip Scones for breakfast, and have spent the rest of it watching “How to Get Away with Murder” on my DVR. My DISH is out from the storm, so binge-watching our favorite TV shows is probably how we’ll spend the rest of the day. I’m not complaining; I love days spent on the couch.

I’m sure by now that your Facebook newsfeed has been bombarded with Super Bowl party recipes. I know that mine is. (If you didn’t see my Super Bowl collaboration with Kaylee from Pleats and Pearls, check it out here.) To give your mind a rest from all that delicious food, I decided to do something a little different today. When I first started working on Table for One, I asked my followers and friends what they wanted to see on the blog. While I received many recipe suggestions, I also had requests for posts for cooking newbies. One friend wanted to know what my kitchen essentials are, so I thought I’d share some of them with you today. These are my most used, most loved appliances and cookware in my kitchen. I’ve linked everything below so that you can buy it for your own kitchen! Don’t see your favorite appliances on the list? Let me know in the comment section below!

1. T-fal 5 Quart Jumbo Cooker

Jumbo Cooker

A few years ago, I opened an eHarmony account. One of the questions was to list 5 things I couldn’t live without. This jumbo cooker was on the list. I use it for EVERYTHING; tacos, pancakes, my buffalo chicken chili.  I’ve had it for probably 4-5 years now and it’s still in great shape. It’s easy to clean, the perfect size, and if you have one skillet/frying pan/cooker in your life, you want this one. Trust me.

2. An Electric Stand Mixer

stand mixer

One of these days, I’ll be able to afford a KitchenAid mixer (the dream!), but until then, my Rival mixer is treating me just fine! I got this two Christmases ago, and it has really streamlined my baking process. I also use it to mix the filling for my  Buffalo Chicken Cupcakes. I love how much faster I can mix things (“by hand” just doesn’t cut it sometimes) and again, how easy it is to clean! I will say that I occasionally have to scrape the edges and bottom of the bowl, but that doesn’t bother me a bit. If you love to bake, a mixer is definitely for you!

3. A Glass Baking Pan

Glass

Gone are the days of dorms, and cooking everything in the microwave! I was psyched when I bought my first glass baking pan. It meant I had an oven, and I LOVE to use the oven. Really, you can make just about anything in a glass baking pan. I like to bake chicken in mine, or a small casserole. I have a 13×9 glass pan, but I use my 8×8 and 11×7 the most! If you are generally cooking for just you, those smaller sizes will be perfect!

4. A stockpot

stockpot

I just got one for Christmas, and I honestly don’t know how I’ve gone this long without a stockpot. While I don’t need the entire 12 quarts, it is nice to have enough room to make my soups and chilis without worrying about them overflowing. If you like soup, you need to get one. Enough said.

5. A Blender 

Or

Food Processor

blenderprocessor

If you are just starting out, get a blender. If you’re more established, add the food processor to your collection. I use my blender all the time. I am not a fan of “chunks” in my sauce or salsa, so into the blender it goes. Blenders are great for smoothies, shakes, or when making my homemade pizza sauce. I just got my food processor recently, but I’m excited to use it to whip up some hummus or chop some veggies.

6. A Muffin Pan

muffin

Let me share a not-so-secret with you: I love muffins from a mix. Sue me. So, I use my muffin pan at least once a week. But, it’s also perfect for mini desserts (Mini Nutella S’Mores Cheesecakes, anyone?) or individual servings (I’ve made mini baked mac and cheeses before.)

7. A Rolling Pin

rolling pin

Yes, I know, this one seems like a given. But, my sister (who is 22) was using a Smart Water bottle not so long ago to roll dough, so I’m including it on my list. I have the exact one pictured above, and linked to another one from Anthropologie, but you can find reasonably priced rolling pins at any kitchen appliance store. If you are a baker, you need to get yourself one now!

8. A Slow Cooker

crockpot

Who doesn’t love being able to throw all their ingredients in a slow cooker with no fuss and then having dinner ready in a matter of hours? I know that I do. Whether making a soup, casserole, or my Crockpot Honey BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, a slow cooker is a must for no-fuss cooking.

9. A nice cutlery set

cutlery

Now, I’m hoping you’ve got forks, spoons, and knives in your kitchen, but if you’re serious about cooking some good food, you also need a nice cutlery set. I use mine on a daily basis to cut chicken, fruit, vegetables, or the dough for my scones this morning. Cutlery sets can be pricey, but are definitely worth the investment.

10. A recipe box

recipe box

If you’re going to cook, you want to have a safe place to store your recipes. Pick up a cute recipe box at any kitchen store, or do it online! I use the website Plan to Eat to catalog all the online recipes that I want to try. My online recipe box is currently at 630 recipes and counting! Plan to Eat has other features as well, like a grocery list generator and menu planner, all for a low yearly price. If that seems more your style, check it out here.

So, what did you think? Do you agree with my list? Is anything missing? Let me know below, and don’t forget to subscribe on the side!

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