Cheesy Chicken Sausage and Tortellini Skillet

Happy Sunday, foodie friends!  I hope you’re all doing well, and enjoying a bit of nice spring weather. It’s been a very full 3 weeks since I last posted. The show I choreographed, “The Drowsy Chaperone,” was two weekends ago. It was wonderful! Every time I choreograph a musical, I’m always overwhelmed by how proud I feel, and this year was no exception!

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I am in the final stretch of the school year too! Four more weeks of preschool, and five more weeks of dance. I can’t believe how fast the year has gone. We are starting to prepare for preschool graduation, and starting our “farm” unit this week. We’re also in the midst of all of our end-of-the-year dance things; picture day was yesterday, and a ton of fun!

Everything else is good. Taking a step back from “Table for One” has been such a good thing. I’ve had so much more time to experiment in the kitchen, and come up with recipes that I love. I still plan to post as often as I can, and I’m hoping to get back into a regular routine when summer starts. But for today, I have a new recipe for you! Let me tell you why you need this recipe in your life.

1) It takes 30 minutes, from start to finish.

2) The prep is minimal. Aside from cutting up the onion and sausage, you just pour everything else into the skillet.

3) Everything cooks in the same pot. THE SAME POT!

4) It’s delicious. Like, really delicious.

Cheesy Chicken Sausage and Tortellini Skillet

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What I’m Listening to: “Budapest” by George Ezra

Ingredients (makes 3-4 servings)

-1 tbsp cooking oil

-1/2 yellow onion, diced

-Salt and pepper

-2 cloves minced garlic

-4 links of your favorite chicken sausage, sliced (I used Johnsonville 3 Cheese Italian Style!)

-15 oz tomato sauce

-3 cups frozen cheese tortellini

-1 cup chicken broth

-2 tbsp cream cheese

-1 cup Monterrey Jack shredded cheese

In a large skillet, heat the cooking oil over high heat. Add the diced onion and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the onions begin to brown. Add the garlic and stir; cook for an additional minute. Add the chicken sausage, tomato sauce, cheese tortellini, and chicken broth. Bring the skillet to a boil. Stir and cover, turning the heat down to medium low. Simmer for 8-10 minutes, until the tortellini is plump. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the cream cheese and Monterrey Jack. Stir to mix. Cover for 5 minutes; stir and serve with a green salad.

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Grilled Cauliflower and Yellow Squash

Happy Monday, everyone! How was your weekend? Mine was FANTASTIC! I was on Spring Break last Wednesday through Friday, and my 28th birthday was on Thursday, so I spent the last five days eating good food, hanging out with wonderful people, and enjoying the beautiful spring weather. Here are a few of the highlights…well, food highlights, anyway.

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Oh My, Spaghetti Pie from Old Chicago…my birthday dinner for the last three years!

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Baked Pretzels at The Barrel House

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Firecracker Shrimp Tacos and Chips at The Barrel House

Martinis with my sisters!

I’m so bummed that my awesome weekend had to come to an end, but I’m so grateful that I got to spend it the way I did….and that I only gained 2 pounds.

With the weather being unbelievably nice the past week, I’ve been a grilling fiend. Twice in six days! My mom and dad used to always grill potatoes with butter and onions, so I decided to try cauliflower and yellow squash to see if it’d be as good. It was. It REALLY was.

Grilled Cauliflower and Yellow Squash

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What I’m Listening to: the new episode of “Once Upon a Time”

Ingredients (makes 2 servings)

-1 medium yellow squash, sliced (I cut the big pieces in halves or quarters)

-1 head cauliflower, stems removed and cut into small pieces

-1/4 yellow onion, diced

-3 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces

-Salt and pepper

-3 large pieces of aluminum foil

Wash and cut up all the vegetables. Lay two pieces of the foil on top of each other. Scoop the veggies into the center of the foil. Drop the butter chunks evenly over the vegetables; season generously with salt and pepper. Fold the foil into a pouch, using the third piece to secure any open spots. Flatten the pouch into a disc.

Cook on a hot charcoal grill for 30-40 minutes, turning every 5-7 minutes. Serve with brats or hot dogs.

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Fajita-Style Bratwursts with Chipotle Mayo

Happy Hump Day! Since it’s my Spring Break this week and my birthday is tomorrow, I thought I’d do a bonus post!  Yes, this lady is going to be 28 tomorrow. I’m excited to have the day off from work, although I don’t have a lot planned. I do want to sleep in, before getting a massage and having dinner with my friends. But that’s it. My family is coming to visit over the weekend, so I’m pretty excited about that too! My biggest concern right now is my birthday dessert. I can’t decide what I should make…any suggestions?

I get asked sometimes where I come up with my recipes. To be honest, I take a lot of inspiration from the people in my life, or from other bloggers I follow. I also spend a ton of time experimenting in my kitchen. But sometimes, I’m making my grocery list and I think to myself, “hey, I should try brats with fajita veggies” and thus, a new recipe is born. That’s what happened with this one. You’re welcome.

Fajita-Style Bratwursts with Chipotle Mayo

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What I’m Listening to: “How I Met Your Mother” season 7

Ingredients (makes 2 bratwursts)

-2 bratwursts of your choice

-2 brat buns

-1/4 onion, sliced

-1/4 red pepper, sliced

-1/4 yellow pepper, sliced

-2 tsp vegetable oil

-1/8 tsp oregano

-1/8 tsp chili powder

-1/2 cup mayo

-1/2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce

Place the mayo and 1/2 chipotle pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend well. Place in the refrigerator until you are ready to use it.

While you cook the brats (I grilled mine, but you can boil them too!), place the vegetable oil in a small skillet. Heat over medium-low heat until warm. Add the peppers and onion; stir to coat. Sprinkle the oregano and chili powder over the vegetables and stir. Cook for 4-5 minutes, until hot and crisp. Remove the pan from the heat.

Put the cooked bratwursts in buns, topping with the vegetables. Drizzle the chipotle mayo over the top. Serve hot, with a side of vegetables.

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Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan

It’s finally Friday! I have been looking forward to this weekend for about 3 weeks. I have lunch plans on Sunday and that’s it. Nothing else. I can’t remember the last time my weekend was so light. I fully intend to do lots of sleeping, cooking, reading, and bath taking. How are you planning on spending your weekend?

I am SO excited about today’s post! I have been trying to get my friend, Elizabeth, to guest blog for me since I started “Table for One,” and she finally agreed! You may remember Elizabeth from Elizabeth’s Bacon-Wrapped Chicken, which she created, but I made and wrote about. Today, Elizabeth is sharing the recipe and photos. She is one of my closest friends, and we do dinner together all the time. She is the master of all things comfort food, and her Chicken Parmesan is no exception! Plus, she makes it in a slow cooker! If I don’t have your attention yet, please take a gander at the picture below. If you’re not drooling, you can’t be human.

Slow Cooker Chicken Parmesan

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What Elizabeth’s Listening to: “Geronimo” by Sheppard

Ingredients

  • 2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (depending on size. If the breasts are small, use 4)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 5 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (use 1 tbsp of garlic powder if you don’t have real garlic on hand)
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained well
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and add the onion, tomato paste, garlic, basil, pepper flakes, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook until onions are soft and tomato paste is rust-colored.
Stir in drained tomatoes into tomato paste mixture. Dissolve the cornstarch in water and stir into tomato mixture. Place tomato/corn starch mix into slow cooker.
Mix bread crumbs with a dash of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Cover chicken breasts in bread/cheese mix. Lay the chicken breasts on top of tomato mixture, slightly overlapping each other. Sprinkle any remaining bread crumb mix on top of chicken.
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Cover and cook on low until chicken reaches 160 degrees, about 2 1/2 to 4 hours. Sprinkle remaining Parmesan cheese on top of the chicken when it’s done cooking, and enjoy!
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Tyler’s Easy Pad Thai

Guys, I had my first seafood taco this weekend. Maybe not earth-shattering news for you, but for me, it is! My friend, Caroline, and I had firecracker shrimp tacos on Saturday after months of me complaining that I’d never had a seafood taco, and it was life changing. Easily the best taco I’ve ever eaten…I talked about it for the rest of the night. And now I’m blogging about it. It was THAT GOOD. I’m trying to figure out how to recreate it for the blog…stay tuned!

How was everyone’s weekend? Mine was good, although I always feel like the weekend is too short. I had a good balance of productivity and laziness, and plenty of kitty snuggles. I also had A LOT of phone conversations. I’m not a big phone talker, but this weekend, I talked to both my sisters, my mom, and two good friends. One of them is my friend, Tyler, who actually lived with me for awhile last year. Now, I’ve basically lived alone since college, so letting Tyler stay here was a big deal. I enjoy living alone. I like knowing that if I leave something in the fridge, it will be there when I get home. I like taking long, hot showers and not having to worry about saving water for another person. I like being able to run downstairs without pants on, so I can get a warm pair of pants out of the dryer. But, I let Tyler stay, and in return, he introduced me to “Scandal” and made me insane amounts of pad thai. Now, if I want thai food, I go out. But, Tyler’s pad thai is SO GOOD. So good, that I’m sharing it here today, with some minor revisions. (I have this listed as a 2 serving recipe, but if you like pad thai as much as I do, you can easily eat it yourself.) Now, get in the kitchen and whip some up for yourself!

Tyler’s Easy Pad Thai

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What I’m Listening to: “Toledo Surprise” from The Drowsy Chaperone soundtrack

Ingredients (makes 2 servings)

-2 oz flat rice noodles (I found mine in the Asian food section at HyVee)

-1 tbsp brown sugar

-1 tbsp lime juice, plus wedges for serving

-1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce

-1/8 tsp sriracha

-1 tbsp vegetable oil

-3 green onions, white and green parts, separated and thinly sliced

-1 clove (or 1/2 tsp) minced garlic

-2 large eggs, lightly beaten

-Lightly salted, roasted peanuts

In a medium saucepan, soak the noodles according to the package directions. Drain when done. While the noodles soak, whisk together the brown sugar, lime juice, soy sauce, and sriracha in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the white part of the onions and garlic, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the eggs and continue to stir, until the eggs are set, about 30 seconds. Transfer the eggs to a bowl.

Add the noodles, green onions, and sauce to the skillet. Mix well until heated through; add the egg mixture and toss to coat. Serve the noodles with salted peanuts. Add lime wedges and cilantro, if desired.

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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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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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