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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Toffee Caramel Cream Cheese Bars

A few months ago, I decided to give Match.com a try. I’d done online dating one other time, and didn’t have much luck. But I thought I’d give it one more shot, so I signed up for a month long subscription. It actually went a lot better than the first time around. I talked to some nice guys, went on a few dates. One of the guys I talked to seemed really great at first. He was my age, cute, had a good job, and seemed genuinely interested in me. After a few days of talking online, we decided to exchange phone numbers so we could communicate more regularly. He was charming, flirty…and then it happened. I had come down with a cold, and he was asking about my favorite comfort foods. I told him I like ice cream. He asked what kind. I said anything chocolate. He asked if I liked fruit in my ice cream, to which I told him that I do like fruit, but not when it masquerades as dessert. I like to keep them separate…which is when he decided to school me on how and why I should be making my desserts healthy. Umm, what?! Who needs that kind of negativity in their life? Definitely not me. And, he thought it was outrageous that I drink Starbucks twice a week. Needless to say, it didn’t work out.

Now, this dessert right here…is probably as unhealthy as it gets, but worth every delicious, creamy bite. I got the idea when my mom brought “Better Than Sex” cake for my birthday. Or, as we call it, “Better Than No Cake” cake. I subbed out the german chocolate cake for a brownie base and created a ganache/frosting to top it off. I don’t like to toot my own horn, but this dessert is my new favorite!

Toffee Caramel Cream Cheese Bars

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What I’m Listening to: “Step Out” by Jose Gonzalez

Ingredients (makes an 8×8 pan)

-1 box of brownie mix (Note: check the box to make sure it makes an 8×8 pan, not a 9×13- I used Betty Crocker Supreme Triple Chunk mix)

-1/4 cup water

-1/3 cup vegetable oil

-2 eggs

-8 oz block cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat…you know, to be healthier)

-1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping

-2 heaping cups powdered sugar

-1 cup Heath toffee baking bits

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Grease an 8×8 pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine the brownie mix, water, vegetable oil, and eggs. Pour into the pan and bake for 32-35 minutes, until the brownies have set and a fork inserted in the center of the pan comes out clean. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Place the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Pour in the caramel ice cream topping and mix until combined. Add the powdered sugar and beat for 3-4 minutes, turning the speed to low for the last minute. Pour evenly over the brownies. Sprinkle with the Heath baking bits and place in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes. Serve immediately or place in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days.

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Mexican Chip Dip

Happy Saturday! I hope you’re all having a fantastic weekend so far! I had my last choreography rehearsal for “The Drowsy Chaperone” today. They open in two weeks, and I could not be more excited! Usually, I’m relieved when I finish choreographing a show. I love doing it, but it’s a lot of work. But this show has been so much fun for me that I don’t want it to be over! I’m sure I’ll feel differently when I have my Friday afternoons back, but right now, it’s a little bittersweet. Anywho, if you’re in the QC the weekend of April 10, pop on over to North High School; it’s going to be a great show!

I am SO looking forward to summer! I know, I know. That’s the understatement of the year. But, I can’t wait for nice weather, barbecues, baseball games, and time with my friends and family. Anyone else with me? Everyone? That’s what I thought. It’s never too early to start planning your first summer party, so you’ve got to check out this awesome dip! It’s very light and refreshing, and a must at any barbecue. It takes two minutes to whip together, but will taste like you spent your afternoon in the kitchen.

Cooking for Beginners: Mexican Chip Dip

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Ingredients

-2 cups of plain Greek Yogurt (If you don’t have any, sour cream is fine!)

-3/4 cup of red salsa

-1 cup of Mexican or Fiesta cheese

-1 1/2 tsp. dried parsley

-1/2 tsp. onion powder

-1/2 tsp. salt

-1 tsp garlic powder

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Note: Adapted from The Weary Chef

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Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Dip

So, it seems like One Direction is the hot topic of the week! In case you’ve been living under a rock the past few days (or aren’t a fan of pop culture), Zayn, one of five guys comprising the pop group, has left the band. And everyone is talking about it! Every Buzzfeed article is mentioning it, Facebook is blowing up, and some girl started a GoFundMe to buy out One Direction’s contract, which has already raised 87.8 million dollars! (Seriously.) I played some One Direction in my dance classes this week as a good-faith gesture, and my students were almost in tears. It’s apparently that bad! I tried to compare it to when Kevin temporarily left the Backstreet Boys, but let’s face it: I don’t think Kevin was anyone’s favorite BSB member. So, the world is down one One Directioner…is this the new “day the music died?”

If it is, I’ve got a cure: this creamy, heavenly combination of chocolate and peanut butter, which, in my opinion, is better than a boy band any day! I love to serve this dip when I have company over, and I’ve made it for work a few times too. It’s always a huge hit! It’s very rich, so a little goes a long way.

Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Dip

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What I’m Listening to: “Show-Off” from The Drowsy Chaperone Soundtrack

Ingredients

-8 oz block of cream cheese, softened

-1 stick of butter, softened

-1/4 cup of creamy peanut butter

-1/2 cup of brown sugar

-3/4 cup of powdered sugar

-1 tsp of vanilla

-1/2 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

-An 8 oz bag of Reese’s minis

Place the cream cheese and butter in the bowl of a mixer. Blend together until combined. Add the peanut butter, brown sugar, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Blend until smooth. With a spatula, stir in the chocolate chips and Reese’s minis. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with graham crackers or a spoon…I won’t judge.

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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

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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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Cooking for Beginners: Pizza Burgers

I never realized how hard my name is to say, until I started teaching preschool. Most of the kids do pretty well with it, but I have a little guy in class right now that’s…struggling. He had my name right the first week of class. Then, it was Miss Jeff for a day, followed by Mom, which is pretty typical. Now? I’m Miss Chef. It’s ADORABLE. I can’t even handle it. And…it’s just one more very important reason you should read my blog. MISS CHEF. It’s in writing.

So, it’s National Pizza and Pasta Month, and the celebrating has begun! Although, it’s pretty much always National Pizza and Pasta Month at my house, so…  It’s also my very first “cooking for beginners” post, so I’m really excited. I’m kicking off the month and the blog series with a recipe I absolutely love: Pizza Burgers! My mom used to make these all the time! Now, I know I’ve said before that different recipes were ugly, but this one truly takes the cake. Not. Pretty. (Also, not pretty when you eat them. This is NOT a first, second, or third date food!) But I digress. These are SO easy to make, even if you’re not confident in your cooking skills. There are only six ingredients. Six very affordable ingredients. Did I mention they take less than 30 minutes? Best recipe ever.

Pizza Burgers

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What I’m Listening to: the pilot episode of “Selfie” (still deciding if I like it)

Ingredients (makes 6-8 burgers)

-1/2 lb of ground Italian sausage (My mom used to make them with ground beef, or you could use ground turkey as a healthy alternative. If you go either of those routes, season generously with Seasoned Salt and garlic powder.)
-1 small can of tomato soup

-1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

-1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

-1 tsp dried oregano

-3-4 English muffins, halved

Place the Italian sausage (or other ground meat) in a large non-stick skillet. If you aren’t sure if your skillet is nonstick, lightly spray the skillet with cooking spray. Turn on the stove burner to medium heat and start to break up the meat with a spatula. Once the meat is broken into small pieces, allow them to sit for 1-2 minutes until lightly browned. Turn the sausage over to brown the other side. Continue to stir and turn the meat every 1-2 minutes. It will be done when there is no pink and the meat is browned, but not burnt. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375. Place the meat in a large mixing bowl. Add the can of tomato soup (do NOT add the water like you would if you were making soup), the shredded cheeses, and the oregano. Mix well.

Place your English muffins in a toaster on a low setting. Toast lightly, then place center up on a baking sheet. Place a large spoonful of the meat mixture on each muffin, using the back of the spoon to spread it. (Recommended by Miss Chef: only make as many as you plan to eat in one sitting. They do not reheat well!) Bake the pizza burgers in the oven for 5-7 minutes, or until hot. Allow to cool for 3-5 minutes, then enjoy!

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Chicken Salad Melts

What. A. Weekend. I had my entire family here, had a two day garage sale, and I’ve been sick the whole time. Nothing major; just a nasty cold that won’t let go, even when I think it’s over. Other than that, the rest of the weekend was good. My sisters and I met up on Friday for lunch and shopping, then we all drove back to my house for the weekend. My parents came down on Saturday night for dinner and Apples to Apples. We haven’t all been together since July, so it was REALLY awesome to be in the same place! The garage sale did ok; we did get rid of some stuff and made a little money. All in all, not a bad weekend. Oh! And tonight is the season premiere of “Once Upon a Time” and I have Scratch cupcakes in the freezer. So there’s that.

Tonight’s post features a pretty delicious chicken salad, if I do say so myself. (And I do.) It was chilly last week, so I thought I’d heat the sandwich in a fun twist. I hope you all like it! Beginners, this is a GREAT recipe to start with! The prep is minimal, and, if you’ve made a grilled cheese before, you’ll already be a pro! Plus, I’ve included some instructions for cooking and shredding your chicken below. Let me know what you think!

Chicken Salad Melts

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What I’m Listening to: Taylor Swift “Shake It Off” (Who ISN’T listening to that song?!)

Ingredients (makes 4 sandwiches)

-2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded*

-2/3  to 1 cup of mayonnaise

-2/3 cup of slivered almonds

-2/3 cup of dried cranberries,

-1/4 of an onion, diced

-Garlic powder

-Butter

-8 slices of Swiss cheese

-8 slices of oatmeal bread

Place the chicken, mayo, almonds, cranberries, and onion in a large bowl and mix well. If the chicken salad is too dry, add more mayo. Add a pinch of garlic powder (trust me, a pinch is all you need) and stir. Use immediately, or store covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

When you are ready to make your melt, butter one side of each slice of oatmeal bread. Place one slice, butter side down, in a lightly greased frying pan. Turn the heat to medium. Top the bread with two large scoops of chicken salad, pushing down with the back of the spoon. Top with 2 slices of Swiss cheese and another slice of bread, butter side up. Flip the sandwich every 1-2 minutes until the bread is golden brown and the cheese has melted. Make all four sandwiches at once, or make them one at a time. Enjoy!

* Looking for a simple way to cook and shred your chicken? Place it in a slow cooker, cover with water, and cook on high for 2 hours, checking on the chicken after 90 minutes. Cut each piece down the center, to make sure there isn’t any pink. Drain the water completely, then shred the chicken with an electric mixer. Easy!*

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