Southwest Quinoa Salad

Keepin’ it Light: Southwest Quinoa Salad

Southwest Quinoa Salad

Now that the holidays have passed and things are calming down, I’ve been trying to focus on easy, nutrition-packed meals, like this one! This super simple quinoa salad is a lovely mix of flavors and textures. Cool, creamy avocado and spicy squash are folded into a protein packed mix of quinoa and black beans. With some other vegetables and a bright splash of lime for good measure.

This particular creation was actually dreamed up thanks to a bunch of leftovers I had the other night. I had some friends over to watch The Bachelor (don’t judge—criticizing sobbing drunk girls on TV is amazing) and I prepped homemade burrito bowls for our dinner. This is the salad that came out of all the remaining components. There is literally NOTHING bad for you here. 100% health. Tons of protein, tons of vegetables, and some good fats from coconut oil. You’re welcome.

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The Bargain Ham Incident


So it’s the second day after Christmas and I’m in my local grocery store when what do I see? All of the leftover hams that weight ten pounds or more are marked down to 99 cents a pound! Am I interested? Heck to the yeah! I grab two and make a mad dash for the checkout counter and before you know it I’m stuffing my bundles of pig joy into the freezer next to my emergency vodka. Sweet!

Fast forward to yesterday, when I’m wondering what to do for dinner and I suddenly remember my major swine score. So I thaw out contestant number one and pop it in the oven next to some scallop potatoes that I threw together. About 40 minutes later–voila! I sit down to enjoy my dirt-cheap ham dinner feast. It was so good I couldn’t wait to fire up a ham-steak-and-egg breakfast this morning. Then a few hours later I treated myself to a lunch consisting of a cold ham sandwich with mustard and Swiss cheese. Now I’m getting ready to make my dinner when what do I see staring back at me from inside my fridge? That goddamn ham! About eight and a half pounds worth. What was I thinking? Deal schmeal! This feels more like a sentence—and there’s no time off for good behavior. I’m now deep into day two of all things ham and it’s déjà vu all over again.

But wait a minute–maybe I’m approaching this wrong. Maybe if I didn’t think of it as ham I wouldn’t have a problem choking down another plate of it. What if it wasn’t ham, but it was its upscale Italian cousin pancetta? Now we’re talkin’! If I think of it as pancetta, then I could make this:

Katt’s NOT Pancetta and Angel Hair Pasta Dish

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Sun-Dried Tomato & Rosemary Minestrone Soup

Alright, dudes! Welcome to healthy time! To counteract the amazing and resolution-murdering bacon pie our very own beloved BS debuted yesterday, I’m contributing one of my favorite—and yes, New Year’s friendly—soup ideas. It’s salty, spicy, tomato-y, chock full of vegetables and protein, and it tastes (I decided I’m bringing back in 2013, just let it happen.)

Okay, so my soup trick: instead of just normal crushed tomatoes in your minestrone soup, add sun-dried tomatoes. Instead of just olive oil in your minestrone soup, use the sun-dried tomato oil! It packs that salty, intense taste we all know and love, but the sun-dried tomatoes themselves reconstitute in the broth and swell up into juicy, soft balloons of savory goodness in the soup. You’re welcome.

Resolution Minestrone Soup


Sun-Dried Tomato & Rosemary Minestrone Soup

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Eating Down the Fridge: Leftover Turkey Parmesan

I did not make a turkey this Thanksgiving.  I let someone else tackle that particular beast. And thus, my dear husband, suffering from leftover deprivation, cooked a whole gigantic turkey on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I am not sure if it can even be called leftover turkey if it never hit the table in the first place, but in any case, come Monday, we had a whole fridge full of the stuff.  I am always trying to eat down the fridge, but I was particularly avid this time because there was no room in our itty-bitty freezer for 10 pounds of bird. If you need ideas because you’ve still got turkey sitting around yourself (or if you have the type of husband who makes a second turkey after Thanksgiving) here’s what I’ve been doing:

Round one (Monday):Barbecue Turkey Pizza.  The dough was homemade, the sauce was Sweet Baby Ray’s and the cheese was Aldi shredded mozzarella.  I promise not to judge you if you use Pillsbury crescent rolls in place of the homemade crust.

Round two (Tuesday):  Turkey Tacos. As you know, Tuesday around here is Taco Tuesday, and I would have hated to break with tradition.  For the meat, I shredded 2 c. of turkey, then put it in a pot with  1 T. chili powder, 1 T. cumin, 1 T. oregano and 1 t. salt + 1/2 c water.  Stir, simmer, enjoy with tortillas, etc.

Round three (Wednesday): Turkey Parmesan. This was the final day of the turkey takeover, not because we actually used it all, but because we just couldn’t take it any more.  What a way to end, though.

Leftover Turkey Parmesan

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Proving Mom Wrong: Salami Mozzarella Bake

A recent visit from my mother reminded me that I didn’t always have the ability to cook a meal. Claiming that cheese on toast and a bacon sandwich doesn’t count (you be the judge), she insisted that I cook for her during her visit. Naturally, I obliged.  However, during that meal I came to realize that I had in fact cooked for her—I was vindicated.  There was one dish, a dish that I have cooked a lot, but not in recent years.

A salami-mozzarella casserole bake. Ha. It isn’t a fancy dish or a dish to impress, but in these cooler months ahead it is one to add to your chili or soup collection. It’s filling and flavorful, and incredibly addictive.

It’s been over 15 years since I first cooked this dish. I can’t tell you where the recipe came from; it certainly wasn’t something I created myself and it preceded most Internet recipes. I can’t even recall the original ingredients as it’s one of those recipes you can alter to whatever suits your taste—which I have done over the years—so long as you keep the three key ingredients: salami, tomatoes and mozzarella.

Salami Mozzarella Bake

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The Post Breakup Meal…For Guys

If a woman really doesn’t want to know how she looks in a dress, why does she ask? I don’t know either but what I do know is that you shouldn’t say “Like a sausage in a twist-tie.”

Trust me on this one.

Which brings me to today’s topic: The Post Breakup Meal. During the last few months, I seem to have consumed these quite frequently. I’m not talking about breaking up DURING a meal. I’ve been there before and believe me, most red wines leave a permanent stain. No, I’m talking about the meal AFTER the breakup. Some splits are so heart-wrenching that you just can’t eat, while others make you come home and do a fist pumping victory lap in your living room. I’m referring to the day or so after, when you need to be alone and all you want to do is curl up with a good exploitation-beat-down-action-adventure movie, and a bowlful of soul-healing proteins and carbs (along with your favorite bottle of rotgut).

Yeah, guys are different, but we still need sustenance during the healing process, and I’ve got something for my newly solo brothers out there. My go-to meal has to have pasta and a rich, soothing tomato sauce. And usually some meat—which almost always includes pork—but for some reason, this time I didn’t feel like sausage. So, let’s go meatless on this one. I’ll keep it simple, yet fulfilling. Almost as easy as calling an escort service. And a lot cheaper.

Katt’s Soul Healing Tomato Sauce


¼ cup of olive oil
3 28 oz cans of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes (Find ‘em…they’re worth it.)
3 peeled carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 large red onion
4 cloves of garlic and 2 sprigs of thyme
1 1/2 cups of chicken stock
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper
1 tsp of red pepper flakes
Heavy cream
2 handfuls of fresh basil leaves
Your favorite pasta
Crusty bread
Unsalted butter
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (Man up and grate it yourself!)

This is my stock tomato sauce recipe, minus the cream. You will need either a hand blender (kinda looks like a boat motor), or you can mix it in batches using a countertop blender. Or you can leave it chunky, but blending it imparts air into the sauce, which makes it creamy and smooth.

First, chop up the onion, carrots and celery. Dump them all into the same bowl because you’ll sauté them together. Then mince the gloves of garlic, but keep them separate. Pour your olive oil into a large soup pot and kick up the heat. Sauté the vegetables until the onions are soft and then throw in the garlic. When you smell the garlic coming from the pot, pour in the chicken stock. Garlic will quickly burn if you’re not careful so I don’t cook it too long over a high flame. Let that come to a simmer and cook down for about 5 minutes. Then, add your tomatoes and their juices one can at a time. Use a potato masher to break up the wholes tomatoes before adding the next can. Strip the thyme sprigs of their leaves over the pot and sprinkle them in. Add the red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper to taste and bring it up to a simmer. Here’s where I blend it well. If you don’t have a hand blender, use your countertop blender BEFORE you bring it up to a simmer. Let it cook uncovered for at least an hour. Two or three is better.

Now prepare some salted water to cook your pasta in. While your pasta is cooking, turn the heat off on your sauce and add some heavy cream. The worse the breakup the more cream you’ll need. Mix it well and then throw in a couple of tablespoons of butter for good measure. Next, coarsely chop up the basil and add it to the sauce. I like it at the end so that it doesn’t cook down and lose its flavor. Once the pasta is done, remove it from the heat and take some straight from the pot to the plate. Don’t rinse the first couple of batches. The pasta water will help the sauce coat the pasta. Ladle on some sauce, spoon on the cheese, and butter up a couple hunks’a bread. Pour yourself a tall one and pop in the DVD. It’s been a rough couple of days but things are looking up. Let the healing begin!

When Inauthentic Is Delicious: Weeknight “Gumbo”

Ok, let me preface this by saying that this is not authentic gumbo.  No need to point it out to me.  I am aware.

I set out to make authentic gumbo with the brown roux and what not, but if you know anything about gumbo, it’s pretty labor intensive and time consuming.  That’s not my bag, baby.

I am going to tell you a little anecdote (if you can even call it that) from my week, so you get a feel of how I work in the kitchen.

I went to three different stores looking for fish sauce for this gumbo recipe.  Not sure why.  I read it in a cookbook, so I figured it’s important.  So, 3 stores and nothing.  Then my Dad found it and got it for me (love you, Dad!)  It was such a huge bottle of fish sauce, so I  suppose I was set for many future gumbos.

Except, I couldn’t get it open.  That dang top would not come off.  I guess this would be where an extra set of (not weak old lady) hands would have been beneficial.  Honestly, I probably could have gotten it open, but I have no patience or perseverance for such a task.  Don’t I sound like a fun person?

Long story short: no fish sauce made it into this dish.  So sad.  But true.

Here’s how it all went down.

Weeknight “Gumbo”

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