Shakshuka with Eggplant and Cauliflower

single skillet shakshuka

My go-to on a busy weeknight is always breakfast for dinner. There’s not much else that’s as simple and satisfying than fried eggs, hashbrowns, and bacon. But that’s not necessarily the healthiest meal to end the day with. I’ve been completely obsessed with middle eastern food lately so I decided to put a spicy spin on our usual Monday night meal.  Shakshuka is typically served for breakfast in Israel and is a great way to start the day with a kick. Eggs are baked in a spicy tomato sauce flavored with cumin and turmeric and then scooped up with warm pitas. My version is a little more on the hearty side and includes sauteed cauliflower, egg plant, and serrano peppers simmered in a rich sauce of San Marzano tomatoes with a touch of feta. What Max and I enjoyed most about this meal was how fun it was to eat. We simply plopped the skillet onto our coffee table and dug in while watching the new X-Men. Monday nights don’t get much better than that!

shakshuka with eggplant and cauliflowerShakshuka with Eggplant and Cauliflower

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup of diced cauliflower florets
  • 1 small eggplant, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 serrano peppers, diced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 1 28 oz can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 4 oz feta
  • 4-6 free range organic eggs
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • parsley
  • warm pitas for serving

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat a large, cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, add eggplant, cauliflower, and onion. Saute for about 10 minutes, or until veggies are softened and the onion is transluscent. Add the diced pepper, cumin, and turmeric. Saute for 5 more minutes. Add garlic and stir.

2. Add the tomatoes to the veggie mixture and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in half of the feta. Taste the sauce and season accordingly. Crack each egg into individual bowls. Use the back of a wooden spoon to make a slight indentation in the sauce for each of the eggs. Carefully slide each egg into place. Once all of the eggs are added, carefully place the skillet onto the middle rack of the oven. Bake the eggs for 8-12 minutes, or until the whites are set and the yolks are firm.

3. Remove the skillet from the oven and sprinkle the remaining feta on top. Garnish with parsley. Serve with warm pitas.

shakshuka with eggplant and cauliflower

The sauteed eggplant and cauliflower spiced with cumin and turmeric provide the foundation for the spicy tomato sauce.

shakshuka sauceThe hearty tomato sauce is ready for eggs.

shakshuka with eggplant and caulifower

Breakfast for dinner will never be the same!

Sweet & Spicy Salmon

There’s something about New Year’s Resolutions that I really can’t stand. I think it’s all of the generalizations, like, “This year I’m going to get healthy”, “I’m going to be better with money”, or, “I’m going to start volunteering”. Hearing stuff like that makes me cringe. Let’s skip all of those broad generalizations this year and set more specific goals. Instead of, “I’m going to lose weight”, let’s say, “I’m going to exercise 3 times a week”. Rather than, “I’m going to manage my finances better”, set a goal like, “I’m going to establish a realistic budget and stick with it”. If you want to be more active in your community this year, resolve to find a cause you’re passionate about and volunteer at least twice a month. When you set up concrete goals for yourself, you’re more likely to be successful. And please, don’t be so hard on yourselves. Life is all about living. So go ahead and eat that doughnut, and treat yourself to those new boots you’ve been eyeing, you deserve it!

One of my resolutions is to eat fish at least twice a week. I actually love fish and would eat it everyday if I could, but it’s so gosh darn expensive. After doing a little research about the many health benefits fish provides, it’s easy to recognize that the long-term benefits far outweigh the expense. Eating just 2 servings of fish a week will lower your risk of developing heart disease and increase brain function. So essentially, you’re getting healthier by eating delicious fish and seafood. Now that’s a New Year’s Resolution I can stick with!


 

salmon ingredients 2

Sweet and Spicy Salmon

Adapted from Baker By Nature

Serves 4-6

  • 2 pounds of skinless salmon cut into filets
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons of Sriracha
  • 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • green onions, sliced
  • 2 large avocados
  • 2 cups of instant brown rice
  • 24 oz of shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp of soy sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp of grated ginger
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with tin foil. Spray liberally with non-stick spray.
  2. Place salmon filets on the baking sheet and season liberally with salt and pepper. Grate a bit of lime zest over each filet.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, sriracha, and brown sugar.
  4. Coat each filet with the sauce. Place the salmon in the oven and bake for 16 minutes.
  5. While the salmon is baking, prepare the brown rice according to the package.
  6. Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan. Once the oil is hot, add the shiitake mushrooms and saute until they soften slightly. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for a minute. Add the soy sauce and stir. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the salmon is ready.
  7. Pit and dice the avocados. Mix the diced avocados and sliced green onions. Season the avocado mixture with salt and pepper.
  8. After 16 minutes, remove the salmon from the oven and check for doneness. You’ll know the fish is done when it easily flakes apart with a fork. To serve, spoon a bed of brown rice onto each plate. Place about a half a cup serving of the shiitake alongside the rice. Carefully place the filets on top of the rice and then top the salmon with the avocado mixture.

salmon finished 3 psd

 

Jan’s Caramelized Shallot and Chive Mashed Potatoes

The latest installment in my Thanksgiving sides feature is a dish that you can, and should, eat all year. Caramelized Shallot and Chive Mashed Potatoes will change the way you look at the humble potato forever. I learned this recipe from Jan, my former boss and mentor. Not only did she teach me so many recipes that I now cook almost weekly, she also taught me a tremendous amount about being a good businesswoman, friend, and future wife. I had the privilege to work with Jan for a little less than a year, and I wish that I could have spent more time under her wing. I miss seeing her smile and hearing her big laugh fill up our little office everyday. She was recently diagnosed with lung cancer so I’m dedicating this post to her.

scmp mixing

Jan always said that in order to change people’s minds, you have to slowly introduce subtle changes over time. These potatoes are a great example of that. The mashed potato base is a very simple recipe. There’s no sour cream or tangy buttermilk. Just cream, butter, and salt. Then you add chives which really isn’t that uncommon. After the chives, you mix in ribbons of sweet, roasty toasty shallots. This may make people’s heads turn, but because the mashed potato base and additional chives are so familiar, people won’t write off the dish all together. I think that after one bite, even your pickiest eaters will change their mind. Gravy compliments all of the flavors so beautifully. It really would be a shame for your amazingly rich gravy to sit on top of ho-hum potatoes. Jan also taught me that shallots are very forgiving. So don’t worry about overcooking them, because it’s virtually impossible. The onion’s milder cousin can really take the heat. This recipe is also very customizable. I went a little conservative with the amount of chives and shallots, but you can tailor it your liking. Max said that each bite was 80% perfect mashed potato and 20% sweet onion goodness. That right there makes me want to get another bowl.

scmp bite 2


scmp ingredients

Jan’s Caramelized Shallot and Chive Mashed Potatoes

Serves 10

Ingredients

  • 3 shallots, sliced
  • 6 tablespoons of room-temperature butter, divided
  • 2 pounds russet potatoes (about 7 large potatoes), peeled
  • 1 1/2 cups half and half, heated
  • 1/4 cup chives, finely chopped
  • salt, to taste

1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan. Add sliced shallots and saute on medium low until they soften, about 5 minutes. Once they begin to brown, cook on low for 15 minutes, or until they’re fully caramelized. Stir often.

2. While the shallots are cooking, boil the potatoes in a pot of salted water until they are fork tender. When the potatoes are done, drain them thoroughly. No one wants soggy potatoes.

3. Transfer the potatoes to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat the potatoes on medium-low until they are coarsely mashed. Then, slowly pour the warmed cream while the mixer is on low. Then add 4 tablespoons of butter. Once the potatoes are mashed to your liking, turn off the mixer and fold in  the chives by hand. Then pour the shallots into the potatoes, brown butter and all. Fold the shallots into the potatoes. Be sure to fully incorporate them. Taste the potatoes and season accordingly. scmp finished 5

scmp finished 3

Beer Brined Pork Chops with German Potato Salad and Applesauce

Last night I told my boyfriend that pork chops may just be my favorite thing to cook. He laughed and then quickly realized that I was serious. I think I love preparing them so much because so few people have experienced the joy of a delicious pork chop. I’m here to show you that there is more to this delicious cut of meat than bricks soaked in Italian dressing disguised as pork chops. I have practiced self-restraint when it comes to posting a zillion pork chop recipes on the blog, but I can’t hold back any longer… This pork chop recipe is too meaty and flavorful to keep to myself! The marinade creates a slightly sweet apple-flavored sauce that pairs perfectly with homemade apple sauce. The marinade will also ensure that your pork chops are fork tender and not tough.


Beer Brined Pork Chops

Yields 6 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups apple cider beer
  • 1/4 cup coarse salt
  • 3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons mild-flavored (light) molasses
  • 6 1- to 1 1/4-inch-thick center-cut bone-in pork chops
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 7 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt

1. Combine 2 cups water, beer, 1/4 cup coarse salt, sugar, and molasses in large bowl. Stir until salt and sugar dissolve. Place pork chops in large resealable plastic bag. Pour beer brine over pork chops; seal bag. Refrigerate 4 hours, turning bag occasionally.

2. Heat canola oil large skillet over medium high heat. Remove pork chops from brine and pat dry. Mix garlic, pepper, and 2 teaspoons salt in small bowl. Rub garlic mixture over both sides of pork chops. Sear pork chops in the pan until an instant-read thermometer reaches 145 degrees, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer the chops to a serving dish and cover with foil until dinner time.IMG_3347


Hot German Potato Salad

Adapted from The Food Network

Yields 6 Servings

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1/2 pound thick-cut bacon
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives, for garnish

    1. Place the potatoes in a medium-size pot and cover them with enough water to extend 2 inches above the surface of the potatoes. Salt the water and bring to boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and slice into 1/4-inch rounds.

    2. Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once crisp, place on a paper towel-lined plate and crumble into small pieces. Pour off the rendered fat, reserving 1/4 cup in the pan. Turn the heat to medium and add the onion. Cook until translucent and just beginning to brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.

    3. Whisk in the vinegar, sugar, mustard, and salt and stir until thick and bubbly. Add the sliced, cooked potatoes and toss to coat. Top with the crumbled bacon and garnish with the chives. Serve warm.

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Homemade Apple Sauce

Recipe Courtesy of Mama Marini ❤

Yields 1 1/2 to 2 quarts

Ingredients

  • 3 to 4 pounds of granny smith apples, (about 7 to 10 apples) cored and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup of apple juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Place the apples in a pot. Leave the skins on for flavor and texture. Add the lemon juice, sugar, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, apple juice, and salt to the pot. Stir all of the ingredients until the apples are thoroughly coated. Bring the mixture to a boil then simmer on low for 1 hour, or until the apples are tender. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Butternut Squash Penne in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Are you a squashaphobe? Do you cringe at the sight of acorn squash dripping in brown sugar and butter? I’ve been squashaphobic ever since I can remember. My parents absolutely loved eating sickeningly sweet squash as soon as there was a chill in the air. Every time we ate it for dinner I would take my obligatory bite and twist my face in disgust. It doesn’t matter how old I am, I just can’t eat sweet and savory together. It wasn’t until last year that I developed my deep love for butternut squash. I was working for a catering company and the brilliant head chef turned relatively inexpensive butternut squash ravioli into an extra special pasta dish for a wedding. It was just ravioli, butter, and bacon but it was insanely delicious. All of the guests went crazy for it. I decided to take those flavors and amp them up with as much fall-goodness as possible. This pasta is basically a chilly autumn night curled up by the fireplace. The squash is roasted until it’s dark on all sides creating a caramelized nutty-goodness. Applewood-smoked bacon lends a much needed smoky-sweetness without being cloying and the brown butter sage sauce gives the dish the earthy punch that it needs. What could possibly be better than that?!


squash ingredients best

Butternut Squash Penne in a Brown Butter Sage Sauce

Yields 5 Servings

Ingredients

  • 6 strips of applewood-smoked bacon, cooked until crispy
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon of olive oil, divided
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 pound of penne pasta
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  •  half of a white onion, minced
  • 5 sage leaves, sliced into ribbons
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup of chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)
  • 1/2 cup of grated parmesan

1. Cook the bacon until crispy. I prefer baking my bacon. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit. Toss the cubed squash in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper, and garlic powder. You’ll want to season the squash generously. Roast for 30 minutes, flipping the squash once. It should be dark on at least one side and fork tender. Don’t be afraid of a little color. This is what creates flavor.

2. Cook the penne according the the package directions. While the penne is cooking, saute the onions in butter until translucent. Once the butter starts to brown, lower the heat and add the sage and thyme. Then toss the squash, walnuts, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and bacon in the sauce. Add about a half a cup of reserved pasta water and stir. Then toss the drained pasta in the sauce. Top with parmesan and serve immediately.

squash finished 2

White Pizza with a Twist

I’m sure many of you have seen the “miracle creamy cauliflower sauce” all over Pinterest. Like many of you, I had my doubts. I absolutely looooove traditional Alfredo sauce and I’ll put it on anything. And honestly, the calories don’t even bother me because I think they’re worth it. I wanted to try this sauce for purely experimental reasons.  I needed to know if cauliflower could actually replace my favorite creamy sauce, so I followed the recipe exactly as it was written on Pinch of Yum.

The Verdict

I found that Lindsay’s original recipe was too watery. Her recipe calls for adding 1 cup of cooking liquid to the puree which made it taste like water. It didn’t matter how much garlic or salt and pepper I added. The sauce was not going to get my stamp of approval. So I tweaked the recipe a bit. I added only 2 tablespoons of cooking liquid, more milk, parmesan cheese, a bit of pesto, and a glug of olive oil. The sauce became so creamy and flavorful after I modified it. The consistency is much thicker than traditional Alfredo, which I enjoyed. I think the pesto is what made it extra special. Best of all, the sauce is still pretty healthy with my modifications. Have you tried Pinch of Yum’s creamy cauliflower sauce? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!

ingredients 1

White Pizza with a Twist

Serves 16

Ingredients

  • whole wheat pizza dough, either store bought or homemade. I like this recipe. 
  • 1 batch of Angie’s Cauliflower Alfredo (recipe below)
  • half of a rotisserie chicken, shredded
  • 7 sun dried tomatoes, sliced
  • half of a jar of marinated artichokes hearts
  • mozzarella cheese, to taste
  • 1 quarter of thinly sliced red onion
  • chopped parsley

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare pizza dough according to the directions. Stretch the dough onto a large rimmed baking sheet. You’ll want the dough to be somewhat thick. Prick the dough with a fork a few times.

2. Spread an even layer of Alfredo sauce over the pizza. Top with shredded chicken, artichokes, and sun dried tomatoes. Sprinkle mozzarella all over the pizza. Top it all off with thinly sliced red onions.

3. Bake in the oven for 13-15 minutes. Then place it under the broiler for 3-5 minutes. This is what makes the pizza so dang good, don’t skip this step!

4. Allow the pizza to set for 5 minutes after baking. Sprinkle parsley on top and serve immediately.

pizza 6

Angie’s Cauliflower Pesto Alfredo

Adapted from Pinch of Yum

yields 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of pesto
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of reserved cooking liquid
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese

1. Boil the chopped cauliflower until fork tender, about 10 minutes. Do not drain. Add tender cauliflower to a food processor with a slotted spoon along with the milk, pesto, olive oil, and cooking liquid. Puree until very smooth. Add parmesan cheese and adjust seasoning accordingly.

2. Serve immediately or freeze for up to 6 months.

pizza slice 4

Slow Poke Pork Carnitas

Hey friends!

It’s been a little quiet over here at TSC. I apologize for that. I’ve missed all of you so much. But I have a good reason for my absence.

After almost 7 years of dating, Max and I finally found the perfect little apartment and moved in together! Woohoo! It took a long time for us to get to this place in our relationship but I’m so glad that we did. I love living in such a positive and supportive environment. I know that with his help, I’ll be able to become more serious about this blog and my future.

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Max and I’s first day in the new place. All smiles!

Since we work completely opposite schedules, I’ve been relying on the slow cooker quite a bit. I’m currently obsessed with pork carnitas with avocado-lime slaw with my roasted corn and black bean salad. This recipe is perfect for people like me who find most slow cooker recipes to be a little…homely. If I see one more slow cooker recipe requiring cream-of-something soup, I might just vom. This is not that kind of recipe.

Pork carnitas are simply pork that’s braised with orange and Latin spices for a long period of time. So utilizing your crock pot for this dish is only natural. The avocado-lime slaw also adds a more modern and gourmet touch to the recipe. I often find myself stealing spoonfuls of slaw right out of the fridge at odd hours of the night. I just can’t keep myself away from that creamy, spicy, and sweet crunch!

Since I am a Midwestern girl, I love my late summer sweet corn. But I get tired of eating it off of the cob week after week. My best advice when it comes to corn is to get it off that dang cob. Those sweet little kernels are just dying to be tossed in a salad or roasted on the grill.  I like to saute my corn on the stove. It sweetens the corn while adding an irresistible nutty quality that you just can’t get from boiling. If you’re looking for an ingenious way to easily slice corn off the cob, check this out.

pork ingredients

Pork Carnitas 

Prep Time: 15 mins   Cook Time: 8 hrs  Serves 8 

  • 4-5 lb Pork Shoulder Roast
  • 1 Onion, Peeled and Quartered
  • 1 Orange
  • 1 Lime
  • 1 Cup Chicken Stock
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
  • 2 Tablespoons Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • Chihuahua Cheese
  • Corn Tortillas

Preparation

  1. Place pork roast in slow cooker and top with onion. Slice orange in half and squeeze juice over pork. Place spent orange halves on top of roast. In a separate bowl, whisk together chicken stock, garlic, lime juice, cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper. Pour mixture over pork. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, or high for 4 to 5 hours.
  2. Once pork is cooked and tender, transfer the roast to a cutting board. Discard onions and orange. Shred pork and then return to the slow cooker.

tacos finished 1

 

slaw ingredients

Avocado-Lime Slaw

  • 1 Package of Cole Slaw Mix
  • ½ Cup Sour Cream
  • 1 Avocado, Cubed
  • 3 Tablespoons of Milk
  • 1 Lime, Juiced and Zested
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar
  • Dash of Hot Sauce (Optional)
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  1. Add mayo,avocados, milk, lime juice, sugar and hot sauce to a blender. Puree until smooth. Taste dressing and season if necessary.
  2. Pour dressing over slaw and mix thoroughly.

mexicali corn ingredients

Roasted Corn and Back Bean Salad

  Serves 4 

  • 2 Ears of Corn
  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • 1 Can of Black Beans
  • 1/2 of a Red Onion, Finely Diced
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • Hot Sauce, to Taste
  • 1/4 cup Queso Fresco
  • 2 T Butter
  • Cilantro, to Taste

1. Slice corn off of the cob. Saute in a lightly oiled pan for about 10 minutes, or until the corn begins to brown. Add cumin and beans. Saute the beans until they are thoroughly warmed. Avoid overcooking the beans. Transfer corn and beans to a serving bowl.

2. Add raw red onions to the corn and beans. Swirl in butter and add hot sauce to taste. Mix in queso fresco. Taste salad and adjust seasoning accordingly. Garnish with cilantro. This salad is best enjoyed at room temperature.


mexicali corn finished

I hope you and your family enjoy these weeknight recipes. Everything can be made ahead of time which makes them great for serving a crowd. What are some of your favorite slow cooker recipes? And would any of you be interested in seeing some home decor DIYs as well as small space solutions? Please let me know in the comments. I love you all! xo