CUBAN SLIDERS

HAWAIIAN ROLLS + MOJO PORK = HEAVEN

Being able to get in the kitchen after a long day of work is my escape. Get in comfy clothes, blast some tunes, maybe pour a glass of wine, and get cooking...that's my oasis. But sometimes I don't want to do anything - I want to put my feet up and dinner to just be ready. OR sometimes I need to prep something up for the boy because I'm not home for dinner. This is where I introduce Hawaiian roll sliders. This recipe is a little bit more work, so you can do it all in one night or if you have a little more time one night prep it and then all you have to do is put it in the oven! 

I think everyone likes Hawaiian rolls...right? You can eat them by themselves, throw some turkey in there, bake them with chicken, or even scramble up some eggs & cheese and throw it in between those bad boys. Anyways, I thought Cubans wouldn't be any different...and I was right. 

We've been on a pork tenderloin kick for a while - decently cheap, super versatile and easy as all hell to cook. Seriously yall, you can throw one of these guys on the grill, in the oven, or if you want some pulled pork cook it in the handy dandy crock pot. 

With this recipe I marinade it overnight in a mojo cuban concoction, sear in a skillet & bake in the oven. 

INGREDIENTS

===========

For the marinade

  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 TB garlic powder
  • ½ a teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon or dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes

For the rub

  • 1 TB garlic
  • ½ a teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • ½ a teaspoon of cumin

For the Sandwiches

  • Pork Tenderloin (1-2 lbs)
  • 1/2 lb honey ham
  • about 4-5 slices Swiss Cheese
  • Bread & Butter pickles
  • 1 package Hawaiian Rolls

Sandwich Topping

  • 3 TB butter (melted)
  • 1 ts garlic powder
  • 1 TB Dijon Mustard

INSTRUCTIONS

===========

  1. Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a gallon ziploc bag. Place the pork tenderloin in and toss around to fully cover. Place in fridge - overnight or at least 4 hours.
  2. Cooking time - preheat oven to 425 degrees
  3. Remove tenderloin from marinade and pat down dry. Mix together the rub mix and rub over the pork tenderloin
  4. Preheat a cast iron skillet to medium heat with 1 TB of butter
  5. Brown all sides of the pork tenderloin - about 3 minutes per side. Once all sides have been seared then place in the oven for 15-20 minutes (or until pork is fully cooked - 145 degreeS).
  6. Let the pork cool before cutting into thin slices If you are cooking the sandwiches the same night, set the oven to 350 at this time
  7. Cut the Hawaiian rolls in high (in order to make sandwiches)
  8. Spray a cake pan with non-stick spray and place the bottom half of the sliders in the pan.
  9. Place slices of ham, pork tenderloin, pickles, cheese evenly on the open faced sliders. Top with the top half of the rolls
  10. Mix the melted butter, garlic powder, and Dijon mustard together and pour over the rolls.
  11. Cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes (at 350), uncover and bake another 5-10 minutes until golden brown. If you are cooking the next day, I would advise to cook covered for a bit longer until warmed all the way through
  12. Remove from pan and cut into sliders!

Mexi Bowls

When you're a homesick Texan, easy Mexican dishes are something that you need to have tucked up your sleeve. 

Solid Mexican food is seriously hard to come by in the Mid-West, unless you're at Pancheros. But if you're looking to avoid the drunk, downtown goers in line, you'll be looking for a while. So when the going gets tough, you make your own! 

This is the easiest most versatile dish in my rolodex...not that I actually have a rolodex. Does anybody remember those, before everything was digital? I am obsessed with putting things from pen to paper, maybe I should get one. Anyways, back to the food. 

This is pretty much your home version of your favorite local Mexican grill. If we are going to break it down, here's the steps: 

  1. Pick you meat: chicken breast, chicken thigh, ground turkey
  2. Pick your peppers & onions
  3. Pick your depth: black beans, pinto beans, rice
  4. Pick your toppings: taco sauce, guacamole, queso, shredded cheese, tomatoes, salsa cilantro, jalapeños, etc. 

Sautee up peppers and onions. Even though I prefer multicolored peppers, this girl is on a budget so green peppers it is. 

Toss in the meat - I went ahead and crockpotted the chicken thighs, but you can dice up the chicken or brown ground turkey on the stove top.

Add in the rice, beans, & sauce. I usually let this cover and simmer until the rice is cooked (of course I use the 5 minute quick rice), this lets the flavors blend together. Ethan loves him some taco sauce - there's never enough. 

Once it is all cooked together, the fun has just begun! Guacamole, salsa, shredded cheese, and if you want it...even more taco sauce! 

Want a less carb-y version? Skip the rice and/or beans and throw over some greens! Want to add more flavor at ease? Stop by your local Mexican grill and pick up their queso and/or guac!

When life hands you avocados, you make guac! 

Date nights with Chrissy

I am obsessed with Chrissy Teigen.

Okay, now that we have gotten that out of the way, we can continue. I received the Cravings cook book for my birthday in March and although I have cracked it open a few times I hadn't given it a chance in the kitchen yet...until now. I knocked out three recipes in one week. 

First up - Chipotle Honey Chicken

First things first - make the chipotle sauce.  

  1. 1/2 can chipotle chiles in adobo
  2. 1 1/2 cups of bbq sauce
  3. 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  4. 1/4 cup whiskey (always wise to sample to make sure it's still good)
  5. 5 cloves garlic
  6. Juice of 1 lime

Mix up everything in a food processor - she called for more chiles and garlic, but I put less in for E & I's spicy sensitive mouths. Toss the 2 lbs of chicken thighs in it and marinade for 2 hours to overnight. 

The Steps
-Preheat oven to 375
-Place marinated chicken on a baking sheet with foil
-Bake for about 20 minutes
-Take out and top with more sauce & honey and cook until chicken is cooked through

Second Up - Zucchini Fritters

INGREDIENTS

  • zucchini
  • Panko
  • Grated Parmesan
  • Eggs

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Slice zucchini thinly
  3. Whisk 2 eggs together in a bowl, in a separate bowl mix together panko & parmesan cheese
  4. Dip the zucchini in eggs and then panko mixture
  5. Place on baking sheet (I lined with foil and the cooling rack)
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes

For convenience, I sliced mine in circles - they crisp up pretty quickly so make sure to keep your eye on them! For the sauce, I opted for a concoction of greek yogurt, cilantro and lemon juice. 

Different night/same cook book - Fish Tacos

The prep -

  1. Tilapia seasoned with garlic powder, salt, pepper, chili powder
  2. Sliced avocado
  3. Sliced limes
  4. Diced tomatoes
  5. Slaw
  6. Special Sauce*
  7. Corn Tortillas

Instead of Chrissy's green pepper sauce, I went for an avocado cream sauce (avocado, greek yogurt, lime, cilantro, seasoning all blended up). 

Corn tortillas - if you're usually not a fan for their flakiness then heat up the tortillas on a skillet for a few seconds each side. Not only gives them a little char but also toughens them up for all the goodness you want to put inside. 

Overall, my nights with Chrissy were a success - all that was missing was her! 

Spicy Tuna Sushi Bowl

There are a few things I'll leave to the pros, sushi is definitely one of them. 

A sushi bowl though? That's something I can handle. Ethan & I love us some sushi, but I'm not quite sure he would come running to the table for a bowl of cauliflower rice and seared tuna. With him being gone on the weekends, it gives me the opportunity to try out some things he might not fancy as much as me.

I've always wanted to make seared ahi tuna but always scared to. I don't know if it's reading Chrissy Teigen's cookbook chapter, "Things That Intimidate People But Shouldn't" or just the fact that I have a food blog and I can't be cooking chicken every night...either way I decided to give it a shot. If you wanna try it, do it - seriously as simple as it sounds. Heat up some oil sear it for a minute, flip until all sides are seared andddd done. Everything else kinda just came together with a lot of inspiration from Pinch of Yum's sushi bowl .

It never really crossed my mind that I could buy pickled ginger. Let me tell y'all, I LOVE ginger. I'm definitely that girl that is reaching across the table stealing everyone's ginger off of their plates. Crystallized ginger, candied ginger (that's my favorite), pickled ginger...give me all of it.

I used some cauliflower rice I had in the freezer from my last Trader Joe's run (shout out to my sister for telling me to get it) & bought the spicy mayo from the sushi counter at our local Hyvee. I'm not one for the spicy, so buying a bottle of sriracha seemed silly (I'll pause for all the Bedells in my family to shake their heads at me) - so 99 cent spicy mayo won. 

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 oz ahi tuna
  • cauliflower rice
  • mushrooms
  • broccoli
  • cucumbers
  • carrots
  • pickled ginger
  • spicy mayo (sriracha & mayo)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Sautée cauliflower rice with broccoli & mushrooms
  2. Heat a skillet with oil and sear a ahi tuna steak approx 1 min on each side. Remove from heat & let rest for a few minutes before cutting into strips
  3. Prep veggies & any other toppings
  4. Place in a bowl and don't forget the ginger & spicy mayo!!

Chopsticks optional. 

Creamy Chicken Ricotta

Back at it again with the pasta

Is anybody else still struggling through the time change? The major upside is our office closes at 4 now, so after work I'm able to hit up the gym, run a few errands, make dinner and it's only 7:30 AND it's still light out. Anyways, I've had this ricotta in the fridge that I need to use so pasta was an easy answer. Ethan had just gotten a great deal on chicken from Lucky's  and who couldn't use a little extra protein in their lives - so I decided to throw that in too. 

Side note - look how huge that chicken breast is! 

I have a habit of adding spinach, tomatoes, garlic & onions to pretty much anything I can. I would add mushrooms (my all time favorite) but Ethan absolutely despises them, he even hates the smell when they hit the pan. 

This was a breeze of a recipe, I was powering through everything so quickly that I forgot to stop and take pictures. I know I know, I'm still learning so give me a break here. Essentially just cook up your chicken, sautée your garlic and onions, while all of that is happening cook your pasta. I used mostaciolli, but you could really use anything you have in your pantry. add your tomatoes, then pasta, then spinach until it all comes together.

At this point, you have a few options. 

  1. Add some parmesan cheese & olive oil for an easy good to go
  2. Toss into a bowl & dollop with ricotta mixture 
  3. Blend the ricotta mixture & some pasta water for a creamy pasta
  4. All of the above

I went with option #4. this dish couldn't be easier. I've learned pasta water is a real life savor...especially when your boyfriend is running a late for dinner and you need to freshen it up a bit. but seriously, always keep a little pasta water when you are draining your noodles, you can always add it in when everything starts to get too dry & it helps incorporate the ricotta throughout the whole dish. 

Ingredients

  • 1-2 TB Olive oil
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast (salt & peppered)
  • 3-5 Roma tomatoes
  • 1-2 cups of spinach (or a few handfuls)
  • Pasta of your choosing
  • Grated parmesan
  • Ricotta mixture
    -light ricotta
    -parmesan cheese
    -seasonings (S&P, garlic powder, rosemary)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Dice onion, mince garlic, cube chicken (go ahead and chop of your tomatoes to get all the knife work out of the way)
  2. Add olive oil to a pan and turn to medium heat, once hot add chicken and start cooking through
  3. Add onions & garlic, at this time get your water boiling and cook your pasta
  4. Cook chicken, onions & garlic until fragrant (make sure chicken is fully cooked) and add tomatoes until they soften
  5. Drain your pasta (make sure to save some pasta water!) and add to the pan with spinach
  6. At this point you can start getting a little creative - I added grated parmesan, some pasta water, as well as my ricotta mixture until creamy
  7. Put in a bowl and dollop some more ricotta!

Serve with some garlic Bread or a glass of wine...I opted for a glass of vino (or two).

Source: sliceslicebaby.net/dinners/creamyricottach...

Taco Salad

I want tacos but I also want abs. Insert taco salad. 

Being a Texas girl, I am always down for some Mexican food. Now I haven't ventured much past the local Chipotle in Iowa City, but I think it is safe to say that there is no place that can compete with some of the Mexican & Tex-Mex places down in the dirty D. Taco salads are an easy, healthy go to for me and its about the only way I can get Ethan to eat a handful of leaves. 

Prep prep prep it up! Another perk is how cheap ground turkey is, we choose 93% lean to eliminate the fattiness but you could also use ground beef or even chicken! Chop up your veggies, I went with bell peppers & onions. Last but definitely not least is the guac! Chop up cherry tomatoes - some in quarters and some finely chopped. 

Place a little EVOO in two pans both at medium heat. You could cook both your meat & veggies together, but I like to keep them separate so that I can sneak some more veggies without picking them out :) 

Season the veggies with salt, pepper, garlic powder, etc and cover while sirring occasionally until they are at your preferred doneness. We add taco seasoning to our ground turkey - for a less of a sodium attack just add your own seasonings (the kind that aren't pre packed). 

The fixins: your lettuce of choice (Ethan is strictly romaine - I'll go for both), salsa, taco sauce, guac (simply just avo, lime, tomatoes, garlic powder), and black beans. 

Take a few minutes to line up this beauty or simply dump it all into a bowl. Top with salsa, guac, lime juice, etc and you're golden! 

Ingredients

  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • Fixins:
    Guacamole (or homemade with 1/2 avocado, 1/2 lime 3 cherry tomatoes diced, pinch of garlic powder - mash and you're golden!)
    Black beans
    Salsa
    Taco Sauce
    Anything else you want!

    Directions

  • Chop bell peppers & onions
  • Heat two pans to medium/medium high heat and add 1 TB olive oil in each pan
  • Once pans are warm add ground turkey in one and the chopped vegetables in the other
  • Season both the meat & veggies - cover the veggies and keep the meat uncovered - stirring both occasionally
  • Mix and match your flavors to get to your taco salad perfection.

Doesn't hurt when you have leftovers to look forward to for lunch. Nothing better than coming back from a workout to a plastic bowl of deliciousness. 

I mean, I could always go for some queso but this will do. 

Tortellini Bake

I wouldn't say that I am a big pasta eater, I rarely will go to a restaurant and order a pasta dish. However, that doesn't mean I can't take down a big bowl of noodles.Now, Ethan on the other hand is a big pasta eater, I think he could probably eat variations of pasta every day (as long as there was meat and cheese involved). In order to feed his carb cravings, I tend to make a pasta dish once or twice a week.

I have become of a huge fan of one pot dishes - the only thing that would make them easier would be one of these bad boys.  I mean, a girl can dream. But with or without a gorgeous dutch oven, this meal is practically fool proof. 

Start sauteing the onions & garlic in oil on medium high heat. I love when Ethan is home while I'm starting to cook because this is his favorite smell in the world. 

Toss in your ground turkey (or beef) and season to your liking. For me, that's usually just salt, pepper and garlic powder. Cook until browned. 

Add in the diced tomatoes & sauce and get it simmering. 

Stir in the spinach until wilted. At this time feel free to add any more seasonings to your mixture - salt, pepp, garlic seasonings, etc. 

Add in the tortellini and transfer to a baking dish if your pan has hit its limits. Ethan was watching from a far and reminded me..."don't you need to boil that". I just stared at him until he realized I knew what I was doing and went back to his business. Don't be concerned about adding in raw pasta, it will cook in the oven. 

Cover the noodles with mozz, which we already conveniently had shredded from pizza making, and the grated parmesan. Cook for 20-30 minutes with foil on top for the first 10-15. 

Your only job now is to devour! 
We pushed our bellies as far as they could go and still managed to have a decent amount of leftovers - which Ethan gladly ate for lunch the next day. 


Baked Tortellini
- serves around 2-4 people (depending on how much you eat) 

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 2-3 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 sweet onion chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey (we get lean 93/7% but feel free to use beef too)
  • 1 14.5oz can of diced tomatoes drained
  • 1 14.5oz can of tomato sauce (use any sauce you like)
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 package of tortellini
  • Shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan*

*who really even measures their cheese anyways

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Sautee garlic & onions in the olive oil in pan until fragrant
  3. Add in ground turkey and cook until browned (if using beef or fattier turkey make sure to drain most of the grease)
  4. Add in diced tomatoes (drained) and can of tomato sauce
  5. Stir in baby spinach until wilted and let simmer
  6. Turn off heat & add in tortellini and cover with cheese
  7. Transfer to baking dish (or place your pan in oven if large enough). Cover with foil and bake for 15-20 minutes then uncover and bake for another 5-10 until cheese is melted

Time and time again I tell myself that I will just have a bite or a small bowl, but I think I end up eating more than him every single time. 

Stuffed Chicken

Shocker, another chicken dinner stuffed with some cheese and other random things. I finally got a meat tenderizer so it's a little easier to pound the meat down and can give my poor rolling pin a rest. 

After you've tenderized your meat, fill with spinach & mozzarella balls. Unlike the Chicken Cordon Bleu, you will fold these in half instead of rolling them. With this, toothpicks are a must in my opinion. 

Place stuffed chicken on some form of non-stick pan (or foil with non stick spray). Place in the oven at 450 for about 15-20 minutes (depending on the thickness of your chicken). 

Serve on top of a salad (left) or with pasta & garlic bread (right). Enjoyy! 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 chicken breasts (for simplicity sake, I bought pre-season chicken)
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • Mozzarella ball
  • Optional: salad, pasta, or garlic bread

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  2. Flatten chicken breast down to 1/2 inch with meat tenderizer
  3. Stuff chicken with fresh baby spinach and chunks of mozzarella ball
  4. Fold chicken in half and secure with toothpicks
  5. Spray cookie sheet/line with foil and place in oven for 15-20 minutes.

Chicken Cordon Bleu-ish

Chicken is a huge staple in my dinners, I would say its 80% of the time whats for dinner. This is partially because it is super versatile and will adapt to any flavor you want to give it. It's also really healthy and easy to quick...and most importantly it's not red meat - which I am still too much of a wuss to tackle. 

Chicken Cordon Bleu has become a twice a month (if not more) go to meal, only mix up is some mozz for the swiss. 

Ingredients

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 2 thin slices of ham
  • Mozzarella (feel free to sub in for any of your
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp Milk
  • 1/3 cup Italian breadcrumbs (or plain with some seasonings)
  • 1/3 cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees & spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray
  2. Beat the chicken to about 1/2 inch thickness
  3. Lay down the slice of ham and cheese and roll up
  4. Whisk together egg and milk in medium bowl
  5. Mix together the breadcrumbs & parmesan with salt & pepper in medium bowl
  6. Dip chicken rolls in the egg wash and then in the breadcrumb mixture.
  7. Place chicken on the baking sheet seam side down* and bake for 20-25 minutes

*Make sure to place these seam side down to minimize the gooeyness escaping. Keep some toothpicks handy to secure the chicken!

Serve up with some roasted veggies and maybe a piece of garlic bread... or four. (You can be nice and take out the toothpicks OR you can let them fend for themselves.)