Creamy Parmesan Orzo (One Pot Side Dish)

I started making this side dish about 4 years ago, and it has been in weekly rotation at my house ever since. My favorite thing about this orzo is that it pretends to be a risotto (with pasta of course) but is wayyyy less maintenance. Also, my one year old loves it – WIN!

As a Mom, one of my biggest goals is to create those things that my kids will look back on one day and immediately think of me. As I type that, it sounds a little bit selfish, but I want my kids to have fond memories of their childhood. Many of those warm feelings for me come from food – my grandma’s cinnamon rolls and sugar cookies, my mom’s runzas and ham balls, my grandma’s love of strawberry shortcake and how I tried to make it one time and accidentally used way too much salt. It seems that it’s those recipes that never taste quite as good when you make them yourself. I’m still trying to find “those recipes” of my own, and I think in time they will come naturally. For now, this orzo is probably one of them for my husband as he literally asks me to make this every week.

So go on, give this a try tonight and reminisce about all of those recipes that bring you warm feelings in your family.

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Creamy Parmesan Orzo (One Pot Side Dish)
Creamy (without the cream) pasta dish that everyone at your table will enjoy.
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Course Side Dish
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter then add the garlic. Heat for 30-60 seconds.
  2. Add the orzo and toast (stirring frequently) until some pieces just start to turn light brown.
  3. Pour in 2 cups of the chicken broth and let simmer down until almost completely absorbed. Add in 1/2 cup of chicken broth at a time until the orzo is done (you'll have to taste it). Add an additional 1/4 cup of broth and let it heat up.
  4. Stir in red pepper flakes and parmesan cheese. Stir until cheese is incorporated (it should melt quickly) and the orzo is a creamy consistency.
  5. Enjoy!
Recipe Notes

You made need more or less chicken broth depending on how quickly it absorbs.

Freshly grated parmesan works the best, but you can also use parmesan out of the jar (green Kraft container).

You can easily make this into a full meal by adding chicken and/or broccoli.

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Easy Anytime Homemade Stuffing

I can’t believe it’s only a week before Thanksgiving. Is it just me or does time continually get faster as you get older, especially when you have kids ?! (Sorry for the sentimental blubbery and cliche statements). I’m feeling a little emotional these days and trying to savor these last few months with one kid – that’s right, I’m pregnant! Super exciting, super exhausting, super duper didn’t feel like cooking for about 4 months, which explains questions I have been getting about ‘Are you still writing your blog?’. Oops, yes! Just hard to keep up with a cooking blog when the only thing entering and staying in my stomach there for awhile was Ramen and watermelon popsicles.

Anyway….whether you are hosting, gathering elsewhere, or just having an intimate family meal with you and yours, this stuffing recipe is great to toss together as you will more than likely have all the ingredients on hand. I don’t know about you, but I used to be intimidated by making stuffing. I don’t know if it’s because there are so so SO many variations of it, and in all honesty sometimes it just doesn’t taste great for whatever reason, but I decided this year I was going to tackle it in a way that I wouldn’t mind re-creating any time of the year. (Also, I had a loaf of homemade white bread that desperately needed using before I had to sadly and guiltily toss it).

Served with pork chop with pan gravy and green beans

Give this a go on the big day, you won’t regret it. ♥

Print Recipe
Easy Anytime Homemade Stuffing
Simple stuffing made with ingredients you probably already have on hand. Give it a try and wow your guests.
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Casserole
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
FInal Touches
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Casserole
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
FInal Touches
Instructions
  1. Cut bread into 1" cubes and let dry out on a baking sheet overnight. If you didn't have time to do this the day before you can also place the baking sheet in a 250 degree oven until the bread starts to dry out (will vary depending on bread, check on it every 5-10 minutes).
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and celery and cook down for 10 minutes or until softened.
  4. Place dried bread cubes into a large bowl and pour melted butter with onions and celery over it. Stir together well.
  5. Add the sage, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, and celery salt. Stir to combine.
  6. Pour 1 1/4 cups of chicken broth over the bread mixture and mix together well.
  7. Whisk together the 2 eggs with 1 1/4 cups of chicken broth. Pour over the bread mixture and again mix well. It will start to get mushy at this point and that's okay! Continue to add additional chicken broth 1/4 cup at a time until all the bread is saturated.
  8. Place into a greased casserole dish. Cover and cook for 30 minutes. Uncover then cook for an additional 10 minutes to get a nice crisp on top.
  9. For the final touch, melt 3 Tbsp butter in the microwave. Stir in the additional 1/4 tsp of sage, thyme, and parsley. Drizzle over the top. Dig in!
Recipe Notes

The amount of chicken broth needed will vary between 2-3 cups depending on how long your bread was allowed to dry out and what type of bread you used. I used homemade white bread and I used more toward the 2 3/4 cup end, but if you use store bought sliced bread it won't take as much.

You can omit the final topping of butter if you're worried about calories 😉

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Chewy Molasses Cookies

There is nothing that will make your house smell more like the holidays than molasses cookies. Something about that cinnamon, ginger, and cloves makes you want to sing Jingle Bells.

Every year I swear I am going to start my shopping early, make cookies and freeze them, and wrap presents while the babe is sleeping. All I can say is oopsSigh. I think I secretly get an adrenaline rush from approaching the Christmas deadline in a scramble. I still have 5 treats on my list to make before Christmas, BUT my shopping is done! Hallelujah! I attempted wrapping presents in the middle of the afternoon yesterday and this is what happened: the baby decided to roll circles around the room to make his way over to tear wrapping paper and eat cardboard boxes while the dog followed him to lick up drool; the cat secretly sat in the corner and chewed on ribbon as I yelled at her every couple of minutes; in the meantime, I cut pieces of wrapping paper too small for the packages I was wrapping and had to do major patch work. Is R too young for me to blame bad wrapping on him? Ugh, probably. Sorry family!

Please enjoy these molasses cookies. I adapted a recipe from Taste of Home to adjust the spices, and my husband now swears by these cookies. I will be the first to admit that I kind of despise molasses cookies – they would rank around #162 on my “Cookies I Would Choose to Eat” list, but in all honesty – I had a couple of these and I would eat them again. I promised the husband I would make one treat a week if we both started working out at least 2 days a week (bribery will get you everywhere), and this is what he chose! I’m making Scotcheroo Bites for my choice next week mmhmm.

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Chewy Molasses Cookies
Spicy, fragrant holiday favorite. Yummy!
Course Dessert
Cook Time 13-15 minutes
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Course Dessert
Cook Time 13-15 minutes
Servings
cookies
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With stand or hand mixer: cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Beat in eggs and molasses until combined.
  4. Combine the dry ingredients and then gradually incorporate into wet mixture.
  5. Shape into ping pong size balls (or use a cookie scoop) and roll into sugar. Place on baking sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes or until top just starts to show cracks. Cool on cooling rack.
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Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Pot Pie (with Red Lobster Biscuits)

Happy time change everyone! I was naive to think that my 4 month old would also understand the time change and adjust his sleeping habits accordingly (nope!). We survived though, and it was actually a great weekend for “falling back” because we had a bunch of family in town for my son’s baptism. Before we moved to Colorado last year, I took for granted how easy we had it in Iowa being able to see our family anytime we wanted (and within 2 hours). I still get teary-eyed every time we drive back through Des Moines, thinking “ugh, we could be home by now” instead of having another 10 hours on the road. Don’t mind me, I have small pity parties from time to time. I now know that the move was a blessing in disguise because not only does my husband love his career, but I appreciate my family so much more. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I both come from very close families, but now I count down the days to when we get to see them and cherish every moment.

I don’t normally publicize my religion because it is something I hold dear to my heart, and it’s a part of me that I would rather save for myself, my husband, and my family, but seeing my son getting baptized was one of those eye opening moments of my life. I knew I would get emotional about it (thanks new mom hormones), but as it was going on, I caught myself looking from my son to our family who traveled so far to be with us. I felt so incredibly grateful not only for having an amazing support system, but because we get to teach our son about God and introduce him to a faith that has gotten me through a lot of hard times. It’s a wonderful feeling.

That’s my small insight into my faith. Speaking of church, I’m sharing a recipe today that makes a perfect Sunday dinner. I love reminiscing about coming home from church on Sundays during my childhood and having a hearty Sunday dinner, or being at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house, eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes after church. (Sidenote: why can I still not make mashed potatoes as good as my Grandma’s?!)

You are going to love this version of chicken pot pie because 1 – it’s easy, 2 – it contains cheese, and 3 – it is topped with Red Lobster biscuits. I had no idea they sold Red Lobster biscuit mix in stores until we came across it in Costco. (Another sidenote: I feel like I can’t write a post without mentioning Costco – oops. My husband and I are the crazy people who go there every weekend, look at the same things, and have the same conversations about products. I can hear Nick now saying, “That three pack of scissors really is a great deal“.) I have also seen the mix in Target and our local grocery stores if you are having trouble locating it.

Enjoy! See below the recipe if you would like to make this without a cast iron skillet.

Print Recipe
Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Pot Pie (with Red Lobster Biscuits)
Quickened version of chicken pot pie - in one pan! Definitely worth the effort 🙂
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Casserole
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Filling
Topping
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Casserole
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Filling
Topping
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. In cast iron skillet, melt 2 of the 4 Tbsp of butter. Add chicken pieces, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper, and cook until no longer pink. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Add chopped onion and garlic to skillet (add another Tbsp of butter if skillet too dry). Cook for 1 minute and then add frozen bag of vegetables (no need to thaw). Cook until vegetables begin to soften, stirring frequently. Add thyme, salt, and pepper.
  4. When vegetables are soft, melt remaining 2 Tbsp of butter in the skillet with the vegetables. Sprinkle the flour over the mix and stir around.
  5. Pour in milk, stirring constantly. Cook until thickened to the consistency of a melted milkshake then turn off the heat.
  6. Add the chicken back in the skillet along with the 3/4 cup cheese.
  7. Mix biscuit mix according to package directions, and drop biscuits onto the filling mixture in the skillet.
  8. Place cast iron skillet into oven, and cook according to biscuit package directions (14-16 minutes).
  9. Remove from oven, melt 1/4 cup butter and mix in the biscuit seasoning packet. Spoon or brush the butter-seasoning mix over the hot biscuits.
Recipe Notes

If you do not have a cast iron skillet: make the filling as instructed above in a normal skillet (steps 1-6). Transfer the filling to an oven safe casserole dish then add the biscuit topping. Cook according to biscuit directions, remove from oven, and top with butter-seasoning mix as described above.

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Simple Turkey Ranch Sliders

Summer is officially over so put away those white pants and kiddie pools. Just kidding! It’s still been in the 90s around here (with the exception of a wonderfully crisp 72 degrees today) which means it’s still summer, right?!

Well, we officially survived moving into our new house – phew! It is wonderful and spacious and new – meaning I cringe every time something gets dropped on the hardwood floors or someone accidentally hits the wall with a box. I’m sure with a dog and a baby I will get over that quickly. Have you ever had to move with a newborn? Wow, definitely don’t even try to make a to do list or a schedule because, well, it’s pointless. I feel like I contributed very little besides holding the baby, wearing the baby, entertaining the baby, or feeding the baby in between pointing to boxes and doing a lot of “no that goes in there”. The bonus – extra cuddle time with the little guy while everyone else did most of the hard work. Biggest regret – not doing more squats and core exercises prior to this move! Yikes – I didn’t realize carrying my 14 pound baby (yes, he is big for his age) in a carrier for 2-3 hours would be so killer on my back, but he sleeps like a baby (literally) in it so WIN for me. Speaking of the baby – I am already starting to have the “my baby is growing up too fast” sadness. He’s almost 11 weeks old, and I feel like I am almost to the point of having to say “he’s ___ months old” instead of “he’s ___ weeks old” which is making me oddly teary-eyed. My only saving grace is that he is starting to talk all the time, and his baby jibber jabber momentarily sweeps away any of my mommy emotions because it is so darn cute.

With all of the chaos of moving, it was nice to get a little bit settled into the house the past few days and actually MAKE food here as opposed to “hey let’s just get insert quick sub, fast food, pizza place here“. Needless to say, it’s nice to have some quick and easy recipes up my sleeve that allow for leftovers and little clean up. Sliders have been making the circuit for awhile now, so I started making my own version with ingredients I always have on hand – hello turkey + cheese + ranch = winner! If you’re feeling even more daring you could toss on some bacon. These are also good cold the next day, and they are the perfect size when you are trying to multi-task (i.e. unpack with baby on the hip). For those of you with kiddos in school, these are a great after school snack to give them a little bit of protein to tide them over until supper.

Happy unofficial start of fall everyone! FYI – I heard that Starbucks PSL came out today 🙂


Print Recipe
Simple Turkey Ranch Sliders
These simple little sandwiches will please everyone. Perfect for an after school snack, potluck dish, or weekend lunch!
Cuisine Sandwiches
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
sandwiches
Cuisine Sandwiches
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
sandwiches
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Slice the entire slab of rolls in half (do NOT take them apart; just slice them all together) using a serrated bread knife. Set top slab aside for now.
  3. Place bottom bun slab into a 13 x 9" baking pan.
  4. Layer turkey in a single layer on bottom buns. Follow this with a layer of cheese, and then another layer of turkey.
  5. Place the top bun slab on top of the sandwiches.
  6. Melt stick of butter. Add Worcestershire and ranch seasoning to the butter. Brush or pour over the sandwiches, making sure that every bit of the top buns is covered. It's okay if there are some small clumps of ranch - this makes it more tasty!
  7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes or until the buns start to turn golden and most of the butter is absorbed.
Recipe Notes

These are great hot, reheated, or cold! You can substitute a different cheese if you would like - I would recommend something mild and similar to Havarti such as swiss.

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Peanut Butter Banana Muffins with Chocolate Chips

Sorry for the week long hiatus! I really have no wonderful reason behind it besides being on the job search and to be quite honest, not feeling the inspiration bug for recipes last week. Sometimes you just don’t feel it. I did try out a few recipes last week though that weren’t blog worthy, but definitely will be in the future with a little tweaking (coming soon: Mexican fried rice and Thai peanut noodles).

My husband and I made our first trip back to the Midwest this last weekend to celebrate our niece’s second birthday. She had sooo much fun, and it’s awesome to see them get excited about every little thing. She got this My Little Pony – the purple one – and apparently it can fly on the TV show so she went around throwing it up in the air. Haha, it was ridiculously cute.  We had a great time, but coming back to Boulder made me realize that Colorado is kind of starting to feel like home as bittersweet as that is.

When we got back to our apartment, I looked at my counter and saw 4 mushy, brown bananas which might gross some people out but to me it screamed “time for something bread-y”! Usually banana bread it my go-to but this time I was feeling something a little different, and I was craving peanut butter. MMMM, you really can’t go wrong with chocolate and peanut butter. Plus you get to pretend these are healthy because they have bananas in them.

 

Print Recipe
Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Banana Muffins
Moist, delicious breakfast on the go treat
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
muffins
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Peel and mash the ripened bananas
  2. Mix egg, butter, brown sugar, sugar, and vanilla with the bananas.
  3. Add the baking soda, baking powder, and salt with the flour. Slowly add to banana mixture.
  4. Add in chocolate chips.
  5. Scoop into muffin pan lined with baking cups. Fill until 3/4 full.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool and enjoy!
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