Buffalo Quinoa Cakes

Y’all.

Do you even know what tomorrow is? I mean – other than the last day in August. And Saturday.

It’s pretty much my favorite day of the year. My 2nd Christmas if you will. Today, my friends, is my Christmas Eve.

Tomorrow is the first College Football Saturday of the year. I know there was some action last night (apologies to all of our neighbors last night who were NOT watching the Ole Miss game) – but Thursday night football is kind of like an appetizer. Tomorrow, we feast.

His and Hers

“His & Hers”

Not just in the metaphorical sense either – because clearly, this is a cooking blog so I have some goodies to share with you. Now some football weekends, you give in to the bar food and beer and couch and swear to yourself you’ll work it off the next day.

But what if you could have your “cake” and eat it too?

Thanks to my Biffer’s recent quinoa kick – I remembered a recipe I made a few weeks ago and had not gotten around to sharing with you yet. And what perfect timing, because you know what goes great with college football? My favorite food group – buffalo chicken everything. This one is a little different, but I promise you – it’s delicious and filling and is perfect to serve as a little appetizer, or do what we did and serve it as a main course (with my ranch baked fries, duh).

Buffalo Quinoa Cakes (Makes 9 cakes – 2 WW pts. per cake + 2 pts. for 1/3 cup Ranch)

Ingredients

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa

1 cup water

1 egg, beaten (I used about half)

4 Tbsp. Frank’s Red Hot Sauce

1/4 cup minced yellow onion

2 small stalks celery, minced

1/2 cup fat-free shredded cheddar cheese

1/3 cup reduced-fat blue cheese crumbles

1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (panko or regular)

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/3 cup fat-free ranch

Begin by cooking your quinoa according to directions. Add to a medium bowl and let cool for 5-7 minutes.

Add onion, egg, blue cheese, shredded cheddar, celery, bread crumbs, salt and pepper to the quinoa. Mix together using a rubber spatula, then stir in hot sauce.

Using your hands, form about 9 cakes out of the quinoa mixture.

Steps

After you wash off your hands (trust me, you’ll need to) heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add cakes and saute 3-4 minutes per side until lightly browned.

Plated Cakes

Serve with some ranch for dipping, and enjoy!

Buffalo Quinoa Cakes

With that, happy Game Day to all! I’ll be wearing my Blue and White and cheering on Penn State to victory tomorrow afternoon – who are you supporting this weekend?!

Pizza Casserole

I realize I may be a little ahead of myself, but I am so excited that Fall is upon us.

Not only does it mean that college football is almost here (single digits!) but it also means cooler weather, delicious smells, beautiful colors, cozy clothing and of course, comfort foods.

Comfort foods vary for everybody – for some it may be grilled cheese. For some it could be chicken pot pie. For some (like me) it’s soup. Notice a theme here? A lot of comfort foods are best served hot! (Okay, except for ice cream, but that’s just in a class of its own, right?)

One of our favorite comfort foods is pizza. Sometimes we try to be good and make our own using whole wheat crusts and lighter ingredients. Sometimes the ease of picking up the phone and ordering enhances the comfort. But sometimes, we just want that comforting flavor of pizza, without the uncomfortable thought of putting on jeans the next day.

I know I’ve shared my ultimate comfort food recipe with you before (Pizza Soup – the most requested meal in our household of 2), but today I have another combo deal for you – Pizza Casserole!

Pizza Casserole (Serves 6 / 7 WW pts. per serving)

Ingredients

6 oz. whole wheat rotini pasta

1 cup Ragu Pizza Sauce

8 oz. fat-free cottage cheese

2 1/2 links Italian turkey sausage, hot

24 slices Turkey pepperoni

1 cup shredded reduced-fat mozzarella

1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Bring medium pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions.

In a medium skillet, cook sausage (casing removed) and break into small pieces.

Mix pizza sauce, salt and pepper with the cooked noodles and spread into your baking dish. In a separate bowl, mix together cheeses with Italian seasoning. Spread cheese mixture over the top of the noodles. Top with favorite pizza toppings – we just went with pepperoni this time (and, of course, added some black olives after it was done cooking) – but make it your own!

Process

Bake for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned and bubbly.

Slice and serve…

Pizza Casserole Plated

and if you have picky eaters, you can top the individual pieces after baking like we have to do so my olives don’t “contaminate” the husband’s portion…

Bite

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

Tuna Steaks with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

You know, I’m almost a little embarrassed to share this recipe.

It’s so simple and delicious and I have been making it since college.

You see, while in college, my friend Erin and her parents invited me along on two of their summer vacations. They are big scuba divers, so it was always to a beautiful tropical destination. I know, they really had to twist my arm!

Our weeks were always filled with fun memories that we still joke about to this day such as an evening in St. Lucia when we were returning to our home for the week from dinner via an incredibly steep and windy road which also happened to be filled with gigantic potholes. We’d had a lot of beverages (water, and maybe some rum punches) at dinner – so our bladders were not too happy with the journey. So in order to take our minds off of the torturous ride, we decided singing along to the radio at the top of our lungs would help. What was on the radio? Celine Dion “To Love You More” – it was epic, especially when we got to the chorus.

There was also the evening in St. Martin when we went out for a fabulous dinner overlooking the ocean – and I got mugged after Erin and I walked to purchase her some replacement flip-flops since hers busted as we were walking into the restaurant.

All memorable times, but the most vivid memory was at a restaurant in St. Martin called Temptation. I remember exactly what I ordered, where we sat, talking to the piano player, and even our service. For dinner – I ordered the sashimi tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes. Y’all, it sounds simple – but the entire experience just stuck with me.

So obviously, as soon as vacation was over – I had to re-create it. While I may not be a gourmet chef, my little amateur version of this meal has been a family favorite for years now. The tuna definitely helps with the heat of the wasabi if you aren’t heat-tolerant – but the beauty of wasabi is that it’s a quick burn! Try this one out, it’s action-packed with flavor and is super easy to throw together…

Tuna Steaks with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes (Serves 2 / Tuna – 5 WW pts. per serving / Mashed Potatoes – 3 WW pts. per serving)

2 6 oz. raw yellow fin tuna steaks

1/3 cup Kikkoman Teriyaki marinade

1 medium russet potato, peeled and cubed

1/2 Tbsp. fat-free milk

1/2 Tbsp. wasabi paste

1/2 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine (I use Blue Bonnet Light)

Salt and pepper to taste

In a shallow dish, pour teriyaki marinade and add raw tuna steaks. Marinate for 1 hour minimum, flipping halfway through the process. I threw mine in before I went to work one day – so they soaked up a lot of that goodness!

Remove tuna from marinade, reserve a few Tbsp. of what remains. Heat grill to medium-high and spray with nonstick spray. Add tuna steaks and grill 4-5 minutes per side to get a good medium center. Brush with a little more teriyaki when you flip them.

While all of this is going on, make sure your potatoes are cooking so they’re ready when the steaks are!

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and add the potato cubes. Boil 7-9 minutes until pieces are tender when pierced with a fork.

Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

Drain potatoes and add to a small bowl. Whisk in milk, wasabi paste, margarine, salt and pepper. I usually add a little more wasabi, but all depends on preference and texture – if it’s too lumpy, add another splash of milk.

Mix potatoes until smooth and add to plate, topped with grilled tuna steak…

Plated steak and potatoes

 

I roasted some asparagus with a drizzle of peanut oil, some soy sauce and topped with sesame seeds – the perfect addition to this plate of deliciousness. Let me know what you think if you try this recipe out, it’s definitely one of my favorites!

Teriyaki Tuna with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

Pesto Orecchiette with Sausage and Brussel Sprouts

Y’all, I was such a big girl this week.

I mean, almost a grown-up. And that says a lot being that I’m 29 and 1.

I have confessed to y’all that I have a bizarre perfectly normal fear of balloons. And needles.

This week – I faced both.

Wednesday we celebrated Baby Way’s (my youngest nephew) first birthday. So my 3 older nephews decided to put on a balloon show – which involved them throwing the balloons off of their 2nd floor into the entry way, with various spins and tosses. That part I handled like a champ.

However, you know that screechy sound balloons make when they have hands and feet on them? Like they are about to burst any minute? I heard that one a lot – because they didn’t want to put their balloons down and lose them. But you know what, Aunt Mary kept her cool. I survived!

Then, the next morning, I had my annual check-up and had to get my blood taken. Yes, as in with a needle. The past 2 times I’ve had this done, I’ve apparently gotten inept or brand new nurses who don’t know what they heck they are doing – so they’ve had to stab me with a needle twice. Which is one more time than I can handle without losing the blood in my face and my eyes rolling back in my head as I endured the torture. (I’d make a terrible spy – clearly I’m not to be trusted with government secrets). Thankfully, I had a pro this time around. I warned her I was a huge baby and she was nice. I still didn’t enjoy it, but at least I wasn’t reduced to a crumpled heap of Mary.

I know, I’m so mature.

So weeks like this one call for one thing – comfort food. For me, pasta is a great comfort food – it’s warm, usually has some form of cheese included and it’s super easy to throw together. Honestly, what good is comfort food if it takes forever to make and leaves a giant mess?

I discovered this dish on Pinterest (love) and it’s definitely in my comfort food rotation from now on! It’s easy, doesn’t make a giant mess, and it’s like a nice, big, warm hug that’s perfect for enjoying in your stretchy pants curled up on your couch – but also fancy enough that you can serve it to guests.

Pesto Orecchiette with Sausage and Brussel Sprouts (Serves 4 / 11 WW points per serving)

Adapted from original recipe found here.

Ingredients

8 oz. whole wheat orecchiette

2 1/2 links Chicken Sausage, Italian style (I used Archer Farms brand)

1/2 pound brussel sprouts, peeled and halved

4 Tbsp. store-bought Pesto sauce

1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic

1 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

4 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan

Preheat your oven to 400.

To prep your brussel sprouts, cut off the bottom “stem” and peel away exterior leaves. Then cut in half. Toss in a small baking pan with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 or so minutes.

While the brussel sprouts are cooking, heat remaining olive oil in a medium skillet. Slice sausage into 1/8-1/4 inch thick slices. Saute in olive oil over medium for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook until chicken is browned and cooked through.

Step by Step Collage

Boil the water for your pasta and cook according to directions.

When everything has cooked, drain pasta and stir in pesto. Add cooked sausage and roasted brussel sprouts, stir until incorporated.

Plate and top each serving with 1 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan.

Plated

All we needed with this dish was some yummy garlic bread and a glass of red wine. Perfect way to enjoy a James Bond movie night with my husband…

Pesto Orecchiette

Hope y’all have a great weekend!