Santa Fe Style Rice and Beans

Santa Fe Style Rice & Beans

This is a recipe re-creation of the Santa Fe Style Rice and Beans frozen dinners. My favorite brand is the Smart Ones. Not that I make a habit of eating frozen dinners. Once every year or so I am tempted to eat one. Not a random one. Only this one. The best TV dinner ever known to man. Ever. Their insanely good! But don’t go out and buy one now. Make this.

Santa Fe Style Rice & Beans

It is made of spicy rice and red beans in a creamy sour cream sauce with green chiles and cheese melted over the top. So simple, but indescribably delicious. This is a very close rendition, if not a better one. It’s super creamy, with a nice, subtle bite from the green chiles and spices. I loaded it with just the perfect ratio of crispy, sweet, white corn niblets, diced, vine-ripened tomatoes, and soft, earthy red beans. It did its intended job of satisfying my craving. And the best part is the leftovers. Something you don’t get with frozen meals.

Santa Fe Style Rice & Beans

Santa Fe Style Rice and Beans
(by Reeni)

3 cups cooked long-grain brown or white rice
1 and 1/2 cups canned small red beans, drained and rinsed
1 can(4 oz.) of chopped green chiles with juices
3/4 cup corn
3/4 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup diced onion
1 and 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon Chile powder
1 teaspoon Oregano
1/4 teaspoon Cayenne
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 and 1/2 cups shredded sharp white cheddar

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a large bowl mix together the rice, beans, chiles, corn, tomatoes and onion.

3. In a separate medium-size bowl whisk together the sour cream, milk,
Chile powder, oregano, cayenne, salt and pepper.

4. Spray or butter an 8×8 baking/casserole dish. Add the rice mixture. Pour the sourcream sauce over the top. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.

5. Bake for 30 minutes until top is lightly browned and middle is bubbly.

6. Let sit for five minutes before serving.

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Santa Fe Style Rice & Beans

Tuscan White Bean Soup

Creamy Tuscan Bean Soup

This is a hearty and wholesome soup recipe with a mix of cannellini beans, orzo, and spinach. The broth is packed with herbs like sage, thyme, and fresh parsley. The orzo lends it’s starch to thicken it up. The end result is a luxurious, velvety soup. Half and half is stirred in at the end and a generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil goes over top upon serving. The oil is a necessity. I wouldn’t eat it without.  It would be like eating cannoli without the filling or bread without butter. Very wrong.

I made this for lunch after one taste knew it would be my dinner too. I didn’t have a choice. I’m a prisoner of love. Add a slice of crusty Parmesan garlic bread to sop up all the rich and creamy broth for a satisfying and comforting meal.

Creamy Tuscan Bean Soup
(by Reeni)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced carrot
1/3 cup diced green pepper
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Cannelini Beans with juices
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup orzo, uncooked
3/4 cup chopped spinach, frozen or fresh
2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons dried sage
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
1 cup half and half
extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
fresh grated Parmesan, for serving

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan heat the olive oil and saute the onion, carrot, green pepper, and garlic until softened on low-medium heat, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the beans, broth, orzo, spinach, parsley, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Simmer for 25 minutes. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper if desired. Add half and half. Bring back up to a simmer. Remove from heat and serve with a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and Parmesan.

Garlic bread

Use a crusty Italian bread, french bread or peasant bread.

Slather with butter, minced garlic, fresh chopped parsley, and fresh grated Parmesan.

Broil until the tops are lightly toasted.

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I’m sending this to Deb of Kahakai Kitchen for her Souper Sundays round-up.

Creamy Tuscan Bean Soup

Lemon-Arugula Pesto Pasta Salad

Lemon-Arugula Pesto Pasta Salad

This pasta recipe has a wholesome balance of chickpeas, meaty black olives, sweet red onions, and tangy tomatoes. The lemon-arugula pesto is refreshing, nutty, and salty tasting from the Parmesan cheese. The lemon and arugula complement each other in a perfect meld of flavors. The spirals catch all the tasty bits of pesto and the olives do their job by trapping it inside. Biting into them you get a pleasant burst of sunshine from the lemon. This is a quick and easy side-dish that can even sub as the star. It has all the required elements. The leftovers are perfect for lunch and taste better with age. The pesto can be used on its own; hot or cold; with chicken, seafood, fish, veggies, and as a spread for sandwiches.

Lemon-Arugula Pesto Pasta Salad

Lemon-Arugula Pesto Pasta Salad
(by Reeni)

8 oz. Celentani (Spiral) Pasta
1 can Black Olives, medium-size, pitted
1 can(15.5 oz.) Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fresh lemon peel
Lemon-Arugula Pesto Sauce(recipe to follow)
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper

Cook your pasta to al dente according to package directions. Drain and
run cold water over the pasta. Add to a large bowl.

Add your olives, chickpeas, tomatoes, red onion and lemon peel. Toss
together. Then toss again with Pesto beginning with half of your pesto and
adding as needed until evenly coated.

Season with salt and pepper.

If refrigerated for serving later, remove from fridge about 15 minutes before
to allow the pesto to loosen up a bit. Toss before serving.

Lemon-Arugula Pesto Sauce
(by Reeni)

1/2 cup walnuts
2 cloves garlic
1 and 1/2 cups Baby Arugula leaves
2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup fresh grated Parmesan or Romano
1/2 cup Extra-Virgin Olive oil
1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Toast the walnuts in a skillet on low for 5-7 minutes. Set aside to cool.

To the bowl of your food processor add the walnuts, garlic, arugula, and parsley. Pulse to chop.

Stream in the oil and lemon juice. Pulse constantly until nice and smooth.

Add cheese and pulse briefly to combine.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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Lemon-Arugula Pesto Pasta Salad

Butternut Squash Ziti

Butternut Squash Ziti

I know your asking yourself why I’m posting a recipe using winter squash when the first day of Spring just smacked me in the butt. I bought this squash a week or two ago when Spring was still a long-away wish in my heart and the market’s bins were overflowing with newly stocked squash and cheap prices. And because it’s one of my favorite veggies no matter what season were in and I want to gorge myself on it while I still can. So here it is in all it’s decadent glory and you can thank me for it later. Like next fall. Unless you still have one laying around…just hiding out in the back of your fridge because you’ve had enough squash to last you until next season and your trying to pretend it isn’t there. In that case you can thank me now.

This was a dreamy, creamy, cheesy comfort meal with lovely little hints of nutmeg and garlic. The star of the show shined through in every sweet, nutty, bite. This is my farewell to winter and all of my favorite seasonal vegetables like squash, especially the pumpkin-like Butternut.

Butternut Squash Ziti

Butternut Squash Baked Ziti
(by Reeni)

8 ounces Penne or Rigatoni Pasta
1 medium Butternut Squash (about 3 cups, mashed)
Sea Salt and fresh cracked Pepper
Olive oil
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced into rings
3 cloves garlic, minced
15 ounces Ricotta Cheese
8 ounces Mozzarella, shredded
1 egg
¼ cup milk

For béchamel:
2 tablespoons Butter
2 tablespoon Flour
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon Nutmeg
1 teaspoon dried Thyme
1 teaspoon fresh Sage, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh Basil, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in two and clean out the seeds. Sprinkle with a little olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast about 45 minutes cut side down until a fork pokes in easily.

In the meantime you can caramelize the onions. In a large sauté pan or iron skillet place two tablespoons olive oil and the onion rings. Season with salt and pepper. Cook over low-medium heat for about 40 minutes. Mix often and add more oil as needed, a little bit at a time. Onions are done when they turn a dark brown; at this point add in minced garlic and sauté for two – three minutes on low. Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove squash from oven and let cool until you can handle it.

Cook Rigatoni until al dente according to package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl, coat with a tablespoon or two of olive oil or butter. Set aside.

Prepare an 8×8 casserole pan with a thin coating of butter or baking spray. Set aside.

Make béchamel sauce. Melt two tablespoons butter in a medium saucepan whisk in flour, and cook for two – three minutes over low heat, until it turns a light golden brown. Whisk in milk slowly and simmer for a few minutes, whisking frequently until sauce begins to thicken. Whisk in nutmeg, thyme, sage, and basil, pour into bowl with pasta and toss to coat.

Remove the skin from the squash and using a food processor pulse until smooth. Add the ricotta, season with salt and pepper and pulse until well mixed. You can use a fork or potato smasher if you don’t have a food processor; first mash the squash, then add the ricotta and mash together until well mixed. Add this to the bowl of pasta. Add the caramelized onions and ½ of the Mozzarella cheese.

Beat the egg and ¼ cup milk together, add to pasta. Stir everything together until evenly mixed. Put into your prepared pan. Sprinkle remaining mozzarella over top.

Cook at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes until top turns golden brown. Let set for five minutes before serving.

Serve with fresh grated Parmesan or Romano.

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Butternut Squash Ziti

Strawberry Salad with Mozzarella Pesto Grilled Cheese

Mozzarella & Pesto Grilled Cheese with Strawberry Salad

The strawberries in the market were quite simply the most flawless, exquisite strawberries that I’ve ever seen in my life. Every single one was the deepest shade of juicy red, perfectly ripe without a bruise in sight and most were as big as the palm of my hand. Everyone was exclaiming over them. I knew I had to use them for something supremely divine. I give you this strawberry dressing.

It is so lovely I want to eat it with a spoon like a bowl of soup. It has that distinct flavor strawberries are famous for, a little sweet, a little tart with little pops of basil shining through here and there. The flavor only improves over time, like wine. Besides dressing my salads I’ve been dunking apple slices and strawberries right into it. The sweet apples play off the tartness in the dressing making for a sensational treat.

Rustic peasant bread makes the best grilled cheese. This one had the perfect amount of butter-fried crunchiness and melted, molten mozzarella oozing out the cracks speckled with the pumpkin-arugula pesto I made last week. This tasty sandwich is my creation for Tyler Florence Fridays. You know- that great group of foodies that I’m always raving about and trying to convince you to join. We heart Tyler’s recipes!

Mozzarella & Pesto Grilled Cheese

Strawberry and Basil Dressing
(by Reeni)

1 cup sliced strawberries
2/3 cup Canola oil
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon fresh Basil, chopped
Sea Salt and Fresh cracked pepper to taste

Emulsify everything in a food processor until smooth. Season with salt and pepper if desired. Keep refrigerated.

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Strawberry Salad

Smoked Mozzarella and Pesto Grilled Cheese
(adapted from Tyler Florence, Stirring the Pot, page 106)

2 slices Peasant Bread
Pesto sauce
3 ounces Mozzarella cheese, shredded or sliced
1 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, peeled

To assemble sandwiches smear one side of each slice of bread with Pesto sauce. Layer on the mozzarella and season with fresh cracked pepper. Put the top on. Melt half of the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sandwich and butter the top side. Cook 2 to 3 minutes per side until golden brown, crispy and cheese is melted. Remove from pan and rub the bread with the garlic clove.

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Toss together Romaine, apples, strawberries, and almonds. Drizzle some pink over top. Enjoy.
Strawberry Salad

Ravioli Stuffed Acorn Hearts with Mozzarella Sauce

Ravioli Stuffed Squash Hearts & Mozzarella Cream Sauce

The moment I laid eyes on this recipe from Tyler Florence I knew I would be making it in one form or another. Bite-sized cheese ravioli are stuffed into the middle of acorn squash and covered in a creamy, herby mozzarella sauce flavored with garlic, thyme and sage. Parmesan and mozzarella are melted in at the end. Tyler’s recipe uses cream, but I cut way back on calories and replaced it with whole milk instead. It’s rich enough without. Tyler uses tortellini, I use ravioli.

Ravioli Stuffed Squash Hearts & Mozzarella Cream Sauce

The acorn hearts are cooked first, filled, and then baked again.

Ravioli Stuffed Squash Hearts & Mozzarella Cream Sauce

Ravioli Stuffed Acorn Hearts with Mozzarella Cream Sauce
(adapted from Tyler Florence, Stirring the Pot, page 78)

2 medium acorn squash (about 1 pound each)
extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
13 oz. bite-size cheese Ravioli
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 garlic clove crushed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ cup fresh grated Parmesan
1 and 1/3 cup Mozzarella, shredded, 1/3 cup set aside for topping

Preheat oven to 370 F.

Split the squash in half (cut lengthwise from top end to bottom end) cutting right through the stem so each half has a piece of stem attached. Scrape out the seeds with a spoon and discard. Cut a small piece off the rounded bottom to give it a base to sit on. Place the squash halves cut sides up on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes or until tender.

Meanwhile prepare the Ravioli mix. Heat a large pot of salted water to cook Ravioli in. In a separate saucepan heat the heavy cream and milk over medium heat with garlic, thyme, and sage. Reduce until thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Add the nutmeg, Parmesan, and Mozzarella, melt over low heat. Cook the Ravioli according to package directions. Drain and toss into cream mixture. Season with salt and pepper and then fill cooked squash hearts. There may be a few Ravioli left over. A snack while your waiting!

Turn the oven up to 400 F.Sprinkle the tops with the 1/3 cup Mozzarella set aside. Bake for about 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted and golden brown.

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Ravioli Stuffed Squash Hearts & Mozzarella Cream Sauce
This is my entry for Tyler Florence Fridays.

Caramelized Eggplant Pasta with Arugula Pumpkin Seed Pesto Sauce

Caramelized Eggplant Farfalle & Arugula Pesto

I have a  fancy pasta recipe for you today made with bow-tie pasta, caramelized eggplant, Roma tomatoes and pumpkin-arugula pesto.
I broke all the rules with my pesto sauce. It’s everything except traditional with it’s toasty Pumpkins seeds and baby ‘rocket’ leaves. The Farfalle pasta does a stellar job of attracting the pesto. You can see it sticking to even the smallest nooks and crannies. The caramelized eggplant takes a bit of patience but is well worth it. Eggplant has a high water content and just like a sponge it soaks up the oil it’s cooked in. You need to tend to it like a newborn baby. Even if you’re not a fan of eggplant I bid you to give this a try. It alters the taste immensely taking on a deep, smoky flavor. The mushy texture that it usually has disappears.

Caramelized Eggplant Pasta & Arugula Pesto

Caramelized Eggplant Pasta and Arugula Pesto
(by Reeni)

1 eggplant, about 1-11/2 pounds, peeled, sliced into ½ inch slices and cut into 2-inch pieces
Olive oil, for frying
8 oz Farfalle pasta
1 cup Roma tomatoes, seeds taken out, diced
Pumpkin-Arugula Pesto(recipe to follow)
Romano or Parmesan, freshly grated, for serving

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the eggplant and saute until browned. It will closely resemble caramelized onions when ready. Add a little bit of oil (a teaspoon or so) at a time as needed. The eggplant will soak up a lot of it. If you add to much it will take longer to caramelize. As the eggplant cooks you will need to turn the pan down a bit to prevent burning.

Cook the pasta according to package directions to al dente while the eggplant is cooking. Drain and add the pasta right back to the pan it was cooked in. The little bit of water left on the pasta will steam off from the heat in the pan. Add enough of the pesto to just coat the pasta.

When the eggplant is a dark brown color it is ready. Season with salt and pepper.

Toss the pasta with the eggplant and tomatoes, adding in pesto until everything is well coated. Serve hot or chilled with fresh shredded Pecorino Romano or Parmesan.

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Caramelized Eggplant Farfalle & Arugula Pesto

Pumpkin-Arugula Pesto

½ cup Pumpkin(Pepita) Seeds, raw and unsalted
1 clove garlic
2 cups baby Arugula leaves
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ teaspoon fresh squeezed lime juice
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan

Toast the Pumpkin Seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat until they take on a light golden brown, about ten minutes mixing every minute or two. They will pop and may puff up. Let cool.

Add them to your food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the rest of the ingredients except the cheese. Pulse until smooth. Add Parmesan and pulse until smooth again. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired. 

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Caramelized Eggplant Farfalle & Arugula Pesto