Improv Pasta Salad

Sunday, November 27th, 2011 by Rachel

In order to avoid a second Thanksgiving leftover meal today, I quickly came up with this recipe. It used up some odds and ends in the fridge and pantry, and it was a healthy side to go with our Morningstar Farms Riblets. I normally stir pasta salad in a large bowl, but this saved us the washing of a dish! The egg noodles were a much different noodle than the cellentani I love, but it was a nice change of pace because of the texture and because they collected the olive oil well.


Improv Pasta Salad


The end of a bag of extra wide egg noodles
End of a bag of frozen lima beans
About a cup or so of frozen field peas with snaps
1 can organic garbanzo beans / chickpeas, drained and washed
End of a cube of mozzarella cheese (probably ¼), sliced into tiny cubes
Olive oil


Boil noodles. Boil lima beans and field peas (in separate pots, since they have different cooking times). Drain all three when they are al dente. Put noodles, lima beans, field peas, beans, and cheese in large tupperware. Drizzle with olive oil. Put lid on tupperware. Shake it!!! Shake it!!! Take lid off. Pasta salad is done! Sprinkle with a little kosher salt for extra flavor.

Recipe: Thufferin’ Thuccotash

Friday, September 16th, 2011 by Rachel

When I saw Emily de Vorsay’s entry over at The Sexy Divorcee Cooks For One, I was immediately intrigued. Though I don’t know anything about succotash and I know even less about lima beans, something about this dish (maybe the corn, maybe the tomatoes) stuck out. Because grocery shopping in Milledgeville can be difficult and I wasn’t able to find all of the ingredients, I had to replace some of her ingredients. I also reduced the bacon, because we only had four pieces of bacon in the fridge. Though I made ingredient modifications, I kept Emily’s directions below with only a few adjustments. In reality, the meal took me a little longer to cook because I wasn’t able to thaw the lima beans or corn in time for dinner, but Emily’s instructions (and occasional taste testing) were enough of a guideline to keep me on track.


I served the succotash as a side with veggie burgers and steak fries. The cilantro and lime flavors really worked together. Since we only used the succotash as a side, we have tons leftover, and I imagine we’ll be eating more with both lunch and dinner tomorrow.


Thufferin’ Thuccotash
(or Rachel’s version of Emily’s Summer Succotash)


10 oz bag frozen lima beans, thawed
10 oz bag frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered
1 onion, diced
¼ tsp. garlic powder
4 slices bacon
Juice of one lime
1 tsp. sugar
1 pinch kosher salt
2 dashes pepper
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped


Bring a pot of water to boil on the stove and cook the lima beans until just tender (think “al dente”), about five minutes. Drain and rinse in cold water and set aside.


Meanwhile, combine the lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper and let sit. In a large skillet, cook the bacon until crisp and set aside to drain on a paper towel. Keep the bacon grease in the pan. Cook the onion in the bacon grease until it starts to soften, about a minute. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the corn, tomatoes, and lime-juice mixture. Cook just until the tomatoes begin to lose their firmness. Crumble half the bacon and toss it with the lima beans, and add both to the skillet. Cook until just warmed through and remove from the heat.


Toss with the fresh cilantro and sprinkle the remaining bacon on top.

Recipe: Mexican Bratwurst Frittata

Friday, September 9th, 2011 by Rachel

I know this meal might sound a little ridiculous (Brats are German, not Mexican!), but I used what we had. Ultimately, the bratwurst added a nice flavor to the frittata dish. We ate this with a side of Uncle Ben’s “Santa Fe” Whole Grain Rice Medley mixed with some corn, leftover from yesterday.


Mexican Bratwurst Frittata


1 leftover beer brat
½ large onion, sliced and diced
2 medium sized tomatoes, sliced and diced
Fajita Seasoning blend
Handful Kraft Mexican 4 cheese Mix
4 eggs
½ cup Smart Balance milk
Olive oil
Smart Balance Cooking Spray


Heat olive oil in medium skillet. While it’s preheating, chop up onion and tomatoes. Put them in the skillet and season (I used the fajitas seasoning mix –again, thanks to Ms. Debra & Mr. Stewart—but any Mexican seasonings, like cumin, oregano and parsley, would do). Cook, stirring occasionally, until veggies are tender, about 7 minutes.


Meanwhile, chop up bratwurst. Also, mix eggs in milk in a small bowl. Spray square casserole pan (my little Fiesta-ware one is about 9 inches) with Smart Balance Cooking Spray


Preheat oven to 350. Put bratwurst in bottom of casserole pan. Pour tomato/onion/seasoning mix on top. Then pour egg/milk mixture on top of that. Sprinkle cheese on top, and put in oven. Bake until the egg is set and the top is golden. For us, that took about 35 minutes, but begin checking at 20.

Bamango Strawberry Smoothie

Thursday, September 8th, 2011 by Rachel

3 ice cubes
1 banana
1 1/2 cups strawberries
1 cup Santa Cruz Organic Mango Lemonade


Put ingredients in blender, and blend! Makes 2 servings.

Bamango Peach Smoothie

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 by Rachel

3 ice cubes
1 cup sliced peaches
2 bananas
1 cup Santa Cruz Organic Mango Lemonade


Put ingredients in blender, and blend! Makes 2 servings.

Rachel’s Peanut Butter and Banana Pancakes

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 by Rachel

I bought a bunch of bananas yesterday for smoothies this weekend, but I woke up worried that we wouldn’t be able to use them all. Thinking about a new Saturday morning recipe, I googled peanut butter and banana pancakes. I found this recipe over on, but, since I was missing some of the ingredients and a lot of the user comments were critical, I used it as a baseline to create my own peanut butter and banana pancakes recipe. I also surprised Derrick with one of these, topped with butter and syrup, as breakfast in bed.


Rachel’s Peanut Butter and Banana Pancakes


1 cup flour
1 ¼ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
2 heaping spoonfuls of chunky Smart Balance peanut butter
1 ¼ cup Smart Balance skim milk
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
1 small banana, peeled and chopped into itty bitty pieces
Smart Balance cooking spray.


Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Mix in peanut butter as well as you can. I just waited until it wasn’t clumpy anymore and it was broken up. Add milk and vanilla; stir just until blended. Stir in banana pieces.


Heat a skillet over medium heat. Spray it so your pancakes don’t stick in between pancakes. Spoon batter onto skillet using a ladle. Cook until pancakes are done, whether you like them gooey on the inside or burnt to a crisp. They’ll turn a nice brown thanks to the peanut butter.

Recipe: Rachel’s Shrimp Tacos

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011 by Rachel

Sure I’m on my way to becoming a master chef, but sometimes recipes just don’t turn out the way you expected them to. This weekend, I had my heart set on a chickpea taco recipe for Saturday’s lunch, a nice healthy vegetarian option that would satisfy my newfound chickpea fixation. I mixed up the chickpeas with avocado, herbs, and lime. I stuffed the tacos with lettuce and the chickpea mixture and put them in silly yellow baskets lined with heart-patterned napkins. The meal looked strange, but beautiful… until we bit into our tacos and each made a grimace. It was disgusting. It was limey and crunchy and made your tongue want to run back into your throat for safety. Derrick and I each finished one taco before throwing the chickpea mixture in the trash, brushing our teeth, and leaving the house in an attempt to erase the disgusting food memory.


But I was left with 16 Old Paso Crunchy Taco Shells that I would never ordinarily use or have in the fridge. Derrick used to make a mean beef-taco mix, but since we’ve moved away from eating beef, I didn’t want to default to an old, less-healthy recipe. So tonight, I came up with this shrimp taco recipe which turned out really nice. It’s pretty similar to how I’ve cooked shrimp in the past for quesadillas. I just happened to have fajita spice mix pre-made (Thanks Ms. Debra!), but if you don’t have it, a mixture of cumin, parsley, cilantro, oregano, garlic salt should do the trick. My point for you cooks out there is that we should never become discouraged when meals fail. Turn a bad food experience into a positive one, and work to create recipes that you want to keep in your repertoire to make over and over again!


Rachel’s Shrimp Tacos


15-20 small shrimp
1 tbl. butter
Squirt of lime juice
Serious dash fajita seasoning
Taco shells (or tortillas)


Thaw shrimp. Remove shell and vein if necessary. Preheat skillet with butter to medium. Chop up shrimp into thirds or quarters, depending on their size. When butter is melted, slide it around to coat entire pan. Add shrimp, and squirt lime juice on top. Sprinkle seasoning over top of pan; you want each shrimp to have seasoning on top, a nice spackling of flavor. Sauté in skillet for about 7 minutes until shrimp are pink and done. Put shrimp in taco shells first. Add whatever toppings you want. We added Mexican cheese and some Wholly Salsa “Medium”. This ended up being two servings, since I ate 2 tacos, and Derrick ate 3. We served with my mexican corn dish.

Quick Recipe: Goat Cheese & Spinach Scramble

Thursday, August 11th, 2011 by Rachel

This is the second scramble recipe that I’ve posted on , because it’s one of those meals I cook all the time. Remember that I believe strongly in using what you have! Scrambles are great for this! I had grits for breakfast this morning, but, after mopping and exercising this morning, I wanted to make sure to get some protein in for lunch. We’ve eaten goat cheese veggie burgers two nights this week, and, though Derrick likes goat cheese, I knew I needed to figure out another recipe to use up the leftovers. We’ve been eating spinach on the burgers and on salads, but there’s still quite a bit left in the bin. We had leftover chopped red pepper from making a blueberry salsa this weekend. A good scramble should be flavorful, colorful, and filling, and this one definitely was!


Goat Cheese & Spinach Scramble


2 organic cage-free brown eggs
1 handful baby spinach
Chopped red pepper (add enough to give color and crunch to the dish!)
1 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1 tbl. olive oil
Pinch kosher salt
Dash black pepper


Pour in olive oil and preheat pan to medium. When pan is warm, add two eggs. Scramble. When eggs are almost complete, add salt, pepper. A minute later, add spinach, red pepper, goat cheese. Make sure cheese is mixed around, since goat cheese likes to stick to one place. When eggs are done and spinach is wilted, so is the meal. Enjoy!

Bratwurst Bake

Friday, July 29th, 2011 by Rachel

A family friend has given us lots of vegetable jars from her garden, so I’ve been gradually finding ways to use them up. Yesterday, I created this easy recipe, and it turned out great. I used to bake bratwurst on their own when we lived in Flagstaff, but lately I’ve only been cooking them in a stovetop skillet, so this was a nice change of pace. The bratwurst flavor made its way into the veggies without taking over. Even though this bratwurst bake has the side “built in” already with the green beans, it lends itself well to being mixed and matched with other foods. I served it with corn on the cob last night, and tonight I’ll be making some pesto pasta for a fresh side with the leftovers.


Bratwurst Bake


1 package (5) Johnsonville Brats ( choose the flavor of your choice. I used original)
1 big jar green beans, about the equivalent of 2 cans
1/2 jar chunky tomato paste, about 1 can tomato paste and 1 can diced tomatoes mixed
Cooking Spray (I use Smart Balance)


Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add brats and boil for 15 minutes.


Preheat oven to 375. Spray 9 x 13 baking dish/casserole pan with cooking spray. Drain and rinse green beans. Create a green bean perimeter in the baking dish. Put tomato paste in the middle, like a lava lake.


When brats are done boiling, drain and put them in the middle of the casserole dish on the “lava lake”. Put a dollop of tomato paste on each of the 5 brats. Sprinkle entire dish with oregano, cilantro, parsley. Bake at 375 for 20-30 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when brats have browned nicely.

Quick Recipe: Spinach, Arugula, Tomato Scramble

Monday, July 18th, 2011 by Rachel

Remember that every ingredient in your kitchen presents an opportunity. Use what you have. When I wasn’t in the mood for granola or cereal this morning, I looked in the refrigerator and put together this healthy, colorful, and delicious recipe. I don’t have a picture because I ate this meal too quickly! Yesterday, I bought an organic spinach and arugula salad mix. Arugula has been tough to find in Milledgeville until Walmart started carrying it a few weeks ago. Arugula is a strong, flavorful salad green that I use in both regular salads and pasta salads. I also had a red tomato in the fridge that needed to be used.


Spinach, Arugula, Tomato Scramble


2 organic cage-free brown eggs
1 medium tomato, diced (if you have an extra slice, eat it while you cook!)
1 handful spinach and arugula
Smart Balance Cooking Spray or 1 Tsp Olive Oil


Spray frying pan and preheat it to medium. When pan is warm, add two eggs. Scramble. When eggs are almost complete, add spinach, arugula, tomato. When eggs are done, so is the meal. Voila! Enjoy your breakfast!