{Recipe} Marinated Butter Beans for your Antipasto Platter

Marinated butter beans

When we have parties, my favorite appetizer to prepare is an antipasto platter — delicious savory treats, piled high on a platter, and shared family style. Add some crostini or baguette to soak up the vinegar and oil from the various foods and you’ve got a treat that will please everyone. The time may be over for summer BBQs, but as the holidays approach, so will entertaining opportunities!

My typical antipasto platter includes cured meat (usually pepperoni or salami), fresh mozzarella, olives, roasted red peppers, maybe some artichokes or pickled asparagus… really, whatever I have on hand. Last month I got the idea of using beans on the antipasto tray I prepared for the boys’ birthday party. Not sure how or why that popped into my head (possibly they were talking about a bean salad on an NPR program about picnic foods that I was listening to as I drove). I threw this recipe together for Marinated Butter Beans and they were a huge hit! Not only were they delicious on their own, but they added zing to a tossed salad and bulked up a pasta salad, too. You may have seen marinated butter beans at the deli case or in the “olive bar” area of your grocery store, but why pay those prices when you can make it yourself for a whole lot less? 

Marinated Butter Beans
A tasty addition to your antipasto tray
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Ingredients
  1. 1 15-oz. can of butter beans
  2. 1/4 c. olive oil
  3. 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  4. 1 tsp. capers
  5. 1 Tbsp. minced onion (not dried)
  6. 1 tsp. diced red pepper
  7. 1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
  8. pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. In the bottom of a mason jar or a bowl, combine olive oil, vinegar, capers, onion, red pepper, Italian seasoning, and salt. Drain butter beans and rinse well. Add beans to the jar and stir to coat. Refrigerate the beans for at least a few hours, or better yet, overnight.
Notes
  1. Add to your antipasto platter, salad, or just enjoy as a snack.
Pure Sugar http://puresugar.net/

For more yummy recipes, head over to Diary of a Stay at Home Mom for Cooking Thursday!

{Recipe} Bacon-Stuffed Mushrooms

Bacon-Stuffed Mushrooms

Oh my, it’s been a while since I shared a recipe with you. Well, I’m jumping right back and and I have a delicious appetizer today! I brought this dish to “girls’ night” type thing last night and they were a hit. My husband also raved about the samples I left for him. The best part? You can whip this up in no time at all.

Now, when I think of stuffed mushrooms I think of a sausage and breadcrumb filling, or even a crabmeat filling. I love how they taste, but I’ve never attempted making my own because… well, I’m not really sure. It just seemed like a labor-intensive process. Not so with this recipe. In fact, you can make the filling ahead of time to let the flavors develop, then stuff your mushrooms later, broil, and enjoy.

 

Bacon-Stuffed Mushrooms
Juicy mushroom caps stuffed with a creamy mixture of bacon and cheese.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  2. 1/2 cup crumbled bacon (or real bacon bits)
  3. 1 Tbsp. chopped scallions
  4. 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  5. 1 lb. whole, fresh white mushrooms, stems removed
Instructions
  1. In a small mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese until it is smooth. Add the bacon bits, garlic powder, and green onion. Stir to combine. Spoon mixture into mushroom caps. Arrange mushrooms on a cookie sheet or broiler plan. Broil for 5-8 minutes until mushrooms are heated through and the tops have slightly browned. Serve warm.
Pure Sugar http://puresugar.net/

{Recipe} Easiest-Ever Crock Pot Potato Soup

Easiest Ever Crock Pot Potato Soup

I know. There are a million recipes for potato soup out there. But you know what? This is a recipe I have been making for years and years. I can’t remember if I started making it while in college, or just after I had graduated, but either way it’s a long time.

My friend Kelly (of the Easter Nest recipe) and I have long been Crock Pot afficianados (way before it was a cool thing again). And I consider this to be our soup. With just a few ingredients, the recipe is easy to throw together, forgiving, and (most important), super-yummy!

Easiest Ever Crock Pot Potato Soup

Easiest-Ever Crock Pot Potato Soup
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Ingredients
  1. 6 cups of peeled, chopped potatoes
  2. 3 cups water
  3. 1/2 cup chopped onion
  4. 3 bouillon cubes
  5. 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  6. 3-4 slices American cheese
  7. 1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
  8. 1 12-oz. can evaporated milk
Instructions
  1. Combine potatoes, onions, water, bouillon cubes, and pepper in a 3-4 qt. slow cooker. Cover. Cook on LOW for 9-11 hours or HIGH for 4-4.5 hours.
  2. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup (or remove and carefully puree in a blender). If you prefer a chunky soup, use a masher.
  3. Add cheeses and evaporated milk to the soup. Stir to combine. Cover and cook on LOW for 1 hour more or HIGH for 30 minutes more.
  4. Serve with additional cheese, sour cream, chives, and/or bacon bits
Notes
  1. Substitute cream or half-and-half for the evaporated milk if you don't have it on hand.
  2. This recipe can easily be made vegetarian by using vegetable broth instead of water and chicken bouillion.
  3. If you have homemade chicken broth, by all means use it. This happens to be a "throw together" me for me, and bouillon cubes are a pantry staple (whereas I don't always have homemade broth).
Pure Sugar http://puresugar.net/

5 Delicious Meatless Meals for Lent

lenten meals

I’m not ashamed to admit that I am an unabashed carnivore. I love meat. There. I said it. I love my veggies, too, but I have a hard time making them the star of the show. However, every year I see Lent as a challenge to ramp it up. I’m hoping to have a lot more meatless meals to share with you over the next few weeks, but in the meantime, here are a few of my favorites. If you’re stuck for a dinner idea tonight, any one of these is perfect. Just pair it with a salad and BAM! (as Emeril might say)… dinner is served.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

butternut squash soup

Tomato and Squash Tart with Gorgonzola

summer vegetable tart

Indian Potatoes and Peas

Indian Potatoes & Peas

Creamy Indian-Spiced Lentils

indian-spiced lentils (dal)

Spicy Black Bean Soup

spicy black bean soup

CLOSED {Review & Giveaway) Hostess Gifts and Merci Chocolates

Merci Chocolates

I received a box of Merci Chocolates and a promotional item for my honest review.
I received no monetary compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

If your December calendar looks anything like mine, you’ll be attending several holiday parties. I am always looking for great hostess gifts. What could be better than chocolate? Merci chocolates seem to be made for saying “thank you.” I think the name alone gives that away! And indulging in a piece of yummy chocolate is such a great way to wind down after a whirlwind party.

Each box of merci includes a delicious selection of rich, European chocolates in flavors like milk chocolate, hazelnut-almond, marzipan, dark mousse, and coffee and cream. I think my favorite, however, is the praline-creme. Such a delicious treat paired with a cup of dark roast coffee!

merci

As someone who enjoys entertaining in my home, I know how much goes in to party planning. I don’t think there is anything out-of-the-ordinary that makes a great hostess, though, as long as she is having a great time too. Enthusiasm is contagious! I do appreciate always being greeted at the door, and taking guests special needs into consideration is always appreciated, too. (These are things that I try to do myself.)

I’m really looking forward to our Christmas movie party in a couple weeks, so you can bet I’ll be keeping in mind what I enjoy when I attend someone else’s party. Basically three things: good friends, good food, and good fun. Sounds simple, but I think it’s true! I will also be bringing a gift of merci to my mother-in-law’s on Christmas Eve as a token of thanks for always having a lovely holiday dinner and making everyone feel welcome.

merci2

The sweet people at merci have generously offered to give away a gift pack to one of my readers so that you can also say “thank you” to someone!

Rules

  • Open to U.S. residents 18 and over only.
  • Giveaway will close at 12 PM Eastern Time on Thursday, December 19, 2013.
  • Winner will be chosen by Random.org and posted on the blog the next morning. To enter, please leave a comment telling me what qualities you think make a great hostess OR a party that you are looking forward to this holiday season.

And don’t forget to check out merci’s Facebook app, the Thank-You-Maker! You can send a friend a meaningful thank you, and in return receive a Buy One Get One Free coupon for merci chocolates! If you’re on Twitter, send a tweet about giving a meaningful ‘Thank You’ using the #merciHoliday hashtag.

You can find merci chocolates at many stores including World Market, Target, and Amazon.com. 

Thanks to you, my readers for supporting my blog. And good luck with this giveaway. Trust me, the winner will truly enjoy these scrumptious chocolates!

5 Easy Last-Minute Thanksgiving Dishes

5 Easy Last-Minute Thanksgiving Dishes | puresugar.net

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and if you’re still agonizing over the menu, don’t fret! I’m sharing 5 easy recipes — 3 for side dishes and 2 for desserts. I’m actually making up the sweet potatoes today and bringing them to my in-laws’ house tomorrow!

Maple Baked Sweet Potatoes
maplebakedsweetpotatoes

Green Beans with Lemon
greenbeanswithlemon

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
sprouts

Peanut Butter Pie
peanut butter pie

Flourless Chocolate Torte
flourless chocolate torte

 

From our house to yours… Happy Thanksgiving!

{Recipe} Turkey Divan Casserole

Turkey Divan Casserole | puresugar.net

With the kids all in school, we are back to a crazy schedule that includes a bunch of activities. We have Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, CCD, afterschool electives… and that’s just for beginners. Add in my part-time job at the library, trying to keep up with my blog, and family commitments and you have a full calendar! But a full schedule is no excuse for not cooking. You just need to plan ahead!

Here are my top 5 ways to save time in the kitchen on weekdays.

  1. Menu plan. I make a home-cooked meal for my family six nights a week, and being organized is key. I’ve been menu planning since our pre-kid days. I look at what I have in my pantry and freezer, check my grocery store’s sale flyer, and go from there. 
  2. Be your own sous chef. Prep as much as you can ahead of time. Have an open burner on the stove? Fill a pot with water and cook rice, pasta, or quinoa for the week. Roast a pan of vegetables or boil them so you can reheat or quickly add them to dishes. Earlier this year I read An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler, and this simple tip stuck with me and has made a huge difference in the way I cook.
  3. Cook once, eat twice. Making a meatloaf? Buy enough ingredients to make two and freeze one. I also always try to keep the following pre-cooked items in my freezer: taco meat, browned ground beef, and shredded chicken. Within 20 minutes I can pull together a quick pot of soup or chili.
  4. Save the culinary experiments. We all love trying out new recipes, but save the multi-step gourmet dishes for weekends or days when you have extra time.
  5. Keep a file of quick-fix family favorites. Whether it’s juicy burgers, a fresh pasta dish, or a comforting casserole, it’s a relief knowing that you can throw together a home-cooked meal that everyone will love.

Turkey Divan Casserole

Turkey Divan Casserole is something I’ve been making for over 10 years. I occasionally change up the recipe depending upon what I have in my fridge (oh, that could be #6 – Be flexible). Don’t have rice? Use stuffing or egg noodles. Don’t have turkey? Use chicken. That’s the beauty of a casserole. It lends itself to whatever’s leftover. Country Crock Original Spread is delicious in this recipe. It contains 0 g trans fat per serving, no partially hydrogenated oils, and no cholesterol. Additionaly, it has 70% less fat than butter and 30% fewer calories than butter per serving.

Turkey Divan Casserole
Transform boring leftovers into delicious comfort food with this #QuickFixCasserole.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 c. cooked rice
  2. 3 c. cooked, diced turkey
  3. 2 c. broccoli (leftover or blanched)
  4. 3 Tbsp. Country Crock Original Spread
  5. 3 Tbsp. flour
  6. 1/8 tsp. poultry seasoning
  7. pinch nutmeg
  8. 1 c. half & half
  9. 2 c. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
For topping
  1. 1 Tbsp. Country Crock
  2. 2 Tbsp. breadcrumbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a 2-quart casserole dish, layer the cooked rice, the turkey, and the broccoli.
  2. Melt 3 Tbsp. of Country Crock in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour, poultry seasoning, and nutmeg. Slowly add the half & half, whisking continuously. Continue to stir until no lumps remain. Remove from heat and add cheese. Stir until melted. Pour over top of casserole.
  3. Melt 1 Tbsp. of Country Crock and stir in the breadcrumbs. Sprinkle over top of dish.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve with a crisp salad.
Notes
  1. This recipe can be prepped ahead of time. Let it come to room temperature before baking.
Pure Sugar http://puresugar.net/
Turkey Divan Casserole

You know it’s good when the kids just about clean the dish! (And yes, I did finish off the last few bites.) For more #QuickFixCasseroles, be sure to check out Country Crock on Pinterest. (And try not to drool all over your keyboard!)

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.