Cuban Guava Pastries – Pastelitos de Guayaba

Of the many reasons that I love living in Florida, the authentic quality and diversity of world cuisines is close to the top of my cultural list. You could eat food from every continent and most countries and only travel up to 20-30 minutes from home. Most places give a cultural feel with the music and décor as well. Some of my favorite places to go are Cuban restaurants. The music makes me want to dance, the people are so friendly, and the food is delicioso. A while back I brought in some assorted Cuban Guava Pastries – Pastelitos de Guayaba to share with my coworkers and I was the hero of the day. These are they pastries that I shared.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

Pastelitos are puff pastries that are usually filled with guava or cheese or both. They flaky, lightly sweet, and perfect with a cup of good coffee in the morning or afternoon. When I saw this pin from My Big Fat Cuban Family, one of the blogs that I follow, I knew I had to try making these. Who doesn’t want to make something delicious and be the work hero twice?

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

The Pintesting:

There are only four ingredients. Some restaurants and pastelerias sprinkle course sugar after the egg wash or brush with a sweeter glaze, but I don’t like my pastries too sweet so this was perfect for me. The guava paste is found in most grocery stores in the ethnic aisle.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or a Silpat). Unfold one of the puff pastries onto the parchment.

Slice the guava paste thinly and put two for each pastry. One box of (2) puff pastries will make 9 pastelitos.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

Spread some of the softened cream cheese on the guava paste. Some places sweeten the cream cheese with a little sugar before putting it in the pastry. I find the guava paste very sweet and the plain cream cheese balances the overall flavor.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

When all of the guava paste has cream cheese, unfold the other puff pastry and put it on top. Try to line it up with the bottom pastry.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

Cut all the way through to make 9 little pastries, then make little cuts on each top pastry.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

Egg wash the top of the pastries and then bake them until they’re golden brown and beautiful.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

While the pastelitos are baking, do yourself a favor and make some Cuban coffee or café Cubano which is a lot like sweetened espresso. I prefer my coffee with milk (like a café latte), so I get café con leche. (Look how much authentic culture I’m putting into this post.)

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

That’s it! You can serve these warm or at room temperature. I was pleasantly surprised at how 4 ingredients could make such a tasty treat. And yes, I was the work hero again for bringing these in. These are so easy to whip up that you can be a hero and bring delicious culture to your friends and family, too.

Pintesting Cuban Guava Pastries - Pastelitos de Guayaba

 

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 5 Pins

Pintesting Seal 5 Pins

Accuracy: These not only turned out just like the recipe (and video tutorial) said they would, but they also tasted like the ones that I bought at the Cuban restaurant. Everyone at work raved over them. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: With only four ingredients and no mixing, chopping, or serious prep work, this recipe is very kid friendly with adult supervision. I just recommend that an adult does the cutting to separate the pastelitos. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time: The preparation took about 7 minutes and my baking time was 25 minutes. The total time was about half an hour so I’m giving this 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost: The puff pastry was about $3.00 and the guava paste was just over $1.00. The total cost for 9 pastries was less than three pastries from the restaurant. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  This is one of those recipes that you can keep the ingredients on hand and whip up at a moment’s notice. They’re quick, easy, and oh so delicious. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Honey Balsamic Chicken

It’s the new year and I have resolved to eat healthy – again – for about the 100th year in a row. Anyone else with me on this? Granted, I don’t eat terribly but I’m not as consistent as I’d like to be. But some meals make eating a healthy diet much easier. For example, I saw a video for Honey Balsamic Chicken on Facebook and a couple of days later this pin for the recipe by TipHero (inspired by Chungah of Damn Delicious) popped up on my Pinterest feed, too. They do seem to copy her recipes quite a bit, so if you’re not following Damn Delicious yet you just might want to.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

I really like the idea of a whole meal made on one sheet pan in the oven. (Hooray for fewer dishes!) I also like that the recipes used a variety of vegetables.

It’s worth noting that there were a few slight differences in the two recipes.

  1. The TipHero recipe uses green beans while the Damn Delicious recipe uses asparagus. We love asparagus in our home, so that’s what we went with.
  2. The honey balsamic marinade recipes had a few differences. TipHero’s used thyme, rosemary, and chili flakes while the Damn Delicious recipe used Dijon mustard, oregano, and basil.
  3. Chungah’s recipe also took less time to make – a big plus in my book.
  4. The TipHero recipe pours the marinade over the chicken and veggies prior to roasting; Damn Delicious didn’t. I went with TipHero on this step. More flavor is more better. (I beg forgiveness from the grammar police for that.)

The Pintesting:

I didn’t get a photo of all of the ingredients this time. What can I say? I was hungry. Fortunately, there aren’t a lot of ingredients.

The first thing that I did was to make the marinade. I used a short-cut here and just dumped all of the marinade ingredients into the bag that the chicken came in and squished it until it was mixed, tossing the chicken in the marinade at the same time. Since my chicken breasts were still somewhat frozen I thought I’d let it defrost and soak up the flavor all at once. Also, since it’s just my HH and me I only used one whole chicken breast (two halves). This worked for us since the chicken breasts are very large and we like lots of veggies.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

While the chicken defrosted, I lined the pan with parchment and prepped the vegetables.

Quarter the potatoes then add the tomatoes. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and season with salt and pepper.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

Put the chicken on the pan and drizzle the remaining marinade on the veggies.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

Roast for about 20 minutes then add the asparagus (I drizzled the asparagus with a little more extra virgin olive oil), then roast it for another 10 minutes. This was my timing compromise between the two recipes.

You don’t want to eat undercooked chicken! When in doubt check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. For chicken, this should be 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

Done! Your dinner is done and the only dirty dishes are one pan, one cutting board, and one knife. Join me in the happy dance?

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

The chicken was juicy and flavorful. The tangy-sweet acidity of the tomatoes, starchy creaminess of the potatoes, and the bright crispy asparagus complimented each other, and the marinade brought it all home. YUM!

Pintesting Honey Balsamic Chicken

And now I have to say this. WINNER! WINNER! CHICKEN DINNER!

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.85 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  This recipe was as simple as the TipHero video showed it to be even though I followed Chungah’s recipe. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  This recipe was very simple – perfect for novice cooks. The prep work was minimal and the marinade made everything taste wonderful. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time:  The active time to prep and cook the recipe was 40 minutes. The chicken requires time to marinade (30 minutes to overnight). I did this ahead of time and let it marinade all afternoon. While it isn’t active cooking time, it’s still necessary to make the recipe turn out so I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Cost:  The cute little potatoes and grape tomatoes were both buy-one-get-one-free at the store when I got them. (I love shopping sales!) The total cost of all the main ingredients (not deducting for the sales) was $12.00. Even though we used only 2 chicken breast halves, we had 4 meals making this $3.00/serving. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  This is the kind of home cooking I could eat every week. It was simple, delicious, and planning ahead with the marinade made quick work of the cooking. Perfect for busy weeknights! You could experiment with using different kinds of vegetables such as green beans, carrots, Brussels sprouts, or whatever your family likes. You can also switch up the marinades – try the TipHero version for a more traditional herbed chicken flavor. This will be a regular in our menu rotation. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Pintesting the Best of Italy with Pizza

October is NATIONAL PIZZA MONTH! Did you know this? I didn’t until the month was nearly over. Pintesting Monini Mutti Pizza I’ve wanted to do a pizza recipe post for quite some time but with so many unique kinds of pizza, I wasn’t sure which would be the best one to start with. There’s the Neapolitan style Margherita, the large thin crust New York style, the deep-dish Chicago style, the thick crusted square shaped Sicilian style, grilled pizza, French bread pizza, regional tomato pies, and so many variations of crusts, sauces, and topping… it’s a bit overwhelming. But then I thought about what Italian pizza from Naples would be like. While at the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Show, I was introduced to Italy’s favorite tomato company, Mutti, and their sister olive oil company, Monini. After tasting them I know why they’re the best of Italy. And now they’re coming to America so that you can cook with the best Italian ingredients, too!

2016 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show Mutti Exhibit

Below are a few of the appetizers and even a dessert that was made using the Monini and Mutti products.

2016 Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show Mutti Collage

I was given some wonderful products to try at home including a ready-made pizza sauce and a squeeze bottle of olive oil that’s not supposed to drip. Let’s see what Italy’s favorites taste like on a pizza.

The Pintesting:

In our house, we normally make our own pizza dough, but on this busy weeknight I picked up a pack of pre-made crusts and our toppings will be cheese, sausage, and pepperoni.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

I brushed the dough with the Monini olive oil in their new squeeze bottle. This is SO MUCH BETTER than having the olive oil drip onto the counter or down the side of the bottle. No Leaks! No Drips!

To really boost the flavor, I cut a garlic clove in half and then rubbed it on the oiled dough. If you love garlic but have trouble with heartburn, this is a great way to get that great taste and be gentle on your stomach.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

To get real authentic Italian pizza flavor you need a real authentic Italian pizza sauce.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

Cheese Please!

Then we added the toppings. The HH worked at a pizza place many years ago, so he does this part. The sausage is raw when put on the top of the pizza, but it will cook through while the pizza is cooking.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

Then we baked it per the crust instructions.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

This is how it looked when it came out of the oven. The sausage is perfectly cooked. The cheese is all melted. The hardest part is waiting for it to cool enough to taste it, so I’ll get one more picture while I wait.

Pintesting Monini & Mutti Pizza

The Results:

So THIS is what pizza in Italy tastes like… Monini & Mutti made this pizza incredible. The no-drip squeeze bottle really worked; there was no olive oil anywhere it wasn’t supposed to be. The pizza sauce was very fresh and tasted like real tomatoes – not overprocessed or artificial. I can see why they are the favorites in Italy. The good news is that both of these products will soon be available at grocery stores across the U.S. so watch for them!

The Recipe:

Pizza

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: 2 Pizzas (using the 2 mini crusts)

Pizza

Ingredients

  • Pizza crust of choice (I used Boboli Mini Original Pizza Crusts, but you can use home-made)
  • Monini Olive Oil
  • 1 Garlic clove, cut in half
  • Mutti Pizza Sauce
  • 8-oz Mozzarella, shredded
  • Toppings of choice

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven per your crust instructions (450 degrees for the Boboli crust).
  2. Place crust(s) on a baking sheet.
  3. Brush 1-2 teaspoons of Monini Olive Oil on the crust to coat evenly.
  4. Rub the garlic clove all over the crust for great flavor.
  5. Spread the Mutti Pizza Sauce in an even layer on the crust.
  6. Top with shredded mozzarella and toppings.
  7. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

Notes

Pizza is personal, so you can use whatever kind of crust and toppings you like to make it completely your own.

http://pintesting.com/pintesting-the-best-of-italy-with-pizza/

 

7-Layer Greek Dip

Going to the movies is fun, but there are some downsides to seeing a film at the theater. I don’t like the overpriced snacks. I like real butter on my popcorn rather than that bright yellow butter-flavored oil. No wine. The theater folks frown upon patrons coming in their pajamas and slippers. Oh, and they won’t pause the movie to let you use the restroom after you’ve had a 44-oz large soft drink. This is why we prefer to watch most movies at home. One video that recently came out was My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. Since we’re not limited to popcorn and soda at home, my HH and I decided that we needed Greek movie snacks. So when I saw this pin by Delish for their 7-Layer Greek Dip, I knew this was going to be our movie date night dish.

Here’s the video that was floating around Pinterest. How appropriate that this, too, is a movie?

The Pintesting:

The ingredients are traditionally Greek. Please note that there is a little dish of red onions off to the side. It’s not one of the listed ingredients, so watch for this special guest ingredient later. Let’s go through the layers.

Pintesting 7-layer Greek Dip

1: Hummus

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

2: Cucumbers

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

3: OlivesPintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

4: Artichokes

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

Make the sauce by combining the Greek yogurt, lemon juice, and dill. Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

5: Yogurt Sauce

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

6: Tomatoes

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

7: Feta & Parsley

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

8:  but this is a 7-Layer Greek Dip? I added minced red onions since they’re in so many Greek dishes. Red onions are often found in Greek food and I thought it would add a nice flavor. This is totally optional.

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

Opa! You can let it chill in the fridge or just grab some pita chips and dig in, which is what we did.

Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip

Since it’s movie night, here’s my video of how to make the 7-Layer Greek Dip.

This is loaded with so many good ingredients that I had no trouble substituting it for a light supper, and my HH agreed. It felt like we ate a LOT but most, at least two-thirds, of the bowl was leftover, so the next day we scooped it over a mixture of romaine lettuce and spinach to make a Greek-style salad. I topped it with leftover salmon and crumbled the remaining pita chips as croutons – delish!

Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.85 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  My glass dish didn’t spin like the one in the Delish video did and I added the 8th layer of red onions, but I have to say that this was as delicious as the original video suggested. The Greek flavors would be what you would expect in the Mediterranean. I would risk sneaking this into the theater. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  Once all of the prep work is done, this is easy to layer up. Do pay attention if you’re slicing the olives yourself. Even if the jar says that they’re pitted, you might come across some that still have the pits so use caution. Pintesting 7-Layer Greek Dip Due to the amount of chopping involved, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  There is a bit of prep work in chopping the cucumbers, artichokes, tomatoes, and olives (if you don’t get them sliced) and making the yogurt sauce. However, start to finish this came together in 15 minutes. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost:  We eat a lot of Mediterranean-inspired food, so most of these ingredients are on hand in our home. If you had to buy everything it would run you about $10, but you’d have a lot of leftover ingredients to use in other dishes. The recipe had leftovers that perfectly repurposed into a lunch salad. We ended up with two large servings of dip and four lunch salads from this recipe, so that’s $1.67/serving. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  I loved how this could be used as a great dip and also made an easy Gree-style salad. The wholesome ingredients make this a healthier snack or appetizer and are a great way to sneak in more veggies. Adding red onions as the 8th layer was my customization, but you can change it up however you like. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup

I’m one of those who can’t wait for the first PSL (that’s Pumpkin Spice Latte) of the season and I make a point to get it on the first day available. Even though it still feels like 100 degrees in Florida, there’s something about that taste that officially makes it feel like autumn. Pintesting Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee SyrupGoing to Starbucks or any other coffee venue for a PSL on a daily basis is not good for my budget or waistline. Thankfully, my Pinterest feed has been flooded in Pumpkin Spice EVERYTHING; including this pin by Katrina of Katrina’s Kitchen. Sometimes I REALLY love trying out Pinterest pins, and Pintesting Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup is one that I’m really looking forward to.

Pintesting Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup

One of my best friends was coming over, so it was the perfect time to do this Pintesting. Let’s get started!

The Pintesting:

Pintesting Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup

There are only four ingredients. That’s right – just 4 and one of them is water.

Pintesting Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup

Mix the brown sugar and water in a microwavable bowl and heat until the sugar is dissolved.

Pintesting Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup

Add the pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice.

Pintesting Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup

Strain the mixture through a sieve. This is important or your syrup will be gritty.

Pintesting Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup

See all those particles? That’s why it needs to be strained.

Pintesting Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup

Make your coffee and enjoy the taste of a PSL at home. Aren’t the pumpkin mugs perfect?

We tried the Homemade Pumpkin Spice Coffee Syrup in coffee rather than a latte. I thought the flavor perfectly captured the PSL taste that I’ve come to love, but I would cook this on the stovetop rather than microwave it to let the pumpkin and spice better dissolve and allow the flavor to develop further. I’m also going to double the recipe because it ran out too fast.

The Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.85 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  This syrup tastes every bit as good as a PSL, and it turned out exactly as the recipe said it would. There were no problems or unexpected issues. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  The ONLY reason I’m giving this 4 rather than 5 Pins is because there’s hot sugar water involved. It’s incredibly simple and easy, but children would need proper supervision. So for the sake of safety, I’m giving this 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  The whole process took just a little longer than it took to brew the coffee; just under 10 minutes with the photography. That’s a LOT faster than driving to the coffee shop. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost:  One 15-oz. can of pumpkin is enough to make 30 recipes. As Katrina said, it’s pennies to make. Compare that to over $4.00 for a 16-oz. Grande PSL. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  This syrup is great in coffee, but is also delicious in tea. It’s going to save me the time and cost of running to get a PSL when the cravings hit. I also love that 4 simple ingredients (with no unwanted chemicals) is all that’s in this. Not only will I make this a lot this fall, but it will make a great gift idea in cute little bottles. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

BLT Lettuce Wraps (No-Carb BLT)

Sometimes I get things that look amazing as an impulse purchase. Some people might be tempted by a cute pair of shoes, a new outfit, or the latest tech gadget. More often than not, my impulse buys are food related. I see a recipe that sounds good and I’m off to the store, and that’s what happened when I saw these BLT Lettuce Wraps.

I first saw this video clip on Facebook and then the pin popped up on my Pinterest feed. I love BLT sandwiches as you can see from the Weave Your Bacon BLT and Egg Salad BLTA Sandwich posts. This BLT Lettuce Wraps recipe was trying to sound healthy since it doesn’t have any bread and is, therefore, no-carb. I thought, sure, let’s go with it. Anytime you want to try to combine BLT + healthy I’m willing to give it a try.

Pintesting BLT Lettuce Wraps

The Pintesting:

The beauty of this recipe is in its simplicity. Large leafy romaine lettuce, juicy tomatoes, mayo and bacon. Although not specified, I seasoned my tomato halves with salt and pepper.

Pintesting BLT Lettuce Wraps

Spread some mayonnaise on a romaine lettuce leaf and top with several tomato halves.  TIP: make sure your romaine lettuce leaves are blotted dry if you want the mayo to stick.

Pintesting BLT Lettuce Wraps

Add the bacon and you’re done.

Pintesting BLT Lettuce Wraps

I put three on a plate thinking that this should be the serving size because that’s what the video did. After all, these BLT Lettuce Wraps are supposed to replace a BLT sandwich.

Pintesting BLT Lettuce Wraps

I have to say that it was not easy to get the pictures before digging into these BLT Lettuce Wraps.

Pintesting BLT Lettuce Wraps

I made a total of 6; three each for my HH and me. They were delicious if just a wee bit messy. I’m not sure if I should have used two slices of bacon on each wrap, but I think that would have thrown off the balance of the B-L-T. That said, after finishing them we both still felt hungry and agreed that these would be a fantastic appetizer, salad, or finger salad (if there’s such a thing, and if not I just made it up).

The Pintesting Results:

OVERALL RESULTS:  4.85 PINS

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

 

Accuracy:  The recipe was very simple and straight forward and the taste was delicious. I was very pleased that it turned out exactly as the recipe and video said that it would. I also liked how refreshing they looked. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty: This was one step easier than a traditional BLT in that there’s no bread to toast, but the rest of the process was pretty much the same. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time: Putting this together took very little time. The longest part was cooking the bacon, and I did that on the stove-top so it took about 15 minutes for crispy thick-cut bacon. From prep to plate took 20 minutes – 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost: This is a low cost dish – especially if you get the bacon on sale (which I did; buy one get one free). The romaine  came two heads to a package and there was a LOT leftover that I used for salads.  The tomatoes were also buy one get one free, so the cost per BLT wrap was less than a dollar. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality: If you’re looking for a satisfying meal then you might be disappointed. If you’re looking for some great taste, a gluten-free or paleo BLT snack, an appetizer, or a salad that’s finger food, then this is a fantastic recipe. The original recipe doesn’t specify that it will be as filling as a BLT sandwich, but three to a serving size should have at least been close. Even people on diets don’t want to feel hungry after eating. Therefore, I’m giving this  4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

 

Tuscan Lentil Soup

There is something very comforting about soup; it seems to nourish your soul as it feeds your body. You’ve never heard of a book series called, “Chicken Casserole for the Soul.” Don’t get me wrong, I love casseroles, but there’s just something about soup. Tuscan Lentil Soup.

Most soups fall into one of two categories: the kind that takes all day to cook (usually in the crock pot), and the kind that you can whip up in short order but still tastes delicious. I had picked up a bag of lentils while shopping because they’re high in protein, high in fiber, have vitamins and mineral, and are low in calories – perfect for our healthy diet. I’ve used them in salads before (Salad Swag: 3 Cures for the Common Salad) but we were looking for something warm and hearty for supper.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup

When searching for lentil soup recipes, I found this Pin by Natalie of Life Made Simple. Our family is trying to stick to a Mediterranian diet because it’s very healthy and still tasty, so this recipe really stood out. One look at the picture and my HH gave an enthusiastic thumbs up. It helped that we also had most of the ingredients on hand, so a quick trip to the store was all that was needed to start dinner.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - ORIGINAL PIN

The Pintesting:

The ingredients include lots of veggies and aromatics, lentils, and Italian sausage. We had mild sausage, so I used that instead. I had some Progresso Tuscany chicken broth on hand and thought this would be the perfect use for it. (Take a look at those cute tomatoes that came from our garden!)

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Ingredients

Brown the sausage and onion.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Sausage

Add the garlic and seasonings.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Sausage & Seasonings

Stir in the broth, lentils, and potatoes, and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes and zucchini; simmer for 15 more minutes.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Broth & Veggies

Wilt in the spinach for a couple of minutes.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Spinach

Remove the bay leaf and the soup is done.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Done

Natalie recommends serving with parmesan shavings, so I grated some onto the soup.

Pintesting Tuscan Lentil Soup - Served

I served this with a hot-from-the-oven, crusty baguette. My HH loved the flavors and went back for seconds. This will be a regular in this family. And now for the Pintesting Results:

Overall Results:  4.7 Pins

5 Pins Overall - MED.

Accuracy: The soup turned out exactly like the recipe, including the estimated prep and cook times. It was hearty and had a lot of flavor for less than an hour of cook time. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Difficulty:  There is a fair amount of prep work in cutting up the vegetables. Natalie uses a mandoline for her zucchini, but I’ve nearly lost fingertips using mine, and since I already had my French Chef knife out for the other ingredients I just used my trusty tool of choice. Once the prep work was done, this recipe was very simple to make. There wasn’t any pre-soaking of the lentils (I’m not sure why I thought there would be) or other extra steps. 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins - SMALL

Time:  From start to finish this took less than an hour. The prep work took about 10 minutes and the cook time was just under 40 minutes (of which roughly half an hour was for simmering). 4 Pins

Rated 4 Pins - SMALL

Cost:  Most of the ingredients are common to my kitchen and this makes a BIG pot of soup. I had already bought the lentils and just needed to pick the tomatoes from our garden and buy a couple of ingredients – and the bread to go with it. When I put the leftovers in the refrigerator, the lentils soaked up so much of the chicken broth that I had to add another 3 or 4 cups to make it into soup again. We had supper and two lunches from this pot before we froze the rest so it wouldn’t go to waste. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

Practicality: This recipe is definitely going to be a regular for us. It is delicious, makes a lot, is low cost, and is healthy. 5 Pins

Rated 5 Pins - SMALL

One Pan Mexican Quinoa

There seems to be a new obsession with short food videos on social media, especially Facebook. Videos made by Tasty, Buzzfeed, and Tip Hero are bringing food porn to a whole new level.

We like and share them thinking, “What a great idea. I need to try this,” but rarely follow through and make it.

Then I saw this pin for  One Pan Mexican Quinoa also make it onto my Pinterest feed, and I knew it was time to put it to the test. Here’s the video.

This recipe video is by Tip Hero, but they gave the inspiration credit to Chungah of Damn Delicious. I’ve tested her Egg Salad BLTA Sandwich and Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli and both got great results. This made me more confident in the probability of success.

The Pintesting:

The ingredients are straight forward and easy to find.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Sauté the aromatics, then add the beans, corn, and tomatoes.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Then add the quinoa, seasonings, and broth.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Cover and cook for 20 minutes and it’s done.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

This was going to be served with diced avocado as the recipe suggested, but the one we got was over-ripe so we had to throw it out. Here’s how it looked without any toppings.

Pintesting One Pan Mexican Quinoa

This has a bonus of being super healthy without trying hard. Don’t be scared to try it even though it’s vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free. It’s also versatile. You can change or add more veggies, switch the broths, play with toppings; make it your own.

***UPDATE 08/17/2016***  I’ve had several questions about quinoa from those who aren’t familiar with this ancient grain. Marry Spencer of Health & Fitness Shop has a great article, 7 Health Benefits of Quinoa, that answers many of the questions. For example; it’s high in fiber, nutrient rich, great for gluten intolerance, helps with weight loss and diabetes, and more. In other words, it’s packed with all kinds of goodness.

The Results:

OVERALL RESULTS: 4.85 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  This recipe was as delicious, easy, and fast as the video showed. 5 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  This is an easy recipe with little cutting/chopping. Using canned beans and veggies really simplified things. However, using jalapenos or other hot peppers requires caution as the juices can cause burning to your skin or eyes. Many sources say to always wear rubber gloves when seeding and chopping hot peppers. Because of this, I’m giving it 4 Pins.

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Time:  This took less than 30 minutes from start to finish. It required minimal prep work, and most of the time was just for simmering. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost:  Most of the ingredients are less than a dollar. At $9.50 for 30-oz, the quinoa was the most expensive ingredient, but I only needed 3 out of 29 quarter-cup servings, and that’s less than a dollar for the quinoa. Total cost was less than $2/serving. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  When I served this, HH ate two bites and gave it a thumbs up. He ate two more bites and gave it two thumbs up. This is fast, easy, healthy and delicious. It’s a perfect dinner for busy weeknights. 5 PinsPintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Some days it seems like the angels sing, the stars align, and everything falls into place in order to make things happen. When that happens, life is easy as pie – or in this case, tarts.

My HH and I were thinking about how nice it would be to have just a little something sweet but didn’t want to go through a lot of fuss (or dishes). Then I remembered seeing this pin that had crossed my path recently. These Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts on the Inspired Dreamer site seemed like the perfect little treats. That I had one pie crust, one jar of lemon curd, and the exactly the right cookie cutter was just shy of divine intervention to make this. So let’s get on with this test!

The Pintesting:

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts - ORIGINAL PIN

There are only 3 main ingredients; one pie crust, a jar of lemon curd, and powdered sugar. Also helpful is flour for dusting while handling the pie crust. The hardware required is a flower-shaped cookie cutter and mini muffin pan.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Roll out the pie crust and start cutting flowers with the cookie cutter. Does anyone else think the flower cutter looks groovy? Flower Power!

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Cut out 12 flowers; rerolling the scraps and cutting to make the 12.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Carefully put them into a mini muffin pan.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Fold 3 alternate petals toward the center, gently place the dough into the cup, then work the petals on the sides by overlapping the three inner petals.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Bake for about 5 minutes.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

The flower tart shells pop right out of the pan – no greasing was required. Use some caution when removing them after baking as they are a little more delicate and can crumble if handled too roughly.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

Cool, dust with powdered sugar, and spoon with lemon curd.

Pintesting Flower Shaped Mini Lemon Curd Tarts

This almost can’t be called a recipe, but it was inspired, cute, and easy. It did perfectly satisfy our sweet tooth craving, and there were plenty left over to share. We had them with a cup of tea. It was a perfect pairing. Now for the results.

The Results:

Overall Results: 5 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  These tarts turned out PERFECTLY. The pin photo was almost step-by-step enough to make these, but the recipes’ detailed instructions help ensure great results. The little tarts were a lovely combination of sweet, tangy, crisp, delicate, and pretty. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Difficulty:  This very simple recipe would be fun to do with kids. The pie dough is very forgiving. I had several flowers tear a bit while I was working with them, but this was fixed while patting them into the tin. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time:  These took about 20 minutes from start to finish, and that included the photos and dishes. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost:  I happened to have everything on hand this time, so there was no extra shopping costs.  I had purchased the lemon curd at World Market for $3.99 to serve with scones. The pie crusts come two to a package (mine was the leftover in the back of the fridge), and cost about $3.00. That’s 29 cents per tart. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  These were quick, easy, and the tart shells are extremely versatile. You could fill them with any curd, custard, or pudding to make a bouquet of desserts. If you leave off the powdered sugar, you could use the shells with savory fillings, too. They’re perfect for a tea party, garden party, or mother’s day. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cheesy Broccoli Orzo

Does anyone else seem like you make and eat the same meals? The dinner rut is a tough one to deal with because we all have our favorites, comfort foods, and quick-on-the-table meals that are the family approved stand bys. Don’t get me wrong – pizza night is not to be trifled with, but you can completely mix it up with different types of crusts, sauces, and toppings. Taco Tuesdays are a close second, but even there you’ve got a lot of choices that can make it seem different from week to week. Sometimes changing the side dishes can change the taste and feel of a whole meal.

That’s why I was super excited when i saw this pin for Cheesy Broccoli Orzo by Kristin from Iowa Girl Eats. It’s the perfect trifecta of a side dish.

  1. It’s fast
  2. It’s easy
  3. It only uses a handful of ingredients (most are likely to be in your kitchen right now)

Pintesting Cheesy Broccoli Orzo

Well, who’s going to argue with a trifecta? Not me – I choose my battles, so let the Pintesting begin.

As I said, there are only a handful of ingredients – 6 if you don’t count the salt or water to boil the pasta and broccoli.

Pintesting Cheesy Broccoli Orzo

Boil the orzo pasta. Now this seems easy, but wait…

Pintesting Cheesy Broccoli Orzo

Kristin says to cook for 3 minutes, add broccoli, then cook for another 3 minutes or so.

Pintesting Cheesy Broccoli Orzo

My orzo box calls for 9 minutes of cooking time for al dente. You can see in the picture below that it still has a way to go, so I waited another couple of  minutes before adding the broccoli.

Pintesting Cheesy Broccoli Orzo

Next I added the broccoli and cooked it for about 3 minutes to let the orzo get to the al dente state and let the broccoli cook well.

Pintesting Cheesy Broccoli Orzo

Drain everything really well.

Pintesting Cheesy Broccoli Orzo

Return to the pot and add the cheeses, butter, and milk.

Pintesting Cheesy Broccoli Orzo

After mixing and per Kristin’s instructions, I checked the seasoning. Good call! I added a touch of salt and several grinds of pepper.

Pintesting Cheesy Broccoli Orzo

That’s it. Really! We’re done – except for the plating.

Pintesting Cheesy Broccoli Orzo

I love risotto, and this totally puts me in mind of that creamy dish but without the half hour of constant stirring. It’s the perfect alternative if you need something quick, and want to get some extra veggies in your meal. And who doesn’t need extra veggies? That’s what I thought. So let’s get to the Pintesting Results:

Overall Results: 4.6 Pins

Pintesting - 5 Pins Overall Rating

Accuracy:  The dish was delicious, uncomplicated, and quick. The flavors of the pasta with the broccoli and cheeses all played wonderfully together. But the pasta cooking time was off by 50%, and a novice cook might not catch that. In all fairness, it might have been the difference from one pasta brand to another, so keep an eye on what the directions on your box indicate. 4 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 4 Pins

Difficulty:  There’s nothing hard about this dish. I bought the broccoli florets pre-cut which eliminated a lot of the prep work. I did grate the cheeses to balance the level of work (and because I like fresh-grated cheese better). Boil, drain, mix, serve. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Time:  The whole recipe came together in under 20 minutes even with me taking the pictures. PERFECT for a busy weeknight dinner. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Cost:  The broccoli ($2.00 on sale) and orzo pasta (less than $2.00 – not on sale) were the only two ingredients that I had to buy, and there was enough of each to double the recipe and still have leftover broccoli. The remaining ingredients came to about $2.00. At $4.00 for 4 servings, that’s $1.00/serving.  5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins

Practicality:  The trifecta totally worked with this recipe. Not only is it a delicious side dish, but it has the makings for an easy casserole just by tossing in a cooked protein of choice. (I’m thinking this would be a great way to use up some leftover turkey next Thanksgiving…)I bet you could play with the cheeses for slightly different takes on the flavor, too. It’s also very kid-friendly – it’s practically mac & cheese with broccoli. 5 Pins

Pintesting Rating - 5 Pins